Monday, November 30, 2009

a PSA: Smoking is so bad that it voids your computer's warranty

Heads up, schmokers: Lighting up near your computer is heresy enough that Apple says it voids your warranty should you need to bring a smoke-exposed computer in for repair. Specifically, in at least two instances in different parts of the country, Apple has voided the warranty and refused to provide repair service on Macintosh computers exposed to environments where cigarette smoke has been present. Calling cigarette smoke residue (tar and whatnot) inside a computer a health risk and a "biohazard," in both cases Apple customers have been denied service despite having time left on a valid warranty.

Read the full article here:

Hat tip: LIS News

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Journalist report from National Digital Forum

GLAM isn't my area, but I thought this article was thoughtful and of relevance to SIS.  I thought the connection between media and GLAM was worthy of further discussion as well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Broadband to libraries

This item over at Ars Technica reports on the recent ALA report on Internet access.  Much of the article discusses the difficulties faced by rural libraries in getting access at adequate data rates as well as the funding going with it.  According to the article, the ALA report recommends raising the spending caps on the e-rate program.  It seems that this might be a difficult recommendation to follow given the problems with the e-rate program found by the GAO.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Is Second Life still going?

From the BBC today: "Not long ago Second Life was everywhere, with businesses opening branches and bands playing gigs in this virtual world. Today you'd be forgiven for asking if it's still going. ....

Second Life has had to temper its ambitions for the quality of graphics to extend its accessibility across varying speeds of broadband around the world, leading to complaints about the cartoony look and feel of the site. And there is a fundamental question about whether Second Life is a game or a social networking site. ...."

For the whole article, go to

Oberlin Adopts Open Access Policy and Archive for ALL Faculty Research

[from Inside Higher Education this morning]

Oberlin Adopts Open Access for Faculty Research

Faculty members at Oberlin College voted last week to create an online and free archive to which they will add all work they publish in peer reviewed journals. The move, similar to those taken by faculties at several research universities, reflects support for the open access movement in which the paid subscription model for journals is being challenged. Sebastiaan Faber, professor of Hispanic studies and chair of the General Faculty Library Committee said in a statement: “The current system of journal publishing, which largely relies on subscriptions and licenses, limits access to research information in significant ways, particularly for students and faculty at smaller and less wealthy institutions, as well as for the general public. Access is also seriously limited around the world in countries with fewer resources.”

for the full text of the Oberlin faculty resolution, go to

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Twitter fun facts

This article explains it ... Twitter is for old Americans ...

  • The U.S. has the largest number of Twitter users at 57.4 percent, followed by the UK with 8.2 percent, Canada (5.9 percent), Australia (2.9 percent), Brazil (2.1 percent), Germany (1.6 percent) and the Netherlands (1.3 percent.)
  • Nearly 28 percent of Twitter users are above the age of 45, while 26 percent users are between the ages of 15-24.
  • About 18.4 percent of tweets emerge from Tweetdeck, while Tweetie accounts for 9.1 percent and Seesmic is at 6 percent of the total. Its web interface accounts for 17.8 percent of total tweets.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Better Pencil

Dennis Baron, A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009)

Predictions of how the continuing development of computing technologies is changing the manner in which we read, write, and learn continue to pour out from every possible arena. English professor Dennis Baron gives us a sensible examination of writing and reading practices in the context of the history of communication technology. “Computers and the internet are neither the best developments in the history of writing nor the worst,” Baron contends. “They are simply the latest in a series of innovations in how we do things with words” (p. xv). He discusses writing as a technology; how each new writing technology has been greeted with suspicion (and how technologies are not neutral); and considers the impact of the technologies of the pencil, handwriting, writing on clay, and word processing. Baron is especially intrigued by issues such as concerns about learning how to trust texts, a matter that is not unique to our era as so many have suggested. The primacy of print didn’t happen overnight, but it emerged very gradually, and, moreover, digital text will not be the last means of representing information. Baron is, in fact, optimistic as he looks backward to assess the future of reading and writing. Writing on the screen deepens and broadens writing, he believes, and there are more writers and readers than ever before, embracing the virtual word. Such optimism extends from his way of seeing technology: “By definition it is artificial, a device fashioned for a purpose. Pens are no more natural than keyboards, penmanship no better at reflecting the human spirit than digitized text. But for those of us who have gotten used to keying in our words, working with pens and pencils has already begun to seem less natural, less automatic, less of a direct connection from mind to text, than going online” (p. 66). Some day, keying in words may seem less natural as well.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Anybody using Readability-tm?

from The New York Times: Pogue's Posts [November 6, 2009]

Cleaning Up the Clutter Online

"Readability has changed my life. It’s a new button on your Web browser’s toolbar. With one click, it eliminates EVERYTHING from the Web page you’re reading except the text and photos. No ads, blinking, links, banners, promos or anything else.

