Saturday, 22 March 2008 slashes jobs and changes focus

from LibrarianInBlack by Sarah Houghton-Jan has cut 40 jobs, including the beloved and talented Gary Price, in its reorganization and attempt to develop a new "strategy." You can read more in Gary's post on ResourceShelf, the Wall Street Journal article, the Reuters story, or a most interesting reaction from Search Engine Roundtable to new "strategy" of focusing their efforts on women over 30 and health and entertainment info. Can we say "tiny slice o' the market"? The sense in the search world in general is that this new direction (job cuts aside) is not a good one.

I am personally very disappointed, not only because I consider Gary a close friend and colleague, but because I rely on for all of my searching. I teach it in my classes. I promote it on my blog when awesome features are introduced. The results are better, better-presented, and better-organized from a research standpoint - which is what library staff are usually using a search engine for. If it changes from what it is, and doesn't offer me what I need as an educational searcher, then I'll be in search of another engine to meet my needs. Let's wait and see what happens.


Please, Sarah, forgive me re-producing the whole of your post from earlier this month. In mitigation I offer the fact that it was the best one on this story which appeared in a lot of different places, including the ones you have provided links for above. It may not be a disaster but it sure feels like one to a large number of librarians and information managers!

I am personally not with Sarah on relying on for all of my searching but that is because I am usually looking for something that I know exists e.g. the title of an article. When I'm researching something new then it's, Yahoo! Answers or Exalead -- possibly all three and maybe others until I'm sure that I've got an answer to the question or, the more difficult issue, that an answer does not exist.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Hiatus -- or short break

I really was trying to keep up with one post a day -- not for any specific reason like a challenge but simply that one-a-day (like eat your five-a-day) seemed about right.
Here's Monday's saying that I'm going off tomorrow on a short break (to France), back Thursday for a conference on Internet marketing and then it's Easter break. I'll be back next week!
Come back and see me then, PLEASE.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

TTWAs -- I'm an idiot

You may remember that I told you about National Statistics providing information about the new Travel to Work Areas and then said "sorry, the link doesn't work".

My fault -- I typed the link and, believe it or not, I can't spell geography.

The correct link is:

A big thank you to Gareth Bowman at NS who pointed out, very gently, that the link works fine as long as you don't type it wrong!

How to get and keep a job

from Headlines
People have unnecessary fear about whether they'll get a job, and whether they'll be fired before they can prove themselves! Read why you worry needlessly.

Written for individuals but ... you may like to refer clients to this as it contains some common-sense advice. "Common"? "Sense"? How often is good advice common?

Lisbon Strategy AND Lisbon Treaty

I'm confused.

OK, no comments from the back row -- I know that it's easy to confuse me. This is particularly noticeable when I'm trying to sort out information about, or emanating from, the European Commission (and all the other European political / non-department bodies).

Today it's the turn of Lisbon to confuse me.

Not the place itself, of course -- it's the habit that political bodies have of naming treaties and agreements by the name of the place in which the treaty or agreement was reached.

There's only one Treaty of Versailles (see Wikipedia entry here) but there's two Lisbons -- one strategy, one treaty.

I have commented on (mainly in ADSET's printed publication Members' Update), written about, studied and otherwise been involved with the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. If I'm writing "Lisbon" in my tags/index terms etc then it's going to be this Lisbon that I mean (usually).

For the general public however Lisbon is more likely to mean a treaty -- about which there has been a great deal of controversy. Is it, or isn't it, a constitution for Europe under another name?

I was, therefore, grateful to find an entry on intute: Social Sciences Law gateway which tells us where to find a Guide to the Treaty of Lisbon. It (PDF 28pp) is available from the Law Society's website.

The guide has chapters providing background information on the treaty, background to EU policies and procedures, a table setting out how the Treaty would change various aspects of legal practice including dispute resolution, family law and criminal law. There are sections on the UK perspective on the Treaty and a look at how the treaty affects the rights of EU citizens. Also included is a glossary of EU terms and a link to full text of the treaty.

