April 24, 2005

Books on Blogging & Weblogs

Updated 21 May 05:

Some books on Blogs & Blogging, available at NLB libraries. For more titles, search the online catalogue using keywords like "blog", "blogs", "weblog" or "weblogs" (the pural & singular returns slightly different results).

We the Media: Grassroots journalism by the people, for the people [Available Online]
NLB Call No.: 302.23 GIL
Click here to check for book item availability in NLB libraries.

The cluetrain manifesto: The end of business as usual [Available Online]
NLB Call No.: 658.054678 CLU -[BIZ]
Click here to check for book item availability in NLB libraries.

Never Threaten to Eat Your Co-Workers: Best of Blogs
Bonnie Burton c.2002/ 2003
Call No.: 081 NEV
Click here to check for item availability.

We Blog: Publishing Online with Weblogs
Paul Bausch c.2002
Call No.: 005.72 BAU [COM]
Click here to check for item availability.

Blog On: Building Online Communities with Web Logs
Todd Stauffer c.2002
Call No.: 004.678 STA [COM]
Click here to check for item availability.

Who Let the Blogs Out?: A Hyperconnected Peek at the World of Weblogs
Biz Stone c.2004
Call No.: 006.7 STO [COM]
Click here to check for item availability.

Essential blogging
Cory Doctorow c.2002
Call No.: 005.72 DOC [COM]
Click here to check for item availability.

Blogging: Genius Strategies for Instant Web Content
Biz Stone c.2002/ 2003
Call No.: 004.678 STO [COM]
Click here to check for item availability.

BLOG: 部落格线上出版, 网路日志实作
(BLOG: bu luo ge xian shang chu ban, wang lu ri zhi shi zuo)
艺立协著(Yi li xie; author)
CAll No.: Chinese 005.72 BLO -[COM]
Click here to check for item availability.

- Related post: 10 points on Blogs & RSS (Newsfeeds)

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April 17, 2005

New Spring: A Wheel of Time novel/ Robert Jordan

This was the first time I read Robert Jordan. Found out that "New Spring" is a prequel in the Wheel of Time series. There are nine books in the series, if I'm not mistaken. How can I describe this particular book? It's a Fantasy genre, with the Budo-mythos mixed with a tinge of "Dungeon & Dragons" flavour.

Budo = 武道 (see "Definitions of BUDO on the Web" and also FightingArts.com)
武 = "Martial Arts", "Fighting"
道 = "Way", "Philosophy", "Path"

c2004 - ISBN 18 414 9338 4
NLB Call No.:
JOR (under Adult Fiction)
Click here to check for item availability.

There's the Aes Sedai, a class of woman "priesthood" trained in the arts of sorcery and magic, harnessing saidar and manipulating elements of Spirit, Wind, Air, Fire. Then there's the warrior-class that Lan Mandragon belongs to -- the Malkier. Also the Aiel, the non-human enemy at war with men.

A child prophesied to destroy the world has been born (see p. 42). The Aes Sedai wants to find this child (Kill him? Neutralise his power? Harness his abilities? This is where I'm a bit hazy). But dissention seems to have broken out among the Aes Sedai, with the emergence of the "Black Ajah" (kind of like how the Sith is to the Jedi Knights in Star Wars). Moiraine and best friend Siuan, newly conferred Aes Sedai, goes out on their personal quest to find the child.

Lan (our hero/ reluctant Warrior King of a fallen nation), returns from fighting the Aiel and goes to confront what he thinks is his destiny. Some political game of sorts. He meets up with the heroine, Moiraine. They can't stand each other at the beginning; they confront the "Black Ajah" near the end of the story; they pair up as Aes Sedai and bonded Warder.

Just to give you a flavour of the fighting scene, where six men are attacking Lan:
"... and Lan danced the forms. Time like cool honey. The graylark sang, and the lean man shrieked as Cutting the Clouds removed his right hand at the wrist, and Lan flowed to one side so the rest could not come at him together, flowed from form to form. Soft Rain at Sunset laid open a fat man's face, took his left eye, and a ginger-haired young splinter drew a gash across Lan's ribs with Black Pebbles on Snow.

Only in stories did one man face six without injury. The Rose Unfolds sliced down a bald man's arm, and ginger-hair nicked the corner of Lan's eye. Only in stories did one man face six and survive. He had known that from the start. Duty was a mountain, death a feather, and his duty was to Bukama, who had carried an infant on his back."
(Excerpt from page 219, Chapter 16, "The Deeps")

The book includes a write-up about Robert Jordan. Says that Robert Jordan taught himself to read at aged four. He graduated from the Military College of South Carolina with a degree in Physics, served two tours in Vietnam, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, and two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry.

You can find out more about Robert Jordan here. I didn't know his real name is James Oliver Rigney, Jr.

BTW, if you're interested in the characters and places in The Wheel of Time, check out this book:
c1997 - ISBN 0312862199
NLB Call No.:
813.54 JOR(under Adult General non-fiction section 800s)
Click here to check for item availability.

And did you know that Robert Jordan wrote this?
c1997 - ISBN 0812531361
NLB Call No.:
JOR(under Adult fiction)
Click here to check for item availability.

Search the NLB Catalogue for "Robert Jordan". Last time I checked, there were 10 item listed from the search results. He also writes under these pseudonyms: Robert Jordan, Reagan O'Neal, Jackson O'Reilly and Chang Lung.

The green man: Tales from the mythic forest

Edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling. Decorations by Charles Vess. A collection of stories & poems about the "Green Man" and other myths of the forest.
ISBN: 0-670-03526-2
Click here to check for item availability.
Call No.: Y 808.80351 GRE (shelved under "Young People" fiction section)

The introduction by Terri Windling, titled "About the Green Man and Other Forest Lore", gives a good overview of the origins of the Green Man myth. Explains that the Green Man is associated with Celtic lore but the true origin is a mystery. It is linked to Christian iconography, to rites and customs of early western societies, to Greek mythology, to Merlin, to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, to the French Valentine and Orson, to Gilgamesh, to Tarzan, to Neil Gaiman, to Princess Mononoke (Japanese Anime), to Charles de Lint...

... I'm not doing justice to what's actually written. The introduction is worth a read if you're into western myths and linkages between different western societies and cultures.

Each story is accompanied by a short write-up about the author, and notes from the author (about the story). Sometimes after reading the author's note, I end up re-reading the story again 'cos I'd missed something, or I see something in a different light.

The illustrative panels by Charles VEss (each story has a unique miniture artpiece) is really interesting too. I felt like drawing one or two of the panels just to get a feel of his style.

This is a book written for teens, although as an 'adult' reader, I liked some of the stories as well. Here's the list of stories & authors (comments in [ ] are mine):
  1. Going Wodwo (poem) - Neil Gaiman
  2. Grand Central Park - Delia Sherman [I quite liked this one. How a young girl outwitted the Queen of Fairies. Blends in folklore into a modern day setting.]
  3. Daphne - Michael Cadnum
  4. Somewhere in my mind there is a painting box - Charles de Lint
  5. Among the leaves so green - Tanith Lee
  6. Song of the Cailleach Bheur (poem) - Jande Yolen
  7. Hunter's moon - Patricia A. McKillip [Any title with "Hunter's Moon" always catches my eye. This story did not dissappoint. About a teenage girl, and her younger brother, who both got lost in the woods. It's Deer Hunting season and hunters with guns are out in the woods. The girl meets this stranger who turns out to be... there's a nice magical ending.]
  8. Charlie's away - Midori Snyder [Seems this story could be used to illustrate a teenager's journey of self-discovery. Can consider this story for a book discussion for teens.]
  9. A world painted by birds - Katherine Vaz
  10. Grounded - Nina Kiriki Hoffman [This is probably my favourite story in the collection. About a young girl whose divorced mother meets a man, and the mum wants to marry him. The man has 2 other kids. So she meets them, feels that they were a bit weird. Well they are but in a good way. A feel-good magical fantasy in a believable modern setting. I liked the piano-scene in the last part.]
  11. Overlooking - Carol Emshwiller
  12. Fee, fie foe, et cetera - Gregory Maguire [Another good one. A re-telling of the "Jack and the Beanstalk" story, but from the perspective of Jack's mother and brother. Very interesting.]
  13. Joshua tree - Emma Bull [I liked this 'cos I think teens would identify with the protagonist, a rebellious young girl who finds herself lost in the wilderness, and apparently saved by a magical tree.]
  14. Ali Anugne O Chash (the boy who was) - Carolyn Dunn
  15. Remnants - Kathe Koja
  16. The pagodas of Ciboure - M. Shayne Bell
  17. Green men (poem) - Bill Lewis
  18. The green word - Jeffrey Ford
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April 07, 2005

Magazine: Scientific American

Scientific American - (website: www.sciam.com)

On Science and Technology. Published monthly.

The issue that I read was vol 13, no. 3 (Dec 2003). This issues was on our solar system and its planets. Facinating articles on each planet, including the sun, along with the moons. Spectacular pictures of the sun & other planets like Mars, Jupiter, etc. Not just the planets but also on asteriods, moons of Jupiter etc.

