Saturday, June 28, 2008

Politics 2.0: It's Now Everybody's Game


Link to June 29 New York Times article, "Political Freelancers Use Web to Join the Attack".

In previous elections, an attack like that would have come from party operatives, campaign researchers or the professional political hit men who orbit around them.

But in the 2008 race, the first in which campaigns are feeling the full force of the changes wrought by the Web, the most attention-grabbing attacks are increasingly coming from people outside the political world. In some cases they are amateurs operating with nothing but passion, a computer and a YouTube account, in other cases sophisticated media types with more elaborate resources but no campaign experience.

Examples here, here, (Villarreal "the Rambler" is mentioned in the article), and here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Matt Asay on the Blockbuster vs. the Long Tail

Link to his June 27 post, "Blockbusters stomp on the long tail, Harvard study finds".

Remember the long tail? It was the omnipresent theory that suggested there were oodles of cash to be made by monetizing a market's disparate tastes via the Web.

Why sell a million copies of Led Zeppelin's Coda, when you can make a thriving business of selling two to three copies of your neighbor's garage band to Rick, two copies of a Nigerian band's tunes to Susan, and so on?

As new research highlighted in Harvard Business Review suggests, the answer may well be that the real money is in the blockbuster, not the long tail, after all:

Link to "Libraries and the Long Tail: Some Thoughts about Libraries in a Network Age", by Lorcan Dempsey (blogging here), Vice President, Research, and Chief Strategist, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc (from April 2006)

Link to "Libraries, the Long Tail and the Future of Legacy Print Collections", Paul Genoni, Curtin University of Technology. (March 2007)
Excerpt: [Chris] Anderson’s Wired Magazine article did not consider the case of libraries at all, and libraries received only a cursory mention when his thoughts were expanded to book length in 2006 as The long tail: How endless choice is creating unlimited demand. Library bloggers nonetheless picked up on the long tail concept and began discussing how it might be applied to their own domain of collecting, storage and distribution.

Information about Chris Anderson, the person who introduced the concept of "The Long Tail", is found here. It includes a link to the October 2004 Wired article. (Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.)

Politics 2.0, Continued

Link to June 26 techdirt blog post, "Politicians Embracing Technology To Actually Communicate With Constituents".

Excerpt: There have been plenty of stories over the years about politicians (especially presidential candidates) embracing the internet. However, they're usually focused on bringing together communities of supporters, often for fundraising purposes. There hasn't been as much where it's really about the politician actually communicating directly with the people he or she represents. There was a period of time when politicians started using email, but most have since locked down the ability of people to contact them via email, limiting it to cumbersome forms. However, it appears that some politicians are figuring out ways to actually use technology effectively to directly communicate with the people they're supposed to represent.

How well are Wisconsin's legislatures embracing technology? Here's what little I could find.

Rep. Frank Lasee uses a blog as a link to his weekly e-newsletter. (Not exactly out there.)

Sen. Mary Lazich has been blogging since January 2007.

Rep. Mark Pocan's blog has 1 entry, posted on September 3, 2007. (I suspect it was supposed to be unrelated to his duties as a legislator, as it's not linked to his legislative home page.)

The Assembly Democrats are irregularly blogging here.

Going beyond the legislature., "Wisconsin Premier Political News Service", has a budget blog going back to 2005.

Uppity Wisconsin: Making Wisconsin Progressive Again.

Progressive Majority Wisconsin blog.

"The Right Side of Wisconsin". (Here at my command bunker in Algoma on the 'right side' of Wisconsin, I receive briefings each morning from great conservative thinkers around the globe. I collect the best of this content as a service to the Republicans of Kewaunee County and the rest of the world. Each entry is a sample of source content. If you'd like to see the rest of the article, click the article title. You can also get daily updates by subscribing using the subscription box below and to the left...)

"Stepping Right Up". I don't think I need to tell you the political orientation.

Fraley’s Daily Takes: Conservative Commentary from the Heartland of America

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign "Big Money Blog".

Wisconsin Advanced Technology Advocates, Inc. Serving the community of innovative thinkers.TM

You may or may not want to keep tabs on the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, Wisconsin's Free Market Think Tank.

Wisconsin Legislative Spotlight. Not a blog, but a weekly overview of recent and upcoming activities in the Wisconsin Legislature. The June 23rd issues includes a listing of flood-related resources.

I'd appreciate any appropriate additions to this list.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Brain Freeze at Milwaukee Public Schools

Link to June 25 WTMJ story and video, "Parents Upset After MPS Throws Away Books".

Excerpt: The books were in a dumpster at Grand Avenue Middle School. Some parents were not too happy to hear the news.

I Don't Think We Covered This in Library School

Meagher County/City Library, White Sulphur Springs, MT

Link to June 26 Great Falls Tribune article, "White Sulphur Springs to move sinking library".

