Friday, May 22, 2009

Another YouTube mashup

Posted for no other reason than it is yet another interesting experiment using existing technology in a new way. View it here.

Thanks J-Walk Blog

Chartle - web application for charting data

Apparently launched in early beta by Google, Chartle is an online web application that creates static and interactive charts from your data. The images and interactive charts you create with are yours to use in any way you choose. You may use them in your blog, annual business reports, print them in brochures and what not. Compared to other web services is actually pretty non-binding towards its users. No forced registration, save images directly to your desktop, embed images in your web site, what have you. You can choose between bar, pie, line, plots and diagrams, static maps, interactive maps, and dynamic charts.

Streamy streams it all!

Streamy is personalized news service and social network that combines the best elements of Google Reader with FriendFeed. It gives you the ability to view real-time streams from Facebook, Twitter and FriendFeed inside the web-based interface as well as chat widgets that connect to your AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger accounts. It makes browsing RSS feeds a cinch and you can create groups and folders to organize your stuff.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

PhotoExpress - free HD stock photos

Fotolia, a marketplace for microstock photography and video, has launched PhotoXpress, a free premier-quality image bank which offers users royalty free image licenses for personal or professional use - ranging from web site design to advertisements and editorial imagery. The site features a collection of more than 350,000 images and illustrations and expects to have eventually close to a million photos available free of charge. Free sign up.

The Centered Librarian is available for Kindle

The Centered Librarian is now available from in Kindle format. If you subscribe (the first 2 weeks are free) content will be auto-delivered wirelessly to your Kindle and updated throughout the day so you can stay current. You can cancel at any time during the free trial period. If you enjoy your subscription, do nothing and it will automatically continue at the regular monthly price of $1.99.

Frankly, we made the blog available on Amazon because it is quite easy to do. I seriously doubt there is much of a market for paid content that is readily available for free at the blog website.

In Bb - a collaborative music/spoken word project

In Bb 2.0 collects 16 YouTube music videos and lets you play them in any order, or all at once. Because 15 of them feature music in the key of B-flat major the sounds match up perfectly. What the site’s creator, Darren Solomon, has really invented is a new kind of instrument.

You can choose from electric guitar, bass, trumpet, glass marimba — even a spoken-word piece (called “Information”) by one Daniel Donahoo. Solomon also invites you to submit videos of your own, which he’ll post at a later date.

Notecasts adds Disney Secrets

Filled with over 180 fun, magical and surprising secrets of Walt Disney World(R) Resort, the new Walt Disney World Secrets Notescast App works as an innovative new guidebook allowing guests to tour all of Walt Disney World Resort with their iPhone or iPod touch in hand as they journey from one new secret to the next in Magic Kingdom(R), Epcot(R), Disney’s Animal Kingdom(R) and Disney’s Hollywood Studios(TM).
“It’s really an all new way to see and experience Walt Disney World Resort.”, said Mike Westby of TimeStream Software. “With their iPhones in hand, guests can see the parks with all new eyes as they discover one new secret after another, many of which they have probably walked right by before without ever noticing.”

Additional information and screen captures for the “Walt Disney World Secrets” Notescast App may be found at the Notescasts web site online.

Found at MacMegasite

Papers - your personal library of science now in your pocket!

Papers for your Mac desktop has been joined by Papers for your iPhone/Touch.

Papers is one of a group of organization/meta-organization software packages for managing collections of things--think iTunes, Delicious Library, iPhoto or Yep, which is for collecting PDFs. But Papers goes beyond the basics of traditional organizing via a plug-in architecture that supports importing, exporting, and searching references and papers from specific scientific and scholarly databases.

Do you have dozens of PDF files from your favorite scientific articles scattered on your harddrive? Do you also try to desperately organize them by renaming and archiving them in folders? But like the piles of printed articles on your desk, you can't keep up with all the new papers you download, and despite all your efforts it has become impossible to find that one article.

Papers helps you deal with scientific papers. Search for articles using the built in search engines, retrieve and archive PDFs, and read and study them all from within Papers, your personal library of Science. Papers lets you import and export reference databases to a variety of formats, such as BibTeX, Endnote, and Microsoft Word 2008's reference format. This makes handling your existing bibliographic databases relatively easy.

