Archive for November, 2008

How many posts? (Liblog Landscape 2007-2008, 2)

Posted in Liblogs on November 23rd, 2008

What do The PlanetEsme Plan, Librarian on the edge, Rambling Librarian, Card Catalog of Creativity, Shelved in the W’s and nirak.net have in common?

The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: Introductory Offer

You’ll find the answer and more in The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: A Lateral Look.

This 285-page 6×9 trade paperback looks at 607 liblogs (nearly all English-language) and, for most of them, how they’ve changed from 2007 to 2008.

It’s the most comprehensive look at liblogs ever done–and the only one I know of that shows how they’re changing from year to year.

From now through January 15, 2009, and only from Lulu, The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008 is available for $22.50 plus shipping.

On January 16 or thereabouts, that price will go up to $35.00. If and when the book is available on Amazon, it will immediately sell for $35.00.

How Many Posts?

Chapter two considers frequency–the number of posts on a blog, and how that frequency changed from 2007 to 2008. As with most other metrics in this book, the analysis and comments are based on March, April and May 2007 and 2008.

The most prolific blog had 200 fewer posts in 2008 than the most prolific blog did in 2007, and there were significantly fewer posts for the 533 countable blogs in 2008 than for the 523 countable blogs in 2007, even though more blogs were involved. (The strikeout? I’m not sure that a difference of less than 10% is significant.)

Indeed, of 523 blogs with countable posts for 2007, slightly more than 60% had at least 20% fewer posts in 2008–but slightly more than 20% had at least 20% more posts in 2008.

You’ll see the full discussion in the book.

Who’s here (part 2)

Here are 50 more blogs included in the book, with the number of index entries for each blog:

Hint

You’ll find the answer on pages 56-57.

Looking at the landscape (Liblog Landscape 2007-2008, 1)

Posted in Liblogs on November 22nd, 2008

What do pafa.net, Pop Goes the Library, eclectic librarian, ishush, A Passion for ‘Puters, Dojo of the Library Ninja and poesy galore have in common?

The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: Introductory Offer

You’ll find this and more in The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: A Lateral Look.

This 285-page 6×9 trade paperback looks at 607 liblogs (nearly all English-language) and, for most of them, how they’ve changed from 2007 to 2008.

It’s the most comprehensive look at liblogs ever done–and the only one I know of that shows how they’re changing from year to year.

From now through January 15, 2009, and only from Lulu, The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008 is available for $22.50 plus shipping.

On January 16 or thereabouts, that price will go up to $35.00. If and when the book is available on Amazon, it will immediately sell for $35.00.

Chapter 1: The Liblog Landscape

The first chapter introduces my naive hypotheses on liblogs and how they’re changing (I was right and wrong), “typical” liblogs (there’s no such thing), metrics and quintiles used in the book, how I assembled the universe of liblogs–and some descriptive elements for the 607 blogs.

Descriptive elements? Things that aren’t part of the regular metrics but may be worth noting. What blog programs do bloggers use? (The top two are closer together than I would have thought.) How many bloggers provide full names–and how many group blogs are there? What about typography? How are liblog authors distributed by affiliation? By country? By age?

One graphical note along the way: Two figures show precisely the same data–the age of blogs within the study–but one is extremely difficult to interpret while the other is crystal-clear. The difference? One graphs age by month, the other by year. (The peak year for new liblogs was 2005–not 2006, which is what I expected to find.)

Who’s here (Part 1)

Here are the first 50 liblogs (alphabetically, with no other significance), including the number of times each is mentioned in the index–which, subtracting one for the liblog profile, is the number of “exceptional” entries about the liblog.

Hint

You’ll find the answer on page 71.

The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008 Now Available

Posted in C&I Books, Liblogs on November 21st, 2008

The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008

The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: A Lateral Look is now available!

This 285-page 6×9 trade paperback looks at 607 liblogs (nearly all English-language) and, for most of them, how they’ve changed from 2007 to 2008.

