Archive for the 'Valve' Category

4cast #83: Knol, Spam, Identity, Jargon

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

This week’s 4cast:

1. Watch Your Back, Wikipedia

As Wikipedia has become increasingly huge (see 4cast #72, item 4), it was inevitable that for-profit competitors would emerge. But it wasn’t until last week that a truly terrifying rival appeared – Google, and its Knol project.

2. Spam? What Spam? Oh… You Mean All of THAT Spam.

Although Google claims that improved filtering technologies are causing many spammers to give up on junk e-mailing, another recent report shows that 95% of all e-mail sent in 2007 was in fact, spam. So who’s winning the war?

3. You’ve Got a Bad Online Reputation

A recent Pew Internet study shows that people are increasingly aware of their online identity and the importance of making sure their digital tracks don’t lead searchers (potential employers, for example) to unflattering places. Still, most Internet users either don’t worry or are completely oblivious to the amount of information that’s floating around about them online.

4. Premium Bibliographic Resources Fail to Engage Remote End-Users

From a non-librarian’s perspective, one of the biggest deterrents to using the public library is confusing industry jargon, both inside the library and on the library website. John Kupersmith, a reference library at UC Berkeley, has developed a comprehensive list of library jargon and alternative terms that a non-librarian might actually comprehend.

4cast #82: SAFE Act, Broadband, Search Trends, Beyond Google

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

This week’s 4cast:

1. Good Guys, Bad Guys & Wi-Fi

When the U.S. House of Representatives passed the SAFE Act last week, it sent a shudder through coffee shops, hotels, libraries, and anyone else offering open Wi-Fi access to the Internet. While the new bill doesn’t appear to require that these entities actively police their wireless users for illegal online activities, it does up the pressure for them to report any such known or suspected activity.

2. It Sure is Slow Out in the Sticks

According to a recent Pew Internet study, 50% of all Americans now have broadband Internet access at home, but this number still lags far behind in rural areas. As the link between broadband penetration and economic health becomes more apparent, the FCC is coming under increasing fire for their inability to address the problem.

3. The Year in Guilty Pleasures

Google, Yahoo, and Ask have all released their 2007 reports outlining the top search trends, with interesting variations between the three engines. Social networking was huge across the board, and of course… troubled celebrities are always on our minds.

4. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Googling For

Google got your (or your patron’s) goat? There are always more – and in some cases, better – search options out there.

OPLIN 4cast #58

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

This week’s 4cast:

1. Microsoft Surface Has Surfaced

Microsoft recently unveiled the Surface computer – a flat tabletop touch screen that allows users to move and manipulate data with their fingers, instead of a mouse or keyboard.

2. Where Dewey Go From Here?

A new public library is opening in Arizona that has everything you’d expect, except for one small detail – the Dewey Decimal System. Instead, the library will organize its collection the way most bookstores do, by topic. Librarians aren’t sure how to react to this development.

3. Learning to Live with Being Annoyed

According to a new Pew Internet report, as the overall volume of spam continues to increase, more and more computer users are simply learning to accept that the spammers are winning. But that doesn’t mean the fight is over.

4. It’s Tough Being a Social (Network) Butterfly

A number of librarians are realizing that too much social networking can leave you little time for anything else.

OPLIN 4cast #54

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

This week’s 4cast:

1. Oh Dewey, You Old Coot

In his new book, Everything Is Miscellaneous, David Weinberger argues that the Internet and the onset of inherently chaotic organizational models (like tagging), are destroying traditional, structured, straightforward methodologies of describing things (i.e. traditional librarianship).

2. There’s Still Time To Be Ahead of the Pack

The latest report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project (PDF) report focuses on Internet usage among American adults, and finds that as the geeks obsess over Web 2.0, most of us still haven’t mastered Web 1.0.

3. Introducing the 21st Century Mob

Last week, an anonymous hacker, who was having trouble playing a lawfully purchased HD-DVD movie, managed to crack the hidden, 16-digit “key” that unlocks the DRM technology built into all HD-DVDs. When this number was posted on various websites, the group owning that technology (AACS) sent letters threatening to sue any site relaying the number. Outraged netizens responded by taking over the popular community-driven news website Digg, publishing the secret code anywhere they could, and provoking the legal wrath of the AACS.

4. Do Dusty Bytes Just Disappear?

When a book goes out of print, an old copy (or three) is probably preserved somewhere in a library. But what happens when a blogger stops writing? Or an article only available online disappears? Librarians and archivists are worried about a potential “digital dark age.”

OPLIN 4cast #53

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

This week’s 4cast:

1. Frustration 2.0

Now that this year’s Computers In Libraries conference is over, some attendees may find that the exciting Library 2.0 ideas they enthusiastically embraced in Virginia are being met by Barriers 2.0 at home.

2. Wherefore Art Thou, eBooks?

So this eBook thing isn’t exactly catching fire, and there seem to be a lot of reasons why.

