The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Thursday, July 31, 2003

Blogging Library Blogs

LIS Blogsource

"Greg Schwartz and I have put together a little weblog we are calling LIS Blogsource ("The library weblog about library weblogs). We have both been posting new library weblogs to our sites, so we figured it would be best to collaborate and bring it all together. We are also going to be discussing any changes in sites, RSS Feeds, and the like. Its also a great way to market and publicize your library-related weblog, which we as librarians need to do more. If you have one that we haven't mentioned before, send it in (steven [at] librarystuff.net) and we will be glad to post it. Suggestions are also welcome.

Of course, there is an RSS Feed." [Library Stuff]

Color me subscribed! This is now THE place to hold your library-related blog's coming out party! Kudos to Steven and Greg for putting this together. (Pssst, hey guys... you're adding it to LISFeeds, right?)

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Joe will hate this, but I love it - The Pop-Up Brady Bunch! [via MetaFilter]

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New LISNews Coming!

Your Help Wanted

"The new version of LISNews is up and running at slash.lisnews.com and I'm looking for feedback. Please let me know what you think, look for bugs, sign up for a User Account, have a look around, and try all the cool new toys.

How Do Things Look?" [LISNews.com]

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Good Thing It's Not Called "Business .20"

B2.0 Tries A 2-Minute Time Trick

"As Jonathan Dube mentioned yesterday, CNN.com continues to link to articles from family site Business 2.0, which has closed off its site completely to print subscribers recently. The stories linked from CNN.com appear to be free for non-subscribers...but wait. A source in Time Inc told me that the free links only work for two minutes...which is why all the B2.0 stories have now been broken into chunks and have multiple pages...if say you are on the second page of a 3 page story, and your two minutes are up, as soon as you click on the link for the third page, you will encounter a subscription wall...I tried it and its true...(on Opera, it seems they work for 4-5 minutes!)

The idea, according to the Time Inc source, is to catch the readers midway through the story when they are engaged enough in the story to pay up..." [PaidContent.org, via Lost Remote]

This has to be one of the most asinine strategies I've ever heard of. As if the pop-ups weren't bad enough, now this. I wonder if not allowing cookies in the browser would let you return to the page later to finish the article. I wonder if I'll ever read Business 2.0 again. No I don't.

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I Tried to Become a Statistic and Upgrade My Cell Phone....

New Gizmos Driving Cell Phone Sales

"Worldwide handset shipments in the second quarter grew 19.2 percent, to 118.3 million units, compared with the same period a year ago, as phone makers added features such as built-in cameras and color displays, according to the IDC report....

Cell phone owners are upgrading their phones every 18 to 26 months, Slawsby added....

Of the overall handset shipments, about 2 million units, or 1.7 percent of the phone market, were smart phones, or phones that can transmit voice or data over cellular networks and synchronize contact information with a server or PC." [CNET News.com]

I tried to upgrade to a smartphone with a digital camera a few weeks ago before I left for vacation. I went to Best Buy to peruse the offerings, even though I was pretty sure I wanted the Sanyo SCP-5300 because it has a built-in flash. However, I was told that every Best Buy in Illinois was sold out of it and that there would be no more forthcoming because they were discontinuing carrying it.

I also didn't want to pay $300 for it, but I thought Sprint might discount it for me in light of this new knowledge. So I went to the SprintPCS web site and used their contact form to ask about discounts on phones. I explained that I'm a current Sprint customer but that I'm not under contract, so I'd want a really good deal.

The next day, I got a response that said they do provide discounts for current customers, but first they'd need proof that I am indeed a current customer. I was asked to go back to the SprintPCS web site, log in, and re-submit my question via the contact form again.

I groaned, but okay. Two days later, I finally received a response in which the salutation was addressed to the wrong first name (especially dubious since this time I'd logged in and their server had retrieved my name and phone number for them!). The message reiterated that Sprint would discount the phone for me, but I was told I'd have to physically go to a Sprint store and ask my question there, an action I was unprepared to take since I would be out of town in two days.

