The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Friday, February 22, 2002

Things to check out tomorrow:

So there you have it... my to do list for tomorrow, in addition to more Radio docs. Just not enough hours in the day. Let me note, too, that the majority of links came to me as comments via YACCS, and they were pushed to me via my news aggregator. I can't stress how fantastic a service that is!

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Back on February 1, I highlighted TechSoup's DiscounTech site, but Gayle Samuelson Carpentier informs me that I misconstrued some of the information on the site. So, to set the record straight, here's her message.

"Thanks for letting folks know about DiscounTech, but it wouldn't be fair to everyone if we didn't set the facts straight.

  1. Yep, the site is just for verified non-profits, who want and need great deals on technology . . . but
  2. It's only donated Microsoft software that we cannot distribute to Washington State (Microsoft handles that part of the program themselves)...
  3. Each product has specific restrictions - so you may be able to buy 10 of some items and only one of others. Donating companies do get to set guidelines for who can receive their products - that's why it varies.
  4. While schools cannot get certain software, a school that is a verified nonprofit may qualify for other products you'll need to check the site for requirements.

Want more information - you can check out http://www.techsoup.org/DiscounTech/about.asp or just stop by the DiscounTech site - new products are being added weekly."

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NASA Gets a New Fix on Problems

"NASA's Ames Research Center is developing a computerized simulator that will offer versatility not previously seen in simulation software and allow engineers to deal better with unforeseen problems.

NASA views the software, called Virtual Iron Bird, as a precursor to the holodeck used on the Star Trek series, but on a much smaller scale. It allows engineers to create what-if scenarios with spacecraft and other objects, instead of having to build full-size or nearly full-size mockups." [Wired News]

This project is interesting in-and-of-itself, but here's the real reason I'm posting this:

"Because the Virtual Iron Bird is driven by an Oracle database, changes to the environment can be made on the fly."

See, SLS. It is rocket science.

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Both Moshe and Eric suggest adding Drupal to the list of potential portal software. Moshe notes that "it will soon have bidirectional email->web in addition to lots of other cool CMS stuff." Consider it added. Also, Eric thinks, "Conversant is a customized version of Frontier." But you can't put it on your own server can you? That's my line in the sand if it's true.
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National Slackerday 2

"The National Slacker Day campaign plans to continue raising awareness of the need to take time to sit back and relax, and on Friday February 22nd 2002 we'll be Slacking once again... so book the day off now and prepare to do absolutely nothing." [via MeFi]

Dagnabbit! My boss is an Anglophile, and I didn't realize this in time!

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Digital Data Puts Mars on Map

"Scientists have produced the most detailed atlas of Mars ever compiled, and it is freely available on the internet....

According to Dr Mike Malin, it took about a month to acquire the data for the atlas in May and December 1999 with some additional data of the polar regions in 2001. It then took a further two months to develop the software needed to stitch the data together.

Finally, it took about two days of continuous computer processing using a Sun SunBlade 1000 system with dual 750-Mhz UltraSPARC III processors and 4 GB of RAM to composite the final map." [at BBC News, via Lockergnome Bytes]

Go directly to the Mars Atlas Revisited

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The FCC's Powell on Broadband Rules An interview with FCC Chairman Michael Powell [at BusinessWeek, via Tomalak's Realm]

The good:

"Somebody is going to [figure out how to] use the electrical grid as a broadband platform. Just last week, there were a number of new companies announcing new businesses that are going after using the electrical system for broadband.  Think about it. If every electrical plug becomes a broadband port, that would be huge. If all those things mature, that's five competitive platforms offering consumers differentiated choice of service. Telephone never achieved anything remotely like that."

The bad:

"Every new service is dependent on demand, and I can't guarantee it. It's up to the AOL Time Warners and Earthlinks of the world to demonstrate to consumers that the prices they are charging are worth it. If the companies don't get it right, nothing we do can make it better.... The company that figures out how to provide content reliably on a mass-market scale and offer good customer service will profit handsomely."

And there's the magic word - profit. Maybe profit shouldn't be the determining factor for access to the greatest information resource since libraries first came along.

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From Adam Curry comes the following, excellent essay by Douglas Adams written in 1999. Yes, the Douglas Adams. How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet

"I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:

1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are."

And then there's this wonderful observation:

"One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no ‘them’ out there. It’s just an awful lot of ‘us’."

And still this quote:

"Another problem with the net is that it’s still ‘technology’, and ‘technology’, as the computer scientist Bran Ferren memorably defined it, is ‘stuff that doesn’t work yet.’ We no longer think of chairs as technology, we just think of them as chairs. But there was a time when we hadn’t worked out how many legs chairs should have, how tall they should be, and they would often ‘crash’ when we tried to use them. Before long, computers will be as trivial and plentiful as chairs (and a couple of decades or so after that, as sheets of paper or grains of sand) and we will cease to be aware of the things. In fact I’m sure we will look back on this last decade and wonder how we could ever have mistaken what we were doing with them for ‘productivity.’ But the biggest problem is that we are still the first generation of users, and for all that we may have invented the net, we still don’t really get it."

Which is really where I wanted to end up to say this. Net Generation. To them, it's not "technology" the way it is to you and me. Unless you're under age 21 and reading this, in which case disregard that last sentence. My whole point is better illustrated by this last quote:

"Most of us are stumbling along in a kind of pidgin version of it, squinting myopically at things the size of fridges on our desks, not quite understanding where email goes, and cursing at the beeps of mobile phones. Our children, however, are doing something completely different. Risto Linturi, research fellow of the Helsinki Telephone Corporation, quoted in Wired magazine, describes the extraordinary behaviour kids in the streets of Helsinki, all carrying cellphones with messaging capabilities. They are not exchanging important business information, they’re just chattering, staying in touch. 'We are herd animals," he says. 'These kids are connected to their herd – they always know where it’s moving.' Pervasive wireless communication, he believes will 'bring us back to behaviour patterns that were natural to us and destroy behaviour patterns that were brought about by the limitations of technology.' "

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Judge: If You Own Music, Prove It

"In a stunning turnaround, a district court judge ruled Friday that the five major record labels must prove they own thousands of music copyrights. And prove those copyrights weren't used to monopolize and stifle the distribution of digital music....

On Friday, the tide dramatically shifted. Patel, who called both sides "dirty," said that Napster's misguided attempts to build a business using illegally obtained music paled in comparison to what could be massive misuse and heavy-handed tactics by the recording industry.

If the labels can't prove ownership of the copyrights, they can't ask the courts for damages for copyright infringement. That may not mean Napster is in the clear. It depends on how the court rules on ownership of songs. For instance, if the artists retain ownership it would be up to those artists to make a deal with, or sue, companies like Napster. " [Wired News]

Wouldn't that be something? I wonder how quickly the RIAA may settle with Napster now.

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I'll have to read it later tonight., but here's what looks to be a great link explaining Web Design for Dyslexic Users.

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I started out with Odigo, then Eyeball, and now I'm stuck on Trillian. I like the way they're thumbing their nose at AOL. Chutzpah, and more power to 'em! When they go down though, maybe I'll give AT&T's IM Anywhere a try. They don't connect to ICQ, but they do interact with AIM, Yahoo, and MSN. I don't know anyone on ICQ, so personally that's not a loss for me. Has anyone else tried IM Anywhere?
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Today Catherine from HTLS gave a workshop at SLS, and she included the following as one of her handouts:

WE LEARN

10% of what we READ

20% of what we HEAR

30% of what we SEE

50% of what we SEE AND HEAR

70% of what we DISCUSS WITH OTHERS

80% of what we EXPERIENCE PERSONALLY

95% of what we TEACH SOMEONE ELSE

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Hooray! Diane Kovacs has updated the Directory of Scholarly and Professional E-Conferences and made it available online again!

