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Carnegie and Other Library Philanthropy Misrepresented by NYTimes 2011/11/09

Posted by nydawg in Archives.
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Leave it to the NYTimes to misrepresent Andrew Carnegie’s library philanthropy in hopes to suggest that one former Microsoft employee is even more generous. This article seems to be implying that any collection of “Dr. Seuss of Cambodia” books or unsold books of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” would also qualify as a library! In my opinion, the brilliance of Carnegie’s Library philanthropy was that it required municipalities to make a commitment and buy in, and to provide land, continued funding and books, but we all know (don’t we?) that the best libraries actually hire professional librarians.

“ONE of the legendary triumphs of philanthropy was Andrew Carnegie’s construction of more than 2,500 libraries around the world. It’s renowned as a stimulus to learning that can never be matched — except that, numerically, it has already been surpassed several times over by an American man you’ve probably never heard of.. . . “He faced one challenge after another, not only in opening libraries but also in filling them with books that kids would want to
read. ”


Does the Kindle Fire Threaten iPad Tablet Market? 2011/09/28

Posted by nydawg in Information Technology (IT), Intellectual Property, Media.
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For nearly a year, people have been hoping for some type of competition to Apple’s iPad.  Well, this news release may be the next in a series of possibilities, but since it comes from Amazon, it may hold some promise.  Personally, I don’t think it really is an iPad killer, but  I think time will tell if there really is a “market” for tablet computers.  In the meantime, though, this new technology will provide another example of a cloud computer which forces consumers (or end users) to rely on locked-in cloud storage to access their information. Though I don’t totally buy into the hype that Kindle Fire will compare favorably with the iPad, some (like Ars Technica) do. . . .

“Amazon’s Kindle Fire is likely to be the first successful tablet not sold by Apple, and there are several good reasons for it: the low price of $199, the convenient, portable size of 7 inches, and a rich catalog of books, movies and music offered through Amazon’s Web-based services. But Amazon’s smartest move was to avoid the fatal temptation of creating an iPad clone. ”

If you check out the comments section, you’ll see that a better comparison may be between the Kindle Fire and the Barnes and Noble Color Nook. . . . .  Ultimately, I think that one of the biggest differences is (obviously) size!  Though my interactions with iPads have been limited to a handful, I think the 10″ screen is better suited to reading full-page essays and articles and etc.  On my own eReader/Tablet (by Entourage), I find it annoying to read small print and try to zoom in and then move forward and etc.  But that’s what you get with a 7″ screen (or two).  Alas, I don’t think the Kindle Fire is a dead on arrival, because unlike the iPad, it may allow end users to access Flash videos and retrieve content from the Amazon Cloud. . .   On the other hand, though, the price is cheap ($200), and a Kindle eReader now sells for only $79! So in the long-tun, as an appliance to access content stored on the Cloud, this may work out well for Amazon, as long as they don’t lose too much money on each loss-leader sold, and can make it back on licensing fees.

And one last consideration is the E Ink technology (“As its engineers explain it, “electronic ink is a straightforward fusion of chemistry, physics and electronics to create this new material.” “) which was so good for battery-life.  With this new color tablet option, it will be interesting to see how long batteries last– especially when playing Flash videos.  Oh, and one other thing, like the iPad, the Fire does NOT have a USB port either!  Meanwhile, somewhere in Redmond, WA, Bill Gates weeps!

CLIR: Future Generations Will Know More About the Civil War than the Gulf War 2011/09/22

Posted by nydawg in Archives, Best Practices, Digital Archives, Education, Electronic Records, Information Technology (IT), Records Management.
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When I was in Queens College Graduate Library School six years ago, I took Professor Santon’s excellent course in Records Management which led me to understand that every institution has to manage its records and its assets and Intellectual Property.   The vital role the archive and records center play for every day use and long-term functions was made clear by the fact that records have a life cycle, basically creation – – use – – destruction or disposition.   The course was excellent, despite the fact that the main text books we used were from the early 1990s (and included a 3 1/4″ floppy that ran on Windows 3.1).

