A little fluff after a trying week… meet Hana, the newest addition to my household. She picked me during one of my visits to the local animal shelter, so I brought her home last Wednesday. Hana is a darling, affectionate girl and I’m delighted to have her. Maia (my other cat) was suspicious at first, but they’re getting along splendidly now. :)
The argument for real books against virtual books is often based on the thingness of the real book — the beauty of the binding, the pleasure of handsome design and typesetting, the sensuality of turning a paper page, the pride of ownership. I sympathize with that, but I’m a reader, not a collector — I love my books (and I have lots of them) for what’s in them. Except for a few dear, battered kid’s books that both my mother and I read as children, the physical individuality of a book is pretty secondary to me.
And so, given this priority of the contents, I’ve defended the e-book and e-reading devices as an extension of, not an attack on, The Book — as augmentation, not loss or destruction.
Ursula K. Le Guin is my god.
I wasn’t entirely sure what the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) would look like when the long-awaited launch date of April 18 approached. The suspense is finally over: it looks great.
The DPLAs not going to be a digital version of your local public library’s collections and services – at least, not yet. It is trying to do three things right now: pull together digital assets from major national and regional digital collections into a well-organized, unified, easily searchable portal; provide digital tools and metadata that others can use to build new applications; and provide national leadership in the effort to encourage open and collective access to our shared cultural record.
My original thoughts from last month had a few gaps, particularly where Old Reader was concerned, so this is my gap-filler post.
Old Reader: Finished importing my feeds on March 21. By the time I got around to testing it out (April 8), it had a note about ‘keeping only fresh content’ (I didn’t copy the exact text, but that was the gist), which makes sense considering I had nearly 2000 unread posts even without them dumping some. What I found interesting, however, was its method of choosing what was “fresh content”—it seems to amount to the most recent 20-ish posts from each feed rather than going by the datestamp on posts. So an infrequently-updated blog might have content back to 2010 (!!), while a more frequently updated blog only had the most recent week. Granted, this is an unusual scenario (I don’t leave my feeds unchecked for months at a time), but it’s good to know if you are in the habit of letting things go unattended and expecting everything to be there for you when you get back. (I’ll refrain from commenting on how unreasonable an expectation that is, especially if you follow a lot of blogs that have 20+ posts per week. :)) The next/previous shortcut keys from Google Reader work here, as well.
Feedly: This has been my go-to reader, and will probably remain so. I have noticed, that despite having the “Unread Only” filter selected for my feeds, sometimes it shows me read posts. The behavior isn’t consistent, so I’m not sure why that happens, but I see it enough that I wanted to comment on it.
Conclusions: Visually, I prefer the look and feel of Feedly, and (as I said in my original post) the Firefox extension makes it even more convenient to use than Google Reader was (which is saying something!). I am crossing my fingers that they are able to have a smooth transition from using the Reader system to hosting everything on their own back-end. That remains the only unknown in this endeavor.
Runner-up is Old Reader, so if anything goes amiss with Feedly, that will be my back-up.
Last night we mentioned that Oxford University Press will provide free access in North and South America to the Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Reference to celebrate National Library Week that begins on Sunday.
I don’t know that the selected materials will be much help for reference questions, but some of them are fun to poke around in. :)
Legal publishing is broken because it only serves to keep information locked away from people. And, given the unique status of legal information (which we can define here as cases as well as laws and regulations passed by all levels of government bodies), you don’t even have to be one of those “information wants to be free” hippies to agree that there is no reason why this shouldn’t be free, open, accessible and preserved for all.
She makes some excellent, excellent points. Even if you don’t have to deal with the law for your job (or you intentionally avoid law stuff like the plague), this affects you because you have to live under these laws that often aren’t all that accessible to you.
Excellent commentary on a recent NYT Op-Ed by Scott Turow (head of the Authors Guild). I definitely recommend reading both.
What might this mean for our consideration of ebooks? Even though music and books are different in some aspects, they would both fall under what the report refers to as an “experience good” so I believe we can (at least cautiously) extrapolate the findings of this report to ebooks. A perennial issue in conversations with the Big Six is the displacement of sales due to library lending. At times, it even seems that the Big Six view library patrons as ebook pirates, so let us then embrace this study’s findings, which show a lack of sales displacement. In fact, libraries are much more similar to the legal music streaming services discussed in the report—and those streaming services stimulated sales.
I have long maintained that I only buy something if I already know what I’m getting and know that I like it, whether it’s music or books (print books; I still haven’t made the plunge into ebooks for my recreational reading). I’m glad studies continue to support the idea that “preview services” (like streaming or libraries) can and do stimulate sales rather than diminishing them.
The difficult thing however about predicting the future of reading is that everything i’ve said so far presumes that what is being read is an “n-page” article or essay or an “n-page,” “n-chapter” book,” when realistically, the forms of expression will change dramatically as we learn to exploit the unique affordances of new electronic media. Ideally, the boundaries between reading and writing will become ever more porous as readers take a more active role in the production of knowledge and ideas.
Although we date the “age of print” from 1454, more than two hundred years passed before the “novel” emerged as a recognizable form. Newspapers and magazines took even longer to arrive on the scene. Just as Gutenberg and his fellow printers started by reproducing illustrated manuscripts, contemporary publishers have been moving their printed texts to electronic screens. This shift will bring valuable benefits (searchable text, personal portable libraries, access via internet download, etc.), but this phase in the history of publishing will be transitional. Over time new media technologies will give rise to new forms of expression yet to be invented that will come to dominate the media landscape in decades and centuries to come.
Jumping on the bandwagon… this is me on my 18th birthday (in 2001).
…However, we aren’t the only ones who see our usage statistics. The vendors that sell us our products run the reports and it isn’t in their best interest for us to get the biggest bang out of our buck. I am not trying to imply that all of the vendors are nefarious. I am just saying that if they see that your usage stats are so good that you are only paying $.05 per use and the average library in your tier pays about $.10 per use, they are thinking that you are getting their product for a $50,000 discount.
I never thought of it this way—it’s a fascinating (frightening?) idea.