The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Wednesday, March 06, 2002

In case you haven't noticed, I've added Jon Udell's script to display what RSS feeds I'm subscribed to. (I'm doing the hanging prep just to drive everybody crazy.)

It's over on the right-hand side. Because Jon was so great answering my questions, I threw together a quick tutorial about how to do this yourself. When I say "quick," I mean it because it's late and I'm tired, so I hope it makes sense and that the instructions are actually correct.

So here you go - How to Display Which RSS Feeds You're Subscribed to, and I apologize for the horizontal scrolling. I've also linked to it from the Radio 101 Docs.

Thanks for all of your help, Jon!

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Question: is my home page taking a long time to load for you? Should I change it to display only one day's worth of posts or leave it at two? Let me know what you think via email or a comment.
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Rob sent me a heads up that he heard on NPR this morning that "the state legislature here has decided to save the state library for at least another year." I searched the Access Washington, the Seattle Times, and KUOW, but I can't find any confirmation of this. Can anyone verify this information? This would be great news indeed! Thanks, Rob!
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It's official - Google Bombstickers.

"Since a bombsticker is potentially nothing more than a little chunk of text, anyone who feels like supporting a cause can easily add a bombsticker to a permanent area of their blog through copy and paste inclusion. Watch this space for updates on automation and tracking features to be added to bombstickers." [via Doc Searls]

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Hey, Ernie the Attorney has a blog! That makes two cool lawyers if you count my brother, too (which I do, even though he doesn't have a blog). In addition to a funny-in-a-sad-kind-of-way story about someone who is most definitely not shifted, Ernie ruminates on change and admits that law is basically information and that "lawyers are generally not comfortable with technology."

Go Ernie, go Ernie, go Ernie....

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David Weinberger also points us to Save Internet Radio. Hear, hear!
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Instant Messaging and the New Conversation

"We need to make more of buddy lists. First, we need a way to move threads among all the different conversation forms: see the threadsML initiative.

Second, research (e.g. Albert-László Barabási shows the self-organizing networks naturally create 'super nodes.' These are invisible in buddy lists. There ought to be some way of developing them.

If voice, passion and connection drive the Web then, IM is not just creating a new network of groups but is also (almost necessarily): Messy (the clean line between personal and business is smudged), subversive (IM as passing notes in the back of the classroom), hyperlinked (driven by interest) and entertaining (multiple persona, exaggeration, humor). IM at work is not much different than IM at home. IM is part of the permanent, pervasive adolescence enabled by the Web, and part of the rebirth of play." [JOHO aka David Weinberger, via Doc Searls]

I'm seeing this played out as work as I get more and more staff signed up for IM. It's all just play right now, but that will change. In fact, we're still in the "passing noes in the back of the classroom" stage.

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" I discovered the Internet File Converter for the PalmPilot which allow for extremely cool things like this." [LibraryPlanet]

File under "explore when I have more time." Looks cool, though. My secret hope is that Lori or Teri has already played with this and that they'll give it a thumbs up or thumbs down.

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Rural Area Have-nots Lose Out on the Net

"The internet revolution has created a new underclass of people in rural and remote areas who are being excluded from the brave new world of teleworking, virtual shopping and online public services by lack of access to technology.

That is the conclusion of research, to be published this week, which warns the much-hyped potential for new technologies to 'render distance obsolete' is not being realised.

The research, carried out by the Local Futures Group thinktank for IT giant IBM, calls on the government to treat access to technology as just as important as access to transport and health care. " [at The Guardian, via LucDesk]

Although this report focuses on the U.K., it's true for the U.S., too. My aunt moved to a farm in Missouri a few years ago (not too far from Kansas City) with the hope that she could get a broadband connection and still do data entry for her old employer in Chicago. When she got settled in, she found she was on a party telephone line so she couldn't even use a dial-up account. Not that there was a local number anyway. She eventually got a private phone line, but broadband is pretty difficult to come by out there.

I wanted to highlight this other quote from the Guardian article, too:

" 'If you accept that ICT access should be part of the infrastructure then you can't leave it to the market because it will take too long and the gap will get wider.' "

This is the problem we're facing in the U.S. as the Bush administration attempts to cut funding to public programs that support community access, deregulates the broadband industry, and approves BigCo mergers in this arena. I hope the U.K. has better luck with this than we will.

