Archive for January, 2007

Cites on a Plane!

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

If you’ve been reading Cites & Insights all along (or at least for the last 18 months), and if you have no curiosity about the miracle of Word XP’s AutoSummarize, you can delete this message.

If not–well, as promised, there is not a Midwinter 2007 issue of Cites & Insights. (The next issue should come out shortly after ALA Midwinter, around January 24-26. I’d like to keep to 12 issues this year…)

But there is a phantom edition, designed for those who’ve told me they read C&I on the plane to Midwinter or Annual.

Cites on a Plane 2007 iswas available for downloading

HTML separates are not available, because there’s nothing new here.

The 38-page thing–it’s not an issue–will disappear on or about January 23. So far, I haven’t figured out how to make printed copies do a Mission:Impossible, but…

Other than three introductory paragraphs under the heading “This Issue Does Not Exist,” and a single line above each section saying where it originally appeared, there is no new material in this thing.

There’s also no table of contents–after all, it’s not an issue.

If you’ve read all the stuff, but you are interested in how Word AutoSummary handles a long, complicated pair of texts, you could just print out pages 32-38, “Library 2.0 for Short Attention Spans”–an unmodified 10% AutoSummary of “Library 2.0 and ‘Library 2.0′” and “Finding a Balance: Libraries and Librarians.”

The rest of the issue is essays from the last 18 months that appear to have had relatively low readership, but no more than one essay from any given issue.

  • From C&I 5:9 – Perspective: Predicting the Future of Academic Libraries
  • From C&I 5:12 – Net Media Perspective: Analogies, Gatekeepers and Blogging
  • From C&I 6:7 – Perspective: You Just Can’t Understand
  • From C&I 6:11 – Trends & Quick Takes
  • From C&I 6:5 – The 40 original “facets” from the full-issue smorgasbord. (OK, 39 original and one from Walt at Random.)
  • And “Library 2.0 for Short Attention Spans.”

A caution about that final section: Word clearly favors the first paragraph under headings, which means that lots of paragraphs aren’t indented. It also appears to favor standalone paragraphs–most of the one-sentence quotes appear. Otherwise–well, I swear I didn’t change the results at all. Maybe you can come to conclusions about how AutoSummary works.

Five plus one

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

I must say that the “five things” meme/chain post/whatever has been fascinating. It’s guided me to a few new liblogs (and caused me to glance at a number of “outside” blogs that usually didn’t get Bloglined), and it’s provided some great insights into people within the field.

And at least five other bloggers from OCLC have participated, so I consider my pseudo-tagging complete. I don’t really believe in tagging either (hi Alane!), so I did a pseudo-tag without names. Yes, one response does count for as many different taggers as possible…

Andy [oh, go look at It’s all good if you don’t understand the reference]: Here’s what happens if you break the chain. Somewhere in Greater Los Angeles, a demon goes flat while singing in a karaoke bar, interfering with reading its future. Otherwise, there are no consequences. [And for those who don’t understand that reference, think Joss Whedon. Or don’t.]

Reading all those semi-intimacies prompted me to add a bonus:

6. Why I compulsively get to airports very early–and did so even before TSA and all that.

The first time I had occasion to fly was a job-related trip at UC Berkeley: I had to go to UCLA for some reason. (It was a long time ago, I believe in the mid-1970s.) The arrangements were made for me. At the time, the efficient way to get from Berkeley to SFO was to take the helicopter service from the Berkeley heliport (long since disappeared)–and that’s how the arrangements were made. Plenty of time to catch the flight; just don’t miss the helicopter.

I was there in plenty of time for the helicopter. Which didn’t take off for quite some time after its schedule. I believe it was because some bigshot was late, so they held the flight.

When we got to SFO, it was something like 15 minutes before the flight time. I ran full-tilt through what seemed like endless corridors. I made it to the plane with about a minute to spare.

These days, it would be simple: Since they would have closed the doors ten minutes before takeoff and given away the seats for anyone who hadn’t shown up 15-20 minutes before, I would have missed the flight and the meeting. As it was, I made it–and vowed never to be in that kind of situation again. I’ve learned to appreciate airport food, factor in more than enough time for traffic problems, and once in a while catch an earlier flight–and, of course, I always have plenty of reading for the two or three hours of sitting around.

