Posted tagged ‘Google’

Today Is Link Day

May 12, 2009

I’m in time off recovery mode today, and possibly coming down with something so just some links for people today.

First up, since I haven’t hammered on it for awhile, the latest attack on the OCLC record use policy.  This time it’s from the International Coalition of Library Consortia.

Next is a piece from the AP about a wikipedia hack conducted to test the accuracy of the media.  The media failed to catch on, but wikipedia’s editors did a much better job.

And to wrap up, the next big search feature from Google Labs.  They’re attempting to create a means of automatically compiling the results of a search into more workable forms (i.e. spreadsheets).  Could be promising.

The A.P. Steps Up

April 6, 2009

This is something that’s been looming for a while, and it looks like it’s finally happening.  As reported in the Times, the Associated Press is beginning a crack down of the use of its articles by news aggragators such as Yahoo, Google, and the Huffington Post.  From the tone of the article this sounds like the calmest copyright kerfluffle to date.  Although not all of the A.P.’s members are in agreement with this course of action (some like getting the added traffic a link from Google can send their way).

This is definitely a story worth watching.

What’s So Bad About Google

January 26, 2009

The Autocat regulars have picked up the Guardian article on OCLC last week, and the direction they’ve gone with the conversation seems a little….oh what’s the word…wrong?  Complaints immediately sprang up regarding the anti-OCLC agenda held by those who were interviewed (why this is surprising, or a problem I don’t get).  And people responded even more vehemently against the suggestion that it’s wrong for catalog records to be part of the hidden web.

The arguement goes something like this, people can search for a book in either a library’s own catalog or in Worldcat, so why would you want to let Google do it?  Well let’s see, because people use Google and they don’t use Worldcat (the majority of patrons have probably never even heard of it).  Because Google is intuitive to use and our catalogs are anything but.  Because we have to meet the patrons at their level and not force them to come up to ours.

Furthermore, there’s a bit of a fear that giving search engines access to our data will make our own systems irrelevant.  That’s only true in that our systems are already bordering on decrepitude.  Our jobs are to find ways to let people discover our resources.  To do so we should use every single tool at our disposal.  There is no possible downside if a new patron finds our stuff that wouldn’t have otherwise.  Really who cares if this discovery happened through an approved channel or not?  The important thing is that it was able to occur.

Reaching our Limits

October 4, 2008

There are some days when I truly despair for how far behind library catalogs are from the rest of the world.  At work yesterday one of my colleagues was attempting to compile a list of our new DVDs for our patrons and was unable to pull out a single piece of useful from the system besides the titles.  She wanted to list the directors of each film, which couldn’t be done.  She also wanted the year each film was released in cases where there were multiple adaptations, couldn’t be done.

The sad thing is that some of that information was indeed in the records, just not in a useful way.  Anyone who has any role in the production of a film can be listed in a record if the cataloger felt so inclined at the time, but their roles are never assigned and it’s not considered essential information so it only appears sporadically.  

Which officially makes our catalogs less powerful than the IMDB, Google, and the spreadsheet I cobbled together in excel for my own collection.  And don’t think that dvd’s are a unique example, this is par for the course.  Using a catalog try to find comics written but not drawn by Frank Miller, novels written by the actual V.C. Andrews, or a collection containing the Raven by Edgar Allen Poe.

These are all useful, fairly everyday searches that are impossible to conduct using the catalog alone.  And we these are pieces of software we’re paying small ransoms for, which are all the while becoming more and more obsolete.  And to make maters worse, we can accept a large amount of the blame for this ourselves.  While we’re debating the practicalities of FRBR and RDA and generally aren’t getting anywhere with a great deal of speed LibraryThing is merrily marching on with less than a dozen people on staff and have been implementing exactly these sorts of things monthly.

Why can’t we do the same with the resources that come from the rest of the profession?

Education and the new media

September 8, 2008

There’s a pair of good articles up today on the educational possibilities of my two favorite vices.  The Times has an interview with comics expert Scott McCloud (via Linda Braun) on his recent Google Chrome tutorial.  Then on Wired Clive Thompson has written a nice editorial on how video games teach the scientific method.

Chrome Fails

September 5, 2008

I had a great opportunity to install a round of upgrades on our public computers, and while I was at it thought I might as well put Chrome on them (I’ve been using it regularly and am quickly becoming a convert).  However, I hit a really annoying stumbling block.

Chrome installs in the following directory:

documents and settings/[user]/local settings/application data

This is a hidden folder, not to mention one that limited accounts (which we use for patron logins) do not have access to.  I’m sure there’s a way to alter the permissions, but I haven’t worked it out yet, and until there’s some more demand for Chrome I’m not convinced it’s worth the effort on my part.

On the other hand, the couple other staff members who have switched to it seem to love it.

Chrome

September 2, 2008

There were a few other things I was planning to write about today, but then Google went ahead and made its next move in the quest for global domination by releasing its long rumored browser.

It’s going to take a lot to make a Firefox junkie like yours truly abandon the competition, but the first impressions I got from it are promising.  The showy features (dynamic tabs, a task manager, and the privacy mode) are both impressive and potentially very useful.  I also like the streamlined design quite a bit, although it’s going to take some time to adjust to the location of the pop up blocker messages.  And being who I am, hiring Scott McLeod to create a tutorial comic certainly got my attention.

I’m not entirely set on migrating over from Firefox yet, but Google has managed to place the thought in my mind.  This is a nice package, and once third party developers start working on a few add-ons Chrome could prove a viable threat to both Firefox and IE

Re: Is Google Making Us Stupid?

June 13, 2008

The Atlantic Monthly has gotten a fair amount of press this last month due to it’s cover story, Is Google Making Us Stupid?  What’s surprising is the attention is actually well deserved.  Given the fairly incendiary title I wasn’t expecting much here, but Nicholas Carr has written a very sharp and well argued article.

His main point has very little to do with the title actually.  Instead he argues that the internet is changing the way in which people think, and he’s entirely right.  He is a tad negative about the changes that seem to be occurring (largely a diffused focus) but is very open to the counterarguments.  He even points out similar complaints that were raised by Plato and Socrates regarding the advent of written language, and acknowledges that in the long run things worked out pretty well there.

But beyond the arguments Carr presents, I’ll admit to having very similar experiences to much of what he describes.  There was a time when I would read a novel every 3 days.  Now it’s more like every 3 weeks, and the problem for me really is focus and not time.  I can feel a change in the way I think, something I’ve written off as a borderline case of ADHD (and to be fair it does run in my family so that quite possibly is the case).  But it’s never a matter of being bored or not wanting to read (or do any other task actually), it’s that I’ve picked up an all consuming need to multi-task.  And when I’m in the middle of an activity that doesn’t lend itself to that I start feeling as if I’m being unproductive.  I think what I need is books that come with some sort of tab based browsing.

So to sum up, no Google is not making us stupid, but yes it is having a very profound effect on the way on minds function.