Wednesday, June 27, 2007

(This is approximately the 15th time I've read this today and I'm still laughing out loud.)

News Flash: Google isn't perfect

In a crazy revelation posted as recently as today, it has been confirmed that the Google search is not quite, as delicately as I can put this, perfect. There's an excellent article available here on the subject.I think the comments below the article are especially insightful to seeing how patrons/researchers perceive librarians and their roles.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007


the grazr link is not yet correct; it does not include all correct feeds at this point.

for the win

Bloglines RSS Feed available here. Scopus was kicking my face until I realized in a blazing moment of paradoxical happiness and anger at my own stupidity that you can click the link in the databases instead of searching for keywords, selecting view and then selecting the options in that database. go figure; I doubt it should work that way but it does. The main difference and my sticking point was selecting the RSS feed button generated a blank window with a gibberishesque link.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

It's postulated on pg. 136 of The Social Life of Information that "people learn in response to need." Thus if need is not understood or non-existent learning to fulfill an invisible need doesn't happen. Conversely, Brown and Duguid make the point that those people who need/want to learn directly add importance to the level of need that they understand which is necessary to retrieve and capture information to make the necessary skills/knowledge available to them.
Walter Benjamin, a 19th German critic-philosopher, in his monumental essay "The Work of Art in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction" suggests that the original work or works of art possess a particular aura defined as where "the authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history which it has experienced." (pg 221, Illuminations) Benjamin goes on to say that the multiple reproductions of a work of art ultimately diminishes the aura of a work by saturating the visual market, so to speak, changing what would have been a reactionary attitude in the viewer to a progressive reaction. (pg 234) While Benjamin's discussion is particularly directed toward printing and photography, I think that there are certain facets that can be directly applied to the need to learn mentioned above. Brown/Duguit make a fantastic point that "learning to be requires more than just information. It requires the ability to engage in the practice in question." (pg. 128; The Social Life of Information)

With the enormous amount of information available, with the multiple digitization projects occuring and the ability to capture information available through bookmarking, blogging, feeds and wikis learning seems to be available like no other time before. However, I would suggest that perhaps the aura of learning has been slightly skewed by the saturation of information that is available. Learning also involves practice and while such programs as GoogleReader allows the user to quickly sum up and read their favorite blogs this does not mean that learning is occuring. To draw again on Benjamin's definition, the aura of a work of art is dependent on "...the historywhich it has experienced." The aura of learning and ultimately knowledge is dependent on the same history. Traditionally it seems that the amount of time a work or concept can survive validates its existence as well as making it worthwhile to learn about. While history is not a perfect filter, it is a very effective one. The Internet is proving though to exist in an 'a-historical' existence as links are deleted or updated based on their effectiveness rather then their place in a tradition.
The main point is that physical objects have a distinct "specialness" for a lack of a better term. To be able to stand before Picasso's original Three Musicians in the Philadelphia Art Museum or to listen in person to Beethoven's 9th are events that unsurpassable in terms of their transmission to the viewer/listener. The ability to search and capture a reproduction of an image thus lessens the aura of the work. The ability to search and capture the knowledge/learning of a concept in your favorites or bookmarking service lessens the aura of the importance of that knowledge. The implementation fo that knowledge is still tremendously important and vital but the aura of the act of learning has been dimmed. Even with the digitization as a tremendous tool for preservation/conservation of historically important materials, the impact of the original work is unsurpassed.
To quote Hindemith
"And when to live and learn, they ranged the countryside and not just the closely printed paged...The old is good not just because it is past nor
is the new supreme because we live with it.
And ever yet a man felt greater joy than he could bear or truly comprehend.
Your task it is amid confusion, rush and noise
to grasp the lasting calm and meaningful
And finding it anew
to hold and treasure it."

