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Monday, 1 December 2008

Non-English blog roundup #9

On a meta note, Google Reader now incorporates automatic language recognition and translation. For some reason this doesn't come across to the Reader widget in iGoogle, so what language I see depends on where I am -- this is actually a bonus because, while I read far faster in English, Google Translate can produce... unusual results.

Bibliothèques 2.0 (French) reports that the library in Toulouse has latched onto the city's SMS contract to SMS users for
  • the first overdue notice, and
  • notice that a reserved book is available.
They also send a pre-overdue notice by email, and additional overdue notices by email then by post. They acknowledge that SMS, at 10 euro-cents apiece, is more expensive than mail. But I think (and evidently so do they) that it's worth it to get a book back earlier and save the need of sending a post message later. We introduced SMS messages for overdue hourly-loans at our own library, and the number of times you see a student sprinting inside with the book - they didn't mean to have it overdue, they're just busy and preoccupied - makes it all worth while.

La Feuille highlights a quote from Marin Dacos' post about ebook readers (French): "Readers of today display all the shortcomings of physical books and almost none of the qualities of digital text." [This is an example of where Google Translate fails utterly, with "The reading of today are the shortcomings of the book and almost none of the qualities of the text." Reading is just stupid, are is odd, and why oh why does it simply miss out a word (numériques) that it can't cope with? Though I'll give it 'shortcomings', which I stole for my own translation.]

Álvaro Cabezas reports on the integration of Google Scholar results into Google proper (Spanish). If you don't have access via a library subscription you can click on the "All 3/whatever versions" to increase your chances of finding an open access copy or preprint.

Also from Álvaro is a great post on The user as generator, and the library as redisseminator of content (Spanish again). [Another failure of Google Translate, which renders "como redifusora de contenidos" as "of content as redisseminators". I see what it's trying to do - Romance languages often write an X of Y where English would have a Y X - but it's being incompetent about it; there's no earthly reason why a machine couldn't get the correct "as content redisseminator".] He points out that creating and maintaining a website full of quality content takes time and money - but also that web 2.0, with its remixing ideology, provides the opportunity to reuse existing information, and the opportunity to empower users to do some of the work for us. Risks, yes - but weighed against the risk of being "relegated to the archaic image which society, in general, holds of libraries"....

And via multiple blogs, the new Europeana went down due to popular demand shortly after launching. "Europe's digital library, museum and archive" hopes to re-open mid-December, at which time it will "be bringing you digitised books, films, paintings, newspapers, sounds and archives from Europe’s greatest collections." More about the project is available in the meantime at the project development site (English; Europeana itself will be in multiple languages).