i predict the bids will be extraordinary.

Daniel Ruzo de los Heros, a Peruvian attorney and businessman with a passion for the esoteric, devoted most of his adult life to researching Nostradamus and his writings, assembling the finest private collection on the subject and laying the groundwork for contemporary Nostradamian scholarship.

His library will be auctioned on 23 April 2007. I wish I could paw around in that collection for a while.

via Luxist

that conversation is still being blogged.

Today I attended this panel talk:

THIS CONVERSATION IS BEING BLOGGED: Our lives, online, all the time, in the trend towards lifelogging

I will write mainly from my own experience of maintaining a personal journal blog on the web for the past seven+ years, and being involved in a network of other personal bloggers for almost as long. All or part of this journal was public on the web until quite recently.

My personal journal is everything that many people look down their noses at about personal journals: photos of my cats, what I ate, what’s annoying me at any given moment, the details of my appendectomy, dreams I had, where I went and with whom and what we did, my opinions on the media I’ve consumed, rambling self-analysis, silly memes/surveys passed from friend to friend, and so forth and so on. The longer I’ve kept the journal, the more I’ve recorded there.

As of today, 213 other accounts list my journal account on their reading list. I have 147 accounts on my reading list. 136 of these are reciprocal reading list inclusions. Because I’m kind of obsessive and curious about things, I just analyzed these 136 reciprocal relationships a bit.

After removing second or third journal accounts held by the same person, I was left with 122 individual people with whom I’m in a reciprocal reading relationship.

I knew or met 45 (37%) of these people in meatspace before I started reading them. Of these 45, I would characterize 23 (51%) as people I knew before I started reading them. I added them to keep in touch with them when one of the other of us moved. The other 22 of these (49%) are people I added very soon after I met them, in the interest of getting to know them better.

I have had the chance to meet 28 (23%) of the overall 122 after getting to know them through reading their journals. (footnotebegin)People who have never met someone “from online” often have strange ideas about it, or say they can’t imagine it. In my experience the only odd thing about it (aside from usually a couple of awkward minutes upon first meeting in person) is how seamless the move from online to meatspace interaction is. We already know each other, we were usually just in touch a day or so before, and the only surprises are what their voice sounds like, or how they aren’t as tall as they seem on the Interweb.(footnoteend) Some of these have been brief meetings for coffee or a meal while we happened to be in the same geographic area. Some of these people have put me up in their homes while I was visiting their towns. One made a trip here last summer so that we could meet in person and hang out for a weekend. Another, I met online before I moved to NC. She helped me find an apartment here. We met for coffee soon after I arrived in town, and she is now one of the best friends I have ever had. Through her I met a lot of those people in the “met before I started reading them” category, and many of them are very close friends now. These are the people who took me to the emergency room when my appendix needed to come out, brought me what I needed in the hospital and when I was recovering at home, and so forth. Some of us even celebrate holidays together.

This leaves 49 (40%) of the reading list whom I’ve never met in person. One of these just happens to be the first person I ever talked to in a chat room, back in 1995. I can’t believe we’ve never met. I hope to meet him, and many of the others, at some point. I’ve exchanged art, ideas, and/or information with almost all of them.

Well, that was a long digression to get to the point of responding to the panel… but it’s context about where I’m replying from.

I suppose these people constitute my “audience.” (footnotebegin)Over the years I’ve become less and less comfortable with the wide-open, totally unknown audience, which is why I’ve gradually limited access to this personal blog. This may mean that my experience is not really of the core thing we are talking about here–the wide open public life on the Internet. But I have no illusions of “real” privacy, and several of my points aren’t relating just to my experience being the blogger. (footnoteend) I do keep the journal for myself (more on that in a bit), but of course the audience is always in my mind.

Terrell Russell wonders about the “perceptions of those broadcasting themselves about their own projection – their own sense of what the world sees in them.” Jeff Pomerantz skeptically asked several times, “Are you that interesting?” during the panel, and points out in his blog that most of what we do is boring and really has no place being captured or shared. This is more in the context of ubiquitous capture, but the overall opinion of many seems to be the same regarding personal blogging. Jeff also seemed to criticize blogging as a form of exhibitionism.

