Vast Active Library and Information Science blog. From a recent library science graduate in Wellington, New Zealand. A focus on reference and current awareness tools and issues, especially free, web-based resources.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Please update your feeds, closing off this blog  
OK, the new blog appears to be ready to go, so I'm ceasing this blog now and just posting over there. Please update your feeds by deleting this feed and grabbing the new ones.

The feed is here. The comments feed is here.


Saturday, February 18, 2006
Track your comments on other blogs  
Wired News reports on CoComment, which lets you track, store and republish the comments posted on other people's blogs.

I haven't tried it out, but it looks intriguing.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Moving domains, and need a new name  
I now have my own domain name and a "proper" homepage, so I'll be moving this blog over to that domain as soon as I've finished tweaking the template for the new one.

The blog will be at (don't go looking yet, there's nothing but a test entry at the moment).

RSS feed for posts will be and for comments . You might as well subscribe to those now.

I'm also looking for a new blog title. The Philip K. Dick pun in the title of this one made sense when I came up with it, but I'm kinda over the idea of using names of sf novels as part of my online identity. But I'm stuck on what to call the new blog.

I think I'd like something with a New Zealand flavour to it. "Kiwi Librarian" sounds a bit too casual. "NZ Librarian"? "Wellington Librarian"? Not very exciting.

Some punning library reference?

I don't know. Any suggestions gratefully received. Naming is not my strong point.


Knowledge Basket adds Scoop media archive  
The Knowledge Basket has added over 140,000 records from Scoop's media archive. This is quite a significant addition. Scoop carries press releases from all New Zealand political parties and many NGO/lobby groups and individuals. Unfortunately, though, the archive doesn't seem to include blog posts from Public Address or the other blogs that are featured on Scoop.


Doctorow on Google Book Search and Google Video  
Cory Doctorow has two long but excellent posts on BoingBoing. One is full of praise for Google Book Search, with Cory arguing that, as a writer, he loves the idea of more people being exposed to his work, and pointing out that his books are selling well even though readers can download them for free. The second is much more critical, and asks what's wrong with Google Video's DRM? Cory says Google Video is the first instance of Google releasing a product that isn't completely focused on the user's needs.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006
John Battelle thinks things through about the China censorship issue, and concludes that the government, rather than Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL etc, needs to take the lead in opposing Chinese policy. John also writes about the ADVISE system, "a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity".

John Blyberg has a follow-up, from a library perspective, to Don Hinchcliffe's '10 ways to take advantage of Web 2.0' post. Both of these posts are among the most thoughtful and interesting that I've read on this subject. The heat seems to have left the Library 2.0 debate, and what's left is some decent posts with practical recommendations. I'm still not sure I buy into the whole "L2 revolution now!" type manifesto, but there are some great things being done under the Library 2.0 banner, and I guess I can just take the ones that work for me, and re-mix them the way I want....(and isn't that such a Library 2.0 idea?).

Steve Rubel is sceptical about the emphasis placed on links as a source of authority.

Michael McGrorty has a fascinating post discussing his prior occupation of private investigator, and including some tips for librarians: "I’d like to introduce the [library] trade to the doctrine of necessity: the idea that one has to provide a good answer, no matter what." Amen! If there's one thing I remember from this week's blog posts, I hope that is it. Steven Cohen applauds, and offers some specific tips of his own: "take as many classes as possible on database searching. Know Lexis, Westlaw, and Dialog from the inside out. Know how to use every syntax available in every major search engine".

ALA Techsource Blog has a long post by Teresa Koltzenburg on a presentation by Jenny Levine and Michael Stephens on four specific low-cost, tech tools (blogging software; RSS feeds; instant messaging; and wiki software) that libaries can use. A good, practical introduction for those unfamiliar with these tools (who, unfortunately, are unlikely to be reading blogs).

Meredith Farkas has a wonderful post on how librarians can actually make libraries worse while trying to improve them.

"Sometimes librarians think they’re helping patrons by putting policies in place that actually end up creating more barriers. Sometimes librarians create policies that help one group of patrons but hurt another. Sometimes we implement some new service or policy only to find that we were completely wrong about what our patrons wanted."
"We enlightened librarians are not immune to making mistakes. We create blogs for populations that don’t want them. We develop programs that none of our patrons attend. We see what people are doing successfully at other libraries and we try to replicate those successes, not considering the fact that our population is not the same as theirs. I’ve certainly been guilty of that sort of hubris. In short, we think we know what our patrons want without ever having asked them."
A great post. The whole thing is worth reading. If I remember two things from this week's reading, I want this to be the second thing.

Carnival of the Infosciences #24 is up at Grumpator.


Ad-Supported Free Online Books  
Infotoday has the story. The book Go It Alone! The Secret to Building a Successful Business on Your Own by Bruce Judson has been published online, in full, for free by HarperCollins. The book is supported by contextual text advertising, provided by both Yahoo! and Google. The publisher and author will share revenues.

This is an interesting idea, and apparently the first time that a major publishing company has conducted such a project. On the one hand, I welcome this (who doesn't want free information?). On the other, I wonder what influence advertisers could potentially have over the content of books? Possibly the fact that the ads are automatically generated from the text of the book might lessen this risk - it wouldn't be the same as an advertiser threatening to pull a full-page ad from a magazine that contained content that the advertiser didn't approve of. (And it would be kinda funny to see ads for brand-name sneakers all the way through No Logo, for example).


