April 29, 2004

"Too Paranoid is an Oxymoron"

Thus spake Vasil Kolev in an Orkut thread today. His comment was in response to someone who posted a link to the article Spooky Little Orkut, which I haven't really had time to read, and at first skim does seem to have the tone of a hysterical conspiracy theorist, but that doesn't invalidate anything. Just the facts, ma'am, that's what I'm after.

April 28, 2004

Comments Feature Now Available

Since a few people are actually reading my blog (due to Orkut), I decided to get the comments thing going. It was incredibly easy. Thanks, Haloscan!

April 27, 2004

CFP 2004 Gmail Panel

It's good to be back in the flow. I was searching for info on whether or not you can get Gmail to sort the emails in a given window. It's all about search, but what if I want to display my found set alphabetically by subject, or by sender, as I can do in Eudora?

Searching Google for gmail sort emails I came across a cool blog entry of Joe Hall's, which led me to info about the CFP Plenary, which led me to a blog of the plenary session itself (pretty cool). And to think two or three weeks ago I didn't even know what CFP was until Mary mentioned it.

Another Convert!

Geesh, Google oughta put me on the payroll or sumpin! I'm beta testing Orkut and Gmail, and now I'm turning other people on to Blogger. My friend Mary decided that it might be a good idea for her to publish a Blog about breaking library law related news, since she is an expert on that topic. And let's face it, it's a lot easier to slap something up on a blog than to edit your website. At least it somehow *feels* easier. She asked me what blogging system I recommended and I hemmed and hawed quite a bit weighing the pros and cons of RSS, categorization, comments, etc. But in the end, I said, if you want free with zero learning curve, Blogger is it. And voila, within an hour she had set up the fantabulous new Library Law blog. If you read it, though, you'll find out she's not so happy with Blogger's lack of features ...

Brad Templeton's Gmail Article Strikes a Balance

This was a good one to read as a follow up to the two I posted about last week.

April 21, 2004

Read Two Good Articles Today

The first was Tim O'Reilly weighing in on The Fuss About Gmail and Privacy: Nine Reasons Why It's Bogus. I get it. I do. I'm starting to come around to the prevailing geek attitude towards the Gmail product. But I still don't trust the current administration, and I think things like Gmail are a good vehicle for raising larger concerns over privacy and whether or not our government cares one whit about it. I also really liked Tim's point that one of the things people *should* be asking about Gmail, or about any product that "lives on the network" as opposed to your own desktop, is who owns the data?

The second article, Big Brother Gets Wired, assured me that my paranoia over how low the government will go is *not* paranoia at all. The article is about *my* ISP, the most popular local one in my town, and the fact that the owner of it would rather close up shop than kowtow to the recent FBI proposal that the FCC "require all broadband Internet providers to rewire their networks to support easy wiretapping by police." I am really glad I live in a granola-eating kind of town that cares about this stuff. The article caused me to surf over to EFF, where I found this form where you can register your displeasure with this insane idea. As soon as I submit the form I'm going to stick my ostrich head back in the sand because, geez, it's a scary world out here.

Adam Lasnik Rules! (So does RSS)

That's right, Lasnik, not Rifkin (Orkut joke).

I blogged a link to Adam's Gmail review on April 16th, so I'm guessing that's how he found me. Or it could have been through Orkut. But anyway, he told me my RSS feed was messed up. Frankly, I didn't even remember that I had tried to create an RSS feed at all. But his email motivated me to take a few minutes to straighten it all out, and it was really easy. Now I'm registered with Bloglines and I can see my own blog in there. Damn it's cool. RSS so friggin rocks. And Bloglines will be a way better system for managing a blogroll than editing my blogger template (although it will probably take me another few months to getting around to figuring out how *that* whole thing works).

So anyway, props to Adam. Stop by and visit his blog Bladam.

I just noticed his tagline starts with "musings on ..." just like mine. I didn't copy it from him, I swear. Guess it's a pretty obvious choice for a blog.

April 20, 2004

The Proud, The Few, The GMail Beta Testers

Apparently, being a GMail beta tester this early in the game is a bigger deal than I realized. Jason Shellen was bombarded with requests from people who wanted accounts, complete strangers on Orkut are begging me for an account (which I have absolutely no authority to give), and the number of users so far is said to number in only the thousands.

I, for one, have never really understood the appeal of free web-based email. I mean, I have to pay for my ISP anyway. They don't have free ISPs yet that I know of, I can read my regular email through my ISPs web-based interface, so what do I need free email for?

I'm glad to be a beta tester though, because it's really neat sending test emails and seeing whether GMail can come up with appropriate contextual ads or links. Also trying to figure out if their different conceptual approach to managing email (labels vs. folders, archive but don't delete, powerful search) is useful.

And surprisingly, Orkut is really coming in handy for breaking news. I found out today that select Bloggers were offered a GMail account when they logged in to Blogger today. And these are not just high profile Bloggers (some of whom Jason Shellen had already offered accounts). But it's not across the board, either. Maybe the Blogger team just had some fun offering accounts to people who's blogs they liked (almost assuredly a grammatical error in my punctuation there). I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere on the web yet. My guess is GMail is really ramping up so they can unleash to a wider audience ASAP.

