Information Retrieval

Why we probably won't have a Semantic Web.

Why we (probably) won't have a Semantic Web.
Some crazy librarian:

My point is that our understanding of the purpose of the Web is wrong. And our understanding of machines is wrong. Just as our understanding of other people is wrong. We can't possibly know the purpose of the Internet. First, we didn't make it. Second, it was designed with only one purpose, to make access to data easier.

So-Called 'Digital Natives' Not Media Savvy, New Study Shows

During the study, one of the researchers asked a study participant, "What is this website?" The student answered, "Oh, I don't know. The first thing that came up."

That exchange sums up the overall results from this study: many students trusted in rankings above all else. In fact, a quarter of the students, when assigned information-seeking tasks, said they chose a website because - and only because - it was the first search result.

Full article at ReadWriteWeb

"Ask Away" Has Stopped Taking Your Questions

This is the day British Columbia's libraries pull the plug on the AskAway! Program, which let patrons from all over the province ask questions of librarians online, in real time, and receive an immediate answer.

The provincial plan for libraries and literacy, set out in Gordon Campbell's 2004 strategic planning document Libraries Without Walls, was to bring the "world within the reach" of anyone with Internet access (and a card to a B.C. library).

Back then, Campbell was optimistic about the potential for digital technologies to promote reading in B.C. He described libraries as "the front lines in the effort to make British Columbia one of the most literate places in the world."

AskAway, launched in 2006, fit Campbell's stated overall goal for Libraries Without Walls, to "facilitate equitable access to information for all British Columbians."

Librarians too have used the service to get a second expert opinion to complement their own when faced with a particularly difficult or specialized question from a patron. The Tyee reports.

Podcasts Without A Fruit-Based Player

Sometimes posts are not easily made to Drupal. Drupal likes text and can be tricky to use if you want to incorporate images into posts. When you have a situation of multiple screenshots to display with text, Adobe Acrobat format can be a better container for such information.

In recognition of that the software & service review article attached to this post is available in Adobe Acrobat format only. Click the download link to access the piece. Podcast subscribers will automatically receive the PDF in their playlist as if it were yet more liner notes.

Missed Spellings in Searches

Missed Spellings in Searches
Besides inadvertent misspellings, people look for ways to do things right. Here now, a few spelling Questions posed to the Yahoo! search box from the past 30 days.

•“how do u spell dule” (duel or dual, depending on the meaning)
•“how do u spell err” (or is it heir)
•“how do you spell martyr”
•“how do you spell appreciate”
•“how do you spell congratulations”
•“how do you spell cancelled”

BP Buys Oil Spill-Related Search Terms

BP is purchasing advertising links that display at the top of the page when you search "oil spill" and similar terms on Google and Yahoo. Danny Sullivan, editor and chief of SearchEngineLand.com, tells NPR that BP is "almost certainly" spending thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars on controlling its message.

Listen to full story on NPR

Harvard Library Works to Maintain Stature in the Shift to Digital

The shift is taking place...from acquisition, to access reports the Globe.

Facing an unprecedented budget crunch, the Harvard University cancelled print copies of more than 1,000 journal titles last year in favor of online subscriptions. And they're is turning toward other universities to collaborate and share acquisitions, all while trying to maintain its libraries’ stature in an increasingly digital world.

“We need to worry less about buying everything, and instead ensure that we have access to these materials,’’ said David Lamberth, a divinity school professor who is overseeing a group tasked with reinventing Harvard’s libraries. “The real issue is giving present and future scholars the ability to find what they need to find.’’

Students can now sit in their dorms and order books directly from their computers to be delivered within 24 hours to the library of their choice from the Harvard Depository, a high-density storage facility where a forklift is required to fetch books from 30-foot shelves. In some cases, students can avoid the library altogether; materials can be downloaded or the library will scan relevant book chapters and e-mail them.

When is a Librarian not a Librarian?

When he's a New York City 311 operator. Read this and see if this doesn't sound like your library..

New York City's 311 service costs $46 million a year and provides a source for local government information, for filing complaints, and for other services in 170 languages.

Here are some lessons from New York's 311 service (story from the NYT):

Each call begins, “Hello, thank you for calling 311. This is ( ). How may I help you?”

An important rule: “Smile through that phone!”

Another rule: "Call-takers are prohibited from imparting information from our previous jobs, our daily lives or the top of our heads, lest it be outdated or just plain wrong."

Percent of calls handled in 30 seconds or less last year: 84%.

The power of parametadata

The power of parametadata
First we had content, then not long after that we had metadata, although no-one called it that. Now we need parametadata – the metadata about metadata!

Neither metadata nor parametadata are anything new, but what is new is how central they have become to all sorts of business processes.

Mendeley Throws Open the Doors to Academic Data

Innovations in communications software and websites can be quite exciting. After the dust dies down, however, it's really not clear how much more information has been made available, how much more people can communicate, how much more thinking has been enabled.

London-based Mendeley's offering up an Open API and making a vast catalog of academic publications searchable, well, that might make the cut.

Full blog post at ReadWriteWeb

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