Friday, August 15, 2008

Israel cracks down on Arabic Harry Potter

Harry Potter and Pinocchio are apparently not welcome in Israel, at least in their Arabic translations imported from Syria and Lebanon.

Arab-Israeli publisher Salah Abassi told Israeli public radio on Monday that authorities ordered him to stop importing Arabic-language children's books from the two longtime foes of Israel.

The ban includes translations of such books as Pinocchio and Harry Potter as well as Arabic classics.

Books Can Control Your Mind as Powerfully as Television


Usually, books are presented as an antidote to a TV-controlled populace. But now a new neuroscience study reveals that books control people's minds and emotions in exactly the same way television does.

A group of researchers In The U.S. and the Netherlands peered into people's brains using fMRI machines while those people were doing a series of three tasks: reading about something disgusting, watching images of something disgusting, and actually tasting something disgusting.

We found voxels in the anterior Insula and adjacent frontal operculum to be involved in all three modalities of disgust, suggesting that simulation in the context of social perception and mental imagery of disgust share a common neural substrates. Using effective connectivity, this shared region however was found to be embedded in distinct functional circuits during the three modalities, suggesting why observing, imagining and experiencing an emotion feels so different.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Libraries step into the age of iPod

By Paul ThomaschThu Aug 7, 1:56 PM ET

It may be about time to dig out that old library card. Hoping to draw back readers, libraries have vastly expanded their lists of digital books, music, and movies that can be downloaded by their patrons to a computer or MP3 player -- and it doesn't cost a cent, unlike, say, media from Apple Inc'siTunes or Inc.

In Phoenix, for instance, branches have banded together to create a digital library that currently has about 50,000 titles of e-books, audiobooks, music and videos that can be "checked out" from anywhere.

Once discovered, says Tom Gemberling, the electronic resources librarian for the Phoenix Public Library, the program often proves wildly popular.

Not long ago, Gemberling visited a local trailer park to speak about the program to 100 or so seniors -- who regularly travel the roads touring in their recreational vehicles.

"They were cheering and screaming by the end," he said. "They were so excited. They're RVers, so they can go anywhere on the road, find a computer, go into the Phoenix Public Library catalogue, download a book and play it while they drive down the highway."

Available in thousands of libraries across the country, the programs work like this: First you need a library card, access to the web, and some easily downloadable software -- the Adobe Digital Editions, the Mobipocket Reader or the OverDrive Media Console.

At that point, just browse around the library's website, select some titles, add them to a digital book bag and click the download button. If the title isn't available, it can be placed on hold for downloading later.

Depending on the library and title, the item remains on your computer for one to three weeks before disappearing, meaning you don't have to bother with returning a book, CD or DVD to the actual library.


One of the main distributors to libraries is OverDrive Inc, based in Cleveland, which has deals with publishers including HarperCollins and Random House as well as music labels like Alligator Records.

David Burleigh, OverDrive's director of marketing, says the company now has an inventory of around 100,000 titles, works with about 7,500 libraries and has racked up millions of downloads of its media player and digital check-outs.

"We also know we are touching only a small percentage of each library's patrons. Everyone we talk to is like 'Wow, you do that?"' he says. "It's a like this nice secret, that we of course don't want to be kept secret."

Although it depends on publisher permission, books can usually be transferred from a desktop computer to any number of mobile devices.

Sony Corp's Reader, SanDisk Corp's Sansa, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's Blackjack, Palm Inc's Treo 700wx, Motorola Inc's Q, Microsoft Corp's Zune, iRiver's 510, Hewlett-Packard Co'siPAQ, Dell Inc's Axim, Creative Technology Ltd's ZEN, AT&T Inc's Cingular Smartphone, and Apple's iPhone and iPods can all be used with the downloads, depending on the title and the library.

"People like the portability of it," Jim McCluskey, collection development assistant manager for Washington State's Sno-Isle Libraries, which will soon be offering iPod compatible downloads.

While having a collection of books and music available for downloads helps libraries keep up with changes in technology, McCluskey said, it carries other advantages, too.

"A lot of our libraries are cramped for space," he notes. "Material that doesn't take up shelf space and is available 24/7 -- that's really attractive for libraries."

