Movie Review from ‘New Scientist’

2008 April 23 Wednesday

On the WordPress Help page, under Popular FAQs (dept of redundancy dept?) I’m told there are four ways to put audio on your blog… it then lists three.

Regardless of the mystery method four, I’m trying the upload-to-another-website-then-link technique.  You be the judge, let me know about any issues.

BTW the Audacity cum Lame applications to create the audio worked out quite well; got the lead from an ALA District Dispatch 02/14/07 Post, also cited link in the class blog.

\”Expelled\” review from New Scientist


Week the Sixth: Online Photo Sharing

2008 April 23 Wednesday

Lillehammer Torch

The photo exercise is also on my Facebook site, “Reference Librarian”, not to mention FlickR “Robartj”  … Inserting photo media into WordPress Blog not so flexible from the Visual posting screen, probably need to do it at the HTML level.    But the dancing bear & all that (Congleton Bear, that is)

It’s starting to get complicated, too many accounts/usernames/passwords. FlickR/Yahoo has rubbed a few people the wrong way: you’ve got to have or get a Yahoo! account to use it… an invitee was not pleased at all, reminded me of the ill-will generated when Yahoo dropped a dime on the Red Chinese dissidents. That was a bottom-line motivation, forcing Yahoo join-up another profit-motivated setup (they’re still figuring out their commercial model, but it’s certainly not hampered by ethics, karma, &c.

If certain issues could be resolved I could see a photo-sharing app very useful for libraries. Good opportunity for branding, also promoting current activities/archives of previous exhibits.

Some pictures might raise hackles, that implies LibAdmin control of what’s uploaded. The corollary being that a lot of folks get involved in vetting – Heinlein’s definition of a committee is a life-form with six or more legs and no brain, and an observation that more than three people can’t decide where to eat.

The control/privacy/usage issues are starting to strangle the usefulness of free sites, I’m thinking that migration to Web 3.0 is going to end the wild-west days of the early Web and go to a more commercially-oriented direction. The diversity of webapps may be their own collective undoing.

J.H.Jones Library Building, Houston, Texas

Week Five, Weakly: G-docs &c.

2008 April 13 Sunday
Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes
Barney Google tried to enter paradise
When Saint Peter saw his face, he said, "Go to the other place" 
Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes

There’s a lot to be said about the Google Docs applications, the ZOHO offering seems to be the most serious competition; MS is all over the place despite all the lip-service to ‘software as a service’.  To my mind that had always been a ploy to boost their revenue stream from people like me who don’t upgrade applications as often as MS would like (recently went from Office 6 to 2000! woohoo).

The spreadsheet is available, renamed MLA_CE-week-5, and seems to be straightforward.  Previously I had some problems uploading an OpenOffice spreadsheet I’d gotten off the web, but there has been a change to extensions that seems to have resolved that.

The word processing left some things to be desired: as I’d commented, UTF-8/font encoding issues can be beastly beasts.  In the collaborative document some of the foreign language information crashed, in one case it cut’n’pasted as an image rather than ‘real’ text.

The presentation on the care’n’feeding of our CHI eKiosk lost formating on the ‘constructed’ slide, i.e., make text box/write in text box/select fill color.  The screen shots which started as *.bmp & might’ve been converted to *.jpeg along the way came out fine


2008 April 13 Sunday I am robtbart on
add robtbart to your network Add me to your network

Yes, still coming up to speed on the javascript/HTML stuff; maybe if I get some additional tags my cloud will get better…

Tag, you’re it

2008 April 11 Friday

Tagging, social: Folksonomy, fauxonomy

Mr DIctionary saith in re taxonomy: «

  • The classification of organisms in an ordered system that indicates natural relationships.
  • The science, laws, or principles of classification; systematics.
  • Division into ordered groups or categories

“taxonomy” [French taxonomie from Greek ( ταξονομία ) – taxis, arrangement, from tassein, tag-, to arrange; + -nomie, method, from -nomiā, from nomos, law

… included in the (very extensive) wikipœdia entry:

taxonomy: taxis, or “arrangement,” and nomos, or “law.” The search for a taxonomic system represents humankind’s desire to make order out of the complexities with which nature presents us. When it comes to the organization of ideas (including ideas about the varieties of life-forms), this desire for order is more than a mere preference. It is a necessity.

The Analogy to a Library

Imagine a library without any organizational system, with books simply crammed willy-nilly on the shelves. Such a place would be totally chaotic, and if one happened to find a book one was looking for, it would be a case of pure luck. The odds would be weighted heavily against such luck, especially in a university library or a large municipal or regional one. Just as a good-size university library has upward of a million volumes, and many large university libraries have several million, so there are at least a couple of million identified species, and the total may be much larger. Some entomologists (scientists who study insects) speculate that there may be ten million species of insect alone. »

So, does this come down to anarchy versus obsessive compulsive anal-retentive (¿is anal retentive hyphenated?) or can there be some constructive synthesis?

The advantages of the free-form tag names need to be integrated with those of controlled vocabulary indexing. So far I’ve not seen much feedback in the form of suggested tags: I’m wondering to what extent data can be mined.

What I’m wondering about is a googolish search engine harnessed to the tag/index terms used across multiple sources: first there are social tagging data… can these be mined to develop a meta-thesaurus which could subsequently guide indexing? secondarily the metadata embedded in the HTML are designed to inform the spyder/crawlers on their indexing perigrinations (also to deceive search engines into optimising traffic to the site, but that’s another can of worms), so perhaps they could be integrated into the tag-derived information.

