Information Science

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Living with Data Smog

Living with Data Smog
We are a nation awash in data smog. This is more than just information overload — it’s not just that there’s too much information out there for one person to adequately encompass, it’s that there’s too much data out there to even make out the information clearly, let alone to evaluate and act on that information.

Information literacy more than just Googling

From jconline.com:
Q: What can a reference librarian do that I can't do on Google?

A: They know about more sophisticated strategies to find information and more efficient ways to find information than Google and teach you. They can teach you to evaluate those sources you find on Google and get better, more accurate results.

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.

Like Barcodes, But In Reverse

Even with the shift to RFID tags, many libraries still use barcodes. A good many of the libraries using RFID use both the tags and the barcodes.

We're all familiar with the technology; a laser passes over the code and reads it through measurement of reflected light.

A new technology in coded information utilizes something similar but in reverse. Called a Bokode, it uses a small LED covered by a lens with dark patches on it. To read it, you need a camera and some software. The dark patches detail the data and the data given out varies with angle. In other words, a Bokode on a book right in front of you might tell you an item number and title with brief synapsis. A Bokode on a book a little farther down (taken with the same camera at the same time) might tell you why you might like this book if you're interested in that one.

But for my money, here's what makes my little Circulation Supervisor brain titter with glee:

"Let's say you're standing in a library with 20 shelves in front of you and thousands of books."

"You could take a picture and you'd immediately know where the book you're looking for is."

More from the BBC.

Oldest Christian Bible- Now Online

The Codex Sinaiticus is the oldest surviving Christian Bible, dating from around 1,600 years ago. For all but 100 of those years, it sat in a monastery in Sinai.

800 pages of the book, written in Greek on parchment, are now available online for the world's perusal.

More on this story from the BBC site which includes an audio report about how the Codex was discovered and what it took to put it online.

Kindle DRM Bites Users

Hypothetical situation.

You have a Kindle and you buy an e-book. How many times can you download that e-book? In other words can you download it to your Kindle once, but if you replace your Kindle can you download it again?

You don't know?

Well, turns out, Amazon doesn't either. And since the number of times that you can download varies from publisher to publisher and book to book, well, you can start to see the problem.

More from Gizmodo.

Have You Looked At The ROARMAP?

ROARMAP is the Registry of Open Access Repository Material Archiving Policies. A note out on SERIALST this morning mentioned that sometimes Open Access policies are adopted by institutions but not made known. Librarians and others concerned by this can log policies of their institutions with ROARMAP so that a broader picture of prevailing policies can be painted.

Hyperlinked History- At The Gates by The Faceless Historian

My sincere apologies for the tardiness on this episode. We had a family issue come up that necessitated traveling and the chaos that goes with it, so I'm just now getting it online.

This time around, The Faceless Historian ushers you down the aisle of history with some key stops in (THIS... IS...) Sparta(!). Then he provides a dash of poetry and weird books before introducing you to a daughter and a unicycling scientist. Where does it end? Well, I suppose you could use Google to find out.

Sometimes, you don't even know if there is barbarian At The Gates.

Job Search Central at the NYPL

This article in the NY Times announces the unveiling of Job Search Central at the Science, Industry and Business Library Branch of the NYPL, Madison Avenue at 34th Street.

Free one-on-one counseling plus other services are available, as they once were doing a lean period for our current Commander-in-Chief. In an interview four years ago with American Libraries magazine, Mr. Obama recounted how a librarian at the mid-Manhattan branch of the library helped him locate the organization in Chicago that hired him as a community organizer in the mid-1980s. Hurray for librarians!!

Kristin McDonough, director of the business library estimated that more than one-third of the 1,900 daily visitors are looking for work or preparing for the loss of a job. She said about $1 million will be spent throughout the library system in the effort to help job seekers.

More Security Holes Found In Google Docs

The cloud computing concept takes another hit. Techcrunch dropped a story this morning on more holes found in the popular online application Google Docs. This news arrives right on the heels of another security problem discovered earlier this month.

In short, images embedded in Google Docs could be accessed outside Google Docs itself because the images are uploaded to another server. I've seen something like this myself because if you use Blogger, your uploaded images show up in your Picassa account.

If you share a document carrying a diagram, the person will be able to view previous versions of that diagram whether you want them to or not.

Finally, removing another user's access to a document doesn't always ensure that they can't access that document again later.

These flaws seem serious enough to put at risk the ability of libraries to comply with relevant privacy rules as to patrons if Google Docs is in the mix. Free (as in freedom and as in beer) alternatives like Citadel may prove profitable for libraries to evaluate.

Another Take On Technology

It's wireless and never needs charging. It has a touch interface and works with that which you have at home.

