Rhizome Awarded $600,000 by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to build Webrecorder

Rhizome is thrilled to announce today that The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the institution a two-year, $600,000 grant to underwrite the comprehensive technical development of Webrecorder, an innovative tool to archive the dynamic web. The grant is the largest Rhizome has ever received and arrives at the start of its 20th anniversary year in 2016.

The web once delivered documents, like HTML pages. Today, it delivers complex software customized for every user, like individualized social media feeds. Current digital preservation solutions were built for that earlier time and cannot adequately cope with what the web has become. Webrecorder, in contrast, is a human-centered archival tool to create high-fidelity, interactive, contextual archives of social media and other dynamic content, such as embedded video and complex javascript, addressing our present and future.

From Rhizome

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Sacramento’s ‘Library of Things’ Lets You Borrow GoPros, Sewing Machines, and Ukuleles

 The program makes great sense in urban communities, which thrive on publicly connected spaces and resources. Other cities have similar services—the Berkeley Public Library, for instance, created a Tool Lending Library stocked with weed eaters, hedge trimmers, demolition hammers, and electric plumbing snakes.

Reddit users discussed the idea in the Today I Learned community. They noted some of the non-book items they can check out at their own local libraries.

From Sacramento’s ‘Library of Things’ Lets You Borrow GoPros, Sewing Machines, and Ukuleles | Upvoted

(thanks little_wow)

Will Future Historians Consider These Days The Digital Dark Ages?

We are awash in a sea of information, but how to historians sift through the mountain of data? In the future, computer programs will be unreadable, and therefore worthless, to historians.

From Will Future Historians Consider These Days The Digital Dark Ages? : NPR

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It’s 2016 already, how are websites still screwing up these user experiences?!

We’re a few days into the new year and I’m sick of it already. This is fundamental web usability 101 stuff that plagues us all and makes our online life that much more painful than it needs to be. None of these practices – none of them – is ever met with “Oh how nice, this site is doing that thing”. Every one of these is absolutely driving the web into a dismal abyss of frustration and much ranting by all.

And before anyone retorts with “Oh you can just install this do-whacky plugin which rewrites the page or changes the behaviour”, no, that’s entirely not the point. Not only does it not solve a bunch of the problems, it shouldn’t damn well have to! How about we all just agree to stop making the web a less enjoyable place and not do these things from the outset?

From Troy Hunt: It’s 2016 already, how are websites still screwing up these user experiences?!

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X-Rated at the Library: The NYPL's erotica collection

X-Rated at the Library
The New York Public Library’s erotica collection (yes, it has one) includes seedy Times Square ephemera, early transgender magazines and copies of Playboy.

From X-Rated at the Library - Video - NYTimes.com

Top 10 Research Tips for a Great School Year from CIA Librarians

On the Central Intelligence Agency website , the fifteenth most popular story of 2015 was Top 10 Research Tips for a Great School Year from CIA Librarians, https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2015-feature....

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w3id.org - Permanent Identifiers for the Web

The purpose of this website is to provide a secure, permanent URL re-direction service for Web applications. This service is run by the W3C Permanent Identifier Community Group.

Web applications that deal with Linked Data often need to specify and use URLs that are very stable. They utilize services such as this one to ensure that applications using their URLs will always be re-directed to a working website. This website operates like a switchboard, connecting requests for information with the true location of the information on the Web. The switchboard can be reconfigured to point to a new location if the old location stops working.

There are a growing group of organizations that have pledged responsibility to ensure the operation of this website. These organizations are: Digital Bazaar, 3 Round Stones, OpenLink Software, Applied Testing and Technology, Openspring, and Bosatsu Consulting. They are responsible for all administrative tasks associated with operating the service. The social contract between these organizations gives each of them full access to all information required to maintain and operate the website. The agreement is setup such that a number of these companies could fail, lose interest, or become unavailable for long periods of time without negatively affecting the operation of the site.

From w3id.org - Permanent Identifiers for the Web

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How the books we read shape our lives

On the other hand, the sociological questions that lie behind what might be called the origins of the literary sensibility are a great deal less easy to answer. How do people learn to read? How do they fashion their own individual tastes? How do they establish why they prefer one type of book to another type? Where do they acquire the information that enables them to make these selections, and, having acquired it, what do they do with it? After all, there are no hard-and-fast rules about aesthetic choice and how it operates: it was Anthony Powell who, presented by an admirer of his novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time with an ornamental clock on which the names of Poussin and Proust had been engraved, truly remarked that books “have odd effects on different people”.

From How the books we read shape our lives | Features | Culture | The Independent

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Bill Gates: The Billionaire Book Critic

For years, Mr. Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft who now focuses on the philanthropic work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, had been scribbling notes in the margins of books he was reading and then emailing recommendations to friends and colleagues.

Then he began to post these recommendations and critiques on the blog. “A few years ago I started thinking it would be fun to share some of these notes with the public,” Mr. Gates wrote in a recent email interview. “I have always loved reading and learning, so it is great if people see a book review and feel encouraged to read and share what they think online or with their friends.”

From Bill Gates: The Billionaire Book Critic - The New York Times

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EMW Drink Salon: Libraries - Next Thursday!

EMW's Drink Salon on Tech​ ​​​​​and Ethics brings togeth​er a community and a supportive space to spark​​ ​challenging discussions on the role of technology in our ​everyday ​lives. Each month, we invite featured ​speakers to ​lead a conversation. ​We encourage salon ​guests to make new connections​ and to think critically about how technology relates to some of the most important questions we ask humanity.  

