Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Amazon launches Blue Origin

Heard about this on NPR today on the way home: here is a link to the story on MSN

Monday, June 26, 2006

Future relevance and impact of academic libraries

James Neal has an article called Information Anarchy or Information Utopia? in the Chronicle from December 2005. I came across it recently and liked the question he asks at the end regarding the library of the future:
The library of the future: Will there be one? We should not question
whether it will survive, but whether it will have relevance and impact.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Someone with a clear understanding of human nature

I don't read Wired that much. It's got good writing but, in print, I find it hard to wade through all the graphic fru-fru. I find it easier to read on the web but, since that's the kind of stuff I usually read on airplanes....

Anyway, somehow I stumbled on a short essay in Wired about Wikipedia and was amazed at the profundity of this writer's insights. For example:

"...Wikipedia exists in a state of quantum significance flux. It's simultaneously a shining, flawless collection of incontrovertible information, and a debased pile of meaningless words thrown together by uneducated lemurs with political agendas. It simply cannot exist in any state between these two extremes. You can test this yourself by expressing a reasonable opinion about the site in any public space. Whatever words you type, they will be interpreted by readers as supporting one of these two opposing views."
You've gotta admire a guy who can create a pseudo-concept like "quantum significance flux" and then throw it into the same paragraph with a lyrical phrase like "uneducated lemurs with political agendas."

My advice:
  1. Read the whole thing. It's short.
  2. Skip the podcast version. It's not as well edited and he seems to have a cold

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

e-journal holdings in WorldCat

OCLC is working with Ex Libris, TDnet, EBSCO and Serials solutions to automatically add member libraries' e-serials holdings in WorldCat. And this info will be available in Open WorldCat. The announcement is at

Sounds very nice.

Monday, June 19, 2006


If you haven't already seen it LibraryThing it's worth a look.
LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. Because everyone catalogs together, you can also use LibraryThing to find people with similar libraries, get suggestions from people with your tastes and so forth.

It's these guys "I'm gonna make a lot of money" scheme that runs on the idea that lots of people will use it to catalog their books (whatever they mean by 'catalog') and, in the social-tagging free-love world, eventually there will be this omnicatalog like wikipedia.

Of course, it doesn't really rely on all those book lovers for metadata. It harvests metadata for current and poplular works and for older, more obscure writings it takes full advantage of all the millions of staff hours the Library of Congress has spent over the years cataloging everything that moves. By the way JH Libraries catalog is also listed as a source for data.

The interface is maddenly clunky. (Who would have thought Horizon could look so good in comparison!) There is a lot of back and forth and screen re-freshing. Importing is whacky--I tried to import my wishlist from Amazon and got a bunch of books I would never read. Maybe I got part of someone else's wishlist. Exporting doesn't follow any bibliographic formatting standards (e.g., RIS). So how am I going to compose a references cited list for my term paper?

That said, it's an interesting idea for non-scholarly work. Has the shared tagging thing going on that creates something resembling a 'people who like what you like also like' world and there is an interesting API called thingISBN (like OCLCs xISBN) which is a kind of FRBR-izing thing -- see the 14 June entry for

I'd be interested in hearing what Scrapplers think of it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Amazon starts selling groceries

Interesting news tidbid on CNET about Amazon venturing into selling groceries online. When I saw the title of the article I thought about all the past ventures in this area that have gone bust.

This year I can now buy a lot electronics on Amazon with my corporate account and some marketplace items. Maybe next I can order pasta?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Network experts issue warning about federal eavesdropping

Here this CALEA story is popping up again...this time in the Chronicle's Wired blog:

Networking Experts Warn Against Government Eavesdropping
available at:

"A group of computer scientists today warned that a federal regulation that requires Internet service providers—possibly including colleges—to re-engineer their networks to make it easier for law-enforcement officials to eavesdrop on Internet-based phone calls could make networks more insecure and could harm technological innovation. Among those sounding the alarm were Vinton Cerf, who helped design the Internet, and computer-security experts Matt Blaze, of the University of Pennsylvania, and Steven Bellovin, of Columbia University."

Their report is available here:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Chronicle has an interesting editorial about how scholarly publishing might be affected by social networking through MySpace or Facebook. Kind of an interesting idea. I wonder how the economics of it might work. Even most open access journals aren't free since somebody has to pay for it (either the author, grant, etc).

Article is at: and called Beyond Google: What Next for Publishing by Kate Wittenberg of EPIC (not the privacy people, but apparently the electronic publishing people).