Archive for May, 2007

NYT online hotlilnks—WTF??

Lately I have been noticing that the NYT online edition makes some very, um, interesting choices when deciding which words in an article need to be hyperlinked to additional information. I guess my question to whatever unpaid intern they’ve assigned to the job is: “What are you smoking, and haven’t you read the latest research on what that does to you???”

When used sparingly and caringly, hyperlinks, the modern day equivalent of what my pappy called “footnotes”, can be our friends. (for more information on footnotes, see footnotes)

Take for instance today’s Science Times article, A Giant Takes on Physics Biggest Questions. My first thought was, “Oh boy, an article about giants! I KNEW they really existed, I just KNEW IT!!”

Guess what? The article’s not even about giants (I know, I was pissed too. I bet the same stupid intern who does the linking also writes the misleading headlines.)

OK, after I get over my disappointment that the article is actually about a bunch of fizzisists 300 feet below the ground trying to re-create the beginning of the universe by smashing tiny little particles into each other, I sit back and say, “hey, cool, I’ve been meaning to brush up on my particle physics. But I’m a little rusty on some of the basic concepts and lingo of advanced theoretical phenomenology. It sure would be helpful if the NYT would footnote — oops, I mean hyperlink — some of the hardcore scientific stuff to definitions, background information, biography, or further material that might enhance my ability to understand any of this.”

The NYT chose to go another route.

In their six page article on theoretical particle physics, this is what they thought was really important to hyperlink:

Page 1: On a page containing such terms as “European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN)”, “Large Hadron Collider”, “electron volts of energy”, “dark matter” and “dimensions of spacetime”, the only word they thought was important to hyperlink out to more information was…wait for it… Earth. Earth? EARTH???? I guess they chose to hyperlink it for those few souls who read the New York Times online that don’t know that Earth, ” is the third planet from the Sun and the only one in the solar system known to harbor life.”

Page 2: Unlinked go search terms as, “trillion-electron volt Tevatron”, “antimatter opposites”, “antiprotons”, “Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory”. And the hotlink goes to… Nobel Prize. And not even to a definition of Nobel Prize, just a link to random articles in the New York Times that mention “Nobel Prize.” Super! (a good a time as any to note that ALL hyperlinks, save perhaps paid ads, on the New York Times website only link back to—you got it— the New York Times website. Super!)

Page 3: Unlinked terms: “Cocktail party physics” (I’m guessing, not so much with the fun), “God particle”, “Higgs Boson”, electroweak force”, “Planck energy”. And the hotlink goes to… Nada. No hotlinks. Skippy the unpaid intern must have been checking his MySpace page for messages.

Page 4: Unlinked terms: “Quantum weirdness”, “supersymmetry”, “photons”, “glunino”. And the hotlink goes to… I guess Skippy’s busy twittering.

Page 5: Unlinked: “primordial fluid”, “quark-gluon plasma”, “Compact Muon Solenoid”. And the link goes to, “radiation.” Which I could actually let slide if it didn’t lead back to a bunch of random NYT articles, mostly about cancer, that mention the word radiation somewhere.

Page 6: Unlinked: “Fermilab Tevatron”, “CDF”, “UA1 and UA2″, “LHCb”. And the link goes to… Uh, nothing.

But wait! I now notice at the bottom of every page a little link that says, “Sphere: Related Blogs & Articles“. Yes! I knew the New York Times was just screwing with me! Now I’m going to click on “Sphere”* and get all sorts of related theoretical particle physics goodness. Here I go… I’m gonna do it… < CLICK! >

The good news: Sphere actually links to material outside of the NYT universe. The bad news: This is what it links to:

I’m speechless. I am without speech.

*Sphere: “Connecting Blogs and News”

May 15, 2007 at 5:27 am 10 comments

Pandora helps you find your favorite new bands

Although I do have a fairly respectable (read as: large) collection of music I am always on the watch for something new. The problem is that I tend to waste a lot of money on bands that “sound like” my favorites, only to find out $18 and an hour later, they really aren’t something I wanted to spend my money on.

Thanks to Pandora, that is changing.

Pandora is the fruition of the Music Genome Project. Each song entered into the site is subject to classification through genre, decade, musical composition, harmonies, keys, progression and much more. The result is when you put in a favorite song or artist in the search box, Pandora creates a station compiled with artists who closely resemble many of your favorite band’s qualities.

Furthermore, the station is always working towards making the ideal listening station for the listener. Each song can be given a thumbs up or down. Thumbs up will be used to first compare the qualities of your favorite band and your new song and then target even closer to bands of similar sounds. If you give a song a thumbs down, the station will skip past the song and never play it on that station again.

