Monday, November 24, 2008

Would you like facts with that?

One of The Economist's pizza boxes, with a pie chart showing
information on arable and permanent crop land by country.

The British news magazine, "The Economist", recently struck a deal with some Philadelphia pizza restaurants wherein pizzas were delivered in Economist branded pizza boxes-- each of which featured one of several pie charts with information related to world food distribution. This under-the radar advertising is part of the Economist's "Get a World View" campaign, meant to educate the public about various issues and of course about "The Economist" itself.

I call it darn clever guerrilla marketing!

Kimberley Barker

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


A screenshot of Viewzi

Fans of visual search engines, take note: Viewzi is here, and it is fabulous!

With Viewzi, a searcher enters her keyword (s) into a plain search box and then decides in which "view" to receive the results. The different views are lined up across the top of the page and one need only click on one to see the results for that view. The different views options are:

1) Album View (searches Amazon Music Search, Last FM Album, and Last FM Related)

2) Song View (searches Amazon Mp3, Mooza Mp3, Mp3 Realm, and SeeqPod)

3) Wide Screen Shot View and 4) Power Grid View (both search Yahoo)

5) Simple Text View (searches Yahoo and Google)

6) Google Timeline View (searches Google Timeline)

7)Photo Tag Cloud View (searches Flickr)

8) 4 Sources View (Ask, Google, MSN, Yahoo)

9)Video x3 View (searches BlinkX, Veoh, and YouTube)

10) Photo View (searches Flickr and Smugmug)

11) Weather View (searches various weather sites)

12) Amazon Book View (searches Amazon)

13) Everyday Shopping View (searches Amazon, E-bay, Target, and Wal-Mart)

14) Recipe View (101 Cookbooks Recipes, 101 Cookbooks Search, Epicurious)

15) Celebrity Photo Buzz (searches CelebBuzz and Just Jared)

16) TechCrunch View (searches CrunchBase, TechCrunch, TC by date, TC Posts Info, Yahoo)

17) Celebrity Gossip (searches Just Jared, Perez Hilton Search, Pop Sugar, and TMZ Search)

18) News View ("newspaper-style layout from major news sources")

A search for the keywords "Beethoven biography" returned a YouTube clip from the
BBC's "The Genius of Beethoven"; the book Diagnosing Genius: The Life and Death of Beethoven; the Wikipedia entry on Beethoven; a clip of a performance by the Nicholls Trio; and biographical information from The Classical Archives.

Though library resources such as books and online databases are always the best option for academic research, there's no doubt that search engines are great for answering quick questions, getting an overview of a topic, etc. What I like about Viewzi is that it very definitely separates the various returns on one's search, thereby making one's returns faster and (hopefully) more what one needs.

Give it a try and see (get it, "see") what you think.
Kimberley Barker

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Books For Everyone

I have slowly come around to the idea of reading books online, especially when something I'm interested in is not easily available in print or I do not have a copy of the book I am reading with me. Other than convenience, I also like the idea of reading books online when a community is available to share interests, ideas and book recommendations. One of the coolest resources for reading books online, joining communities based around interest, joining discussions and discovering new titles is BookGlutton. Users can sign up with BookGlutton to create a personal account tracking favorites, books read and group memberships. Visitors do not have to create an account to search and read full-text titles or to look at possible discussion groups. Available titles include everything from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to the obscure such as Frank Norris' McTeague. Titles can be searched alphabetically or by specific title.

There are a number of other Web 2.0 sites featuring networking and discussion forums for finding new books and reader suggestions that work similarly to BookGlutton, but without the full-text.

An attractive and easy to use site for both personal and community interaction that includes a price comparison for online retailers when viewing a title.

The granddaddy of social networking book sites. Great for book recommendations and cataloging your personal print collection, should the librarian in you find a need.

The visually appealing interface and ability to see covers for all of the books you have read is the coolest feature of this site.

The site requires a login for searching but features helpful readalikes and suggestions.

