Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Super Searcher shares 25 Search Techniques

This is from a CIL 2009 presentation titled, Super Searcher shares 25 Search Techniques. I haven't tried them all, but those I have tried are interesting. Here's an image from Viewzi. Viewzi shows a thumbnail on mouse over. It wants to turn my site search from blah to bling. Some of the others are interesting too. I like Highlighter. Not sure when I'm going to use it, but it's a good concept. The link to the whole list is here from Mary Ellen Bates of Bates Information Service. It took quite a while to load for me, but maybe my timing was bad. Thanks to David Lee King for the tip. Cool stuff!

Amazing world, Nobody's Happy

OK, this is all over the web, but I don't think we blogged here. Enjoy!

Microsofts shuts down Encarta

Microsoft has announced that it's terminating its encyclopedia effort Encarta after 16 years in the business of collecting and publishing knowledge and historic information. The reasons for Encarta's doom are obvious: it's become increasingly technologically irrelevant.

On its Encarta website yesterday Microsoft made the announcement that "The category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed [...] People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past." As a result the subscription-based Encarta Web site (which replaced the original CD/DVD interactive editions) will be closed starting October 31 everywhere except Japan, and that site will close December 31. "Fast Company" points out all this was predicted by Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
All this has, rather fabulously, been fictionally foretold by Douglas Adams. Here's the relevant bits from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "the Hitch Hiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words Don't Panic inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover." Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Not only did Adams' words ring true for Encarta, but even more so for Encyclopedia Britannica--the venerable publication, infinitely more famous than Encarta, that's been struggling to remain relevant in both published and subscription online versions--but Adams actually went ahead and blazed the trail that Wikipedia has since followed so well. Back in 1999, two years before Wikipedia launched, Adams founded "H2G2.com" (a popular acronym for The Guide) as an online Earth-based Hitchhiker's Guide clone for facts and musings about life down here. It used a revolutionary back-end code that made its look and feel self-consistent but very flexible, and it was intended to be crowd-sourced, with a core of volunteer editors that effected a degree of management and peer-review. In 2001, hosting of the site passed to the BBC, which maintained it largely as-was.

H2G2 still thrives, but it's Wikipedia that's the most famous. Fascinatingly, even Britannica has conceded to the Adams/Wikipedia model recently and announced in January of this year it will accept edits and submissions from the public in an effort for its online version to try to keep up--it gets 184 times fewer page views than Wikipedia. The traditional book-form Britannica will live on as privately-edited for a while yet, since it carries a historic name and the inertia of authority. That's something Encarta just couldn't do.

"Google Ventures" - the $100 Million Venture Fund

Google is forming a $100 million fund to invest in early-stage start-up firms. The fund, to be called Google Ventures, will be wholly owned by Google, but will operate as a separate entity and will seek investment opportunities to maximize returns rather than looking for investments that strictly fit with Google's strategic vision.

"Just as we were founded by entrepreneurs, we think we can help some of those next entrepreneurs with the next great idea," said Miner.

Several high-tech companies have in-house venture capital arms, including Intel and Motorola, But Maris said that Google Ventures will have more in common with traditional venture capital firms.

"We're making financial return our first lens," said Maris.
But he noted that a part of the appeal of Google Ventures for start-up firms is the relationship to Google and its 20,000 employees.

The fund will focus primarily on companies seeking seed funding and early stage funding, and Google Ventures will have the ability to make investments ranging from tens of thousands to "several tens of millions" of dollars, Maris said.

Found at Reuters

50 Reasons No One Wants to Publish Your First Book

Definitely funny. Kinda rsiqué. Lots of fun by Allan Mott:

1. Being innovative doesn’t justify writing a Civil War epic entirely in texting slang and emoticons: “ts u hor! i dnt gv dam :< !”

2. There’s this thing called punctuation. You might want to look into it.

3. They’re afraid your author’s photo is going to alienate readers. That’s right, dude: You’re too ugly for literature.

4. Where are the vampires?

5. No, seriously, where are the vampires?

More here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Breathing New Life Into Old Books

American artist and photographer Thomas Allen brings old books back to life by the use of his x-acto knife, his camera and his wild sense of imagination. He carefully cuts people and things from old paperback books and then photographs them to create mesmerizing three dimensional scenes.

More over at My Modern Metropolis

Ricoh develops brighter, lighter, color e-paper

Ricoh has announced that they've taken a tip from their copier business to create a technology that displays hues fifty percent brighter than those currently available, retaining the graphics even when power is turned off. Unlike other technologies, which use layers of red, green, and blue light separated by sheets of glass, this new iteration uses layered electrochromic compounds that turn cyan, magenta, and yellow variously when electricity is applied -- and if that weren't enough, the company's gone and altered the molecular structure of the compounds to retain their color even when electricity is removed. Rather than using glass, the layers are separated by some sort of clear insulation, resulting in a lighter device and a brighter appearance. The company is looking to bring this to market within the next five years.

Library of Congress embraces YouTube, iTunes

The US Library of Congress has begun uploading its audio archives to iTunes, and it will soon begin to post videos on YouTube, in an effort to make its materials easier for the public to access.

