Nov 202010
  1. Computer ownership doesn’t guarantee computer literacy.
  2. Logic is cumbersome; that’s why humans rarely use it.
  3. Computers don’t contain “brains” any more than stereos contain musical instruments.
  4. Machines only manipulate numbers; people connect them to meaning.
  5. An inexact number is almost always good enough.
  6. Computers are just fast calculators pushing their own buttons.
  7. Digital information travels better, like mailing cookie recipes instead of cookies.
  8. Computers are like cars – they’re great for speed, but you have to steer them.
  9. People run too many errands for their machines, especially if they think they have to.
  10. If you don’t want to be replaced by a machine, don’t act like one.

[from Anzo Penzias, Ideas and Information, 1989]

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Nov 202010
  1. Be more personal.
  2. Let the public in on news decision-making.
  3. Be more focused and intentional – stop trying to be everything to everybody.
  4. Print the truth, not just the facts.
  5. Don’t just report, teach. Become a resource and not just a product.
  6. Be more local.
  7. Give readers access to source material (like the full text of interviews).
  8. Add multiple RSS feeds to web sites.
  9. Add email addresses to stories.
  10. Learn to change in response to the flow of news or market conditions.

Don’t think of this article as a primer for journalists, think of it as an outline of what to expect from your source of news.

[SOURCE: First Draft, AUTHOR: Tim Porter]

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Nov 192010

In truth, American libraries and the profession of librarianship are confronted with a structural transformation in the overall economy. It is nothing less than thorough privatization of the information function. The production, processing, storing and transmission of information have been scooped up into private, for-profit hands. Social sources and repositories of information have been taken over for commercial use and benefit. It is not because American libraries and library schools have fallen behind in the mastery of the new information technology that their existence increasingly is called into question. It is their bedrock principles and long-term practices that collide with the realities of today’s corporate-centered and market-driven economy. The extent to which librarians insist on free and untrammeled access to information, ‘unrestricted by administrative barriers, geography, ability to pay or format,’ they will be treated by the privatizers as backward-looking, if not obsolete, irrelevant, and unrealistic.

The technology issue, therefore, is merely a screen behind which a far-reaching and socially regressive institutional change has occurred. The focus on technology also serves to delude many, librarians included, that the new means to achieve status and respect is to concentrate on the machinery of information, production, and transmission. When and if this focus turns regidly exclusive, wittingly or not, the social basis of the profession and the needs of the majority of people are left unattended.”

Information Inequality: The Deepening Social Crisis in America, p. 36. (Routledge, 1996)

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Nov 192010

See: Martin L. Weitzman, “Economic Profitability Versus Ecological Entropy,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, February 2000.

“The Risk of Catastrophic Crop Failure,” Economic Intuition, Summer 2001.

By cultivating a small number of crops over large areas, farmers can dramatically increase profitability. This is why monoculture, cultivation of a single crop over a large area, is increasingly common in agriculture. But despite its short-run advantages, monoculture may also impose a long-term risk of crop failure. Economist Martin Weitzman of Harvard University says the vulnerability of a crop to a pathogen is highest when the amount of the plant in cultivation is small – or when it is very large. The vulnerability of a small crop is obvious, but that of a widespread crop is less so. Weitzman explains why it may in effect be too much of a good thing:

1. Large, homogeneous crops enable parasites (bacteria, viruses, fungi and insects) to specialize on one specific host, increasing the chance they will mutate into a more pathogenic form.

2. Farmers tend to choose the same crop cultivated by neighboring farms because of efficiency gains (e.g. in spraying and seed storage); but this makes it easier for a disease to spread – for example, foot and mouth disease spreads more easily where neighboring farms raise the same species.

3. Weitzmam’s statistical modelling shows that once the size of a crop passes a certain threshold, crop extinction can be very abrupt.

Diversity makes sense, even if this entails lower yields, as matter of food security.

[Clipped from: Monoculture and the Risks of Crop Failure ]

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Nov 192010

by Gary Price. The library world hasn’t done enough to keep up with the Google juggernaut in defining our role in the Web age. We must do better and we must start now. Price suggests we should “energizes” our word-of-mouth marketing by getting to information gatekeepers like journalists, teachers, key members of a company, etc. and demonstrating what out service offers.

Eight Great Starting Points:

1. Reach out to people who haven’t been in a library in many years. Point out that library services go way beyond the four walls of the library building.

2. Develop personal relationships with users. In the same way bankers used to know their customers’ needs, let people know you are “their” information go-to person.

3. Not only tell people we’re here, but why we’re here and precisely what we offer. The phrase “save them time” is a good place to begin.

4. Court people in gatekeeper roles like journalists and teachers and demonstrate what we can offer. In addition, let them know that you’re always ready to assist them. Helping them one or two times can do wonders.

5. Publicize librarian-created services, for example, general Web directories like the Librarians’ Index to the Internet, Infomine, and the Resource Discovery Network. Explain how important the editors of these services consider the quality of information.

6. Remind people that passing up the library might mean they end up paying for material the library offers them for free.

7. Clearly illustrate and demonstrate Google’s limitations but more importantly, demonstrate how you and your library can solve these problems.

8. Remind people that a link to a possible answer is still not an answer.

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