ange fitzpatrick

A good man in a storm

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(via The Next Web)
WordPress: Now Powering 50 Million Blogs

Each month, there are around 287 million people accounting for 2.5  billion pageviews on blogs, reading posts that are written  in over 120 languages. English accounts for the two-thirds of all  written posts, with Spanish and Portuguese in second and third  respectively.

Read more…
Wow, an average of half a million new posts per day; great news for Wordpress, but I do wonder how many of the blogs are active.
Extra Credit
WordPress Powers 50 Million Blogs, How It Do That?- Brothersoft
WordPress Statistics: 50 Million Blogs Now Powered By WordPress- Stat Spotting

(via The Next Web)

WordPress: Now Powering 50 Million Blogs

Each month, there are around 287 million people accounting for 2.5 billion pageviews on blogs, reading posts that are written in over 120 languages. English accounts for the two-thirds of all written posts, with Spanish and Portuguese in second and third respectively.

Read more

Wow, an average of half a million new posts per day; great news for Wordpress, but I do wonder how many of the blogs are active.

Extra Credit

WordPress Powers 50 Million Blogs, How It Do That?- Brothersoft

WordPress Statistics: 50 Million Blogs Now Powered By WordPress- Stat Spotting

Filed under blogging wordpress stats

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UK public libraries: my own experience

I’m a bit late to the table on this one, but I’ve been drafting this personal memory for a while now about how important public libraries were to me as a child, it’s been inspired by the stories I’ve read as part of the Save Libraries Campaign. I’d like to say from the outset that this is not about the libraries we have today. When we talk about saving our public libraries we mustn’t just talk about the pleasures of books and quiet places to read. Libraries are not just rooms for books, they are at the forefront of important fights about equal access to information.

But this is only indirectly about access to information. Mostly it’s a story about tigers, pheasants, biscuits and the words ‘oven’ and ‘grill’.

I’ll hold my hand up: I’m not the biggest user of the public library system. In fact, if I’m brutally honest, my card may even be a little out of date, and it may even be caked in dust in the back of a drawer somewhere. This doesn’t mean that I’ve abandoned libraries: I work in and am a member of an academic one, one where I have access to an unimaginable quantity of books. That is something I’m truly grateful for. But I know that if I dig that card out from the depths of my sock drawer and take it to the public library and explain that I’ve probably moved house twice since I used it, but that I am still the same person, the kind and remarkably patient public librarian will renew my card without making me feel like the eejit I am. 

But you don’t want to know about that. I have a much better story. 

I am a graduate of the University of Cambridge. Alongside the Chaucer and the Shakespeare, Cambridge also taught me how to open a bottle of champagne, the rules of croquet, and that there are two (equally disgusting, in my view) types of sherry. The reason that Cambridge saw fit to tech me these extra-curricular but at that time socially necessary skills is that I came to Cambridge from outside their usual catchment area. 

Don’t get me wrong- I had the best start in life. Loving parents, a supportive family and the most amazing gift: Boglestone library. It was the early 1980s: I was a hamster-cheeked bairn, my Dad was unemployed and my Mum was the sole breadwinner. We lived in a shipbuilding town that was rapidly running out of ships to build: there wasn’t a lot of jobs, there wasn’t a lot of hope, there wasn’t a lot of anything. There was certainly not a lot of books. 

Old Timber Pools on the Clyde. by, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by 

Port Glasgow: a pretty bit of my hometown

Now I’m sure I’m remembering this slightly wrong but I can’t remember us having any books in the house: there simply wasn’t the money for them. There is a family story, which may be a myth, that I learned to read using the instruction manual for the cooker. It might as well be true because I remember my parents pointing out words on adverts and posters on buses. I also remember reading a particularly archaic cookery book of my Gran’s which left me which a vocabulary including tripe and brawn from a relatively early age. 

The first word I learned to read may have been grill and oven, but this isn’t just a funny story. It has a happy ending because we were all regular users of the library. The best book memory I have is the week we ate the most disgusting dinners because my Mum was so engrossed in a novel she borrowed. She read it whilst watching Coronation Street, she read it during breakfast, making her rush to work, and she read it whilst stirring the stovies, leading to inevitable burnt bits. We all suffered, but 25 years later she still talks about that book. 