What Should I Read Next
A simple interface allow users to input a title and author to receive recommendations based on users suggestions. I found the returns to be quite accurate.
A very interesting site that uses mood questions to compile a list of recommended titles. I think this may be the most interesting recommendation site out there.

Image courtesy of The Guardian UK

- Christopher Bishop

Monday, November 17, 2008

Retro photo fun

"rotten world" by peatle, on the Poladroid Flickr group

So I can't seem to get away from cool apps lately, lucky me. And lucky you since I feel the need to share-- I'm just nice that way!

This latest one, Poladroid, will provide you with hours of fun and add a kitchy, retro look to your Facebook photos. For those too young to remember, Polaroid cameras spat out photos instantly and you could watch the picture develop-- you can watch a video about the invention of the Polaroid here. These photos were characterized in later years by high color saturation and a white border.

Currently only available for Macs, Poladroid works like this: 1) download and launch Poladroid (it's free!), 2) drag & drop your photos, 3) look at or print your Poladroids. You can see what people have done with this app by viewing examples in the Poladroid Flickr group.
Happy editing!
Kimberley Barker

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Tools For Searching The Internet

During a recent visit to the Internet Librarian Conference in Monterey I attended an excellent presentation by Mary Ellen Bates called "Super Searcher Shares." Below are the sites mentioned I thought were most interesting and possibly useful to researchers.

Google Translate allows the user to look for translated content from websites in multiple languages using a keyword search. The search interface is great for finding "invisible" content within sites that are not available in a language spoken by the searcher. Google Translate is still in beta so advanced search options such as limiting types of content are not available.

Google News Archive allows a searcher to input a keyword that returns results from online news sources according to a time line. The time line can then be used to isolate trends, look at selected content for specific time periods and to create historical overviews. The site is a nice addition to subscription databases such as Access World News and Proquest Historical Newspapers that lack this degree of date searchability, however, some content requires a fee. Many of the articles requiring a fee are available through library databases for free to patrons.

Google Trends charts the frequency of online searches and use of terms in the news. Regional location and source of language information over time is available. This is a great tool for isolating regional trends and key moments.

Yahoo Glue is a product of IT in India who have created a blended search engine that returns results including news, blogs, images and general sites on one page. is a visual search engine with a beautiful interface that reminds me of an ipod shuffle. Returns can be isolated according to web, image, video and music results with category suggestions given to the right of the search box. This is a great search engine for those who prefer a visual approach. allows a user to add keywords and then weight the term for importance in the search results according to the size of the cloud you choose. Instead of adding terms in a search box and allowing the search engine to determine the importance of each word, your decision regarding the relevance of each term decides the results. searches online discussion forums and communities for content often buried during regular search queries. This is a great tool for locating obscure experts not readily findable on the web. lists additional sites discussed at the conference.

Image courtesy of Modern Life

- Christopher Bishop

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Measuring Your Impact On The Environment

Awareness concerning human impact on the earth's environment has become a topic of serious discussion as the results of global warming become a reality much sooner than predicted. To help measure an individual's contribution to global climate change National Geographic and GlobeScan have created an instrument called Greendex that includes study results and a personal quiz to measure your environmental impact. The index is based on a study of 14 countries wherein consumer habits and attitudes toward making changes in their daily lives have been recorded and turned into usable data.

The data includes a study of 14,000 consumers worldwide, including findings such as choice of transportation, purchasing of food, environmental attitudes, energy use, recycling and so on. Each country then receives a rating and a ranking based on the results of the data. Measurement is tallied according to the responses of individuals as opposed to national findings based on industry, government, et cetera. I believe this is the first global environmental study to be conducted by looking at the results of individual people's responses.

As expected, the United States leaves the largest environmental footprint due to the level of consumption, while developing countries leave the smallest imprint due to lower levels of consumption. The index will continue to monitor and adjust to changes as environmental awareness is expected to increase in the richest parts of the world. The effects of climate change are expected to hit hardest in the poorest areas of the world.

