Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wired White House

From Scientific American - a slide show follows the red hot trail of the White House down the info superhighway from its beginnings in 1996 (94 actually, but that was Gopher) up to the current "Change has come" site.
The Wired White House--A Pictorial Evolution of the POTUS Web Site [Slide Show]Tech-savvy Pres. Barack Obama quickly revamps the chief executive Web site, but finds that when it comes to technology at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, change (such as laptops for his staff) will come more slowly.


Twtvite helps you create an invitation to an event with a rsvp field that you can share via Twitter or embed on your webiste, as I've done here:

Google webdrive

Monday, January 26, 2009

See the Website, Buy the Book

Books are now getting their own websites, just like movies...interesting essay by J. Courtney Sullivan in the New York Times (which is today's Library Link of the Day). The website - to be rolled out later this month - for the forthcoming "Selected Works of T.S. Spivet" by Norwegian-American Reif Larsen, sounds particularly intriguing!

p.s. for Norwegian readers - interesting article about Larsen in latest issue of Vinduet (not online, but a handsome hardcopy publication to own and cherish...)

Behind the Books

Behind the Book  "is a literary arts nonprofit that promotes literacy and a reading culture among low-income students in New York City public schools.  Our mission is to excite children and young adults about reading." 

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I just discovered the very interesting and thoughtful blog Web2.Oh...Really?:A Skeptical Look at Emerging Web Technologies, by Craig Stoltz. Stoltz's stated mission is To cast a weary eye on the alarming, annoying and occasionally amazing uses of Web 2.0 [aka "social media"] technology.  He steers clear of blithe enthusiasm, but neither is he a naysayer, and gives credit where credit is due..for example in this excellent post about Colleen Graffy's twittering. 

From the annals of medical history



Wikidpedia free-for-all coming to an end?

The New York Times writes that Wikipedia may introduce a system of "flagged revisions" that would prevent anonymous unregistered users from publishing changes to the site pending approval by registered "reliable" users. The system been in place since May on the German Wikipedia, as a safeguard against the kind of vandalism that yesterday caused Wikipedia to report the deaths of Edward Kennedy and Even Bayh - for about 5 minutes.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales explains "Why I am asking flagged revisions to be turned on now" on his Wikipedia userpage. The debate about what this will do to the ethos of Wikipedia is on, with comments to the NYT article ranging from Long overdue, and will go a long way toward affirming wiki's legitimacy as a source for general information. to WIKIPEDIA NEEDS MISTAKES if it is to remain the vital document that it is today. Living things change, static dead things are perfect and immutable.”

Friday, January 23, 2009

Microblog searches

Twingly.com, which was noted here a month ago, has introduced a microblog search - neat! Another search service that covers Twitter and other social web services is whostalkin.com, which claims to collect data from "60 of the internet's most popular social media gateways."(thanks Laura)

True Crime

True Felon was a joke, but CrimeReports.com is real. Librarian in Black is enthusiastic, and I guess it would probably grab my attention also if it covered crimes in my neighborhood (rural Norway is not yet covered, but perhaps some day I too can track crimes, e.g. (Poaching [sheep] in clearing behind abandoned Olsen farm).  Awesome as they are, there's something very disturbing about these sites too...everyblock.com is another exxample. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

White House RSS feeds

The new Whitehouse site includes a blog that offers RSS feeds here. But as Ken Varnum of RSS4lib points out - and a screenshot from my Firefox RSS reader shows - there are actually 6 feeds, and Ken has done us the service of combining all of them into a single feed using Yahoo pipes.

A New Chapter in American Literacy

Lest the title mislead, this post isn't about the new administration but about the new report from the National Endowment of the Arts "Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy,"  which suggests that a 25 year decline in fiction reading by adults may be reversing.  NEA chairman Dana Gioia says in the press release(below) that " cultural decline is not inevitable" - you have to admire the pluck of the NEA! 
Washington, D.C. -- For the first time in more than 25 years, American adults are reading more literature, according to a new study by the National Endowment for the Arts. Reading on the Rise documents a definitive increase in rates and numbers of American adults who read literature, with the biggest increases among young adults, ages 18-24. This new growth reverses two decades of downward trends cited previously in NEA reports such as Reading at Risk and To Read or Not To Read.
"At a time of immense cultural pessimism, the NEA is pleased to announce some important good news. Literary reading has risen in the U.S. for the first time in a quarter century," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "This dramatic turnaround shows that the many programs now focused on reading, including our own Big Read, are working. Cultural decline is not inevitable."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Google blows your mind

Nicholas Carr's article in the Atlantic about the impact of Google on human intelligence has already been discussed in several posts here.  In a recent article in Discover (Is Google making us smarter?)  Carl Zimmer contests Carr's thesis and says no, au contraire, Google makes us smarter!  Or more accurately, Google expands our minds. Zimmer's argument is indebted to two philosophers who in 1998 published an article called The Extended Mind. They posed the question“Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin?, and challenged the commonsense answer, “At the skull.” "Clark and Chalmers set out to convince their readers that the mind is not simply the product of the neurons in our brains, locked away behind a wall of bone. Rather, they argued that the mind is something more: a system made up of the brain plus parts of its environment." 

