Thursday, August 23, 2007

Open-Source Legal Documents

I'm sure that it will surprise no one who reads this blog that I think that this is a great idea. (More from the New York Times.)

Another Fun Toy from Google...

...brought to you by structured data and a little imagination: a book layer for Google Earth. Visual representations of the mentions of geographic locations in books! I haven't had a chance to poke around in this and see how it's put togther, but what from what I've read about it, it's quite spiffy.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Link Roundup

See who is editing entries on Wikipedia. (More discussion.)

The Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that 28% of Internet users have ever tagged or categorized online content, and 7% of Internet users tag or categorize online content basically every day. Seven percent! That's a lot of time and effort that could be harnessed if somebody could figure out a good way to harness it....

More evidence that much of the trust that people put in traditional print media is misplaced. (I'm not convinced that the methodology he's using is 100% reliable . . . but even if he's only half-right, it's still quite a finding.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Slashdot pointed me today to some information about the new HTML 5 standard. Specifically, that said standard is going to include a bunch of new semantic tags! You'll be able to mark up times in a machine-readable format; do all sorts of fancy stuff with numeric data; and indicate which parts of a page are navigation, which are the article, which are figures, etc.

Thinking of all of the spiffy search engine options that could be built to draw on these new tags is left as an exercise to the reader. Personally, I'm looking forward to be able to search for text just inside of a [figure] tag. I'm forever half-remembering some really spiffy chart or other graphic that I saw somewhere and not being able to find it again. (I'm both a visual person and a data/statistics geek. What can I say?)

8/23 -- edited to fix the fact that the word "[figure]" didn't display.

Wikiing the News

Google News announced yesterday that they're trying a new, experimental feature that will allow "comments from a special subset of readers: those people or organizations who were actual participants in the story in question."

I suspect that corporations will avail themselves of this feature more than individuals, but for the individuals who choose to use it it will be a powerful tool. If corporations don't like how something that they said or did was spun in a news story they can put out a press release that will generally be published, in whole or in part, in quite a few newspapers. Individuals, on the other hand, are just as frequently quoted out of context or otherwise mis-spun as corporations, but they have much less clout to get their side of the story out. Good for Google News for increasing readers' access to all sides of the story and for letting participants in the news fact-check stories about themselves! It would be nice if they had a mechanism to let everyone with knowledge of a topic fact-check stories on that topic, rather than just the participants in a single story, but this is still a step in the right direction.

More on the Open Library... Inside Higher Ed.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Link Roundup

I've had a bunch of articles open in Firefox tabs for weeks that I've been meaning to blog about, and I've decided to accept the fact that I'm not going to blog about them and just post the links for your reading pleasure.

A nice interview with Tim Berners-Lee about the Semantic Web.

Geotagging and potential uses thereof.

A Library Thing for Libraries success story, or why the flexibility and democracy of tags often beats the rigid, top-down LCC subject headings.

Martha Yee's "Will the Response of the Library Profession to the Internet Be Self-Immolation?" (WARNING: link is a .doc) and the discussion thereof on the JESSE listserv.

An automated method for assessing the trustworthiness of Wikipedia edits based on the trustworthiness ratings of the contributors who made the edits. This is one of the coolest things I've seen in awhile. It's a little jarring to see chunks of text highlighted in orange while you're reading, and the articles I looked at had things flagged as untrustworthy based on the contributors' reputation that I know were perfectly accurate, but it's still a really neat idea.

"Are Tags Vannevar Bush's Trails?"

Hakia, which is billing itself as a Semantic search engine. I'm not sure it's clearly better than Google at this point, but it's got them beat in certain categories. Google won hands-down in a search for "Who is the president of Slovenia?"--Hakia took me to a subject page all about Slovenia, which is well-organized and spiffy in itself but wasn't quite what I was looking for, while Google gave me the answer right at the top of the page above its search results. On the other hand, when searching for "What is the molecular weight of carbon monoxide?" and "How many symphonies did Beethoven compose?," Hakia highlighted the answer in the search results(!) and Google made me actually skim the page. But, regardless, it warms the cockles of my cynical little heart to see people out there who take semantic search seriously. And if the Hakia folks manage to pull off everything that they say that they want to pull off, this could be great.