OCLC New Logo Design From Libraryland…12.31.08

31 12 2008

Here is yet another newly designed logo for OCLC from Libraryland displeased with the new policies over there found at LibraryThing’s blog :

Easy Check to See If Your Library’s Website/OPAC Mobile Friendly?…12.31.08

31 12 2008

This useful information is from ITART and Michael Sauers [http://www.nebraskalibraries.org/ITART/]:

image“I surf the web all the time on mobile devices wether that be my personal Motorola Q smartphone or the Commission’s iPod Touch. Some sites work well, some don’t. Ever wonder how well yours will do? Just head on over to the W3C mobileOK Checker, enter your site’s URL, and get a report. The report is code-centric so knowledge of XHTML and CSS will help you understand the results.”

Top 10 for Monitoring Your Brand’s Reputation…12.28.08

31 12 2008

Stephen Abram posted the following on “Stephen’s Lighthouse” on how to monitor your brand reputation [http://stephenslighthouse.sirsidynix.com/archives/2008/12/monitoring_your_2.html]:

“…When you have a reputuation (personal or institutinal) or brand to protect it’s worth reviewing the best ways to monitor the ‘BUZZ’ and the ‘buzz’ out there.

Top 10 Free Tools for Monitoring Your Brand’s Reputation

1. Google
2. Blog Posts
3. Blog Comments
4. Social Comments
5. Discussion Boards
6. Twitter
7. FriendFeed
8. Social Search
9. Interactive Search
10. Your personal network

Learn more in the post…”

“10 Myths About Libraries and Librarians”…12.31.08

31 12 2008

Carol Petrowski of the La Crosse County Library System at the Onalaska Public Library in Wisconsin wrote the following article [http://www.couleenews.com/articles/2008/12/23/features/05librarynotes.txton the 10 myths about libraries and librarians:

1. Librarians have lots of time to read on the job. FALSE. Our while-at-work reading is usually job related n publisher’s catalogs, professional journals, software manuals, work-related e-mails, etc. We do, however, have to know what’s going on in the world in order to provide better serve you, so I consider People magazine an essential tool for good reference service.

I still vividly recall being asked by a young patron several years ago if we had any *NSYNC. If I had not been a People reader, I would have had no idea what he was talking about. But don’t worry that your tax dollars are being frittered away. I usually read People while standing in line at the grocery store.

2. All librarians are fast readers. FALSE. My bookmark is usually a piece of paper on which I write any new or interesting word or phrase the author uses that I might want to look up and subsequently usurp. That does tend to negatively impact my PPH (pages per hour).

3. Librarians are, by and large, not representative of the most attractive people on earth. FALSE. We all look exactly like Angelina Jolie. Have you SEEN Ms. Dewey? You can atwww.msdewey.com.

4. Public libraries are only busy during the school year. FALSE. Except for blinding-blizzard-with-glare-ice-season and electrical-outage-because-the-rain-came-through-the-temporary-walls season, we are fairly consistently busy all year. There are obvious variables: homework help during school year, summer reading program during summer, increased usage during recessions, depressions, and other economic belt-tightening times. But there are always materials to be ordered and cataloged, questions to be answered and books and videos to be checked out.

5. Public libraries are only busy during summer when children are out of school. FALSE. See no. 4 above.

6. Libraries are used only by those who cannot afford to buy their own books. FALSE. Unless you plan to read a book over and over and over (Dave Barry is the only author who falls into this category for me), it makes no sense, economic or otherwise, to select, purchase, arrange, store and dust books you will read but once. I think Donald Trump and Bill Gates would agree with me on this.

7. Library work is boring. Are you kidding? Some of the questions we field are outrageous enough to supply a lifetime of cocktail chatter. (No names though n we do respect confidentiality rules.)

8. Using a computer in the library is inconvenient and difficult. FALSE. Where else can you go and FOR FREE use someone else’s computer and software and not worry about programs, upgrades and virus protection. If the printer jams, all you have to do is ask a staff member to fix it. And if you can’t remember how to access a Web site, just ask. Not since free room and board in the womb has anything been so convenient and easy.

9. You have to wait FOREVER to get a library copy of a bestseller or recent movie. FALSE. With the Winding Rivers Library System catalog, you have access to all copies in 35 libraries. If you don’t already know how, we’ll show you how to put your name on a list for the next available copy of the book or movie everyone’s talking about. And if you don’t know which ones everyone’s talking about, we’ll help you with that, too. You may have to wait a LITTLE bit, but remember patience is a virtue. (I want patience and I want it NOW!)

10. Librarians are happy in their work and love to yammer about it. At last, one that’s TRUE.

Copyright © 2006 The Coulee News. All rights reserved.

“…More Librarian Jobs Than Ever Before”?…12.31.08

31 12 2008

I’m skeptical about the following from LibGig titled “Library Manager: More Jobs for Librarians Than Ever Before, but it may be perceived as true at least since library school enrollment appears to be up in general.  Of course, it may be only in “the Great White North”:

“’If you want a job right now and you’ve got an undergraduate degree, go to library school and get your masters of library science,’ says Jason Bird, manager of library technical services for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board in Canada.

‘There are more jobs for librarians than ever before,’ Bird said, noting that many librarians are retiring at a time when a variety of public and special libraries are looking for staff.

Hospitals, businesses and other institutions and organizations all keep libraries in an information age in which the printed word, far from becoming obsolete, is still a valuable and relevant medium, said Bird, who dismisses the idea that the age of computer and Internet is bringing about the demise of the book.

‘What’s really fascinating is that if you look at the statistics of public libraries and school libraries, you find the circulation numbers have increased exponentially since the beginning of the Internet age. The numbers are going up, especially public library numbers. The Internet doesn’t hurt us, it helps us. People are coming into the library and using the Internet, but they are also reading and finding out about books.’”

© 2008 LibGig LLC. All rights reserved.