Dad and I read with fewer incidents. Each week we’d walk up the hill to Boglestone Public Library. Very occasionally it would coincide with my Dad giving blood which meant I got a biscuit, but even that was nowhere near the thrill of being able to choose from so many books. The pattern was the same each week: I would choose up to 3 books for myself, usually items with pictures and text, and my Dad would pick a couple of books for us to read together, harder ones in which he would do the voices of the main characters. 

We would walk down the hill together, with an almost palpable excitement about the book we were about to read. In winter especially, we’d get home, draw the curtains, put the lamp on and I would sit in my Dad’s arms and listen to the story, pointing out the words I knew as I went. Our favourite was Roald Dahl, and my Dad could crate the atmophere of Hazell’s wood or Mr Fox’s escapades just by the tone of his voice. It was magical, but it wouldn’t have been possible without those borrowed books. 

There was something special about the library as well. We loved everything about it: the tiny chairs, the colouring sheets, and my Dad regularly asked the librarian for recommendations about what to read next. The thing I like best though was the library card itself. Now I’m an old sentimentalist, but I loved that little blue cardboard ticket with my name typewritten upon it: “Fitzpatrick, Angela, Miss,” J for juvenile, I loved handing that over and someone very carefully removing the card ticket from the book, and placing it inside my ticket inside what seemed the world’s biggest drawer. A responsibility. I’ve never defaced or destroyed a library book in my life. Sometimes they are back late, but always in the condition I borrowed them in.

Young reader choosing a book by Scottish Libraries, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Scottish Libraries 

My beloved Boglestone Library has been knocked down, so you’ll have to use your imagination!

Okay, so I didn’t get to Cambridge solely on the strength of being a regular library user, but I was the best and first reader at school, and the love, nay obsession of reading has never left me. That library gave me a great start in life, it taught me about respecting property, sharing with others, and making the most out of an opportunity. I can’t speak for the other kids at school, but when I look back a lot of them didn’t get to fulfil their potential, a lot of them could have gone further. I can’t help but feel that the lessons I learned from that library stayed with me, I’ve always been hungry to learn, not afraid to enquire, and always at home in a library. 

Now this is a hokey story, the best ones always are, but it’s also true. If we didn’t have public libraries there would only have been the cooker manual for me to learn to read from. There would have been no Tiger who Came to Tea, no Danny the Champion of the World, no magical afternoons with my Dad, no memories to treasure for a lifetime, and no great start on the road to academia for a child not from a traditional university family. 

I’m lucky enough to be a member of one of the best stocked libraries in the world, but that’s never topped the experience of those early years up at Boglestone. I’d hate it if opportunities for people like me stopped because there weren’t public libraries, or the equally important specialist librarians who run them. By funding these resources you are really providing a start that money can’t buy, simply because there often isn’t the money back home. 

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Walt Jabsco, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Walt Jabsco 

Filed under public libraries children's librarians Voices for the Library

3 notes &

The Winners & Losers of Social Networking, via Mashable

 Mashable says

It goes without saying that Facebook is the network du jour, but even though the reigning champion’s user stats keep soaring, social networking as a whole might be leveling off. Nevertheless, there are still scores of other highly competitive social sites that are waxing and waning; and different networks and apps are more popular in specific geographic areas, with certain genders or age groups and even among various social classes. For example, Plaxo is the network with the most users over the age of 65. Facebook is more popular with women, but Digg and Reddit tend to be more popular with men. LinkedIn is the “richest” social network, but Plurk outranks it when it comes to well-educated users who have graduate degrees.

Check out the Winners and Losers for the resurgence of Stumbledupon and the demise of MySpace, unless you’re under 17, that is!

Filed under social networking Social media tumblr

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Travelling light- adventures of a mobile librarian

Ok, so I don’t mean one of these babies…   

Mobile Library by Christchurch City Libraries, on Flickrserious investor.. by Sigma.DP2.Kiss.X3, on Flickr

More one of these…

In the last few weeks I have tried to do as much work as a possibly could on a smartphone. Well Ange, why would you want to ruin your eyesight and cripple your thumbs on that tiny keyboard?


A) We have a departmental iPhone.

