The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Wednesday, July 16, 2003

It Was the Best of Winning Entries, It Was the Worst of Winning Entries

Bulwer-Lytton Contest Results

"The annual Bulwer-Lytton contest recognizes and awards the very worst opening sentences found in novels. The 2003 results are in (2002 results, 2001 results) and the winning entry begins "They had but one last remaining night together, so they embraced each other as tightly as that two-flavor entwined string cheese..." [via girlhacker]" [MetaFilter]

The winning entry is good, but I liked the winner of the "All Creatures Great and Small" Category and the one for "Children's Literature" better.

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Paying for Public Domain eBooks???

Classic Reading for PDA-toting Kids--and an E-book Gouge in Action

" 'Backpack. Three-ring notebook. Ballpoint pens. Personal digital assistant. If school supplies got a little costlier for some Gallatin parents this year, blame it on the preteens who are champing at the bit to read? That's right. E-books have infiltrated at least one Tennessee school, sending students at Rucker Stewart Middle racing to try 'em out.' - Tennessean.com

The TeleRead take: James Linden ought to get a kick out of this. Except perhaps for one not-so-little detail. The news story says:

'The Gallatin school was one of the first in the nation to bite on a package of 500 electronic literary classics for $750, offered by Palm Digital Media and local company Lightning Source.

'Our school has always been on the cutting edge of innovation,' Principal Andrew Turner said. 'I'm surprised more people haven't jumped on an opportunity like this.'

For one year, students and teachers can download as many copies as they like of titles such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Around the World in Eighty Days, right from the school's Web site onto a computer or personal digital assistant.'

What's this 'one-year' business? And the $750? Those books are in the public domain and are available for downloading forever and forever for free--through Project Gutenberg.

I applaud it when commercial publishers and distributors make classics available, but aren't public-domain e-books the very stuff that our budget-strapped schools should pick up at no charge through Gutenberg and, let's hope in time, the public library system? If nothing else, while I realize that publishers are entitled to make up for expenses, including minimal licensing fees from Project Gutenberg if its scanning-and-proofing work is used, $750 seems too much to charge. And for only 500 books, when Project Gutenberg has uploaded more than 7,500? Here's to Project Gutenberg and the public domain doctrine--especially just after Gutenberg's 32nd birthday!" [TeleRead]

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You Are the Blog and the Blog Is You

Why Blogging Matters (More than Blogs)

"From the day we are born, we are logged. And, what is logged about us is very rarely reflective of our sense of individuality. We are logged as social security numbers, race, gender, blood type and ethnicity. We are logged as incidents of childhood diseases, school test scores, as dependencies on tax forms.

Our daily sphere in the world is more and more tuned to these logs too. We walk into the shopping mall not as individuals, but as demographics. The stores are designed for middle-class men aged 18-34 or adolescent girls and young women aged 14-21.

In some sense, the majority of our contact with others humans is through these logs, or through interactions intermediated by these logs. Your favorite TV host is not talking to you, she is talking to suburban career women aged 35-45 who suffer discomfort associated with irregular bowel movements.

With the web, all of these logs are, one way or another, turning into blogs. They are being compiled by people and machines into journal-style reports with the latest info on you, and being avidly read by other people and machines who subscribe to aggregations of feeds about you. There are lots of websites about you, but you can't see them, because, even though they are about you, they aren't for you.

Even with email and many websites, which used to be fun and somewhat personal, a lot of what you get via email and websites is just the result of you being logged in an impersonal way. Spam is the ultimate subscription feed of impersonal blogs about you!

So, we have this opportunity now to be blogging ourselves—to blog both about ourselves and for ourselves, and to be open about it.

Given all the blogs about us already, it is hard to suggest that we have some kind of control over our individual needs for privacy. In some ways, in the sphere of the common world society, our personhood is owned and defined by others. While we can work to create laws to change or temper the invasion of privacy, we can also, personally, "open source" ourselves." [the iCite net]

Even more true in the following context:

"Mark Siegel, who says he's 'something of a novelty in the blogosphere' given he's got spinal muscular atrophy and blogs 'with a headset that emulates a mouse': "In a life where I have to depend on others for everything from turning the page in a book to taking a piss, writing is one thing that I can do independently... Blogging can be a way to fight the loneliness that plagues every human being, not just those with disabilities." (Thanks, Susannah)" [Corante on Blogging]

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And You Think Tech Support Is Bad Now!

Exploding Universe of Web Addresses

"As Internet use has blossomed around the globe, and as more people sign on using many kinds of devices and stay connected for longer periods, the number of available IP addresses has dwindled to the point that some expect them to run out by 2005....

In the future, everything from automobiles to home appliances will be connected to the Internet, Mr. Lightman said, "and we're going to need something like 100 IP addresses for each human being."

That capacity is expected from IPv6, which promises to increase the supply of addresses from 4 billion today to 35 trillion by some estimates. 'Actually, 35 trillion is low,' said Cody Christman, director of product engineering for Verio, an Internet service provider that now offers IPv6 technology to customers in several cities, including San Francisco and Washington. 'It's much bigger than that. It's so big that there's not a word for the number.'

