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1. A brief history of the e-cigarette

Electronic cigarettes are growing in popularity around the world. With the announcement of vape as our Word of the Year, we have put together a timeline of the history of e-cigarettes.

1963
Herbert A. Gilbert patents a non-tobacco cigarette that heats a nicotine solution and produced steam, but it is never manufactured.

1979
Dr. Norman Jacobson, one of the pioneers of the word “vaping,” develops the Favor cigarette, a way to inhale nicotine with no smoke.

2003
Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik first develops an electronic alternative to traditional cigarettes.

2004
The first e-cigarettes, a Chinese invention, comes from the Ruyan company.

2007
E-cigarettes enter the US market.

February 2012
Nicotine and Tobacco Research publishes a study, entitled “Electronic Cigarettes: Effective Nicotine Delivery After Acute Administration,” which explores nicotine intake with different electronic cigarette devices.

June 2013
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency will regulate e-cigarettes as medicines from 2016 when new European tobacco laws come into force.

December 2013
Nicotine and Tobacco Research publishes a study, entitled “Secondhand Exposure to Vapors From Electronic Cigarettes.” It reveals that “using an e-cigarette in indoor environments may involuntarily expose non-users to nicotine, but not to toxic tobacco-specific combustion products.”

Different types of electronic cigarettes by TBEC Review. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.
Different types of electronic cigarettes by TBEC Review. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

December 2013
World leading tobacco experts argue that a recently published World Health Organization (WHO)-commissioned review of evidence on e-cigarettes contains important errors, misinterpretations, and misrepresentations, putting policy-makers and the public in danger of foregoing the potential public health benefits of e-cigarettes.”

September 2013
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “issue a rule to regulate all tobacco products, including cigars, little cigars, e-cigarettes and others.”

15 January 2014
The Chicago City Council voted to regulate electronic cigarettes the same as traditional cigarettes,  which “prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in public places, requires stores selling them to keep them behind the counter, and prohibits their sale to minors.”

26 January 2014
The UK bans e-cigarettes for people under 18.

February 2014
The European Parliament approves regulations on e-cigarettes. “Beginning in mid-2016, advertising for e-cigarettes would be banned in the 28 nations of the European Union, as it already is for ordinary tobacco products. E-cigarettes would also be required to carry graphic health warnings and must be childproof. The amount of nicotine would be limited to 20 milligrams per milliliter, similar to ordinary cigarettes.”

March 2014
Journal of Psychiatric Research reports on e-cigarette use within different age groups and finds that “a notable proportion of adolescents and young adults who never smoked cigarettes had ever-used e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use was not consistently associated with attempting to quit tobacco among young adults. Adults most often reported e-cigarettes as a substitute for tobacco, although not always to quit. Reviewed studies showed a somewhat different pattern of e-cigarette use among young people (new e-cigarette users who had never used tobacco) versus adults (former or current tobacco users).”

14 April 2014
A US congressional report surveys the marketing tactics of e-cigarette companies, which directs sales towards youth, and calls on the FDA to set regulations for e-cigarette marketing.

24 April 2014
The FDA proposes regulations on e-cigarettes, which gives them authority over e-cigarettes and expands its’ authority over tobacco products. The AAP still urges the FDA to protect young people from the effects of e-cigarettes.

April 2014
A proposal from the FDA requires  e-cigarettes to “undergo an agency review,” which would ban e-cigarette sales to minors and require e-cigarettes to have warning labels.

April 2014
The AAP releases a statement on the dangers of e-cigarette poisoning in children.

4 May 2014
The AAP surveyed a random sample of adults, and according to the research presented, “the vast majority of young adults who have used the devices believe they are less harmful than regular cigarettes…”

12 May 2014
Tobacco Control BMJ releases a study on e-cigarette use and individuals with mental health conditions.

May 2014
A study for Nicotine and Tobacco Research finds that the vapors from e-cigarettes contain “toxic and carcinogenic carbonyl compounds,” and the amount of formaldehyde in the vapors is similar to the amount reported in tobacco smoke.

2 June 2014
A study titled “Exposure to Electronic Cigarette Television Advertisements Among Youth and Young Adults”, found that “exposure of young people ages 12 to 17 to e-cigarette ads on TV increased 256% from 2011 to 2013. Young adult (ages 18 to 24) exposure increased 321% over the same period.”

25 June 2014
The White House alters the wording of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tobacco regulations, allowing the online sale of e-cigarettes.

26 June 2014
The British Medical Association (BMA) calls to ban e-cigarette use in public. Doctors and medical students decide that e-cigarettes may lead to nicotine addiction.

July 2014
The BBC bans the use of e-cigarettes in all its offices and studios.

August 2014
A study from Nicotine and Tobacco Research states that “there is a risk of thirdhand exposure to nicotine from e-cigarettes,” although the exposure levels differ depending on the brand of the devices used.

August 2014
A study from Nicotine and Tobacco Research states that “in 2013, over a quarter million never-smoking youth had used e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use was associated with increased intentions to smoke cigarettes.”

24 August 2014
The American Heart Association (AHA) calls on the FDA for more research on e-cigarettes, to apply the same regulations on e-cigarettes as tobacco and nicotine products, and to create new regulations to prevent access, sale, and marketing to youth.

26 August 2014
A World Health Organization (WHO) report states that e-cigarettes need regulation to “impede e-cigarette promotion to non-smokers and young people; minimize potential health risks to e-cigarette users and nonusers; prohibit unproven health claims about e-cigarettes; and protect existing tobacco control efforts from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.”

The WHO reports that “governments should ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places and outlaw tactics to lure young users.”

4 September 2014
The New England Journal of Medicine’s findings state that “like conventional cigarettes, electronic cigarettes may function as a ‘gateway drug’ that can prime the brain to be more receptive to harder drugs.”

October 2014
A study for Nicotine and Tobacco Research states that “over 75% of US adults reported uncertainty or disapproval of the use of e-cigarettes in smoke-free areas. Current cigarette smokers, adults aware or have ever used e-cigarettes were more supportive to exempting e-cigarettes from smoking restrictions.”

Headline image credit: Vaping an electronic cigarette by Jon Williams. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

The post A brief history of the e-cigarette appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. The Physical Act of Writing

We spend lots of time talking about the writing process here at TWT. This post tackles something that has nothing to do with meaning, structure, focus, word choice, elaboration, voice, or conventions. It deals with the physical act of writing, which can be challenging for some children.

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3. Celebrating Alan Turing

Alan Mathison Turing (1912-1954) was a mathematician and computer scientist, remembered for his revolutionary Automatic Computing Engine, on which the first personal computer was based, and his crucial role in breaking the ENIGMA code during the Second World War. He continues to be regarded as one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century.

We live in an age that Turing both predicted and defined. His life and achievements are starting to be celebrated in popular culture, largely with the help of the newly released film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing and Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke. We’re proud to publish some of Turing’s own work in mathematics, computing, and artificial intelligence, as well as numerous explorations of his life and work. Use our interactive Enigma Machine below to learn more about Turing’s extraordinary achievements.

 

Image credits: (1) Bletchley Park Bombe by Antoine Taveneaux. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (2) Alan Turing Aged 16, Unknown Artist. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. (3) Good question by Garrett Coakley. CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr

The post Celebrating Alan Turing appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Connecting To The World

For the past three years, I've been using this old Nokia 3500 to keep in touch with my family and a handful of friends. Assuming I remembered to charge it and was carrying it at the time of the call.    I know, I know. It's a disgrace for a former telecoms journo to be using this old clunker, right? Thing is, it really suited me. I could make and receive calls and texts. And most days, I

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5. Innovation and safety in high-risk organizations

The construction or recertification of a nuclear power plant often draws considerable attention from activists concerned about safety. However, nuclear powered US Navy (USN) ships routinely dock in the most heavily populated areas without creating any controversy at all. How has the USN managed to maintain such an impressive safety record?

The USN is not alone, many organizations, such as nuclear public utilities, confront the need to maintain perfect reliability or face catastrophe. However, this compelling need to be reliable does not insulate them from the need to innovate and change.  Given the high stakes and the risks that changes in one part of an organization’s system will have consequences for others, how can such organizations make better decisions regarding innovation? The experience of the USN is apt here as well.

Given that they have at their core a nuclear reactor, navy submarines are clearly high-risk organizations that need to innovate yet must maintain 100% reliability.  Shaped by the disastrous loss of the USS Thresher in 1963 the U.S. Navy (USN) adopted a very cautious approach dominated by safety considerations. In contrast, the Soviet Navy, mindful of its inferior naval position relative to the United States and her allies, adopted a much more aggressive approach focused on pushing the limits of what its submarines could do.