[I hate running, and my ankles aren’t built for it. On the other hand, I’m a fast walker, enjoy walking and can walk basically forever, or at least 5-10 miles.]

And, to be sure, I make my own travel arrangements.

I respectfully disagree

Monday, January 8th, 2007

Not with the posts I’m about to link to–but maybe, in the future, a little more clearly in some other cases.

The posts: Rochelle Hartman says “Politeness? Overrated” at Tinfoil + Raccoon.

There’s a companion post by Heidi Delamore at Quiddle (or “quiddle”–the site uses the latter, but the HTML title is apparently the former).

And wisesmartass Steve Lawson posted “Drama vs. criticism” at See also…. (Sorry, Steve, but you really did ask for that one.)

They’re not all saying the same thing, but the Venn diagram has a large degree of overlap, especially between the first two posts. I won’t attempt to summarize or interpret them: They’re not long, all three write clearly, and it’s a civil discussion–oddly, encouraging slightly less civil discussions at times.

Lawson’s take (I’m trying very hard to avoid first-naming except when I’m joshing someone–no, Neff, that wasn’t aimed at you) is an interesting one. I’ve certainly seen (and endured) cases where people are much more emphatic and even mean-spirited in comments on other posts than they would be on their own blog. Very few bloggers YELL WHEN THEY’RE POSTING, for example. But there’s something else about arguments and criticisms made only in comments (and I do this as much as anyone):

Comments may not have the impact of posts, for two reasons:

  1. Lots of us (I suspect) don’t automatically click through from our aggregators for each post that we find interesting–especially if it’s on (for example) a blog that uses white text on a black background or that we know won’t print out a long post cleanly. I, for one, am more inclined to read the post entirely within Bloglines–and, in the latter case, to email it to myself from Bloglines, since the email’s always printable. So, we don’t necessarily see the comments.
  2. Very few of us sign up for comment feeds, even if blogs offer them. Unless a particular post is just incredibly compelling, we’re unlikely to go back a day, a week, a month later and go through the comment-conversation that’s ensued.

I think this is a shame, actually–but I also don’t see myself revisiting dozens of posts to take advantage of the comments. Increasingly, if I’m writing about a post, I will visit it to save retyping, and may encounter some fascinating comments that I didn’t see the first time around–but the number of people who revisit substantive posts a month or two later in order to write post-hoc commentaries can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Answer? I don’t have one. I love the semi-conversational aspect of (some) blogs–you may note that I still haven’t activated full-time moderation, and hope I never need to, and I’m probably prouder of the >3 comments-per-post average at W.a.r. than I am of the growing number of daily visits (where are all these people or machines coming from?) But I agree that substantive criticisms and extensions will probably have more impact if they’re in a post with links, rather than or in addition to a comment.

I also agree that it’s possible to neuter ourselves through excess politeness or dislike of heated discussions or being piled on. And that we need to be willing to state criticisms and different ideas–ideally, by criticizing the statement rather than the person making the statement. And that, once in a while, we may need to be less polite about the whole thing.

There is, on the other hand, a difference between candor and rudeness. It’s possible to sharply disagree with someone without calling them names or telling them to shut up or get over it. It’s also desirable, if you ever expect them to respond rationally. (I don’t remember ever finding these three to be rude.)
No resolution here, but I appreciated the nicely-stated candor in this trio of posts, and thought I should fourth it.

Does that mean I won’t state arguments in comments that I don’t state directly in posts? Nope. Does it mean I’ll always say exactly what I think and damn the consequences? Nope. I’m as human as anyone, and probably as inconsistent as anyone. It does mean that I understand and generally agree with what’s being said here, even if I don’t always put it into practice.

If you disagree, feel free to say so.

Cites & Insights news and status, if you care

Monday, January 8th, 2007

Maybe this is just a way to assure there’s at least one post this week. Maybe not.

