Reading and Listening | January 21, 2013


The New York Times | Monday, January 21, 2013

Toledo Blade

College & Research Libraries | January 2013

The Economist | January 19th-25th, 2013


  • Hydroponic Garden by Carbon Based Lifeforms
  • Dvorak: Serenades Opus 22 & 24 – Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
  • Union – Yes
  • Dancing at Lughnasa – Bill Wheelan
  • The Hunger Games Soundtrack – James Newton Howard
  • The Social Network Soundtrack – Trent Reznor
  • The Ultimate Blue Train by John Coltrane
  • Intersections 1985-2005 by Bruce Hornsby
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Reading and Listening | January 20, 2013


The New York Times | Sunday, January 20, 2013

MIT Technology Review | January / February 2013


  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
  • Writers Writing Dying by C. K. Williams
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan


  • Debussy: La Mer & Prélude À L’après-midi d’un Faune – Bernard Haitink
  • Mozart: String Quartets – Quartetto Italiano
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Reading and Listening | January 19, 2013


The Wall Street Journal | Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • bookPutting Statistics to Work in a Land of Illusions by Carl Bialik – The introduction of statistics in North Korea highlights the dearth of reliable state data.
  • Health Law Pinches Colleges by Mark Peters and Douglas Belkin – The impact of The Affordable Care Act on adjuncts.  “I think colleges and universities are going to have to rethink their model for how they compensate adjuncts.  It’s clear to me over time the current model isn’t going to be sustainable,” Mr. King said.
  • Tough Flu Season Hits Elderly Hard by Jennifer Corbett Dooren
  • TSA to Halt Revealing Body Scans at Airports by Jack Nicas – “This solves our most significant concern” about full-body scanners, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy advocacy group.  “Not having TSA agents in darkened rooms looking at naked pictures of people getting on a plane is a good outcome.”
  • Labor-Pool Worries Fuel Calls to End One-Child Policy by Laurie Burkitt – “China’s top national statistician on Friday called for changing the country’s one-child policy because of the nation’s shrinking pool of workers, adding to a chorus of opponents who say the policy will have long-lasting effects on the country’s economic stability.”

The New York Times | Saturday, January 19, 2013

Foreign Affairs | November / December 2012


  • Lightspeed: Year One edited by John Joseph Adams
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
  • Writers Writing Dying by C. K. Williams
  • Too Big to Know by David Weinberger
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan


  • Making Movies – Dire Straits
  • A Momentary Lapse of Reason – Pink Floyd
  • Led Zeppelin I – Led Zeppelin
  • Mahler Symphony No. 1, “Titan” – Bruno Walter and the NBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Kind of Blue – Miles Davis
  • Renaissance – Branford Marsalis
  • Brahms Symphony No. 1 – Marin Alsop and the London Philharmonic Orchestra
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Information Not Affirmation

For those of us working in higher education information technology, summer is not down time.  Summer is a mad dash to update everything, to report on what we accomplished over the last year, and to make our plans for the coming one.  Still, as active as it is, summer uses a different kind of energy, and it’s a nice time to put the blinders on and go.

It’s also a good time to catch up with reading.  This past weekend I read a slim book, The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption, by Clay A. Johnson.  We’ve had speakers come to campus to talk about managing information overload, but Johnson’s book is different.  While he does encourage us to consume less, he also wants us to consume better.

Johnson likens so much of the information we all consume to junk food.  There’s lots of crappy stuff out there, and sadly, all of us are consuming it.  What’s worse, the media companies are creating content that’s personalized for us.  Liberal?  MSNBC has just what you’re looking for.  Conservative?  Fox has you covered.  Beyond that, however, Johnson looks into how media companies track internet search trends in real time, with freelance writers quickly writing and posting content that’s likely to draw us in.

The results? Media companies make a healthy profit as we click through “news stories” written just for people who have the same perspectives we do.  They make cash from the ads that are displayed.  Unfortunately for us, we aren’t reading information; we’re receiving affirmation of our biases.  While groups have always had our differences, the level of anger in the conversation seems to get worse all the time.  Why?  Because both sides of any given position are being fed tidbits that reinforce their beliefs.  Johnson, who quit his job with the Sunlight Foundation after he realized that putting the facts out there isn’t sufficient to support an educated political dialog.

Johnson encourages us to consume our information more carefully.  Instead of clicking on the link that will tell you just what you were hoping someone would tell you, try looking for information.  Often that means you need to try to obtain the original source documents, or at least get as close as you can to them.  Libraries, of course, are excellent for helping with this kind of thing.  But perhaps I’m showing my bias there.

Read Johnson’s book yourself.  See what you think.  While I am not particularly interested in the web site efforts Johnson proposes in the late parts of his book, I do think it’s vital not only to politics, but to discourse in general that we seek information, not affirmation.  After I finished reading, I took a walk through my bookmarks and removed several that I’ll be better off without.


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How to Buy a Book

So, recently I’ve changed my buying patterns when it comes to books.  I decided it didn’t make any sense to keep giving Amazon money when there are bookstores in Richmond that are closing.  Now when there’s a book I want, I add the title, author, ISBN and ISBN-13 to a note I keep in Evernote.  Then I go to Barnes & Noble to buy the books.

Frequently they don’t have the books I want in stock.  It doesn’t make sense for them to stock lots of books on higher education or specifically on teaching and learning.  But if I go to the information desk, they are happy to look up the books, order them, and apply my member discount to the purchase.  As a member, they ship the books to my house at a faster-than-standard shipping speed, for no extra cost.  In the end the books are a bit pricier than Amazon, but the store gets credit for the sale (as opposed to purchases on the B&N web site), which will hopefully help to keep the store around.

I’m not bound to Barnes & Noble in particular: they’re just the closest bookstore.  I want to find additional booksellers who might not be part of a big chain (suggestions from fellow Richmonders are welcome).

My goal is to help the stores in town.  Amazon is great for making additional recommendations, but I still like browsing.  And just as so many people enjoy libraries as spaces, my family and I love to hang out in bookstores, reading books while we have a little coffee.   So I think it’s worth it to spend a bit more so the store can stay and the people working in the store can stay.

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Should We Go Google? Google Apps Experience

Michael Pickett, CIO at Brown convened the session..

The session was not a presentation, but a discussion.

Brown was one of the first institutions to implement Google Apps for faculty, staff, and students.

Question: Why consider Google Apps? (versus Microsoft Live, etc.).

Discussion: One school is using Exchange but is thinking about switching.  Customization capabilities depth and breadth seems to deliver more than Microsoft’s product.  Google has been pushing toward the cloud for much longer.  Rick Matthews CIO at Wake Forest: this is what they asked for.  Now they’re hearing this from faculty who want to use the collaborative features with the tools.  Microsoft’s solution seems focused on having desktop software, Google seems more in the cloud.  Microsoft seems to be about a year behind Google.  For Brown, there are business continuity reasons for Google (MS didn’t have redundant data centers a year ago, but they do now).  Some things in Google Apps aren’t robust enough yet. 18,000 accounts moved over to Google.  Does everyone like it?  No.  And it slows down at times.

Question: How has it gone for schools who switched?

Discussion: It’s terrific.  We’re considering Faculty & Staff and are interested to hear more.  Brown: the big stepping stone for Fac/Staff had to do with the calendar and threaded conversations.  Small changes in the interface from Outlook to the web browser, but a big deal for admins.  Miserable for two weeks, and then you’ll be fine.  Lessons learned at Brown: a problem to solve: need to move off of Exchange or upgrade.  Did a full cost analysis.  Looking for: significantly more quota (over 2GB).  Standards-based implementation.  Looking for something that would work with POP, IMAP, etc.  Calendar being caldav compliant is good.  Secure access from anywhere is also a benefit.  Saving money: BOT said to find every way to save money and not layoff people.  $700K-$1M to upgrade.  But it’s not a slam dunk or a sure thing that this is a smart thing to do.  There’s so much freedom that you can get into trouble.  Multiple accounts cause havoc on his phone sometimes, but Safari looks good.  Chrome is perfect.  A discussion of quirky interfaces followed.

Question: Have administrative users switched over from Outlook as a client to using the web interface.

Discussion: it’s a real mixed bag.  They push the native interface for a week.

Question: Recovery, archiving, restoration.

Discussion: Native Google – no restoration short of a legal requirement.  Postini for discovery.  Archiving is not in place today, but they (Brown) will soon.

Question: Policy issues for faculty/staff

Discussion: Don’t do this without support from President / Provost.  There’s a lot of bad information out there.  There are compromises, though.  Most of the questions were based on bad information.  Concerns about scanning e-mail and privacy.  Esoteric questions: ITAR export restrictions.  Health information doesn’t belong in GMail.

Question: How do you handle new features coming unnanounced?

Discussion: We are told to embrace change.  Google gives you a ton of things out of the box.  If you have to wrestle with turning them on and off, it will be tough.  We went as open as we could be with new features.  Labs.  Cool, but be careful.  Set expectations correctly.  It depends on your culture at your campus.  These can be dangerous things, but they put power in the hands of the people on campus.  Departments clamored for access.  IT just got out of the way.  Not a traditional roll out for most people.  Admins were different.

Question: Were legacy messages converted?