Last year, residents raised about $11,000 for the cash-strapped Mountainview Medical Center during the first Fun Run. The focus now shifts to the library, with hopes of similar results, said Kelly Huffield, Fun Run coordinator.

The theme of this year's run is "Let's Race to Save This Place."

Unknowingly built over underground springs and unstable soil in the late 1970s, the current library building first housed an accounting firm.

Despite its current condition, the library serves between 900 and 1,200 visitors a month, according to library officials.

Meagher County profile.

1984: All Pulped Up

1954 Signet paperback edition.

Link to June 26 LundBlog post.

I'm just waiting for Johnny Strabler to come roaring in on his motorcycle.

The Wild One (1953)

Check out these sites.

Naughty Novels. Bookscans. Vintage Paperbacks. Pulp Notes Newsletter. Pulp Art Products. boingboing loves this kinda stuff.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wikipedia: What's Your Take?

Link to June 25 Techdirt post, "Some Teachers Embracing Wikipedia, While Others Blame It".

Excerpt: We've seen this before, of course. There are teachers and professors out there who blame Wikipedia for mistakes students make, and even those who demand that the entire Wikipedia be blocked in schools. However, there are those who are a lot more reasonable about it, recognizing that Wikipedia is just one source among many, and there's value in embracing Wikipedia: teaching kids what it is and how to use it reliably.

See similar posts here, here (old news but a laffriot courtesy of Senator Tubes), here, and here.

Ebrary Survey on Use of E-books by Students

Link to June 25 PW Online post, "Survey Shows Increasing Use of E-Books As Research Tool Among Students".

The survey was completed by almost 6,500 students at around 400 institutions across the globe. While the survey does indicate some skepticism and ignorance about e-books in institutional libraries, it also clearly shows that students are increasingly using e-books and other digital reference sources for research and other assignments.

The results of Ebrary’s survey are, in some cases, surprising, especially in terms of how frequently students do use e-books, and also confirm what the publishing industry already knows: that tech-savvy readers (like engineering students) are the most likely early adopters, and more e-book titles published means more e-book readers.

40-page survey report is available here.

Of the 6,492 respondents,
2707 are from Italy
2143 from the US
529 from Hong Kong
511 from Canada.
(That's 90% of the total.)

As for the major fields of study represented:
1983 Engineering
525 Architecture
501 Computer and information science
439 Business

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not Your Ordinary Library Theft

This guy made a career out of it.

Link to June 24 Great Falls Tribune article, "Great Falls man pleads guilty to stealing rare library books".

More than 100 libraries are represented in the recovered books. Hundreds of maps, lithographs, and serial plates were found in envelopes ready for sale on eBay. Possibly tens of thousands of maps, lithographs and plates were found in plastic containers, according to court documents.

During the search, investigators also found the tools used by Brubaker to steal the documents and books from the library, and to "clean" them for resale. Investigators found magnets used to de-magnetize books so that they could go through security without setting off an alarm, chemicals and brushes used to remove stamps, codes, and other identifiers from the stolen books, mailers used to fortify and protect the documents and which could be quickly sealed to prevent casual observation or law enforcement observation without a warrant, and cutting tools.

Of the 832 books believed to have been stolen by Brubaker, 338 books have been confirmed to have been stolen from libraries. Of the apparent 109 victim libraries and universities (and other sources of books), 51 have been confirmed as having been the victim of the thefts. Victim libraries were found in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Is your theft detection system nothing more than public art?

Sneaking to the Top of the Best Seller List

#1 on the New York Times trade fiction best-seller list; 3 weeks on the list.

Link to June 24 New York Times article, "Christian Novel Is Surprise Best Seller", by Motoko Rich.

Thousands of readers like Mr. Nowak, a regular churchgoer, have helped propel “The Shack,” written by William P. Young, a former office manager and hotel night clerk in Gresham, Ore., and privately published by a pair of former pastors near Los Angeles, into a surprise best seller. It is the most compelling recent example of how a word-of-mouth phenomenon can explode into a blockbuster when the momentum hits chain bookstores, and the marketing and distribution power of a major commercial publisher is thrown behind it.

Not everyone is on board, however: Sales have been fueled partly by a whiff of controversy. Some conservative Christian leaders and bloggers have attacked “The Shack” as heresy. The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, devoted most of a radio show to the book, calling it “deeply troubling” and asserting that it undermined orthodox Christianity. Others have said the book’s approach to theology is too breezy to be taken seriously.

A title search of LINKcat just now shows 10 copies owned by 9 libraries. (Out of 41 members libraries. Collection development alert!!) 70 people have placed holds.

The standard review sources have yet to publish any reviews, it appears.

As of 8:05 a.m. CDT today, 507 Amazon customer reviewers gave the book five stars -- out of a total of 655. Nearly 10% (63) have given it a 1-star review.

