March 29th, 2013 Brian Herzog
Just a few unrelated bits and bobs:
- The big news from yesterday is that Amazon bought Goodreads. This seems like a major development for the reading and library world, and Tim Spalding of LibraryThing.com has a good summary of where that leaves the reading social networking sites. The comments are also good, and this is definitely something to keep an eye on.
- I was at a meeting last week when someone mentioned https://www.facebook.com/thebig6ebooks - a Facebook page devoted to highlighting that "Six major publishers are making it difficult, if not impossible, for libraries to purchase eBooks." It lists bestsellers, and indicated whether or not they're available to libraries - and why. Neat. Thanks Deb.
- A helpful skill for librarians is being able to tell accurate information/resources from junk. Boing Boing recently pointed to some tips on how to tell if a photo has been faked. Good stuff, especially the tip on using Google Image Search as a reverse image search (click the little camera by the blue search button). Its like Tineye, but Google, so probably more powerful.
- And finally, in the same "how to look smart" category, my coworker Sharon sent me a link explaining what different browser errors and codes mean. This will be very basic for some people, but will pull back the curtain for many others and show that the internet isn't run by magic, and error codes are knowable and logical. And often, even helpful.
And now back to your regularly-scheduled Friday.
September 13th, 2011 Brian Herzog
Here's a list of things I've been meaning to include in a post somehow, but haven't been able to work in. I'm leaving for a week's vacation tomorrow, so I thought this list of links will keep people going in the meantime (because I know everyone's lives revolve around my website):
- Article in the Wall Street Journal on Amazon's new ebook lending library (and don't forget, the Overdrive/Kindle deal is supposed to be announced soon, too)
- For those keeping track, here's a New York Times article about the future plans for Delicious (via). It sounds like dramatic changes are coming, for the interesting:
[T]he new Delicious aims to be more of a destination, a place where users can go to see the most recent links shared around topical events, like the Texas wildfires or the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as the gadget reviews and tech tips.
- An Xtranormal video on why library catalogs are unhelpful by design, from the patron's point of view. My favorite line is the patron responding to the catalog asking her to make decisions based on the information in the catalog:
Patron: [W]ith the information you are giving me, the answers are, "I don't care."
- For the latest GOOMHR moment, an xckd comic illustrating something that continues to baffle and frustrate me
- Here are two instances of tiny libraries: one in a British phone box in Clinton, NY (via), and the Little Free Library project:
- Last but not least, the Copyright Clearance Center's mini-movie "Copyright Basics". In the movie, Jim the Librarian explains to a colleague the ins and outs of content use
- Update: Oh, I forgot this one. A website called CommonPlace approached us (and other community organizations in town) about starting a CommonPlace Chelmsford community. Started by a Harvard student, and launched in Falls Church, VA, it seems like a Facebook/Craigslist hybrid, but for locals only - interesting, but gasp, one more thing to update
April 7th, 2009 Brian Herzog
The Mass.gov website has a lot of great information, and being a librarian in Massachusetts, I use it all the time. However, one thing it does very poorly is URLs.
The powers that be at Mass.gov recently launched a new section of the website, devoted to the Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment Plan for the state's economy. What's the URL, you ask? This:
A recent promotional email introduced the site's resources, and listed the URL. My first thought was, wow, that pretty much guarantees it won't get used. Perhaps it's the Marketing degree in me, but if something doesn't have a catch name, or at least a moderately decipherable one, it automatically has less chance of succeeding.
I'm sure whatever CMS software the state uses is to blame for the ugly URLs, but they certainly have the power to do better. To wit: about a week later, a second email went out saying the new URL for the website was Mass.gov/recovery - perfect.
I use redirects on the library's website, and am glad that the state is too (and I'm sure it took more than my complaint email to do it).
But in addition to local redirects, URL shortening services like tinyURL.com, icanhaz.com and others can also help. Their popularity seems to have shot up with Twitter, but I use them in email instead of having monstrous URLs wrapping to multiple lines and thus not working. There are drawbacks to these services, but now that custom URLs are possible, I feel a little more comfortable using them with patrons.
It'd be great if all domains offered these short URL redirect services, and were limited just to that domain. That way, anyone could turn one of the standard Mass.gov long URL into a nice and clean Mass.gov-based useful URL, while at the same time not redirect a Mass.gov short URL to a porn site. I checked around and didn't see such software, but I'm going to keep looking.
Tags: domain, domains, icanhaz, libraries, Library, link, links, mass, mass.gov, public, short, shorteners, shortening, tinyurl, url, url shortener, urls