Discussion: Yes. With an outside vendor, though most was done internally.  Exchange access was turned off and about 1,000 people who had moved on who hadn’t been in for a while that hadn’t converted.  They had to agree to Brown’s user policies.  These 1,000 were moved, but access was cut off until they agreed to the policies.

Question: Speed/performance?

Discussion: Some things appear to be slow, some are faster.  It varies.  Some things are puzzling within our network configuration.  Wireless vendor product making a difference for performance compared to wired.  Search is so much better in Google.

Questions; Legal Issues?

Discussion: Legal counsel was involved, as was legal counsel from Rhode Island School of Design.  No show stoppers.  Everything has risk.  Lesson learned: You need to talk to people about what’s good and bad. What won’t be as good.  Can you live with it?  Legal Counsel was in the 1st round, right after the president.

Question: accessibility for users with disabilities. Supposedly high on Google’s priority list.

Discussion: No pushback.

Question: How are accounts handled as students become alumni?

Discussion: We have distinct e-mail addresses that aren’t ever reused.

Question: What is the exit strategy.

Discussion: You can pop them out and delete messages.  It’s doable.  The contract says that you own your data.

Question: Expunging data?

Discussion: The won’t keep your data, but the contract is changing.

Question: Campus Agreement: we pay for office suite?  Did you save any money on licensing or staffing?

Discussion: No staff were laid off.  They were repurposed.  Google Apps is not a replacement for MS Office.

Question: Increased bandwidth costs?

Discussion: Negligible.  Even with attachments moving from 10MB to 20 MB.

Question: Google Sites?  Policing them?

Discussion: We don’t know enough to do that.  But we’re worried.

Question: We have no control over how people share, and we can’t take things away from them when they no longer work for us.

Discussion: When you leave the University, you account terminates.  Sharing documents is a real one.  There are worries, but they focus on communication.  What if faculty put grades in GDocs and shared them with TA’s?  No legal issue there, but don’t be stupid and make it public.

Question: Yale: When is a good time to roll out?

Discussion: Students at beginning of fall term last year.  Fac/Staff in February.  Piloted departments over 2 months, big push in May.  Most over by early June.  New features come out once a week.  Intel, Motorola, etc. use it.

Question: Blackberry Enterprise Server?

Discussion: Ditched it.  Calendar nowhere near as functional.  5 people went back.  Droids work well too.

Questions: Data storage outside the US?

Discussion: Google has a white paper.  Data not stored in unfriendly countries.  Messages in Google are obfuscated over 5 servers in different data centers.  That makes it hard to reassemble the letter.  But there is redundancy.

Question: compromised accounts – how do you know what’s happened?

Discussion: they’ve helped confirm last login.  What’s been accessed?

Question: Were contacts migrated?

Discussion: yes, for those saved on the server.

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ArtSTOR Shared Shelf

Middlebury’s Story & Goals

Middlebury was under no illusion that they would ever have a single source for image information, but their goals were:

  • Reduce number of systems to a more reasonable number
  • Establish methods for exchange within campus & collaborative platform across campuses
  • Provide multiple interfaces to same data store for specific uses: curricular use, museum collections, research

Governance is distributed, with different parts of campus managing their own collections.

About ArtSTOR

Founded by Mellon, now stand-alone.  People feel comfortable using ArtSTOR because they have legal indemnity.  ArtSTOR recognized early on that there was local content at institutions looking for a place to store their collections.


The request came in early after ArtSTOR’s launch to provide this functionality.  Originally a very labor-intensive process to map to ArtSTOR’s database model.  150 participants.

A lesson learned: Manual hosting is hard & expensive.

Many institutions had multiple systems that were difficult to integrate.

Shared Shelf

Accommodates simple or complex data schemes.  Fields are customizable by type and fields can be added.  Standard schema facilitate cross-campus sharing.

Three vocabularies:

  • ULAN
  • TGN
  • CONA (in development)

Creating new authorities such as teh Built Work Registry (awarded IMLS grant 2010)

Focusing for now on digital still images.  They want to do this well first, and then move on.

Publishing & Exporting

Sharing content internally, among a small group of schools, etc.

“Shared Shelf” as a concept: moving outward as IP and legal issues are addressed.

Faceted search coming in 2 months.

What’s Next

Moving from 9 schools to add 25 more.  These schools will work out many of the data integration questions that lie ahead.


Questions about whether you have to be an ArtSTOR customer to participate in Shared Shelf (yes), whether ArtSTOR will be more interoperable with others like Flickr (yes, if they would not only ingest data but send some back out — they don’t).  A question about when there’s a system at home and ArtSTOR housing collections, which system is in control (Mike Roy says ArtSTOR becomes the system of record so you’re not constantly crosswalking batches of data).  What’s the financial model (For Middlebury, they fronted the money to get in on the specifications.  In time, this money will be helped to defray the cost of the subscription to the service.)

