"What would a visual graphical dictionary look like? The Visuwords website gives expression to such a concept, and it does so by producing diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Upon entering the site, visitors will be presented with a random word, complete with various "connections". On the left-hand of the page, visitors can learn about the different coded connections which indicate relationships such as "is a part of" or "opposes" and parts of speech, such as "nouns", "verbs", or "adverbs". Of course, visitors are encouraged to type in their own word into the search query at the top of the page."
Hat tip to the FL-LIB listserv for forwarding this gem...
The American Library Association (ALA) released a new report today on the technology opportunities and challenges faced by U.S. public libraries in the wake of the economic recession. "Libraries Connect Communities 3: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2008-2009" foundthat "more than 71% of all libraries (and 79% of rural libraries) report they are the only source of free access to computers and the Internet in their communities. Sixty-six percent of public libraries rank job-seeking services among the most crucial online services they offer – up from 44% two years ago. Eighty percent of libraries report helping patrons connect with government information and services – including unemployment forms, Food Stamps and tax information – online."
An article in Wired Science discusses a study which identified a connection between multi-tasking behavior (simultaneously watching TV, reading e-mail, browsing the web and talking on the phone) and an inability to concentrate. When self-identified multi-taskers were tested on a series of tasks, they performed worse than those who multi-tasked least. The tests measured the ability to ignore irrelevant information; to organize things in working memory; and, surprisingly, to switch quickly and readily from one task to another. Hm, that last one's a bit of a puzzle. Hat tip to Law Librarian Blog.
You know those annoying collections of distorted letters you have to decipher and type into a box in order to use a variety of internet services? What you're doing is proving that you're a human being, not a spammer's computer. And you may find them slightly less annoying from now on, because of an amazing example of human ingenuity. Luis von Ahn, who developed the security software, called CAPTCHA, calculated how much time people around the world waste deciphering the letters and typing them in and was appalled. Every day, 500,000 hours are spent on this irritatingly difficult activity. Von Ahn realized that people can do what the software that performs Optical Character Recognition (OCR) often cannot, read blurred or stained old print. So he invented reCAPTCHA and teamed up with the New York Times and the Internet Archive. The Times is digitizing its archives, and the non-profit Internet Archive is digitizing books.
Now, people are confronted with two images, the first is the typical distorted letters puzzle, the second is a word from the digitizing projects that has baffled the OCR. And actually, since it is a word, the second is easier to type than the first. So next time you curse the security software that stands between you and internet Nirvana, take pride in the fact that you are helping to digitally preserve the paper past! Thanks to NPR's All Things Considered for reporting this story.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a type of web technology that makes it easy to keep up with regularly updated blogs and websites, including nearly all news sites, and to set up customized news alert with Google news or similar sites. Right now, it may be the best current awareness tool there is.
Instead of having to visit all the websites you follow, RSS feeds send updates from all of the websites you select to one place. This is a great time saver and literally allows you to read or scan more in less time once you've got it set up. You don't have to be a techie to understand or use it. Popular RSS readers like Bloglines and Google Reader are easy to set up and use.
Today is RSS awareness day. To learn more about how it works and to see how the readers work, check out the brief overview at rssday.org.
CNET compares six web browsers: Internet Explorer 6, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape 8, Deepnet Explorer, Apple Safari RSS and Opera 8. The review, "IE vs. the world: six Web browsers compared," discusses IE's fall from dominance in the web browser market (now at 90 percent in the U.S. and as low as 69 percent in Germany). A small chart accompanies the article, comparing the basic features. Mozilla Firefox get the highest CNET rating.
This just in from Wired magazine ... we no longer have to spell the word "Internet" with a capital "I." The author calls it a "stylistic reality check." For more, take a look at "It's just the internet now."
For a new and completely different way to view news stories on the web, take a look at a "Visual news map." News is Free can be viewed by category (e.g. Technology, Top News, USA, Health, etc.). It's not the easiest way to read the news, but it allows you to quickly scan news headlines.