Eleven chapters consider the universe of liblogs (that is, blogs by “library people” as opposed to blogs from libraries):

  • Age, authorship, country of origin
  • Number of posts during a three-month period (and change in that number from 2007 to 2008)
  • Total word count and average post length (and change)
  • Total comments and comments per post (and change)
  • Total figures (illustrations) and figures per post (and change)
  • Patterns of change from 2007 to 2008
  • Correlations between pairs of metrics
  • A look at 143 blogs from 2006 through 2008
  • Interesting subgroups (national, authorship, type of librarian)
  • The visibility issue
  • Liblogs and the larger blogosphere

The final chapter, just over half the book, provides a brief objective description and available metrics for each blog. The book includes many tables and a fair number of graphs. There is an index of blogs and authors.

It’s the most comprehensive look at liblogs ever done–and the only one I know of that shows how they’re changing from year to year.

Earlybird Price

From now through January 15, 2009, and only from Lulu, The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008 is available for $22.50 plus shipping.

On January 16 or thereabouts, that price will go up to $35.00. If and when the book is available on Amazon, it will immediately sell for $35.00.

Want to know more?

You’ll find a lot more about the book (or the process of creating it) by clicking on the “Liblog Landscape” category. Additionally, I plan to do a series of posts offering brief descriptions of each chapter, posing some puzzles and noting how often each blog appears in the index.

The best way to find out more, of course, is to order the book.

50 Movie Hollywood Legends Disc 12

Posted in Movies and TV on November 20th, 2008

Indiscreet, 1931, b&w. Leo McCarey (dir.), Gloria Swanson, Ben Lyon, Monroe Owsley, Barbara Kent, Arthur Lake, Maude Eburne. 1:32 [1:13]

I’m of two minds on this one. On the one hand, it’s a nicely done romantic comedy with some remarkable comedic turns by Gloria Swanson (particularly when she demonstrates the “slight touch of insanity” in her family), a satisfying overall plot and generally solid acting. Yes, there’s some uneasiness between melodrama and comedy, and the occasional songs seem out of place—but it was fun overall.

On the other, the soundtrack’s sometimes damaged enough to be really annoying, and once in a while there’s visible damage as well. The missing 19 minutes would probably improve the movie.

Overall, it’s a good romantic comedy undone by the print quality, yielding $1.25.

Chandu on the Magic Island, 1935, b&w. Ray Taylor (dir.), Bela Lugosi, Maria Alba. 1:10 [1:06].

This is apparently a sequel to some other movie or movies (or recut episodes of a serial) with Bela Lugosi as Frank Chandler, aka Chandu the Magician. This one involves a Princess Nadji, a yacht, evil crewmen, the lost island of Lemuria, some dark-magic cat-worshiping religion and a proposed sacrifice to reanimate a dead ruler.

I could say that the print’s damaged in some parts and the sound’s questionable. Both of those are true—but I don’t think seeing this one in vivid Technicolor with crystal-clear surround sound and on a big screen would help. It struck me as incoherent even by the standards of Z mystic-“scifi” flicks. (There’s no science here, but plenty of fiction.) My charitable quick review: An awful mess, but devoted fans of Bela Lugosi might find something to like. For that, I’ll give a reluctant $0.50.

Hell’s House, 1932, b&w, Howard Higgin (dir.), Bette Davis, Pat O’Brien, Junior Durkin. 1:12.

Rural kid sees his mother get run over by a car (driver gets out, looks at victim, drives away; kid makes no move to remember license plate or, apparently, call authorities). Next scene: Kid shows up at urban home of aunt & uncle, who have a boarder who acts like a hotshot—and the uncle’s out of work. Next scene: Kid asks hotshot if he knows of a job; hotshot, who’s actually a bootlegger, hires kid to take phone calls but never say who he works for or where he lives. Next scene—this movie moves fast—cops show up, kid won’t talk, kid gets sent to reformatory for three years.

