Odyssey Online

Entries from January 2009

Obama’s Executive Orders on Information and Archives

January 26th, 2009 · Comments Off on Obama’s Executive Orders on Information and Archives

Two of President Obama’s first Exective Orders touched directly on access to Government Information.  On January 21st he issued new guidelines for access to materials in Presidential Archives, guidelines that would make it easier for materials to be archived (rather than held by a president…Mr. Bush on a number of occasions changed information policies citing his need for privacy).  Further, on the 21st he reversed the previous administrations policies on the Freedom of Information Act as part of his initative to make government more transparent.  Good background on Mr. Obama’s actions is availble from Crosscut.com, and the Detroit Free Press.

Tags: Uncategorized

Friday Blogging, Goverment Info!

January 23rd, 2009 · Comments Off on Friday Blogging, Goverment Info!

…with the new president in place, and with Whitehouse.gov redesigned on inaguration day, it’s a good moment (on a gloomy Friday) to think about finding Government Information! Three important quick hits:

Thinking good thoughts about the President and Presidency…

Tags: Research How-To

Analog Anon, on a Snowy Day

January 21st, 2009 · Comments Off on Analog Anon, on a Snowy Day

…in my web travels recently I washed over two articles that tugged at my analog heart.  Full disclosure, I love books and typewriters and am inclined to be swayed by arguments which exlaim the virtues of analog anything.  These articles however both do have something to say….“Ain’t Gonna Hang No Picture Frame” by Rob Horning is a well written short essay about the joy and evocative quality of phyisical photographs, what I used to call snap shots.  The title references a ulitilty that puts what looks like a picture frame around digital images, something horning calls “strange and sad.” Of physical photographs he writes, “…there is a sense that something delicate and ineffable has managed to survive, a small miracle amidst the rampant image destruction we experience in our disposable culture.”  Photo albums, shoe boxes full of unlabled and perhaps even slightly faded photos…

…also of note a piece in the Boston Globe titled “Cursive, Foiled Again” written by David Mehegan. It is a chronicle of the demise of cursive as a study for third graders, and for me this is regrettable.  Two reasons for cursive instruction:

  • Ability to understand what the English Poet Ted Hughes meant when he said “Handwriting is drawing.”
  • Self discipline, the eye mastering the hand.

Full disclosure, my own writing is illegible.  However, a student just handed me a form with positively beautiful cursive and the document is adorned. The document is the person (think about what Hughes said). Photographs and fountain pens on a snowy afternoon…

Tags: Licklider's Legacy · The Academic Internet

The New Adminstration’s Virtual Banner

January 20th, 2009 · Comments Off on The New Adminstration’s Virtual Banner

…by 12:30 p.m. today, roughly half an hour after Mr. Obama’s inaguration, the Obama team had swapped out the Bush administration design for Whitehouse.gov and replaced it with their own. Here is an image of the Bush adminstration template saved yesterday afternoon, and still in place around 11:30 this morning (last time I checked). By 12:30 today one finds…this page.  The web team apparently beat the motorcade down Pennsylvania Avenue…

Tags: Information Studies · Licklider's Legacy

Friday Blogging

January 16th, 2009 · Comments Off on Friday Blogging

…one of the great traditions of Friday afternoon blogging is…kicking someone when they’re down.  The relentlessness of the current recession can now be proved by the fact that Google is retrenching, AP has the story.  If it can happen to Google it can happen to…

Recently the SLU IT Department concluded another successful Techfest, a gathering of people from across the SLU community to discuss and explore applications of networked information technologies in the curriculum. It got me remembering this short piece by Phil Agre on “How to Help Someone Use a Computer.”  Dr. Agre has published a number of works on institutions and networked information technology, and for a long time ran an e-mail update service on said called The Red Rock Eater that was wonderful.  This little essay on helping someone with a computer is eloquent, and right on the money. Worth a read with the students returning Monday…

Tags: Google · Information Studies · The Academic Internet

ARTstor Update

January 15th, 2009 · Comments Off on ARTstor Update

In our bag of bibliographical tricks is ARTstor–not a typographical error but rather a database of images from major art collections around the world.  What ARTstor provides are high quality images that incorporate the world’s major genres and artists. There are 980,000 images currently searchable in the ARTstor database, and these images can be zoomed, panned, and displayed in a number of ways.  Amoung the major collections represented are:

  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Carnegie Arts of America
  • Cleveland Museum of Art
  • Dallas Museum of Art
  • Detroit Institute of Art
  • Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
  • George Eastman House
  • J Paul Getty Museum
  • Library of Congress
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art
  • Seattle Institute of Art
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Williams College Museum

Along with these collections there are dozens of more specialized collections of the visual arts, a sampling of these includes:

  • American Institute of Indian Studies
  • Warburg Institute: Renaissance and Baroque Illustration
  • Medieval Stained Glass
  • Connecticut College’s Asian Art Collection
  • Islamic Art Collections

There are also collections of the decorative arts, World War posters and postcards, and major collections of photography. There are utilities in ARTstor for saving images into spaces where they then can be made available to students as a collection, and can even be shared with folks associated with other colleges.  Using ARTstor used to be like, well, like trying to get around MOMA on a busy day, however the ARTstor staff has worked hard and done a lot to improve their user interface. This is a unique and especially useful database…

Tags: Research How-To · The Academic Internet

Reading as Digital Divide

January 13th, 2009 · Comments Off on Reading as Digital Divide

Christine Rosen has published an essay titled “People of the Screen” in the current issue of the New Atlantis, and it is well worth reading.  The essay makes the case for the book, and in some ways, makes the case in ways explored by writers such as Sven Birkerts and Neil Postman.  However, the essay also includes some very incisve writing about such things as Kindles, and, also Rosen makes some interesting observations about how the changes technologies like Kindles change reading. From this, she makes an intersting case about how digital divides are forming not along access to computers lines, but about how people read lines.  The essay speaks to the consequences of the question who is still reading novels? She’s thinking about the necessity of pleasure reading…lines that get one thinking about the differences between writing and word processing, between cursive and word processing, and the extent to which processing anything removes experience from the activity.  Off to microwave a frozen panini for lunch…

Tags: Books · Licklider's Legacy · The Academic Internet

Friday Afternoon Blogging

January 9th, 2009 · Comments Off on Friday Afternoon Blogging

…honoring Friday afternoon content-gathers who do things like chronicle the 500 most common passwords that people use. Who thinks of a need to do this stuff–although at a presentation today (see previous post) I also commented on a Firefox add-on that translate any web page you find into Esperanto.

Also, one of the ongoing interests in Odyssey Online is blogging and the relationship between blogging and journalism.  Whether you realize it or not, the New York Times and many major urban papers are facing troubled waters (and where facing them even before the current recession).  There are several plausible scenarios of the Times folding out there, and for something that seemed like such a major American Institution: that’s news.  Michael Hirschorn has written an interesting piece outlining how the NYT can survive and emerge as a viable business.  Not the cheeriest Friday afternoon reading, but an important topic for the American information ecosystem…

Tags: Information Studies · The Academic Internet

Firefox Add-Ons

January 8th, 2009 · Comments Off on Firefox Add-Ons

Friday January 9th (Tomorrow) Paul Doty of the SLU Libraries (and author of this blog) will be giving a presentation on Firefox add-ons for the Northern New York Library Network.  In the past Odyssey Online has touched on Firefox add-ons (or as they are sometimes called, extensions), which are small utilities Firefox users have created to further the functionality of the browsers. The notes for the presentation on the 9th are available online. Add-ons are on of the big reasons that Firefox is the better browser…although, interestingly, Google’s new browser Chrome is dipping a metallic toe into the add-on pond (wow, there’s a metaphor).  Add-on support and functionality are in the very preliminary stages for Chrome, but it is interesting to see that Google is thinking along these lines.  Firefox add-ons are simply put: very good things.

In a side note CNN is reporting that Microsoft may already be rethinking Vista

Tags: Google · SLU Library Event · The Academic Internet

Back in Business, In the News

January 7th, 2009 · Comments Off on Back in Business, In the News

Indeed, after a December hiatus that saw, well, the author grade a lot of First Year Program papers Odyssey Online is back and in its new home! Situated now like a cat under a cookstove at blogs.stlawu, you can plenty of content commentary, and the occasional hair ball I’m sure.  To start with, some technology notes in the morning news…

More soon!

Tags: Computer Security · Facebooked · Uncategorized · Yikes!

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