Friday, October 31, 2008

Impress Your Professor: Don't be afraid to write a blog.

I realized one of my fears this week. It wasn't the thought of Jason kicking in my front door to cut me up, or It (the spider/clown) coming up through my drain pipes in the bathroom to inform me that apparently we do all float down there. It was simply the thought of having my own blog.

So in one of my classes this week we had to create our own blogs. Not really write anything just mess with the coding and blah blah blah - details. So I'm sitting there thinking to myself - Geez!! I could never imagine having a place where I take everything in this jumbled mess of a brain and type it out for anyone to read. What if I don't talk about anything interesting? What if people make fun of my spelling/grammar errors? What if people read my thoughts and think I'm crazy?!

So in a desperate search for answers I stumbled on some advice given by Chris Brogan on Conquering the fear of Blogging. I really believe in the advice that he gives. I also think that blogs are a great way for Librarians to interact with each other (um... hello, this blog for example). Now don't just sit there and read them - go out and start your own! Start up a conversation, share your thoughts and ideas! I'm sure you all have some.

Of course I do have to mention that today is Halloween. If any of you are trick-or-treating today make sure to have your parents check your candy before you eat it. Also I'd like to mention that growing up in Maine I lived about 15 minutes away from Stephen King's house. Now What did I dress up as today? A reference librarian and right now - I'm a blogger. SCARY!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: Stacks of Terror

Nothing but fun videos this week!

Haunted Books
The reason why things are out of place in the stacks.

Cat Ghost

That explains a lot.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Impress Your Professor: Mash-Up

You can watch television on your laptop, listen to music on your phone, your MySpace page can land you a TV show - these days, it seems like all media are turning a solid block of technology. This is a topic that Henry Jenkins covers in his new books Convergence Culture: Where Old Media and New Media Collide.

What does this means for those in the information industry? I'm inclined to think that this is a) awesome and b) makes our jobs more difficult. It's grand that we now how more information (in more forms) available for use. I will never complain about being able to read a once print-only journal online. I worry, however, that librarians will be forced to guess what form of information is best for their patrons.

Sure there are the tried and true lessons learned for the reference interview, but technological changes are occurring so quickly that we may find ourselves having difficulty keeping up.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: Thinking Paper

Daily Prophet, now in E-ink
A news story on e-paper.

I couldn't help myself.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Event: From Data to Visualization

Please come join the local chapter of the American Society for Information Science for our next talk--- "From Data to Visualization: Emerging Tools for Research" given by Jan Johansson (Data Librarian of the Congressional Research Service) and also with Richard Landry (CEO of Conquest Systems)

When: Wednesday, Nov. 12. Dinner at 6:30, Talk at 7pm
Registration: Available online - please complete by Nov. 10


$15 for ASIS&T members (and their friends)
$20 for non-members.
Students Free (Must Register)

Description: Traditionally, data analysis has required extensive expertise in math and statistics combined with training in complex software applications like SAS, Matlab, and the R programming language. Recently, however, new technologies and services have emerged that make it possible to work with raw data using web applications with simple visual interfaces. These visually compelling tools allow researchers to quickly see and communicate relationships
between diverse trends, like the correlation between weather and burglary.This session will include a brief review of the visualizations built into traditional statistical software packages
like R and Matlab followed by a demonstration of three new web-based tools applied to three real research topics. The session will conclude with a panel discussion with Richard Landry, CEO of Conquest Systems, a pioneer in creating readily usable data libraries.

Bio: Jan Johansson serves as the Data Librarian of the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress. Mr. Johansson joined CRS as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2004. Previously, he worked at as a user interface designer and as a reference librarian at
The New York Public Library. Mr. Johansson has a Master of Science in Information from the University of Michigan and a BA in political science from Columbia University and is currently studying computational statistics at Georgetown University.

Where: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, room A5
Metro: Gallery Place-Chinatown (Red/ Green/Yellow) or Metro Center (Red/Blue/Orange)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Impress Your Professor : Orwellian Databases?

There was an article in the BBC online yesterday about Great Britain's plans to create a centralized database to track all internet traffic and cell phone conversations. It's being condemned by some as "Orwellian." Some have pointed out that the security risks involved in gathering and storing such information far outweigh the benefits -- what if someone hacked into that database? The counterargument is that it would be an invaluable way to track terrorist activity and without it we will not be safe.

Which leads me to wonder, how much does our free and open society depend on its members being "men (and women) of good will?" Totally and completely, I think. The minute even one person not of good will, so to speak, enters the free and open society and does something with intent to cause harm to other members, the freedom of all its members is compromised -- the need for security will always compromise privacy. As long as there is a reasonable amount of privacy, everything is fine -- but a measure like this huge database seems to me to tip the scales in the opposite direction.

Security? or Privacy? Which is more important? Or does there have to be a dichotomy? Why can't we have both? Can we live with the idea that it might be harder or even impossible to track down someone plotting a terrorist attack without a database of their cell phone records and every website they ever visited, because it is even more valuable to know that OUR every cell/digital move is not being tracked and watched?

I think I can, at least for now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: Books?

Not Kindling
An introduction to the Amazon Kindle.

Close Enough
I can't embed this video. Boo. The clip is not that relevant, but it's good know that books are more than just books. They're medieval shields!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The OMG library

Ok, so it's not strictly on topic, but...this library is awesome!

Take a tour of Jay Walker's (founder of Priceline) personal library here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: Personal History

Google Books and the Family Tree
A genealogist discusses her use of Google Books.

The Library Tree
Watch a tree outside the Reading University library live through the seasons.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Impress Your Professor: The Future of Web Browsing... Almost

Rafe Needleman talks about the search interface of tomorrow. Will a more graphical interface be the wave of the future? Who knows. What I do know is that the red zebra at might be the funniest thing I've seen all day (of course it's only 9am).

Enjoy! Read Here