The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Friday, June 07, 2002

All We'd Need Is a Good Yodeler....

Google and Big Media's New Clothes

"Dan Bricklin, co-creator of Visi-calc and all-around computer technology guru, has written a very nice sort essay on why individuals matter a lot more than Big Mediatm would like you to think (Small Players Matter) [via SATN]....

One of the main points that Bricklin makes is that Google is radically transforming the way people find information. Google is the work of millions of volunteers (whether they intend to be or not) who create web pages that link to what they find interesting and important. Google is transformative. Google is rocking Big Media's world. Google is creative destruction at its finest....

Google and blogs (i.e., Instapundit, Slashdot, Kuro5hin, Kausfiles, etc.) are turning the marketing and distribution world upside down. Big Media relies on its marketing and distribution muscle to tell us what is important and what we should pay attention to. However, when was the last time you used one of Big Media's search engines to find information? When I need to find information, no matter how trivial, I turn to Google first. Google succeeds precisely because it isn't Big Media; it relies on the opinions (and links) of all. This isn't to say that Big Media is dead. I still check a number of major news and commentary sites on a daily basis, but I am increasingly relying on blogs (via a personalized RSS aggregators) for a substantial amount of the information gathering that Big Media used to be the sole source of. These are just a few quick thoughts. More on this topic later." [LawMeme]

Both Dan and Ernest are spot on in their analyses, but the major thing Google doesn't help wiith at the moment (okay, one of the major things) is connecting the dots of blogs. There is simply no good (any?!) subject access to blogs, which is one of the reasons they haven't totally tipped yet (although, they are getting closer). If there existed a Blog-hoo that would let me find blogs dedicated to specific topics, there would be a central point around which to tip the meme. Blogrolls and aggregators would swell, and we'd ride the crest of the wave into the mainstream.

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"JOHN HILER SAYS THAT LAST YEAR WAS THE YEAR OF THE BLOG, and this year is the year of the Blogosphere. I think that's about right." [InstaPundit]

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Text Sizing

"Finding a consistent way to render text on web browsers without forcing fixed sizes in pixels is no cake walk. So Owen of Noodle Incident created an incredible collection of screen captures (264 of them!) to show how text is rendered in different browsers on different platforms and using different methods in order to try to figure out the best method for achieving consistency." [ia/]

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Ding, Ding

Click to Add Title is the official site for the Powerpoint showdown. Round One is up, and while I laughed out loud at both, the link I'd send around through email would be Sippey's. No spoiler - go watch it for yourself and ROTFL.

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I've Been Waiting My Whole Life for This....

Warners Activates Twins Power

"Warner Bros. Pictures has teamed with Gaylord Films to option the rights to the Hanna-Barbera characters the Wonder Twins, with plans to make a live-action family feature....

The Wonder Twins were originally featured as part of a group of characters on the 1977 Saturday morning cartoon series "The All-New SuperFriends Hour," which saw Superman teaming up with popular DC Comics superheroes for adventures. Within that group were two youth trainee aliens from the planet Exxor, known as the Wonder Twins. The male Zan had the power to change into any water-based form, while the female Jayna could become any animal. To use their powers, the twins had to touch hands and shout, "Wonder Twin powers, activate!"

The Wonder Twins also had the power to telepathically communicate with each other and carried with them a type of a pager known as Teen Trouble Alerts, which allowed teens all over the world to contact them if there was a problem. The siblings had a sidekick as well, a mischievous blue monkey named Gleek." [Yahoo News]

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So It's Not Just Kids Who Believe Everything They Read on the Web....