Then there’s a bunch of reformatory stuff, with a side plot of newspaper reporter trying to blow the lid off the terrible conditions there but not getting cooperation. Kid’s best buddy, another kid with a heart condition, tries to smuggle letter out for kid, gets caught, won’t snitch, goes to solitary, where the ticker goes worse. Kid knows this, busts out (in the outgoing garbage), pleads with hotshot to help. Despite hotshot’s not actually knowing anybody, he manages to get in to see the reporter, kid tells story…and, as the cops arrive, the bootlegger finally develops a heart and signs a confession. After which, of course, the reformatory gets cleaned up (the kid doesn’t go back). Oh, his friend dies.

Pat O’Brien’s the hotshot. Bette Davis is his girlfriend, who suspects he’s mostly a blowhard. Incidentally, the plot summary on the sleeve gets it badly wrong, having the kid escape because the hotshot Kelly is seeing too much of the kid’s girlfriend—but the kid doesn’t have a girlfriend in the movie.

All a little too formulaic—and maybe it doesn’t matter in this case. While the print’s so-so visually, the soundtrack is so scratchy that I almost gave up on it several times. I can’t imagine most sane people would ever listen all the way through. Given that, it can’t earn more than $0.50.

The Evil Mind (or The Clairvoyant), 1934, b&w. Maurice Elvey (dir.), Claude Rains, Jane Baxter, Athole Stewart. 1:21 [1:08].

Maximus works as a stage clairvoyant, using his wife’s clues to say what she’s holding—until, in the presence of another woman, he suddenly makes a real and correct prediction. This happens a couple of times; he gets a big London stage engagement but the producer’s unhappy because he can’t do big predictions to order. Meanwhile, his wife’s becoming jealous of the young woman. This all leads up to his unwilling prediction of a tunneling catastrophe—one that, when it comes true, causes him to be put on trial on the basis that his prediction caused the catastrophe.

There’s little point in saying more about the plot. It’s not bad, actually, and there’s a nice twist involving why he only makes accurate predictions under certain circumstances. The print is jumpy at points, 13 minutes are missing and the soundtrack’s damaged at points as well, but not so much as to ruin the picture. It’s generally well-acted. While the sleeve lists Fay Wray (the wife) as the “legend,” I’d say Claude Rains’ faintly bizarre and very well played Maximus deserves more credit. The original title (“The Clairvoyant”) suits this better, as there’s nothing evil in Rains’ predictions. I’ll give it $1.00.

This feels like a very weak final disc—in a couple of cases, finding something to fill out the 50. Such is life.

Cites & Insights: Volume 8 now complete

Posted in Cites & Insights on November 19th, 2008

The Title Page and Indexes for Cites & Insights Volume 8 (2008) is now available.

The 16-page PDF consists of a title sheet for the volume (both sides) and a 14-page set of indexes (one index covering articles and songs cited, the other covering books, blogs, topics, authors, etc.)

No HTML version is available, since the indexes specifically refer to page numbers that would be irrelevant in HTML essays.

That completes Volume 8, if you’re looking to bind it.

I believe a paperback version of the entire volume will be available, but not for a few weeks.

My own little numeracy problem

Posted in Cites & Insights on November 17th, 2008

The two of you who’re reading the Retrospect series in Cites & Insights (8:12 out yesterday! Great main essay occupying most of the issue!) might be aware that I noticed a problem at some point…a “missing issue” in the scheme of things. I figured that I’d track it down and cover it in either the 9th or 10th (and final) episode.

Yesterday, in the last dreary part of closing out an issue (the dreariest: indexing; the last: making sure that copy I used isn’t still in running sections–and for Retrospect, noting which issues will be covered next time), I did the issue skeletons for both of the final episodes. (I may do them both in January 2008, because I have an idea for a special issue to come out shortly before Midwinter…we shall see.)

In the process, I tried to figure out the missing issue. Eventually, it became obvious–there was a three-issue gap in 2005 instead of the usual two-issue gap (between part 8 and part 1, that is). But where had I double-covered or otherwise screwed up?

