Friday, October 30, 2009
From Reagan's diary to Truman's journal, Lincoln's notes, and Kennedy's scribbling we are fascinated with the inner most thoughts of our national leaders during times of intense political discourse and national change. We look towards the unvarnished, un-spinned, raw, and truthful thoughts of the elected officials we have chosen to represent us in our American Republic as having more interpretive value then the highly sanitized speeches, releases, and talking points that strip away substance in favor of non-offensiveness.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
The word "costive" was new to me - I was very delighted to discover it in this context:
His opening Scriabin selections were cleverly juxtaposed so that he was able to run them together without any breaks. Unfortunately, this served mainly to expose the limitations in his expressive range, bathing everything in the same rhapsodic impressionistic gloss. His posture - head flung back, costive grimace - seemed more a substitute for real engagement than an expression of it.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
(excerpt)...But suppose a well-stocked national digital library system existed for Americans of different ages, along with the means to encourage schoolchildren and others to use it. Among those benefiting:
Students at small colleges without big budgets for either paper or electronic books.
Workers who want to upgrade job skills.
The elderly. In the future many baby boomers may face challenges of their own -- the inability to drive to the public library or read books of normal type size.
People in cash-strapped library and school districts.
With cost-savings in mind, a city council member in Los Angeles is already advocating e-books. "I just believe that with technology moving forward, we could save a great deal of money in not having to buy thousands of books each year when they could be made available online," a news account quotes Councilman Bernard Parks. He's off on some details, but yes, if nothing else, libraries shell out big bucks to store and manage paper collections. "E" could automate plenty.
Writers and publishers who are suffering from slumping book sales and could well stand a little economic stimulus, in the spirit of the old Federal Writers Project.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The widespread success of digital reading devices has proven that the world is ready to read books on screens.
As the audience for digital books grows, we can evolve from an environment of single devices connected to single sources into a distributed system where readers can find books from sources across the Web to read on whatever device they have. Publishers are creating digital versions of their popular books, and the library community is creating digital archives of their printed collections. BookServer is an open system to find, buy, or borrow these books, just like we use an open system to find Web sites.
The BookServer is a growing open architecture for vending and lending digital books over the Internet. Built on open catalog and open book formats, the BookServer model allows a wide network of publishers, booksellers, libraries, and even authors to make their catalogs of books available directly to readers through their laptops, phones, netbooks, or dedicated reading devices. BookServer facilitates pay transactions, borrowing books from libraries, and downloading free, publicly accessible books.
Authors find wider distribution for their work.
Publishers both big and small can distribute books directly to readers.
Book sellers find new and larger audiences for their products.
Device makers can offer access to millions of books instantly.
Libraries can continue to loan books in the way that patrons expect.
Readers get universal access to all knowledge.
Monday, October 19, 2009
By primary legal materials, we mean all materials that have the force of law and are part of the law-making process, including: briefs and opinions from the judiciary; reports, hearings, and laws from the legislative branch; and regulations, audits, grants, and other materials from the executive branch. Creating the system from open source software building blocks will allow states and municipalities to make their materials available as well."
Motoko Rich discusses the implications of ebook loans for libraries and a panel of experts* in the New York Times Room for Debate ask whether the brain likes ebooks.
*Alan Liu, English professor
Sandra Aamodt, author, “Welcome to Your Brain”
Maryanne Wolf, professor of child development
David Gelernter, computer scientist
Gloria Mark, professor of informatics
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Apropos of my my recent post about the transition from books to vooks and, ultimately, perhaps, the demise of text, I stumbled across something called the Article Video Robot. It takes tired old text and converts it to vibrant, compelling video. To try it out, I entered the text of a recent post here at Knowbodies about Wanting to want. See the ghastly end-product here. Of course, some might object, what can you expect, with "garbage in, garbage out"? So I tried again with a bit of real poetry...Larkin's The Trees. It didn't fare much better however...same lurid backdrop, same clumsy hybrid of spoken and written text, and same bass thumping in the background (Jaco P?). Sample it here (love that final message: "Philip Larkin is an 'Expert Author' and a well known expert in the Arts-and-Entertainment field.")
