20th century authors: making the connections

Posted on May 18, 2011. Filed under: Books | Tags: , , , |

Look at what I found doing a Google search for the International Man Booker Prize this evening.

This comes from the UK’s Open University and is a twentieth century author wheel showing the links between authors. I thought I’d explain it to you in person because it wasn’t immediately obvious to me how it worked. I was looking for a legend that told me what all those coloured lines meant and there isn’t one.

So, to get started Click here to get to this jumping off space pictured above.

Once there, click on the Click to launch button. Click on Start and then Next to get to this page.

Choose an author and explore the links he/she has with others.

Here is Iain Banks whose non-Sci-fi writing I enjoy. (When he’s writing Sci-fi he calls himself Iain M. Banks.)

If I click on one of the coloured circles I can see what it is that links Iain Banks with the authors at the other end of the coloured lines.

Here the orange dot is a link to other Sci-fi authors.

Iain Banks (with or without his M.) is tame compared with some. Just take a gander at old Kingsley Amis.

To find out about the author click on his/her name or to find out more about the connection, click on the coloured dot.

The only annoying thing about this wonderful gadget is that once you’ve clicked on a link you can’t page back. You’ll be taken out to the beginning again and it gets a bit wearing.

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What kind of a reader are you?

Posted on April 13, 2011. Filed under: Fun Stuff | Tags: , , , |

Wattpad, a booky social networking thingy (unfortunately at first glance it looks very US oriented) has got this reader quiz.

I think I came out as ‘The Realist’ but it was kind of hard to follow all those lines on the ‘pooter so I think I might have to print it out. If you double click on the pic you can get it a bit bigger .

Don’t make your eyes go screwy!! – HC

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Happy Birthday Wikipedia

Posted on January 14, 2011. Filed under: Reference | Tags: , , |

Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit”, is 10 years old tomorrow (Saturday).

The online organization relies on donations rather than advertising for its income and runs on a comparatively low annual budget of around $20 million. Currently the organisation has about 50 employees with plans to hire more in 2011.

Wikipedia is a “community driven” resource with anyone is able to edit the 3,526,628 entries — even anonymously. A few thousand people are “extremely active” as contributors or editors, he says. Then, there are about 100,000 who contribute occasionally. The typical contributor is aged about 26 and 85% are male.

There are actually 278 Wikipedias in a range of languages, the most successful of which are European languages, Japanese and Chinese. But with the aim of creating a “free encyclopedia for every single person on the planet, in their own language,” there are many lesser known (eg. Finnish, Esperanto, Scottish Gaelic, Basque) and obscure (eg. Luxembourgish, Ido) languages with their own Wikipedia’s. To my delight I discovered there is even a Scots Wikipedia.

Information on Wikipedia is probably some of the most used in the world. Most searches on Google for instance, will return a Wikipedia entry first so the reliability of information is crucial and many studies have been done to test the accuracy of Wikipedia – there are some links to studies here.

The accuracy of articles in Wikipedia relies heavily on how quickly false or misleading information is removed. A study by IBM researchers in 2003 found that “vandalism is usually repaired extremely quickly — so quickly that most users will never see its effects.” And one in the journal Nature suggested that in 2005, Wikipedia scientific articles came close to the level of accuracy in Encyclopædia Britannica and had a similar rate of “serious errors”. This study was disputed by Encyclopædia Britannica.

Last year reviewers in medical and scientific fields such as toxicology, cancer research and drug information reviewing Wikipedia against professional and peer-reviewed sources found that Wikipedia’s depth and coverage were of a very high standard, often comparable in coverage to physician databases and considerably better than well known reputable national media outlets. Wikipedia articles were cited as references in journals (614 cites in 2009) and as evidence in trademark and higher court rulings. However, omissions and readability sometimes remained an issue – the former at times due to public relations removal of adverse product information and a considerable concern for fields such as medicine.

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Online social networking: Could what you’re doing online be illegal?

Posted on December 16, 2010. Filed under: Web sites | Tags: , , |

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has posted a table for people using social networking sites with some examples of illegal behaviour and tips to keep yourself out of trouble.

Have a look for yourself http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD..PC/pc=PC_312091

Very worthwhile keeping in mind.

Thanks to Aniko for bringing this to our attention.

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Posted on October 21, 2010. Filed under: Reference, Web sites | Tags: , |

I’ve come across this great FREE news feed site, Newsmap.

Newsmap organises news stories by popularity and volume of reporting into a visually pleasing ‘treemap’—making it extremely simple to see what’s in the news and how much coverage it’s receiving.

Newsmap without any customisation

At Newsmap you can display news by category (such as World, National, Business, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, and Health) as well as by country.

 At the bottom you can choose to give prominence to international (read US), National, Business, Technology, Sports, Health, etc. news. Mousing over a story provides a small pop-up summary and image; clicking on any square directs you to the story.

You can use the site without registration but registering offers customisation and article tracking features such as hiding read articles, toggling previews, adding and removing countries, tweaking the colours and font, and setting what your home view will be.

Newsmap with Australia and National settings

Watch out there are two tabs that start Austr but only the first tab takes you to A-U-S-T-R-A-L-I-A



[via LifeHacker]

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Posted on September 28, 2010. Filed under: Books, Reader's Advisory, Web sites | Tags: , , |

FictFact is a site for those who like to read books in a series and do a bit of social networking while they are about it.