Eventually, after printing out the whole list of volumes and issues, I figured it out:

I hadn’t double-covered. The issue count has been one low for a very long time.

Huh? That’s right: The Centenary issue was actually a celebration of doing 100 issues–the hundredth issue was February 2008.

And the Diamond Anniversary issue (April 2006) was actually Whole Number 76, not Whole Number 75.

Sigh.

Since I discovered this after publishing the current issue, I’ll leave that issue misnumbered as Issue 109, when in fact it’s Issue 110. With any luck, I’ll start numbering properly in January 2009, which should be Issue 111.

None of this makes the slightest difference to most of you, I suspect (and hope).

I could sneak around this by saying that the very first Cites & Insights wasn’t really an issue–after all, it didn’t have a volume number or issue number or date. But that would be wrong.It may have been a trial run, but it was also a real issue–actually the longest issue until 2004.

Speaking of length

For a variety of reasons, the 2008 volume is the first ever to have exactly a dozen issues. There have been more than 12 issues every other year–14 most years, 13 two years, 15 one year.

That doesn’t actually make it a smaller volume than usual.

  • Issues this year have been longer than in some other years. The total page count is 330; that’s lower than in 2006 (the highest to date) or 2007, but higher than any other years.
  • Changes in typography and overall design have resulted in slightly more efficient use of space, so there are more words per page. In fact, at 282,837 words, 2008 is the second wordiest year: Volume 6, the year with the most pages, had 279,424 words and Volume 7 had the most words (288,681).

C&I is coming up on 2,500 pages (34 to go, so probably volume 9, issue 2) and two million words (23,387 to go, so also probably volume 9, issue 2, but possibly volume 9, issue 1). Neither landmark will call for any special celebration. That will wait until the completion of a full ten years or 150 issues (counted properly)…if we make it that far.

By the way: None of these numbers include the phantom issue…which you can only obtain by buying the paperback version of Volume 7.

Now, on to cleaning up the index after taking a day off to rest up from my argument with the sidewalk last Saturday…an argument clearly won by the sidewalk. ‘Scuse me while I take some more aspirin…

Cites & Insights 8:12 Available

Posted in Cites & Insights on November 16th, 2008

It’s only taken eight years for C&I to actually appear monthly–that is, for a volume to have only a dozen issues.

Cites & Insights 8:12 (December 2008) is now available for downloading.

The 22-page issue is PDF as usual (a nice compact PDF, as are all the other 2008 issues now that I’ve regenerated them with Acrobat 9), but you can also get HTML versions of most essays. (Most headings below are live links.)

Bibs & Blather

Advance notice of a special offer: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008 will be available soon (late November or early December if all goes well), and will have an early-bird special price of $22.50 until January 15, 2009–at which point it will go to $35.00. (If there’s an Amazon version, that will start out at $35.) The book will be announced on Walt at Random as soon as it’s ready.

Also: News about disappearing books, notes on potential sponsorship for future research, and this warning: If you’re one of the dozens (I can dream) of institutions that binds C&I, hold off–the title sheet and index will be ready in another week or two. (There will probably also be a paperback version of the whole volume.)

Perspective: Writing about Reading

The heart of the issue. An extended essay on NEA’s latest sky-is-falling report–and on “stupidity and Google.”

Retrospective: Pointing with Pride, Part 8

Just two more to go…

My Back Pages

Three audio-related pieces–but two other mini-snarks that are a little closer to home.

The mystery of the disappearing bruises

Posted in Stuff on November 16th, 2008

So here’s the thing. Last night, we were walking back from a neighborhood restaurant–in the dark, but with flashlights.

Well, I got distracted somehow, and there are a lot of uneven spots in the sidewalks in our neighborhood (much of the mid-Peninsula has clay soil, and after an extended dry period, things move around a fair amount)…and kaboom!

