reviews on blogcritics – june 2008

I’ve decided that one way I can keep this blog from being just a “look at my latest review/article on Blogcritics” blog would be to do monthly summaries rather than individual posts right after each article is published. Here’s the first installment.

Ladytron – Velocifero

The second track is the album’s lead single, “Ghost,” and it’s easy to hear why that was chosen. The song’s pulsating beat and repetitive chorus are addictive and likely to be club favorites. “I’m Not Scared” follows with a relentless grind and power rock chords that touches the musical soul and compels the listener to crank up the volume a little bit more. With the attitude and energy level of the album set within the first few tracks, the band takes a moment to give the listener a breather before launching back in with the electronic wave assault prevalent in most of the rest of the tracks.

Rosemary & Thyme – The Complete Series

An aspect of the show that I find very appealing is the relationship between Laura and Rosemary. Early on in the series, they addressed the social perception that the only reason why two grown women could care about each other is because they are romantically linked (“Arabica and the Early Spider”). With that bigoted and misguided stereotype thrown out the window, Ferris and Kendal set out to develop their character’s friendship to be something deeper and stronger than what is usually shown on an episodic dramedy television series. The interplay between the two went from merely comedic to the kind of inside joke humor that happens only between very close friends.

Jaymay – Autumn Fallin’

It’s difficult to peg this album into any particular genre. There are elements of folk, pop, and even touches of the wall-of-sound aspects of electronica, although no processors are used in the creation of the music. And, just when you think you’ve got a label, with gusto she throws in the ragtime-style song “Hard to Say.”

That’s all for now! As you can tell from my sidebar, I have a few items that I’ll be working on this next month, although one is for a print publication due out later this year or early next year.

switching teams

No, not that team!

This evening, I placed an order through the Apple Education Store for a brand-new 20-inch 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with iWork ’08 preinstalled. I have been eying this thing for months as a replacement for my Compaq Presario R3000 laptop. The old girl is still chugging along, but her memory is failing and she can’t keep up with all the apps I need to run at the same time.

I decided to go for a desktop since that’s really what I need at home now. The Presario worked okay as both my desktop and portable laptop, but it’s heavy, and the keyboard isn’t comfortable for long-term use. A Macbook would be lighter, but the keyboard thing would still be an issue. And, since I have a laptop at work, I won’t need to have something to cover the portability thing. In any case, I mainly needed it for work-related things such as taking notes at conferences and staying connected to work while on the road.

I waffled for a while between getting a Windows machine or getting a Mac, but in the end I decided that I’d get more bang for my buck with a Mac. I’m sure there will be a few applications I’ll miss from my PC, but from what I understand, there are more and more equivalent or better applications to do the same thing on a Mac, plus there’s the whole Parallels thing if I want to bother with it.

I’m not going to get rid of the ol’ Presario anytime soon, either. I’m pretty sure it will take me a while to transfer all my important files, and I may just turn her into my dedicated music server, depending on whether or not my external hard drive containing all my tunes will work with the iMac or not.

#15

Two nights ago I really wanted to read a book before bed, but it was late, and I knew that I would end up reading until all hours of the morning and regret it the next day. So, I scoured the mass market Mt. TBR and found a thin book, which also happened to be a collection of short stories. Yay!

Last night I finished reading Isaac Asimov’s Nine Tomorrows, and as can be expected, it was an engaging read, with each short story providing a different insight into how (in some cases, minor and insignificant) actions and events of now might evolve into the future. Some of the characters in the stories were charged with solving mysteries, but mostly it was left to the reader to figure out what was going on and how humanity got to that point.

The book is a product of its time. The copyright is 1959, and the stories themselves were originally published in magazines in that decade. Understandably, the Cold War and nuclear research play roles in several of the stories. Asimov also explores his (apparent) favorite social science theme of societies where the actions of individuals or the whole can be predicted through mathematical theory.

If you are looking for some bite-sized Asimov, I recommend picking up a copy of this book, if you can find one.

prince caspian

I saw the new Prince Caspian film last week, and thanks to a timely warning from my sister, I did not read the book beforehand. I recommend that anyone who hasn’t seen it yet do the same. The film adaptation is great fun and stays true to the message of the book, but it isn’t the same as the book. Personally, I think the changes they made with for the film make it a more interesting film than if they had simply taken the accounts of the book and put that on the screen.

Afterwards, I re-read the book for the first time in ages. It has been my second favorite of the Narnia books, tied with A Horse and His Boy and beat out by Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Reading it now, as an adult, I am not as entertained by the book as I once was.

geekgasm

Last week I was in Phoenix for the NASIG conference, which was awesome, but equally awesome was getting to hang out at the DracoVista Studios for a recording of the Babylon Podcast. You can hear me make a few comments in some upcoming episodes.