[edit] I found out the next day that Evan Williams blogged the Blogger Gmail offer, but not until 6:59 pm.

April 16, 2004

A Thorough Review of Gmail

Google's Gmail - An in-depth look

Getting Sucked into the Google Vortex

I've been invited to beta test Gmail and I can't seem to stay away from Orkut for more than 24 hours ... I feel like I'm getting sucked into a strange Google-land and I'm not sure where it's heading, but it does lead me to many, many things I never would have known about before, such as Subservient Chicken, and this fascinating blog entry on The Secret Source of Google's Power.

April 12, 2004

You're Not Preserving Me!

Noticed this link in the sideblog of infozo: moron librarian. It makes me laugh because lately I've been using the graphic above for my profile on Orkut, and just itching to aim those lasers right at Ashcroft.

TMB - Too Many Blogs

There's 462 LIS blogs listed in Open Directory as of today. The category is edited by Greg Schwartz, the Open Stacks blogger. He seems to be doing a great job with his dmoz category, and yet I'm sure there's a lot of stuff missing. How can one possibly keep up with this kind of information explosion? The mind boggles. Or Bloggles. Whatever. It's enough to make me not want to read any of them because there are too many. Hence RSS, I guess. Anyway, sometimes it's hard to keep up with technological innovations when you're not using them directly for your job. Luckily, we *are* looking into how we can leverage RSS in our work but it is kind of on the back burner.

April 11, 2004

What Kind of Archivist Am I?

"Where are the archives?" you may be asking yourself. Apologies. Since I'm hosting this on my own ISP's server, I haven't yet gotten around to setting up folders for the archives. Patience, dear readers, changes are coming. I am also still contemplating moving to a different blogging interface since Blogger does not seem to be in a rush to support categorization, and we all know how desparately librarians need to categorize things.

Gmail Again (and the Patriot Act)

This Motley Fool article reflects my basic sentiments on Gmail. Again, I realize I may be reacting on an emotional level more than a logical level, but retained data is retained data. It has both commercial value and value to snooping feds.

That is why I have respect and admiration for the stance taken by Anne Turner of the Santa Cruz public library system. (See also.) Ms. Turner not only posts signs warning patrons that their borrowing history could be monitored, she has also instituted a practice of shredding daily internet sign-up sheets. She is one rockin' librarian!

April 09, 2004

Worship Me

I'm super late with this meme but I don't want to forget to record it for posterity - Jenny Levine's Shifted Librarian reminded me of it's existence ...

Why You Should Fall to Your Knees and Worship a Librarian.

Intelligent Human Language

I admit it, today I did a quick google search for "intelligent human agent" just to see who was infringing on my trademark. My favorite hit was this Finnish student's research paper proposal.

This got me wondering why, exactly, we all seem to find "Engrish" so amusing.

April 08, 2004

Dead Archive Source

OK, this may *seem* unrelated to the mission of this blog, but believe me, it's not. I never have time to read other people's blogs but today I took a quick look at Library Stuff because it was on Blogger's home page as a "Blog of Note" (congratulations, Steven!).

Steven had a good tip about yet another place to get recordings of Dead Shows.

Deadheads have long been pioneers of cyber communities (legend has it that Deadheads started the Well, and John Perry Barlow is a big force behind EFF), and they keep some pretty mean databases, too. Many of them are detail-oriented folks, I guess. Check out Deadbase for a shining example.

April 07, 2004

What is Your Data Worth?

No such thing as a free lunch. I *do* understand why a company providing me with a free email service might be justified in reaping some monetary benefit from my demographic info ... but do y'all realize how *valuable* this stuff is to marketers?

Here's a nifty tool that drives the point home:
The SWIPE Toolkit

Link courtesy of a post from the "Google is the Devil" Orkut community
(no, I'm not a member of that one ...).

April 01, 2004


A colleague and former professor, Mary Minow, clued me in to the whole google gmail thing early today. My initial response was like many others - just an April Fool's Day thing. But it ain't so. Mary and I are like-minded in our concerns for privacy issues, and the whole adwords Gmail thing just doesn't SMELL right. Another very close friend, however, argues that email is already scanned by machines to detect spam, so how is scanning in order to serve ads different? My reply is that I just don't want Ashcroft and Poindexter getting a hold of these technologies, or subpoenaing Google to deliver information to keep us all secure.

There's already a pretty big loophole, it seems to me, in Google's published privacy policy for Gmail:

"Google employees do not access the content of any mailboxes unless you specifically request them to do so (for example, if you are having technical difficulties accessing your account) or if required by law, to maintain our system, or to protect Google or the public." read more

What if someone decides they need "protection" from subversive, left-leaning librarians such as myself? What then? Oooh, protect us from the commie, pinko fags, the Daniel Ellsbergs, Allen Ginsbergs, Jim Morrisons, Michael Moores, etc., etc. Open an FBI file on me, quick! Oh yeah, wait, I think there already is one left over from that protest at Vandenburg AFB back in the 80's.