Technology

Next-Generation Search: Software Bots Will Anticipate Your Needs

Now things have changed. First, and most obviously, mobile devices are everywhere. Second, there are now legions of interesting Web services to automate. The final ingredient is the most important: With the rise of Big Data, there is now enough information available for a software agent to actually use to perform anticipatory actions. In that context, the challenges of applying software agents and artificial intelligence to business solutions is nothing compared to the potential payoff to users.
The combination of automated agents, contextual search and a sea of data from our devices, services and the Internet of Things, search is poised to become vastly more useful and efficient than it already is. The pieces are getting there with agents like Siri and contextual search like Google Now. If it all works as promised, information we need will be delivered to us just when we need it, without our having to invest time and effort looking for it."

Reading a Bedtime Story Together from Afar

Kindoma Storytime combines e-books with video sharing features. So now you can share a bedtime story with your child or grandchild from anywhere, if you both have iPads, good Wi-Fi, and have downloaded the free app from iTunes.

Originally a research initiative at Nokia, the project has been spun off as an independent company with the project leader, Tico Ballagas. According to Mr. Ballagas, the iPad was not around when the project was conceived, but has become the ideal device for delivering synchronous storytimes.

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A quick look at the National Digital Library Endowment Plan from LibraryCity.org

Note: For more details, see a longer FAQ at http://librarycity.org/?p=6933. David Rothman's email is davidrothman@librarycity.org.

Q. Why a national digital library endowment?

A. U.S. public libraries now spend roughly $1.3 billion a year on books and other content in all formats, around 12 percent of operating expenditures. The figure in the 2010 fiscal year was $1.42 per capita in Mississippi and nationally just $4.22. As reported by the Economist, library sales are approximately 5 percent of those of U.S. book publishers (no wonder the ALA can get only so far in talks with the big publishing conglomerates).

Q. Why should the endowment focus on e-books and other digital content?

A. Costs and greater ease of sharing resources at a national level--while still compensating publishers fairly. Not to mention other possibilities such as reliable interbook links and extensive annotations. Librarians should curate annotations and other user content. The Amazon buyout of Goodreads is an example of the perils of libraries NOT updating their mission.

E-books can efficiently help libraries honor S. R. Ranganathan’s classic Five Laws of Library Science--such as “Books are for use” and “Every reader his book” (or her book). Even academic libraries at well-off universities have limited resources. As for the typical U.S. public library branch, it carries just 4,350 books, a fraction of Amazon's more than 1.7 million, according to the Economist.

The endowment would at least indirectly free up a bit more money for possible spending on paper books at the local level while still responding to readers’ burgeoning interest in e-books.

Q. How would the plan work? -- Read More

For Libraries, MOOCs Bring Uncertainty and Opportunity

Lynne O’Brien, director of academic technology and instructional services at Duke University, said the “rapid uptake” of MOOCs had taken many people by surprise. As she put it, “These courses don’t seem to fit anything of the model that we have for how to do online education well.” She’s been hearing from instructors that “the process of preparing courses for this environment made them rethink” how they teach their on-campus courses. “Faculty have said it’s a huge amount of work but that it’s also a wonderful opportunity,” she said.

Massive Fiber-Optic Installation Lights Up Library Queries

Getting a glimpse into the curious minds of others has never been so beautiful – or so bright.

Designers Brian W. Brush and Yong Ju Lee of E/B Office New York created an extensive fiber-optic installation for the Teton County Library grand opening in Wyoming that visualizes library searches in flashes of colored light. Dubbed Filament Mind, the installation, which opened at the end of January, uses over five miles of fiber-optic cables and 44 LED illuminators to collect, categorize, and render searches from libraries all across the state of Wyoming into glowing bursts of color.

See and read more from Wired.

From Wikipedia to our libraries

"Looked at the right way, Wikipedia can be a big help in making online readers aware of their library’s offerings. One of the things we spend a lot of time on in libraries is organizing information into distinct, conceptual categories. That’s what Wikipedia does too: so far, their English edition has over 4 million concepts identified, described, and often populated with reference links. And Wikipedia has encouraged people to add links to relevant digital library collections on various topics, through programs like Wikipedia Loves Libraries and Wikipedian in Residence programs. But while these programs help bring some library resources online, and direct people to those selected resources, there’s still a lot of other relevant library material that users can’t get to via Wikipedia, but can via the libraries that are near them."

Librarian Of Congress Shoots Back At White House Over Phone Unlocking: We're Just Doing Our Job

Following the White House officially coming out and saying that mobile phone unlocking should be legal, the Librarian of Congress has issued what feels like a passive aggressive response, basically saying that their job is not to consider the public policy, but just to follow the specific rules under the DMCA.

How to Delete Accounts from Any Website

Deleting accounts you've created on Facebook, MySpace, AOL, and elsewhere on the Web isn't always easy. Here are the details on leaving 23 services behind.

What was the first novel ever written on a word processor?

Would best-selling novelist Len Deighton care to take a walk? It was 1968, and the IBM technician who serviced Deighton’s typewriters had just heard from Deighton’s personal assistant, Ms. Ellenor Handley, that she had been retyping chapter drafts for his book in progress dozens of times over. IBM had a machine that could help, the technician mentioned. They were being used in the new ultramodern Shell Centre on the south bank of the Thames, not far from his Merrick Square home.

The Trouble With Finding Books Online - And A Few Solutions

With the glut of self-published books on the market, the biggest obstacle for authors is discoverability – to rise above the noise and clutter and distinguish one’s work. A Rotten Tomatoes sort of rating system seems inevitable.

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