March 29, 2006

It was Romany I chose

Heard a great story from the BBC (via the World's Technology Podcast, which is a great review of tech issues around the world) about efforts to revitalize the Romani language with the help of a British linguist and the Internet.

The World Techology site says "Romani is the language of the Roma, or gypsies. The language has many dialects an is oral, rather than written. But the Internet is giving some clearer shape to Romani." Their blog points to more resources, including links to Romani media sites from the Romani Linguistics and Romani Language Projects in Manchester. These links include radio & tv in Romani, and a cool map so you can see where Romani is spoken.

Quoting Al Stewart,
"Torn between the Gypsy and the Rose /
It was Romany I chose"

March 28, 2006

About the New Orleans Paper

I heard a NewsHour podcast this morning about how the New Orleans Times Picayune is covering New Orleans after Katrina.

This is what the NewsHour web site says about the story:

"In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, like so many other local institutions in New Orleans, the 169-year-old Times-Picayune has found itself tested in unprecedented ways. The paper now sees itself as having dual roles: to cover the news about the devastation and reconstruction, but also to help heal the city's soul and advocate on its behalf.

"Jeffrey Brown reports on the paper's continuing efforts to report on the story of Hurricane Katrina and the region's slow march toward recovery."

You can hear it in RealAudio or listen through iTunes.

March 26, 2006

Fiction Science

Just finished a fabulous novel (Intuition, by Allegra Goodman) about the scientific process and the world of postdocs working in labs. It's getting good reviews (mostly), including some raves from the scientific community.

Gina Kolata reviewed the book for the New York Times Science section on March 21, and said "At its base, 'Intuition' is a novel about scientific fraud. A postdoctoral student becomes suspicious that another postdoc's dazzling discovery might not be all it seems. His data seem too good to be true."

Her sources agree that the book is very representative of the postdoc world: " 'I think it's a unique book because it completely nails this world,' said Dr. Jerome Groopman, an oncologist and a professor of medicine at Harvard and the director of a laboratory there." and

Tom Schwarz, a researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston, read the book early on at the request of Ms. Goodman and "... said he began to read the book and could not believe it. Ms. Goodman had not interviewed him, and she had not been to his lab. But, Dr. Schwarz said, 'I saw myself and I saw things I knew, everything from the greasy falafels from the truck parked outside to the characters.' "

The characters and the story are compelling, especially as research is being fabricated (see: South Korean stem cell scientist Hwang Woo Suk and Norwegian cancer researcher Jon Sudbo). And since I prefer my news fictionalized, this was a perfect read for me.

Favorite Podcasts

I'll be linking to some of my favorite podcasts over on the left navigation bar of this blog. I listen to lots o' podcasts on my 2+ hour daily (round-trip) commute, and I wanted to have a place to park the ones I like best. They're not necessarily related to this blog, but I like 'em.

"Hi, Pat, your question is interesting"

Carol Tenopir’s March 1 column in Library Journal describes research by Marie Radford Lynn Silipigni Connaway into the social dynamics of chat, particularly in the relationship between librarians & patrons.

“They find that chat reference conversations are full of interpersonal ‘relational facilitators‘ and ‘relational barriers.‘“

Facilitators include “providing information about oneself, offering reassurance, using humor and informal language, and demonstrating interest or approval“, while barriers can include the librarians’ nemesis “negative closure”, such as an abrupt end to the session with a robotic script.

Overall, Tenopir reports that “positive relational facilitators outnumber relational barriers in chat transcripts by a ratio of 9 to 1 for librarians and about 3.5 to 1 for patrons. When informal, nonverbal, unscripted, positive interactions are initiated by the librarian, chances for a positive interaction and positive response from the patron increase.“

"Are search engines making students dumber?"

From today’s New York Times comes an editorial about search engines and students’ intellectual abilities over the past several years. Hmmm, is it really that search engines are making students “dumber”? Interesting argument, but I’m not sure I buy it.

At least he refers to Information Literacy as a way to help students improve their searching.

March 26, 2006
Opinion: Searching for Dummies
Are search engines making today's students dumber?

March 24, 2006

Talks with Whales

Research News from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute: Warbling Whales Speak a Language All Their Own

“Researchers have now mathematically confirmed that whales have their own syntax that uses sound units to build phrases that can be combined to form songs that last for hours.
" 'Humpback songs are not like human language, but elements of language are seen in their songs,' said Ryuji Suzuki, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) predoctoral fellow in neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and first author of the paper."