The library already offers the materials at its own Web site, LOC.gov, and through interactive exhibitions on its new, personalized Web site at myLOC.gov, but the expansion to YouTube and Apple's iTunes is part of the library's efforts to make its 15.3 million digital items more accessible, said Matt Raymond, the library's director of communications.

"Our broad strategy is to 'fish where the fish are,' and to use the sites that give our content added value - in the case of iTunes, ubiquity, portability, etc.," Raymond said in an email.

Among the items Web surfers can expect on iTunes and YouTube are 100-year-old films from Thomas Edison's studio, book talks with contemporary authors, early industrial films from Westinghouse factories, first-person audio accounts of life in slavery, and inside looks into the library's holdings, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and the contents of President Abraham Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination.

The library also has a Twitter stream, and library information is available on more than 30 RSS feeds and email alert services. The library also launched one of the first blogs from a federal agency.

Asked why the library chose YouTube and iTunes, Raymond said , "The library is in an exploration stage with these new media distribution channels," Springer added. "These services are a place to start learning, but our agreements are not exclusive, so other services are certainly possible in the future."

On Thursday, the US General Services Administration announced agreements with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and blip.tv that will allow other federal agencies to participate in new media, library officials said. GSA plans to negotiate agreements with other providers.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Roy Trumbull is working his way through the best of Project Gutenberg's texts, reading them aloud in a podcast called "Story Spieler."

Here are some titles that have been downloaded at least 1000 times:

Alex the Parrot-guin
The Jungle Book of Rudyard Kipling
Peter Pan by James M. Barrie
The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Indian Old-Man Stories
Flying Saucers 1960
Welsh Fairy Tales
The Story of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
The Homely Heroine by Edna Ferber
A Whale on Wall Street
Tom Swift and the Visitor from Planet X
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Blue Jays by Mark Twain
The Just-So Stories of Rudyard Kipling
Rip Van Winkle
Chicago by Carl Sandburg
The Sea Fairies by L.Frank Baum
Ozma of Oz by L.Frank Baum
Gems from Shakespeare
The Life of Washington by Washington Irving
The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde
The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame
The Ransom of Red Chief by O.Henry
The Cop and the Anthem by O.Henry
The Super Man and the Bugout
The Last Command
Jeff Brigg's Love Story by Bret Harte
The Last Leaf by O.Henry
The Runaway Asteroid
The Dragon of the North
A Retreived Reformation by O. Henry
The Invisible Prince
White Fang by Jack London
The Heart of Danger
The Dragon and his Grandmother
Craphound by Cory Doctorow

Microsoft pays someone to buy a PC

Microsoft's agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, recruited unwitting subjects by posing as a market research firm studying laptop purchasing decisions.

It picked 10 people who answered a call for volunteers on Craigslist and other Web sites and sent them out with a camera crew and budgets ranging from $700 to $2,000. If they found a computer that fit their criteria, they could keep it. Frankly, that is about the ONLY way the could get me to buy one.

I do find it funny that she says, "I got just what I wanted" but visited the Apple store first. I'd say she settled.

iPod Timeline

Click to enlarge and see what you got for your money.

Thanks Gizmodo

Pew report: Young people can feel "overconnected"

Young people have done a good job of integrating technology into their lives, but they are also the ones who are most concerned about being overconnected. This finding is part a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, The Mobile Difference, which discusses how different groups of American adults treat the latest trend in connectivity.
“The bar for what constitutes a sophisticated tech user has risen with the advent of wireless connectivity,” said Horrigan. “Mobile access facilitates full participation in the flow of online information. For many Americans, always-on, always-available access is a basic part of their lifestyles. They don’t see home broadband access alone as sufficient for their digital needs.”

Here’s a rundown of the 10 groups in the typology. The first five groups (39% of the adult population) share the common characteristic of being motivated by mobility in their use of ICTs:

  • Digital Collaborators (8% of the population) are very much about continual information exchange with others, as they frequently mix it up with online collaborators to create and share content or express themselves.

  • Ambivalent Networkers (7%) are extremely active in using social networking sites and accessing digital resources “on the go” yet aren’t always thrilled to be contacted by others. They sometimes yearn for a break from online use and pervasive connectivity.

  • Media Movers (7%) are the accelerants of user-generated content as they use their ICT assets to send material (say, a photo or video they’ve taken) out onto the Web.

  • Roving Nodes (9%) are active managers of their social lives using basic applications – texting and emailing – to connect with others, pass along information, and bolster personal productivity.

  • Mobile Newbies (8%) are occasional internet users, but many in this group are recent cell phone adopters and very enthusiastic about how mobile service makes them more available to others. They would be hard pressed to give up their cell phones.

The final five groups (61% of the general population) make up the stationary media majority:

  • Desktop Veterans (13%) are tech-oriented, but in a “year 2004” kind of way. They consume online information and connect with others using traditional tools such as email on a home high-speed connection. They are not heavy users of cell phones for much beyond a voice call.

  • Drifting Surfers (14%) have the tools for connectivity, but are relatively infrequent users of them. They say they could give up their internet and cell phones. In spite of years of online experience, they seem to have checked out of the digital revolution.