Decision-making in both organizations was complex and very different. It was a complex interaction among individuals confronting a central problem (their opponents’ capabilities) with a wide range of solutions. In addition, the solution was arrived at through a negotiated political process in response to another party that was, ironically, never directly addressed, i.e. the submarines never fought the opponent.

Perhaps ironically, given its government’s reputation for rigidity, it was the Soviet Navy that was far more entrepreneurial and innovative. The Soviets often decided to develop multiple types of different attack submarines – submarines armed with scores of guided missiles to attack U.S. carrier battle groups, referred to as SSGNs, and smaller submarines designed to attack other submarines. In contrast the USN adopted a much more conservative approach, choosing to modify its designs slightly such as by adding vertical launch tubes to its Los Angeles class submarines. It helped the USN that it needed its submarines to mostly do one thing – attack enemy submarines – while the Soviets needed their submarines to both attack submarines and USN carrier groups.

The Hunt for Red October, Soviet Submarine, by Kevin Labianco. CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0 via Flickr.
The Hunt for Red October, Soviet Submarine – 1970s, by Kevin Labianco. CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0 via Flickr.

As a result of their innovation, aided by utilizing design bureaus, something that does not exist in the U.S. military-industry complex, the Soviets made great strides in closing the performance gaps with the USN. Their Alfa class submarines were very fast and deep diving. Their final class of submarine before the disintegration of the Soviet Union – the Akula class – was largely a match for the Los Angeles class boats of the USN. However, they did so at a high price.

Soviet submarines suffered from many accidents, including ones involving their nuclear reactor. Both their SSGNs, designed to attack USN carrier groups, as well as their attack submarines, had many problems. After 1963 the Soviets had at least 15 major accidents that resulted in a total loss of the boat or major damage to its nuclear reactor. One submarine, the K429 actually sunk twice. The innovative Alfas, immortalized in The Hunt for Red October, were so trouble-prone that they were all decommissioned in 1990 save for one that had its innovative reactor replaced with a conventional one. In contrast, the USN had no accidents, though one submarine, the USS Scorpion, was lost in 1968 to unknown causes.

Why were the USN submarines so much more reliable? There were four basic reasons. First, the U.S. system allowed for much more open communication among the relevant actors. This allowed for easier mutual adjustment between the complex yet tightly integrated systems. Second, the U.S. system diffused power much more than in the Soviet political system. As a result, the U.S. pursued less radical innovations. Third, in the U.S. system decision makers often worked with more than one group – for example a U.S. admiral not only worked within the Navy, but also interacted with the shipyards and with Congress. Finally, Admiral Rickover was a strong safety advocate who instilled a strong safety culture that has endured to this day.

In short, share information, share power, make sure you know what you are doing and have someone powerful who is an advocate for safety. Like so much in management it sounds like common sense if you explain it well, but in reality it is very hard to do, as the Soviets discovered.

Feature image credit: Submarine, by subadei. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

The post Innovation and safety in high-risk organizations appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. Guest Post: Thinking About Scrivener?

scrivenerThinking About Scrivener?

By Pamela Brunskill

You’ve probably heard about Scrivener, and if you’re wondering if you have time to learn how to use it or whether it’s as great as everyone says it is, take half an hour and try it. Scrivener allows you to organize your drafts, using tools effective writers have been doing for ages, but all in one place. You don’t need to use all that Scrivener has to offer, and it can still transform your writing process.

For a relative beginner writer like me, Scrivener has been incredibly helpful in learning how to write and manage all the details in a lengthy manuscript. There are a LOT of great features, but some of my favorites are:

• On the main screen there’s a binder on the left hand side that allows you to add folders, chapters, and research. You can import websites, images, and research there, too.
• You can split your page horizontally or vertically to see two versions of the same piece at once. Or you can use it the split the view to two different parts of your manuscript, or a chapter and a website at the same time, or…you get the idea. You can also view your manuscript as a single page.
• There’s a synopsis tab you can view on the right hand side that allows you to jot down the purpose of the chapter and keep notes you can utilize in the chapter. I like to view this tab at the same time I’m working on a chapter to remind me how to focus my writing, to keep me from going on tangents.
• By changing the view mode, you can look at your chapters on a virtual cork board where you can rearrange the note cards that represent your chapters, just as you would on an actual cork board. But, when you’re done, the program has already rearranged the corresponding chapters in your binder.

Write, structure, revise

scrivenerwin-writing_studio

 

This is an example of what your screen looks like on Scrivener.
Image taken from Literature and Latte’s website.

Scrivener isn’t magical—it won’t write your book for you, but it can certainly help you turn that first draft into a brilliant one. And once you’re ready to send off your manuscript to a critique partner, editor, or friend, there’s a compile button. You check which sections of your manuscript you want to include, and then you can print, save, or export it in various formats, such as Word, PDF, ebook, and Web Page.

I am still learning all the great tools Scrivener has available, but within an hour of downloading it, I got the basics. If you’re worried that it will take a long time to learn a new program, don’t be. Literature and Latte, the company that developed Scrivener, provides tutorials to get you started. In this ten-minute video, Keith Blount, the original designer of Scrivener, demonstrates how to do all of what I mentioned and more.

 

Click on the image above to view the video

If you need more help getting started, Literature and Latte offers several video tutorials, and there are a number of blogs out there devoted to the subject. Children’s and YA author Dee Romito also has a great, step-by-step overview to set up your first project at I Write for Apples. And, of course, there are books and Scrivener coaches out there as well if you want to really get into it. But, even with a minimal understanding, Scrivener can help manage your big projects and keep you organized.

I use Scrivener for my adult non-fiction and for my picture books (it’s great to see the double-page spread and visualize page turns), but there are templates for all different forms of writing.

scrivenerwin-order_from_chaos

If you want to test out Scrivener on your computer, Literature and Latte offers a free 30 day trial. The best part is that the days don’t even have to be consecutive—if you use it one day, and then again a month later, you have only used two days! If you’re wondering, I bought the program after the first day, and it’s been well worth the money, at least in my book. Right now, Scrivener costs $45, and for the month of November the company is offering discounts for those participating in NaNoWriMo. Either way, to get the software, go to Literature and Latte and download it. It’s worth it.

Thank you Pamela for writing this up for everyone to read. I started the 30 day trial after talking to you about the software at Craft Day.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Author, Book, opportunity, Technology, writing Tagged: Free 30 day trial, Manage Manuscript, Scrivener, Writer's Software

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7. Using Apps to Explore the Natural World

I love nature and the outdoors, and like to build on children’s natural curiosity and sense of wonder in library programming. Technology is part of our world today, and even more so, part of our children’s world. I’m excited about some of  the ways that technology can encourage and enhance exploration of the natural world. Here are six apps that you can share with children and families. All require users to do something in the world, beyond the device itself. Most can be used by preschool children, with parent/caregiver assistance, and by elementary age and older children more independently.

Merlin Bird ID

(free, iPad, iPhone, Android)
I’m a big fan of citizen science11708506813_1a7185bc68_m projects and have participated in Project Feederwatch with my own children for close to ten years. A few years ago I starting sharing information about The Great Backyard Bird Count in a storytime on birds and birdwatching. I was delighted when the Cornell Lab of Ornithology developed the Merlin Bird ID app. The question and answer format is easy enough for preschoolers to use (with an adults help, at least initially, as it involves reading).  It asks where the bird was seen (on the ground, in a tree, flying, etc.), what three main colors it was, and what size using a comparison chart that preschoolers can relate to. Then it comes up with possibilities for that bird. We identified one bird as a group from a picture of a Northern Cardinal, the state bird of Ohio, that I had seen at my feeder that day. Then children explored on their own using the three ipads we have for use in programming. The Merlin app also has a bird guide for browsing and playing different bird calls, an aspect that the children were particularly drawn to. Just listen to the Wild Turkey and you’ll see what I mean!

Other apps that build on children’s interest in the natural world include:

Out-A-Bout

(free, iPhone, iPad)

btree

Developed by the Fred Rogers Center, this app for preschoolers encourages movement, physical activity, and early literacy. It requires interactivity, as you take a photo of your child doing different activities like pretending to climb a tree, to jump, to squat like a frog.  Then the app creates a storybook from the images, that can be read multiple times, saved, and shared.

Nature’s Notebook

(free, iPhone, iPad, Android)

From the USA National Phenology Network, Nature’s Notebook is a citizen science project focused on recording seasonal changes in plants and animals. You register with the website, and then use the app to record observations. Lesson plans are provided for students from elementary to high school.  I already do programs on hibernation (getting ready for winter), the frog and butterfly life cycle, and trees, so I’m looking forward to suggesting this app to parents and teachers.

Trees Pro HD

(free, iPhone, iPad; two additional tree packs for $2.99; Android: $12.99)

This app can help identify trees by leaf type, bark, and fruit, flower or nut. Take a quiz to test your tree knowledge.

