July 2009 Archives

Sparrow

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I rescued a sparrow today. I had entered a bakery to buy something to eat, only to find a shop assistant and two women with their eyes wide open, telling me something about a bird.

I didn't immediately get what they meant, but when I looked where they pointed, I saw a sparrow, which had somehow found its way into the bakery and was now trying to fly out through the window pane, which was of course hopeless.

I think the sparrow didn't realise it was being saved, because as soon as I had caught it, it screamed as I have never heard a sparrow scream. It was obviously panicking, fearing for its life. I carried it out the door as quickly as I could and released it. It flew away instantly.

I know nothing about the mental capacity of sparrows, but I do hope it somehow understood that I had been trying to help. I couldn't quite forget the poor bird's screams, and my hands shook for about five minutes, as if they had absorbed some of the bird's fear.

Bürgernähe am Beispiel der Straßenbahn

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Summary for English readers:

District politicians in Vienna are forcing local residents to waste time waiting for tramways by opposing a sensible tramway extension with obscure arguments, and they are not ashamed to claim that they are doing it in the people's best interests.

Es war vor einem Jahr. Da beschlossen die Wiener Linien völlig unerwartet, ihren Fahrgästen etwas Gutes zu tun und die Straßenbahnlinien am Ring neu zu organisieren. Durch Zusammenlegung und Verlängerung von mehreren Linien sollten lästige Umsteigezwänge wegfallen und Fahrzeiten deutlich verkürzt werden. Aus nicht ganz nachvollziehbaren Gründen wurden von den vier geplanten Linien nur zwei umgesetzt, die Umbenennung der Linie D in 3 und die Verlängerung der Linie 71 mit gleichzeitiger Umbenennung in 4 sollte im April dieses Jahres stattfinden.

Die Umstellung der Linien 1 und 2 war ein voller Erfolg: die Fahrgastzahlen stiegen derart, dass es zeitweise zu Überlastungen kam. Den Linien 3 und 4 geht es hingegen nicht so gut.

Beide siond nun auf unbestimmte Zeit verschoben. Im 9. und 19. Bezirk sammelte die ÖVP eifrig Unterschriften gegen die Umbenennung der Linie D (weil das ja auch wirllich brennend wichtig ist). Soll sein, wenn sie dann besser schlafen können, denn eigentlich ist es ziemlich egal, ob die Linie D nun D oder 3 heißt. Was sich hingegen die SPÖ Simmering rund um das Nichtzustandekommen der Linie 4 geleistet hat, ist ein Fiasko, und ein gutes Beispiel, was Politiker unter Bürgernähe verstehen und wie weit diese von den Bürgern entfernt ist.

Weiße Hemden

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Summary for English readers:

The present discussion in Austria whether a dessert named "moor in a shirt" constitutes racism seems pretty laughable in the face of the very real racism and right-wing slogans that are dominating Austrian politics. What is worse, it distracts from several things that should be dealt with more urgently.

Von all den Absonderlichkeiten, die sich Österreich gerne leistet, ist die Mohr-im-Hemd-Debatte wohl das eigenwilligste Scheingefecht seit längerem. Das Schattenboxen zwischen jenen, die eine Werbung mit dem Namen einer traditionellen Mehlspeise rassistisch finden und jenen, die die Tradition der Zuckerbäckerei aufrecht erhalten wollen, gehört gerahmt und dann ins Sommerloch geworfen.

Ich meine: wenn ein Land, dessen drei größte demokratische Parteien ohne Zögern einen Mann mit zumindest zweifelhafter politischer Herkunft zum dritten Nationalratspräsidenten wählen, nur Süßspeisen mit politisch korrekten Namen hätte, dann wäre das doch ein krasser Stilbruch.

Aural souvenirs

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The other day I saw a man in a wheelchair who was obviously also blind. He also seemed to be a tourist, or at least the travel guide book that the person held ho wheeled him around, indicated something to that effect.

The interesting thing was that the man held a microphone and seemed to be recording the sounds of the city around him. After my initial surprise, I realized that this was only a logical thing to do. All around the blind man, other tourists were taking photographs, so a blind man making sound recordings of the places he visited made perfect sense.

