Technology

How ASCII Lost and Unicode Won

If you’ve ever heard someone complaining that “this system doesn’t support double-byte characters”, or asking whether “this data’s in Unicode”, and felt as though you really ought to understand what those things mean, then this post is for you.
How ASCII Lost and Unicode Won...

How Technology Widens Class Divisions

Paul Solman speaks with Jaron Lanier, widely regarded as the father of virtual reality and the author of "Who Owns the Future?", about how big computers -- and the government and businesses they empower -- are creating more economic inequality.

 

Today's digital data could be gone tomorrow

"I'm not blaming Microsoft," said Cerf, who is Google's vice president and chief Internet evangelist. "What I'm saying is that backward compatibility is very hard to preserve over very long periods of time."

The data objects are only meaningful if the application software is available to interpret them, Cerf said. "We won't lose the disk, but we may lose the ability to understand the disk."

Smartphones Have Bridged The Digital Divide

Good News Everyone... The Digital Divide has now been bridged by smartphones - the most advanced personal computing devices ever. While personal computers were disproportionally used by the rich, the white and the male, smartphones are more likely to be used by Blacks and Hispanics than Whites, and by girls as equally as boys.

Gadgets you can borrow at the library

Gadgets you can borrow at the Stanford Law Library. Interesting collection of items. Five Fuji bicycles are on the list.

What gadgets does your library lend? Successes? Problems?

Google's Schmidt, Cohen Describe a 'New Digital Age'

Schmidt and Cohen authored a book - The New Digital Age

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.

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