Federal Register Announces New “Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents”

From the press release...
The Office of the Federal Register (OFR), which is part of the National Archives, has created a new publication, to be called the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents. The Daily Compilation will appear on the Government Printing Office’s (GPO) new Federal Digital System (FDsys) January 20, 2009, to coincide with the incoming President’s term of office.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Here's a regressive piece of technology if ever there was one, but then I'm one of those regressive people who still like to read on paper. And there must be more of us, since someone bothered to come up with Tabbloid, a really neat tool (no sign up or login required) that takes the RSS feeds you submit to it and fashions of them a handsome "tabloid" pdf, perfect for reading on the train. Not only that, it will create a new paper for you at whatever time  you specify, and deliver it to your email address!  Ah, yes, the folks behind Tabbloid are Hewlett Packard....of printer fame. Perhaps there's a connection, but if you're going to print out stuff anyway, this is sure a great way to do it!  You can get just about any information you need via RSS these days, and its easy to imagine what a powerful pdf handout you can make by pulling from the sources that interest you. Until reading on paper is altogether a thing of the past, an application like tabbloid will be giving the already hard-pressed newspaper business a run for its money!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Data visualization

Jackie Shane reviews 3 data visualization resources in the January issue of Cyberskeptics Guide:
(The first of these, Gapminder, was reviewed here in September, 2005) The "gap" in Gapminder refers to the great disparities in health, income, education, natural resources and other socio-economic indicators that the U.N's Millenium Development Goals seek to address. Gapminder converts boring numbers into animated and interactive graphics, providing a more compelling understanding of inequality in the world; for an example of how dramatic animated statistics can be, see Hans Rosling's presentation of fertility rate trends.

Many Eyes and Swivel both offer a bewildering number of datasets covering all conceivable topics (searchable), and various ways of visualizing the data. Both sites accommodate user generated content.

Ten Trends and Technologies for 2009

Here's a presentation that looks very worthwhile: Michael Stephens's (of Tame the WebTen Trends and Technologies for 2009 that will impact on libraries and information centers.
The Ubiquity of the Cloud
The Changing Role of IT
Value of the Commons
The Promise of Micro Interaction
The Care and Nurturing of the Tribe
The Triumph of the Portable Device
The Importance of Personalization
The Impact of Localization
The Evolution of the Digital Lifestyle
The Shift Toward Open Thinking

Monday, January 12, 2009

Canine Algorithmic Transfer System again

(Attentive readers will know that resources of outstanding merit are sometimes reviewed more than once at Knowbodies. The Canine Algorithmic Tranfer System was last reviewed here in October, 2005)

In the popular series "tough reference questions", we return today to that question that has bedeviled reference librarians through the ages, "If I were a dog, what kind of dog would I be?" This causes some reference librarians to simply scratch their ears in befuddlement, while others know immediately what to do; direct the patron to the ingenious Canine Algorithmic Transfer System, and tell her/him to click on the link that says "game". Curiously, when I checked my canine identity back in 2005, I was pleased to learn that I was an Italian Spinone. I have great affection for Italy, and this week finally got around to signing up for Italian lessons. But today when I rechecked my identity, I had morphed into a Bloodhound. Troubled, I took the test one more time, and my most recent reincarnation is as a Bracco Italiano. That's plenty good for me!

Hot Stuff - keeping track of what's cooking in the biblioblogosphere

HotStuff 2.0 is a very neat site! Here are some snippets from the about page: "HotStuff 2.0″ is an automatically updated blog developed by Dave Pattern (Library Systems Manager, University of Huddersfield, UK)...RSS feeds from over 800 library related blogs are collated on a daily basis and analysed in an attempt to discover new and/or interesting topics. Not all of the blogs have posted something new since HotStuff was launched, so the number of active blogs is lower. A daily blog post is generated using a single word that has seen a marked increase in usage over the last few days. A “Word Wheel” image shows the strength of the links between that word and other words that have also recently seen an increase in usage. This can sometimes help to put to the words into context, but mostly it’s just an excuse for some eye candy!"
The lists of library blogs HotStuff draws from are the big list from Bloglines, and the smaller (and more interesting) list of active blogs (ie. active since HotStuff launched last month).  I blushed with pride to find Knowbodies on both of those lists! Of course, it should be noted that word-frequency measures like the ubiquitous tagcloudssparklines and "Word Wheels" are a concession to the limitations of computers, and can't compare with proper subject cataloging for determining  what we're really talking about; word frequency is intriguing, if not scientific. The January 6 word of the day was "potato", thanks to the buzz in the library blogosphere over librarian Stan Friedman winning the Ultimate Couch Potato title for the second year in a row. But only 3 of the 7 blog posts containing the word potato that day were referring to Friedman - the other 4 referred to "potato cakes", "potato chips" (2), and "potato peel pie." As Phil Bradley pointed out in his post,  HotStuff is not only fun, but a great way to discover library blogs worth following. Below is the Word Wheel for "potato." (click on it to enlarge image)


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Between the Covers

A bibliophile friend alerted me to Between the Covers, a charmingly appointed rare book site with lots of fun and useful information for literature aficionados and collectors. For an overview, see the BTC sitemap, which shows you "Where to find it, where to learn it, where to buy it — the whole BTC experience at a glance."

