Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Too many VENDORS are like bad marriages

Creating Passionate Users has an interesting post comparing customer/ company relationships to bad marriages. Check it out here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Google launches major broadside against MS Office

From the site:

Google Apps for Your Domain lets you offer private-labeled email, instant messaging and calendar accounts to all of your users, so they can share ideas and work more effectively. These services are all unified by the start page, a unique, dynamic page where your users can preview their inboxes and calendars, browse content and links that you choose, search the web, and further customize the page to their liking. You can also design and publish web pages for your domain.

StudyBuddy - A New Homework Tool from AOL

AOL launched the new Study Buddy search engine for kids in grades K through 12. Choose from Math, Social Studies, Language Arts, Health, Science and Electives subject areas. Narrow down your search by topic and you are left with the most relevant results. You can set up a Backpack to save your recent searches and remember your favorite games. StudyBuddy will also proof your paper before you turn it in - copy and paste the words into the Writing Wizard and it will highlight areas that might need work.

Found via: Librarian in Black

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Open Letter to ILS Vendors

Open Letter to ILS Vendors In Integrated Library Systems "On September 5, 2006, over 250 libraries in the Georgia consortium, PINES, began using a next-generation integrated library system (ILS) they wrote from scratch. Within two months they racked up two million checkouts and half-a-million renewals for a collection of eight million items and 1.5 million borrowers." — "Dawn of a New Era," Library Journal, February 15, 2007.

FindArticles.com - search over 10,000,000 articles online

Search millions of articles from leading academic, industry and general interest publications. FindArticles has articles from thousands of resources, with archives dating back to 1984.

Introducing the Book

Sent with my sympathies to help desks everywhere....

Friday, February 16, 2007

Yet Another Firefox Plug-in For Libraries

From: LibraryJournal.com

LibX is a new plugin for Firefox that can be configured to work with your library's catalog (if you use III Millenium, Dynix Horizon, Ex Libris's Aleph or the Voyager OPACs) to do all kinds of useful things. Some of the features of the plugin are:

* Direct access to your library's catalog via a toolbar & right-click context menu
* Adaptive context menus that change depending on what (such as an ISBN) is selected
* OpenURL support
* Google Scholar support
* Support for off-campus access via EZProxy or WAM
* Support for embedded cues - graphics that link your users from books listed in other websites (Amazon, etc.) to your catalog
* Support for COinS
* Support for xISBN

The really cool part about this plugin, however, is that you need only to enter some of your library's information into a text configuration file, get a couple of sizes of your library's logo and send them and the config file to the nice folks who created the plugin for Virgina Tech, and they will send you back a file you can then offer to your patrons. They are working on a web-based configuration tool that will allow you to do all this via their web site - that will be something to look forward to as well!! -- Robin Hastings

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bush Library Debate Spurs Efforts to Overturn Executive Order


In the wake of resistance to the selection of Southern Methodist University in Dallas as the site for a George W. Bush Presidential Library and Policy Institute by a group of SMU faculty, some archivists and historians are trying to broaden the debate. The Society of American Archivists has urged SMU officials to reject the library unless the administration reverses Executive Order 13233, an edict signed by President Bush November 1, 2001, that allows incumbent or former presidents and their heirs to withhold the release of presidential papers that would otherwise be made public after 12 years, even if national security matters are not involved.
SAA President-Elect Mark Greene said in the February 5 Dallas Morning News, “There’s been no indication from the Bush administration that they have in any way rethought the executive order, and it is our hope that these negotiations provide a possible pivot point.”
Librarians and historians had expressed concern about the order after it was issued, and the public-interest group Public Citizen filed a still-pending lawsuit that claims the order violates the 1978 Presidential Records Act.
Benjamin Hofbauer, associate professor of art history at the University of Louisville, said in the February 6 Inside Higher Education that it wasn’t fair for SMU officials to argue that the university would acquire a valuable scholarly resource as the site of the Bush Presidential Library. “But if you don’t have all the papers,” he asserted, “instead you have just a museum of political propaganda.”
Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington Office, told the Morning News that some of the finest scholarship in recent years—Robert Caro’s work on Lyndon Johnson and David McCullough’s book on Harry Truman—depended on access to official papers that let them “understand much more deeply and report much more thoroughly how decisions were made.”
Posted February 9, 2007.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Simplified Map of the Interstate Highway System

Not really appropos of anything, but pretty cool.