The result is quite impressive. I have five stations that are based off of my favorite rock with punk influence and, because of the thumbs up and down options, each one sounds different from the other. Now, I have several new bands to follow:

Pansy Division- Tired of being ostracized for being gay, John Ginoli and Chris Freeman created a gay-friendly punk band with unabashed lyrics and a good sense of humor.
Sanctus Real- A Christian rock band willing to break its contract with major labels in order to play songs they love.
Augustana- Young band rising on the charts and it’s no wonder. As they describe their own album, “its a young and scared record…and it’s real and from our hearts… “

May 14, 2007 at 2:36 pm

Change and Growth – Amendment

Immediately after I posted that bit about “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional,” right before the Futures Conference, I realized it needed an amendment. It needed me to add that I am such a hypocrite!

I am a huge advocate of using “2.0″ things for libraries – blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc… and not being AFRAID of CHANGE and of doing some different things. And here I am, NOT blogging really! I posted that post and then went off to take a shower and it was there that I realized that I have to admit and face up to MY fears and issues if I am going to be talking to others about CHANGE – FEAR – GROWTH and their issues.

My fear is of not being perfect; not being good enough – liked – accepted; etc…. That is why I have been avoiding blogging. This is a true soul-baring admission. I want to blog. I often think of things to blog. Yet, I allow my fears to hold me back.

Well, no more! I am realizing my fears, admitting them, and challenging them. Just as I want to be able to challenge everyone else to do! So, as I go forth and blog and challenge you (hopefully) you can know that I do so with a clear conscious having admitted this and having started to face my own fears!

At the conference Robert said to me that people appreciate honesty and that’s what is most important. Well, consider yourselves warned . . .

[Thanks to Robert and Pete for discussions surrounding this topic at the conference! It helped a lot!]

May 10, 2007 at 6:00 pm 16 comments

Library Futures Conference – some resources

Wow! How will I get the TIME to deal with all that happened at the Futures Conference? Time was one of the major themes throughout the conference: Time is “speeding up,” we have a “distorted sense” of time; etc…

Some of the other themes were:
Change (of course)
People – we need to focus on, not just books, information, etc.
Reflection – people need space/time to reflect on all the amazing experiences that new technologies allow us to have – the library could be the perfect place for that!
(I’ll add more later)

I am eager to get some of my notes and thoughts out there – I think Pete’s first post did a great job of capturing the “library spaces” program and I hope he’ll share more of his notes!

For now, here are a few resources, b/c I am eagerly awaiting the posting of all the presentations, podcasts, information etc. from the conference:

Ray Kurzweil’s site
Bob Treadway’s site
Joan Frye William’s site
Mary Catherine Bateson’s site

Those are the only ones I can put up quickly – I really can’t wait until all the materials are made available so that they may be shared as widely as possible with those who were not able to attend.

I also really love when different things start to “come together.” I found these things last night and they really relate to the conference:

Pushing Through The Dip and this via Helene Blowers on flickr
Google’s trend watch
Learning 2.0 Throughout the World and
Spring into Learning 2.0

Actually, I think all of those resulted originally from me looking at Helene Blowers’ flickr site!

I have already had to create a “futures” folder for myself for all the things that have been flying around today already as a result of the conference! That is probably one mark of an excellent conference!

May 10, 2007 at 2:39 pm

In Memory of Shel Silverstein

In 1999, I was working as a Surveyor. My coworkers were gruff men who enjoyed using their machetes to hack down site lines for their instruments. Sum’bitch was a popular word to use as both an adjective and noun. So, it was a bit suprising when, on May 10th, my crew chief took the morning paper, rolled it up, and told not to open it until I got home… he actually forced me to leave work and paid me for the day. When I got home, I opened the newspaper he gave me and saw that Shel Silverstein passed away the night before, I’d lost my favorite childhood writer. My chief knew that too and I guess he figured that news was enough work for one day. So I took the day off and wrote this song:

I’ll never forget that day May 10th, 1999
When I opened up the paper and saw my favorite writer
a mentor had died.
Now there’s no more kids in the tub
and the channels on the TV have become
boring and dumb.
Then I called up my best friend
and said “I think we finally found out where
the sidewalk ends.”

A Light in the Attic
can tell me how people
dream to get by.
I’d climb the highest mountain
to meet Baba Fatts
and find his perfect high.
But lesson number one,
I’ll never try to cheat the devil
like Billy Markham.
I guess what they say is true
People’d rather waste their life on dope
then hear the truth.