The iPhone version was designed from the ground up for a mobile device, Papers for iPhone and iPod touch allows you to take your personal library of science wherever you go. Whether you're at a conference, in class, visiting your peers, or on the road, you always have access to your entire research literature database. With Papers for iPhone and iPod touch, the world's knowledge is never more than the flick of a finger away. Your personal library of Science, in your pocket.

Wridea - online idea management and brainstorming tool

Wridea is a web service first to avoid ideas being forgotten, then to organize and improve those ideas by giving you the opportunity to share your ideas with friends and necessary tools to improve your ideas by yourself and individually. Once you've signed up and created a free account, you can add new ideas, categorize them, and share them with your friends using the very simple web interface.

It also sports an interesting developer API for third-party add-ons, and a unique "Idea Rain" visualization that drops your ideas into the screen

London Times Archives Blog - Book Reviews!

The London Times online has added a blog to their archives section and it is chock-full of excellent content. One of the coolest features is that you can search for original reviews of literature posted at the time of publication - like this one of Bram Stoker's "Dracula from 1897. Adding to the fun, the papers are scanned and offered in their original typeface. Much of the content is free - and there are several RSS feeds - but some content requires registration and a subscription. Not sure about that.

The Economist offers audio and video

The Economist has added a full-featured audio/visual section to their website and the offerings are extensive and very well indexed. In addition to the expected economic and political commentary, there is a section called "videographics" that uses easy to understand (usually) graphics, charts and animations to explain complex concepts and situations. Just another really good example of how a savvy publisher is transitioning from ink to pixels and it works very well!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Educational Entrepreneur - University of the People

Shai Reshef has begun accepting enrollment for his innovative nonprofit online University of the People. "We are opening the gates for students from all over the world, who may not have the means to study elsewhere," he said. "We see ourselves as part of a trend in education of opening information and using what's available."

The concept was born in the crossover of information technology, the open-source movement, and education. The University of the People will draw on free course material that has been made available in recent years under Creative Commons license by the likes of MIT (OpenCourseWare), Rice University (Connexions), and hundreds of other institutions. Students will discuss the material in online forums with other students from all over the world and with volunteer faculty--those who have signed up to teach so far are professors, retirees, graduate students, and professionals in their fields.

The UoP plans to offer accredited bachelor's degrees, starting in the fields of computer science and business administration, for a price that maxes out at $4000.

More at the New York Times

Read 2 Me reads to you on your iPhone

Read 2 Me is an iPhone application that provides full speech synthesis for an entire library of texts. You can even import your own URL-based .txt files straight into your bookshelf. Read 2 Me uses Acapela-Group's text-to-speech technology and can read almost anything that can be converted to UTF-8.txt. It is already optimized for the Gutenberg collection. It also supports bookmarks, automatic scrolling of the spoken text, line-break optimization and color to make it easy on your eyes.

SuperCook - recipes from what you have.

SuperCook allows you to enter in the contents of your kitchen and makes a list of recipes you can make using just what you have or with the addition of another item. There are recipes for starters, entrées, and desserts. If you're hungry for something in particular - say, chicken - you can click on chicken on the list and SuperCook will show recipes featuring chicken first.

SuperCook goes beyond just telling you what you can make with its generated shopping lists. If you've got 80% of what you need for a meal, your list taps into what you need to cook and save what you have.

SuperCook is a free service with no sign up required. Signing up for a free account however does allow you to save your list for future recipe searches

A story that takes 1000 years to read!

In honor of infinity, Opium Magazine presents the longest story ever told,
written in nine words and revealed over the next millennium, one word per century.

The cover of issue eight is printed in a double layer of black ink and the overlayer is screened back for the nine words of the story making them slightly more vulnerable to ultraviolet light. The quantity of ink for each word is different so the words will appear one at a time, when exposed to sunlight, over the next thousand years!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

YouTomb Monitors Videos Removed for Copyright Complaint

Every month, thousands of videos are pulled off YouTube for copyright infringement and other user-flagged violations. A student organization at MIT called Free Culture has compiled a kind of online eulogizer for videos lost to copyright claims, tracking all the metadata from the video, including which user asked that it be taken down. It's called YouTomb, and in the last year it's learned a lot about what gets flagged, what stays, and what's wrong with the system.

