Archive for April, 2007

A comment on commenting

Posted in Writing and blogging on April 29th, 2007

If you have the urge to comment on a post that’s more than a year old, you’ll find that it doesn’t work: I’ve turned off commenting for all such posts, and will continue to do so once a month or so.

I might cut that to six months. Very few real conversations last longer than six months.

The intent is not to discourage discussion: I love discussion. The reality, though, is that most spamments are aimed at older posts, possibly in the hopes that they can gain link stature without being noticed. The more spamments (even if they’re caught), the more difficult it is to go through them and rescue the real comments that get flagged as spam.

If you do feel the need to comment on something further back, feel free to send me email citing the post and offering your comment. I’ll read it. If it adds an important perspective, I might add it to the post directly (or something like that). Heck, if it’s really insightful, I’ll start a new post linking to the old post, and that will open up a whole new window. I get some great comments, and don’t want to discourage them.
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Oh, as for my “code” on comments. I don’t have one, but: I don’t own your remarks, but I feel free to delete them if I think they’re out of line–and “marginal cases” are treated somewhat more severely if they’re pseudonymous (or if I think the email address is phony), much more severely if they’re anonymous or I’m sure the email address is a “convenience address”–which does not mean that anonymous comments are absolutely forbidden. (They just have to be on-topic and not flames or otherwise offensive.) I tend to discourage profanity here.

And, of course, there’s always the out: If you don’t like my handling of comments, you’re always free to post the comments as a post on your own blog. But I’ve deleted and modified very few comments, and expect to continue in that manner.

Update: Well, the change worked great–for a day. But spidiots (idiots who spam) are nothing if not persistent. In the last two days there have been 170 comments trapped as spam–all of them from the same source, all with innocuous “Great site!” style content, all with a pr0n URL link from the “commenter’s” name, presumably to game search engines. 170. In two days. On a blog with moderate readership. Sigh.

Maybe it’s time to drop back to six-month commenting. Maybe that won’t help either.

50 Movie Pack Classic Musicals, Disc 8

Posted in Movies and TV on April 28th, 2007

A quick note about some IMDB reviews, particularly of the second and third movies: I don’t know how to write down a razzberry, but that and some unprintable language constitute my comment. And calling Hi-De-Ho a “race film,” while possibly accurate in terms of original distribution, says more about the commenter than about the first-rate universal talent of Cab Calloway and his band.

Till the Clouds Roll By, 1946, Color, Richard Whorf (dir.), June Allyson, Judy Garland, Van Heflin, Lena Horne, Van Johnson, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Gower Champion, Cyd Charisse, Angela Lansbury. 2:15

[Note: This movie was also in Family Classics Movie Pack. I did not re-review it except to check for picture and sound quality. This is the review from the early viewing, unchanged except to change “$4” to “$2” in light of changing DVD prices.] Astonishingly, MGM failed to renew copyright on this biopic of Jerome Kern, so it’s in the public domain. The bio part is so-so, but the musical numbers are great and the print nearly flawless. The picture is good enough that I tried it on our big TV to verify quality, which turns out to be VHS quality: Soft for a DVD, and the Pause key shows the difference, but still remarkable for the price. And what a lineup of stars, all singing Jerome Kern’s music. $2, easy.

All-American Co-Ed, 1941, b&w, LeRoy Prinz (dir.), Frances Langford, Johnny Downs, Marjorie Woodworth, Noah Beery Jr., Harry Langdon, Alan Hale Jr. 0:53 [0:48].

It’s short for a feature but it’s a charming musical comedy beginning with a drag song-and-dance number (with frat boys from “Quinceton”) and continuing through a simple but well-done plot with enough humor and plenty of music. The print is excellent. Nominated for two Oscars. It’s a Hal Roach film, and I think it’s a keeper. $2.

Hi-de-Ho, 1947, b&w, Josh Binney (dir.), Cab Calloway, Ida James, Jeni Le Gon, the Millers. 1:12 [1:03].