First I will just complain that I weary of terms like exhibitionism/voyeurism being used in ways that sound like value judgments. I would just like for everyone to just admit that we are all voyeurs to some extent (everyone has to look when there’s a car accident, at the very least) and that most people have an exhibitionist streak about something, even if they suppress it. These are not bad things, and there’s nothing wrong with it. We like to pretend otherwise, but it’s the way we are. We are nosy/curious about how other people live and what they do, and we want people to pay attention to us.

No, I don’t think I’m that interesting on a day-by-day, post-by-post basis. I often wonder why over 200 people still have me on their reading list. I avoid trying to imagine how different people must interpret/imagine the written “me.” It’s futile. But here’s the key point that I think is being missed in the overall discussion: (footnotebegin)though Paul Jones made it in a round-about way during the panel while talking about his PT Cruiser.(footnoteend) I don’t expect that ANYONE reads everything (or even most of what) I write, finds everything I write interesting, or pays attention to the arc of my personal blog as though it were entertainment or an information feed. In the process of changing security levels on my blog, I’ve gone back through years of posts, and yes, most of it is pretty boring, even to me, when read that way. I went to the grocery store. My stomach hurt. I couldn’t sleep. I ate avocado salad for lunch. Aren’t my cats adorable?

But these continuously captured things are not meant to be read/viewed that way. Instead, you monitor. You pop in on some people from time to time. You scan and skim others regularly. You skip over people’s food logs, their recounted dreams, and endless stories about their kids (or cats). You get the gist of what’s going on with everyone. She still hates her same old job. He’s going to Europe for the weekend. She’s gone vegan. He’s struggling with his PhD as well. Good to know.

You notice where you or people you know are mentioned. You stop and read more closely when topics are of interest to you, when you are specifically addressed, or when you might be able to add something to the discussion. An awful lot of informal information seeking and providing happens this way.

In particular situations, which are difficult to impossible to predict, the content becomes highly interesting, and very valuable. I search back through my blog history several times a week to retrieve dates of events that weren’t scheduled (so not in my calendar), the name of that restaurant I ate at in New York two years ago, and so forth and so on… I find keeping the record incredibly useful. I was able to reconstruct the pattern of 2 years of episodic stomach pain by searching my blog for “stomach attack” and “stomach hurts.” I was also able to look at what I’d been eating before each attack.

And now, the people who have been reading me semi-closely for a while will know that if they or someone they know is having unexplained episodic stomach pain, that it might be worth getting their appendix looked at, even though it isn’t following the classic acute appendicitis symptoms.

Before I had LASIK surgery, I found it very interesting to read total strangers’ minutely detailed blog accounts of exactly what it was like, though I’d find it boring now. Paul’s posts about his car troubles are now helping people he has never met save money and time repairing their cars.

In our conversation tonight, Josh said that this is the beauty of hypertext and search technology–you don’t have to pay attention to the continuous stream of a blog or other life-capturing media. You can go to just the part that is interesting to you at the time. “Transclusion!” he said.

I have more to say on some other topics, (footnotebegin)what about privacy & future implications & the cost of openness? the undervalueing of shared personal experience. memory creation or replacement? the usefulness (or lack thereof of even more detailed lifeblogging? etc?(footnoteend) but this is quite enough for now. In a nutshell: some of us who are putting more of our lives online than many people are comfortable with are not doing it because we think we are fascinating or important or entertaining. (footnotebegin)though sometimes we hope to be amusing to the people we know are paying attention 🙂 (footnoteend) For some people, at least in my experience, it is about making and maintaining personal connections, record-keeping for oneself, and information sharing/seeking.

Finally-finally, I have always found it fascinating to notice the mundane, the everyday, the routine, the normally overlooked or hidden. These things are the infrastructure of our lives and are of greater value, and often more interest and beauty, than many people seem to think.

early view: new pim article

Towards memory supporting personal information management tools
David Elsweiler, Ian Ruthven, Christopher Jones

In this article, the authors discuss reretrieving personal information objects and relate the task to recovering from lapse(s) in memory. They propose that memory lapses impede users from successfully refinding the information they need. Their hypothesis is that by learning more about memory lapses in noncomputing contexts and about how people cope and recover from these lapses, we can better inform the design of personal information management (PIM) tools and improve the user’s ability to reaccess and reuse objects. They describe a diary study that investigates the everyday memory problems of 25 people from a wide range of backgrounds. Based on the findings, they present a series of principles that they hypothesize will improve the design of PIM tools. This hypothesis is validated by an evaluation of a tool for managing personal photographs, which was designed with respect to the authors’ findings. The evaluation suggests that users’ performance when refinding objects can be improved by building personal information management tools to support characteristics of human memory.


