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SLAIS Students: Wiki Workshop – Tuesday 09/23 September 15, 2008

Posted by asistubc in announcements, events@ASIS&T, events@UBC, news.
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When: Tuesday, September 23rd
Time: 11:30AM-12:30PM
Where: Terrace Instructional Lab, SLAIS

Top 5 reasons to use a wiki at SLAIS:
5 – Provides a convenient locations for taking notes.
4 – Makes organizing group projects a breeze.
3 – Provides evidence of all your hard work to show to your prof!
2 – Who doesn’t enjoy organizing and re-organizing a website?
1 – Our profession is all about collaboration; wikis are a key tool for online collaboration.
This introductory session will cover the basics of creating a new wiki site (including assigning permissions, updating, and organizing content), as well as looking at different ways to use wikis throughout our studies at SLAIS. We’ll review both PBwiki and Wikidot, and participants will get a chance to create an account and set up a site.

Workshop will be conducted by 2nd year SLAIS student Maureen Bezanson. All SLAIS students are welcome to attend to learn the basics or share their own wiki knowledge. Please RSVP to asist.ubc@gmail.com if planning to attend. Thanks!

Amazon’s LibraryThing Competitor April 27, 2008

Posted by JR Dixey in jobs, news.
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Just found out about this: http://www.amazon.com/gp/ays, which Amazon calls Your Media Library. Looks an awful lot, at first blush, like a LibraryThing clone:

“Your Media Library on Amazon.com provides you with tools to catalog your media collection, share information, ratings and comments with other Amazon.com users, and discover what other people are reading, listening to, and viewing. You also have easy download access your digital purchases, such as Amazon Unbox videos, eDocs, Amazon Upgrade books, and Amazon Shorts. With quick links to IMDB, Amazon’s extensive media catalog, and our library of song samples, you have all the information you need about movies, books, and music all in one place. Organize, share, and discover!”

They’re also hiring software engineers. Interestingly, the job description calls Your Media Library a “standalone website”, so they may be considering spinning it off.

Another Reason to Blog for Love, not Money April 5, 2008

Posted by JR Dixey in news.
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The NYT has an intriguing hypothesis: blogging isn’t good for you*. The author profiles the rapid-paced lifestyles of several well known bloggers, and reports on the recent demise of two among them, both at the relatively young age of 50. After which, he delivers the shocking news (shocking, perhaps, to someone who has never known people who toil on the lower rungs in the high tech industry) that professional bloggers eat poorly, sleep too little, and suffer from deadline-oriented stress.

*registration may be required to view story

Scrabble vs. Scrabulous March 3, 2008

Posted by JR Dixey in news.
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The NYT carries an interesting article today on the phenomenal success of the online game Scrabulous, which it compares, in its impact on the real-world Scrabble game’s sales, to online file-sharing’s impact on the sales of music CD’s. (Registration may be required to read the full article.)

In the book The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman makes the argument that once the “flat-world” service providers in countries like India and China become creatively energized and begin supplying commercial ideas and content to the rest of the world, rather than just services, the worldwide economic balance will begin to shift. In light of this analysis, I find it very interesting (and somewhat confirming of Thomas Friedman’s ideas, with which I don’t often agree) that the developers of Scrabulous, Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, started out as software developers in India (presumably working on contract for a company in the U.S. or Europe), and only started the game when they decided they wanted to improve the online-Scrabble offerings out there.

What they didn’t do, and this is where the comparison to online music-sharing becomes apt, is contact any of the rights-holders to the game (which are held by Hasbro in the U.S., and Mattel everywhere else) to ask them if they could, pretty please, develop a little game based on the idea of Scrabble. They just made it and put it online, and hundreds of thousands of players later, the rights-holders are taking notice. According to the article, players of the online game are threatening to boycott Hasbro and Mattel if the game is taken offline due to pressure from the game companies, which puts those companies in a legal-vs.-marketing pickle, to say the least.

New Officers Elected February 15, 2008

Posted by asistubc in announcements, news.
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Our email election of new officers is completed. Here’s our official executive roster:

Chair: Jennifer Dixey
Vice Chair: Catherine Boden
Communications: Christina Nilsen
Secretary: Cobi Falconer
Treasurer: Rowena McKernan

A very warm thank you to outgoing 2007 officers Desy Wahyuni, Webmaster, Lili Wang, Vice-Chair and Kristina Batiste, Communications Officer.

Welcome back to continuing officers Jennifer Dixey, Cobi Falconer and Catherine Boden, and welcome incoming officers Rowena McKernan and Christina Nilsen.

Please note that the responsibilities of the former Webmaster position now roll up into the Communications role.

Getting Spammed? Help Scan a Book! February 6, 2008

Posted by JR Dixey in news.
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Humans are apparently much better than machines at decoding words than OCR scanners are, so Carnegie Mellon University is putting the unreadable words online for the world to decipher. All in the interest of enhancing their digitizing efforts for the Internet Archive.

They’ve set up ReCAPTCHA, a free CAPTCHA service that gives webmasters the opportunity to add spam-defeating interfaces to websites. What’s the connection? Well, you’ve seen those small forms that force you to type in a word in order to successfully submit? On a ReCAPTCHA form, there is a second word in the CAPTCHA image that an OCR scanner couldn’t read well enough to decipher while scanning a book for the Archive.

If a website user decodes the first word successfully, the system assumes that they also decoded the second word, which becomes a candidate for being marked as deciphered. The system sends the second word to a second tier of CAPTCHAs, and if all of the second set of CAPTCHAs come up with the same reading, it is considered decoded and sent back to the database.

Their tagline? STOP SPAM. READ BOOKS.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Google Books February 4, 2008

Posted by JR Dixey in news.
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In Educational Technology there’s a longish article pointing out the “good, bad and ugly” of Google Books. Includes a detailed view of how one university library system — University of California’s — is working with Google Books to get books online.