Down on both knees, one hand and my forehead (and apparently tried to break the fall, too late, with my other hand–no visible abrasions or damage, but it sure does ache). Able to get up and walk home…and we probably won’t walk to dinner much any more until it’s spring again. Bloodied forehead (stripped about a 2×1″ patch of skin just above one eye), bloodied right knee (partly-stripped skin), bloodied left little finger (at the finger/hand joint and back side below the fingernail), a few splotches on the left knee. Oh, and a nicely-demolished area on the left side of the left lens of my wonderful, light, solar-gray glasses (I’m wearing a backup pair, but without solar-gray: it was about time to get my eyes examined anyway, although I wasn’t looking forward to buying a new $500 pair of glasses–once you add in solar-gray, the ultra-high-refraction plastic so I’m not looking through coke bottles with 9 diopter correction, graded bifocals, etc…)

And two big bruises, one on each side, from the knee about a third of the way down the thigh. We just said, well, those are going to look pretty awful for a couple of weeks…

But…

That was around 7 p.m. We watched our usual Saturday movie. Around 10, got ready for bed, changed to PJs, looked at bare legs…

And the bruises not only weren’t worse, they weren’t there. The skinned and direct-impact areas were still as they were, but the big bruises had just disappeared.

This morning? Still gone.

My wife’s accusing me of being part vampire. I’m sure there’s a more sensible explanation, since we’re a few hundred miles north of where Sunnydale used to be…

Anyone heard of this? Bruises from direct trauma that just disappear over the course of a few hours?

Not that I’m complaining, mind you. (Well, about the need for an expensive new pair of glasses, maybe…and the need to find an optometrist/opthalmologist and go through the whole rigmarole. But certainly not about the disappearing bruises–or the fact that, after my wife assured me I’d have a whole lot more aches this morning than I did last night, I really don’t, unless you count my right hand and wrist.)

Well, that’s how my Saturday went. How’s your weekend?

[Coming very soon: The December C&I. It would be up by now, probably, but things have slowed down a bit. Today, though, I suspect. Tomorrow at the latest.]

Blog analysis

Posted in Media, Writing and blogging on November 14th, 2008

Nope, this isn’t more advance flogging for The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008. (You’ll get that soon enough, along with a special offer for early purchasers. If you’re wondering: I uploaded the PDFs to Lulu yesterday, and am now waiting for the proof copy, which could take a couple of weeks.)

This is a Friday funny–and a slightly delayed joining in an offhand meme I saw at Helene Blowers’ Library Bytes. Namely, a few blog analyzers…and in this case, how they rate this here blog.

Typealyzer

This one claims to do a Myers-Briggs style analysis of the blog. I just ran it and came up with:

ESTP – The Doers

The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

Bwahahah… yep, that’s me, out there playing volleyball when I’m not on the links or joking with my huge array of friends, since I’m so attuned to people. And, you know, never following through on anything, which is why Cites & Insights disappeared after six issues and I’ve never managed to complete any of those books I’ve started writing…

What’s most absurd here is that I ran the same site’s test a few days ago (November 10), when Blowers posted her item–and came out INTP, The Thinkers (and an introvert). I’m notoriously an introvert (and yes, I tested that way on a real Myers-Briggs test–I think it was INTP. That was when I was LITA Vice President/President-Elect; the LITA Executive Director had all of the Executive Committee members take the M-B test and assured us we were all “E”s because, after all, how else could you win an election?)

So in four days with, I think, two posts, I’ve gone from introvert to extrovert and from one who regularly finishes projects to one who leaps from idea to idea? Man, those must have been some impressive posts…or this is an unusually silly beta site.

Genderanalyzer

This one “uses Artificial Intelligence” to determine whether a blog is written by a man or a woman.

The robots say I write like a man (75%, whatever that might mean).

Well, at least that’s not as absurd as ESTP; last I checked, the gender choice was right.

Readability Test

What grade level this blog is written at.

Junior high school. Whereas C&I is at college/undergrad level and my personal website (which includes a few old articles) is at “Genius” level.