Beijing Evening News Reprints Article From "The Onion"

"Today, Reuters is reporting that the Beijing Evening News, which claims a circulation of 1.25 million, reprinted a satire article from the popular satire newspaper and website The Onion in full, believing it to be truth and passing that belief onto the more gullible of its readers. The article in question deals with demands from the Senators and Representatives of the United States Congress to have a new Capitol built, complete with a retracting dome, better sight lines, more concession stands and bathrooms, and also a better parking lot. Ideally, according to the 'retro-futuristic' architectural design that Congress had the Kansas City architectural firm of Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum draw up, this new Capitol would also include a Dancing Waters fountain in the front courtyard and fifty-five more luxury boxes than the current building. If these demands are not met, the Senators and Representatives of the US Congress are threatening to move to either Charlotte or Memphis, but with San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle, and Toronto (Yes, that Toronto, the one with the Blue Jays) also being mentioned as 'long shots'." [Kuro5hin]

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What Do You Want Answered Today?

Where are the B batteries?

" '"B" Cell batteries: Mystery solved. Stefan sez:
If you go to a battery display in a drug or convenience store or Radio Shack, you'll find AAA-cell batteries, and AA-cell batteries, and C-cell batteries and big 'ol D-cell batteries.
But no A or B cell batteries.

This has bothered me for years, and past searches turned up nothing.  Now, thanks to an article on the Discovery Channel Canada site, I know what a B cell looks like. Apparently, A cells are available in Canada, but they didn't include one on the little photoshopped battery line-up included in the article. Link Discuss (Thanks, Stefan!) [bOing bOing]'

I'm including this only because I nearly posted a question about this on Tuesday. I had to replace the batteries in my two month old's bouncy chair, and realized that I'd never seen a B battery. That struck me as odd, and I resolved to post a question here in the hopes that someone could answer it for me.

This is just proof that blogging really is powerful technology: blogs answer my questions before they're asked, further simplifying my life. :)" [tins: Rick Klau's weblog]

If you have a factual question "that's been bothering you for yours" (and I'm not talking about philosophical kinds of questions), then please just contact your local library. We specialize in this kind of thing, you know.  :-)

10:37:31 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

Semantic Access to Music

"MusizBrainz is sort of like the CDDB, but in a W3C sort of way (instead of a, sue the pants off of the competitors, sort of way). Here's an overview of the service and what it can do for you, and what it means to the Semantic Web. I think the part about the RDF based Metadata Initiative is what's going to make it interesting." [In My Experience]

10:30:36 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

When Bad Headlines Happen to Good Stories

Cyclists Take to LSD Sunday

"You drive your car, not your bike. But on Sunday, cars will be barred from Lake Shore Drive so you can bike the Drive.

Bike the Drive will mark the first time Lake Shore Drive has been closed to auto traffic, city officials said Thursday. About 10,000 cyclists are expected....

Cyclists will have 15-mile and 30-mile ride options. For the first, they will pedal north from Buckingham Fountain to Hollywood Avenue before returning. For the longer ride they will continue south to the Museum of Science and Industry.

All bikes will hit the Drive between 5:30 and 7 a.m. and be off by 9:30 a.m.

Not all of the Drive will be closed to cars. Northbound lanes will remain open from 47th Street to McFetridge Drive to give access to the Museum Campus." [Chicago Sun Times]

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Generating Buzz

Today I got to have lunch with Buzz Bruggeman. Buzz is an interesting guy with lots of great stories. Although our conversation covered many topics, much of it centered on his product, ActiveWords. It's a very interesting concept, and I can see a lot of potential uses for myself, my organization, and libraries in general. I need more time to work with it, though, before I officially write up anything here.

Having said that, I encourage you to check out the AW web site and learn more about the software. As I noted on a Dreamweaver mailing list last week, it has a definite application for programmers and coders because of its ability to substitute text strings. Like Radio, there's a lot under the hood, so power users can get even more out of it.

So thanks to Buzz for lunch, and I hope to see him at PopTech one of these years.  :-)

Side note to Barry: visit the ActiveWords site, read about the product, and then give me a call. I think this software may be of particular interest to you.

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More on E-Ink

Start-up Reveals the Skinny on Screens

"Start-up E Ink is demonstrating a prototype of a flexible computer screen that's half as thick as a credit card.

