Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Liberal Arts Libraries Support Open Access Publishing.

Fifty-one liberal arts college libraries have become institutional members of Public Library of Science (PLoS), a non-profit organization dedicated to making scientific and medical literature a public resource. The libraries are members of the Oberlin Group, an informal community of liberal arts colleges and libraries dedicated to promoting science education (for more on the Oberlin Group, see this brief history by Ray English and Will Bridegam).

Joining PLoS promotes the growth of open access publishing by allowing authors from member institutions to publish in PLoS journals at reduced or no cost. Publication fees are a significant barrier to open access publishing of science, technical, and medical journals, and PLoS has sought to lower this barrier to entry.

For more on the announcement see the press release forwarded by Peter Suber, available at the extended link below:


4:32:42 AM    
 Thursday, March 11, 2004

New insights from Tufte.

More fascinating examples from Tufte about how to squeeze more meaning into data displays. The interesting tradeoff to be managed here is between design time to find compelling and meaningful representations and interpretation/decision time by those who will use the representations. As a gross generalization, design time gets short shrift at the expense of increased problems with interpretation and decision. A bad cost/benefit tradeoff.

Spaklines. Edward Tufte: Sparklines or Wordgraphs--some draft pages from Beautiful Evidence... [Emptybottle : Coasters]

[McGee's Musings]

7:29:08 AM    
 Monday, March 08, 2004

Non-bloggy RSS: Newsfeeds on the web.

List of Newsfeeds in English*

Funny Ha-Ha Newsfeeds 

*  This list of newsfeeds is based on the excellent list at http://www.djh.dk/ejour/arkiv/RSS.html#udland, and on many ongoing updates from Dave Winer. Your corrections and additions are very welcome!

[Betsy Devine: Funny Ha-Ha or Funny Peculiar?]

7:22:39 PM    
 Friday, March 05, 2004

Cool Tool Alert.

Cogitum Co-Citer

" 'There's a stone cold freebie (no ads, spyware, etc) called 'Cogitum Co-Citer', available for download here.

Once installed, when you're at a site where you want to save some text, you simply highlight the desired text, right-click to get the pop-up context menu, then select 'Grab the selected text'. Co-Citer then auto-opens its screen, allowing you to add comments, organize by selecting/creating a category, etc. To get to the info later, you hit the start menu and choose Co-Citer, which includes print, find and other goodies.

This app is incredibly feature-packed, and an absolute stable/smooth joy to use. Sure has cut back substantially on the 'paper-notes' syndrome which used to surround my laptop!...' " [PDA 24/7]

Nice freebie that could help with personal knowledge management. Unfortunately, it only runs on Windows and requires Internet Explorer 5+.

[The Shifted Librarian]