  • Information Encumbered (10%) have average amounts of connectivity, but suffer from information overload and have a tough time getting their gadgets to work without help from others.

  • Tech Indifferent (10%) have limited online capability at home and, even though most have cell phones, they bristle at the intrusiveness cell phones can foster.

  • Off the Network (14%) lack the tools for digital connectivity, as they have neither online access nor cell phones.

Two-thirds (66%) of respondents in the five “motivated by mobility” groups collectively report that it would be “very hard” to give up their mobile devices. This represents a 20% increase in the share saying this compared to when these respondents were interviewed 20 months earlier in April 2006. In sharp contrast, just 21% of the “stationary media majority” respondents say they would find it very hard to do without their mobile devices, and this represents a 64% decrease in the share saying this since April 2006.

The Facebook Generation vs. the Fortune 500

From The WSJ

The experience of growing up online will profoundly shape the workplace expectations of “Generation F” — the Facebook Generation. At a minimum, they’ll expect the social environment of work to reflect the social context of the Web, rather than as is currently the case, a mid-20th-century Weberian bureaucracy.

If your company (library) hopes to attract the most creative and energetic members of Gen F, it will need to understand these Internet-derived expectations, and then reinvent its management practices accordingly. Sure, it’s a buyer’s market for talent right now, but that won’t always be the case — and in the future, any company that lacks a vital core of Gen F employees will soon find itself stuck in the mud.

Here is an excerpt listing of “…12 work-relevant” and “post-bureaucratic realities that tomorrow’s employees [and everyone else] will use as yardsticks in determining whether your company is ‘with it’ or ‘past it’. Full list and expanded comment at the WSJ.

1. All ideas compete on an equal footing.
2. Contribution counts for more than credentials.
3. Hierarchies are natural, not prescribed.
4. Leaders serve rather than preside.
5. Tasks are chosen, not assigned.
6. Groups are self-defining and -organizing.
7. Resources get attracted, not allocated.
8. Power comes from sharing information, not hoarding it.
9. Opinions compound and decisions are peer-reviewed.
10. Users can veto most policy decisions.
11. Intrinsic rewards matter most.
12. Hackers are heroes.

Found over at The Proverbial Lonewolf Librarian

Using Google for Search and Research

Daniel Russel, a research scientist at Google, explains how Google has evolved and though as amazing as Google is there is still data that is not "Googleable". You must still understand the information landscape. Long and a bit dry, but informative.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

YouTube EDU

YouTube has just released a new sub-site called YouTube EDU, aggregating thousands of free lectures from over a hundred universities across the country, including MIT, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, and many more.

One-Eyed Eskimo Label

At the Library of Congress they take on
Everyday Mysteries
and give authoritative answers. This particular link on the history of TV dinners tells us that the first packaged frozen dinners on aluminum trays with three compartments were made in 1949 and distributed by Albert and Meyer Bernstein for Frozen Dinners, Inc., under the One-Eyed Eskimo label in Pittsburgh!

Search the Everyday Mysteries archive for more. Is the coconut a nut, how are messages inserted into fortune cookies, why is the ocean blue, etc., etc.

Wabi-sabi and the elegance of imperfection

I have just finished reading a delightfully illuminating essay over at A List Apart. In “The Elegance of Imperfection” author David Sherwin shows us that asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and the suggestion of a natural process are attributes of elegant design that may seem relevant only to a project's aesthetics. But according to him the most successful web designs reflect these considerations at every stage, from idea to finished product, infusing them with intelligence that transcends aesthetics and reflects the imperfection of the natural world.

Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. From a design point of view, "wabi" may be interpreted as the imperfect quality of any object, due to inevitable limitations in design and construction/manufacture especially with respect to unpredictable or changing usage conditions; then "sabi" could be interpreted as the aspect of imperfect reliability, or limited mortality of any object, hence the etymological connection with the Japanese word sabi, to rust.

Perhaps the most obvious example of the acceptance of this concept on the current web is the explosive popularity of such memes as Wiki, blogs and social sites where acceptance of the state of ongoing imperfection and evolution is not only present, but is fundamental to the medium.
"Bringing heart to web experiences can be difficult, since websites and applications are fundamentally a construct of logic (via code). While you can’t create a website that functions as a pure expression of wabi-sabi, finding ways to infuse our creations with a hint of wabi-sabi adds a new dimension to our work. It forces us to consider how the natural order of our physical world should inform the virtual worlds of information that we create. One way this natural order finds expression in the web design world is through the notion of elegance."

"We’ve explored a number of threads that, when properly woven into a well-thought-out website, can infuse it with heartfelt intelligence beyond mere aesthetics. In small doses, wabi-sabi thinking can provide a counterpoint to our modernist tendency to refine things within an inch of their life, bringing a measure of grace to what would otherwise be a conglomeration of rigidly spaced pixels on a screen."

"Beware that the pursuit of website perfection is always a denial of the perfection that exists within ourselves in the physical world. Perceiving even a whisper of our own “perfect reality” is the very experience that our users and clients have hired us to capture, mindfully, through our work."

