Archive for November, 2006

Let’s do the numbers…

Thursday, November 30th, 2006 by GĂĽnter


DISCLAIMER: Only trust a statistic you’ve faked yourself! Well, I didn’t fake it, but I did make a mistake in the list of domains – the data I had originally pulled and posted on 11-28 did not reflect a 3 months period, as I had claimed, but a 15 months period. Turns out that the stats for longer periods do look more meaningful for tracing trends, so I’ve changed the language below to reflect the correct time period covered (from hangintogether’s inception August 1 2005 through November 15 2006.) I also took the opportunity to cast a broader net and look at our top 5 visiting countries in addition to .org, .edu and .gov. That, in turn, prompted me to re-write some of the commentary on the domain session stats. All other data does reflect a 3 month time period as stated, and is (and has been) correct. All due apologies!

What looks like ants crawling up a smear of blue jelly are actually session stats for hangingtogether from its inception on August 1st 2005 through November 15th 2006, and represents one way of trying to evaluate the success of our blog over time. The recent blogging panel at MCN made me curious about what audience we’re actually reaching. Pouring over our webstats using the ever-helpful Urchin, I realized that the numbers wouldn’t really mean much to me unless I had stats from other blogs to compare them to. Well, actually they meant even less until Walt explained to me the basics of how to read some of these stats – thanks, Walt!

I thought this would be a fun thing to do via a meme, and I hope I’m not the only one. I am tagging Walt (no good deed shall go unpunished!), Lorcan and Richard Urban (on behalf of musematic.net) to disclose some of their stats for the 3 months from August 15th 2006 through November 15th 2006, and I hope they’ll make more bloggers tip their hands by tagging others. Let’s start with sessions, IP addresses, number of countries. As a bonus, feel free to throw in a list of the top 30 (or so) domains hitting your blog for a time-period of your choice, of course all the while being fully conscious of the fact that those who digest us through rss readers may go undetected by this method. (For whatever it’s worth, hangingtogether currently enjoys 248 Blogline subscriptions (counting both feeds).)

Hangingtogether Statistics, August 15th 2006 through November 15th 2006
Sessions: total of 119,469, daily average of 1,285 (an approximate measure of how often somebody spent a chunk of time on the blog)
IP Addresses: total 9,413, daily about 105 (an approximate measure of how many individuals visited the blog)
Number of Countries: total 91 (an approximate measure of how international the blog is)

Bonus: I’ve saved the best for last. Here’s a list of the top 35 domains from .edu, .org, .gov and our 5 most visiting countries (.ca, .uk, .jp, .de, .nl) in order of sessions. The time period covered by this statistic is the inception of hangingtogether (08-01-2006) through 11-15-2006 (a total of 15 months, 15 days). Bold means RLG Programs Partner, cursive means we’re having a post-modern moment and reading ourselves. (I claimed the UC Office of the President as a Partner, since I suspect some of the California Digital Library traffic (also under cdlib.org) comes through that domain, but I may be wrong.) I also deleted about half a dozen network providers from the different country domains, since they don’t provide much of a clue in terms of finding out who reads us – it’s just like saying AOL read your blog! Here’s the tally:

oclc.org 13871
uchicago.edu 5341
ucop.edu 4259
ucsd.edu 3041
virginia.edu 3014
dmi.org 2962
columbia.edu 2824
yale.edu 2525
vcu.edu 2261
umich.edu 2186
ucalgary.ca 2111
keio.ac.jp 2079
si.edu 2065
loc.gov 1908
unr.edu 1700
nga.gov 1688
pica.nl 1647
rlg.org 1529
ufl.edu 1392
wheatonma.edu 1234
yorku.ca 901
leeds.ac.uk 898
lsuc.on.ca 868
harvard.edu 866
brynmawr.edu 862
shsu.edu 843
uni-goettingen.de 731
umn.edu 629
upenn.edu 605
swarthmore.edu 563
mobot.org 557
cdlib.org 534
utoronto.ca 513
coloradocollege.edu 493
kb.nl 368

Some random observations:

