Thursday, December 13, 2007
My observations after just a few days (also posted, more or less the same, as a response to West's post:)
Many of the questions on Yahoo answers could be answered with an online search (Barney or some other one -- see my 10Oct07 post for use of Barney.) I'm not sure why those posting didn't try that -- but, then, maybe they did, but had little success due to misspellings, which are surprisingly common in the queries. As the old question goes, how can you find a spelling in a dictionary if you can't spell the word?
Many of the questions are "ready reference" -- librarian talk for a reference question that can be answered with a quick look-up. A phone call to a local library would seem to work as well as a posting. That service would seem to be one in need of some marketing by libraries.
Just as in a public library, some questioners online want all their homework done for them, including assignments that ask for essays, not just factoids. One responder to a question in the former category outlined how the questioner ("asker" in Yahoo terms, grrrrrrr) could approach the assignment. I hope the questioner rated that response highly. Of course, as any public librarian knows, a lot of parents come in to do their kids homework for them. Or at least to check out the books with the answers. Maybe it's an improvement to have the kids themselves posting the questions?
In library school, a friend joked that there are five answers that can be used to answer all reference questions: the only one of the five I remember is "a member of the carrot family" -- my friend claimed she used that to answer any questions from her mother about the identity of a plant. So far I haven't had a chance to use it, but maybe it will come in handy soon.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Decades passed, wars came and went and came back, the Taliban blew up Bamiyan's giant Buddhas, women who weren't already wearing them were forced into burquas, and, in 1993, Greg Mortenson started climbing K2, the second-highest mountain in the world, in Pakistan. Injured in the climb, he was nursed back to health by the villagers in a small town. He promised them he would build them a school in appreciation, and, with Dr. Jean Hoerni, founded the non-profit Central Asia Institute to build schools in remote areas, first, in Pakistan, and then also in Afghanistan. One of the requirements for a village obtaining a school is that it be used to educate girls as well as boys.
More time passed, and one of the Sunday newspaper magazine-type supplements had a story about the Central Asia Institute. I immediately remembered the little girl in Bamiyan, whose fate I had always wondered about (and still do wonder about,) so I made my first donation to the Institute. One of the pleasant things about donating to it is that it's one of the very few (heck, maybe it's the only) non-profit I have ever donated to that doesn't then inundate a donor with mailings. Yes, they send the occasional one (maybe two a year?) but I feel that a larger percentage of my donations are going to the project than is the case with non-profits razing whole forests to make the paper for their appeals.
Mortenson's story, and that of the Central Asia Institute, has now been published: Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace, One School at a Time. It's been on the NY Times bestseller list for about ten months so far, and is available in paperback. I recommend it, along with donations to the Institute. I want other little girls to be proud of their school slates.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Looking for a paint touch-up, I went to the California State Automobile Association website to see what they had listed under companies giving discounts to CSAA members.
And there, dear reader, I discovered Dentpro. As with most things remotely related to technology (or science, or magic,) I am probably the last to learn of this type of service. Dentpro will send a van to where your car is (house or office) and repair small dents or do small painting touchups. Yes, they make house calls! And I got 10% off for being a CSAA member!
For me, the whole thing worked perfectly. I called on Thursday, November 29th, my call was forwarded to a local Dentpro franchise, and that franchise could come the very next day, hurrah hurrah. I was off the 30th because I'm working today. It took the tech less than an hour to paint, and the color matches perfectly. It is now the best looking part of my otherwise dusty car. He ran a tad late in arriving, but called to let me know -- I can wait for anyone if they will just tell me what's happening.
In any event, I was't going anywhere anyway. Yesterday was a banner day at the bibliotecaria's house (or should that be casa?) In addition to the painting, I had new windows/patio doors installed. Being locked in the bathroom during the window/door work and hearing strange loud noises traumatized my faithful cat; the loud noises traumatized me too, so I sat outside in my newly-painted car.
All in all, a very satisfactory day -- not as much fun for the money, as, say, joining the statistically inept in a casino (phrase is from The Economist's November 30, 2007, article on Indian casinos in California,) but, of course, better in the long run.
Postscript: looking for the wesite to create the link to The Economist, I first entered http://www.theeconomist.com/ -- try it to see an economist who hasn't heard that economics is the dismal science.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I thought of complaints choirs today when reading my transit book: Eve LaPlante's Salem Witch Judge: The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall (NY: HarperOne, 2007.) Sewall was one of the Salem witch trial judges, and the only one to repent of his role. His public repentenance is pictured in the mural in the Chamber of the House of Representatives in the Massachusetts State House, with the title "1697 Dawn of Tolerance in Massachusetts Public Repentance of Judge Samuel Sewall for his Action in the Witchcraft Trials."
Salem Witch Judge is a fascinating book, and it's making me realize how little I know about the trials. For instance, the persons who were executed were the ones who asserted their innocence; those who admitted witchcraft were not executed. (Read the book to find out why.) Giles Corey, who refused to answer any questions, or to enter any plea, remained silent to protect his property from confiscation. He was pressed to death in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a plea. (Maybe waterboarding would have worked better?)
