StoryStarters is Open for Business

LogoConsider this a bonus sneak peak for those who read my blog. On Monday I’ll be announcing StoryStarters at the VRD Conference. However, it is ready to use right now! Create an account and get started. Download the plugin if you use WordPress and go to town:
For those of you who don’t remember, StoryStarters is a blog utility site. You can create lists of questions and items for folks to blog about. You can map these questions to Google Maps. If you don’t use WordPress feel free to cut and paste or use bookmarklets. All you need is to use a Trackback URL.

Slashdot | Using Copyrights To Fight Intelligent Design

Read this article: Slashdot | Using Copyrights To Fight Intelligent Design. Brilliant! Basically, it’s about using academic standards and copyright to fight intelligent design (a very good idea).

For those of you not familiar with the current state of affairs in K-12 education, states (driven in no small part by the Federal ‘No Child Left Behind’ law) are aligning just about everything that happens in a classroom to curriculum standards. Standards are more or less agreed upon curricula. While many of the standards are developed by the states themselves, most are at least derived from national standards. National standards are, for all intents and purposes, copyrighted books.

By not allowing Kansas to align intelligent design stuff to their copyrighted standards, they force Kansas to either abandon intelligent design, or a set of rigorous nationally recognized standards. Brilliant!

Making Digital Reference History…well, at Least Reconstructing It

First the facts, then the plea, then the larger picture.

I’ve put up a website to allow the VRD community to add events, articles, people and other to an interactive timeline (surrounding the VRD conferences…more on that later). It is anonymous and pretty informal. People go to the timeline at and they can add (or edit) items they feel should be part of the history of virtual reference (at least over the past 7-10 years). You can browse the timeline, and I even put up an RSS feed and a cloud view of the entries.

I need folks to add things they feel should be part of this timeline. I also need folks to vote for items they feel are particularly significant. While the timeline is centered on the VRD conferences, I’m really hoping to build a more comprehensive view. If you wrote an article in virtual reference…add it! Started a service – add it! I’m very interested in the people you feel shaped the past 7-10 years in virtual reference (people seem reluctant to add those). I’d really like this to be a resource of and for the community.

Larger Picture:
I’ve mentioned a couple of times that this has a VRD perspective (particularly the conferences). This is because I’m hoping to use this data as part of the next VRD book from Neal-Schuman. The next book will be more of a continuous narrative, and less proceedings (it will include articles from this year’s conference). The idea is to capture the evolution of digital/virtual reference over the past decade. In the text will be people profiles, important articles, and a good dose of “movement building” activities and descriptions. I’d hope to really reflect the community, and hence the desire to have the VRD community add information and vote.

So please add and vote.

Tablet PC’s Rule

OK, those of you know me that I have worked hard to earn my gadget boy status. So please excuse me as I take some space here to talk about a new cool gadget – the Tablet PC. I’ve been doing a lot of web development recently and I’m a Mac user. The problem is that what I do looks fine on a Mac in Safari and Firefox, and even Firefox for the PC. However, invariably, it will break Internet Explorer for Windows. IE is not just evil, it is old. Microsoft realizes this and is busy working on a newer version to conforms to more recent standards (like Cascading Style Sheets). Anyway, the point is, I really have to see the sites I develop on both a mac and Windows. My colleagues were getting tired of me kicking them off their machines, so I decided I needed a Windows machine to do development (Virtual PC is too slow and too much of a space hog).

Mike Eisenberg had been gushing about his tablet PC for two years now, so I decided I might as well try it while getting a testing machine. I went with the HP tc4200…it is GREAT. It would be better if it didn’t have to run Windows, but it is very cool. Understand that I have a Bachelors of Fine art, and grew up wanting to be an illustrator, so there is nothing better than a tablet I can draw on. It comes with a pressure sensitive pen, so it really is like drawing on paper. I knew it was for me when I was drawing a picture, flipped over the stylus to erase a line and then….ready…brushed my hand over the erased are to brush away the debris…like on real paper.

I still have my Mac as my main laptop, but this thing is what I have in my hands for note taking and working out ideas. Add OneNote and you have an awesome scientific notebook.

Required software if you get one: Microsoft OneNote, Alias Sketchbook pro and the free Tablet PC Expansion set.


Here are some examples of notes. Did I mention you can search on hand written notes.


Thank you Bob Martin

Bob Martin ends his term as director of the Institute for Museum and Library Services (see link here IMLS: What’s New: Current). Bob did an amazing job of not only building IMLS, but really driving forward libraries and museums. The field is better because of his service and vision.

Thanks again Bob.