Sunday, December 30, 2007

Search trends/zeitgeist



Knowing what interests people is a key to success in marketing and public relations, and presumably also in librarianship and public diplomacy. Google Zeitgeist's annual review of search trends is now available for 2007, and particularly interesting is the breakdown by country. For years I've been lobbying for more funny pictures...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Community election site

"Why08.org is a conversation community dedicated to Election 2008. To have a voice, you don't need to be a media mogul, a talking head, or even a blogger. There's an audience waiting for you at Why08.org"...and further...
"All of us at Why08 are political junkies and we've always wanted a better way to talk politics with friends and others on the web. Message boards are fine but they could be so much better with social networking, community voting, and more. We always assumed somebody would build a site for us. No one did and we got tired of waiting."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rich States/Poor States

In the "tough reference questions" department, I recently fielded this one: "What two states, which begin with consecutive letters of the alphabet, are ranked 1st and 50th?" Instead of getting annoyed and barking back "What do you mean ranked 1st and 50th - in WHAT?" I checked the American Legislative Exchange Council's new report Rich States/Poor States which provides a wealth of interesting data on the comparative economic competitiveness of the 50 states - and was able to answer politely, and without further ado, "Utah and Vermont".

Finding government information

The OMB watch report Hiding in Plain Sight: Why Important Government Information Cannot Be Found through Commercial Search Engines discusses why Google, Yahoo and other commercial search engines sometimes come up short when looking for government information...and what searchers and government website managers can do about it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Knol

Google is now dabbling in wiki-type knowledge sharing, as announced in this article about "knols" - ie. units of knowledge - last week at the Official Google blog. Here's an excerpt..

Earlier this week, we started inviting a selected group of people to try a new, free tool that we are calling "knol", which stands for a unit of knowledge. Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it. The tool is still in development and this is just the first phase of testing. For now, using it is by invitation only. But we wanted to share with everyone the basic premises and goals behind this project.

This sounds a lot like Wikipedia, and naturally there are comparisons



Thursday, December 13, 2007

so long ircworld....hello knowbodies!


Ircworld is being retired...and reborn as knowbodies.blogspot.com. There are a couple of differences; while posting to ircworld was limited to the IRC community, anyone may post to knowbodies. Ircworld was never an official USG site, but some people at the State Department may have worried that it was perceived as such. By opening it up to the general audience, and removing all mention of ircs, embassies etc., there should no longer be any cause for concern of that kind.

Ircworld featured a list of rss feeds on the right hand side of the page - loading them slowed things down terribly, so those feeds have now been redirected to pageflake pages ("pagecasts") in (so far) three categories - libraries and technology, public diplomacy, and government information.

If you are receiving this via email - and would like to continue receiving knowbodies posts via email - please visit knowbodies.blogspot.com and enter your email address in the designated window.

(the painting is Carl Spitzweg's "The Bookworm")

Association of Religion Data Archives

here is a post about a useful resource from Virtual Library Cat:

"ARDA, The Association of Religion Data Archives, is a fascinating goldmine of information from researchers, polling and census data, and other reliable sources. ARDA provides free access to quality data on American and world religions. In easy to view format, it quickly presents national profiles and American city statistics, religious group membership and religious freedom data, and recent survey results on beliefs and practices, replete with maps, charts, and reports. The site is fun to explore and an easy way to better understand demographic trends and the current role of religious groups and beliefs as a factor in today's world. It's also a great place to take a study break and learn some interesting and often surprising facts at the same time."

I am America (and so can Hughes)

Here's a post from PR watch about Karen Hughes's swansong:

As one of her last acts as Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Karen Hughes unveiled a new short film that will be shown in "the waiting areas of more than 200 American embassies and consulates around the world." Titled "I am America," the film was commissioned by the group Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA), created by the Omnicom-owned ad agency GSD&M Idea City, and donated to the U.S. State Department. The State Department explains that "the idea for the film emerged from brainstorming sessions involving ... Karen Hughes, her staffers and BDA. U.S. officials wanted to correct misperceptions of the United States as an unfriendly and insular place." Walt Disney recently donated a similar film to the State Department, called "Welcome: Portraits of America," which is being shown in the international arrivals areas of major U.S. airports.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What else is on? Pageflakes!!!


Seinfeld once quipped "Men don't care what's on TV. They only care what else is onTV." The joke says something about the sense of unfulfillment, attention span deficit, and profound restlessness that motivates not only channel flipping, but also web browsing... and I guess, by extension, that insatiable acquistiveness that keeps the economy going - especially at this time of year! If any of that resonates with you, you may share my enthusiasm for Pageflakes - in just a few minutes, you can assemble a page full of "flakes" - widgets displaying rss feeds from your favorite blogs - and see what else is on, without even switching channels! It's almost like having that bank of TV screens you also wanted but couldn't afford for your home! A page full of pageflakes is called a pagecast, and can be reserved for your own private viewing, shared with selected individuals, or published on the web for anyone to see. The layouts of individual "flakes" can be customized independently of each other. You can select from a variety of themes for your pagecast, or create your own, as I've done here. For an example of a page that presents an enormous range of information harvested from many different sources, see the the Dublin City Public Libaries pagecast.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0

This report from the IBM Center for the Business of Government "examines the phenomenon of blogging in teh context of the larger revolutionary forces at play in the development of the second-generation internet, where interactivity among users is key." Although this is a report on blogging by men in suits for men in suits (regrettably, the word "blogoneers" is used to describe pioneering bloggers), it is serious, thorough and substantiated, and addresses matters that might be neglected elsewhere in the "blogosphere", e.g. "The ROI of blogging". A good report to hand to the ambassador, whether you're trying to persuade or dissuade her/him from blogging.

The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0

This report from the IBM Center for the Business of Government "examines the phenomenon of blogging in the context of the larger revolutionary forces at play in the development of the second-generation internet, where interactivity among users is key." Although this is a report on blogging by men in suits for men in suits (regrettably, the word "blogoneers" is used to describe pioneering bloggers), it is serious, thorough and substantiated, and addresses matters that might be neglected elsewhere in the "blogosphere", e.g. "The ROI of blogging". A good report to hand to the ambassador, whether you're trying to persuade or dissuade her/him from blogging.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

President's Daily Brief

For those of us who do not have the time or permission to read the President's Daily Brief (PDB), a highly classified intelligence report prepared daily for the U.S. president, this post at the FAS Secrecy News blog provides some fascinating insights into the production and use of the document.

