Saturday, December 20, 2008

10 writing tips

Interesting take on "how to be a writer" from

Tips 1-3:

1. Get a job and keep it.  This "job" won't be writing, probably; it'll be counting things or working a register or mulching pear trees or sweeping floors in bowling alleys or delivering pizzas or teaching 6th graders or working in a snotty atheletic shop or cutting meat at Whole Foods or something.  Keep this job: it's the job that pays rent or mortgage, bills, you know.

2. Write.

3. Submit your work.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Moving my main blogging interests back to my own site for a while.

[Point of clarification -- my main writing work blog is  My thoughts on libraries, searching, & info-sci will mostly constellate around here and ghostfooting; plenty cross-over will happen, as always :]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Lots of folks working hard on various parts and pieces of this for years now.

And, yes, we could still use librarians on this to do KM work and metadata for documents...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

life online

Could Life Evolve on the Internet?

By Brandon Keim EmailSeptember 09, 2008 | 7:50:23 PMCategories: ComplexityEvolutionSystems Biology  

If principles of life are universal, could life emerge on the internet?

I posed the question to evolutionary dynamicist Martin Nowak of Harvard University, developer of amathematical model of evolution's origins, the period during which unique chemical structures experienced mutation and selection that guided them toward replication -- and thus to life.

Though Nowak's focus is biological life, the principles seem broadly applicable, perhaps even to configurations of electrons coursing through the Internet's silicon and fiber-optic substrate.

"Computer viruses are some form of evolution," said Nowak.

Alphaamanitinrna_polymerase_ii_comp"Viruses fulfill replication, mutation and selection -- but people don't consider them to be alive, because they think life has to be made of chemicals," saidIrene Chen, a Harvard systems biologist who specializes in early biomolecules.

"We can definitely make things in a computer that fulfill the criteria for life that NASA uses, except it's not chemical," she added, and cited the AVIDAprogram at Michigan State...

just a great little video

Borges reminds us: the map is not the territory.

Monday, September 08, 2008

palin library banned books: update

In my last post I quoted the Kilkenny e-mail about how Palin tried to ban books at Wasilla Public Library. To be fair now, Snopes goes into more detail on the subject and holds that Palin never actually attempted to ban any specific titles.

My call to actively oppose her based on her opposition to the right to read must now in fairness be actively recalled, as she did not actively pursue an agenda of censhorship as mayor. She merely hinted at it.

But look -- if she's interested in banning books, what a lever she will have to attempt to do so as a vice-president in the age of terror.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

sarah palin, censorship, libraries

The e-mail below by Anne Kilkenny is circulating now in lots of places, but I wanted to post it here for the matter of the Wasilla Librarian.


While Sarah was mayor of Wasilla, she tried to fire our highly respected city librarian because the librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the city librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Now that, my dear friends, is a blatant case of an executive power trying to limit a community's freedom to read.

Take the other stuff for what you will, but the anti-library business alone makes her worthy of active opposition.


About Sarah Palin: an e-mail from Wasilla

A suburban Anchorage homemaker and activist — who once did battle with the Alaska governor when Palin was mayor — recounts what she knows of Palin's history.

By Anne Kilkenny

Editor's note: The writer is a homemaker and education advocate in Wasilla, Alaska. Late last week, Anne Kilkenny penned an e-mail for her friends about vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, whom she personally knows, that has since circulated across comment forums and blogs nationwide. Here is her e-mail in its entirety, posted with her permission.

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Gov. Sarah Palin since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first-name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99 percent of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she's like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice for vice president and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe."

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is "pro-life." She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin's kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her lifestyle ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time) and less than two years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration, most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings, which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a "fiscal conservative." During her six years as mayor, she increased general government expenditures by more than 33 percent. During those same six years, the amount of taxes collected by the city increased by 38 percent. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax, which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefitted large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenue during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list, though — borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt but left it with indebtedness of more than $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? Or a new library? No. $1 million for a park. $15 million-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex, which she rushed through, on a piece of property that the city didn't even have clear title to. That was still in litigation seven years later — to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5 million for road projects that could have been done in five to seven years without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as governor Sarah proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenue: Spend today's surplus, borrow for needs.

She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As mayor, she fought ideas that weren't generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was mayor of Wasilla, she tried to fire our highly respected city librarian because the librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the city librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the "old boy's club" when she first ran for mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys." Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the city and as governor, she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal — loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the state's top cop.

As mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla's police chief because he "intimidated" her, she told the press. As governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, a state trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than two dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town, introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal city administrator; even people who didn't like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Gov. Frank Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission — one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil and gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job, which paid $122,400 a year, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this commission (who was also the state chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the "old boys' club," when she dramatically quit, exposing this man's ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Sen. Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the "bridge to nowhere" after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects — which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance — but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as "anti-pork."

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The state party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla, there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her "Sarah Barracuda" because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as "AGIA" that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned "as a private citizen" against a state initiaitive that would have either protected salmon streams from pollution from mines or tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on whom you listen to). She has pushed the state's lawsuit against the Department of the Interior's decision to list polar bears as a threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for president; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being president.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there are a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.

Claim vs. Fact

  • "Hockey mom": True for a few years
  • "PTA mom": True years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since
  • "NRA supporter": Absolutely true
  • Social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, but vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
  • Pro-creationism: Mixed. Supports it, but did nothing as governor to promote it.
  • "Pro-life": Mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby but declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation.
  • "Experienced": Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.
  • Political maverick: Not at all.
  • Gutsy: Absolutely!
  • Open and transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.
  • Has a developed philosophy of public policy: No.
  • "A Greenie": No. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
  • Fiscal conservative: Not by my definition!
  • Pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.
  • Pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents
  • Pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla's history.
  • Pro-labor/pro-union: No. Just because her husband works union doesn't make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.

Why am I writing this?

First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name, you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "bad things happen when good people stay silent." Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that's life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the city librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

Caveats: I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending and taxation two years ago (when Palin was running for governor) from information supplied to me by the finance director of the City of Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: Did I adjust for inflation? For population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall — they are swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000" up to 9,000. The day Palin's selection was announced, a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-1990s.

  • Anne Kilkenny is a homemaker and education advocate in Wasilla, Alaska.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

forced migration

Thanks to Heavy-D:

Forced Migration Online (FMO) provides instant access to a wide variety of online resources dealing with the situation of forced migrants worldwide. Designed for use by practitioners, policy makers, researchers, students or anyone interested in the field, FMO aims to give comprehensive information in an impartial environment and to promote increased awareness of human displacement issues to an international community of users. We have prepared an introductory guide to forced migration for visitors who are new to the subject.

FMO is coordinated by a team based at the Refugee Studies Centre, Department of International Development (QEH), University of Oxford. FMO and the Digital Library Project were funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the European Commission between 1997 and 2004. Since January 2005, FMO has been funded by the Department for International Development (DFID).

symphony e library

Just a bit of news, if you haven't seen it yet:

PROVO, UT, August 27, 2008 – SirsiDynix, the global leader in strategic technology solutions for libraries,
today announced the release of SirsiDynix Symphony e-Library,™ an enhanced online library catalog solution
that offers the speed, ease and flexibility librarians have requested. The product runs on SirsiDynix
Symphony 3.2.1; its predecessor, iBistro, is currently in use at 900 libraries worldwide.
SirsiDynix Symphony e-Library makes life easier for libraries and patrons because this powerful yet simple
solution is:
• Smooth: With the same look and feel as SirsiDynix Enterprise™, users enjoy seamless transition
among products.
• Flexible: Use of standard Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) gives libraries a fully featured default
interface and ease of customer configuration.
• Fast: The streamlined interface focuses on high speed search and retrieval
• Easy: The updated “My Account” features a new intuitive interface to engage patrons as they view
holds, renew materials, check for library alerts and complete other interactions with their Library.
• Secure: New e-Commerce options provide users with additional secure ways to review and pay
library fees.

Friday, August 29, 2008

mere anarchy loosed upon the shelves

(Via Unshelved)

Anarchy hints at a basic faith in people's ability to govern themselves and order their own affairs without oversight. Does the above logo hint that everything really is now miscellaneous?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

community property library books are

Boingboing has:

Judge orders woman to return two library books or go to jail


A judge has ordered JoAn Karkos of Lewiston, Maine to return two copies of It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health, which she checked out the Lewiston and Auburn public libraries last year.

In September, Karkos sent letters to the libraries, including checks to pay for the cost of the books. The letters said, in part, “I have been sufficiently horrified of the illustrations and sexually graphic, amoral, abnormal contents. I will not be returning the books.”

The judge has ordered Karkos, who is being held in contempt of court, to return the books and pay a $100 fine by Friday at 4pm. If she doesn't comply, she'll be arrested.

In 2007, NPR reported on the incident, providing several links, including a link to a letter Karkos wrote to the Sun Journal.

