Towse: views from the hill

December 16, 2008

Where’s the Gap in Your Knowledge?

Filed under: fun,information — Towse @ 8:19 pm

Sponsored by Oxford University Press’ Very Short Introductions: Where’s the Gap in Your Knowledge?

Quiz asks three questions in each of seven subject areas. You must answer at least two out of the three questions correctly or you have a gap in that area of knowledge.

My only gap was in Religion & Theology.

[via Sour Grapes' Google Reader]

November 11, 2008

The Library in the New Age

Filed under: history,information,libraries,web2.0 — Towse @ 8:53 pm

The Library in the New Age

by Robert Darnton. (The New York Review of Books. 12 Jun 2008)

Late on this. Just saw a May 2008 link from Robert Berkman‘s friendfeed.

The article concludes, Meanwhile, I say: shore up the library. Stock it with printed matter. Reinforce its reading rooms. But don’t think of it as a warehouse or a museum. While dispensing books, most research libraries operate as nerve centers for transmitting electronic impulses. They acquire data sets, maintain digital repositories, provide access to e-journals, and orchestrate information systems that reach deep into laboratories as well as studies. Many of them are sharing their intellectual wealth with the rest of the world by permitting Google to digitize their printed collections. Therefore, I also say: long live Google, but don’t count on it living long enough to replace that venerable building with the Corinthian columns. As a citadel of learning and as a platform for adventure on the Internet, the research library still deserves to stand at the center of the campus, preserving the past and accumulating energy for the future.

Darnton also says (and I concur, oh, how I concur), Information has never been stable. That may be a truism, but it bears pondering. It could serve as a corrective to the belief that the speedup in technological change has catapulted us into a new age, in which information has spun completely out of control. I would argue that the new information technology should force us to rethink the notion of information itself. It should not be understood as if it took the form of hard facts or nuggets of reality ready to be quarried out of newspapers, archives, and libraries, but rather as messages that are constantly being reshaped in the process of transmission. Instead of firmly fixed documents, we must deal with multiple, mutable texts. By studying them skeptically on our computer screens, we can learn how to read our daily newspaper more effectively—and even how to appreciate old books.

Don’t trust the newspapers. Don’t trust books. For heaven’s sake, don’t trust blogs or online news sources or the story that a friend of a friend told your best friend.

Believe, but believe with healthy skepticism because the more I read and the more I know, the more I know what I read is at least twenty percent balderdash and another twenty percent complete fraud. (And despite her protestations to the contrary, the great great whatever great aunt did not trace his nibs’ family roots back to Lady Godiva and beyond.)

May 20, 2008


Filed under: information,life,spamfraudcrooks — Towse @ 10:18 pm

Got a phone call from this number on my handy this afternoon. I don’t answer calls anyway especially ones that show up that don’t have a name attached to them via my internal known-people phone directory.

Plus the # looked phunny. Look at all those zeroes, fps.

After checking to see whether the unknown someone left a message (Nope.), I ran the number through Google and came across this, specifically the entry filed by al at 5/19/2008 2:46:56 PM which reads

I am an employee of the lumber company that this number is registered to. We do not solicite anyone nor do we give out any information. We just found out today that our 800 number was spoofed by another company. We have contacted our phone company, our state attorney general, and the FTC about this matter. I am hoping we will be able to resolve this issue.

So, don’t call the number to rant at someone. Seems it’s probably not their fault.

(Or maybe Al is a plant from the spammer trying to get people to lay off. … in any case. …)

If you get a call from this number, no need to answer it. It’s not Publishers’ Clearinghouse telling you you’ve won a million big ones.

April 26, 2008

Highland bagpipe is a recent invention for nostalgic Scotish émigrés, expert claims

Filed under: history,information — Towse @ 5:51 pm

By Patrick Sawer
Last Updated: 3:04am BST 21/04/2008

Whisper it if you dare, but the age-old Highland bagpipe – beloved of sentimental Scots and American tourists in search of their Highland roots – is in fact a recent invention.

A controversial new study has claimed that far from being the time-honoured instrument which led the clans into battle against the Auld Enemy, the bagpipe as we know it was developed in the early 1800s.

It now seems that, like the kilt and most tartans, the tradition of the great Highland bagpipe was something manufactured for the benefit of nostalgic Scottish émigrés.


[via Funky Plaid at Swirling Vortex of Verisimilitude]

July 12, 2007

Jimbo Wales at the Commonwealth Club. Wedn. 18 July 6 p.m. checkin

Filed under: culture,information,San Francisco,web2.0,webstuff — Towse @ 11:46 pm

Jimbo Wales at the Commonwealth Club

Founder, Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation and Wikia


“Come hear Wales talk about what’s next on his agenda, his opinions on the politics of the Internet and his thoughts on the accuracy of Wikipedia posts.”

6:00 p.m., Check-in | 6:30 p.m., Program
7:30 p.m., Wine and Hors d’oeuvres Reception

Club office, 595 Market St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco
$12 for Members
$20 for Non-Members
$7 for Students (with valid ID)

June 25, 2007

[URL] Swivel

Filed under: information,resource,URL,webstuff — Towse @ 5:17 pm

Love data and mashups and obscure weird factoids and coincidences?

Check out Swivel.

For a taste of what’s on-site, check out Tasty Data Goodies

March 21, 2007

[URL] Tax Tips and Resources for Writers

Filed under: information,URL,writing — Towse @ 7:05 pm

DRO has posted her updated “Tax Tips and Resources For Freelance Writers” over at InkyGirl.

Here’s my annual updated list of useful tax resources for freelance writers. Sadly (for me, anyway, since I live in Canada), most of the info is specific to the U.S., but I did manage to find some info specific to Canada and other countries, listed below in the “international tax info” section partway down this list.

I was unable to find ANY tax-related resources of use to writers outside of North America. Suggestions welcome! [...]

March 7, 2007

Before breakfast or even a cup of coffee: Updates to Internet Resources for Writers

Filed under: information,internet resources for writers,URL — Towse @ 6:36 pm

Checked and updated all links in the Business section of Internet Resources for Writers.

Before breakfast! Before coffee even!

The page includes over one hundred links classified in subsections:

  • Unsorted
  • Agents
  • Book Publishers
  • Copyright
  • E-Publishing
  • Legal, Contracts, & Taxes
  • Marketing, Sales, Promotion, & Publicity
  • Print-On-Demand Publishing
  • Self-publishing
  • Your Website

Replaced some broken links. Added a few. Commented out links to my articles on Web design and copyright that I wrote for Computer Bits, which is no more. I need to bring those articles onto either this site or some day, now that the Computer Bits online archives are no more.

February 21, 2007

[URL] MacTutor History of Mathematics

Filed under: factoid,information,URL — Towse @ 10:04 pm

Found the MacTutor History of Mathematics while looking for information on Johann Benedict Listing, the guy (not August Ferdinand Möbius) who actually discovered the Möbius Strip.

February 8, 2007

Updated Reference & Research

Filed under: information,internet resources for writers,URL — Towse @ 9:14 pm

Spent a chunk of the morning checking, updating and augmenting the collection of links in the Reference & Research section of Internet Resources for Writers.

The page includes over two hundred links classified in subsections:

  • Unsorted
  • Assorted Information
  • Experts
  • Maps
  • Names & Naming
  • News Links
  • Online Texts
  • Research & Reference
  • Search Engines (including image search and video search engines)
  • Tools
  • Warnings & Rumors

Amazing resources out there on the Web. What a wURLd.

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