  • Of the 35 organizations who made the list, 17 are RLG Program Partners, and most others are good friends.
  • The most avid readers of hangingtogether outside of OCLC are at the University of Chicago! Congratulations! Keep coming back!
  • Our most avid readers outside of the US are at the University of Calgary (Canada) with 2,111 sessions, closely followed by Keio University (Japan) with 2,079 sessions. In the UK, the University of Leeds seems to enjoy our offerings (898 sessions), and in Germany, we find the University of Göttingen among the top 35 (731 sessions).
  • Who would have thought the Design Management Institute (dmi.org) accounts for 4% of our sessions?
  • We’ve always thought that UCSD and University of Virginia should be program partners, and here’s the proof – they’re both among our top 5 readers!
  • We’ve had more visits from the Smithsonian (2,065) than from the Library of Congress (1,908), and are generally well-read in the nation’s capital – the National Gallery of Art clocked 1,688 sessions.
  • I wonder what the Law Society of Upper Canada (lsuc.on.ca) is getting out of our blog?
  • Over to you, Walt, Lorcan and Richard!

    Exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

    Wednesday, November 29th, 2006 by GĂĽnter

    Robin Dale, who sits in the cube adjacent to me, alerted me to some wonderful news for the digital preservation community: Library of Congress just issued “Exemptions from Prohibition on Circumvention of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works,” which in essence make it legal for libraries and archives to disable “technological measures that control access to copyrighted works” in order to allow digital preservation activities to be performed on said works. Here’s the exemption of interest:

    2. Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and that require the original media or hardware as a condition of access, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive. A format shall be considered obsolete if the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.

    Among all the cheering and jubilation, I’ll have one persnickety aside: I can’t help but wonder why museums weren’t included in the language – they face the same issue as libraries and archives when trying to preserve works of variable media art, and should by all means enjoy the same rights. I’d be interested in hearing from those of you better versed in the ways of the law whether this is a technicality (i.e. museums are effectually covered), or whether (forgive the pun) museums are exempted from the exemption.

    Who are you blogging for?

    Tuesday, November 21st, 2006 by GĂĽnter

    Richard posted a nifty summary of the session on Blogs I moderated at MCN – I’ve meant to write up some of my notes as a post as well, but it seems that in this instance, I just had to procrastinate for my work to be done! Just like Richard, I was particularly struck that the audience seemed almost exclusively interested in what he terms “museum2people” blogs – the kinds of blogs with which an institution tries to reach and engage their particular audience in a fresh way. Only a few hands went up when I asked who would be interested in writing what Richard terms a “pro2pro” blog (like this here hangingtogether or musematic or fellow-panelist Jenn Riley’s Inquiring Librarian, to give an example from the library world.)

    If you’re interested in the blossoming world of museum blogs, check out Ideum’s museumblogs.org, which syndicates 86 offerings (both p2p and m2p, including hangingtogether!). In his latest posting on Ideum’s own blog, Jim Spadaccini (the purveyor of museumblogs.org) claims that the museumblogosphere is growing at the healthy clip of 1o blogs/month, and despite the current focus on m2p blogs, I’m looking forward to seeing more p2p coming our way in the future!

    Moving Museums to the Network Level

    Wednesday, November 15th, 2006 by GĂĽnter

    One of the most stimulating events of this year’s MCN conference in Pasadena was Ken Hamma’s keynote on Thursday morning. In essence, Ken shared a vision of how museums can exploit the dynamics of the networked environment to become more cost efficient and relevant. Ken admonished the audience that if we don’t do a better job of adjusting to this brave new world, we may as well find ourselves in the same position as the recording industry – marginalized by the new online business opportunities it failed to grasp. (Anybody snatch up a CD at the Tower Records liquidation sale recently?). Some highlights from Ken’s talk:

