Thursday, July 30, 2009

The future: music, film, print

I wish I were as cogent a thinker and as eloquent a writer as Walt Crawford. His most recent post is called Five years on. In it he offers his opinion (with which wholeheartedly agree) about the future of music, film, and the various print products of today.

It is worth reading.

One night -- Two #FAIL

Last night I came home from work. The gas utility company (Entergy) which has now dug up part of the parking in front of the house twice, for a week or more each time, since May, had filled in the hole. I heated some left-overs in the microwave. Then I went to do some cleaning. Now, in New Orleans, the house is raised above the ground, and the hot (and cold) water pipes run under the house with no insulation. To get hot water, you have to let it run a bit. Well, it ran, and did not get hot. It ran some more, still not hot. So, I checked the water heater (outside, in a little shed attached, and sitting on a slab), and tried to re-light it. It would not light. On a whim, I tried the (gas) stove. It does not light. Called the utility. About 90 minutes later someone shows up, looks at the meter -- ours is off, our next door neighbor's is on [we live in a "shotgun double," aka a duplex]. Why? He doesn't know. He tests the stove and lights the water heater.

Meanwhile, I tweet it. It shows up as a status update in Facebook. First time it happens to me. I tweet that. I got some suggestions, tweaked the settings, and it happens again. (But not any of the RT messages or @ messages!) This morning I find the answer.

So, #FAIL to Entergy, and #FAIL to Facebook (again).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nicholson Baker, on my side?

A longtime library gad-fly, Nicholson Baker has an article in the August 3, 2009 issue of The New Yorker. It is about his experiences with the Kindle.

I guess, this is sort of a continuation of the attitude which earned him my personal disdain from back in the mid-1990s. He started with his blasting libraries for getting rid of card catalogs [abstract only...go to your paper copy (grin) of The New Yorker for April 4, 1994 - page 64 - or register on the site.] He followed it up with an "exposé" of the then new San Francisco Public Library. In the latter he found that [no, I was not shocked] that there were more books listed in the card catalog than in the online catalog. Apparently, he never thought about those books which never return, and when most libraries automated, they barcoded/entered items from the shelf rather than from the usually inaccurate shelf list.

Well, back to the present....He gives the Kindle a fair shot. He notes a number of shortcomings, some are technological (grayness of the screen, only one typeface available) and other are part of a bigger issue for libraries (and consumers) like the digital rights management issues. (Kindle books can be read only on the Kindle you used to purchase the book.) He even tested the reader function (I guess he got an early one), and the new Kindle DX. In spite of my prior issues with Mr. Baker, I think he has provided an interesting perspective here.

My friend and fellow netizen Michael Sauers has a much more succinct comment today also.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Censorship and ALA program in Chicago

It really annoys me when folks who have absolutely no clue about how the American Library Association operates, leap to conclusions, and mis-state what happened.

My issues start with the Annoyed Librarian (who at least professes to be a librarian and an ALA member at an academic institution). The good thing about AL, is that he/she actually states most of the facts fairly correctly. And he/she is correct that "I doubt the ALA or the ALA Council will have much to say about this." But for the reason he/she is wrong.

First, this was a program organized and sponsored by a Round Table. Round Tables (as units within ALA) are among the looser of the kinds of units. They have no ability to speak for the organization, and at best can get ALA Council to act by getting the Round Table Councilor (or another of their members) to bring it up.

Second, the main reason why Council did not act is that there was nothing to do! What can you do if you invite a panel of people, and suddenly all but one quit! You no longer have a panel! (A panel of one?) What to do? I think the Round Table did the right thing and canceled the program.

The charges by folks like Steven Emerson are ridiculous. An ALA unit (part of a professional organization) is supposed to replace a panel discussion with a presentation by a single individual? I think not!

Then there is Dan Kleinman who runs a web site and blog alleging to be "Safe Libraries" but who has been on a long campaign against freedom of speech in public libraries. In his blog, he shows his complete lack of understanding about conferences and how they are organized by challenging "the ALA to include Robert Spencer in next year's panel."

[Side note: In the library world you can usually tell when someone does not like or understand ALA because it is "the ALA" rather than just "ALA" for me it is a red flag -- almost every time!]

