Friday, February 27, 2009

Academic Earth

Academic Earth, is a site to view free university lectures.  Acorrding to the site, they have "thousands of video lectures from the world's top scholars."  I found most to be lectures in Business, but it does include some lectures in a broad range of traditional university subjects.  Some of these lectures include an entire semester's worth of video.  

Universites represented include Berkely, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford and Yale.

Hearst to launch a wireless e-reader

The Hearst Corporation, which publishes magazines ranging from Cosmopolitan to Esquire and several financially troubled newspapers, has apparently developed a wireless e-reader with a large-format screen suited to the reading and advertising requirements of newspapers and magazines. The device and underlying technology, which other publishers will be allowed to adapt, is likely to debut this year. "I can't tell you the details of what we are doing, but I can say we are keenly interested in this, and expect these devices will be a big part of our future," Hearst Exec Kenneth Bronfin told Fortune Magazine in a recent interview.

With print revenue in decline and online revenue unable to fill the gap, the $300 billion global publishing industry is increasingly looking to devices like e-readers to lower costs while preserving the business model that has sustained newspapers and magazines. Downloading content from participating newspapers and magazines will occur wirelessly. For durability, the device is likely to have a flexible core, perhaps even foldable, rather than the brittle glass substrates used in readers on the market today.

Does this mean that Hearst is getting into the retail device business? Money Magazine says no following with: "What Hearst and its partners plan to do is sell the e-readers to publishers and to take a cut of the revenue derived from selling magazines and newspapers on these devices. The company will, however, leave it to the publishers to develop their own branding and payment models."

Medical Practice and Mobile Devices

Alison Aldrich on the Dragonfly blog has an interesting post on medical applications on mobile devices. She notes a report stating, "54% of U.S. physicians own a PDA or a smartphone, and more than half of them consider the device to be an integral part of their practice. An estimated 70% of U.S. physicians will be using smartphones by 2011.

As these devices become more common, more library patrons will be using them in their medical lives as well as their personal lives. Alison directs us to a newly recorded presentation by Shikun “KK” Jiang, Medical Applications on Mobile Devices, reviewing several free and fee-based applications for health professionals.

There are currently over 250 medical applications available for the iPhone, alone. The University of British Columbia has published a very interesting wiki called Apple iPhone for physicians.

Epocrates, for example, is a free iPhone download and offers more than 3,300 brand and generic drug monographs, searchable by name or class as well as peer-reviewed drug content summarized from a wide range of authoritative sources, and includes MediMath which provides dozens of medical applications.

Below is a fascinating, if lengthy, discussion of ePocrates, specifically, and modern medical practice in general, but there’s so more. The video gets to some of the important ways that information is accessible from mobile devices in modern medical practice and offers an intimate insight into the many ways mobile technology is impacting medicine.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Timothy Leary Digitization Project

The Timothy Leary Archive is part of a much larger project to digitize all of Dr. Leary's archives and bring him to life in Cyberspace, one of his greatest wishes before he died in 1996. Now, the Timothy Leary Archives are seeking donations to help keep the momentum going. From Denis Berry, trustee of Tim's estate:

"Timothy Leary was a visionary. Realizing the importance of the events of the day, he tenaciously saved records of each phase of his life, capturing not only the budding psychedelic movement and its history, but years later, trumpeting the coming of the digital age of personal computers when this concept was still foreign to most."

"His archival collection contains over 500,000 documents, including hundreds of letters from luminaries of all kinds (Allan Ginsberg, Aldous Huxley, Jack Kerouac, Abbie Hoffman, Robert Anton Wilson), documents from his Harvard research, Millbrook journals, IFIF documents, hundreds of hours of audio and video and thousands of photographs. This collection records not only his life, but the history of the entire psychedelic movement, and more."

"Last week, at a huge reunion event in San Francisco, his estate announced their plans to digitize this collection and place it online as one of the first projects of its kind. Hosted by Brewster Kahle at the Internet Archive, the site will eventually house the entire collection, and it will be completely searchable and indexed. Dr. Leary had this dream before most people even knew what the internet was, or how important it would become."

"We invite you to visit to help support the digitization, by donating to help move the project forward."

Found at: BoingBoing

Kindle 2 review

Engadget has an indepth review with lots of detailed photos. Here is their summary:
When you step back and take a look at the device, it's clear that the most notable changes have come in the form of hardware tweaks. Besides the text-to-speech function, there's not much you can do on the new Kindle that you couldn't do on the old one. Books still cost just as much to download, and you still have largely the same set of options when you get them on the device. The buy-in for the unit itself is $359 -- not cheap -- and everything you put on it is going to cost you a little bit more. After a while, that can start to add up, and we're not convinced it makes sense for just anyone. Ultimately, it boils down to a question of needs, because -- like the first Kindle -- the Kindle 2 doesn't represent such a sea change in technology that we think everyone should run out and buy it.

A lot of people are fond of calling the device an "iPod for books" as if that's just what most people want or require, and we're not so sure of that. Still, the Kindle 2 delivers an enjoyable experience with noticeable leaps in usability, and big leaps in industrial design. If you travel lightly, are a voracious reader, and absolutely love gadgets, you'll probably get this device. Is that everyone? No... but it's a lot of people we know.