While doing an assignment, I found a more recent article which really led me to a revelation: electronic records will cause a lot of problems!  The one part that stuck out most and I still remember to this day was in a 2002 article “Record-breaking Dilemma” in Government Technology.  “The Council on Library and Information Resources, a nonprofit group that supports ways to keep information accessible, predicts that future generations will know more about the Civil War than the Gulf War. Why? Because the software that enables us to read the electronic records concerning the events of 1991 have already become obsolete. Just ask the folks who bought document-imaging systems from Wang the year that Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Not only is Wang no longer in business, but locating a copy of the proprietary software, as well as any hardware, used to run the first generation of imaging systems is about as easy as finding a typewriter repairman. ” (emphasis added)

Obviously that article impacted my thinking about the Digital Dark Ages greatly, and it got me to wondering what will best practices be for managing born-digital assets or electronic records for increasingly long periods of time on storage media that is guaranteed for decreasing periods of time.  Or  “”We’re constantly asking ourselves, ‘How do we retain and access electronic records that must be stored permanently?'” she said. ”  Well, this gets to the crux of the issue, especially when records managers and archivists aren’t invited into the conversations with IT.  So when we are using more and more hard drives (or larger servers even in the cloud), “Hard-drive Makers Weaken Warranties“.  In a nutshell : “Three of the major hard-drive makers will cut down the length of warranties on some of their drives, starting Oct. 1, to streamline costs in the low-margin desktop disk storage business.”

So if we’re storing more data on storage media that is not for long-term preservation, then records and archival management must be an ongoing relay race, with appropriate ongoing funding and support, as more and more materials are copied or moved from one storage medium to another, periodically, every 3-5 years (or maybe that will soon be  1-3 years?).   Benign neglect is no longer a sound records management strategy.

That’s the technological challenge.  But there’s more!  I’ve gone on and on and on before about NARA’s ERA program and how one top priority is to ingest 250 million emails from the Bush Administration.  (I’ve done the math, it works out to nearly one email every second of the eight years.)  So we know that NARA is interested in preserving electronic records.  But a couple years ago I read this scary Fred Kaplan piece, “PowerPoint to the People: The urgent need to fix federalarchiving policies” in which he learned that “Finally—and this is simply stunning—the National Archives’ technology branch is so antiquated that it cannot process some of the most common software programs. Specifically, the study states, the archives “is still unable to accept Microsoft Word documents and PowerPoint slides.””

Uhhhhh, wait!  Well, at least that was written in 2009, so we can hope they have gotten their act together, but if you think about it too much, you might wonder if EVERYTHING NEEDED TO ARCHIVE IS ON MICROSOFT’S PROPRIETARY FORMATS?  Or you might just be inspired to ask if anyone really uses Powerpoint in the military.  Well, as Kaplan points out “This is a huge lapse. Nearly all internal briefings in the Pentagon these days are presented as PowerPoint slides. Officials told me three years ago that if an officer wanted to make a case for a war plan or a weapons program or just about anything, he or she had better make the case in PowerPoint—or forget about getting it approved.”  Or this piece from the NYTimes “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Powerpoint” in which “Commanders say that behind all the PowerPoint jokes are serious concerns that the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making. Not least, it ties up junior officers — referred to as PowerPoint Rangers — in the daily preparation of slides, be it for a Joint Staff meeting in Washington or for a platoon leader’s pre-mission combat briefing in a remote pocket of Afghanistan.”

We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is PowerPoint

The Slow, Long & Inevitable Legacy of MS’s Cracked Windows 2010/12/22

Posted by nydawg in Digital Archives, Digital Preservation, Electronic Records, Information Technology (IT), Intellectual Property.
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Digital Legacy

Avoiding Digital Extinction

Someday when people wonder about primary causes of the “Digital Dark Ages“, some may recall that Once upon a time, there was a company with enormous continued market share (e.g. at a time they had 90-95% market shares of  browsers & operating systems!) from the 1980s-2010s.  And slowly, like the dinosaurs, they lost market share, disappeared and took with it access to the company’s widespread legacy proprietary formats. . . . So Buyer Beware: many early Microsoft Word documents and PowerPoint presentations are at risk and may be lost forever- – unless they are converted to an open (e.g. non-proprietary) standard like PDF/A.

“The trouble for Microsoft is that its core business is so huge that it indeed warrants defending. Its Windows operating system and Office suite of applications together generated around 60 percent of Microsoft’s sales in the 2010 fiscal year. But time and again, Microsoft’s focus on defending these areas appears to have come at the expense of timely strategic thinking about how to expand into promising new areas.

In the 1990s, Web searching, for example, seemed like a niche service or tool that could be found and used anywhere. Many companies failed to realize that algorithmic search could be commoditized and become an immensely profitable business.  Google, the search kings, has proven it to be a goldmine by using it as a way to attract Web surfers who could then be re-directed toward other experiences including services that Microsoft previously dominated, including e-mail, instant messaging, documents, word processing, digital calendars, etc.

Can I trademark “commoditized”?!

Real all about it:

If you control the search, you focus the find.