Wednesday, December 21, 2005


There's an interesting article in theguardian, The sparring and spin of the Google dance", which is trying to highlight the unscrupulous art of artificially enhancing your website's ranking on Google searches. However, the dilemma news organisations always face is that this kind of expose' often ends up providing the world with a "how to guide". And with the current popularity of Guardian Unlimited, it will give webmasters the knowhow that will surely exacerbate the problem.

Anyway here's the "Five ways to get to the top" as advised in the article:

Status on Google is determined by a number of factors, all of which can be faked

Key words

Good practitioners will make sure sites contain clear information that is relevant to a user search. Others will use misleading but popular keywords - such as "Britney Spears" - to try to capitalise on somebody else's fame. Some even attempt to hide fake keywords on a page so that they can be read by search engines but not by people


The more people that link to a site, the more popular it is in Google's mind. By carefully choosing who to link to and where to place those links, SEOs can push a target website up the rankings. Some shady operators even create a fake ecology of websites which all point at each other


Spamming is a tactic employed by unscrupulous SEOs, and attempts to raise profile and popularity by leaving fake messages pointing towards the target across thousands of other sites and weblogs. While unpopular with surfers, it often boosts the ranking of the site in question

Regular updates

Sites which seem new are often considered more important, because they are more likely to contain relevant information. Unscrupulous operators will often steal content from other pages to create the appearance of movement


Each web page carries a selection of unseen information that tells other programs what its contents are. While most SEOs simply include correct information about a given page, crooked operators will use unrelated terms to try to direct unwitting surfers

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Word police.

Great to see that the word Blog appears in the Lake Superior University 2005 list of Banished Words. How else though are we supposed to describe 'erectile dysfunction'? Floppy penis? Dear me, the things they get up to in Universities these days. Haven't they got better things to do like going on dates ( I think that's how they put it in the States).

Read more here

Monday, December 19, 2005

New kid on the blog.

Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has finally gotten round to starting his very own blog. So far it is pretty rubbish, but it's bound to get better.

TBL once said, ""The internet is certainly not mature, because so many things are missing. It's adolescent, because it thinks it's the bee's knees and can do so much. Whereas, in fact, it has just started."

Well at least one thing that was missing, isn't anymore . . .

Read a TBL profile here

Monday, December 12, 2005

Why mince words

Doing a review of the year and came across a story that reminded me of how subtle tabloid headlines can be.

In the Guardian (22/04/2005)

Mother stabbed on walk with young son: Teacher may be paralysed after daytime attack in quiet village

And same story in the Daily Star (22/04/2005)
Nutter stabs mum in neck

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Is theguardian trying to tell us something?

On a recent search for Tony Blair articles on Guardian Unlimited, I started to see a pattern forming.

Defeat at home for Blair
Guardian, Friday November 9 2001

Blair devastated' by England defeat
Guardian, Friday June 21 2002

Election defeat piles pressure on Blair
Guardian, Saturday September 20 2003

Defeat for Blair on foundation hospitals
Guardian, Wednesday October 1 2003

Defeat for Blair over compulsory pensions
Guardian, Thursday October 2 2003

Sharon's triumph is Blair's defeat
Guardian, Friday April 16 2004

Blair suffers first Europe defeat
Guardian, Tuesday April 20 2004

Get real, says Blair after NHS defeat
Guardian, Thursday September 29 2005

And then…...

After eight years in power Tony Blair hears a new word: Defeat
Guardian, Thursday November 10 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Librarians have still got the look

This week, I was glad to see that the Mirror agreed with my earlier heralding of the Librarian Look:

"Feel the tweed: Once the preserve of librarians, tweed has been given a new lease of life and is the look every smart girl is wearing this winter"
Didi Danso, The Mirror, Dec 5 2005

Sadly no mention of tweed here, but you can learn how to dress in the "sexy librarian look" here.

Over on the Indy, the sexual appetite of their librarians was called into question:

"Would Philip Larkin have had sex at all if he hadn't been a poet? Fat, balding librarians tied to their mum's apron strings don't usually run three lovers."
Rowan Pelling, So poets and artists have more sex. Tell me something I didn't know..., Independent on Sunday, Dec 4 2005

Evidently Rowan Pelling in the Indy hadn't read the Express list of famous librarians (I guess their readers don't know librarians can be interesting)

More famous librarians here

"Philip Larkin died 20 years ago on Friday. As well as being a poet, he was also a librarian. Here are some other former librarians...

Lynne Truss, Mao Tse-Tung, Sir Ludovic Kennedy, Casanova, Laurie Taylor, Anthea Turner, August Strindberg, John Braine, David Hockney, J Edgar Hoover, Laura Bush."

