cool tool for library geeks


Originally uploaded by jeangenie.

This is indeed a flawless lifehack: John Udell’s Library Lookup bookmarklet.

It’s so elegant: find a book on amazon, click the bookmarklet, and instantly display search results from *your* library for the ISBN of the book you are currently viewing.

I have been playing with it for hours, charging through my wishlist like there’s no tomorrow.

I wonder if I can set it up for a meta-catalogue like Kinetica as well, without going through the authentication rigmarole? That would be good, because I could go from “oooh, that looks cool” to “stupid ****ng library doesn’t have anything i need” to “aha! I can get it in a week from UQ instead” in about 4 seconds. Keeping the moodswings to a minimum.

Nothing, however, will get me out of the trudge up the very, very long hill to our library.

Thanks to David Brake, plunderer of book repositories, for the link.

Now this is retro chic

Found via Dan Hill (the man has taste), has the best show-and-tell blog post I’ve seen in ages (including pics):

One strategy that major record companies have been employing lately to deter downloading is adding bonus computer content to new CD releases. I recently discovered that this technique is not unique to CD’s, but had in fact been practiced in the vinyl era as well. That’s right: there were a handful of records released in the late 70’s and early 80’s that contained computer programs as part of the audio. This is totally insane, and totally great.

Most of these programs were written for the Sinclair Spectrum home computer series. The Sinclair Spectrum was a relatively cheap home computer system that used a television set as a monitor and loaded programs from tapes. It thrived in England in the early 80’s […]

In the case of these programs on vinyl, the user would have to play back the proper portion of the record, record the resultant chatter to tape, and load the tape into the spectrum. Some users have mentioned playing certain games so much that they could recognise the loading sounds.

This is so fabulous — any Australians know if there was any such thing here? I certainly don’t remember it, but then I only saw computers on Dr. Who and I Dream of Jeannie.

Body as Machine

Came across a fantastic Fritz Kahn image called
Man as Industrial Palace at city of sound. The image comes from the Dream Anatomy Exhibition at the US National Library of Medicine.

In the early 20th century, Fritz Kahn produced a succession of books on the inner workings of the human body, using visual metaphors drawn from industrial society?assembly lines, internal combustion engines, refineries, dynamos, telephones, etc. The body, in Kahn?s work, was “modern” and productive, a theme visually emphasized through modernist artwork.

So, the reverse of this mechanistic modernism might be something like The City as human body metaphor. But now we have gone beyond machine-as-body, to digital-network-as-ecosystem: digital networks (even the “social”, rather than material, ones) are conceptualized using biological, not mechanical metaphors. The new socio-techno-biological metaphor is about mutation, infection, swamps and swarms – nothing so contained as an individual human body.


To call Tinderbox “a personal content management assistant”, as its developer eastgate does, is a bit modest I reckon. From what I gather, it is elegant, powerful, and totally modular – the most exciting thing for me is the ability to make mindmaps (something I do all the time) that are expandable and connectable (something the scribbling in my diary method is woefully inadequate for). Thanks to Adrian Miles for the link.

I haven’t actually had a chance to try it out myself because, unfortunately, the (cough) Windows release is still some time away. As I have now outed myself as that antithesis of cool, the Windows Dork (as opposed to Mac Geek), I will retreat into the sweltering heat and wish everyone a Nice Break, if you’re getting one.

Content Binges and Broken Things

From the eagle eye of Lorbus: This Is Broken – where you can send photos of stupid signs, gadgets that don’t work, and other broken things with an explanation of the context. It may fulfil the stated aim – to promote industry awareness of user experience, but it’s strangely appealing as well…I love the idea of collecting broken, illogical, inexplicable, and damaged things, and not just wondrous things.

My online experience is so much about this process of seeking, finding, collecting, remaking, and then remediating things, ideas, and affective associations. In a way, I am curating an exhibition of my own curiosity.

Which reminds me, I meant to note how interesting I found Ashley Benigno’s blogging as bulimia post:

There are days when I feel like I’m suffering from an eating disorder ported to information consumption. Days when I sit in front of my screen and it becomes a door to a world wide-open fridge of stuff beckoning to be stuffed down my media gullet. The desire, the hunger to know drives me to uncontrolled content-binging. Never savouring what I’m reading, watching, looking at. Always ready to bite into the next link, a different book. Change that CD. Change that channel. A broth of unorchestrated tastes found in a miriad different subjects brings to the boil a sense of nausea. No pleasure, no gain, just my mind feeling overweight, saturated in cultural fat. Food for thought deep-fried into laxative dreams. My meta-nausea turns physical. Doubled over by data-cramps, I broadcast my bile and choke.

I’m not sure that information is really “consumed” in this way, at least it doesn’t feel that way to me, but what great writing he’s coming up with lately.