Very good stuff.

Twitter to be taught in UK primary schools

The British government is proposing that Twitter is to be taught in primary (elementary) schools as part of a wider push to make online communication and social media a permanent part of the UK’s education system. And that’s not all. Kids will be taught blogging, podcasting and how to use Wikipedia alongside Maths, English and Science.

The draft plans were due to be published next month, but have leaked early to The Guardian. Children will also learn “fluency” in handwriting and keyboard skills, and how to use a spellchecker. Luckily they will still be taught how to spell themselves, rather than rely on Mr Clippy.

It’s a big overhaul of current thinking. Children will no longer be absolutely required to study the Victorians or the Second World War, as Teachers get a much freer hand in what goes on in the classroom in the biggest changes to primary schooling in a decade.

Traditional education in areas like phonics, the chronology of history and mental arithmetic remain but modern media and web-based skills and environmental education now feature.

Found at TechCrunch

Did you know?

I posted this some months ago, but having recently stumbled upon it again felt it needed to be reshared.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Guess my Accent

The folks over at Language Trainers Group have put together an entertaining little test to see if you can guess a persons nationality by their accent. Each subject reads a line from Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" and then you make a guess. Quite fun, and very hard to do.

iPod touch generates more traffic than most phones

Apple's iPhone/iPod Touch user interface has made it so much easier to access the Internet compared to other mobile devices that its iPod Touch, which isn't even a mobile phone, beats out all mobile phones except the iPhone in terms of volume of Internet access, according to data released by AdMob.

The iPod touch doesn't have a cellular connection, but users can access the Internet via Wi-Fi. It generated 6.7 per cent of mobile traffic for AdMob in February. That is more than any other mobile phone except the iPhone which had 11.7per cent. Motorola's Razr came in third place, with 2.9 per cent of AdMob's traffic.

Over six months, despite the economic downturn, smartphones increased their share of mobile Internet access from 26 per cent to 33 per cent in February, AdMob reported.

Wonderful video of "Little Red Riding Hood"

Leave it to the Swedes to create something truly weird with a straight face. The video takes you through the most memorable day in the life of Little Red Riding Hood—Rödluvan in Swedish—and along the way, you learn all sorts of details. Like the air resistance experienced by a Volkswagen Type 2-61 Minibus at 43 MPH as measured by Volkswagen GmbH in 1955. Or the wildlife density of the Hundred Acre Wood, showing a surge in the rabbit population. Not to mention the nutrition facts of Grandma with a total caloric value of 10,000 kilocalories, indicating gross malnutrition.

100 Innovations that Have Changed Librarianship

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) was founded in 1909 in the state of New York and is now the international association representing the interests of thousands of information professionals in over eighty countries worldwide.

Offered here is its recent list of 100 Innovations that Have Changed Librarianship:

  1. Personal computer (Mac, PC) that are affordable to the average person

  2. Internet access

  3. Electronic journals

  4. Google

  5. Information professionals entering the IT field

  6. Ability to meet multiple learning styles through multimedia - images, podcasts, videos

  7. Multiple channels for sharing/communicating

  8. Social networking tools - For example: Wikis such as MediaWiki and Confluence; blogs like WordPress, Typepad, Blogger, and Blogspot; Facebook; Professional networks like LinkedIn and Plaxo; Multimedia sites like YouTube and Flickr.

  9. Ease of multiple communication channels - phone, email, online

  10. High-speed and remote computing - broadband, WiFi

  11. Web conferencing

  12. Virtual worlds such as Second Life

  13. Inexpensive digital storage

  14. digitization

  15. OCR

  16. OPACs

  17. printers

  18. abstracts databases

  19. fulltext databases

  20. self checkout machines

  21. book vending machines

  22. print on demand

  23. wikipedia

  24. CD-roms

  25. modems

  26. Dialog and other dial up services

  27. hypertext linking

  28. gopher and veronica

  29. DRM

  30. institutional repositories

  31. electronic classroom management systems (ie. Blackboard)

  32. synchronous electronic classroom software (ie. Elluminate)

  33. electric date and time stampers

  34. barcodes

  35. RFID

  36. integrated library systems

  37. OCLC

  38. copy cataloging

  39. no limit memo field

  40. scanners

  41. typewriters

  42. Security systems

  43. Slender security strips

  44. Climate control equipment, to prevent deterioration of materials

  45. Copier

  46. Book trucks

  47. Magazine slanted shelves

  48. The MARC record

  49. Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

  50. streaming media

  51. metadata

  52. classification systems (LC and Dewey)

  53. word processing

  54. Twitter

  55. mobile libraries

  56. Knowledge management

  57. document management

  58. barcoding

  59. Dublin Core

  60. Mosaic web browser

  61. Tags

  62. Federated searches

  63. Microfilm/microfiche

  64. Texas Instruments (TI) Silent 700

  65. S. R. Ranganathan's 5 laws of library science (1931)

  66. Michael Gorman's (1998) 5 additional suggested laws:
    1. Libraries serve humanity.
    2. Respect all forms by which knowledge is communicated.
    3. Use technology intelligently to enhance service.
    4. Protect free access to knowledge.
    5. Honor the past and create the future.

