Thursday News: Authors Guild v. Google redux, the pitfalls of social media research, and two fantabulous articles on cultural representation
In his argument Wednesday, attorney Paul Smith quickly sought to differentiate the Guild’s case against Google from its unsuccessful HathiTrust case, citing Google’s commercial nature. But almost immediately, Judge Pierre Leval shut him down, telling Smith he would not succeed by arguing that Google’s commercial nature precluded fair use. Smith, however, pressed on, arguing that Google’s scanning deprived authors of a potential market to license books for search. Again, Leval pushed back, noting the transformative nature of the use is what mattered, not whether somebody might potentially pay to make that use. . . .
Arguing for Google, attorney Seth Waxman largely stuck to the script that has served Google well thus far: he argued that Google’s database “quintessentially” promoted the progress of the sciences and useful arts. Waxman portrayed the program as a collaboration between libraries and Google—with libraries benefiting from Google’s scale and technology, and Google benefiting from the libraries’ collections. And lastly, he stressed that there was no evidence of any market harm, and there was no issue with security as the record shows there has not been one security breach of Google Books in a decade. –Publishers Weekly
The study compares the fallacies in social media research to one of the most infamous errors in telephone polling, in which an undersampling of Harry Truman supporters resulted in the publication of the 1948 headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.” Similarly flawed methodologies are plaguing research based on social networking data, the study concluded.
Before information from sites like Facebook and Twitter can yield truly meaningful insights, scientists must realize there are problems with the way data is typically analyzed from social media networks, according to Derek Ruths, an assistant professor in McGill’s School of Computer Science. For now, many of the insights gleaned from social media are often about as reliable as the 1948 telephone poll. –Tech Times
No fictional portrayal of any community is ever going to be accurate, including those by members of said community. The best we can hope for is some degree of concordance with lived experience. For example, the stereotype of the obedient Asian wife will have poor concordance while a more nuanced, complex character will have higher concordance. This has to do with the complexity of real life. One thing that becomes obvious from reading anthropology and history is the inability of anyone to capture the entire essence of a culture in words or images. We can try, but it is impossible, and not just to the observer from without. Outsiders cannot see everything and have biases; insiders cannot see everything and have biases. –Safe
You understand that geek culture is supposed to be the refuge of the misunderstood. All of us were at one point the kid who stayed inside during recess reading in the library rather than playing with the others. We were the ones pretending to have lightsaber battles when the other kids were playing soccer. Your Barbie dolls never played house; they were too busy exploring the alien landscapes of your bedroom floor and befriending the monsters under you bed. None of us fit into the easy boxes of our societies – you know this. But when you see that the self-appointed gatekeepers of the world you claimed before you knew they existed have erected wall to keep out members of your sex and race, it can’t fail to hurt. –Omenana