Friday, March 17, 2006

Oh the shame, and a new toy

I have gotten away from this blog, while I was off sowing other electronic seeds. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I will try to do better.

I am writing this using my new(ish) toy: the Performancing extension to Mozilla Firefox. It allows me to blog from any screen in my browser, and to any of my 6 blogs. I'm hooked.

Monday, February 06, 2006

But is it better than the movie?

The New York Times reports on a new survey by Jupiter Research that reveals that Internet users are more likely to cut back on their book reading than on their magazine reading. Even though magazines are more like online content, they seem to persist. Jupiter analyst David Card points out a substitution, not a channel shift effect. See article here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Wild (Library)Thing, I think I love you

For the last month, I've been drawn into the vortex that is LibraryThing. I feel compelled by the collector's need for completeness to enter all my book holdings into this devilishly accommodating application; to make sure that all entries have LC classification numbers; to electronically march through my shelves like Sherman to the sea (hey, isn't there a new Doctorow book on that? I'll have to pick it up...).

But most disturbingly, I think LT has bred a new sport: competitive cataloging! How many books can I catalog in an hour? a day? How deeply have I waded into my cataloging backlog? How good is the metadata? Am I tagging consistently with others? with myself? Do I have cover art for all the books I could? Do I include books to sell? Condensed books? Books in storage? Romance novels? Tales of the ribald? What will the cyber-neighbors think?

And how do those people ahead of me on the list find the time to enter so many books so quickly? Are they human? Am I? Can I afford to take the time to go shopping with my wife tonight, or will my position in the pantheon of LT catalogs slip because of my neglect? CURSE YOU TIM SPALDING! (Wait, I'm sorry...Don't take away my privileges. I will atone by entering more books)

They say recognizing you have a problem is the first step to solving it. I'll bet that's in a book somewhere. Let me check my tags. I'll get back to you. [ ]

Friday, August 12, 2005

Still Waters in a Rough Sea

Last Wednesday, I was watching David M. Levy's presentation on DVD entitled "The Experience of Reading," a part of the Library of Congress series "The Digital Future." Levy's presentation was both thought provoking and invigorating.

David Levy is a Professor in the Information School at the University of Washington. He is the author of Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age [review]

Of particular interest was Dr. Levy's viewpoint that the digital maelstrom may be changing the way we read (more shallowly rather than more deeply), and that contemplative time and space are essential to good scholarship and good mental health. Discussions of Library as Place need to incorporate the traditional environmental value of libraries: quiet places to study, think and reflect. Highly recommended.

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Pixillated Representation of the Sky is Falling!

Finnish scientist Dr. Hannu Kari of Helsinki University of Technology recently reiterated his prediction that the Internet would collapse by 2006. The collapse will be precipitated by increased incidences of viruses, spam, trojan horse and security breaches. The professor warns that the only effective prophylactic to these cyber-diseases is increased individual and collective vigilance and exposing of nefarious plots.

Whether Dr. Kari's arguments are persuasive or not remains to be seen. But since more and more libraries have grown Internet dependent, a contingency plan needs to be developed ASAP. I propose the maintenance of a cadre of "Network-Independent Analog Information Devices" which will insulate libraries from cyber-attacks and Internet outages. These low-power devices are portable and readily available in a variety of subject packets. Generally, no special instruction of patrons is needed for their operation beyond that provided in most elementary and middle schools. These devices carry with them some storage and distribution concerns, but have proven to be reliable for long-term information preservation.

Of course, the NIAIDs I refer to are commonly known as books. The network is down; would you care to read a book?

[via ArsTechnica]

Friday, October 15, 2004

A Swimming Pool of Serials

Duke University Press's recent decision to withdraw several of its journals from Project Muse raises several questions of the viability of individual publications, and of group efforts like Project Muse. From Duke's perspective, it would seem that they think they can generate more revenue outside of Project Muse than by staying within it. Of course, they will have to market their journals (individually or collectively), as well as arrange for indexing, delivery, archiving and the like. These are difficulties, but not insurmountable ones. The real question is, in the era of the "big deal," will Duke's offerings, no matter how high their quality, be viable to academic subscribers? Will it be a choice between Duke and Project Muse, given that funds are limited? If so, which one wins?

From Project Muse's perspective, their mission just got a little tougher, in that they lost some of their premium content. So Project Muse is now less valuable in the eyes of the academic subscriber as well.

240,000 8oz. glasses of water will fill the average swimming pool. But you can't swim until you pour them together. The power of the database is in its COMBINED content. Federated searching technology may allow individual titles to be virtually combined ("poured together"), but that dream has yet to be fully realized. Publishers and librarians need only look as far as the major search engines: people use them because of their ability to harvest content from a wide array of sources. Databases help users do that too, sometimes with the bonus of additional focus, selection and distillation. Individual publications, sadly, do not.

[via Resource Shelf and Peter Scott's Library Blog]

Thursday, October 14, 2004

An Idea Idea Idea Idea Whose Time Has Come

WestLaw has announced a de-duplication feature that identifies, tags and sorts duplicate copies of articles in its search results.

[Via WisBlawg]

Google Print: Warts and Beauty Marks

More information is emerging about Google Print, Google's "inside the book" endeavor. Google has announced that Google Print is a book marketing tool; it has no intention of linking to library holdings. [Wart] On the other hand, Library Journal and School Library Journal are publications available through Google Print [Beauty]. Check out more forensic information on Google Print at: "The Rundown on Google Print" [via]

Visualizing Research

In a 13 page white paper entitled "Online Research Browsers", Marcus P. Zillman, Executive Director - Virtural Private Library(tm), examines a number of research oriented browsers that help the user visualize relationships between related sites. In addition to descriptions of and links to various browsers, Zillman lists about 3 pages of links to Virtual Private Library(tm)'s Subject Tracer(tm) Information Blogs, topic-specific collection points available for RSS syndication.

This paper provides fertile ground for further study.
[via BeSpacific]

Something You Just Don't See Every Day

A refreshing view on intellectual curiosity:
"Moving between fields is the way to be creative. Keep your fingers in a lot of pies. I do it because I'm curious. I'm the only person I know who goes into a poster session [at a scientific meeting] and stops at the first poster I have no idea what it's about. Find a poster you don't know anything about and look at it for a long time, and you might learn something totally different." -- Nobel Prize winning molecular biologist Kary Mullis (from Creators on Creating.)

[via Anita Sharpe at Worthwhile]

Cool Tool: YouSendIt

Many people face the constraints of their email systems when trying to send or receive large files. YouSendIt allows the sender to upload megafiles (up to 1 GB), with the service sending only a link to the intended recipient. After 7 days, the service deletes the file. The result? No email file size restrictions. Best of all, it's free. [via Robin Good]