Editorial

Letter: With computers, why spend big on libraries?

It's been a while since we posted One Of These:

"I confess I have not entered a local library this year because my inquisitiveness and reading enjoyment are satisfied online. And, friends, I shudder in this context when I think about the millions of dollars consumed by our public library system, especially locally in building new, large neighborhood libraries and with plans going forward to expand the main library downtown."

-- Dale R. Leslie, Ann Arbor

What Is the Value of a Human Life?

NPR has a series called "This I Believe". Hear Kenneth Feinberg discuss what he believes.

Who killed the electric car?

Seems like no one:
http://myersmotors.com/

Value for Money

As I write, Twitter has been unreachable for a little over forty minutes. The outage is starting to stretch into an hour. Frankly I question what will come first tonight, the return of Twitter or the kick-off to Uncontrolled Vocabulary #42. This ping shows that the machine lives but is just not responsive:

PING twitter.com (128.121.146.100): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=0 ttl=245 time=315.044 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=1 ttl=245 time=219.245 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=2 ttl=245 time=447.906 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=3 ttl=245 time=221.922 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=4 ttl=245 time=238.351 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=5 ttl=245 time=216.497 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=6 ttl=245 time=233.835 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=7 ttl=245 time=227.089 ms
64 bytes from 128.121.146.100: icmp_seq=8 ttl=245 time=276.421 ms
^C
--- twitter.com ping statistics ---
9 packets transmitted, 9 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 216.497/266.257/447.906/71.099 ms

This has given me pause to think. Yes, online services that are free can be nice things. As CNet's Charlie Cooper has noted in a column, there is even some talk about nationalizing Twitter. The biggest question is what people want and how is it going to be paid for?

Free services online truly are not free. There are fixed overheads to consider such as connections between the server and the rest of the world let alone the electricity to keep the server running. Without an influx of cash regularly, such things do burn out. This is a fear expressed over Twitter.

While Twitter is a nice thing, I have migrated more of what I do over to Pownce. On Pownce I do have my own site where I can post Twitter-like things but can also do more. For the things that Twitter needs extensions to do, Pownce seems more readily equipped to handle such.

Why do I bring this up? The key question in dealing with free services is their reliability. Is Twitter something that is necessarily reliable for what one might do on a day-to-day basis? Do you truly get what you pay for with Twitter? Think about that for a moment.

I am not against micro-blogging. As a way to promote comity it serves a good purpose. I would almost be more in favor of a subscription site being created for library types using WordPress and the micro-blog template known as Prologue. A subscription rate of USD$1 per month per participant would certainly not pay for all costs but it would defray some.

As we enter into what will be the second hour of the Twitter outage, I can only wonder if this makes more sense than what we're in now. After all, doesn't this outage show we've gotten our money's worth? My pinging of Twitter will likely continue until they're back up.

If they're back up today...which may be according to Lynx. They're perhaps just getting crap-flooded right now. Then again, maybe I am too optimistic. -- Read More

Lexicographical Longing

A commentary in the New York Times about the OED no longer being distributed in paper.

Entitled to What?

Essay by ROGER LOWENSTEIN

Virtually unnoticed during the primary season, the baby boom generation turned 62 this year and began to draw Social Security benefits. This heralded a milestone in America’s aging, and depending on which of the candidates you ask, it spells a budgetary straitjacket or possibly a looming social crisis. Over the next generation, the population of seniors will practically double, to 72 million. With more people retiring and a smaller share of people working, the strains on Social Security and especially Medicare will become evident. Over the very long term, the two programs combined are projected to consume virtually the entire federal budget. A portion of Medicare (the part that pays hospital bills) faces insolvency much sooner than that — in 2019. “The entitlement problem is here and now,” says Eugene Steuerle, a senior fellow of the Urban Institute. “It is so big and overwhelming, none of the candidates feel they can tackle it.”

Read full essay at the NYT.

Do I really want it all?

The planning wiki for Uncontrolled Vocabulary showed a piece from ACRLog impacting NexGens. -- Read More

Night of the Living 503

How odd is it that Twitter offers up a 503 error again? This means that it is very possible that the servers are overly taxed. I cannot fathom how such traffic might be arrayed, though.

This poses an interesting point. With all of the chatter about Web 2.0 over the past few years, where does our infrastructure fit into the picture? While talking about infrastructure is not as sexy as showing a slide-sharing presentation, the slide-sharing presentation would not be possible otherwise.

Our economy pursued flash over substance. As the flash fades, what is there really to fall back on?

How I look at being an LISNews author

I try to keep editorial statements to the podcast alone. -- Read More

Boston Globe editorial against privatizing public libraries

Tuesday's Boston Globe has an editorial against privatizing public libraries:

"Libraries serve as the heart and mind of their communities, welcoming preschool children to the world of reading and connecting adults to books, movies, music and the vast reaches of the Internet. They aren't as vital as police or fire services, but neither are they as easily outsourced as park maintenance or garbage collection.

Privatizing libraries elsewhere in the country has yielded mixed results. A private company can only work within the budget that it's given, and its goal is to spend sparingly, or cut back, in order to make a profit. For example, Library Systems and Services, a Maryland company, manages public libraries in California, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas."

Massachusetts is home to the nation's first free public library. That's a legacy worth preserving. Municipal belt-tightening only goes so far. It's up to the taxpaying public to make the investment - to protect a vital source of information and insight."

Also the Swiss Army Librarian has a posting on the privatization issue:

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