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Forget Big Brother March 9, 2013

Posted by Mia in Uncategorized.
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We’re getting inundated with all this hype about Google Glasses.  How many people will be lining up to pay Google for the privilege of being volunteer recruits as walking-humanoid-google-streetview-cameras?  I’m no conspiracy theorist, but these GG things are hardly benign.  They’re the latest assault and invasion of personal space yet.

Plus, they so remind me of that Star Trek episode — you know, the one where everyone is wearing a game headset and getting addicted to sucking those creepy little funnels into the holes.  Until no one on the Enterprise is doing anything else but feed their addiction to this game.

The images and video alone that would be captured by these glasses and stored on google servers, along with geo coordinates, timestamps, and google image (face) recognition?

Not a Good Idea.

Discoverability December 18, 2012

Posted by Mia in Frontiers, Uncategorized.
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We’re embarking on a discovery layer project and looking at the few contenders out there in the marketplace.

I am not yet sold on building a pre-harvested index composed of all different types of indexing terminology and depth of granularity thrown in together. How reasonable it is to have something like, oh, I don’t know, say ninety or so different content types, so that you can filter your results?

The goalpost just moved.  Its easier to start your search and get some meaningful results, and that is very good.   

But to refine a search might mean you are now faced with an abundance of choice as to which content types to tick off as you are scrolling through the list of terms that you can check off.

We’re back to listing terms in an alphabetical sequence and asking users to (once again) browse through the terms to find ones that strike their fancy!

It’s no wonder relevancy ranking algorithms are closely guarded secrets.  Special sauce, indeed.

Oh, look, it’s snowing! Thank you, WordPress. It’s that time of year.

Typography counts November 26, 2012

Posted by Mia in Frontiers, Uncategorized.
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A recent study by Larson and Picard on the Aesthetics of Reading has been circulating on the internets (thanks to Fadayev’s UsabilityPost). One thing the authors tested for is whether good typography can be measured to have a positive effect on mood. The interesting thing is that reading comprehension and speed were not measured, but rather the reader’s subjective impression of how long it took to read the piece (the duration). The authors of the study that reading is an engaging task, but reading when high quality typography is present is “more engaging” — as measured by users consistently (and by a wide margin) underestimating the amount of time it took them to complete the reading.

…high quality typography appears to induce a positive mood, similar to earlier mood inducers such as a small gift or watching a humorous video. This is an exciting finding because there are important differences between good and poor typography that appear to have little effect on common performance measures such as reading speed and comprehension.

It’s great to see the importance of typography getting attention. Recently the UK GDS team (responsible for launching the new website gov.uk) was deciding on legibility, so they looked to a font widely adopted for highway signage:

Accessibility is key at GDS and ideally we’d like a typeface that’s good enough for us not to need an ‘easier to read’ font option for the dyslexic and those with other visual or cognitive issues. We tried lots of different ones and the best was Transport. This shouldn’t come as a surprise – it’s the typeface designed by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert in the late fifties/early sixties for Britain’s national motorway and road sign system. They spent years testing for legibility in all sorts of extreme conditions; in the rain, at night, at speed.

A font that withstood years of testing under extreme driving conditions should score well on lowering the stress quotient for sure.


RDA is starting to impinge on things October 13, 2012

Posted by Mia in CLUES/WebPAC, Resource Description and Access.
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A new MARC field snuck up on me — the 264.  The problem with this field is that it was only invented in 2011 to handle new RDA rules for interpreting imprint information that can’t be accomodated by the existing 260.  Quoting from MARC bibliographic (emphasis mine):

Information in field 264 is similar to information in field 260 (Publication, Distribution, etc. (Imprint)). Field 264 is useful for cases where the content standard or institutional policies make a distinction between functions


Huh? A field [for handling imprint], which is similar to an already existing field [which handles imprint], only different?  This ‘definition’ really eludes me, I must admit, but I’ll leave it to others to interpret.

Records started arriving with a 264 indicator 1, not a 260, so naturally no imprint information was displaying to the public.  Rules for handling the import and display of the 260 (like on webpub.def) didn’t include the 264 because the field hadn’t existed previously.  None of our MARC load tables knew about this field.

I’m surprised that this field came in under the radar.  I am wondering how much relevance rules that may look at the — guess what? — 260|c field need to be modified.  I can’t see how that can be avoided.

And why this change now, when the MARC format is on its way out?  The whole thing particularly mystifies me, since many of the date complexities are only applicable to physical entities — entities which are a diminishing proportion of our collection.

Agenda for the future July 7, 2012

Posted by Mia in Frontiers, Uncategorized.
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I’ve been thinking a lot about how to encourage ourselves to continue to develop and to engage in some creative risk-taking, and a model started forming in my mind.

Issue periodic call to staff to volunteer some ‘dreaming in technicolor’ ‘library of the future’ ideas. As long as the ideas have some vision/risk-taking component in them.

Submitted suggestions should be anonymous, and short, e.g., a few sentences in length. A team selects one or two suggestions that have potential and posts them to common area (e.g. staff wiki)

Staff are invited to submit proposals addressing these ideas. Some criteria could be established (e.g., page limit; pros/cons; provide cost/benefit of implementing, etc.)

If any proposals spawn any actions or result in steps to implement even partially, this information should be widely shared e.g., acknowledge the proposer(s) creativity and create a wiki space for the development of the activity.

The idea is to encourage staff to freely generate IDEAS.

Oh well. I’m probably dreaming in technicolor.