  67. Open stacks

  68. In-depth subject specialists as the core of special librarianship

  69. Competitive intelligence gathering

  70. Working the "white space"

  71. Gutenberg's printing press

  72. Compact shelving

  73. Copyright laws

  74. Document delivery services

  75. Information brokers

  76. KWIC - Key Word In Context

  77. Computerization of cataloging. OCLC and OPACs do not begin to present the importance of not having to type duplicate copies of cards and file catalog cards. Also, the customer can do a keyword search without knowing how a subject heading or main entry (which is now a passe concept) was done. Keyword searching also means that there is less need to customize headings to local usage.

  78. Digitized indexes and abstracts - instead of manually doing repeated searching through individual months or years of print volumes spans of years can be quickly searched. Also, the digitization/computerization of these indexes allows keyword searching which can retrieve pertinent items that assigned desciptors do not cover.

  79. Digitization of full text of articles and now books. This allows desktop access to quality information. Also, it allows the compilation of bibliographies where reviewing the actual text of the document is necessary for determination for including a document. This is not something that could be done so easily even ten years ago.

  80. Chemical information services (CAS, Beilstein, Gmelin)

  81. Internet and communications protocols (TCP/IP, telnet, FTP, etc.)

  82. Mash-ups

  83. Introduction of the term, "Information Science" to replace or supplement "Library Science"

  84. The Commons and reinvention of libraries as "community centers" instead "storehouses of knowledge"

  85. Centralized reference

  86. AACR / AACR2R / RDA developments

  87. LC card standardization

  88. Poly-Vinyl Acetate for book repair

  89. Copyright legislation

  90. Chemical structure and substructure searching, using line notations and connection tables. This changed the face of chemical information retrieval.

  91. Carnegie Libraries across the United States, built from the donations of steel magnet and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

  92. PubMed open-access electronic version of Index Medicus

  93. e-books

  94. e-book readers like Amazon's Kindle

  95. IP based access to provide the digitised information campus wide

  96. Photocopier

  97. Boolean search capability

  98. Full-text searching

  99. World Wide Web

  100. Cell phones

Samsung launches "Papyrus" e-reader

The Papyrus, a touchscreen e-reader that Samsung introduced at CES earlier this year, is on its way to European and Korean markets, and a U.S. launch may be next. Leaked information suggests it's an A5-sized e-ink device (meaning it's 5.8 x 8.3 inches, a little larger than a typical paperback book, while the entire Kindle 2 measures 5.3 x 8 inches with a 6-inch screen). The "electronic paper display" screen is also a touchscreen, and though there seems to be an aluminum stylus.

The photos suggest that the device is very slim, and that Samsung, of all the e-readers we've seen so far, has nailed the styling. It has an iPhone-like curved metal edge, and the entire remaining face of the unit is plain--there's just the narrow colored bezel and the e-ink screen.

The current rumors say the Papyrus has just 512MB of memory with no memory-card slot, no Wi-Fi and no cellular WAN access. If true, it will severely limit the device's potential--there would be little room for the e-books, let alone PDFs or Word documents, and it probably won't sport an MP3 player with such little space. The lack of wireless connections also contrasts hugely to the other e-readers out there, particularly the Kindle 2 with its cellular content-serving system and associated Amazon purchasing ecosystem. That's why I'm thinking the rumors are wrong--I suspect the final Papyrus will have some or all of those features.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Most Beautiful Wave Photographs Ever!

Clark Little has a collection of absolutely beautiful photographs of waves over at treehugger.com. Enjoy.

22,000 Educational films ready to stream

OK, if you are a boomer like me this is going to make your day. If you aren't it is still a treasure trove of nostalgia, memories and down-right sillyness.

The guys over at A/V Geeks have amassed over 22,000 16mm educational films from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s! Watching these easily transports me back to elementary school and it is great Fun!
"For more than a decade, we’ve been rescuing old 16mm school films from dumpsters and obscurity..."
Here is a sample: Library Science Triggers - a monumentally boring look at library science in the 1970s.

And, a much more entertaining, if somewhat drug-induced, look at America's first 200 years funded by a Bicentennial Project Grant and animated by Vincent Collins who made other psychedelic cartoons. This film was produced by the United States Information Agency.

Found over at TYWKIWDBI.com

Kindle: Closer to a Revolution?

Jacob Wisberg continues his praise of Amazon's e-book reading device, Kindle, on the "pages" of Slate.com in his latest article, "Book End:  How the Kindle will Change the World" (http://www.slate.com/id/2214339/).  He continues the overused comparison to the Guttenberg revolution, however, noting the size of Amazon's database and publishing power (with reference to Amazon becoming Stephen King's publisher), his comparison may be becoming closer to the mark than many others in the past.  

This article also includes an embedded e-video piece, "Killer Apps" created by Farhad Majoo, who has rightly criticized Amazon for making the Kindle published e-books accessible exclusively through Kindle devices.  However, in this e-video, he demonstrates that Amazon has created a Kindle I-Phone app that allows Kindle e-books to be read on the I-Phone.  This opening of Kindle published e-books marks a significant turn in Amazon's licensing philosophy.  Could it be a crack in print's Bastillian wall?

