Walt's blog

Cites & Insights 6:11 available

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large 6:11 (September 2006) is now available for downloading.

The 22-page issue (PDF as usual, but most essays are also available as HTML separates from the home page) includes:

  • Perspective: The New Site & COWLZ: A Lost Opportunity? - The largest essay: Why C&I moved, and the history of COWLZ (such as it is), from start to (apparent) finish, with notes on the gray literature of librarianship.
  • Bibs & Blather - A few things I'd rather not write about and some quick followups from previous issues.
  • Trends & Quick Takes - 4 "trends" (including a back-and-forth on gen-gen) and four quicker takes.
  • The Censorware Chronicles - 10 things you might not know about censorware and a new (and better) "Internet filters: A public policy report"
  • The Library Stuff - Nine or sixteen items, depending on how you look at it.
  • My Back Pages - Nine little rants

And for those of you who stayed away for the summer: Don't forget Cites & Insights 6:10, August 2006: "Looking at Liblogs," a 30-page essay looking at 213 blogs from library people.

Cites & Insights 6:10 available

Cites & Insights 6:10, August 2006 is now available for downloading--from citesandinsights.info, not cites.boisestate.edu.

The 30-page issue consists almost entirely of one big essay:

* Perspective: Looking at Liblogs: The Great Middle - a look at 213 library-person weblogs.

There's also one little piece:

* Bibs & Blather - three brief items.

While each piece is also available as an HTML separate from the Cites & Insights home page, please don't download the big essay if you're planning to print it: You'll use 49 pages instead of 30.

There will be a separate September issue, probably in September.

Cites & Insights 6:10 postponed

The special "design and typography" issue of Cites & Insights for August 2006 has been cancelled on account of heat (and other reasons). (If you want more details, check Walt at Random after 5:30 p.m. PST today.)

My expectation had been that most people could and would skip this mini-issue. Now you (we!) all will.

C&I 6:10, August/September 2006, will appear in August, probably late August. It will be a more substantial issue, almost certainly featuring "Looking at Liblogs: A Chunk of the Great Middle" (title not final).

Cites & Insights has moved

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large has moved to


or, if you want to save a little typing,


All issues and essays are now available at the new site (which is a LISHost.org site, as you might guess).

Please update your bookmarks and links accordingly. For the foreseeable future, issues and essays will continue to be available at the old site (but not via the home page).

Thanks to Boise State University Libraries for hosting Cites & Insights over the past few years!

Update: There was a typographic problem with the HTML essays--turns out "the same file" offered up from a Windows server (the old C&I site) isn't exactly the same as "the same file" offered up from an Apache server, even though both files are bit-for-bit identical. Thanks to quick advice from a reader, the problem was solved the same day it was spotted...

Cites & Insights 6:9 (July 2006) available

Cites & Insights 6:9, July 2006 is now available.

This 26-page issue (PDF as always, but most essays are also available as HTML pages from the home page) is predominantly one 18-page essay:

  • Perspective: Finding a Balance: Libraries and Librarians - A mostly-upbeat continuation of the "Library 2.0" conversation.

The issue also includes:

  • Bibs & Blather
  • Perspective: Scan This Book? - You must have known I'd have something to say about the Kelly/Jarvis booktrashing!
  • The Library Stuff - Nine annotated citations
  • My Back Pages - Eight snarky little essays

If you write a blog: Please be sure to read Bibs & Blather

Cites & Insights 6:8 available

Cites & Insights 6:8, June 2006, is now available for downloading.

The 26-page issue (PDF as usual, but most essays are available as HTML pages from the C&I home page) includes:

  • Perspective: Thinking About Libraries and Access - Why I write about library access, and why I don't stick to Open Access
  • Bibs & Blather - A funny thing happened...
  • ©3 Perspective: Copyright: Finding a Balance
  • Interesting & Peculiar Products - Nine of them
  • Perspective: High-Definition Optical Discs: What You Need to Know Now
  • ©3 Perspective: Finding a Balance 2: Signs of Imbalance (Part 2 of the primary theme for this issue)
  • My Back Pages - five little essays

OCLC-RLG merger

Some of you presumably know that I've worked at RLG what seems like forever (not quite 27 years).

Blake's posted the OCLC and RLG press release about the two combining. Blake posted the whole thing: I just didn't click the "read more" button.

At this point, all I have to say about this is contained in this post at Walt at Random.

You might be bemused by this post, written a few minutes later, based on the fact that today's Library Link of the Day is a speech I gave...more than 13 years ago.

Cites & Insights 6:7 available

Cites & Insights 6:7, May 2006 is now available.