Whichbook Reader Advisory Tool…12.31.08

31 12 2008

Here’s an interesting “reader’s advisory” post [http://www.nebraskalibraries.org/ITART/2008/12/whichbooknet.html]from Michael Sauers :

“Here’s another online reader’s advisory tool: whichbook.net. Just choose four attributes and choose how much or little of those attributes you’re looking for. Once you’re done, click go and you’ll receive your recommendations. You can also change from attributes to character, plot and setting. I played with it some and all the recommendations I got seemed very accurate.”


Online Social Networks for Libraries Presentation…12.28.08

29 12 2008

Here is worthwhile information from a post by The Librarian in Black [http://librarianinblack.typepad.com/librarianinblack/2008/12/social-networking-presentation-from-gerry-mckiernan.html]:

“Gerry McKiernan has his gargantuan and very useful presentation from his Internet Librarian 2008 pre-conference session here: Not Just Facebook: Online Social Networks For LibrariesHe covers major online social networks, library uses, successful case studies, and niche networks that most librarians don’t know about.”

Social Searching–Should Google Buy Facebook?…12.29.08

29 12 2008

Here is an interesting and thought-provoking post from TechCrunch entitled The Future Of Social Search (Or Why Google Should Buy Facebook) [http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/12/28/the-future-of-social-search-or-why-google-should-buy-facebook/] by Erick Schonfeld:

“If you could search your friends’ thoughts, interests, and activities, would that be a better search experience? In many cases, it would be. Searching for restaurants, books, or movies, would turn up recommendations from people you actually know. If you are researching a trip to Florence, Italy, you might discover ten friends who have been there already, and could ask for advice on what to do. These scenarios have been the dream of social search for a few years, with both startups and search engines taking a stab at it. But so far it’s been a failed dream.

Yahoo’s experiment with social search, Yahoo 360, isbeing shut down. It was a rudimentary social search in that relevant bookmarks from friends showed up as search results. And search has never been Facebook’s strong suit. It handed search over to Microsoft, but the search experience on the site is poor. It is difficult to search much deeper than your friends’ names. You need to go to an advanced profile search page to filter through their interests, activities, or other profile categories, for instance. And forget about searching your news feed.

Yet social search done right could become very valuable for Facebook. And it would be even more valuable for Google. (They already know how to make money from search). It is also an opportunity for Microsoft Live Search, but they are not really inspiring much confidence so far. So let’s set aside for a moment the unlikelihood of any Google-Facebook deal or partnership (given Microsoft’s investment in Facebook), and let’s imagine how the two could help each other.

Even if Facebook/Microsoft figures out social search, it is more useful on Google, which is where most of us do our searching. To get a glimpse at what this might look like, you can trySidestripe, which is both an add-on widget for Google search and a Facebook app. Sidestripe is like Glue for search (Glue is a browser add-on that shows you whether anyone in your social networks has expressed interest in the book, movie, restaurant, product, or other things mentioned on whatever page you happen to be browsing). Similarly, sidestripe indexes all your friends on Facebook and parts of their profiles (where they work, their interests, etc). When you do a search on Google, a box with Sidestripe results appears after the third natural result, giving you a sense of whether any of your friends might be experts on the topic. For instance, when I do a search for “Google” it turns up Facebook friends who work at Google or are somehow affiliated with Google, and looks like this:

A search for “biking” turns up friends who are interested in biking. You can also add your own knowledge to any search result, and it will appear as a subsequent result (although it does not let you add links, which I consider a major bug). Or if you still can’t find what you are looking for from either Google or Sidestripe, you can ask all of your friends a question from inside the Sidestripe box on Google about the topic you are trying to learn about and that question shows up in all of your friends’ feeds. Any answers then become indexed and searchable.

Sidestripe is barely out of alpha and still frustrating to use because more often than not the Sidestripe box remains empty. When there are results, they are interesting. It is hit or miss. As more people use Sidestripe, this should improve. But I think a big part of the problem is that it does not fully index my social graph, and certainly does not return results from my News feed.

Yet making Facebook’s News feed searchable (on Google) would go a long way towards realizing the dream of social search. The Facebook feed already aggregates what my friends are doing not just on Facebook but all across the Web (Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Digg, etc.). It’s like Friendfeed in this respect, but with many more users.

The trick to making all of this seemingly random data useful in search is to come up with a social algorithm that can rank it all accordingly. For instance, when I search for Florence, Italy, friends who have lived in Florence, Italy should show up, but so should friends who have recently taken pictures there or Tweeted about Florence, and maybe in that order. This kind of ranking is a hard problem to solve, and it is what Google is good at.

Imagine instead of Sidestripe, the option to add Facebook Connect to Google search, which would then turn on social search in results (these should only appear when there actually are social results to show). They could keep the Q&A capability in there as well. It would add an entirely new dimension to search.

Of course, Google has its own Friend Connect program, and wants to monetize it withFriendsense. But just as search is not Facebook’s strong suit, social networking isn’t Google’s. All my contacts are on Facebook. They are the ones I want to search. And everything I’ve described above is a big opportunity for Microsoft, if they can pull it off.

But the best results, IMHO, would come form a combination of Facebook and Google.”

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”…12.25.08

25 12 2008


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”


Social Networks and Academia…12.24.08

24 12 2008

Here is an excerpt from In The Library With a Lead Pipe [http://inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2008/social-networking-with-a-brain-a-critical-review-of-academic-sites/] entitled “Social Networking With A Brain…” but read the whole post for an anlysis of each site:

Social networking may have started out as a way for students to keep track of their friends, but it has expanded in just about every direction. These days, you can find at least one related social networking site on just about any general topic, including musicphotographytelevisionbooks,shopping, and bookmarking. But it isn’t all fun games. Job sites like Monster and LinkedIn began the evolution from social networking to professional networking, and academia has joined the fray as a number of networking sites specifically for academics have popped up in recent years. Now we can add ‘research’ to the list above.