Monday, March 23, 2009

User Hierarchy of needs

Making Breakthroughs Happen

Kathy Sierra,author, game programmer and interaction designer for places like Virgin and MGM, knows how to get things done. She is the co-creator of the Head First series of books on technical (primarily computer) topics, along with her partner, Bert Bates. The series, which began with Head First Java in 2003, takes an unorthodox, visually intensive approach to the process of teaching programming. Sierra's books in the series have received three nominations for Product Excellence Jolt Awards, winning in 2005 for Head First Design Patterns, and were recognized on Amazon.com's yearly top 10 list for computer books from 2003 to 2005. Here are her 16 steps for making breakthroughs happen faster for your organization...and yourself.

1) Decide what powers you want to give your users. Now imagine that superpower on a shirt and let it guide you in all your decisions

2) Play the superset game. If you're deciding what to do with your company, look at what you do, and the larger movement that you're a part of. Always focus on that bigger, cooler thing. Like, blogging about your kitchen equipment company is not necessarily the most interesting topic for your readers, but blogging about new approaches to cooking is.

3) Learn the patterns and shorten the duration to greatness. It takes 10,000 hours to be amazing, according to the Malcolm Gladwell book Outliers: The Story of Success. So you have to cheat by multi-tasking and focusing on your strengths.

4) Participate in deliberate practice. Find ways to add games and incentives to get towards small, completed goals together. This means kicking ass in less than 1000 hours. Create situations like 48 hour film festivals, where filmmakers have to walk away with a completed film in 48 hours.

5) Make the right things easy and the wrong things hard. Put things that need your attention front and center. It's not in the corner because you don't use it, you don't use it because it's in the corner.

6) Get better gear, and offer it to your users. Money spent on new and better equipment that helps you kick ass in a major way is always worth the money. If you work on a computer all day, it has been proven: More monitors will help you see more pixels and will aid your productivity.

7) Be clueless. What would it be like if you didn't know how it was supposed to be? Play dumb.

8) Participate in total immersion jams. Meet regularly with other people who do what you do and share practices. The frequency of how much you do it always affects how well you learn.

9) Don't make a better X, make a better user of X.

10) Decide what movie your users are in. And find out what movie they'd rather be in. Include all the characters, the heroes and mentors and the villains. And don't forget the soundtrack.

11) Don't ask your users. If you want incremental improvements ask your users. If you want to make breakthroughs, ignore everybody. And ask other people's (ahem, the competition's) users.

12) Be brave. Don't shy away from things that are difficult and challenging for your users, or tasks that reward them for thinking.

13) Don't ignore things that people say are dead. Dead industries are sometimes the best places to look for new ideas.

14) Use a stereo EQ as a model for your business. Adjust the sliders to create market differentiation, but don't forget to create new sliders. She brings another SXSW legend, bubbly Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV onstage to illustrate this point, whose highly-entertaining internet wine show added sliders of Accessibility and Enthusiasm to the wine industry, and took away the sliders of Elitism and Stodginess.

15) Don’t mistake narrow for shallow. She points at hyper-focused blogs like Passive Aggressive Notes and the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks as mastering a very tiny sliver of the internet.

16) Be amazed. It's not easy in this economic climate. She plays a clip of comic Louis CK appearing on Conan, which got the entire audience roaring. Give it a watch if you've forgotten to be amazed today.

Found at Fast Company

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What does a trillion dollars look like?

Thanks to PageTutor we can try to get a better understanding of what the stimulus, bailouts and deficits really look like. Today I went to Treasury Direct, part of the Department of Treasury, Bureau of the Public Debt and visited "The Debt to the Penny and Who Holds It". The total outstanding public debt is 11,039,686,130,898.10 - more than 11 trillion. Even with the help of Page Tutor, I still can't really imagine it!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Write it, Say it, Slap it

or in this case ... Stick It, Remember It and Peel It

There are a number of "sticky notes" applications available for your pc or mac. Intriguing stuff. Here is one of the newest. And it's not just for to-do lists anymore!! (that's a different app altogether)
This one from LinoIt
You can include pictures and even movies and share among friends or coworkers.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We Tell Stories

There are technologies that come along from time to time that seem truly to herald a shift in things. Here is one I saw this week coming out of the SxSW conference in Austin.

I am still puzzled, stunned and excited by it. And if this is not the perfect melding of "books" and technology, I dont know what is!

Winning the SxSW Web Award in the Experimental category is

We Tell Stories

Six authors take six weeks to re-tell six classics -- in a way that can be done only on the Web.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

World's first color e-book on sale

The Fujitsu FLEPia is currently only available in Japan and is priced at just over $1000. It should not dent Kindle sales, although you get a lot for your money.

Features inlcude; an 8 inch screen of full sunlight-visible e-ink, 260,000 colors, 40 hour battery life, usb, wifi, bluetooth, SD card reader and touch screen. Running Windows CE the FLEPia is almost a hybrid tablet PC rather than eBook reader. One weakness of the device is the glacial screen refresh: almost 2 seconds for 64 colors up to 8 seconds for 260,000 colors.