The 22-page issue (PDF as always, but each section is available as an HTML separate from the home page) includes:

  • Perspective: Books, Blogs & Style - Comments (my own and others') about the relationship of books and blogs (and "blooks"!).
  • Following Up and Feedback
  • Trends, Quick Takes & Good Stuff - Five trends, two quicker takes, and two article commentaries.
  • Bibs & Blather - Tweaking the sections, C&I and YBP Academia, two resources you need to be aware of, and a tentative plan for the next four issues.
  • Library Access to Scholarship - Almost half the issue, but it's been six months...
  • Perspective: You Just Can't Comprehend - Maybe off-topic. Maybe not.

No, I haven't shut down Walt at Random

Fixed--it was a Bloglines problem--but Technorati still says I'm hossam4000talat. I imagine that will clear itself up sometime soon.

If you subscribe to Walt at Random via an aggregator, you might or might not notice that it's disappeared.

You also might or might not notice your new friend, hossam4000talat, which at the moment seems to have one brand-new entry, a "hello world." entry.

While this would be the perfect occasion to shut down Walt at Random if I was peevish enough to do so, what's happened is a software problem at LISHost. It affects a number of blogs, but so far mine seems to be the only one whose feeds have been renamed.

Blake's working on it. With luck, all will be made whole. Although the renamed RSS feeds are so strange...

If you're wondering what happened to the last post or two, same answer: No censorship, just software trouble. Now, if I could just get a selected portion of the comments on one post at one very high profile blog to crash similarly...

Hump day

If you have even the slightest sense of humor about the wonders of the internet, go read this. Of course it's a joke. (I miss Lore's old site...)

Oh, there's one other thing: I'm trying even harder to keep this resolution. Right now, when a brouhaha that should have died down seems to be popping up elsewhere, it's difficult. (Nothing to do with AdSense, where I'm still at the "reaching payment trigger in 2 to 5 years" level.)

Time to hang it up?

After much frustration and thought, I just posted this overlong rant at Walt at Random.

Since it's possible that one of my two readers here isn't also a W.a.r. reader, I thought I'd note it here because, well, I'm dead serious about this.

Right at the moment, despite the sun actually emerging for a while today, and maybe because I have a nagging headache, I'm discouraged. Maybe even fed up. And wondering whether it's worth it if what I do is so easily misinterpreted (or is it being misinterpreted?).

So: Here's another place you can tell me that Jenny Levine is right, that C&I is just self-promotion, and all that. It's always hard to judge your own work, so I'm inclined to believe what thoughtful people tell me about mine. Even if what you tell me is "Hang it up."

Cites & Insights 6:6 available

No rain today in Mountain View, for the first time in two or three weeks--what better reason to publish a Spring issue?

Cites & Insights 6:6, Spring 2006 is ready for downloading.

The 26-page issue (all essays except the last also available as HTML separates at the C&I home page) includes:

  • Perspective: Discovering Books: The OCA/GBS Saga Continues - Keeping up to date on various projects to make millions of books more discoverable.
  • The Library Stuff - One featured website and ten articles and posts worth reading.
  • Trends & Quick Takes - seven items, fromclick fraud to AllLearn.
  • Good Stuff Perspective: Journal of Electronic Publishing Returns! - Notes on all but one of the articles in the first new issue of JEP in 3.5 years
  • Following Up and Feedback - belatedly, six pieces of feedback
  • Net Media: Blogs, Google and [Prawn] - that last word's wrong, but I'd just as soon not have this blog blocked.
  • My Back Pages - nine comments and curiosities, exclusive to the PDF edition.

Reminding myself of this year's only resolution

For reasons that are best not enumerated, I was on the verge of massively violating the only New Year's Resolution I've made in years.

If you don't wish to go there, here's the start:

Don't attack the person, attack the message (if I must attack at all).

That's the easy part. The hard part:

When someone demeans me, uses slanderous labels, writes in a generally abusive or belittling manner in order to avoid actual discussion--don't respond in kind.

Ignore the nonsense if possible. If it happens more than once or twice, ignore the person entirely.

Oh, and on an entirely different note: Admittedly, I only allowed room for two ads, not three, but I have to say Google AdSense has been overwhelming: At the rate of clicks in February, I would have earned my first payment in about four years. At the current rate, it's more like four centuries... Maybe the ads just don't appeal to anyone who actually visits Walt at Random.

Cites & Insights update

I managed to "downgrade" to Acrobat 7.0 and, with a couple of tweaks, do a new "proper" PDF for this issue. It's still bigger than it should be (590K, but that's better than 622K--I think it should be around 400K), but the first page now seems to show up after five or ten seconds, not 20 or 30 seconds.