  • Ken encouraged the assembled 300 museum information professionals to keep their priorities straight: he criticized museums for continuing to elevate brand value over social value. As Ken sees it, emphasizing social values such as allowing digital images to enter the marketplace of education more freely can ultimately be harnessed to generate brand value. The web-traffic generated by link-backs from descriptive records could be captured and capitalized on through various online services.
  • The steep cost of digital technology could be alleviated by exploring the model of placing “big applications” online. Ken asked the audience to consider how much their institutions could save if they didn’t have to purchase, install, maintain and troubleshoot the Microsoft Office suite of products alone, and instead replaced it with online applications such as Zoho. Of course the ultimate conclusion of Ken’s argument would be to consider moving even bigger, costlier systems such as the much-discussed digital asset management systems to the network level, although Ken didn’t make this an explicit thought-experiment for attendees.
  • Ken explained that museums have to figure out how to participate in the network effect offered by placing content online. As we all know, an onsite exhibit reaches a geographically limited audience. An exhibit website containing digital images and descriptions which are only accessible on the institutions website doesn’t leverage the power of the network, while sets of digital imaging propagating themselves through OAI content & service provision optimally exploit the viral network (“endless sharing through one-time sharing”). The graphic above (courtesy of Ken) illustrates the static gallery vs. the viral network. He concluded that “those actions which enhance the network effect are valuable, while those which diminish it are not.”
  • All of this meshes well with what we work on and talk about in RLG Programs, and what we discuss with our colleagues in Research. Lorcan has written extensively about raising libraries to the network-level on his blog – I just picked out one random quote to illustrate:

    How to restructure for working in a network environment is an issue for us all. In particular, over the next few years the library community will increasingly grapple with questions about what to move into shared platform services, what to do locally, and what organizational and structural contexts will tie it all together.

    I’m glad Ken has agreed to serve on the RLG Programs Council to lend a museum voice to this discussion and inform our thinking! He certainly managed to cast the decisions museums face in a more strategic framework for MCN attendees, and his talk was widely quoted throughout the rest of the conference. For a whirwind tour of some of the other themes at MCN, check out Holly’s post on Musematic.net.

    Rediscovering “It” Online

    Tuesday, November 14th, 2006 by Constance

    Anne’s posting prompts me to recall a favorite book from my own childhood: Edith Nesbit’s Five Children and It (1902), in which a group of young Londoners, exiled to the countryside, unearth It. “It” is an ill-tempered sand fairy (the Psammead) who, only after some good-natured badgering, agrees to grant the children one wish each day. The wishes — “to grow wings and fly” for example — provide high adventure, but ultimately fail to deliver the hoped for outcomes. The novel unfolds as a series of expectations gone awry.

    While the storyline is formulaic enough, the Psammead was a welcome counterpoint to the benign flower girls that dominated the fairy market of my youth; the sand fairy is unbecoming, largely immobile, and given to aphoristic pronouncements (“autres temps, autres moeurs” it quips) that baffle the children — at least for the length of one chapter. My sister and I unearthed “It” in the children’s collection at the Santa Rosa Public Library during one of our regular foraging trips. I suppose we were about 10 years old at the time.

    What could a couple of latch-key kids in California have in common with the cosseted children in Nesbit’s nursery? First, a liberating absence of parental control and second, a childish conviction that adventure is a fundamental right stingily withheld by those more concerned with social convention than sensible enjoyment of life. My real-life Mama was a bona fide beatnik who instilled a healthy disregard for social order in all her girls — how amusing it seems now that our little cultural rebellion consisted of shelving old-fashioned English children’s literature alongside the paperback editions of Robert Creeley’s love poems and de Lautreamont’s Les Chants de Maldoror (1965 ed., trans. Guy Warnham). For a child, “It” was right at home amongst these books, part of a familiar landscape of poetry and storytelling that begins with a longing for escape and ends with a longing for home. We simply appropriated a bit of the collectively-owned library collection and inserted it into the right spot on our own shelf.

    The Psammead — perpetually seeking escape from the children — reminded me of a family friend who was equally as gruff, dismissive and also as spontaneously generous to us. Sal was as capricious and potent an ally as any sand fairy could be, autres temps notwithstanding. The children themselves, with their fractious sibling disputes and love/hate relationship with parental authority, were perfectly recognizable as peers, in spite of their pinafores and bows. As for the wish-come-true storyline — well, each fleeting wish only lasts for a day, and always delivers something different from what was wanted. It was a perfect fit with the unpredictable life of a single-parent household, constantly uprooted and chasing each opportunity that presented itself.