3. Could I Interest You Folks in Some Web-Based Apps?

As web-based applications (like Google’s everexpanding suite) become more powerful and feature-rich, will companies and organizations abandon their traditional desktop applications and conduct all of their business online?

4. Bad Wikipedia! Stop Being So Useful!

The latest report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that 36% of American adults who use the Internet also consult Wikipedia. It’s also listed as the top “educational and reference website” with 24% of total usage.

OPLIN 4cast #52

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

This week’s 4cast:

1. WorldCat Local’s Out of the Bag

OCLC has announced a new pilot service called WorldCat Local, which aims to integrate portions of the WorldCat service (and interface) into local library catalogs. Is the traditional OPAC on the way out?

2. As the Social Network Turns…

The debate over the perceived dangers of social networking sites like MySpace seems to be taking a turn, as some recent studies suggest that MySpace is actually a pretty safe place for the kids to visit. Two LIS students in Illinois are conducting their own Library MySpace Study.

3. The Vista is Not Nearly As Beautiful As Had Been Anticipated

Windows Vista continues to inspire invective from both users and security experts. Dell’s decision to go back to Windows XP on some of their computers, taken together with several other recent developments, does not seem to bode well for Vista’s eventual acceptance by the marketplace.

4. FCC Finally Notices the Digital Divide

According to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC is required to keep tabs on broadband deployment in the US and make sure that as it progresses, the competition is fair and the rules are followed. But some parties (including the Government Accountability Office on several occasions) have criticized the FCC’s methodology in defining and determining what broadband access looks like. The FCC is now admitting that as this country continues to fall behind the rest of the world in broadband access, there may have been some problems with fudgy numbers and misinformation.

OPLIN 4cast #41

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

This week’s 4cast:

1. Check the Tags

According to a recent report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more and more Internet users are using tags to describe online content, and in general, tagging is becoming increasingly integral to the organization of the Web.

2. One Librarian Laments, Others Wonder Why

A librarian recently wrote a piece for the Washington Post about how difficult it is to convince younger readers to read actual books, and fears that the library world’s increasing focus on electronic resources and information literacy is partially to blame.

3. Google’s Library Keeps Getting Bigger

Prominent libraries continue to open their collections to the Google Book Search Library Project, but not without controversy and opposition from other libraries, authors, publishers, and of course, the lawyers. Many people are wondering if Google is gearing up to jump into the e-book market.

4. The Big Screen Keeps Getting Smaller

Netflix, Blockbuster, and now Wal-Mart are all scrambling to dominate the burgeoning digital movie downloads industry. Some libraries are taking tentative steps in this area with products like MyLibraryTV.

OPLIN 4cast #32

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

This week’s 4cast:

1.OPLIN Award for Innovation: Castr (Westerville Public Library)

Although podcasting and videocasting are becoming more popular, many libraries are still struggling to find ways to integrate them into their online services. One Ohio library that’s finding a way to do it is the Westerville Public Library, which unveiled Castr earlier this year. Although it’s billed as a “podcast delivery system,” Castr has mainly been used for videocasts of library storytimes, performances, special guests, and other programming. There are 10 shows so far.

We’re proud to present Westerville Public Library with an OPLIN Award for Innovation for their Castr service.

OPLIN Award for Innovation

Castr was built using Ruby on Rails, an open-source web framework, and the shows appear as QuickTime videos. According to Kristen Hewitt, Manager of Support Services, copyright issues are still “a bit dicey.” Westerville asks permission to feature copyrighted material, and permission has been granted most of the time.

OPLIN isn’t the first to recognize Castr as an innovative service. Several prominent library blogs (listed below) have mentioned it as one of the better examples of library videocasting in the country. You can subscribe to the Castr RSS feed at

Hewitt notes that the Westerville Public Library is always open to comments and feedback to make Castr better. They’re certainly off to a great start – congratulations Westerville!

2. OPLIN Goes Mobile

We’ve reported in the past about the growing number of people accessing the Internet via mobile device, and when viewed on a tiny cellphone screen, the OPLIN website presents the same issues as many other sites – that is, it looks ugly and behaves even worse. But now, anyone who visits the OPLIN website on a mobile device will be automatically redirected to OPLIN Mobile, an extremely trimmed-down version of our website where users can find an Ohio library or search our Discover Ohio link directory.

3. Of Worms & Zen

Two new library-related search tools – LISZEN and LibWorm – recently launched. Both search through hundreds of library-related blogs and RSS feeds, so you can quickly find out what the rest of Libraryland thinks about certain issues and topics.

4. Pew! I Smell Reports…

The Pew Internet & American Life Project aims to “explore the impact of the Internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life.” They do this through 15-20 yearly reports that focus on a wide range of Internet-related topics and activities. While some of their most recent reports don’t focus on libraries specifically, they do provide a great snapshot of current trends and issues related to Internet usage, and can provide valuable info as libraries look to increase their online services and presence.