Submit a link Features Reviews Podcasts Video Forums More ▾

At the edges of libraries

186-Booklabel.jpg Here's an annotated list of things that are not quite libraries, not just books. Thanks for hosting me as a guestblogger this week as I've scooted around the country with a bag full of books and a laptop. - Shelf and ownership marks at the Princeton University library including a list of ownership marks of collections and libraries absorbed into the main collections (highlights). - Library of Dust - BLDGBLOG's review of a book of photography and essays.
an Oregon state psychiatric institution began to cremate the remains of its unclaimed patients. Their ashes were then stored inside individual copper canisters and moved into a small room, where they were stacked onto pine shelves.... Over time, however, the canisters have begun to react chemically with the human ashes held inside them; this has thus created mold-like mineral outgrowths on the exterior surfaces of these otherwise gleaming cylinders."
- Publishing Food #2 - Edible Geography looks at miniature cookbooks and chocolate letters and robotic food chefs. - Fore-Edge book painting comes in classic and modern forms - Brian Dettmer's book art - American Woodworker shows people how to make a Lumber Library to show off fancy woods. Another Wood Book. - Typo of the Day for Librarians - a compilation of common library catalog typos. - The International Edible Books festival album pages always make me hungry, for words and snacks - A few more library mash-ups from an old MetaFilter post. And BibliOdyssey is always good for more biblioporn. In memory of Steve Cisler, Apple's digital librarian and all-around awesome guy.

Scalzi explains Amazon's tactical mistakes

John Scalzi brings the sarcasm and the smarts in this cogent analysis of why it was strategically foolish for Amazon to delist Macmillan's titles over the weekend, without any announcement, and for reasons that the authors and readers of those books had no control over.
3. Amazon Lost the Author's Fans. The interesting thing about the fans of authors: They feel somewhat connected to their favorite authors. So when their favorite authors kvetched on their blogs and Facebook pages and Twitter feeds about the screwing Amazon was giving them, what did many of these fans do? They also kvetched on their blogs and Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. So in pissing off a myriad of authors, Amazon also pissed off an exponential number of book readers, many of whom followed their favorite authors' leads in complaining about Amazon, and who themselves were read and followed by an exponential number of others. Even on a weekend, the traditional slow time for the Internets, that's a lot of pissed-off people.

So, two and a half days of the Internet being angry at Amazon. To be sure, there were people taking the side of Amazon, too. But those people lacked the social cohesion of an aggrieved class (writers) backed up by a mass of supporters -- not to mention the relatively high profile of these writers online, which, if you were a journalist looking for reaction quotes while on deadline, made them the go-to sources.

All The Many Ways Amazon So Very Failed the Weekend

Clay Shirky on information overload versus filter failure

This Clay Shirky talk from Web 2.0 Expo NY ("It's Not Information Overload. It's Filter Failure") challenges the idea that we've got information overload problems (we've had more books than any human could read for hundreds of years), what we have is a series of filter failures, as our systems for managing information abundance are swamped by the growth of information.

Web 2.0 Expo NY: Clay Shirky (shirky.com) It's Not Information Overload. It's Filter Failure. (via Joho the Blog)

Barefoot runners' gait protects them from hard heel-strikes

A Harvard study published in this week's Nature confirms what barefooters have been saying for years: shoes teach you bad walking and running habits, while barefooters have a different gait that protects them from shocks when they run, even without the padding.

I have flat feet and associated back problems, and I've worn orthotic inserts since I was 17. Stick me in shoes without these inserts for 48 hours, and I'm in agony.

Unless I'm wearing a pair of Vibram "barefooting" shoes on holiday, in which case, I'm fine. (Only one data point: remember, the plural of "anecdote" isn't "fact.")

"People who don't wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike," says Daniel E. Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and co-author of a paper appearing this week in the journal Nature. "By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike. Most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts, but actually you can run barefoot on the world's hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain. All you need is a few calluses to avoid roughing up the skin of the foot. Further, it might be less injurious than the way some people run in shoes."
Barefoot Running: How Humans Ran Comfortably and Safely Before the Invention of Shoes

(Image: barefoot, a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike image from kisocci's photostream)

San Francisco's secret public spaces that are privately owned


Marylin sez, "Even people living in San Francisco may not know there are 68 semi-secret privately owned public spaces in the city, and that's why the concerned citizens of SPUR (San Francisco Planning & Urban Research Association)has made a map that shows the locations of 45 of them, with short descriptions. A POPOS can be indoors or outdoors, on rooftops, past security guards, or beyond unmarked doors; some have been around since 1959; some are barren but others feature public art, fountains, and seating. These public spaces are (perhaps deliberately) not well marked, but the work of SPUR, recently published on Strange Maps, should help people find them."

441 - Sense of POPOS: Secret Spaces of San Francisco (Thanks, Marilyn!)

