Friday, August 31, 2007

Subject Headings: Fun at Last

Subject headings drive me crazy. I occasionally give talks on how to do subject searches in library catlaogs -- I use the Library of Congress subject headings, which are the most common in my field. I always tell an audience that while the Library of Congress (LC) is full of warm wonderful librarians who want to help people, when it comes to subject headings one should always remember that as federal employees, the LC people are distant relatives of other federal employees who bring us the IRS forms. So, how easy should one expect them to be?

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 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

Images and Imagists: poetry and pixels.

I first tried the Image generators in the last hour of the last day before I went on vacation: I was almost done in by my ususal hand-to-hand combat with computers on top of stress about getting ready for the trip: packing -- why do it in advance, when you might get run over by a streetcar, and have to answer to God why you wasted time on earth packing for a trip that wouldn't take place; cleaning for the cat sitter -- heaven forbid she thinks my cat lives in anything less than a perfect house; worrying about airport screw-ups -- whatever happened to the romance of air travel? All in all, I felt the image above summed up what I need on my computer. Thanks to Glass Giant.

Image generators brought to mind the Imagists. Ezra Pound wrote what one person termed "Imagism's enabling text:" In a Station of the Metro. I went to Flickr and searched for pictures of the paris metro: found a lot, but not quite anything that really brought to life Pound's poem. Some crowd scenes looked much jollier than his poem intimated, and none suggest that it is raining outside. So, which is truer: photos, or poetry. As a regular transit rider, I certainly feel closer to the poem than the pictures: but then, I'm not on vacation, as at least some of those photographed are.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Twitter, Tuitiar, Bartleby and Klee: Not a Law Firm

I echo Bartleby the Scrivener by saying, "I would prefer not to" join Twitter. I looked at the home page, and found some of the featured twitterers interesting: GuardianTech, SkyNews, and LAFD, but not interesting enough to subscribe to. The "just posted" list showed posts of interest to only acquaintances of the poster.

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

Flogging Blogs

Of the two technologies covered by challenges 1-5 (blogs and photos,) the blog would seem most appropriate for my section of our library. The social aspect of photography seems unlikely to appeal to our patrons, who are mostly not local residents, and who are all adults. Far be it from me to say that adults are not narcissistic, but I think that there is less of a need to create a social nexus via photos on the part of adult researchers.

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 (; click on columnists, then on Carroll, then on archive. Leah Garchik is also under columnists.) His quotes are from the accessories section of 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

23 Things #6-8

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mashups vs. moshpits

I suspect that moshpits, for those young enough to enjoy them, are more fun than mashups. I did play a game, but otherwise wasn't too impressed with the sites. I lack the piece of equipment (name forgotten) that was needed for one site --- or so I think.

I'm not sure what a library application would be for this.

23 Things #5

Goldengrove Unleaving

More on Flickr 4 and the groups: I searched Afghanistan hippie, and ultimately arrived at My my my -- the memories came cascading back. This site, with its links to similar sites, is addictive; I just wish more photos were posted more often.

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

Flickerings from the past

Found lots of interesting photos, although Libraries was the last thing I looked for. I searched for Afghanistan, and got a wonderful link to a group on the hippie trail: the overland route from England to Nepal and farther. A lot of the photos were from 1977, and brought back great memories of my trip in 1978. Whatever happended to some of those "fellow travelers?" I occasionally search online for them, but no luck so far.

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

Dilbert Understood at Last

I've been enjoying Dilbert since the cartoon strip started -- so much of the humor applies to any occupation, more's the pity. But starting the 23 Things has led to even more of an appreciation, at least for Dilbert himself, whom I picture as someone who can identify potential user problems and avoid/fix them in his programming. (Or whatever it is he is doing.) Who's the coffee-drinking slacker in that cartoon --- I think he's the one who worked on the two programs or links or websites I've used so far in starting the 23 things: just getting the online video to work for "pre-step" 1 was a challenge -- heck, just getting a link to the video that was live was a problem.

Finally saw the video, and I have now gotten as far on 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