Archive for December, 2009

Spaghetti Westerns Disc 2

Posted in Movies and TV on December 30th, 2009

Death Rides a Horse (orig. Da uomo a uomo or “From man to man,” a much better title), 1967, color. Giulio Petroni (dir.), Lee Van Cleef, John Phillip Law, Mario Brega, Luigi Pistilli, Anthony Dawson. 1:54.

Remember the blue-eyed blind angel in Barbarella? What if he was a 21-year-old whose family was slaughtered (after his mom and older sister were raped) and house burned down 15 years earlier by a truly evil gang—one of whom saved him from the fire? And he became a crack shot, presumably planning revenge sometimes? Now mix in the ever-stoic, ever-slightly-sardonic Lee Van Cleef as an outlaw just emerging from prison after a 15-year sentence, after he’d been sold out by the gang he thought he was part of—and he finds that some of the gang members are now Highly Respected Citizens. Throw in a Morricone score with singing that’s either supposed to be incoherent or is marred by a poor soundtrack—oh, and a Mexican village so suppressed by an outlaw gang that they won’t even rise up against four of the gang left to guard a million-dollar theft.

There you have it: The seeds for a movie that combines vengeance and revenge, generational (and style) conflicts (Ryan, Van Cleef’s character, calls Bill, the younger one “kid”; “Grandpa” is the responding epithet), suppressed memory, lots of trick gunplay and not-so-trick gunbattles, truly bad bad guys and the gray Ryan and more. Law does a fine job as a hate-filled but naïve young sharpshooter; Van Cleef is, well, Van Cleef (after just two movies, I see why spaghetti western aficionados hold him in high regard.) It’s a solid spaghetti western, the print’s generally fine, and even with the muddy score I’ll give it $1.50.

Sundance and the Kid (orig. Vivi o, preferibilmente, morti or “Alive or Preferably Dead,”), 1969, color. Duccio Tessari (dir.), Giuliano Gemma, Nino Benvenuti, Sydne Rome. 1:43 [1:23].

Is there a theme here? First movie on a disc is a first-rate spaghetti western—and the second one is something else entirely. This time, the “something else” is tolerable, but maybe tries too hard, beginning with the on-screen title, “Sundance Cassidy and Butch the Kid.”

It’s a comedy/slapstick Western, and that’s a tough genre to bring off if you’re not Mel Brooks. The setup is that one of two brothers, a city slicker/gambler, finds the other—because they’re set to inherit $300,000 if and only if they live together peaceably for six months. The other brother, a down-to-earth Westerner (the time’s a little indistinct, but the first brother arrives in an early automobile), really wants nothing to do with it. And on the first evening, a huge bandit ring shows up, steals the horses and burns down the ranchhouse because the city brother challenges the theft.

Oh yes: Before that, the city brother’s had an encounter with an apparently down-on-his-luck gambler who’s “lost it all”—and after suggesting a friendly game, next thing we know the gambler owns the car (he later becomes the agent or coconspirator of the brothers). The brothers become wholly incompetent outlaws; there’s a kidnapping where the father really doesn’t want the daughter returned, which allows for romantic stuff; and there’s lots more. Oh, there’s also a score that uses kazoos heavily and has songs that comment directly on the plot (but the sound’s sometimes a little distorted to make sense of the lyrics).

Interesting details (along with the real title) at IMDB: the on-screen credits have good “American” names for the leads—e.g. Gemma’s billed as “John Wade” and Benevenuti as “Robert Neuman—and that includes renaming Sydne Rome (the heroine) “Karen Blake,” which is interesting because she hails from Akron, Ohio and Sydne Rome is her real name. Not terrible, but not terribly funny either. Maybe the missing 20 minutes would help? All things considered, it barely rises to $1.00.

Grand Duel (Il grande duello), 1972, color. Giancarlo Santi (dir.), Lee Van Cleef, Alberto Dentice/Peter O’Brien, Jess Hahn, Horst Frank, Klaus Grünberg, Antonio Casale, Marc Mazza, Dominique Darel. 1:38.

Here’s a true oddity—not necessarily the picture (which is a good spaghetti western) but the situation with Mill Creek. That is: I saw Grand Duel in late 2008, as part of the Classic Western set (see C&I October 2008). I gave it a so-so $1.00 rating.