Still, at one half-inch thick and .84 pounds, the FLEPia, which starts shipping on April 20th, heralds a new first in digital publishing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

9th Annual Weblog awards; the 2009 Bloggies

Hard to read because of the horizontal scrolling and with extravagant white space, here are the Weblog Awards for 2009. Why doesn't the page about really good blogs have good design? Irony?

Map of Knowledge

The New York Times reports, "A new map of knowledge has been assembled by scientists at the research library of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It is based on electronic data searches in which users moved from one journal to another, thus establishing associations between them."

The full article with all the details about the research is available at PLoS.

Monday, March 16, 2009

DoodleBuzz; a typographic news explorer by Brendan Dawes

To the left is the result of a search on social computing and a doodle. DoodleBuzz is a news aggregator, but one you customize each time you use it. That sounds awkward and uninviting (and it may grow tiresome in time), but so far it seems like a fun and intriguing way to read news and find unexpected connections.

As it says on the site, "The interface for DoodleBuzz is simply a scribbled line. Draw a straight line. Draw a curved line. Draw a crazy, chaotic, all-over-the-place messed up line. It's up to you how you want to layout the information - DoodleBuzz simply provides a blank canvas for you to use and abuse.

Why do that? Well, the web is full of top-down scrolling websites that are great for viewing information in a linear fashion, but not so good at fun things like chance and exploration. So a scribbled line seemed to be the antithesis of the scrolling linear paradigm."

To get more links, doodle from the text and get an excerpt. A click on the excerpt takes you to the news site. It's based on DayLife,a new way to explore the news -also worth a look.

Found at the SXSW2009 Interactive

Library Movers & Shakers 2009

Photo gallery of 51 librarians, vendors, and others voted as the top movers and shakers for 2009 in Library Journal's annual contest.

Friday, March 13, 2009


The Architectural Record reports, "Several of Robert Venturi’s houses, like the Trubeck and Wislocki Houses in Nantucket, have sat near the water. But on Thursday, one of the architect’s creations will actually end up on top of it.

In a bid to avoid the wrecking ball, Venturi’s Lieb House is traveling by barge from the New Jersey coast to the north shore of Long Island. During the two-day trip, the house will journey through the Atlantic Ocean, across New York Harbor, up the East River, and into Long Island Sound—a distance of about 75 miles, as the seagull flies."

The new owners of the Lieb House, who'd planned to build a guest house in the Hamptons, realized new construction would be difficult, because of strict zoning regulations. So they decided to ship the four-bedroom Lieb House to serve as a guest house instead of building.

Someone made of video of the house en route. Unfortunately no tripod was used, so the watching video may come a little too close to replicating the sensations the house is experiencing -still nice to see it en route.

all the news that fits

Well, the all news doesn't really fit (you have to scroll horizontally)and you can't follow the links to the newspapers, but the rayogram NEWScan is a cool way to get a look at the front pages of many of newspapers. If a headline catches your interest, a downloadble PDF in a bigger font is available. It includes Washington Post, NYT, LA Times WSJ, Christian Science Monitor, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Tribune, Oregonian, guardian, Times, Haaretz (English language edition) and Gulf News. You can hide newspapers and reorder the list.

Dell: Be ashamed

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Twitter as the new Second Life

From Greg Verdino's blog -- an article about the deep-down similarities between Second Life and Twitter. On the surface there would seem to be none, but he makes some insightful comments about the core nature of social networking and what they have in common.

As marketers, business people and just plain old people, we need to look beyond the story ("hey everyone, shiny new thing here") to find the story behind the story ("we are staring into the eye of a significant new truth.") In the case of Second Life, the real story focused on SL as a peek into the 3D future of the web or a hint at the next wave of human-to-human interaction (don't think so? watch your kids in Webkinz or Club Penguin.) In the same vein, Twitter itself doesn't matter (at least it doesn't matter much.) What matters is the rising propensity of people to publicly share even the most minute details of their daily lives, the shift from the asynchonous connectivity of traditional social networking to the real time connectivity of presence, and the rising expectations among even a relatively small subset of consumers that everything from information to service to support to access can (and should) be delivered instantaneously. The real story lies somewhere in that rambling sentence, I think.

Google Voice launched today

Resulting from Google's purchase of Grand Central in 2007, Google today launched Google Voice, a service that recognizes the words in a voicemail message left for you, and can then email the transcript to your inbox or deliver it to your phone via SMS. The service is currently limited to Grand Central customers, but is promised for all "soon".

Grand Central in 2007 gave users a single contact phone number that could automatically route calls through to a cellphone, office or home phone. Google seems to have taken that idea and added its own web-based spin, and mixing the speech-recognition technology developed under the Goog-411 directory service.

You can also have Grand Central SMS texts received or sent by your phone, and you can make calls to numbers in the U.S. or overseas from your cellphone, home phone or PC using the service.

The only charge, it seems, is for international numbers, which requires you to pay using Google Checkout.