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Today is officially Bloomsday and to recognize/commemorate I went down to catch the last 2 hours of the reading at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. There were some distinct highlights. One was two blind men reading from Braille machines reading the end of Bloom's call and response just before Molly's monologue. Their voices were fantastic and the emphasis and energy well put. Another distinct highlight was that the work was performed rather than merely read. Professional singers performed the appropriate songs in hand with the readers. It made a lot of sense to hear the work read/performed to better understand what was going on in Joyce's mind as he wrote this work. A third highlight is the impact of language especially when read aloud. To listen to another individual read a work such as Ulysses is to purposefully embark into a journey of words and phrases that requires utmost attention but rewards with greater and more deliberate understanding of the text. This was especially true for Molly's end monologue where as she switches from dreaming about Stephen to deriding Bloom. Often the switch hangs on the word "his" which when read is easy to miss especially with the lack of punctuation in this section. With the keen eye to detail, including an Irish accent, Drucie McDaniel did a superb job. It is also interesting to note the way language drives meaning deeper when spoken aloud. I think it is an worthwhile and profitable practice to read familiar or important works aloud to re-learn the ideas, train of thoughts, setting, moods, characters as well for the sheer enjoyment of the story as a story. Granted, this is a little bit harder with Ulysses but one of the luxuries of simply listening is enjoying the grand flow of the language Joyce uses; the alliteration that abounds, the imagery, his cyclical approach to some sections and the inverting of texts from previous sections all make themselves very apparent.
It was a lovely Bloomsday for the reading especially in the afternoon. The end of the street was cordoned off with a half moon of chairs arranged in front of a row house door before which 2 microphones and stands were set up. Two other stands stood facing outward on which placards were placed showing who was reading. There was a light breeze which rolled through the street at periodic intervals providing a refreshing change of air. People who were listening through were, for the most part, respectfully quiet and very interested in the words being read. People who were just walking through were also quiet in respect for the crowd of seeming fools gathered just for the purpose to listen to "the apathy of the stars." I sat on the sidewalk across the street from the rightmost speaker if you are looking at the speaker from the audience. I leaned myself against an available space on a row home wall, kicked off my flip flops, cracked open Ulysses quickly realized I had no idea where they were and simply listened and rejoyced.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Merry Bloomsday!

Ok it's a day early but I'm just that excited.

It's June 16th so plan to revel in everything Bloom, a lot of Joyce and a little bit of Ireland. You might be excited to know that the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia has an original copy of the Ulysses Manuscript. If you're in, around or close to Phila let's go down to Rosenbach
for some Ulysses in the street.

However in all this excitement please reserve several loud, obnoxious boo's for Joyce's grandson who is still a big jerk

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

quick rant

I'm attempting to avoid this for the most part but this is just a quick rant about school. Why in the world is it so stinking difficult to export files from Connotea to ENW? This is ridiculous. Also ridiculous is the amount of times that Koaha keeps timing out. I have to completely clear cache and I can get one record in and then it times out again. Awesome; really. (I'm not even sure where these records are going.)
Other than that; this is great!
Check out this open source project called Sophie which is a part of the Institute for the Future of the Book
As software goes, Sophie is still really rough which the Institute does admit. The help docs also leave a lot to be desired and I still haven't gotten past the first page of creating a "book". I crashed the program 3 times within the 2 hours I was attempting to use it. It's not particularly intuitive either. However, the concept is really sweet and one of the programmers emailed me this morning about the error I forwarded them last night so it was cool. It's worth playing with if you have some time.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The doom of the Luddites

The doom of the Luddites

I think it is hilariously ironic that I am assigned the Luddite group in Cohort 7 as I immerse myself in technology everyday at work; SQL, Microsoft Visual Studio,Innavsys Help Studio to write our Help File, Gotomypc/Crossloop so that I can remote into user's machines and fix stuff, host files, log files, SnagIt Videos so that the programmers can see what buttons they deleted, RDC to make sure that our job processing services haven't crashed, and so on and so forth. I use Google constantly trying to find definition and fixes for errors users receive as well as trying to continue to educate myself. I've been doing this for almost a year in September and I was truly a Luddite at that time. The Internet was a source of amusement; not to be taken seriously. This article, along with Willinsky's book, continue to prove that as much as I immerse, there are hundreds of fathoms beneath me that I have yet to explore. So I will continue to unburden myself of my Luddite trappings to descend and use technology to solve problems.

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First I'm not a programmer and second I despise the use of IM terms in language but this is a pretty funny site. I've done enough ogling of logs and code to understand the examples at the bottom of the page to laugh of bit. Enjoy!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Next Gadget

My Next Gadget

The Sony Reader is definitely the next gadget that I would like to purchase though the price is a bit steep for an impulse buy or pocket money. ($299.99; should also include 2 year service plan $24.99 and Cradle $49.95.)I still and will always prefer physical books but with the increased popularity of e-books and pfds, especially all the journal articles I want to read, this is awesome.

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