Free Culture conference, Washington DC, Feb 13/14


Fred sez, "Students for Free Culture has organized another awesome Free Culture conference on February 13th and 14th in Washington D.C. and registration is open. Public Knowledge's Gigi Sohn and cyberscholar Jonathan Zittrain will be keynoting on the first day, and the second day will be an unconference tackling all the cutting edge issues of the free culture movement. Everyone is welcome to register and pay whatever they like (though last conference's median fee was $26) so signup today and see you in two weeks!"

Man, I wish I could get to this!

Update: Fred adds:

SFC just let me know that they just announced incentives for registration levels (the JZ voicemail is particularly awesome):

If you register at $50 or more, get a DVD with the complete Free Culture 2008 videos archive

If you register at $75 or more, get a signed copy of one of these books:

* Remix by Lawrence Lessig OR
* Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins

If you register at $100 or more, get one of these badges of coolness:

* a yourname@freeculture.org email address OR
* a custom answering machine greeting by none other than cyberscholar Jonathan Zittrain

Free Culture Conference 2010 (Thanks, Fred!)

Amazon: we'll agree to Macmillan's terms

Amazon says that it will accept publisher Macmillan's preferred publishing and distribution model.
We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books.
The battle over pricing conceals a more intricate and important one over Amazon's place in the book-buying ecosystem [Charles Stross]. Announcement: Macmillan E-books [Amazon] Previously: Amazon and Macmillan go to war: readers and writers are the civilian casualties; Macmillan CEO on Amazon deletepocalypse; Scalzi and MacMillan v. Amazon

Vogue, Jan. 1990

Behold the January 1990 issue of Vogue. The devil may wear Prada, but she evidently wanted you to wear pastel acrylics and then set fire to your hair. [Double D Blog]

What's really on bittorrent anyway?

800px-Leech_bittorrent.png Ed Felten from the Freedom to Tinker blog has written a post with Princeton senior Sauhard Sahi called Census of Files Available via BitTorrent. The survey takes a random sample of files available on a trackerless BitTorrent system. The article is full of caveats--discussion happening in the comments--but does dig into the likely copyright status of the works they found.
"[A]ll files that were available were equally likely to appear in the sample -- the sample was not weighted by number of downloads, and it probably contains files that were never downloaded at all. So we can't say anything about the characteristics of BitTorrent downloads, or even of files that are downloaded via BitTorrent, only about files that are available on BitTorrent."

Read the rest

Phil Agre located, search not quite over

Follow-up on an earlier post. Phil Agre has been found and is safe according to the LAPD Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The facebook group Fans & Friends of Phil Agre is not as sure about the "safe" designation and is continuing to investigate.

About those blue lego tiles

John Gruber (and Rob Scoble) explain why the iPad's lack of Flash is a bigger problem for Adobe than it is for Apple. Just one example: some of the sites featured in the already-infamous 'blue legos' image already had Flash-free editions.

Liveblogging the 2010 Grammy Awards

grammys2010.png

(Xeni's in LA at the Grammy Awards, armed with a tactical blogging apparatus. Read the winners, losers and bad fashion in real-time starting after 5 p.m./8 p.m. Update: Thanks for reading! Tweets archived after the jump. - Rob)

Read the rest

Macmillan CEO on Amazon deletepocalypse

John Sargent, Macmillan USA's CEO, has issued a statement on the Amazon deletion of an appreciable fraction of all of English literature from its store. He confirms that this is a strong-arm tactic in a pricing war. (via Making Light)

Rip Torn charged with breaking into bank with loaded gun

Actor Rip Torn charged with breaking into bank with loaded gun while ripped, torn.

"The only perfect reference work" Nelson's Perpetual Loose-Leaf Encyclopaedia

From Popular Mechanics from 1910 comes this advertisement for Nelson's Perpetual Loose-Leaf Encyclopaedia.

nelsonlooseleaf-sm.jpg
Reviewed by the New York Times in 1908, the set was supposed to be

"A book that never grows old, that is, never antiquated, that will give answer years after its publication to the most modern of queries -- such a book, one imagines, may be found in the great classic of poetry whose verse, metaphorically speaking, breathes the spirit of perpetual youth." Nelson's claimed it had a permanent editorial staff who were "constantly on watch for all important new facts for the benefit of Nelson's subscribers"
It was advertised heavily in many types of publications (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Loose leaf was big business in the early part of the 20th Century. Companies were offering "a loose-leaf system for every purpose." One loose-leaf company began in New York City in 1908 and still makes at-a-glance calendars to this day. Other loose-leaf titles flourished such as Nelson new loose-leaf medicine, Winston's cumulative loose-leaf encyclopedia (read online) and Oxford loose-leaf surgery (read online) Nelson's was still going strong in 1930 where a set cost $99.50 plus $6/year for updates -- buy a set, get a free bookcase -- Nelson's stopped publishing updates sometime in the 1930s. Thomas Nelson & Sons is still around today, the world's largest Christian publisher, but their company history curiously makes no mention of their innovative encyclopaedia. See also: "A Solution to the Problem of Updating Encyclopedias" by Eric M. Hammer and Edward N. Zalta, 1997.