Friday, April 07, 2006

(anti)social networking site

Snubster is for those who are "tired of all of those people out there trying to grab all of these fake friends online." It claims to represent a "better way."

Two lists here: On notice and Dead to Me. You can blacklist objects and concepts, as well as people. Kinda funny.

via: Disinformation

bibliometrics 1

Some unusual uses of normally boring bibliometric methods:

. Create sets of terms that tag to different concepts. Count and compare.

. What are the most common verbs (nouns, pronouns, adjectives) in a work?

. What are the terms excluded from the index? Create an index of these terms.

. How does the concordance of the work at hand compare to the concordances of the works it cites?

. For a work widely regarded as a Feminist text, what is the number and type of correspondences between "male" and "female" terms in the text?

. What is the Lexile count in comparable stump speeches for competing politicians?

. What type of emotional states appear in advertisements in English? In Spanish? In Russian? How many different terms are used for similar emotional states in a given ad?


Bibliometrics can be used for a heck of a lot more than simply tracking who-cites-who in scientific journals. As a method, bibliometrics seems old fashioned in an age of computer indexing. But the fact is: most content in most media hasn't yet been indexed or treated in any way with any bibliometric methodology.

Concerned about class struggle in Charles Dickens? Do yourself a favor and don't take the weight of "Marxist literary criticism" to the texts. Don't take any school of literary criticism to any text. Instead, let the text speak for itself -- what type of terms are there? How often? What are their relationships to other terms? If there is class struggle in Dickens, let the text tell you for itself. Texts can be lessened by the weight of imposed theory, and we, as readers, can be too.

Scientometrics is but one use of a powerful method.

Librarians and Information Scientists, please, do something new with bibliometry.

meta indexing

Here follows a quick tip for strapped librarians who want to make a sorta bootleg version of something like xreferplus.

You know Gale Literary Index? You search it, and it tells you where to go in CLC, TCLC, DLB, CA, etc. etc. to find info on and criticism of your author of interest. Okay. Now imagine such an index pertinent for any of your most common reference questions. You can make a meta-index to help you find infromation in your reference collection very quickly.

1. Select the most used reference volumes (or if you have money, time, and interest, select all reference volumes).
2. Scan in the indices of each volume using the optical character recognition software that comes with your scanners.
3. Compile all the index pages into a single document.
4. You can even make it into a Word file or an HTML page -- it doesn't matter.
5. Check for errors in the scan.
7. Now you've got a meta-index that will work in a way similar to the GLI.
8. When you need to find something, open the document and Ctrl+F for your term or a related term.

Since you've divided this meta-index document into distinct sections for different books, you quickly know which book has helpful info and what the call number is for finding it quickly on the shelf. A time saver. Fair use, wouldn't you say?


Listening: The String Cheese Incident

loompanics publisher closing

FYI, Loompanics Unlimited publishers are almost closed for good (if they're not already closed for good). Their books will be very hard to come by, futureward. Act now or never. Big Brother is, as ever, watching.

From BoingBoing: "So it is with misty eyes that I report the passing of this ultra-libertarian book publisher, which published books on subjects from how to conduct home invasion robberies on drug dealers, to shooting squirrels for food, to making money as a human guinea pig for medical experimentation. Hats off to publisher Mike Hoy for 30 years of all-American, 100% patriotic free speech!"

Hope this bit of news hasn't come too late.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A great resource on Isaac Newton and the bleed-over between science and alchemy in his day:
The Chymistry of Isaac Newton from Indiana University.

'The Chymistry of Isaac Newton is devoted to the editing and exposition of Newton's alchemical work. With the support of the National Science Foundation, this scholarly online edition is one part of an integrated project that combines new research on Newton's chymistry with an online edition of his manuscripts in both diplomatic and normalized texts. In the future, the edition will include all of Newton's chymical writings in word-searchable form with annotations indicating their sources and the degree of Newtonian input into them. In addition, we intend to provide high quality digital scans of Newton's chymical manuscripts, so that the reader can compare our transcriptions to the original handwriting and drawings in the manuscripts.'

The project includes an alchemical glossary and symbol guide, along with other goodies for teachers and researchers.


Listening: SirsiDynix webinar archives
Watching: Minnesota Stories vlog featuring Bruce Sterling

synchronicity watch

A patron came in looking for a book on "the golden braid"... we searched, but the book wasn't what he had in mind. Browsing call numbers he found what he wanted: books on the "golden ratio" or the Golden Mean. This last weekend my wife rented The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (skip it), in which the hero used the golden ratio as a pickup line. The line didn't work.


Seems silly to some, but I think its good to keep track of these little coincidences. There are useful patterns in them. Partly why I'm so darn fascinated with bibliometric analysis. There's a point at which, as a friend recently pointed out, the bibliometric veers into bibliomancy.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

sir Berners-Lee audio

Tim Berners-Lee on the future of the Web via BoingBoing:
or go
directly to the .mp3 stream.