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Major Ugh! Trillian has released yet another version to combat AOL's blocks on AIM, but in order to download it, I have to register with CNET. What does Trillian get out of this? Good thing I have a spambait address.

One nice perk of being a librarian (besides never having to pay overdue fines and having EVERYTHING on the planet available to you and knowing it) is that we're invisible on forms that request personal information. There's never an option for "Libraries" in the "Industry" drop-down menus, or "Librarian" in the "Job Function" drop-down menus, so I can honestly pick "Other" every time, knowing that I'm screwing with their statistics. As Brent would say, "Oh yeah, baby!"

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A rant about Why Copyright Holders Need Libraries. It's Friday morning, so don't hold it against me. Hope it's somewhat lucid....
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Here's a little tip for you. You can thank me later. This is the best time to buy Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs, the yellow ones for easter. The ratio of peanut butter to chocolate in Reeses eggs versus regular Reeses Peanut Butter Cups is different, thereby making them even more flavorful. Yes, I know you didn't think it was possible, but it's true. And since the eggs are shaped differently than February's hearts, you know they're relatively fresh. This is a good time to buy because the freshness factor is high since they haven't been sitting on the shelf as long as they will have a month from now. Plus, this will be your last chance to get this type of Reeses product until October's Halloween Pumpkins, which is a really long time to wait. And really, there's no better way to start your day.

You're welcome.

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Shift asks, "Will newspapers survive?

"Fast forward to 2002: My folks still turn to the papers as their primary source for news and analysis (they do go online, but it's primarily for email). Although I'll still buy a paper occasionally or grab one that's laying around the office (for Canadian news or a Canadian perspective on an international event), I don't turn to the papers much these days. For the most part, I rely on the internet to let me know what's happening out there.

I fall in between the old and new vanguard of media in that I was raised on newspapers and am now weaning myself on the web, so I'm loyal to both. But a new generation is growing up on the net and for many of them, the print papers aren't even an option; even if they do read the papers, they tend to end up on the online version (TheStar.com, not the Toronto Star) through a referral.

With the net, now we go and find the news; the news doesn't get selected for us by editors and writers. We go out and discuss various viewpoints on political events in threads and discussion boards rather than having them dictated to us by op-ed pages with their own agenda." [via ia/]

Read that last paragraph to mean we're "news-shifting," getting our news from places we choose, and more of them. If you think you can sit behind a reference desk in your building and wait for the Net Generation to walk in and ask you a question, you are sadly mistaken. They choose when, they choose where, they choose what. They're growing up with information coming to them, not the other way around.

A natural corollary to this is that they expect their news to come to them, not out on the driveway once a day. In general, newspapers don't provide daily, personalized emails with headlines. So what do these kids do? (And that's the "royal" kids that includes adults like me.) They're getting their news chunked to them from places like Salon, Plastic, and MeFi.

The interesting part will come when RSS news aggregators hit the tipping point. Right now, we're still very reliant on human gateways for news. That's the fun of blogging and readings blogs... passing the news and the memes. But what happens when everyone gets their news and memes via RSS headlines on their combo-cell-phones-PDAs? If newspapers are smart, they'll start preparing for that. Some already have. Most haven't, but they need to shift with us. Just like libraries.

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Serendipity strikes again! I didn't pay as close attention to my email yesterday as I should have, figuring I could catch up over the weekend. When I noted the Social Network Analysis article by Peter Morville, it was because Lawrence had pointed it out in Tomalak's Realm. Only just now did I connect that this is the same Peter Morville who wrote me yesterday! Sorry, Peter, I claim a day-long brain freeze!

The best part of this whole little brain dysfunction is that Peter is a librarian! In fact, Peter is a shifted librarian, so you'll find him listed over to the left there under Semantics Archive, which is where you'll find some of his other writings that I haven't had a chance to get to yet. Definitely check him out, though!

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