Friday, August 30, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Is Information Hindering Society Socially?

Real Talk

I just saw this infographic video on the affect of Social Media on our loneliness. It raises some interesting concerns about the sociology of human interaction and how Social Media changes that. While I don't believe we need a clean break from Social Media, we do need to remember these points for a healthy, complete social life. The video makes some excellent points, including the following.

  • We're sacrificing conversation for connection.
  • We're expecting more from technology and less from each other.
  • We slip into thinking that always being connected is going to make us feel less alone.
  • If we are not able to be alone, we're only going to know how to be lonely.

Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

What do you think? Do you feel lonely when you're online?

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Library: An unquiet history

The Book

Library: An unquiet history
Matthew Battles

I picked this book up in a discount bin a few years ago. I figured I would read it the summer before my first semester of library school and be ready to crush the program with my awesome knowledge of library stuff. So here I am, a week before my final semester of school, finally reading and reviewing this title. The plans of mice and men...

Technical Merit

Matthew Battles writes with that stream of consciousness style that I tend to gravitate towards. He weaves a poetic history of the library from the standpoint of the books themselves. He starts off very strong and inspiring, but wears down towards the end. For that reason, I give this title 3 out of 5 stars for technical merit.

The Review

Matthew Battles uses biblioclasm as his hook for this work. Books have been restricted, burned and censored since powerful men realized that their power could be limited by the knowledge contained in books. He begins with the most famous of all biblioclasms—Alexandria. From there, he continues throughout the centuries and regions, exposing ugly truths from cultures all around the globe.

My favorite quote in this book is from Herman Kruk, who lived in a Nazi-controlled Prague ghetto. He wrote specifically regarding the psychology of the ghetto reader, but it applies to all readers:
[O]nly two things are possible: reading for the purpose of intoxication—that is, in order to stop thinking—or the contrary, reading in order to ponder, to become interested in comparable fates, to make analogies and reach certain conclusions. (Pg. 178)
Those are the two polar extremes of the philosophy of books. Your answer to the question, Why are books here? will reveal what kinds of books you would include in your library. If people should be allowed to read for escape or pleasure, then all titles are permissible. If you hold a high philosophy of learning, that leads to more censorship with selection.

Granted, there are other considerations in play that just the one posed in the previous paragraph. However, this black-and-white, either-or view of books is what Battles seems to blame for the biblioclasms of history. While there is some validity in that statement, things are never so simple.

The one element that dissappointed me is Matthew Battles' treatment of web content. In the first chapter, Battles promised that he will get to the topic and show that web content is handled no differently than print. However, web content gets nothing more than a passing remark in the final chapter. I do not know if this was due to the editing process or if he thought his readers would forget this promise. I felt that the first statement was very ambitious and it piqued my curiosity. Unfortunately, it was ignored.

In the end, I certainly would recommend this book. It is a straightforward read if you can handle the stream of consciousness style that Matthew uses. It is an entertaining history of books, libraries and biblioclasm that I am glad to have read.

Have you read "Library" by Matthew Battles? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gov Docs in the Real World

Guess what I just got in the mail,... A SURVEY!!!

Right after completing my government documents class too. I did a lot of work in that class on both NOAA and the statistical information that comes out of these surveys. By the way, did you know NOAA is still operating from President Nixon's executive order? True story. 

So yes. I will fill out this survey about my experience fishing. I went once. On a party boat and caught an undersize grouper that I had to release. I also caught a bunch of teenie fish under a bridge. But I'll perform my civic duty and fill out this survey. 

I hope you'd do the same. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Book Review: Problem of Pain

Image from Amazon

The Book

The Problem of Pain
C.S. Lewis

I am continuing my quest to read everything penned by Clive Staples Lewis. This is the birthday gift that keeps on giving! (I used a Barnes & Noble gift card from one of my birthdays to buy a boxed set of Lewis' classics. Even though it included Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters, titles I already owned. I'm SO glad I didn't let that minor setback ruin the pleasures of owning Lewis' complete set of classic works.)

Find the rest of my review on We Talk of Holy Things

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fundamentals of Government Information

The Book

Fundamentals of Government Information
Eric J. Forte; Cassandra J. Harnett; Andrea L. Sevetson

This book was my main text for last semester's Government Documents class. We acknowledged that most Government Publications are being produced digitally as a result of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but the book served as a guide to the branches of government and the kinds of publications they produce.

Technical Merit

This book was reasonably well written for a textbook on the publications proceeding form government sources. It is initially organized by branch and then topically (by type of information sought). Therefore, it begins by making clear distinctions based on the source of information and ends by showing how each branch (both state and federal) contributes to the topic.

I would give this volume 4 out of 5 stars for technical merit. I found the chapters to be simple and easy to digest. That is no small task when describing how the government works.


Each chapter ends with review questions that thoroughly test the reader's application of the concepts found in the previous chapter. If you have the unfortunate luck of taking the course with a professor who assigns these questions weekly, you will find that they make you work hard for the answers. However, as a direct result of these weekly headaches, I feel ready to tackle any inquiry that asks me to search for government information.

Possibly the single best feature of this book is the "Sources Mentioned in This Chapter," located after the exercises. Since most Government Publications are born digital, it is helpful to have a listing of all web pages referenced in the chapter. These web pages, though by no means permanent, are a great place to begin searching for the type of information mentioned in the chapter.

All in all, this textbook serves it's purpose and equips readers to sift through government publications and use the rich resources that are provided by the government.
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