Information Architecture

‘Controlled Serendipity’ Liberates the Web

Sharing what we see on the Web has reduced the chance that we are also missing something important. Call it "controlled serendipity."

NYT Bits Blog

Helping Children Find What They Need on the Internet

Google sponsored research to detect differences in how children and adults search and to identify barriers children face when seeking information.

When Benjamin Feshbach was 11 years old, he was given a brainteaser: Which day would the vice president’s birthday fall on the next year?

Benjamin, now 13, said he typed the question directly into the Google search box, to no avail. He then tried Wikipedia, Yahoo, AOL and Ask.com, also without success. “Later someone told me it was a multistep question,” said Benjamin, a seventh grader from North Potomac, Md.

“Now it seems quite obvious because I’m older,” he said. “But, eventually, I gave up. I didn’t think the answer was important enough to be on Google.” Benjamin is one of 83 children, ages 7, 9 and 11, who participated in a study on children and keyword searching. Sponsored by Google and developed by the University of Maryland and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, the research was aimed at discerning the differences between how children and adults search and identify the barriers children face when trying to retrieve information.

Full article in the NYT

The American Diet: 34 Gigabytes a Day

A report published Wednesday by the University of California, San Diego, calculates that American households collectively consumed 3.6 zettabytes of information in 2008. The paper — entitled “How Much Information?” — explores all forms of American communication and consumption and hopes to create a census of the information we consume.

I’ll be honest: this is the first time I’ve ever used the word zettabyte. I’ve heard of petabytes and even exabytes, but zettabytes are a whole new level of bytes. If a zettabyte is beyond your comprehension, too, it’s essentially one billion trillion bytes: a 1 with 21 zeros at the end. To put that into perspective, one exabyte — which equals 1/1000 of a zettabyte or 1 billion gigabytes — is roughly equivalent to the capacity of 5.1 million computer hard drives, or all the hard drives in Minnesota.

Full piece here.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #98

This week's podcast looks forward into the past with a replay of archival audio of President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressing the US Congress after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The dateline for this episode is the 78th anniversary of the event.

Also presented in the podcast was a brief discussion of the late-breaking story of Comcast's attempt to acquire a controlling interest in NBC Universal. There was originally going to be discussion of remarks by Rupert Murdoch concerning why news online should never have been free in the first place. The Comcast-NBC matter took precedence.

Related links:
FDR's speech at Archive.org
This installment of Profile America
MSNBC reporting on the Comcast-NBC matter
Greg Sandoval at CNET discussing the Comcast-NBC matter
One Reuters story on the Comcast-NBC matter
Another Reuters story in the matter
Discussion at the Erie Looking Productions blog of the recent coverage of remarks by Rupert Murdoch
MSNBC relaying an AP report on Google's new attempt to restrict how users can reach news sites
Linux Outlaws, a show produced by Sixgun Productions

17:12 minutes (6.9 MB)
mp3
[audio-player]

Storage Terrabyte

Digital storage keeps growing and growing. You can now buy a external terrabyte drive for less than $100

Iomega Prestige 1 TB USB 2.0 Desktop External Hard Drive 34275

Augmented Reality to Be a $732 Million Market by 2014?

Hype around augmented reality, a technology that can superimpose graphics or information over the real world in your phone’s viewfinder, is at a fever pitch. But can it deliver the revenues?

Full article in the NYT

Will budget-conscious libraries embrace a lower-cost alternative for their bibliographic services?

A new company called SkyRiver has launched a bibliographic utility, directly challenging long-dominant OCLC. Over the last 18 years, strategic acquisitions by OCLC have narrowed competition, but SkyRiver—founded by Jerry Kline, the owner and co-founder of Innovative Interfaces—aims to expand the market and offer an alternative bibliographic utility for cataloging that could save libraries up to 40 percent off their expenditures for bibliographic services.

Full article here.

Who Should Control The Virtual Library?

On "Talk of the Nation"

Google stands to be the single repository for millions of the world's books. Advocates applaud the organization and the access a digital library can afford. But critics worry about monopoly and profit motives, and what it means for readers' privacy.

Wikipedia to Limit Changes to Articles on People

Officials at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit in San Francisco that governs Wikipedia, say that within weeks, the English-language Wikipedia will begin imposing a layer of editorial review on articles about living people.

The new feature, called “flagged revisions,” will require that an experienced volunteer editor for Wikipedia sign off on any change made by the public before it can go live. Until the change is approved — or in Wikispeak, flagged — it will sit invisibly on Wikipedia’s servers, and visitors will be directed to the earlier version.

Story in the NYT

Back Up Your Data On... Paper?

CDs, tapes, external drives, off site back up through Amazon S3; all of these are viable options for backing up precious data.

But what about paper?

Crazy? Well, not really. A programme called PaperBack will take files and render them as code on standard paper. Simply print and file. To recover files, scan the paper. Still, what's the advantage?

Well, one big one is that technology comes and goes. We had ZIP drives, tape drives, and all kinds of stuff before now that aren't used anymore. Meanwhile TWAIN, the standard protocol for scanners, has been around for almost two decades and isn't likely to go anywhere soon.

Sure, you wouldn't want to back up, say, your ILS database like this. But how about important circulation data? Passwords for those days when an act of god wipes your data centre from the face of the earth? You could send updates to rural areas with limited internet access. And in the end, it uses a medium that's been with us for thousands of years.

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