6:23:52 AM    

40 Facts I Bet You Didn't Know - And Some Are Even Tue. We've all gotten the emails:
1. Money isn't made out of paper; it's made out of cotton. Actually, US currency paper is a blend of cotton and linen.
2. The 57 on Heinz ketchup bottle represents the varieties of pickles the company once had. False. H J Heinz's own story is that he liked an ad that said "21 different styles of shoes." He had well more than 57 varieties of product, but he liked the number because it sounded large without sounding huge.
3. Your stomach produces a new layer of mucus every two weeks -- otherwise it will digest itself. True
4. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. Well, the first two drafts were written on hemp paper. About 200 copies of the Declaration were printed (25 survive) on paper that may or may not contain hemp. A calligraphic copy was made after the printing and signed; this is the document on display in Philadelphia. It is on vellum parchment (animal skin).
5. The dot over the letter 'i' is called a "tittle". True
6. A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top. Sometimes, depending on the raisin and the champagne. After a while it becomes soaked and sinks to the bottom and you have to suck it up with a straw. If you take a small orange and puncture the sides with a fork and drop it into a glass of champagne, it will spin. And it makes the wine taste orangey!
7. Susan Lucci is the daughter of Phyllis Diller. False, though Diller does have a daughter named Suzanne.
8. A duck's quack doesn't echo ... no one knows why. False, for crying out loud!
9. 40% of McDonald's profits come from the sales of Happy Meals. Probably false. Profits are one thing, sales another. Though the 60s and 70s, major profits came through real estate and franchise fees. Over the last few years McDonald's has found it tough to be profitable. Happy Meals, introduced 1979, were a major sales boost, but so were McNuggets (1984). As a share of sales, Happy Meals probably aren't 40% except for unusual short term spurts (such as the Teeny Beanie toy that sold out in two weeks) though McD's sells enough to be one of the world's major distributors of small toys.
10. Every person has a unique tongue print (no licking at the scene of a crime!). More or less true.
11. 315 entries in Webster's 1996 Dictionary were misspelled. "Webster's" is not a copyrighted term. Any dictionary can call itself Webster's. So which one of hundreds misspelled words?
12. The 'spot' on 7UP comes from its inventor who had red eyes. He was albino. False. 7up, created by non-albino Charles Grigg and originally known as "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda," was introduced two weeks before the great stock market crash of 1929. In 1936, the name became 7up. The logo had a white "7UP" on a rectangular red background for many years. Sometimes, on specific products, the background was a red circle. The circle became a dot around 1970. Some compare it to a nipple.
13. On average, 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents daily. Oh, bullshit.
14. During the chariot scene in 'Ben Hur' a small red car can be seen in the distance. True. A red van can be seen in the far distance with a dust trail behind it.
15. Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine are brother and sister. True
16. Chocolate affects a dog's heart and nervous system; a few ounces will kill a small sized dog. True Ferrets Too.
17. Orcas (killer whales) kill sharks by torpedoing up into the shark's stomach from underneath, causing the shark to explode. Only if you believe Flipper. Killer whales breach through ice, so they have the capacity to do this, but they seldom battle sharks. No one has ever witnessed this behavior in nature.
18. Most lipstick contains fish scales. True ("pearlessence" is derived from fish scales).
19. Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn't wear pants. False. Nor were they banned because Donald and Daisy weren't married.
20. Ketchup was sold in the 1830s as medicine. True (Dr. Miles Compound Extract of Tomato)
21. Upper and lower case letters are named 'upper' and 'lower' because in the time when all original print had to be set in individual letters, the 'upper case' letters were stored in the case on top of the case that stored the smaller, 'lower case' letters. True
22. Leonardo Da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other at the same time. Supposedly true but not reported by an eye-witness.
23. Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of wood. False, they were made of plaster.
24. There are no clocks in Las Vegas gambling casinos. True (or used to be).
25. The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan, there was never a recorded Wendy before! True
26. There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with: orange, purple, and silver! True
27. Leonardo Da Vinci invented scissors. Also, it took him 10 years to paint Mona Lisa's lips. False. Scissors were around for centuries before Da Vinci and he worked on the Mona Lisa, off and on, for three or four years.
28. A tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion will make it instantly go mad and sting itself to death. Probably not - but somebody who has one has a pet can test this! The venom won't do it harm but the stinger itself might (some scorpions have larger stingers than others). The notion of a scorpion stinging itself to death is an ancient allegory - surrounded by fire or by enemies a scorpion will sting itself to death rather than surrender. "Falsehood is a scorpion that will sting itself to death." -- Percy Bysshe Shelley
29. The mask used by Michael Myers in the original "Halloween" was a Captain Kirk mask painted white. True
30. If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar. True
31. By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you can't sink in quicksand. Maybe. Demonstration, please! Quicksand being liquid, the idea is you can float in it, but moving your legs will create suction that pulls you down.
32. The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law, which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb (sign of a true civilized society ... not). False. This notion was invented in 19th Century Britain to defend the notion of wife-beating. It was soon shown to be a fallacy but karma has re-introduced it to beat men with. "Rule of thumb" comes from the fact that the final thumb joint is about an inch, so is used as a rough measuring guide. "Thumb" and "inch" are the same word in several European languages (French, Danish, Swedish, etc.)
33. American Airlines saved $40,000 in '87 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first class. True
34. The first product Motorola started to develop was a record player for automobiles. At that time, the most known player on the market was the Victrola, so they called themselves Motorola. False. The company was founded by Paul V. Galvin as the Galvin Manufacturing Corporation, in Chicago, Illinois, in 1928. Its first product was a "battery eliminator," allowing consumers to operate radios directly from household current instead of the batteries supplied with early models. In the 1930s, the company successfully commercialized car radios under the brand name "Motorola," a word suggesting sound in motion.
35. Celery has negative calories! It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with. It's the same with apples! True. (But it's not the chewing, it's the digesting that burns up the 6 calories per stalk).
36. Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying! The latest how-to-peel-onions-without-crying trick! False (but your breath will smell better).
37. The glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified kosher. Not really. Israel, like the US, uses vegetable glue on its stamps. Theoretically everything in Israel is kosher, but this is now a political issue with "true" kosher shops hanging out haredi signs.
38. Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from Public Libraries. False. The American Library Association did a survey a few years ago. According to Larra Clark, ALA press officer, the titles most likely to go AWOL (absent without librarian) are books about dreams, witchcraft, astrology and the occult.
39. Back in the mid to late 80's, an IBM compatible computer wasn't considered a hundred percent compatible unless it could run Microsoft's Flight Simulator game. Sort of. In 1983, when Flight Simulator was introduced, standards were still a bit loose. If your machine could run Flight Simulator and Lotus 1-2-3, then it was probably compatible.
40. Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space! Passing wind in a space suit damages them. False. Three days before a flight, astronauts are put on a "low residue diet" so their diaper-style undies won't fill up so fast. If farts could damage a space suit there'd be a lot more astronaut fatalities. In 1968 the New York Academy of Sciences held a symposium on gastrointestinal gas, in part to examine fears that astronauts might asphyxiate themselves. As we all know, they don't. [What Do YOU Think? Comment on this Post!] [Testify!] [Father Dan]

