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Looking at Data

[This is a page of links for a 30 minute session on Data that I’m doing tomorrow.]

Data Trends: Structured, Visual, Interactive

Data and Tools

Your Own Statistics

  • Flickr Stats — If you have a Flickr Pro account and turn on statistics recording, you can explore your Flickr Stats in many ways.
  • Boatwright Library at a Glance — Visual presentation of statistics
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art — Visual data widgets provide access to a wide variety of counts and statistics, with the ability to drill down and get more detail, select by department, follow by feed and much more. This site is built on Drupal and has been released as the open source museum-dashboard
  • Google Spreadsheet Gadgets — Google makes it easy to create data gadgets in different formats, and offers more powerful tools through Google Code

Sample Motion Chart from Google Spreadsheets

Going Mobile Links

[This is a page of links and a few notes for a 30 minute session on Going Mobile that I’m doing in a few days.]

More People Doing More Things with More Devices

  • Smartphones, feature phones
  • Devices that aren’t phones (iPod Touch)
  • What about netbooks, iPad, eBook readers, gaming devices?
  • In 2009, data traffic surpassed than voice traffic


  • “People today text 2.5 times more than make/receive calls.”
  • Texting is the most used application across all types of cellphones
  • Google SMS — Ready reference for simple, structured queries
  • ChaCha — Free text reference service with paid guides


Smartphones to Overtake Feature Phones in U.S. by 2011 — Graph showing the rise in smartphone use

  • Challenges: Small screen size, small keyboard (often virtual), not usually hooked up to peripherals
  • Advantages: Available, camera, accelerometer, compass, sensors, Location (GPS, WiFi, cell towers)

Apps or Mobile Websites


  • Programs to install and run on device
  • Platform specific and distributed by app marketplace (free or $$$)
  • More costly to create and maintain
  • Use all of the device’s hardware and configurations

Mobile Website:

  • Use the browser
  • Less expensive to create and maintain
  • Interact less with the device


  • Google Search — Search by keyboard or voice
  • Google Gesture Search — Search the phone by writing with your finger
  • Google Goggles — Search by image for works of art, book covers, landmarks; scan, OCR and translate snippets of text
  • QR Barcodes — Uses camera’s phone to scan 2D barcode to connect with mobile users. QR codes can carry formatted information for contacts and calendar listings, and can be read from paper or screen

Geo-Awareness and Augmented Reality

  • Yelp Mobile — Find nearby restaurants, libraries, etc., and read reviews from other users
  • WolfWalk — NCSU’s mobile campus tour (optionally) knows where you are, shows you nearby points of interest and provides information, historical photographs, etc.
  • Layar Augmented Reality Browser — Look through the camera, see information superimposed on the view
  • Museum of London’s StreetMuseum app — Beautiful augmented reality app…look through your phone’s camera, and see a historic photo from “then” superimposed over the reality of “now.”


“When I was a student at MIT, we all shared a computer that took up half a building and cost tens of millions of dollars. The computer in my cell phone today is a million times cheaper and a thousand times more powerful.” (Ray Kurzweil)

MCCLPHEI Presentation: Emerging Technologies

[Links from my MCCLPHEI Presentation]


  • Flickr Tags — Showing the most popular tags right now and all-time
  • Wordle — A simple but powerful tool for creating word clouds from any text or list of words
  • Name Voyager — An interactive chart for exploring the popularity of baby names



  • Living Room Candidate — The Living Room Candidate website is a beautifully-designed online exhibit from the Museum of the Moving Image, showcasing presidential campaign commercials from 1952 to 2008. You can explore by year and read a short article about each candidate’s television strategy, or browse by type of commercial (biographical, fear, real people, etc.) or by issue (corruption, taxes, war, etc.)
  • Prelinger Archives — A collection of short public service, sponsored and educational films
  • JoVE — Peer-reviewed Journal of Visualized Experiments
  • Truveo — Powerful video search engine that goes way beyond YouTube

Structured Data

  • Google Quotes — Do a Google News search on a prominent person, and look for a Quotes link in the sidebar
  • Wolfram Alpha — Computational engine
  • Google Squared — Creates a grid of structured information pulled from many sources
  • Powerset — Provides structured results from Wikipedia articles

Mapping and 3D

The World is Not Flat: Information Literacy in Three Dimensions

Libraries have traditionally dealt mostly with two-dimensional objects: books, maps and pictures and other objects that are inherently flat. But the world is not composed of two-dimensional objects, and computer technology now makes it easy to present information in 3D so the user can explore different angles and viewpoints. 3D systems are important now in all kinds of geographical work, including meteorology and ecology; in community planning, architecture and design; in forensics, medicine and science and many other fields of study.

