Saturday, April 30, 2005

Shibboleth article

In an article in Ariadne Simon McLeish describes the experience of Shibboleth installation in a Higher Education environment, and suggests ways to make this experience more user-friendly.

1 + 1 > 2--or Gather locally, share globally

Two developing web-based systems have a potential to produce an incredible synergy.
  1. Social bookmarking for academics:
    • CiteULike: Richard Cameron designed an built it in November 2004 and has run privately since then.
    • Connotea: from Nature Publishing
    • biologging: Alf Eaton's community website for biomedical researchers. This one has other features but works best with HubMed (it's a really cool alternative interface to NLM's PubMed
    This kind of system offers an amazing arena for scholars to share and develop language for describing and locating work in their own areas of study. [I'll spare you the long winded description of theoretical models of contextualization as a social process in the construction of meaning. Trust me, this is amazing.]

    A major limitation of these services is that they do not easily capture bibliographic information about the references collected (author, title, sources, date, etc.). All of this information is invaluable for the more sophisticated search needs of academics. I might want, for example, to view only those articles written before 1999. Also, getting a bunch of links to articles on a web page is only half the battle. Eventually I'll want to use the citations in a paper. I'll need that bibliographic information.

    Also, if I attempt to share citation links online I run smack into the old 'appropriate copy' problem. Maybe I point to a version of the article that's on the publisher's web site but your only access is via Academic Search Premier.

  2. Latent OpenURLs
    OpenURLs can, in theory solve both problems. They can capture that bibliographic data in a rule-governed format that makes harvesting bibliographic information a relatively straightforward process. And they include an element that refers to a link resolver.

    Unfortunately, as they are most often generated now, OpenURLs bind the bibliographic information with identification of a specific link resolving systems that cannot, by definition, be relevant or useful to all readers. That is, to use OpenURLs I have to find a way to make them point to the right link resolver for different readers.

    Latent OpenURLs come to the rescue. They provide a means for embedding metadata via OpenURL specs in regular HTML code without specifying the particular link resolving system to be called upon. Instead a reader's browser can, for example, use a bookmarklet or browser extension with a very simple java script to call the appropriate link resolver from a Latent OpenURL. (This is misleadingly simple. See Daniel Chudnov et al's article on this in issue 43 issue of Ariadne (April 2005) for a full discussion.)

So the social bookmarking manages intellectual access to the resources while Latent OpenURLs provide seamless/transparent linkage to the appropriate version of the resource cited.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Simputer --first computer designed and manufactured in India

Another BBC story, this time about the Amida Simputer, a handheld computing device that was launched today. It was designed in India and manufacturing of it was supported by the Indian government. I remember reading about this a number of years ago and then nothing.

The basic version of the device ncludes:
  • monochrome screen
  • 206 MHz processor
  • 64 MB memory
  • microphone
  • speaker
  • battery that lasts for 6 hours or more
Costs around $250 and is intended to bring the Internet to India's rural population. It runs on Linux and can handle handwriting in Hindi and Kannada. How cool is that.

Read about their view of universal access.

Ultra-thin clients--light and cheap

BBC has a story today about an ultra-thin client product developed by a not-for-profit company, Ndiyo.

"The sub-£100 box, called Nivo, runs on open-source software and is known as a "thin client". Several can be linked up to a central "brain", or server.

Thin clients are not new, but advances have made them more user-friendly."
(£100 is about $190 today)

The product is called NIVO (Network In Video Out). It's a small device (12 X 8 X 2 cm or 4.75 X 3.15 X .75 inches) and that encases just a little more than ports for ethernet, monitor, keyboard & mouse. The next upgrade is planned to add sound and local USB ports. The more distant goal is to make NIVO a chip that goes in a monitor.

Ndiyo's vision for a networking architecture that it becoms "more affordable and sustainable, especially for the developing world." Have a look at their vision/presentation of the product.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Rise of blogs in academia?

What if professors could lecture 24-7? Blog culture invades academia."

From the Village Voice.

Forget wireless

It's not WAN, it's not LAN, it's HAN!

RedTacton is a new Human Area Networking technology that uses the surface of the human body as a safe, high speed network transmission path.

