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Virtual Ability

I love quiet revolutions. They beat the odds and buck the trends. They don’t rely on the braying of pundits and prognosticators. They provide pleasant surprises, awakening us lovingly from our dogmatic slumbers. Recently a place named Virtual Ability Island (VAI) in the three-dimensional virtual...

My Three Die

The dog days of August 2007 may be remembered as that magic moment when librarianship as practiced in Second Life finally received permission to dine at the adults' table.  On August 3rd the Library of Congress announced a new initiative -- Preserving Creative America.  They made eight grant awards totally $2.15 million "...to address the long-term preservation of creative content in digital...

Thoughtful Advocates: An ALA TechSource Interview with ILA's Robert Doyle

"If people were better informed about social networking sites and knew and used basic Internet safety tips, the cloud of fear may decline."—Robert Doyle, Executive Director of the Illinois Library Association Last July, I wrote a post about some folks that were trying to scare libraries into dropping their Flickr presence and ban access because they likened Flickr to an amateur porn site. I...

Have Laptop, Will Learn?

Last Thursday's New York Times contained an article (a no-cost subscription is required) that provides a progress report on the $100 laptop initiative, officially known as One Laptop per Child (OLPC). The project is based at MIT's Media Lab and was first announced in January 2005. Led by Nicholas Negroponte, the OLPC project proclaims its main outcome goal thus: “a unique harmony of form and...

Public Libraries: Essential for Today's Technology Needs

Last week, Andy Bridges, from ALA's Washington Office, put together some summary information on the recently released Public Libraries and the Internet 2006: Results and Findings study.According to Andy, "The report was conducted by the Information Use Management and Policy Institute at Florida State University (FSU) and was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the American...

Wowio: It All Ads Up

Wowio, an LLC based in York, Pennsylvania, recently launched a free downloadable e-book service. The company's collection at launch is pretty sparse, but it does include both public domain and copyright-protected e-books. During my first use of the collection, I downloaded both The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn—if for no other reason than to relish Emmeline Grangerford's mournful Ode to Stephen...

UC Libraries Join the Google Books Library Project

Soon after Google announced in late 2004 the collaborative project—currently called the "Google Books Library Project," involving the five research libraries of Stanford, Michigan, Harvard, Oxford, and the New York Public Library—to scan millions of books, the five libraries became known as the "G5 Group."When the G5 Group was mentioned in conversations among librarians, often there was at least...

It's Too Darn Hot: A Curmudgeon's Asides

This week it's hot as a pistol across the United States, and as I sit in my office without A/C, a feeble fan drying the sweat on my face, I'm grumpy. Grumpy enough to line up a few peeves against the wall and slap them around.Open-source softwareYes, I know, open source is a saint and you'd let your sister or brother marry it. But I hate the idea that for some librarians if a particular software...

Left to Their Own Devices

Two news items that scurried across my attention in July have led me to conclude that, in this era of overlapping eras, we have entered yet another age. The first item was an industry report that Apple shipped more than eight million iPod devices in the second quarter of 2006. That's almost three million per month or 100,000 per day, and the second quarter is not a big gift-giving quarter,...

Squeezing the E-Turnip

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal reported that Google and an unnamed publisher were having discussions about leasing access to e-books. The general idea is that users would pay approximately ten percent of the list price for the printed book to be able to read the e-book for one week. In other words, they're talking about a pay-per-circ digital lending library. When it comes to new...

Button, Button, Who Has the Button?

Cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players, and other portable information/communication appliances all have buttons. For most tasks, the dominant way of interacting with these devices involves pressing buttons. The functionality of some buttons has become so multifarious that they seem like joysticks—without the stick and without the joy. The problem is: most button designs are poor, assuming that easy...