Library News

Del.icio.us-ly a-Twitter about Second Life? Or something?

So I recently returned from a conference called Computers in Libraries 2008. It was way more interesting than it sounds! 🙂 Lots of librarians around the country (and the world) are talking about finding ways to use so-called Web 2.0 technologies in their libraries. There were sessions about Facebook, blogging, wikis, etc. I went to a couple of particularly interesting sessions — interesting in that they dealt with technologies that I personally haven’t used very much, but that are growing in popularity. These include the sites Twitter (which I’ve never tried) and del.icio.us (which I have), and the virtual world of Second Life (never been there either). In case anyone is not familiar with one or more of these, let me briefly explain them. Twitter lets you post very brief responses to “what are you doing now?” and follow other people’s responses to the same question. It’s been referred to as “micro-blogging.” del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site — you can save websites you like, tag them with descriptions, access them from anywhere (unlike bookmarks in your web browser) and share them with others. And Second Life is a virtual world in which you can create an avatar and simulate real-world activities, such as shopping, building things, attending concerts or lectures, and meeting people from around the world. The conference session on Twitter and del.icio.us failed to convince me about the former, but had some good ideas for using the latter in the library, especially in reference and instruction. The session on Second Life showed a few interesting examples but mainly served to point out that there’s not a huge demand for library services in Second Life because not that many people use Second Life itself, at least not yet. So, I’m curious about others’ usage of these three items. The only one I’ve tried at all, as I said, is del.icio.us. Do you use it, and for what? How about Twitter? What’s so great about it? How about Second Life? Can you see a role for any of these in the library, or for educational purposes in general? I’d be very interested to know about others’ experiences with these technologies.

Meet author Roy Harris

This Thursday, Journalist Roy Harris will discuss his book Pulitzer’s Gold as part of NU Library’s Meet the Author series at 3:30 pm in 90 Snell Library.  Harris tackles the ninety-year history of the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.  The Joseph Pulitzer Gold medal is awarded annually to newspapers instead of individual reporters.  Behind each award-winning public story, there’s usually an exciting private drama in the newsroom.  Some are well-known, such as the work of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein for The Washington Post uncovering the Watergate scandal.  Others, less well-known but often equally compelling, are skillfully recounted by Harris.  Each demonstrates the importance and consequence of public service reporting at papers, both large and small, across the United States.  “This is the story of reporters who started out raking the muck and ended up mining for gold.”-Anthony Marro, former editor of Newsday Please join us! Below, watch a promotional video for the talk, directed by Kristin Richardson, our graphic design co-op student:  

Harvard senior thesis project

On the heels of the Harvard faculty mandate for open access to their scholarly work, Harvard students have created a website for posting freely accessible copies of seniors’ theses. More specifically, this website was developed by the Harvard College Free Culture group, a local chapter of Students for Free Culture, a national organization inspired by, among other things, Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig’s book Free Culture. For more background, see this lively discussion of the Harvard faculty mandate on the Chronicle’s news blog.

Barcodes in art & design

I came upon this really cool blog post at Dark Roasted Blend, a site devoted to “weird & wonderful things”. Well this is pretty wonderful. Usually when you see barcodes, you think of consumerism and mass-produced objects that lack individual character, so this post refreshing for me personally. The cute barcode designs at the beginning are distinctly Japanese, and they actually ended up being used on packaging for grocery items. When you scroll down to the designs created by Art Lebedev, a Russian design studio, the barcode is translated into several arrangements with different objects with a long, vertical structure such as icicles and kebab skewers. Further down are examples of the barcode being used on as large a scale as the facade of a building and just below is it being used on a small scale as composite of barcodes to create a photorealistic work.

The Story of Stuff

This is probably the most delightful video I’ve seen in at LEAST two days. It talks about the environmental and social impact that occurs at each stage of the production/consumption of goods. It’s cute and funny and personable, but it also goes remarkably in-depth into the issue of, as Annie Leonard calls it, ‘Stuff’. This little video covers where it (stuff) comes from, how it’s processed, how it’s consumed, and how it’s discarded – things that are easily forgotten in that intial flush of excitement after purchasing a new little ipod or trinket. It makes me very guilty about my own obscene, unnecessary collection of random stuff. Just last night, for example, I bought seven sheets of handmade artisan wrapping papers from Papyrus. Why? No reason other than they were pretty (they really are so incredibly pretty) – and now they are sitting on my shelf as glaring, accusatory reminders of my own role as significant contributor to society’s manic, superfluous consumption of ‘stuff’. Sigh. http://www.storyofstuff.com/