Successful crowdsourcing, fact checking sites and the Google Books lawsuit

Information Today publishes a range of journals, blogs, newsletters and books covering all aspects of the information space. Here we bring you some recent highlights.

The success of FutureReady365

In Computers in Libraries, Meryl B. Cole, Christian L. Gray, and Cindy A. Romaine write about the SLA's crowdsourced initiative that resulted in the Future Ready 365 blog.

The blog set out to discover how information professionals were preparing for the future, and encouraged them to share their ideas, solutions and initiatives.  The result - more than 400,000 unique visitors to the blog and 4 million hits to a zero budget website (

The authors describe the hot topics that emerged from the initiative, including the ongoing importance of emerging technology, the need to deliver value; collaboration; and the emergence of new roles and skills.

The article not only neatly summarises the key findings from the crowdsourced content, but it also sheds light on how to develop and manage a large crowdsourced initiative.

The key lessons include

  • You must be passionate about the subject of your initiative
  • Be clear about your purpose - define your goals and objectives
  • Use free, cloud based tools
  • Market your project/site using every resource open to you
  • Contributors really value personal invitations to participate
  • Share your results

And interestingly:

  • "In the age of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, we found personal relationships and the old, reliable telephone to be highly effective for recruiting"

Checking the facts

Following on from the announcement this week that Sky News and the BBC have updated their social media policies to ensure factual accuracy, Reid Goldsborough's piece on US fact checking sites (published on Link-Up Digital) is of real interest. 

Information professionals are only too aware that in the online world, anyone can present themselves as an expert online.  We understand the importance of checking our facts and determining the quality of information.  Goldsburgh lists some of the most valuable US fact-checking sites, including: - (for checking/dispelling urban myths) - (almanac for checking facts and figures) and the rather self explanatory; and

Two US newspapers have also joined in.  Both the Tampa Bay Times (, and the Seattle Times (, have launched their own political fact checking initiatives.

Google Books and the lawsuit - so far

Finally, in Divide and Conquer (Information Today), George H Pike sums up the current status of the Google Books lawsuit describing some recent developments which "suggest a number of directions the lawsuit could take..."

The article includes a useful summary of the story of the lawsuit so far.  The action focuses on the scanning onto Google servers of works held by libraries or publishers without direct permission from copyright holders.  Many of these are orphan works, and copyright owners have not been located or identified.  A number of players sued Google for copyright infringement - including The Association of American publishers, and, in 2006, a group of French publishing companies.

In the US, Google Books defended itself against charges of copyright infringement citing 'fair use' and some suits were settled in 2008.  A federal court rejected that settlement in 2011.  Google is now seeking to dismiss a number of actions being brought against it by professional organisations and groups saying that they themselves are not the copyright holders.

Meanwhile in France in 2009 the courts ordered Google to cease digitising French copyright material and in 2011 the EU backed Europeana project to develop a centralised database of copyright owners for orphan works was announced.   

Expect further developments in the US courts in the Spring of 2012.

All the articles mentioned are available on the Information Today website.

Image courtesy of Spigoo via Flickr.