Lewiston Woman Facing Jail Over Book

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

country feedback: audio homunculi

Text analysis of body parts mentioned in popular music lyrics, by genre. Above, see 'country'. Check out all the booty in hip-hop, too:

Friday, August 22, 2008

webhead, i got the

I've been online in what feels like a heavy way for about 10 years now. In the last 3 years or so, I've spent an enormous amount of time using the web to learn and to share info. I've composed a book online, with a web-based word processor. So. It's time for a break.

I'm sure I'll post to my blogs now and then, especially to the anonymous ones, and I'll keep using e-mail and engaging with the web world somewhat. But I do hope to diminish my time on the web significantly now, to go analog for a while. Mostly analog. Mostly pencil and page. See what that does to my neurons... then allow myself the treat of surprise when I move back online heavily again a few years out. The borders will be blurry, but I've just got to get away from it for a while.

If you hear a bit less from me, don't take it personal-like. But I'm writing a Western, and writing it online just hasn't felt right. I'll still take work through my website, do research, I'll still hunt in databases, and still help in what quarters I can with those I'm pitched in with on the web. But fewer hours-per-day, now, until it's minutes per day.

Let's see what happens.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

kevin kelly on the one machine

The next 5,000 days of the Internet: we makeout with the web; heavy-petting; particularity and specificity for info-objects describing regular objects; web overlays reality; internet of things; other excellent points:

Monday, August 18, 2008

ufostalker: mufon live map database

Using a google maps api, MUFON has created a live feed and archive-search database for UFO sightings. Very cool for aerial anomaly buffs and serious investigators alike.

Friday, August 08, 2008

from a senator from Texas

Dear Mr. Evans:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). As you know, FISA passed the Senate on July 9, 2008, and I appreciate having the benefit of your comments.

Gathering communications intelligence is one of America’s front lines of defense in the war on terror. As you may know, Congress passed the Protect America Act in August 2007, modernizing FISA to give intelligence professionals the tools they urgently need to gather information, while still protecting the civil liberties of Americans. Senator John Rockefeller introduced the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 (S. 2248) on October 26, 2007, to continue this vital work. S. 2248 creates an expanded role for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, empowering the court to have more scrutiny over surveillance procedures and acquisitions. Additionally, this legislation increases congressional oversight by strengthening reporting and auditing requirements by the Inspector General.

The changes to FISA under S. 2248 also provide civil immunity for communications carriers that assisted the government with surveillance in the past, as well as creating civil immunity for future assistance. Communications carriers are currently facing billions of dollars in lawsuits for their role in assisting the National Security Agency’s Terrorist Surveillance Program instituted after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. This program worked to thwart future terrorist attacks by intercepting communications between suspected terrorists overseas and potential operatives within the United States. Though acting without a court warrant, the program was conducted under the President’s broad authority to protect and defend the nation. Communications carriers provided invaluable assistance, relying on official assurances about legality. While the process of litigation is integral to our system of laws, I believe it is unfair to punish the communications companies for patriotic compliance with the government’s war on terror.

Providing prospective civil immunity for communications carriers that assist government surveillance in the future is important to ensuring effective collection of intelligence. Communications technology has become so complex that our country needs the voluntary cooperation of carriers. Without it, our intelligence efforts will be severely debilitated. Providing immunity guarantees the needed cooperation of communications carriers who can rely on official assurances about necessity and legality. It is important to note that S. 2248 does not grant immunity to government officials.

S. 2248 overwhelmingly passed in the Senate Intelligence Committee, by a bipartisan vote of 13–2, and was passed by the Senate on February 12, 2008, by a bipartisan vote of 68–29. Unfortunately, this bipartisan Senate compromise was rejected by the House of Representatives, allowing FISA to expire on February 16, 2008, and leaving our nation’s intelligence community in the dark for a critical period of time.

In June 2008, the House of Representatives passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (H.R. 6304), and on July 9, 2008, the Senate approved H.R. 6304 by a bipartisan vote of 69–28. I was pleased to see that members of Congress can work together in a bipartisan manner to improve our national security. H.R. 6304 currently awaits further consideration by President George W. Bush.

As a member of both the Senate Armed Services and Judiciary Committees, I am committed to ensuring that we appropriately balance our national security needs and the protection of our civil liberties. I believe that the amended FISA bill, including the immunity provision for communications carriers, strikes this much needed balance. I appreciate the opportunity to represent the interests of Texans in the United States Senate, and am thankful for your comments about this important legislation.


