Morning, nonsunshine, off to work and an information adage

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Friday, 31 July 2009

(07:37:05 CDT)

Morning, non sunshine, off to work and an information adage

It's grey outside. This is a good thing to me. I mean, we have had something like five years of drought and a very dry July, but I bet there are people already praying to God to just please make the clouds go away. I don't pray to God for anything of the sort, nor the opposite, but if praying types are out there, pray that it rains more. Pray for floods. And tidal waves? Anyhow, I'll see you down in Tennessee bay.

I have not decided on the tea for this morning (I'm thinking something green, probably sencha), but the music of the morning is Clutch's Strange Cousins from the West. "I feel just like a motherless child..." "Oh, Abraham Lincoln,carried across Ninth street...the assassin, the coward, shot him in the head" "Sorry to have to break it to you friend but life seldom goes exactly as we plan..." Who needs tea when you have Clutch?

Work is going well. No real updates, there. I keep learning new tricks of the trade and taking on a few of the harder questions to answer to see what I can do. Outside of the minor issues last night, I only had one significant question. A woman was looking for three assigned articles. None of them were easy to find, and one was hard to even find as an abstract, much less a whole article. After an hour or so, I was able to find all three and she was really happy. Which is good, but the more I play in the sandbox, the more I see the problems in the way it is constructed. Third party interfaces using a, well, fourth party (?) index database which uses a set of fifth party publications. Each index/database has its own set of publications, many of which intersect in a confusing Venn diagram with thousands of circles contained in dozens of circles contained in a dozen circles.

The difficulty of finding the resources you need is directly proportional to the specificity of your search. I emphasized that because it is an adage that applies to a lot of information science. If a person is looking for, say, the ecological impact of turkey farming, it is not so hard to use the system. If a person is looking for an article in Turkey Farming Quarterly, it is not that hard but takes some digging. If a person is looking for the article "Ecological Impact" in the Journal of Turkey Farming, it might take quite a bit of time, because every institution is going to subscribe to its own system of interfaces and various contracts will be solved in various ways, with different sets of sub-databases and so forth. I recently sat down for two hours trying to help someone work around some journals that UAH does not subscribe to. The easy answer, and best, is to recommend the journals you need to the proper subject specialist, ILL some of the articles missing, and to start with what UAH does offer. The person in question was pretty adamant that he wanted a given set of articles, but by the end, he was understanding the sense I was spinning. The layers add degrees of opaqueness in a field that needs informational transparency. A better solution? I don't know off the top of my head, but I have ideas. We are in the land of information terabytes. Requiring three or four non-explicit layers to be the gateways to these terabytes has its drawbacks. Expose the layers, have them work together instead of each other's crutches, and that should be a start.

I will leave this post alone, and start getting ready for work, with one link. Another cyclist was killed because of a driver paying more attention to a cellphone and, again, no charges are to be filed. Let's get the cell-phones out of the damned cars. Had that been a beer can, she would be up for charges of vehicular manslaughter.

Si Vales, Valeo


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