And while I'm sending you to a PDF -- you are now using Foxit Reader, aren't you?
No commercial connextion here -- just an extremely satisfied customer.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Use of the Universal Decimal Classification: A world-wide survey

an article by Aida Slavic in Journal of Documentation (Volume 64 Issue 2 (2008))

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present a general overview with up-to-date information on the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) use worldwide.
Design/methodology/approach – The research combined e-mail interviews with LIS professionals in 208 countries, literature research and information obtained from UDC distributors/publishers (AENOR, BSI, UDC Consortium). The following categorisation of UDC use was offered:
A – dominant system;
B – used in some kind of libraries only; or
C – rarely used.
Findings – The paper finds that, of the 208 countries contacted and researched through the literature in 2004-2006, the UDC was found to be used in 124 (60 per cent) of these. In 34 (28 per cent) of the countries researched (in Europe, Asia and Africa), UDC is the main classification system used across national information networks. In 45 (36 per cent) of the countries it is used in certain kinds of libraries. In the remaining 45 (36 per cent) of the countries it is used rarely, in only a few libraries or information centres.
Research limitations/implications – It was beyond the scope of this research to provide any information regarding the actual number of institutions using UDC in a given country or to give an estimate of the size and number of document collections organised by it. Although a decline in UDC use since the 1980s was reported from a number of countries, it was not possible to measure this accurately.
Practical implications – The interest shown for using UDC in the organisation of digital collections, information exchange and cross domain and cross collection resource discovery depends on accurate knowledge of its actual usage worldwide. This gives a measure of its global importance and verifies its credentials as an indexing standard. This research, which attempted wider and more systematic coverage than previous surveys, should help clarify the status of UDC and its potential use in the networked environment.
Originality/value – The paper provides up-to-date information on the presence of the UDC system across countries and languages.

Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited

California Dropout Research Project

from Librarians' Internet Index

"The purpose of this project is to synthesize existing research and undertake new research to inform policymakers and the larger public about the nature of -- and potential solutions to -- the [high school] dropout problem in California."

Features statistical briefs and research reports on topics such as which California school districts have the most dropouts, and alternative pathways to high school graduation. An affiliated project of the University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute.

Please, please go and read this for yourself. Why the project? makes clear that California thinks it has "an educational crisis". The UK is obviously not the only place on earth that is suffering from the effects of young people leaving the compulsory education system without having been educated.

Guild of Accessible Web Designers

from Intute: science, engineering & technology blog

This website contains articles and tips about accessible web design. It also lists tools and utilities and has links to external resources.
It is produced by GAWDS - a world-wide association of organisations and accessible web designers and developers. Details of how to join GAWDS is also provided.

I've just read a piece on how to get more people to read your blog and one of the tips is: "always include original thought and don't simply link to other people's ideas".

Oops! Is that what I'm doing wrong? Not an original thought in my head -- just keep cribbing from other people!

Tell me, please, that I'm doing something right.

TV Licence needed for online and mobile TV?

from Information Overlord by scott

Tom Loosemore has an interesting post in which he asks if just owning a PC could mean that you need a TV Licence in the UK. He points to comments made by the BBC’s Director of BBC Future Media and Technology, Ashley Highfield, who states that whilst using the BBC’s iPlayer on demand Internet TV service would not need a licence, watching any live stream on BBC News 24, for example would.

It starts to get complicated (depends on the interpretation of "apparatus capable of receiving a signal") so I would suggest that you go to Information Overlord and read what scott has to say for yourself.

Easter craft

What has Easter craft to do with information management in a careers context?

Nothing -- but --- I boobed.

I intended to leave a comment on scribbit's blog about a magazine called Family Fun to which she had referred me when I asked for advice about something different to do at the church kid's club where I help out. Coincidence or what? The same magazine came up in the Librarian's Internet Index this week.

FamilyFun: Egg-cellent Easter
from Librarians' Internet Index: New This Week
Collection of Easter craft and recipe ideas for children and their families. Includes instructions for baskets, table decorations, bunny-based projects, and cards; numerous egg decorating ideas; and recipes for eggs, brunch and dinner fare, and cakes. Also includes printable projects, suggestions for Easter parties and games, and instructional videos.
From FamilyFun magazine.

At least now if people link through from scribbit they will find something that they might find interesting! I hope.

HSMP Forum

from Intute's Social Sciences Politics gateway

The HSMP Forum is a UK-based voluntary organisation which represents the interests of highly-skilled immigrants. It is critical of UK government actions to restrict the rights of highly-skilled workers to enter Britain. Its website provides free access to information on its aims and activities. It includes press releases, discussion of UK legislation and campaign notes.

You can find the Forum here.

Document and records management system

It's not often that I bring a journal abstract into this blog. In the business blog, yes, because most readers of that are not likely to a) be reading ADSET's Members' Update nor b) have access to the original journal.