Howjsay

Howjisay is "An English Pronouncing Dictionary with Instant Sound" for Americans and others who need help with parodying British accents. Brits and others who need help with parodying American dialects are directed to this post

Future of bibliographic control

The Working group on the future of bibliographic control has released its draft final draft report for public comment. The group addresses the future of a core, if not defining, function of the librarian profession. The group's mandate is to:

• Present findings on how bibliographic control and other descriptive practices can effectively support management of and access to library materials in the evolving information and technology environment;
• Recommend ways in which the library community can collectively move toward achieving this vision;
• Advise the Library of Congress on its role and priorities.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Brijit

Brijit (ie. "abridge it") provides pithy digests of content from an assortment of high quality current publications; you can browse by source or subject, or search for specific issues. As with everything else on the net these days, articles are rated...but not only according to popular vote, which seems to be the guiding criterion of web2.0, but also according to quality - and that is a good old fashioned unabashed judgement call by the editors) To me the ratings look sound...by selecting a topic browsing digests sorted by best rating, you get a smorgasbord of the some of the best and most recent articles on the issue selected from high quality sources.

The Factchecker

"Comment is free, but facts are sacred." -- C.P. Scott, editorManchester Guardian, 1921

The Washington Post offers The Fact Checker, launched in September 2007. According to the Post, "the purpose of this website, and an accompanying column in the Post, is to "truth squad" the national political debate inthe period leading up to the 2008 presidential election. Our goal is toshed as much light as possible on controversial claims andcounter-claims involving important national issues, such as the war inIraq, immigration, health care, social issues, the economy, and therecords of the various presidential candidates. When we come across astatement or claim that is at variance with the facts, as best we canestablish them, we will point that out...We see fact checking as acollaborative, rather than a competitive, effort."

CQ Politics

CQ Politics is a free service from the Congressional Quarterly group, with lots of information about the campaigns, Washington, and the issues.

Fixing cultural public diplomacy: the public responds

Slate has now published Fred Kaplan's promised follow-up article to the piece he wrote last week calling for readers' ideas for future cultural diplomacy. There are some fascinating responses. Very well worth reading, and passing on. This passage should have resonance for most of us.

"Eric Henry, a doctoral student at Cornell who has spent much time in Shenyang, China, recalls that the U.S. Consulate used to open its libraries, film screenings, and Fourth of July celebrations. Now, he says, the consulate is a "razor-wired compound"; an American friend of his was recently arrested for taking pictures of the front gate. "Expats and Chinese who used to visit the consulate quite regularly now only grouse about the things that used to go on there," he writes."

Here is the URL for the full article:

http://www.slate.com/id/2177970/pagenum/all/#page_start

Laptopgiving


"The mission of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege. Between November 12 and November 26, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. During this time, you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution." (from http://www.laptopgiving.org/en/index.php)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

One less hassle for librarian travelers


An annoyance which has for ages prevented librarians from visiting New York City, is the absence of a good, clean hotel laid out according to the Dewey Decimal system. That, I'm happy to say, is no longer a problem; the "Library Hotel in New York City is the first hotel ever to offer its guest over 6,000 volumes organized throughout the hotel by the Dewey Decimal System.* Each of the 10 guestrooms floors honors one of the 10 categories of the DDC and each of the 60 rooms is uniquely adorned with a collection of books and art exploring a distinctive topic within the category or floor it belongs to."

Monday, November 26, 2007

One less hassle for librarian travelers - New York's Library Hotel


An annoyance which has for ages prevented librarians from visiting New York City, is the absence of a good, clean hotel laid out according to the Dewey Decimal system. That, I'm happy to say, is no longer a problem; the "Library Hotel in New York City is the first hotel ever to offer its guest over 6,000 volumes organized throughout the hotel by the Dewey Decimal System.* Each of the 10 guestrooms floors honors one of the 10 categories of the DDC and each of the 60 rooms is uniquely adorned with a collection of books and art exploring a distinctive topic within the category or floor it belongs to."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Merriam Webster Visual Dictionary

Describing something without knowing what it or its parts are called can be extremely frustrating, especially if you're talking to an auto mechanic or a locksmith. That's when the Merriam Webster Visual Dictionary comes in handy. Another good site for such moments is How Stuff Works

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fixing cultural public diplomacy: the public respond

Slate has now published Fred Kaplan's promised follow-up article to the piece he wrote last week calling for readers' ideas for future cultural diplomacy. There are some fascinating responses. Very well worth reading, and passing on. This passage should have resonance for most of us.

"Eric Henry, a doctoral student at Cornell who has spent much time in Shenyang, China, recalls that the U.S. Consulate used to open its libraries, film screenings, and Fourth of July celebrations. Now, he says, the consulate is a "razor-wired compound"; an American friend of his was recently arrested for taking pictures of the front gate. "Expats and Chinese who used to visit the consulate quite regularly now only grouse about the things that used to go on there," he writes."

Here is the URL for the full article:

http://www.slate.com/id/2177970/pagenum/all/#page_start

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Laptopgiving


"The mission of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege. Between November 12 and November 26, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. During this time, you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution." (from http://www.laptopgiving.org/en/index.php)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Your chance to fix cultural public diplomacy

The invaluable online magazine Slate has run another article by Fred Kaplan, bemoaning the current state of US public diplomacy, and calling for the restoration of USIA. In addition though, the article, focusing on the role of culture in public diplomacy, poses the following questions:

"What could we send out to the world that might have the same impact on, say, Arabs and Muslims today that rock, jazz, and B-movies had on Russians and Europeans during the Cold War...... If you were president, or chairman of this revived USIA, how would you promote our values and culture? "

He asks his readers to send him their ideas, and promises to publish a summary of the replies. Now is your chance!

The URL for the article is:
http://www.slate.com/id/2177683/pagenum/all/#page_start

Monday, November 12, 2007

Why democracy?

Whydemocracy.net is a very interesting site, and an example of public diplomacy that transcends nations. I discoverd the project when one of the 10 films (see below) was shown by the Norwegian Broadcasting Company yesterday. The particular film, Taxi to the Dark Side, was profoundly disturbing. To see when the films are being screened in your country, see the screening times page.

Here is an article about the project that appeared in the S.African weekly Mail&Guardian earlier this month, and below is an excerpt from the site's "About" information.

Why Democracy?

Democracy is arguably the greatest political buzzword of our time and is invoked by everyone - but what does it mean? Can it be defined, measured, safeguarded? Can it be sold, bought, and transplanted? Can it grow? Can it die? What does it mean to people who can't even talk about it? What does it mean to people who don't believe in it? What does it mean to you?

In October 2007, ten one-hour films focused on contemporary democracy will be broadcast in the world's largest ever factual media event. More than 40 broadcasters on all continents are participating, with an estimated audience of 300 million viewers. Each of the broadcasters - an A-Z which includes everyone from Al Arabiya to ZDF - will be producing a locally-based seasons of film, radio, debate and discussion to tie in with the global broadcast of the Why Democracy? films. Read more

Internet political performance index


The Spartan Internet Political Performance (SIPP) Index is the first quantitative metric to measure the Internet-wide performance of each Presidential candidate for the 2008 election. The Index is comprised of over 650 quantitative factors measuring the level of support and how well each candidate is connecting with individuals across the Internet. The score for each candidate represents their overall Internet market share.

Overseas voter registration

A new site offering fast and easy voter registration was recently announced by the Overseas Vote Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, in cooperation with the Make Voting Work initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

According to an article in Government Computer Week, the site, still in beta, "automatically loads required questions for the appropriate state and county, prompts users through the answering process with drop-down lists, and generates a completed PDF application that can be printed, signed and mailed."

This should be of great interest to posts in countries with a significant American citizen presence.

The URL of the site is at:
https://www.overseasvotefoundation.org/

Related articles can be found at:
http://www.gcn.com/online/vol1_no1/45296-1.html (Government Computer Week)
and
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/919616.html (Haaretz)

Bullshit generator

Sometimes writing position descriptions or narratives about your accomplishments - or mine, at any rate - can be a real strain on the imagination. If your business is internet related, the official internet "bullshit generator" is a huge help. It puts some great verbs, adjectives and nouns at your disposal, and strings them together for you in punchy lines - punchlines, if you will. If you type in something uninspired, like "respond to audience needs", out comes something impressive, like "harness viral schemas." Best of all, you can use your same, tired phrases over and over again, and each time the BS generator comes up with something fresh and new. Ingenious!!!

Wikipedia postings

If you've been putting off getting a life, and would like to tary a bit longer, Wikipedia vision is one place to hang out - strangely captivating. Here's how NPR describes it...

Morning Edition, November 1, 2007 · Wikipedia Vision is a new online map which spins across the globe, tracking the changes people make to the encyclopedia. You can see what was edited, when and where. So this morning we know that someone in Hong Kong changed the definition of a Rolls Royce Phantom. Someone in Australia corrected the entry for a bearded dragon lizard. And someone in California updated the definition of a Poltergeist curse. As a wired blogger points out, this isn't exactly crucial information, but watching the map is mesmerizing. It gives you what he calls a "god-view of the Internet."

CQ Politics

CQ Politics is a free service from the Congressional Quarterly group, with lots of information about the campaigns, Washington, and the issues.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wikipedia postings

If you've been putting off getting a life, and would like to tary a bit longer, Wikipedia vision is one place to hang out - strangely captivating. Here's how NPR describes it...

Morning Edition, November 1, 2007 · Wikipedia Vision is a new online map which spins across the globe, tracking the changes people make to the encyclopedia. You can see what was edited, when and where. So this morning we know that someone in Hong Kong changed the definition of a Rolls Royce Phantom. Someone in Australia corrected the entry for a bearded dragon lizard. And someone in California updated the definition of a Poltergeist curse. As a wired blogger points out, this isn't exactly crucial information, but watching the map is mesmerizing. It gives you what he calls a "god-view of the Internet."

Bullshit generator

Sometimes writing position descriptions or narratives about your accomplishments - or mine, at any rate - can be a real strain on the imagination. If your business is internet related, the official internet "bullshit generator" is a huge help. It puts some great verbs, adjectives and nouns at your disposal, and strings them together for you in punchy lines - punchlines, if you will. If you type in something uninspired, like "respond to audience needs", out comes something impressive, like "harness viral schemas." Best of all, you can use your same, tired phrases over and over again, and each time the BS generator comes up with something fresh and new. Ingenious!!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Overseas Voter Registration

A new site offering fast and easy voter registration was recently announced by the Overseas Vote Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, in cooperation with the Make Voting Work initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

According to an article in Government Computer Week, the site, still in beta, "automatically loads required questions for the appropriate state and county, prompts users through the answering process with drop-down lists, and generates a completed PDF application that can be printed, signed and mailed."

This should be of great interest to posts in countries with a significant American citizen presence.

The URL of the site is at:
https://www.overseasvotefoundation.org/

Related articles can be found at:
http://www.gcn.com/online/vol1_no1/45296-1.html (Government Computer Week)
and
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/919616.html (Haaretz)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Screencastomatic

Screencastomatic is is an entirely web-based screencasting application - you don't need to buy or download anything, just visit the website, record your screencast, save it, and upload it to your blog, email it, or do whatever else you might do with an audio/video file. Here is a one minute demo I made. Screencast-o-matic is fun and easy to use, and potentially very useful!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Embassy of the Future

CSIS published the report of the Embassy of the Future Commission earlier this month. The Commission co-chaired by former Ambassadors Felix Rohatyn, Marc Grossman and George Argyros, has assessed the state of the U.S. diplomatic presence abroad and submitted recommendations for how to make the diplomatic pursuit of U.S. interests abroad even more effective than it is today. The report includes comments on IRCs, American Corners, American Centers, and other public diplomacy tools.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Zimmerman's Research Guide

Here's something from Virtual Library Cat. I confess I was no aware of Zimmerman's Research Guide - An Online Encyclopedia for Legal Researchers. Looks very impressive...