Google Peer Review and the state of peer review in general

Peer review is the time-honored way that researchers establish the credibility of their work. Originally that meant well-known researchers would endorse or at least "sign off on" the published works of their peers. Today there are so many credible researchers in such disparate fields of endeavor that it has become increasingly impossible for anyone to know them all or understand their work. In reaction, credibility is currently established by a work’s acceptance for publication or presentation at professional conferences or in reputable journals. The process is lengthy and cumbersome and can be delayed for months as authors wait for reviews or for conference dates to arrive. Additionally, works are often reviewed during a limited pre-publication period by a very small number of individuals in a secretive fashion that promotes hasty and sometimes political decisions. These are extraordinarily talented people who believe they are doing their best to be objective, but the process can often fail.

In a highly publicized, recent case, Hwang et al published fraudulent research on pluripotent stem cells in Science, which was later retracted. For other less publicized cases consult Richard Smith’s book “The Trouble with Medical Journals.” As the former editor of the British Medical Journal, he is in a unique position to report numerous cases of misbehavior by editors, reviewers and authors. A very interesting mathematical simulation of peer review by Neff and Olden, “Is Peer Review a Game of Chance”(pdf) shows that the review process can include a strong “lottery” component, independent of editor and referee integrity and recapitulates the fact that a stringent peer review process will keep out much of the bad science, but also a large amount of the good science. Obviously, a more transparent and open-ended peer review process is needed and that is where the “Social Web” can help.

As it becomes increasingly more practical via the web to evaluate researchers and their work based on the reviews of their actual peers, the need for endorsement by centralized big-name journals begins to diminish. Always reacting to web trends - in this case the rise of "Social Media" - Google has facilitated the launch of a new project called Google Peer Review. I say "facilitated" because Google's only involvement in the open-source endeavor thus far has been to provide hosting services for the project. Google Peer Review was started by a young programmer, Mike Gasher, and has been joined by several other interested individuals. The intention is to do for scientific publishing what the world wide web has done for media publishing by allowing “vetted” reviewers write a review of someone's work and digitally sign them together.

There is a lively discussion underway here and a wiki has also been established. You can learn how to join the project here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Who is watching your space?

This video is taken from an OCLC conference looking at the impact of the digital, the public and the private, and the way that information is organised online. It insists that libraries make a stand, and take the lead in this era of new paradigms for information discovery and retrieval.

All that is solid melts into Google

Whatever you think of Google, this powerful short film by Pete Woodbridge will make you consider Google in a new light.

all that is solid melts into google from Peter Woodbridge on Vimeo.

From the author:
this is the first cut of an essay film about technology and control, it describes google, but a lot of it refers to the internet itself and how it has become alligned with making us think in the last few years.

it has some concerns in it about digital imperialism, i think that we need to question the authorities that have such a massive impact on our lives and the way we experience everything (almost). This used to be the news folk like the murdochs, the bbc and the cnns of the world. But this has moved to the web folk.

The Pale Blue Dot

A beautiful film about us

Vir-Ed: Viral Education from Coventry University

The viral education project (vir-ed) is a media research project looking at how we can adopt creative dissemination strategies from web 2.0 philosophy to engage people in higher education and learning on the social web.

It is looking into the way that we can leverage fragmented, liquid and ambient web viewing narratives to engage students, teachers and researchers in innovative ways of thinking about academic publishing.

Found at The Lone Wolf Librarian

and at

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Creative Juice

If you've ever wondered where creative juice comes from (and where they farm creative directors), this video will explain it all. Fun and worth a look.


Wowbrary was created to make public libraries more visible and accessible to everyone.

Just enter your zip code, select a library or libraries and Wowbrary will notify you by email and/or RSS about your chosen public library’s newest books, movies and music making it easy to browse through the latest additions and place a hold on a new title. This is a free user service supported by grants, donations, sponsorships, book sale commissions and volunteers.

Wowbrary is a project of Interactive Sciences, Inc., a California nonprofit 501(c)(3) public-benefit corporation that uses technology to help with social needs. Beginning in 2001, Interactive Sciences has been building experiments to research creative approaches to better connect people with the many resources available via their libraries. Wowbrary is the first of these innovations to be released for general use.

What users like about Wowbrary

  • Knowing about all the newest books, movies, and music

  • Ease, convenience, speed of browsing

  • Categorization

  • It comes automatically

  • It makes the library more visible, transparent

New York Times "Skimmer" and Marc Andreessen

Apparently in an effort to make its content more "web friendly" the New York Times has launched its news "Skimmer" which displays content by category. Just tap the space bar to move between interests and click an article to read. It seems to work quite well, but I am still not so sure of the future of newspapers, in general.

I caught Marc Andreessen on Charlie Rose the other night - a truly brilliant man - and he thinks the game is over. Among many things, he said regarding print newspapers:
You’ve got a problem. But you have to build for the future. I mean if you’re — if you’re the guy delivering ice to people’s ice boxes, at a certain point, you better go into the refrigerator repair business or you’re going to have an issue. If you’re the village blacksmith and a model T comes along, you better become a mechanic. People’s lives are better when they get news online versus having to wait for the morning paper. It’s a lot more efficient, a lot more real time, a lot less waste. It’s actually — like everything about the online experience is better. And at some point, you have to — I believe, as a responsible manager, reorient –

Full transcript and video here. Embeded video below:

Animated Ramayana to Air on PBS: 'Sita Sings the Blues'

Nina Paley's animated retelling of the Ramayana, a classic Indian myth (it's 3,000 years old), called "Sita Sings the Blues" will be aired on PBS on March 7th. The film has won just about every award possible , but distribution had been stopped by an unforeseen copyright claim on some of the 1920s music that is integral to the film.

Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this beautifully animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana. Set to the 1920's jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw, Sita Sings the Blues earns its tagline as "The Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told."