What is most interesting is that the speaker who did not cancel has written a much more even handed treatment of the incident. While Robert Spencer does not explicitly accuse ALA of censorship, he does take a little jab. It seems that he is more interested in being heard than in denigrating an organization which actually invited him to speak.

Monday, July 27, 2009


This one is personal. If you don't care, this is time to move along.

I chatted with my eldest son tonight because it is his 29th birthday. I guess I am feeling old. Along with my younger son's 25th (on the same day as this blog's 4th anniversary), it sure seems that time is flying by.

On the other hand, it was great to see a bunch of blogger friends at the Blog Salon in Chicago this year.

A simple reflection after an "adult beverage."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Web, meida delivery and blogging

There has been a confluence of the above topics in not just the tweets I get, or the blogs I real, or even the email I get.

I am on the routing list for Publishers Weekly, and recently read the May 18, 2009 issue which has the interview with Chris Anderson by Andrew Albanese (who has written for Library Journal). This was to highlight Chris Anderson's new book Free: The Future of a Radical Price. It is an interesting interview, and I recommend it. At the same time I have a link to Financial Times piece which says "most news websites will charge within a year." It is my memory that the New York Times tried this in the early days, and it failed big time. I know that I don't even like to register to read news, I think that this is a big old FAIL.

On the other hand, Casey Bisson expresses some interesting thoughts in dissecting the old business model of the newspaper business. It is headlined: "Newspaper Business: News was a loss leader!" He talks about trying to monetize the newspaper business, and goes to argue that the Financial Times editor is probably wrong.

Roy Tenant takes the position that print is not dead, in a (usual for him) well-written piece. [He tweeted the other day that there were no comments, I see that there are now seven (7), but make him happy and comment!]

He earlier had a great post on social media pitfalls, and cites the Clinical Reader incident which Iris Jastram covered very completely (and he did not mention...)

Finally, there has been an interesting conversation started by Meredith Farkas called: "W(h)ither blogging and the library blogosphere?" Meredith has been a blogging hero to me, I started reading her blog quite a long while before I started blogging myself. (And I have even had a chance to meet her in person at ALA Annual!) Her comments are cogent, and as interesting has been the conversation on Friend Feed. [Addition 7/23 8:30 am: I should have also noted Iris Jastram's thoughtful piece about the ebb and flow of online social interaction using various tools.]

Sunday, July 19, 2009

ALA Annual Round-up

I am back, safely, and with only one snafu (which will remain unnamed, since it was my own fault). And thanks to Aaron Dobbs who got me from the Convention Center to my hotel to O'Hare in time to catch my plane.

If you follow ALA "stuff" you may find this site interesting: ala2009 @ flexyourinfo

Heather Devine has created a site which tracks both the Twitter feeds with #ala2009 and the Flickr photos with a similar tag. So you can see the events and read the short messages about them also. Thanks Heather.

She also has a thoughtful post on her blog about the ALA Doctoral Options Fair.

My friend Jessamyn did not go, but captured several links to events.

Fellow Councilor-at-Large Jim Casey has been doing an excellent summary of his activities for many years. Each year it seems that he finishes it sooner and sooner. He posted it to the Council list, but John Chrastka posted it on the ALA Member Blog.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Leadership and Candor

I picked up on a tweet from Amy Harmon who said: "We can handle the truth even if its bad. ... What our profession needs: a culture of candor." It had a link to this article from the Harvard Business Review.

There is a section towards the end which jumped out at me:
Leaders are far likelier to make mistakes when they act on too little information than when they wait to learn more. But Blake and Mouton went deeper, demonstrating that the pilots’ habitual style of interacting with their crews determined whether crew members would provide them with essential information during an in-air crisis. The pilots who’d made the right choices routinely had open exchanges with their crew members. The study also showed that crew members who had regularly worked with the “decisive” pilots were unwilling to intervene—even when they had information that might save the plane.
Wow...that is huge. I am pleased that I can say that my "boss," the State Librarian, here has been candid about the legislative issues related to funding for libraries in Louisiana. When I was a boss, I tried to act that way. I am now being reminded that it is easier to work for someone who acts that way, even when the news is bad.