Human linguists, please note: "... the authors do not claim that humpback whale songs meet the linguistic rigor necessary for a true language."

Lots of information for the popular cognitive scientist at the HHMI site (including sound files of the whales talking to each other), or see “Information entropy of humpback whale songs,“ by Ryuji Suzuki, John R. Buck, and Peter L. Tyack (2006) The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Volume 119, Issue 3, pp. 1849-1866. The abstract is available for free; full-text may be available @ your library.

Thanks to Bob for the story.

March 22, 2006

Another Great Vowel Shift?

NPR's Robert Siegel interviews William Labov about his book Atlas of North American English Phonetics, Phonology and Sound Change. Haven't heard the piece myself yet, but according to the NPR link to the story, Labov "... says there is a shift of vowel sounds in the inland northern cities. He calls it the 'northern city shift.'"

You can see a demo of the online version of the book at Mouton/de Gruyter's web site.

Hmmm. I'd love to get my mitts on a copy of that book!
(thanks to Nicholas for the story link)

Food for Thought

My favorite psychology podcast, Australia's ABC Radio National's All in the Mind recently reviewed some research which suggests that the amount of fish oil ingested affects our emotions.

The blurb on their site says:
"It’s now recognised that omega 3, essential fatty acids mainly found in fish, can help to prevent conditions like cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis – but the evidence is accumulating for just how important fish oil is for mental health and wellbeing. We hear some remarkable findings from a British study looking at the effect of giving fish oil supplements to children with ADHD and learning difficulties. And the figures showing significantly lower depression rates in countries which eat lots of seafood may give you an idea for tonight’s dinner!"
The brain and omega 3 – fishy or fact?
Saturday 18 March 2006.

Salmon, anyone?

March 19, 2006

Crossing the Chasm: from Cutting Edge to Practical Application

[shameless self-promotion] I’m going to speak at the Capital District Library Council in Albany about practical applications of emerging technologies on April 24. I’ll review some of LITA’s Top Technology Trends, discuss blogs (applications for libraries and for patrons) & wikis, and provide some tips on how to stay current with all of this.

All are welcome!
[/shameless self-promotion]

March 17, 2006

Road Trip for Linguists

A New York Times linguistics road trip through the “Inland North Region” (upstate New York & Pittsburgh, in the story) with William Labov’s Atlas of North American English as a guide. In a useful twist for linguists, and an interesting application of technology, the Times has provided links to audio clips of some of the regional phrases being discussed.

March 17, 2006
Travel / Escapes: It's Not the Sights, It's the Sounds

March 16, 2006

Beware of Dissatisfied Consumers: They Like to Blab

Knowledge @ Wharton talks about marketing from, naturally, a business perspective, but this podcast has lots of implications for libraries, too.

Some folks at Wharton conducted a "Retail Customer Dissatisfaction Study" which found that "... only 6% of shoppers who experienced a problem with a retailer contacted the company, but 31% went on to tell friends, family or colleagues what happened."

So if our patrons are dissatisfied with the library, not only won’t they not let us know, they’ll tell their friends and their friends will effectively be dissatisfied with the library, too. "Paula Courtney, president of The Verde Group, says the exponential power of negative word-of-mouth lies in the nature of storytelling."

Courtney later talks about how the customer (patron?) wants to save time, and many retailers prevent this by "jamming stores with inventory that overwhelms customers and cuts into the time they have to shop." Would this be comparable to libraries? Not because we jam stuff in, but because we make it hard to find – "check the catalog", then "check the electronic journal locator", then search this database – it’s overwhelming for patrons, and we’re jamming it in their faces.

Nothing new, in a way, but it’s good to be reminded of this sober lesson.

March 15, 2006

New Features in EBSCO

Hopefully you have access to EBSCO, as they're doing some cool new stuff. If not, head over to the nearest library that does!

** Clustering **
Clustering displays the most common subjects, authors, and journals available for a specific query, eliminating the need to browse the result list or check individual records for this information. You can "drive down" through the results by selecting "clustered" headings, obtaining results for the selected cluster.

~How are the Subject Areas (Clustered Results) generated?

** Visual Search **
Visual Search represents an exciting and unique search method, in addition to the Basic and Advanced Search screens, featuring richly colorful, graphical presentations of citations sorted by topics. Visual Search offers a glimpse at what is beyond the first page of traditional search results. visual map sample. Users will be able to find the best articles with patterns of color, shapes and sizes that are easy to understand.

Click on the "Visual Search" tab to get started.

~ For additional information:

** Other Features **
It's now much easier to switch between EBSCO databases; there is a drop down below the search boxes from which you can select another EBSCO database.

March 09, 2006

Who is the inventor of the livestock ramps ...

Some CogSci Librarian readers may remember Temple Grandin as the answer to this reference question:

"Who is the inventor of the livestock ramps currently used at many cattle slaughter plants, and where can I find biographical information about her? These ramps are supposed to calm the cattle before they meet their end. What was unusual about her childhood that led to her career? I think she has written both about her childhood and her work."

Well, if you want to find out still more about her, listen to Ira Flatow’s interview with Dr. Grandin on the January 20, 2006 edition of Science Friday. She talks a bit about her childhood, those livestock ramps, and her new book Animals in Translation.

If you had me or tp for reference, you’ll definitely want to check this out!

ps, if you're taking reference, pretend you don't know her name and find her in biography resources!

Best of Gary Price's Nelinet Presentation

Cool sites I found at Gary Price’s presentation at Nelinet today:

Google Video I know I’m the last to see this, but: way cool! Partly a competitor to iTunes video store, partly just cool stuff; you can download TV shows from here at $1.99 (I Love Lucy, Star Trek DS9, Amazing Race, etc.), and even some sporting events! Plus some free stuff, mostly from the US Government, like NARA, and videos that anyone has uploaded.

blinkx searches video not only on metadata but also the transcripts from shows.

podscope Search podcasts for specific terms & go directly to where they were spoken.

TitanicArchive. From the Resource Shelf: “More than 15,000 fully digitized and searchable newspaper pages. Pages are delivered as PDF files. Pages can be saved and/or printed.”

A9 Maps is mostly a traditional map site, from the Amazon Search-inside-the-book A9 people. What’s cool is that you can see live photos from various cities, like New York, including images of both sides of the block.

Have I mentioned Exalead? It’s very cool (and French), and Gary pointed it out today. Their Advanced Search includes many great options, like proximity & truncation. The results display some interesting features as well.

Take a look at the UK’s Resource Discovery Network which links to resources in many areas like engineering, social science, humanities, etc. Check out the Virtual Training Suite which offers links to online tutorials in various topics. A good companion to the Librarians’ Internet Index & Infomine.

Clustermed searches PubMed and clusters the results on the left. Default is to cluster by title, abstract, MeSH, or just by title, abstract, or just by MeSH. Not that you’d use this instead of PubMed, but it’s an interesting use of dynamic clustering.

Looking for a job? Try Enter a term (like “librarian”, for instance) and a zip code & see job ads for a 5-mile radius. You can get email notifications of new results and/or save the search as an RSS feed.

But wait, there's more:
A new health search engine Kosmix which clusters results.

Webharvest is a “harvest (i.e., capture) of Federal Agency public web sites as they existed prior to January 20, 2005. This harvest was intended to document Federal agencies' presence on the World Wide Web at the time that the Presidential Administration term ended in early 2005.”

SMEALSearch is an online archive of scholarly articles in business; it was down in the presentation today, but it’s got some real potential. You can see their search Zeitgeist.

Kevin Kelly’s PublicRadioFan lists multiple public radio shows that stream online — now, later, and next week. This site is a long-time CogSci Librarian favorite; nice to see his site at Nelinet!

Phew! I’m exhausted. That’s why I blogged during the session, so I could come back & explore the most interesting (to me) tidbits from the day.

Vanity Blogging

PubSub offers Librarian Blog rankings. Oooh, CogSci Librarian has gone up a smidge since yesterday & is tied for 36 in librarian blogs, or # 70,969 in the “Current Link Rank”. This is a good site for blogging vanity and for finding new librarian blogs to monitor.

March 07, 2006

Recreating a Lost Language

Today's Times has a story about linguists and anthropologists who try to recreate "dead" languages.

Linguists Find the Words, and Pocahontas Speaks Again
Published: March 7, 2006

See especially the chart, "Giving Voice to Lost Language", which shows the recreation of some Algonquian words that eventually passed into English, like raccoon and tomahawk.

TV & attention spans?

The New York Times reports today that "In the last two years, two ... studies have failed to find any link between television exposure and symptoms of attention-deficit disorder. The most recent, published this month in the journal Pediatrics, based its findings on a group of 5,000 American kindergartners who were followed for two years."

Read more: PEDIATRICS Vol. 117 No. 3 March 2006, pp. 665-672 (doi:10.1542/peds.2005-0863)
There Is No Meaningful Relationship Between Television Exposure and Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

March 06, 2006

About a new colleague

Headline in the UConn Advance: "Teenagers exposed to alcohol ads drink more"

The study was published in the Jan 3 issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, by Leslie Snyder, professor of communication sciences and director of the UConn Center for Health Communication and Health Marketing and colleagues from UConn & Ohio State.

The "Results" section states: "Youth who saw more alcohol advertisements on average drank more (each additional advertisement seen increased the number of drinks consumed by 1%). Youth in markets with greater alcohol advertising expenditures drank more (each additional dollar spent per capita raised the number of drinks consumed by 3%). Examining only youth younger than the legal drinking age of 21 years, alcohol advertisement exposure and expenditures still related to drinking. Youth in markets with more alcohol advertisements showed increases in drinking levels into their late 20s, but drinking plateaued in the early 20s for youth in markets with fewer advertisements. Control variables included age, gender, ethnicity, high school or college enrollment, and alcohol sales."

Very troubling, but congratulations on the study to Leslie & colleagues!

March 05, 2006

Daniel Dennett podcast on Public Radio’s Tech Nation

From their podcast entry in iTunes, "Dr. Moira Gunn interviews Daniel Dennett Daniel Dennett, professor of philosophy at Tufts University and author of Breaking the Spell -- Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. He looks at the emergence of religion throughout natural history and asks us to bring in science to study it."

Dennett is a good interview, and now I want to read the book ...

(see also some cool interviews in the Tech Nation archive)

March 04, 2006

RssFwd helps me stay current

Tony showed me a very cool way to stay current with blogs: RssFwd. Their tag line is “Reading RSS the way you are already reading your emails“ — they will take an RSS feed and email you when there are new posts to the blog.

I believe Tony uses this for all of his blog reading, but I use it only for the blogs I don’t want to miss, like ISEL Update, Our Future, and the FeelGoodLibrarian. These are low-traffic blogs, so I have been very pleased with knowing what’s going on immediately; the email is the full-text of the blog entry, with links to the original post.

Tony’s doing a presentation on blogs for UConn later this month, and I’ll be a guest presenter. Hopefully I’ll get even more cool blogging tips!

Open J-Gate — Open Access Journal Database

From India comes Open J-Gate, a great open access journal database, in which all articles are freely accessible. It appears to cover many disciplines, and they say that content goes back to 2001 and indexes 3,000 journals.

What’s cool about this from an LIS perspective is the indexing. One might almost say “cataloging” — articles are given subject headings, which are searchable.

On the downside, there isn’t much in the way of metadata (no abstract; it just links to the full-text), and although the subjects look like they’re hyperlinked, they’re actually not. Worse, in the advanced search, Boolean searching isn’t possible; a search for “cats and diabetes” in the veterinary science section is not fruitful, because “[m]ore than one word will be treated as phrase“

Still, this one is definitely worth a look!

She's back ... kind of

Hmm. Not sure what the status of this blog is, besides ... “quiet”. The new job is keeping me hopping, as is the part-time job on weekends. Less time to blog, and, sadly, less exposure to cool stuff in Cognitive Science.
I must admit that’s what I miss most about the new job, although in all other respects, it’s terrific. But it’s no CogSci. :-(

That said, I am just starting to work with UConn’s Department of Communication Science. This department includes media coverage, CMC (computer-mediated communication), as well as communication disorders. Maybe some of that will pop up in this blog?

In the meantime, I’ll post less and it will be more LIS-related, tho’ hopefully still interesting to some aspects of CogSci.

March 03, 2006

SFX comes to UConn

[brag on]: My counterpart Nicholas and I implemented SFX at UConn in 3 weeks! Big accomplishment for us, and huge improvement for the university. You can see a bit of what we’ve done. What you won’t see: complaints from colleagues or users because links don’t work ... Very very happy! [/brag]

updated: now includes our SFX button as well ...