Friday, April 30, 2010

How Much File Sharing Travels the Net?

How much file sharing travels the net? It's hard to tell because it's not public.

How Much Information is There?

How much information is there? Not counting books, just the digital information storage.

For most of us, “a crapload” is a sufficiently accurate answer. But for a few obsessive data analysts, more precision is necessary. According to a recent study by market-research company IDC, and sponsored by storage company EMC, the size of the information universe is currently 800,000 petabytes. Each petabyte is a million gigabytes, or the equivalent of 1,000 one-terabyte hard drives.

If you stored all of this data on DVDs, the study’s authors say, the stack would reach from the Earth to the moon and back.

The Book Was Better Than the Movie: The Lovely Bones

I went about The Lovely Bones in a backward sort of way - I saw a trailer for it in the movie theater, thought it looked interesting, and wound up tracking down the book to read.

I enjoyed the book very much. Maybe 'enjoyed' is the wrong word, but I felt it was a very good book. The movie? Not so much.

What had struck me about the book was how well it conveyed the sadness that coloured the murdered girl's regular family lives. The ways it changed them, like how the girl's younger sister started doing push-ups and sit-ups so she could fight off an attacker, something Susie Salmon hadn't been able to do. The little tragedy where a boy Susie liked who liked her became one of the main suspects in her disappearance.

I found the movie skipped over a lot of these mundane things. Susie's heaven in the book was portrayed as a high school; it was very ordinary. The movie wastes quite a lot of time having her travel through a CG landscape, fantastic and beautiful.

The one thing the movie did better than the book was portraying how Susie used the medium Ruth to contact her would-be boyfriend she never had a chance to be with: in the movie, they kiss. In the book... ew.

Hand Drawn Maps

Slate has an article all about hand-drawn maps, with an inevitable comparison to Google maps.

The Worst Sci-fi/Fantasy Book Covers

Good Show Sir is a site dedicated to finding the absolute worst sci-fi/fantasy book covers. And they have succeeded. This stuff is scary.


I've been sitting on this story for at least a week, trying to find the proper article to link here. Basically, there is a movie about Hitler called 'Downfall' and one particular scene in it is often used to create parodies by changing the subtitles so that Hitler, instead of talking about historical Hitler things, instead rants about Kanye West or his birthday being ruined. They are comedic and satirical, and they started to vanish, despite the film's director and writer/producer being flattered by the parodies and thinking they are funny. At the end of the article is an example of a Downfall parody, this time with Hitler reacting to all the Downfall parodies.

Automatic Copyright Protection and YouTube

Sometimes automatic copyright protection doesn't work so well, like when videos are banned for using the same freely-provided music in an editing program.

Even More on the League of Extraordinary Porn

More on the censorship of graphic novels:

At the recent Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, a librarian from Jessamine County, Kentucky, spoke firsthand about dealing with calls for censorship in his library, and an expert from the American Library Association discussed how to handle challenges to graphic novels at the panel titled "Burn It, Hide It, Misshelve It, Steal It, Ban It! Dealing with Graphic Novel Censorship in Your Library."

Good ol' Jessamine County! Back in October 2009, two librarians in the county were fired for keeping 'The Black Dossier', a graphic novel by Alan Moore, off the shelves. Good to see it's still making news.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


For my introductory library science course, we visited several different libraries. At one, the very 'green', spacious, and airy, we were taken aback to discover that the librarians had to sneak books out into the trash. People tended to get upset when they saw discarded books. But there are reasons libraries have to get rid of books, and they mostly come down to time and manpower.

Kominarek said the library has used book sales in the branches in conjunction with their friends groups. The sales allow the library to send some old books to new homes and raise a few thousand dollars each year.

However, the books that don't sell become a liability, she said.

"If we kept every book for a sale until it is sold, there wouldn't be any space to keep them," Kominarek said.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Automated Book Sorter

Sorting books is boring. Let's get a machine to do it!

On one side of the machine, which is two-thirds the length of a football field and encircled by a conveyor belt, staff members place each book face-down on a separate panel of the belt. The book passes under a laser scanner, which reads the bar code on the back cover, and the sorter communicates with the library’s central computer system to determine where the book should be headed. Then, as the conveyor belt moves along, it drops the book into one of 132 bins, each associated with a branch library. It’s sort of like a baggage carousel that knows which bag is yours and deposits it at your feet.

Archie Comics Introduces First Openly Gay Character

...and it's not Jughead. His name is Kevin Keller. A step in the right direction, though I wonder if he'll be a one-shot or not.

"The introduction of Kevin is just about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive. Archie's hometown of Riverdale has always been a safe world for everyone. It just makes sense to have an openly gay character in Archie comic books," stated Archie Comics Co- CEO, Jon Goldwater.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Forbes Fictional 15

The 15 Richest Fictional Characters according to Forbes. I tittered.

That Keith Richards Thing is Really True

Just in case you needed it, another article about Keith Richards' love of books. Worth posting about again because everyone I mention this to stares at me with disbelief. Also a good plug for his upcoming autobiography, which I believe I am now interested in reading.

Blind Date With a Book

A cute idea, blind date with a book involves wrapping books up to conceal their covers. A more random selection than most.

Sabotage Via Amazon Reviews

From The Guardian: a historian's wife wrote disparaging reviews of the books of his rivals.

Well, that's certainly... loyal.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What is Stephen Harper Reading?

Yann Martel, the guy who wrote Life of Pi, has undertaken a project. He is suggesting books for the Prime Minister to read and recording all his correspondence on a website.