Sounds very interesting.

I’m putting this here so I’ll REMEMBER to grab it when it’s available in .pdf.


I filled up the entire journal re-shelving shelf with print journals from which I copied papers not available online.

I think I gave myself “stapling elbow.”

Now home to update the Procite db, eat, and read read read.

personal digital preservation, ha.

Casey Bisson writes about his crisis in the preservation of his digital collections.

This is also a topic that keeps me up at night. Not just because I’m paranoid about losing my own personal history (I document and track everything on my laptop, in addition to keeping and collecting projects, photos, correspondence, music, videos, and more), but because it a HUGE problem in personal information management, and you can’t just build some tool to try to fix it.

There’s such an expertise component to being able to even attempt to keep stuff for the long term. Compared to a lot of my friends and all of my family, I am “a computer genius,” which makes me shake my head because to me it’s obvious there is so much I do not know. But if I can’t figure out what the best way to keep my stuff is, how can someone who doesn’t understand the directory structure of their computer, but has all of their digital images stuck “in there somewhere”?

There is also so much education to be done, just about the problems. So many people think that if you burn it to a DVD, you have it forever…

I’ve been following Cathy Marshall‘s work on this (footnotebegin)Marshall, Catherine C. (in press). How people manage personal information over a lifetime. To appear in William P. Jones, and Jaime Teevan, Eds. Personal Information Management: Challenges and Opportunities.Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. (pdf available here)(footnoteend), and it will come into my dissertation work to some extent.

rambly blatherings

Getting around to reading the Brief Meeting Summary of the Users and Uses of Bibliographic Data Meeting on March 8, 2007 in Mountain View, CA by Nancy J. Fallgren.

Some thoughts pop up, not even necessarily about bibliographic control…

1. The need for good, browseable representations of domains of knowledge that can be incorporated into our systems. This is triggered by the quoted stat that 77% of users that are novices in both the system and the domain in which they are searching. Because you have to know what you are searching for before you know how to search or make judgments about what you have found. I start thinking about the domain analytic approach (footnotebegin)Hjørland, Birger, and Hanne Albrechtsen. 1995. Toward a New Horizon in Information-Science – Domain-Analysis. Journal of the American Society for Information Science 46, no. 6: 400-425.
Hjørland, Birger. 2002. Domain Analysis in Information Science – Eleven Approaches – Traditional as Well as Innovative. Journal of Documentation 58, no. 4: 422-62.(footnoteend) and how it could be applied. If we could generate outlines of domains, incorporating links to authoritative overviews and most cited works. The historic development of the domain, including the development of new schools/theories and schisms in thinking and etc. The basic topic clumps covered, as the domain defines them. (footnotebegin)I’m kind of primed on this right now, being in the early-ish stages of delving into a new topic, the boundaries of which go far outside my own disciplinary knowledge and areas of expertise. I’ve been fantasizing about the tools I wish existed.(footnoteend) Kind of like a pathfinder + encyclopedia article on steroids. Or maybe you just work on improving the Wikipedia article and pull that into the system/link to it. But mostly, just thinking on how to push on incorporating good domain representations into retrieval systems… including some of Burke’s points mentioned in the report.

2. It warms my heart to see the importance and need for good/better authority data mentioned several times. In a former life, I dreamed of being an authorities cataloger, you know…

3. How the ever-increasing speed of knowledge generation highlights the need for “a balance …between more authoritative assertions and assertions that might be made through a diverse range of sources, including users.” This is definitely true. But. Yesterday on the train, Josh and I were discussing some of the difficulties in finding such a balance. How to handle the editing/versioning of bibliographic descriptions when you have multiple user groups (expert, item creators, end users, etc) being able to edit the data? Whose edits win/persist? And more… I can’t help but think that it’s going to be a hard (impossible?) sell to get Librarians to want to trust/have anything to do with records that have been created/edited by Joe Schmoe on the Interweb. I have big trouble with the idea, despite my desire to embrace it.

