December 15, 2003

The most recent IEEE Spectrum (v40i12 Dec 2003) has a great article with a ridiculously long title: "5 Commandments Some technology laws and rules of thumb have stood the test of time, but not all. Spectrum looks at five to see how they have fared, starting with the grandaddy of them all--Moore's Law." It basically goes through five common "rules of thumb" about how the tech world works and looks at how it compares with reality. They are:

  • Moore's Law: The number of transistors on a chip doubles annually.
  • Rock's Law: The cost of semiconductor tools doubles every four years.
  • Machrone's Law: The PC you want to buy always will be $5000.
  • Metcalfe's Law: A network's value grows proportionately to the number of users squared.
  • Wirth's Law: Software is slowing faster than hardware is accelerating.

I've been a member of the Electronic Resources in Libraries (ERIL) list for quite some time. It always has good information and discussions. Here's a good list of open access journal collections, part of their very comprehensive resource page.

Let's just say that this one had me checking the calendar to see if it's really April 1st. Digital revolution leaves Google feeling quite flush is an article about Google installing digital toilets. Insert your own toilet joke here. Via ResourceShelf.

December 10, 2003

"The expert user is dead" by Leo Robert Klein is such a terrific article it's like it smacked me right between the eyes with a two-by-four. We all like seeing articles that agree with our basic assumptions, and I'm no exception. Klein's thesis is basically that the modern user (ie. average undergrad and 90% of grad & faculty) really don't care about the thesaurus or other controlled vocabulary. They rarely, if ever, use advanced search features. They almost never want everything on a topic or even the best information on a topic. The want good enough, fast enough as easy as Google. However, we as librarians usually assume that the users are just like us and want to use all the bells and whistles, that they are being comprehensive, that they enjoy poking around in odd corners of a database. Not! The point being, we should design our websites, out databases, our webguides, our instruction, our reference interviews for who our users are, not who we would like them to be. Sure, there are highly specialized users that are the exception (chemistry & SciFinder comes to mind), but I really think the Google paradigm is the rule. Every librarian, every vendor should take a look at this article. You may not agree, but you will be challenged. Via various sources.

The latest issue of b/ITE (v20i6 Nov/Dec 2003), the newsletter of the SLA IT division, has just been posted. It's a special issue on RSS with interesting articles by Marie C. Kaddell, Greg Kaplan and Stephen M. Cohen. Well worth taking a look at, as are all issues of this newsletter.

The latest portal: Libraries and the Academy is out with, as usual, several very interesting articles for academic librarians. A small sample:

This is a terrific issue. Virtually every article would have a broad interest for academic librarians.

It's nice to know that medical researchers have a sense of humour, too. Or perhaps this is just a ploy to win an IgNobel? The article, "Head injuries in nursery rhymes: evidence of a dangerous subtext in children's literature " by Sarah M. Giles and Sarah Shea is a hoot. via Google News.

December 7, 2003

For those of us interested in the Philosophy of Science, there is an eprint server up and running. Looks interesting but not too many documents yet. Come on, you philosphers, get with the open access program. From Robert Michaelson via slapam-l.

December 5, 2003

Library Bloggers of the world unite! Or at least write about it for The Reference Librarian. This is something I totally support. Blogging is such a new phenom that I think we owe ourselves the opportunity to think deeply about what we do. Do I take my own advice? Let's wait and see. Via Commons-blog.

If you write book reviews as part of your professional persona, here's a survey being conducted on just that topic. via H. Robert Malinowsky.