Project Noah

(free, iPhone, iPad, Android)

Another citizen science opportunity that is very kid-friendly and encourages closer observation of the natural world. A child, or family together, can choose missions, local or global, to participate in. Earn patches as you record nature spottings along the way, from the initial Tadpole patch to Bug Lover (50 arthropods) or Reptile Specialist (20 reptile spotting). The field guide includes photos from other Project Noah participants with a map of where the plant or animal was spotted.

Night Sky Lite

(free, iPhone, iPad, Android)

Just hold your de9684969716_411c2d9bb4_mvice up to the sky and this app identifies stars, constellations, and planets overhead. Great for budding stargazers. For those who want to learn more, upgrades provide additional information about the wonders overhead (and eliminate the ads at the bottom.)

What are some of your favorite apps for nature or outdoor exploration?

-Robin L. Gibson is a Youth Services Librarian at the Westerville Public Library in Westerville Ohio and member of the Children and Technology Committee.

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8. Online Harrassment

A conversation about Online Harassment.

For many teens, online is one of their 3rd places where they can find community and celebrate their various interests. These were safe places where they could find support outside of their physical community, especially if they were being harassed by peers.

Lately though many female content creators have been sharing their experiences which aren’t positive. Female YouTube personalities have sexually suggestive comments posted. Many women in the gaming industry have come under attack, with their personal information being released publicly, forcing at least 3 to have to leave their homes. A female researcher’s survey about sexism was corrupted by false data .We must also not forget the hundreds of celebrity photos that were released earlier this year.

Sadly, harassment isn’t anything new, but according to a new report from Pew Reserach Center

“Young adults, those 18-29, are more likely than any other demographic group to experience online harassment, and Young women, those 18-24, experience certain severe types of harassment at disproportionately high levels: 26% of these young women have been stalked online, and 25% were the target of online sexual harassment.”

The survey only included adults, so we have no data for teens, but even this information is concerning. Online harassment fell into one of two categories: personal attacks from someone you know and anonymous people on the internet (aka trolls).

There is a saying online don’t feed the trolls, but what do you do when they release your personal information as a way to silence you?

I decided to have a conversation with the teens at my regular programs about online harassment, and discovered that no one else was talking to them about this subject.

We talked mostly about GamerGate, and how this group is attacking women gamers and critics. GamerGate claims that they are doing this because they want ethics in games journalism, yet they don’t seem to be targeting men who speak out against them, or talking to the largest review websites in gaming journalism.

It allowed us to talk about censorship, how to properly argue, and gender equality. We discussed why someone would try to prevent someone from posting opinions online, and why arguments become personal attacks. We also discussed the wrong ways to convince someone that you are right. Specifically does attacking women improve ethics in games journalism, and what could GamerGate supporters do instead? One of my teens pointed out these excellent videos about common fallacies created by PBS Idea Channel’s Mike Rugnetta. We took a moment to watch them, and a few of the teens decided to take a break from gaming and were talking about Ad Hominem and trying to figure out whether you can separate a person from what they believe.

Pew Research indicated that 70% of adults have witnessed harassment online. Talking with my teen group revealed that all of them had experienced or known someone who has experienced harassment. While you can talk to a parent, teacher, or an adult about bullying, they shared the difficulty in reporting and stopping anonymous comments. Even the Internet Safety resources from NetSmartz and Onguard online have few resources to help with the large volume of attacks that have been targeted at some woman from individuals of GamerGate.

While the actions of some members of the internet are negative, I hope we can take this opportunity to have a conversation about anonymous harassment, and help give teens the tools to civilly interact online. As Emma Watson recently pointed out in a speech to the UN, equality for women is an important issue for EVERYone!

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9. Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey: The Results Are In!

Have you heard that librarians are using new media in their programming for young children? Are you perhaps one of these trail-blazers? Do you ever wonder what else is happening in the library world with respect to new media? For the first time, we have some answers to these questions and more, and we are going to share some teasers with you. The full results will be published in Children & Libraries in 2015. Many thanks to everyone who responded to the survey.

Between August 1 and August 18, 2014, 415* children’s librarians responded to a survey of 9 questions concerning the use of new media with young children in libraries. The survey was created as a collaborative effort between Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), LittleeLit.com, and the iSchool at the University of Washington, and was partially inspired by a similar survey created by Karen Nemeth, Fran Simon, and Dale McManis in the early childhood education world. They investigated technology use in the classroom and published and presented their results at a number of NAEYC-related events.

Cen Campbell and the LittleeLit.com community had been developing promising practices for the use of technology with young children in public libraries, but had no statistics on how widespread and varied this use was in the United States. So a team that included Cen, Joanna Ison, Liz Mills, and Amy Koester–in partnership with ALSC–designed the first survey of public libraries to find out about emergent technology access and programming for children. The survey was then pilot-tested with public libraries in Washington and California, refined and administered through SurveyMonkey.com, and disseminated through the ALSC listserv, the Little eLit Google group, Storytime Underground, and all parties’ respective social media accounts.

Pie chart of the respondents by legal service area population.

Pie chart of the respondents by legal service area population.


Here is some of what we learned:

How is new media being used?

  • More than 70% of respondents are using some kind of new media in their programming for young children. 40% are using devices in storytime; 31% are using devices in other programs that are not storytimes.
  • More than 20% of respondents are offering device mentoring in some form (e.g., appointment with librarian, office hours for devices, etc.). Of that number, 2% are offering mentoring for devices that are multilingual for non-native English speakers.

Who do our respondents represent?

  • 22% of respondents are serving a legal service area population of less than 5,000; 40% of those respondents are planning to increase their availability and use of new media devices in library programs and services.
  • 18% of total respondents serve the 25,000-49,999 legal service area population; 60% of those respondents are planning to increase their availability and use.

What types of new media are being used and how were they acquired?

  • Respondents indicated quite an array of devices being used: Tablets (iPads, Samsung Galaxies, Nexus 7), Kindles and Nooks, digital cameras and MP3 players, AWE stations and Playaways, as well as LeapPads, Nabis, Tumblebooks, and others.
  • 58% consulted some kind of outside source when acquiring their new media: personal experience, recommendation from colleague, training, professional journals, and others.

Is there another viewpoint?

  • 14% of total respondents indicated that no devices are present in their libraries either because of a lack of community need or because of budgetary constraints.

Thank you to everyone who responded to the Young Children, New Media, and Libraries survey. We greatly appreciate your collaboration to help us gain a better understanding of what is taking place in your libraries around the country. Stay tuned for further data analysis and an explanation of methods coming soon!

A map of where survey respondents are from.

A visual map of where survey respondents are from.

*The total of 415 respondents includes five duplicate submissions–that is, five libraries submitted two copies of the survey, each with different responses (presumably by two different staff members). These duplicates are included in our data and will be discussed as a possible contributor to margin of error in the comprehensive write-up of this study.


Our guest blogger today were Cen Campbell and Liz Mills. Cen is a children’s librarian and founder of LittleeLit.com. She is currently co-chairing the Evolving the Carnegie Award Task for ALSC. Liz received her MLIS in 2013 and is now a second-year PhD student at the iSchool. she is interested in studying how storytimes of all kinds are planned and designed with respect to learning theory and connected learning.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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10. What do rumors, diseases, and memes have in common?

Are you worried about catching the flu, or perhaps even Ebola? Just how worried should you be? Well, that depends on how fast a disease will spread over social and transportation networks, so it’s obviously important to obtain good estimates of the speed of disease transmission and to figure out good containment strategies to combat disease spread.

Diseases, rumors, memes, and other information all spread over networks. A lot of research has explored the effects of network structure on such spreading. Unfortunately, most of this research has a major issue: it considers networks that are not realistic enough, and this can lead to incorrect predictions of transmission speeds, which people are most important in a network, and so on. So how does one address this problem?

Traditionally, most studies of propagation on networks assume a very simple network structure that is static and only includes one type of connection between people. By contrast, real networks change in time  one contacts different people during weekdays and on weekends, one (hopefully) stays home when one is sick, new University students arrive from all parts of the world every autumn to settle into new cities. They also include multiple types of social ties (Facebook, Twitter, and – gasp – even face-to-face friendships), multiple modes of transportation, and so on. That is, we consume and communicate information through all sorts of channels. To consider a network with only one type of social tie ignores these facts and can potentially lead to incorrect predictions of which memes go viral and how fast information spreads. It also fails to allow differentiation between people who are important in one medium from people who are important in a different medium (or across multiple media). In fact, most real networks include a far richer “multilayer” structure. Collapsing such structures to obtain and then study a simpler network representation can yield incorrect answers for how fast diseases or ideas spread, the robustness level of infrastructures, how long it takes for interaction oscillators to synchronize, and more.

mobile-phone-426559_640
Image credit: Mobile Phone, by geralt. Public domain via Pixabay.