Googling Our Way to Community Standards

Link to June 24 New York Times article, "What’s Obscene? Google Could Have an Answer", by Matt Richtel.

In the trial of a pornographic Web site operator, the defense plans to show that residents of Pensacola are more likely to use Google to search for terms like “orgy” than for “apple pie” or “watermelon.” The publicly accessible data is vague in that it does not specify how many people are searching for the terms, just their relative popularity over time. But the defense lawyer, Lawrence Walters, is arguing that the evidence is sufficient to demonstrate that interest in the sexual subjects exceeds that of more mainstream topics — and that by extension, the sexual material distributed by his client is not outside the norm.

OK, maybe the defense team needs to rethink its search terms. What does third base feel like? The answer is here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Legislative Column by State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin)

Link to "Audit Confirms the Value of Wisconsin Libraries".

This spring, I conducted a series of town meetings throughout Senate District 28. I am very pleased that five of my town hall meetings were held in libraries in my district.

I commend Wisconsin libraries and their dedicated employees for the tremendous public service they perform, and the LAB for once again conducting an outstanding review that contributes to the quality of life in our state.

Sen. Lazich's homepage is found here.

The Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau's report is found here.

Multitasking Gets Some Scrutiny

Link to "The Myth of Multitasking" in The New Atlantis, A Journal of Technology and Society.

Excerpt: In modern times, hurry, bustle, and agitation have become a regular way of life for many people—so much so that we have embraced a word to describe our efforts to respond to the many pressing demands on our time: multitasking. Used for decades to describe the parallel processing abilities of computers, multitasking is now shorthand for the human attempt to do simultaneously as many things as possible, as quickly as possible, preferably marshalling the power of as many technologies as possible.

Favorite quotes:
“We have always multitasked—inability to walk and chew gum is a time-honored cause for derision—but never so intensely or self-consciously as now.” (James Gleick, Faster, 1999. )

“Workers distracted by e-mail and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers.” (From research study funded by Hewlett-Packard and conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London.)

I wonder if they're looking for volunteers for the follow-up study. I've always wanted to go to London.

All kidding aside, the article summarizes some useful information from recent studies about the workings of the brain and "the art of paying attention".

Reconnecting With Your Past

Link to June 23 post at PewResearchCenter, "36% - Online Reunion".

Adults who use an online search engine to find other people are most likely to search for someone they have lost touch with; fully 36% of internet users say they have used a search engine to find information about someone from their past. The internet helps to reconnect men and women alike, and has been used at relatively equal levels across age groups with one exception: those who are ages 30 to 49 are more likely than any other age group to have searched for information about those they have lost touch with (42% have done so).

State University of New York at Buffalo (south campus)

Milwaukee's Wi-Fi Project Won't Be Expanded

Link to June 23 JS Online article, "Wi-Fi is a no-go for now".

Excerpt: Launched in 2006, the ambitious plan would have made Milwaukee one of the nation's first large cities with wall-to-wall Wi-Fi service. It would give the city a tech-savvy image and also could provide free or low-cost Internet access to neighborhoods that need it the most.

Same bad news for Portland, Oregon.

Minneapolis, on the other hand, seems to be the only Wi-Fi success story right now, although this success does not seem to extend to the suburb of St. Louis Park. And then there's those darn leaves on the trees in the City of Lakes.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I Saw What You Did....and I Know Who You Are

Link to June 21 New York Times article, "Predicting Where You’ll Go and What You’ll Like".

That hoariest of real estate truisms — location, location, location — may soon be a clarion call for all sorts of businesses.

We’re in the midst of a boom in devices that show where people are at any point in time. Global positioning systems are among the hottest consumer electronics devices ever, says Clint Wheelock, chief research officer at ABI Research, a technology market follower. And cellphones increasingly come with G.P.S. chips. All of these devices churn out data that says something about how people live.

This article has a familiar ring to it. See

Link to NPR "Talk of the Nation" from 12/11/2007, "GPS Privacy Concerns Hard to Navigate". The Global Positioning System is a great tool for traveling through a maze of unfamiliar city streets — but it can also serve as an effective tracking device. As employers, government officials and even parents adopt GPS technology, critics worry that it will lead to violations of privacy.

For some of you, the title of this post might bring to mind this silly movie. (According to WorldCat, there are only 3 copies available in Wisconsin libraries: 2 DVDs and 1 video.) It was released 8 months after this slightly better received effort . (10 DVDs and 6 videos in WI public libraries.) This next tidbit probably tells you more than you want to know about me, but after 42 years, I still remember the name of the Mad magazine spoof of the "better received effort": Hack Hack Sweet Has-Been. If you're interested, Wikipedia provides a list of Mad's movie spoofs. (For some reason, I can't get the link to work.)