At the Ref Desk (9/16/20): Worst thing about chat reference : the number of times you get cut off. Sucks. [more...]
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Worst People In The World : Edwin Mellen Press

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 3/29/13 (2:09pm)

So because someone on the blog The Scholarly Kitchen writes a post or two criticizing publisher Edwin Mellen Press (EMP), EMP sends their lawyer after the blog with the equivalent of a 'cease-and-desist' letter -- not just to the blog but to a person who left a comment on one of the offending posts. Huh?

I know diddly-squat about Edwin Mellen Press and even less about the quality of their work but this way of reacting to criticism does nothing but lend credibility to the arguments of their detractors.

The two offending posts have since been removed but both are still available thanks to online archival services (h/t Gary Price):


Rumors of the Web's Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 5/23/10 (12:10pm)

The NYT OpEd "The Death of the Open Web" by Virginia Heffernan is making the rounds.

I just wish that in order to get published in the NYT, you actually had to have some insight into the subject you're talking about. I bring this up because all that's in evidence in Heffernan's piece is an assumption for some reason that the current state of affairs where companies like Apple serve as gatekeepers through their AppStores and subscription firewalls -- that this state of affairs not only will endure but will become the rule for online communication.

Of course, in order to make this assumption, you need to completely ignore what's been going on for 30 years or more. You also need to ignore what motivates people and instead assume that an environment where they're treated essentially as classic "consumers" is likely to be more successful than one where they can pretty much do whatever they want.

Of course, you can also look out the window in December and assume it'll snow all year, but that doesn't entitle you to write articles on meteorology for the New York Times -- at least I thought.

Is a 'closed web' likely to become the way of the future? About as likely as companies like CompuServe and AOL making a come-back.

Facts Charles Osgood Ought to Know

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 12/19/09 (12:50pm)

facts_i_ought_to_know.png Charles Osgood indulges in a bit of unjustified cynicism while reporting on an overdue library book that was returned to the New Bedford Public Library after 99 years.

The book is called, "Facts I Ought to Know About the Government of My Country" (Wm H. Bartlett, 1897) and Osgood largely sticks to the facts until this final cheap shot,

Here's a question, though: What would a book to tell you how the U.S. Government works, published 115 years ago, tell you about how the U.S. Government works today? Not very much, I'm afraid...

Actually the book can tell you a lot about how the U.S. Government works today -- had Osgood bothered to think about it or, heaven forbid, even look the thing up.

[more after the jump...]


Drupal now the "Cool Thing to Do"?

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 11/4/09 (10:02am)

It's nice to see Drupal mentioned in the context of "cool thing to do" but I don't think Cindi Trainor in her piece on Sacred Cows in Library IT gets exactly what you can do with it:

Experimenting with low-cost or no-cost tools like Twitter will only cost staff time, but implementing expensive (think federated search) or complex-but-free technologies (think Drupal) because it's the cool thing to do can be a very costly lesson for a library to learn, in terms of budget, staff time, morale and user satisfaction.

First, there's no impediment to 'experimenting' with Drupal any more than there is to experimenting with Twitter. The first implementation I ever dealt with was on my own laptop. I didn't even need a network connection!

Also, as far as complexity goes, what are we comparing it to? I mean, you can't run a website on Twitter so that's not an option.

It just so happens that an institution's website is a fairly complex organism. It's going to involve a considerable investment no matter how you choose to go about it.

The fact that Drupal can potentially make it less costly in terms of budget, staff time, etc. -- while being far more effective as a tool -- that's what makes it "cool" and why people choose it. Not the other way around.

P.S. It's kind of ironic that the above quote fell under the Sacred Cow, "Cutting-edge is better; bleeding-edge is best" -- considering that the piece grew out of a discussion on the oh-so-bleeding-edge "Google Wave".

So Where's the Cake?

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 10/31/09 (12:56pm)

So the email goes out: "pumpkin nut/raisin bread" in the Reference Workroom.

Sounds nice, huh? So what's left when the Saturday crew finally shows up? You're looking at it.



Is Twitter Dead Yet?

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 6/14/09 (9:58am)

I'm so sick of hearing about Twitter. On the Media Hype Index™, it's reaching Krispy Kreme proportions*.

*(then, now)