“We are scanning them to be read by an AI.”

Towards the end of the last chapter of his book, Nicholas Carr relates an anecdote about the visit of a guest speaker to the Google headquarters (emphasis added):

George Dyson, a historian of technology…, Freeman Dyson, was invited to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, in October 2005 to give a speech at the party celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of von Neumann’s invention [of an electronic computer that could store in its memory the instructions for its use]. “Despite the whimsical furniture and other toys, “Dyson would later recall of his visit, “I felt I was entering a 14th-century cathedral — not in the 14th century but in the 12th century, while it was being built. Everyone was busy carving one stone here and another stone there, with some invisible architect getting everything to fit. The mood was playful, yet there was a palpable reverence in the air.” After his talk, Dyson found himself chatting with a Google engineer about the company’s controversial plan to scan the contents of the world’s libraries into its database. “We are not scanning all of those books to be read by people,” the engineer told him. “We are scanning them to be read by an [artificial intelligence engine].”

Downloading the ALA Annual Meeting Planner to Your Mac iCal

First, kudos to the vendor that runs the ALA Meeting Planner website. They listened to suggestions and now include a way to download your event planner information to your desktop/handheld device using the iCalendar standard. It is available from the “Downloads and Printing” page of your meeting planner homepage. (You’ll need to sign in using the e-mail address listed on your ALA Annual Registration form plus the password “ala”.) Jump down to the end and select the “iCAL” button next to “Personal Itinerary” to download the iCalendar file.

Long-term Preservation Storage: OCLC Digital Archive versus Amazon S3

Last month OCLC announced a new service offering for long-term storage of libraries’ digital collections. Called Digital Archive™, it provides “a secure storage environment for you to easily manage and monitor the health of your master files and digital originals.” Barbara Quint has an article in Information Today called “OCLC Introduces High-Priced Digital Archive Service” in which she makes a comparison to Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (or “S3″) from primarily a cost perspective: “The price for S3 storage at Amazon Web Services is 15 cents a gigabyte a month or $1.80 a year, in comparison to OCLC’s $7.50 a gig.” Barbara also goes into some of the technical differences, but I think it might be worthwhile to go a little more into depth on them.

JPEG2000 to Zoomify Code4Lib Lightning Talk Video Now Available

Thanks, Noel, and everyone else who made the video editions of Code4Lib 2008 presentations possible. I just had a chance to notice that the video from my JPEG2000 to Zoomify Shim lightning talk was online:

Some updates since the post and the presentation were first done. The code that exists in the source code repository now was refactored to use JJ2000 as part of the Sun ImageIO package. We were seeing non-threadsafe problems with Kakadu and thought that using the multithreaded ImageIO package would help. Unfortunately, even with extensive caching, it did not. My next task is to bring Kakadu back into the picture using the threadsafe JNI implementation that is part of the ImageIO-ext project to see if that helps.

Getting a Hyperlink of the Last Sent Message from Mail.app using Applescript

I’ve been a fan of Getting Things Done as a technique for managing projects, but it was only recently that I settled on OmniFocus as the “trusted system” collecting all of my next actions. One of the things I like about OmniFocus — as a rich, Mac-only application — is its ability to hold links to messages from Mail.app as notes for each action. This occurs, for instance, when you use the “Clippings” function of OmniFocus to create a new action based on the message that you are currently viewing in Mail.app. (There are other ways to do it, such as the method described by Adam Sneller.)

One of the things I find myself doing is creating actions in a “Waiting” context based on e-mail messages I’ve just sent. Initially, I’d just create the action via the OmniFocus Quick Entry window. But I found myself needing to refer back to the message I sent when the person I’m waiting on doesn’t come through. So I started clicking and dragging the message from the Sent mailbox to the action. But to do that I’d have to click into the Sent mailbox and have the Mail.app and the OmniFocus windows set up just right. Or I’d have to follow a select-sent-mailbox, select-message, OmniFocus-quick-entry-with-clipping, select-Inbox, select-next-message workflow. And that took time and effort. So I’ve created an AppleScript ditty that does the work of creating a hyperlink on the clipboard of the last sent message. The results can then be pasted into any RTF-aware application, including OmniFocus.

The Jester Joins Twitter

It was only a few months ago that I was teasing Dan Chudnov for joining Twitter. Now I’ve gone and done it myself. I don’t expect to be using it much, but after observing the “Falls Church, VA” incident yesterday, I thought it would be an useful tool to have at-the-ready. Here’s the story of what inspired it.

Passion Quilt Meme: Take Time to Wonder

Image of a girl closely examining a caterpillar crawling on a white gate.  Image has the caption 'Take time to Wonder'

I found this meme via Karen Schneider’s entry. Although I wasn’t explicitly tagged, I thought it was interesting enough to add an entry to the meme’s Flikr pool.

With all due respect to Karen — and I agree that a love of reading is important — but it is a sense of wonder that encourages a love of reading and all sorts of other critical character traits. This is a picture of my daughter when she was about three years old. She is on the back deck of our Connecticut house watching a caterpillar crawl up our gate. She loves to read (and now three years later is reading scores of books on horses and dolphins from the elementary school library), and as her father I hope the same sense of curiosity will sustain her love for reading, arts, sciences, and life.