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)


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."


Librarian's as Gods.

Troy Johnson writes "At 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. "


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)


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)


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 [email protected], 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)


Candy-Coated Electronics

Lee Hadden writes " There is an interesting article on applying library and information
science concepts to the computer field. See the article in the April
15th Wall Street Journal, "Candy-Coated Electronics,"


on the editorial page.

"...Today's standard
file system was born in
the '70s -- never
intended for
21st-century demands.
Nowadays it is
hopelessly outclassed.
The desktop interface
(that pint-sized parking
lot for icons) is in
tough shape too. So we
have search engines and
finder programs and
document managers and
other specialized
applications, operating
like counter clerks at
an ancient library where
the books are all hidden
on collapsing shelves in
the back. But counter
clerks are no answer.
All the important design
requirements apply to
the bookshelf itself --
to the basic
architecture of
information storage. We
need unity and

Read more about it at

(subscription required)



Are we doomed yet?

Sheldon Pacotti makes the case in Salon that a completely open society, rather than a government crackdown, may be the best chance for surviving terrorism by means of nanobots, engineered biological viruses, or other self-replicating technology.

"What happens, in a police bureaucracy, if someone releases a nanotech plague into the environment? If the police can suppress information on the structure of the nanobots, then only a handful of government bureaus and hand-picked researchers may be allowed to work on a cure. Millions could die waiting for the bureaucracy to solve the problem. On the other hand, if the molecular structure of the pest is published worldwide, anyone with the expertise could help design defensive technology."


Cambridge University Library in Joint Repository Project

"Cambridge University Library and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries have embarked on a joint project to establish a digital repository for Cambridge University. The two libraries, working with Cambridge University Computing Service, will jointly receive £1.7 million over two years from the Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI) in order to install an open source computer system called 'DSpaceTM'. The project will be led in Cambridge by the University Librarian, Peter Fox, and at MIT by the Director of MIT Libraries, Ann Wolpert."

"For some time we in the University Library have been concerned about the amount of digital material being created in the University apparently without any provision being made for its long-term preservation and access. DSpace now provides us with the opportunity to offer such a service to our academic colleagues, and we are delighted to have the opportunity of developing it in collaboration with MIT Libraries", said Peter Fox." (from Managing Information)


DRM Primer

\"You start up a DVD movie and before the film starts, you encounter an annoying advertisement. But when you try to fast-forward past the commercial, your player doesn\'t respond.\"
\"You can play your new audio CD on your stereo system, but when you insert it into the CD drive on your Macintosh computer [or PC for that matter], the CD doesn\'t work.\"
DRM. Have so few letters ever inspired such fear in the hearts of librarians?

On the desk, I was flipping though the April 8, 2003 PC Magazine that was patiently waiting to be processed. Inside I found a good little article on DRM. If you don\'t know about DRM you might want to learn about it. For starters it is an acronym for Digital Rights Management. But I don\'t need to sit here insulting your intelligence. Read the article, which happens to have a nice DRM webliography.



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