Archives Unbound & 19th Century British Library Newspapers

The library has trial access to two databases, Archives Unbound and 19th Century British Library Newspapers from February 24 through March 23.  Here are brief descriptions of the resources from the vendor:

Archives Unbound
Archives Unbound presents topically-focused digital collections of historical documents that support the research and study needs of scholars and students at the college and university level. Collections in Archives Unbound cover a broad range of topics from the Middle Ages forward-from Witchcraft to World War II to twentieth-century political history. Collections are chosen for Archives Unbound based on requests from scholars, archivists, and students.

19th Century British Library Newspapers
19th Century British Library Newspapers provides researchers with the most comprehensive collection of national and regional newspapers of Victorian Britain available. This full-text, fully searchable digital archive includes roughly 50 papers originating in England, Scotland and Ireland, carefully selected by an editorial board from the British Library and providing a broad yet detailed view of British life in the 19th century. The collection is made up of daily and weekly publications and reflects Britain's growing role as a superpower in the 19th century world.

For the 48 newspapers selected, every front page, editorial, birth and death notice, advertisement and classified ad that appeared within their pages for the time period available will be easily accessible from what is a virtual chronicle of history for this period. Users of the database will be able to search every word on every page.

Try Archives Unbound
Or, check out 19th Century British Library Newspapers now


Monitoring the situation in Libya

The wave of popular democratic protests across North Africa and the Middle East is cresting in Libya, a country that has been under the dictatorial rule of Moammar Gadhafi since 1969. Colonel Gadhafi, who took power in a military coup, has been called many things: "mercurial," "eccentric," and, now (if not before), "ruthless." The situation in Libya has the potential to develop into something horrific, as evidence arises that Gadhafi appears willing to use overwhelming military force - including strafing runs by fighter aircraft, and the use of snipers and .50 caliber weapons - to suppress protesters and opposition leaders. Yet optimism persists, with reports of defection by pilots who refuse to attack gathered civilians, the denunciation of Gadhafi by high-level government ministers, and the desertion of army soldiers to the opposition.

As in Egypt and Tunisia, social media and the general technological landscape allow people to both influence and observe events. If you are interested in keeping up with the rapidly evolving situation in Libya, check out a few of these.

Here is a mashup by Arasmus (@arasmus) integrating social media reports with Google maps.

View Mapping Violence Against Pro-Democracy Protests in Libya in a larger map

Watch the Al-Jazeera English channel at LiveStation.

Andy Carvin (@acarvin) of NPR has received praise for his aggregation and dissemination of tweets about the uprisings throughout the region.

Here's what people on Tumblr are posting about Libya, and here's #libya on Twitter.


A Philospher Considers IBM's Watson

JoeRobot 2

In IBM's Watson: A Hard Case (at NPR), UC Berkeley professor of philosophy Alva Noƫ ruminates on the nature of Watson:

AI [artificial intelligence] is applied philosophy. AI curates opportunities for us to think about what we would say about the hard cases. At its best, AI gives us new hard cases. That's what IBM's, Jeopardy-winning Watson is....
People wonder whether it's legitimate to talk of Watson as a He, but really the more pressing question is whether we can even speak of an It. In an important sense, there is no Watson....The avatar, the voice, the name — these are sleights of hand. The Watson System is staged to manipulate strings of symbols which have no meaning for it. At no point, any where in its processes, does the meaning, or context, or point of what it is doing, ever get into the act. The Watson System no more understands what's going on around it, or what it is itself doing, than the ant understands the public health risks of decomposition. It may be a useful tool for us to deploy (for winning games on Jeopardy, or diagnosing illnesses, or whatever — mazal tov!), but it isn't smart.
JoeRobot 1
Photos by Brian Duffy. Used under CC license. Click images to access originals.

Organize Your E-Book Library With Free Management Software Calibre

The ebook world is a mess right now. The many different formats, the numerous ereaders, the inclusion of "free" e-books in library databases....all have conspired to create a morass through which it is not easy to navigate. Temporary rescue comes in the form of the free ebook library management system Calibre. This software will help you organize, catalog and retrieve your numerous electronic documents, including newspapers, journals and books.

Read more about this software on the PCWorld blog here.


Caution: Robots Crossing


Is it just me or has the subject of artificial intelligence been coming up a lot lately? It's such a fascinating subject and has intrigued both scientists and humanists since the infancy of digital technology - maybe even before. And at this point it's not just science fiction anymore: artificial intelligence is as real as "auto-correct" on your cell phone and IBM's Watson's appearance on Jeopardy.

