March 2007


Half of the time I do decide to actually post, it is because I thought of a title that makes the five year old that is slowly annexing my brain giggle a lot. And this title did…not only does it sound vaguely obscene, but it captures the essence of what Twitter seems to be creating in the blogosphere, “confusion by…infatuation.” This is not to say that everyone is infatuated with Twitter; quite the opposite, in fact.

Twitter, from what I understand, is yet another type of social networking software that allows the user to, should they choose, constantly update their status (their location, state of mind, whatever), and not only display this status on their profile page, but send a status update to all others within their network, via IM, test, SMS, or RSS.

 What I want to know is, why would someone else want to be alerted to the fact that I’m eating a tuna salad sandwich for lunch? Apparently, according to at least one Twitter user quoted in this Wall Street Journal article, some people are interested to know what someone else is eating for dinner…every night of the week. It seems more than a little excessive.

Bear in mind, this is coming from someone whose Gmail status message still reads: “Information Professional to the Stars,” which is a spectacularly bad “Joey” reference that, oh, one of my friends got. Needless to say, I tend toward the ridiculous (and ridiculously bad) rather than literal in my broadcasted social networking when it comes to updating people on my “status.”

Anyway, John Blyberg of blyberg.net and Steven Cohen of librarystuff.net have already “locked horns” on the issue, both ending up with some pretty entertaining and wortwhile Twitter-related reads on their blogs. Also, Mat Balez, who I’ve never heard of (which is not saying much), but who apparently has enough clout in the tech community to get his post 603 diggs and a brief appearance on techmeme.com, is calling Twitter’s time of death at…now.

Does this break a hype cycle/jumping the shark/whatever-you-want-to-call-it record? Or, are people just trying to hate instead of congratulate? I have no idea.

What I do think is that Robert Scoble is right, Twitter hate is the new black. Whether or not that is warranted, I don’t know. What I do know is that black is totally slimming, so…Twitter hate it is! 🙂

Today’s New York Times has a very interesting article, entitled “History, Digitized (and Abridged)” about pretty much what the title suggests. Casual searchers, novice, and sometimes even advanced, researchers, are increasingly turning to online-only sources for their information.

 However, though the article does touch on issues of funding (there isn’t a lot of it) and copyright (good luck digitizing anything that’s not in the public domain), it does skim over (or omit altogether) several issues that I believe are important:

  •  Digitization only preserves non-digital works indirectly, and there is currently no viable method for digitally preserving either non-digital or born-digital objects.

If you happen to have an especially fragile “cultural heritage object,” making a digital copy of that object is not a viable preservation method at this time. There are many organizations in the information profession that are working to make this a reality (especially the preservation of born-digital objects), but it’s not a reality now, and it’s troubling that it’s mentioned several times in the article as if it were a currently feasible option.

  • Google’s motivation to digitize “the world’s knowledge” is far from clear.

Google’s great for a lot of things, don’t get me wrong. I have a Gmail account, I use Google’s aggregator for my RSS feeds, etc. etc. However, the idea of a private enterprise wooing non-profit institutions into mass digitizations of their collections, with the condition that no other search engine can index the results, makes me a bit uneasy, and I’m not the only one. Brewster Kahle of the non-profit Internet Archive and the related Open Content Alliance, which is currently undertaking an open-content project similar to Google’s, feels the same way. (Shocking that a potential “rival” would disagree with Google’s motivations, I know. :))

  • Google is currently being sued for copyright infringement by the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild.

I’m not sure how, despite constant mentions of both the Google Book Search Project and the hurdles copyright creates for anyone undertaking a project like this, the author failed to mention the copyright infringement lawsuits that Google’s currently in the middle of. Seems like a fairly egregious oversight to me.

Now that I’m done kvetching about the important points that I think the article missed, I want to make myself clear:

 I am not saying that I think libraries should clutch their print-based resources to their bosoms for dear life and run screaming from “teh intarweb.” Far from it. Also, despite my misgivings about Google’s motivations, they, unlike most libraries, have the deep pockets to withstand lawsuits that, with the current copyright laws, were practically inevitable.

 This brings me to my last point: the chronic under-funding of cultural heritage institutions. I’m a bit out of steam by now, so I don’t have a lot of my own thoughts to add…other than to say that it’s a bit depressing since I’ll be out on the job market in a few months and have already seen multiple archival jobs that require a graduate degree and pay less than what I know I could make in a clerical job that requires no post-secondary degree. Disheartening, to say the least.

First, please forgive me for badly mangling the well-known quote: “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Though the post concerns statistics, it’s basically:

1) an excuse for me to complain about shoddy Associated Press fact checking…and sports writing

2) a chance to use my complaint as an (admittedly pretty self-serving)  illustration of why information literacy (not to mention critical thinking skills and a healthy distrust of the media) are so important.

 No, I’m not saying that people live and die because of the reporting of the Big 12 regular season championship. It just happens to be an example of, at best, shoddy reporting and fact checking, and at worst, blatant revisionst history, that got me pretty fired up.

Full disclosure: in case you couldn’t tell, I’m a pretty big Jayhawk fan, and I was at the game (and it was an amazing game). But I digress… 

 This is my recap of the game, which I’ve checked against the (hopefully accurate) play-by-play stats listed on espn.com’s website:

 This Saturday, the University of Kansas Jayhawks’ mens basketball team went up against the Texas Longhorns for the Big 12 regular season championship. The Longhorns’ much-vaunted freshman class, with standouts D.J. Augustin and likely Big 12 Player of the Year Kevin Durant, had just come off of a double overtime victory over Texas A&M and looked hungry to get a piece of the Big 12 regular season championship.  The Longhorns played an amazing first half, scoring 11-14 of their three pointers, had a 57% field goal percentage, and led at one point by 16 points (51-35). Durant had 20 points in the first 10 minutes alone.  KU stayed in the game, playing decently, but were down by 12 points at halftime.

 At the beginning of the second half, KU turned things around, and the Longhorns’ shooting cooled down. At the 16:08 mark in the 2nd half, a two point jumper by Julian Wright pulled KU ahead, 58-59. With KU ahead, 65-69, with approximately 11 minutes left in the 2nd half, Durant turned an ankle and left the game, reappearing four minutes later, still hobbling a bit and scoring only 5 more points. KU won the game, after a few more close calls (and some horrible free-throw shooting) 90-86.

 Why am I giving you so much narrative, you ask? It’s because the AP story reporting on the game (which both espn.com and si.com have posted as a game recap) would lead you to believe that the 24-7 run that put KU in the lead did not occur until after Durant left the game.

The story implies that KU’s win was due primarily to Durant’s injury, even though the lead change and 24-7 run came while Durant was still in the game… a full 5 minutes before his injury.

Basically, it makes it sound like the Jayhawks didn’t win this game fair and square, and it doesn’t give them credit for taking on Durant and the Longhorns and coming out victorious.

Obviously, my opinion is completely biased, and I don’t want to put too fine a point on this; it’s not as though the world hinges on college basketball wins and losses.  I do, however, think it’s a fantastic example of the axiom “Don’t believe everything you read.”

Added at5:03 CDT:

Since I posted, espn.com has updated the offending line quoted above to read: “Kansas put together a 24-7 run to win the game, taking a 59-58 lead on Wright’s basket.”

Si.com’s story, however, remains the same.

 Added at 8:45 CDT: The Associated Press has issued a correction. Hallelujah. Si.com, however, is still incorrect.