[Editor's note: Due to the holiday, there will be no newsletter next Friday, November 23. Happy Thanksgiving!]
Oxford Dictionaries announced its 2018 Word of the Year, and it's a fitting choice: Toxic. "In 2018, toxic added many strings to its poisoned bow becoming an intoxicating descriptor for the year’s most talked about topics," reads the announcement of the Oxford Dictionaries web site. "It is the sheer scope of its application, as found by our research, that made toxic the standout choice for the Word of the Year title."
Certainly, toxic has many applications in the world today, from environmental issues like the water contamination in Flint, Michigan, to the plastics now choking our ocean, even the opioid crisis, and, of course the word is increasingly used to describe the political and cultural environment as well. In fact, Oxford officials say, the data shows a 45% rise in the number of times toxic has been looked up online over the last year, and notes how the word is increasingly being used in an array of contexts, "both literal and more metaphorical."
In another sign of our toxic times, toxic beat out gaslighting and incel to win word of the year.
And consider this tidbit from the release: Oxford's data shows that, after the word chemical, masculinity is the most-used word in conjunction with toxic in 2018.
"With the #MeToo movement putting a cross-industry spotlight on toxic masculinity, and watershed political events like the Brett Kavanaugh Senate judiciary committee hearing sparking international debate, the term toxic masculinity has well and truly taken root in the public consciousness and got people talking in 2018."
If you haven’t already read it and posted it to your own Facebook page, here is The New York Times’ highly disturbing look at how, in its rush to expand, Facebook compromised users’ privacy and allowed it to be weaponized.
Another report in The New York Times finds that “Facebook failed to closely monitor device makers after granting them access to the personal data of hundreds of millions of people, according to a previously unreported disclosure to Congress last month.”
Engadget reports that three new independent studies show that fake news overall is going down on Facebook. But the article's curt subtitle says it all: "Things Still Not Great, Overall." One study found that "misinformation remains high, and that Facebook continues to play a particularly important role in its diffusion." And even considering the drop, "fake news interaction on Facebook still averages about 70 million per month."
From Gary Price at InfoDocket, "some 34 civil rights, consumer, and privacy organizations have joined in releasing public interest principles for privacy legislation, because the public needs and deserves strong and comprehensive federal legislation to protect their privacy and afford meaningful redress.
Sad news this week, as comic book hero Stan Lee died at the age of 95. Comicbook takes a look at how Libraries across the country are honoring Lee.
Great piece in The Atlantic, about a reporter chasing the high of a Scholastic book fair.
Todd Bol would be proud. This article in BookRiot offers tips and tricks for keeping people coming back to your Little Free Library.
Atlas Obscura has a fun look at an "annual contest of brains, brawn, and library logistics." Yes, competitive book sorting is a thing...
Here's another sad sign of the times: From KLXY, a look at how police in Pullman, WA, are training librarians to handle active shooters. "We compare it to training for a fire drill," said Pullman Police Sergeant Jake Opgenorth.
It's nice when people say thank you...in their local paper. From Nashville Scene, this nice letter, headlined "Hey Thanks, Nashville Public Library," will put a smile on your face. "You have enabled a revival of reading for pleasure in our home, and you are a centerpiece of our neighborhood..."
From MLive, the Bay County Library System in Michigan has been awarded the 2018 State Librarian's Excellence Award for its customer service to residents. "It's a pretty big deal," said Trish Burns, the library system director. Yes, it is! The Library of Michigan Foundation and Library of Michigan present the award each year to highlight "the important services state libraries offer to the community."
Meanwhile, in the U.K., library supporters (including J.K. Rowling and Philip Pullman) started a petition on the government’s website calling for better library funding. And The Guardian reports that the government's lackluster response to the petition isn't going over well.
And look for the battle over open access to really start heating up. We reported last week on the AAP's strong words for Plan S, the European plan that commits research funders to open access by 2020. The journal Nature this week had an interview with Biochemist Lynn Kamerlin, on why she helped coordinated an open letter— now signed by more than 1000 scientists—expressing reservations over plan S. "I firmly believe in promoting open science, but not in the way Plan S is doing it," Kamerlin says. "I want the scientific-career reward system to change—so that scientists aren’t so heavily evaluated on where they publish—but these are the facts of scientific life right now."
On the EFF Deep Links blog, Cory Doctorow offers an update on the progress of the EU’s Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive. “The latest news is a leaked set of proposed revisions to the directive, aimed at correcting the extraordinarily sloppy drafting of Articles 11 and 13,” he writes, calling the revisions a mixed bag. “In a few cases, they bring much-needed clarity to the proposals, but in other cases, they actually worsen the proposals."