So I've replaced the ugly-but-fast PDF with a pretty-but-not-so-fast version. Some time over the next month, and with some useful info from Seth Finkelstein, I'll try to figure out the problem so as to solve it for future issues. For now...well, I'm neither Irish nor a beer-drinker, so I guess usual weekend stuff will have to suffice.

Update: A minor tweak to the document template (cutting the banner out of the running page header and adding it as the first element in the document itself, if you care) seems to have solved the problem: The PDF is now down to the size it should be, and the first page seems to load in a second or two.

Cites & Insights 6:5 - temporary revision

It's the seventyfifth day of 2006, and C&I 6:5 is the seventyfifth issue of Cites & Insights. The special Diamond Anniversary edition is now available for downloading.

The 28-page issue, PDF as always (but also available as one big HTML file) consists of a tiny little Bibs & Blather and a 28-page

Perspectives: Seventyfive Facets--75 brief essays (average 290 words each), mostly new, some old (but most of you haven't seen them), covering a range of topics.

The PDF is unusually large (about 50% larger than it should be), and I'm not sure why. If the problem continues next month (when a more normal issue should appear), I'll rebuild the journal template to try to correct the anomaly. For now, well, expect a slow download and slow printing for Page 1; it should be fine after that.

NOTE on the above: It's clear that the PDF for C&I 6.5 is unacceptably large and slow, with at least one user saying that page 1 never appears. I credit my stupid agreement to accept a 36MB "upgrade" to Acrobat 7.0.7 for this wonderful state of affairs.

For now, I've replaced the typographically accurate but uselessly slow version with a very fast, very small, and unfortunately very Ariel (or "whatever") version (the PDFWriter output from Word); it's certainly readable, if certainly not what I want.

I'll replace it with a proper version if and when I can get Acrobat downgraded to 7.0 and get it working properly again..

But for now, you can either download the HTML version (lots more pages, Book Antiqua) or the PDF version (ugly typeface, 28 pages).

I knew it was going to be a special issue. I just didn't know how special!

Programmers, analysts, and vendors want to be paid!

I appreciate the fact that Blake approved this story for posting. (I submitted a comment on Archivegrid.org to LITA-L, and it seems to have dropped into the bit bucket...)

As for the headline Blake gave it...well, sure, free information is wonderful, and I take pride in being a contributor to the gift economy. And I hope RLG (my employer) does find additional grant funding to keep ArchiveGrid free beyond the end of May. (We get pretty much zero operational grant funding, which goes along with our zero government subsidy.)

If that doesn't happen...well, note the subject line on this post. I support what RLG does, but I'm not ready to donate my 30 hours a week (cut back from 40 because of funding issues)--and I don't think Sun or our disk farm vendors or our landlord are ready to donate their goods and services either. I believe ArchiveGrid.org adds significant value to the raw data, in addition to the value added by harvesting finding aids and, over the past 25+ years, making it possible for libraries and archives to catalog the sometimes very large and complex records (up to 30K in length, although now there's no upper limit) that characterize archival materials.

But we certainly all hope that ways to keep it free (while keeping RLG viable) will be found, and I know people are doing what they can to make that happen. Funny thing: Those people expect to be paid, also.

Losing my cool (as if I ever had any)

I sent Blake some email today. In some ways I wish I hadn't. It was a brief note on why I haven't really commented on his "10 blogs" story (other than starting a kerfuffle over whether it's plausible to make distinctions about types of online writing).

Those who know me well enough know exactly what the problem was. Those who don't, well, don't need to know. It has to do with interpersonal relations and personal attacks.

But the incidents involved mostly happened a few months back. Blake didn't encounter them. I sent the mail this late because the story's made it to so many places (and the list is on LISWiki). Unfortunately, memories of the whole set of incidents resulted in email that was snarkier than it needed to be.

When you write a lot and don't always make an idiot of yourself, you establish a profile of some sort. When you have a profile, you're a target. And there are some who will look for quotes to take out of context and misinterpret for their own purposes. I know that. I should be used to it. Mostly, I am.

This time, at the end of a tough work week, I vented. Blake caught the heat. My bad.

Consider this a public apology to match the semi-apology I sent to Blake a little while ago. An apology to Blake, that is; not bloodly likely you'll see me apologizing to or recognizing the existence of the other party involved.

Oh, and GregS, if you're reading this: Why can't Bloglines find a feed for Shush?

Cites & Insights 6:4 available

Cites & Insights 6:4 (March 2006) is now available for downloading.

The 24-page issue is PDF as usual; you can also reach the first five essays as HTML separates from the home page.