(Senator X, we'll call him)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Appropedia Discussion Group

Appropedia community @ google groups:

Appropedia is the open encyclopedia of sustainable and appropriate technology at:

If sustainable technology interests you, see above links and join in the talk. Info sci and library folks have a lot to lend this movement.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

u.s. defense tech docs, declassified

Enter DTIC Public STINET

Coverage: 1965-present (Research Summaries); full text: 1924-present (selected documents)

Description: U.S. Defense Technical Information Center's technical reports and specifications (including DODISS), mostly in fields related to aerospace engineering and aerodynamics. STINET MultiSearch allows simultaneous searching of up to 34 databases including NASA, NIH, DOE, EPA, FDA, and USDA.

via UTA.


Reading: the Hiram Key; Shane Claiborne, Spook Country
Listening: I'm Afraid of Americans; The Man Comes Around
Weather: the zombie of Eduard

Monday, August 04, 2008

nra of the 4th amendment

...that Heston line abt taking away his 2nd amendment rights to bear arms "from his cold dead hands"... makes me think about a sort of "NRA of the 4th Amendment" -- may be budding with groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ALA, the ACLU. This has, increasingly, to do more with information than with objects, and that plants it firmly in library land.

How to "de-ACLU" it (such a hypothetical org), "de-geek it", de-liberal it in such a way that it became a popular movement in city and in country? How to make such an organization, standing up for 4th Amendment rights, smell less Ikea and more ProBass?

Maybe take a lesson from the NRA and use the org's lobby to do financial good for the likes of info-management and info-tools money makers. Lobby for the 4th amendment in such a way that Apple and MS and HP and NewsCorp and GE bolster the org with money to continue the lobby. Pragmatics, folks.

This won't happen over tea-time at the local library's book talk, sadly. This is going to take cash and ruthlessness -- all for the greater good, we would hope.

Friday, August 01, 2008

seizing information without warrant

Thanks to the bizness folks and to the ACLU for making the DHS out this (the federales can seize your papers, your info storage devices, without warrant, without explanation. surprised?).

Seemed to me like we had an amendment in our constitution about that...

Check out Article IV, see if it jars any memories:

Now I'm getting fed up. You hear that ECHELON? The executive leg of this three legged stool is too long now, and the whole thing is about to topple over. Who is that good for? Who stands to gain?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

patron granulation

granulated abilities with variations in patron account types.
has it been done yet?

Welcome to Library X, which type of account would you like? your options are:
. The Buzz Plan: you can check out up to 100 items at once, but they're all due back within 48 hours. Stiff late fines go with this one, and a deposit of $x is required.
. The Daily: standard item numbers and return times. normal fines, no deposits.
. The Milquetoast: you can only have out 5 items at a time, but the items check out for a month. normal late fines after due date. For the slow, meandering, distracted reader. Low pressure, no pressure, no hassle!!!
. The Homebrew Plan: drop by to talk with our Circulation Librarian (meetings by appointment are best), to work out a customized account that meets your specific needs. Only interested in reading one genre? Can you make the case for a lower fine rate, or longer checkout periods? Maybe you're just into graphic novels, and you read really fast. We can take your particulars into account on a case-by-case basis. Signing up for a customized plan requires a mandatory deposit of $x.

you know, something like that. the social catalog seems to have opened the way for this kind of thing. holler if you're working on it already. maybe some of this has been hashed out in the debates of the corporate guys...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

ubuntu stuff

I was raising cane about Ubuntu, telling folks "my laptop is Microsoft FREE!", but you know, it's a like the man says about web browsers -- you can't get by with just one anymore. So if running multiple scripts in multiple sites is a hassle, or if Ubuntu has a bad day and won't load right, I have found myself using Vista. Tsk tsk. All that said, I'm a much mo happy man using Ubuntu 80% of the time than I was using Windows 100%.

cheap solar

Finally, this pulls the rug even out from under the Pickens Plan:

'The implication is clear: the global power economy is in the early stages of a shift as profound as the shift when gasoline began to be widely used. With new battery technology expected in the near future the issues around powering systems at night and handling spikes in demand my begin to be solved, resulting in a complete green power revolution.'

Thursday, July 10, 2008

info/ethno ning thing

Information Science \ Social Science > socio-info literacy solutions

ubuntu in yr library

Good old Ms West puts Ubuntu on some donated computers:

By the way, I guess you noticed I got my dates wrong on that FISA bill thing. But what the hell. Once you tell yr representatives that yr vote for their re-election is on the line, you've played the last hand. No ace card left, is there?