Let’s get the bad parts out of the way first. The plot is minor at best. The acting in the plot portion of the movie isn’t wonderful. One song that does not appear is Minnie the Moocher (but there’s one heck of a Saint James Infirmary). The print, while very good, is not entirely flawless (and apparently missing nine minutes). Then there’s the good news: The plot doesn’t matter, since the bulk of the movie is head-on numbers by Cab Calloway and his remarkable band—although the band isn’t as remarkable as Calloway himself. There are a few other numbers (great tapdancing by the Millers, one or two songs by an unremarkable trio), but mostly there’s a lot of Cab Calloway, and I can’t see asking for much more. What an entertainer! Singing, moving, getting down, scatting… One good Cab Calloway number is worth a quarter extra in almost any film—as with Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton and Count Basie. A film that’s almost entirely Cab Calloway and band—well, I’m torn between $2 and $2.25. (Hey, with Minnie the Moocher it might get the maximum $2.50.)

Breakfast in Hollywood, 1946, b&w, Harold D. Schuster (dir.), Tom Breneman, Bonita Granville, Billie Burke, Ray Walburn, Zasu Pitts, Hedda Hopper, Spike Jones, Nat ‘King’ Cole. 1:30 [1:27].

The weakest flick on this disc, but that says more about the strength of the first three. “Breakfast in Hollywood” was Tom Breneman’s radio show at his Hollywood restaurant; portions of a supposed episode of the show (and dinnertime entertainment at the restaurant) form the heart of the movie and pretty much all the music. The main plot involves a girl out from Minneapolis on a bus to meet her fiancé, just out of the armed forces—but he’s not there and she runs into another just-released kid at the show, from the same city. Turns out her fiancé got married. The kid falls head over heels for her. She leaves to go back home. Breneman gets involved. There are secondary plots involving Hedda Hopper’s silly hats and a woman who really wants to have the oddest hat at the show because Breneman tries one on and kisses the woman wearing it. There’s more, of course. Well played. Spike Jones, Nat ‘King’ Cole, and some vocalist each get two numbers; it’s great to see Spike Jones in action, and one of Cole’s numbers is an absolutely first-rate blues piece. The negatives: The print’s not in great shape, with damage to the picture and sometimes the sound. Even with damage, this comes in at $1.50.

Balanced Libraries one month in

Posted in Books and publishing, C&I Books, Writing and blogging on April 26th, 2007

Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change

It’s been just over a month since Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change went on sale, a little more than three weeks since anybody but me saw a copy.

So how’s it going?

There are two wonderful reviews, one from Pete Smith at library too, another from Jennifer Macaulay at Life as I know it.

Pete sez (among other things–it’s a thoughtful, detailed review):

[O]ne of the most refreshing aspects of the book [is] that it offers ideas, reflections and examples but always reminds us to put these in the context of our libraries and our visitors. The book is thus a good example of a balanced approach; it is not a strident call to revolution, nor a paean to lost joys. Rather it is a reasoned call to maintain the best of what we have and to always look as to how we can make change work for our libraries…

I recommend this book to anyone interested in ‘Library 2.0′ and other contemporary issues, as Crawford sets them in their wider context. Yet it covers broader issues than just the latest technology, and does so in a considered way. As such, it will also stand when today’s issues are yesterday’s debates. It is passionate, yet not partisan; timely, yet not time bound.

Jennifer sez (among other things–a slightly shorter and also thoughtful review):

I would recommend this book to any of my colleagues. Whether one likes the term or not, the concept of Library 2.0 is important as are the discussions that have taken place around it. Reading Balanced Libraries is a great way to learn more about Library 2.0 – in a very non-threatening way that won’t cause people to become overwhelmed by the winds of change that seem to always be surrounding us….

I definitely think it would be great for all library students to read also. There is some great information about how to balance change and continuity in libraries – which to me, is a critical message.

She also calls the book an “easy read,” which I regard as high praise.

I’m also assured by several people that Lulu’s doing a consistently good production job; I know I’m more than pleased with my own copy. And at $21.50, it’s a bargain among books in this subject area…

When you go to Lulu to order your copy–the link just under the cover works fine–don’t be misled by the seemingly high sales ranking (hey! I’m in the top 2,000!). I won’t cite actual sales, but they’re still in double digits–but it’s early yet.

I’m pleased with Lulu. I’m pleased with the book. I’m delighted with the reviews (but will link equally to mixed and bad reviews, and I expect some mixed reviews…or are those who won’t like my idea of balance unlikely to even read the book?). In an odd and sometimes difficult spring, it’s a bright spot.