The goal of the project is to identify how YouTube recognizes potential copyright violations as well as to aggregate mistakes made by the algorithm.

Workouts for Watts

OK, so it doesn't have anything to do with libraries, unless we add workout rooms or put treadmills at the circulation desks, but it's still pretty cool. At the Univ. of Oregon and other schools, time on the treadmill translates to physcial fitness for the students and a bit of fiscal fitness for the school. ReRev's wired up elipticals and bicycles add energy back to the grid and let the users see just how much power they're generating. ReRev estimates a typical 30-minute workout on one machine generates enough electricity to run a laptop computer for an hour, or a compact fluorescent light bulb for 2 1/2 hours. (Thanks, Kept-Up Academic Librarian)

Free eBooks from Cornell University

In a project funded by Microsoft, Cornell University is providing free access to several thousand full-text eBooks. Included are many classic and rare books covering a wide range of subject areas from the humanities, arts and social sciences. Topics include anthropology, historical gazettes, philosophy, European and American history and literature. There are large collections of materials on the American civil war, French revolution and early history of the founding of the American political system. The site can be browsed or searched by keyword. Information on copyright policy is displayed.

Found at: Celias

Friday, May 15, 2009

Twitter Trending

A graph by Meg Pickard of the lifespan of Twitter trending topics compares "people talking about #topic" and "people talking about talking about #topic".

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Unleash Library Users!

Once again the Århus Public Library in Denmark is on the cutting edge of library innovation by involving its patrons in almost every aspect of the library's activities. We blogged last month about their MindSpot project that is making an amazing and highly successful attempt to engage young people. Today I stumbled across an excellent little video that explains how they are very actively pursuing patrons and encouraging their participation in library activities and development. Take a look:

Found at: The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian

Blerp Layers the Web

Blerp's ambition is to turn the Web into a giant interactive message board by making it possible for visitors to add text comments and multimedia to existing web pages and share them with their friends.

Under the motto ‘layer the web!’, Blerp aims to enable people to enrich web pages with an additional layer of content with the ability to let others join in on the fun at any time. The developers call the concept Hyperlayers, and if the idea makes you think of social annotation services like Reframe It, Diigo or Fleck, that’s because it’s taking an extremely similar route with Blerb.

The app basically creates a virtual space on top of websites that you visit in the form of a sidebar and a header, which allows you to post text, photos, videos and interactive elements like polls and ratings on top of the page while still being able to see and interact with it. Blerb users get a personal homepage dubbed My Stuff that gives them an overview of what’s being discussed by their friends online, and are able to jump right into the conversation from the interface. In Digg, or rather StumbleUpon fashion, users can ‘hype’ certain discussions to help it get featured on the Blerp homepage, with the extra ability to favorite (aka bookmark) live discussions and share them with friends by e-mail or through a variety of social networking services.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why art matters

A brilliant and beautiful look at modern art and why it should matter to you. Brought home by a engaging short film, the MoMA makes it personal.

Bestiary - the interactive book project

Bestiary is a large, seemingly empty book that displays a new fantastical creature each time someone turns a page. The animals are assembled from an array of parts in Processing, given a name reflecting their make-up (e.g. Mantidilloboon for an animal assembled from mantis, armadillo, and baboon parts) and projected onto the blank pages. Camera input notes each page turn and triggers the creation of a new animal. Bestiary was built by Caroline Brown and Bryan Lence at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, 2009.

Bestiary from Caroline Brown on Vimeo.

An ordinary paper notebook into a notebook computer

Beautiful, and beautifully conceived Dutch art student named Evelien Lohbeck transforms an ordinary notebook into a notebook computer. Amazing and fun!

Noteboek from Evelien Lohbeck on Vimeo.

Digital Field Guides Come to Smartphones

THE traditional way to identify an unfamiliar tree is to pull out a field guide and search its pages for a matching description. One day people may pull out a smartphone instead, photographing a leaf from the mystery tree and then having the phone search for matching images in a database.