So maybe Berners-Lee et alia are on to something with this “Semantic Web”. Considering the data to be addressed the solution would have to parse huge volumes of it very fast, process & offer it back just as quickly.

Librarian/Inforarian as Ombudsman

2008 April 3 Thursday

A rose is a rose… librarian, inforbrarian, databrarian, information professional — what about possible upcoming rôles?

The US government is devolving more & more functions to the web. This turns out to be one-sided, an unfunded mandate: who provides the citizenry with computers, Internet access and support, i.e., the training/knowledge/money for their usage? What I’ve usually heard in response involves ‘going to your local public library where they have all the computer resources (equipment, networking, instruction & tech support) that you’ll need’.

What a canard, what mendacity, what a crock…

Doing my taxes gives me a headache, it’s incredibly convoluted; dealing with HHS/Social Security is worse as they intentionally obfuscate the process. I love my country but the government are scum. There was a Vietnam veteran I knew who went through three years of their subterfuge & duplicity, this a vet who’d been flayed from asshole to shoulder blade in order to replace spine function with three pair of steel rods. After these years of anguish the government agreed he was disabled, paid the past-due & started payments — too bad he died three months later. If the SS could have only held him off a little longer they wouldn’t have had to pay anything.

But I digress. Librarian as agent for social/political change isn’t fully embraced at present, but as the questions asked about issues required by those government entities get harder it seems a logical new rôle. There are a lot of corollaries: massive funding increases for the equipment & support, also for the front-line reference & subject specialists. If we could arrange a war moratorium for a month that US$6,000,000,000.00 could kick off the endowment. That Internet-based-only government doesn’t save citizens anything, it increases costs & anxieties.

And while we’re at it, let’s stop using the term War… it’s Congressional authorized hostility (of course it’s not solely that pusillanimous shower, it was fomented by the temerarious turds in the Executive Branch – ever since Tonkin).

Eeriegardlessly, there’s always cause-and-effect, or Karma; the ancient Greeks knew Hubris arouses Nemesis (ὕβρις ξυπνά Νέμεσι).

Social Networking & Other Unsavoury Acts

2008 April 1 Tuesday

Third week took a little longer than seven days, but I think that was in a Beatles song.

Social Networking (SN) to connect MLA members? Maybe. But define the mission: connecting in what sense? None of the free resources alone satisfy the total picture, but solutions to the assorted elements of that mission are found in different applications. “Mashups” are (IMHO) the way to go, keeping in mind that the overall privacy/security issues can only be addressed by keeping the tools in-house.

I can see my library mounting something like that, but certainly not anything like the atrocious Brooklyn agglomeration. The Denver PL effort was functionally worse, e.g., movie reviews & find good book both disabled (spam attacked); homework helper a clumsy way to get to what would be better served from the library web site. Looks a bit lonesome & abandoned, too. {and, BTW, no music without invitation, I have my own bad taste, thanx}

Facebook was not co-öperative in some respects – tho I did add groups, a friend, find a fellow HS grad – the ‘Event’ & other ‘Applications’ have not yet worked. However, what does work is very functional.  I think this will be an excellent vehicle for MLA networking, with the caveat of breaking down into smaller, specific areas… the full-group seems a bit unwieldy for the FB tools. An odd thing I’d like to know if anyone else noticed: there were a lot of people duplications when I browsed the UNT 2006 class. Glitch from user or application?  Once I get over whatever technical issue I’m having will revisit the whole magilla.

The Linkedin is about the most straightforward of the SN tools (may be classed something else), found a number of folks from my library already on board. Professionally speaking it seems like a good site; especially as the ‘directory assistance’ function has disappeared/fragmented.  As with all of the current crop the privacy issue is a thing to keep in mind. Meebo & that ilk strike me as being particularly dangerous: “hi, chump, let me harvest your username & passwords for all your mail accounts, possibly get your corporate entrée”.

FaceBook* & the other SN apps have been an eyeopener, it’s good to start coming up to speed with the born-digital generation…  As they age perhaps the society won’t see the same social isolation as in the current elderly, & it may start with the upcoming baby-boomer elderly.  But might exacerbate it, à la Asimov’s planet Solaria in “The Naked Sun”.

It was a very interesting exercise, indeed: there’s a very strong Zeitgeist thing going on, too. A lot of ink & electrons as folks are starting to revisit SN with the percolation of the “OpenSocial” working group into general awareness. (& it’s only taken since November) A very piquant take on recent events came from David Glazer. Tho some are saying SN has come & gone, SMS/texting rules – SN drools.


Perhaps a library SpaceBook presence is necessary to bring in the clientèle, I don’t have involvement with PL or the under-twelves so can’t say. But you don’t have to abandon working models just because something is the flavour-of-the-month. Have a presence, yes — but link from it to a better done library hosted web page with the bells & whistles there (wikis, chat, db-driven web apps, streaming video/audio, socializing areas such as Ning, &c).




*IBM added social networking & collaboration tools in Lotus Sametime ver.7.0 application; committed US$10 million (€6.3 mn) to investigate potential of sites like Second Life.

Michael Hickins, commenting about enterprise applications, wrote that social networking & collaboration tools address top-line needs by stimulating innovation & speed to market – versus most IT apps addressing bottom-line concerns & reducing costs. So there’s a bit of a disconnect between the pricey blue behemoth & the free tools, also on the security & orientations of each. The OpenSocial API’s may muddy the waters further by enabling cross-site data exchange… may help, but the jury’s still out.