Insights into how unmanned space missions are done. Speculation of possible life on Europa (one of Jupiter's moon). Written by scientists actually involved in those missions. Those who enjoy Analog or Asimov's would love this particular issue. Written in a manner that non-scientific minds like me would still be able to appreciate what they are talking about.

This is a sample cover of the magazine from Amazon.com, although not of the Dec 03 issue:
Look for this in the Magazine section of NLB libraries (shelved according to Alphabetical order, so look under "S"). Click here to check for item availability.

April 04, 2005

"Do You Blog?" by Sarah Kellogg

This is the first (of many) "raw notes" about blog articles:

Do You Blog? By Sarah Kellogg, Apr 2005 (via Library Stuff)
Many useful points that Liblogarians-to-be could take note. It makes the case for librarians to blog even stronger. Selected highlights (words in [ ] are my own):

“You could tell early on that web logs would be very appealing to lawyers because we’re uniquely suited to doing this,” says Howell, a lawyer with Reed Smith’s appellate and intellectual property practices in Los Angeles and the publisher of the popular Bag and Baggage. “Lawyers are trained to write . . . and research. The writing they generate tends to have some credibility behind it. That is the crux of web logging right there.”
[Substitute the word "Lawyer" with "Librarians" and it'll make as much sense.]

Experts say that attorneys will find more than companionship in the blogosphere, noting that blogs can boost legal practices, assist in legal research, and turn every attorney into an instant cyberexpert in his or her practice area.
[Librarians want to be recognised as professionals. What better way than to be read and "hear" in the WWW?]

Yet cyberspace and blogging hold their own pitfalls for legal professionals. That’s because, though posting one’s opinions to the World Wide Web can be heady stuff, mistakes made as the world watches can be far-reaching and difficult to erase.
[That's true for librarians too, though I'd say it can only do good to the profession when you know that you have to check and recheck what you blog. And the Blogosphere is not as unforgiving as one might think. If you are wrong, just admit it. I think the problem is when people let their egos get in the way and refuse to admit they are wrong.]

And thanks to a technology called web feeds, blogging has become even more attractive, as home computers are transformed into information hubs with dispatches alerting computer users that favorite blogs have been updated.
[It's RSS that makes Blogging, as a technology platform, complete.]

“Being inside [the blogosphere], you think it’s the greatest thing that ever happened, and it’s going to change the face of law. People don’t feel quite the same way on the outside, but once you’re in, you do.”
[Which is why my current efforts in promoting blogging among librarians is sometimes met with some sScepticism. But a friend told me to press on, and I take heart in that.]

Kennedy says that lawyers have changed the blogging world as they’ve embraced this new medium, adding a certain seriousness of purpose as they explore topics as diverse and dense as intellectual property, white-collar crime, and tax law.
[And so would librarians. Popular perception is that blogging is something that only the very young would engage in, baring their thoughts in the form of a personal online diary. But blogging is just a tool. It's really how you use it. Librarians should not shun it because it's perceived as kids-play. It's just that the "kids" have adopted the platform much faster than most adults.]

Since blogs are what their authors make them, Kennedy believes that there is no limit to the number or topic. The only limit is one’s imagination.

The greatest contribution blogs may make to the legal profession is their ability to reveal talent and expertise often hidden in courtrooms and boardrooms.
[Even more so for librarians. I mean, ask anyone what a librarian does and chances are they don't know.]

The blogosphere is teeming with topic-specific blogs that have won kudos from legal experts for their ability to supply timely information that is unique and hard to find.
[My vision is to see a critical mass of librarians -- in Singapore and Southeast Asia -- blog. And then a directory of SEA Liblogarians.]

“Sometimes in your practice you’re doing a lot of stuff that’s not your first choice of things to do,” says Kennedy. “If you have a plan for the future, and you’d like to do more work of a certain type, start a blog on that subject and grow it over time. You can become known as somebody who has some authority in it, and gradually you can transition over time to that new area.”
[I couldn't have stated it better. My colleagues now and then would say that they can't do this or that, and that the organisation doesn't support them. That's reality. So rather than mope and complain, do something constructive about it via blogs.]

Blogs and the Client - Forget about the telephone, the postal service, and couriers—the best way to communicate with clients today and in the future may be the blog, observers say. It is a cheap, effective, and efficient way to disseminate information.

“In any kind of communication, especially when it’s related to the law, you have to be careful whether that’s a chat room or a web site or even an e-mail to a stranger,” says Trautz. “If you’re out there with an asbestos law blog, you’ve got to be concerned about making sure you’re not violating anybody else’s rules. That’s why it’s important to have disclaimers in place.”
[Though not as stringent as legal practice, it would be worthwhile for libraries to set some simple guidelines or ethics in place.]

There's a list of lawyers who blog at the end of the article.