College Bans Wikipedia as Source for Papers

Middlebury College history students are no longer allowed to use Wikipedia in preparing class papers.
The school's history department recently adopted a policy that says it's OK to consult the popular online encyclopedia, but that it can't be cited as an authoritative source by students.
The policy says, in part, "Wikipedia is not an acceptable citation, even though it may lead one to a citable source."
History professor Neil Waters says Wikipedia is an ideal place to start research but an unacceptable way to end it.

From:The Tallahassee Democrat

Monday, February 12, 2007

Universities tap into iPods' potential as learning tool

From the Atlanta Journal:

Universities across Georgia,and the nation,are betting that the ubiquitous iPod, essential equipment for many members of Generation Y, can serve as an effective learning tool. Many of these initiatives rely on iPods, but students use other handheld devices, too, such as PDAs and smart phones.

Georgia colleges have found myriad teaching applications for MP3 and video players, such as Apple's iPod.

At Mercer University's education school, students enrolled in a health nutrition class download digital video clips of their professor acting as an elementary school teacher to illustrate various teaching strategies. The class never meets as a group.

The Medical College of Georgia in Augusta offers 67 how-to videos, some as brief as seven seconds long, that show, for instance, how to set up an IV catheter or measure glucose levels.

A Georgia Tech professor has been running a mini experiment to test whether students who listen to the lecture before class — on their iPods or laptops — perform better on tests.

And at Kennesaw State, students working on a master's degree in applied computer science, such as Payne, have the choice of going to class or downloading lectures.

Apple Inc. launched the iPod in 2001 and has sold more than 90 million of the devices worldwide, according to the company. Because many students are familiar with the use of MP3 players, universities are seizing on the technology.

"We're definitely seeing its growth in education," said Stan Ng, senior director of iPod product marketing at Apple. "It just doesn't have to be music, shows and movies."

More than 100 universities use iTunes U, a free content distribution service hosted by Apple, and dozens of other colleges use their own servers to allow students to download content to their iPods, Ng said.

Duke University, which announced in 2004 that it would be giving free iPods to all incoming freshmen that year, has had a mostly positive experience.

"It generated a lot of very creative teaching and also very creative learning," said Lynne O'Brien, director of the Center for Instructional Technology at Duke.

Duke has since revised its iPod policy and is now making the device available for a discounted price of $99 only to students taking courses that require it.

At Atlanta's Emory University, chemistry professor Justin Gallivan remembers noticing about two years ago that students in his biochemistry class brought tape recorders and iPods to record lectures.

So he bought an iPod and a $39 microphone and started recording the class so students could download his lectures.

Later he added video recording so students can see what he writes in class.

Has attendance slacked?

Not at all, said Gallivan.

"There are still reasons to go to class. It's not a replacement, it's a supplement."

Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville has found many creative uses that go beyond lectures since it incorporated iPod use in 2002. History students watch videos about historical figures and make documentaries; music students podcast the music library; and journalism students create podcast series.

"It's not a passive device. Students are actually engaged in the activity," said Jim Wolfgang, director of the Georgia Digital Innovation Group, part of the University System of Georgia.

But do students learn as much?

Last year, Jim Foley, a professor of computer science at Georgia Tech, decided to try to answer that question by testing two different learning techniques in an advanced computer science class.

One section was taught with in-class lectures; in the other section, students viewed the lectures before class on iPods or laptops.

The lecture content, homework and exams were the same for both groups.

Foley, who is repeating the experiment this semester, found that students using iPods or laptops scored grades about 10 percent better than the in-class lecture section.

He thinks it's because with the lecture out of the way, there is more time for meaningful discussion in the classroom.

The University of Georgia is trying to figure out how to make the best use of the technology.

"When you talk to faculty members [about] using an iPod in their class, it raises their hackles," said Scott Shamp, director of the New Media Institute at Georgia.

Interaction with diverse people is important in the learning experience, he said.

"We can't develop a technology that will take our students totally out of the classroom," he said.

For now, Shamp puts some of his lectures for his new media class online, but the audio is not always synchronized to the visual presentation that accompanies it.

"The challenge is finding the right way to use it in classrooms," Shamp said. "I'm still trying to figure that one out."