The impetus for this blog post was an email that has been making the rounds, originating from Dr. Richard Price of Oxford University, that reads as follows:

I recently finished my Ph.D on the philosophy of perception from Oxford. With a team of people from Stanford and Cambridge, I’ve just launched a website,www.academia.edu, which does two things:

- It shows academics around the world structured in a ‘tree’ format, displayed according to their departmental and institutional affiliations.
- It enables academics to see news on the latest research in their area – the latest people, papers and talks.

We are hoping that Academia.edu will eventually list every academic in the world — Faculty Members, Post-Docs, Graduate Students, and Independent Researchers. Academics can add their departments, and themselves, to the tree by clicking on the boxes.

The message concludes with the names of a few notables who have joined (or been added) to the site, and a request to assist Dr. Price and friends in their efforts by further circulating the announcement.

Call me a sucker, but I got that message and immediately joined up, forwarded it to my colleagues, and started envisioning the possibilities. What intrigues me is Academia.edu’s combination of a professional networking site with a digital repository. Could this take the place of our nascent institutional repository or save my fellow librarians from having to put together an institutional bibliography each year?


A screen shot of Academia.edu's homepage.

A screen shot of Academia.edu’s homepage.


The networking-repository hybrid model was new to me, though I learned later that Academia.edu is not the first to do this. Nor is it the only virtual platform where researchers can create a profile and search for others with similar research interests. A lot of people in academia already use Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with their colleagues and friends, but Academia.edu and its competitors are different because they were specifically created to serve the needs of academics, in terms of research, professional networking, listing citations, and file sharing. Try some of those activities on Facebook, and you’ll soon agree that it falls far short of an academic’s networking needs.

Here’s an overview of the major academic networking sites and their features (if you know of others I overlooked, please comment below). All allow you to create a profile and search for other academics by research interest, so I’ve omitted those features in the table.

In addition to the characteristics above, these are the qualities that make each site unique.

  • Academia.edu: Networking for academics in all fields. Offers unique visual format with organization by institution. Features Facebook Connect.
  • BibApp: Must be hosted on your server for campus-specific organization of faculty experts and research. Functions more like a catalog of faculty than a networking site, but could be used either way.
  • Epernicus: Networking targeted for scientists. Features “BenchQs,” which is like Yahoo! Answers for science.
  • Graduate Junction: Networking for graduate students that professes to be less intimidating than professional sites. Offers a conference diary & job listings.
  • Labmeeting: Networking for scientists in the biomedical and related sciences. Offers features to assist in organizing and sharing information in lab settings. Also includes strong privacy protection.
  • Pronetos: Networking for academics in all fields. Organization by discipline, and offers discussion forums for each discipline…”

Kindle Searches Way Up…12.24.08

24 12 2008

The amazing pent-up desire for Kindle expressed in number of searches [http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/12/23/searches-for-kindle-picked-up-during-the-holidays/]: 

“We already know that the Kindle, Amazon’s electronic book, is sold out for Christmas, but people are still looking for them. Searches on Google for the term ‘Kindle’ picked up in October to nearly triple the level during the summer. It’s settled down a bit, but search volume is still at about double the previous rate.

Not finding any available Kindles, searches for ‘Sony Reader’ are picking up as well, although the clear preference is still the elusive Kindle by nearly two to one. If you really want one, just do yourself a favor and wait for the next version to come out early next year.

Despite the surge in demand and sold-out inventory, I’d be surprised if Amazon has sold more than one million Kindles to date. Maybe 500,000. That would not be a stretch, given that 240,000 had been manufactured through August. It’s a complete guess, though (the 500,000)…”

Christmas Eve Contemplation: “Wise Men Still Seek Him”…12.24.08

24 12 2008

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’…

There are wise men and then there are wise men, if you know what I mean. You can find a lot of smart people teaching in colleges and universities, but they may not qualify as wise people. .The Wise Men of today’s text were smart enough to follow God’s directions

Matthew calls them MAGI. Despite the beauty of the popular Christmas song, they most certainly were not Kings. The word MAGI is usually translated as ‘astrologers or Oriental scientists.’ Their profession was a combination of modern-day astronomy and astrology.

‘From the east’ points to origins in Mesopotamia or Persia. The Magi were a powerful and influential priestly caste among the Medes and the Persians. These priest-sages were extremely well-educated for their day and were known to specialize in medicine, religion, astronomy, etc. The Persian Magi were well known for their higher religious and intellectual achievements.

They knew of the story of the coming Savior no doubt from the presence of Jewish people like Daniel in their country centuries before. Their honor in history is that they were intellectually honest enough to look for God’s revealing of himself and then acting upon that knowledge.

Dr. Paul Meier writes: ‘There is nothing the least bit improbable about a group of sages being attracted by some event in the heavens and then trying to investigate it more closely. The ancient historians of Greece & Rome were fond of describing astronomical phenomena and the effects they had on the lives of people.

In that region of clear air and in that time of poor artificial lighting, the nights were long and the heavens were quite impressive.’ The stars told them that a new king was born to the Jews and they mounted an expedition to find him.


Wayne Dobratz


The Gospel of St. John 3:16-17:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.


Merry Christmas! Holiday Vacation Begins…12.24.08

24 12 2008

Combining vacation and holiday time, I will not be back on the job until Jan. 2, 2009. Posts during this time will be less frequent. Merry Christmas!

EU Library Site Relaunches…12.23.08

23 12 2008

The follwoing is an excerpt of  an AFP release today entitled “New European online library re-opens after crashing” today http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5id7eqylqJ-xBlQ4Dc2Hgg5t7rrBQ:

The European Union’s new Europeana digital library reopened on Tuesday after crashing within hours of its launch last month due to surging interest.

European Commission spokesman Martin Selmayr said the website was working after its server capacity had been quadrupled and it had been stress-tested to deal with user interest.

However, a message on the site said that ‘the user experience may not be optimal in this test phase’ and as a result ‘the number of users will be limited in peak times.’