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What I’m Reading – 8/8/09

  • Newsweek – August 10/17 2009
    • Israel’s Chief Diplomat Goes M.I.A. – Israel’s top diplomat takes a trip to South America when Obama’s Middle East envoy, defense secretary, and national security advisor come to negotiate. He’s ultra-right wing and apparently an embarrassment to Israelis.
    • Iran’s Widening Fault Lines – Economic differences between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have the supreme leader reducing the president’s powers behind the scenes.
    • No End to Earmarks – Despite Obama’s pledge to crack down on earmarks, the practice continues. Not a surprise to me – earmarks are a fundamental way to keep in good standing with your constituents and with lobbyists. What would the Congressional incentive be to stop?
    • Russia’s Dry Well – While the world economy is starting to mend, the damage in Russia will take longer to recover from. $200 billion in debt, and businesses won’t be making huge profits in the coming year.
  • New York Times
  • Richmond Times Dispatch
    • Recession Hasn’t Cut Enrollment for Some Schools – The University of Richmond was aiming for 805 students this fall, an increase from last year’s 738.  We now have 926 first-year students registered for the fall.  It turns out other area schools had a similar enrollment experience.
  • Guyland
    • Chapter 5 – The Rites of Almost-Men: Binge Drinking, Fraternity Hazing, and the Elephant Walk: College life for young men is described, with one shocking episode after another.  I continue to search for a rigorous approach to the subject, but the argument of the book continues without qualification or much quantitative information.
  • Milton among the Philosophers
    • Chapter 2: The Life of the Soul: The Cambridge Reaction – Just getting started with this chapter, which discusses Cudworth and More’s attempts to justify the ways of atoms to God.
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What I’m Reading – 8/7/09

  • New York Times
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education
    • A Laboratory of Collaborative Learning – “Undergraduate libraries have never been revenue generators, but, if this pattern of declining use does not change, many of them may soon seem like costly anachronisms.”  “Housed in separate buildings, with fewer occasions for interaction and mutual understanding, faculty members and librarians may develop a weak sense of solidarity regarding their complementary roles in the institutional mission.” I’m sorry to say, but MISO Survey data backs up these concerns.  I hope the author’s experiment this fall is a successful engagement with his academic library.
  • The Best 371 Colleges (Princeton Review) – Rollins College – Reading up on Rollins, having received news of a colleague who will be taking a position there in the coming weeks.

Short reading day today, as the University of Richmond closes at noon so employees can spend the rest of the day at Busch Gardens.  Maybe I’ll get some additional reading done in the car, but don’t count on it.

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What I’m Reading – 8/6/09

  • New York Times
    • For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics – Graduates with a statistics background are “finding themselves increasingly in demand – and even cool.” “‘The key is to let the computers do what they are good at, which is trawling massive data sets for something that is mathematically odd,’ said Daniel Gruhl, an I.B.M. researcher whose recent work includes mining medical data to improve treatment. ‘And that makes it easier for humans to do what they are good at — explain those anomalies.'”
    • China Sees Progress on Climate Accord, but Resists an Emissions Ceiling – China says it will likely sign on to an agreement to reduce greenhouse gasses, but pushes back on capping emission of greenhouse gasses.  “China now emits more carbon dioxide than the United States, although it remains well behind when populations are measured on a per-person basis.”  Bilateral negotiations with the Obama administration are characterized as “quite fruitful.”  Let’s hope.
    • New Entry in E-Books A Paper TigerBarnes and Noble’s new e-book offering boasts almost twice as many books as Amazon, and gives you access on your PC or Mac.  Their e-book reader won’t be available until 2010 (coming from Paper Logic).  The catch is that most of the books at B&N are already available through places like Project Gutenberg.  In short, they’re not the books you’re looking for.  And the functionality of the various applications isn’t up to the good experience Amazon’s Kindle offers.  Still, I’ll have to get a couple of books through B&N this weekend to see how it works for myself.
  • Guyland
    • Chapter 4: High School: Boot Camp for Guyland – High school boys learn to conform or be ostracized.  Kimmel suggests a radical change of the culture around high school boys.  I am sadly skeptical that so many different types of people need to change what they do: teachers, coaches, parents, peers.  Culture rarely changes so drammatically, yet Kimmel makes it clear that broad changes are necessary.
    • Chapter 5: The Rites of Almost-Men: Binge Drinking, Fraternity Hazing, and the Elephant Walk – In college, peers initiate peers into manhood, despite their lack of qualifications to do so.  The anecdotes are extreme, and I find myself wishing for a more tempered argument in the book.
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