Oh, and one reminder: Typos and layout problems are entirely my fault. Lulu just prints what I sent them.

And now I am 243: Changes in Worldcat.org

Posted in Books and publishing, Writing and blogging on April 24th, 2007

A few days ago, I had a respectable showing in Worldcat.org–26 items, I think, including my 15 books, Cites & Insights and some presentations that were cataloged in various AV forms.

Now I have 243, more or less (the “more” is if you just search for Walt Crawford, since there are a few dozen cases where Walt and Crawford show up as something other than a single author).

The difference is that a whole bunch of articles have been added. My American Libraries articles and columns show up early on, with books intermixed. Further down, Online columns and articles pop up–as do, eventually, my “disContent” pieces from EContent. There’s also a few others–actual Refereed Articles, stuff from Library Hi Tech.

I’m impressed.

Thirty years: A quick appreciation of [I]ASFM

Posted in Books and publishing, Stuff on April 24th, 2007

Somtow Sucharitkil. Sharon Webb. John M. Ford. Barry Longyear. Connie Willis.

Also Allen Steele, Lucius Shepard, Nancy Kress, John Varley, Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, James Patrick Kelly, Janet Kagan, Mike Resnick, Octavia Butler, Terry Bisson, Suzy Mckee Charnas, Kim Stanley Robinson, Greg Bear, Pamela Sargent, Kate Wilhelm, Esther M. Friesner, Gardner Dozois.

And don’t forget George Scithers, Kathleen Maloney, Shawna McCarthy, Gardner Dozois (again) and Sheila Williams.

Who they? Will adding Lisa Goldstein, Karen Joy Fowler, and Liz Williams help?

On the way back from Washington Library Association, I was reading the April/May 2007 Asimov’s Science Fiction (originally Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, thus the initialism in the post title). It’s the 30th anniversary issue. It’s also a double issue (this “monthly” appears ten times a year, two of them doubles with double numbering–each double having 230+ pages of tiny SF-magazine type, the equivalent of two full-length novels). It’s a stunner (and might still be available in stores, although it’s probably been replaced by the June issue by now).

The fourth list: Some of the authors in this issue (in addition to Allen Steele, Lucius Shepard, William Barton, Michael Swanwick, Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Jack McDevitt, and Gene Wolfe).

The third? The editors of the magazine over its thirty-year span (all of whom appear in this issue, in brief sequential editorials covering their terms).

The second? Some (not all) of the authors who won Hugos or Nebulas for short fiction published in IASFM–which frequently dominates the novella, novelette, and short story categories of the ballots (not to mention the Hugo for Best Editor: 17 times out of the last 30 years).

Oh, and the first? Authors discovered by the magazine–and that’s only a partial list.

I subscribe to the three science fiction and fantasy magazines that have been around for a while, and typically read them when I’m traveling–but that left such a backlog that I’m reading some at home as well. I’m a decade or more behind on science fiction novels, but I’m reasonably up-to-date on the stellar talents who also write shorter forms, thanks to Analog, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF), and–most of all–Asimov’s. (I probably read two novels a year via Analog‘s serialization. As a matter of policy, Asimov’s doesn’t run serialized novels, saying that there are plenty of markets for book-length SF but very few markets for shorter forms. That leaves one huge loophole: Novels that begin as series of novellas and novelettes, of which there have been more than a few. Since Asimov’s own Foundation trilogy began as a series of novellas and novelettes, it’s not an unreasonable loophole.)

Why the post? Because I’ve been reading Asimov’s since the beginning–quite literally every one of the 376 numbers (it appeared 13 times a year for a while). Even had a collection for a while; I think I gave it away during one of our moves (and certainly don’t have the space to collect!). Thirty years is actually an enormous lifespan for a fiction magazine, particularly given today’s market–none of the three longtimers has healthy circulation, and there’s not really enough advertising to make up the difference. Oh, it’s the youngest of the three–F&SF started in 1949 and Analog began more than 70 years ago (as Astounding), but it’s the only one I’ve continuously read and appreciated. I imagine I’ll subscribe until one of us disappears.