Monday, July 07, 2008

fisa vote tomorrow, 8 july

Today is the day to speak up. Tomorrow they vote.

"Over on Boing Boing Gadgets, our Joel posts this video in which Tim Ferriss interviews Daniel "Pentagon Papers" Ellsberg about tomorrow's vote on warrantless wiretapping in the USA. If Congress passes this bill (the "FISA bill"), it will become legal for intelligence agencies to bulk-wiretap American citizens without a warrant, using data-mining to listen in on millions of Internet and phone connections. Ellsberg, a heroic former intelligence officer, is eloquent and uncompromising in his condemnation of this -- and he makes a good case that any Congressperson who votes for it is violating her/his oath to uphold the Constitution."


Action Alert: Tell Your Senators: "Don't Shred the Constitution this July 4th -- Reject Telecom Immunity!"

After the Fourth of July holiday, the Senate will vote on the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), a bill that would betray the spirit of 1776 by radically expanding the president’s spying powers and granting immunity to the companies that colluded in his illegal program. Now that the House has passed the FAA, the Senate is the last front left in the battle against immunity, and every vote -- from cloture, to the amendments, to final passage -- counts.

Therefore EFF urges all patriots to celebrate the Fourth of July this year by demanding that their senators uphold the rule of law and stand up for civil liberties, by voting against the FAA and for the amendments to the bill that would eliminate or weaken its telecom immunity provisions.

or email them:

verbiage like:

I'm a constituent and I urge you to oppose telecom immunity and the FISA Amendments Act (FAA). As a constituent, I am very troubled that during this patriotic holiday season, the Senate appears ready to toss civil liberties and the rule of law out the window, and so I urge you oppose telecom immunity with every vote that you have when the FISA bill comes to the Senate floor on Tuesday, July 8th:

Vote "YES" on the Dodd-Feingold amendment, which would strip telecom immunity from the bill entirely.

Vote "YES" on the Bingaman amendment, which would delay implementation of telecom immunity until after Congress has received the Inspectors General report on the president's warrantless surveillance program.

Vote "NO" on the cloture motion to end debate on the FAA,

And finally, vote "NO" on the FISA Amendments Act, an unconstitutional and dangerous bill that would radically expand the president's spying powers and immunize the companies that helped him break the law.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

bidi books, bidibooks, bidimensional books

QR Code in print, [Kaywa reports]. Bidibooks, bi-dimensional (here it means 2d as in quick code) books, they're called in Madrid. But they are also bidi because they're both eye-readable, and phone-linkable to otro resources. An online appendix. Hell yes, people.

Or, as they say in Spain, "La hipertextualidad del papel es posible."

Monday, June 16, 2008

second life library quick note

In the last year I've heard folks speak on behalf of Second Life Library twice at conferences, and I've been in touch w/ SLL ( staff through this blog. I've yet to hear a good answer to the simple question how does Second Life help my patrons at my reference desk tonight?

The answers usually float around Mars, then veer toward institutional marketing, sweep back into a low-earth orbit around how cool it is to run around texting goth-dinosaur-bunnies.

Somebody, please, give me a better answer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Royal Mail and QR Code

Update: I was looking, I guess I should have said, to learn more about RM's use of QR. I mean, they do. As does the USPS... and FedEx, UPS... DHL. QR is common as can be, and it's meter-printed on just about any piece of mail you might pick up these days, nevermind parcels.
So, like, somebody at the RM ought to know something about it... and surely someone (lots and lots of folks) do... I just didn't get connected to the guy who knows the guys who know.

I sent an inquiry out to Royal Mail, looking to learn more about QR. Royal Mail wrote back to me, and suggested I google it:


Dear Mr Evans,

Thank you for your e-mail.

I apologise for the delay in replying but your email went to Royal Mail
Customer Services and they have forwarded it to us and it has now reached
the Website Helpdesk.

I am sorry but Royal Mail do have any information available 2-D ('quick
code')to give to customers.

Please try going to and type in "2-D('quick code')"
without the quote marks and you will find nearly 260,000 search results. I
am sure some of them will be of help to you.

If you have any further questions regarding the website,
please email at and quote your
reference number (RM0317-4398) in the subject. You can also
contact us by phone on 0845 60 60 406 from 08:00 - 18:00
Monday to Friday.

We hope you enjoy using our site and we look forward to your
next visit.