The complaints choir aspect came in with respect to Sewall's poem for the new century (the 18th): the first verse reads: Once More! Our God, vouchsafe to shine: Correct the coldness of our clime. Make Haste with Thy impartial light, And terminate this long dark night." (p. 231.) Even the Puritans could complain about winter.
Post-Salem trials, Sewall wrote the first anti-slavery tract in the colonies; he's considered the first poet to write about the American landscape as an American, rather than a displaced English citizen; and (I haven't read this far yet) he started to think of women as the equals of men. (What was the world coming to?)
Ever the teensiest, lady-like, bit of a complaint about this book: IT DOESN'T HAVE ANY FOOTNOTES! This drives me crazy. One example: at one point the author is quoting Perry Miller, a 20th-century author, about Samuel Sewall's writings. There is a bibliography in the book, but Miller has five entries. There is no way to tell from the titles which one would have the quote. I'd like to read a bit more about Sewall's writings and his position in colonial literature (about which I currently know nothing,) but I'm going to have to first find the books, then see if they deal with what I want. It would have been nice if the author could at least have included a date ("Perry, in [date] noted ....") or something like that. I'll bet Samuel Sewall gave his sources.
Monday, November 19, 2007
The highjacker then sent an email from my address that, summarized, says that I am about to leave for Africa to join others working to fight any one of three different problems, in three possible countries, one of which is Nigeria. (Ring any alarms to you?) The email (of course) asks for money: specifically, it asks the recipeient to "borrow me" $1500. The spelling, syntax, and grammar are all a lot poorer than in my own writing.
I first learned of this from my sister, who humorously called to ask if I were still coming for Thaksgiving. I then had calls from two other people, and, today, had all sorts of emails, most but not all in response to my email alerting people to the highjacking.
This experience is serving as a mirror, showing how I am seen by others. I now know that I am seen by some friends/acquaintances as someone who could pop off to Africa, at what seems at least to me to be the last minute, to work on a service project. I'm glad to know that I am easily seen as public spirited and international.
On the other hand, I am a bit crabby that those same people who assumed I really am going on this trip also accepted that I could write something with so many mis-spellings and errors in both grammar and syntax. "Borrow me" some money? Give me a break - I don't write like that. Bad mirror!
Of course, if those friends who believed the post would go ahead and send me the requested money at home, I could forgive them their acceptance of me as the author of the post. (New mirror: devious schemer.)
Friday, November 16, 2007
One of the musuems I visited that day was the Musuem of the African Diaspora (MoAD.) The two floors of exhibit space were devoted entirely (as far as I could tell: I am eminently able to miss small rooms off to one side) to "Hungry Planet: What the World Eats." This has little to do with the African diaspora, but is fascinating. The exhibit consists of large color photos of families from around the world, seated/standing with a full week's purchases of food, both groceries and takeout. Text tells a bit about the family, and lists everything purchased, with prices in US dollars. A small exhibit included shots of fast food places around the world -- mostly US firms, but some local ones.
The galleries were crowded, probably due to the free day (well, that's why I was there,) and there were lots of families. Some parents used different photos to point out to their child/children that not everyone has as much to eat as we do in this country. Among the adults, there was lots of conversation too. It was all fascinating, even to a non-foodie like me. I recommend this exhibit, but there's also a companion book, which won the 2006 James Beard Foundation Book Award, in case you can't get to the museum. The exhibit continues through January 20, 2008.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
A Barney search (see October 9, 2007, post for explanation of term) produced a manuscript collection in Cambridge University, but nothing else for this particular John Walter Cross, although a number of hits for others of the same name.
Hence the title: not in Wikipedia. I had begun to think that everyone could be found there. Does this mean Mr. Cross is excruciatingly dull, inadequately infamous, or just plain forgotten today? His book title is so odd I'd like to learn more. Guess I will have to turn to some print sources.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
First, form a choir of good singers. (Good, to forestall subsequent complaints about the singing, presumably.) Next, write a song full of complaints. Then videotape the choir singing the song and put the video on YouTube for all to appreciate. There's already about an hour's worth of songs from different choirs, per Carroll: search YouTube for complaints choir.
So far the choirs are from Finland, Germany, England, and Canada. Since he quotes from the Finnish one, it appears to be in English. One of its complaints: "In the public sauna they never ask if it's ok to throw water on the stones." That does it -- I'm scratching Finland from my list of courteous countries to visit.
I don't have a computer at home, and can't watch YouTube at work due to monitoring, plus I can't watch it at a Public Library due to noise, so now I'm really looking forward to visiting my sister over Thanksgiving: in addition to eating all the Thanksgiving foods our mother used to make, I can also listen to Complaint choirs on her (my sister's) computer.
(Title is a mash-up of that annoying "It's a small world" song from the Disneyland ride -- annoying because it remains with you for life -- and the line "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony" from the really old Coca Cola ad -- the song was so popular it was expanded and put out on vinyl or at least played on the radio.)
Saturday, November 3, 2007
The review quotes Don Norman, author of "The Design of Future Things" as saying "Technologies really are being packaged in a way that's not intuitive or usable to the consumer." Ms. Hesse goes on to say "Call it the Case of the Missing Instruction Manual. New technologies have always needed some sort of user guide. In 1532, the hand plow was sold with one." (Who knew?)
On the one hand, it's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one that finds things on Web 2.0 (not to mention the rest of life) non-intuitive. (See previous posts about trying to figure out our new phones at work.) On the other hand, if I were interested in Second Life, or considering an iPhone, knowing that books have been published to explain how to use them just might reinforce my feeling that either or both are beyond me. And on what is now the third hand (I always think of the Hindu goddesses at this point, although they have an even number of arms/hands,) I can feel comfortable with my lack of interest in using any of the four items the books cover.
(Title of this post is from Ms. Hesse's review: "Though studies have shown we retain information learned online as well as that learned onpage, we still appreciate a paper security blanket.")
Thursday, November 1, 2007
The Netflix discs are sent by US Postal mail. I am amazed at the speed involved, and would love to know how the rest of my mail, both outgoing and incoming, can zip through the US postal system as quickly as the Netflix mail does.
Example: Saturday I put my return envelope in the mailbox at the PO about 9am. On Monday, by 8:30 am, I have an email from Netflix that they have received the disc. Later that day, I get an email that they are mailing the next disc, which should arrive the next day. And sure enough, it does.
I, of course, can't keep up: the disc then sits around until I have time to view it.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Yes, the treadmill, once walked by British prisoners, including Oscar Wilde, for 6 hours/day (with five minute breaks every so often,) and now just anther piece of exercise equipment to jog on (at the gym) and to hang clothes on (at home,) is coming to work. No, not in the employer's gym -- in our cubicles. No more lounging around in chairs -- employees will walk (slowly) while trying to read a computer monitor, or while keyboarding and trying to read a computer monitor, or while talking on a phone wedged between shoulder and ear while keyboarding and trying to read a computer monitor, or while drinking something while talking on a phone wedged between shoulder while trying to read a computer monitor (and for all I know, keyboarding with one hand at the same time.) Assuming that becomes the standard workplace setup, will prisoners be expected to sit on chairs at workstations for hours at a stretch?
I strongly suspect that whoever is developing a treadmill workstation does not wear bifocals, much less trifocals. Or high heels.
The article suggests these websites: Steelcase Inc. (office furniture/design site -- uses the word Walkstation,) the Mayo Clinic, and True Fitness Technology (either a manufacturer or a vendor.)
This post's title is from what I thought was The Ballad of Reading Gaol, but isn't: so what is it from? I remember the line "In Reading town in Reading Gaol, there lies a wretch so wan and pale," but nothing further. That's not unusual for me: if the world of Fahrenheit 451 ever comes to pass, I'll join the book people and will be Bartlett's Quotations because all I can remember of poetry/drama are a few lines of any particular work. It's good to have an alternative career path, no?
Monday, October 15, 2007
Roombas remind me of the 1950 Ray Bradbury story "There will come soft rains," in which a fully automated house survives a nuclear holocaust that has killed all humans. The house communicates with the (non-existent) residents by voice, and in the absence of responding voices, continues on its way each day, serving the default menus, clearing meals, etc. No roombas in that house though: it has fully automated small mice to clean away debris. (I forget if the lawn mowing is done by fully automated goats.)
In my opinon, Ray Bradbury is the most prescient science fiction author since Jules Verne. In his 1953 Fahrenheit 451, he foresaw all those portable music devices we plug into our ears -- now Ipods, but first, Walkmans. I just saw Fahrenheit 451 on a DVD -- one of the special features included on it is a 2002 interview with Bradbury. He mentioned that when the Sony Walkman first came out, some reps from the company came to him, showed him the device, and said "Fahrenheit 451! Fahrenheit 451!." Let's hope his prescience doesn't foreshadow firemen who burn books.
In the short story "The Veldt," which came out in 1951, Bradbury took television and turned it into wall-sized screens one could not just watch, but could also interact with --- and, in the end, enter into. Children of course loved it, and adults worried and didn't quite get it --- does any of this sound familiar today? Fahrenheit also had large screens, plus the small tv sets that exist today, but not then. On at least the large screen one could have the characters on a program turn to look at the viewer and ask the viewer, by first name, what he/she thinks of something. We're not there yet, thank heavens, as the vapidity of the show the Fahrenheit character is watching would probably kill us all, but we may be creeping up on it: in recent news CBS has announced that CSI NY Virtual Experience will allow viewers to get involved via Second Life (but not simultaneously with the telecast.)
So maybe we're living in the future now? Somehow I expected a rocket car. After the slide show of advertisments, shown with the lights on, my local chain movie theater (14 screens! 8 or so movies, as the theaterettes are too small for the popular movies!) dims the lights and starts the show with a "Welcome to the ----- Theater" piece which involves a rocket car (a more aerodynamic version of the De Lorean car with the gull wing doors) taking off from a rocket car parking space, flying through the airy streets among tall skyscrapers entirely lit up at night (the cars may be flying because the streets are littered with carbon footprints from all the electricity being used) then at last coming into a garage with the name of the theater. Once it's landed/parked, we get to move on to the adverts for the films. Eventually the movie itself appears.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
At some level, I think I'm feeling (if that's not a contradiction in terms) worried that my degree will somehow be retroactively denied due to lack of funds.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Intutition certainly wasn't getting us where we wanted to be, so I went back to the web, using that search engine that doesn't like its name used as a verb, so I try to think of it as Barney, from the first name in the song "Barney [company name] with the [first syllable of company name, repeated twice] - [company name with y instead of e at the end] eyes." Saying I Barneyed something doesn't quite trip off the tongue as easily as saying I [company name]d something, but who am I to argue with corporate America?
I finally came up with the full 72 (or is it 52) page manual, thoughtfully posted by a university in the midwest. Thank heavens for Barney's search capacity, and thank you to that university, tactfully unnamed in case posting it violates something or other.
When I told one of my tech colleagues about my success (she had responded to my earlier post with a suggested site that turned out not to have the manual,) she said that she's found a lot of items online posted by universities for their students' benefit. Let's hear it for academia.
Of course, even with the manual, we can't figure out how to get the phone at one desk to buzz to indicate someone's calling on another line ....
On roughly the same day that we came up with the manual, I received the first of this fiscal year's letters from my undergraduate college, asking for a donation. The letter, very chatty, mentioned that tuition this year is $34,500. EGAD! When I went there in the 1960s, it was $1600 per year, and even at that price I only attended because I had a California State [i.e., government] scholarship which paid the tuition. Those state scholarships still exist, I think under another name, and, while the maximum is higher, they are still not anywhere near the cost of tuition for private colleges/universities today.
I went to Cyndislist and looked under "money" in the table of contents, to see if I could find a site that would convert the 1960s tuition price to today's dollars. Measuringworth came up with a variety of values, the explanations for which were too lengthy to make much sense to me. One of them was in the $31,000 range, but the rest were all a lot less. I decided I would take the $31,000 figure as the most accurate, just so I wouldn't feel retroactively priced out of the market.
Friday, October 5, 2007
One can order, of course, address labels from commercial sources, which offer a mulitiplicity of designs. I did order some a few years back, and that opened a floodgate. I now regularly receive mailings from a variety of non-profits and and other groups sending me address labels and asking asking for a donation. The labels can have a mixture of designs, only some of which have the organization's logo; others have messages/logos only. I think there must be a merged marketing list somewhere of people who have ordered address labels and people who fit some non-profit's profile. Or they're merging the lists themselves.
A few days ago I received a letter at work with an address label I recognized: "Teach tolerance" with a logo. That person and I are both on at least one mailing list.
It's not quite as much fun as reading bumper stickers, but I'll take my cultural markers where I find them.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
All in all, it was good for me (was it good for you too?) -- not always fun, but educational. Sort of like library school classes in cataloging.
As I wrote in some earlier posts, the 23 things identify resources that can be used to fill particular needs of libraries and their patrons. Find a need, then consider the resources, evaluating them in terms of time and dollar cost, employee skills, and patron access to electronic gadgetry. A handy mantra might be "Be not the first by whom the new is tried, nor the last to put the old aside." Or, look before you leap. The Quechup email is an example: respond to an email about a new social networking site, and your computer is infected. Even Infopeople got caught (see their September 4th blogpost.)
And then, of course, time catches up with us, faster than we may think. A September 27, 2007 article or post in Fortune magazine's column or blog "The Browser: Analyzing the Tech Biz" is titled "Are we already moving on from traditional social networking?" Traditional! But I just got here! Imagine how non-trendy a library's web presence on a social network might be in one year. Imagine the need to keep up. Not reasons to not go online, but certainly time costs to be evaluated.
My utility company (Pacific Gas & Electric, PG&E for short, pronounced by some as "piggie") just sent out a mailer inviting customers to sign up for a program to pay some extra dollars per month to balance out the carbon footprint of the gas/electricity used. The funds will be used to provide alternative methods of energy production. I'm considering it, in part because I figure it won't cost much. According to the brochure, the cost to the average customer will be about $5 per month. Whenever PG&E (spurred on by the state Public Utilities Commission) announces a rebate on past charges, I get a lot less than the average refund, presumably because I use low amounts of gas & electricity.
Carbon footprints, however, bring up the question of the hidden environmental costs of the web. Server farms and web hosting services use massive amounts of electricity for both cooling and operation. On July 8, 2006, Fortune magazine had an interesting article or blog post, "Behold the Server Farm! Glorious Temple of the Information Age!" The subtitle started: "They're ugly. They require a small city's worth of electricity. And they're where the web happens." That rhetoric, for some reason, conjures up in my mind the mosaics of Justinian and Theodora, and their courtiers, at San Vitale in Ravenna. The mosaics would have to be inside the buildings housing the servers, as the exteriors would, at least metaphorically, be coated in carbon footprints from all that energy expended to keep photographic ephemera, among other things, online forever.
