Archived entries for library

Head smack interfaces

WARNING: A long, rambly exploration of the state of computing with no real conclusion…:

It takes two seconds to learn pinch-to-zoom, but if you handed an iPhone to someone who had never seen one and said “zoom in on this web page”, they’d have no clue how to do it. They would likely not even know it was possible to zoom unless you had told them.

However, once you showed them, it would immediately seem natural, and it’s hard to conceive of a more efficient way to perform zooming with human hands. Like the Newton’s “new note” separator, it provides functionality with no screen space required for controls, and provides a tactility that is extremely gratifying at what must be a very low level of the brain.

The benefit of pinch-to-zoom over previous zooming methods is so immediately apparent that it justifies the learning curve. That the learning curve is extremely small also helps. I find it fascinating that a huge portion of iPhone usability training is done via the TV ads, pre-sale. They’re both marketing and instruction.

Very interesting article and a good riposte to the idea that interfaces always need to be immediately and completely obvious-sometimes also called the “naive user” interface. Interfaces need to be consistent, progressively rewarding, and easy to discover. Doesn’t need to be completely called out from first glance, but does want to be apparent rather than obscured.

We have been trying to strike a balance at work between the need to describe and desire to not make a brochureware site. We offer a great number of resources and are working on presenting them clearly while not overwhelming the user. I’m going to send the article around. Read it.

(Via ~stevenf.)

Free the teeming millions (of bits)

Free the Linked Data 4:

[I should have blogged about this general thought before I jumped ahead in my previous post with a URI pattern proposal. It is more important for people to embrace these principles than it is to mindlessly buy into various constraint models.]

In Linked Data, Tim Berners-Lee points out that “It is the unexpected re-use of information which is the value added by the web.” Four rules are given to facilitate unexpected re-use:

  1. Use URIs as names for things
  2. Use HTTP URIs so that people can look up those names
  3. When someone looks up a URI, provide useful information
  4. Include links to other URIs, so that they can discover more things

Despite the “Linked Data” analysis, the principle of unexpected re-use and these four rules can be applied to HTTP in general without an RDF basis.

I try to keep the ‘unexpected re-use of information’ in mind. You can’t even begin to anticipate every possible use of your data people can come up with. So the best thing to do is get out of their way as much as possible and give them the access to create something new and undreamed-of. Be generous in what you provide and unfettered in what you expect.

(Via Q6.)

Gasping towards 1.0

guilds in a time of rapid change:

We are in an era of transformative change.  We are 15 years into the web, a decade into the Google Search Era, and only 4 years into Web 2.0

If you’re working on a traditional 5-year planning cycle, that means you’re only three plans since the information environment transformed completely, and your last plan may have been fixed in print before Web 2.0 even existed.  These are challenging times.

Tell me about it.

(Via Science Library Pad.)

No poetry on ESPN

Ron Silliman: Of the 19 authors whose books I read in judging the Poetry…:

Reading Wenderoth’s web page at UC Davis, I get the sense that he may be more interested in poetry that is performable – in the Henry Rollins sense – than in the printed page, which may explain this puzzle. A poem like ’Twentieth-Century Pleasures’ just might work very well at a reading to an
audience inexperienced in contemporary poetry – those short pieces would likewise – but it does so for all the reasons that make poetry as performance an inherently debased art. The exact same qualities that would make you cringe at an episode of Matlock work very well at pulling forward stock emotions from audiences who aren’t trained to recognize such manipulations. There’s a reason why so many poets who participate in slams are notoriously unread. This might not be slam material, but the dynamics are fundamentally the same.

Which caught my eye, because just yesterday I found myself reading (also via Silliman’s blog) this:

White Plains, NY – In case you haven’t heard, stars are coming to White Plains – the stars of Slam Poetry.

They have been featured at the White Plains Public Library the first Wednesday of each month since 2004 thanks to Eric “Zork” Alan, author and four-time National Slam Poet competitor; Program Librarian Barbara Wenglin, along with other library staff, and the White Plains Library Foundation.