The good folks over at Penny Arcade offer their take on the latest in bibliotechnological merriment!

Everyday life information-seeking behaviors of urban young adults

Article on information seeking behavior: People, places, and questions: An investigation of the everyday life information-seeking behaviors
of urban young adults

Full text here.

EVERYTHING Is Harmful To Your Computer - Google Cites Human Error

Between 6:30 and 7:25 am PST, every single search result on Google was met with their dire warning that "This site may harm your computer!". So what happened? Most programmers will nod and smile when they hear that the value "/" was listed as being a site containing malware. For the uninitiated, a / is basically added to the end of every site's URL and it expands to all URLs. So all those Google links got tagged as bad when they were, in fact, just websites. The Google Blog has the full deal. But really, from the perspective of someone who's done web design and programming, it's nice to see the big guys screw up every now and again. Additional reporting by Cali Lewis of GeekBrief TV:

A Tool to Verify Digital Records, Even as Technology Shifts

Simple-to-use digital technology will make it more difficult to distort history in the future.

On Tuesday a group of researchers at the University of Washington are releasing the initial component of a public system to provide authentication for an archive of video interviews with the prosecutors and other members of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Rwandan genocide. The group will also release the first portion of the Rwandan archive.

This system is intended to be available for future use in digitally preserving and authenticating first-hand accounts of war crimes, atrocities and genocide.

Such tools are of vital importance because it has become possible to alter digital text, video and audio in ways that are virtually undetectable to the unaided human eye and ear.

Full story here.

LibraryThing Calls for New Cataloguing Scheme

With all the talk of Dewey or Don't We...

Gawd I'm getting tired of that phrase.

Anyway, with all the talk of whether or not libraries should use DDC, LCCN, BISAC, or something else for their collections and then the possibility of using open databases instead of OCLC, it seems like cataloguing is on everybody's mind.

It is over at LibraryThing too, where they've issued a call for the creation of OSC, or the Open Shelves Classification. They're looking for a few librarians who are of a mind to create a system that's free, "humble," modern, open source, and crowd sourced. Indeed, they want something that the library profession has needed for a long time - a modern system capable of changing, and changing easily.

So if you're of the cataloguing bent, check it out.

Obama's BlackBerry

In the library world, we rely on technology. We e-mail our colleagues and co-workers. We use the web to find information for us and for others. As a profession, and like many other professions, we've grown increasingly attached to digital communications and we'd find ourselves hard pressed to make do without them.

Not so with the highest office in the United States. The President of the United States really doesn't engage in e-mail because of laws regarding the archiving of Presidential communications, but also because of security. While the ability to send a message instantly to POTUS is a powerful thing, if that message contains classified information and it's intercepted by a hacker, then we're talking a matter of national security.

Nevertheless, our new President is a bit of a geek and is addicted to e-mail and his BlackBerry. He's explicitly stated that "They're going to pry it out of my hands."

So how do you provide the security needed by the President when all he really wants is to use the same tools millions of people use every day? Simple. You get him the most secure BlackBerry ever made.

E-LIS To Resume Functioning

Late news via e-mail notes that E-LIS, the E-prints in Library and Information Science, will soon resume functioning. The note indicated that E-LIS was moved to a new server as part of an upgrade by the site to Eprints 3.0. E-LIS Chief Executive Imma Subirats noted that e-mail alerts from the old version site were not migrated to the new version. Subirats suggested that e-mail alerts be re-created by users once the site is fully restored.

OCLC Claims Ownership of Data In OPACs

OCLC may be trying to pull something sneaky with its new policy of claiming contractual rights over the subsequent use of data created by OCLC. In other words, the data in library catalogues couldn't be used to make anything which competes with OCLC in any way.

Needless to say, this would have a hash chilling effect on the creation of open databases of library content.

As you might expect, the library blogosphere is on fire with the news. The podcast presenter at LISNews gave a commentary in the matter during LISTen #47.

Story from Slashdot.

Greenstone 2.81 Released

David Bainbridge from the Greenstone team posted a release noting that a new version of the package was released. Greenstone originates from New Zealand at the University of Waikato. Relative to the changes in the new release, Bainbridge wrote:
The main focus has been on multilingual support. Improvements include handling filenames that include non-ASCII characters, accent folding switched on by default for Lucene, and character based segmentation for CJK languages. This release also features our new installer, which is 100% open source. Previously we had relied on a commercial program for this, which incurred a significant cost in keeping up to date; consequently we decided to develop our own installer, based on the excellent open source installer toolkits already available. There are many other significant additions in this release, such as the Fedora Librarian Interface (analogous to GLI, but working with a Fedora repository). See the release notes for the complete details.
The post gives details on downloading the release as well as daily builds.

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