Friday, January 9, 2009

More on favicons

In this comment to a post some time ago about favicons, a kind reader alerted me to another useful favicon resource:

There is also a site where you can download the favicon of any page, the address is:
there you can get the original files or the image as jpg, it's cool

Welcome back ResearchBuzz!

I've long admired ResearchBuzz both for its style and content, but sadly there's been no activity there for the past half year or so. But today, Tara Calishain notified us all with a characteristically effervescent email that SHE's BACK! This may already be old news to most of her 14,000 followers, who will have noticed that the ResearchBuzz feed is suddenly back where it belongs, among the finest lib/tech feeds in the awesome Knowbodies metagator. (Unfortunately, there no longer seems to be any way of signing up for ResearchBuzz weekly newsletter, and Tara mentioned in her email that telecom pricing might force her to discontinue that part of the service.)

PrintWhatYouLike again

I posted enthusiastically about PrintWhatYouLike in November, but - to be unflinchingly honest - I hadn't tried it until today. (I have a 2 month backlog between theory and practice). Try it, it's really cool, especially if you download the bookmarklet.

Inauguration guide for the media

For the media....and for those of you chewing pencils as you try to think of things to say in the inaugural speech..this news from the FPC via BeSpacific might be helpful:

The 2009 American Presidential Inauguration A Guide for Foreign Media
from the Washington Foreign Press Center, Updated 01/08/2009

"The 2009 inauguration of the 44th President of the United States is a historic moment for our country, and we are honored that so many journalists from around the world are interested in covering this special and unique event. [This] information is culled from several official sources and is subject to change. The best way to stay informed is to sign up for press releases and announcements from the official inauguration team: the Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC). You can do that at their Web site at www.pic2009.org; check the site frequently for updates and changes. We have also listed several other Internet resources in this guide to answer questions about security, logistics, travel, road closures, and other important details."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Write Obama's Inaguration Speech

I got an email from Slate.com yesterday asking for help with writing Obama's inaugural address. I'm a busy man but thought it would be churlish not to oblige, and was about to inquire about the fee when I noticed the salutation "A Message to Slate Readers." Disappointed.

If you're taken with collaborative composition, however, MixedInk.com looks like a pretty nifty tool! And this Inaugural Address project is an excellent demonstration of how it works. Here is the email from Slate.com:

A Message to Slate Readers

If you've ever wanted to be a presidential speechwriter, now's your chance: Go to the address below to collaborate with Washington, Lincoln, JFK—as well as other Slate readers—to write this year’s Inaugural Address.


Created in partnership with MixedInk, here's how this feature works: When you click on the link, you will be taken to a site where, once you register, you can start writing your own speech. But you won't be writing alone. As you compose, MixedInk's technology will search for similar words and turns of phrase from all 55 previous inaugural addresses, as well as contributions from other users, and tell you if anyone has had similar thoughts. You can then incorporate these into your own speech
(or decide to stick with your own words). You'll also be able to search for useful snippets of text yourself. The technology keeps track of authorship, and when you're done, you can share your speech with others, who can then borrow (or ignore) your handiwork as they see fit. They can also rate your speech and comment on it.

At the end of this process, which will last about two weeks, Slate will publish the speech with the highest rating. (We may publish a few interim versions as well.) Maybe it will be the one you wrote—with a little help from Jefferson, Madison, and FDR. And maybe President-elect Obama will decide to borrow from your speech—at least that part where you quote Lincoln—when he delivers his Inaugural Address on Jan. 20.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Classical music buffs will be glad to know that the British music magazine Gramophone has made available its archives dating all the way back to the first issue in 1923. Curiously, there is no conspicuous link from www.gramophone.co.uk to the archive, but you will find it at www.gramophone.net

Monday, January 5, 2009

More on stoopidity

On the persistent topic of the Googleization of our brains, David Brin discusses some of the pros and cons in "Is the Web helping us evolve."  In "Would you rather Google than think",  Emily Walshe cites last year's University College London study, which found that "Google generation" characteristics - impatience, impermanence, impulsion - я All of Us, and are not confined to a specific generation. Walshe suggests that now is the time to  "begin finding ways that we can keep and strengthen our powers of critical thinking and human conversation."