Getting to meet one of the hosts, Summer Brooks, was a highlight of my trip. Here is a rare photo of Summer, which I think the drooling fanboys will be excited to see:

Summer Brooks

NASIG 2008: Using Institutional and Library Identifiers to Ensure Access to Electronic Resources

Presenters: Helen Henderson, Don Hamparian, and John Shaw

One of the perpetual problems with online access to journals is that often, something breaks down on the supply chain, and the library discovers that access has disappeared. The presenters seek to offer ideas for preventing this from happening.

Henderson showed a list of 15 transactions that take place in acquiring and maintaining a subscription to a single title. There are plenty of places for a breakdown. Name changes, agent changes, publisher changes, hosting platform changes, price changes, bundle changes, licensing changes, authentication changes, etc.

OCLC’s WorldCat Registry maintains institutional information for libraries, which is populated and augmented by libraries and partners. Libraries can use it to register their OpenURL resolvers, IP addresses, and to share the profile with selected organizations. OCLC uses it to configure WorldCat Local, among other things. Vendors use it as an OpenURL gateway service and to verify customer data.

Ringgold’s Identify database and services normalizes institutional information for publishers. It includes consortia membership information and the Anglicized name, as well as many of the data elements in OCLC’s registry. Rather than OCLC symbol, they have an identifying number for each institution.

Potential interactions between the two identifiers includes a maping between them. The two directories do not have as much overlapping information as you might think.

Standards and identifiers are becoming even more important to the supply chain with the transition to electronic publication. Publishers need clean records in order to provide holdings lists to libraries and OpenURL resolvers, among other things. Publishers use services like WorldCat Registry and Identify to improve their data, service, and cost-savings that gets passed on to subscribers.

ICEDIS is a standard for the exchange of data between publishers and agents. It is old and has been implemented differently. They are hoping to develop an XML version by 2010, which will include the institutional identifier. ONIX is working on developing automatic holdings reports that will be fed into ERMS.

Project TRANSFER will create a way to exchange subscription information using a unique identifier. KBART is another initiative looking at a portion of the solution. I² (part of NISO) is looking at standardizing metadata using identifiers, beyond just for library resources. CORE is a project in the vendor community working on communicating between the ILS and the ERMS.

Standards will help ease the pain of price agreement between publishers and agents, customer identification, consortia membership and entitlements, and many of the other things that cause the supply chain to break down.

Libraries should include their identifier numbers in orders. The subscription agents are too overwhelmed to implement the kind of change that would require them to look up and add this to every record. Ringgold & OCLC are in communication with NISO to create a standard that is not proprietary.

NASIG 2008: Managing Divergence of Print and Online Journals

Presenters: Beth Weston and Deena Acton

The National Library of Medicine spent 2007 examined the impact of content differences between print and online journals on library operations and services. They then followed up on this in 2008. In evaluating the situation, the NLM team working on this project were tasked with locating the differences between print and online, noting them, and then determining their impact.

One thing that is worth noting here is that the NLM is an archival library, by which I mean they consider it a part of their mission to retain copies of everything they collect. And, their ILL service to other libraries is considered an essential function.

Because NLM is responsible for indexing content for MEDLINE, they were able to locate the differences through the indexing workflow. They have noticed that there is anecdotal evidence of an increase in online-only content. Aside from the indexing, which will be decreasing over time, differences between print and online are discovered by patrons and reference librarians, as well as interlibrary loan staff.

The working group recommends that publishers take responsibility for identifying the version of record, and develop and implement a standard for communicating that version to subscribers. However, that’s only a start. Libraries will then need to determine how they will note that in their records, as well as workflows for following up on it.

The set that the working group looked at included 149 titles from 58 publishers, in both print and online formats, but which had additional online-only content. Data was collected for a specific set of these journals on: number of complete articles in each edition, editorials, commentary/letters, book/media reviews, advertisements, announcements/calendar items, and continuing education materials. Notifications about new issues, author correspondence information, and other extraneous content that is format-specific was not considered.

Approximately 13% of the articles were online-only, and 18% of the articles contained article-level online-only supplementary materials. Based on the one year sampling, they estimate that 12,739 articles from these 149 titles could be online-only.

One reason why there may be an increase in the divergence is due to the volume of content publishers want to provide versus the cost of printing all of it. It is likely that as the cost of publishing ejournals decreases in relation to the cost of print publishing, we will see more of this divergence.

[Side note: I really wish we would move away from the “presenting the data from my study” sessions to “here’s how I applied the data from my study” sessions.]

NASIG 2008: When Did eBooks Become Serials?