Well, someday, I’ll write a book
and it will be successful
overnight.
It will be called
“How the Giving Tree
Came to Change My Life.”
I’ve read it since I was four
and to a thousand other children when I was
a camp counselor.
And I laughed a lot
but not as much as I cried
the day that my mentor Shel Silverstein died.

May 9, 2007 at 7:32 pm

Library Futures Conference Roundup, pt 1

I had the mind-blowing pleasure of attending Imagination to Transformation, the Mid-Atlantic Library Futures Conference, on Monday and Tuesday. I have lots of notes notes notes, a swirl of ideas, and a pile of inspiration. In the interest of sharing the goodies, I’m posting my notes in a fairly raw form with limited commentary. Get it right or get it written, right?

Before I get into my notes, a big thank you to the New Jersey State Library (esp. Peggy Cadigan) , Palinet (Catherine Wilt, Ann Yurcaba, Diana Bitting), and all of the organizers for all their hard work and for doing a fantastic job! Great speakers, great space, great conference!

For those of you following along at home, conference materials and handouts will be posted on either the conference website and/or the conference blog.

OK, here are my notes from:

LIBRARY SPACE: IS IT THE LAST FRONTIER OF THE DIGITAL AGE
Jeffrey Scherer of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd.

(BTW, this is a highly filtered report. Scherer talked a lot about lighting, about environmentally friendly building design, and many other fascinating topics. I highly recommend you take a look at his whole presentation when it’s posted to the conference website.)

  • The library in 2030 will be as different from today’s library as today’s library is from the library of 1930.
  • The library as a central place is the only single political agent that can affect change at all levels. Our neutrality is an important tool for us to think about.
  • The library is an agent of these four elements of our lives: live, work, play, learn.

  • We are a service profession that delivers great content, struggles with technology and frets over cash. The real decisions are made around cash. If you reflect on the fact that Americans spend as much on Halloween candy as they do on library books, you see that the $$ is there.
  • We need to stop focusing on what is not possible, and focus on what is possible. It’s important to be optimistic. If you focus energy on what’s not possible, you’ll never create the possible.

Quotes:

  • “Our eyes connect our emotions.”
  • “Love is probably the central focus of great libraries”

Guiding principle: We need to create space for spontaneity and socializing: the library as 3rd place (agora)

Carleton college did a survey of alumni: 40% of graduates married other Carleton students; 40% of those people met in the library. Why? Because they were in a different social space than if they had met at a football game. Being in a library raises our commonality; transcends our boundaries.

Applying the lessons: How to create a 3rd space:

  • Reading nooks with back to wall (people love to curl up)
  • Daylight and views
  • Computer tables (missed some of what he said on this)
  • Offer a variety of options
  • Self-controlled lighting
  • Daylight and good views
  • Gossip corners that don’t interfere with others
  • Homelike features; fireplace, natural flooring
  • Group seating that can work with one to three people
  • Privacy (acoustic and visual): people want to get information in private
  • Visibility of service points and collection
  • Come out from behind the desk and greet patrons. There has to be a transformation in this area!

Other key points

  • “I want to do it myself” Trend to self service is huge.
  • “Help is on the way” but only if you need it. (Point of need service delivery)

May 9, 2007 at 6:28 am

The Future’s So Bright . . .

Robert’s here!
Pete’s here!
Lots of friendly, happy, familiar NJ librarians are here! And lots of happy, friendly and not-yet-familiar out-of-state librarians are here!

The wireless here in The Borgata seems to be great in some places and not-so-great in others, despite the promise of free wi-fi all over the hotel! Tomorrow I have to conduct a webinar from here and I have finally secured a location but now need to confirm decent Internet access (more on that later).

The first session here was already inspiring – I went to Salvador Avila’s presentation (I believe many presentations and even podcasts and information is to be made available on the Palinet site) and already, from that session, I was invited to take part in some “brainstorming” for a project – however, I had previously arranged a brainstorming lunch with Pete so I’ll have to be brought up to speed on their brainstorms later on!

There’s tons of brainpower here! I started that post this morning at 9am and couldn’t get enough good online time to justify running my battery on the laptop down, so I took hand-written notes and will post those tomorrow – it’s 12:35am! – so that is today, I guess! I would have done it earlier tonight but I was very good and attended my online class from 7-9pm!

I have already posted my first set of photos on flickr - I’m exhausted though so more from my notes tomorrow!

[Note to Pete and self - we forgot to talk specifically about CLENE!]

May 7, 2007 at 8:22 am 4 comments

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