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

Amazon Acquires

by Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 8/1/2008 7:47:00 AM

Amazon has reached an agreement to acquire AbeBooks, the British Columbia-based online marketplace that has over 110 million titles for sale through its bookseller network. The purchase, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, will strengthen Amazon's already dominate position in the used book field. Terms weren't disclosed.

Founded 12 years ago, Abe offers used, rare and out-of-print titles for sale through its various Web sites around the world. According to Amazon, Abe will continue to act as a standalone operation based in Victoria, British Columbia under the direction of its current president and CEO Hannes Blum. "As a leader in rare and hard-to-find books, AbeBooks brings added breadth and expanded selection to our customers worldwide," said Russell Grandinetti, v-p of books for Amazon. In a letter to its booksellers, Blum called the deal "a major landmark" for the Abe, and said that being part of Amazon will provide "more opportunities for future growth." Hannes said a bookseller roundtable will be held August 7 to answer bookseller questions about what the deal means for the future.

Trolls - From the NYT

Robbie Cooper for The New York Times

The Trolls Among Us: Weev (not, of course, his real name) is part of a growing Internet subculture with a fluid morality and a disdain for pretty much everyone else online.

Published: August 3, 2008

One afternoon in the spring of 2006, for reasons unknown to those who knew him, Mitchell Henderson, a seventh grader from Rochester, Minn., took a .22-caliber rifle down from a shelf in his parents’ bedroom closet and shot himself in the head. The next morning, Mitchell’s school assembled in the gym to begin mourning. His classmates created a virtual memorial on MySpace and garlanded it with remembrances. One wrote that Mitchell was “an hero to take that shot, to leave us all behind. God do we wish we could take it back. . . . ” Someone e-mailed a clipping of Mitchell’s newspaper obituary to, a Web site that links to the MySpace pages of the dead. From MyDeathSpace, Mitchell’s page came to the attention of an Internet message board known as /b/ and the “trolls,” as they have come to be called, who dwell there.

/b/ is the designated “random” board of, a group of message boards that draws more than 200 million page views a month. A post consists of an image and a few lines of text. Almost everyone posts as “anonymous.” In effect, this makes /b/ a panopticon in reverse — nobody can see anybody, and everybody can claim to speak from the center. The anonymous denizens of 4chan’s other boards — devoted to travel, fitness and several genres of pornography — refer to the /b/-dwellers as “/b/tards.”

Measured in terms of depravity, insularity and traffic-driven turnover, the culture of /b/ has little precedent. /b/ reads like the inside of a high-school bathroom stall, or an obscene telephone party line, or a blog with no posts and all comments filled with slang that you are too old to understand.

Something about Mitchell Henderson struck the denizens of /b/ as funny. They were especially amused by a reference on his MySpace page to a lost iPod. Mitchell Henderson, /b/ decided, had killed himself over a lost iPod. The “an hero” meme was born. Within hours, the anonymous multitudes were wrapping the tragedy of Mitchell’s death in absurdity.

Someone hacked Henderson’s MySpace page and gave him the face of a zombie. Someone placed an iPod on Henderson’s grave, took a picture and posted it to /b/. Henderson’s face was appended to dancing iPods, spinning iPods, hardcore porn scenes. A dramatic re-enactment of Henderson’s demise appeared on YouTube, complete with shattered iPod. The phone began ringing at Mitchell’s parents’ home. “It sounded like kids,” remembers Mitchell’s father, Mark Henderson, a 44-year-old I.T. executive. “They’d say, ‘Hi, this is Mitchell, I’m at the cemetery.’ ‘Hi, I’ve got Mitchell’s iPod.’ ‘Hi, I’m Mitchell’s ghost, the front door is locked. Can you come down and let me in?’ ” He sighed. “It really got to my wife.” The calls continued for a year and a half.

In the late 1980s, Internet users adopted the word “troll” to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities. Early trolling was relatively innocuous, taking place inside of small, single-topic Usenet groups. The trolls employed what the M.I.T. professor Judith Donath calls a “pseudo-na├»ve” tactic, asking stupid questions and seeing who would rise to the bait. The game was to find out who would see through this stereotypical newbie behavior, and who would fall for it. As one guide to trolldom puts it, “If you don’t fall for the joke, you get to be in on it.”

