You Are Not a Curator

Thank you, New Curator, for trying to take a bit of wind out of the sails of the ship that seeks to take a perfectly useful term, curation, and a perfectly useful set of skills often embodied in trained professionals known as curators, or also as librarians, and make it so overused as to be as useless as “data mining” or, now, “social media.” Here’s the link.

Books in the Age of the iPad

Too much ink and too many pixels has been spilled of late about the state of reading or the state of publishing or the plight of books in the IT era. Craig Mod has a simple take on the matter: good riddance to all the ink and paper spent on books that simply don’t require it. By that he means mass market books, paperbacks we buy, read, and sometimes simply recycle or give away or shelve and never think about again.[^1]

Mod would probably include more books in that category, since he argues that any book that is almost all text and really doesn’t require any kind of design is probably best read on devices like the iPad or Kindle, where the text can be manipulated by the reader to their own preferences.

Reserved for valuable ink and paper in Mod’s world of future publishing are books that are designed with, well, design in mind. Books with lots of illustrations or books that have their layout as part of how you read them — I am particularly reminded of Joshua Mowll’s books.

That is, what the tablet opens up is the chance to read print books as print books and to read text books as texts. It’s an interesting idea.

[^1]: Please note that I am still a little worried about the ability to give away books in the digital era. Even as an author, I would rather see my work passed around and read than see its use limited only to one person.

Google’s Gift of Fonts

Google has just made the web a bit more interesting, at least from the point of view of making design more interesting by offering a suite of fonts that any website can use. As most everyone who has ever tried to design a website is aware, almost all browsers are dependent upon a user’s local portfolio of type faces, or fonts, for constructing the text of a web page, unless that font is provided by the website, which gets into hairy software distribution and use issues, or everything is rendered as a graphic, which puts a strain on even generous download speeds — never mind your own server resources.

What that has meant is that you had to design a website targeting the most common type faces installed on almost every computer or else risking the user’s browser showing something else into its place with perhaps unappealing results. (Meaning an ugly or incomprehensible layout.) And thus the rise of Times and Verdana as well as the conquest of Helvetica by Arial.

Microsoft has been something of philanthropist here, by widely distributing a number of faces such that almost every computer has Georgia and Tahoma. Unless, of course, you are using Linux, in which case you are just out of luck.

But Google has changed all that by setting up a central font server and making it incredibly easy to use 18 different type faces — the link will take you to a page that shows them off quite nicely. All anyone designing a website needs to do is to plug the following code into your header:

<link href='http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Molengo' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css'>

And then place the following in your style sheet:

h1 { font-family: 'Molengo', arial, serif; }

Note: for purposes of illustration I am using the Molengo face in this example, but it’s also the new case for the body of posts here at The Human Experience.

Try Molengo for yourself.

Interesting Work for Interesting People

O’Reilly Press, now O’Reilly Media, has long been a publisher of quality technical books. I own at least a dozen, and I also subscribe to Safari Books Online. And if I had more time, I would keep up with more of the O’Reilly web offerings, which feature a lot of amazing content for free.

All that noted, this Inc.com profile of O’Reilly is really interesting. I had always assumed, based on what others have written about him, that he would have a larger sense of himself than he does. I either want to work for the guy or emulate him.

No More Facebook

File this under your life is your data or your life is data and you should own that and if you choose to rent it out, you should profit from it and not somebody else. Or, put another way, apparently my own concerns about Facebook and how it displaces the promise of the web, are shared by the technorati. (I’m not saying I was the first; I’m just saying it’s nice to know others are worried too and that I’m not either paranoid or alone in being paranoid.) Jason Calacanis has put together a nice list of reasons in his own inimitable style. (I like the way Calacanis thinks: I don’t necessarily always like the way he acts, but that’s another matter.)

Alan Burdette Is Coming to Louisiana

Dr. Alan Burdette, Director of the EVIA Digital Archive and Associate Director for Digital Humanities Infrastructure will be in Louisiana the week of May 17-21. He is traveling to the the Association for Recorded Sound Collections annual meeting in New Orleans, but he has agreed to come in early and meet with faculty interested in the projects that he and others have initiated in the digital humanities. He also said he was happy to meet with an executive team and share openly what Indiana University has learned in its efforts to build a cyberinfrastructure that can both support faculty research and communications as well as the university’s efforts to position itself in the new digital learning landscape. In particular, his work on the EVIA Digital Archive, which was a cooperative effort between Indiana University and the University of Michigan funded by the Mellon Foundation, has given him a lot of insight into the current state of digital archives and the infrastructures, like an institutional repository, that play a role in such projects.