OCLC Research  

Above the Fold

A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

March 12, 2010
Vol. 3, No. 10
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:


Making Sense of Mountains of Data  (External site)

Technology Review   •  February 25, 2010

Teasing knowledge from the big picture. Pivot is an amazing new tool from Microsoft that helps organize collections of data using tiny thumbnail representations clustered according to various user-set criteria. Users can zoom in on an icon to view an image close up or zoom out to see patterns in data. Read the article and then check out Pivot inventor Gary Flake's brief presentation on TED.

I think the video makes a better case for what Pivot does than the article. The article leaves the impression that Pivot is a tool for manipulating image data. The video makes it clear that Pivot is a tool that analyzes collections of data and exposes the facets common to that data—a technique showing up in more and more of our search tools. In the video, Gary Flake describes a new way (to him) of examining the Web that is neither search nor browsing—instead, it is following facets of collections and then clicking on data values in records to create new collections with facets of their own. The displays that Pivot generates take great advantage of any images associated with the data, making for both an interesting look and probably leveraging our innate image processing skills. ( LeVan)


Deluge of Scientific Data Needs to Be Curated for Long-Term Use  (External site)

Physorg.com   •  February 24, 2010

Flood control. The key to preserving scientific research for future reference is intelligently managing the digital data underlying the studies, says University of Illinois information science professor Carole L. Palmer: "Data curation needs to be introduced at the proposal stage to make sure a viable data-management plan is in place at the outset of a project." This work is too important to be left to corporate entities like Google—Palmer advocates leveraging the data curation and management expertise found at our research libraries. [See also NARA Addresses Cloud Record Keeping for an overview of the challenges to data curation raised by cloud computing.]

This brief interview with Carole Palmer of the University of Illinois captures the rationale for the library's role in data curation. Born-digital data sets have their own special attributes that make management and preservation problematic. She articulates the need to design data curation around the life cycle of the data, beginning with experimental design. Carole is an eloquent advocate for the role of librarians in solving these problems, and a leader in the development of the new professional capacities necessary to help assure that society's investment in science is sustained. ( Weibel)


Ebooks What Ebooks?  (External site)

The Auricle   •  February 21, 2010

When is an ebook not an ebook? When it's not downloaded to a portable e-reader device, says author Derek Morrison, who notes that some recent ebook usage studies have based their conclusions on ebooks that are accessible only on a laptop or PC screen for a limited time period. Read on for a discussion of tethered vs. untethered models and what this may mean as we ease into the e-reader era. [See also Highlighting E-Readers for a discussion on using the Kindle for academic research.]

A thoughtful article on tethered (i.e., each page accessed separately) or untethered (whole books downloaded at once) with an aside comparing monochrome E-ink screens with full color devices. Good arguments about the dangers of depending on content that demands continuous connection. I find iPhone-sized screens a bit small for reading on, but Morrison prefers them to larger format screens, citing their added convenience and comfortably small amount of text to absorb at one time. ( Hickey)


8 Significant Developments in Social Media You Should Watch  (External site)

WebWorkerDaily   •  February 24, 2010

Trend alert. Scan this short list of social media predictions for the coming year and think about how some of them might affect your communication strategies (hint: if you haven't launched a MySpace page yet, it's probably not worth the effort now).

These eight predictions fell into three basic categories for me: 1) So what? (e.g., "MySpace: CEO Leaves; MySpace will die."); 2) Move on it now (e.g., "Mobile. Be there."); and 3) Keep an eye on it (e.g., "Augmented reality: Sounds sci-fi, but it's really here."), with the majority of them sadly falling into the "so what?" camp. I mean, who really cares if people waste time on Google Buzz or waste real money on virtual goods? Didn't P.T. Barnum have something to say about this? Luckily, this brief piece takes little time to scan and perhaps even less to consider implications for libraries. On the other hand, you should know what your users are doing and you could do worse than paying attention to what Cybergrrl has to say about it. ( Tennant)


Photos of the Future  (External site)

The Independent   •  February 24, 2010

Frankencamera? Computational photography records data about a scene and then allows the photographer to manipulate the image. According to Stanford computer scientist Marc Levoy, "Computational photography will change how we do photography. It should allow you to fix things that you can't currently—whether by combining pictures in a different way, or by fiddling with optics so that more is recorded than on a normal camera; basically to do what photoshop can do, but the moment you take the photograph."

This article mentions a number of ways that computational photography could become a new visual medium, and I'll be interested to see which ones pan out. I have enjoyed the 3-D photograph collections available by Pangea Software on the iPhone. New technologies are best when they give us brand new vistas to explore, and not just replicate what we have. ( Smith-Yoshimura)


News and Views

More news ››



  • RLG Partnership European Meeting, Moving the Past into the Future: Special Collections in a Digital Age
      22-23 April 2010 in Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 2010 RLG Partnership Annual Meeting and Symposium
      9-11 June 2010 in Chicago, Illinois USA












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