A team of researchers financed by the National Science Foundation has created just such a device — a hand-held electronic field guide that identifies tree species based on the shape of their leaves, said Peter N. Belhumeur, a professor of computer science at Columbia and a member of the team.

The field guide, now in prototype for iPhones and other portable devices, has been tested at three sites in the northeastern United States, including Plummers Island in Maryland and Central Park in New York, said W. John Kress, a research botanist and curator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, who is also on the research team. The computer program compares the leaf snapshot to a library of leaf images.
“We believe there is enough information in a single leaf to identify a species,” he said. “Our brains can’t remember all of these characteristics, but the computer can.”
Found at The New York Times.

5 things all designers should know

Jack Schulze has popped up on my radar several times in recent weeks. His Here and There projection project is fascinating and could literally change the way we visualize geo positioning. A designer at the core, Schulze has a refreshing viewpoint on his (and my) profession and many of his tennants echo mine.
"I’m personally most excited when I’m involved with something I’m literate in, but technically unfamiliar, when I’m in pursuit of something culturally new or playful. When there’s a sense of discovery or itchyness about newness, that’s when I’m happiest."
Well, that's me for sure. And when responding to, "What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned, and who taught it to you?" he says:
I learnt this lesson from Spencer Thursfield, an old tutor of mine: No one cares about what you think, unless you do what you think. No one cares what you do, unless you think about what you do. No one ever really cares what you say. You get the work you do. If you want to do something else start doing it.
I am once again nodding my head in a big "yep!" Finally, here are his 5 things all designers should know:
1) Don’t use processes like User Centred Design or Usability dogmatically. Learn your trade and do it properly and you’ll be able to deliver work confidently.

2) Talking about your work does not directly improve the actual quality of your work. Ultimately design happens in the world and in your hands, and not in your mouth.

3) Once it was possible for designers to hide in their vocations and ignore the context around their work. Designers are better now because they include business, processes, media and software in the substrates they work with.

4) Some people (they are wrong) say design is about solving problems. Obviously designers do solve problems, but then so do dentists. Design is about cultural invention. There are some people who want to reduce the domain of design to listable, knowable stuff, so it’s easy to talk about. Design is a glamorous, glittering world and this means they can engage without having to actually risk themselves on the outcome of their work. This is damaging. It turns design into something terrified of invention. Design is about risk. We all fear authentic public response to our work, but we have to be brave enough to overcome.

5) Always have nice pens.
All well said, Jack. And thanks to Snarkmarket for the heads-up!

Monday, May 11, 2009

NYTimesReader version 2.0

The New York Times has released the second iteration of their "TimesReader" application. This version abandons Microsoft's "SilverLight" technology for the Adobe "Air" platform which should allow more cross-platform compatibility. The new version is more streamlined and cleaner making it much easier to navigate.

Fun Photo Box

FunPhotoBox is a website where you can create funny and clever pictures from your photos. There are dozens of effects. Shown here is my face inserted magically into a pencil drawing.

Pictures can be shared using sites like Facebook, MySpace, Digg and many others or be sent to email.

Jurn - search scholarly journals

Jurn searches 2,374 scholarly / intellectual ejournals in the arts & humanities. JURN indexes ejournals that are either free, or offer some substantial free content. You can use it just like Google. JURN is running on a Google Custom Search so it is speedy, and you can use all the usual Google search modifers, such as intitle:”your phrase” and filetype:pdf

There is also a Firefox plug-in and an RSS feed. The entire list of available resources is available on the site or in PDF format here.

Personal Wi-Fi Bubble - where and when you need it

The Novatel MiFi 2200, creates a portable, personal Wi-Fi hotspot that can be shared with up to five devices. It will be available this month from Verizon. They NYT summarizes the options as, "If you just want to do e-mail and the Web, you pay $40 a month for the service (250 megabytes of data transfer, 10 cents a megabyte above that). If you watch videos and shuttle a lot of big files, opt for the $60 plan (5 gigabytes). And if you don’t travel incessantly, the best deal may be the one-day pass: $15 for 24 hours, only when you need it. In that case, the MiFi itself costs $270."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Cool "Retro" site – just for fun

As stated on the site, "A celebration of American life in better times.
Grab a Slice and a Coke and enjoy!" Lots of fun images that many of us will remember.