B) I see more and more of our students using their smartphones in the library. They’ve showed me catalogue records, notes, bits of journal articles and more on them. Our recent survey revealed that 59% of Judge students have a web-enabled mobile device, and a whopping 63% of respondents had read articles on their device compared to 35% last year.

It’s clear I had to know what all the fuss was about.

I’ve been blogging about mobile devices for a while, and I’ve been especially interested in mobile social networking, but my dirty little secret is that not only do I not own a smartphone, I don’t even have a mobile phone. I have however always recognised their potential and thought that spending the last month going native  and trying to see exactly how much you could do on these things would give me a valuable insight into how our students are using them, or might be using them in the future.

So what did I learn?

  • Setting up the mail and twitter account I would need for a conference (#pls11) I was attending was incredibly easy. Live tweeting the event actually helped me to digest the ideas on offer, as well as allowing me to see what others thought.
  • When I wanted to take a few notes I used a Google Doc rather than the iPhone’s notes tool- as happy as I was to be reliant on the phone for communication I wasn’t happy about storing data on there that I didn’t know I could retrieve.
  • IMAP allowed me to thin my inbox when away from my desk, but it did mean I read and answered email when I should have been off-duty- ah, the temptation of having the whole internet in your pocket!
  • Despite having the whole internet I didn’t use it that much, well, not directly. If you’d asked me last month whether we should be developing mobile friendly versions of our web resources or mobile apps, I’d have said keep working on the full site. Now that I’ve tried to navigate the web on a tiny screen, I can see the other point of view!
  • What I was not expecting was how addictive the little thing would be. Free time suddenly ceases to exist: books go unread, films go unwatched, cats go unfed as you descend into a world of Foursquare, Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds.

To conclude…

Taking the time to learn how to use the the iPhone has changed the way I work for the better. By biggest bugbear about working away from my desk would be that my inbox would frighten me when I got back to my desk; now I can control my email and answer quick questions on the go. Browsing leaves a lot to be desired, and reading on a small screen isn’t altogether pleasurable, but I was impressed how easily I could access and contribute to social networks. Having something I could instantly check and verify with freed up a lot of my front of brain power, but the biggest benefit of the exercise was stepping into the mindset of those who use them everyday.

The caveat, well, it was the way they suck your free time dry, why on earth would I want to read, relax or even think when I could be hurling birds at reinforced pigsties? But in spite the distractions, I’m staying mobile.

    Image Credit

    Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic Licenseby  Christchurch City Libraries and Sigma.DP2.Kiss.X3 

    Filed under mobile devices mobile librarians getting with the programmme

    5 notes &

    Reading List Round-up 16 February 2011

    Featuring: IBM know-it-alls progressing from chess to Jeopardy!- what’s next- Angry Birds? The eternal question of Facebook: friend or foe is mooted once again, frakking awesome librarians rear their heads, the ebooks fight continues: ding! ding! round 167,215. And finally… don’t say it with diamonds, say it with PERL- geek love is the big finish.

    What is Skynet? Only kidding!

    Watson, IBM’s supercomputer, is currently engaged in a Man vs. Machine battle for Jeopardy! bragging rights. Scientific American said:

    "Watson, with its 16-terabyte memory, is capable of tackling normal Jeopardy! clues—including all the puns, quips and ambiguities they typically contain. It dissects the clue, compares it against a ream of facts and rules that it has gleaned from reading a raft of books (from encyclopedias to the complete works of Shakespeare), and assigns probabilities to its answers before coming up with a response.”

    What is so interesting about this competition is that Jeopardy! questions, or rather answers, are ambiguous, cunning, and use natural language. To compensate for the human experience IBM have had to fit Watson out with knowledge gleaned from the gazillions of books, databases and God knows what else that has been crammed into its 16TB memory. Although they’ve been working to the set parameters of the Jeopardy! format, the idea of trying to find ways for computers to provide meaningful answers to questions posed in natural language is very exciting.

    Day two of the competition saw Watson walk away with $35,734 in prize money;  he currently has no plans to turn evil and destroy the human race.

    Extra Credit

    Jeopardy-Playing Watson Computer System Could Revolutionize Research- Nicola Jones, Scientific American

    IBM’s Watson Dominates Humanity’s Best in Jeopardy- Mashable

    Meet Watson- Jepoardy! Watson minisite

    Facebook: friend? foe? and on your SIM

    Geoffrey A. Fowler writes in the Wall Street Journal that Google, Yahoo, ebay & co. are getting a little edgy about Facebook’s recent expansion. Established companies are finding their talent drawn to the youg pup, which boasts 600 million users and $50 million price tag. Additionally Facebook’s sheer reach makes their data about you a tantalising prospect:

    As a result, many Silicon Valley companies increasingly have to decide whether to treat Facebook like a friend whose reach and user data can help propel their own growth, or a foe that can become a destructive force.

    In other news Dutch company Gemalto have shrunk Facebook to the size of a SIM card, making it possible for those without data plans on their contracts or pay-as-you-go mobiles to access Facebook via SMS. The demand for this in emerging markets, where mobile internet access is expensive or non-existent, could be huge. It’s another great way of bridging the digital divide by using mobile access to web resources, rather than a fixed PC, but I expect this will only be stopgap solution until full access becomes available.

    Image form the WSJ article

    Extra Credit

    Facebook’s Web of Frenemies- Wall Street Journal

    Gemalto creates SIM card that brings Facebook to feature phones- Emil Protalinski, ZDNet

    Handset makers scrambling to make Facebook a central part of their device- Independent

    Consumers in emerging markets using multi SIM cards for cheaper calls- Independent

    Librarian in Black- the awesomeness continues

    A regular feature on the Reading List, the LiB is back with a great set of slides about the ever evolving nature of the digital library

    digital libraries: the phoenix rises from the ashes

    View more presentations from Sarah Houghton-Jan

    "We are the library. We democratize information & expertise, and we are all frakking awesome"

    See what ‘frakking awesome’ UK librarians have been doing to combat library cuts:

    Library supporters say cuts would be ‘disaster’- Cambridge Evening News

    Including this from the particularly awesome Emma Coonan who organised a flashmob and read-in:

    “We had big groups of people reading out loud from their favourite books and getting involved – our youngest protester against the cuts was a 2-year-old, showing how this affects everyone in the community.”

    Voices for the Library

    Library protests cause some councils to rethink cuts- Guardian

    ebook lending: everyone is *still* arguing

    Catch up with what’s been going on.

    E-Book Lending: Boon or Bane to Publishers- Chip O’Brien, Publishing Perspectives

    "And once again we come face-to-face with that great and tantalizing promise of the digital information age: the ability of the “free” to generate both traditional and non-traditional profit. Many have argued that this was the central idea which sank the dot-com bubble and built Facebook, the idea which has made unlikely heroes of bloggers and web cartoonists. It is, famously, an idea still troubling the RIAA and the music industry on a daily basis, with traditionalists claiming enormous sums lost through both piracy and, some argue, legal file sharing — and adopters claiming that the music industry’s never had a boon as great as the easily-shareable MP3.”

    Is Monetizing the Used E-book Market the Next Big Opportunity?-Edward Nawotka, Publishing Perspectives

    Apple move raises doubts over Kindle app- Philip Jones rounds up the Kindle app arguments in The Bookseller

    "Removing all doubt about how it will treat e-books, an Apple spokeswoman confirms to MarketWatch that companies such as Amazon will be allowed to sell e-books from within their apps. But those sales will be subject to Apple’s fee requirements, which currently allow Apple to collect 30% of the revenue from such sales.”

    And finally…

    In celebration of my own recent Civil Partnership, and because it was Valentine’s Day this week, enjoy some love-ly links that don’t feature stuffed animals, chocolate hearts or empty greeting card sentiments.

    How to be Happy though Married at the Open Library, includes some great vignettes on the ups, downs, and down right odditions of love. Take a look at this brilliant example of an unlucky Orkney Islander. For viewers outside Scotland: a coo is a cow, and Hoy and Graemsay are two of the Orkney Islands.

    A native of Hoy went one day to his minister and said “Oh! sir, but the ways of Providence are wonderful! I thought I had met with a sair misfortune when I lost baith my coo and my wife at aince over the cliff, twa months sin; but I gaed over to Graemsay, and I hae gotten a far better coo and a bonnier wife”
    p. 241

    Check out Geeky Marriage proposals including this one

    Until the next time- adieu!

    Filed under AI ebooks facebook love reading list search engines LOLcats