Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Internet 2009 in numbers

Lots and lots of statistics, pie charts, etc. at Pingdom. Also interesting to note this - as we giddily wait for Jobs to pull something out of his hat today - that 49% of surveyed consumers are unlikely to buy dedicated ebook readers.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Most amazing libraries

I've already mentioned the recently unearthed library of Lemuel Gulliver, and now, courtesy of Kyle and the Huffington post, this slideshow of the World's Most Amazing Libraries.

(for Blogger bloggers only) Blogger pages

Blogger now allows you to publish static information on stand-alone pages [no more than ten] linked from your blog. For example, you can use pages to create an About This Blog page that discusses the evolution of your blog, or a Contact Me page that provides directions, a phone number, and a map to your location.
I've skirted this problem by using Google sites for my external pages (e.g. the About this blog info at, but it's puzzling that hasn't offered this convenience until now - since they're owned by Google. Better late than never!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Librarian+Internet=Better Tomatos

Here's some excellent testimony from the agricultural sector about the value of libraries. 

With the help of free Internet in the local library, a village in Ukraine has doubled its tomato production. The featured library received computer equipment and training through the Library Electronic Access Project administered by the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. This video was created for the launch of the Bibliomist Global Libraries program, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by IREX.
Here's more about IREX and the Bibliomist project.

Friday, January 15, 2010

What words does China fear?

Censorship is sinister enough, but when exposed in this fashion it becomes mostly pathetic and embarrassing. I imagine many Chinese officials blushing.
(from  digital inspiration)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Archival treasures

Many treasures to be found in the National Archives Archival Research Catalog

Nixon on incredibly atrocious modern art

For the most part beautifully put, but I assume he means recent "antics" not "addicts"

Wordle of 168 writers on edge

I'm slowly making my way through the 130,000 words submitted by 168 writers (see post below) in response to the question from, "How is the Internet changing the way you think?" In the meantime, I've arranged their words in a wordle:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Translation Gap: Why More Foreign Writers Aren’t Published in America

In a recent post on the year in translation, I asked, suggestively, whether the relatively small number of translated books in the U.S. market might indicate that American readers are culturally insulated or lacking curiosity about the outside world. I hoped not, and am happy to report that Emily Williams, in a longish article about The Translation Gap: Why More Foreign Writers Aren’t Published in America Her concludes: There are a number of explanations for this phenomenon, very few of which have to do with stereotypes of American readers as being culturally insulated or lacking curiosity about the outside world. That also reaffirms my view on the silliness of Horace Engdahl's remarks last year regarding the U.S. and the Nobel prize in literature. More on that topic in Lessons Learned and Not Learned at Quarterly Conversation.

A different kind of antidote to the notion of American insularity is the new (October 2009) Library of America volume Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing

from the LOA website:

"In his wide-ranging, expertly curated anthology, Becoming Americans, Ilan Stavans collects four centuries of immigrants' stories, laying the works of comparative newcomers like Eva Hoffman, Felipe Alfau and Gary Shteyngart alongside the writing of early settlers, from religious dissidents fleeing persecution to slaves like Phillis Wheatley and Ayuba Suleiman Diallo.... Stavans' anthology goes a long way toward contemplating the breadth of the American immigrant experience. For every tragic story collected here, there is one of joyful liberation or of perplexed amazement or, more commonly, of excitement followed by a long, slow adjustment tinged with hope, fear and regret."—Maud Newton, NPR

168 writers on edge has invited 168 more and less prominent writers/thinkers to comment on the question: How has internet changed the way you think?

Here are contributors in alphabetical order, with links to their contributions:

Anthony Aguirre
Alan Alda
Alun Anderson
Chris Anderson
Noga Arikha
Scott Atran
Mahzarin R. Banaji
Albert-László Barabási
Simon Baron-Cohen
Samuel Barondes
Thomas A. Bass
Yochai Benkler
Jesse Bering
Jamshed Bharucha
Sue Blackmore
Paul Bloom
Giulio Boccaletti
Stefano Boeri
Lera Boroditsky
Nick Bostrom
Stewart Brand
John Brockman
Rodney Brooks
David M. Buss
Jason Calacanis
William Calvin
Philip Campbell
Nicholas Carr
Sean Carroll
Leo Chalupa
Nicholas Christakis
George Church
Andy Clark
June Cohen
Tony Conrad
Douglas Coupland
James Croak
M. Csikszentmihalyi
Fiery Cushman
David Dalrymple
Richard Dawkins
Aubrey De Grey
Stanislas Dehaene
Daniel Dennett
Emanuel Derman
Keith Devlin
Peter Diamandis
Chris DiBona
Eric Drexler
Jesse Dylan
Esther Dyson
George Dyson
David Eagleman
Olafar Eliasson
Brian Eno
Juan Enriquez
Daniel Everett
Paul Ewald
Hu Fang
Christine Finn
Eric Fischl
Helen Fisher
W. Tecumseh Fitch
Richard Foreman
Howard Gardner
David Gelernter
Neil Gershenfeld
Ralph Gibson
Gerd Gigerenzer
Ian & Joel Gold
Nigel Goldenfeld
Alison Gopnik
April Gornik
Joshua Greene
Haim Harari
Judith Rich Harris
Sam Harris
Daniel Haun
Marc Hauser
Marti Hearst
Virginia Heffernan
W. Daniel Hillis
Donald Hoffman
Bruce Hood
Nick Isaac
Xeni Jardin
Paul Kedrosky
Kevin Kelly
Jon Kleinberg
Brian Knutson
Terence Koh
Stephen Kosslyn
Kai Krause
Andrian Kreye
Jaron Lanier
Joseph LeDoux
Andrew Lih
Seth Llloyd
Gary Marcus
Lynn Margulis
John Markoff
Tom McCarthy
Jonas Mekas
Thomas Metzinger
Geoffrey Miller
Dave Morin
Evgevny Morozov
David Myers
Tor Nørretranders
Hans Ulrich Obrist
James O'Donnell
Tim O'Reilly
Gloria Origgi
Neri Oxman
Mark Pagel
Gregory Paul
Irene Pepperberg
Clifford Pickover
Stuart Pimm
Steven Pinker
Ernst Pöppel
Emily Pronin
Robert Provine
Steve Quartz
Lisa Randall
Martin Rees
Ed Regis
Howard Rheingold
Matt Ridley
Matthew Ritchie
Rudy Rucker
Douglas Rushkoff
Karl Sabbagh
Paul Saffo
Scott D. Sampson
Larry Sanger
Robert Sapolsky
Roger Schank
Peter Schwartz
Charles Seife
Terrence Sejnowski
Robert Shapiro
Michael Shermer
Clay Shirky
Barry Smith
Laurence Smith
Lee Smolin
Galia Solomonoff
Linda Stone
Seirian Sumner
Tom Standage
Victoria Stodden
Nassim Taleb
Timothy Taylor
Max Tegmark
Frank Tipler
Fred Tomaselli
John Tooby
Arnold Trehub
Sherry Turkle
Eric Weinstein
Ai Weiwei
Frank Wilczek
Ian Wilmut
Eva Wisten
Richard Saul Wurman
Anton Zeilinger

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Baker's delight

I had not read Baker's review of Auletta's Googled when I cited it yesterday, but now I have, and must (as usual) quote him. If curiosity is one part of Baker's excellence, delight in discovery is another:

One unnamed “prominent media executive” leaned toward Auletta at the 2007 Google Zeitgeist Conference and whispered a rhetorical question in his ear: What real value, he wanted to know, was Google producing for society?

Wait. What real value? Come now, my prominent executive friend. Have you not glanced at Street View in Google Maps? Have you not relied on the humble aid of the search-box calculator, or checked out Google’s movie showtimes, or marveled at the quick-and-dirtiness of Google Translate? Have you not made interesting recherch√© 19th-century discoveries in Google Books? Or played with the amazing expando-charts in Google Finance? Have you not designed a strange tall house in Google SketchUp, and did you not make a sudden cry of awed delight the first time you saw the planet begin to turn and loom closer in Google Earth? Are you not signed up for automatic Google News alerts on several topics? I would be very surprised if you are not signed up for a Google alert or two.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Nicholson Baker's curiosity

I try to link to everything by or about Nicholson Baker, including his recent reviewof Auletta's book about Google and this fine verbiage from Snarkmarket that sums up what makes Baker great; it's that big ol' curiosity.

"And it’s notable because so many of the spot-on assessments of new media, cul­ture and technology have come, lately, from Nicholson Baker. Nicholson Baker on Wikipedia. Nicholson Baker on the Kindle. He’s neither a booster nor a troll; he seems to approach it all with curiosity—the curiosity of an actual user, no small thing—and amusement. And he’s always surprising. This is Nicholson Baker, the guy who wrote about “the assault on paper.” And he’s “fond of Google”? Why, sure. He’s a thinker, not a pundit; a working brain, not a billboard hawking the same idea, over and over."

Friday, January 8, 2010

U.S Code free online

from Open Jurist

Introducing the United States Code on OpenJurist

OpenJurist is growing! You can now access the United States Code on OpenJurist. Our integration is not complete yet, but the US Code is available so we wanted to make it accessible. Please let us know what you think by emailing us here: openjurist - at - gmail - dot - com. It will take Google a little while to make it searchable, but in the mean time if you know the section you need you can navigate your way there.

Find the United States Code, here:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Spreadsheet fiction

The Millions has posted an update (for 2009) on Frank Kovarik's interesting New Yorker fiction spreadsheet data.
See also Kovarik's blog (not confined to literature) "Corresponding Fractions"

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cartoonify yourself!

This ad keeps turning up all over the place....or is it something about my web-behavior that's attracting it? On many levels, it captures nicely what the social web is all about. Get with it and cartoonify yourelf! Make it real!