Spoken word or performance poetry is now one of the most popular and growing forms of poetry throughout the United States and worldwide. The Library’s monthly slam poetry events offer an opportunity for poets in Westchester County to perform their original works at an Open Mic or Slam competition during the evening, as well as take inspiration from world-class guests and other local poets. The talented slammaster and performance poet, Eric “Zork” Alan, emcees each program. The visiting poets are exciting professionals from around the country who have been attracting a large and diverse audience. In fact, the program has made such an impact on teens that the White Plains Library Foundation is launching an additional slam poetry program just for them.

Following a year of competitions, the 2008 Westchester Poetry Slam winning team members are James Joseph Buhs, Dan DeRosa, Sean Gallagher, Anne Marie Marra, and Slammaster Eric “Zork” Alan. The team competed at the National Poetry Slam Championship in August in Madison, WI, and received great positive feedback. In 2007, the first-ever Westchester Poetry Slam team entered the National Poetry Slam Championship in Austin, Texas.

Why can’t I read this without thinking about Dodgeball championships on the Ocho? Why isn’t poetry an Olympic event?

(Via Silliman’s Blog.)

Technorati Tags:
, ,

Free as in “you can get it in black”

Free Microsoft tools for scholarly communication:

  • This is for real. Don’t mistake the Microsoft research division, which doesn’t sell anything, for the Microsoft product divisions. Tony Hey believes in open access and open data, and is putting Microsoft resources behind them. For background, see Richard Poynder’s interview with Tony Hey (December 2006), and my previous post on the Microsoft repository platform (March 2008).
  • The new tools are free of charge. The announcement doesn’t say they will ever be open source, but Microsoft encourages open-source tools in the open chemistry projects it funds. So it’s possible.

Not cross-platform, though. I can’t take any Microsoft division seriously on open anything until they make tools like this simultaneously available on Macintosh and other platforms. Till then, it’s all just marketing bullshit. Apple’s not perfect in this wise, either; but open from Microsoft usually means “loss leader.”

(Via Open Access News.)

Technorati Tags:
, , , , ,

NYPL’s new MyLibraryDV and Macs

Reading the NYPL monthly newsletter this morning, I saw what looked like a great new service: MyLibraryDV. From the newsletter:

Download classic films, Hollywood hits, lifestyle programs, and more — for free! All you need is your NYPL library card, high-speed Internet access, and MyLibraryDV to access more than 1,000 movies and TV series, including favorites like Antiques Roadshow and America’s Test Kitchen.

Well, that, and a Windows machine, or an Intel-equipped Mac with BootCamp, Parallels, or VMWare Fusion:

Can I use a Mac with the service?

The Download Manager for MyLibraryDV is a Windows .exe file that can only be installed on computers running Windows 2000 with SP4 or Windows XP with SP2, which enables you to run Windows Media Player. You can use a Mac to operate the Download Manager and view videos if you have an Intel processor and Windows 2000 with SP4 or Windows XP with SP2 operating system installed and running. Macs without this capability will not be able to install and use the Download Manager.

So the answer here is “not really,” though of course you can make the case that a Mac running Windows does it better and more stably than a PC. (Ask me sometime about the epic struggle it was to burn 3 Word docs to a CD on a Windows laptop yesterday. Why people put up with this stuff is beyond my comprehension. Well, besides “they have to.”) But anybody with a G* is out of luck. NYPL, you’re better than this. Really.

Technorati Tags:
, ,

“Email is for old people.”

More on the oversimplicity of “Digital Natives” etc. (The Googlization of Everything):

As Henry Jenkins writes, there is so much interesting stuff going one out there among age groups, among members of communities, and across oceans that flattening out everyone into “generations” or “natives” and “immigrants” is just false and useless.

It also has real-world implications. Once we assume that the kids out there love certain forms of interaction and hate others, we forge policies and design systems and devices that meet our presumptions. By doing so, we either pander to some marketing cliche or force an otherwise diverse group of potential users into a one-size-fits-all system that might not meet their needs.