You create a free account and then you can create lists of favourite series, read the books in order and get notified when books are released or added. You can add your own tags to books and read books of similar genre or setting.

You can browse by series, author or popularity.

Let’s take a quick look . . .

Here’s historical crime writer, C.J. Sansom with his Shardlake series set in Tudor England.

You can either click on the Shardlake link and be taken to the series list

You can see what other people who have been reading the Shardlake series are also reading

Or you can click on one of the tags and see other series with similar genre criteria

Log in and explore for yourself.

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Biology web site: Action Bioscience

Posted on July 9, 2010. Filed under: Reference, Web sites | Tags: , , , |

The Action Bioscience web site (from The American Institute of Biological Sciences) is a great resource for Biology students or anyone interested in global ecological issues. You will find peer-reviewed articles on biodiversity, biotechnology, the environment, evolution, and genomics. Up-to-date external links are provided at the bottom of each article to help the reader “learn more” about or “get involved” in an issue. They also have an Educational Resources section that provides links to sites appropriate for children. Action Bioscience has been added to our Delicious account with a Biology tab (and with gusto!).

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The Law of Stackable Hamsters

Posted on December 3, 2009. Filed under: Food for thought | Tags: , |

I read this in LISNews and thought it was worth reproducing in its entirety – some salient points, especially for those of us on the Information Taskforce. And who could resist the picture that came with it?!

On Thanksgiving, my brother was talking about one of his creative writing classes. He’s on the English faculty at a local college and, as a published author, he is tasked with teaching writing to incoming freshman and sophomores. I’ve certainly heard a lot about his students, both the good ones and the not-so-good ones, and some of his classroom experiences. But when he was telling a story and tossed out the term, “The Law of Stackable Hamsters”, I made him stop and explain that one.

When my brother is teaching creative writing, one of the aspects that he covers is the construction of a scene. Within a scene in a story, a reader will suspend disbelief to a certain degree in order for the author to tell their tale; however, there is a limit to the number of coincidences you can create within a scene in the book. Or, as my brother explained in an alternate way of considering the number of coincidences to include, there is a limit to the number of hamsters you can stack. You can stack two hamsters and they will generally stay in place; three hamsters and the underlying structure is very wobbly and possibly won’t hold; and you can’t try four or more hamsters because there is no way to stack that many without it falling over right away. Thus, my brother created the Law of Stackable Hamsters in the field of creative writing.

This explanation (and the accompanying mental images) had me giggling for hours afterward. When he was finished, I told him straight out, “I’m totally going to steal this.” With a giving shrug, he replied, “Go for it.”

So, without further ado, I’d like to propose the Law of Stackable Hamsters for libraries.

The premise is very simple: limit the number of steps that your customer has to take to get from a starting point (such as your homepage, information desk, circulation desk, or reference desk) to get to the information or service they are trying to reach. Consider the number of clicks that it take to get through your website to the content beneath, the number of referrals to other desks for service, and some of the forms and hoops that we make our customers go through for program registration and service requests. Beyond two or three steps, I believe customer’s experience suffers at an exponential rate. They aren’t going to think about whether they got their answer or not (although it will factor in); they are going to be thinking about how much effort it took to get to the conclusion.

For example, I inwardly groan when I hear a patron being told by staff that they have to go to another desk when I know that the person will just be sent right back because they need to do something here first before they can do over there. In one sentence from a staff member, they have just sent a customer on a journey that will end with visits to four desks. I grimace at the thought that customer may up feeling like they are getting the run around for no reason or that we don’t know what we are doing here. Another example: I don’t like the fact that it can take up to SIX clicks to get from my library’s main page to a program registration (it takes three if you know what you are looking for and use the search function). For myself, I can’t remember many websites where I had to click that many times to find what I was looking for without feeling like I was on a web archeological expedition. If I’m feeling a bit put out, what will the patron feel like as they navigate through the pages? For these two examples, it presents a column of stacked hamsters that will simply topple over.

(Yes, I know this isn’t a very new concept here. But I think it is a much more fun way to imagine it.)

For me, it embraces what I feel is a core value of the library: ease of access. As I work towards a more Star Trek information utopia, it is the barriers of access that concern me the most. Whatever we can do to make it easier, we should consider doing and/or working towards. From larger concepts (net neutrality and freedom of inquiry) to smaller ones (better web interfaces and universal staff training), ease of information access should be a priority that we strive for from our vendors, our professional policies and peers, and ourselves.

Please. Think of the hamsters.


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The Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas

Posted on December 2, 2009. Filed under: Books, Food for thought, Web sites, Writing | Tags: , , , , |

From 2010, Melbourne will have a new kind of cultural institution, the Wheeler Centre. It is named afetr the Wheelers of Lonely Planet fame. The Centre, and its website, will be dedicated to the discussion and practice of writing and ideas.

Through a year-round programme of talks and lectures, readings and debates, and an evolving site featuring video and live blogging.

Check it out here
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The State Library of NSW web site has a new kook

Posted on December 1, 2009. Filed under: Reference, Web sites | Tags: , |

See the new look here.
You will find “Public Library Services” at the top of the list on the drop down “Services” menu on the Home Page.

A special website for the 100 days count down to the centenary of the Mitchell Library has also been launched – www.onehundred.sl.nsw.gov.au/

Their library catalogue has been enhanced library.sl.nsw.gov.au/search with the addition of LibraryThing for Libraries. Please take a look at it – you may even want to review a title in their catalogue.


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