Everything you need to know about personal finance

The Simple Dollar personal finance blog is giving away a 50-page PDF, "Everything You Need to Know About Personal Finance on Just One Page." As a downloadable PDF it offers core financial advice on spending, earning, and investing right off the bat, then explains it all a bit better over 49 pages. The backup download link seems to work best.

I particularly liked # 74: Hit the library - hard. Donʼt look at a library as just a place to get old books. Look at it as a free place to do all sorts of things. Iʼve used it to learn a foreign language, meet people, use the Internet anonymously, check out movies and CDs, grab local free newspapers, and keep up on community events. Best of all, it doesnʼt cost a dime.

And # 81: Read more. Reading is one of the cheapest - and most beneficial - hobbies around. Most towns have a library available to the public - just go there and check out some books that interest you. Then, spend some of your free time in a cozy place in your house, just reading away. Youʼll learn something new, improve your reading ability, enjoy yourself, and not have to spend a dime - and itʼs surprisingly easy to get into the reading habit.

iPhone Apps Demo Site

At you can view demos and instructions for dozens of Apple iPhone applications. The videos talk you through the basic steps of how to use an app on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Each video is clickable, so make sure you rollover and click on the features of each app to learn more info about how the app works.

What have we become: sculpture from old books.

Artist Nicholas Galanin has created a wonderful collection of sculptures made from books, featuring reliefs of faces and traditional Tlingit forms. The Flickr stream for the collection entitled "What Have We Become" is here. In the artist's statement he discloses that he uses old ethnographic texts about the Tlingit written by non-native ethnographers/anthropologists, etc.

Movies now available on YouTube

YouTube has opened up a movie section offering hundreds of movies free of charge. Most have a brief ad at the beginning, but are otherwise uncut and original. I noticed a large number of classics and many quite recent. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

My First Dictionary

A library assistant in Leeds, England, is doing wickedly subversive things with the illustrations he finds in children’s books. Ross Horsley’s blog, My First Dictionary, matches the drawings to definitions of his own devising: Pocketbook is described as the bag Mother uses to carry money and Xanax. A clone, we learn, is “a copy of a person. How would you know if your daddy had been replaced by a clone?” The adults in Horsley’s world tend toward the lecherous; the pets are abandoned; the children, sinister. Older readers will be reminded of Shel Silverstein’s classic Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book. And younger readers should probably be warned away.

The Geospatial Revolution

We live in the Global Location Age. “Where am I?” is being replaced by, “Where am I in relation to everything else?”

Penn State Public Broadcasting is developing the Geospatial Revolution Project, an integrated public media and outreach initiative about the world of digital mapping and how it is changing the way we think, behave, and interact.

The project will feature a web-based serial release of eight video episodes—each telling an intriguing geospatial story. Overarching themes woven throughout the episodes will tie them together, and the episodes will culminate in a 60-minute documentary. The project also will include an outreach initiative in collaboration with our educational partners, a chaptered program DVD, and downloadable outreach materials.

Here is a very good introduction to the subject:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

250+ Killer Digital Libraries and Archives

Hundreds of libraries and archives exist online, from university-supported sites to individual efforts. Each one has something to offer to researchers, students, and teachers. This list contains over 250 libraries and archives that focus mainly on localized, regional, and U.S. history, but it also includes larger collections, eText and eBook repositories, and a short list of directories to help you continue your research efforts. The sites listed here are mainly open access, which means that the digital formats are viewable and usable by the general public.

Found over at: The J-Walk Blog

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Wisdom Project

Inspired by the idea that one of the greatest gifts one generation can pass on to another is the wisdom it has gained from experience, the Wisdom Project seeks to record a record of a multicultural group of people who have all made their mark on the world. John Hume, Graham Nash, Billy Connolly, Dave Brubeck, Andrew Wyeth and many more contributed to the project. Below is a trailer:

Wisdom - Introduction from SLNSW on Vimeo.

