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When it comes to the gathering, coalescing, and analysis of data, most places can't compete with the United States CIA. I think a lot of library types would like to know some of their secrets, at least when it comes to data and information processing.
Well, now you can.
The CIA recently released a book titled Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. Obviously, the book is aimed more towards people working for or with the CIA, but there's some interesting bits in their for the information science nerd too. The book is available online in its full text glory if you've got the interest.
Google Maps and Google Earth brought the world to our fingertips. Then, with varying degrees of success, they did the same thing with the sky, the street, and Mars. Now, Google calls together a team of oceanographers with a plan to map the ocean floor.
Google's current plans are to provide a framework and basic map of the ocean floor and, like Google Earth, provide the ability to add things to it. Ideas for additional data include shipwrecks, coral reefs, and currents.
Peter Morville put together this neat sandbox for collecting search examples, patterns, and anti-patterns. He's looking for folks to add tags, notes, and comments, and suggest new examples. Over time, he hopes to add patterns that illustrate user behavior and the information architecture of search. He's blogging about search patterns at www.findability.org.
(Link stolen from the NGC4LIB list)
Aaron Schmidt has used quite a few library OPACs. He's also used and sought out the best of the open web. You’ve probably done the same and like him, you’ve probably been dismayed at the disparity between the two worlds. The open web can be fun and inspiring. Would you say the same of our OPACs? He's thought about what OPACs should be like in bits and pieces and decided to assemble them here.
Besides all of the small, simple usability enhancements OPACs need (listed way below) a big concern about library websites and OPACs is the distracting transition between the two. You know the routine. Ubiquitous “Click here to search the catalog” links take users from one place to another and create a disjointed experience.
One way to provide a seamless experience is to put some OPAC functions into the website, letting people accomplish OPAC tasks without having to leave the library website. In Aaron's dream OPAC this go-between is essentially an ecommerce shopping basket but called a backpack or bookshelf in this instance. Just like on amazon.com, when logged in, a patron’s library backpack appears on every library webpage, whether it be the homepage, a book list, or the results list of a search. Any item cover on the website can be dragged and dropped into users’ backpack/bookshelf.
BookLamp offers an interesting and (ahem) novel idea when it comes to finding books.
Those familiar with Pandora know that it works by analyzing a musician or song that you like and making choices for new songs based on the artist, style, beat, and other musical elements. BookLamp seeks to do that, but with books. Through the analysis of things like writing style, word use, and the like, BookLamp tries to make recommendations for further based on similarities between the book you selected and other books within its database.
A video on their site explains everything in greater detail.
They've only got a few items in the database, but they're looking to grow... and hopefully have their idea purchased by Google.
Article in the New York Times:
It was nearly hidden on a New York City Transit public service placard exhorting subway riders not to leave their newspaper behind when they get off the train.
“Please put it in a trash can,” riders are reminded. After which Neil Neches, an erudite writer in the transit agency’s marketing and service information department, inserted a semicolon. The rest of the sentence reads, “that’s good news for everyone.”
Semicolon sightings in the city are unusual, period, much less in exhortations drafted by committees of civil servants. In literature and journalism, not to mention in advertising, the semicolon has been largely jettisoned as a pretentious anachronism.
HOW often have you wasted time searching through page after page of e-mail messages, Web sites, notes, news feeds and YouTube videos on your computer, trying to find an important item?
If the answer is “too often,” a San Francisco company, Radar Networks, is testing a free, Web-based application, called Twine, that may provide some robotic secretarial help in organizing and retrieving documents.
Twine (twine.com) can scan almost any electronic document for the names of people, places, businesses and many other entities that its algorithms recognize.
Then it does something unusual: it automatically tags or marks all of these items in orange and transfers them to an index on the right side of the screen. This index grows with every document you view, as the program adds subjects that it can recognize or infer from their context.
madcow writes ""Twelve years after the debut of search engines, we have Google representing the current best-of-breed index of web pages. It is faster, smarter, and it has raised the bar for web usability several times over. And yet, we are still paging through search results ten or twenty records at a time. Unfortunately, this style of navigation has been adopted by every site that returns records from a database, regardless of the amount of data being served."
More here from Unspace."
Eight steps to thriving on information overload: "There is no quick fix; enhancing our skills requires effort and is an ongoing process. Implementing the following principles can make a real difference to your effectiveness in dealing with the new reality of information overload..."
1. Set information objectives.
4. Filter aggressively.
8. Sleep on it!
An interesting story over at the O'Reilly Radar gives insight into the structure of text, specifically the structure of law versus something that, at first, seems completely different: computer programming.
By visually representing texts from Project Gutenberg, the Windows kernel, and the US Code, patterns emerge. The somewhat surprising result? Law is far more structured and patterned than computer code.