Christina's LIS Rant
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
  Automated blog searching for brand information
Pointed out on Topix and by Steven C.
Remember how I talked about searching blogs for product reviews? And how I mentioned that Amazon was aggregating some blog postings? Also, elsewhere on the net there's been some discussion about using blog searching for competitive intelligence (ppt) and to monitor your brand. Now there's a company who has automated that and added the software that uses AI to determine the tone of the posts. Pretty cool, but I'm not sure the score is all that useful. This might also cause trouble for companies who then try to manipulate the blogosphere (see recent NY Times article on Warner, but don't pay them for it, use your local library's database).
  Correction: "do no harm" is not the standard for human subjects research
I incorrectly held Alex Havalais to a higher standard than is used in social science research. A quote from Mark S. Frankel and Sanyin Siang, "Ethical and Legal Aspects of Human Subjects Research on the Internet: A Report of a Workshop, June 10-11, 1999, Washington, DC" Washington: AAAS, November 1999. Available in PDF.
The second principle, beneficence, involves maximizing possible benefits and good for the subject, while minimizing the amount of possible harm and risks resulting from the research. Since the fruits of knowledge can come at a cost to those participating in research, the last principle, justice, seeks a fair distribution of the burdens and benefits associated with research, so that certain individuals or groups do not bear disproportionate risks while others reap the benefits.
If this experiment isn't repeated, and Havalais continues to make the results of his work widely available so that the maximum number of potential Wikipedia users benefit from it, then maybe it is ok. If, on the other hand, if this spawns a bunch of amateur researchers trying to see if they can get something by, then that's too bad.
Also, I don't, in general, believe that users should have their changes deleted based primarily on their IP or login name. I would say that it is within the editor's rights to suspend changes of a user who is in the process of blatantly flaming or posting graffiti -- at least until that user can be contacted.
I would encourage people doing research on Wikipedia to publish their methodology and results in library and information science journals or at least in ACM or IEEE journals so that the research doesn't have to be repeated.
Monday, August 30, 2004
  I'm not the only one rushing to defend Wikipedia
See my post below. I am, however, a bit concerned at some of the criticisms of the school library media specialist. J points to a post aggregating other posts on the original Syracuse article. J, SC, and I all went to library school so we know what's taught about evaluating the authority, etc., of resources. It's a big deal in collection development and in user education/information literacy. My point is that the school librarian should 1) not have used Wikipedia as an example of a bad resource and 2) a more nuanced, sophisticated method needs to be taught when dealing with new resources. Evaluating print materials is pretty much under control. How to evaluate wikis, blogs, and new types of electronic resources is not well taught.

I also feel that it's unethical to intentionally sabotage wiki articles for the sake of testing the reviewers. For a university professor to do that is, well, kind of crappy. The mistakes were caught, but how much time was spent fixing them when it could have been spent improving other articles on the site? In your studies, do no harm! It does matter. Plus, I won't trust any changes he makes from now on -- maybe the wikipedia editors should search his name or IP and delete all his changes.
Friday, August 27, 2004
  The catalog that has a field for spine color
Pointed out again by Garrett
I remember this from a couple of years ago but I couldn't remember which library did this. It's actually a pretty good idea. Now they just need to add image searching (the real image searching where it isn't by words surrounding the image but by the actual colors and shapes) for images on the book cover. After all, most public libraries now have book images linked to the records.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
  Read my review: High - κ Gate Dielectrics
(cross posted with my Sci/Tech blog) Pikas, Christina K. "High - κ Gate Dielectrics" E-Streams v.7 no.8 (August 2004). There was a little font problem. The relative dielectric constant (relative permittivity) is either εr or κ as they use in the title of the book. It comes out in various forms of the review as ? , ! , e. Ah the joy of mathematical or Greek symbols on the web.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
  Frustration with accuracy by formula
Gary posts (scroll) some links to articles ripping Wikipedia. A lot of what is said is true and Gary also links to the pages where the concerns are addressed. My rant is on teachers and school library media specialists who can only teach formulas for determining accuracy. Information literacy is a skill learned over a lifetime. Students of all ages need to be taught how to approach any/all new information sources. Certainly, high school students and college students can be taught more sophisticated techniques than younger children. How many librarians have thrown their hands up because a teacher has banned use of any resource accessed through the internet instead of banning use of "the internet"? Another example: I sat behind a teacher at BloggerCon II last year who was complaining that the proliferation of blogs made it impossible for him to teach students how to use resources accessed on or via the internet. When I was in library school, they gave me a worksheet and pointed me at some web pages and told me to go at it. This is in graduate school and they don't mention any nuances?
Here's some of my model and what I teach people:
Look at the page including formatting, style, grammar, punctuation. Notice if it says who's responsible (this won't make or break the page because Steven Hawking may know absolutely nothing about the eating habits of the North American Pika). Look at when it was last updated. Does the information in it make sense and fit with what you already know? If it disagrees with what you already know, can you find another source to explain the discrepancy? Don't rely on the URL (a college freshman's failing history paper probably won't have the best information even though it's on a .edu site). Does it cite its sources? What are the sources? If you have a chance, look at other pages on the site or archived posts to get an idea of the slant of the writer...
I may add more later, but that's the top of my list. My gist is that just because the Wikipedia articles are not signed doesn't mean they don't have good information.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
  Research Buzz: Yahoo's No-Limit Query Limit As Opposed to Google's
by Tara Calishain 8/19/2004
This site always gets so much coverage in the blogsphere that I seldom even refer to it. This post is so impressive and so helpful that I'm giving in. T.C. has written several books on search engines and she posted a pdf excerpt recently that compared Yahoo to Google. The post linked here expands on that and gives very precise information on how to best use the Yahoo search. She even mentions a search after my own heart:
How about a search that uses the inurl: syntax to isolate Movable Type weblog content at all the universities in California? (perhaps inurl:mt and inurl:cgi-bin as your search modifier?)