Saturday, February 11, 2006
Link roundup  
Google's Desktop Search version 3.0 will have a "search across computers" function. You can upload your hard drive onto Google's servers, and then search it from any other computer. From a usability perspective, great. From a privacy perspective, not so much. More at TechCrunch

Listible has a complete list of Web 2.0 products. Yahoo! has updated MyWeb2.0, their personalised startpage. (via John Battelle). has a special page for librarians (via Librarian In Black).

Ask Jeeves has hired Gary Price (of ResourceShelf and SearchEngineWatch) as Director of Online Information Resources. Gary will be working on product development, and (even better from our perspective) "outreach to the library and education make Ask Jeeves a product that librarians and educators can count on." Very cool indeed, and I can think of few people who are better able to do such a job.

The Economist writes about corporate blogging. Network World writes about corporate blogs and wikis (both links via Steve Rubel's Micropersuasion).

Caveat Lector has a passionate and interesting post on the quality of a library school education, and why there aren't more librarian coders.


Thursday, February 09, 2006
Libraries in Second Life?  
Second Life is an online virtual world where users create content. The game is so popular that it's possible for players to make a real-world living from the content they create in the game (Wired News). Copyright expert Professor Lawrence Lessig has lectured in Second Life, and author and blogger Cory Doctorow has conducted a virtual book signing in the game.

The Wired article linked above says "in a recent contract with the UC Davis Medical Center, Rufer-Bach created virtual clinics in Second Life to train emergency workers who might be called upon to rapidly set up medical facilities in a national crisis. The work is funded by the Centers for Disease Control."

So......wouldn't it be cool to have virtual libraries in Second Life? Or virtual reference librarians? Does anyone know if this is happening?


Sunday, February 05, 2006
Comparison of music recommendation services  
Slashdot reports has an interesting comparison of two music recommendation services, lastfm and Pandora. I've used both these services, and both the original article (by Steve Krause), and the Slashdot discussion are worth reading.

Personally, I prefer lastfm (my profile). Pandora is more of a private experience. You enter the name of an artist or song, and are provided with a streaming music station that plays songs similar to that artist or song. The similarity is determined by human analysis of the musical qualities of each track, so it's naturally very labour-intensive. Lastfm simply records all the songs you have played in your own media player (e.g. iTunes), and then creates radio stations based around your personal taste. You can also listen to the radio stations of other users. Some of these will be suggested to you, based on your own taste, but you can also browse all stations. Lastfm has profile pages, message boards, and allows you to join groups and add users as friends. So it's much more social, and the radio stations are constructed based on peoples' actual listening patterns, not analysis of the songs' qualities. It's this social quality that attracts me to the site, and the fact that I have a permanent, public profile there.

Others in the biblioblogosphere have been discussing Pandora - Walt Crawford, Joy at Wanderings of a Student Librarian. Both are positive about its ability to suggest interesting songs that they wouldn't have thought of themselves.

BetaNews has a review which also includes (in the comments) a way to turn the Pandora stream into MP3s. (Which, obviously, you shouldn't do because it would be illegal). [via ResourceShelf]. SearchEngineWatch reviews Gracenote, which is "only" a database at the moment, but will apparently be offering a recommendations service soon. Techdirt suggests that music albums may become an outdated concept as more music is sold by download. This makes sense to me - musical formats have traditionally followed technology, e.g. album-oriented rock was made possible by the development of the LP record - before that the dominant pop music form was the single; albums became longer following the development of the CD. Selling music by download enables artists to sell "chunks" of music of variable length, containing any number of songs. There's no particular reason why they should stick to a 10-12 track, 40 minute album.


BBC: Libraries fear digital lockdown  
BBC News is reporting that the British Library is worried that excessive digital rights management will over-ride copyright legislation, preventing libraries from exercising fair use rights. DRM would not expire when copyright did, and libraries might lack the ability to unlock the DRM, nor be able to contact the rights holders. Format-shifting DRM'd material to new formats would also be impossible.

As an interesting aside, the British Library apparently spends 1/8th of its acquisitions budget on digial materials, and predicts that:

"by 2020, 90% of newly published work will be available digitally - twice the amount that is printed".


Friday, February 03, 2006
Quciklink: Walt Crawford: 'Abandoning library?'  
Go read: Abandoning 'library'? (Walt at Random). Fisks a report claiming that libraries should drop the name library and ensuer that their branding stays away from any association with books...


The End of the Internet? (The Nation)  
A chilling article from The Nation asks if we are facing the end of the Internet?

Not in the sense that it will no longer be there, but in the sense that it would become "a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online". The issue is whether telecommunications providers will be able to offer differential levels of service to different customers. In other words, pay enough and you are able to get priority access for your data.

This risks transforming the internet from a democratic, peer-to-peer medium to a broadcast content medium. It is not something to be welcomed by those who see value in the Long Tail, in user-generated content rather than exclusively in the content produced by large corporations.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Various links  
Russell Brown writes about social software in the NZ Listener. A good introduction. writes about an OPAC created in [blog software] Wordpress - with tagging and comments enabled, and with each item having a static URL. Very cool.

The National Library of Australia is collaborating with Flickr on a photo archive (Australian IT).

Microsoft will have an RSS reader in IE7 (Dave's Wordpress Blog). Will this be the tipping point for widespread acceptance of RSS? compares the PageRanks of blogs vs the New York Times on various news stories from the last year. I'm not too sure about the choice of search terms, which seem as though they would give an advantage to an after-the-fact summary, rather than a contemporary news story - which may give blogs an advantage in the comparison.

Newspaper owners want to sue Google News, claiming it is making money off their intellectual property (Techdirt). Memo to newspapers: if I read one of your articles, chances are I found it through Google News (or Topix or Newsnow). I click through and read your article, and I see the ads on your site. News aggregators are helping your business, not hurting it.