The online collection of Europe’s cultural heritage was launched on November 21 to great fanfare but was swamped by an unexpected 10 million user hits per hour, swiftly bringing the system to a crashing halt.

‘At the moment things are going very smoothly. The commission will monitor (the situation) along with the Europeana team,’ Selmayr said.

‘We expect that in the course of February we will be able to add new material to Europeana to make it even more interesting than it already is today.’

Inspired by ancient Alexandria’s attempt to collect the world’s knowledge, the Europeana project allows users to access films, paintings, photographs, sound recordings, maps, manuscripts, newspapers, and documents as well as books kept in European libraries…”

Study Results Showing Internet Competition With Other Media…12.23.08

23 12 2008

Here is an excerpt from Stephen Abram’s post from yesterday [http://stephenslighthouse.sirsidynix.com/archives/2008/12/competing_for_a.html] which highlights the study results just released which shows how the Internet is “competing for attention” with other media:


What’s competing for library users’ attention? It’s interesting that advertisers study this sort of stuff to the extreme and look for the tiniest insights into human behaviour. I wonder what’s on people’s minds as they deal with life’s issues…? How can libraries align with and penetrate that noise?

ticTOC–FREE Service to Keep Up With Scholarly Journals…12.23.08

23 12 2008

Here is an excerpt of a post about ticTOCs from Research Information [http://www.researchinformation.info/news/news_story.php?news_id=418] about a great, new, FREE service:

A new free service makes it easier to keep up-to-date with scholarly journals. ticTOCs  – Journal Tables of Contents Service provides access to the most recent tables of contents of over 11,000 scholarly journals from more than 400 publishers.  It helps scholars, researchers, academics and anyone else keep up-to-date with what’s being published in the most recent issues of journals on almost any subject.

Users of ticTOCs can find journals of interest by title, subject or publisher, view the latest TOC and link through to the full text of over 250,000 articles (where institutional or personal subscriptions, or open access, allow). Users can also save selected journals to MyTOCs so that they can view future TOCs (free registration is required if you want to permanently save your MyTOCs).  ticTOCs also helps to export selected TOC RSS feeds to popular feedreaders such as Google Reader and Bloglines and allows users to import article citations into RefWorks (where institutional or personal subscriptions allow)


Popular Meebo Widget Added…12.23.08

23 12 2008

I decided to add a Meebo IM widget to my blog “The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian” [http://lonewolflibrarian.wordpress.comtoday so maybe I can chat up a fellow librarian/visitor from time to time.  If it works well, I will investigate using it in on my OPAC even though it wouldn’t get used much for quite a while.

In 2006, Meebo noted its faithful were from our clan: “When we initially launched meebo, we crossed our fingers, gave our two little servers some encouraging pats, and sent out those first emails to friends and family. Words of encouragement started trickling in from students, office workers, soldiers, and travelers. One of our most loyal user groups was completely unexpected… librarians.

I guess I’m not an early adopter.  On the other hand, at least I catch on eventually–not bad for a boomer.

Incredible Growth of Twitter…12.23.08

23 12 2008

Although I don’t use Twitter, the “Twittersphere” is big time with the library tech group and is growing in general by leaps and bounds it appears from this article with lots of nice charts today in TechCrunch entitled “The State of the Twittersphere” by Erick Schonfeld [http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/12/22/the-state-of-the-twittersphere-hubspot-edition/]:


How many followers do most people really have on Twitter? The average number of both followers and other members people on Twitter are following is about 70, according to the State of the Twittersphere, a new report by Web marketing startup HubSpot. (Full report embedded below). But that average is skewed by elite Twitterers who have hundreds or thousands of followers. The vast majority of people on Twitter use it to keep in touch with a much smaller circle of friends and peers. For those with 50 or fewer followers (three quarters of all users), the average number of followers is 15.6 and the average number of people they are following is 18.4.

HubSpot’s State of the Twittersphere report is inspired by Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere, which tries to quantify trends across all the blogs it tracks. HubSpot gets its data from Twitter Grader, a site it operates that generates a grade for Twitter users based on factors such as how many followers they have, the reach of the people who are following them, and how often they post updates.

Twitter Grader is basically a vanity search site for Twitter, but it has managed to compile data on over 500,000 Twitter accounts, which is probably around 10 percent of the total. It is not clear how representative these users are, but it is a large sample and they certainly are not all power users. (Three percent had 0 followers, 9 percent didn’t follow anyone else, and 22 percent had five or fewer followers). Until Twitter releases its own State of the Twittersphere report, this is as good as the data gets.

Some other key stats from the report:

—70% of Twitter users joined in 2008
—20% of Twitter users have joined in the past 60 days
—The average user has been on Twitter 275 days

So it is pretty much all newbies, and mainstream adoption is just getting started.

—The most popular days of the week to Tweet are Wednesday and Thursday
An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 new accounts are registered each day.
—Only 5 percent of all Twitter users have more than 250 followers.
—Only 0.8 percent have more than 1,000
—22 percent have five or fewer followers
—Another 24 percent (the largest group) have between 11 and 25 followers

Similarly, most people don’t follow more than 25 other people. In fact, 30 percent follow the Tweets of five or fewer other members. Again, 11 to 25 seems to be a sweet spot, with 21 percent users following that many others. Here’s is the breakdown:

Librarians, Knol, and Wikipedia…12.22.08

22 12 2008

Here is an excerpt from a post by Wayne Bivens-Tatum entitled “Knol Short for Knowledge” [http://blogs.princeton.edu/librarian/wikipedia/] which will be of interest going forward:

…The IHT wrote about Knol today[Dec. 16]. Here’s a Knol screenshot from Google. Since I’m periodically fortunate enough to get people to pay me to talk about Google, I figured I’d better at least have an opinion on this.

The IHT headline says, ‘Google tests content service that may one day rival Wikipedia.’ Maybe. Knol is designed to let people create information pages just like on Wikipedia, except the author’s names are included and only the authors can edit the pages. Supposedly, Google hopes to attract experts to write pages, including competing pages on the same topic, that will become authoritative enough to make them first stops for information, much like Wikipedia is now for a lot of people. According to one of the Google people, they want to make it easy for experts to publish knowledge online. Google thinks some experts don’t share what they know with the world because it’s too difficult to do that now.

That’s the line that stumps me. If someone really has information to share that would be beneficial to the rest of us, as opposed to most of the information they share online, how hard is it these days to publish?…

The only difference is that Knol would gather these pages together into a website that would be more likely to be found on a web search than somebody’s blog or personal website, especially, I would imagine, if one was searching the web with Google. If enough people contributed, then there would be enough links that Knol pages would start showing up along with Wikipedia pages as some of the first pages on many searches. That’s great for ad revenue for Google, but how great is it for the rest of us? Besides a revenue engine, what is Google trying to create?

It seems to be some hybrid of Britannica and Wikipedia. Like Britannica, they are trying to attract experts, but it doesn’t sound like they’re verifying anyone’s expertise, nor searching out experts the way Britannica or the excellent and free Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy does. So it can’t have the authoritative expertise that librarians traditionally like in reference works and that makes them hate and fear the Wikipedia so much.

Unlike Wikipedia, if another expert sees something false or misleading or biased, there’s no way to edit the information to try to make it better. Many see this as a flaw to the Wikipedia, but this is actually its great strength, and you can tell from the discussion pages and page histories that plenty of people take Wikipedia’s attempt at objectivity seriously. If launched, Knol will have some participatory elements, mainly a comments and a ranking feature. Presumably even with competing articles, the better ones will rise to the top through repeated high rankings, and the comments might lead to revisions or at least let people know about possible caveats, if people take the time to both read the articles and read the following discussions, which could be considerably longer than the articles.

It sounds like an interesting experiment, trying to create the traditionally authoritative encyclopedia in a freely available format. One benefit could be to bring together dispersed knowledge on topics that we might not have now, though that’s the main benefit I see of the Wikipedia and of the Internet generally. That the authors are known will make this “authoritative” in a sense, but the authority won’t be of the Britannica kind. Instead it’ll be more of the Internet Movie Database or Amazon reviews kind. “Rank: 7.5 based on 9,734 votes.” “5 out of 7 people found this Knol helpful.”

Most people don’t seem to mind the Wikipedia, but many librarians do. Will this Knol satisfy the reference source authoritarian streak so many librarians seem to have? Since there are authors and only they can edit, will this be the free online reference source that pleases the librarians? Or since there’s no central authority to guarantee the authority of the authors will it still be inadequate by librarian standards? Unless the ‘experts’ are the sorts of scholarly experts we expect now, will Knol be any more authoritative than the Wikipedia or someone’s blog?

It seems like Knol will operate in some limbo between the sort of authoritative reference sources that librarians and scholars like and the often excellent but literally un-authoritative Wikipedia.

Most people don’t care about authority anyway, not in the way librarians do. If it’s popular enough, it’ll have authority…Regardless of the quality of the articles, though, I think we can be sure they’ll show up highly in Google searches, and for many people that’s all the authority they need.”

ALA TechSource Blog Top 5 of 2008…12.22.08

22 12 2008

The following are the top 5 technologies in 2008 for librarians according to Jason Griffey on the ALA TechSource blog [http://www.alatechsource.org/blog/2008/12/the-technology-year-in-review.html]:

“…the technologies that I think librarians need to be aware of, examine, and find uses for in their library.

#5 – Ebook readers

While there’s been a lot of criticism heaped upon the Amazon Kindle this year (it’s ugly, it’s too expensive, it’s a DRM nightmare ), it remains the E-reader that garnered the most publicity. It’s not the only game in town for E-readers, with the Sony Reader and the iRex Iliad on the market as well.  These have roughly the same feature set as the Kindle, with one glaring exception: they do not have constantly available wireless integration with the Amazon Kindle Store, the largest selection of ebooks in the world. In my mind, this sets the Kindle apart and makes it the one to beat. Full disclosure: I own a Kindle, and nothing has disrupted my media consumption habits so fully since I received my first iPod. It really is a revolutionary device.

#4 – Clouds, clouds, everywhere

Cloud computing became a buzzword, but the worlds of business and academia started to take a hard look at how these tools really could help customers. Google Docs, file sync services like Dropbox, backup services like Mozy and Carbonite, and Amazon.com’s variety of services like their S3 storage or SimpleDB database service are all examples of the cloud services that people are beginning to rely on for their everyday computing. For the record, I do all of my writing on Google Docs, because it does a better job of letting me pour text out and gives me the same text everywhere I might happen to be. The power inherent in the lack of geographic necessity is hard to overstate.

#3 – Microblogging

Twitter set the bar for microblogging services, all of which allow you to pour out your thoughts in 140 characters or less. Like this.

#2 – The Rise of the Netbook

The largest growth segment in personal computers this year was a segment that didn’t even exist seriously a year ago…the netbook. The name is given to what might have previously been called a subnotebook–these devices aim to be just good enough for the common set of uses for the mobile worker. The machine that created this new class of laptop was the eeePC, from Asus, with a 7 inch screen and a price of just $249. Just about the size of a hardback book, it was perfect for the on-the-go techie. After the success of the Asus, nearly every other computer manufacturer quickly hit the market with their version of the netbook, all priced below $500 and of varying sizes, specifications, and operating systems. 

#1 – iPhone 3G

The iPhone has driven the mobile space into a completely new realm. With the release this year of the App Store, Apple has created an entirely new way of delivering content that may end up being even more important than the iTunes Store. The iPhone 3G changed all the rules about what a cell phone could be, and the repercussions from the iPhone are going to haunt not just the cell phone market, but every part of the technology realm. While its dominance won’t last forever, for the time being, there is no better or more important mobile device than Apple’s glossy wonderphone.”

True Meaning of Christmas…12.22.08

22 12 2008

The true meaning of Christmas by GoFish:

And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him [Jesus], Which is the first commandment of all?

 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

–Mark 12:28-31

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

–John 3:16-17

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

–John 15:13

LibraryThing “uClassify Mashup” Contest…12.22.08

22 12 2008

Here is an interesting idea regardless of your position on classification schemes and/or changes therewith from LibraryThing this past  Sunday [http://www.librarything.com/thingology/2008/12/uclassify-library-mashup-with-prize.php] which will be at least interesting to follow:
“I keep up with the Museum of Modern Betas* and today it found something wonderful: uClassify.

uClassify is a place where you can build, train and use automatic classification systems. It’s free, and can be handled either on the website or via an API. Of course, this sort of thing was possible before uClassify, but you needed specialized tools. Now anyone can do it—on a whim.

Their examples are geared toward the simple:

  • Text language. What language is some text in?
  • Gender. Did or a man or a woman write the blog? It was made for genderanalyzer.com (It’s right only 63% of the time.)
  • Mood.
  • What classical author your text is most alike? Used on oFaust.com (this blog is Edgar Allen Poe).

Where did I lose the librarians—mood? But wait, come back! The language classifier works very well. It managed to suss-out NorwegianSwedish and Dutch reviews of the Hobbit.** So what if the others are trivial? The idea is solid. Create a classification. Feed it data and the right answer. Watch it get better and better

Now, I’m a sceptic of automatic classification in the library world. There’s a big difference between spam/not-spam and, say, giving a book Library of Congress Subject Headings. But it’s worth testing. And, even if ‘real’classification is not amenable to automatic processes, there must be other interesting book- and library-related projects. 

The Prize! So, LibraryThing calls on the book and library worlds to create something cool with uClassify byFebruary 1, 2009 and post it here. The winner gets Toby Segaran’s Programming Collective Intelligence and a $100 gift certificate to Amazon or IndieBound. You can do it by hand or programmatically. If you use a lot of LibraryThing data, and it’s not one of the sets we release openly, shoot me an email about what you’re doing and I’ll give you green light.

Some ideas. My idea list…

  • Fiction vs. Non-Fiction. Feed it Amazon data, Common Knowledge or LT tags.***
  • DDC. Train it with Amazon’s DDC numbers and book descriptions. Do ten thousand books and see how well it’s guessing the rest.
  • Do a crosswalk, eg., DDC to LCC, BISAC to DDC, DDC to Cutter, etc…”

“Top 10 Ways to Lock Down Your Data”…12.20.08

20 12 2008

This is great for everyone to review carefully–”The Top 10 Ways to Lock Down Your Data” from LifeHacker [http://lifehacker.com/5113886/top-10-ways-to-lock-down-your-data]:

10. Wipe that iPhone (or BlackBerry) before trading in.

It’s almost inevitable that your iPhone’s storage space or feature set will seem completely outdated at some point, depending, of course, on personal tolerance. Before you trade it in or sell it, though, take heed—your personal data is still there, and recoverable with a few modest hacks. Considering how much email, login information, and web history is sent through a phone these days, it’s worth looking at Jonathan Zdziarski’s wiping method, which involves jailbreaking your phone and jumping into the command line to wipe it down clean. Rocking the BlackBerry? Check out BBGeeks’ much easier wiping steps.

9. Use virtual credit cards for iffy online buys.

Buying a DVD from Amazon is usually a pretty standard, safe transaction, but that cutesy little shop with the clever T-shirt? That’s when you should take a few minutes and get a virtual—or “one-time,” “secure,” or “online”—credit card. Most major banks, PayPal, and Discover offer them, even if they’re not widely used. If you’re not quite sure about a site, or even if your own computer might be watched, it can’t hurt to try a card made for only one purchase.

8. Hide data inside files with steganography.

You probably know it’s not smart to keep sensitive, need-to-remember data in a file named all_my_bank_accounts.doc. But few laptop thieves or backdoor hackers are going to look for your PayPal data inside soaring_whales.jpg. Even if they did, they’d only see Orca and friends if you stashed your stuff with easy-to-use steganography tools. They’re also great for trading the kind of information you wouldn’t normally send over email inside otherwise non-intriguing files of all types, sparing you the need to go through too much extra effort.

7. Plan for the worst.

As one editor here recently learned, even a decently protected computer or email account can be gotten too, and it’s hard to tell why. So while precaution is a best practice, it’s just as smart to fortify your digital life for intruders. Clean out your old and never-mailed contacts to avoid apologizing to them later (to say nothing of infecting or spamming them later). Delete any emails, archived or not, that contain passwords, account numbers, PINs and the like—some web sites have a bad practice of emailing them right to you. And make sure you know how your webmail provider would reset your account if it was ever compromised—long-ago-sent activation code, ultra-secret question, or something else entirely. If you don’t know this, then a break-in truly is the end of that convenience.

6. Get smarter on security questions.

Most web-based apps provide a fail-safe way to get your password to you if you’ve forgotten it. Some are more secure than others, but almost all of them ask for some kind of verification/security question—”What is your mother’s middle name?” is pretty common, and so is “What was your first pet’s name?” Thing is, a lot of that stuff is easy to get at, as former Vice President candidate Sarah Palin learned the hard way. Blogger danah boyd’s security question algorithm isn’t heavy math, just smart thinking. You basically create two words—a snarky response and a unique word you’ll remember—to encapsulate your actual answer. Unless a clever college student looking to scandalize you lives inside your head, chances are you’ve closed off this weak security link.

5. Boost your browsing and downloading privacy.

Giving away all your web activities is easy to do, if you don’t take any precautions at work or home. For seriously strict IT policies at work, give our guide to private browsing at work a read-through. Need even more security to hide your traces? Try an anonymous proxy service. Many proxies go up and fall off the net every day, but the Tor network and its cross-platform browsing tool, Vidalia, works in most situations to prevent end-result sites from knowing where you’re at. As for all that BitTorrent traffic that gives you occasional pause for thought, we’ve got you covered there, too.

