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Building An Uncensorable Course Guide At Yale 47

Posted by timothy
from the hey-public-high-schools-need-this-too dept.
Former Googler and Foursquare employee Sean Haufler is now a student at Yale studying CS and Economics, but he hasn't put away his real-world software skills for academia. When two other Yale students named Harry Yu and Peter Xu were threatened with the school's punishment committee for designing a site that extends and improves the presentation of data from the school-controlled course selection guide (the Yale Bluebook [available only at Yale]), Haufler decided to create a similar site which he hopes will force the school's hand to either allow or deny this kind of data-mashing presentation. He acknowledges that there are legitimate questions about copyright, but Haufler's site treads lightly in a way that Yu and Xus did not: "Banned Bluebook never stores data on any servers. It never talks to any non-Yale servers. Moreover, since my software is smarter at caching data locally than the official Yale course website, I expect that students using this extension will consume less bandwidth over time than students without it. Don’t believe me? You can read the source code. No data ever leaves Yale’s control. Trademarks, copyright infringement, and data security are non-issues. It's 100% kosher." And if the school disagrees? "If Yale denies this right, I'll see you at the punishment committee." Of note: the Yale Bluebook site itself grew out of an independent student project, but was later acquired by the school. Update: 01/20 00:26 GMT by T : Correction: Unlike Yu and Xu, Haufler's approach is not a full-fledged separate site, but rather a Chrome extension that presents the data from Yale's own site differently, rather than at any point re-hosting it. Mea culpa.
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Building An Uncensorable Course Guide At Yale

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  • The lesson is ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:58PM (#46006217) Homepage Journal

    Nobody likes a smartass. Not even at Yale.

    Seriously, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that making an improved X has a side effect of making original X look shit and everyone associated with creating it look stupid.

    Except, of course, if X is Coca Cola.

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:25PM (#46006427)
    Indeed. My hunch is that his workaround of the Wu/Xu site's banishment will be met with great distaste.

    1st line Fta: I hope this doesn't get me kicked out of Yale".

    At least he's aware what his 15 minutes could cost.

  • by mspohr (589790) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:31PM (#46006483)

    Yale was censoring coursetable in the name of copyright since it used Yale's copyrighted text. They did this because they didn't like the way coursetable presented the data.
    Sean Haufler made a clever hack which is a Chrome extension which displays data from the Yale websites in the same useful format as coursetable but does not require setting up a web site. It just mashes up text and data from Yale servers and presents it nicely in Chrome. It also seems to use some local storage which should decrease bandwidth demands.

    Uncensorable since it's not a web site, runs entirely on the users browser and only accesses official Yale data (which students are allowed to access).
    Nice hack.

Take an astronaut to launch.