Example: I recently took a cruise, but not a camera. Searching Flickr for the cruise ship and that same itinerary produced about a trillion photos by one person who apparently spent her entire cruise with a camera to her eye, photographing everything. Someone should have told her she could poke her eye out. It was pleasant to see a photo of the fruit bowl in her cabin, looking like the one we had in ours, but perhaps the carbon emitted from power plants to keep that online forever is not worth the hidden costs to all of us. I'm reminded of a scene in the movie Soylent Green, a dystopian view of an overpopulated future, in which an elderly Edward G. Robinson wearily mounts an exercise bike to create some electricity by pedalling away ------ and gee, that's maybe a solution to the problem! Maybe server farms could provide free or cheap gyms to the surrounding populations, using the bikes (and treadmills?) to generate some of the power needed! Of course, the sweaty gymn rats would add to the need for cooling ....
Nevertheless, "each one teach one" is our current motto on a slightly different technological front. On Tuesday, our branch had new telephones installed, with exciting features our previous system lacked: voice mail, with new phone numbers for all, except for the public line! automatically forward your own calls to a different desk! a nice pop-up (or is that propped-up?) screen with the date and time! Who knows what else!
We aren't quite sure of what else because these phones, while new to us, are phones previously used at the main branch. They came without user manuals, and with the buttons either unlabelled, or with the previous users' notes. They also initially didn't allow outgoing calls. By Wednesday, the phone company rep had come back and done whatever was necessary (it's all magic, science, or technology to me) to get them all working so we could make outgoing calls. We also got from library headquarters an email with a chart of each person's phone, showing what the 16 buttons were for, and a document listing "phone features" with an explanation.
No explanation of voice mail. No explanation of how to transfer a call manually (from the circulation desk, to the reference desk.) No explanation of how to use the speakerphone feature. The intuitives in the library are busy discovering how things work, and sharing the info. Today, Thursday, our student intern, who used to work in the library's tech department is going to see what he can figure out, or pry out of someone.
My contribution was to make a valiant search of the internet, hoping to find a manual online. No such luck. The company's website doesn't have any online. Thank heavens we have some intuitives working here.
23 things #22.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Thanks to the Yahoo podcast FAQ, I know that one does not need an iPod to listen to a podcast. I can add to the volume level in the workroom by listening at my PC.
I got to that site from the 23 Things link for item #21. It's a beta site, and a notice said that the site would be closed on October 31, 2007. The FAQs were informative and got me up to speed on the concept, but I found the site difficult to search. The search line wanted one to specify series or episodes (or both) -- doing both for "library" brought up only two links. I couldn't see how to search the tags, but perhaps I just missed the link.
I then went to podcast.net, another directory. This is extremely well-organized, with a clear line for searching for tags. A search of tags starting with L came up with an alphabetical list, so I could see that there were links to podcasts under libarian, librarians, libraries, library (I think those are in alpha order.) Clicking on the "library" link brought up a lot of on-point podcasts. I think this is a great site.
I then tried podcastingnews, another directory. Entering a search for "library" brought up a rather large close-up photo of a very buxom blonde, in a not-so-buxom black bra, holding a drink. You could see the bra and its contents (the main focus of the shot) because her shirt was unbuttoned, and her bow tie untied; there were a few locks of her hair visible (but not face,) enough to show the viewer that this was not just any buxom lass, but, rather, a BLONDE buxom lass. The drink was very visible, as the photo was illustrating an "Art of the Drink" video podcast, and the text included "drink library." Keyword searching has rarely been this interesting before.
Podcasts seem a good way to send to recipients wealthy enough to afford the recievers (ipods, pcs, some music players) a variety of oral programming: stories for kids, talks given at the library, library education. I guess those not wealthy enough would be in the same position as before podcasts: not able to listen in without going to the library for an event. This bothers me, but I can't think of a solution, and, I suspect, probably people in all income ranges acquire ipods or music players.
23 Things #21
Friday, September 21, 2007
From a tech colleague I have cited before: "YouTube -- the ultimate in channel flipping. ... YouTube let's you do it at your PC." Why do I feel this is more fun for males than females?
From a friend's email: "Pug bowling is fun to watch --- useless, but fun." (Well, it was something close to Pug bowling -- I no longer have the email.)
My library system (not SF Public Library) just installed Websense, the data protection and filtering application, on the staff computers, in part to address bandwidth problems, including increased usage of streaming audio and video. Maybe everyone was working on their 23 Things assignment at the same time?
I suppose YouTube could be used to show videos of library events, although the library pictures I noticed on Flickr tended to be fairly drab: who knows what the videos would be?
23 Things #20
I particularly liked the fact that the directions to/from the library include total mileage and driving time, with extra time "in traffic" noted --- so when is there no traffic in San Francisco? I tested directions to our library from the San Francisco Bay Bridge: for directions coming to the library, total distance is 12.3 miles, about 17 minutes, up to 30 minutes in traffic; returning to Bay Bridge from our library, time is 18 minutes, up to 40 minutes in traffic. The one time I tried driving to work, on a Saturday, it took more than an hour to get to the Bay Bridge from the library at 5pm --- that was the last time I didn't take public transit. (It was quite fast at 7am, though, getting to work.)