To be fair, these "article to video" services are not intended for bloggers or poets, but for article marketers (Article marketing - a genre new to me - "is a type of advertising in which businesses write short articles related to their respective industry"). But it's interesting to note that there are many such services - (just search for "article to video", e.g. www.videoarticlesecrets.com, www.article2video.com), and they all seem to share the conviction that showing/telling is a more effective way of getting a message across than writing. Is that necessarily true? Google seems to think so, and there is also a very compelling SEO rationale for marketers favoring video over text, explained with great urgency here.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
How do the States Compare? Mash up some government data to find out!
The Federal Government produces an immeasurable amount of data each day. DataMasher helps citizens have a little fun with those data by creating mashups to visualize them in different ways and see how states compare on important issues. Users can combine different data sets in interesting ways and create their own custom rankings of the states. Want to learn more? Watch this brief screencast.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Harvard University Press has published A New Literary History of the United States edited by Werner Sollors and Greil Marcus. This is not a conventional history of U.S. literature, but U.S. history as reflected in its literature, and much of its subject matter has been selected for historical significance rather than literary merit alone. A snippet from the WSJ review: “In this thousand-page compendium...it's clear that nothing remains of the boundaries that traditionally separated literature, history and popular culture. The book comprises more than 200 essays on American life...In snapshots of a few thousand words each, the entries...put on display the exploring, tinkering and risk-taking that have contributed to the invention of America.. Major media reviews are gathered here, and this cool website provides generous samples from the book. Looks absolutely fascinating, and 3.7 pounds and 1128 pages for $32.97 from Amazon, that's got to be a bargain!
This is an annual series initiated under the auspices of the Machine-Assisted Reference Section (MARS) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of ALA to recognize outstanding reference sites on the World Wide Web. View selection criteria.
Among the winners: (for complete list and more info on each site, visit the ALA page)
Title: The American Presidency Project
Title: BBC Country Profiles
Title: Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
Title: English Short Title Catalog
Title: ePodunk (TM)
Saturday, October 3, 2009
The Data Center now includes information from the 2005 American Community Survey, allowing for comparison between 2005 and 2000 data for 30 languages at national, regional, and state levels.
I checked Urdu, Scandinavian Languages, and German, and was surprised to find that the highest density by far for all three languages was in Los Angeles county?!
Here's what I wrote:
Michael Wood's wicked review of Mayer-Schonberger's Delete (LRB, 24 September) is great fun, and his description of the human predicament in the "digital age" - and other ages - is memorable: "Remembering things we would rather forget, and being remembered for them." Department of Homeland Security willing (probably not), there may now be a digital remedy for that problem; a team of scientists at the University of Washington have developed an intriguing system called "Vanish," that causes digital communications to self-destruct after a specified period of time. Needless to say, the implications could be enormous. Last I checked, the UW press release was still at http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=50973
and here's what LRB published:
From Petter Næss
Michael Wood’s description of the human predicament in the ‘digital age’ – and other ages – is striking: ‘Remembering things we would rather forget and being remembered for them’ (LRB, 24 September). Department of Homeland Security willing (it probably won’t be), there may now be a digital remedy for that problem; a team of scientists at the University of Washington have developed an intriguing system called Vanish that causes digital communications to self-destruct after a specified period of time. Needless to say, the implications could be enormous. The last time I checked, the press release was still at http:// uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=50973
Was that necessary? "Striking" instead of "memorable" (it's about memory, get it?)? Is "(It_probably_won't_be_!)" an improvement on "(probably not)"? (come to think of it, just plain (not) would have been best.) "The last time I checked" is certainly more awkward than "Last I checked", but perhaps easier to understand for some readers. Oh well, move on. Gift horse. Mouth.