Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Con man Maicon (surpassed by Gamst Pedersen)

Maicon is a great player, but I have to wonder about these guys...do they have no pride whatsover? Or is soccer morphing into professional wrestling...?
Note - that Maicon video has somehow become corrupted since I first posted it, and his indignation about not getting the foul is no longer so clearly visible in the snippet (see for yourself here) Instead, I now offer the even more sensational audacity of Morten Gamst Pedersen;

Friday, June 25, 2010

Smarter than you think

Clive Thompson in The New York Times about "Watson," a computer that IBM scientists expect will be "the world’s most advanced “question answering” machine, able to understand a question posed in everyday human elocution — “natural language,” as computer scientists call it — and respond with a precise, factual answer. In other words, it must do more than what search engines like Google and Bing do, which is merely point to a document where you might find the answer. (I'm surprised the article makes no reference to the 1957 film Desk Set, where librarian Katherine Hepburn pits her wits against Emerac, Hollywood's 50s version of Watson...and wins) Video.

Medvedev is a natural with Twitter

Давно не ел гамбургеров. Завтрак с Бараком Обамой в Ray's Hell Burger: http://news.kremlin.ru/photo/1066

(@KremlinRussia_E:Haven't had a burger in a while. Lunch with Obama at Ray's Hell Burger.)
He say woz he's treat!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What is lost in reading is gained in writing

Steven Johnson amplifies on his NYT essay regarding Nick Carr's new book The Shallows, and in particular on  the charge that "The problem with Mr. Carr’s model is its unquestioned reverence for the slow contemplation of deep reading." Johnson suggests a "crucial flipside to the decline of long-form reading in the digital age: the increase in short-form writing. If we are slightly less able to focus because of the distractions of electric text, I suspect it is more than made up for by the fact that we are much more likely to write out our responses to what we do read." Johnson is surely right in pointing out that "to write out a response to something makes you see it in a new way, often with greater complexity." Writing out responses is usually done with an audience in mind, however, and then other-directed, instrumental, narcissistic (often, especially on the internet!), and qualtitatively different from the mode of intransitive thinking that Birkerts (and Carr?) fear are under attack.

New keyboard for iPad

Cool new docking station adds Keyboard for iPad!
(via Sylletopp)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Latest! Finnish "shreds" guy behind England-Algeria match!!!

It has come to light that it was Santeri Ojala, aka StSanders - the Finnish "shreds" guy - who had worked his mischief on Wayne Rooney and the rest of the lads yesterday.  That would explain it. My favorite shred of all, however (featured on Knowbodies previously) is the one below.  A natural fit, Santana plays the part so briliantly!  

Top ten trends in academic libraries 2010

ReferenceShelf has done us the favor of summarizing in a list the 2010 top 10 trends in academic libraries, based on a review of the literature by ACRL. More on each trend here in the ACRL News article
1. Academic library collection growth is driven by patron demand and will include new resource types.
2. Budget challenges will continue and libraries will evolve as a result.
3. Changes in higher education will require that librarians possess diverse skill sets.
4. Demands for accountability and assessment will increase. Increasingly, academic libraries are required to demonstrate the value they provide to their clientele and institutions.
5. Digitization of unique library collections will increase and require a larger share of resources.
6. Explosive growth of mobile devices and applications will drive new services.
7. Increased collaboration will expand the role of the library within the institution and beyond.
8. Libraries will continue to lead efforts to develop scholarly communication and intellectual property services.
9. Technology will continue to change services and required skills.
10. The definition of the library will change as physical space is repurposed and virtual space expands.
Source: C&RL News (June, 2010; 71.6)

Friday, June 18, 2010

C. Max Magee (editor of The Millions, not to be confused with  the former Packer tight-end) has compiled an interesting list of literary prizewinners based on aggregated awards. His methodology:

I looked at these six awards from 1995 to the present, awarding three points for winning an award and two points for an appearance on a shortlist or as a finalist. Here’s the key that goes with the list: B=Booker Prize, C=National Book Critics Circle Award, I=International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, N=National Book Award, P=Pulitzer Prize, W=Costa Book Award [formerly the Whitbread] bold=winner, red=New to the list or moved up* the list since last year’s “Prizewinners” post

And the winners are:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sharing in Google Docs

Important development at Google docs: (from ReadWriteWeb)
Previously, users who wished to share documents with others had to send a formal invitation through email, but now sharing can be as easy as sharing a link. These changes come on the heels of enhanced collaboration features which were recently added to Docs to give it more of a Google Wave feel.