Presenters: Kim Armstrong, Bob Nardini, Peter McCracken, and Rick Lugg

Because this is a serials conference, Lugg provided us with a title change and enumeration to differentiate this presentation from the repeat in the afternoon. Serialists (& librarians in general) love corny inside jokes.

eBook users want to use the work; to browse, to search, and to have the institution subscribe to it for them. Much of this is due to the success and model of ejournals.

eJournals have brought about many changes in information provision. More content is now available to users, and they are increasingly using it more. However, archive and access issues have not been fully addressed, nor have possible solutions thoroughly tested. In addition, ejournals (and other subscription items) have taken over more and more of the materials budget, which has necessitated greater selection. And, in many ways, ejournals are more labor-intensive than print.

Subscription has become one of the most successful models for ebook providers. There are some emerging models in addition to subscription or purchase. EBL, for example, offers short-term rental options.

There are many more titles and decisions involved in purchasing ebooks as opposed to journals. The content isn’t as well advertised through abstracting and indexing sources, since it’s one large thing rather than millions of little things aggregated together under one title.

Acquisition of ebooks provides its own unique challenges, ranging from the variety of sources to the mechanisms of selection. Is the content static or dynamic? One-time purchases or ongoing commitments? What libraries say verses what they do — we say we can’t buy more subscriptions, yet we continue to do so.


Library/Consortial View

Librarians have been trying to figure out what to do with ebooks, whether to purchase them, and how we should go about doing so for at least ten years.

The Committee on Institutional Cooperation coordinated a deal with Springer and MyiLibrary to purchase Springer’s entire ebook collection from 2005-2010. Access went live in January 2008, and over the first five months of 2008, ebook use on the Springer platform was nearly half that of the ejournal use, even without catalog records or promoting it. On the other hand, the MyiLibrary use was a quarter or less, partially due to MyiLibrary’s lack of OpenURL support.

We need to make sure that we stay relevant to our users needs and not become just a place to store their archival literature.


eBookseller View

Back in the day, the hot topic in the monographic world was approval plans. Eventually they figured that out, and book acquisition became routine. Now we have serials-like problems for both booksellers and book buyers.

Approval plans had a seriality to them, but we haven’t come up with something similar for ebooks. Billing and inventory systems for booksellers are set up for individual book sales, not subscriptions.

The vendor/aggregator is challenged with incorporating content from a variety of publisher sources, each with their own unique quirks. Bibliographic control can take the route of treating ebooks like print books, but we’re in a time of change that may necessitate a different solution.

Maybe the panel should have been called, “When will ebooks and serials become one big database?”

eResource Access & Management View

The differences between ebooks and ejournals on the management side really isn’t all that different. The metadata, however, is exponentially larger when dealing with ebooks verses ejournals. The bibliographic standards (or those accepted) are higher for books than for journals.

How do we handle various editions? Do we go with the LibraryThing model of collecting all editions under one work record?

NASIG 2008: Information Shadows – Ubiquitous Computing Serializes Everyday Things

Presenter: Mike Kuniavsky

Thinks about how technology and people interact with each other, and how the technological side can be made more interesting or better for the user.

Ubiquitous computing was coined to describe computers that are woven into every day life to the extent that they are indistinguishable from it. The power of technology should not be limited to viewing the world through its limited frame.

When something is cheap, you can have more than one, and with specific and varied uses. This is also a way of thinking of computer and networking technology. When processors were expensive, they had to serve multiple uses. Now that processing power is cheap, we have a wide array of products with different functions which all use these inexpensive processors.

When machine read-able code is meshed with human interface devices such as mobile phones, we are able to deliver even more information than what can be put on the packaging. Metadata can be attached to anything!

When Amazon expanded ISBN to ASINs, it allowed anyone to point to the “handle” for any object sold by Amazon. We can now grab that handle and toss it around as we wish.

For Kuniavsky, a serial is an agreement between a consumer and a publisher who provides a particular type of information in the form of a soft-cover book that arrives regularly in the mail. The paper manifestation of the agreement is one way it is fulfilled, but it’s not the only way.

A time-share condo is like a journal. The form and usage period is fixed, and the occupants are variable. (In this case, it’s as though the time-share condo is subscribed to you.) You own the possibility of an object with some rights to it forever. A vacation club changes the dynamic to owning the right to request a class of things that changes in a way that is predictably different.

Until recently, the logistics of sharing objects has been complex, unless the people involved were highly motivated. Ubiquitous computing gives us the ability to track, trade, and share objects in a way we never could before. Bag Borrow or Steal is a designer bag sharing site. It’s sort of like Netflix for the fashion-obsessed purse fiends.

The trackable metadata of physical objects that allow them to be converted to subscriptions. Technology enables these relationships to be embedded and automated. We are shifting from the ownership of objects to access to them.

Technologists often leave out the information management aspects when talking about the wonders of technology. Librarians and information managers understand how to deal with the digital representations of physical objects. We need to think about how our can work apply to the serialization of everyday objects.

The world needs shadow wranglers.