Today the Internet is much more than esoteric discussion forums. It is a mass medium for defining who we are to ourselves and to others. Teenagers groom their MySpace profiles as intensely as their hair; escapists clock 50-hour weeks in virtual worlds, accumulating gold for their online avatars. Anyone seeking work or love can expect to be Googled. As our emotional investment in the Internet has grown, the stakes for trolling — for provoking strangers online — have risen. Trolling has evolved from ironic solo skit to vicious group hunt.

“Lulz” is how trolls keep score. A corruption of “LOL” or “laugh out loud,” “lulz” means the joy of disrupting another’s emotional equilibrium. “Lulz is watching someone lose their mind at their computer 2,000 miles away while you chat with friends and laugh,” said one ex-troll who, like many people I contacted, refused to disclose his legal identity.

Another troll explained the lulz as a quasi-thermodynamic exchange between the sensitive and the cruel: “You look for someone who is full of it, a real blowhard. Then you exploit their insecurities to get an insane amount of drama, laughs and lulz. Rules would be simple: 1. Do whatever it takes to get lulz. 2. Make sure the lulz is widely distributed. This will allow for more lulz to be made. 3. The game is never over until all the lulz have been had.”

/b/ is not all bad. 4chan has tried (with limited success) to police itself, using moderators to purge child porn and eliminate calls to disrupt other sites. Among /b/’s more interesting spawn is Anonymous, a group of masked pranksters who organized protests at Church of Scientology branches around the world.

But the logic of lulz extends far beyond /b/ to the anonymous message boards that seem to be springing up everywhere. Two female Yale Law School students have filed a suit against pseudonymous users who posted violent fantasies about them on AutoAdmit, a college-admissions message board. In China, anonymous nationalists are posting death threats against pro-Tibet activists, along with their names and home addresses. Technology, apparently, does more than harness the wisdom of the crowd. It can intensify its hatred as well.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Guide of the Week: Consumer Issues ... ala Ralph Nader

[Since I met Ralph Nader this past weekend, this Consumer Issues post cannot be ignored. Check out Ralph on Sesame Street on to understand how Ralph Nader has always worked for THE PEOPLE, and not the corporations]

Cross-posted from FGI:

While we are a nation of citizens, we are also a nation of consumers. Every patron we have is a consumer and so all of them may have need for our current "Guide of the Week" from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange:

Consumer Issues and Advocacy (Mary Finley, California State University-Northridge (CSUN), 2004) Last updated 1/10/2008

Mary Finley has put together an information guide broken down into sections on Books / Complaint Guides & Consumer Agencies / Business Addresses / Brandnames / Journal Articles / Newspapers / Government Agencies & Activities / Laws and Regulations / Internet.

Many of the print resources listed in this guide can be found close to you either by searching the catalog of your local library or by searching on Ms. Finley's guide references online databases that CSUN has paid for the use of their students and faculty. Some of the same databases might be available to you. Check out the Indiana State Library's listing of statewide virtual libraries at to see what desktop database access you might have.

Check out the guide. Then see what else is available. And if you're a docs librarian with a handout, please share it!

ALA President Stepping Down, Offers Final Book Recommendation

Soon to be the former President of ALA, regular NPR guest Loriene Roy shares highlights from her time leading the organization, what the future holds for her and one final list of suggested literary "musts" for the inquiring mind. Here's the nine-minute interview on NPR.

Google’s New Tool Is Meant for Marketers

The company is introducing a free service, intended for marketers, but which will allow anyone to track the popularity of various terms in Google’s search engine.

There are several ways that librarians could use this information. Full story here.

Here is a link to the new service: Google Insights for Search

100 Places to Connect With Other Bibliophiles Online

Though the "100 Places to Connect With Other Bibliophiles Online" excluded the most important web site in the world [LISNews], you might find something new.

Reading is no longer an individual activity. Thanks to online book clubs, book trading networks, social media sites just for librarians and book lovers, kids' networks and more, connecting with your fellow bibliophiles and gnashing about favorite books is easier than ever. Thanks to these sites, you don't have to wait for your friends to hurry up and finish the book you just read: chances are, there's someone out there who's dying to talk about it too. Check below for 100 different sites and networks to find other bibliophiles like you.