Fortunately for libraries in Louisiana, while there have been some funding reductions, the State Library is not laying off any staff, and the other cuts are much less drastic than they are in many states (Ohio, California, and Connecticut come to my mind.)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Links and comments

ALA is coming up at the end of the week. Time to clean off the desk -- actual and virtual!

What counts as "broadband?" Jeff Scott has a good analysis with comments about this. His comment that defining it as one-half of a T-1 line is short-sighted, is insightful. Louisiana was one of the first states to have Internet available to the public in every "main" library in the state. Many are finding that the bandwidth currently provided is not adequate. Many libraries here, and elsewhere I assume, were hoping that the stimulus funding would help them improve network speed. This seems not to be the case.

Annette Day and Hilary Davis have an interesting article about the process of journal selection (and de-selection) for academic libraries in a group blog which I have only recently found: In the Library with a Lead Pipe.

Meredith Farkas is back and continues to be insightful and probably ahead of her time. She talks in a recent post about relying on free/web-based services to deliver critical functions. Her post makes me also think about how is our discussion about things like Library 2.0/Web 2.0 being stored for the future. We can read about the late 19th discussions on the pros and cons of public libraries collecting and circulating fiction because those discussions took place in print. Will library scholars of the end of this century be able to do the same for our discussions? (I'm also going to point to a related/similar discussion imbedded in Walt Crawford's August (?) Cites and Insights. I am sure, since I was reading it in the doctor's office yesterday, that his "Writing about Reading" has influenced my thoughts on Meredith's post.)

I am watching the Google OS situation somewhat closely, in part because we are considering purchasing a "netbook" for our regular travel.

Finally, is my new work love: statistics. In a short (3 minute) TED talk, mathematician Arthur Benjamin talks about the need to redefine the teaching of mathematics. Currently, calculus is the "holy grail" or highest level. He notes that most of us do not use calculus in our daily lives. (Engineers are exempt from this characterization.) However, if everyone had a better understanding of statistics, a lot of us would do better in life.

The link is above....I will try to embed it here:

Happy Blog Anniversary

A recent post from Stephen Abram reminded me that I started this blog four years ago, upon my return from ALA in Chicago.

I started on July 6, 2005, my younger son's 21th birthday. He is now 25, this blog is 4.

This is also post #400! So that is an average of 100 posts per year, or just under 2 posts per week (for those who pay attention to that kind of statistics). This is not a high comment blog, and I suspect that most of you are reading this through a feed aggregator of some sort. The site counter (from 10/31/2005) says over 40,000 hits. According to Google Analytics, 40% are referred from other sites, 40% are from search engine searches, and 20% are direct traffic.

You will see more blogging soon, from ALA.

Friday, July 03, 2009

More Links

I am trying to clean up...and lost stuff...stupid wireless connection. Anyway, this is what you get!

Five tips for a Better ALA Conference Experience from one of ALA's largest divisions

Getting Virtual: ALA Works to Increase Electronic Member Participation

Broadband, Internet access, etc.
Elderly, poor narrow broadband service gap from the AP

Home Broadband Adoption a Pew Study

Lower Broadband Prices -- but only if there is competition

Stimulus rules are out -- are the easily understood?

Open Access, Copyright, Intellectual Property (IP)
Elsevier is lobbying against Open Access [OK, who is surprised?]

File sharing and Copyright from LIS News -- read the report which is a PDF linked from this
Are Books Dead?
The short answer here is "NO" but you should read the long discussion.

But the Canadian National Archives thinks "MAYBE" since they have stopped buying paper.

Miscellaneous Internet issues
Google antitrust issues

Anonymity on the web -- or not!

Hate speechin the US as opposed to the rest of the world

Don't moon people with cameras (or at least hide your face when you do) -- humor, but with an important point

Search and find magazine articles on Google Book Search (from the source)

Taxes and the Internet: Amazon drops partners to avoid state sales taxes
Truly Miscellaneous
Shut up! Announcing your plans makes you less motivated to accomplish them.

PowerPoint Animations are information killers -- I feel vindicated!