Why you write

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Hello, and welcome to this year's writing workshop.

Before we start with the official programme and a few warm-up exercises, I think it's important that we very briefly talk about some of the absolute basics, things that need to be clarified before we can start writing anything. The first, and most important of these basics is to know why you write, because there exist a lot of misconceptions about this.

Let me be very blunt about this.

The accidental pirate

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Briefly after writing the German summary of Stephanie Booth's article on piracy, I found a strange item: it was a self-burned CD, it was not labelled, it contained music I had never heard before in my life, and I have no idea how it had come into my possession.

In all likelihood, it is an illegal copy. Its illegalness is based on the sole principle that this copy should never have been made. However, being confronted with this item, I asked myself a few questions before I destroyed the CD:

Excite e-mail has become a total joke

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Remember Excite.com? Together with Lycos, Altavista and Looksmart, Excite used to be a search engine in the times before Google had the search engine monopoly. Also, some time before Google introduced Gmail, Excite introduced Excite webmail.

Back then, I opened an Excite e-mail account simply because I needed an e-mail address that I could use for the hundreds of websites whom I didn't want to give my regular e-mail address when they asked me for one during some registration process. I figured that the Excite e-mail account would work as a spam repository.

As a result, many of my online accounts are now linked to this e-mail address. That wouldn't be a bad thing per se, if two stupid things hadn't happened:

I love metadata

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For those who haven't noticed it yet, I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that ever since the relaunch, each blog posting on The Aardvark Speaks has come with a Dewey Decimal Classification® number.

Dewey is here...
What do you think about the fact that each blog entry now comes with a Dewey classification number? (multiple answers possible)

It's cool, and I even know what it means.
It's cool, even though I don't know what it means.
It's stupid because nobody knows what it means.
It shows that you're a nerd.
It shows that you're a librarian.
It shows that you're a nerdy librarian.
Yay! Dewey rules!
Ugh. Dewey is boring.
Who is Dewey?
It's about time.
Who cares?

 

Everything you always wanted to know about the Dewey Decimal Classification® system but were afraid to ask can be found in The Dewey Blog. Other than looking at current events from a Dewey point of view, The Dewey Blog also intends to help libraries and cataloguers with cases where the correct classification may be doubtful.

Businessmen from hell

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Yesterday, a friend argued (quite conclusively) why he believes that capitalism and present-day neoliberalism are really a form of Satanism, as the way businessmen act abd behave unto others seems to be taken right out of the Satanic Bible.

Even though maxims like "Only the self is sacred" or "Survival of the fittest" [source] seem to describe capitalist non-ethics, I can only half agree because Satanist principles such as "Do whatever you want as long as you harm no undeserving person", "Respect people, their territory and belongings" or "When walking in open territory, bother no one" [source] would indicate that Satanists are indeed a lot more ethical than the average businessperson. Indeed, "You can do whatever you want, but you pay the consequences" is the opposite of the business principle that "You do whatever helps you make a profit, and make sure that others pay the consequences".

This seems to be proof enough that businessmen are not Satanists, simply because they lack the necessary ethics. This, however, does not mean they're not demons from hell.

I think that I actually found proof for this today: the temperature was 38°C, unbearably hot. In the street, I encountered three men in tight business suits, buttoned-up, ties and everything. They talked to each other and seemed to enjoy themselves. No sign of sweat at all, they even seemed to feel comfortable despite their clothes and the heat.

It was totally unreal. The only explanation that I could come up with is that their usual dwellings must be a lot hotter.

Chili Update

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The first two Chupetinhos have turned red. More and more Numex Twilight are turning yellow and orange. And I've harvested another 43 green Jalapeños.

Moon etc.

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Because somebody asked: No, there's no particular blog entry to commemorate the moon landing of 1969. But I can post a link to a site that I made ten years ago.

The food guide according to McDonald's

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Responding to criticism that its food is unhealthy, McDonald's has recently published a series of brochures in which it wants to show that it is a responsible company.

One of these brochures, entitled "Für eine ausgewogene Ernährung Ihres Kindes" ("A well-balanced diet for your child") contains a couple of interesting details.