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Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt sounds even more interesting after reading Salon's review.
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The Internet Amenity

"Within 10 or 15 years’ time, practically every computer and every handheld device will be online all the time.

What many people don’t realize, however, is that this visionary network is increasingly up and running today. And it doesn’t even require any new technology, business models or significant investment. Indeed, if there is a single difference between the Broadband2Wireless mission and the reality of this new ubiquitous network, it’s that the real wireless Internet doesn’t cost $50 a month—it’s free. All that’s required, really, is openness....

Ultimately, IP tone becomes valuable not when it is just in your hotel room but when you can count on it being everywhere. I have it in my house for guests. My friends have it in their offices. This is the friendly future that I see starting to shape up: instead of seeing Internet connectivity as a profit center, my guess is that businesses, universities and government facilities are going to provide IP tone to visitors for the same reason that they offer free local telephone service, water and the use of rest rooms—it makes the environment warmer, friendlier and more productive.

Do your part: set up an open network today." [at Technology Review, via Tomalak's Realm]

You know who would loooooove to set up wireless networks for anyone to come in and use? Yep... public libraries. Most can't, though.

  1. The limited technology budget is better spent on computers, printers, and maintenance;
  2. When there is a tech person on staff, they don't have the time or resources to set one up and maintain it;
  3. A lot of public libraries don't even have a tech person on staff.

It's kind of sad, actually, because PLs are already community centers. Check out The Wireless Librarian's list of Libraries with Wireless and you'll see that only 7 of the 88 listed are public libraries. It's not a definitive list, but it's indicative of the current situation. We'd need a similar e-rate-like initiative for wireless to change this, but the Bush administration would rather cut this type of funding.

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To make Andy smile after a few very rough days: Solving NPR's Sunday Morning Puzzles with Perl [also Phil Karn]
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Funniest thing I've seen today: "No Mental Theft Act" Needed, Congress Told: Law would mandate mind-erasing drugs for every movie-goer

" 'Our undercover investigators have finally discovered why ticket sales to most newly released movies drop so dramatically in the first week or so', said Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America.

'Hundreds of millions of movie-goers pay a mere $7.50 each, but they leave with mental copies of images and sounds of movies that cost us billions of dollars to make. This is blatant theft of our valuable intellectual property!'

Because of this rampant mental piracy, Valenti said, 'few ever return to a theater to see a movie even for a second time. This deprives our industry of billions of dollars in lost revenue, and it forces us to spend billions every year just to make new movies in a never-ending battle to stay ahead of the pirates.'

Valenti was especially critical of a few brazen individuals who regularly use television and newspapers to disseminate mentally pirated movies, often before they're even open to the public. As a result of this piracy -- a gaping loophole in present copyright law -- many millions of people do not see most movies even once." [Phil Karn, via Michael Shook]

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BTW, if anyone reading this is attending the Click Here First: Make Your Library Site the Stickiest Spot in Town session at PLA next week, and you notice that they are distributing handouts that won't be available on the web, can you please pick me up a set and I'll reimburse you for postage?  Thanks!
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Report Cites Possible Religious Bias in School Web Filters

"The report, titled 'Filtering Software: The Religious Connection,' examines eight companies' relationships with conservative Christian organizations. According to the report, three companies with a significant school presence--N2H2 Inc. of Seattle, Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., and 8e6 Technologies Inc. of Orange, Calif.--also market their products to conservative religious internet service providers (ISPs), while the other five companies have expressed conservative religious philosophies.

Of these latter five, four have begun targeting the school market in response to the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which requires schools to install a "technology protection measure" to help shield students from online material that is harmful to minors.

Based on these connections--and on the companies' own descriptions of the categories their products are designed to block--the university's report surmises that conservative biases might exist in the way these companies categorize web sites when putting together their 'block' lists. It further implies that at least one company, N2H2, has sought to downplay its connection to the religious right....

The report notes that such bias, if it does exist, would be impossible to prove, because the companies it examines won’t reveal their lists of web sites blocked within each category. But its theories could generate momentum for the establishment of an independent auditor to better inform schools of the companies’ filtering methods." [at eSchool News, via Privacy Digest]

Here's the full report, which is available in HTML or PDF. I hope they do create an independent auditor and that they work with libraries, too, because libraries that receive federal funds (such as e-rate money) are also subject to the CIPA filtering mandate.

