In this issue:
THE Journal • March 25, 2010
Common ground. School libraries are feeling the squeeze, and some districts are fighting back by turning libraries into Learning Commons, complete with Barnes & Noble-type atmosphere, and transforming "social networking" into "educational networking" activities. The vision mirrors public libraries' evolution into community gathering places.
The directions outlined here will be familiar to ATF readers. The Learning Commons evolution has been happening for quite awhile. It was nice to see the recognition that school libraries even more than most are in the "customer relation business" and that "You can drop some of the things you think are more traditional—you don't have to do inventory every year, you don't have to make sure books are straight," she said. "That's not impactful." ( Michalko)
Inside/Out (MoMA) • March 22, 2010
History lesson. The "@" is ubiquitous in today's digital environment, but did you ever wonder about its origins? Read on for a quick history of where the symbol came from, how it was selected for use in e-mail addresses and how it's viewed in other countries.
I enjoyed this a lot. Other notices of this move on the part of MOMA focused on the slightly wacky (to me) notion that you can add to a "collection" without taking possession. But this is a fun history that reminded me of a discussion we had some time ago about the name of this symbol—#. Is it the pound sign, the hash mark, the number sign or the octothorpe? That last has a rich and uncertain history. Some links led me to this old news group exchange between telephone engineers now archived by MIT. It's worth a look to see the early (ca. 1988) e-mail strings with some of the engineers involved in the supposed naming weighing in. ( Michalko)
Science students more likely to use Wikipedia
Daily Princetonian • March 23, 2010
Surprise results. A recent Princeton survey revealed that about 80% of students majoring in architecture, engineering and science have used Wikipedia as a background research resource, with about half describing themselves as frequent users. Although researchers had not expected that science majors would be more inclined to consult Wikipedia than humanities majors, the real surprise was an inverse correlation between Wikipedia usage and library usage. One hypothesis—humanities majors have more exposure to alternative sources such as books and texts, whereas science majors are "less exposed to different research tools" and more likely to turn straight to technology.
Wikipedia is everybody's ready reference tool. Only surprise is that it was higher profile for science students. Alternate explanation: they don't have any residual shame that they use it and admit it more readily than humanities majors. ( Michalko)
The Guardian • March 29, 2010
Decaf please. Retired IBM exec Jean-Paul Nerriere coined the term "Globish" to refer to world's de facto lingua franca, describing it as "decaffeinated English"—a stripped-down version, sans grammar or structure, that serves as a common denominator between two speakers who otherwise do not share a language. Author Robert McCrum says Globish "begins to identify the viral nature of this lingua franca, the qualities of the English language that make it so contagious, adaptable, populist and even subversive. It describes a process that echoes contemporary experience: a socio-cultural dynamic that is bottom-up, not top-down."
I think this is true. We see it every day here in Silicon Valley when the lunch shops are filled with Russian, Korean, Indian and Chinese engineers using globish and technical jargon to chat. I wonder whether the coinage will prosper? ( Michalko)
Why I Won't Buy an iPad (and Think You Shouldn't, Either)
Boing Boing • April 2, 2010
Deflating the hype. Cory Doctorow gripes that Apple doesn't play well with others—so he's taking his Kindle and going home. Ranting aside, Doctorow makes some good points about Apple's walled-garden strategy and the future of e-content and publishing. [See also The Scholarly iPad—First Impression, Relevance for Publishers for an alternate view.]
You have to love a good rant. This is a good rant. And not too long. He invokes part of the Owner Manifesto—"If you can't open it, you don't own it."—and references a good post by Dale Dougherty, the godfather of Maker Magazine and the man who named web 2.0, about the need for innovative app development tools for the iPad. Dale was the keynote speaker at the 2008 RLG Partnership Annual Meeting. ( Michalko)