So Sanyo lost a chance to have me buy their phone, and Sprint lost a chance to get me back under a contract. Now I think I'll just wait for the Treo 600 to come out and see what kind of responses I get from Sprint. It's nice to know that number portability is waiting for me in November, just in case.....

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Bringing Our Expertise to Bear in the Local Arena

Marylaine Block has published a great essay called Creating Your Niche on the Net. It's something I've been advising my member libraries to do for years, and it's something your library should be considering, too.

"But let's take this a step farther and think about what internet niches our libraries could fill, what unique services we could render that would make librarians the go-to people for our bosses and for our local community....

Think about what we did right after September 11: we put up web pages that consolidated many different kinds of information, including some that most people wouldn't have even thought to look for. We linked in news stories (both from the US and abroad), contact information for charities, schedules of local memorials, maps, articles, and backgrounders on terrorism and Islam and the middle East.

We could do the same for other pressing local issues for our community or company or school. Finance is a tough issue for everybody right now, and we have access to a wider variety of information and news than anybody else has, about state and federal funding, grant and training opportunities, and good ideas others in our situation have implemented. We could bring that all together on one web page, or blog or e-mail newsletter, and update it daily. If there's a major local controversy, we could post background information and links to news stories, position papers and interviews by the people involved, a discussion board where citizens could post their questions and opinions, maybe even a library-sponsored webcast. (In fact I assume at least some California libraries are already providing extensive information on their web sites to help voters make decisions about the recall petition.)

In my town, whether or not it's in flood stage, the Mississippi River affects every aspect of our community -- its economy, transportation, water supply, recreation, and more -- and yet no one source consolidates all the information we need about it. News, statistics, flood prevention and relief information, documents, maps, and laws and regulations, are generated by Congress, the Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, the Department of Transportation, FEMA, equivalent agencies from the surrounding states and their legislatures, newspapers, magazines, journals, and professional associations, and other sources.

If my local library put together a page that guided people to ALL the information about the river, that would be an utterly unique, personalized service for the Quad Cities, providing value to business owners, the military, planners, utility providers, and the entire power structure of local government on both sides of the river. Librarians could add an FAQ file, and even a weblog and e-mail service with frequent news updates. The library would OWN that information niche....

By all means, we should use the web to stake our claim on a particular information niche and make ourselves known to our peers. But more importantly, we should use it to stake our library's claim to the right to exist, by providing information that is absolutely critical to our community, right now, and then promoting it like crazy."

I'll give you another real world example. Two years ago, a student in our village died from meningitis. It was a scary time and there was nowhere to turn for a consistent flow of information about it. The newspaper published once a day, TV news was only on at specific times and it wasn't local enough, and there just wasn't anywhere else to turn. So our local Library put up a page pointing to accurate and authoritative resources and included a bibliography of materials they owned. Excellent work that the local paper then noted by publishing the URL.

It's too bad that the newspaper didn't see the potential from that one event, though. They pointed to the Library's web page, but they didn't think about collaboration. They should have pointed to the web page from within each article they did about the story. They should have used background material provided by the Library. They should have maintained permanent, static URLs for their articles so that the Library could link to them. The two organizations web sites should have been linking back and forth like crazy. Heck, they could have collaborated on one single site for the most current and authoritative information.

But they didn't get it. And they still don't get it. And unfortunately, I'm not sure when they are going to get it. When you have local issues or stories like this to which your library can contribute, do it and then help your local media "get it."

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It's "Oy," not "Om"

This was just too funny to not share - it's Zen Judaism!

"Let your mind be as a floating cloud. Let your stillness be as the wooded glen. And sit up straight. You'll never meet the Buddha with posture like that.

There is no escaping karma. In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited. And whose fault was that?

Wherever you go, there you are. Your luggage is another story.

To practice Zen and the art of Jewish motorcycle maintenance, do the following: get rid of the motorcycle. What were you thinking?

The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing of others. The Tao does not speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao is not Jewish.

Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkes." [PeteBevin.com, from the book Zen Judaism by David M. Bader]

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Whacking the RIAA Over the Head with Some Common Sense

Senator Launches Investigation into RIAA Piracy Crackdown

"The chairman of the Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations Thursday began an inquiry into the music industry's crackdown against online music swappers, calling the campaign 'excessive.'