But this isn’t the same print—not by a long shot. That one was full-screen; this one’s wide-screen. That one was missing 10 minutes or so; this one’s nearly full length. (Don’t expect miracles: It’s still VHS-quality at best, which is all you’re going to get with four films on one double-density/single-sided DVD under any circumstances.) And, maybe, I’m a little more attuned to the qualities of spaghetti Westerns and, particularly, Lee Van Cleef.

Anyway…the plot’s too complicated to summarize, but it involves an (ex-)sheriff (Van Cleef), a condemned (but innocent) murderer who has to be the most acrobatic sharpshooter I’ve ever seen (although Van Cleef’s the fastest gun in the state, the younger guy’s definitely the most nimble), a truly evil clan who slaughter the innocent and rule a town (with their name), the mystery of who really shot “the patriarch” of the clan and a “grand duel” that runs about three minutes and may be the least interesting part of the flick, even if it is the climax.

Somehow, it all seemed more logical and interesting than last time around. The flashbacks made more sense. The dialogue ranged from not bad to fairly tasty. Great scenery, good production values. (The film was coproduced by companies from Italy, France, Morocco and Germany.) Despite an absurdly large body count (but it becomes Movie Violence) and a lovingly-filmed massacre of innocents that seemed more brutal than really needed, I found it enjoyable, and give it an easy $1.25. (Lower the innocent body count, or at least don’t show it so vividly, and it gets $1.50.)

Twice a Judas (orig. Due volte Giuda), 1969, color. Nando Cicero (dir.), Klaus Kinski, Antonio Sabato, Cristina Galbo, Jose Calvo, Emma Baron. 1:32.

This one might have been better if presented widescreen (the movie itself was very widescreen), since it seems to be more “cropped & chopped” than panned & scanned, with some really awkward scenes resulting. It’s awkward in several other ways as well, including a beginning that’s never really explained and a situation pitting one set of bad guys against another force that’s pretty obviously bad, even if briefly semi-sympathetic. It’s also a movie that seems to view valiant Confederate fighters as noble, but overrun by those villainous Union soldiers and their murderous ways.

I’m not sure I can really summarize the plot, but it involves one long-lost brother who’s hired to kill his older brother, gets amnesia along the way as a result of an unexplained shooting, and at the last minute prevents the killing. There’s a drunken doctor, a sympathetic lady of negotiable virtue, a sheriff who really does seem to be favoring neither side and a banker who may or may not be evil.

Unfortunately, it’s sort of a mess. In the end, I found it brutal and incoherent and worth, at best, $0.75.

Ebooks outsell Pbooks: My own story

Posted in Books and publishing, C&I Books on December 28th, 2009

I see a whole lot of attention being paid to an Amazon press release saying that Kindle ebooks outsold print books…on Christmas Day.

With, of course, no actual numbers.

Thought experiment

  1. How many people do you think spend Christmas day ordering books online, to be delivered several days later?
  2. How many people, having just received a new Kindle, are likely to add a book or two to it immediately, as part of the “trying out the new gift” process?

It seems wildly probable that 2>1 in this case–that a lot more people would add books to their gift Kindles than would go online to order print books on Christmas Day itself.

Equally valid and impressive story

Here’s an absolutely true story: From December 13 through December 21, 2009, But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009 sold more copies in ebook format (OK, PDF download, but it’s still an ebook) than in print-book format!

Wow! Not only are ebooks now “mainstream” (whatever that means), but they’re dominating print books! This is proof!

And the numbers

But, unlike Amazon, I’ll actually provide the numbers behind this astonishing development.

  • PDF download copies sold: Three
  • Print copies sold: Two.

Hey, three is more than two, isn’t it? (Note the tightly-delimited time period; on 12/22, another print copy sold, making it even; overall, print copies slightly dominate.)

The reality

Yes, the Kindle2 and KindleDX and Sony Reader and Nook all combine to bring ebooks into the “mainstream,” although it’s not quite clear what that means (a situation not aided by Amazon’s consistent secrecy about numbers as opposed to comparisons).

But that “ebooks outsold pbooks” could mean any of the following:

  • Amazon sold 100 ebooks on Christmas day–but only 50 print books (wildly unlikely)
  • Amazon sold 1,000 ebooks on Christmas day. (Also unlikely)
  • Amazon sold 10,000, or 100,000, or (also unlikely) one million ebooks on Christmas day.

I won’t even venture a guess as to the order of magnitude, much less actual sales. (If it was a million, I would bet that Amazon would say so.)

But the real story here–

People spend more time on Christmas day getting acquainted with/playing with their new devices and toys than they do shopping for other stuff they don’t immediately need (and can’t even immediately have)

isn’t a particularly interesting or novel story.


Arrggh (12/29 update)… And now, a generally-thoughtful library-related blogger, who should know better, has reported this one-day phenomenon in a way that leads you to believe that Kindle ebooks outsold pbooks on Amazon for the entire year. [Updated 3 p.m.: See comments below: This was almost certainly an inadvertent error--which makes my final sentence below more significant:]

The curse of a cleverly-written press release.

Who can you trust?

Posted in Movies and TV on December 27th, 2009

I had to do some driving today and, as usual, had the local NPR station on while driving–in this case, “On the Media,” catching part of a discussion of horror films, followed by a discussion of Psycho with a “film critic and author,” who has a book out about Psycho. (I’ll leave out the critic’s name, although it’s not hard to find…)

Part way through, the interviewer mentioned the film being in black & white and how this had to do with the sheer amount of blood and likelihood that all that red would send the censors around the bend.

In amplifying this point, the critic said that most of Hitchcock’s films prior to Psycho had been in color.

To which I said:

Huh?

I’m no Hitchcock expert, never will be–but I have seen 18 of Hitchcock’s pre-Hollywood films. All of which were in black & white.

Still, I thought, maybe he made a whole boatload of color flicks between the time he moved to Hollywood and when Psycho came out.

So I visited IMDB…and did a little tallying, including only feature-length films for which Hitchcock actually received credit as a director (and ignoring oddities such as a German version of a British film). Since all of the shorts, uncredited stints and oddities were b&w, this would bias the tally toward color, if anything. (If you included television episodes, it gets worse, since Alfred Hitchcock Presents was entirely b&w. I didn’t include TV.)

Here’s the total prior to Psycho:

  • 36 Black & White.
  • 10 Color.

As far as I can tell, the only way you could say “Most of Hitchcock’s earlier films were in color” is if you entirely ignore all the films he made in the UK…which is a view of Hitchcock’s career in which “ignor” is the key part.

Now, if this film critic was only incidentally aware of Hitchcock, maybe you’d say “Hey, American film critic, never heard of UK productions, what d’you expect?” But he wrote a book about one Hitchcock movie; you’d expect him to have a passing acquaintance with the director’s career. And, any way you count them, most of Hitchcock’s movies were in B&W–in all, as far as I can see, 37 B&W (Psycho the last of them) and 16 color.

No deeper meaning here, except, of course, “Trust but verify”–even if you’re dealing with NPR discussions by experts in a field.

Midwinter merriment

Posted in ALA, Stuff on December 24th, 2009

As we enter the quietest time of the year (online at least, and probably in academic libraries)–that is, from now until January 4–a few minor notes.

Midwinter Ideas?

Since Midwinter is just three weeks away, I’ve started my skeletal schedule for Boston–and if any of you have suggestions, or want to get together for some reason, let me know. Here’s what I have so far:

  • Arrive Friday around 8 a.m., if all goes well.
  • Friday plans so far include only 5-7 p.m. LITA Happy Hour
  • Saturday plans open, but possibly an ACRL DG 10:30-12.
  • Sunday, open except 10:30-12 a.m. and 5:30-8 p.m.
  • Monday, entirely open so far. (Leaving early Tuesday morning.)

I’m sure things will fill in somewhat as I find out more about various IGs and DGs, but this one’s mostly just f2f time, exhibits, catching up with people… Staying at the Westin Boston Waterfront.

Suggestions welcome.

Early-bird Prices

A reminder: the reduced price for But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009 ($29.50 paper, $20 download) will expire right after Midwinter.

By the way, I believe that three copies were produced with three little glitches–none of which interfered with content in any way. If you have one of those (print) copies and show it to me at Midwinter (pointing out the glitch that I didn’t already mention in the blog), I’ll be happy to autograph it and, if you’re upset about the glitches, refund $5 of your purchase price. The glitches have since been corrected.

Of course, I’m always delighted to autograph any of my books…in person, at least.

Season’s Greetings

We prefer a low-key holiday (and gave up on gifts many years ago). We’ll make the long trek to my brother’s house for Christmas lunch (well, it was a reasonably long trek–an hour or so–until we moved to Livermore; now it’s ten minutes or less, unless we decide to walk it); we’ll join a dear friend for our 32nd Anniversary lunch on New Year’s day. And that’s about it.

I hope your holidays are great, no matter how simple or elaborate.

The teens and numeracy

Posted in Stuff on December 21st, 2009

I wouldn’t bother with this silly post were it not for some know-it-all who phoned in to Talk of the Nation, while they were talking about the “10 worst ideas of the decade,” and proceeded to tell us that the decade won’t be over for another year, and that “mathematically literate people” all knew that.

To which I say, horsepucky.

I’d guess I’m at least as numerate as this fellow (of course it was a fellow), and as far as I’m concerned the decade ends in another 10 days–just as the 20th century ended on December 31, 1999 and the 2nd millennium also ended on that day.

But there was no year zero!

This is, of course, the standard rejoinder or complaint of the “onesians”–those who insist that the next decade won’t begin until January 31, 2011: “There was no year zero; it started with year one.”

Horsepucky. Or, if you prefer, great big gobs of steaming bovine excrement.

It’s true that there was no year zero. But there was also no year one or year two or, well, any year up until 500 or so. Or, alternatively, there was a year zero, and a year -1, and a year -2, and…

CE years were all back-numbered to the presumed birth year of Jesus of Nazareth, and as far as historians can guesstimate that was somewhere around 6 BC. But that backnumbering didn’t happen until the sixth century anyway…

The teens

No, I’m not referring to people who are 13 to 19 years old. I’m referring to simple common sense as regards actual decades, to wit:

  • A decade is a period of ten years. Any period of ten years–e.g., my first decade was 1945-1954.
  • Maybe the teens isn’t the right word for 2010-2019, but whatever that word is, it will reference the “1″–just as “the oughts” as a term for 2000-2009 references that 0 in the third position. The shorthand works from 0 through 9. The nineties ended in 1999; saying they ended in 2000 is just strange.

You’re entirely welcome to disagree. And if you can show me historical records from the time, with people noting that December 31, 1BC, was immediately followed by January 1, 1AD, I might even listen to you. Somehow, I doubt that such records exist…

Or, you know, you could focus on something more important, which includes almost everything. (Know what made me feel really warm yesterday? We watched the featurettes on New in Town–which was actually quite an amusing movie. The movie’s set in New Ulm, Minnesota, and the cold winter’s definitely a character, but apparently Minnesota wasn’t quite right for the filming. It actually filmed in the vicinity of Winnipeg…in January…including some scenes shot between midnight and 5 a.m. Hearing Harry Connick, Jr. (from New Orleans) talk about making a movie at minus 57 degrees (at that point, Fahrenheit and Celsius don’t make much nevermind, since -57F = about -50C)…priceless. And seeing Renee Zellweger taking pratfalls in the snow at that same -57, and walking around in an above-the-knee skirt in that weather…wow. What some people do to make a movie! )

Mystery Collection Disc Six

Posted in Movies and TV on December 19th, 2009

Nancy Drew, Reporter, 1939, b&w. William Clemens (dir.), Bonita Granville, John Litel, Frankie Thomas, Mary Lee, Dickie Jones. 1:08.

It’s fluff, but it’s really good fluff. Nancy Drew (who manages to combine being quite grown up, her own car and all, with being somewhat innocent—a tough act!), daughter of a prominent attorney, enters a newspaper’s contest for the best reportage from a high schooler—and turns it into an investigation into a poisoning and frameup. It’s more comedy than mystery, and Drew is all spunk and wits throughout.

Drew’s relationship to her neighbor Ted is strange, but that’s part of the charm, although Ted’s nasty tween sister and male friend, brats who suddenly turn professional entertainers when required, are a little hard to take. It’s hard not to love the scenes in a Chinese restaurant with a full-scale Chinese big band, all in traditional outfits—and the whole hotel sequence near the end is a long, complicated hoot.

The print’s fairly good and the whole thing’s quite a romp. It’s short (and not that mysterious), so I’ll only give it $1.25.

The Kennel Murder Case, 1933, b&w. Michael Curtiz (dir.), William Powell, Mary Astor, Eugene Pallette, Ralph Morgan, Robert McWade, Robert Barrat, Frank Conroy. 1:13.

Philo Vance raises prize dogs as well as doing some amateur detecting—and after his dog comes in second in breed, he chats with some irritating folks at the kennel club. The most irritating of all turns up dead the next morning, in a room bolted from the inside and with locked windows, an apparent suicide by gunshot. Only Vance, who’s told about it as he’s about to sail off on a cruise, doesn’t think it’s suicide, cancels the cruise and the fun begins.

William Powell as Philo Vance—right there, you can assume an enjoyable movie. You get the detective (Pallette) who’s all too ready to call it a suicide and declare the case over, even when it’s demonstrated that the guy died from a knife wound and suffered a blow to the head before that. You get the irritable coroner (Girardot) who gets called out twice while he’s trying to eat lunch (yes, twice—there’s another victim, the chief suspect in the first murder). You get a DA (McWade) who, for some reason, consistently pronounces the noun “suspect” as though it’s the adjective, accenting the second syllable. You get the niece (Astor, fine as always) who admits she had reason to kill the victim (but didn’t). Lots of odd little mustaches, romantic intrigue, and a victim who had nothing but suspects, since all those who knew him had reason to despise him.

It all works out in the end, of course, in a movie that’s mostly detection, well played and quite nicely done. (Turns out I’d seen it before, five years ago in an entirely unrelated set of public domain movies—but it was well worth watching again.) Decent print, but with just enough missed frames and syllables to be irritating, which is what reduces this to $1.50.

The Death Kiss, 1932, b&w. Edwin L. Marin (dir.), David Manners, Adrienne Ames, Bela Lugosi, John Wray, Vince Barnett, Alexander Carr, Edward Van Sloan. 1:15 [1:10].

Movies within movies are always good plot devices, and this movie takes place almost entirely on the set of The Death Kiss and other areas of the studio. Seems an actor who’s being shot at by eight other actors, with the usual blanks, was also being shot by someone not using blanks. The victim’s a Lothario, with lots of possible enemies. A little early amateur sleuthing, recovering a fragment of the bullet, demonstrates that this wasn’t a prop man’s accident: The fatal bullet’s a different caliber than the prop guns.

This time, a screenwriter who’s in love with the heroine of the flick (who’s been arrested as a likely suspect) becomes amateur detective (aided by a nearly-Keystone Kops-style studio cop) in order to find the real culprit. The real cops are, as you might imagine, less than overjoyed about the help. (If you’re wondering, Bela Lugosi is the studio head, in a relatively small but significant part, played entirely straight.)

Good setup—but I found the plot wanting and the movie a lot less interesting than I’d hoped. It doesn’t help that this print has those little gaps that lose a syllable or word, making some of the dialogue hard to understand. It’s also noisy (background noise). All things considered, I come out with $1.00.

Suddenly, 1954, b&w. Lewis Allen (dir.), Frank Sinatra, Sterling Hayden, James Gleason, Nancy Gates, Kim Charney, Willis Bouchey, Paul Frees. 1:15.

In the sleepy little California town of Suddenly (it has something to do with the gold rush, although Suddenly seems to be slightly north of LA), the President’s going to arrive on a special 5:00 train, to go off on vacation. The sheriff (Hayden) and nearby cops cooperate with Secret Service agents who arrive on the regular 1:30 train to make sure everything’s secure—and that includes paying a courtesy visit to the house on the hill (with a direct sightline to the train station), where lives a retired Secret Service agent—he was the boss of the head of this detail—and his widow daughter, whom the Sheriff is trying (unsuccessfully) to woo.

That’s just the start of this excellently-acted, tautly-plotted, “half-time” movie (that is: the movie’s about 1:15 long and it covers only a little more than twice as much real time—from 1:30 to about 5:02). The kicker here is Frank Sinatra and two friends, who show up first at the house on the hill, saying they’re FBI agents there to protect the president. (After the father protests that the IRS protects the president, Sinatra says the agencies are cooperating.) But Sinata’s really an assassin, a pure mercenary out to collect the second half of a half-million-dollar fee.

Quite a movie, with Sinatra doing a remarkable job and all the rest acting credibly. It’s a thriller more than a mystery, and it’s excellent. I’d actually seen it several years ago, but thoroughly enjoyed seeing it again. About the only negatives are a couple of glitches and slight print damage; even so, it’s worth $1.75.

Cites & Insights 10:1 (January 2010) now available

Posted in Cites & Insights on December 16th, 2009

Cites & Insights 10:1 (January 2010) is now available.

The 30-page issue (PDF as usual, with HTML versions of the first three articles also available) includes:

Bibs & Blather (pages 1-6)

Announcing But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009, at a special earlybird price; also announcing the trade paperback version of Cites & Insights 9: 2009–and reduced prices on all Cites & Insights Books. Finally, some words about supporting Cites & Insights, which currently lacks sponsorship.