"Have you ever wondered what website a reference librarian went to first to answer your question? Often, it's Zimmerman's. Zimmerman's Research Guide has short entries that describe the top resources on many subjects. It includes many links and lists the appropriate Lexis and Westlaw databases. It's easy to see why many librarians use this self-described "online encyclopedia for legal researchers."

Write Your Representative

No excuses for not writing your Representative when it's this easy. A good link for an embassy's amcit pages...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why democracy?

Whydemocracy.net is a very interesting site, and an example of public diplomacy that transcends nations. I discoverd the project when one of the 10 films (see below) was shown by the Norwegian Broadcasting Company yesterday. The particular film, Taxi to the Dark Side, was profoundly disturbing. To see when the films are being screened in your country, see the screening times page.

Here is an article about the project that appeared in the S.African weekly Mail&Guardian earlier this month, and below is an excerpt from the site's "About" information.

Why Democracy?

Democracy is arguably the greatest political buzzword of our time and is invoked by everyone - but what does it mean? Can it be defined, measured, safeguarded? Can it be sold, bought, and transplanted? Can it grow? Can it die? What does it mean to people who can't even talk about it? What does it mean to people who don't believe in it? What does it mean to you?

In October 2007, ten one-hour films focused on contemporary democracy will be broadcast in the world's largest ever factual media event. More than 40 broadcasters on all continents are participating, with an estimated audience of 300 million viewers. Each of the broadcasters - an A-Z which includes everyone from Al Arabiya to ZDF - will be producing a locally-based seasons of film, radio, debate and discussion to tie in with the global broadcast of the Why Democracy? films. Read more

Friday, October 19, 2007

Internet Political Performance Index


The Spartan Internet Political Performance (SIPP) Index is the first quantitative metric to measure the Internet-wide performance of each Presidential candidate for the 2008 election. The Index is comprised of over 650 quantitative factors measuring the level of support and how well each candidate is connecting with individuals across the Internet. The score for each candidate represents their overall Internet market share.

European Digital Library

Here's a fact sheet from the European Commission on the European Digital Library project

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Online reference service

Here's another screen cast. This one explains, in just under 2.5 minutes, how our website uses the Rakim freeware to provide online assistance. It was done on the fly (no rehearsal) with the wonderful Screencast-o-matic service that I mentioned in a previous post

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Oxford Analytica

Oxford Analytica, according to the company profile at www.oxan.com , "is an international, independent consulting firm drawing on a network of over 1,000 senior faculty members at Oxford and other major universities and research institutions around the world. Founded in 1975 by Dr. David R. Young, Oxford Analytica has built an international reputation for seasoned judgement on and analysis of the implications of national and international developments facing corporations, banks, governments and international institutions." Although a subscription service, some of its content is available online through its partnership with the International Herald Tribune at www.iht.com/oxan

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Wise Guide


From the "about this site" page
This Wise Guide portal was designed to introduce you to the many fascinating, educational and useful resources available from the nation's library and one of the most popular Web sites of the federal government.

The "Wise Guide" will be refreshed monthly, much like a magazine, offering links to the best of the Library's online materials. Each of these "articles" is based on items contained in a collection, database, reading room or other area of the Library's online offerings. You will see that we are "more than a library," and our holdings range from prints, photographs, films, audio recordings, maps, manuscripts, music and digital materials to (of course) books. We are also a place that sponsors concerts, lectures, dance performances, film screenings, and poetry readings. We hope the Guide's monthly "articles" will encourage you to explore the millions of items we make available at www.loc.gov.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

OnTheIssuesOrg

ontheissuesorg: every political leader on every issue. State and federal office holders, supreme court justices, and presidential candidates.

TouchGraph


Thhe TouchGraph Google Browser provides a graphic representation of the semantic relationships between websites that Google reflects in its "related sites" databases. You enter a keyword or url, and the application returns a graphic map of the relationship between the sites. The graphic on the right is from a search on public diplomacy. There is also an Amazon TouchGraph - useful for finding related books, music or other products.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Screencast-o-matic

Screencastomatic is is an entirely web-based screencasting application - you don't need to buy or download anything, just visit the website, record your screencast, save it, and upload it to your blog, email it, or do whatever else you might do with an audio/video file. Here is a one minute demo I made. Screencast-o-matic is fun and easy to use, and potentially very useful!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sphere - connecting blogs and news


Although much of what is written in the blogosphere (sometimes termed "conversational media")is drivel, one might occasionally be interested in knowing what bloggers are saying about a particular news event. And sometimes, local bloggers can supplement with important information and perspectives that might be missed by mainstream media. Sphere is a search engine that finds mainstream news AND related blog postings on a given topic. From left to right is a list of topics, news stories within selected topics, featured story, and related blog posts.

The Fact Checker

"Comment is free, but facts are sacred." -- C.P. Scott, editorManchester Guardian, 1921

The Washington Post offers The Fact Checker, launched in September 2007. According to the Post, "the purpose of this website, and an accompanying column in the Post, is to "truth squad" the national political debate inthe period leading up to the 2008 presidential election. Our goal is toshed as much light as possible on controversial claims andcounter-claims involving important national issues, such as the war inIraq, immigration, health care, social issues, the economy, and therecords of the various presidential candidates. When we come across astatement or claim that is at variance with the facts, as best we canestablish them, we will point that out...We see fact checking as acollaborative, rather than a competitive, effort."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Virtual Reference

The Australian National Library has published a thorough report on the virtual reference services the library has been providing for the last 4 years. During that period the IRC at the U.S. embassy in Oslo has also been providing a virtual reference service, albeit on a small scale and with the primitive - but efficient and free - Rakim software. Maybe time to revisit the idea of a 24/5 virtual reference service from ircs around the world, using a more sophisticated software?

Wonkosphere for the 2008 elections


The Wonkosphere cliams to be "the best place to keep a finger on the pulse of the 2008 Presidential election. We use patented technology to scour the blogosphere and analyze what is being said, who is saying it, and whether they're ranting or raving. Updated every 4 hours." Nice red white and blue logo!

Keyword Density Checker

Enter a url and Keyword Density Checker will determine the site's keyword density and generate a tag cloud and list of words by frequency. Here are some other web tools at www.webconfs.com...

IP to City
This tools helps you determine the Country, City, Latitude and Longitude of an IP Address.