From EMW Drink Salon: Libraries - Splash

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How Wikipedia's reaction to popularity is causing its decline

Open collaboration systems like Wikipedia need to maintain a pool of volunteer contributors in order to remain relevant. Wikipedia was created through a tremendous number of contributions by millions of contributors. However, recent research has shown that the number of active contributors in Wikipedia has been declining steadily for years, and suggests that a sharp decline in the retention of newcomers is the cause. This paper presents data that show that several changes the Wikipedia community made to manage quality and consistency in the face
of a massive growth in participation have ironically crippled the very growth they were designed to manage. Specifically, the restrictiveness of the encyclopedia’s primary quality control mechanism and the algorithmic tools used to reject contributions are implicated as key causes of decreased newcomer retention. Further, the community’s formal mechanisms for norm articulation are shown to have calcified against changes – especially changes proposed by newer editors.

From [PDF]How Wikipedia’s reaction to popularity is causing its decline

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How the Internet changed the way we read

One silver lining is that the technological democratization of social media has effectively deconstructed the one-sided power of the Big Bad Media in general and influential writing in particular, which in theory makes this era freer and more decentralized than ever. One downside to technological democratization is that it hasn’t lead to a thriving marketplace of ideas, but a greater retreat into the Platonic cave of self-identification with the shadow world. We have never needed a safer and quieter place to collect our thoughts from the collective din of couch quarterbacking than we do now, which is why it’s so easy to preemptively categorize the articles we read before we actually read them to save ourselves the heartache and the controversy.

From How the Internet changed the way we read

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'Mein Kampf' Enters Public Domain; Arguably, Anne Frank's Diary May, Too

It's been more than 70 years since the end of the Holocaust, but by a fluke of fate — and international copyright law — two stark reminders of the genocide may be entering the public domain in Europe on Friday. Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic manifesto, sees its European copyright expire after Dec. 31; so too for Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl, according to several French activists.

http://goo.gl/KTo9i5 (NPR)

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American Panorama

About the Project
American Panorama is created by the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers serve as editors, Scott Nesbit as an associate editor. Justin Madron manages the project's spatial data. Nathaniel Ayers leads the design work.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the University of Richmond have generously provided funding for American Panorama. Stamen Design developed the software for this project.

From American Panorama

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I read 164 books in 2015 and tracked them all in a spreadsheet. Here's what I learned.

At the end of every book I loved, I felt transformed. I wanted to tell everyone about it, if not read it again right away. The other books, the ones I didn't care about, I read because I thought they would make me better in some way — more well-read, perhaps, or even more interesting. But reading books I wasn't invested in just made me bored and disengaged; I would have been better off doing something else.

I became a librarian because talking about books is one of the only things I like as much as reading them

From I read 164 books in 2015 and tracked them all in a spreadsheet. Here's what I learned. - Vox

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Wikipedia fails as an encyclopedia, to science’s detriment

Most entries, but not all. Disturbingly, all of the worst entries I have ever read have been in the sciences. Wander off the big ideas in the sciences, and you're likely to run into entries that are excessively technical and provide almost no context, making them effectively incomprehensible.

This failure is a minor problem for Wikipedia, as most of the entries people rely on are fine. But I'd argue that it's a significant problem for science. The problematic entries reinforce the popular impression that science is impossible to understand and isn't for most people—they make science seem elitist. And that's an impression that we as a society really can't afford.

From Editorial: Wikipedia fails as an encyclopedia, to science’s detriment | Ars Technica

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The value of books is not restricted to price

The best way to pass along books for future generations to value is give them today. They do this better in Iceland than anywhere. An online article by Giulia Trentacosti described Iceland’s Jolabokaflod, or “Christmas book flood,” festival. The majority of Iceland’s books are published around Christmastime when it’s traditional to exchange new and used books. The flood comes from the fact Iceland is so literate. 

“With around 330,000 inhabitants, Iceland is certainly one of the smallest book markets in the world. Nevertheless, it boasts one of the highest rates of books per capita.” They also each read an average of eight books annually, and “an impressive 98 percent read at least one.” Giving and reading books in a national pastime.

From The value of books is not restricted to price | At The Library Column | newsminer.com

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Just How Gross Are Library Books, Exactly?

But here’s the thing: Unless you’re stuck in some sort of weird literary torture chamber, nobody is ever going to inject you with library book juice. And modern scientists say that just curling up with a book is not enough to make you sick.

“I have never heard of anyone catching anything from a library book,” infectious disease specialist Michael Z. David told the Wall Street Journal. David says that viruses and bacteria can indeed live on the pages of library books, but that the risk of actual infection is very, very low.

From Just How Gross Are Library Books, Exactly? | Mental Floss

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New LibraryBox Release! v2.1

Updates

This release brings with it some long-needed upgrades, including:

Multi-language support for the user interface and a dozen languages built-in
New CSS-styled file directory listings, including responsive design for tablets and smartphones
Even more hardware is now supported, including our least-expensive hardware ever, the GL-iNet router that lets you build a LibraryBox for less than $25.
DLNA support for playing media from your LibraryBox on your TV or other DLNA compatible device
An improved upgrade process for future code releases that means no more need to SSH into your LibraryBox to upgrade it
General stability and speed improvements that make using LibraryBox even better for everyone

From LibraryBox v2.1 | Pattern Recognition

Tested by budget battle and funding cuts, Pa. libraries buckle

But even if a deal is struck or funding released, Drury said the cutbacks could continue at the library if that state funding is reduced.  

"Depending on what the budget number is we may have to make these reductions permanent instead of reinstating them," Drury added.  

Penny Talbert, executive director of the Ephrata Public Library, also in Lancaster County, said state funding for programs like hers has decreased heavily in recent years.  

From Tested by budget battle and funding cuts, Pa. libraries buckle | PennLive.com

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