Making it Work Perspective: Thinking about Blogging 4: Declines and Ends (pages 6-22)

Quotes and comments about blogging in decline, how individual blogs change–and the process of pausing or ending a blog.

Interesting & Peculiar Products (pages 22-25)

Five items and four group reviews.

My Back Pages (pages 25-30)

As always, a PDF-only bonus section–this time including notes on Apple apologists, buying friends by the thousands, disappearing technologies, the eternal stereo silly season and Wired‘s equally eternal silliness–and the typographic change you’ll see if you read C&I as a PDF.


Peering into the future:There will not be a Midwinter issue of Cites & Insights; the next issue will (probably) be February 2010 and will (also probably) appear after Midwinter.

Might there be a non-issue similar to the fabled “Cites On A Plane” (which exists only in the trade paperback version of C&I 7: 2007)? Possibly. Check back around January 6…

LITA at Midwinter 2010: A Publicity Update

Posted in ALA on December 15th, 2009

It’s exactly one month until the 2010 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston. This should be about the time that people start firming up plans for the meeting–and by now groups should certainly know what they’re going to be talking about.

So, as a loyal (for now) LITA member who might like to try a couple of new interest groups discussing interesting things, I started to draw up my schedule based on what people were doing.

A couple of years back, I grumbled about a certain lack of coherence in communications by LITA groups–too many channels (website, blog, wiki, list, segment of ALA’s website) and information either missing or too scattered, particularly for someone trying to get involved in the organization. As I recall, six weeks out, I could only find information on about half of the IGs, and that required going to four different sites.

I’m sure things have been improved by now. For one thing, there’s another big site (ALA Connect), for another, LITA officers have at various times talked about the need to fix this problem. So let’s have a looksee…

Who?

LITA has either 18 or 21 Interest Groups at the moment, depending on where you look. There are another 17 “inactive” IGs, most of them long since disappeared.

Where?

Ideally, any LITA channel should offer a way to get to a reasonably complete list of notes on what IGs plan to do–and that list should appear in one place.

Should that place be on one of the LITA channels? Maybe, maybe not.

Let’s see what I found as I explored the various likely channels:

ALA Connect

There’s not even a Midwinter 2010 page for LITA, and very little recent activity of any sort. There is, to be sure, a link to an overall Midwinter 2010 PDF schedule giving times and rooms, arranged by division.

LITA Wiki

I went here next because it’s a wiki, so anybody can edit it, so it’s an obvious candidate.

  • Only five IGs have pages at all. Another five have red links–that is, links to nonexistent pages.
  • There is a Midwinter 2010 page. It has times for meetings as requested, but hasn’t been updated to show actual rooms. The only real info is on the two Midwinter workshops. ($220 for a member or $495 for a nonmember for a workshop on writing for the web? OK.)
  • Otherwise, I was able to determine that Internet Resources is having a “business meeting” (with time and room) and that Digital Library Technologies is having “an informal meeting” (with time but not room). That leaves 16 up in the air, and some of the pages are now 18 months out of date.

LITA Website

There’s a Midwinter 2010 link to an ALA page showing the workshops, the town meeting in some detail, a happy hour (time but no place)…and that’s it, other than a link to an HTML schedule with times and rooms but no details.

Every IG has a page (except Drupal). Not one of those pages has anything about Midwinter 2010. Not one.

What’s astonishing is just how old the most recent items on these pages are, setting aside the fact that the Top Tech Trends page stops at Midwinter 2005…

  • Two IGs have minutes or notes from Annual 2009.
  • Four have minutes or notes from Midwinter 2009. That leaves 13 that are more than a year out of date:
  • Three have notes from Annual 2008.
  • Four have notes from Annual 2007.
  • Two have notes from Annual 2006, with one more from Midwinter 2006.
  • One has notes from Annual 2005, and another has as its most recent entry notes from Annual 1999.
  • One has no entries at all.

LITA Blog

I found two posts related to Midwinter 2010: One announcing the workshops (I gotta say, it’s easy to find out how to spend even more money on LITA!) and one offering a gCal for Midwinter 2010. As far as I can tell (not being a gCal guru), that has times and rooms but no details.

No posts announcing Midwinter IG plans. Not one.

LITA-L

It’s crazy to expect a newcomer to search through list archives to find this stuff anyway–particularly given the search engine and the way the archives are presented.

It’s also a waste of time. I found nothing going back as far as October 2009, and a search yielded nothing at all.