4. Theft-proof your laptop (and its files).

Few everyday emotions can stand up to the “Laptop Dillemma” in complexity. Your laptop is supposed to give you freedom and flexibility, but it’s also a big chunk of moolah just crying out to be lifted. Adam Pash isn’t quite paranoid, but he does have a handle on how to keep your laptop from being stolen, or get pics and locations on the sly of the thief if it does, and prevent your data from getting compromised. Read his guide to setting up a laptop security system and pick out the anti-theft elements that make sense for you.

3. Secure your wireless network.

No matter what any salesperson tells you, you should never take a wireless router out of its box, hook up a few wires and start surfing from the belkin54g hotspot. Tech site Ars Technica has a great guide to “The ABCs of securing your wireless network,” covering everything in your house—Xbox, Wii, laptops, and iPhones—and the best protocols to use. For a more nuts-and-bolts basic guide, try our long-ago wireless network tutorial, but don’t use the WEP standard mentioned in there.

2. Encrypt your data whole or piecemeal.

For whatever the reason, we’ve all got files that shouldn’t be available to anyone who sits down at our keyboard, whether they live across the globe or across the hall. Encryption has come a long way in ease-of-use and accessibility, and some operating systems—mainly the “business” or “ultimate” kind—have native support for encrypting drives and folders. For most of us, though, there’s TrueCrypt, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. We’ve walked through encrypting entire drives or single folders with TrueCrypt, and while there are plenty of encryption tools out there, TrueCrypt is a nice balance of hard-nosed security and understandable, actual-human software.

1. Use KeePass. Love KeePass. Be secure.

It works on any system, it works with any program, and you can have it automatically between your computers. In short,KeePass is pretty indispensable for anyone who isn’t doing the bad, bad thing of using the same password on every web site and computer app. Once you’ve learned the basics of the free, open-source password vault, you can make it work your own way with great plug-ins. Already using Firefox’s password manager? That’s cool—you can export them into KeePass. If you’re a multi-computer, multi-operating-system person, the free online storage service Dropbox can serve as your ultimate password syncer through KeePass.

Social Networking Visualized…12.19.08

19 12 2008

Here is an interesting excerpt from a post (by the way–I really like pictures, diagrams, etc.) by Erik J. Heels entitled “Drawing That Explains Social Networking” [http://www.erikjheels.com/?p=1090]:

“I wanted to be able to explain to those new to social networking how all of the pieces fit together. Plus with feeds being shared back and forth, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t creating any feed loops or leaving out any pieces. I use LinkedIn for business networking (my resume and the like), I useFacebook for friends and family, and I am passive on Plaxo (i.e. I accept invitations to connect but do not solicit new connections). Here’s my drawing that explains social networking:

I’ve drawn the major inputs at the edge of the social networking cloud. In my view of the blogging world, there are four main inputs:


“How Easy is Your Catalog to Search?”…12.19.08

19 12 2008

Here is an excerpt of a helpful post about considering the user’s catalog search from the Remixing Libraries blog entitled “How easy is your catalogue to search?” [http://librarymix.blogspot.com/2008/12/how-easy-is-your-catalogue-to-search.html]:

“…Recently, however, there have been more attempts to provide a coherent – and contextual – approach to the OPAC. Let’s face facts: No one reads help pages or FAQs. It’s true – check your own web logs. So how do you help your users to get the most out of their search (and most importantly, not just walk away)? Here’s some ideas.

Little and Often 
Ok - so the big chunks of help don’t work but there’s nothing wrong with a nudge in the right direction. Check out any popular website and you’ll see succinct clues to how and why results appear as they do. The best trick I’ve found is to try and write a short sentence to explain a function and then cut it down to half the time. 
Reuse! Reuse! Reuse!
Take a look at the University of Huddersfield Catalogue (the work of Dave Pattern) – data’s been pulled from search and usage logs to create neat little features like the Tag Cloud on the front page and the Amazon-style ‘other people also searched with’ feature on the results page.
Don’t Fight Google
It’s done. People expect your search box to work like Google. In fact, not just like Google butbetter than Google. We can moan about the ‘dumbing down’ of researchers but as soon as people see that empty white box they expect to stick a string of (misspelled) keywords into it and get a result they like within the first page of hits. The sooner we learn to work within these parameters, and not fight them, the sooner we can build better mechanisms for search.And don’t even think about making the default search anything except keyword.
Know Your Data (& Fix Your Indexing)
In any kind of searching consistency is everything so we all need a firm grip on our data. A beautifully constructed catalogue record is one thing but if your search parameters and indexing are so complicated that complex combinations are required to achieve useful search results perhaps it’s time to reflect on the value of that data. A few coherent indexes with consistent data will always beat a hundred ‘correct’ ones.
Accept the Complexity 
Sometimes, however the gap between user expectations and the data is just too vast. Say, for example, that you’re predominantly a science library but you’ve also got a small audio collection – how do you provide a straightforward service to your 90% of science users but also support the 10% of audiophiles? Sometimes it comes down to accepting that you’re going to hit issues and making innovative use of zero results pages, 404s, ‘Email a Librarian’ functions and hey – maybe even a live ‘search help’ facility…”

Innovation-The Key in Economic Tough Times…12.19.08

19 12 2008

Here is a very insightful post from Stephen Abram on his Stephen’s Lighthouse blog [http://stephenslighthouse.sirsidynix.com/] which libraries would be wise the consider, especially in the current recession:

Sometimes the first things to go in bad economic times are just the innovative projects that will allow your organization to survive and thrive. I hear that I have been through 14 recessions since I graduated from library school and I’ve seen a lot of short term tactical thinking every time that deepened the institutional mess. I was glad to see this report offered forfree and recommended on a number of the innovation blogs I read.

‘Chuck Frey of InnovationTools.com and Renee Hopkins Callahan of Innosight have developed the “MUST-READ” innovation management report for 2008.’