Domain Age Tool
This tools displays the approximate age of a website on the Internet and allows you to view how the website looked when it first started. It also helps you find out the age of your competitor's domains, older domains may get a slight edge in Search Engine Rankings.

Screen Resolution Simulator
Simulates your web page in different screen resolutions.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Interesting Research Site

I was alerted to this site by its creator, librarian Woody Evans of Texas. It is a useful example of a Google Custom Search engine - this particular engine searches 67 websites each morning to bring light to "the shadow-places of governments, governmental contractors, and non-government actors affecting policy. De-classified, open, or public sources scoured carefully every morning!" A search for "public diplomacy", for example, filters out much of the fluff that would turn up in a general Google search, and returns a pretty substantive list of pd hits.

Dipnote


The State Department has launched its first blog, Dipnote..here's what Sean McCormack has to say about it in his welcome message..:
"Welcome to the State Department's first-ever blog, Dipnote. As a communicator for the Department, I have the opportunity to do my fair share of talking on a daily basis. With the launch of Dipnote, we are hoping to start a dialogue with the public. More than ever, world events affect our daily lives--what we see and hear, what we do, and how we work. I hope Dipnote will provide you with a window into the work of the people responsible for our foreign policy, and will give you a chance to be active participants in a community focused on some of the great issues of our world today.

With Dipnote we are going to take you behind the scenes at the State Department and bring you closer to the personalities of the Department. We are going to try and break through some of the jargon and talk about how we operate around the world.

We invite you to participate in this community, and I am looking forward to stepping away from my podium every now and then into the blogosphere. Let the conversation begin."

see also New York Times article

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fleck


Discussing the appearance of a webpage via email is one example of when a picture is worth a thousand words (or at least a hundred words) With Fleck you can annotate a web page with notes and bullets, save the changes, and email the page to a contact. Web editors will know how frustrating it is to receive unclear or inadequate instructions about desired edits from other sections of the organization - receiving instructions via Fleck might eliminate some of the confusion.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sketchcasting (topic: dog discipline)

This is kind of neat, especially if you're one of those people who is good at using a whiteboard for communicating ideas. I'm not, as you can see from the demo below, which is a completely impromptu performance - but somewhat (unintentionally) amusing, I think. Its not hard to imagine this tool being put to better (ie.serious) use, however, and it sure is a lot of fun! Remember to turn on your sound!

WikiDashboard

This post from the "blog of the Augmented Social Cognition Research Group at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)" concerns Wiki Dashboard, a research tool tries to provide greater transparency about the identity and behavior of contributors to Wikpedia articles. The standard complaint about Wikpedia is that, precisely because anyone can edit anything, it is an unreliable source of information. (or, as a character in the Office quipped, “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world, can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.” ) The Augmented Social Cognition group turns this idea on its head, and argues that the Wikipedia approach - ie. augmented social cognition - is indeed the same kind of peer review process that provides integrity in scholarly publishing. What's lacking and needed in Wikipedia is greater social transparency. The wikidashboard post also links to a couple of neat tools for Wikipedia analysis..WikiScanner, which helps identify which organizations anonymous Wiki articles and edits are coming from (snoops can while away hours here), and WikiRage, which "lists the pages in Wikipedia which are receiving the most edits per unique editor over various periods of time."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jottit

If you need to post something on the web immediately, at no cost, and independently of your own website - Jottit is one solution. Just go to Jottit, type in your text, click "create page", and Jottit creates the page at a unique url. Its Markdown formatting system is somewhat primitive - the syntax is only a small subset of html - but it does allow hyperlinks and basic formatting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Online access from public libraries

(from http://www.bespacific.com/mt/archives/015954.html)
Public libraries are sole source of online employment and education information for millions of Americans

ALA: "Ever-growing patron demand for computer and Internet services in U.S. public libraries has stretched existing Internet bandwidth, computer availability, and building infrastructure to capacity, according to a new study “Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2006-2007,” conducted by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Information Use Management and Policy Institute at Florida State University (FSU). The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and ALA, found that more than 73 percent of libraries report they are the only source of free public access to computers and the Internet in their communities. Surveyed libraries said that the top three Internet services most critical to their community are online educational resources and databases for K-12 students (67.7 percent); services for job seekers (44 percent); and computer and Internet skills training (29.8 percent)."

Customize Google

Customize Google is a useful Firefox addon that lets you add wanted and remove unwanted features to your Google searches.

Features

CRS capital punishment report

RL34163 The Death Penalty: Capital Punishment Legislation in the 110th Congress
September 07, 2007. While most capital offenses are state crimes, Congress did revive in 1994 the death penalty as a federal sentencing option. More than a few federal statutes now proscribe offenses punishable by death. This CRS report surveys legislation in the 110th Congress that would modify federal law in the area.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Geography teaching aid

Statetris (tetris with a twist) is a game that teaches you (or pupils) where the 50 states are located - and for a test of your "U.S.centrism", try locating the regions of France, the counties of the U.K, and the nations of Africa and Europe. (another fine tip from Neat New Stuff)

Free Full Text

FreeFullText.com provides direct links to over 7000 scholarly periodicals which allow some or all of their online content to be viewed by ANYONE with Internet access for free (though some may require free registration).

09/11 resources

Here, courtesy of Resource Shelf, are some 09/11 resources.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

FactCheck.org

FactCheck.org will surely come in handy as the as the campaign trails become increasingly littered with facts during the coming year. Note also the companion site, www.factcheckED.org, which is intended to help educators teach their students to be smarter news consumers.

LOC teachers page

The Library of Congress page for teacherswill soon sport a new look - here's a preview.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The promise of noopolitikk

The promise of noöpolitik
by David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla
This is another interesting article from First Monday, about the noosphere - a realm of communal mind conceived of 80 years ago by Teilhard de Chardin, but only now enabled by cyperspace - and its impact on grand strategy and diplomacy in the form of noöpolitik. The authors' thoughts on noöpolitik will be collected in a forthcoming handbook on public diplomacy.