ALA Website

The LITA link goes to LITA’s website (already covered). Tee Midwinter event planner seems to be useless for finding out what’s actually happening, or maybe I lacked patience to keep logging in and restarting my session…

But, if you read the Midwinter page carefully, you do find a link for the 2010 Midwinter Meeting Wiki.

And there, you hit paydirt–again, if you know where to look. When I looked at it half an hour ago, there was a red link (which means “no page” in MediaWiki) for Interest Groups, and the Division Events page was no help, with LITA having nothing in it.

Ah, but on Discussion Groups…

  • Twelve of the LITA IGs have something.
  • Two are generic, essentially descriptions of the IG. Ten are more specific.
  • Being a good guy, I created an account, created the IG page with a link to the LITA section of the DG page, and added a note and link to the LITA section of he Division Events page. So, now, you have a reasonably good shot of finding this info…if you look at the wiki. Number of links to the wiki from official LITA channels, as of this writing: Zero.

Here are the ten specific writeups, in alphabetic order, noting that BCEC is the “not Hynes” convention center:

  • Authority Control, Sunday 1:30-5:30, BCEC 105: “Updates from different groups working in areas of authority control, with time for questions and discussion. Tentatively, Library of Congress, MARBI, OCLC, RDA/MARC Taskforce will be represented.”
  • BIGWIG, Sunday 4-5:30, BCEC 102A: “BIGWIG will be discussing upcoming activities, including (but not limited to) the LITA Blog, Social Software Showcase, and the election of new officers. Interested in social software or the use of new technologies in Libraries? Come join the LITA BIGWIG interest group, we will be … “
  • Distance Learning, Saturday 10:30-12, BCEC 104C: “The LITA Distance Learning Interest Group will meet at the 2010 ALA Midwinter Conference in Boston to discuss current issues in distance learning and future plans for DLIG. Topics will include learning objects and tutorials, the role of distance learning in libraries today, and economic impacts on distance learning programs”
  • Electronic Resources Management, Friday 6:30-8:30 p.m., Hyatt Duxbury: “The incoming midwinter LITA ERMIG discussion meeting will cover several hot major issues on how to manage library electronic resources under the library budget challenges, including various standards development and applications, ERM system development, and new researches and studies conducted in the areas of resources management lifecycle. The speakers will include librarians, vendors and publishers. The forum will be in a discussion format. Each talk will be followed by a Q&A session”
  • Emerging Technologies, Sunday 1:30-3:30, BCEC 258C: “This meeting will include a roundtable style discussion on Emerging Technologies in Libraries and how Libraries can utilize them. This meeting will also include discussion on potential speakers for a panel of Emerging Technology Librarians planned for ALA Annual 2010 as well as consideration of potential questions to pose to the panel.”
  • Imagineering, Monday 1:30-3:30, BCEC 152: “LITA Imagineering Interest Group will meet discuss our committee charge which is “to promote imaginative forecasting and planning for future information systems and technologies by the examination and analysis of speculative themes and works.” We will also discuss doing a second program at Annual conference on the History of Science Fiction and spend time creating a handout for the program.”
  • MARC Format, Saturday 1:30-3:30, BCEC 158: “”“Changing MARC to accommodate RDA” The MARC Formats Interest Group will discuss recent, current, and pending changes to the various MARC formats in anticipation of RDA. Speakers TBA. MFIG will also discuss all changes to the various MARC formats in the past 6 months”
  • Mobile Computing, Sunday 4-5:30, BCEC 102B: “This will be the kickoff meeting for our interest group. We’ll discuss directions for the IG, communication, and begin to share information about mobile computing projects underway at our libraries and elsewhere.”
  • Next Generation Catalog, Sunday 10:30-12, BCEC 104A/B: “Mobile Technologies and Next Generation Catalogs. We will have presentations and discussion on two examples of the development and application of mobile interfaces to catalog systems. Topics will include mobile design strategies and techniques, challenges posed by mobile devices, and illustrated with real-world examples of mobile ILS clients. A brief IG business meeting will follow the discussion. “
  • Open Source, Sunday 4-5:30, BCEC 154: “The OSS IG will be planning its ALA 2010 preconference on migrating to open source library systems, and will reserve some meeting time for IG members and visitors to share their news about open source implementations and other items of interest. All are welcome to attend!”

Conclusions?

On one hand, better than half of the IGs provide some useful preview somewhere–and that’s an improvement. Given two more that say they’re either just having a business meeting or an informal meeting with no planned topic, that’s two-thirds, and that’s not bad at all.