The directions print out very nicely, in large type with the exits in bold: easy to read while driving. I've been using the California State Automobile Association's map/directions for my personal use; I'll probably switch to Google's site.
23 Things #19
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I can see one application in our library, with a number of staffers working on what might or might not be a spreadsheet; since it is just arranging non-cataloged items, privacy wouldn't be that big an issue . Staffers could work from the circulation desk, or their own desktops.
I was very entertained by the User examples (blurbs on successful usage) on the site (much shorter URL) : I particularly liked the "son-in-law par excellence" (self-named, but well-earned IMHO) helping out his mother-in law on the opposite coast, and the retired police officer in Poole, England who, along with his wife, uses the service to create the shopping lists: no more poorly-scribbled wifely lists for him to read while pushing his trolley around the market. What's not to like when those two, and a drag strip operations coordinator in Las Vegas, all find it useful? Not to mention the family/friends fighting over Boston Red Sox (or is it the White Sox?) tickets. Really, it's almost a soap opera in those user comments. I note that the site is a beta version: if things don't work out, maybe Google could just market the comments.
23 Things #18
Probably because of Wikipedia I tend to think of a wiki as an encyclopedia-type site. Some of the library sites I looked at seem closer to blogs. Probably not a big difference.
The Bull Run Library wiki is a good example of a problem: It looks like an official library site, with a heading consisting of photos of interiors of the branch library (it's part of Prince William County (VA) Public Library system), but under "About this website" is the statement "This wiki is not sponsored by nor associated with the library system. It is maintained by one library patron." That perhaps explains a later statement under the same heading: "If this wiki does not meet with your expectations, please feel free not to use it." So much for the image of a friendly librarian. With friends like that, do we need enemies?
23 Things 16 & 17
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
That was pretty much my reaction at reading the 23 Things links to Web 2.0 and to Library 2.0 and the Future of Libraries. (My reaction to the Wikipedia Web 2.0 article was really to the discussion portion.) A more modern term might be shock and awe, minus the heavy artillery.
Otto von Bismarck (speaking of war) is credited with saying "Laws are like sausages: it is better not to see them being made," at http://www.brainyquote.com/. Well, let's add to that trends in the making.
In some respects, the discussion portion of Wikipedia's Web 2.0 entry wasn't wildly different from the September 9, 2007 Dilbert comic strip. (A lot longer, less funny, and at times a lot snarkier, yes.) In that strip Asok, the intern, deflects a question about his progress by asking if the company's service is Web 2.0 or 1.0. Predictably, arguments ensue about just what Web 2.0, and the company's service, are. Somehow it was funnier in a cartoon than in the Wikipedia discussion.
I'd like to see Dilbert's take on Library 2.0. Maybe he would just pound his head against a wall -- certainly that's my reaction. I think that Walt Crawford, who wrote the piece that was linked to, might have the same reaction (head-pounding) on a dark and dreary day -- instead, he addressed Web 2.0 on an apparently bright and sunny day, producing all 32 pages of the article.
His bottom line, as I see it, is that Library 2.0 is a bandwagon sent out by a few circus owners; it has captured attention and enthusiasm with something a lot closer to "Hey kids, let's put on a show!" than a show itself. Or maybe it's closer to a pied piper entrancing children ....
The elements that may or may not be part of Web 2.0 (see Dilbert, above, and the Wiki discussion) are tools that libraries can use to meet identified needs. (A tip of the hat to my
tech colleague who repeatedly makes this point in his blog.) Web 2.0 tools are not the only tools; they are tools that in turn use popular methods of communication, and the ability to use them will vary from library to library depending on funding, skills available to the library, and the skills/communication resources of the patrons to be served. (I adore Mr. Crawford for disliking "customers" as the term for those using a library; unfortunately, my library likes it.)
Let's all focus on how we can make library patrons even happier -- they will let us know when they are unhappy -- by using new approaches, just as libraries have always done (see Crawford's article and quotes in it about past technological advances -- like telephone reference.)
Let's not worry if we can call ourselves Library 2.0 or not: heck, let's just all say that yes indeedy, we are a Library 2.0 library, and see if anyone sues us.
23 Things #15.
Friday, September 14, 2007
I searched for tags using one from one of my blogs, and, sure enough, my blog popped up.
I don't feel the need to join Technorati to count hits or popularity or whatever it is counting.
This is obviously a useful site for searching the blogosphere, so could be a useful link in a library's website. Libraries with blogs could also use it to measure the hits (etc.) as noted above.