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I didn't know there was a Public Library Computer Trainers mailing list - most excellent! And it's run by Steve Garwood, no less. [via WEB4LIB]
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'The information revolution's best days might actually lie ahead....'

"But now some economic historians who have studied market cycles rubbish the idea that the golden era of the internet is over. Arthur recently wrote that the tech boom was 'merely one in a series of technological revolutions that have been occurring since the mid-18th Century'.

Each revolution - industrial (1760-1820), railway (1825-1875), steel and electricity (1875-1920), manufacturing (1910-1970) - spawned stock market bubbles that subsequently burst. If we lay the information revolution alongside the railway revolution, year for year, we'd now be somewhere around 1850 - just after the railway investment mania of 1845 and its crash in 1847," says US economist W Brian Arthur. Within 65 years of that particular market bubble bursting, Britain was to see its railway network expand from 2,148 miles to 21,000 miles - and some serious money made." [Dane Carlson's Weblog]

Creatively, ebooks, the RIAA, and the MPAA are still waiting for the American Revolution to happen....

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"bitterlemons is a website that presents Israeli and Palestinian viewpoints on prominent issues of concern. It focuses on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and peace process, but other, related regional issues are also discussed. It is produced, edited and partially written by Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian, and Yossi Alpher, an Israeli. Its goal is to contribute to mutual understanding through the open exchange of ideas. It aspires to impact the way Palestinians, Israelis and others worldwide think about regional issues." [via rc3]

Not quite the blogging I had in mind, but fascinating none-the-less.

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And I thought blogging was addictive! Beware Collapse - click at your own risk! Don't tell anybody at SLS.... [requires Shockwave, via MeFi]
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BESS vs Image Search Engines: An anticensorware investigation by Seth Finkelstein

"This report investigates how N2H2's censorware treats several image search engines. N2H2/BESS turns out to blacklist popular general image searching sites as "Pornography". The cached images held by such sites are probably the cause. This is discussed as a deep dilemma of censorware, where general search facilities may be considered as tainted if they contain any cached forbidden material." [via Dave Farber's Interesting People list]

One more reason filters don't work the way legislators think they do.

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Radio Themes: Looking for a different look for your Radio sites? Check out Radio Themes from the Dangerousmeta blogger including themes using the ever controversial CSS.  Another great collection (currently in use here at u_m) is located at free beowulf. [...useless miscellany]

Uh-oh. You've got to be kidding me. A horse theme from Garrett? Eric just made Kailee's day! And mine, since I won't have to start from scratch designing one!

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Lately I've been listening to the radio when driving to and from work, mainly because I can zone out and think on things rather than paying attention to music I purposefully play because I like. I've been noticing a trend on Clear Channel stations where an artist (particularly No Doubt and Pink) sing their current hit song with lyrics changed to promote the radio station. The bit lasts a few seconds and has become a de facto intro to the single. It's getting annoying pretty quickly.

This morning, my zone thinking led to the realization that my kids are going to grow up without music albums. Much has been written about the move from albums to singles, and Napster and its ilk have certainly accelerated this trend. The change in format to CDs has also contributed. I myself think in terms of singles these days because of the way the music industry markets their product. I used to put up with buying a whole album to get one or two good songs, but not anymore.

But at least I will remember what it was like to buy an album and listen to it the whole way through. I don't think the tail end of the Net Generation will be exposed to albums enough to do this themselves. Already, I find myself mixing CDs for the kids because there are so few whole albums appropriate for them that maintain consistent quality, so even I'm contributing to this. In fact, two of their favorite CDs right now are various artist mixes like Sugar Beats, which are albums that are composed of singles. It's not the worst thing in the world, but it does make me a little sad because I can remember going to the mall, buying a new LP, and rushing home to listen to the whole thing in my bedroom. There just wasn't any other way to do it back then.

I hope the music labels wake up and realize that this market just isn't going to be there, and that this future is not very far away. Maybe then they will understand why it is so important to their bottom lines that they embrace this new market that they helped create. My kids won't miss what they never had.

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What do you call a librarian these days? It sounds like the intro to a bad joke, but apparently there are a gazillion answers. Link off the Job Title Generator. [via SIGIA-L]
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In reference to the previous post, I've been thinking about e-ink lately and the impact that RSS feeds might have on the newspaper scenario that's commonly proposed. In the e-ink + ebook world, folks talk about reading your morning newspaper on a device that looks something like a piece of transparency paper. Each morning, your newspaper of choice is downloaded to it (along with magazines, books, etc.), and you read the entire issue on that one sheet. To "flip" to the next page, you "click" for the "next page," and the e-ink redraws the it on the device.

In the past, the people advocating this type of use haven't taken into account 3G wireless, nor were they thinking about "always-on" connections or RSS feeds. If I can essentially "surf" with an e-ink device (hopefully via WiFi but even via with a Bluetooth connection), I should be able to access my news aggregator on it and have it act much the way it does on a computer screen. I see a headline that interests me, I "click" on it, and it goes out and gets the article and redraws the screen. Then I can read, highlight, make notes, enlarge the font size, whatever, and post it to my blog.

RSS and the  news aggregator are becoming a lens through which I am filtering my projects, my ideas, other people's ideas, and more. In fact, I'm finding myself RSS-ifying everything around me.

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Paper That Acts Digital

"Things go digital. That's just the way it is. Computers, phones, organizers, the tools in your doctor's office, music, cameras, movies, even dog tags and picture frames -- they've all been transformed by digital technology. Yet there's one artifact that has stubbornly resisted the trend -- paper. Despite countless attempts to digitize it or replicate its qualities electronically, paper refuses to get with the program.

In part, that's because it already works so well....

But a Swedish startup called Anoto has developed a new approach. A few weeks ago in Boston, I met an Italian named Nino Tarantino, who is one of Anoto's business development VPs. Tarantino took what looked like one of those overly fat pens that Europeans love so much, wrote a message on a yellow Post-it note, entered an e-mail address in some squares at the bottom of the note, and checked a box marked "e-mail" and another marked "send." That was it. His note -- handwriting, doodles, and all -- was captured and sent as a graphical e-mail.

Imagine a Bluetooth cell phone coming in a case with a small pad of Anoto paper and the pen. Using a phone to send e-mail messages would suddenly become more appealing -- better than typing on a keyboard. Vodafone plans to launch such a product in -- where else? -- Sweden this April. The phone will come from Ericsson (ERICY), which owns 24 percent of Anoto's parent, C Technologies, and is desperately trying to popularize the Bluetooth standard. Other European carriers, such as British Telecom Cellnet in England and Telefonica in Spain, are expected to follow with their own launches by the end of the year, as is AT&T Wireless (AWE) in the United States. Since the service involves sending data-heavy JPEG files, it currently works only with GSM or higher-speed GPRS cellular networks (which AT&T has to finish building before it can offer the service stateside).

As for the paper, it will initially be printed by 3M, Mead, and other manufacturers. The dots can be printed on any kind of paper, and it's not hard to think of other useful applications. For instance, Franklin Covey wants to make organizers that incorporate the technology. The paper could also digitize any kind of form: 1040s, exit polls, health care records, marketing surveys, or warehouse invoices. The elegance of Anoto's solution is that it modifies pens and paper but requires no change in behavior." [Business 2.0]

I've been following Anoto, and I'm glad they're moving forward with e-paper. It's the chicken or the egg. Which will come first - the e-ink or the e-paper?

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Memo to Hollywood: Downloading Can't Be Stopped

"I can't believe I'm writing this article in 2002. When I started covering digital music in 1996, the record industry was grappling with the same fundamental issues it confronts today. Sure, the names and faces have changed, and the numbers are bigger, but the industry still doesn't seem to understand the potential upside of online music, and it still can't stop calling 60 million of its consumers 'criminals....'

The recording industry's 'most insidious virus' appears to be the major record labels' misguided belief that they have the inalienable right to parlay their offline businesses into similarly dominant ones on the Internet -- and their steadfast refusal to accept any other possibility....

Instead of trying to rewrite copyright law, the labels should instead brush up on the laws of supply and demand....

Vivendi and others don't need Washington's help. What they need is to embrace some radical thinking. Face it: Downloading can't be stopped. Washington can't stop it. The Recording Industry Association of America can't stop it. The sooner the labels accept this and plan for it, the brighter their prospects." [Business 2.0]

It's officially a bandwagon....

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Darn! (In honor of Schoolhouse Rock.) Salon's article He Knows What You've Been Checking Out is on the premium side, and I don't subscribe so I can't read it. One of the cool things about being a librarian is you have access to all kinds of different databases so you can find almost any article, except that Salon isn't indexed in any database that I know of. If you subscribe to Salon, please let me know what you think of the article. For the rest of us, here's an excerpt from the free intro:

"But even though the government was able to get what it wanted from those libraries under existing laws, intelligence agencies argued they needed more sweeping powers. The result was the passage last October of the USA PATRIOT Act (USAPA), an acronym for the unwieldy "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act." USAPA, of course, deals with much more than libraries -- it amends more than 15 statutes, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Cable Act, and the Federal Wiretap Statute. The new law gave the government unprecedented authority to conduct secret searches, monitor e-mail and Internet usage, share information between intelligence agencies and seize personal information with only nominal judicial oversight.

And the new USAPA powers will also reach into libraries and bookstores, if investigators believe that records of what someone is reading and researching are relevant to an anti-terror investigation. Already librarians say they've received requests for records under USAPA, but they are prohibited from making such demands public; they can't reveal who made the requests and what they asked for, or keep track of such requests in any way. "

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Extending Copyright Helps Corporations, Not Artists

"The fundamental problem is, copyright is no longer an individual right but a corporate piece of property. Corporations are vacuuming up copyrights by either stealing them or forcing creators to give up them up. As we successfully showed in our landmark U.S. Supreme Court case last year, companies have simply stolen hundreds of thousands of articles, photographs and illustrations from their original creators. When they don't steal, they force freelance writers, illustrators and photographers to sign over their copyrights in perpetuity for no extra pay.

The idea of benefiting an individual creator for a certain time in order to promote more new ideas and new contributions to culture, the arts and sciences has been replaced by the industry's drive to create a copyright monopoly. Within a few years, media companies will own virtually all copyright, creating a digital iron curtain behind which they can enforce the control and sale of information and content. Indeed, the 1998 legislation was a rich subsidy for the Walt Disney Co., which trembled at the approaching end to its monopoly on the use of Mickey Mouse....

Whatever royalties heirs of dead creators may receive because of perpetual copyright protection, we cannot justify the future harm such protection may inflict on society as a whole. If there is no reasonable time limit on copyright, our heirs will have to pay more for access to information. Public libraries they might like to visit will have less information because they cannot afford the exorbitant fees to obtain it. They may even enjoy fewer works of art because future creators may lack easy access to the art their creations build on." [at LA Times, via Library Stuff]

Read this one now because LA Times articles are only available for a week.

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Building taxonomies

"Chapter 6 of Susan Conway's and Char Sligar's book Unlocking Knowledge Assets is available on Microsoft Press' site. The chapter entitled "Building Taxonomies" defines what taxonomies are, how they play a role in content management and how to build and maintain them." [ia/]

Filing under "must read before this summer when I have to implement a portal solution (extranet + intranet) solution for SLS." I'm very worried about taxonomies, thesauri, and a friendly, usable interface to the whole ball of wax. I'm not a cataloger, so vocabularies are not my strong suit. Our web site has worked pretty well for us since 1997 because we were able to design it first. I'm not sure I'll have that luxury this time, giving everything else that is going on.

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Google : We Aren´t Selling Out!

"It may seem odd for a search engine to speak about the integrity of its results. But like a news organization, we believe we have an obligation to present information as objectively as possible. That's why we don't bias our search results based on what people are willing to pay.

Google search results take into account who links to a web page as well as how relevant the content on that page is to your search. Our results reflect what the online community believes is important, not what we or our partners think you ought to see.

And while we believe relevant ads can be as useful as actual search results, we don't want anyone to be confused about which is which." [via WebmasterWorld]

Ah, the power of blogging. First Google tweaks their search results thanks to Kottke's advice, and now a front page link to explaining "why we sell advertising, not search results." It's a nice, strong statement, although it's more about ads, with only a tangential reference to Google bombing.

Here's the best part though. At the bottom of the page is a link to other principles that guide our business. When was the last time you saw the word "principles" on a company or search engine site?

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