I was quite impressed by the food guide pyramid on page 7, and especially the positions that various McDonald's products have been allocated in it. French fries, for example, appear in the "bread, flour, grains, potatoes and pasta" category (of which a lot should be eaten) rather than in the "butter and oil" category (of which very little should be eaten); this despite the fact that a medium portion of fries contains almost twice as much fat (17g) as a hamburger (9g). I'm actually fairly sure that the food guide pyramid designers did not have fries in mind when they added those potatoes.

This week's library picture

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This is The Library's author index listing all of its books acquired until 1931. All of these volumes were handwritten by librarians in the late 1920s and early 1930s. If you want to see what's inside these volumes, you can access this catalogue online.

As can be seen on the picture, each volume is about as tall and as wide as a standard fire exinguisher.

Naja

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Summary for English readers: One thing that doesn't convince me about Facebook is its terminology, which can lead to undesired results, as shown in the example ("Horst: 'Got a rejection' - Pamela likes that").

Eine andere Sache, die mich an Facebook nicht so recht überzeugt, ist, dass durch die recht eigenwillig verwendeten Begrifflichkeiten und/oder merkwürdigen Übersetzungen (siehe auch "Dein Herausgeber") mitunter Dinge entstehen, die (hoffentlich) nicht im Sinne des Absenders waren, wie z.B. das hier:

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Inherent design features

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At the moment, there is a big uproar because Amazon removed some books from users' Kindle devices (see also [1] [2] [3]).

I quote:

This means that all the reassuring talks by Amazon that e-books are just like books, but better is a load of absolute nonsense. You're not allowed to resell them, you're not allowed to give them away, and apparently, you don't even own them, as Amazon can delete them from your Kindle at any given moment. (Thom Holwerda, osnews.com)

But yes, of course. Excuse me for being blunt, but only highly naive technophiles would ever believe that anything other than the above is the case.

Chili update

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And the first red chili this year is... a Jalapeño!

It's not the first one to be eaten though because I already harvested some of the green Jalapeños, and they were delicious. And rather hot, I must say.

The other plants are pretty much unchanged since the last update, except for...

Don't buy this USB hub

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Hama USB 2.0 Hub 1:4 No. 00011467.

It's perfectly useless. Loses connections and devices all the time. Is definitely underpowered, even though it comes with a power adaptor. Stay clear of it. Don't waste your money. Buy a different USB hub.

Dein Herausgeber

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Summary for English readers: The German version of Facebook uses the German word for "editor of a book" when it should use the word for "text editor". The question arises whether the protracted use of incorrect terms in this way will simply confuse people, or whether it can over time change the meaning of the wrongly used term.
herausgeber.png

Die Frage, die sich immer mehr stellt: werden Begrifflichkeiten, die eigentlich völlig falsch verwendet sind, irgendwann in dieser falschen Bedeutung in die Alltagssprache übernommen, nur weil sie an Stellen verwendet werden, die von vielen Leuten frequentiert werden? Aktuelles Beispiel: wenn Facebook aufgrund einer schlechten maschinellen Übersetzung einen Texteditor als "Herausgeber" bezeichnet, werden dann einfach nur viele Leute den Kopf schütteln, oder wird das Wort "Herausgeber" irgendwann einmal einfach die entsprechende Bedeutung übernehmen?

Und schreibt man "Pinnwand" wirklich mit Doppel-N?

Today's taxing library task

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What to do with a book...

Piraterie ist nicht Diebstahl

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Summary for English readers: About a month ago, Stephanie Booth wrote an article on her weblog in which she is discussing the seven myths that surround file sharing and piracy. As the article contains a number of interesting approaches, but is written in French, I would like to give a brief summary of it here.

Ein weiterer Beitrag zum Thema Urheberrecht und Musikindustrie: schon vor mehr als einem Monat hat Stephanie Booth auf ihrem Weblog einen Artikel veröffentlicht, in dem sie versucht, die Mythen rund um Filesharing und Piraterie zu widerlegen: "Pirater n'est pas voler, en sept mythes"

Wie am Titel zu erkennen ist, ist der Artikel leider in französischer Sprache verfasst. Da er einige interessante Ansätze enthält, möchte ich hier die Kernpunkte kurz auf Deutsch zusammenfassen. Zum Schluss gibt es dann noch ein bisschen Senf von mir dazu.