    I can immediately recall the library binding on “It” — a kind of royal blue, in a dimpled and heavily varnished fabric — and the dimensions — slightly larger than a brick. An octavo, I guess. My sister and I placed a joint request with Santa for a copy of our own, to be read side by side while sprawled on the floor. At the time, the book was out of print (or so we were told…) and Santa’s search ended in disappointment: out of print meant out of reach. Today, the situation is reversed: the text, freed from the confines of copyright, has become a free and widely available public good online. I think Edith, a life-long Fabian, would approve.

    FictionFinder does a nice job of clustering all of the various manifestations of this fine fairy tale within single “superwork”. (I was a little disappointed the Psammead didn’t merit an entry in the browsable index of fictional characters; I guess someone else will have to incorporate “It” into another story before that will happen.) If you want to find a copy of the book, for purchase or loan, WorlCat.org is a good place to start. There, bourgeois mums (or the nannies in their employ) can purchase a new edition. Single-parent households (at least those led by music teachers) may still prefer a trip to the local library. As a child of 60′s, I’m happiest with the versions that have been released into the public sphere, to be shelved anywhere you like. I like the TEI-encoded version from Indiana (encoded by Perry Willet, no less), which offers all the advantages of full-text searching, and the (free!) audiobook version is also pretty neat — but the page images from a 1905 edition at the Library of Congress provided the nostalgic satisfaction I was looking for — minus the hue of the binding. You can also download a plain text version from Project Gutenberg. The Psammead has lost none of his magic. Next time I’m in Santa Rosa, I’ll be sure to look him up.

    Children’s Book Week – a tribute to my nephews

    Monday, November 13th, 2006 by Anne

    Here at hangingtogether.org we don’t often blog about our personal stuff or interests beyond our professional ones. The fact that this is Children’s Book Week gives us the rare opportunity to let you in on some of our feelings and relationships to children’s books. We were challenged to blog about this by our colleagues over at It’s All Good – Eric Childress suggested we do a “blog wave” about this so, here goes. I’ll go first and see if any of my fellow bloggers want to add their own posts – though most of them are traveling and one of them is home with a brand new child of her very own.

    My two favorite children’s books are those written by my nephew, Richard Van Camp. He has published two children’s books, “A Man Called Raven”, and “What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?”. You can check them out on WorldCat.org to find them in a library. I understand that Richard also has a third children’s book coming out called “A Welcome Song for Baby: A Lullaby for Newborns.” And in 2008, every newborn baby in British Columbia will receive a copy of the book.

    Richard Van Camp is a proud member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation from Fort Smith, NWT, Canada. A graduate of the En’owkin International School of Writing, the University of Victoria’s Creative Writing BFA Program, and the Master’s Degree in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia, Richard currently teaches Creative Writing for Aboriginal Students at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. He has also written a darker, coming of age book called The Lesser Blessed and a collection of short stories in Angel Wing Splash Pattern.

    The children’s books he has written are wonderfully illustrated by Cree artist, George Littlechild. The reason I like these books so much is that they reflect a deep connection to the universe of animals and the continuum of life in all its manifestations. They also reflect the child spirit that lives within Richard who is one of the most fascinating, complicated and delightful nephew that one could have. Mahsi Cho! Thank you Richard for these wonderful stories.

    Richard is only one of my very special nephews. I have many of them and thought I would share with you some comments from consumers of children’s books, my nephews Eric and David Van Camp who live in Minneapolis. I put them to the challenge to tell me their favorite books, find them in WorldCat.org, show us the citation and tell us why they like the books they selected.

