Information Science

DRM In Your Library? Consider This...

Thinking about utilizing a service in your library which uses Digital Rights Management (DRM)?

Consider the wise comic of Randall Munroe:

Invisibility Cloak Metamaterial Could Speed Up The Net

One of the big stories circulating around the web is that scientists are working on an invisibility cloak that bends light around it kinda like the Predator.

Turns out that the metamaterial used for this cloak might also have implications for the future of the online world. Tonnes of data is transmitted every second by light waves in fibre optic cables. When these light waves get where they're going, they have to be spread out and processed by bulky equipment. In the grand scheme of computing, this is a fairly slow process.

It could be sped up. Now if only there were something capable of spreading large amounts of light around it, kind of like the materials you'd need to make an invisibility cloak.

More from the Beeb.

Cuil: A New Search Engine Launches

While it may seem odd to note today compared to perhaps 1996 or 1997, a new search engine launched today. Cuil is a search engine focusing more on analyzing text relevance over ranking pages as might Google. Reactions seen on Twitter today were mixed such as those heard from Chad Haefele, Karin Dalziel, and Engadget's soon to be Editor-at-Large Ryan Block.

CNET's Rafe Needleman wrote at his WebWare site about the launch and how it was not the best. Needleman's post showed screenshots of strange results returned by Cuil. Dalziel also linked to a screenshot she posted on Flickr.

Have you tried Cuil today? What is your reaction to the launch of this new search engine?

GPS... On The Moon

Locative information is one of the most practical and heavily used aspects of information science. iPhone users are showing up on Twitter with new apps allowing their iPhone to pinpoint where they are and seek out others using the system. Lots of us use GPS to get around and I don't know about you, but the last conference I went to, my GPS was incredibly useful. Not only could I get around, but I could find bars, restaurants, bookstores, and anything else I needed.

The problem is, GPS only works on the Earth... which could be an issue if we're thinking about going back to the moon.

Now granted the moon is only about a quarter of the size of Earth, but you could still get lost pretty easily and it's not like there's anyone about to ask for directions. So NASA needs a plan... and it turns out that they have one.

Discovery skills versus evaluation skills

Kathryn Greenhill Wonders Should academic libraries be obsessing so much about teaching the discovery of resources? Should we turn more attention to teaching the evaluation of resources ? Is it encroaching on what academics should be doing as part of their course? Should schools have already taught them this by the time they set foot in our libraries? It’s definitely beyond our traditional brief, but given that we no longer have a monopoly on the best discovery tools, is it time we sold the library as a place that has value because there are smart people who can give you personalised help to evaluate your information needs and the resources you find?

Twitter Scooped NBC on Russert's Death

In the world of broadcast news, it's normally a given courtesy that, when a well known news personality dies, the station they worked for will be the first to break the news after the family has been notified. It's one of the unwritten rules of journalism.

In the case of beloved NBC newsman Tim Russert, Twitter scooped the massive network on the big story.

Turns out that a minor lackey at the station heard the news and, assuming it was public knowledge, edited Russert's Wikipedia page to reflect the death. Someone at the station caught it, which makes me wonder who they pay to watch Wikipedia, and changed it back some eleven minutes later.

Too late.

By the time they made the changes, the story was already out on Twitter.

The Web Time Forgot

On a fog-drizzled Monday afternoon, this fading medieval city feels like a forgotten place. Apart from the obligatory Gothic cathedral, there is not much to see here except for a tiny storefront museum called the Mundaneum, tucked down a narrow street in the northeast corner of town. It feels like a fittingly secluded home for the legacy of one of technology’s lost pioneers: Paul Otlet.

In 1934, Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or “electric telescopes,” as he called them) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. He described how people would use the devices to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks. He called the whole thing a “réseau,” which might be translated as “network” — or arguably, “web.”

Full story here.

Douglas Engelbart and the Mother of All Demos

A little history lesson for those out there in library land who don't know who Dr. Douglas Engelbart is. Engelbart gave the world a couple things that we, as library professionals, use every day. He invented a small device capable of positioning a cursor in an X-Y display environment. We call such a device a computer mouse. He also created an interesting technology that allowed the linkage of information to a given word displayed on a computer screen, in other words, hypertext.

Then there's his idea that we'd call Windows, the video conferencing idea, his notion about e-mail, and something called copy and paste.

He displayed and explained these ideas at a demonstration in 1968 which came to be called "The Mother of All Demos." Watch the video over at Google and see how our world changed forever.

Doing Away With Visual Real Estate

Most of us deal with a computer every single day. Some of us enjoy the experience more than others but we all share one common need.

Visual real estate.

In other words, we have one or more monitors and using those we can look at a given number of things. After a certain number, depending on your setup, you hit a point of diminishing returns. In other words, if you open too many windows, you'll clutter up your screen(s) to the point that they're unreadable.

Well, this could fix that. It could also have fascinating implications for the storage and retrieval of data. Think of it as microfilm 2.0.

Mourning Morgan Sparks

It's perhaps fitting that he was named Sparks.

Not too many people will know the name. It's not as famous as Edison or Watt. But everyone knows what he invented because his invention is everywhere these days.

Morgan Sparks invented the transistor.

Now the science community mourns his passing at the age of 91. His invention paved the way for the modern world and had profound effects on computing and information science.

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