Briefly Noted for March 31, 2010

Yikes! Another Facebook Privacy SNAFU — Another reason to be happy I left Facebook: it seems a bug in Facebook’s code allowed its 400 million members’ email addresses to be exposed publicly for 30 minutes yesterday. As Mashable writer Jennifer Van Grove correctly noted in her report of the incident, while we may be inclined to forgive this kind of privacy breach in a startup, Facebook is now a several billion dollar company with hundreds of developers and really should do better.

Preserving Video GamesMITH Associate Director and all around good guy, Matt Kirschenbaum appeared today on WAMU and NPR’s Kojo Nnamdi Show to discuss issues of video game and virtual worlds preservation.

Briefly Noted for March 30, 2010

Old Sturbridge Village Shaping Up — I have spent more time at Old Sturbridge Village, which is two towns over from where I grew up, than at any other museum I haven’t worked at. So I’m very happy to see that its attendance and finances appear to be improving after a very rough decade for what is in many ways the quintessential living history museum.

Organizing Digital Humanities in Southern California and New England — Recent days have seen the announcement of regional digital humanities hubs in Southern California and New England. Set up as group blogs, the two new websites will disseminate information about events, projects, and employment opportunities of interest to digital humanists. Both sites encourage community participation and ask for guest posts and other contributions from the field.

National Air and Space Museum Launches Mobile Website — The National Air and Space Museum (NASM) has become the first of the Smithsonian museums to launch a mobile website. The site includes the kind of information visitors especially would want to find: a calendar of events, a database of objects on display, and basic visitor information for both the downtown and the Dulles museums. I know the team at NASM worked very hard on the new mobile site, but at the same time, by choosing a light-weight, quick-to-market, browser-based approach (as opposed to building native iPhone, Android, and Blackberry apps), their work shows that providing useful and usable mobile access doesn’t have to be an exceedingly difficult or drawn-out process or involve hiring specialized development talent.

Briefly Noted for March 23, 2010

Omeka-Powered Digital Amherst Recognized by ALA — The American Library Association’s (ALA’s) Program on America’s Libraries for the 21st Century has recognized Digital Amherst with one of three awards for best use of cutting-edge technology. A project of the Jones Library in Amherst, Massachusetts, Digital Amherst is a collaborative Omeka-powered website celebrating the town’s 250th anniversary. The official announcement [.pdf] quotes Lead Technical Developer Kirstin Kay saying, “using Omeka software as the backbone of our digital library allowed us to focus our limited resources (both labor and money) on high impact areas. The very easy administrative and cataloging areas were simple to learn and allowed us to quickly get items ‘live’. Pre-made design themes gave us a jumping-off point to really customize the public interface to showcase our collection.”

Briefly Noted for March 4, 2010

Facebook, Google, Apple: Patents Gone Wild — The last ten days or so have seen a flurry of suspect behavior by large technology companies, their intellectual property lawyers, and the United States Patent Office. First, Facebook secured a patent for “dynamically providing a news feed,” which has likely caused some consternation among the folks at Twitter and Google Buzz. Then, Google secured its own patent for “using location information in an ad system” spelling trouble for Microsoft’s Bing, Facebook, and any other company looking to push ads to users of their services based on location information sent from mobile devices. This includes Apple, which recently acquired a company called Quattro Wireless, apparently in hopes of using its technology to deliver location-based ads to iPhone users. Finally, Apple got into the patent game itself, filing a patent-violation suit against HTC, maker of Google’s Nexus One smartphone, accusing the company of infringing more than twenty iPhone patents. This is getting ugly.

Briefly Noted for March 2, 2010

YouTube dropping IE6 support — At more than a week old, I suppose this doesn’t qualify as breaking news, but it’s still big news. According to Ars Technica, YouTube will cease to support Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 beginning March 13, 2010—that’s right, less than two weeks from today. To the delight of CHNM’s web developers, many schools, libraries, and cultural institutions have already started to transition away from IE6, though not as quickly as any of us would like. The decision to stop supporting the nearly decade old browser by one of students’ favorite websites will hopefully serve a further forcing function.

Like “Pin Tab” in Chrome? Try “App Tabs” for Firefox — One of my favorite things about Google Chrome is the “pin tab” feature, which allows users to keep frequently used web pages and applications “pinned” at the top left of the tabs toolbar. Now the App Tabs extension brings this same functionality to Firefox. Unfortunately, the extension doesn’t work with very many themes, so if you give it a try you may also want to download Strata40, which seems to handle it well. Both add-ons have been written in anticipation of Firefox 4.0, which is due at the end of this year and will include features and design elements of each.

Briefly Noted for February 8, 2010

How on earth did I miss this? IMLS Discussion Guide to the Future of Museums and Libraries — It’s hard to believe I missed this, considering it features Omeka as a case study, but the The Future of Museums and Libraries: A Discussion Guide [.pdf] seems to have escaped my notice when it was originally released this summer. Intended to help sustain discussions originally started at the IMLS-sponsored Future of Libraries and Museums in the 21st Century Planning Meeting, which took place at the National Academy of Sciences in July 2008—I actually seem to remember the tweets from this meeting—it’s a handy outline of the main issues facing collecting institutions today and even has the makings of a syllabus for a decent graduate seminar.

Briefly Noted for December 23, 2009

There’s an app for that: It’s called "The Web" — In a run-down of coverage of Mozilla’s new Fennec mobile browser, Bryan Alexander at Liberal Education Tomorrow quotes Mozilla’s vice president of mobile, Jay Sullivan, arguing that while the iPhone apps model of mobile content delivery will remain dominant in the near-term, nevertheless “over time, the web will win because it always does.” Google seems to agree. Developers at the Google Mobile Blog recently voiced a strong preference for building mobile web applications rather than native, iPhone-style applications. They write, “Looking ahead, it’s also worth noting that as a worldwide mobile team, we’ll continue to build native apps where it makes sense. But we’re incredibly optimistic about the future of the mobile web—both for developers and for the users we serve.”

One Tablet Per Child — The One Laptop Per Child project hasn’t made much news in recent months. But it’s making headlines now, showing off a striking new touchscreen tablet PC concept they’re calling the XO-3. If any readers are feeling generous this holiday season, I’d gladly accept a gift of one of these, but sadly, the XO-3 won’t be available until 2012.

Briefly Noted for November 22, 2009

What’s Happening? New Twitter Question Makes More Sense for Digital Humanities — Yesterday Twitter changed its update prompt from “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?” There is a lot of subtle speculation on what the change means for Twitter and how it does or doesn’t reflect changes in user behavior over time. But at least for the digital humanities crowd, which uses Twitter largely as a place to share links, content, and news—rather than simply to provide personal status updates—the new question seems more appropriate.

Briefly Noted for November 20, 2009

CONTENTdm 5.2 Released — OCLC has released version 5.2 of its popular digital collection management software, CONTENTdm. Among the new features, CONTENTdm 5.2 includes improved PDF print support and reduced indexing times for text collections. Version 5.2 is available at no additional charge to current license holders.

Think ChromeOS is Competing with Linux? Think Again. — It would be easy to see Google’s announcement of Chrome OS—a lightweight, web-focused operating system—as a shot not only at Microsoft and Apple, but also at popular Linux distributions, especially those focused on the netbook experience like Ubuntu Netbook Remix and Mobiln. In fact, Canonoical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu has announced it is “contributing engineering to Google under contract” for Chrome OS and its open source code base, Chromium OS. Noting that “open source development is as much about co-operation as it is about competition,” Canonical says Chrome OS is “a positive development, bringing choice to the consumer.” In this case, Canonical says the choice will be between Ubuntu, which “will continue to be a general purpose OS running both web and native applications such as OpenOffice,” and Chrome OS, which will provide an entirely web-based user experience. We’ll have to wait and see how this goes down with the Linux community at large.