23 things #14
Monday, September 10, 2007
Now that chocolate is good for us, one my my remaining guilty food pleasures is golden delicious apples. It's a guilty pleasure because I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the capitals of foodies: people who go beyond gourmet to being concerned with terroir, transportation, and tiny farms. Jon Carroll, in his March 5, 2007 column in the San Francisco Chronicle very politely grumped that he didn't really want to discuss the food at dinner parties -- he wanted to eat it with some other conversations. I sympathize: I really don't need to know if the mushrooms on my plate were hand-grown and hand-harvested with loving attention on a slope darkened by pesticide-free old-growth redwoods less than twenty miles from the restaurant/dinner-part site, by a farmer wearing undyed organic cotton clothing woven by monks paid a living wage, a hat made from bark naturally shed by eucalpytus trees, and shoes handcrafted by a female-cooperative in a third-world country with funding from a micro-loan program dedicated to improving the lives of refugees, then shipped to the US by a company that uses carbon-offsets to improve the air quality both there and here.
Just to set the record clear: I like old-growth forests; I like redwoods; I like pesticide-free; I like cooperatives improving the lives of women/children/refugees; I'm for living wages for all; I guess carbon offsets are good; etc. etc. --- I just don't really want to spend an entire meal discussing the lineage of every ingredient in every item. I like conversation, but would prefer just to chow down while discussing something else.
Further clarification: I even like foodies. This year I celebrated April, National Poetry Month, by sending to the ones I know a copy of Donald Hall's poem "O Cheese" -- if he lived in the Bay Area, rather than New England, he might have titled it "Ode to the Cowgirl Creamery." (It's included in White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems, 1946-2006.) The (mostly) resulting silence probably means that sending people a poem to celebrate National Poety Month just adds new meaning to "April is the cruellest month" for the lucky recipients --- but maybe they all were too busy eating some cheese to express their delight?
I know of heirloom tomatoes, and that there are people growing, or trying to grow, what I guess would be heirloom apples. I picked up the info on heirloom apples from Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (plus the fascinating fact that when Johnny Appleseed was scattering apple seeds, the apples from the resulting trees were good only for making hard cider.) I read that book as a result of reading Deadly Harvest: A Father Mark Townsend Mystery, by Brad Reynolds, S.J., a mystery involving a new strain (is that the word?) of apples. So I feel a bit guilty for liking plain old golden delicious apples, with no lineage to speak of, and produced far far away (and then coated with food-grade wax, probably distantly related to the carnuba wax sold for use on cars, which seals in the pesticides, and then kept in refrigeration, and not very recently picked, and when they were picked, may have been picked by machines and not people, etc. etc. A lineage worthy of Oliver Twist, not Alice Waters.)
And, surprisingly enough, I like social bookmarking at del.icio.us. Finally, an application that solves a problem I can identify. At my library, the two librarians who share the reference desk log onto the terminal with their own user names/passwords. This allows each librarian to access her own email accounts. It also, however, means there is no shared bookmarking. Now we can come up with a combined list. Not as frabjous as dark chocolate being healthy, but still quite satisfactory.
(A tip of the hat to W.B. Yeats and Ray Bradbury for the title of this post.)
23 Things #13
Thursday, September 6, 2007
In terms of a library use, it would seem to be a shortened version of the Librarian's Internet Index which many libraries have links to. I suppose a library's staffers could use Rollyo to create links to sites on narrow topics, to assist users. Such a project, of course, raises questions over the criteria for inclusion/exclusion. Maybe websites could be added to books for the Banned Books Week observed by many libraries.
23 Things #12
Friday, August 31, 2007
LibraryThing shows the gap: I enjoyed just adding tags to my personal books, and seeing what tags others had added. I was listing fiction titles, and the subject headings there tend to be closer to what most people use, but the tag cloud still shows lots of terms.
I don't need a list of my books: long before library school, I was weeding my books at random intervals -- mostly to make room for more books. I know what I have, and where they are ( I lack the "summer home" that LibraryThing uses as an example of helpful location info to add to one's list.) But I like the links to other titles, and the comments.
Library Thing would seem quite handy for small libraries, and, I guess, for public libraries that don't subscribe to one of two main databases for cataloging (OCLC and RLIN.) I may use it to see if I can find a listing for any books our cataloging department can't find in OCLC.
In the July-August issue of Utne (formerly Utne Reader,) there was a brief note, "Gaming for the Greater Good," about the ESP Game at http://www.espgame.org/. The game "involves viewing images and typing descriptive words at the same time as a randomly selected, unknown partner .... Players accrue points when they agree on a word." The game has a serious purpose: "Researchers designed the game to cull data, making it more efficient to search for images online and help label them for blind users." (Utne 142:11, quoting from Science News (March 17, 2007.) Now that is a fun way to approach cataloging.
23 Things #11
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I did somehow link up to some twitters about Michael Gorman's blog posts about Web 2.0, on the Encyclopedia Britannica's blog: as one person said in a post somwhere else, who knew the Britannica had one? The post and the comments were pretty interesting/entertaining, but the point of the twitters was just to provide (outraged) notice.
The social aspects of twittering come through pretty clearly in Tuitiar Comunidad Twitter Argentina (I like the sound of Tuitiar, and the blue bird.) My lack of interest probably reflects my lack of a social group that uses Twitter. Plus, it seems difficult to carry around the necessary Twittering Machine to keep me available for instant posts. Email at desktop PCs seems fine for me now.