6:04:07 AM    
 Friday, February 27, 2004

Andrew Sullivan: War is Declared. Andrew Sullivan is a a conservative and a Catholic and, until recently, a Bush supporter. It also happens that he's right-handed and gay (I don't actually know if he's right-handed, but it's about as important as his sexual orientation). Bush's... [Macartisan: Channeling Cupertino]

7:06:35 AM    
 Saturday, February 14, 2004

Bookmobile. Brewster Kahle's Bookmobile doesn't seem like a replacement for public libraries. The distinction between "a book on demand" and "any book printed on demand" is not that slight. But the bookmobile does converge with the larger future of the print book sustained by digital access. [future of the book news]

5:02:24 PM    

Personal Voices: A Hysterical Librarian.

At AlterNet, Kim Antieau, a public librarian from Washington state, reflects on the library commitment to civil liberties and the freedom to read, and how the USA Patriot Act affects those freedoms. From the essay:

"I'm not saying libraries are safe places. They aren't now, and they never have been. They are filled with all kinds of revolutionary and wrong information. Everyone can find something in a public library to offend and outrage them. At the same time, it was a unique public space where people could get information and view it at their leisure without anyone keeping track of what they were viewing, researching, or reading. That was before the Patriot Act, of course."

The piece is a strong, personal perspective on the library as an institution based on freedom of information and how the anti-terror legislation changes the relationship between libraries and their patrons.


4:32:50 PM    
 Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The Holy Bible is now available as an RSS feed. [Scripting News]

6:42:00 AM    
 Saturday, February 07, 2004

Klem is a former colleague of mine at Muhlenberg College. Good man - been working on this issue for years.

Killer on the loose. AP: Glass windows an 'indiscriminate' bird killer ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (AP) - Daniel Klem Jr. cradles a small, dead bird with chestnut-mottled wings, another victim of what he says is a largely unrecognized environmental hazard that kills birds in flight. The... [Amish Tech Support]

5:55:26 AM    

qotd febuary 6 2004. Christopher Morley: "Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity." [Adam Curry: Adam Curry's Weblog]

5:30:56 AM    
 Sunday, February 01, 2004

President Says You Should Criticise the President?. Bush didn't say it, Hell, He'd have you arrested for thinking it. (Thoughtcrime is doubleplusungood).There seems to be this growing belief in America that to question authority is Un-American. To question the loss of civil liberties after 9/11 is immoral and unpatriotic. Bullshit. Allow me to quote: "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." - Theodore Roosevelt, 1918 [What Do You Think? Comment on this Post!] [Father Dan]

11:10:04 AM    
 Saturday, January 31, 2004

Citizen's Media

Jeff Jarvis occupies a fascinating position at the juncture of old and new media. Now, provoked by a speech given by an old friend before the Software & Information Indusry Assocation, he has put up a long post, arguing that blogs are in fact the Genesis Event for citizen's media, which will bypass many of the limits and institutions of existing media. RTWT.

It's an important post, perhaps the more persuasive for its quietness. There is more that can be said in rebuttal to the head of New York Times Digital. Particularly in speaking to the SIIA, the priesthood of professionalized, branded information. For him to doubt that blogs might be the "Pong of Electronic Publishing" is to fail to name the threat. Electronic games may have displaced time and dollars from the traditional media, but citizens' meda are a knife at the jugular of the branded aggregation model that calls itself Publishing (Electronic or not). Here the agenda is clear:

"Ultimately, journalism is about trust. In this new product vision, the aggregator's brand must remain trusted..."
Trust also arises from voice and authenticity, which are characteristics of individuals. Citizens' media allows them to compete on trust and viewpoint, head to head with professionalized mass media. Machine based aggregation lets the reader pick and choose, not the editor.

I get my headlines from Google News and Technorati, I pay attention when Glenn Reynolds does, and I pick up techno-human interest stories from BoingBoing. Every one of them has more influence on me than the editor of the New York Times, whose brand lies sullied in the gutter beside the BBC. Pong? Sword of Damocles, more likely. [Due Diligence]

6:51:54 AM    
 Tuesday, January 27, 2004

orkut [Popdex - the website popularity index]

9:31:09 PM    

Jesus, I hope his wife knows what she's got here...not a God so much as a visionary, innovative genius who gets it. Fundamentally gets it.

Linus as Antidote. Linus just has a way with words, don't you think? BusinessWeek did an interview with him, and he said some useful and some memorably funny things about SCO. My favorite first: "Nothing to lose is a bad situation to be in. They're a cornered rat, and quite frankly, I think they have rabies to boot. I'd rather not get too close to them." He was asked what he thinks is motivating SCO: "I think there was a fair amount of bad feeling when IBM dropped out of the Monterey project [a joint-development project with SCO]. That was a big deal for SCO, and they had a hard time with that. Never mind the fact that it had long since become clear that the project wasn't going anywhere, and IBM would have been crazy to continue with it. "So you have some pent-up anger at IBM, a failing business that was losing its market, and put it together with a greedy new CEO who has fought legal battles before, and what do you get?" Linus totally gets it that the Novell-SCO copyright dispute has no significance in the greater IBM context, because their claims, in his view, are shaky anyway, even if the copyrights were theirs, because they can't seem to come up with any copied code: "The validity of their claims has always been very shaky, even regardless of the fact that Novell claims SCO doesn't own the Unix copyrights in the first place. "The SCO claims have been shaky from the start because they haven't actually been able to show any particular copied code. It's like me claiming copyright on some article you wrote for BusinessWeek [without being] able to specify which article and which part of it I would have written. The fact that Novell now contests the SCO copyright ownership just makes them even more shaky." There is lots more in the interview, so hop on over and have a nice visit with Linus. Passing time with Linus is a good antidote to thinking about and writing about Dark Darl. [GrokLaw]

9:20:31 PM    

New Project for Cataloging Personal Collections.

From time to time, somone will email or IM me and ask for a recommendation for software to catalog their personal library. I'm happy to report that there is a new solution called LibDB on the horizon.

"This is the development wiki of LibDB, an open-sourced Perl/MySQL library and asset management system based on and inspired by the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (pdf), triples from the semantic web, and "the end-user doesn't, and shouldn't, need to know this stuff". In English, this means that you'll be able to smartly and easily catalog your movies, books, magazines, comics, etc. into your own computerized "personal library".

Further information is available under ProjectGoals (including user profiles).

LibDB is still in the very early planning stages, and we're currently focusing on movie-related cataloguing. As such, most initial concrete and forward movement will be catered to movies, but realize that the final versions will be far more than just movies. The LibDB database is defined in such a way that you could describe books and other forms of media, even if the interface assumed you were entering film."

There are lots of reasons to note this project. I don't pretend to fully understand the intricacies of this, but it's "based around the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records" (FRBR), but it will be very extensible and will allow librarians and other anal-retentive types to slice and dice their collections in multiple ways. Oh, and it will be free!

Brought to you be the ever resourceful Morbus Iff, creator of AmphetaDesk.

[The Shifted Librarian]

9:10:42 PM    

If you have not read this remarkable man's book "Ghost Rider", do so immediately. I mailed this book to a close friend who had lost his wife after a long illness, and he kept it for his library, and sent me a fresh copy. It was that resonant.