This issue includes:

  • Perspective: Folksonomy and Dichotomy
  • The Library Stuff: Comments on 20 articles, including the decennial issues of D-Lib and Ariadne
  • ©1: Term and Extent: Kahle v. Gonzales and the Copyright Office's Report on Orphan Works
  • PC Progress, October 2005-February 2006: 32 group reviews in 11 categories.
  • Offtopic Perspective: 50-Movie All Stars Collection, Part 1: Notes on 24 TV movies
  • My Back Pages: Eight brief notes

One that won't be in the next C&I

I'm a ways from doing the March Cites & Insights, but I just finished (I hope) writing the first draft of what's likely to be the longest chunk of the issue, a "Library Stuff" set that cites and comments on several separate articles as well as some of the articles in the tenth anniversary issues of D-Lib Magazine and Ariadne.

(Yes, the "four cancellations" post at Walt at Random was procrastination: the first article in Ariadne requiring comment was a 13,000-word landmark by Lorcan Dempsey, and I had to work up to writing about it...)

There was one more article that I'd printed out and that survived an initial winnowing: "Crying wolf: An examination and reconsideration of the perception of crisis in LIS education," by Andrew Dillon and April Norris, which appeared in the Fall 2005 Journal of Education for Library and Information Science. As the title suggests, Dillon (dean at U. Texas Austin's School of Information) and Norris (a master's student in that school) take issue with the cries of Michael Gorman and others regarding a crisis in today's library/information science schools.

I've just reread the article. I'm not going to add it to the "Library Stuff" section (which is 5,900 words already).

Not because it's not well done: It's very well done.

Not because I'm automatically in agreement with Gorman: By now, after "blog people" and several other issues, it should be clear that having coauthored a book with Michael Gorman 11 years ago does not mean I agree with him on any given issue today.

Nope. What finally dissuaded me was the sense that I just don't know enough to comment intelligently on either side of this issue. Not that that always stops me, but this time it did.

I haven't been to library school. I'm increasingly unlikely to do so. If I did, it would probably be a "library school"--the one at San Jose State University, which still does include the L-word and is, I believe, well respected for educating would-be librarians. And, frankly, I don't read so much of the formal refereed library literature that I have a strong opinion as to its strengths and weaknesses.

Thanks to blogs, I'm aware of a lot more newly-graduated and not-yet-graduated library school/information school students than I was, say, a decade ago. Among that group, I don't see some blind allegiance to technology at the expense of library values and the traditional aspects of librarianship--at least not very often. I see a lot of thoughtful and interesting people.

I think Dillon and Norris do a pretty good job of undermining some claims of crisis. So maybe this is a sub-citation: Not quite part of C&I, but a mild comment on what seems to be a good article, from one who's really not in a position to make coherent judgments in the area.

Hardware affection (not quite love)...and a web service too

I'm one of those touch typists (80wpm adjusting for errors: Thank you, junior high school) who loves the Microsoft Natural Keyboard, and will swear that it's saved me from RSI. I've used the same one at home for maybe five years now (I'm not sure how long); it's a little grungy, but what the hey. And my "new" (now 38 month old) home PC came with a Logitech-built optical mouse, back when that was still a $20 upgrade, and of course I've loved that. Even if the mouse wire can be somewhat of a hassle.

I looked at wireless keyboards and mice, if only to cut back on the rat's nest of wires. With my sleek new Sony LCD display (good industrial design is always a pleasure, particularly when combined with first-rate engineering), cleaning up the desk seems even more worthwhile.

But the mice were expensive on their own--and the mouse/keyboard wireless combos, relatively economical by comparison, had one fatal drawback. There's no way I'd go back to a standard keyboard unless a very sizable bribe was involved. Very sizable.

Times change, and special situations provide special incentives. Thanks to a recent visit to Redmond, I'm typing this on a sleek black Microsoft Natural Multimedia keyboard, black and silver to match my old/new Gateway and the Sony, and wireless. It's the newer "elite" Natural, a little narrower than the original. And moving the cursor with a Wireless IntelliMouse, which seemed like it might be blocky (it's taller than my old mouse) but turns out to be a perfect hand-fit. The two extra buttons are OK too (well, three if you include the scroll wheel); I kept the "magnify" feature assigned by default to one (a fairly slick 5x-magnification window I didn't know Windows XP had),and assigned double-click to one that's hard to hit accidentally.

Then there's the scroll wheel itself. I don't use scrolling that much, partly because the wheels have been a little clunky. This one is...smooth is the word that comes to mind. I can see using it a lot more. As an extra whistle, it's a sideways wheel as well, for apps where that makes sense: you can noodge the wheel left or right.

Color me happy. As to the web service? See my W.a.r. post about Pandora. This just might sucker me into listening to more music and a broader range of music. Which might or might not be a good thing.

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