Personally, I rated a 48 on the quiz section which is similar to that of a Canadian (second worst rating on the global scale) so I guess I'm not on the worst offenders list but I can certainly improve.

A tremendous resource for shopping with increased awareness concerning your environmental impact is The Better World Handbook (303.4 Jones) owned by the CFL. The publishers also maintain a website with a wealth of information.

Related CFL Titles:

Embracing The Earth: Choices For Environmentally Sound Living
363.7 HARRIS

The Global Ecology Handbook: What You Can Do About The Environmental Crisis
363.7 GLOBAL

The Green Lifestyle Handbook
363.7 GREEN

Saving The Earth: A Citizen's Guide To Environmental Action
363.7 STEGER

This Moment On Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision For The Future
333.72 KERRY

- Christopher Bishop

"A souvenir with social feedback."

The designer at the exhibit.

Designer Sebastian Campion describes himself as, "a creative concept designer with a passion for making experiential, artistic and conceptually strong design that generate new and alternative perspectives on everyday routines and situations." (

In my opinion he's certainly done that with his latest project, called "Social Souvenir", an installation piece at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde, Denmark. Campion conceptualized the exhibit of 300 black t-shirts, each printed with a quote by an artist whose work is featured in the museum, all of which are for sale. Here's the interesting part: when purchasing a t-shirt, you must agree to give your name and address. This information is then entered automatically in Google Maps, allowing the t-shirts to be traced to their new home. As the Social Souvenir website describes it: "During the course of the exhibition, the 300 T-shirts will gradually disappear from the physical museum space only to re-appear on the web."

Ok, so since I'm convinced that stalkers are lurking around every corner I could never do this... but I love the idea of it! Check out the map here.

The paranoid Kimberley Barker

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cool apps for mobile phones

I've recently come across a couple of fun apps for mobile phones and thought that I'd share ;) I know, I know: I'm somewhat behind the times on these, but perhaps there are some old fogies like myself out there who haven't heard about these!

One of my colleagues in the History Department who knows about my love for all things Geek recently told me about the Lightsaber Unleashed app for the iPhone. This app would be cool enough in that it allows you to create your own Jedi character-- complete with photo, bio, and a custom lightsaber-- but the truly fun part is that your iPhone makes lightsaber noises when you swing it. No, I am not kidding! I spent 15 minutes last evening jumping out from behind doors and "fighting" my husband and dogs, and thinking about how cool it will be when the baby is old enough to have battles with me :) The original incarnation of this app was called Phonesaber and was a blatant copyright infringement; not suprisingly, it was removed from the iPhone's app store. It was recently re-released, though, as Lightsaber Unleashed by THQ Mobile, which owns the exclusive rights to all Star Wars mobile games. Read more about the Lightsaber app and its history here.

ShopSavvy is a new app available for the Android mobile phone platform. According to the site Big in Japan "Users can scan the bar code of any product using their phone’s built-in camera. ShopSavvy will then search for the best prices online and through the inventories of nearby, local stores using the phone’s built-in GPS." What I love about this is that it's such a timesaver. Instead of running around comparing prices, or calling the stores, or even looking the prices up online, ShopSavvy quickly does it all for you. Of course the accuracy of this app will depend on how often stores update their inventories... Shopping and saving time are two of my favourite things, so I'm definitely intrigued by this idea ;)

What's your favourite mobile phone app?

Kimberley Barker

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our First Library Video - The Day of the Relevant Library: You Are What You Consume

The Carlyle Fraser Library is proud to announce our first video production entitled, The Day of the Relevant Library: You Are What You Consume, a fun filled adventure featuring Westminster's mascot, The Wildcat, encountering and overcoming a perilous zombie horde with the help of the library.

Zombie themed books in the CFL:

Gil's All Fright Diner / A. Lee Martinez

Monster Island: A Zombie Novel / David Wellington

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War / Max Brooks

818.602 BROOKS
The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead

The above image is from The Night of the Living Dead.

- Christopher Bishop