Housekeeping

Posted in Libraries, Travel, Writing and blogging on April 22nd, 2007

I’m still not quite back–that is, I’m back in Mountain View, but not ready to get back to real writing and blogging just yet. (Apart from plowing through blog posts, there are newspapers to catch up on, a tiny amount of taped TV to watch, and a whole lot less energy than I’d like.) Maybe tomorrow. Meantime, a few housekeeping notes:

  • Much as I’d love to comment on some of the stuff reported from CIL (in what seemed like an endless string and variety of posts), I learned my lesson from earlier cases of commenting-on-conference-reports: You can’t win. I wasn’t there. Any attempt to triangulate what was actually said, the vocal inflections, the body language, only works one way–that is, if I take issue with anything that was noted, well, clearly I misunderstood. So, no comments on what happened at CIL. I wasn’t there. (This one’s hard but essential to my sanity.)
  • I was at Washington Library Association. Thanks to Sarah Houghton-Jan (who did the first opening statement) and good moderation and questions, we did a bangup opening keynote in a breakfast session. I stopped counting the compliments. It was probably my only speech of the year (but 2008 may be looking up), or at least the only one I know about so far, and the first speech in many years where my written notes didn’t play into the actual talk at all. Of course, it wasn’t really a speech (10 minutes up front, then a minute or two as appropriate), but it was a kick.
  • I went to underattended sessions. I went to overcrowded sessions (but left, since I figure those who paid registration should get the seats). I went to very good sessions, and some that weren’t quite as great. WLA had a pretty fair amount of non-session time, and people were talking. A lot. Which is probably the best thing about face-to-face conferences.
  • While I’m definitely writing a C&I essay about the whole blogging-code-of-conduct thing, and that essay might include my own current stance, I don’t think my practice is going to change enough to require explicit statements. Two mild changes, though, both affecting comments: I will feel freer to delete comments than I have in the past if I think they’re “out of bounds,” and much freer to delete anonymous/pseudonymous comments, although I don’t forbid them. The other: As time permits, I’m going to lock out comments on older posts, since that’s where most remaining spam and attempted linkback spam comes into the system, and “real” comments tend to have an otherworldly nature a year after a post appears. I’m thinking about a one-year comment window, or maybe six months after the post or most recent comment.

Now back to catching up…

If you’re going to Kennewick…

Posted in Speaking on April 17th, 2007

What I didn’t say in yesterday’s odd post:

If you’re going to the Washington Library Association conference, I’ll be there for the whole thing, and I’d love to chat. I’m shy (true), but definitely not formidable. And if I look distracted, just say “Hi Walt,” and I’ll pay attention.

[I know I'll be at the reception tomorrow night, at the 9:45 p.m. session after the reception, and of course at Thursday morning's breakfast. Beyond that, it's a little fuzzy, but I'm there until Saturday morning.]

Moderation in all things

Posted in Speaking, Travel, Writing and blogging on April 16th, 2007

Well, for a few days at least.

My big speaking cavalcade for 2007 begins Wednesday: That is, one (shared) keynote, at the Washington Library Association in Kennewick, WA, on Thursday, April 19. The cavalcade proceeds from there to…well, that’s it, actually.

As usual (when feasible), I’m going to the whole conference. As always, I’m traveling without technology. OK, I might take along my cheapo portable CD player, or I might not, but that’s as far as it goes: No cell phone, no notebook computer, no PDA, no pager, no Blackberry.

I wouldn’t even bother to mention that I won’t be blogging for four days: That’s pretty much par for the course on this sketchy site. But I’m blessed with a fair number of comments–high by liblog standards, if low by “A-list” or political-blog standards.

Unfortunately, a couple of spamments have been sneaking through Spam Karma 2 and WordPress’ native methodologies. Nothing terribly serious or obscene (cross fingers), and I delete them as soon as I spot them, but I’d rather not have them stick around for several days.

So, assuming that the change works (the interactions between Spam Karma 2 and WordPress’ moderating systems are a little mysterious), I’m turning on moderation for all comments tomorrow afternoon (April 17) and will leave it on until I return and have a chance to catch up (probably Sunday, April 22; possibly Monday, April 23).

Feel free to comment on posts (including any of the 16 stub posts for Balanced Libraries) but don’t be surprised when your post doesn’t show up until I get back.

Sorry about that. Of course, it’s equally possible that nobody would add any comments between Tuesday evening and Sunday, in which case this is a waste of typing. Fortunately, I’m a fast typist.