Young people typically get their first experiences working with 3D systems in the world of gaming, but there are now powerful, simple, free programs that allow users to explore 3D information in the real world, including Google Earth, which is a 3D mapping program, and SketchUp, with can be used to create models of buildings and much more.

Google Maps

Although Google Maps is not a three-dimensional program, but it is an interactive, highly mixable application that allows many different types of data to be presented geographically. It also has one very important 3D function — it gives you an easy way to create files that can be read in the 3D Google Earth program.

Google Earth

Google Earth is a free software program that you download to your PC. It’s normally used online, and is the best-known example of a virtual globe program. It’s an interactive, three-dimensional geographic program. Anyone can create and share files in the Google Earth format (KMZ) — one way to do this is through Google Maps. Google Earth files are collections of placepoints or markers. These markers can include text, images, links, etc. Additional content is added to Google Earth through layers, which can include travel information, news, images, YouTube videos, historic maps, environmental data, and anything else that has been or can be geocoded.

Google Earth Links

Google Earth Community


SketchUp is a separate free program that can be downloaded from Google. It’s used to make 3D models of all kinds, including photorealistic models of real buildings that can be placed on Google Earth. SketchUp can also be used for any other type of 3D models, including household objects, people, animals and imaginary creatures, etc. SketchUp is a simple, versatile and extremely powerful 3D program that can be extended through the use of plugins. The SketchyPhysics plugin, for example, lets users create moving models that obey the laws of physics.

Google has created a lot of interesting content, including models of the American Institute of Architects 150 favorite works. Members of the Google community also contribute individual models and whole collections to the Google 3D Warehouse. These shared models are a great learning tool and are one of the reasons SketchUp has been so successful.

How to Make a Simple House — A very helpful, basic demonstration by a young user — great for beginners!

The Novel World of Digital Storytelling

The Novel World of Digital Storytelling
Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 4:00 – 5:15 PM
Massachusetts Library Association Annual Conference
Springfield, Massachusetts

Program Description : The digital world is a literary playground. Japanese schoolgirls tap out stories on their cell phones and end up on the bestseller list; blog novels become the new serial fiction; fictional universes cross the boundaries of media and jump from canon to fan fiction; Machinima turns gaming into digital puppetry, and new fictional forms emerge on every social media site including Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, as the digital and literary worlds collide.

Fan Fiction

Fan fiction isn’t really new — its roots go back to folk literature and the oral tradition. The web has just made it much easier for people to form flourishing participatory communities of interest to share their work.

“Scarcely had Arthur Conan Doyle begun publishing his tales of the deductive detective when an avid fan base sprang up, the first of a new breed of followers. These early Sherlockians weren’t content simply to read the books. They wanted to enter the world Conan Doyle had created, puppeteer his characters, and design their own mysteries for Holmes to solve…They wrote stories. Lots of them.” [Scott Brown]

“Contemporary Web culture is the traditional folk process working at lightning speed on a global scale. The difference is that our core myths now belong to corporations, rather than the folk.” [Henry Jenkins]

From Blog to Book

Blogging can give writers a way to get more experience and attract a following, and may lead to a published book.

  • Mom’s Cancer — In 2004, Brian Fies began writing a web comic about his mother’s battle against lung cancer. “Mom’s Cancer” won the 2005 Eisner Award for the Best Digital Comic, and in 2006 the comic was released as a book by Abrams.
  • Anonymous Lawyer: From Blog to Book — In 2004, Jeremy Blachman, a third-year Harvard Law School student, began writing a blog in the voice of a senior partner at prestigious law firm. The blog became so popular that it became the basis for Blachman’s first novel.

Extending a Book

Here are a few ways that authors and others are using social networking tools to promote a book or present it in a different way.

Brevity is Wit

Twitter, texting and other communications technologies can be used as a creative medium for individual or collaborative work.


  • What is Machinima? — A machinima film introducing the basic concepts of making machinima using the variety of settings and resources in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas
  • Jabberwocky — A machinima version of Lewis Carroll’s poem made in Second Life

Oral History

  • Depression Memories on Video — My blog post about two projects to capture personal stories of life in the Great Depression : The New Hard Times from the New York Times, and Depression Cooking with Clara on YouTube

In Conclusion…

“I know only one thing about the technologies that await us in the future: We will find ways to tell stories with them.” Jason Ohler

Information in Video

For my What’s New with What’s New presentation for the Boston Regional Library System: