library: an unquiet history

I’ve just started reading Matthew Battles’ book “Library: an Unquiet History.” I’ll be leading a lunch discussion of the book and the vision session interview with the author at the NASIG 2004.

I’ve just started reading Matthew Battles’ book Library: an Unquiet History. I’ll be leading a lunch discussion of the book and the vision session interview with the author at NASIG 2004. Jessamyn recommended this book in January, and it’s been on my wish-list ever since. However, I haven’t been buying new books until I read the ones I already own. I made an exception for this one, since I was kindly asked by my friend and NASIG Program Planning Committee co-chair to volunteer to lead the lunch connection discussion. I’m curious to read what he has to say about serials and electronic resources. At least, I assume he has something to say about them. Otherwise, it would seem rather odd that one of the main conference sessions is devoted to a conversation with him.

overloading the ‘net

Will RSS feeds overload the ‘net?

Wired News has a short article about RSS feed readers and the potential they have for increasing web traffic. I knew about this article because it was listed in the RSS feed that I get from Wired. Go figure. Anyway, the author and others are concerned that because aggregators are becoming more and more popular among those who like to read regularly published electronic content, eventually a large chunk of web traffic will consists of desktop aggregators regularly downloading that data throughout the day.

The trouble is, aggregators are greedy. They constantly check websites that use RSS, always searching for new content. Whereas a human reader may scan headlines on The New York Times website once a day, aggregators check the site hourly or even more frequently.

If all RSS fans used a central server to gather their feeds (such as Bloglines or Shrook), then there wouldn’t be as much traffic, because these services check feeds once per hour at most, regardless of the number of subscribers. So, if you have 100 people subscribed to your feed, rather than getting 100 hits every hour (or some other frequency), you would only get one. The article notes two difficulties with this scenario. First, a lot of RSS fans prefer their desktop aggregators to a web-based aggregator such as Bloglines. Second, the Shrook aggregator is not free, and probably that will be the model that its competitors will take.

I don’t completely agree with the premise that having a central server distributing content to feed subscribers will reduce the flow of traffic on the ‘net anymore than it currently is. Whether my aggregator checks my feeds once an hour or whether Bloglines does it for me, I still use up bandwidth when I log in and read the content on the Bloglines site. For some feeds, if I want to read the whole entry or article, I still have to click to the site. Frankly, I think the problem has more to do with aggregators that “are not complying with specifications that reduce how often large files are requested.”

Readers are supposed to check if the RSS file has been updated since the last visit. If there has been no update, the website returns a very small “no” message to the reader.

But Murphy says the programs often don’t remember when they last checked, or use the local computer’s clock instead of the website’s clock, causing the reader to download entries over and over.

Perhaps the best thing for us to do is to educate ourselves about which RSS aggregator we use and how it may affect the bandwidth of the feeds we download through it.

linux for non-geeks

A new book published by No Starch Press.

Linux for Non-Geeks: A Hands-On, Project-Based, Take-It-Slow, and Have-Some-Fun Guidebook by Rickford Grant I received an email today from O’Reilly & Assoc. about this book. I’m on their mailing list for book announcements because I want to keep up with what’s new for computer geeks, since I’m the library liaison to the Computer Science department. This title caught my eye. I’m a bit of a computer geek, but I’m not very good at tinkering with programs or the OS, so my laptop has most of the out of the box configuration for the Corel distribution. Unfortunately, that distribution is no longer supported, and as a result, my kernel is very old (in terms of the age of Linux), and I can’t install most new programs developed for Linux. I’ve been toying with downloading some other distribution, but I haven’t found one yet that is non-geek friendly. If this book was written by the author for his mother, then I think it might be useful for me to at least get my feet wet. Maybe someday when my computer geekiness becomes so great that I dream in UNIX code I’ll look back at this entry and chuckle….

republicanism shown to be genetic in origin

This was forwarded to me by email. I have not been able to locate the source. If you know the source, please leave that information in the comments.

UPDATE 3/15/04: I have deleted comments attached to this entry, as well as turning off that option for this entry. The comments had quickly become personal attacks against me and others who had commented. It was clearly apparent from those commenting that they didn’t grasp the satirical nature of this piece. For those who are still scratching their heads, try replacing “Republican” with “homosexual” and the characteristics, etc.

This was forwarded to me by email. I have not been able to locate the source. If you know the source, please leave that information in the comments.

Scientists in the current issue of the journal NURTURE announced the discovery that affiliation with the Republican Party is genetically determined. This caused uproar among traditionalists who believe it is a chosen lifestyle. Reports of the gene coding for political conservatism, discovered after a decades-long study of quintuplets in Orange County, CA, has sent shock waves through the medical, political, and golfing communities.

Continue reading “republicanism shown to be genetic in origin”

lesbian icons

Lesbian icons – should they be replaced?

After my girlfriend saw the “you are a librarian!” page, she decided we needed to make something like that for lesbians, which we are currently working on. In doing a bit of online research for some stereotypical lesbian stuff that would make for rather humorous combinations, I ran across this essay on lesbian icons. The author asserts that it is time for the big four to be replaced and gives a few suggestions for their replacements. I thought the whole essay was hilarious – particularly the nail clipping reference.

“Sure, sometimes the lesbian stereotypes are true. I, for one, am a lesbian poster child, what with the short hair, the tattoos, and a penchant for sensible shoes. I am not, however, a huge Melissa Etheridge fan.”

political librarians

A great deal of today’s entry comes from the recent issue of Library Juice. I am posting here the links that I found most interesting and have some relevance to non-librarians. Hey, there’s a federal agent in my book! Jessamyn West, the author of the fabulous librarian.net weblog, has written an informative article for the … Continue reading “political librarians”

A great deal of today’s entry comes from the recent issue of Library Juice. I am posting here the links that I found most interesting and have some relevance to non-librarians.

Hey, there’s a federal agent in my book! Jessamyn West, the author of the fabulous librarian.net weblog, has written an informative article for the average American on the Patriot Act.

Before Gulf War II started, there was an online petition to prevent the war from starting created by Librarians for Peace. Now they have created a petition calling for a halt to the war. Feel free to sign it if you are a librarian and feel so lead.

I believe global peace starts with children growing up in safe environments and not being taught to hate the “other”. Here is a list of children’s books that are anti-war put out by Weapons of Mass Instruction.

Shellac, the Sound of the Future. I missed this on Tuesday. Bummer.

I have been amused by Andrei Codrescu’s commentaries on NPR for many years. His essay on libraries and book jackets is yet another ironic piece of refined humor. Oh, and if you’re wondering, we take them off because they are easily damaged and look quite ugly after a short period of time.

Also from Tuesday: The Capitol Steps 2003 “Politics Takes a Holiday” radio show was great fun to hear. If you missed it (or missed part of it, like I did), you can download and listen to it on your RealAudio player.

emily the author

My sister has been published! She says, “It’s kinda sucky…but I’m published and that is all that matters.” Here’s a tattoo for anarchist librarians who want to express themselves through body modifications. Some prankster with bad taste has stolen the Baby Jesus and Mary figures from a nativity scene at a church in downtown Richmond … Continue reading “emily the author”

My sister has been published! She says, “It’s kinda sucky…but I’m published and that is all that matters.”

Here’s a tattoo for anarchist librarians who want to express themselves through body modifications.

Some prankster with bad taste has stolen the Baby Jesus and Mary figures from a nativity scene at a church in downtown Richmond (where I live). One of my collegues is quite upset about the loss of the Mary figure because it is the same mannequin they have been using since the fifties.

A lesbian couple has been named “cutest couple” at Crete-Monee High School in a Chicago suburb. I think it’s cool, except that I feel a little sorry for the girls having to deal with the controversy over it as well as coming out to their parents at the same time.