4. What would really, really be cool is to harness citation information in all sorts of bibliographic systems… this is necessary to do stuff like identifying inter-textuality and the strands of work in a domain, and the historical development, and who/what have been the landmarks. There’s ISI, but don’t get me started on them right now. Still, pretty much all the rich citation data in books (pretty much where the humanities happen) is all locked up, to my knowledge. Switching focus a bit, I of course go back to my old rant about all the work to be done on citations and managing them and reusing them in a sane fashion, in the individual information environment, shared groups, etc.

5. There’s a mention of scholars tagging each other. Terrell?

6. This goes on to mention one suggestion to eliminate “LCSH in favor of keywords and social tagging by faculty and subject selectors, experts in their fields.” Um, what are you going to scrape off the faculty’s collective plate so they can have time to do the library’s subject cataloging work? Oh, it’s just going to be another thing faculty are expected to do? Hmm… Will our volume/quality of content tagging count toward review/tenure? No? Where is the motivation to make this work?

7. Is MARC too complex? It’s a dinosaur as far as encoding information goes, but… if you really want to be able to exchange bibliographic data between all levels of stakeholders, you need all the data there, and MARC’s complexity stems from the myriad bibliographic situations that need to be represented. It can probably be streamlined and specified in such a way that the data are easier to work with, but think about the bibliographic universe for five minutes and it’s obviously incredibly complex. There need to be easy/automated ways of collapsing complex bibliographic data into friendlier user representations, or simpler records for applications/organizations that don’t need the full deal. But the whole representation also needs to exist in an interoperable format if all the different needs of different stakeholders are going to be met.


Encyclopedia of cognitive science / editor-in-chief, Lynn Nadel.
London ; New York : Nature Pub. Group, 2003.

Description: 4 v. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Contents : v. 1. Academic achievement – Environmental psychology – v. 2. Epilepsy – mental imagery, philosophical issues about – v. 3. Mental models – signal detection theory – v. 4. Similarity – zombies. Glossary and subject index.

ibiblio gets props.

via Paul Jones (scan of official document on his blog):

North Carolina
House of RepresentativesCertificate of
Acknowledgement and Congratulations

Whereas, October 31, 2007 will be the 15th anniversary of the first public demo of sunsite.unc.edu, which is now known as iBiblio.org; and

Whereas, the iBiblio website digital repository and community have become cultural treasures of the state of North Carolina, and

Whereas, iBiblio has played a pivotal role as both a medium and advocate for the free and open sharing of digital information.

Then, therefore this Eighth Day of March
In the Year of Two Thousand Seven,
Representatives Deborah Ross and Verla Insko recognize


For its commitment and contributions to technology and culture,
and to the North Carolina community as a whole.

Joe Hackney – Speaker
Attested by Denise Weeks – Principal Clerk
Representative Deborah Ross – District # 38
Representative Verla Insko – District # 56

I’m happy to be a little part of it. 🙂

it is always something.

My (quite new) laptop didn’t want to start up this morning. So instead of working on going through all the abstracts I downloaded yesterday, I’m running diagnostics on the computer. All crossable appendages crossed.

That’s today’s productivity killer.

Yesterday’s was using the record export features of ISI’s citation databases to tranfer all those records I should be going through now to WebEndnote, an ISI product, so that I could export them to Procite (also an ISI product) (footnotebegin)It’s one that I live a third of my working life in. Another third is spent in TreepadLite, taking notes and arranging them into the structures of papers.(footnoteend), only to find that the journal titles were not transferred with the records. It only took a little over the hour to find and scrounge around in ugly text files and import config files to fix that. Good job, ISI!

I will also take this opportunity to mention the anxiety I have over the fact that (to my knowledge) I cannot save sets of marked records in the ISI citation databases across sessions. It makes sense why they would not have this feature, however I live in constant fear that my browser is going to crash or my internet connection is going to go out, and I’m going to have to sift through and re-mark lots and lots of records. Once a graphic designer who learned to save Photoshop files every ten minutes, always one.

The big productivity killer of the past couple of weeks was that pesky emergency appendectomy.

And tomorrow night’s will be air travel. I’m headed to SF to visit J. This one isn’t so bad, since I tend to be productive enough while I’m there to make up for the time lost in transit. Plus, I get to see J.