I’ll answer the statements that seem to relate to libraries. I hesitate to answer in this manner because these sorts of discussions get out of control.
On 16/07/2013 00:34, john g marr wrote:
… Internet search results should depend upon the competence (gradually learned through experience and knowledge of the subject) of the searcher and not on prejudicial manipulation of results by entities with solely self-interest in mind and money in hand;
No one knows if this is true. For instance, in a library system (one that works correctly with a library catalog, that can link to other catalogs, has indexes, finding lists and so on) it is not enough to know and have experience of a subject. You have to know how the library tools work and each can work quite differently. So, there may be a great Ferrari race-car driver like Massa, but he may not be able to drive a bulldozer or semi-trailer truck. Each is different.
For libraries, once this is accepted, the question becomes: how much of this knowledge of working with a library’s tools can be automated? Library tools must be made easier, more useful, and primarily more relevant for the public. Libraries are trying to make “all in one searches” and such like, but I think this is only trying to replicate the Googles and is not the right direction.
… an assumption that anonymity is lost permanently is a self-defeating proposition;
I don’t believe I am being defeatist: I think I am just being realistic. How in the world are we supposed to get back all of that “metadata” and content stored in the NSA servers and in the Google,Yahoo,Facebook,etc. universe, especially when that is precisely what makes those businesses so profitable. Take all of that away and all of those companies become almost nothing. Whenever something is saved on a server (i.e. “in the cloud”) we must assume that the information can and will be accessed by whoever controls that server, and used for their own purposes. That is how much of the WWW works. Therefore, it is only realistic to consider all of our information that is now in the cloud to be gone, and continue from that point. Although people can be anonymous from “day 1”, all of the information from the time of “before day 1” cannot be recovered. This only reflects the real world where we cannot undo what has been done no matter how much we may want it. The situation reminds me of Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” http://www.bartleby.com/119/1.html A person has chosen one road earlier and cannot go back in time to make another choice. But they can choose another today–if they want to. It seems that few people want to. And although I may not agree with their choice, I must respect it.
So, it follows, then, that the main issues must be to restore personal privacy, teach creative and critical thinking rather than “survival of the fittest”, apply the “scientific method” (“working hypotheses”) to social science, and investigate how to eliminate social Darwinism (and the effectiveness of predation) from the society as a whole. What you desire will then follow. Without those approaches, problem solving in practical matters will always be subjugated to defending property from the “fittest” to subjugate.
That’s all we have to do?! 🙂 People have been trying to do that since the beginning of civilization and precious little progress has been made.
Returning to libraries, I like to think of our present situation as an opportunity for a field that is devoted to information and based on ethical considerations. This is what libraries and librarians are supposed to be. I want to believe that people need to know that they can choose other roads (few seem to understand that) and libraries could provide that choice. But people need to be aware of that choice and new tools need to be made for a new world. Again, I do not see libraries trying to do much of that. I do not consider this defeatist–simply seeing things the way they are. Does it have to be this way? No.
Technical question still remains– how to transfer whole folders of e-mail to an off-line peripheral (thumb drive or hard drive).
Download your mail from the email servers into Thunderbird or a similar program and then save it all someplace–a pen drive or hard drive. With Thunderbird, there is an addon “Import/Export tools” where you can do that but there are other options. It is difficult to remain anonymous with email. Email uses servers where the email is stored and whoever controls the server will have access to your email. Yes, there are alternatives but they are clumsy.