Recently, an increasingly large number of researchers are studying mathematical objects called “multilayer networks”. These generalize ordinary networks and allow one to incorporate time-dependence, multiple modes of connection, and other complexities. Work on multilayer networks dates back many decades in fields like sociology and engineering, and of course it is well-known that networks don’t exist in isolation but rather are coupled to other networks. The last few years have seen a rapid explosion of new theoretical tools to study multilayer networks.

And what types of things do researchers need to figure out? For one thing, it is known that multilayer structures induce correlations that are invisible if one collapses multilayer networks into simpler representations, so it is essential to figure out when and by how much such correlations increase or decrease the propagation of diseases and information, how they change the ability of oscillators to synchronize, and so on. From the standpoint of theory, it is necessary to develop better methods to measure multilayer structures, as a large majority of the tools that have been used thus far to study multilayer networks are mostly just more complicated versions of existing diagnostic and models. We need to do better. It is also necessary to systematically examine the effects of multilayer structures, such as correlations between different layers (e.g., perhaps a person who is important for the social network that is encapsulated in one layer also tends to be important in other layers?), on different types of dynamical processes. In these efforts, it is crucial to consider not only simplistic (“toy”) models — as in most of the work on multilayer networks thus far — but to move the field towards the examination of ever more realistic and diverse models and to estimate the parameters of these models from empirical data. As our review article illustrates, multilayer networks are both exciting and important to study, but the increasingly large community that is studying them still has a long way to go. We hope that our article will help steer these efforts, which promise to be very fruitful.

The post What do rumors, diseases, and memes have in common? appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. Feeling Chatty

Yesterday was one of those days when I logged off my computer at work and didn’t want to look at a computer screen again until I absolutely had to. I got to spend most of my day outside the library today which is nice to do now and then. I attended a local conference put on by the consortium my library belongs to. The topic was library marketing. It was pretty interesting. We had a chance to do some brainstorming there too and the other person who attended from my library and I came up with what we think are some good ideas to connect with a particular group of students. The trick now is finding the time to flesh it out and plan it and then put it into practice. We have such a small staff at my library that much of the time it feels like we are barely managing to keep our heads above water with all the things we have to do.

Even though it was a good day, these conference things always leave me worn out. And since I am all caught up writing about books I have finished reading and I’ve not got any particularly fascinating book news to share, I am still feeling a little chatty so you’ve been warned.

Oh! I do have something fun to share. Have you heard about the Hemingwrite? An MIT graduate and a Michigan software developer teamed up and designed a typewriter for the digital age. It looks a lot like the typewriter I went off to college with, typewrite body with a screen that shows your text before you hit return and it then typed your line. This one, however, is even better. It has an e-ink display, wifi and cloud storage. The display is six inches and everything you type is backed up to Evernote. It is also compatible with GoogleDocs and Dropbox. It’s portable too with a battery life of six weeks or more. The designers wanted to create a writing tool designed just for writing so there would be no distractions from the internet or email or Facebook.

I don’t really have any problems with distractions when I am writing on my computer but the Hemingwrite is so neat I kinda want one. I will resist, however, because what I really want is an actual manual typewriter. I have absolutely no need for one but I admit to suffering from a bit of typewriter nostalgia. Between junior high and high school computers happened. When I was in 8th grade I took a typing class and by the end of the semester could type a whopping 60 words a minute on the industrial looking manual typewriters we had. In tenth grade I took a computer class; that’s how fast things changed (though it was years before I actually had my own computer). But aside from the nostalgia, there is a small part of my brain that says, hey, a manual typewriter will really come in handy when the world falls apart and there is no reliable electricity or internet. What I think I might need to type when the world falls apart I have no idea. Perhaps since I will be one of the few people with a manual portable typewriter I could use it to make a living typing letters and forms for people. Or maybe since I have so many fountain pens and bottles of ink I should forget about getting a typewriter and work on improving my penmanship then I can hire myself out as a scribe.

It will soon be Halloween so it’s okay to consider horrible end-of-the-world scenarios. It also means the RIP Challenge is almost over. I didn’t do as well with it as I had hoped. I only managed She and Famous Modern Ghost Stories. I am still reading House of Leaves but I’m only about 2/3 of the way through. It is a chunky book and the pages are much larger than usual. There are some sections where there are only a few words on the page and for about five pages I can feel like I am really zooming along. But then I come up to page after page of densely written text that includes the main story, footnotes to the main story, and another story also told in footnotes. It is a completely crazy book and I found early that I could not stop reading in the middle of a chapter. So I have more or less been confined to reading the book at home when I have a chunk of time to give it which has made reading it go slowly.

But that’s ok. I am glad to finally be reading this book and in a couple weeks I will be done. Bookman has to work Halloween night and we do not hand out candy. We did for years but never got more than 5-20 kids at our door which doesn’t make all the trouble worthwhile. Not that I didn’t enjoy the trouble, I love carving pumpkins, but the effort was not rewarded. My Halloween plan is to curl up under a blanket with the cats, a cup of hot chocolate by my side, and a book in my hands. I’ll start off with House of Leaves but if it starts to creep me out at all I will have something else at hand to read instead like Proust or The Magicians, or maybe I’ll start reading A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. As usual, there are too many choices. I’ll manage though, I generally always do.

You are probably tired of my rambling by now and if you have made it this far I’m not sure whether I should congratulate you or feel sorry for you. Either way, I hope you have a good book to turn to to help you wash this chat-fest from you mind. And also, have a happy Halloween!


Filed under: Books, Challenges, Technology

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12. Instagram of the Week – October 27

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. This week we’re looking at ways libraries can use Instagram to market services. As librarians, we know that we provide our communities with so more than books, but how can we show patrons everything we have to offer? From audio books to online materials and wireless printing to smiling faces at the Information Desk, here’s a few ways to get that information out there. The key to this week’s installment is reading the captions — there are many different approaches libraries can take.

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you’d like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

 

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13. Kindle Killer

The Kindle saga has now come to an end.

If you recall, earlier this year my Kindle 2 began giving me trouble. I reset it to its factory settings and it behaved itself until about the end of August when the screen decided it was no longer going to work. So after four years together, it left me for what I hope will be a happier place in Digital Device Heaven.

I moved all my Kindle content over to Bookman’s old Kindle 1 and the two of us were getting along just fine. The Kindle 1 battery only held a charge for 5-6 days but that was fine. I planned on buying it a new battery once the current one was demanding to be charged every day or two. But apparently we were not getting along as well as I thought we were because two weeks ago Kindle 1 decided it would no longer do highlights or bookmarks. It told me my memory was full and I had to delete books. Wow, I didn’t realize I had that many, but ok, I deleted about 10 books. That should be enough.

Nope.

So then I deleted all but 20 books. That definitely would be enough free space.

Nope.

So then I thought, maybe it was the book I was reading. All the trouble had begun when I downloaded a book from the library Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz. Perhaps the whole highlighting trouble was just to do with some new DRM on library ebooks. So I opened Jane Austen’s Emma, a DRM-free Project Gutenberg book. And it still would not highlight. And when I tried to bookmark a page it said there was not enough memory.

Clearly it is the Kindle going kablooey. I cannot read on it if I cannot highlight. Though I have continued to read Being Wrong, which I am enjoying very much. However, it has been so long since I have read a book and not marked it up in some manner that it feels totally weird and I am having a hard time remembering things about the book. I briefly considered giving up reading it, but I don’t want to give it up. I have kept reading and when I am done with it, I won’t be able to really blog about it because I won’t be able to remember enough specifics.

Isn’t that interesting? Between college and blogging I had an entire decade in which I read books and didn’t mark them up and I was happy as a clam. Of course, ask me what I read during that decade and I would be hard pressed to come up with much. But then sometimes now at the end of the year when I look back on my books read there is one book I don’t recall reading. Of course I can read the blog post I wrote about it and it will come back, so that’s something. I find it somewhat amusing that I am reading a book called Being Wrong with a constant feeling of wrongness hovering around me.

With the Kindle 1 at death’s door, I was also having a hard debate with myself over whether to get another ereader. If it is only going to last for four or five years, is it really worth it? And if I did get another ereader, what would I get? I didn’t want another Kindle. Amazon has gotten too big and even nastier as a company. It’s kind of like the Walmart of the internet and I refuse to shop at Walmart which means I could not in good conscious buy anything from Amazon. I wouldn’t want a Nook. I don’t have anything against Barnes and Noble, but they are having such business problems with the Nook that with my luck I’d get one and next year they would no longer sell or support them.