'Theft is theft, but in this country we don't cut off your arm or fingers for stealing,' said Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican who was a rock roadie in the 1960s....

In the conference call, Coleman acknowledged that he used to download music from Napster, the file-sharing service that a federal judge shut down for violating music copyrights.

'I must confess, I downloaded Napster, and then Napster was found to be the wrong thing,' he said. 'I stopped.' " [KansasCity.com, via LibraryPlanet.com]

How refreshing to hear a senator speaking common sense, even admitting he downloaded music (hey, he didn't just inhale!). I can't believe I'm saying this about a U.S. senator, but I'd be interested to hear his assessment of the current state of legal online music.

Of course, I'd also like to get every other elected Congressperson on the stand in a court of law and ask if they've ever skipped television commercials, made a cassette copy of some music for a relative, given a book to a friend, taped a TV show for someone else, etc.

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Weasel Record Labels Weaseling Out of Court-ordered Settlement That Punished Their Weasely Behavior?

Remember when I noted that SLS libraries would be among those receiving CDs from the Music Settlement price-fixing case against record companies? Well, it turns out the labels is trying to weasel out of fulfilling its obligations under the settlement. SLS received a letter from the Office of the Attorney General saying the distribution has been postponed indefinitely because an appeal has been filed. Naturally, this isn't mentioned anywhere on the Music CD Settlement web site. So they're going to pay their lawyers to try to get them off the hook, rather than send their product to libraries? All this while they've been accused YET AGAIN of price-fixing.

I can't print most of the adjectives I'm using in my mind to describe these weasels for fear of blocking my site from library terminals that are being forced to filter content. But I have yet to receive my personal check, as well. I wonder if they're appealing the entire settlement, not just libraries. Any blawgers know what's going on?

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Help Protect Your Privacy

Feingold Introduces Legislation to Protect Personal Information

"U.S. Senator Russ Feingold today introduced the Library, Bookseller, and Personal Records Privacy Act. This legislation is aimed at protecting the privacy of law-abiding Americans by limiting the ability of the FBI to obtain library, bookstore, medical, and financial records and other sensitive personal information under the USA PATRIOT Act. Feingold's legislation would place reasonable limits on the FBI's access to this information by requiring the FBI to show how the information it is seeking relates to a suspected terrorist or spy before the information can be obtained.

'The Library, Bookseller, and Personal Records Privacy Act would restore the privacy of Americans, while also allowing the FBI to follow up on legitimate leads,' Feingold said. 'This legislation recognizes that under certain circumstances the FBI should have access to library, bookseller or other personal information and simply puts safeguards in place to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens.'

The concerns about possible abuse of the PATRIOT Act are so strong that some librarians across the country have taken the step of destroying records of book and computer use, as well as posting signs on computer stations warning patrons that whatever they read or access on the Internet could be monitored by the federal government....

Feingold was the only Senator to vote against the USA PATRIOT Act at the time of its passage in October 2001. Among the amendments Feingold offered during the floor debate was an amendment to make it clear that existing federal and state privacy protections of certain information would not be diminished or superceded by the USA PATRIOT Act." [via Gary Price]

Please contact your legislators and demand that they support this bill. It's YOUR privacy that is at stake. Librarians have been fighting this battle since day one, but we can't do it alone.

In addition, note that the ACLU has filed the first legal challenge to the USA PATRIOT Act in order to combat the Bush Administration's invasion of your privacy, too.

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Trading eBay Spaces

House eBay-utiful

"Dreaming of a home makeover but don't have the resources to pull it off? eBay has a solution. In June, the company sponsored a designers' show house in New York City to show how online auctions can help transform space from drab to dynamic.

The challenge to six designers was to create rooms using only objects bought from eBay auctions. As you might guess, retro ruled, and one-of-a-kind objects abounded.... For a virtual tour, go to www.ebay.com/showhouse." [Technology News from eWEEK and Ziff Davis]

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