Links of interest

Awesomely gorgeous: 

  • I got to see my very first real aurora last month (living in the rural north has benefits!) It was not nearly as flashy as the following link, but it was still stunningly amazing. It does mean I’ve been clicking on aurora pictures even more than usual, though, and I particularly liked this post from Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy with a time lapse movie made from aurora still shots in Norway by Nicholas Buer. Click(and as Phil says, full-screen) if you need 2.5 minutes of beauty in your day.
  • Also, the 21 best astronomy images of 2012.
  • (And the one a friend sent me on Wednesday, a gorgeous image of Saturn. And the Milky Way and a lighthouse. Look, I like pictures of stars and planets and stuff, okay?)

Books: 

  • If you are looking for something to read, the MeFi wiki index of questions about books is extremely comprehensive.
  • The power of the books you read at 12.
  • I’m not sure if this goes in books or culture, but how do you deal with fantasy agricultures (specifically, how do you grow wine in a country with seasons as messed up as Westeros?)
  • Why we need comfort reading.
  • Curious George’s great escape. (I half knew some of this, but it’s an amazing story.)

Copyright, so complicated:

Community and culture: 

  • AskAManager had a recent conversation about class – what things you need to know to work in a white-collar environment that may not be obvious if you’re not familiar with that kind of setting. It’s a sort of imperfect discussion, because the topic is So Big, but as someone who works with people from a variety of backgrounds, I think it’s a good start.
  • Ann Patchett on independent bookstores. Specifically, starting one.
  • I keep chewing over Anil Dash’s “The Web We Lost” in the way that makes me think there will be more writing from me about it eventually.
  • Vienna Teng’s draft of the hymn of axciom – fascinating both for the content, and for the fact that technology makes this kind of sharing possible.
  • TEDx and Bad Science: there’s a fascinating article from the TED folks about how to vet for bad science in TEDx talks – interesting both for the specifics, and for the general “how do we talk about evaluating stuff”. Bad Astronomy talks about it a bit more, too.
  • 250 year old codes. Society of the Golden Poodle. Secret societies. What more do you want out of a story?
  • Also in the history department: a Ponzi scheme for flappers.
  • The Lying Disease: truth, lies, and the Internet.
  • How Pompeii perished (and the misassumptions about the nature of geology that pervade our ideas about it.)
  • The history and implications of the Zapruder film.

Technology:

Seasonal:

Links of interest: November 19, 2010

Still mulling over some of the other posts I want to do, but this week there are lots of lovely links!

Bullying and other relational aggression problems.

danah boyd has a great piece on how talking about bullying with teens might not be working because many teens don’t see relational aggression as bullying – they don’t call it that, but instead, as danah says, “They’d be talking about “starting drama” or “getting into fights” or “getting into my business” or “being mean.”

And, related, Tor.com just published a chilling and powerful short story about the costs of seeking acceptance: “Ponies” by Kij Johnson.

Web design:

The San Jose Public Library system launched a brand new website this week, and it’s been getting a lot of attention. They’ve made some very deliberate choices.

Sarah Houghton-Jan, the Digital Futures manager at SJPL talks about the project at her blog Librarian in Black. And of course, links to the new site.

Emily Lloyd, at Shelf Check, highlights one very cool thing, where Sarah says in that post “Every single staff member at SJPL has been asked and empowered to create blog posts for the new site.  That means everyone.  No limiting by classification, specialization, or degree-holding nonsense.  We’re all smart.  We all have things we know about and want to share with our library users.  We currently have over 300 staff set up to create content and I couldn’t be happier.” They’re also not pre-moderating either posts by staff or comments by library users.

Their posting and commenting guidelines are over here, for the curious, and seem pretty solid.

And Brian Herzog has a great roundup of web design links and tips – focused on libraries, but with lots of general application.

Intellectual integrity:

The Chronicle of Higher Education ran a piece on the 12th from someone who says he’s had a quite lucrative business writing papers for pay. The article itself is interesting, but I also recommend the extensive discussion at Making Light that goes into various aspects in more depth (especially since the regular comment base includes a number of educators at various levels.)

Facebook news:

One of the big pieces of news on Monday was Facebook’s new messaging system. TechCrunch has a summary. And there’s another piece from Business Insider about how the complexity of the system might not be so useful. But if you’re still curious, Boy Genius Report has screenshots and other details of how it actually works.

There was also a bug which disabled a number of user accounts – apparently, all of women. SFGate has an overview and ReadWriteWeb has more. Boy Genius Report has some commentary, and also asked about the problematic request to submit government ID to get the account reinstated.  Gawker has a bit more. I’m seeing mixed reports about whether accounts have been reinstated, and will be keeping my eyes open for more this week.

One of the things I’m mulling about Facebook is their assumption that everyone uses the technology and tools and resources the same way. Which is. .. erm, not so much true. Even without getting into the topic of fake accounts, what about authors and artists who create under pseudonyms, those who use a maiden name professionally and a different name socially (or vice versa), people in the midst of name changes for any and varied reason. Any system that fails to allow for this is going to have problems. Ditto the thing about how people use different kinds of messaging for different reasons and with different people, and combining them might not actually work for a number of people.

General links:

The Carl Brandon Society (focused on authors and characters of color in speculative fiction) is holding a drawing for five e-readers.The funds raised will benefit the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship, a fund that sends two emerging writers of color to the Clarion writers workshops annually. The e-readers come pre-loaded with an amazing array of reading material from writers of color in the speculative fiction field. More details and the link  to buy ($1) tickets at their site.

Iris at Pegasus Librarian has a great post on being a guest lecturer in a class rather than a librarian. I had another conversation this week that reminded me how powerful being there, being flexible, and not trying to do everything can sometimes be the most powerful learning experiences.

And Jenica has a wonderful post about what good service actually looks like.

Ideaplay has a detailed commentary on Nicholas Carr’s new book: The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. (Haven’t read the book yet, but it’s on my reserve list at the library.)

WebJunction has a brief (5 minute) video with David Lee King from the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library system on 5 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Patrons on the Web.

In the comments on danah’s post below, I discovered a new blog: Beyond Netiquette, which focuses on how we actually behave while using all these technology things, with some thoughtful posts and specific ideas.

The New York Times had a great piece on how digital resources and tools are deepening our understanding not just in the sciences, but also in the humanities, with links to some specific projects.

The EduBlog awards are out, with some great links to educational blogs asking great questions and sharing wonderful resources. Related, Doug Johnson has a really interesting post on what kind of value librarians and technology staff offer compared to, say, a slightly smaller class size. (He is a passionate advocate for libraries and technologies, but he’s also looking at the budget challenges.)

And in follow-ups from previous weeks, Cooks’ Source has apparently called it quits, according to a local area newspaper (and in fact the site is now down.) I continue to be bemused by the fact that Griggs keeps focusing on the initiating event, while ignoring the fact that a number of other pieces (including from much larger organizations) were also copied and taken without permission. I don’t think it’s fooling anyone.

Ask This Librarian: Reading suggestions

Next question is a great one – and I hope will fill many people’s reading lists for a good time to come:

I really want to read more sci-fi by writers who are queer and/or PoC and/or feminist besides Nalo Hopkinson, in particular more recently published stuff (i.e. definitely not the scifi canon – yet). Not picky about sci-fi subgenre. Open to multiple genres and formats: novels, anthologies, sci-fi magazines, online repositories …

May I slightly amend it to additionally specify whatever magazines or other serial publications tend to have the latest work in sci-fi? I want to be able to keep up to date with the latest developments, since the kind of fiction I want to write is more or less sci-fi. I hope that’s not too much of a separate question.

This is a huge question, but also a great one, so I’m going to take an initial stab at it, and I know that readers on my personal blog will have more comments, so I’ll come back here with a few more additions in a couple of days.

Continue reading Ask This Librarian: Reading suggestions

Links of interest: July 2, 2010

Many fun things this week:

First, the things that need little commentary:

Visual Economics takes (financial) information and synthesises it into fascinating pictures and infographics. Check out their graphics for the cost and effect of the BP oil spill, and how the world spends its time online.

My web host posted a nice summary of spam filtering techniques – you might check it out to see if anything in there applies to your web host (if your host uses CPanel, chances are good, but there’s some other useful info in there.)

A fascinating post from Geek Feminist titled “Scientists are ‘normal’ people, some children discover“which has some really intriguing data about how taking children to meet scientists (at least in this particular iteration) drastically increased the number of girls who drew their idea of a scientist as a woman. (There’s some interesting discussion in comments about why this might be the case, and some thoughts about why it was not true for the boys.)

danah boyd publishes a draft of the 2010 literature review of risky behaviors and online safety that builds on the 2008 literature review done for the Internet Safety Task Force. As she says, unsurprisingly, not much has changed. I’m looking forward to digging into the material.

And finally, a story from this year’s Merritt Fund banquet at the ALA conference. The Merritt Fund is designed to provide support to librarians dealing with freedom of information related legal issues, and this year’s winner (Carol Brey-Casiano) told a story about a Patriot Act issue that’s chilling.

Recommended reads

One of the things about finishing work for the school year is that people ask you what you’re reading and looking forward to reading over the summer – so here are a few recent reads I recommend (and a couple I’m looking forward to…)

Recent reads that made me think:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
This is about the life, death, and lasting influence of Henrietta Lacks, who died of cancer in Baltimore in the 1950s. Her cells were used to create the HeLa cell culture, which has gone on to be amazingly prolific and of huge scientific benefit (among other things, it was the cell culture used to grow the polio vaccine for distribution). However, Henrietta herself – and her family – didn’t understand what was being done, and this book is both a provoking and sensitive look at the issues of medical ethics, historical legacies, and issues of race, class, and education and their intersection with ‘informed consent’. It’s also very readable, and has some truly great moments of beauty and compassion.

(read more at Rebecca’s site over here , and there’s a great brief story from the magazine Popular Science about Five Reasons Henrietta Lacks Is The Most Important Woman In History).

A Conspiracy of Kings : Megan Whalen Turner
This would be a series where I keep going “Why did I not discover this sooner?” Set in a pseduo-Ancient-Greece, this is a fantastic four book series dealing with the relationships between the powers of neighboring realms, who are at the same time very human and able to fail at doing the best thing all the time. It’s hard to talk about the books beyond that without giving spoilers (and if you go browse the earlier editions, even the cover blurbs and information give spoilers), but I highly recommend these for a thoughtful but fast read.

(Megan’s site is over here.)

Soulless by Gail Carriger
Ok, this one is a little less recent – I read it this spring – but delightful. It’s a Victorian-era steampunk vampires and werewolves romance novel. If you enjoy dramatic moments, wonderful culture and clothing descriptions, and one of the best on-screen Queen Victoria moments I’ve ever seen in a work of fiction, you’ll probably like this. (And this did make me think about the assumptions we have in interacting with others, among other things.)

(Check out Gail’s website and play with the dress-up doll and videos of the cover design.)

Books I’m looking forward to reading:

(These are, of course, only some, but they’re ones I anticipate getting to in the next couple of weeks…)

I’m currently reading The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines, which I picked up in part because I was impressed by a range of blog posts he’s made over the last couple of months. (I’m enjoying it so far, and expect to finish it in the next day or two, when I’ve got the sequel waiting.)

  • The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm by Juliet Nicholson
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Candor by Pam Bachorz

Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Information Technology Librarian at the University of Maine at Farmington, the small liberal arts college model campus in the University of Maine system.

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