I wasn’t going to get a new ereader then. I would just have to figure out how to manage my reading glasses on the bus and metro train and get used to carrying a book in my bag. I wasn’t happy about the prospect, but I was going to make it work.

Then Bookman told me I was being daft. You use the ereader five days a week and for those five days you spend more time reading on it than you do in paper books. You don’t want to mess around with reading glasses, especially in the winter. I’m going to get you a new Kindle. No! I said, not a Kindle. A Nook then? he asked. No not a Nook either. What then? I don’t know, I said. Well, you think about it, he said.

I thought about it. He was right that I do use the ereader a lot and I was dreading trying to juggle book and glasses and mittens and lenses fogging up or getting scratched and all that. I was still reluctant though. Bookman insisted again and told me if I didn’t decide he would just get me a Kindle. No Kindle. Amazon bad. Plus, I am clearly a Kindle killer. I’ve already killed two this year and did not want to make it a trifecta.

The only other alternative to Kindle and Nook is Kobo. I looked at the Kobo website. Maybe a Kobo Touch? Bookman ordered one before I had time to make up reasons why I shouldn’t have one. Kobo is in Canada. It took two weeks for it to get here. It arrived Friday. It’s so tiny. I need to find a cover for it to protect it in my bag. Since I won’t start carrying it until I am finished with Being Wrong on the Kindle, I have time to find a cover.

Yesterday I did all the setup stuff with it and added a couple of public domain books. I played around with it to figure out how to highlight and turn pages and get the various menus and how to make the font bigger so I can read without my glasses. The touch screen is nice, though in comparison with my iPad its responsiveness is frustratingly slow especially when trying to highlight something. But it is e-ink and at least I can highlight things!

I think Kobo and I will get along just fine. I’ll be finishing up the book on Kindle and it can join its Kindle 2 friend in Digital Device Heaven. Then Kobo and I can begin what I hope will be a long and beautiful friendship.


Filed under: Books, ebooks, Kindle, Technology Tagged: Kobo

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14. Can I borrow a Mac?

Our Youth Services department recently underwent a freshening up. After reconfiguring our floor space and thinking about how it is used we decided to purchase several MacBook PROs for afterschool use. We had been circulating e-readers and tablets so this was a natural next step for us.

We made an initial purchase of eight laptops, and the kids went wild! We rolled out this new service a year ago and it has proven to be so popular that we had to invest in six more just to keep up with the demand.

So, how does this work you wonder? First, the laptops can only be used by children in grades 6-12th in our Youth Services department, they never leave the library. All one needs is a library card in good standing, a valid student ID and they are ready to borrow one. We ask each child to read and sign an agreement form that clearly states out the laptops may be used and we take a moment to discuss the terms of the agreement.

Our staff quickly realized this was an excellent opportunity to have more interaction with the children who are borrowing them. Not only was this a great way to learn their names, we now have the chance to talk to them about school, books, movies, etc. while we are preparing their laptop for use.

Everyone who registers to use a laptop is entered into a database. If there is a behavior infraction while using a laptop it is noted in the database. With over a thousand users, we have had only a few issues. Remarkably, none of these laptops have been damaged in anyway.

Each laptop comes loaded with a variety of popular applications kids really want. iPhoto, Garage Band, iMovie and Scratch 1.4 are a few that are in frequent use. Also popular is Face Time and Photo Booth. One might think these laptops are being borrowed for social media and gaming purposes, but I mostly observe them being used as a vehicle for creativity.

Recently, we began to offer technology classes specifically geared to children in grades 4 and up. We’ve held classes featuring programs such as Garage Band and iMovie where children created their own music or movies. Other well attended sessions featured Raspberry Pi; the credit card sized computer that can connect to a television and a keyboard and has quite a bit of functionality for something so small and Ardunio; an open source electronics platform that makes building interactive objects, such as robots more accessible.

It’s interesting to see just how adept these young people are with these types of programs and how eager they are to learn even more. If you have reached out to this age group I am interested to hear what you are doing, what’s worked and what hasn’t. I am always looking for the next big thing to offer.

 Allison Santos, Princeton Public Library, Princeton, NJ
ALSC Digital Content Task Force

 

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15. Welcoming We Give Books to the First Book Family

We can’t keep it a secret any longer!

iStock_000024504532LargeAs of today, We Give Books has a new home at First Book. The online platform, which features nearly 300 digitally-optimized children’s books, enables anyone with access to the Internet to put books in WGB-FB-logothe hands of kids in need, simply by reading online.

This generous gift to First Book comes from The Pearson Foundation along with $1.3M in cash to support We Give Books and help First Book deliver new online programs and services to our growing network of 140,000 classrooms and community organizations serving children in need.

You can get involved too!

Children, parents, caretakers and educators can visit www.wegivebooks.org and select books to read together. Reading on the site also triggers donations of new books to programs and classrooms serving children in need. Launched just four years ago, We Give Books has helped deliver more than 3.25 million books to children around the world.

We could not be more thankful to the Pearson Foundation or more thrilled for We Give Books to join the First Book family, helping us provide even more critical reading opportunities to young people across the United States and around the world.

Learn more about We Give Books joining First Book here. Then check out We Give Books and start reading today.

The post Welcoming We Give Books to the First Book Family appeared first on First Book Blog.

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16. 2014 AES Convention: shrinking opportunities in music audio

Checking the website for the Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention in Los Angeles, I took note of the swipes promoting the event. Each heading was framed as follows: If it’s about ____________, it’s at AES. The slide show contained nine headings that are to be a part of the upcoming convention (in no particular order because you start at whatever point in the slide show you happened to log-in to the site).

  • Archiving & Restoration
  • Networked Audio
  • Broadcast & Streaming
  • Product Design
  • Recording
  • Project Studios
  • Sound for Picture
  • Live Sound
  • Game Sound

The list was interesting to me on many levels, but one significant one that struck me immediately was the absence of mixing and mastering (my main areas of work in audio). A relatively short time ago almost half of these categories did not exist. There was no streaming, no project studios, no networked audio and no game sound. So what is the state of affairs for the young audio engineering student or practitioner?

Yamaha M7CL digital live sound mixing console left half angled
Yamaha M7CL digital live sound mixing console left half angled. CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

Interestingly, of the four new fields mentioned, three of them represent diminished opportunities in the field of music recording, with one a singular beacon of hope.

Streaming audio represents the brave new world of audio delivery systems. As these services continue to capture more of the consumer market share they continue to diminish artists ability to earn a decent living (or pay an accomplished audio engineer). A friend of mine with 3 CD releases recently got his Spotify statement and saw that he had more that 60,000 streams of his music. His check was for $17. CDs don’t pay as well as vinyl records used to, downloads don’t pay as well as CDs, and streaming doesn’t pay as well as downloads (not to mention “file-sharing” which doesn’t pay anything). Sure, there may be jobs at Pandora and Spotify for a few engineers helping with the infrastructure of audio streaming, but generally streaming is another brick in the wall that is restricting audio jobs by shrinking the earning capacity of recording artists.

Project studios now dominate most recording projects outside the reasonably well-funded major label records and even most of that work is done in project studios (though they might be quite elaborate facilities). Project studios rarely have spots for interns or assistant engineers so they provide no entree positions for those trying to come up in the engineering ranks. Not only does that limit the available sources of income, but it also prevents the kind of mentoring that actually trains young engineers in the fine points of running sessions. Of course, almost no project studios provide regular, dependable work or with any kind of benefits.

Networked audio systems provide new, faster, and more elaborate connectivity of audio using digital technology. While there may be opportunities in the tech realm for engineers designing and building digital audio networks there is, once again, a shrinking of opportunities for those aspiring to making commercial music recordings. In many instances, these networking systems allow fewer people to do more—a boon only to a small number of audio engineers working with music recordings who can now do remote recordings without having to be present and without having to employ local recording engineers and studios to complete projects with musicians in other locations.

The one bright spot here is Game Sound. The explosive world of video games is providing many good jobs for audio engineers who want to record music. These recordings have become more interesting, higher quality, and featuring more prominent and talented composers and musicians than virtually any other area of music production. The only reservation here is that the music is intended as secondary to the game play (of course) and there is a preponderance of violent video games and therefore musical styles that tend to fit well into a violent atmosphere. However, this is changing with a much broader array of game types achieving new levels of popularity (Mindcraft!).

I do not fault AES for pointing to these areas of interest for audio engineers (other than the apparent absence of mixing and mastering). These are the places where significant activity, development, and change are occurring. They’re just not very encouraging for those of us who became audio engineers because of our deep love of music and our desire to be engaged in its production.

 Headline Image: Sound Mixing via CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay

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17. Visiting Maker Faire Atlanta

This weekend I went to Maker Faire Atlanta. Maker spaces have been on my mind for the last year. I have looked into 3-D printers, laser cutters, Arduinos, sewing machines, jewelry making, stop-motion videos – the list goes on. There is so much to offer, but where to start. No one wants to purchase expensive equipment that will sit untouched. I want to know what will attract people and keep them engaged with the library and each other. So far I have decided on a mobile maker space, but what to add. A grant opportunity is looming so now is the time to strike. I took to the streets to observe what the people wanted.

The first exhibit drew my attention. It was surrounded by a dozen little boys and I soon discovered why. Two homeschool parents and their children had a table full of “Weapons of Miniature Destruction.” Now, I do not condone weapons, but those kids were having a lot of fun with the crossbows, catapults and other “implements of mayhem” made from clothespins, rubber bands and Popsicle sticks. The kids wore safety goggles and aimed beans at a cardboard castle. As I picked up the catapult, I could not help but admire the engineering and the spirit of sharing that led this group to share their talents with other makers. I quickly moved on before I was blinded by a bean.

Next, I saw a librarian helping children sew LED lights into fabric squares. The children and librarian had so much patience. I didn’t even know that kids knew how to sew these days. There were flying machines, screen painting, and a kite making table. A mobile maker space truck soon caught my eye. In front of the truck, were mini-maker trunks set on a table. Taped to each trunk was a maker challenge. Inside the boxes, there were everyday materials such as fabric, paper cups, pipe cleaners and tape. The table was so crowded I had to wait in line to peek over the kids’ shoulders. Moving on, I saw people making Morse code bracelets and trying a Morse code machine, using various keys to find the right lock, terrariums, more LED light stations, and of course lots of 3-D printers. Unfortunately, the only people demonstrating squishy circuits did not show up. I guess I have to make my own.

I was surprised at how popular the no-tech and low-tech stations were with the kids. So what is my take away? I should listen to the many people who have urged hesitant folks like me not to become intimidated or stymied by the big flashy items. Those kids really enjoyed those Popsicle catapults and so did I.

Swalena Griffin is the Branch Manager at the East Roswell Library in Georgia, and a member of ALSC’s Children & Technology Committee.

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18. Mind Change

Hi Everyone! I’m at Shiny New Books today. Here’s a taste:

With Mind Change: How Digital Technologies Are Leaving Their Mark on Our Brains, Susan Greenfield has provided us with an even-keeled examination of the intersection of digital technology and neuroscience. She explores various ways in which digital technology is affecting our brains, identities and culture and the possible consequences. Human brains are naturally plastic, everything we think and do changes them; this is a known and uncontested fact. There is no reason to believe that digital technology will not also change our brains and ultimately, who we are. Isn’t it a good idea to assess the potential risks and benefits of technology before we are so deep in it that it is too late to go back?

Intrigued? Read the rest here. And be sure to check out the rest of the Autumn issue while you are there!


Filed under: Books, Nonfiction, Reviews, Science, Technology

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19. Do health apps really matter?

Apps are all the rage nowadays, including apps to help fight rage. That’s right, the iTunes app store contains several dozen apps designed to manage anger or reduce stress. Smartphones have become such a prevalent component of everyday life, it’s no surprise that a demand has risen for phone programs (also known as apps) that help us manage some of life’s most important elements, including personal health. But do these programs improve our ability to manage our health? Do health apps really matter?

Early apps for patients with diabetes demonstrate how a proposed app idea can sound useful in theory but provide limited tangible health benefits in practice. First generation diabetes apps worked like a digital notebook, in which apps linked with blood glucose monitors to record and catalog measured glucose levels. Although doctors and patients were initially charmed by high tech appeal and app convenience, the charm wore off as app use failed to improve patient glucose monitoring habits or medication compliance.

Fitness apps are another example of rough starts among early health app attempts. Initial running apps served as an electronic pedometer, recording the number of steps and/or the total distance ran. These apps again provided a useful convenience over using a conventional pedometer, but were unlikely to lead to increased exercise levels or appeal to individuals who didn’t already run. Apps for other health related topics such as nutrition, diet, and air pollution ran into similar limitations in improving healthy habits. For a while, it seemed as if the initial excitement among the life sciences community for e-health simply couldn’t be translated to tangible health benefits among target populations.

800px-Personal_Health_Apps_for_Smartphones
Image credit: Personal Health Apps for Smartphones.jgp, by Intel Free Press. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Luckily, recent changes in app development ideology have led to noticeable increases in health app impacts. Health app developers are now focused on providing useful tools, rather than collections of information, to app users. The diabetes app ManageBGL.com, for example, predicts when a patient may develop hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) before the visual/physical signs and adverse effects of hypoglycemia occur. The running app RunKeeper connects to other friend’s running profiles to share information, provide suggested running routes, and encourage runners to speed up or slow down for reaching a target pace. Air pollution apps let users set customized warning levels, and then predict and warn users when they’re heading towards an area with air pollution that exceeds warning levels. Health apps are progressing beyond providing mere convenience towards a state where they can help the user make informed decisions or perform actions that positively affect and/or protect personal health.

So, do health apps really matter? It’s unlikely that the next generation of health apps will have the same popularity as Facebook or widespread utility such as Google maps. The impact, utility, and popularity of health apps, however, are increasing at a noticeable rate. As health app developers continue to better their understanding of health app strengths and limitations and upcoming technologies that can improve health apps such as miniaturized sensors and smartglass become available, the importance of health related apps and proportion of the general public interested in health apps are only going to get larger.

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20. Using Technology to Help At-Risk Teens

Public libraries are, as ALA President Courtney Young said in a July 2014 Comcast Newsmaker interview, “digital learning centers.”  We are able to provide access to computers, wireless capabilities, and also a space to learn. Access to technology becomes even more important to our “at-risk” teens; the library becomes a safe spot to use these resources. The question becomes how do we help them use this technology and learn from it? Earlier this month, the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) published a report titled “Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students’ Learning.” This brief defines “at-risk” students as high schoolers with personal and academic factors that would could cause them to fail classes or drop out of school all together. They give three variables for success, real-life examples to why these variables work, and then recommend policies to help achieve these variables. While the article was geared towards schools, these variables are important to keep in mind as we work with the teens in our libraries.

When learning new digital skills, youth must be engaged in interactive projects, must do more discovery and creation than the standard “drill and kill,” and must have a blend of both teacher and technology (6). These variables are part of the larger, digital learning ecosystem which places the learner at the center. This ecosystem relies on the constant bi-directional dialogue as the learner engages with learning outcomes, technology, and the context of the situation (which includes the activity, the goals of the activity, and the community the learning is taking place in). As we use technology and support our teens, we should be in constant reflection mode, altering our future programs to best fit the needs of our teens. Feedback we receive can help us discover what we are doing well and what needs to still be worked on. How we shape our digital literacy programs are up to us; we know our community of teens better than anyone else in the library. If we highlight and support their interests, they are most likely to be engaged with the program and more likely to return the library and use our resources.

These variables overlap and are more powerful when used together. The authors cite that interactive learning allows “students to see and explore concepts from different angles using a variety of representations” (7). As the teen engage, they are likely to discuss their findings with the people around them, which in turn strengthens both the learning and the existing community. As we work with our teens, we should push for creation versus just going through the steps, because this form of interactive learning this strengthens retention of skills and again, creates conversation. As we implement this programming, we can also be resources and a support team for our teens. It is important to stress that we don’t have to be the experts, and there might be times where we are all learning together. The moments of collective learning enhances our community and creates shared memories the teens won’t forget. Looking at the big picture, by keeping these variables in mind, we can empower our teens through access to technology they might not have regular access to.

To me, these variables seem obvious and are important to keep in mind as we think about creating programming that target digital literacy skills. This might also be because of the assistantship I am a part of at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Our nine month grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity focuses on eliminating the digital divide across the Urbana-Champaign community. I am working with two after-school programs and am developing curriculum to support digital literacy. As we think about this article and our own libraries, this can be our framing question: How can we support teens’ digital literacy with the resources our library has? These variables also push us to provide more than just access to our teens. While access is important, this article reminds us that thoughtful programming can engage our teens, help them become a stronger part of our library community, and grow as an informed global citizen. We can help them create content they can share with the world and empower them to use technology as a tool to better themselves. Over the following months, I’ll be creating digital literacy programs and will be keeping these variables from the SCOPE article in mind. I cannot wait to share my discoveries with you and hope some of what I learn and create can be used with the teens you serve.

