Friday, November 24, 2006

Creating dynamic research guides with OPML

Wilcox, Kimberley, "Gear Up Your Research Guides with the Emerging OPML Codes" (Computers in Libraries, Nov-Dec 2006, pp. 7-8; 46; 48).
Outline Processor Mark­up Language (OPML) is not widely-adopted yet, but its ability to create dynamic research guides, with feeds of new titles from the library catalog and databases, latest headlines from selected blogs, etc. should attract the interest of reference librarians. Wilcox discusses how to start taking advantage of OPML even before the most popular RSS aggregators fully support it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

U.S. entry process rated worst by travelers

The Discover America Partnership is an " effort led by some of America's foremost business leaders to strengthen America's image around the globe. These leaders recognize that public diplomacy is not the sole responsibility of government, but also of business and the American people." The group recently issued a report demonstrating that the U.S. entry process is considered the "world’s worst" by international travelers. The organization suggests that minor improvements in welcoming travelers could yield substantial diplomatic and economic gains. Read the 11/20 press release and summary of findings.

p.s. - the commercial sector appears to be very committed to the PD cause! In the past week alone, 3 such organizations have come to my addition to the Discover America Partnership, there's Business for Diplomatic Action (discussed in post below) and Compete America.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Understanding the Federal Courts

This latest version of Understanding the Federal Courts is from 2003. Available as an attractive pdf or easy to navigate website.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Transforming NATO (again)

CSIS recently released "Transforming NATO (again): a Primer for the NATO Summit in Riga 2006". The report, a joint effort by CSIS, the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, and the Clingendael Centre for Strategic Studies, provides an overview of inititatives slated to emerge from the Summit, and offers suggestions on ways for the Alliance to prepare for its next summit in either 2008 or 2009.

Free Government Info

Free Government Info (FGI) has many interesting nooks and crannies (see f.ex. its blogroll of "recommended government information blogs" ) , and is surely worth checking in on from time to time. It also provides an RSS can read it when you drop by here under "more RSS feeds" on your left, or subscribe to it directly.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

World's best blog?

Deutsche Welle's Best of the Blogs has named the Sunlight Foundation blog as winner of the 2006 International Weblog Awards. The mission of the Sunlight Foundation is (in its own words) "to use the power of the Internet and technology to help citizens learn more about what Congress and its representatives are doing, and help reduce corruption and produce greater transparency and accountability in government. The blog has been the epicenter for the Foundation, where the group writes about its projects, exhorts readers to join into investigations and updates people on these "distributed journalism" efforts."

Converting search to RSS

Saving your search as an rss feed is a good way to continually update your search results, without having to go back to reenter the search periodically. Both Google News and Yahoo News allow you to do this by clicking on the RSS icon once you've conducted your search. There are however a number of other services that enable the same kind of alert service via RSS, including Technorati (for the blogosphere) and Findarticles (for magazines and journals). Sharon Hously of FeedForAll has put together a very useful overview of such "RSS Ego Search" services at the RSS-Specifications site.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Foreign Media Relations Guide

Here's an article by Alvin Snyder that compares the public diplomacy approaches of the State Department with the way it's done in the commercial sector. The article discusses the organization Business for Diplomatic Action(BDA) (very slick website!) The mission of BDA is "to enlist the U.S. business community in actions to improve the standing of America in the world with the goal of once again, seeing America admired as a global leader and respected as a courier of progress and prosperity for all people." This it aims to achieve through its 5 point strategy plan, STARS:
Sensitize key U.S. constituents to the rise in anti-Americanism and its implications.
Transform the bad American attitudes that exacerbate the problem.
Accentuate America’s positive qualities and contributions to the world community.
Reach out to business leaders in strategic world markets to build new bridges of mutual respect and understanding.
Serve as the private sector connection for public diplomacy efforts by the U.S. government.

The organization recently issued a Foreign Media Relations Guide, which Snyder compares and contrasts interestingly with Karen Hughes's "Karen's Rules," the IIP media guidelines recently issued to the field. (see article by Elizabeth Williams in the WP Nov.8 and Karen Hughes's letter to the editor/rebuttal in today's (11/16)Post.

Civil rights database

From Researchbuzz: Washington University in St. Louis has created a new database of materials related to civil rights courts cases, including settlements, court orders, opinions, and case study research. The “Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse” contains documents related to over 1,000 cases and is available at .

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Immigration statistics

DHS has published some recent immigration statistics including profiles of legal and unauthorized residents by country of birth. Another resource that might be useful for IRCs is the 112 page Welcome to the United States Guide for New Immigrants, available in 11 languages.

