Thursday, 15 September 2011


I, er, already catalogue my books, largely because I want to be able to see them as an ordered whole and, until I moved to a new flat with Margot last week, they were stacked vertically in no order in a cupboard. I have a master catalogue, ordered alphabetically by author, and a few subject catalogues, following the Chicago Manual of Style bibliography rules. They're just Word documents for now, although I intend to convert them into XML.

I like the idea of sharing my collection with other people in LibraryThing, but not enough to add all my books (about 500 volumes) to my account. Instead I've started to transfer my biggest subject catalogue (150 volumes). It's quite good fun, although searches in a collection seem slow and unreliable, and the data is terrible.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Social bookmarking

I think Delicious is absolutely great. I wrote my library school dissertation on social bookmarking, where I considered the usefulness of tagging for academic information seeking, although I made my experiments in another system, Connotea. It's convenient to be able to reach your bookmarks from any web computer; it's interesting to view the data organised by tag or username (pivot browsing).

As I mentioned before, I've lost the habit of keeping my Delicious account current. But I've now tried for the first time importing, then 'bulk editing' one of the bookmarks folders from my browser, and it worked well. That could be a way to bring my Delicious account up to date.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Reflection on 23 Things

The Things I've continued to use after my first try are my blog and—mainly as a reader—Twitter. I'm certain I'll use Doodle again, probably Google Docs, possibly Evernote. I will make another effort to get into the habit of checking a feed reader: that must be the most painless way to top up your library current awareness. I've not used iGoogle since my Oscar Wilde quote gadget broke down.

This blog, though, has borrowed most of its momentum from the 23 Things programme. Will I keep it going after 23 Things ends? Yes, I think so. Having this platform's already invited odd items like 'Professionalism' and 'Unusual punishments', and I expect it will again.

Or as Wilde put it: 'Unable to retrieve:'

Friday, 2 September 2011

Pushnote and Evernote

On first sight I thought Pushnote didn't do much that was new; that it was another social bookmarking system like Delicious. I do like those systems: pivot browsing on tags and—better—usernames can sometimes introduce you to worthwhile new sites. I've long lost the habit of keeping a social bookmarking account current, though.

Reading the Pushnote FAQ, I realised what it's for and why it's so called. The Pushnote toolbar button 'turns green when you visit a page where people have left comments', and you can click on it to read them and add your own. I've tried to install the Firefox browser extension that would add the button, but although I'm told 'Pushnote will be installed when you restart Firefox', nothing happens and I can't find a way to make it. Having read Gareth's sample of comments on the BBC website, I don't think I'm missing much.

Evernote seems more attractive. (Again the toolbar button didn't appear when I expected it, but this one I could eventually coax out.) It's not difficult to clip and save web material using Windows functions alone, but Evernote perhaps makes it more inviting: quicker, and easier to organise and reorganise. Being able to reach your notebooks from any web computer, and to share them, are great advantages.

Google Docs

This is brilliant. I quite often work on a document between different computers, and it's a pain keeping track of which version's the most recent: much better to have a single document I can reach from any web computer. I can also envisage using it to collaborate. It's reassuring to see full revision histories are kept.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Google Calendar

I created a Google Calendar a month ago, entered a few looming arrangements, and thought I'd report on the tool here when I'd used it a bit more. In fact I haven't used it or looked at it since.

Arrangements at my library, we enter in a shared file in Microsoft Schedule+. It's antique (preserved from Windows 95), but well adequate. For me as a single user, there's no reason to enter events a second time in my Google Calendar. The reasons to start using a Google Calendar at work would be that it can be shared more widely (that is, among readers), and remotely: at present, we put any arrangements we think readers need to know about in a notice, and stick it to the door. I accept they might prefer to find out the library's closed before they get there.

Arrangements at home, I enter on the nearest scrap of paper or—if I'm less concerned to remember them—just leave to my memory. I'm coming to agree with my dentist that this isn't a good system. A diary would obviously help, but I don't think it will be electronic (Google Calendar or another) until I have a suitable mobile phone. Stationery will suit me for now.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Unusual punishments

I'm not going to sign that petition, and thought I'd write down three reasons why. First, to deliver criminal sanctions through our welfare system would weaken our criminal justice system. We want judges to award, and criminals to suffer, just punishments. However the petitioned sanctions undermine this ideal. If a judge awarded a just punishment, the addition of the sanctions would make the punishment suffered excessive (unjust). That is, for justice to be done, we'd have to ask judges to treat rioters who claim benefits leniently: not quite what the petition intends.

Second, the petitioned sanctions victimise poorer people. I don't choose the comparative out of delicacy: the poorer you are, the worse you're to be punished. If I stole a pair of trainers in the riots, but earn a living wage so that the only welfare payment I regularly claim is child benefit, my punishment diverges wildly from that of my unemployed neighbour, who committed the same crime but regularly claims housing benefit and jobseeker's allowance. (To be clear: he is reduced to a homeless beggar.) Why? Is this enlightenment? Is this justice?

My neighbour's fate suggests a third, practical reason. After punishment, another general goal of criminal sanctions is the deterrence of future crime, but those petitioned seem in effect to promote it. We should remember they're meant to apply to rioters who aren't sent to prison, who remain at liberty. This must be so or the petition would be pointless: prisoners obviously can't claim many benefits (jobseeker's allowance, housing benefit, cold weather payments and so on).

And the petition certainly has people like my neighbour in mind: its sanctions apply to 'those who have ... shown a disregard for the country that provides for them.' This is a rhetorical way of talking about people who depend on welfare. To get to the point: if a rioter who depends on benefits has them withdrawn, he has to get the things he needs to live in ways other than paying for them. A few obvious ones apart from begging are theft, robbery, and burglary.

I feel like a lot could be said about the mindset that, confronted with last week's appalling riots, conceives this petition as a relevant answer. (I don't mean all the signatories too. It's an angry, urgent time.) But this won't be the place.

I'll just add that I'm not going to sign the other petition either. As a political move, I think it harms its cause. Never mind that it starts off like a landlord's notice ('Tenants MUST keep a DEAD BADGER in the sink at all times').*

* Notice borrowed from Alexei Sayle.