Of Paley's self-produced, self-made film, New York Times author Margy Rochlin writes:
"As engaging as the film is, explaining it is tricky: along with traditional 2-D animation there are cutouts, collages, photographs and scenes with hand-painted watercolors as the backdrop. At certain points Ms. Paley mixes laughs with exposition by having three flat silhouette characters dispute the details of the Ramayana's tragic saga of the Hindu goddess Sita, who is exiled by her husband, Rama, who fears she has been unfaithful after she is abducted by a demon king. At other points Ms. Paley weaves in the story of her own collapsing marriage, and the time switches from ancient India to present-day San Francisco and Manhattan, the images hand-drawn and jittery. In between everything else are flash-animation musical numbers featuring Sita in voluptuous Betty Boop-like form -- almond-shaped head, saucer eyes and swaying hips -- accompanied by the warbling voice of a real-life flapper-era singer named Annette Hanshaw."
I can't wait! Here is a link to some great "stills" from the film.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Signal Patterns Personality Test

Signal Patterns is a quick and easy little personality test based on a novel algorithm that scores unique personality traits rather than rough "buckets" of personality types. To describe each person, the algorithm uses 45 different personality traits, each scored on a separate scale, resulting in extremely unique depictions of one’s personality. Very interesting. Give it a try.

Found at The Lone Wolf Librarian

Library Services Value Calculator

The Denver Public Library has installed a Return on Investment Calculator that allows users to calculate their monthly return on investment as taxpayers and overall value they receive from the library.

Very well done article in The Denver Post.

Found via The Lone Wolf Librarian

Please note further credits for the calculator in the first comment. Thanks, Walt.

Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year

From: The Guardian

The Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year, also known as the Diagram Prize, is a humorous literary award that is given to the book with the oddest title. The award was created by publisher Bruce Robertson to provide entertainment during the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1978.

Nominees are selected from submissions sent in by librarians, publishers, and booksellers, although people cannot select books they publish themselves. However, since 1993, readers of The Bookseller have been allowed to nominate titles. Titles which are deliberately designed to be funny are normally rejected. There have been two occasions, in 1987 and 1991, in which no award was presented because Bent felt no title was odd enough to win.

Here are the winners since 2000 (this year's nominees at The Guardian link):

  • 2000: High Performance Stiffened Structures

  • 2001: Butterworths Corporate Manslaughter Service

  • 2002: Living with Crazy Buttocks

  • 2003: The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories

  • 2004: Bombproof Your Horse

  • 2005: People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It

  • 2006: The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification

  • 2007: If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start with Your Legs

Full list at Wikipedia

Friday, February 20, 2009

Handy Phrases for your Visit to Borneo

Phrases you are likely to need in Borneo, to judge from a phrasebook distributed in 1966 by the Borneo Literature Bureau:

  • Wait while I remove these leeches.

  • I have been bitten by sand flies.

  • There are too many rats.

  • There are a lot of mosquitoes here.

  • The cockroaches have eaten my shirt.

  • Is this poisonous?

  • What made that noise?

  • Is Sibu Laut in a swamp?

  • Is there a taboo on your house?

  • Is the burning finished?

  • Where can I defecate?

  • Is that fish dangerous?

  • This floor is not safe.

  • The roof is leaking.

  • There is no room in this boat.

  • We must keep dry.

  • I can't come for a time because the monsoon will soon start.

  • She has a bad pain/snakebite/gunshot wound.

  • Tear some clean cloth into strips.

  • Keep him warm.

  • Go quickly for help.

  • This vomiting needs urgent treatment.

  • I do not know what is wrong. You must take her to the clinic.

  • Your eyes need treatment, or you will become blind.

Book Cover Archive

A friend stumbled over yet another site displaying book covers. The Book Cover Archive does a pretty good job. Take a look.

Here are a few more:

Very Cool Photo Collage Generator

Shape Collage is a free application that takes your photos, or file of photos, and generates a very well drawn photo collage of them. Using the application is as simple as dragging your photos into the left-hand pane, and clicking the Create button to generate a new collage. The options can be tweaked to change the collage to any size, shape, or spacing—you can even draw your own custom shape. Once you've generated the collage, they can be saved to JPG, PNG or PSD file—with no watermarks anywhere, making this an excellent software for creating your next poster or wallpaper.

Shape Collage is a free download and works wherever the Java platform does.

Use Older Cookbooks for fewer calories

Have you noticed a change in cookbooks? I have because I frequently go to my vintage 1960s edition of “The Joy of Cooking” in preference to the “new and improved” abomination they foisted on us in its last incarnation. Over at LifeHacker there is an interesting article claiming using older cookbooks is more healthful - at least from a caloric view point. Regarding the older version of JOC, chances are recipes in the latest edition contain 40 percent more calories than previous editions, according to a recent study.

That's mostly due to larger portions called for by the cookbooks, in which researchers found a general 40 percent increase in calorie counts across a 70-year span, or roughly 77 more calories each. In some cases, like with Joy of Cooking's brownie recipe, the pan size and ingredient list were identical, yet the recipe claimed to yield 15 brownies instead of 30, but in others the actual food output jumped as well to serve the same number of people.

So holding onto a tattered copy of an older cookbook isn't such a bad idea, it turns out. And, just because a recipe yields a larger helpings, you don't have to eat it all.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pride and Prejudice told through Facebook status updates

OK, enough about some fun:

Full post here.

Library Website of the Future

Found at The Lone Wolf Librarian.