Mitchell Symons, Things you didn't know you didn't know!, Sunday Express, Nov 27 2005

Weekly cliche count: a healthy 3


Now that Jimbo, as I believe we are to call Jimmy Wales, has decided to tighten Wikipedia's submission rules, according to the BBC, librarians can now get all hot and bothered about Uncylopedia

Can't wait for some newspaper to lift an entry and print the info. Just wait for the, 'they should employ comedians' rants on the newslists.

Top of the blogs

Here's a list of the most influential librarian blogs based on LinkRank. Very good, apart from the accidental omission of gaolhouseblog . . .

Monday, December 05, 2005

Online greenhorns

As trainees who claim to know very little about the information world the online exhibition served as an overwhelming introduction into the world of technological data management. Taking advantage of the fantastic jellybeans available and the free postcards from the British Library we attempted to gain some understanding of the mindboogling number of information services that seem to be available to the humble librarian. However, our foray into alternative careers showed us that we are no longer 'humble librarians', but 'instead information brokers' or indeed 'digital assets managers'. This was a far cry from Holly's expectation of joss sticks and yoghurt weaving. The speaker failed to encourage us in our hunt for the glamourous side of records management - but we believe, we really do. Our belief was overwhelmingly restored by Sue Hill's pink champagne driven recruitment fest. In conclusion, although as beginners in this world the technological side was a bit of a bafflement it was an interesting introduction and encouraged us to develop a better understanding of the tools of our trade.

And they're already advertising for Online 2006 . . .

More on the Wikipedia debate

This is getting interesting. In response to all the Wikipedia themed stuff on NewsLib, co-founder, Jimmy Wales, has replied to Newslib.
Not really surprising when confronted with this sort of comment:

> I think if you held a gun to Jimmy Wales and demanded that he choose
> either community or accuracy, he'd opt for the former, not the latter.
> And therein lies the issue.

Jimmy replied

Absolutely not. I'll choose accuracy every single time. Period.
Although, I don't really relish the thought of being held at gunpoint by
anyone, thanks. :-)

The mission I have set for myself in life is to give a freely licensed
high quality encyclopedia to every single person on the planet in their
own language. The core community shares with me this value, and indeed
this is ultimately the definition of what it means to be a part of the
core community. Therefore in a very real sense the supposed choice between "community"
and "accuracy" is a bit premature: since the community is incredibly
passionate about accuracy, getting rid of them isn't going to help at all.

It was this figure though that really caught my eye:

"I have reason to think that our error rate as
judged by experts is in some domains now only about 30% worse than
Britannica's. With the forthcoming review process and the ongoing
improvements in quality that we're seeing across the board, I think in a
year or two we'll be able to come "out of alpha" into "beta" stage at a
level where our quality essentially matches them (but unevenly, i.e.
we'll be better than them in some clearly definable areas and worse than
them in other clearly definable areas)."

But will the "beta" stage be achieved with the help of librarians? Had to chuckle at Jimmy's reply

"I would encourage library administrators to view occassional staff time
spent working on Wikipedia as being a part of the general culture of
public service that libraries embody."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Taking the Wiki . . .

Newslib has been buzzing the past few days with postings about a false Wikipedia entry. Last Tuesday in the USA Today, John Seigenthaler Sr. discussed his experiences of being the subject of a false biography on Wikipedia, which was copied also to and For four months he was depicted as a suspected assassin of President Kennedy. Much comment from the Newslib crew ranging from outrage to the general view that you should never take anything for granted from Wikipedia without checking against conventional sources as well. Sounds obvious to me, but Gary Price (a man worth listening to) makes the point that while Info pros know this, ordinary punters, "take what they can get and move on". One suggestion was that Wikipedia might like to start hiring librarians to weed out misinformation. Yeah, right, and who's going to pay for it and doesn't this go against the whole Wiki concept?

Anyway, plenty of discussion out there. In October, theguardian asked: "Can you trust Wikipedia?" The article had "experts" rate Wikipedia entries on subjects within their fields. Perhaps it would have been more productive, and in the spirit of the whole thing, if the "experts" just logged onto Wikipedia and corrected the articles rather than sneering at the whole concept of an open source encyclopedia in the national press.

More info here, here and here.

This one will go and on . . .

Thursday, December 01, 2005

. . . and all I got from it was a green pen.

Went to a work training session today hosted by The Mind Gym. I'm not usually into this sort of thing but have to say I enjoyed myself. Not sure if I learnt much on "Managing Expectations" though, but at least I got a great green pen as a souvenir. And is there possibly a better slogan to put on a pen than "mind gym - putting the ink into think".

(Trying to find a good list of other corporate slogans, I came across
this - I mean, would you buy a corporate Latin motto from these people??)

Anyway, here's a hall of fame of popular advertising slogans from recent years.