“A key question over the next six years is how far Google’s current techniques can take them. The strategy for the last six years has been constant: MORE DATA. But even Peter Norvig, head of Google Research, admits that there are declining returns to the more-data game. Certainly, it doesn’t appear that just adding more data is going to yield Gary Snyder’s translations of Chinese poetry. Eventually, it seems to me, Google (or any other translation software) will have to start understanding (in some way) the semantic content of the words it is arranging. And that’s a much harder AI problem to solve than the one that’s brought you the wonders of Google Translate.”—Google Now Translates As Much Text in a Day As Human Pros Can in a Year - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
“Harvard is making public the information on more than 12 million books, videos, audio recordings, images, manuscripts, maps, and more things inside its 73 libraries. Harvard can’t put the actual content of much of this material online, owing to intellectual property laws, but this so-called metadata of things like titles, publication or recording dates, book sizes or descriptions of what is in videos is also considered highly valuable. Frequently descriptors of things like audio recordings are more valuable for search engines than the material itself. Search engines frequently rely on metadata over content, particularly when it cannot easily be scanned and understood. Harvard is hoping other libraries allow access to the metadata on their volumes, which could be the start of a large and unique repository of intellectual information. “This is Big Data for books,” said David Weinberger, co-director of Harvard’s Library Lab. “There might be 100 different attributes for a single object.” At a one-day test run with 15 hackers working with information on 600,000 items, he said, people created things like visual timelines of when ideas became broadly published, maps showing locations of different items, and a “virtual stack” of related volumes garnered from various locations.”—Harvard Releases Big Data for Books - NYTimes.com
“Last week, on April 14, 2012, the first stretch of Copenhagen’s new and long-awaited Bicycle Superhighway network opened and Copenhagenize was there for the bike ride. It was back in 2009 that we first wrote about the plans for these bicycle superhighways. The boys at Trunk films made this cool film that includes the Superhigways project. The project has taken time to develop but now the routes are getting ready for use. In addition, when we first wrote about it, there were plans for 13 routes. That has now been increased to 26. 300 km of dedicated superhighway routes when the project is complete. The 17.5 km Albertslund Route is the first one to launch. The route runs through a number of municipalities, including Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Albertslund and Rødovre. They are being called Bicycle Superhighways, but it’s worth noting that the routes follow existing, separated bicycle infrastructure. There will be some improvements on certain sections and various facilities will be added.”—
“When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is the great equalizer.”—Keith Richards (via nypl)
“The Etc. Stage at the L.A. Times Festival of Books kicked off its Sunday festivities with a presentation by WriteGirl, a Los Angeles-based organization founded by Keren Taylor to pair mentors with young girl writers and to encourage them to find empowerment through self-expression. Undaunted by the cool, hazy weather, 10 girls ranging in age from 14 to 18 took the stage to read excerpts from their original writings or works written by others. Camille Crisostomo, 17, was the first brave emerging writer to take the microphone. Confidence building through her performance, she broke the ice for the other girls to follow. Subjects of the original teen works ranged from poetry inspired by a breakup to part of a chapter from a “modern epic” in progress.”—Festival of Books: ‘Write your brain barf’ and other WriteGirl tips - latimes.com
“The Art Gallery of Ontario is the first Canadian museum to join the Google Art Project, the search-engine giant announced Tuesday. The online project, which allows visitors to take a 360-degree virtual tour of a museum and its art, was launched last year with images from 17 international museums including London’s Tate Gallery, the Uffizi in Florence and the Palace of Versailles in France. Tours use the Street View option of Google Maps to show galleries and then let viewers zoom in on some individual art works using high-definition photography. The second phase, which launches Tuesday, will add 100 more museums, including Toronto’s AGO and 58 artworks from its 80,000-piece collection of European and Canadian art. Viewers will be able to click on such iconic images as Tom Thomson’s The West Wind and Paul Kane’s Scene in the Northwest – Portrait of John Henry Lefroy as well as paintings by such European artists as Paul Gauguin, Frans Hals and James Tissot.”—AGO signs up with Google Art Project - The Globe and Mail
A six-member team from Hargrove Engineers + Constructors lost out to a group of Birmingham librarians during a charitable trivia contest held statewide at lunchtime today.