Gender gap continues in the computer world -- even if not in libraries, or is it a reverse gap for us.

Humor, from Robert Benchley -- How to get things done despite procrastination
The BIG picture
Is there a "too big to fail" in the book/library world?

Widening generation gap (from; original Pew study here

How teens use media is different than how "we" do (Neilsen study)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Read and Listened to: January - June 2009

This version of my sidebar clean-up is different than in the past. With my new job and commute, I am listening to a large number of books on CD. Two notes:
  1. These are listed in reverse chronological order (since that is how I move them around on the sidebar.
  2. I am leaving the list on the sidebar for another week or two (to remind me of the formatting!).
So first, here are the books I have read in the last six months.

Coop: a year of poultry, pigs, and parenting by Michael Perry

Maximum Ride: The final warning [The Protectors 1] by James Patterson

Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children, and other streets of New Orleans by John Churchill Chase

The soul of a new machine by Tracy Kidder

Sneaker wars: the enemy brothers who founded Adidas and Puma and the family feud that forever changed the business of sports Barbara Smit

Rising Tide: The great Mississippi flood of 1927 and how it changed America by John M. Barry

Smart & Caring: A Donor's Guide to Major Gifting by Richard & Linda Livingston with contributions by Kathleen Hammond & William Rogers

Nine lives : death and life in New Orleans by Dan Baum

Bonk: The curious coupling of science and sex by Mary Roach

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines

The Sand Castle by Rita Mae Brown

The Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigburg 1996 Newbery Award winner

American character : the curious life of Charles Fletcher Lummis and the rediscovery of the Southwest by Mark Thompson

Swim the Fly by Don Calame [Advance Reader Copy]

Book of the dead by Patricia Cornwell

Control of Nature by John McPhee

Dead heat by Dick Francis and Felix Francis

7 Measures of Success: What Remarkable Associations Do That Others Don't by American Society of Association Executives

Are You There Vodka, It's Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink by Tyler Colman

A Great and Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims and the myth of the first Thanksgiving by Godfrey Hodgson

And here are the books I have listened to:
Jeff Shaara's Civil War battlefields:discovering America's hallowed ground by Jeff Shaara, read by Robertson Dean

The great hurricane--1938 by Cherie Burns, read by Anna Fields

A summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor, read by Boyd Gaines

The broken window: a Lincoln Rhyme novel by Jeffery Deaver, read by George Guidall

Look homeward, angel by Thomas Wolfe by Scott Sowers

Brother Ray by Ray Charles and David Ritz, read by Andrew L. Barnes

The complete stories of Dorothy Parker edited by Colleen Breese, read by Barbara Rosenblat

Eyewitness. 1970-1979 commentary by Joanna Bourke ; presented by Tim Pigott-Smith [Very Britain centered!]

Watch your back!: a Dortmunder novel by Donald E. Westlake, read by William Dufris

Liberty: a Lake Wobegon novel by Garrison Keillor, read by the author

Doesn't she look natural? by Angela Hunt, read by Carol Monda

Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt, read by Marc Cashman

When you are engulfed in flames by David Sedaris read by the author

Fallen Founder: The life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg, read by Scott Brick

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, read by Dana Ivey

An arsonist's guide to writers' homes in New England: a novel by Brock Clarke read by Daniel Passer

The worst-case scenario survival handbook. Work by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, read by Jeff Woodman

It!: 9 secrets of the rich and famous that will take you to the top by Paula Froelich, read by Anna Fields

Curiosity killed the cat sitter by Blaize Clement, read by by Julia Gibson

Farewell, my Subaru: an epic adventure in local living by Doug Fine, read by the author

Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek, read by by Julia Gibson

I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe, read by Dylan Baker [25 CDs!]

Double Shot by Diane Mott Davidson, read by Barbara Rosenblat

Mr. Paradise by Elmore Leonard, read by Robert Forster

Hillbilly Gothic by Adrienne Martini, read by Christina Moore

Love, Lies and Liquor: An Agatha Raisin Mystery[sic] by M. C. Beaton read by Donada Peters

The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport by Carl Hiaasen read by the author, unabridged

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott [audiobook on CD/MP3]