Singing in public is technically illegal too

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[The] American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) has told a federal court that each time a phone rings in a public place, the phone user has violated copyright law. Therefore, ASCAP argues, phone carriers must pay additional royalties or face legal liability for contributing to what they claim is cell phone users' copyright infringement. (Source: EFF.org, via Catalogablog)

Not much of a surprise when you even have to pay royalties for singing "Happy Birthday" (or, for that matter, any copyrighted song) in a public place. As perverse as ASCAP's claim may seem at first, performing music licensed for private use in a public place is technically a copyright infringement.

Willkommen in der Postdemokratie?

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Summary for English readers: Commenters Martin Blumenau and Robert Misik have recently published a number of urgent and highly pessimistic articles in which they are talking about the imminent disintegration of Austrian democracy due to a large public that is no longer participating in democratic processes and authoritarian politicians who are taking advantage of this situation. I am trying to add some more perspective to the discussion.

Martin Blumenau hat in seinem Blog kürzlich sehr eindringlich vor dem Eintreten eines postdemokratischen Zustandes in Österreich gewarnt, einer von Populisten geführten "Security-Demokratie", die weitgehend unter Ausschluss einer desinteressierten Bevölkerung stattfindet:

[Alles], wirklich alles, spielt denen, die aus der derzeit ... unterentwickelten und teilinszenierten Demokratie einen Übertritt in ein autoritäres System mit scheindemokratischen Formalien machen wollen, in die Hände.
Alles.
Zentrale Punkte sind dabei
1) das fortgesetzte Schlechtreden von Demokratie
2) das in allen Bereichen propagierte Delegieren von Verantwortung
3) die NLP-mäßige Umprogrammierung von moralischen Standards.

Blumenau bezeichnet 2009 als "das Jahr, in dem Österreich gekippt ist" und führt dies in sechs Teilen sehr umfassend aus: [Teil 1] [Teil 3] [Teil 4] [Teil 5] [Teil 6] [Teil 7].

Nicht minder eindringlich fällt Robert Misiks Bestandsaufnahme "Verdruss, Passivität, Ressentiment. Wie gefährdet ist unsere Demokratie?" aus:

Immer mehr Leute haben das Gefühl, dass sie das eigentlich nichts angeht und dass sie "denen" bei jeder Gelegenheit einen Denkzettel verpassen müssen. ... [Legt] man die Zahl der Wahlberechtigten zugrunde, hat die "siegreiche" ÖVP gerade mal 15 Prozent der Stimmen erhalten, die einst mächtige SPÖ hat nur mehr jede/r Zehnte gewählt. Es gibt also eine massive Krise des Parteiensystems. Die Parteien umzirzen die Wähler mit blöden PR-Slogans, die quttieren's mit Verdruss.

Awful library books

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Awfullibrarybooks.wordpress.com is a collection of the worst library holdings. The items featured here are so old, obsolete, awful or just plain stupid that we are horrified that people might be actually checking these items out and depending on the information.”

Recent highlights from their collection include:

and much, much more.

As you can never know enough about awful library books, you can also stay up to date with the worst some libraries have to offer by following ALB's Twitter feed.

Many thanks to Richard for the link.

This article is related to one that I published a long time ago, Using Dublin Core in RSS feeds. A lot of time has passed since then, and Movable Type has been enriched with numerous additional features that make it fairly easy to assign complete Dublin Core metadata headers to pretty much every page created with Movable Type.

Here are the necessary lines of code that you need to add to your Movable Type Main Index and Entry templates to generate an extensive amount of DC metadata for your blog; I will explain what each of them is doing, but for a detailed description what the DC terms mean, I would refer you to my earlier article, the DC-ASSIST tool from UKOLN, or the Dublin Core website, including their article on Expressing Dublin Core in HTML/XHTML meta elements.

Chili update

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The chilies on the windowsill are doing nicely so far this year. The Numex Twilight (pictured left) seem about ready to change their colour from purple to yellow...

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Is the Flash plugin now mandatory?