Here he talks about the uses and limits of the Web, and also quite lots about the "semantic web" and how to make that happen and useful.

Worth listening to, for sure.


Reading: Carnet de Voyage

making sense of HR 4437

I'm really tired of the racism embedded in a lot of the right-wing reactionary spew, but I'm also tired of the left ignoring the real and actual negative impact illegal immigration can have on taxpayers. In an effort to help myself understand what's up with all this, I found a few resources which I hope will help illuminate the matter fairly.

From Jurist:

Migration News
from UC Davis:

HR 4437:

Sensenbrenner's page:

Tancredo's page:

Wikipedia's entry (most useful, as usual, for its external links section) :

Interesting post from Apophenia in re: teen political awakening & 'immigration reform':

Pro and Con "English Only" links from

cell phones in the library 3

{see: "Phones are 'Everyware'", Library Journal, July 2006}

Semacode graffiti: [vandalism of library books, or grassroots reclamation of noosphere (taking the ideaspace out of the hands of monied publishers)?]

A patron reads a book, has some ideas about it, makes some semacode, sticks it on the back cover. The code is easy to print on sticker labels. It looks like this:

Another patron checks out the book, reads it, has some ideas about it, and clicks the semacode tag with her cellular camera...

The code reveals a page rich with uncondoned content, arguments both bolstering and attacking the arguments in the original text, times and places for meet-ups to discuss the material in real-time and face-to-face, related books and websites for further reading, relevant online glossaries, related media files (including vlogs, lectures, tutorials, etc.), and other applications as needed. So much content is created about the book, that this supporting material outweighs the original text. It's all pro-bono, it's all about ideas, it's all for fun, it's all about debate and communication.

Illegal, rude, unauthoratative?

Such graffiti would be a blessing to libraries and to publishers.


Mood: cavalier
Weather: dark and wet
Listening: Diggable Planets

teaching 2

Seems our patrons like to be entertained, and that should be no surprise. I'm learning how to use my voice, stance, and gesture to lead the students' attention. But I'm finding that I can't just show up and expect their attention -- I've got to work for it, assume it, demand it with an off-putting presence and an aura of authority. Gotta muster that aura of authority. Gotta make them wonder -- why's this librarian look so funny / sounds so strange / why's he so into database searching? Why's he know so damn much about Ebsco?

Once they're curious, they're easy to keep on your side, and you can variagate your tone and volume and expression and posture to keep them listening for an hour. I think I've got a lot to learn about this stuff. The 'smartboard' helps, and I need to learn to work it with more elegance than I now do. Sometimes that thing alone is enough to wow them.

Seems to me that when people sit in little desks staring up at a 'teacher' they expect a leader -- and if you play the leader, they'll stay with you. They'll follow and (hopefully) learn. Eye on the ball. The ball? The information the students need access to in order to be excellent.

Monday, April 03, 2006

comics 3

Note to self re:
people to remember
design & narratives:

Andy Goldsworthy
Chris Ware
Jakub Dvorsky
Keith Haring
Maya Lin
Osamu Tezuka
Peter Kuper
Roy Lichtenstein
Ray Johnson
Seymour Chwast

comics 2

It's fun to have my head in the 20th century. Spent most my life there. Part of the charm of the aged is their insistance on dated paradigms.

I think it's fun to be a paradigm mutant, with half your head in dead media, half your head in new (or imaginary) media. Keeps me keeping myself guessing. Comics are distinctly 20th century babies (that doesn't mean that they're dead!), and I don't think that comics (as we think of them) will survive much longer. You've got a new crop of youth who read and write 'webcomics', and find last century's masterpieces a little too spooky, a little too morbid. They want manga-informed lighter fare.

I'm a little bit interested in what they're doing, but like I said -- I've got half my head back in 1986. Anyway, what's the effectual difference between a Flash powered webcomic and a "video cartoon" on television? Audio?

Fact is, I don't like manga very much. I don't like anime very much -- except for a few golden greats, like Miyazaki and Otomo. But I realize that since I "don't like it" I don't pay close attention to it either -- which means I'm missing out on lots of wonderful work.

I say "you've gotta read this book!" to my friend and she says "but it's a comic book... I don't like comic books" ... and that's how I feel about manga... How am I ever going to find the gold if I don't start by sorting through the dross? I'm afraid I don't have lots of energy to spend sorting through manga dross.

(Tangent -- is manga a genre of comics, or a medium all its own? Are the visual and narrative styles so very variant from western "comics" that it should stand as its own medium? Are comics universal -- only one medium?)

I continue to wonder.

A few resources to remember --
Lots of uni. libraries have comics in their collections:
Comics holdings at Michigan State U:
Missouri School of Journalism comics and strips resources:
Yale's comics and graphic novel resources:
U of N. Carolina on GNs:
U of Buffalo:
et.c. et.c.
google advance: "library comics" turns up bijillions more. many w/ catalogs.
Plenty other good comics resources too:
IPL's comics links:
Comics Worth Reading: