Links post: September 10, 2010

Presentation Zen linked to a fabulous talk by John Cleese about creativity. It’s only 10 minutes, and well worth listening to (and the rest of the post has some good additional food for thought on the topic. I’ve been thinking a lot about this basic issue the past few weeks: how to create space for particular kinds of possibility and creation and deeper understanding.

I’m very fond of the Big Idea posts on John Scalzi’s blog, Whatever. Not only are they reliably some of my best reading, but they’ve pretty regularly been big wins with people I’ve recommended them to with my librarian hat on. (In part because the author’s writeup of their idea makes it very easy for me to share why the book is cool.)

One of the recent ones is a book description that could have been written for me – “The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse” by Jennifer Ouelette. I suffered from math education that was not nearly as well-done as my other classes, and so never made that leap from being able to do well on tests to really being able to understand and play with the concepts. Ten years of eating lunch with fascinating math teachers made it clear I was missing something – but without an easy way to go back and relearn what I knew had to be in there.

I’ve got the book on reserve at the library, and will likely post about it when I’ve read it. (Speaking of zombie apocalypse, it was a Big Idea post that convinced me I had to read Mira Grant’s Feed, as I am not usually a zombie-stuff reader. Glad I did, and am still thinking about it a month and more later.)

Librarian in Black has a great post about the challenges of music in libraries called “Music in Libraries: We’re Doing It Wrong.” Really nice summary of the current options out there, and how all of them have some real limits.

I’m very fond of the current Unshelved Answers library discussion forum – it’s a great mix of different types of questions. However, the software they’re using is being phased out next April, so they have a proposal in with the creators for a new library answer space. You can help! You can read some about the process in the post here. Currently, the proposal is in the Commitment phase: they need people to commit to making the site viable by promising to check in regularly to ask and answer questions.

  • You can see the proposal (with sample on and off topic questions)
  • If you want to commit, create an Area51 account, and follow the instructions to commit to the project.
  • The commitment process is based on reputation on Area51 and their various subdiscussions, so if you or people you know are already active on one, please consider supporting the proposal with your commitment!

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.

Links of interest: June 18, 2010

First in a series of collected links of interest, of posts I’ve found particularly intriguing over the last week or so:

The myth of browsing (an article from American Libraries, the journal of the American Library Association) takes on the idea that being able to browse a collection is essential for scholarly knowledge. I’m of two minds: I adore browsing for the sheer joy of it, the things I find that are also of interest to me, outside of my research in a particular focused topic. But I do agree with the issues of storage and practicality, and the point that a browseable collection of 20,000 volumes might do very well in almost all circumstances.

I’m a huge fan of danah boyd’s writing, and particularly liked her recent post on How COPPA fails parents, educators, youth for a clear explanation of why all these websites require you to be older than 13 – and why it’s not as helpful as you’d think.

For people who love both libraries and lists (via Jessamyn at librarian.net) comes an article from American Libraries about a new book by George Eberhart called The Librarian’s Book of Lists. Check out the lists article for a few samples.

Starting accounts on various sites can be complex, but so can leaving them. A nice round-up of the steps and relative complexity of deleting accounts on a whole bunch of commonly used sites is a handy thing to have around. (I like their explanation of why you can’t delete accounts on some sites, and what you can do instead, too.)

And, in the realm of ‘being better humans helps everyone’, a link came across my line of sight that’s been making me think ever since: it’s about how sick systems develop, how to recognise them, and ways to remove yourself from them. Most people I know have been in such a system at one point or another in their life (whether that’s in a relationship, family of origin, work, or some other commitment), but I found the description and analysis here particularly clear and of potential use. Check out How to keep someone with you forever .

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 Research Librarian at the Perkins School for the Blind

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