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I have an iBook which dates back to the year 2001 and which still happens to work fine and is sufficient for most of the tasks that I'm using it for, which is pretty amazing as it still runs on a 500 MHz G3 processor, which is anything other than state of the art these days.

The only thing it doesn't like: Flash animations. Figure this: an 8 year-old notebook that works great and at acceptable speed at pretty much everything, but when I open a web page with a Flash animation on it, it slows down to a grinding halt.

So it seems to me that my super fast computer in the office needs to be super fast only to be able to display pointless advertisements on web pages? (well, not quite, but you get the point.)

Anyway, nothing easier than that, I thought. I can simply remove the plugin, and the iBook will run at an acceptable speed all the time.

Acceptable yes, less annoying no.

The wise robot will answer your question now

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panel from the Wise Robot cartoon by Tom Gauld

While I am trying to recover from something flu-like a nasty tonsilitis that is confining me to bed, unable to think of something clever to blog about, here is one more Tom Gauld cartoon, this one especially for Ralf: a panel from The Wise Robot Will Answer Your Question Now.

I wish we had one of these at the reference desk for the really tricky questions. I should probably try to persuade the head librarian to order one of them along with the robo-shushers.

More of the wise robot's answers are available until August 31st from a vending machine in the Kabinettpassage in Vienna's MuseumsQuartier for €2.

Is Twitter killing blogs?

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Returning to my regular blog after a self-imposed, fiction-filled hiatus, I noticed that many people whose blogs I used to read from time to time are now blogging significantly less, whereas they seem to have pretty active Twitter accounts.

Are microblogs the new blogs? Have former bloggers finally realized that their lengthy entries could also be condensed down to 140 characters? Or are people no longer interested in investing in time-consuming tasks such as blogging?

The beetle has landed

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I take this as a good sign, not as one of potential aphid infestation.

BIX results online

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The results of the 2009 BIX (Bibliotheksindex), a quantitative performance index of libraries in central Europe (mostly Germany and Austria), are now available online at http://www.bix-bibliotheksindex.de/. (via netbib)

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Hermann Rösch: Academic Libraries und Cyberinfrastructure in den USA. - Wiesbaden: Dinges & Frick, 2008

Hermann Rösch writes in the abstract to this book that he wants to take a look at academic libraries in the USA and to see how the digital revolution affects scientific communication in general and the structural development of libraries in particular, and how libraries manage to supply information in a changing environment.

The book is first and foremost an exercise in stocktaking; Rösch is not so much interested in potentials and future developments, but he is creating a pretty clear picture of the academic library landscape. One could argue whether it is necessary to give a detailed 30-page description of the history and organisational development of libraries in the USA, but it certainly helps to understand the challenges that the libraries are facing now. On the subject of "Cyberinfrastructure", Rösch remains somewhat vague, probably because the term represents a possible future development rather than a present status. The concept of constant information supply based exclusively on data networks is certainly a critical one as it raises the question to what extent libraries will still be needed as individual bodies rather than extensions of a university's computing centre; Rösch gracefully steers around this topic.

Customer support

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It took me a while to realize that when it comes to new rather than used CDs and LPs, most of the commercial record sellers on eBay don't really have all the items in stock that they are offering. I learned this through a repeated process of waiting, waiting and waiting. At some point I decided that rather than waste my patience, I might as well contact eBay sellers before I am actually ordering an item. My experiences with this kind of correspondence have highly diverse. Only recently, I contacted four eBay sellers about a CD all four of them were offering. I wrote:

To whom it may concern,
I would be interested in buying the CD [XXXX], catalogue number [XXXX], which you are offering "new and sealed" on eBay. However, as this item is listed by the record label as out of print and unavailable, could you please confirm that you do indeed have this item in stock and are thus able to ship it?
Kind regards,
H.P.

The answers I received were as follows:

Innovations at the British Library

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Having heard about these fantastic innovations, we're eager to follow the British Library's example and also introduce them here at The Library:

Innovations at the British Library, a cartoon by Tom Gauld

More fantastic cartoons by Tom Gauld can be found at Cabanon Press.

Actual items

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Promotional photograph of a McDonald's Chicken Wrap, and a picture of the actual item

Left: promotional picture of McDonald's Grilled Chicken Wrap ("pictures shown in advertisements are symbolic and are not necessarily exact representations of original product"). Right: actual item immediately after opening the package, before having eaten anything.

Universal is pissing off neatness freaks

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In the huge world of corporate decisions, there are things that I understand and things that I don't understand. For example, I do understand that when Universal took over the Concord Music Group, they were looking for new ways to re-market their jazz catalogue, which, as the result of numerous mergers, comprised numerous important jazz labels such as Prestige, New Jazz, Riverside, Jazzland, Milestone, Contemporary and Galaxy. Seeing that Blue Note was hugely successful with its "Rudy Van Gelder Edition", they asked Rudy Van Gelder to do a similar thing for them too and started a "Rudy Van Gelder Remasters" series.

What I don't understand is why they are unnecessarily pissing off neatness freaks like myself.

Closed stacks for the weekend

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Just so that all librarians who are reading this blog can safely depart into the weekend, here is a picture of The Library's ground floor stacks. These are normally not open to the public and hold about 400,000 books on three floor levels. As far as I know the wooden shelves date back to the 1880s, the metal shelves are from the 1920s. pb3q4vw5mn | fj7mzzmxsc

Cover Art

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Ralf has created fictitious book covers for the sci-fi novels of the "Raumpatrouille" series based on his thoughts on what they could have looked like in the aesthetics of the time without using images from the TV series. The result is beautiful to say the least, a mock-1960s design that is classy and spot-on. Go and have a look.

Rote Ampeln

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Summary for English readers: I respond to a blog entry by Green Party politician Christoph Chorherr, who essentially states that by ignoring red traffic lights, cyclists show that they are more human than car drivers. So would ignoring red traffic lights also make car drivers more human? I argue that no one can be human inside an inhuman system like car-based traffic. Breaking the rules of a fundamentally flawed system does not change the system; one needs to change the system, and then certain rules will no longer be necessary.

Grünpolitiker Christoph Chorherr schreibt einen Artikel über Radfahrer und rote Ampeln, und im Eifer des sehr emotionalen Gefechts übersieht er, dass er zum Teil ziemlich eigenartige Dinge von sich gibt.

Ausgangspunkt war wohl die immer wieder gehörte Beschwerde, dass Radfahrer rote Ampeln einfach ignorieren. Chorherr führt nun aus, dass Einbahnen, Stoppschilder und Ampeln der menschlichen Natur grundsätzich widersprechen, was ja auch richtig ist:

Es ist ... erstaunlich, wie es auch grossen Menschenmassen, in Fussgängerzonen, auf Flug- oder Bahnhöfen, geradezu spielerisch gelingt sich individuell zu bewegen, auszuweichen, sich einzuordnen, ohne dass dafür technische Hilfsmittel notwendig wären. ... Auch wenn in Venedig in den Sommermonaten sich Abertausende bewegen, zurecht ist noch niemand auf die Idee gekommen, Einbahnen einzuführen oder Ampeln zu errichten. ... Wo der homo sapiens sapiens lebt, haben Ampeln, Einbahnen und Stopschilder nichts verloren.
Chorherr hat auch recht, wenn er sagt, dass sich duch regelmäßiges Verwenden von Autos Persönlichkeit und Verhaltensweisen von Menschen radikal verändern und diese quasi zu einer Spezies "Homo autofahriensis" mit hohem Aggresionspotenzial und hoher Risikobereitschaft mutieren. So weit, so richtig. Doch dann verliert Chorherr den Überblick über seine Argumentation und verbreitet, gelinde gesagt, Blödsinn.

Musiker im Eigenverlag

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Summary for English readers: In response to a blog post by Anke Gröner, I point out that numerous bands and musicians are already forfeiting traditional distribution methods and are using the Internet to market their music themselves. Kristin Hersh, for example, has been doing so for over five years and has even set up a non-profit label that offers digital downloads based entirely on the basis of voluntary donations.