Inside Higher Education has a lengthy article titled The Library Website of the Future excerpted here:

“…The primary function of the contemporary academic library Web site is to connect a user to content, be it an article database, e-book or e-journal article, and to do it with minimal barriers and maximum speed and ease. Faculty and students tend to have their one or two favorites, for example, JSTOR for many faculty and Academic Search Premier for students. For those highly popular e-resources the portal may get the job done. A serious flaw needing correction is the failure of the academic library Web site to invite the user community to, in simple ways, discover the full range of resources available for their research. Bruce Springsteen laments having 57 channels and nothing to watch. Faculty and students can access from dozens to hundreds of databases with little or no idea what they are or how to find them.

So it is little surprise that faculty and students rarely use the library’s Web site to connect to content that satisfies their scholarly needs. Instead they invent their own backdoor routes to the content, but in doing so may miss related or new electronic resources made available by the library. You may argue that faculty and students forged their own paths to circumvent the library back in the print only days, but now the possibilities for and associated risks of missing important resources are astronomically greater…”

Academic Research A Painful Process For Students

A new report, What Today's College Students Say about Conducting Research in the Digital Age, from an organization that is trying to learn more about what it is like to be a college student in the digital age may provide insight into our development of on-line research tools . Project Information Literacy is a national research study based in the University of Washington’s Information School. PIL seeks to understand how students conduct research for assignments and everyday needs. During the fall semester of 2008 PIL conducted 11 discussion groups on 7 college and university campuses and talked with 86 full-time students in the humanities and social sciences. They collected these first-hand accounts from students about how they move through the research process, and the solutions they apply as they proceed. One significant finding from the report:
"We have found that no matter where students are enrolled, no matter what information resources they may have at their disposal, and no matter how much time they have…Research seems to be far more difficult to conduct in the digital age than it did in previous times."

"Many participants considered formal library instruction (one-time, individual class visits) of little value to them, too. Throughout our sessions, participants reported that “library talks” (i.e., bibliographic instruction) made sense at the time, but that it was hard to recall and apply months later, when students were working on a research assignment."

"Other participants reported that they infrequently consulted librarians with the search terms they entered into scholarly research databases. Students told us “we are just as capable to enter basic search terms as librarians can,” “that I’ve been able to get by, so far, without librarians,” and “I don’t need a tour of the library, I just need to find one” One student said, “my first step used to be the library, but it was too much information, now I just go to the Web.”

"We found, generally, that when students did not receive (or request) the service they value delivered at the moment they need it from librarians, they quickly change course. Participants found a solution on their own, which is usually found online and derived from self-taught techniques that help them find the context they need."

In Defense of Readers

As an avid reader who typically jumps out of one book right into the next I am sure I have developed some of the traits enumerated in a wonderful little essay over at A List Apart.

From the article:
The best readers are obstinate. They possess a nearly inexhaustible persistence that drives them to read, regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in. I’ve seen a reader absorbed in Don Quixote while seated at a noisy bar; I’ve witnessed the quintessential New York reader walk the streets with a book in hand; of late I’ve seen many a reader devour books on their iPhone (including one who confessed to reading the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy while scrolling with his thumb). And millions of us read newspapers, magazines, and blogs on our screens every day—claims that no one reads anymore notwithstanding.

What each of these readers has in common is an ability to create solitude under circumstances that would seem to prohibit it. Reading is a necessarily solitary experience—like dying, everyone reads alone—but over the centuries readers have learned how to cultivate that solitude, how to grow it in the least hospitable environments. An experienced reader can lose herself in a good text with anything short of a war going on (and, sometimes, even then)—the horticultural equivalent of growing orchids in a desert.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


EthicShare is a research and collaboration website for scholars working in the field of ethics. The site features a rich database of literature, with an initial focus on bioethics. The EthicShare collection features scholarly articles, books, archival and digital objects, popular press literature, dissertations, and commission reports, as well as blogs and other sources.
As a research site, EthicShare users can:

  • Search
  • Save and organize citations and search histories
  • Tag citations, labeling them in ways that are useful to you and to other users of the site
  • Join or create groups to share citations, discuss ideas, upload files, and work collaboratively. Groups can be private or public
  • Contribute content to the database
  • Import citations into Endnote, RefWorks, or word documents
  • Rate and comment on literature, issues, or other aspects of the site
  • Find information about upcoming events and deadlines in your field, news, and more

Ten essentials for any library site

As a designer of web-based library services I am always on the lookout for new ideas and confirmation from my peers that our design team is heading in the right direction. We have made a strong effort to incorporate user-friendly design standards into our products and to implement Library 2.0 features and discovery tools such as tagging, facets, user reviews, social networking, RSS, live chat and more. Bells and whistles aside, this article in today’s “Library Journal” confirms we have made some smart choices and provides excellent guidance for the refinement of our products. Take a look at our Primo-powered beta site and let us know what you think. Because we serve 28 different schools, the header will be different on each site (and we have no control over its appearance) - just focus on the services offered below the header.

From the article :
The web site is your library's most important feature. Think about it: Where do people go to find out if a book is available, or if you carry a particular DVD or magazine? Patrons use the web site for numerous functions, such as renewing materials, placing holds, requesting information, and accessing databases. The homepage is the place they turn to look up your hours, branch locations, policies, and events. Whether users are at work, at home, in your building, or on their iPhone, the library's web site is the interface that you provide for them.

Facebook, terms of service and your data.