Death and taxes

"Death and Taxes" provides a representational graph of the federal discretionary budget, ie the amount of money that is spent at the discretion of your elected representatives in Congress. Not sure if this is a very useful way to study the budget on a computer screen, but it looks nice, and might make a nice slide in a powerpoint presentation (also available in hardcopy as a poster!)

Tuesday, November 7, 2006's election day page's election page should just about cover it. Analysis, resources, and a dropdown that takes you directly to "voter info by state."

Presidential speeches tag clouds

Chirag Mehta's "US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud" site is really neat! By comparing tag clouds from presidential speeches 1776-2006, you get a vivid picture of how the agenda has changed over the years. The tag clouds show the popularity, frequency, and trends in the usages of words within speeches, official documents, declarations, and letters written by the Presidents of the US between 1776 - 2006 AD. Cycle through the administrations by using the slide rule at the top. Awesome!

Monday, November 6, 2006


Thinkature is a collaborative brainstorming web2.0 application. Collaboration is enabled through a shared workspace and chat. Looks very impressive...will report back once I've tried it out with some collaborateurs...

Yahoo election site

Yahoo's midterm election site appears to be a very complete service, drawing on a wide range of wire, print, broadcast and web sources. Bookmark for tomorrow!

Constitution Finder

Constitution Finder is a handy collection of constitutions in English...for a more thorough annotation, see Virtual Library Cat

CFR election guide

CFR's election guide is "A cross section of recent Backgrounders, op-eds, meeting transcripts, and interviews from, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Foreign Affairs."

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Adding translation flags

Just below the ircworld banner you'll see that an assortment of translation flags have been added to the blog. Essentially, all this does is save the curious non-English speaking visitor the bothersome extra-step of having to cut and paste text into a translator like Babelfish. Machine-translated text is of sub-human quality, but occasionally good enough to provide some notion of what the text is about. And although the translations may generate more mirth than enlightenment, it is always a nice gesture to acknowledge that not everyone speaks English. For instructions on how to do this (some simple cutting and pasting of code) see the Digital Inspiration blog.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Combined Arms Research Library (CARL)

CARL is an essential resource for reseaching military and military history topics. Lots and lots of free information! In its own words...."The Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) electronic collections are largely composed of digital versions of paper documents from the CARL collections. Our intent is to improve the visibility and use of the intellectual resources at CARL by expanding the potential audience beyond the walls of the Library. The CARL will continue to select and digitize appropriate documents to meet the original goals of preservation and dissemination. We will also be adding documents received originally in electronic form."

Congressional staff salaries

Legistorm reports, "At long last, US congressional staff salaries are available for free on the web - and only here at LegiStorm." Disappointingly, it's only informaton about the salaries that is available, but even that might be useful. Legistorm says it has no partisan agenda and simply wants to make Congress as transparent as possible...and promises more resources to come, so it might be a site worth checking occasionally. A companion site, Storming Media is "an independent reseller of Pentagon and other US federal government reports on many subjects." Although documents are resold for a fee, the site is information rich and well organized and abstracts are free. In many cases, having the citation will enable the resourceful librarian to locate the document elsewhere, free of charge.

2 interesting election sites

Here are a couple of election sites snipped from the latest issue of Neat New Stuff . Electionline focuses on the timely issue of election reform, and includes a 75 page pdf. report "Election Preview 2006" - the report is "a comprehensive report on the state of election administration around the country" and "finds cause for concern in a number of states." A nice handout for journalists covering the election! The RealClear site is a feast for political junkies/gluttons.

annotations from Neat New Stuff...
  • [Election Reform Information Project] "the nation's only non-partisan, non-advocacy website providing up-to-the- minute news and analysis on election reform" provides info on the new procedures, new machines, and new rules that may affect the ability of citizens to have their votes registered and counted. Check here for your own states' laws on voting systems, paper trail laws, voter ID laws, provisional voting rules, voter registration databases, and early/absentee voting rules.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

OIG reviews IIP Speaker Program

The Office of the Inspector General's review of the IIP Speaker Program is the subject of an article that appeared in the November 2 Philadelphia Inquirer. Senator Joe Biden requested the review following a news story last year that suggested the Department was using a "political litmus test" for vetting and weeding out speakers critical of the Bush administration. The OIG's report concludes that no such litmus test exists under current leadership, but also applauds a new "Strategic Speakers Initiative" (SSI) that "should continue as a more focused stand-alone program to allow articulation on strategic policy issues." The SSI should complement a conventional speaker program that "places emphasis on a realistic balance in the selection of speakers." Read the OIG review here.