July 18, 2003

I'm on vacation for the next three weeks. I don't expect to post again until the week of August 11th.

Find metadata mysterious? Try Metadata Demystified: A Guide for Publishers from the NISO Press. While aimed at publishers rather than librarians, it certainly covers all the main points. And since librarians obviously deal with publishers, that perspective can also be valuable from our end.
From ResourceShelf.

Via Randy, the newletter of the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications looks very interesting. In particular, it takes a lot of the same-old-same-old issues and gives them a refreshingly global spin: "INASP is a cooperative network of partners whose aim is to enhance worldwide access to information and knowledge. " The current issue, for example, has an article: "Strengthening the local creation and adaptation of health information in Tanzania."

July 17, 2003

"Textbook Writing 101" by M. Garrett Bauman. Thirteen rules, some serious, some tongue-in-cheek, many both. From Arts & Letters Daily

All Google all the time. "Digging for Googleholes: Google may be our new god, but it's not omnipotent" by Steven Johnson is an article in Slate about the holes & biases in Google searching. It's interesting that he rightly points out that much of the search results you get are skewed towards companies selling products, but then he complains that too many journals are putting their articles online in pdf. He laments the fact that no one is putting their books available online for free, thus biasing his research process against books and towards articles: "Assuming this practice continues, and assuming that Google continues to grow in influence, we may find ourselves in a world where, if you want to get an idea into circulation, you're better off publishing a PDF file on the Web than landing a book deal." An interesting thought. To somewhat subvert himself, though, he concluding by saying maybe he shouldn't be doing his research on Google at all: "We're wrong to think of Google as a pure reference source. It's closer to a collectively authored op-ed page—filled with bias, polemics, and a skewed sense of proportion—than an encyclopedia."

July 16, 2003

In my on-going quest to find legitimate reasons to make science fiction-related posts here, I would like to draw attention to The Innovative Technologies from Science Fiction for Space Applications project. From the project description, they're aim is to "conduct a study on technologies and concepts found in Science Fiction, in order to obtain imaginative and innovative ideas potentially viable for long-term development by the European space sector. " They are requesting input from all interested parties, especially in the form of "fact sheets" giving details of the use of space technology in a particular sf story. The projects sponsors seem to be the European Space Agency, the Maison d'Ailleurs and the OURS Foundation. After a quick glance at the brochure, the project seems quite serious and impressive. The brochure itself looks better than half the sf novels I've read recently. From Hal Hall via SFRA-L

July 10, 2003

I've just added a comments feature to this blog, so please feel free to add your thoughts to this (hopefully) ongoing conversation. You know who you are! Haloscan was very simple to set up and seems to be working (so far), so I would recommend it.

July 9, 2003

Just what at the most desirable skills for the new engineering undergraduate? It will come as no surprise that employers are valueing communication and people skills more and more for what have in the past been mostly "back office" functions like engineering. The latest ASEE Prism Magazine has a good discussion of recent trends in engineering recruitment: "The Graduate" by Kerry Hannon (v12 i9 May/June 2003). I'm very sure that the same trends also apply to computer science grads and probably most other science & applied science grads.

Salon seems to be doing a lot more interesting science-related articles lately (or, more accurately, interesting to me). "GOTO considered joyful" By Rachel Chalmers is a wonderful tribute to famous computer scientist Edsger W. Dijkstra, mostly talking about the Dijkstra archive available at the University of Texas.
I had a very wierd flashback to my undergrad cs days when we used to endlessly debate whether or not using goto statements in fortran or pascal was a cosmically good thing or bad thing. I wonder what cs undergrads debate today with that same messianic fervor? Linux/unix vs. windows, no doubt!

July 4, 2003

A newish blog on information literacy, run by Sheila Weber, Bill Johnston and Stuart Boon. I really appreciate its international focus. From Informtation Resources Newsletter.

July 3, 2003

"Is Math a Young Man's Game? No. Not every mathematician is washed up at 30." by Jordan Ellenberg, from Slate in May 2003. I guess that should be "Young Person's Game." Interesting: it now takes such lengthy study to get to the frontiers of your field (and math isn't the only field where this is true, by far), that no one has the chance to be a prodigy until they get into their 30's & 40's.

July 2, 2003

From an IEEE online support email anouncement: "Google to index IEEE Xplore (IEEE to announce when Google indexing is complete)." This leads to an interesting thought. What if all STM journal publishers did the same thing? Would anyone bother subscribing to any A&I services anymore? Would they all just disappear? Certainly those that don't add a huge amount of value to the raw data (i.e. SciFinder) would quickly seem rather useless. At the same time, Google could also make a misstep by not realizing that it's dangerous to mix too much of the stuff on the open web with the scholarly content -- getting even more fantastically overwhelmingly huge search results will not endear them to serious researchers or even to impatient undergrads.

Salon again: "The free research movement" by Farhad Manjoo. It's a very good article about the Public Library of Science which makes some compelling arguments for open access. As usual, you need to use a day pass to access the full text.

Thanks to Doug Holton for pointing out that the Lisfeeds RSS feed wasn't working and for suggesting this one.