Regular readers of Cites & Insights know that I’ve put out extra Midwinter issues each of the last three years. (I did one in 2002 as well, but not 2003.)

The most recent of those issues–Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0”–was not only extra but special, and has an apparent readership four or five times as large as the typical Cites & Insights. The Midwinter 2004 issue was also fairly special (a “discursive glossary” that I’ve never had the courage and energy to revisit/update/expand, but should one of these days). The other two were mostly just extra issues.

I’ve heard from a number of people that they use the Midwinter issues as “plane reading.”

Here’s this year’s situation:

  1. There will not be a Midwinter issue per se–that is, Cites & Insights 7:2 will not appear before Midwinter. It will be the February issue and will probably appear just after Midwinter.
  2. There might be a “plane reading” issue–but if there is, it will not contain any new material. It would be a “Cites on a Plane” special…something that I hope some would find worth printing off for the trip to Seattle, but nothing new to regular readers. I’ll decide by tomorrow night whether to do this.
  3. If “Cites on a Plane” does come out, it will be an unnumbered temporary issue–that is, it will be available by this weekend, and will disappear shortly after Midwinter.

For most of you who’re going to Midwinter, the message here is: Don’t expect to see a new C&I.

One terabyte drive: Three months late

Friday, January 5th, 2007

Last spring, Michael Sauers predicted that there would be a one-terabyte hard disk on the market before the end of 2006, and that it would cost a lot less than $1,000. (I don’t have a link. Travelin’ Librarian doesn’t have a search function.) I agreed with the prediction.

Well, Michael beat me to the post today. He found it on Engadget. In my boring old printist manner, I read it in today’s San Francisco Chronicle [the link’s to a “Technology Chronicles” post, but that post also appeared in this morning’s printed newspaper–it’s one of several SFChron blogs].

We were off by three months. But his prediction nearly a year ahead was pretty good, albeit consistent with the growth rate of PC-level hard disk capacity. (Moore’s law? No, much faster than that.)

The new Hitachi drive won’t be on the market until late March. It will be reasonably priced–about $400, so for less than a kilobuck you could have a live-backup [Raid 1] one-terabyte storage system [assuming you have a RAID controller and OS that can handle two terabytes!].

I’m a little surprised it’s Hitachi rather than Seagate, but this competition serves us well. I will not be surprised if Seagate manages to get a one terabyte drive to the market within a few weeks of Hitachi–and that “few weeks” could be either after or before.

I remember being impressed when total RLG storage capacity on the disk farm passed a terabyte. I remember more recently when RLG added another terabyte, for a sum considerably exceeding $399 (by a couple orders of magnitude, if I recall correctly). Of course, that’s server-class disk storage, which continues to be several times as expensive as PC-class storage.

I also remember that I wrote MARC for Library Use on my first personal computer, a Morrow MicroDecision MD2, running CP/M. Total disk storage: Unlimited, but at something like 360KB (that’s kilobytes, not megabytes or gigabytes) at a time. The MD2 had two diskette drives–5.25″ diskettes, the last true “floppies”–with one used for the OS and programs, the other for data. No hard disk. WordStar–and Personal Pearl relational database for the bibliography and glossary.

Changing times: Not a political post

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

The third of California’s three most important politicians–all women, all Democrats, all from “around here” (the San Francisco Bay Area)–becomes Speaker of the House today.

That represents two historical milestones: One appalling, the other astonishing.

Appalling: Nancy Pelosi is the first woman to be Speaker of the House.

Astonishing: Nancy Pelosi is the first California congressperson to become Speaker.

Blogging and RSS: A Librarian’s Guide (more of a review)

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

I discussed this book here, but had only started reading it, so didn’t offer a review.

Now I’ve read it. This isn’t a formal review, but I think it’s a good book, one that librarians thinking about blogging or feeds (and Michael Sauers demonstrates the extent to which feeds aren’t all from blogs) will find worthwhile.

“Comprehensive” isn’t quite right. “Extensive” is more like it. Sauers provides detailed instructions for setting up a Blogger blog and for using Bloglines as an aggregator. He couldn’t realistically go into that level of detail for other choices, and he does mention prominent choices in each case. I would have liked to see a little more on the reasons you might not want to use Blogger via Blogspot, or any other vendor-hosted blog (e.g., the difficulty of getting good log-based statistics, unless I’m missing something), but that might be too much detail for this text.

