Technology

Educators protest government plan to alter popular research database

"Academics are worried that a popular online database covering virtually every topic in the field of education could become much tougher to use under a Bush administration effort to restructure it."

"At issue is a Department of Education proposal to consolidate the Educational Resources Information Center."

"ERIC, as it is called, is a treasure trove of research material about education: It includes abstracts of more than 1 million journal articles, research reports and teaching guides, among other types of literature." (from AP)

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Koha wins Trophée du Libre free-software award

According to Paul Poulain, the Free library automation system Koha has earned the Trophées du libre award for Best Application for Public Agencies. The competition site should have an official list of winners soon. Congratulations to the Koha team for this and for their upcoming version 2.0 release!

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Far-Flung Artworks, Side by Side Online

"Gift shops and poster stores often claim to sell "museum-quality reproductions" of important artworks. But the Amico Library, an Internet archive with digital copies of more than 100,000 paintings, sculptures and photographs, can use the phrase without fear of contradiction. The online library is the result of an unusual collaboration of 39 museums, from goliaths like the Metropolitan Museum of Art to smaller institutions like the Newark Museum, that supply the library with images far more vivid and detailed than those typically found on the Web."

"As members of the Art Museum Image Consortium, or Amico, the museums are responsible for stocking the library with high-resolution digital duplicates of artworks from their permanent collections. Although anyone visiting the library's site (www.amico.org) can search a database of thumbnail-size images and brief catalog descriptions, only educational subscribers have access to larger, more detailed images and the most up-to-date curatorial documentation. Some images are even accompanied by explanatory audio or video clips." (from The New York Times)

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Koha testing RSS feeds from Library catalog

Pat Eyler writes "Koha developers have produced a tool for creating RSS feeds from Koha library systems. Example feeds and more information are available from www.kohalabs.com/rss
"

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The Evelyn Wood of Digitized Book Scanners

"Putting the world's most advanced scholarly and scientific knowledge on the Internet has been a long-held ambition for Michael Keller, head librarian at Stanford University. But achieving this goal means digitizing the texts of millions of books, journals and magazines — a slow process that involves turning each page, flattening it and scanning the words into a computer database."

"Mr. Keller, however, has recently added a tool to his crusade. On a recent afternoon, he unlocked an unmarked door in the basement of the Stanford library to demonstrate the newest agent in the march toward digitization. Inside the room a Swiss-designed robot about the size of a sport utility vehicle was rapidly turning the pages of an old book and scanning the text. The machine can turn the pages of both small and large books as well as bound newspaper volumes and scan at speeds of more than 1,000 pages an hour."(from The New York Times)

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Treasures from Vesuvius

SomeOne writes "This Wired Story is quite interesting; especially for
those of us interested in libraries, information
management, books, technological innovations through
the ages, print culture, national libraries, archival
methods, conservation and preservation, the ancient
world and finally, philosophy/poetry/politics/history.
As an added bonus the author treats us to the word
"turd" as a descriptive device."

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Librarian's as Gods.

Troy Johnson writes "At Wired.com there is a story titled "Shifting into Overdrive" that discusses the impact of digital mass storage. There is a line in the article that says "the overwhelming cheapness of storage will lead to the apotheosis of librarianship". I had to look up "apotheosis" and it means "to make god like". Any story that compares librarians to gods is probably worth reading. "

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Edgar Codd, Key Theorist of Databases, Dies at 79

"Edgar F. Codd, a mathematician and computer scientist who laid the theoretical foundation for relational databases, the standard method by which information is organized in and retrieved from computers, died on Friday at his home in Williams Island, Fla. He was 79."

"The cause was heart failure, said his wife, Sharon B. Codd."

"Computers can store vast amounts of data. But before Dr. Codd's work found its way into commercial products, electronic databases were "completely ad hoc and higgledy-piggledy," said Chris Date, a database expert and former business partner of Dr. Codd's, who was known as Ted." (from The New York Times)

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In Search of Disclosure

"Beyond search engines Yahoo and Google (yes, there is life beyond Google) exist the meta-search sites. These all-in-one search sites save you valuable keystrokes by searching multiple search engines at once and compiling the results for your convenience."

"Sites such as Dogpile, Mamma, and Metacrawler, which harvest results from a number of the Web's best-known large search engines, can be quite interesting. It's intriguing to see how one query can return such different results from various engines. Such variations in results also help illustrate that no one search engine has a monopoly on "knowing" the Web."

"Problem is, regular users of such sites forget -- or don't realize -- that the results they're getting may be skewed. Many search sites these days accept payment from advertisers to list certain Web pages higher in the search results, sometimes marking them as "sponsored" or "partner" links. That means meta-search sites, which tend to give just the first few links retrieved from each engine, are more likely to show sponsored links. Problem is, meta-sites usually strip away any search engine notation that shows that Link X is a paid listing. Users, therefore, generally won't know that on the original search engine, Link X was shown in a colored box or otherwise offset as, in effect, advertising material -- unless they dig deeper to look for sponsorship disclosure information." (from Consumer Web Watch)

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Building a Bigger Search Engine

"Last week, LookSmart released a screensaver that harnesses the spare computing power of volunteers whose machines are indexing the Web."

"Like SETI@Home, LookSmart's Grub screensaver runs in the background or when the computer is idle. But instead of searching for signs of intelligent aliens, Grub crawls the Net to build an index for Web searches."

"In a matter of days, the number of people running Grub jumped from less than 100 to more than 1,000. As of Wednesday, the system was crawling more than 26 million Web pages, according to the site's Web page." (from Wired)

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