However, in this case I thought that the topic was sufficiently interesting to want to bring it to your attention but not appropriate for Members' Update.

The role of virtual folders in developing an electronic document and records management system: Meeting user and records management needs
An article by Philip Jones from Records Management Journal (Volume 18 Number 1 (2008))

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the favoured and almost ingrained way of managing groups of documents in systems, specifically in electronic document and records management systems (EDRMS), namely the folder, considered by many users as a sine qua non to any information system.
Design/methodology/approach – The most significant barrier to successful implementation of EDRMS is “culture” rather than cost. Implicit is a willingness of users to employ EDRM as their method of choice to achieve such an end. Anecdotal evidence and a real case example are shared to explore the approach to developing virtual folders to meet user requirements and organisational needs.
Findings – Staffordshire County Council's EDRMS does not employ folders. To save a document, users associate it with a level in the Council's functional business classification scheme (BCS); this is achieved through a series of “saved searches”. Metadata requirements are embedded within the BCS levels and the user chooses a title and functional association for the record.
Practical implications/limitations – This is a way of adopting what exists as standard technology within EDRM systems to satisfy a user need. The vital part is to firstly recognise why the barrier existed in the deployment of a functional classification scheme and further to move beyond the “face value” of why the users performed a particular methodology. More controlled and detailed research is required beyond the work that has been completed.
Originality/value – This paper aims to provoke thought around the need to understand perceptions around documents, records and the systems, in particular EDRM systems, that manage them.

An interesting idea which I would like to study and then pursue with a view to developing a generic "business classification system" which would work for small businesses. Whatever the sector in which the business operates all will have some aspects in common.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Psychometric testing: a vital business tool

from Accountancy Age by Sean Howard 6 March

It once struck fear into job hunters’ hearts – but psychometric testing is now a vital business tool

The use of psychometric candidate profiling and assessment for recruitment, development and talent management is widely endorsed across the accountancy industry.

Read the full article

I was in two minds about whether to put this article in here or to use it in the business blog but then thought that those companies that want to use this sort of testing will do so and I'm not going to teach those that don't with one short piece even if it is from SHL.

The other issue is one of helping your clients to understand why and how companies use psychometric testing. And in that I thought this article really useful.

I hope that you agree.

Travel to Work Areas (TTWAs) [UPDATED]

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), working with Newcastle University, has produced a new set of TTWAs using a complex allocation process. The new TTWAs were defined using 2001 Census information on home and work addresses, and are based on Lower Layer Super Output areas in England and Wales, data zones in Scotland and Super Output Areas in Northern Ireland.
The fundamental criterion is that, of the resident economically active population, at least 75 per cent actually work in the area, and also, that of everyone working in the area, at least 75 per cent actually live in the area. The result is a pattern of 243 TTWAs which, although the definitive minimum working population in a TTWA is 3,500 are often much larger -- indeed, the whole of London and surrounding area forms one TTWA.

This is a significant reduction in the number of TTWAs as the trend towards more and longer distance commuting continues: in 1991 there were 314 TTWAs and in 1981 there were 334.

Further information and a downloadable PDF is here.

[UPDATE: This link returned a "not found" and search is "not currently available".
I will rectify ASAP. Hazel]

Source: BURISA Number 174 (December 2007)


I don't often write posts which are purely personal but I feel so relieved and grateful at the moment that I just want to share these feelings with the whole world.


  • I mentioned someone's name in a post.
  • Google (and, of course, other search engines) crawled the post and indexed the name in connection with this blog's principal index terms.
  • Someone objected most vociferously (electronically not physically thank heavens).
  • I immediately pulled the post but that does not, of course, remove the text from Google's cache so I hadn't done enough.
  • I gave up trying to get Google to unindex which requires validation of site ownership which requires some techie stuff which I thought I understood but couldn't get Blogger to accept -- and then Blogger went down for several hours!

Lo and behold the answer to prayer -- this morning Google has no visible link between the named person and this blog, me as an individual or ADSET.

There is still the issue of getting rid of cached information in RSS readers but I think I will probably make matters worse if I try to do any more.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Poverty and Brain Development

from 3quarksdaily by Robin Varghese

I originally thought that this should be "interest" but then realised that many people working in the personal advice and guidance arena may well (probably are) dealing with people with "low socioeconomic status".
This is not just about poverty, real or relational, determined by whatever criterion is decided in the political climate in which the statistics operate. This is about perceptions of the person who has a lower status than other people in his or her community.

