Thursday, October 22, 2009

Death of a hero

Back in 1992 when I went to University, me and my mates had a ritual for Friday night. A sad one, but one we enjoyed. Go to the gym, get the weekly shop (with a four pack as a minimum amount of drink) go back to our University accommodation, put on our tune and go out for the night. That tune was called weekender by flowered up. Seventeen years have passed and although me and my friends keep in regular contact, we were all sad to hear the lead singer from the band had died. Feels like a piece of my youth has been taken from me.

Mash up American styleeee.......

(Found via here) in the UK we have Middlemash, but in the USA we have World Cat Mashathon in Seattle . There is a payment for it (and for us in the UK, travel expenses maybe incurred). Anyhow, looks an interesting event.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

BBC and book piracy

Over on the BBC website, they have an article entitled Are we due a wave of book piracy? Coming as it does with other discussions on the subject, such As Tim Spalding's article and other bloggers comments, its another interesting look at the problems and advantages of e-books.

Library Survey

(Found via here). If any one has time their is a library survey here. The Survey, we are told is:-

I am conducting research for my book Effective Blogging for Libraries (working title), from Neal-Schuman as part of its forthcoming Tech Set series created by Ellyssa Kroski. The book is almost complete, but I need your help! I am looking to find out what has and has not worked with library blog(s).

Anyone got time, it only takes a couple of minutes to complete.

Middlemash is open

As mentioned previously, there is a Library mash up event being held at Birmingham University on the 30th of November,2009. You can book via this link, at £15.00 (plus vat).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dame Lynne Brindley at Senate House

As mentioned yesterday, today I went to the Charles Holden talk with Dame Lynne Brindley. It started off with a brief talk about Senate house friends and the events that the did and what they paid for within the library. The Emma Robinson, former Senate house director formally introduced Dame Lynne Brindley and discussed the British Libraries 'cultural diplomacy'.
Brindley described the British library as 'one of the greatest libraries in the world'. She discussed how the BL supports research and makes around £22 to 25 million from the work it does for business, which is then re-invested in the library. The BL website also receives 75000000 hits per year we were told.

She then proceeded to discuss the shrinking world and 'the response to the challenges of the digital age'. In today's age Brindley discussed how users expect to get there information may vary, but many expect it electronically. She said the BL was 'responding to the challenges of the digital age.'

She briefly touch on whether libraries have a future. Although she felt they did, she did see that with the question being raised, that that shows it is being though about.

She then proceeded to discuss cultural diplomacy and the international engagement strategy, which has 5 aims:-

  1. Restoring and sustaining cultures.

  2. Virtual reunification's of collections.

  3. Capacity building.

  4. Professional leadership.

  5. Digital development.

She then discussed some of the important work the British library is doing. For example, the International Dunhuang project. This looks at the ancient silk road maps in Asia.

The she discussed the Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. This garnered 96000000 hits in its first two days. Other things were discussed such as Web Curator briefly, but it then proceeded to a Q & A. Oh what fun.

Question 1 was 'why is the BL so badly staffed, with rude staff'. Great opening question. Brindley responded that she would look into it and felt that they provided a service fairly well.

Question 2 was whether the BL might get less money from the Government in the economic downturn. She felt that it could be likely in the present economic climate.

Question 3 was the worst and made my blood boil. Some French researcher/academic who'd used the BL for 40 years felt people from Kings Cross and Euston used the BL as a waiting room, charging there phones up off free electricity of the BL. Excuse me, even if they do they paid for the BL via THERE TAXES. At least they were entering the library and using it. It was if mere plebs are not allowed to use it. Sorry dear, but we are not in the nineteenth century anymore. Brindley smiled, and said the library was open to the public (or as the academic would say, 'the great unwashed' in her mind).

Question 4 was whether the BL would join with google to digitalise the collection. She said no, as they had not 'been mindful of copyright....[but] the ambition is amazing.'

There were some more questions, but I must conclude. My conclusion is that Brindley came over as a great speaker and leader of are national heritage, with foresight and ambition (for culture and not personal) and it was really an interesting evening.