Twittering machines and sound poetry: I had incorrectly remembered Kurt Schwitters rather than Paul Klee as the artist. Searching the internet for Schwitters twittering brought up some links, and ultimately I found one with a short video excerpt of Kurt Schwitters reciting Ursonate, one of his sound poems: not twittering, but trilling in parts.
Library uses: possibly providing information to individuals on something: new acquistions? your hold is now available?
23 Things #9
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Photos of some of the rarer items in the collection could, however, be helpful --- or at least decorative.
After looking at the four libraries on the link from challenge 6, I have these comments:
- I wonder about the wisdom of a library allowing minors to post their photos on the library's website: or are those teens all 18 and older?
- I was entertained by the comment of one teen on the PLCMC site, that putting the library on Second Life would do away with the need to go to the library in person. For some reason it reminded me of the patron at my local library who once needed to renew for the third time the Cliff Notes item he had checked out. Maybe the similarity is not needing to read something.
- I wonder why Ann Arbor's list of new books in Spanish only describes them in English.
- Denver's homepage is useless for linking to the podcasts they have.
- I wonder who is being left behind in the rush to produce podcasts for kids. Just what is the socio-economic distribution of ipods, etc.? Probably a lot broader than I think.
I read about RSS Feeds, signed up for Bloglines, subscribed to a few, and was disappointed in the results. Bloglines doesn't display the entire blog. For instance, for the SF Public Library's Magazine and Newspaper section's blog, the feed doesn't display Herb Caen's typewriter, the ultimate in icons for SF Chronicle readers of the past. I miss Herb, although I also really like Leah Garchik's column, which is the closese replacement. Her "Overheards" (which, the last time I looked at it online, didn't appear in that version) can be priceless. My favorite, a mother overheard speaking to a young child: Eat your donut and then you can have a treat.
The bloglines feed for David Silver's Silver in San Francisco omits the links (using Feevy -- which I am now interested in) on the right of the blog to the most recent posts from a variety of other blogs. I've found Silver's links very interesting, particularly because a number of them are from Spanish-language blogs.
I was also disappointed that Bloglines seems to want to force a user to read only in one language: at least that's what I sense from the language specification, and the statement that blogs in other languages would be translated as much as possible. It might be fun, however, to set the link for one language, then sign up for blogs only in another. For a great column on an English-language website apparently translated from some other language, see Jon Carroll's column in the August 13th San Francisco Chronicle (http://www.sfgate.com/; click on columnists, then on Carroll, then on archive. Leah Garchik is also under columnists.) His quotes are from the accessories section of http://www.apparelop.com/. I was laughing out loud on the streetcar when I read it - fortunately, in SF no one notices or moves away. (Or asks what's so funny.)
Getting back to Bloglines, I unsubscribed to my links -- it's just as easy to have the blogs I like bookmarked, so I can see them in their entirety.
Thanks in part to the links from David Silver's blog, and from Lipstick Librarian (written by someone I knew in library school,) I have already found some interesting library-related blogs, including the SFPL Mags/Newspapers one noted above, and Jessamyn West at http://www.librarian.net/.
23 Things #6-8
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
I'm not sure what a library application would be for this.
23 Things #5
For propriety's sake, I should mention that I made the London-Kathmandu trip in 1978 without the aid of herbal stimulants. (No, really.)
(Source for title: "Goldengrove unleaving" is from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins. While searching online for it, I discovered a Jill Paton Walsh novel with that title.)
23 Things #4
I also searched for my hometown, and found a lot of photos. Main Street is no longer a location with working businesses, but, rather, a conglomeration of boutiques/coffee shops/restaurants. A destination spot for many on weekends, but it seems strange to have one's own town turned into what I think of as Disneyland. It's due, of course, to the town booming, and malls/office parks coming in. It's not far from where I live, so I have gone there, but one or two visits to Main Street fills my needs -- there are similar stores where I live (similar, but independents) so no need to travel far for coffee/food/boutiques.
I did rather wonder about the wisdom of one photo showing a man on a motorcycle (Main Street does attract some biker groups looking, I guess, for an independently run coffee store) -- the title was Fat Boy. Maybe that's his own choice, but, as the bumper sticker says, "The reason more people object to people wearing fur than to people wearing leather is that it's easier to harrass rich women than motorcycle riders."
I'm not sure how the subjects on Flickr work, as under Libraries was a good photo of the giant censer (incense burner) in the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Some libraries had photos of local library events, which could be of interest to those attending, or good publicity on a local site for events. I liked the site with vintage postcards of libraries.
Haven't worked on mashups yet: sounds like something from a rock concert.
I didn't join any groups as I didn't feel like opening a Yahoo mail account, which comes with the signup. I can always check with groups that I like.?
23 Things #4
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Finally saw the video, and I have now gotten as far on Blogger.com as writing a post. I can't wait for further adventures.
Were things less stressful in River City? Apart from censoring Balzac?
23 Things #1-3