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Best Libraries in the USA

In honor of National Library Month, gridskipper (the fabulous urban travel blog) put together an annotated list of "the nation's best and most interesting libraries."
How many of these libraries have you visited?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

lastfm.com and "Scrobbling"

lastfm.com is a fascinating new social music network. Open an account, type in an artist you like and it will create a "station" that will stream similar music to your desktop. Really cool is that it creates a "tag cloud" of similar artists from which you can easily target your favorites or discover artists you would never have found otherwise. You can connect with friends and share playlists and find total strangers with similar tastes. There is also an "iScrobble" plug in that will track the music you play on your iPod and tag that in lastfm. Really cool stuff!

ClaimID - manage your online identity

Maintaining your true identity on the web is tricky, confusing and maybe even a little scary. What is accurately attributed to you, and what is false but blamed on you? With a claimID page, you can easily provide people searching for you with a real picture of your identity. With claimID you can claim your blog, your website and news articles that mention your name into a central place. If someone is searching for you, they previously might not have found all of those important pages. With claimID, you can put your best face forward and let people see the identity you wish to present.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Brilliant short film about Web 2.0

Here's a brilliant video by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University, on Web 2.0 from start to finish.

Powerful point from Michael: We're teaching the machine, and the machine is us. Time to rethink the world. The network is the machine; the machine is us.

Don't ask employees to be passionate about the company!

From Creating Passionate Users
People ask me, "How can I get our employees to be passionate about the company?" Wrong question. Passion for our employer, manager, current job? Irrelevant. Passion for our profession and the kind of work we do? Crucial.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pew Study- Internet Tagging

A December 2006 survey has found that 28% of internet users have tagged or categorized content online such as photos, news stories or blog posts. On a typical day online, 7% of internet users say they tag or categorize online content.

Link to pdf report.

Steve Jobs - Thoughts on Music (and DRM)

Link to article

A portion follows, but the article is worth a read:
Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music. [...]

So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none. If anything, the technical expertise and overhead required to create, operate and update a DRM system has limited the number of participants selling DRM protected music. If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies.

Much of the concern over DRM systems has arisen in European countries. Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free. For Europeans, two and a half of the big four music companies are located right in their backyard. The largest, Universal, is 100% owned by Vivendi, a French company. EMI is a British company, and Sony BMG is 50% owned by Bertelsmann, a German company. Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly.

Princeton joins Google on book scanning

From cnn.
Princeton University has become the 12th major library system to join Google's ambitious, sometimes-controversial project to scan the world's great literary works and make them searchable over the Web.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A new rollable reader


Polymer Vision, the rollable display people, announced today that they will develop a rollable, E Ink-based mobile device together with Telecom Italy. The device looks a bit like Polymer Vision’s earlier proof of concept, the Readius.

The press release mentions that the device will have a 5 inch rollable screen, a whopping 4 GB memory, a mini USB slot for PC synchronization and more (wireless) network goodies. The idea is that you use Telecom Italy’s network to download (and pay for) content, both third party wares and your own. This could include e-mail, news, personalized feeds, location sensitive maps and so on.

Telecom Italy will market the device in Italy, whereas Polymer Vision will market the device in the rest of the world. The “Cellular-Book”, as the device is tentatively called, will be displayed next week at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Blackboard pledges to leave open source projects alone

From The Inquirer

E-LEARNING firm Blackboard said it has pledged to never use its software patents against open source or hom grown course management systems.

That follows a bit of a ruckus the other week - after a request from the Software Freedom Law Center from the US Patent Office for a re-examination of a patent was granted.

Blackboard said its pledge is legally binding, irrevocable and worldwide in scope.

It has committed not to assert patent number 6,988,138 and other pending patents against the development, use or distribution of open source software as long as such systems aren't bundled with proprietary software.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

If the Academic Library Ceased to Exist, Would We Have to Invent It?

Very interesting article from Educause Review

With this premise:
Let's imagine August 2010 at Excellent College (EC), a liberal arts institution of 2,000 undergraduates and 200 faculty. The college has decided to stop funding its library. Instead, it will give students a tuition rebate and give faculty a stipend representing their share of the annual amount that would previously have gone to support the library's collections, facilities, and staff—about $2.7 million total. Each student and faculty member will get $1,230. For now, the library building and hard-copy collections will remain in place, student assistants will keep the doors open, and custodians will clean the facility; but database subscriptions will be discontinued, and no other services will be provided. Since the college has a robust honor code, circulation of materials will be on the honor system. Students and faculty will now be on their own to secure the information resources they need to fulfill their responsibilities.

the author,Lynn Scott Cochrane – Director of Libraries at Denison University, then states several astute predictions about how the scenario might unfold. Worth a read.