Neil Peart speaks about lyrics. "Writing lyrics is a tremendously demanding form of discipline; it requires precision. ... I'm not happy with spontaneity musically either." [Blogcritics]

8:26:52 PM    

New distribution method. Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno have announced a new way to let artists sell their music online rather than only... [Blogcritics]

8:20:21 PM    

Just Say 'No' to Record Labels. Rockers Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno rally for a bright digital future in which musicians take charge, cutting traditional music biz players out of the money stream. [Wired News]

8:19:00 PM    
 Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Science Fiction and Religion. I was reading an interview with Ted Chiang, and the first lines struck me: All science fiction is fundamentally post-religious literature. For those whose minds are shaped by science and technology, the universe is fundamentally knowable. Faith dissolves, replaced by a sense of wonder at the complexity of creation.What do you think of this? [kuro5hin.org]

6:02:51 AM    
 Sunday, January 18, 2004

An important post...beware zealots of ANY stripe, particularly those on your side...

Green idiots. This is exactly the sort of thing that pisses me off about my more hard-core lefty friends. I am an environmentalist and a feminist, yet I am ridiculed for claiming such because I don't espouse the more stupid opinions of... [Amish Tech Support]

4:45:58 PM    

CandidateMap.com is "an impartial resource where voters can judge political candidates by the statements they make, as opposed to the image they craft." [Scripting News]

8:58:26 AM    


Journalists wither under scrutiny. As a former newspaper journalist, I'm amazed by some of the hysteria that journalists are exhibiting about a plan for webloggers to follow and critique specific political journalists during the 2004 presidential campaign.

A case in point is the reaction by Alan Judd, a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The idea of 'tracking' individual campaign reporters -- as on Wilgoren Watch -- is absurd. The people behind such efforts would be satisified with nothing other than stories effusively praising Howard Dean and blasting Bush as the great satan. What they advocate isn't press criticism, it's stalking.

It's hilarious to watch professional journalists, a group that makes their living subjecting public figures and private citizens to scrutiny and even ridicule, turn into delicate flowers at the mere thought of being subjected to the same treatment. [Workbench]

8:03:10 AM    
 Sunday, January 11, 2004

The Soul of the Good Review. Guest article by Sean McMullen [Emerald City: science fiction and fantasy book reviews]

7:22:27 PM    

Lucid, as expected.

A Turn Up for the Books. Guest article by John Clute [Emerald City: science fiction and fantasy book reviews]

7:22:07 PM    

Twenty Years of Free Software: What Now? -by Richard Stallman. It was twenty years ago on Monday that I quit my job at MIT to begin developing a free software operating system, GNU. While we have never released a complete GNU system suitable for production use, a variant of the GNU system is now used by tens of millions of people who mostly are not aware it is such. Free software does not mean "gratis"; it means that users are free to run the program, study the source code, change it, and redistribute it either with or without changes, either gratis or for a fee. My hope was that a free operating system would open a path to escape forever from the system of subjugation which is proprietary software. I had experienced the ugliness of the way of life that non-free software imposes on its users, and I was determined to escape and give others a way to escape. [GrokLaw]

6:29:05 PM    

40 Government Sites You Can't Live Without. Whether it's a loan, a contract or regulatory information you seek, these sites are just what you need to get acquainted with what the government can do to help you start or grow your business.

40 Government Sites You Can't Live Without: "It seems business owners are forever searching for information. We know this because we read your letters and e-mails imploring us to send you the necessary facts and figures. But because we don't always have the resources to provide you with every detail of business ownership, we have put together a fairly comprehensive list of government resources that will help in your informational quest." [Father Dan]

4:39:19 PM    

The Economist on Coffeehouses, Blogs and Freedom. The Internet in a Cup lays out the similarities between the coffee-houses of the 17th and 18th centuries and the free flow of information across the Internet. I'm going to go warm up my cup before I finish the article,... [Channeling Cupertino]

4:38:22 PM    

Keeping Found Things Found: A Research Project of the Information School at the University of Washington
Plenty of research has focused on how people find information, but very little on how they keep track of it once they've found it. There are already some papers available here, with more to follow. You can help the research by participating in the survey they're conducting.

[Neat New Stuff]

7:25:21 AM    

The Fishbase. The Fishbase is a web-accessible database of fish information. This may sound somewhat... dull... until you actually start playing with it. With over 28,000 fish listed (including my favorite, the Coelacanth), the Fishbase lets you explore by environmental information, location,... [WorldChanging: Another World Is Here]

7:24:13 AM    

Adopt a Campaign Journalist in 2004: The Drift of a Suggestion. Over the holidays, an idea gained some Net traction: webloggers "adopting" a campaign reporter. That means you monitor and collect all the reporter's work, and then... And then what? Follow the turns as the suggestion is taken up. [Blogcritics]

6:50:15 AM