I can't tell if this is real or a send up.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


We're likely to roll out Windows XP for staff workstations in the next week or two.
Today I found two postings that might be related:

RSS feeds for Connotea --a social bookmarking project

Connotea provides RSS feeds for individual accounts. If you want to see an example, I have put a number of citations in my Connotea account and the feed is

Friday, April 22, 2005

RFID in hospitals--it's not just for packages anymore

The Klinikum Saarbrücken in Germany is launching a trial that will tag 1,000 people with plastic wristbands with embedded RFIDs.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The power of view source

So I don’t have a whole lot of time to type all this out.  But there is a theme happening which has been blogged a lot about recently.  The power of view source and software complexity.  We have Craigs List overlaid on top of Google Maps for a Craigs List & Google.  We now have Transit Authority maps overlaid with google.  Some thoughts on this from Sam – blog entry and presentation – and Ben.

New O'Reilly tech blog

Do we really need another?  But O’Reilly has a good rep, so check it out here:

Google Print and the Brits

From Susan:

"The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford in England is the only place you are likely to find an Ethernet port that looks like a book. Built into the ancient bookcases dominating the oldest wing of the 402-year-old library, the brown plastic ports share shelf space with handwritten catalogues of the university’s medieval manuscripts and other materials."

Man, that's better than our plain black tags. I wonder who did their graphics.

And, by the way, yes, they do still have some of their books chained to the shelf. There's cognitive dissonance for you--Chained books and ethernet ports on the same shelf.


Do you remember the good ol' days of control C, control O, control X and Control P?

I used this in grad school. Univ of Michigan has since phased it out and moved to a web-based e-mail program that has something to do with a squirell. This is funny if you know the library professor (who went to school at Hopkins) and feeds a squirell named Bucky and leaves her office window so he can come in and eat when she's out.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Knuckle-heads at Intel stage scavenger hunt

The Chronicle reports that they made an offer on eBay of $10K for a copy of the issue of the issue of Electronics, where Moore published his famous 'law'. Some libraries have already lost their copies, some have had issues cut out of bound sets, while others are locking theirs up.

Intel's defense? "Mr. High, the Intel spokesman, says the company didn't know about other options for finding the journal..." Who do you think they asked? Another example of people thinking that if they know a lot about one thing they know a lot about everything. Arghhh.

Sue V reports that she got our copy from Gilman last Friday and it's now in the Cage.

Two interesting RFID stories

RFID: getting under your skin:

RFID vulnerable to hacking:

Sunday, April 17, 2005

More with Google maps

Now you can get sattelite images. Check out this one

Jeekers, what's wrong with 'validation service'?

RLG has announced a service for checking the quality of your EAD encoding. They are calling it an "EAD Report Card".

They plan to make it open source so you can download to your desktop for faster analysis.

Friday, April 15, 2005


Hey, give a look at Connotea. It's marketed as social bookmarking but seems a nice way to keep references (to materials that are available electronically) at hand any time you need them. You can see who else has linked to an article and, you can look at their tags and even exchange comments.

Here's the announcement in March's D-Lib In-Briefs

Social bookmarking articles

The April edition of D-Lib has two articles about social bookmarking and a brief editorial on "Personalized Information Organization". Looks very interesting.

In a msg to gcs-pcs, Tony Hammond, who one of the authors working on social bookmarking, writes:
These papers describe the current state of play with respect to the new crop of web-based bookmark managers - tools such as and Flickr are well-known exemplars of the genre. These papers describe how such tools can be specialized as web-based reference managers.... Bookmarked references can be shared with other users and can be publicly commented upon. In fact, whole discussion threads can be built up around individual bookmarked references. (The papers are set up as living examples with their own reference lists available online both for comment and further additions.) Import/export opportunities within Connotea include RSS and RIS - support for other formats is under development.

I love the idea that and Flickr are "well-known exemplars."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Latent OpenURLs -- standards are about to be proposed

Have a look at Eric Hellman (Openly Informatics) draft of a proposal developing standards for Latent OpenURLs at The idea is to create a standard for embedding OpenURL metadata into plain HTML.

To make a Latent OpenURL in an HTML document, put an OpenURL into the "href" attribute of an HTML anchor ("a") tag with class (or maybe rel) attribute set to "Z3988" [the NISO OpenURL standard is Z39.88-2004 -- dump the punctuation and the year and you have Z3988]

This proposal grew out of a discussion on the gcs-pcs list about developing a bookmarklet for a simple appropriate-resolver prototype. Having a convention for embedding OpenURLs in plain HTML makes it easier to develop schemes (bookmarklets, plug ins, whatever) for activating the URL to call a link resover server. Should be of interest to publishers of various sorts.