The changing nature of how students do research and the future of academic libraries

As developers of library software and information discovery tools, one of the things that frustrates us the most is the seemingly ever-widening gap between the traditional academic expectations of our librarians and the impatient, "good-enough", just get it done desires of our students. We spend a lot of time and expend a lot of effort trying to sort that out and what usually happens is compromise and a product that really isn't what we had in mind.

Much has been written about this issue - some right here on these pages. To add even more fuel to the fire, I stumbled across "Twenty-nine reports about the future of academic libraries" over at Confessions of a Science Librarian, and I offer them here. Number 22 was particularly enlightening. I hope to synthesize all this data soon and write a summary for our staff and you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

8 Basics of Creative Writing

Kurt Vonnegut was one of Americas most gifted and prolific writers, giving us such works as Breakfast Of Champions, and Slaughterhouse Five. With his customary wisdom and wit, Vonnegut put forth 8 basics of what he calls Creative Writing 101:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.

(From the preface to his short story collection Bagombo Snuff Box)

Graffiti, but thoughtful graffiti

Scrollmotion eBooks for iPhone

From the site:
Iceberg is our revolutionary new electronic reader. Iceberg brings the timeless experience of reading books to the mobile space, wedding the functionality of the iPhone to the feel and familiarity of books.

Iceberg is different from all other existing electronic book readers – it’s the only one that replicates the actual experience of reading a book. It’s all done in an organic way that feels right to people who love to read.
With Iceberg:

Each and every book exists as its own application right in iTunes. It’s the fastest, most convenient way to purchase books electronically.

Iceberg maintains pagination. This means that every one page in an Iceberg book is equivalent to a page in a print copy of a book.

Text can get bigger and smaller as readers pinch in and out. But Iceberg text reflows automatically so there’s no annoying scrolling across the page.

Readers can search text, take notes and skim through pages, all in an organic and intuitive interface that readers will love.

Iceberg also makes it easier and more fun than ever to discover and buy new books. Each book acts as a gateway to other titles in the bookstore, which is located right inside of iTunes. Readers can buy books instantly, as soon as their interest is piqued. They can get books when they want them, wherever they are – anytime, anywhere.

AquaBrowser Library chosen by Harvard University

March 9, 2009 - AquaBrowser Library has been chosen by the Harvard University Library, the largest academic library worldwide, as its search and discovery platform. The AquaBrowser implementation will include faceted navigation, word cloud discovery, relevancy ranking, an integrated Authority File, real-time availability information for items, and integration with the ILS for patron services such as placing holds, making requests, viewing checkouts, and renewing items.

“We are delighted that the prestigious Harvard University Library has chosen AquaBrowser”, commented Bas Zwaan, Medialab President and CEO. Taco Ekkel, Director of Development at Medialab, added, “Harvard University Library’s Office for Information Systems has done extensive technology screening. We’re thrilled that they have chosen the AquaBrowser search and discovery platform.”

The AquaBrowser implementation at Harvard University is set to debut to students and faculty in the spring of 2009.

Full press release at the link.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Open Access Journals and Search

Thanks, in part, to the rise of open access journals, librarians should be actively investigating new discovery tools that will allow convenient access to this area of scholarly research. The Directory of Open Access Journals is a good place to start and the following list of search tools might also be handy.

15 Open Search Tools On The Web

Search tool list found at The Search Principle Blog

Visual Search at Idée Labs

Idée Labs is Idée’s technology playground for visual search and image recognition. They have on their site three novel and highly effective image search engines. Shown here is one that matched an image of mine with similar images found on the web. There is also one that searches by color and one that combines tags with visual search to return never-before-seen combinations of images. Pretty cool stuff!

Simplify your Remote

OK, I have seen this all over the web in recent days, but it is so to the point and useful. I wish I had thought of it while my Dad was still alive - he was totally befuddled by his satellite remote.

Photo Nicolas Zurcher

Monday, March 09, 2009

In celebration of work

“Mike Rowe the host of ‘Dirty Jobs,’ tells some compelling (and horrifying) real-life job stories. Listen for his insights and observations about the nature of hard work, and how it’s been unjustifiably degraded in society today.”

Found at TED via The Lone Wolf Librarian

Web Tech Guy and Angry Staff Person

Credit to Michael Edson, Director of Web and New Media Strategy for the Smithsonian Institution. Found via The Lone Wolf Librarian

E-book week

This week is set aside to promote reading electronic books and other reading material. E-books are delivered to the end user electronically, and are read on devices such as Amazon’s Kindle.

It takes as many as 24 trees to produce a ton of printing paper. Up to 35% of books printed for consumers are never read but are used for display in book stores, and are eventually returned to the publisher for disposal. Given that a mature tree can produce as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year, a serious alternative to paper books, magazines and newspapers needs to be considered and for many that alternative is e-books. Consider your carbon footprint. Read electronically.

Friday, March 06, 2009

World Builder

"World Builder" is a short film by Bruce Branit in which a man uses holographic tools to create a virtual world for a woman he loves. The filming was completed in a single day, but the post-production computer graphics required 2 years. It is a delightful, insighful and altogether touching film well worth the 9 minutes it takes to watch.