The transition to IPv6, which is expected to take much of the next decade, is likely be 'seamless and transparent' for most Internet users, Mr. Christman said. The new technology offers several advantages over the current standard, IP version 4. For example, configuring IP addresses, which can be a big headache for computer users when they switch to a new service provider, will be much easier. A device will create its own unique address when plugged into the network....

Such sensors could allow people to operate devices from anywhere there is an Internet connection. On cold winter days, a car could be started from a desktop computer. Using a cellphone in Los Angeles, you could open the door of your house in New York so that a delivery service driver could drop off a package, then lock the door after him. Businesses could assign IP addresses to their products to track them. Sensors could also be placed in vending machines to alert delivery drivers of the need to restock." [New York Times: Technology]

Sounds like SkyNet to me.

If you've seen my Information Shifting presentation, you've heard the term "Personal Area Network" (PAN) which was recently upgraded to "Wireless Personal Area Network" (WPAN). Bet you didn't realize you were going to need 100 IP addresses for yourself in the near future. The best thing you can do now is start making nice with your geeky neighbor because you're going to need help troubleshooting that WPAN.

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Rhapsody Is Heaven for Kailee

Music Makes Apple Earnings Sing

"Buoyed by the debut of its online music store and new iPod digital music players, the company reports third-quarter earnings that topped expectations." [CNET News.com]

The article doesn't give any specific numbers for the iTunes store, so I'm not sure how much stock to put in the claim that iTunes and the iPod are saving Apple. But it sure does sound good. Gee, you mean you can make money selling single songs online? Who would've thunk it?

In my house, I've shot myself in the foot by introducing nine year-old Kailee to Rhapsody. I was playing music for her here and there, but I didn't realize she was watching my mouse movements last night and now she's figured out how to launch the program and play songs herself. Oy, the monster this has unleashed!

The first thing she did this morning - before eating and before watching TV - was go on the computer and start playing music. She loves sitting there singing the song, getting up and dancing, and especially dancing with a friend. When I left the house this morning, I told her she had a half-hour longer in Rhapsody and then she'd have to turn it off for the day so that I could listen to it at work!

When I came home, her first question after greeting me was, "Can I go on the computer?" Not to play games, not to research endangered animals, not to check her email, not to check out what's new at the American Girl store, all of which are part of her online routine. No, she wanted to launch Rhapsody and get back to listening to all of the pop songs I don't want to waste money purchasing.

She's totally hooked, although she is quite disappointed when a song she likes isn't available in Rhapsody. A nine year-old just can't understand why 340,000 songs would be available but these others aren't, and I'm having trouble explaining the rationale to myself, let alone a kid her age.

She has one friend over right now and they're bouncing back and forth between their favorite songs of the moment. A few minutes ago she got a call from a second friend who commented on the music playing in the background. Kailee wanted to tell her how to play the songs herself, so she told the friend to go to Listen.com, although I had to explain that it wasn't free. When the friend realized that she couldn't play the songs herself, she started requesting songs. Kailee played them, holding the phone to the speaker so the friend could hear them.

This is the record industry's chance to hook Kailee for good - a paying, legal customer for the rest of her life, before she learns about illegal file sharing. Will they learn a lesson and keep adding to the offerings in her heavenly jukebox, or will they keep prices high and make digital rights management a barrier that she doesn't want to deal with? Only time will tell.

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Blogging the Blogathon

Blogathon 2003
'During the Blogathon, people update their websites every 30 minutes for 24 hours straight. For this, they collect sponsorships. Pledges can be a flat donation, or a certain amount for every hour the blogger manages to stay awake.' Even if you just want to enjoy the spectacle, mark your calendar for July 26th. Everything starts at 6:00am Pacific Time.

Also noteworthy is the fact that several of the participating bloggers are earning money for Book Aid International, which works to provide books, training and support to public libraries in Africa." [Libraryman]

A few people have asked if I am going to participate in this year's Blogathon, but I won't be able to because I'll be on vacation far, far away from any internet connection. I encourage others to join, though. We need a list of library bloggers we can sponsor, so leave a comment if you know of any.

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"Vanity Press" Takes on a Whole New Meaning

CafePress: Publish Books for Free

  • "No setup fees or minimum quantities.
  • Black and white books with full color covers.
  • Choose Saddle Stitch or Wire-O binding options (Perfect Binding coming soon).
  • Choose from 5 book sizes.

Pricing includes book manufacturing, order management, fulfillment and customer service. You choose the retail price and earn the different between the retail price and our base price.

Pricing is based on the number of pages in your book plus the type of binding you wish to offer. Pricing is the same for all book sizes....

Please Note: Books are in Beta and can be setup but will not be available for sale until July 28, 2003.

Visit our Learning Center for information on how to setup your book!" [via Boing Boing Blog]

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