Micromen review

Having the good fortune to have a day off from work, I had the opportunity to watch Micro Men, which I had mentioned last week. The programme looked at the early 1980's rivalry between Sir Clive Sinclair Spectrum computer and his former work colleague Chris Curry and his Acorn computers.
The programme is around an hour and half long, showing there declining relationship, there building new companies and empires, and in the British computing industry getting the most important contract of the early 1980's. This was the BBC computer literacy project. This was designed with an emphasis on education it was notable for its ruggedness, expandability and the quality of its operating system. Acorn won this competition in 1981 and with it, the computer was used on The Computer Programme.
In the next few years we see how fruitful the 2 companies become. Acorn, the programmers toy of choice, whilst the Spectrum is the gamers choice. But both are dissatisfied with there lot, as they want a share of each others market. When the fade of 1984 comes in, as computer aficionado's we know the computing world would never be the same.
Both colleagues take wrong turns, Curry with the doomed electron and Sir Clive's QL. When they finally meet for a drink Curry says 'If we joined together we could have taken on IBM.' Back then, as a teenager it felt like it could have happened.
I do feel this area is rarely covered by social and computer historians. In the 1980's we had great games like Manic Miner & Jet Set Willy by Matthew Smith, who made a fortune and disappeared to commune in Holland. Gaming companies like Imagine Software, who climbed great heights and went belly up before our eyes in a BBC documentary. Very few books have been written on this era excluding one on the Spectrum and a Chapter on the Game Elite (originally made for the BBC and then transported to the Spectrum). Its a shame really.
In all it is a melancholy trip down memory lane, of when we were young, were full of dreams and could take on the world. How middle age makes fools of us all.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The German empire strikes back......against Google

Having mentioned Google's problems last week with publishers,librarians and others over its desire to build a massive digital library, German chancellor Angela Merkel has waded into the debate.

The Guardian says:-

In her weekly video podcast, before the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair this week, Merkel appealed for more international co-operation on copyright protection and said her government opposed Google's drive to create online libraries full of scanned books.

"The German government has a clear position: copyrights have to be protected on the Internet," Merkel said, adding that there were "considerable dangers" for copyright protection online.

The Charles Holden Lecture by Dame Lynne Brindley tomorrow

Senate House is holding the Charles Holden Lecture by Dame Lynne Brindley tomorrow from 6pm.Although I'm off for the day I am going to attend as she will be discussing:-

"The British Library: a library for the world"Outlining the many ways in which the British Library collaborates internationally, including cultural diplomacy projects and the use of new technologies to share texts of international significance with a world-wide audience.

And a wine reception after. Not bad ;)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Guardian poll on the Kindle in the UK

(Found via here) The Guardian yesterday had a poll and discussion on the Kindle coming to the UK. The comments section point out the DRM problems that face Amazon (1, 2 & 3). Worth a read, but I can't see where the Poll is on this though.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

In a Google Planet far, far away........

(Found via here), the New York Times reports that Google, is being taken on by 'a broad array of authors, academics, librarians and public interest groups are fighting the company’s plan to create a huge digital library and bookstore.'
Siva Vaidhyanathan, a critic of Google says 'This was the first issue through which Google’s power became clearly articulated to the public.....All sorts of people — writers, researchers, librarians, academics and readers — really feel they have a stake in the world of books'.
It seems that, at long last people are noting, that in signing over our culture to Google, they maybe doing it for financial gain and not cultural gain.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Britain had a computer revolution in the 1980's.....See it on the BBC

Its often forgotten in the 1980's that Britain had a computer revolution. The ZX80, ZX81, Spectrum, BBC Micro, Dragon Computer and Amstrad CPC to name a few. Between 1980 up to the mid 1980's these were the bastions of British industry. Gates and Jobs were no one in comparison to Sir Clive Sinclair. Well, those Elysium days of my youth playing on some of these machines were great. Anyhow, on Thursday in the UK, BBC 4 is showing a programme called the Micromen in which:-

Legendary inventor Clive Sinclair battles it out with ex-employee Chris Curry, founder of Acorn Computers, for dominance in the fledgling market.

Well, I work late on Thursdays, so I'm going to have to see it on iplayer I suppose [UK viewers only]. Anyhow, catch it if you can.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Why do I do This? Wiki

Following on from my recent blog post entitled Why do I do This? The person who started the original meme for this, pointed me in the direction of a wiki . The wiki has been set up to collate people's blog posts on the subject.

The UK falls behind Latvia and Bulgaria in Broadband terms

A recent report by Oxford University's Säid Business School and the University of Oviedo's Department of Applied Economics has said the UK are 25th in a list of 66 countries in Broadband speeds, falling behind Bulgaria and Latvia in this list. In a world run on data. The top 3 were unsurprisingly S.Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.