Table 1: Contrast between realpolitik and noöpolitik.
RealpolitikNoöpolitik
States as the unit of analysisNodes, non–state actors
Primacy of hard power (resources, etc.)Primacy of soft power
Power politics as zero–sum gameWin–win, lose–lose possible
System is anarchic, highly conflictualHarmony of interests, cooperation
Alliance conditional (oriented to threat)Ally webs vital to security
Primacy of national self–interestPrimacy of shared interests
Politics as unending quest for advantageExplicitly seeking a telos
Ethos is amoral, if not immoralEthics crucially important
Behavior driven by threat and powerCommon goals drive actors
Very guarded about information flowsPropensity for info–sharing
Balance of power as the “steady–state”Balance of responsibilities
Power embedded in nation–statesPower in “global fabric”

Infomania

I hate to interrupt, but this is important...
"Infomania is the mental state of continuous stress and distraction caused by the combination of queued messaging overload and incessant interruptions."
Interested? Read the whole article, "Infomania, why we can't afford to ignore it any longer," in the August issue of First Monday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

IFLA Toolkit for Developing Reference Services

This toolkit might be of interest to IRCs, and their library contacts, in some parts of the world; "To assist librarians and decision makers in developing countries and elsewhere, the Reference and Information Services Section, through an IFLA project, successfully developed a Toolkit for Developing Reference Services. Designed to enrich reference knowledge and to advance reference services, the Toolkit prepares reference librarians and decision makers to understand reference functions and the information needs of library users."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Views of Press Values and Performance: 1985-2007

A new Pew report examines perceptions of the press:
"The American public continues to fault news organizations for a number of perceived failures, with solid majorities criticizing them for political bias, inaccuracy and failing to acknowledge mistakes. But some of the harshest indictments of the press now come from the growing segment that relies on the internet as its main source for national and international news. The internet news audience – roughly a quarter of all Americans – tends to be younger and better educated than the public as a whole. People who rely on the internet as their main news source express relatively unfavorable opinions of mainstream news sources and are among the most critical of press performance."

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Whereabill


The Whereabill (discussed in the Garvin column mentioned in previous post) is a rare bird that shows WHERE a bill becomes a law, and where it may have wandered along its way. Could be an amusing teaching aid for IRC folks and diplomats who are still in the business of explaining the U.S. legislative process to students and educators.

Insanely useful government websites

A recent posting by the Sunlight Foundation on "insanely useful [government] websites" has inspired Peggy Garvin to write about those sites and some others in her July 27 "Government Domain" column at LLRX.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Government Innovators Network

(an interesting post from Neat New Stuff)
"The news media never talk about government when it's working well, but in
fact, state, local, and regional government agencies are coming up with
thousands of ideas for better service to their communities. You can find
documents, news stories, multimedia, awards, and upcoming events about
them here. Search or browse through broad categories or through
Innovation Awards. (A search for LIBRARIES retrieved nearly 300 items.)"

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Madison Avenue principles for hearts and minds

This sounds vaguely familiar; a new Rand report suggests that Madison Avenue advertising principles might be effective in winning hearts and minds around the world. "Enlisting Madison Avenue: 'The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation' extracts lessons from business practices and adapts them to U.S. military efforts in a unique approach to shaping the attitudes and behavior of local populations in a theater of operations. Foremost among these lessons are the concepts of branding, customer satisfaction, and segmentation of the target audience, all of which serve to maximize the impact and improve the outcome of U.S. shaping efforts. Enlisting Madison Avenue also offers insights based on previous operational endeavors to provide a much-expanded blueprint for shaping target audiences."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

web2.0 forum

For more on the issues raised by Andrew Keen in Cult of the Amateur, visit the Britannica blog's lively forum on web2.0 One of the bloggers, can you believe it, is that unrelenting ridiculer of blogs Michael Gorman - has he found his medium at last?! Gorman's opinionated rants would surely not get a hearing in the refereed and scholarly world he calls home, but he enriches the blogosphere with his contributions - always amusing, well-written, and insightful.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

GAO Public Diplomacy report

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report yesterday to Senator Richard Lugar on the evolving strategic communications and public diplomacy initiatives at the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. As one might expect of an accountability(formerly accounting) office, emphasis is on measurable results - no touchy-feely stuff. A buzzword is "campaign-style", and one of the recommendations for the State Department is to "Formally endorse and adopt a research-based campaign-style approach to thematic communications." The State Department responds to the report by suggesting that its own “ABCDE” communication process model - a planning tool that can be used to think through the message and the best way to deliver it to a target audience - is essentially the kind of campaign-style approach the GAO is asking for. The ABCDE model is explained/exemplified (not very clearly) in the new PD Strategy document that was posted here last month.

Cult of the Amateur

Andrew Keen's new book "The Cult of the Amateur" takes a dim view of the erosion of authority that is the hallmark of web2.0 - everyone a publisher, anyone an expert. His views are not unlike those former ALA president Michael Gorman set forth in an article on blogs a few years ago, which did little to endear him to web2.0-happy librarians. The Wall Street Journal recently carried a debate between Keen and David Weinberger (author of "Everything is Miscellaneous") which nicely illuminates the pros and cons of the matter. See also Michiko Kakutani's review in the New York Times

Friday, July 13, 2007

State government information

Peggy Garvin provides a useful overview of state government information resources at the LLRX.com website. And while you're at it, check out Sabrina Pacifici's Competitive Intelligence - A Selective Resource Guide

Opportunity 08

Brookings and ABC News have partnered to create Opportunity08, a website that focuses on issues that will shape the 2008 presidential election. Here's how Opportunity 08 describes itself: "Voters say they want to hear more from candidates about the issues and less about partisan politics. As we enter a presidential race with wide-open primaries in both political parties and enormous debate about the direction for the country, there is a unique opportunity to discuss solutions to America’s most pressing policy challenges. Opportunity 08 aims to help presidential candidates and the public focus on critical issues facing the nation, providing ideas, policy forums, and information on a broad range of domestic and foreign policy questions."

Legistorm

You read about Legistorm's salary database here last November, and here's information about the travel database (if you've been wondering what those CODELS do - and buy - when they come to town, here's your chance to find out);
"Our travel database contains roughly 27,000 trips and provides a unique window into how private organizations are trying to gain influence in Washington. No other source of congressional trip data is as comprehensive or accurate or provides the users the same ability to view the original documents.