Hmm. I’m happy enough with “Junior high school” for the blog, but I wonder whether that’s as erratic a rating as the Typealyzer. Somehow, though, I find it hard to believe that the handful of items on my personal website are that much deeper intellectually or confounding in style than C&I–or, for that matter, that C&I is all that much more hifalutin’ than this here blog.

In this case, it’s a repeat performance: I posted about this site last November. Came out junior high school then, too–and most individual essays from C&I came out high school, which was fine with me.

What is your blog worth

Claims to determine the blog’s monetary value based on Technorati ranking and advertising potential.

$28,227.00

I love the precision: Not just $28,000, but $28,227.

Ah, but the “most successful linkbaiter, ever” who put up this site claims his blog is worth $6,220,101.72. Must be nice to be rich. (And yes, that site has LOADS of ads. When I had ads here, I made $24–over six months, as I remember. Yes, my Technorati “authority” rating and number of subscribers have both grown. Not that much, though…)

As Helene says, “use at your own risk” and “for your pure amusement purposes only.” By the way, she comes out ISTJ, woman, high school and $47,569.

Oh, and if someone wants to sponsor this blog, I’d ask a whole lot less than $28,227 (but more than $227)–but then, is that “per year” or “over a lifetime”?

In fact, I am very much looking for sponsorship–but primarily for ongoing real-world research into blogs and wikis, with this blog being a tertiary possibility.

Meanwhile, you may find these tests fun. If you test at the genius level…well, I probably couldn’t understand all them big words anyway.

The rocky (buzzy) road to lower energy use

Posted in Stuff on November 12th, 2008

Around here, at least, it sounds as though we won’t be able to buy incandescent lights after 2012.

I think that’s a great idea. In my office (our third and smallest bedroom), I love lots of light; the overhead four-light fan combo has two “40 watt” compact fluorescents and two “60 watt” bulbs, for a total of 50 actual watts and all the light I need. Our porch light is a 10 watt CFL. The most-used kitchen light is a CFL. Other lights that stay on at least 15 minutes at a time are CFLs.

But in our dining ell, we had a sad old 6-bulb chandelier that needed replacing–and that was on a dimmer.

Well, we finally got a new 5-bulb chandelier–and one of PG&E’s many subsidized CFL shipments included dimmable CFLs at two bulbs for $1.00 (PG&E, Northern California’s primary utility company, has been doing a lot of these subsidies. At one chain or another–Safeway, Longs, Rite-Aid or the like–it’s frequently possible to buy four-packs of CFLs for $1, or sometimes three-packs of fancier CFLs.) So I picked up three of the two-packs, each bulb 15 watts (the light equivalent of a 75 watt incandescent). The dimmables only came in 15 watt and 23 watt (100-watt equivalent) sizes.

Today the chandelier was installed. (It’s a modest little unit, but a whole lot better than what was there before.) I screwed in the bulbs. We turned on the light and used the dimmer.

And they buzz. Apparently, the high-frequency transformer built into each bulb (the reason CFLs don’t flicker and don’t buzz) deals with reduced voltage by reducing the frequency and, presumably, the percentage of the time it’s on. With even a little dimming, the buzz was at a frequency my wife could hear. At the level we’d actually use during dinner, I could hear it and she could barely stand it.

OK, there’s also the fact that these particular CFLs are that unpleasant cold light (other CFLs are much better) and that they’re big enough to be sort of ugly in the fixtures. Those we might be able to live with. The buzz…not so much. (If you turn them down to a romantic glow, it’s even worse: They start to flicker very obviously.)

So, for now, back to the store for some incandescents.

Our other sad experience (other than lights that only get used a minute or two at a time, where the 8,000-hours supposed life turns into 8,000 switch cycles) was with a three-way CFL: The lower setting burned out after a year or less, probably because it has to be switched on and off twice each time you use the light.

The solution should be LEDs: Even better efficiency, no mercury, even longer lifespan and they should be dimmer-compatible. But that requires LEDs in consumer-friendly packages at consumer-friendly prices. Here’s hoping we get there soon.


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