Mauricio Delgado over at the Scientific American blog has done reports on research into the effects of poverty on the brain. "Surprisingly, the most stressful part of being of lower socioeconomic status might not be feelings of deprivation, as might be expected, but rather the subjective perception of our lower social standing."

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Is your data safe?

Depends on what that data is about and who you want to keep it safe from but ...

An unnamed journalist at ComputerWeekly headlined "Police to be allowed searches of national database of NHS patient records" on 28 February.
It went largely unnoticed but the minister for the NHS’s National Programme for IT, Ben Bradshaw, has confirmed that data on a central database of millions of confidential health records will be made available to police where there is an “overriding public interest”. The phrase “overriding public interest” is not defined.

Whilst "How secure?" by FishNChipPapers says that ComputerWeekly reports that receptionists at Royal Bolton Hospital's Accident and Emergency department had been looking at the patient records, then printing them to add to the casualty record card.
So, not only is the database apparently open to access by all and sundry it also seems that they are doing so to print out the records to add to a record card. And I thought it was about computerising medical records.

I say that he says that she says that ... this is how rumours start. However, I have no reason to doubt the sources I've quoted.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

10 interesting stories I came across

6 out of 10 -- that is 6 links to stories featured on Arts & Letters Daily and only 4 others. Such is the choice when I don't get far enough down my alphabeticl list to get to Intelligent Life or Three Quarks Daily. Too much about the possible pronouncements from the Chancellor for inclusion, or not as the case might be, on ADSET's business info blog.

My Mind is Purple
Of all the mind types, yours is the most idealistic. You tend to think wild, amazing thoughts. Your dreams and fantasies are intense.Your thoughts are creative, inventive, and without boundaries.You tend to spend a lot of time thinking of fictional people and places - or a very different life for yourself.
Thanks to Jason Holden for introducing me to this very silly analysis.
What Color Is Your Mind?

The European Commission has relaunched its "Debate Europe" where you can join in debates on a large number of subjects. Try for yourself.

Procrastination Self-Test
Find out why you procrastinate and how serious the situation really is.
I'll do it -- when I get around to it!

The economics of bribery
Assassination works when you're trying to get rid of a tyrant It is a less successful as a way to influence democracies
via Arts & Letters Daily 26 February

Numbers Guy
We're made for math, but only up to a point. Our sense of what a number is stands independent of language, memory, and even reason.
via Arts & Letters Daily 27 February

The campus rape myth
It's a lonely job, working the phones at a college rape crisis center. So is the crisis overblown? No. It just means more funding is needed to study rape.
via Arts & Letters Daily 28 February

The charms of Wikipedia
Not only does Wikipedia need its vandals, the vandals need an orderly Wikipedia, too. Without order, their culture-jamming lacks a context.
via Arts & Letters Daily 2 March

The spirits behind the writers
Intoxication, if not the source of literary creation, at least warms the mind and casts the glare of life in a softer hue. No wonder writers love the bottle.
via Arts & Letters Daily 2 March

Encyclopedia of Life launches, publishes articles under CC licenses
from Creative Commons » CC News by Timothy Vollmer
The Encyclopedia of Life, an ambitious project to document all of Earth’s known species, has released its first 30,000 pages of content. Over the next 10 years, the project aims to aggregate, in one place, information on an estimated 1.8 million species.

Who was it who said women aren't funny?
Chances are it was a man - and these days the joke is on him.
Arts & Letters Daily 5 March

Not Going to Uni!

Text from the site, which is still under contruction but looks very interesting, says:
Are you leaving college and want to know the alternatives to higher education?
Are you currently unhappy at university?
You may even be a parent worried about your children's options or an employer wishing to seek a dynamic and fresh new employee.
At Not Going To Uni we understand your needs.

Did you know?
Recent research shows that 3 years after graduation, 60% of graduates are in jobs which do not require a degree.
The average student is lumbered with a £15,000 debt, some rising to over £30,000 with the average "debt sentence" being 11 years!
The pressure of going to university is set to grow with the government's plans to have 40% of the British workforce to be qualified to degree level by 2020.
Despite an £800m attempt to prevent it, almost 1 in 4 students leave university before completing their studies.

This site which is promoting the idea that university is not the answer for all is an antidote, perhaps, to all those places where "university is good for you" is all you can read.