Consider these recent articles:

"The AI Revolution is On," Wired, January 2011

"Mind vs. Machine," The Atlantic, March 2011

"Is it Time to Welcome Our New Computer Overlords?," The Atlantic (online), February 17, 2011

"The Chess Master and the Computer," by Gary Kasparov, New York Review of Books, February 2010

"After Winning Jeopardy, What's Next for IBM's Watson? Healthcare," ReadWriteWeb (online), February 17, 2011


Urban Knitting Shows up on the Wofford Campus

From the deputydog blog, a definition of urban knitting: the world's most inoffensive graffiti.

From the CROOKED BRAINS blog: Urban knitting is decorating the city and its monuments in an original way...

Right about the time Interim ended, the Wofford mascot found himself clothed in the warmest and most beautiful hand-knitted scarf. There are rumors about where this beautiful artifact came from, but nothing I can report. I think it's the first instance of urban knitting to appear on the campus since its inception.



World Politics Review Trial

The library has trial access to World Politics Review through April 10, 2011.  Here is a brief description of this resource from the publisher:

World Politics Review is an online publication and resource for foreign policy professionals working primarily within government, military, academia, intelligence and diplomacy, as well as academic researchers with a serious interest in international relations, foreign affairs, world politics and geostrategy. Updated daily, this resource publishes international affairs analysis that provides in-depth background material on global issues that are not deeply covered by mainstream media sources.

World Politics Review covers topics of key relevance to foreign policy, international politics, and foreign affairs. These include the following:

* Aid and Development
* Crime
* Culture
* Defense and Military
* Domestic Politics
* Economics and Business
* Homeland Security
* Human Rights
* International Law
* Political Theory
* Public Diplomacy and Propaganda
* Terrorism
* U.S. Foreign Policy
* War and Conflict
* Weapons of Mass Destruction
* And many more...


HyperCities Egypt - Voices from Cairo through Social Media

This is a pretty darn cool digital humanities project out of UCLA:
"HyperCities Egypt" streams and then archives tweets from protesters in Cairo who are taking part in the pro-democracy push that has captured the world's imagination since Jan. 25.

"You just let the program run, and you almost feel like you're there," explained Yoh Kawano, a member of the UCLA Center for Digital Humanities program, who built the program's interface. "It collects tweets live from Cairo and displays them in real time on a map."

Subtitled "Voices from Cairo through Social Media," the program displays a new tweet every four seconds over a digital map of Egypt's capital. Because it gathers tweets from those who have enabled Twitter's "add location" function, the program also maps the precise location in Cairo from which they were sent. And the Twitter users' avatars — often photos of the protesters themselves — accompany the poignant messages, providing a moving immediacy to the experience.

(Via Resource Shelf.)


Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings Every User Needs to Know

Mashable! the technology blog posted a reminder about the 10 privacy settings every Facebook user should know and understand. The short list is:

1) Sharing on Facebook
2) Existing Photos
3) Checking into Places
4) Connecting on Facebook
5) Apps You Use
6) Instant Personalization
7) Info Accessible to your Friends
8) Public Search
9) Friends Lists
10) Enabling HTTPS

Protect yourself by making informed choices about the information you share. Follow the link to the full article: Facebook Privacy

from Mashable!

Crawford Exhibition in the Mary Chapman Gallery, Campus Life Building at Wofford College

Craig Crawford of Lexington County, SC holds the BFA from the University of South Carolina and for the past ten years has been president of Crawford Conservation, active as a painting conservator, and lecturer on art preservation. He has exhibited his own paintings widely, primarily in the Charleston area. His work is representational, yet he creates atmospheric spaces that suggest mystery in the commonplace.

The exhibition runs from January 25th through March 25th in the Martha Chapman Gallery . For more information, call 864.597.4300.

Gmail Priority Inbox

Do you get lots of email? Gmail has introduced this new "priority inbox" feature that you can train to sort the important from the less important. I've been using it for a couple weeks and am finding it really useful.

(And don't worry, if you'd rather use the standard inbox, you still can even after activating the priority feature.)

Google's Art Project

Last week, Google announced its new Art Project, which allows online visitors to tour the galleries and collections of 17 major art museums from around the world.  Here's a description of the project from the Official Google Blog:

"You’ll find a selection of super high-resolution images of famous works of art as well as more than a thousand other images, by more than 400 artists—all in one place. And with Street View technology, you can take a virtual tour inside 17 of the world’s most acclaimed art museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York, The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Tate Britain & The National Gallery in London, Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam."

Visit Google's Art Project


Library Schedule for the End of Interim

Wednesday is the last day of Interim and the Library will be operating on a reduced schedule until the Spring Semester begins on Monday, February 7.  Here are our hours for the next several days:

Wednesday, Feb 2:  8am - 5pm
Thursday, Feb 3:  8:30am - 5pm
Friday, Feb 4:  8:30am - 5pm
Saturday, Feb 5:  Closed
Sunday, Feb 6:  Closed
Monday, Feb 7:  Resume regular hours