    This is Eric’s favorite:
    Eragon
    by Christopher Paolini
    • Type: English : Book : Fiction : Secondary (senior high) school Internet Resource
    • Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2003.
    • ISBN: 0375826688 0375926682
    • OCLC: 52251450
    • Subjects: Fantasy. | Dragons — Fiction. | Youths’ writings.
    “Its about midevil ages and its a book about a teenager who rides a dragon on his journeys to avenge the death of his uncle. These 2 guys under the emperors control wanted the egg so they burned down his uncles house and then he goes out to avenge the crime but learns the are too tough and he joins the resistance. There is a lot of suspense and a lot of action.”

    And this is David’s:

    The ruins of Gorlan
    by John Flanagan
    • Type: English : Book : Fiction : Elementary and junior high school
    • Publisher: New York : Philomel Books, 2005.
    • ISBN: 0399244549
    • OCLC: 57237595
    • Subjects: Adventure stories. | Coming of age — Fiction. | Heroes — Fiction. | Fantasy.

    “This book is about a kid who is trained by the rangers, a sort of military branch. He learns stealth specialization fighting techniques. He uses his skills to fight for his people against the kalkara a species obsessed with obtaining silver. David likes this book because its one of the many fiction stories that entertain him. I like the writing of the story and the story alone and the author gives you a good picture of his world.”

    Seems to me we ought to use the users for reviews on some of these things. Thank you David and Eric.

    OK other bloggers – tell us what you want about children’s books. And to all my other wonderful nephews, we will get to you another day.
    Cheers,
    Anne

    Not yet laid to rest – Digital Images in the Classroom

    Friday, November 3rd, 2006 by GĂĽnter


    I live in San Francisco’s Mission district, a neighborhood teeming with Mexican and Latin American immigrants, where Dia de Los Muertos gets honored with a fantastic parade and exhibit of altars in Garfield Park. During a pre-parade party at a friends house last night, I met a woman who teaches studio art as an adjunct at Stanford and UC Santa Cruz. We had a lively conversation, which quickly turned to the use of digital images in the classroom (don’t all cocktail conversations?)… and her frustration with said topic. Since she mainly teaches contemporary sculpture, she finds it extremely difficult to get her hands on anything worth projecting in digital form. She tried ARTstor at Stanford, but claims that the interface confused her to a degree that she just gave up. I oracled that I was certain her local art librarian would be delighted to show her the ropes, and she acknowledged how wonderful librarians are once you take the time to talk to them. More frustration: even if she can find an image of a sculpture, it usually doesn’t quite show the angle of the piece bringing out the particular feature she’d like to discuss. She also mentioned that a slide projector on eBay was about $40, and she just bought one. I’d claim this is a user we should strive to serve better!

    All of this caused flashbacks of the conversations me and some of my program colleagues had with faculty at Stanford, UC Berkeley and University of Southern California a couple of years ago, and it also reminded me that there are two brand-new studies in this area which I still haven’t gotten around to digesting yet. A CLIR/Rice University report on Art History and Its Publications in the Electronic Age states as its number 1 recommendation:

    Organize a campaign to break down barriers to access and distribution of images, in all media and at affordable prices, for scholarly research and publication.

    While this recommendation speaks to the availability of digital images, a report commissioned by NITLE and Wesleyan University (based on four hundred survey responses plus three hundred individual interviews with faculty / staff at 33 colleges and universities), authored by David Green, makes its number 1 recommendation faculty tools for enhanced management and sharing of the images:

    Develop and share tools and services to assist faculty in organizing, cataloging and managing their personal digital collections, in a user-centered content model.

    The little I have read of both reports makes me want to read more (and I hope I managed to wet your appetite as well), and it gives me hope that at another cocktail party in the not-too-distant future, I’ll find the faculty members present more impressed with the image resources available to them.

    Archival scams

    Wednesday, November 1st, 2006 by Merrilee

    I recently heard that emails have been making the rounds to archives and special collections, along the lines of the Nigerian businessman spams. The emails go like this:

    We have a great collection to donate to you (and that would fit nicely in with your current holdings), but we’re having some problems with cash flow at the moment and would like your institution to pay shipping and customs charges, and naturally we’ll reimburse you once this is all behind us…

    Something to watch out for.

    Picked up from the Archives discussion list last week.