Friday, December 9, 2011

Print and pdf options in Wikipedia

The wonders of Wikipedia never cease to amaze me. Only today do I discover these print and pdf options

that will turn an article that looks like this:

into a nice printable pdf like this:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Universities under attack

Fritt Ord, the London Review, and the New York Review of Books jointly sponsored a conference last week about the current plight of universities, "Universities Under Attack." You can read Keith Thomas's remarks from the conference at the LRB website. See also Our Universities: Why are they Failing?, Anthony Grafton's review 8 recent books on this topic in the New York Review of Books.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Future of libraries stuff

The future library could be a "fab-lab" - like the one taking shape at the Fayettville Free Library - or it could be something else, depending on the findings of a newly inaugurated Pew study on the Changing Role of Public Libraries and Library Users in the Digital Age .

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

A two bit player

Here's my Twitter character...not real impressive, doesn't even have shoes. Generate your own Twitter infographic at

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Google books

What get's digitized?

An editorial in the NYT on the "curious contents of the digital library" alerted me to where all sorts of treasures are to be found, and to the amazing app from the British Library, the British Library 19th Century Collection. How extraordinary to be able to read something like Disraeli's Curiosities of Literature on one's iPad or Kindle!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Old Russia in Color

See extraordinary color photographs by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky at the fascinating "A Journey Through Slavic Culture" blog. The owner of the blog (whose identity is not readily apparent)writes:
"For those who don’t know yet, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky was a photographer who’s experience in chemistry created one of the earliest techniques of color photography, which he used to document the scope of the Russian empire prior to the revolution, giving us a glimpse into the lives and cultures of the time."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Good old days

Some day, public libraries will be regarded with that far greater reverence we reserve for things we once had.  Alan Bennett gets us off to a wonderful start , and has a nice parting shot:

It’s hard not to think that like other Tory policies privatising the libraries has been lying dormant for 15 years, just waiting for a convenient crisis to smuggle it through. Libraries are, after all, as another think tank clown opined a few weeks ago, ‘a valuable retail outlet’.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Books as fetish objects

Sad times for bibliophiles; the book, writes James Gleick, "is like the coffin at a funeral. It deserves to be honored, but the soul has moved on."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Death of the expert, or birth of the expert?

Sven Birkerts has a bone to pick with Maria Bustillos' article Wikipedia and the Death of the Expert. Sven has been windmill-tilting indefatigably ever since the Gutenberg Elegies (1994!), and you can't help admire the poor sod - not only for his pluck, but also for his beautiful and perceptive writing. And for providing such inspiring examples of what both he and I cherish; non-instrumental thinking and writing. Bustillos responds here, but methinks "Wikipedia and the birth of the expert" would have been a better title for her article....

Useless stereotypes (aren't they all?)

Introducing the Mechanic Muse

(excerpt) In this week’s issue, the Book Review inaugurates a new column, The Mechanic Muse, that will examine different aspects of this techno-­literary complex. This week, Kathryn Schulz takes a virtual trip to the Stanford Literary Lab, where literary scholars are mutating into computer scientists, and vice versa. Can a computer recognize a literary genre or help us see the plot of “Hamlet” anew? Should it? Read the column to decide for yourself.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Buzz Aldrin, Poynter Sisters, Little Richard, and Tip O'Neill visit Stevie

Narrowing your horizons

The internet's potential for personalizing your information and network of contacts, or, to put it another way, narrowing your horizons, is vast. Surfers will do this well enough on their own by simply following their preferences, but when technology aids and abets by filtering information on the basis of your browsing history...that way lies trouble, according to Eli Pariser's The Filter Bubble

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Libraries have nothing at all to do with silence

Nice piece by Bella Bathurst in the Guaradian on the "Secret life of libraries"

"In London during the Second World War, some authorities established small collections of books in air-raid shelters. The unused Tube station at Bethnal Green had a library of 4,000 volumes and a nightly clientele of 6,000 people."

"The libraries' most powerful asset is the conversation they provide – between books and readers, between children and parents, between individuals and the collective world. Take them away and those voices turn inwards or vanish. Turns out that libraries have nothing at all to do with silence."

Saturday, April 30, 2011

This is fun

For all who find that coming up with new passwords brings mental functions to an immediate halt and is uncannily, perversely difficult (kind of like remembering jokes), this article about multi-word passwords is a relief.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Quaint libraries

CNET editor Brian Cooley has rattled librarians' cages with some ill considered words about the "quaintness" of libraries, aired during a segment about Kindle's new library services on the April 20, 2011 "Buzz Out Loud" podcast.  He clarifies his position here.  But is quaintness such a bad thing?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nice poem by a Fulbrighter

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in   
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.
Mark Strand, "Keeping Things Whole" from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1979, 1980 by Mark Strand. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Get real!