I found “The Library Blogosphere”–part 1, the blogs; part 2, the bloggers–fascinating, even though I’m certainly familiar with the stuff in part 1!

A good job. Despite my grump about the design (it really isn’t difficult for a template to suppress paragraph indentation immediately following headings and subheadings, and it sure does make the book look more professional), I’m impressed overall.

Better late than…

Monday, January 1st, 2007

Quoting myself from this here pile o’ randomness:

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions (and was mildly fond of the “No year’s resolutions” heading in the current Cites & Insights, but sometimes an exception is in order. Otherwise…well, I’m not sure. Just got a look at January 2006 statistics for Cites & Insights (as always, thanks, Dan!). (Actually, the post had the opposite of the desired effect. I had, in fact, been staying out of the “Library 2.0″ discussion. But, hmm…) Wow. I suppose the lesson is that it’s tough to write hard-headed confident technology reportage when the inevitable shifts aren’t quite as inevitable as they appear.

Two hundred seventytwo posts. Sorry about that. As noted in the current Cites & Insights, “certain select C&I essays will also appear in the YBP electronic resource Academia.” If you go for a walking tour of the cemeteries, by yourself, at night, or you pick up some good-lookin’ stranger who turns out to be stranger than you thought…well, you know, it isn’t ALA’s fault. I did something this morning that I’ve rarely had to do: Deleted a comment that had made it past Spam Karma 2. Meanwhile, it’s the weekend.

Based on an Erle Stanley Gardner story, this appears to be a pilot for a show featuring Jim Hutton as a DA—but not Ellery Queen. This is a mess, but a nostalgic mess. Dr. Kilgour, founder of OCLC (among other things), died yesterday. Same answer as two bullets up. Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large 6:11 (September 2006) is now available for downloading. All in all, though, good changes.

But if OA advocates generally agree that it’s a great idea to snatch library subscription money to pay for author-side charges (and allow commercial publishers to set those charges based on their own models), well, so much for the second possibility. I do not envy “A-listers,” even in the modest realm of library blogs! What’s this movie about? Don’t expect quick responses in either case; this post is postdated, and I’m actually on my way to or in New York at the moment, traveling without technology. See this post for background on this series of feedback invitations–of which this is the last. If so, have a happy and see you next year.

Dada enough for you? It’s afternoon (for most of you), so you should have conquered the hangover by now (if there was one…which there certainly wasn’t hereabouts, as a third of a bottle of 2005 Murphy-Goode Chardonnay along with dinner is highly unlikely to cause a hangover). Read it again; maybe it will make more sense.

Or maybe it will only “make sense” if you’re aware of an odd “meme” going around the last few days, mostly without tagging, and one of the most meta memes around–not just about your own blog, but consisting entirely of sentences from your own blog.

Difference is, I made it into four paragraphs, one for each quarter, and without lots of month labels and links. I’m guessing you can figure out that the first sentence is the first sentence of the first post of the month, the second is the last sentence of the last post of the month, and so on… Twentyfour sentences, four paragraphs. I decided that a one-word sentence was still a sentence–but I cheated just enough to leave out movie title/cast paragraphs and the “price” ending in those cases where the first or last post of a month was a set of old movie mini-reviews.

Since I don’t have a Random category (everything in this blog fits in that category), I’ll have to use Stuff–or, I suppose, check all the categories, given that there’s a little bit of almost everything here (not true: Nothing about censorware, cruising, food, or speaking).

One odd blog metric accidentally discovered, which says something about my frequency of posting or WordPress’ default archiving characteristics: Eleven monthly archives occupy two pages each; one fits on a single page. None required three pages or more. Meaning? Not much. If I’m reading the options pages right, that means I do between 15 and 30 posts most months, never more than 30. Sounds good to me.

Oh, and happy new year. May 2007 be better than 2006–for some of us, may 2007 be a lot better than 2006!