It looks as if the folks on gcs-pcs are about ready to go public (goal is 1 May) so, if you want to get two cents in, or if you'd just like to get a clearer understanding of what this is all about. I recommend Eric's draft.

The 7% solution

"Just 7 percent of adults said they read blogs at least a few times per week, according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll."

Now, don't you feel special?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Call me crazy but... strikes me as an odd and ominous coincident that these two stories appeared on the same day:

  1. French may have to buy compulsory biometric ID cards
    Plan for compulsary ID card could go into effect in 2007

  2. LexisNexis data on 310,000 people feared stolen
    Databases had been breached 59 times using stolen passwords, firm say
I just feel there's a message in there that merits attention.

Jabber - Talkie

well, Jabber - Write-ie didn't work.
Jabber is:
  • A streaming XML technology mainly used for instant messaging
  • the Linux of instant messaging
  • an open, secure, ad-free alternative to consumer IM services like AIM, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo

all this from the homepage of The Jabber SoftwareFoundation site

David, what do you think about this kind of software?

SemioTagger and Skyline--EContent Decision-maker Review By Robert J. Boeri in EContent Jan/Feb 2005.

This is a review of the product
"Entrieva SemioTagger and Skyline

Purpose: A categorization and indexing engine and viewer that organizes unstructured text to allow it to be viewed and leveraged as business intelligence.

Starting Price: $75,000 per CPU plus 20% annual maintenance for which you receive SemioTagger, the Entrieva Software Development Toolkit, one Taxonomy Workbench seat, and 27 subject-area taxonomies.
$50,000 more buys Skyline, SemioMap, and SemioDiscovery. "

Usability VS CMS

Applying Usability Principles to Your CMS
By Tony Byrne - March 2005 EContent vol 26, #3.

The article is about CMS usability but there are lots of interestin tidbits. For example

  • Stev Krug of Dont' make me think. fame says that User Centered Design "is not an occupation but an I encourage people to go ahead and practice it without a license"
  • as projects get larger (more people) the interface needs to get simpler "Put another way, the bigger the project, the less you should spend on a software solution."
  • one way to judge the usability of a product you are looking to buy is to go to the training sessions for the various products.
  • My favorite quote from the article: "In conference rooms around the word, authors are standing up and declaring, 'Our CMS tool sucks.'"

Monday, April 11, 2005

More google

Now they take natural language questions. And, of course, do a relatively good job on:

  • How many angels can dance on the head of a pin (the real question was point of a needle)
  • What is the capital of Liberia?
  • What is the best Electronic Resource Management System -- after the useless sponsored links they pointed straight to the DLF standards page on ERMs
But they failed completely with:
  • Is my cat's medical care deductible --I got random stuff about cat care
My new favorite site is The Straight Dope where they answer great questions like: : Is it possible to be dyslexic in Chinese?

Serial Price Increases--Semi-Scrapple

Swets' report on serials price increases is out at

The document version is for 2005. The spreadsheet version is summarizes the two reports previous to this one.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Univ of Hull Surveys

So, in case you couldn't tell from my CNI CREE report, I'm high on the methodologies of the University of Hull. Check out this survey for their Library. Just lie and start the survey to check it out.

We need to do more cool stuff like this on the assesment front I think. Hull and the CREE project have received a tremendous number of responses from the survey, probably in part due to its ease of use. They also post survey links on their institutional webmail login page, which is a good idea. Maybe we can get IT@JH to do that for us!

CNI Spring '05

A couple of session reviews from the CNI spring meeting in D.C.

Pew & the Internet

If you've never looked at the Pew Internet & the American Life web site, have a look. They have lots of interesting reports and tables of trends.

Amazon invests in books on demand

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Online retailer Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN - news) said on Monday that it bought privately held BookSurge LLC, which maintains a catalog of books that can be printed on demand.


I've been looking for this so long. I continue to hope but it's hard to believe that I'll ever see this technology. EContent has an article about epaper, though, about how it would fit in the for-profit publishing world. text only--free OR pdf -- licensed version

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Google Is Not the End of History

...according to Le Monde.

From the Chronicle:

"President Jacques Chirac of France has asked the head of the country's national library and the minister of culture and communication to plan a French-led project that would make millions of European literary works accessible on the Internet.

"The move appears to be a response to a warning from Jean-Noël Jeanneney, president of the National Library of France, in an essay in the newspaper Le Monde in January. He said plans by Google and five leading academic institutions and libraries in the United States and Britain to digitize and make available online the content of millions of volumes posed a "risk of a crushing domination by America in defining the idea that future generations will have of the world" (The Chronicle, March 4).

"Mr. Jeanneney and Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, the culture minister, met in March with Mr. Chirac, who told them to begin laying the groundwork for a European endeavor similar to the Google project."

Story at:

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Latent OpenURLs--embedding OpenURLs in HTML

OK, I want to put a link to a journal article in my blog. But what link do I use? If I get the article from IngentaConnect, someone else reading my blog might get it through an I&A database like Academic Search Premier. How do I put in the citation and let the reader pick which version.

If the reader has access to an openURL resolver then this Latent OpenURL idea comes to the rescue. To oversimplify, the link in html is an anchor that includes the openURL for the article but the OpenURL is preceeded by text that tells the viewing application to get specific information about the resolver that the reader has access to.

Eric Hellman of Openly Informatics has a page that sumarizes where the work stands now. There is a discussion of its development in the archives of the GCS-PCS list.*

*GCS-PCS is a list that was pulled together during a common interest session at the 2004 fall DLF in Baltimore. The acronym stands for "Gather, Create, Share" and Personal Collection Systems"

230 gigabits of data per square inch

That's Hitachi's claim they will eventually get to once this shift to 'perpendicular' recording. Apparently you can get the magnetic grains closer together if you pack them perpendicularly rather than longitudinally. Since I assume you still have to put the grains in some sort of predictable order (one after another) does that mean that the poles of the grains point away from the center of the line of grains?

Throw another penguin on the barbee

The government of New South Wales has developed a panel to support the use of open source software and services to all of it's departments and agencies. They will provide training and support for Linux. The point is to encourage standards and interoperability in government systems. Interestingly enough, the panel will include reps from companies like Microsoft and Novell as well as Red Hat.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Class Action suit from Tasini case is being settled

The Tasini case was won by authors in 2000 but the framework for the distribution of $$ from the class action suit is just now being drawn up.

The awards run from $5 for a single article to $1,500 each for the first 15 eligible works written for any single publisher. Payment to the author depends on a number of different factors like when the article was coppyrighted, how much the author was paid and when the article was published.

The case only covers works where the author was paid. It doesn't cover works like scholarly articles where the author doesn't receive direct compensation for the writing.

"no freelance author can sue either the database firms or the 36 publishers named in the suit for the material covered. Failure to take advantage of the claim process in the 120-day time period will vitiate the rights of any writers to further legal action against those parties. However, as Murray pointed out, publishers not named in the suit would still be vulnerable."

So, will we now find full content in fulltext databases? Maybe. Our one hope is that authors will "allow publishers and database firms to incorporate missing material into their databases. Since failure to grant future electronic rights permission knocks 35 percent off the fees paid to claimants, the authors should have sufficient motivation."

Sunday, April 03, 2005

IPOD as alarm clock

Hilton is advertising its own special alarm clocks. Its hotel rooms now have clocks with a jack for an ipod (other portable music devices) and they've developed a plug-in that makes your ipod an alarm clock. Bingo-- you carry your own wake-up info with you.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

uPortal update

Copy of email summary and a link to go with.


At JHU we (the JH central IT department and the Library) are currently in the midst of providing a reference implementation of a portal, with the goal of demonstrating its features and getting buy-in from other departments and divisions to develop loosely coupled services using well-defined API's.

We chose uPortal for our reference implementation poortal platform due to its features, wide adoption, commitment to standards (supporting JSR168 portlets and WSRP for example), and existing community of implementors and developers.

One of the Very Important take-home points from the aforementioned demonstration will be to show interoperabilty between different portal implementations.  The RI portal will be uPortal, but we hope to demonstrate that a single portlet can be implemented in a portal-platform-agnostic way, facilitating reusablity and reducing the vendor-lockin associated with proprietary commerial softare.