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

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.


The State Department has launched its first blog,'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


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!


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


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

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.


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 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 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,, 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.