Wow. Good job.
Friday, August 20, 2004
  NY Times Circuits: Making a Web Search Feel Like a Stroll in the Library
by Anne Eisenberg 8/19/04. Pointed out by Gary I almost stopped breathing when I read: "A visit to the school library was once a necessity before writing term papers or reports. But nowadays many students use the Internet as their library." I think I actually did turn purple; but, she later says: "the Internet cannot replace many of the built-in benefits of the library."
She talks about the serendipity of finding things in the stacks, but with most libraries going virtual, that's not the only problem. The problem is that the best resources are often the expensive databases and reference materials your library subscribes to and which you can't get to without the magic library card or IP address.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
  BloggerCon 2004
In Palo Alto?! Maybe November 6. It's still up for comment; so, if you have strong objections, let them know.
  ISTL Summer 2004 has been posted
link via PAMnet 8/17/2004
This is an open access e-journal on sci/tech librarianship.
Friday, August 13, 2004
  Furl - Export Your Archive- Now Exports in Bibliographic Formats!
This is cool. You can export any category of your collection to one of 4 major bibliographic formats. I think I actually asked for RIS format for importing into my ProCite, but this is a good, too. Compare to CSA's QuikBib. With all the librarys buying EndNote and Reference Manager and Furl adding this... there's NO excuse for full grown scientists and engineers not to properly cite their references!
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
  Read my review: Communication Patterns of Engineers
Pikas, Christina K. "Communications Patterns of Engineers" E-Streams v.7 no.7 (July 2004).
Monday, August 09, 2004
  oreilly.com: We the Media
by Dan Gillmor (Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly, 2004). (update: Pointed out by Tim Wu on Lessig's Blog)
Gillmor's new book is free full text online under the "Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 License."
  law.com: Movie Filtering Gets Legal Close-Up
8/9/2004 by Gary Young from "The National Law Journal" (pointed out via daily law.com e-mail)
"The House Judiciary Committee recently approved the 'Family Movie Act,' a bill that would immunize some manufacturers and retailers of movie-filtering technology from trademark and copyright worries. "
UGH! So Congress basically strengthens copyright laws when in Disney's best interests, and then ignores them for other companies? What about the director's vision for the movie? Can't people watching select only G or PG movies if that's what they want to see? Won't the stories be disrupted? At least some writers get to approve abridgements of their books for audio tape, but this doesn't let the auteur weigh in. Gee, it's getting so that anything with "family" or "values" in it gives me the creeps.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
  Amazon.com: Early Adopters
Pointed out on beSpacific 8/1/04
I've discussed why someone might want to search across blogs -- competitive intelligence, how-to information, networking information, marketing, to find man-on-the-street opinions, AND to find unsolicited product reviews. S. Pacifici points out that Amazon is doing just that. They are aggregating electronics information from blogs. As she points out, it's really just from 2 blogs right now. You can do the same thing on your own by searching in Feedster, Waypath, Blogdigger, or using some of my tricks in a major search engine. Of course, when these posts are aggregated, you lose some of the context that helps you decide on the reliability of the information. It's better, probably, to use something besides Amazon's tool for this so that you can get a broader mix of sources. Then, just like in the Olympics, drop the very high and the very low and get the gist of the reviews.

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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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