What ever happened to Google Knowls?

It was announced on December 13th last year with much discussion here on DLTJ and elsewhere on the blogosphere. It would seem uncharacteristic of Google to announce something like that and keep the world waiting for months to see at least a beta of the concept. Is there some sort of technical problem with the concept? Legal or business model problem? Or was it just a trial balloon for a service yet to be developed and Google wanted some free market research from the community?

Anybody know?

Brewster Kahle on the Economics and Feasibility of Mass Book Digitization

Brewster Kahle, Director of the Internet Archive, was interviewed this week in a Chronicle of Higher Education podcast on the Economics and Feasibility of Mass Book Digitization. Among the many interesting points in the interview was that one of the biggest challenges is to such a mass digitization effort to believe that to digitize massive numbers of books and make them available is actually possible. The Open Content Alliance has put together a suite of technology that brings down the cost for a color scan with OCR to 10 cents per page or about $30 per book. He then goes on to perform this calculation: the library system in the U.S. is a 12B industry. One million books digitized a year is $30M, or “a little less than .3 percent of one year’s budget of the United States library system would build a 1 million book library that would be available to anyone for free.” He also covers copyright concerns including the more liberal copyright laws in countries such as China.

A Known Citation Discovery Tool in a Library2.0 World

When it comes to seeking a full-text copy of that known-item citation, are our users asking “what have you done for me lately?” OpenURL has taken us pretty far when one starts in an online environment — a link that sends the citation elements to our favorite link resolver — but it only works when the user starts online with an OpenURL-enabled database. (We also need to set aside for the moment the need for some sort of OpenURL base resolver URL discovery tool — how does an arbitrary service know which OpenURL base resolver I want to use!) What if a user has a citation on a printed paper or from some other non-online form? Could we make their lives easier, too? Here is one way. (Thanks go out to Celeste Feather and Thomas Dowling for helping me think through the possibilities and issues.)

It’s All About User Services: A Summary and Commentary on the LITA Top Technology Trends meeting

What follows is a summary and commentary on the LITA Top Technology Trends meeting at ALA annual conference in New Orleans on 25-Jun-2006. What I’ve tried to do is collate comments from the panel members and add my own commentary (marked off as such from the rest of the summary) where I thought I had something useful to add. It is my hope that this summary is a faithful representation of the statements made by the participants in the panel. If not, please let me know privately or in the comment area here and I will make the appropriate corrections on the body of the blog post.

Disruption in Publishing

Last week’s Chronicle of Higher Education Review had an opinion piece by Kate Wittenberg, director of EPIC (Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia) with the title “Beyond Google: What Next for Publishing?” (subscription required). An excerpt from the beginning:

While we have been busy attending conferences, workshops, and seminars on every possible aspect of scholarly communication, information technology, digital libraries, and e-publishing, students have been quietly revolutionizing the discovery and use of information. Their behavior, undertaken without consultation or attendance at formal academic events, urgently forces those of us in scholarly publishing to confront some fundamental questions about our organizations, jobs, and assumptions about our work.

“Is the Writing On The Wall?” — Take 2

Walt Crawford chided me — rightly so — for yesterday’s Is the Writing on the Wall for the Integrated Library System? post. My choice of language was, admittedly, sloppy. I was fired up last night…distracted, if you will, by what was happening at a really good conference. Please allow me the chance to redeem my argument.

In academic libraries, in my experience, there has been a decline in the use of library catalogs. This experience could be verified in the ARL supplementary statistics for at least that population of libraries (I think those numbers are password-protected, so it might be a challenge to try to use them). When I get back on the ground and have some time, I will either offer confirmation of that supposition or retract it.

Is the Writing on the Wall for the Integrated Library System?

While in UNC-CH for JCDL I’ve had occasion to rant with/at some people about the state of the integrated library system marketplace — including, of course, how we got into the spot we’re in and how we might get out of it (and those people were kind enough to engage in the rant). Along comes a series of posts from Casey Bisson and Nicole Engard ultimately pointing back to John Blyberg’s “ILS Customer Bill-of-Rights” that is singing the same tune. There still seems to be a desire for a solution from an existing vendor, and in fact that was part of counter-points brought up by some on the receiving end of the ILS-must-go rant. (Paraphrased: ‘No one can satisfy the need of a library like a library automation vendor’ and ‘As libraries we’re not strong enough to take on the task of building the next ILS ourselves.’) Yet there does seem to be this mounting pressure to get control again over our data and how we present it to patrons.

AJAX-based Video Editing Tool

This is amazing stuff — an AJAX-based video editing tool…in your web browser! I haven’t looked at the underlying technology or it’s licensing terms (the message announcing it says that it is tied to the ‘eyespot’ service) but it may be possible to port this to a generic repository. If so, this poses some exiting possibilities for the DRC!

Editing video in your browser? Try eyespot – the AJAX video editor

April 5th, 2006