The blogosphere is buzzing about Monday's changes to Facebook’s terms of use. Under both the old and new rules, members grant Facebook a license to use content “on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.” But the revised agreement, implemented with no warning or user consent, eliminates language saying this license would “automatically expire” if content were removed from the site. The issue of who controls the data posted to the site is a massive gray area that continues to evolve as Internet companies and consumers shape social norms of how to define trust in the digital age and share their lives through new technology.

Facebook already knows your age, education and employment data, it has seen your wedding pictures - and anything else you have decided to post. The key question is, do consumers understand what can happen to their data? Privacy experts often warn that the notion that consumers can control the content they post online is illusory. Yet, most users don’t bother reading terms of service or question a company’s intentions when they sign up for a new site. Most of us just trust the vendor to do a good job and protect our data. In response to the uproar Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said, “We wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work.” I hope so. Zuckerberg's note to users is here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Tribal Leadership" Free Download

From Publishers Weekly:

The authors, management consultants and partners of JeffersonLarsonSmith, offer a fascinating look at corporate tribes—groups of 20–150 people within a company that come together on their own rather than through management decisions—and how executives can use tribes to maximize productivity and profit. Drawing upon research from a 10-year study of more than 24,000 people in two dozen organizations, they argue that tribes have the greatest influence in determining how much and what quality work gets done. The authors identify the five stages of employee tribal development—Life sucks, My life sucks, I'm great and you're not, We're great and Life is great—and offer advice on how to manage these groups. They also share insights from the health care, philanthropic, engineering, biotechnology and other industries and include key points lists for each chapter. Particularly useful is the Tribal Leader's Cheat Sheet, which helps determine and assess success indicators. Well written and enlightening, this book will be of interest to business professionals at all levels.

Free download here. Registration is required, but short

Free audiobook: "Great American Presidents"

LearnOutLoud's Great American Presidents collects four biographies of some of America's most celebrated leaders. Here we journey through history, as we examine the lives of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Beginning with Washington's story as he formulates the presidency and ending with FDR's firm command during the Second World War, this audiobook offers American history as seen through the lense of the men that helped shape its course. These biographies are the Wikipedia articles for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Available for free download here.

Kindle2 and derivative works

Reading aloud and derivative works?! Oh please! Kindle2 comes along and has text to speech conversion and authors complain because reading aloud constitutes a derivative work? Seriously?! Can I still read children's books aloud for storytime? Is there an exception for that? Hmm, is storytime a public performance? Are we going to have to stop that too!?

Thanks to Public Knowledge, the WSJ and the Copyright Advisory Network.

The FTC's public hearing on DRM

The Federal Trade Commission's DRM conference is coming up in March and has already attracted 700 user comments... almost universally negative. Surprisingly, the main concerns in the comments don't appear to be about DVDs or protected music files but about video games.

Today is the last day to comment and you may do so here.

Roals Dah'ls Writing Hut

Roald Dahl moved to Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire in 1954. He wrote all of his children's stories in a writing hut that was specially built in his garden. It was his privte place to write and no one else was allowed in. Take a look inside.

Complete Color Palette

A very useful tool, with Complete Color Palette you can turn a selected image into a color scheme for your projects and designs. You can upload any PNG, GIF or JPEG that is less than 1MB in size and Colors Palette Generator will extract colors from it. The application creates three basic palettes of the light, medium, and dark colors, as well as a grid of 49 shades from the image if you're not satisfied with the palettes it has created. Once you find the look you like, you can export it as either a Photoshop swatches file or as a CSS stylesheet. No sign-up required and it is free.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Congress Bans Children from Libraries

Thanks again to an overreacting, unthinking congress, libraries and their patrons end up in the cross hairs of congressional action. In an overreaction to an isolated problem of lead in toys made in China and without considering the scope of the problem or their bill, congress passed the "Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act." Thanks to a few highly publicized toy recalls and even though the Centers for Disease Control does not list toy contamination as a potential danger, congress rushed through a bill which will effect the entire US economy; from all new products, green organic products, homemade baby clothes to second hand toys in thrift shops. The CPSIA, intended to keep lead out of toys, may well also keep books out of libraries, says Emily Sheketoff, associate executive director of the American Library Association.

Since the law applies to both new and current items, libraries must test all their children's books for lead contamination or remove the books from their shelves, or remove the children from the library. Historically books were considered more dangerous to read than to eat but thanks to a memo by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, passed Christmas Eve, even books that were previously tested by their publishers will have to be tested again.

Since the law applies to products designed for children 12 years and younger it also applies to products and books designed for some middle school children. Yes, you really need to worry about middle schoolers chewing on their books. If you think this is a ridiculous overreaction please take a moment to contact your congressional representative and ask them to repeal this poor example of a law.

Friday, February 13, 2009

iPhone App May be the Future of Music Downloads

It looks like iPhone apps might (will) be the next hot way to release music. This 10-track iPhone app from the Grammy-nominated electronic artist Deadmau5 lets anyone with an iPhone mix and remix every song in the album. The company plans to apply the same approach to several other electronica albums as well.

Deadmau5's iPhone app ($3 on iTunes) lets you load any of 10 quantized Deadmau5 tracks into its dual-track playback engine, which works pretty much like professional DJ software while being easy enough for anyone to experiment with.

You can change BPM, control up to four concurrent effects, skip to the next phrase or back to the last one, loop a phrase, and cross fade between the two tracks, or from one to the next. When some albums cost $18 on CD, a $3 album that includes the ability to remix it each time you listen seems like a pretty good deal. And since the tool is so easy to use, it lets anyone DJ a dance party by plugging their iPhone or iPod Touch into a stereo and letting 'er rip.