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21. Camps: The New Trend in Summer Reading

geek girl logo

This summer at the Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, NY we piloted our first ever week long summer camp during Summer Reading. The Fayetteville Free Library Geek Girl Camp is a camp for girls in grades 3 through 5 introducing them to hands on STEM skills and to female role models. Months of work went into planning this camp fulfilling a need in our greater community.  According to the Girl Scout Research Institute,  “Research shows that girls start losing interest in math and science during middle school. Girls are typically more interested in careers where they can help others (e.g., teaching, child care, working with animals) and make the world a better place. Recent surveys have shown that girls and young women are much less interested than boys and young men in math and science.”[1]

We had 44 girls attend the FFL Geek Girl Camp from all over the greater Syracuse, NY area. We had over 10 girls on the waiting list and charged $25.00 for the camp to supplement the cost of food, t-shirts and supplies. We also offered four scholarship opportunities for those who might not be able to afford the cost of the camp. In addition to the 44 girls who came to the camp we had 9 speakers from across the country join us in person or via Skype. Speakers included students from Virginia Commonwealth University, Cornell University, Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Other speakers included women who worked for Facebook, the Air Force, a pharmaceutical research facility, and from national organizations, Girls in Tech and Girl Develop IT. Each day we heard from one or more speakers who talked about what they do at their jobs or in school and how important it is to have women working in these fields! They all made sure to relate to the girls in attendance and campers had great questions afterwards.

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Throughout the week we had a great array of activities. We rented a cement mixer and made an oobleck pool for kids to run across after learning about density and viscosity, shot off model rockets, chucked books, apples and water balloons with a trebuchet after learning about projectiles, force, gravity and more.  Girls learned about fractals, made mini catapults, 3D printed, used littlebits kits, Snap Circuits and computer programmed with Scratch and much more.

The camp was a huge success that the parents of those who attended were above and beyond appreciative and wanted to already sign up for next year. We learned from this particular camp that we created something valuable for our community and that we need to transition into this camp model for future Summer Reading programs. We were asked, “When are you having a camp for boys”? We will not only have camp for boys and girls but of different ages as well. Planning FFL Geek Girl Camp did take a lot of time; however the outcome of the camp was far beyond what we expected and worth the time spent planning for the impact it had on our community. Camps offer children an opportunity to learn more and make stronger relationships over a short period of time.  Like camp as a kid it was a place to learn new things and meet new friends and create memories that last a lifetime.

CaptureThe first day of FFL Geek Girl, the campers were a little shy but after just the second day the girls couldn’t stop talking and working together. We run bimonthly programs where kids come in every other week to work on projects but having children in the library everyday for a week gives you an opportunity to teach kids a skill and not have to worry about rushing or not being able to complete the task, plus you have an opportunity to do projects or lessons that take longer and are more complex. Camps also give us a great opportunity to get to know our patrons. Girls come in and out of the library now looking for their camp counselors to say hi! Cost is also a huge factor in running a camp at a library versus a different venue. We had materials donated to the camp and used many of the resources we already owned including our own staff to run and plan the program. Most science camps can range in price anywhere from $75-$600. We decided that $25 was not only affordable but fit into our budget for the camp as well to make it run successfully.

CaptureWe think that camps are the future of Summer Reading. It gives us and the community an opportunity to focus on important topics like STEAM and produce content that is beneficial and influential. At the end of the week our campers said they wanted to be inventors, work at Google, become web developers and physicists. If it wasn’t for the atmosphere we created at the library and the week long camp we would have never saw these results and impact on our community.

Please check out our website for more information about the FFL Geek Girl Camp, our Flickr page and hashtag #geekgirl14 on Twitter and Instagram.

[1]Modi, K. (2012). “Generation STEM: What girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math” Girl Scout Research Institute. http://www.girlscouts.org/research/pdf/generation_stem_full_report.pdf

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Meredith Levine is the Director of Family Engagement at the Fayetteville Free Library. Meredith is a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Find out more at www.fflib.org or email Meredith at mlevine@fflib.org

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22. Tween Tabs Take Two

In many ways, it is difficult to believe that my library has been circulating iPads in the children’s library for almost three years. Despite the continued discourse on the role of tablet technology among pre-readers, there is no question that children and families have continued to integrate such devices into their lives. In our community parents look to the librarians to guide their app selections, or at least point them towards the resources that can assist in discerning which purchases to make.

Kids grasping a new Tween Tab from the library.  Photo courtesy of Jacquie Miller.

Kids grasping a new Tween Tab from the library.
Photo courtesy of Jacquie Miller.

It first began with the preschool set, as our library made the decision to circulate Early Literacy Kits. The idea was to infuse tech into what we as children’s librarians were already expounding to parents and caregivers about the practices they can master in order to cultivate a reader. Now after so many parents have expressed that their child has already “Spot the Red Dot,” so to speak, what’s next?

After the debut of our nonfiction reorganization we began thinking of ways to market the collection glades and showcase other resources that reflected these areas. Time and time again we kept hearing requests to circulate tablets for school-age children. Some of our initial concerns stemmed from the prevalence in the community of iPads in the home. Was there even really a need with most families already owning at least one device? We realized that this wasn’t the case for all families, and if anything a lot of the feedback has been that patrons look to our curated list of apps as the main draw. With this encouragement, why not mirror some of the same subjects we wanted to point kids to in redefining how we navigate nonfiction? Our focus would be to highlight apps that inform, engage, and are used to create. Looking to a previous attempt at providing tweens with circulating devices that dissolved, we knew that we could give our Tween Tabs new life.

The method of circulating, updating, and restricting the devices would match the process of the early literacy tablets. Due to other initiatives we wouldn’t be able to roll out six iPads at once, but decided to test-drive the service with two tablets. Instead of the 5 Early Literacy Practices, we would be dividing our apps into the new nonfiction glades: Facts, Traditions, Create, Sports, Self, Fun, Animals, STEM, Then & Now, adding Bio and Languages to round it out. Compiling some of our favorites from the past few years, which we have demoed in programs and sometimes spontaneously in the stacks, the total list included over 70 apps.

From homework help apps like Stack the States, Prezi, and the American Presidents for iPad, to brainteasers like Rube Works and American Girl Doll Trivia, the reception has been quite astounding. There are currently over 20 holds on the kits, while pitching the new offering has purely been accomplished through word of mouth. Families are eager to use language resources like Gus on the Go: Mandarin and Rosetta Stone Kids Lingo Letter Sounds, and STEM picks Motion Math: Match, Hopscotch, and Oh No! Fractions. Personally, my heart tends to gravitate towards apps that give kids the ability to produce art digitally, like Easy Studio, Photogene, Bloom HD, and Auryn Ink.

Whatever new technologies are making waves, let’s continue to make sure we are providing these services for a variety of age groups in the community.

Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children’s Services at Darien Library in Connecticut. You can reach Claire at cmoore@darienlibrary.org.

Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.

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23. Apply for a Free 3D Printer from 3D Systems!

3D Systems, in collaboration with YALSA, is committed to expanding young people’s access to 21st century tools like 3D design, 3D scanning and 3D printing.  The MakerLab Club is a brand new community of thousands of U.S. libraries and museums committed to advancing 3D digital literacy via dedicated equipment, staff training and increased public access.

3D Systems is donating up to 4,000 new 3D printers to libraries and museums across the country who join the MakerLab Club and provide access to 3D printing and design programs and services for their communities.  Libraries can apply to be part of the MakerLab Club via an online application. now until November 17th, 2014. Donated printers will be allocated on a competitive basis.

ELIGIBILITY AND MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS
Membership in the MakerLab Club is available to libraries committed to creating or expanding makerlabs and/or making activities and to providing community access to 3D printers and digital design.

MAKER LAB CLUB BENEFITS
Libraries can receive up to four donated Cube 3D printers, as well as regular access to workshop curricula and content via webinars. Libraries will also receive exclusive equipment discounts and opportunities to win free hardware and software. In addition to resources and training library staff can join and participate in communities of practice in order to exchange ideas and best practices.

LEARN MORE ABOUT MAKING

Learn more about making in libraries via the resources on YALSA’s wiki, including a free webinar and downloadable toolkit.  And be sure to mark your calendar for March 8 – 14, 2015 when we celebrate Teen Tech Week with the theme “Libraries are for Making ____________.”

 

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24. CERN: glorious past, exciting future

Today, 60 years ago, the visionary convention establishing the European Organization for Nuclear Research – better known with its French acronym, CERN – entered into force, marking the beginning of an extraordinary scientific adventure that has profoundly changed science, technology, and society, and that is still far from over.

With other pan-European institutions established in the late 1940s and early 1950s — like the Council of Europe and the European Coal and Steel Community — CERN shared the same founding goal: to coordinate the efforts of European countries after the devastating losses and large-scale destruction of World War II. Europe had in particular lost its scientific and intellectual leadership, and many scientists had fled to other countries. Time had come for European researchers to join forces towards creating of a world-leading laboratory for fundamental science.

Sixty years after its foundation, CERN is today the largest scientific laboratory in the world, with more than 2000 staff members and many more temporary visitors and fellows. It hosts the most powerful particle accelerator ever built. It also hosts exhibitions, lectures, shows, meetings, and debates, providing a forum of discussion where science meets industry and society.

