Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Onomap: a multicultural classifications of people's names

an article by Pablo Mateos (Dept of Geography, University College London) published in BURISA (journal of the British Urban & Regional Information Systems Association) Number 181 (September 2009)


A team of geographers at University College London's Department of Geography and Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis a new methodology to analyse the ethnicity and geography of people's names across the globe. Onomap provides an innovative way of classifying any list of names into common cultural, ethnic and linguistic groups based on combinations of surnames and forenames.

Hazel’s comment:
I am amazed. This is a stunning piece of work since it takes the guess-work out of “where do they live?”.

You will, of course, still have to work out for yourselves whether it is sensible to provide careers advice in any of the principal Nigerian languages in the eastern boroughs of London where there is a large concentration of people with Nigerian names or if you should be concentrating on Polish (which does have the advantage of being a single language) in areas of London where 45% of the population was recorded at the 2001 Census in the “White Other” ethnic group but the maximum percentage of Polish is 3.15%.

Personal anecdote: when my grand-daughters were at school in Hackney (which appears to be the epicentre of the Polish population in East London according to Onomap) there were 68 different first languages being spoken. You cannot, with the best will in the world, cater for all of these from a limited budget for guidance.
PS. The family has now moved into LB of Enfield. Not, I hasten to add, primarily for education reasons but because of the crime-ridden locality.

Further information is available at:



What does “satisfactory” mean?

Satisfies the needs of the user? Fit for purpose?

No. Not at all.

It seems that in the world of OfSTED it means “Good enough to get by – just about” or “Could do better if s/he tried – but s/he isn’t”.

According to OfSTED’s annual report, quoted in the December 2009 issue of Adults Learning, “too many providers judged satisfactory are failing to improve”.

Alternative sources of funding for ESOL

The Basic Skills Bulletin Issue 78 (November 2009) has this as its lead story. I tried searching for an online link to what I perceived to be a very useful list of potential sources but with limited success. I even tried the LSC website (from where the original list came) but ... if you’ve ever spent time searching the LSC’s website you will appreciate the but!

Migrant Impact Fund (MIF)

And ... in searching for a link to the MIF I came across the LSC’s publication of September 2009 so saving myself more work.

However, looking through the list, and remembering my days on the front-line trying to find an appropriate source of funding for Mr X to do Y, then I can only echo the responses of practitioners as published in the bulletin. There have always been alternative sources of funding but most of these listed are hedged around with caveats, and the paperwork required, in particular for some of the European sources, can be horrendous.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

All aboard – leaving social exclusion behind

I am continually being amazed at the wealth of information available from the europa website. The problem is that if you don't know to look for it then you don’t know it’s there. I was, therefore, very pleased to have come across the Eurofound news alerts where I was pointed to this resource pack on social exclusion which includes, among other useful resources:

Older people – Keeping active and involved

Employment and disability – Avoiding a one-way street

Role of the social partners

Working poor – Bringing them into the net

Children and young people

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Training Successful Paraprofessional Copy Catalogers

an article by Colleen Valente (Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama) published in Library Resources & Technical Services Volume 53 Number 4 (October 2009)


This paper argues for an incremental, progressive approach to teaching an inexperienced paraprofessional cataloguer thew basic skills required for copy cataloguing. It demonstrates how to devise a training plan that is logical and progressive and argues that the plan should be based on a thorough analysis of the skills and knowledge required by the job. It then describes a specific approach to teaching the terminology of cataloguing, Machine-Readable Cataloging (MARC), and International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD) punctuation. These three are the basic skills most copy cataloguers will need first, and their mastery should precede training for more complex skills.

Hazel’s comment:

Oh that someone, somewhere, somehow would realise the need for training people who are classifying records of “training courses” and the like. Unfortunately it seems that not only are people not being trained in the correct application of standard descriptors but that the information standards so laboriously developed for these records have been lost along the way.


The Savage Tale of the First Standards War

Tom McNichol
Jossey-Bass (September 2006)
Hardcover: 208 pages
ISBN-10: 0787982679
ISBN-13: 978-0787982676 $14 Kindle and $19 hardback

By no means is this a new book but the review of it by Marc van Wegberg (University of Maastricht) has been published in the most recent issue of Journal of IT Standards and Standardization Research (Volume 7 Number 2 (July-December 2009)).

Reading the book is a joy for lovers of business history, innovation, celebrities, animals, or standards.

The market is not just a trade platform for supply and demand, however. It consists of people with their relationships, expectations, fears and ambitions. Who, like Edison, misses some sensitivities here, may end up holding the short straw.
Hazel’s comment:

A battle between Edison and Tesla, between AC and DC current, will be a joy to read for lovers of animals? The reviewer doesn’t tell us why.

The market is about relationships seems to resonate well with the modern-day concept of social networking. Lose touch with the customers, fail to realise that xyz company is not an amorphous blob but consists of people, and you will lose the customers.

Have I lost you yet with my inconsistencies? No, you’re the one still reading but who knows how many have been and gone.

The computer doesn't lie, does it?

So, if I am being shown “the last post on this blog was dated ...” then I am forced to accept it – even when I don’t belive that I'm being told the truth.

I really thought that I had planned my time sufficiently well that this would not happen again. Let that be a lesson to me that pride comes before a fall. I must pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

The puzzle of the half comet-half asteroid

via Technology Review Feed

A mysterious object that ejects dust like a comet but orbits like an asteroid could be a new class of object in the Solar System.

Read more

Hazel’s comment:
This has been hanging around in my drafts folder for ages – I suddenly got the urge to read it and decided that some readers would be interested.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Does Immigration Affect the Long-Term Educational Outcomes of Natives? ...

Quasi-Experimental Evidence

an article by Eric D Gould (Hebrew University and Shalem Center), Victor Lavy (Hebrew University and Royal Holloway University of London) and M Daniele Paserman (Boston University and Hebrew University) published in The Economic Journal Volume 119 Issue 540 (2009)


This article uses the mass migration wave to Israel in the 1990s to examine the impact of immigrant concentration during elementary school on the long-term academic outcomes of native students in high school. The results suggest that the overall presence of immigrants in a grade had an adverse effect on the chances of passing the high school matriculation exam, which is necessary to attend college. This result is robust to a variety of alternative specifications. We also perform a “placebo” analysis which shows that the high school outcomes of natives are affected only by the immigrant concentration in their own 5th grade class.

New “Brain Games” for literacy and numeracy skills

from LSIS Update 11 December

Brain Games has been developed for providers to help reinforce taught skills and enables learners to practise their literacy and numeracy skills. Recently launched, it applies the addictive gameplay of “brain training” to literacy and numeracy using sound pedagogic principles and will shortly be available in a form that can be downloaded onto a memory stick so it can be used in outreach situations where there is computer access.

Read more