Thanks Wired

Thursday, February 12, 2009

On Toast

I stumbled across a wonderful little "Toast Post" over at OnGoing on the virtues, methods and enjoyment of such a simple thing s toast. Worth sharing.

It’s important. If I had to list things that differentiate us from Neolithic club-wielders or fundamentalist Scripture-wielders or videospud remote-wielders, good hot morning toast would be right up there. It seems simple and it is, but not easy.

Thoughts, instructions and pleasure after the jump.

Grooveshark Has Florida Connection

I first heard about the music site Grooveshark from someone in Brazil via Second Life a couple of months ago. I tried it out and liked it but did not realize until last week that the site was started by a University of Florida student and still operates out of Gainesville. Now, even if you're a Noles fan, you gotta be happy for this guy.

I would say it is something of a cross between streaming radio sites like Pandora and your own personal files like iTunes. You can listen to entire songs without purchase (unlike iTunes) and create and save your own playlists, etc. You can even upload your own tunes. You can then easily share those with friends and see their playlists as well.

Basically, you create your own shareable tunes lists of any music you want. The catch is...the tunes are not downloaded. On the positive side of that, there are no copyright issues as with file sharing sites. The downside is you cannot load them into your mp3 player or iPod.

All in all, a great way to discover and listen to new music -- and share with others!

Their stated goals: "To improve the connection between people and music. To change the music industry in ways they seem so unwilling to consider. To have fun."

Go gators? ...

Bookcrossing - Track Books You Have Shared

Bookcrossing is a community of 747,682 book lovers in nearly 150 countries who share books among friends. As the books are shared they make their way further and further (and maybe back nearer) the original owner. Bookcrossing tracks the books geographically as they migrate! What a cool idea.

You simply register the book on the site, receive a tracking number and inscribe it on your book before sending it on its way. As each new reader receives it, they simply log it into the site and eventually pass it on.

There is much more available at the site including forums, book search, reviews and comments and much more!

Nameless Letter

NamelessleTTer is a collaborative art project where people from all horizons leave personalized bookmarks in books with the goal of seeing other readers discover them. The most interesting and original bookmarks will be posted on the website and you can instantly share them on several social networking sites. It is also geolinked to Google Maps pin-pointing where new bookmarks have been left. Very cool idea!

Example: Left in "The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia"......

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Trader Joe's Fan Ad that is sure to go viral

Too good not to share.

OK, I posted the video yesterday and today I stumbled across this post over at Tame the Web and I have pretty much copied it here. It needs repeating, though:

Great post from David Armano who looks at a customer-created video “commercial” for Trader Joe’s and urges the most cool grocery store not to crush the initiative. Instead, he offers sage advice that librarians should take to heart as well for content created by the public about their institutions:

There are close to 100 comments on the video and over 33,000 views of the video. Track all mentions and embeds of the video and listen to how people are responding to it. If Trader Joe’s isn’t using a conversation monitering service, go with the the tools available out there such as
social mention.

The video is mostly complimentary but shows Trader Joe’s warts and all. Once input has been gathered from across the Web, put together a report with some qualitative findings that can be discussed internally within the organization. Remember, a brand isn’t what you say it is—it’s what they say it is. What can Trader Joe’s Learn if anything

Use the video as fodder to figure out how your orginzation will respond to these types of inevitable situations (similar to the volume content generated by
scores unofficial Trader Joe blogs). Maybe it’s time for to embrace some of these fan blogs/videos? There’s some great stuff out there.

Engage your customers in the comments. Talk to them—but only after you’ve taken the other steps. Use it as an opportunity to get into why they love your brand and what could be better about it. Then go back to listening—lather, rinse and repeat.

Twittering Librarians

While I am personally still trying to figure out Twitter and how to best use it to further our cause, I stumbled across a directory of Twittering Librarians, joined and decided to share it here.

Unconventional Times Call for Unconventional Paths

The graphic is blatantly stolen from The Lone Wolf Librarian, but is so appropriate to todays product development and marketing cycle it needs to be spread about. Great post at the link.

The Beatles Complete on Ukulele

From the site:
A Mission Statement by Roger and Dave

Roger and Dave will....

A) Record & perform on ukulele all 185 original compositions by The Beatles with 185 guest artists.

B) Write essays to coincide with each release.

C) Make available for download one new recording and essay every Tuesday for 185 weeks, beginning January 20, 2009 (Inauguration Day) and climaxing July 24, 2012 (The eve of the London Olympics)
Songs available for down load or playing here.

The Hyperlinked Library

Michael Stephens over at Tame the Web has posted slides from his latest presentation, "The Hyperlinked Library" and they resonate so strongly with me I had to post them here. As a member of a group of intrepid explorers of the information universe trying valiantly to bring innovation to a generally unreceptive audience, I am constantly encountering "gatekeepers" to information that simply don't realize that the walls have been torn down, the gates are completely irrelevant and no one wants to talk to the gatekeeper. His notes and slides are available at the links and are so very important to those who not only recognize the change that has engulfed us, but who are embracing the tide.

Short excerpt below and link to the post here, and to the slides here.
The Hyperlinked Library is an open, participatory institution that welcomes user input and creativity. It is built on human connections and conversations. The organizational chart is flatter and team-based. The collections grow and thrive via user and staff involvement. Librarians are tapped in to user spaces and places online to interact, have presence and point the way.