E-Journal Archiving Metes and Bounds: a few belated words

Posted in Libraries on April 14th, 2007

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) issued E-Journal Archiving Metes and Bounds: A Survey of the Landscape in September 2006. From the abstract page you can download the whole 120-page report for free as a PDF, read and print it online as a series of HTML files, or order it as an 8.5×11″ paperback for $30.

The study, written by Anne R. Kenney, Richard Entlich, Peter B. Hirtle, Nancy Y. McGovern and Ellie L. Buckley, is well-organized and very readable. It looks at a dozen e-journal archiving programs in some depth. addressing “concerns expressed by directors of academic libraries in North America.” While the authors and CLIR may be North American, the survey was worldwide, including two European and one Australian project.

If you’re concerned about long-term access to e-journals (as opposed to open access, a related but separate subject), you’ll want to know about this publication–but you probably already do. For a variety of reasons, I just didn’t get around to reading it in a timely manner, and by now it’s a little late to do a proper review. I learned a fair amount from the publication and certainly recommend it to anyone interested in e-journal archiving (which includes archiving electronic versions of print journals).

You can’t assume that publishers will take care of it: That’s never been part of publishers’ charge, and JSTOR already discovered that even publishers that are still in business may not have complete archives of their own journal publications. (This is not an attack on publishers: Archiving simply isn’t part of the publishing business, or at least it hasn’t been.)

So what are “metes and bound”? Here’s what the publication says:

A survey “by metes and bounds” is a highly descriptive delineation of a plot of land that relies on natural landmarks, such as trees, bodies of water, and large stones, and often-crude measurements of distance and direction. This was accepted practice before more precise instruments and methods were developed—indeed, the original 13 U.S. states were laid out by metes and bounds. More accurate means of measuring were established to overcome the method’s serious shortcomings: streambeds move over time, witness trees are struck by lightning, compass needles do not point true north, and measuring chains and surveyor strides can be of slightly differing lengths. However, the metes and bounds system is still used when it is impossible or impractical to make more precise measurements.

Highly recommended.

Which archival programs were studied?

  • Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI Csi)
  • LOCKSS Alliance and CLOCKSS
  • Koninklijke Bibliotheek e-Depot (KB e-Depot)
  • Kooperativer Aufbau eines Langzeitarchivs Digitaler Informationen (kopal/DDB)
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Library (LANL-RL)
  • National Library of Australia PANDORA (NLA PANDORA)
  • OCLC Electronic Collections Online (OCLC ECO)
  • OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center (OhioLINK EJC)
  • Ontario Scholars Portal
  • Portico
  • PubMed Central

There are very brief descriptions of other “promising e-journal archiving programs” mostly from national libraries–the British Library, Det Kongelige Bibliotek (Denmark), Library and Archives Canada, National Diet Library (Japan), National Library of China, and several others starting out.

If you don’t wish to read the full report, read the conclusion and recommendations–but you really should read the whole thing. To cite the first of ten conclusions:

It is a matter of when, not whether, e-journal publishing programs will suffer significant trigger events that put at risk ongoing access to vital scholarly resources.

Cites & Insights 7:5 available

Posted in Cites & Insights on April 13th, 2007

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large 7:5 (May 2007) is now available for downloading.

The 26-page issue is PDF as usual, but you can get HTML separates of most essays from the home page.

NOTE: If you have any websites with links to the old C&I site, please change them. That site will disappear fairly soon.

This issue includes:

  • Bibs & Blather – On being cited, introducing a new section, and a belated followup from Richard Entlich (with apology)
  • Old Media/New Media – Updates on the health of four old media
  • Offtopic Perspective: 50-Movie Classic Musicals, Part 1 – no West Side Story, but Reet, Petite and Gone is hot stuff.
  • Interesting & Peculiar Products – four segments plus 15 roundups in seven categories in the new “Editors Choices and Best Buys” segment (replacing “PC Progress”)
  • Making it Work – A new section, continuing the conversations about libraries, social software in libraries, balance… (and incorporating The Library Stuff)
  • Net Media: The High-Def Disc Saga Continues – still not time for most libraries to start buying Blu-ray or HD DVD, but lots of news.
  • My Back Pages – six grumpy little essays.

And don’t forget to visit Cites & Insights Books to buy Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change.


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