Survival of the fittest tag: Folksonomies, findability, and the evolution of information organization

Folksonomies (tagging, et al) have emerged as a means to create order in a rapidly expanding information environment whose existing means to organize content have been strained. This paper examines folksonomies from an evolutionary perspective, viewing the changing conditions of the information environment as having given rise to organization adaptations in order to ensure information “survival” — remaining findable. This essay by Alexis Wichowski published in First Monday traces historical information organization mechanisms, the conditions that gave rise to folksonomies, and the scholarly response, review, and recommendations for the future of folksonomies.
"Folksonomies may be flawed, but they are, at present, the best means known to track what is happening with the non–mainstream of the information environment. If the greatest evolutionary changes in the biological environment — the birth of new species — occur not at the center but in the long tail, what great new transformations may be occurring in the long tail of the information environment? Tagging provides this outlying information, published far from the mainstream, a chance to be found, to be considered useful, and ultimately, to survive."

Further evidence that peer review is broken - Merck just fakes it

A couple of months ago we made a post about the sad state of peer review and offered some alternatives for its improvement. Today, The Scientist has exposed pharmaceutical giant, Merck, as having cooked up a phony, but real sounding, peer reviewed journal and published favorably looking data for its products in them. Merck paid Elsevier to publish such a tome, which neither appears in MEDLINE or has a website.

From the article at
"What's wrong with this is so obvious it doesn't have to be argued for. What's sad is that I'm sure many a primary care physician was given literature from Merck that said, "As published in Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, Fosamax outperforms all other medications...." Said doctor, or even the average researcher wouldn't know that the journal is bogus. In fact, knowing that the journal is published by Elsevier gives it credibility!"

Beyond Google?

Wolfram Alpha, the invention of Dr Stephen Wolfram, has been demo'd at Harvard and had the Twitterspher atwitter for days. In this ten minute video, you can get a sense of what makes it different and more useful than Google. It's hard to see the screen and results, but the audio alone makes it clear that Wolfram Alpha is a different way of searching the Internet. Here's more information from The Independent.

The Independent says, "Wolfram Alpha will not only give a straight answer to questions such as "how high is Mount Everest?", but it will also produce a neat page of related information – all properly sourced – such as geographical location and nearby towns, and other mountains, complete with graphs and charts...If you ask it to compare the height of Mount Everest to the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, it will tell you. Or ask what the weather was like in London on the day John F Kennedy was assassinated, it will cross-check and provide the answer. Ask it about D sharp major, it will play the scale. Type in "10 flips for four heads" and it will guess that you need to know the probability of coin-tossing. If you want to know when the next solar eclipse over Chicago is, or the exact current location of the International Space Station, it can work it out."

It's to be released sometime this month.

Fore-edge painting at the Boston Public Library

This website highlights a special collection of more than 200 high-resolution images of fore-edge paintings housed in the Rare Books Department of the Boston Public Library. Fore-edge painting refers to the process of applying an image to the fanned page block of a book, and if the pages are gilded or marbled, the image disappears when the book is relaxed. There are several useful online videos which demonstrate the process.

The books and images on the site can be explored in a variety of ways, either by wandering through the main Gallery, or browsing the works by Subject, Book title, or Painting title.

A Featured Works section provides additional information about selected books, including detail shots and a video of the book as it is fanned to display the hidden artwork. Anywhere on the site, you may click on an image to view a larger version. Where the "Zoom" tab is presented, clicking it will allow you zoom in and view the painting in exquisite detail. A series of Articles, written by leading experts in the field, provide historical and curatorial insight into fore-edge painting. A full-text Search feature is also provided.

Friday, May 01, 2009

LOTR sequel, "The Hunt for Gollum" premiers Sunday, May 3

The Hunt For Gollum is a 40 minute independent film inspired by The Lord of the Rings which is to be released to the internet for free on May 3 2009. From the look of the trailers, it promises to be excellent fare!

Created by fan's of J.R.R. Tolkien, this is an unofficial short film set in Middle Earth which depicts events leading up to the Fellowship of the Ring. Synopsis: The Ring of Power has been taken from Gollum by Bilbo of the Shire. The heir of Isildur sets out to find him before he falls into the hands of the enemy and reveals the location of the Ring...