Also see the first comment for the predictable “it is TOO” take on things, replete with the usual ageist assumptions and based mainly on hypotheticals and anecdotal evidence.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

More on the Kindle and privacy

Snoop-friendly Kindle e-reader highlights privacy issues raised by feds’ attempts to get list of p-book buyers | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home:

Just when the Kindle is appearing with its own Trust Us approach—Amazon stores everything for itself and maybe unwittingly for Washington—D.C. comes along to remind us of the risk of Big Bro even without the Kindle. Via an AP story, we learn that federal prosecutors sought “the identities of thousands of people who bought used books through online retailer Inc.”

No word on how far they got in the used books. But some other highlights from the post:

Meanwhile Jeff Bezos and friend will be playing do-it-yourself snoops through a TOS specifically authorizing them to poke around your machine to see if you’ve been a good boy or girl. Naughty, naughty, naughty you’ll be if Jeff somehow finds you’ve been bypassing the DRM, and I doubt the punishment will be just a lump of coal. Away could go your Kindle service and book access—just read Amazon’s Terms of Use: “In case of such termination, you must cease all use of the Software and Amazon may immediately revoke your access to the Service or to Digital Content without notice to you and without refund of any fees.”

And since that Kindle’s got no other use but reading e-books that you get from Amazon, you then have a brick. An ugly, beige, $400 brick. But wait, there’s more:

Meanwhile here’s another gem from Jeff’s snoop-friendly terms of service: “The Device Software will provide Amazon with data about your Device and its interaction with the Service (such as available memory, up-time, log files and signal strength) and information related to the content on your Device and your use of it (such as automatic bookmarking of the last page read and content deletions from the Device). Annotations, bookmarks, notes, highlights, or similar markings you make in your Device are backed up through the Service. Information we receive is subject to the Privacy Notice.”

Which privacy policy is then quoted, vague enough that you could easily get sold out to the feds. One thing you can say for the paper book, Amazon can’t turn it off. As much as we might want to get over the pesky inconvenience that privacy poses to the growth of social marketing by denying it exists, there are real and serious consequences to doing so. Relabeling it “identity management” in order to productize it and reduce it to a purely technological problem won’t help either. Just because you might not care who knows what you read doesn’t mean they should find out.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Social metadata

What I Learned Today… » Blog Archive » The Return of Everything is Miscellaneous:

…Weinberger touches on the future of the ebook. He talked about how we could collect data from how people read books, the passages they highlight, where people read books and so much more using wireless enabled ebook readers (p.222) – and while it sounds like science fiction – we’re almost there. Kindle has the power of wireless technology – meaning that in theory, Amazon could connect to our readers and collect data. While this sounds scary and like a huge invasion of privacy – imagine the power that this data could provide. Some examples Weinberger has is that you could create a list of books that people most often read at the beach or a list of books people stopped reading 1/2 way through – how cool would that be?

Well, because the only people I can think of who would find that data valuable would be marketers. So I don’t think it would be that cool. And it is scary and a huge invasion of privacy. When the government starts asking Amazon for tracking data on where you and your Kindle were last Tuesday, you probably won’t think it’s very cool either. Especially if you can’t turn it off.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

OCRopus Garden

Ars reviews Google’s OCRopus scanning software. We may play with this a bit internally; everybody seems to use Abbyy, but everyone also seems to think that OCR pretty universally sucks, based on the anecdotal evidence I have heard. What I found especially interesting in this review was the huge difference in results from sans-serif rather than serif text:

The following examples show the typical output quality of OCRopus:

Tpo’ much is takgn, much abjdegi qngi tlpugh we arg not pow Wat strength whipl} in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, We are; QpeAequal_tgmper of hqoic hgarts, E/[ade Qeak by Eirpe ang fqte, lgut strong will To strive, to Seek, to hnd, and not to y{eld.

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

Night and day. Of course almost everything we would possibly be hoping to OCR would be serif text. Ain’t it allus the way.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Copyright © 2004–2009. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.