Anke Gröner schreibt über Musik und das Urheberrecht in Zeiten sich rasch wandelnder Medien und Vertriebswege (via netbib):

Jeder Künstler kann sich heute eine Webseite bauen und dort seine Musik direkt zum Download anbieten. Radiohead haben es erfolgreich vorgemacht - warum machen das nicht mehr Bands? Ich ... glaube, dass es für Künstler genauso lohnenswert sein kann, seine Musik selbst anzubieten als wenn es über einen Musikverlag geht. Vielleicht sogar noch lohnenswerter, weil der ganze Wasserkopf wegfällt.

Tun sie ja, tun sie ja, das Problem ist nur, dass die Entwicklung erst langsam einsetzt, weil sich momentan in erster Linie kleine Bands, die nicht so bekannt sind, dieser Vertriebswege bedienen. Die wollen nämlich nicht gleich unbedingt riesige Gewinne machen, sondern einfach einmal bekannter werden und halbwegs kostendeckend arbeiten (für das große Cash braucht es -- momentan -- schon noch die Werbemaschinerie größerer Labels). Da es momentan also die Kleinen, die Mutigen und die Verzweifelten sind und alles sehr dezentral läuft, wird nicht so leicht publik, was sich da abseits der Plattenindustrie alles abspielt.

Aber man nehme zum Beispiel Kristin Hersh, die Sängerin von Throwing Muses und 50 Foot Wave, die seit 2004 (also schon lange vor Radiohead!) ein Web-Projekt betreibt, auf dem sie ihre Musik nur gegen freiwillige Spenden zum Download anbietet, und dabei offensichtlich noch immer nicht bankrott gegangen ist, obwohl ihre Fangemeinde doch deutlich kleiner sein dürfte als jene von Radiohead.

Vor einiger Zeit hat sie gemeinsam mit anderen Musikern ein Non-Profit-Projekt namens CASH Music (Coalition of Artists and StakeHolders) aufgebaut, wo Musik ebenfalls rein über freiwillige Spenden angeboten wird. Hier wird also noch ein wesentlich radikalerer Weg eingeschlagen als das bei einem Eigenverlag der Fall wäre.

Ich denke, da wird auf die Musikindustrie wohl noch einige zukommen.

The current state of Web 2.0 applications

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As the Twitter hype its currently reaching in Austria (today it's in Falter, so next week I expect it to be in Profil and the week after that in News), I thought I'd take a brief look at some Web 2.0 technologies and see how they're doing these days. These are personal impressions, not factual knowledge, so take this with a grain of salt. Please.

Patient:Blog
Value as a software tool:High. Great to document processes and for networked knowledge building.
Hype status:Post-hype
Hype symptoms:Suffered from the delusion that everybody could be their own journalist at a mouseclick, and even worse, that everyone had something noteworthy to say.
Reason for collapse:Users figured out that writing on a regular basis requires time, effort and dedication.
Current status: Recovering after falling into post-hype depression. Has found many niches where it is put to good use. Remaining webloggers seem to have something to say.
Life expectancyLooking good.

Class struggle on the Internet

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In response to a blog entry by Konstantin Klein, Jörg Kantel writes some "unsorted thoughts", in which he concludes the the Internet is currently the arena for a very specific kind of class struggle, one that takes place between the large media corporations who would like to appropriate as much space on the Internet as possible, and the user communities who want commerce-free public spaces to empower the individual. Governments, Kantel writes, play the handmaidens for the corporations:

[The World Wide Web] did not come into existence out of a social necessity, but by mere chance. ... This was a great piece of good luck because the Internet could develop without the pressures of commercial viability, which in turn led to the structures that we still use today.

It was only when commercialization set in that a Janus-headed net emerged: on one side there are all the nifty tools which we use to be able to turn every recipient into a potential sender of information and opinions, and on the other side there is a phalanx of ... media corporations who regard the net primarily as a distribution channel for their products. ... [The] war against music and film downloads is a mere pretext; their battle is directed against P2P in general as it does not only endanger their monetary interests, but also the hegemony of the (media) corporations over the Internet.

Net blockades [such as the one discussed in Germany at the moment] must be seen in the same context: the fight against child pornography also serves as a welcome pretext to implement censorship structures that protect the predominace of the corporations and are to guarantee their control of the net. [my translation]

The full article (in German) can be found on Der Schockwellenreiter.