What has happened in these six decades of scientific research? As a physicist, I should probably first mention the many ground-breaking discoveries in Particle Physics, such as the discovery of some of the most fundamental building block of matter, like the W and Z bosons in 1983; the measurement of the number of neutrino families at LEP in 1989; and of course the recent discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, which prompted the Nobel Prize in Physics to Peter Higgs and Francois Englert in 2013.

But looking back at the glorious history of this laboratory, much more comes to mind: the development of technologies that found medical applications such as PET scans; computer science applications such as globally distributed computing, that finds application in many fields ranging from genetic mapping to economic modeling; and the World Wide Web, that was developed at CERN as a network to connect universities and research laboratories.

CERN Control Center (2).jpg
“CERN Control Center (2)” by Martin Dougiamas – Flickr: CERN control center. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

If you’ve ever asked yourself what such a laboratory may look like, especially if you plan to visit it in the future and expect to see building with a distinctive sleek, high-tech look, let me warn you that the first impression may be slightly disappointing. When I first visited CERN, I couldn’t help noticing the old buildings, dusty corridors, and the overall rather grimy look of the section hosting the theory institute. But it was when an elevator brought me down to visit the accelerator that I realized what was actually happening there, as I witnessed the colossal size of the detectors, and the incredible degree of sophistication of the technology used. ATLAS, for instance, is a 25 meters high, 25 meters wide and 45 meters long detector, and it weighs about 7,000 tons!

The 27-km long Large Hadron Collider is currently shut down for planned upgrades. When new beams of protons will be circulated in it at the end of 2014, it will be at almost twice the energy reached in the previous run. There will be about 2800 bunches of protons in its orbit, each containing several hundred billion protons, separated by – as in a car race, the distance between bunches can be expressed in units of time – 250 billionths of a second. The energy of each proton will be compared to that of a flying mosquito, but concentrated in a single elementary particle. And the energy of an entire bunch of protons will be comparable to that of a medium-sized car launched at highway speed.

Why these high energies? Einstein’s E=mc2 tells us that energy can be converted to mass, so by colliding two protons with very high energy, we can in principle produce very heavy particles, possibly new particles that we have never before observed. You may wonder why we would expect that such new particles exist. After all we have already successfully created Higgs bosons through very high-energy collisions, what can we expect to find beyond that? Well, that’s where the story becomes exciting.

Some of the best motivated theories currently under scrutiny in the scientific community – such as Supersymmetry – predict that not only should new particles exist, but they could explain one of the greatest mysteries in Cosmology: the presence of large amounts of unseen matter in the Universe, which seem to dominate the dynamics of all structures in the Universe, including our own Milky Way galaxy — Dark Matter.

Identifying in our accelerators the substance that permeates the Universe and shapes its structure would represent an important step forward in our quest to understand the Cosmos, and our place in it. CERN, 60 years and still going strong, is rising up to challenge.

Headline image credit: An example of simulated data modeled for the CMS particle detector on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. Image by Lucas Taylor, CERN. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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25. Celebrating 60 years of CERN

2014 marks not just the centenary of the start of World War I, and the 75th anniversary of World War II, but on 29 September it is 60 years since the establishment of CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research or, in its modern form, Particle Physics. Less than a decade after European nations had been fighting one another in a terrible war, 12 of those nations had united in science. Today, CERN is a world laboratory, famed for having been the home of the world wide web, brainchild of then CERN scientist Tim Berners-Lee; of several Nobel Prizes for physics, although not (yet) for Peace; and most recently, for the discovery of the Higgs Boson. The origin of CERN, and its political significance, are perhaps no less remarkable than its justly celebrated status as the greatest laboratory of scientific endeavour in history.

Its life has spanned a remarkable period in scientific culture. The paradigm shifts in our understanding of the fundamental particles and the forces that control the cosmos, which have occurred since 1950, are in no small measure thanks to CERN.

In 1954, the hoped for simplicity in matter, where the electron and neutrino partner a neutron and proton, had been lost. Novel relatives of the proton were proliferating. Then, exactly 50 years ago, the theoretical concept of the quark was born, which explains the multitude as bound states of groups of quarks. By 1970 the existence of this new layer of reality had been confirmed, by experiments at Stanford, California, and at CERN.

During the 1970s our understanding of quarks and the strong force developed. On the one hand this was thanks to theory, but also due to experiments at CERN’s Intersecting Storage Rings: the ISR. Head on collisions between counter-rotating beams of protons produced sprays of particles, which instead of flying in all directions, tended to emerge in sharp jets. The properties of these jets confirmed the predictions of quantum chromodynamics – QCD – the theory that the strong force arises from the interactions among the fundamental quarks and gluons.

CERN had begun in 1954 with a proton synchrotron, a circular accelerator with a circumference of about 600 metres, which was vast at the time, although trifling by modern standards. This was superseded by a super-proton synchrotron, or SPS, some 7 kilometres in circumference. This fired beams of protons and other particles at static targets, its precision measurements building confidence in the QCD theory and also in the theory of the weak force – QFD, quantum flavourdynamics.

Cern - Public Domain
The Globe of Science and Innovation. CC0 via Pixabay

QFD brought the electromagnetic and weak forces into a single framework. This first step towards a possible unification of all forces implied the existence of W and Z bosons, analogues of the photon. Unlike the massless photon, however, the W and Z were predicted to be very massive, some 80 to 90 times more than a proton or neutron, and hence beyond reach of experiments at that time. This changed when the SPS was converted into a collider of protons and anti-protons. By 1984 experiments at the novel accelerator had discovered the W and Z bosons, in line with what QFD predicted. This led to Nobel Prizes for Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer, in 1984.

The confirmation of QCD and QFD led to a marked change in particle physics. Where hitherto it had sought the basic templates of matter, from the 1980s it turned increasingly to understanding how matter emerged from the Big Bang. For CERN’s very high-energy experiments replicate conditions that were prevalent in the hot early universe, and theory implies that the behaviour of the forces and particles in such circumstances is less complex than at the relatively cool conditions of daily experience. Thus began a period of high-energy particle physics as experimental cosmology.

This raced ahead during the 1990s with LEP – the Large Electron Positron collider, a 27 kilometre ring of magnets underground, which looped from CERN towards Lake Geneva, beneath the airport and back to CERN, via the foothills of the Jura Mountains. Initially designed to produce tens of millions of Z bosons, in order to test QFD and QCD to high precision, by 2000 its performance was able to produce pairs of W bosons. The precision was such that small deviations were found between these measurements and what theory implied for the properties of these particles.

The explanation involved two particles, whose subsequent discoveries have closed a chapter in physics. These are the top quark, and the Higgs Boson.

As gaps in Mendeleev’s periodic table of the elements in the 19th century had identified new elements, so at the end of the 20th century a gap in the emerging pattern of particles was discerned. To complete the menu required a top quark.

The precision measurements at LEP could be explained if the top quark exists, too massive for LEP to produce directly, but nonetheless able to disturb the measurements of other quantities at LEP courtesy of quantum theory. Theory and data would agree if the top quark mass were nearly two hundred times that of a proton. The top quark was discovered at Fermilab in the USA in 1995, its mass as required by the LEP data from CERN.

As the 21st century dawned, all the pieces of the “Standard Model” of particles and forces were in place, but one. The theories worked well, but we had no explanation of why the various particles have their menu of masses, or even why they have mass at all. Adding mass into the equations by hand is like a band-aid, capable of allowing computations that agree with data to remarkable precision. However, we can imagine circumstances, where particles collide at energies far beyond those accessible today, where the theories would predict nonsense — infinity as the answer for quantities that are finite, for example. A mathematical solution to this impasse had been discovered fifty years ago, and implied that there is a further massive particle, known as the Higgs Boson, after Peter Higgs who, alone of the independent discoveries of the concept, drew attention to some crucial experimental implications of the boson.

Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN in 2012 following the conversion of LEP into the LHC – Large Hadron Collider – is the climax of CERN’s first 60 years. It led to the Nobel Prize for Higgs and Francois Englert, theorists whose ideas initiated the quest. Many wondered whether the Nobel Foundation would break new ground and award the physics prize to a laboratory, CERN, for enabling the experimental discovery, but this did not happen.

CERN has been associated with other Nobel Prizes in Physics, such as to Georges Charpak, for his innovative work developing methods of detecting radiation and particles, which are used not just at CERN but in industry and hospitals. CERN’s reach has been remarkable. From a vision that helped unite Europe, through science, we have seen it breach the Cold War, with collaborations in the 1960s onwards with JINR, the Warsaw Pact’s scientific analogue, and today CERN has become truly a physics laboratory for the world.

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