The report is called “Innovation Strategies for the Global Recession”.

It a collection of ideas, thoughts, strategies, recommendations and hopes from today’s top innovation management thinkers about how to not only keep your innovation projects alive during this global recession but to also leverage innovation management to claim a market advantage.

Click to get a FREE copy of this report at InnovationTools

Overall Themes

Start scenario planning now.
Redouble your focus on customer needs.
Strengthen the positioning of your products and services using marketing innovation.
Prune your innovation portfolio.
Look for opportunities to inexpensively test new ideas.
Embrace open-source innovation.
Look for creative ways to extend your current products.
Take a fresh look at your supplier relationships.
Conduct a disruptive threat assessment. You
Don’t just think about innovation in terms of products, services, and business models.

It’s only four pages and it’s quite ‘for-profit’ driven but you can interpret for your context.”

Newpapers Doing Better on the Web…12.19.08

19 12 2008

Erick Schonfeld writes about newspaper changes on the web at TechCrunch [http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/12/18/study-newspaper-websites-are-still-figuring-out-this-whole-conversation-thing/] : 

Newspapers are still lurching their way around the Web, a new study finds, but at least they are making some progress. The Bivings Group released a study today that quantifies the Website features of the top 100 newspapers in the U.S. Among the findings: Nearly every newspaper site has reporter-written blogs and some form of video; features that elicit content from readers are on the rise; podcasts and mandatory registrations are down; social networking features are pretty much non-existent…

In terms of reader-submitted material, newspapers are more comfortable accepting images than words. More newspaper sites accept photos from readers (58 percent) than videos (18 percent) or articles (15 percent). Comments are less controversial, with 75 percent allowing reader comments on articles. One thing I found curious is that 57 percent of newspaper sites offer their editions in PDF form. Why? A PDF of a page, maybe, but nobody prints out the whole edition.

The graph below shows the biggest changes between this year and last. Newspaper sites that incorporate user-generated content is on the rise (58 percent in 2008, versus 24 percent in 2007), as are comments on articles (75 percent in 2008, versus 33 percent in 2007) and bookmarking (92 percent, versus 44 percent).

Sites that require registration are down from 29 percent to 11 percent, which means that most newspapers have finally figured out that putting up any barriers, even a temporary one, between readers and articles simply drives readers to other sites.


iPhone Interface for Bible Versions & Koran…12.18.08

18 12 2008

Here is an very interesting and useful post today by Suzanne Chapman [http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/blt/archives/2008/12/new_iphone-frie.html] from the Blog for Library Technology at the University of Michigan which I found interesting although I don’t yet have an iPhone or similar device:

“I’ve been researching mobile interface design for a few months now so when we got an email yesterday from a user asking if we’d consider making an iPhone interface for her favorite collection, I jumped at the opportunity. The collection she was interested in (the Bible: Revised Standard Version) is one of our oldest ‘legacy’ collections. Luckily, the regular interface is very simple and doesn’t contain any tables or even graphics. The main problem with viewing the text on an iPhone is that it basically displays a much smaller version of what you see on a full size monitor. The user must then zoom in to make the text big enough to read and then do lots of horizontal and vertical scrolling to read.


So, in order to get the text to fill the allotted space and wrap nicely, all we had to do was simply add one meta tag into the <head> of the html.

<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width”>

This basically tells the iPhone to display the content at the default size of the iPhone screen.

Of course, ‘simple’ is never just that. Because we aren’t dealing with static html pages, collection manager extraordinaire Chris Powell had to spend some time trying to figure out how to insert the meta element, attributes, and attribute values & then figure out how to pass them to the CGI perl module.

We have 2 other similar legacy collections, so we went ahead and made the same changes to them as well:



3-Month or More Wait for Kindle 2…12.18.08

18 12 2008

Earliest shipping dates for Kindle 2 from Amazon: “Expected to ship in 11 to 13 weeks


“The Evolution of Search”…12.18.08

18 12 2008

There is a really good post entitled “The Evolution of Search: A Look at the History, Vision, Innovators, and Future of Information Accessibility” [http://blog.tigerlogic.com/chunkit/the-evolution-of-search/] which gives an overview of the history of search.  Here is an excerpt of the post–the  conclusion discussion of the future of search:


A. The Beginning - Until now, search has been all about accurately matching what you type as your search query to the content available on the Internet. This idea was the basis for the original search engines, and continues to be the concept we all understand search to be. But search can be so much more. While we may sometimes know what we are looking for, we often don’t have enough information to properly find the information we seek, or perhaps we only begin with a concept, and need to be led to more concrete definitions or ideas. Search as it stand today is robotic and one dimensional, and most certainly still in its infancy.

B. The Vision - If you’re a Star-Trek fan, you’re likely quite familiar with the future of search. The computer on the USS Enterprise is perhaps one of the best known and most easy to relate to examples of the direction search is moving in. Members of the Enterprise ask the computer any question, phrased in any way, and the computer will linguistically understand both the intent of the question, and its main message. Searchers of the future will make queries that result not only in the information they asked for, but also in content that is related in any possible fashion; semantically, conceptually, etc. People will use search as a guide to their understanding in a way that is not even fully conceptualized, but promises to be a mix of advanced artificial intelligence, incredible computational understand of human language, and the integration of huge amounts of human behavioral data that will inform these advanced systems about what is most relevant.

C. The Game Changer - Every major search engine considers the above to be its end goal. Companies like Google and Yahoo are pouring large amounts of monetary and intellectual resources into the technologies that will be the platform for the search of the future. From the research and development being done at the GooglePlex on items like speech recognition and linguistics, it is apparent that we are trending toward ever more sophisticated implementations of what was once a very simple concept. As we move toward the future, those changing the game will be the developers of new technology that harness the vast quantities of information online, and seek to understand that information as fully as possible, coupled with the goal of understanding the way in which we seek that information.”


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