What's more, you can perform full searching, view each original disclosure form and check out maps of the trips. If that's not enough to keep you interested, we have identified which trips took place at a time and location coinciding with major events - like the Superbowl or Mardi Gras - which may have provided additional travel incentive.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Voter Watch

from Neat New Stuff...
VoterWatch - the Congressional Record You Always Wanted
http://www.voterwatch.org/
Because the Congressional Record is not a faithful representation of what
occurs on the floor of Congress, this "nonpartisan nonprofit
organization" has created this searchable database of videos of Congress
at work. Browse by date or topic, or search by keyword of member of
Congress or both.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

PBS series America at a Crossroads

In the site's own words...
"America at a Crossroads is a major public television event that premiered on PBS in April 2007. This ongoing series explores the challenges confronting the post-9/11 world — including the war on terrorism; the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; the experience of American troops serving abroad; the struggle for balance within the Muslim world; and global perspectives on America’s role overseas."

A program dealing with anti-Americanism in Europe will air in August and examine perceptions of the U.S. role in the world in France, UK and Poland.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Anti-Americanism in Europe

This CBN program looks at anti-Americanism in European media. The site also links to two sites that might be useful for information on European anti-Americanism, Gateway Pundit and David Medienkritic. Obviously these sites and CBC have a clear political agenda, but I found some of the information to be quite interesting, particularly the interview with "Uncouth Nation" author Andre Markovits at http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/

web2.0 for the classroom

Here's a review of some web2.0 applications that are useful teaching tools.

Britannica Blog

Here's a blog with some interesting writers and forums...
"Britannica Blog is a place for smart, lively conversations about a broad range of topics. Art, science, history, current events – it’s all grist for the mill. We’ve given our writers encouragement and a lot of freedom, so the opinions here are theirs, not the company’s. Please jump in and add your own thoughts."

Monday, July 2, 2007

Podcast tools (page & RSS feed)

For some easily accessible tips 'n tricks you could do worse to check out and subscribe to
Podcasttools.com . There's an iTunes feed (search for "paul colligan" or "podcast tools weekly update") to get a 5-minute blurb every week. The site provides podcast notes and some useful hints. His site is a useful one to keep an eye on too.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Google translate

Here's something to supplement last month's post about Google translation services; translate.google.com provides some nifty translation buttons that you can install on your toolbar. If you're working in one of the major languages (not Norwegian), this can come in handy. Eg. if you slide the "English to Russian" button to your toolbar, highlighting a word and pressing the button returns a translation into the specified language. The "Russian to English" button does the opposite. There are currently buttons for:

Arabic to English
Chinese to English
Chinese (Simplified to Traditional)
Chinese (Traditional to Simplified)
English to Arabic
English to Chinese (Simplified)
English to Chinese (Traditional)
English to French
English to German
English to Italian
English to Japanese
English to Korean
English to Portuguese
English to Russian
English to Spanish
French to English
French to German
German to English
German to French
Italian to English
Japanese to English
Korean to English
Portuguese to English
Russian to English
Spanish to English

Uncle Sam's Photos

Uncle Sam's Photos is a directory of more than 190 free USG photo galleries, arranged by subject.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pollster

Here's what Marylaine Block at Neat New Stuff has to say about this great site for opinion information:
"A statistical heaven for political junkies, with charts, tables, and maps
showing the ever-changing preferences of voters as the 2008 presidential
election approaches. Also check out the Pollster blog, whose blogroll
includes poll links to public pollsters, academic surveys, survey
research organizations, and other poll blogs and sites."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Internet Statistics

Internet World Stats features worldwide internet usage statistics for more than 233 individual countries and world regions.

Link search

Link Harvester is a very powerful tool for analyzing the sites that link to your page.

LOUIS

Press release from the Sunlight Foundation, June 14:
"WASHINGTON, DC – The Sunlight Foundation today launched a new search engine called LOUIS – the Library Of Unified Information Sources – to improve public access to federal documents through an all-inclusive, catalogued and cross-referenced collection of official documents from the executive and legislative branches of government." Read the entire press release

Thursday, June 14, 2007

DOS/USAID Strategic Plan

Embassy speakers asked to explain what the State Department does might find the DOS/USAID Strategic Plan useful. It is a handsome, illustrated publication that explains the objectives of U.S. foreign policy and the State Department's role in simple terms. The pdf version of the 2007-2012 plan is available at www.state.gov/documents/organization/86291.pdf

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

&imgtype=face

By adding &imgtype=face to the url generated by a google image search, you can refine your search to include only faces...might (I say might) come in handy some time. You can also add &imgtype=news to the end of a search to limit to images in the news.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New PD strategy

Caroline Walters at the USC center for Public Diplomacy writes:
"After extensive input from various government agencies, private sector communication professionals, and over thirty independent studies of U.S. public diplomacy, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes unveiled her new national strategic communications plan on May 31. The plan is a result of more than a year of effort by Hughes and her staff, and is considered the first comprehensive national strategy ever developed for public diplomacy.

Strangely, the document is not to be found on the www.state.gov or usinfo.state.gov sites - even the public diplomacy and public affairs page at State, and its "public diplomacy update" section, fail to mention it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Statemaster


Another fine reference tool, and companion to Nationmaster mentioned in post below, is Statemaster
It describe itself thus:
"...a unique statistical database which allows you to research and compare a multitude of different data on US states. We have compiled information from various primary sources such as the US Census Bureau, the FBI, and the National Center for Educational Statistics. More than just a mere collection of various data, StateMaster goes beyond the numbers to provide you with visualization technology like pie charts, maps, graphs and scatterplots. We also have thousands of map and flag images, state profiles, and correlations."
Perhaps you're wondering if they have statistics on toothless residents? Read on...
"We have stats on everything from toothless residents to percentage of carpoolers. "

Friday, June 1, 2007

FARA

Thanks Bill M. for the tip about the new FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) website. Below is its definition of FARA, and here's a May 31 CQ/NYT article about the website..

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted in 1938. FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons in light of their function as foreign agents. The FARA Registration Unit of the Counterespionage Section (CES) in the National Security Division (NSD) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Act.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Streetview

Reference librarians are only human, and some of us are not above becoming defensive and snappish when someone asks a question we can't answer. I don't know how many times I've barked "what a stupid question!" at an innocent callers who asks, "if I was standing on the corner of x and y in New York city, and turned 360 degrees, what would it look like?" No longer. Now one can direct such callers to the new streetview feature at Google maps. Select the "Streetview" button at the top of the map, zoom in on NYC (or Las Vegas, Miami, Denver or San Francisco if you prefer) select your corner and presto, you're right there on the street, enjoying the scenery. Turn 360 degrees for a panorama view. Amazing, but scary! More on this feature in Google's press release.

More regrets about the USIA - State merger

Following up on the April 23 post analyzing the merger of USIA into the State Department, here is an extract from an op-ed in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Price Floyd, former director of media affairs at the State Department:

"We must do the real work of public diplomacy, not public relations. We need to greatly increase the number of people-to-people exchanges. We need to bring more officials from foreign governments and nongovernmental organizations to the United States -- not just to Washington but to Middle America, small-town America, even the inner cities of America.
We must re-create the American Libraries that we used to run and support in countries around the world. These centers gave thousands of people round the globe access to information that in most cases was not available in their countries."


The full text is at: http://www.star-telegram.com/245/story/114346.html



A story based on this op-ed written by Fred Kaplan and featuring an interview with Floyd appeared in Slate online magazine on May 30. It can be accessed at:

http://www.slate.com/id/2167287/

2 useful Firefox Add-Ons

Scrapbook
This addon allows saving of web pages to a local subdirectory. Provides a bookmark-like interface to retrieve them - fantastic for informational pages you feel you should keep but might also want when offline. By default data is saved into your profile directory but the location can be changed.

Firefox Tweaks
These are from Computerworld online and describe some tweaks to about:config in Firefox. Some of these are implemented by the Fasterfox addon and I would caution people not to use the highest (fastest) tweaks as some firewall and filtering software may interpret such rapid data-fetching as an attack. In other words: if you ever see the words "Not RFC-compliant" then my advice would be NOT to enable that setting unless you know what you are doing and understand the risks to yourself and to the target server!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Google translate

This new Google feature translates search terms into another language, searches pages in that language, and translates the results back into the original search language. Useful for identifying sources of information that a)would be missed altogether in a default langauge search adn b)are in languages that, to many people, are completely incomprehensible (e.g.,Arabic, Chinese, Russian) but the quality of machine translation is still pretty laughable. More about this feature in the Google press announcement.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Make the most of Google

This post at Lifehackers provides an overview of all the things you can do with Google! Thanks to Oli for the heads up!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Staffers fear library's too pop-fixated

Excerpt from a Sacramento Bee article: "The idea of the library as a cloistered hall where everyone whispers is giving way to a place where people go read books, have conversations and increasingly want audio-visual materials," Dickinson said. "I think this is all part and parcel of what the public wants."
Personally, I can't imagine anything more soothing than a "cloistered hall where everyone whispers" - where can I find one?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Nationmaster

This is a truly impressive resource for comparative national statistics across a broad range of topics. Here's what developer Luke Metcalfe says about the site:

The idea for NationMaster arose as I was surfing around the CIA World Factbook. It's a great read but I felt the individual figures (like number of TV's, or kilometres of coastline) didn't mean much on their own. They'd be more illuminating if they were placed alongside other countries and shown relative to population.
So I decided to put together a website that allowed users to generate graphs based on numerical data extracted from the Factbook. The next (rather obvious) realization was that there's no reason I couldn't take in data from other sources. Why shouldn't the net have a central location that allows you to compare countries on any statistic you like?
But why did I do it? To promote education and understanding about the world. To make it easy to engage with the indicators that shape global commerce, health, politics and ecology. To make the facts easily accessible and meaningful. To bring the works of academics, public agencies and private researchers to a wider audience.
One intended use for this site is, during debates in discussion groups, people link to comparisons of specific countries. I hope students, educators and librarians will find the site a useful teaching aide. More generally, I hope the figures will spark people's interest and they'll want to read more.

Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream

Pew has just published the report Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream

From the summary:
"The first-ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans finds them to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.

The Pew Research Center conducted more than 55,000 interviews to obtain a national sample of 1,050 Muslims living in the United States. Interviews were conducted in English, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. The resulting study, which draws on Pew's survey research among Muslims around the world, finds that Muslim Americans are a highly diverse population, one largely composed of immigrants. Nonetheless, they are decidedly American in their outlook, values and attitudes. This belief is reflected in Muslim American income and education levels, which generally mirror those of the public.

Key findings include:

  • Overall, Muslim Americans have a generally positive view of the larger society. Most say their communities are excellent or good places to live.

  • A large majority of Muslim Americans believe that hard work pays off in this society. Fully 71% agree that most people who want to get ahead in the U.S. can make it if they are willing to work hard.

  • The survey shows that although many Muslims are relative newcomers to the U.S., they are highly assimilated into American society. On balance, they believe that Muslims coming to the U.S. should try and adopt American customs, rather than trying to remain distinct from the larger society. And by nearly two-to-one (63%-32%) Muslim Americans do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.

  • Roughly two-thirds (65%) of adult Muslims in the U.S. were born elsewhere. A relatively large proportion of Muslim immigrants are from Arab countries, but many also come from Pakistan and other South Asian countries. Among native-born Muslims, roughly half are African American (20% of U.S. Muslims overall), many of whom are converts to Islam.
  • Based on data from this survey, along with available Census Bureau data on immigrants' nativity and nationality, the Pew Research Center estimates the total population of Muslims in the United States at 2.35 million.

  • Muslim Americans reject Islamic extremism by larger margins than do Muslim minorities in Western European countries. However, there is somewhat more acceptance of Islamic extremism in some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others. Fewer native-born African American Muslims than others completely condemn al Qaeda. In addition, younger Muslims in the U.S. are much more likely than older Muslim Americans to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam can be at least sometimes justified. Nonetheless, absolute levels of support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans are quite low, especially when compared with Muslims around the world.

  • A majority of Muslim Americans (53%) say it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Most also believe that the government "singles out" Muslims for increased surveillance and monitoring.

  • Relatively few Muslim Americans believe the U.S.-led war on terror is a sincere effort to reduce terrorism, and many doubt that Arabs were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Just 40% of Muslim Americans say groups of Arabs carried out those attacks."