Website Helpdesk

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group plc. Registered in
England and Wales. Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 148 Old
Street, LONDON EC1V 9HQ.

Mae'r Post Brenhinol yn un o enwau masnachu Grwp y Post Brenhinol ccc.
Cofrestrwyd yng Nghymru a Lloegr. Rhif cofrestredig 4138203. Swyddfa
gofrestredig 148 Old Street LLUNDAIN EC1V 9HQ.

Royal Mail Group Limited registered in England and Wales registered number
4138203 registered office 148 Old Street London EC1V 9HQ

This email and any attachments are confidential and intended for the
addressee only. If you are not the named recipient, you must not use,
disclose, reproduce, copy or distribute the contents of this communication.
If you have received this in error, please contact the sender and then
delete this email from your system.




Saturday, May 31, 2008

the cost of a book

A salty cataloger reminded me (and whenever I get intensive time with tech processing folks I usually leave the meeting awed by their focus -- they turn the volume up on geek so high that I find myself tapping my feet) that a book costs a lot more than its list price, if it's a library book. There's air conditioning, lighting, all the stuff that goes along with housing; there is staff time and knowledge and care. Weeding the items around it... ordering items that encourage its use. The longer the book is with the library, the more its value grows.

Consider a tree. Kew acquires a rare walnut tree that grows in Souther Staffordshire, because they've payed a farmer from Silverdale ₤15 for a cutting he'd managed to pirate and cultivate. Over the course of that tree's lifetime, from sappling to gnarly great-grandad of the garden, over ₤15 per day may be spent on fertilizer, mulch, pruning, mowing -- all that has to go into maintaining a healthy tree. The lifetime cost of the tree is much more than that first 15...

Books aren't simple items. To risk another metaphor, books and their values are fractal. Not just four-dimensional, but not quite 5-dimensional...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

wrong tool for the revolution

Fledgling Rebellion on Facebook Is Struck Down by Force in Egypt

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, May 18, 2008; A01

CAIRO -- At 1:49 a.m. in an Internet cafe only then quieting after Cairo's daily rumble, 27-year-old Ahmed Maher worked at a computer. He wore the same shirt he had had on for two days. The essentials of his life on the run lay splayed out next to his keyboard -- car keys, cigarettes, prepaid cellphone.

Maher pursed his lips, typing intently. His dream of a people's uprising organized on Facebook was beginning to slip through his scrabbling fingers.

Worries about the risks of political activism in Egypt were spilling onto his screen. It won't work, one man wrote. The government's already infiltrated us, wrote another. This is stupid, wrote a third.

Since late March, 74,000 people had registered on a Facebook page created and run by Maher and a few other young Egyptians, most of them newcomers to activism. Even some of Egypt's older, more disillusioned proponents of democracy had let themselves hope that a social networking Web site created by American college students could become an electronic rallying point for protest against President Hosni Mubarak's 27-year rule.

But the experience of the Facebook activists showed the limits of technology as a means of organizing dissent against a repressive government. Maher would end up among what rights groups said were 500 Egyptians arrested during two months of political activism in Egypt -- and find himself stripped and beaten in a Cairo police station, he said.


Addictomatic: hexayurt.

Addictomatic story: InfoToday.

where my jetpack is

I used to be like hell yeah, brother! where's my jetpack?! too... Angry about the future. Angry about the lack-of-future. Angry about the present?

But I kind of like Bruce Sterling's answer to that question... "Are you Chinese?".

Or, better, "you're not payin' fuckin' attention... you're all disillusioned and you're not actually looking at what's really happening."

Aside, Doktor Sleepless as a reaction or embodiment of this angst and disillusionment is worth reading.

extropianism as literary movement?

News to me, but it seems transhumanism is now considered to be a literary movement. Philosophy, yes. Political movement? ...could soon be. But artistic school?

Check Warren Ellis' wikipedia page:

Warren Ellis

BornFebruary 16, 1968 (1968-02-16) (age 40)

Essex, England
Genresscience fiction, superhero
Literary movementExtropianism, Transhumanism
Notable work(s)Transmetropolitan


The Authority


Global Frequency
Notable award(s)Eagle Award

Genre, I could see... but literary movement? Any artistes out there want to weigh in on this?

Monday, May 12, 2008

powerset video

We're in deep now -- Powerset furthers the assumption that Wikipedia is factual.

Powerset Demo Video from officialpowerset on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

be here at ref desk

Be here, be here now, yo?
A lower noise-to-signal ratio, please.
Light less mediated.

Info seekers need our presence.

Myanmar Cyclone Resources

STAR-TIDES working group for Myanmar:

Inundation maps on Burmese coast, Dartmouth:

Addictomatic feeds for Myanmar:

ICRC, Myanmar, [donations link].

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Free Guptastan

You are lucky that he is on your side.

It only recently occurred to me that people don’t realize that I’m absolutely serious about starting a new nation state within three or four years if conditions are historically right.

library moment: grieg

This wonderful patron (an exuberant and adventurous Russian grandmother) who I get to help every two or three weeks rushes into my office, says, "Can you hep me?"

I say I can, and she has me pull up the Wikipedia page on Edvard Grieg, and play the .ogg there of the first movement of the piano concerto so that it will jog her memory. She thanks me profusely ("Thank you, thank you," she shakes her finger at me, "I like you so much!"), apologizes for her strong perfume, and rushes off to go to sing the piece in a performance. She said she'd been so nervous that she'd forgotten the music during her commute.

That's a good reminder for me: to keep my door more open more often.

And a good reminder that sometimes granny knows just where to go for her collaborative media music archive resources without any input from you, brother.

Granny can surprise you.

Doctorow's Little Brother

Link to purchase and download this audiobook without Flash interaction

Albert Hofmann gone now

Albert Hofmann, LSD inventor, RIP

Albert Hofmann, who first synthesized Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), has passed away. He was 102 years-old.
 2007 10 Hoffman"I believe that if people would learn to use LSD's vision-inducing capability more wisely, under suitable conditions, in medical practice and in conjunction with meditation, then in the future this problem child could become a wonderchild." -- Albert Hofmann (1906-2008)

Link to Wikipedia article


Wasn't it Grace Slick who said she used to believe that if everybody dropped out and read a bunch of books the world would be a perfect place? But then we grow up and see that drugs do nothing but magnify our own psychosis (maybe peppering it sometimes with hints and glimmers of something magnificently transcendental), and that no problem is ever going to be solved, in this world or in the next, by the magnification of our own psyches. We get weary of drugs, weary of our own psycho-drama, and ready for reality (a reality more real than the daily-babble monkey-mind of our 'headache gray', fluorescent lit chattersphere)?

But that's not to disparage Mr. Hofmann -- he was a brave man, I think.

books are weapons in the war of ideas

Doesn't this mean that "books" as an idea are the right idea and that book-ism is situated somewhere opposite State-ism (or maybe particular species of facism or national socialism)? That would imply that State-isms of any kind are the idea-things that book-ism undermines and subverts; and this would (or could) potentially threaten even American-ism, or Liberal-ism, or any other idea-thing, or idea-culture-thing.

The idea that we will stand up for the idea that "we may disagree with your idea but we will die to protect your right to express it" (or Z) is dangerous to any kind of idea-culture-thing except for the idea-culture-thing that defends (or identifies itself as or with?) Z.

This is all in the realm of abstraction and ideal, of course -- making sense of the face of an idea-culture-thing that has been presented by its self through wartime propaganda.

What's missing here?

information decay

like when you let your records go to seed, and the OPAC gets cumbersome; the interface is brittle and bright. A broken bureau-asthetique, a little red and yellow grave for books and mags and The Journal of Noospheric Phenomena & Neuro-Christology. A $15,000 so-what. Shelves sagging, homebrewed references crookedly photocopied onto acidic 2lb LaserBrite, and glum librarians staring lustily off toward retirement. Bad records getting worse. Truncation and limiters splintering into arbitrary chaos, returning a search for "teen suicide" with nothing but Carl Yanni's The Architecture of Madness, claiming it's shelved somewhere between the book on medieval Italian crown-mold milling and that dusty box of realia that some bigwig on 'the board' must've once given to some middle manager as a thank-you, back before The Cosby Show wowed us all on Thursday nights.

Monday, April 21, 2008

more information in fewer hands

Weekly News Digest from Info Today reports on the Thomson happenings:

On April 17, The Thomson Corp. announced that it had completed its acquisition of Reuters Group, PLC, forming Thomson Reuters, a provider of "intelligent information" for businesses and professionals in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, scientific, healthcare, and media markets. Thomson Reuters has more than 50,000 employees with operations in 93 countries on six continents and 2007 pro forma revenues of approximately $12.4 billion.

Update: it shouldn't go unnoticed that Thomson Reuters had to go through tough federal anti-trust scrutiny to make the merge. Librarians have a duty to develop collections of information from diverse sources... a few more major consolidations like this & there won't be any diversity of database sources to speak of. Buy small press (and build homebrew) while you still can. I'm not knocking the value of what Thomson Reuters has to deliver, but I don't like being forced into smaller and smaller cattle chutes to get at what I need.


Reading: Not Loompanics Press anymore. Don't forget the value of niche info.
Listening: "Nutbush City Limits"

gale, readspeaker

At Library Journal, Michael Rogers reports that Gale's going to add text-to-audio software into 6 of its databases (including Opposing Viewpoints!)

Hope the voices aren't super canned and tinny sounding like other such audio/text programs are, but even if they are robotic I'll be very happy to have this tool handy. Yessir.

ok, so i'm a copycat

I'm a copycat too.
But man, I love me some been waiting for a really good .mp3 search engine for a while now. Love it maybe just as much as I do Pandora...
Enjoy while you can, before the RIAA or the CIA or Hillary Clinton or some other finger shaker takes it all away.
(You know, we ought to shake our fingers too every once in a while...)

sphering the square

News on AOL's Sphere deal at Information Today's Newsbreaks.
Comments here...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

tags, cois, library thing

communities of interest, where descriptors have to be specific, exact, unambiguous...
tags are lazy, sloppy, hasty. taxonomies are cumbersome (cheap shot), unintuitive... but also unambiguous.
how to make tags for c.o.i.s unambiguous, precise? reference to the schema needed to define terms. building better schema, yes, but also building better ontological tools, meta-schematic maps that define where the references are, what they refer to (and when), and the context necessary to decide on one over another.

much more to learn.

how can library thing help us to make one instance of "rock" mean stone, and another instance mean the music? are tags a black hole? and they, don't they, still ultimately depend on the occasional human pruning, picking the "fucks" and "goddamns" from the record page once LT is integrated into your ILS?

we need better tagging tools.

this whole thing -- it has to be a 'how can we make this work better for us and our patrons' thing rather than a 'ooooh, i du-nnnnnnnnnnoooooo, should we or shouldn't we even dooooooo this' thing.
and hell yes. we need to do this. but smartly.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thursday's TLA

Caught a couple good sessions in the TLA Net Fair area -- exhibitions hall.

Todd Humble of North Richland Hills talked about implementing RFIDs in the collection -- really good talk, really practical, pragmatic info. He raised the issue of read/writable tags and data swiping, which is a real worry if you go for the 'smart' library cards for your patrons (his system was wise enough not to). This guy's the real deal, right down to grinding down the surfaces of discs in order to make sure that 100% -- yes, really -- of the collection was tagged. From scraping and photocopying, creating faux covers, to foiling foil, Todd knows his stuff.

Second session was on Second Life. Ms. Lorin Fisher gave a good introductory talk on Second Life, Second Life Library (infoisland, or info archipelago now?), and the particulars of doing reference service in SL. I asked her abt making use of SL in the here/now of my community's daily, RL reference needs. I remain unconvinced that SL librarianship has much at all to do with RL service and getting the information to the people, despite the excellent points she raised about meeting professors teaching in SL on their own pedagogical turf. (I know of one prof teaching an anthropology course in SL at my college, but there are probably more doing it.) I just don't yet think SL serves the mass of us. I can't help but see it as a "wow, ain't this cool!" tool for the info-elite who have the luxury of time to romp around being a dinosaur-fairy-goth-robot in wonderland. But. That's not to say SL lacks potential, and I think Ms. Fisher did a good job in asking us to think about what that potential could be.

Otherwise, played some wii nintendo bowling (my first wii experience ever) at the HighSmith booth. They told me pretty things about library furniture and gave me a plush lizard. Actually, their tables look like the best for our hypothetical (hopefully this summer!) game night needs, unless we rig something up homebrew by trying to laminate our own table tops.

Another good day at TLA, despite being spammed to shop at the scooter store by some guy in the hall (pushed a card out right in front of me whilst I was walking. I was like 'what's it for', he was like 'the scooter expo', i was like 'not interested', kept walking. the expectation that people will take what you put in front of their faces just because you have the nerve to stick it in front of them is insulting -- and now that feller knows it don't work on us all), and slight hassling about my lacking badge when I first came in (well mister, you better go back to your truck to get it)... fair enough.

(aside, the pic of Ms. Yarrow has a story, and it has to do w/ Meg Cabot a little bit... no time now tho).

**edit: to say, that pic ain't from Transmet! my goof -- it's Katchoo, right?**