Mobile’s Hargrove was the 2012 winner of the Mobile’s Brightest Company Charitable Trivia Competition, winning $10,000 for Penelope House, a shelter for battered women and their children in Mobile.
Today, though, the trivia questions seemingly proved too tough, and the workers came in second in the state finals of the contest sponsored by Protective Life Corporation and Impact Alabama. “Most of them today were terrible,” said Jerry Betts, a Hargrove trivia team member who works in quality assurance.
Here’s one question not a single team answered correctly during today’s contest: “In the first season of HBO’s “The Wire,” what westside Baltimore drug kingpin is the primary target of police?”
“We’re used to personalization on the consumer Web, from book recommendations on Amazon to the news feed on Facebook. But what will it mean for learning as colleges, too, increasingly mine data to shape the student experience? What does educational personalization look like? How finely should technologists try to parse it—down to individual learning styles? How will personalization conflict with existing regulations? And what are the risks?”—'Me.edu': Debating the Coming Personalization of Higher Ed - Wired Campus - The Chronicle of Higher Education
“OFF THE BOOKS: Through my public library, I can check out a book on my Kindle for 21 days. Then the system sends a signal to erase the book and make it available for someone else. But there’s a loophole: if my Kindle is offline, the book isn’t deleted and is still available for another reader. So if I need another day, I leave the Kindle offline and continue until I’m done. When I go back online, the book is deleted. I say that’s fine. But my co-worker says that I promised to return it after 21 days — just like a physical book — and I must honor that promise. NAME WITHHELD.
[RESPONSE] In my day job at The Times, I guard against journalistic conflicts of interest, so I should disclose one here: my wife is a librarian and has a vested interest in seeing people play by the rules. (Among other things, she says, that means returning those analog books on time so others can use them.) But this query introduces a new, digital-age wrinkle, reflecting the broader debate about property rights online. In keeping your e-book a little longer, you aren’t actually depriving anyone else of its use. So where’s the harm? In theory, gaming the system could undermine the whole arrangement. The library’s deal with the publisher is for a limited number of copies, and the electronic deletion enforces that limit. Without it, e-book publishers might be loath to deal with libraries at all, and we would all be worse off. But Amazon has designed a system that it must feel provides sufficient protection. I’m quite sure your “loophole” will not come as a surprise to the Kindle engineers. Since your book is deleted when you go back online, you can’t amass a shelf of free books the way freeloaders can amass movies or songs, thereby threatening an industry. To reach for a bricks-and-mortar analogy: If an old-fashioned printed library book is due back on a Saturday, but you happen to know that the library will count it as on time as long as you slip it through the after-hours slot before opening time on Monday, is it unethical to finish it over Sunday brunch? That seems unduly harsh. Your co-worker should give you a break on this one.”—To Mooch or Not to Mooch? - NYTimes.com
“Vegetarianism and Romanticism refers to the rise of vegetarianism during the Romanticism movement in Western Europe from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. England, Germany, and France were most affected by the turn to a predominantly meatless diet during this time. Vegetarianism during the Romantic Period was ubiquitous and widespread, stemming primarily from literary influence as well as from new ideas about anthropology, consumerism, and evolution. Vegetarianism in the Romantic Period may also have been impacted by views on humanism as well as by the Age of Enlightenment during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The shift to vegetarianism was led by a number of literary contemporaries, most notably Percy Shelley (4 August 1792-8 July 1822), who wrote a number of essays supporting such a lifestyle. Other vegetarian promoters included Alexander Pope (21 May 1688-30 May 1744), Thomas Tryon (6 September 1634-21 August 1703), and Joseph Ritson (2 October 1752-23 September 1803).”—
Just yesterday I was talking to a friend about surprisingly detailed wikipedia articles. At the time we were looking at the entry for “Slush (beverage)" - but I think this may be a much better example.