The hyperlinked library is human. Communication, externally and internally, is in a human voice. The librarians speak to users via open, transparent conversation.
The hyerlinked library provides spaces and places for users to interact, to collaborate and to create content. In an age of digital tools such as video editing stations, podcast studios and multimedia PCs, this library is a place to have access to all manner of new and emerging technologies. To test drive. To make something.
The hyperlinked library has flattened the organizational chart, breaking down the layers of “permission” and “channels” to get things done, and looks for ways to streamline processes, procedures, and dreaded policies.

The hyperlinked library has a plan for succession management and knowledge transfer— wikis, blogs and other tools maintain the knowledgebase and the “history” of how the library works and what procedures have been successful. No one is the keeper of individual knowledge, so if that person departs the knowledge does not leave with them.

The hyperlinked library is simply the Read/Write library, where conversations, connections, and community are born – in the words of Ranganathan, it is still a “living organism.”

Library services and organizational models are changing with the onset of emerging philosophies, Web 2.0 tools and user perceptions of libraries. Users are responding by creating content and may want to do it with library data and in library space. How should the library respond? In this presentation, Michael Stephens explores a range of important questions for the evolving Hyperlinked Library:

  • What makes a library transparent?

  • What do nimble organizations do?

  • What does the Read/Write library look like?

  • What trends are impacting library services

  • How have libraries adopted a 2.0 philosophy?

  • As new technologies and services become available, how do we effectively plan in libraries?

  • How do we plan to optimize staff, money, and time?

  • How do we determine what’s important and what’s not?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Complete Animated History of the Internet

A fascinating history of something amazing that we already take for granted. The film bounces all the way back to 1957 when the concept of a computer file-sharing concept was initiated. 1957 was also the year styrofoam was invented. Coincidence? I don't think so. Cold beer and the internet. Nom.

Thanks Gizmodo

Stonehenge Decyphered - Sorta

While not truly in the realm of information science, I found this video so compelling I had to share it. Wally Wallington has figured out how to manipulate the huge stones used to build the original Stonehenge, and he does it alone, by hand with no power assist. It is amazing and a credit to Wally's ingenuity. Enjoy!

And thanks to J-Walk Blog via Miss Cellania

Monday, February 09, 2009

Kindle 2 photos

Official-looking photos of the Kindle 2 have emerged and the new e-reader from Amazon looks thinner, sleeker and lighter! If the pencil comparison is accurate, then the new Kindle appears to shed much of its width, coming in as thin as the Sony PRS-505 reader, and little bit longer than both the original Kindle and the Sony Reader. The Kindle 2 also appears to have a metal back with built-in speakers.The Kindle 2 is expected to hit Amazon on the 24th of February for $359, the same price as the current Kindle. This is still all unconfirmed but the information seems to jive with previous rumors and the source of the leak, MobileRead, is well-known in the e-book world.

Friday, February 06, 2009

2009 Horizon Report

The New Media Consortium (NMC) and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) has published the 2009 Horizon Report (download pdf). This extensive annual report goes into great detail and identifies six emerging technologies expected to have a significant impact on teaching and learning over the next 5 years. Briefly:

  • Mobiles. Already considered as another
    component of the network on many campuses,
    mobiles continue to evolve rapidly. New interfaces,
    the ability to run third-party applications, and
    location-awareness have all come to the mobile
    device in the past year, making it an ever more
    versatile tool that can be easily adapted to a
    host of tasks for learning, productivity, and
    social networking. For many users, broadband
    mobile devices like the iPhone have already
    begun to assume many tasks that were once
    the exclusive province of portable computers.

  • Cloud Computing. The emergence of large-
    scale “data farms” — large clusters of networked
    servers — is bringing huge quantities of
    processing power and storage capacity within
    easy reach. Inexpensive, simple solutions to
    offsite storage, multi-user application scaling,
    hosting, and multi-processor computing are
    opening the door to wholly different ways of
    thinking about computers, software, and files.

  • Geo-everything. Geocoded data has many
    applications, but until very recently, it was time-
    consuming and difficult for non-specialists to
    determine the physical coordinates of a place
    or object, and options for using that data were
    limited. Now, many common devices can
    automatically determine and record their own
    precise location and can save that data along
    with captured media (like photographs) or can
    transmit it to web-based applications for a host
    of uses. The full implications of geo-tagging are
    still unfolding, but the impact in research has
    already been profound.

  • The Personal web. Springing from the desire
    to reorganize online content rather than simply
    viewing it, the personal web is part of a trend that
    has been fueled by tools to aggregate the flow of
    content in customizable ways and expanded by
    an increasing collection of widgets that manage
    online content. The term personal web was
    coined to represent a collection of technologies
    that are used to configure and manage the
    ways in which one views and uses the Internet.
    Using a growing set of free and simple tools and
    applications, it is easy to create a customized,
    personal web-based environment — a personal
    web — that explicitly supports one’s social,
    professional, learning, and other activities.

  • Semantic-Aware Applications. New applica-
    tions are emerging that are bringing the promise
    of the semantic web into practice without the
    need to add additional layers of tags, identifiers,
    or other top-down methods of defining context.
    Tools that can simply gather the context in which
    information is couched, and that use that context
    to extract imbedded meaning are providing rich
    new ways of finding and aggregating content. At
    the same time, other tools are allowing context
    to be easily modified, shaped, and redefined as
    information flows are combined.

