Replace Pipeline with Academica in your Bookmarks, soon

Pipeline is about to be replaced with a totally new, social-media-oriented website/portal called Academica. It is device-agnostic, which means it works with all computers, all tablets and most smartphones (something people have been requesting for almost as long as there have been smartphones).

It’s also smart itself. It remembers the tasks within the system that you use most, and bubbles them up to the front page so that most common tasks are always one click away. For example, if you’re a faculty member it will put Download Classlists and TravelWayne up front and center, but if you have to approve timesheets that link will be right there as well. In general most tasks should be no more than one, or at most two clicks away.

It also comes with a built-in messaging system that is similar in features to Twitter. It allows you to use hashtags (#hashtag) and mentions (@GeoffNathan). There will be streams associated with a number of common topics of discussion, as well as streams for departments and one for each class being taught.

Academica is still being developed (technically it’s in beta), but you’re welcome to try it right now. Just go to and log in as usual. You will have the option to switch to exclusive use of Academica (instead of Pipeline), but there is always a button available to switch back to the old Pipeline interface if you need to.
Since it’s still under development, C&IT is looking for feedback, which you can send by writing to, or by going to .

The official roll-out will be some time in the fall, but feel free to play with it now. Who knows, you may never want to switch back to Pipeline. Academica and Pipeline will both be available at first, but Pipeline will be shut down in the 2014-2015 academic year when we are confident that Academica can support all of our campus needs.

Here’s a preview of what the interface looks like, showing only the links part:

Academica Links Section

Important Federal Court Decision on Online Book Search Engines

The 2nd Circuit Court released a decision today in a case involving the Hathi Trust, which has been scanning old books and making them available online for search purposes. Some author’s unions sought to prevent them from doing this on copyright grounds, but Hathi (and many supporters) argued that the open-source non-profit partner with Google Books was entitled under the ‘fair use’ provision of the Copyright Act to scan millions of books (including, particularly, ‘orphan’ books whose copyright was still valid, but whose authors were either long gone or unlocatable) and make the results searchable.. Hathi Trust is an invaluable tool for historical, linguistic and literary research because it means that millions of out-of-print books were accessible to the world of research.

This doesn’t mean you can now just read any book in their repository. You can’t. What you can do, however, is search for every instance of a word in the millions of books and get the surrounding context for each use (which is a gold mine for linguists), or find mentions of historical events or people (or political theories or scientific experiments) in millions of books scattered around the country.

The court’s conclusion was that making snippets available through searches, and making entire texts available to the visually impaired constituted fair use through the ‘transformative’ clause of the fair use clause (you can read all about it on the  WSU Library’s Copyright page).

Here are two news items on the court case:

Volokh Conspiracy (libertarian law school-oriented blog)

Inside Higher Ed

Phishing is getting better (and the pain is worse)

Recently a number of universities (including Wayne State) have been hit by a particularly vicious phishing trick. Faculty with relatively high salaries receive what look like official notifications to ‘verify’ their login details. If they click on the link in the email they are sent to university web pages that look very much like the standard login page (complete with appropriate wordmarks, layout etc.)  This kind of phishing is called ‘spearphishing’, because the attacks are not random, but carefully targeted, so the email message looked like it was directed to the addressee–it had their name in it, and perhaps their chair’s name, or the name of the VP for Administration. However, after they enter their credentials they eventually find that someone else has logged in and changed their direct deposit to a bank in another country. Often a pop-up bank (similar to a pop-up restaurant but not nearly as tasty). By the time the deception is discovered (usually when the victim notices that their real account never received the deposit) it’s too late.

All the universities that have had this happen have had to make good on the lost paychecks, and with lots of full professors getting caught that’s a lot of money the universities don’t have to spare. How can you resist getting sucked into these scams?

  • Never log in to a Wayne State account by clicking on a link in an email.
  • Always go directly to the appropriate website by typing its address into your browser (,,
  • Make sure that the address that shows in the browser once the page has ‘painted’ begins ‘https://…
  • Change your password immediately if you think you have fallen for one of these scams.

Here are some other universities that have been caught (so you can see we’re not outliers):

Finally, our colleagues at U of M put together an excellent video about phishing which is worth watching (you can just ignore the hype about ‘Big Blue’ 🙂 )