So I'm an old fogey, but to me the old 1960s exhortation, "Get real!" sounds so much better than the 2011 one, "Cartoonify yourself!"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fast food

A very useful service from Google labs for identifying and addressing page speed issues.....fortunately, never much of a line in front of Knowbodies.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Noun Project

The noun project has symbols for everything, including tango

"The Noun Project collects, organizes and adds to the highly recognizable symbols that form the world's visual language, so we may share them in a fun and meaningful way. "

Friday, April 1, 2011

Google forges ahead....

Google has been working with experts in semiotics and kinesiology to develop Gmail Motion.  Pretty amazing!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Arab spring: interactive timeline of Middle East protests

Very cool interactive graphic from the Guardian. It doesn't show where the "path of protest" is leading, but perhaps time will tell.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A digital library better than Google's

Harvard library director Robert Darnton applauds rejection of Google settlement earlier this week and calls for a public digital library.

In a nutshell:
This decision is a victory for the public good, preventing one company from monopolizing access to our common cultural heritage. Nonetheless, we should not abandon Google’s dream of making all the books in the world available to everyone. Instead, we should build a digital public library, which would provide these digital copies free of charge to readers.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Freeman Dyson on Science and Wikipedia

In the NYRB, Freeman Dyson says Wikipedia is totally unreliable, and surprisingly accurate. And science is more like Wikipedia than Encyclopedia Britannica.

Science is the sum total of a great multitude of mysteries. It is an unending argument between a great multitude of voices. It resembles Wikipedia much more than it resembles the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

10 best American poems, according to the Guardian

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bad reviews III

I've previousl confessed with shame, that I can delight in a a good, bad review. Emily St. John Mandel Post writes less despicably On Bad Reviews at the Millions (also has an interesting comment thread)

Europe sorted out

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Keen strikes again

Andrew Keen, author of the much ridiculed and reviled - in blogger circles -  "The Cult of the Amateur" (I thought it was good, though) will publish Digital Vertigo: An Anti-Social Manifesto in 2012. For a preview, see his essay Your Life Torn Open in this month's Wired(UK).
I think he's mostly right...but what's the point.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Are libraries finished? 5 arguments pro and con

Better World Flux

Another impressive data visualization tool (see also this 2009 post for a review of some others):

Better World Flux was created as an entry for the World Bank Apps for Development competition. The site aims to raise awareness for the UN Millennium Development Goals by letting users visualize and share stories that are hidden in the World Bank Open Data.

Better World Flux is a tool that could be used to:

  • build an ideal composite of what you think matters in life by selecting the indicators
  • track the progress of countries and the world over the years and find interesting trends and patterns
  • save and share your most compelling visualization and discover what others are sharing and have a conversation
  • see which countries need the most help and find the ideal country to live in based on your preferences
  • see which countries need the most help
  • find the ideal country to live in based on your preferences
  • explore and easily navigate the raw data for each country

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What's worth saving

Here's a nice passage from Ingrid Rowland's post Saving Alexandria about Egyptians surrounding the Alexandrine library to protect it against vandalism: 
Blind rage cannot understand anything as complex or beautiful as Rome, or a library, or even a person, an animal, a book, a tree, a work of art—but blind rage can make these intricate systems stop, and the ability to make things stop has served many of our kind since time immemorial as a fine substitute for learning, experience, scientific method, artistic creation, philosophy. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A cautionary tale for overeager weeders

A rousing defense of libraries by Philip Pullman led me (via the comments) to this post at I love Franklin Ave. blog
It may well be apocryphal, but it's a charming tale that makes a point nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Library City

Toward a universal national digital library system with public governance - blog with lots of interesting stuff! The introductory post explains what it's all about.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Vive la différence

A glossary by Schott (he of Schott's Miscellany) of "arcane national caricatures from writers curiously fascinated with difference."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Great "books on wheels" accessory

Nothing warms the heart of a librarian like an invention - however primitive - that encourages people to read more. Can also be used for writing - and notice that it does not interfere with the action of the steering wheel. Ingenious!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Philip Zimbardo on how perspectives of time affect work, health, relationships and well-being.

10 well-spent minutes:  Philip Zimbardo on how perspectives of time affect work, health, relationships and well-being.

2011 book preview

From The Millions, a month by month preview of books in the year to come. I look forward to David Bezmozgis's first novel.