Life of Pi is a very good book. I'd completely forgotten that Yann Martel is Canadian. If nothing else, the site provides a good reading list.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mean Amazon Reviews of Classic Books

As someone who loathed Sense and Sensibility, mean Amazon comments about classic books make me laugh. Though mean-mouthing The Diary of Anne Frank seems a bit much.

Recognizing a book for its value capturing a time period or even what its being popular means is still important, but man, did I hate those S&S characters.

The Anonymity of Comments on News Sites

When news sites, after years of hanging back, embraced the idea of allowing readers to post comments, the near-universal assumption was that anyone could weigh in and remain anonymous. But now, that idea is under attack from several directions, and journalists, more than ever, are questioning whether anonymity should be a given on news sites.

That's kind of a hard thing to crack down on. An identity is just a form and a gmail address away if the name sounds real enough.

William Gibson on Twitter

So somebody asked William Gibson if his latest book would've been written faster if Twitter didn't exist. (Is this blog going to need a Twitter tag? Ugh.)

“Twitter, or the internet at large, feels to me like an automation of what I have to do, anyway, in order to write,” the Neuromancer and Spook Country novelist wrote on his official website. “Stare out window. Read a magazine. Gaze at shoe. Answer a letter. Think about something new (or newly). Access random novelty.”

That's a vote in favour of the Library of Congress keeping all tweets, right? I suppose for every person reporting on the kind of sandwich they had for lunch there's something a little more worthwhile. Or at least something I'd consider a little more worthwhile.

Downloading Stuff You Already Own

So if you download a free digital copy of a book you've bought, did you do anything wrong?

The More Things Change...

A guy named Wayne Bivens-Tatum found an article by Grace O. Kelley on the "The Democratic Function of Public Libraries".

The library, even more than other institutions, seems not to have been altogether a true part of the social process. In some way, it has been switched out of the current of social change, occupying a niche or eddy of its own. For a long time it seems to have been but slightly affected by the forces which have been changing the rest of the world. One looks in vain in histories of culture and education for studies of the modern library as an active force which is making its impress upon the social fabric. Due to the nature of its organization and of its service it has been possible for it to continue to function largely on its original indefinite ideals and, in a sense, to let the modern world go by....

Not only our knowledge of the world, but the world itself, keeps changing from day to day. "The inescapable drive of change under the accumulation of ideas and traditions, under the relentless impacts of science and invention," make a fixed regime impossible. "An industrial civilization founded on technology, science, invention, and expanding markets must of necessity change and change rapidly." Any institution which does not change too, adapt itself to the times, and become part of the onward "drive of change," will be pushed aside to be left perhaps for a time to make a harmless life of its own.

Sound familiar? It was written in 1934.

Library of Congress and Twitter

Every Tweet Will Be Preserved for History. Seriously?

I wonder what category tweets go under in the Library of Congress Classification system.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

ACTA and the Internet

How ACTA Will Change the Internet, via Boing Boing.

...ACTA goes way, way beyond the TRIPS (the copyright/patent/trademark stuff in the World Trade Organization agreement), creating an entirely new realm of liability for people who provide services on the net. Since liability for service-providers determines what kind of services we get, increasing their liability for copyright infringement will make it harder to invent new tools like web-lockers, online video-hosting services, blogging services, and anything else that's capable of being used to infringe copyright.

ACTA Provisions on Injuctions and Damages, for reference.

Penny Arcade - Flight of the Ebook Readers

A Penny Arcade comic!

One deficit an electronic reader has over printed media, and this is only a factor if you've been in the air as much as we have lately, is that there are portions of the flight where you can't read. Your "book," as it were, now belongs in the same criminal class of devices which includes laptops and missile transponders. The other deficit, I suppose, is that when the device runs out of power your "book" ceases to exist. It retains the gaudy and absurd physicality so common with objects, but all the purpose has leaked out. The unbook you have left becomes a lady of impenetrable chastity.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Google Adds Suicide Prevention Hotline Result to Suicide Queries

Google has added a link to a suicide prevention hotline to results of a suicidal seeming query. I approve of this. It seems like a step toward responsible information access without censorship.

Keith Richards, Librarian

Wait, what?

Keith Richards wanted to be a librarian. And still does. Apparently he reads a lot and keeps many, many books. I had no idea.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

10 Great Technologies from Science Fiction

From WIRED! Ten Great Technologies We Got From Science Fiction. Two are from Star Trek, even! And some from books and comics, naturally.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pictish Art Might Be a Written Language

The ancestors of modern Scottish people left behind mysterious, carved stones that new research has just determined contain the written language of the Picts, an Iron Age society that existed in Scotland from 300 to 843.

The highly stylized rock engravings, found on what are known as the Pictish Stones, had once been thought to be rock art or tied to heraldry. The new study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, instead concludes that the engravings represent the long lost language of the Picts, a confederation of Celtic tribes that lived in modern-day eastern and northern Scotland.

Researchers Rob Lee, Philip Jonathan, and Pauline Ziman analyzed the engravings found on a few hundred Pictish stones. They used a mathematical process known as Shannon entropy and determined it is likely Pictish engravings were a form of written language.

FAQ: Google, China, and Censorship has made an FAQ (a list of Frequently Asked Questions) regarding Google, China, and Censorship. It is useful!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Judging E-Books by the Cover

The downside to e-book readers not showing book covers - stuff like this doesn't happen as often:

Bindu Wiles was on a Q train in Brooklyn this month when she spotted a woman reading a book whose cover had an arresting black silhouette of a girl’s head set against a bright orange background.

Ms. Wiles noticed that the woman looked about her age, 45, and was carrying a yoga mat, so she figured that they were like-minded and leaned in to catch the title: “Little Bee,” a novel by Chris Cleave. Ms. Wiles, a graduate student in nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College, tapped a note into her iPhone and bought the book later that week.