  • Smart Objects. Sometimes described as the
    “Internet of things,” smart objects describe a
    set of technologies that is imbuing ordinary
    objects with the ability to recognize their
    physical location and respond appropriately, or
    to connect with other objects or information.
    A smart object “knows” something about itself
    — where and how it was made, what it is for,
    where it should be, or who owns it, for example
    — and something about its environment. While
    the underlying technologies that make this
    possible — RFID, QR codes, smartcards, touch
    and motion sensors, and the like — are not
    new, we are now seeing new forms of sensors,
    identifiers, and applications with a much more
    generalizable set of functionalities.

  • From TED: MIT Students Turn Internet Into a Sixth Human Sense

    Students at the MIT Media Lab have developed a wearable computing system that turns any surface into an interactive display screen. The prototype was built from an ordinary webcam and a battery-powered 3M projector, with an attached mirror -- all connected to an internet-enabled mobile phone. The setup, which costs less than $350, allows the user to project information from the phone onto any surface -- walls, the body of another person or even your hand.

    When the wearer encounters someone at a party, the system projects a cloud of words on the person's body to provide more information about him -- his blog URL, the name of his company, his likes and interests.

    While shopping the system analyzes items for best pricing, customer reviews and more. Draw a circle on your wrist and the system projects a virtual wristwatch on the spot. In another frame the wearer picks up a boarding pass while he's sitting in a car. He projects the current status of his flight and gate number he's retrieved from the flight-status page of the airline onto the card.

    If the user wants to read e-mail on his phone, he draws an @ symbol in the air with his finger. He can project a phone pad onto his palm and dial a number without removing the phone from his pocket. As he reads the newspaper on the subway he can project a video onto the page that provides more information about the topic he's reading.

    Absolutely amazing technology. And thanks Wired


    I came across the "Truth-o-Meter" which is actually part of the St. Petersburg Times. There are sub-sections for a "Flip-o-Meter" and "Chain Mail Truth" and even an "Obameter" that tracks all 510 promises President Obama made while campaigning. I post it here for no political reasons or agenda, but only because it is an interesting use of technology to track commitments and promises.

    Thursday, February 05, 2009

    The We Generation

    Moving, sometimes disturbing and definitely challenging. How will we serve this generation?

    Thanks to Tame the Web

    Google Unveils Cell-Phone Digital Book Collection

    Google today unveiled what could be the largest collection of digital books formatted for cell phones. The company took 1.5-million of the books it has scanned through its partnership with several major college libraries and prepped them for the small screen of iPhones or phones using Google’s Android operating system.
    The collection only includes books that are in the public domain, so the it highlights classics like Emma and This Side of Paradise.
    Developers spent about a year working on the cell-phone format, said Frances Hawgen, aproduct manager for Google, in an interview today. One key innovation: when users click on any paragraph of the text, they call up a picture of that paragraph from the original scan of the library book. That’s important for times when Google’s software goofed in turning the picture of the text into a digital file. (Such imperfections are common in any book-scanning effort.)
    Ms. Hawgen said she re-read a favorite book, Wuthering Heights, on her cell phone and had no problem reading for long periods on the small screen. It is hard to imagine students doing their English homework curled up with their cell phones, though. —Jeffrey R. Young

    The Future of Federated Search

    I stumbled upon a very interesting and predictive article by Steven Bell, Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services at Temple University, over at Federated Search Blog. He was the first runner up in the federated search writing contest. The aim of the contest was to predict the future of federated search. Below is Steven’s bio and his essay, in its entirety. Excerpt:

    "Early on, convincing students to use federated search was no easy task. For too long these complacent searchers limited themselves to the one database they knew well or the one some professor told them to use. What’s the point of having 400 or 500 databases with hundreds of thousands of full-text articles if you have no idea what they represent, when to use them, why they are useful or how to get at them? Federated search was supposed to eliminate this what, when, where, why and how conundrum, and replace it with who cares – just get good results - fast. The point was to focus energies on the results and engaging with it for research and learning. But in 2008 federated search was often less effective than what it was supposed to replace or supplement. It was clunky, slow and limited. Who could have expected it would improve so vastly over the past 10 years."


    "For hardcore librarians the big knock against federated searching was always the loss of features found in the native databases. Even something as simple as a limit to any group of database’s controlled vocabulary was exceedingly difficult. These losses were just a tradeoff one made for the ease of federated searching. It took until 2014 to eliminate this barrier to creative search. Of course it helps that in Web 5.0 the translators are no longer limited to the most basic fields, but can now rapidly process searches targeting multiple fields across databases. With the addition of predictive search in 2015 it became even less necessary for the end user to even know what search fields were or how they contributed to better search results. They could simply enter their search, using either hand or voice input, and the system would visually present multiple search field options. Want to search by author, image or words in article titles? With just a touch of the screen or voice command any combination of search fields, across any number of different search systems, could be combined to produce precise results. We were finally reaching the stage where consistently reliable and accurate federated search results were on the cusp of becoming reality."

    We Will Be Here for You

    A short and to the point video made by Jakub Dajc for the SLA Centennial Anniversary Video Contest

    Library Signage

    Who knew? There is a very interesting collection of library signage over at Flickr in the group called Library Signage and the collection is quite extensive. From mundane to insane - a fun browse.


    “Broken gets fixed. Shoddy lasts forever.”

    One of the developers I work with said this after I complained about a lingering issue in one of our products. It rings true. When deadlines are tight, and there is more work to get done than there are developers or hours in the schedule, it’s not the squeaky wheel, but the jammed one that gets the grease. The lesson, then, is to make sure it gets done right the first time. You never know when you’ll have the opportunity to revisit it.

    Stolen over at DesignAday