On the other…if I was a newcomer, I’d wonder why there were so many formal channels when all the information was actually on a non-LITA site. With no links from any of the LITA-specific channels. And with woefully outdated information on what appears to be the primary LITA site.

But as a Candide-type personality, I’ll applaud the fact that it is possible to find info on most of them. If you know where to look…

Actually, I’ll be more positive:

(Update a few minutes later:) LITA IG members who, presumably, added those writeups deserve credit for communicating their plans. (If it was the LITA Office that added the writeups, that’s great as well.)

The next step is to close the loop, by making sure that the LITA site and wiki both point to the appropriate conference wiki sites.


(So how does my schedule look? I’ll be there all day Friday through Monday, arriving on an early-morning redeye on Friday and leaving early Tuesday morning. Right now, my schedule’s open; this post might inform it somewhat. More on that later.)

The Rest of the Liblogs (But Still They Blog, 12)

Posted in Liblogs on December 14th, 2009

This post is about Chapter 12–the last chapter–of But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009, now available at the special introductory price of $29.50 paperback, $20 PDF.

This 319-page trade paperback provides a sweeping look at liblogs (blogs created by library people but, generally, not blogs that are official library publications), with trends, facts, figures, graphs, and profiles for each of 521 liblogs. It continues the most comprehensive detailed look at liblogs (or any category of blogs) that I know of, showing measurable characteristics and how they’re changing over the years.

The Rest of the Liblogs

Here’s the full text of the chapter–except for the profiles!

This is the point in the book at which I should find profound meaning from these metrics. It’s the perfect opportunity for sweeping conclusions—if there were any.

You’ve seen smaller conclusions throughout the chapters. Yes, a fair number of bloggers have stopped (when has that not been true?). Yes, there seem to be a lot fewer new fairly-high-profile liblogs in 2008 than in previous years. Yes, most bloggers are blogging somewhat less (and very slightly longer).

And yes, some of that can probably be traced to FaceBook, Twitter and FriendFeed, along with the usual reasons—fatigue, changes in life and work, balance, boredom.

Underlying all that, however, liblogs still offer a broad, varied landscape of people with interesting and worthwhile things to say. Blogging may be dead (if you believe some pundits)…but still they blog.

The remaining liblogs—those that didn’t turn up in a previous chapter—aren’t “leftovers” by any means. A few of these are among my personal favorites, one or two are among those I choose not to comment on so as to avoid snark, several have gone by the wayside—and many just don’t have quite enough frequency, long enough posts or enough comments to stand out in a metric (or had metrics problems).

Again: metrics only measure quantity, not quality. You need to judge quality for yourself.

The Profiles

In this case (and this case only), the profiles are in alphabetical order, since I couldn’t come up with any better scheme.

Stopping and Pausing (But Still They Blog, 11)

Posted in Liblogs on December 13th, 2009

Like Chapter 10, Chapter 11 is entirely new to But Still They Blog.

Why does a blogger pause (which I’ll define as not blogging for at least four months) or stop altogether? I’m certain the most common reason is premature blogging, that is, starting a blog before you really know whether you have much to say. I suspect other reasons are all over the map, with the second largest probably running out of steam or losing interest (or, these days, finding that saying what you have to say is easier and faster on Twitter, FaceBook or FriendFeed).

A fair number of libloggers stopped between mid-2007 and mid-2008, or at least paused for so long that they don’t have any posts—at least 13% of those with enough impact to make it into But Still They Blog and probably more than that among the broader liblog population. Some returned; many didn’t.

What follows is a sampling of posts on why people have stopped or paused blogging—or, in some cases, the fateful final posts that don’t appear intended to be final. Included are some “haven’t been blogging much lately” posts.

In Case It’s Not Obvious…

This post is about Chapter 11 of But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009, now available at the special introductory price of $29.50 paperback, $20 PDF.

This 319-page trade paperback provides a sweeping look at liblogs (blogs created by library people but, generally, not blogs that are official library publications), with trends, facts, figures, graphs, and profiles for each of 521 liblogs. It continues the most comprehensive detailed look at liblogs (or any category of blogs) that I know of, showing measurable characteristics and how they’re changing over the years.

After the introductory section above, this chapter consists of quotes from blogs and comments on those quotes. Portions, in somewhat different form, may appear in the January 2010 Cites & Insights.

Profiled Blogs

The chapter includes profiles for these liblogs, mentioned in Chapter 11 and not previously profiled.


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