Archive for January 15th, 2013

Cites & Insights as HTML: Second weekly report

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

It’s been a week since the last update on the HTML challenge–that is, my request for people who find Cites & Insights worthwhile and want to read it in HTML form to pay a modest sum to support C&I.

It’s now a week before the cutoff for Stage 1 of the challenge: The point at which, unless there’s been significant progress toward the goal, I’ll stop doing HTML versions (effective with the February 2013 issue).

So here’s the report:

Contributions received to date


Purchases of C&I print annuals since challenge announced.


Contributions received with “not specific to HTML” disclaimer


Percentage progress toward goal



If you’ve been holding off, figuring somebody else would do it: Maybe not.

If $10 or $25 a year is just too much for your budget: My sympathy.

The case against overgeneralization

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

I have to give a shout-out to Jon Carroll’s column today in the San Francisco Chronicle (available on SFGate, the Chronicle‘s website).

You may or may not find his primary topic–the bizarre new logo for the University of California that is no longer the bizarre new logo for UC–all that interesting. Heck, you may even love the “UC’s a hip dotcom” replacement for UC’s established, conservative, effective logo that suggests one of the world’s great universities.

That’s not why I’m giving Carroll a shout-out. Instead, it’s this (after quoting a portion of a piece from a designer complaining about the complaints about the logo, that includes this: “But throughout this controversy, no one wrote about the strategy behind the new identity. In fact, no one wrote about the identity.”)

First, a word of advice: The phrase “no one wrote about” is, in this Internet age, inevitably untrue. Somebody writes on every side of every issue. Since an individual human cannot read everything on the topic, it is almost certain that you’re going to miss something that makes your statement untrue.

Once you’ve made one unsupportable claim, the other claims seem a little less convincing. This very newspaper, for instance, in its news story on the issue, quoted university officials with regard to what the thinking was behind the new branding campaign. So did other places. Perhaps the story was not covered the way Simmons would have covered it, but the issues he brings up were discussed.

Emphasis added in the second quoted paragraph, to be sure–and that’s what I’d hope that some library folks given to hyperbole would pay attention to.

The rest of the column’s also good stuff, of course. (I’m admittedly biased: Carroll–who I met when we were both at UC Berkeley and who convinced me that I shouldn’t be a humor writer–is one of the reasons why we still subscribe to the San Francisco Chronicle, albeit now as a Kindle app. I think he’s one of the best writers around.)

But that’s the message. When you say “every academic library has drastically falling circulation and reference,” change that to “most libraries” and you may be right; “every” is almost certainly and demonstrably wrong. When you say “Everybody’s using smartphones as their primary computing tool” (I’ve seen variants on this) you make yourself look foolish.