You Tube video editor

What would you call the YouTube version of Google Labs - why of course,  Test Tube!  Go there to try out some neat tools, like Video Editor, Caption Tube, and Video Annotations. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Google Scholar Blog

Google has unveiled the Google Scholar Blog, "the official source for information about Google Scholar." The first post is about Google Scholar email alerts, very easy to set up with the handyt oolbar at the top of the Google  Scholar search results page...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tony Judt on American universities and their libraries

Tony Judt writes in the NYRB about the U.S., and about American universities:

..By far the best thing about America is its universities. Not Harvard, Yale, e tutti quanti: though marvelous, they are not distinctively American—their roots reach across the ocean to Oxford, Heidelberg, and beyond. Nowhere else in the world, however, can boast such public universities. You drive for miles across a godforsaken midwestern scrubscape, pockmarked by billboards, Motel 6s, and a military parade of food chains, when—like some pedagogical mirage dreamed up by nineteenth-century English gentlemen—there appears…a library! And not just any library: at Bloomington, the University of Indiana boasts a 7.8-million-volume collection in more than nine hundred languages, housed in a magnificent double-towered mausoleum of Indiana limestone.
A little over a hundred miles northwest across another empty cornscape there hoves into view the oasis of Champaign-Urbana: an unprepossessing college town housing a library of over ten million volumes. Even the smallest of these land grant universities—the University of Vermont at Burlington, or Wyoming’s isolated campus at Laramie—can boast collections, resources, facilities, and ambitions that most ancient European establishments can only envy.1
The contrast between the university libraries of Indiana or Illinois and the undulating fields almost visible from their windows illustrates the astonishing scale and variety of the American inland empire: something you cannot hope to grasp from afar...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Carr and Pinker

Nicholas Carr takes on Stephen Pinker's recent Mind over media NYT op-ed on the debate about whether Google is changing our brains. Pinker is of course a formidable foe and Carr goes to some lengths (ie. more than normal blog-post length) to refute his arguments. The most important of those concerns the brain's neuroplasticity; Pinker cites evolution and says Carr's argument is impossible, the brain being physiologically oblivious to technologies that have been around for a couple of decades, while Carr cites recent research on neuroplasticity that undermines such a view.  I don't have the patience to read an entire blog post of this length right now (point to Carr!!), as other chores beckon (point to Pinker!!), but will return to it later. Pinker's position, incidentally, is also summed up in a bite-sized chunk adapted for the inernet-impaired brain here, in his response to the question edge.org's posed to 168 writers, "How is the internet changing the way you think" (Pinker's answer: "Not at all")

5 top books with psychotic fan bases

Cracked.com matches top 5 books with their psychotic fan bases (and then tells us why these warped fans have completely misunderstood the books...)
Lolita -fans are Japanese pedophiles
The Collector - serial killers
Horton Hears a Who - rabid pro-lifers
Catcher in the Rye - celebrity killers and various murderers
Lord of the Rings - neo-Nazis
again, this is courtesy of cracked.com, and not science.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Closing the digital frontier

Michael Hirschorn writes interestingly and elegantly in The Atlantic about the transition from a free browser-based web to a paid-for apps-based media environment. Some nuggets:

Despite its Department of Defense origins, the matrixed, hyperlinked Internet was both cause and effect of the libertarian ethos of Silicon Valley. The open-source mentality, in theory if not always in practice, proved useful for the tech and Internet worlds.

But now, it seems, things are changing all over again. The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold sway, signals a radical shift from openness to a degree of closed-ness that would have been remarkable even before 1995.” 

On a more conceptual level, the move from the browser model to the app model (where content is more likely to be accessed via smartly curated “stores” like iTunes, Amazon, or Netflix) signals the first real taming of the Wild Digital West.

Image credit: Jason Schneider

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Where can I get a pair of those shoes?

20 under 40

The Millions has an interesting take on the New Yorker's 20 under 40 list, and - with the huge benefit of hindsight of course - speculates what a "20 under 40 "list might have looked like in 1970:

Philip Roth
Joyce Carol Oates
Raymond Carver
Donald Barthelme
John Updike
Shirley Hazzard
John Barth
Thomas Pynchon
Susan Sontag
Toni Morrison
Frank Conroy
Ken Kesey
Don Delillo
E.L. Doctorow
Jerzy Kozinski
Hunter S. Thompson
Alice Walker
Michael Crichton
Tom Wolfe
Cormac McCarthy

Pretty distinguished! But the New Yorker's compilation from 1999 wasn't bad either:

George Saunders
David Foster Wallace
Sherman Alexie
Rick Moody
A.M. Homes
Allegra Goodman
William T. Vollmann
Antonya Nelson
Chang-rae Lee
Michael Chabon
Ethan Canin
Donld Antrim
Tony Earley
Jeffrey Eugenides
Junot Diaz
Jonathan Franzen
Edwidge Danticat
Jhumpa Lahiri
Nathan Englander
Matthew Klam

And are the 2010 "most likely to succeed" writers, according to the New Yorker

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chris Adrian
Daniel Alarcón
David Bezmozgis
Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
Joshua Ferris
Jonathan Safran Foer
Nell Freudenberger
Rivka Galchen
Nicole Krauss
Yiyun Li
Dinaw Mengestu
Philipp Meyer
C. E. Morgan
Téa Obreht
Z Z Packer
Karen Russell
Salvatore Scibona
Gary Shteyngart
Wells Tower

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Knowbodies eludes libary blog awards again

Once again, Knowbodies eludes the judges of the Salem Library Blog Awards. Not only do I not get an award, I'm not even listed in that vulgar indiscriminate grab-bag of riff-raff known as the Salem Library Blog Directory. Perhaps next year; I've just sent an email alerting them to my presence. 

How a bill becomes a law Krunchd

Mike Wirth's winning entry in Sunlight Labs' Design for America competition. The entry won top honors in the "How A Bill Becomes a Law" category. Here are all 5 entries in this category, bundled together using the neat Krunchd.com service (check it out)