The text is also changed to a beautiful font and size (you choose them in advance) and the background is made plain white (or a light shading of your choice). Basically, it makes any Web page look like a printed book page or a Kindle page, and it’s glorious.
I’ve never understood how people can read Web articles when there’s Times-Square blinking going on all around them. Fortunately, I’ll never have to put up with them again. One click does the trick, thanks to Readability—and it’s free. (You get it, and set it up, here. It’s what’s known as a bookmarklet; you install it in your Web browser just by dragging its button onto your toolbar.)

When I mentioned Readability on Twitter, there were hundreds of “OMG, this changes everything!” responses. There were also a few remarks like, “Hey, without the ads, how do you expect Web sites to pay for those articles you’re enjoying?”

Well, first of all, you still see the ads—before you click the Readability button.

Second, and more important, I don’t think advertisers should be blinking, animating and distracting in the first place. If I’m interested in the product, I’ll read the ad. But trying to pull my focus as I’m trying to read crosses some kind of line. You know what? I would never click any ad that blinks or animates in the first place. It’s obnoxious and juvenile, and I’m not about to reward them.

Now and then, Readability can’t parse the page correctly, and it isolates the wrong block of text. No biggie; just refresh the page to bring back the original.

Readability is far more than an ad blocker. It addresses multiple unpleasant trends in Web layout these days: type getting too small, layouts getting cluttered and complex, text overlapping with graphics, ads interrupting the flow of the prose, and so on. (You can print or e-mail the cleaned-up page, too.)

It completely transforms the Web experience, turning your computer into an e-book reader. I think I’m in love."

Friday, November 06, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Take a look at the findings from an interesting survery...reported at EDUCAUSE this week:

Technology Gap
November 5, 2009
DENVER -- Professors think they are doing reasonably well when it comes to using technology in the classroom, according to a survey released here this week by CDW-G at the annual meeting of Educause. Not everyone agrees with the faculty view of things.

Consider these statistics from nationally representative samples of students and faculty members (at two- and four-year institutions, public and private). Asked about their use and their institutions' support for technology, professors said the following:
•75 percent said that their institution "understands how they use or want to use technology."
•67 percent are happy with their own technology professional development.
•74 percent said that they incorporate technology into every class or almost every class.
•64 percent said that they teach in what they consider to be a smart classroom.

Sounds like a technology savvy professoriate. But when students were asked whether their professors understand technology and have integrated it into their courses, only 38 percent said Yes. Further, when students were asked about the top impediment to using technology, the top answer was "lack of faculty technology knowledge," an answer that drew 45 percent of respondents, up from 25 percent only a year ago.

And only 32 percent of students said that they believed their college was adequately preparing them to use technology in their careers.

For the data and the rest of the story, see

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Libraries Confront Digital Natives

In a justifiably self-congratulatory tone – after all, she IS the Chief Executive of the British Library – Lynne Brindley discusses the value of libraries to digital natives in “Challenges for Great Libraries in the Age of the Digital Native,” in Information Services & Use 29 (2003): 3-12.

She reports on the success of the British Library in responding to what she sees as the issues that major research libraries need to pay attention to, which are
- e-Science and E-Research, particularly helping the creators of this content manage the data generated from collaborative support tools.
- Web. 2.0 and Web 3.0 – demonstrating a willingness to consider user-supplied content as something other than a challenge to the library’s authority and role as supporter of the traditional assurances of authenticity of formal publication methods.
- Digitization of special collections material for access – does increased visibility of this material lead to new kinds of scholarship?
- Information literacy – the role of libraries in providing instruction in the development of analytic and evaluation skills so that the digital natives can assess the resources they tend to view rather than read.
- Digital preservation and long-term access – determining what is of continuing access and proposing methods of preserving it for continued use.
- Emphasizing the value of the physical spaces of the research library as “inspiring spaces to support creativity and innovation [and] to support networking.”

In the information economy, the value of intellectual capital held by library collections and their staff is measured by their success in the marketplace, so research libraries need to make sure that their products are available and attractive to the buyers.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Teaching What You Don't Know

Therese Huston, Teaching What You Don’t Know (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009) is a useful book on teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level. Huston, holding a doctorate in cognitive psychology and now on the faculty of Seattle University, addresses a generally neglected aspect of being a faculty member. “Teaching what you don’t know is an increasingly common reality for a majority of academics,” she writes. “The only instructors who may be exempt from the pressure to teach beyond their area of expertise are senior tenured faculty members at research universities and some part-time adjunct faculty” (p. 9). It is certainly not a reality that I am familiar with. In presenting advice on how to prepare for such teaching, Huston provides lots of useful advice about teaching strategies, interacting with students (especially the differences in attitudes and aims between faculty and students), and the assessment of teaching.