With its 'electronic ink' technology, the Cambridge, Mass., company is shooting for displays that are thinner and more durable than current active-matrix liquid-crystal displays. Such displays are used in cell phones and handhelds.

Electronic ink is based on a microcapsule: an electrically sensitive white chip that floats in a ball full of black dye--on a tiny scale, it's similar to the low-tech Magic 8-Ball toy. The chip rises or falls in the dye depending on an electrical charge. Many microcapsules are sandwiched between a piece of steel foil and a piece of clear plastic, and, unlike LCDs, they don't need to be backlit for an image to be visible.

The absence of a lamp for backlighting, and the use of steel foil, are what allow the screens to be significantly thinner than LCDs, which typically use a lamp and two sheets of glass, the company said....

Aside from being svelte, displays using the electronic ink technology tend to consume less power than LCDs, the company said. Unlike LCDs, they don't require a continuous supply of power to render images: Once the microcapsules are electrically charged, they can hold the image without more power.

E Ink plans to license its technology to manufacturers and expects consumers to have the displays in hand by 2005....

The start-up has two prototypes using the active-matrix technology. One measures 1.6 inches diagonally and is meant for cell phones, and the other, which measures 3 inches diagonally, is suited for handhelds." [News.com]

What will smartphones and PDAs look like by 2005?

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Follow Up

" 'MPA shuts down video site Film88.com. The international arm of the Motion Picture Association of America shuts down an Iran-based Web site that was selling access to copyrighted films over the Internet.' [CNET News.com]

Well, that lasted a long time. While the business was in Iran, the servers were in the Netherlands. MPA has authority there, so the ISP pulled the plug. " [Ryan Greene's Radio Weblog]

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Wondirful Wondir?

+ Meta Search + Invisible Web + Virtual Librarians = Wondir!

" 'A team of respected search industry veterans is building a new and different kind of information service that seeks to unify cutting edge technology with the web's original egalitarian vision of people freely helping people."

The Wondir Foundation's ambitious goal is to offer a unique combination of broad metasearch, deep search of the invisible web, and live human answers. Also unique is Wondir's organization as a non-profit foundation, designed to avoid the commercial pressures faced by for-profit search engines and directories."

"The project is spearheaded by Matt Koll, the founder and CEO of Personal Library Software, which was acquired by America Online in 1998 to bolster its internal search capabilities. Koll is also acknowledged as the first to write and speak about the Invisible Web, the vast portion of cyberspace that is unindexed by most search engines.' (from Searchday)

from the Wondir site - 'The Wondir information service will help people find practical, focused answers to questions, with an emphasis on connecting people who have questions with other people who can provide needed help. These answer-givers, tutors, mentors, experts, enthusiasts, and peers could be volunteering on their own or as part of an organized online help program, such as an AskA service, government or social service, civic group, professional association, university, school or library. In addition to live resources, Wondir will make extensive use of FAQs, stored Q&As and other searchable web resources. Relevant human resources will be integrated into the results and featured in a targeted way."

"We think of Wondir as the blending of a universal search engine and a universal message board enlivened with real time communication. Wondir will unite Search and Community - two pillars of the Internet that have not yet lived up to their potential - by making human help accessible and as simple as asking a question of a search engine.'

LS thoughts - This looks like a very interesting product, just in time to give Google Answers a run for their money. I can't wait to see Wondir in action. Our friend Gary is on the advisory board. Librarians rule, don't they?" [Library Stuff]

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Very Cool!

Build Your Own Cityscape

"Hoagy writes 'Many friends think I've moved when I show them this picture. I've constructed a lit model of midtown Manhattan to fill an otherwise unspectactular view out of our kitchen window. The website details the construction process and how to design and build your own. The city lights also automatically turn on/off via an X10 cronjob on my home Linux server.' Nice hack job. " [Slashdot]

12:09:06 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!