Sharing sorted out, sort of

Being somewhat doltish, as Patrick Kurp self-deprecatingly and incorrectly said about himself, I did not quite get the Google Reader "share" feature that James so patiently explained to me. But now I do get it. You’ll see in the "My links" section of the left-hand navigation bar a link called "my Google Reader shared page". This is a page that anyone can look at, and is a list of all the posts on everyone’s blogs that I’ve subscribed to and read in Google Reader that I’ve found especially interesting that day/week/month. So, if you want to read what appeals to me, go there. You can also subscribe to it in your RSS reader (I think). So there you have it, the mad scope of Petrona’s interests, laid bare for you to see.
My famed and numerous other blogs are mostly like this (some of which have been languishing unloved for too long) — quick and magpie-like. Librarian’s Place is an index of articles sent to me mainly by Dave Lull. Web Writer is an index of articles I find that provide writing advice in case I ever get around to writing anything. Petrona selection box is an index of book reviews I read that persuade me that I really must read the book. Maxine’s book reviews is an archive of my own reviews of books I’ve read. All these blogs are not really "blogs" in the sense of Petrona, but are ways to store and tag all the fascinating articles I find out there on the wonderful Internet. Please share any of them with me that also take your fancy. You can reach them all via "Maxine’s weblogs" or "My links" in the left-hand sidebar. (And some other "messing about on the Internet" sites can be found by clicking there, too.)

25 million doi


This is a somewhat specialist topic, but I would like to share with you the news that Crossref has just given out its 25 millionth doi (digital object identifier). We are all familiar with the URL, I have forgotten what it stands for (probably something starting with "unique"), which is the address of a web page. You see it in the navigation widow right at the top of the web page, and can use it as a marker to return to that page at any time… long as it is still there, that is.

The doi is a unique number that an online publisher assigns to an article that it is publishing. It is a sign of commitment by the publisher that it will love, support and cherish that web page (or article) forever. The publisher is saying "we think this article has value".

Some time ago, most of the leading STM (science, technical and medical) publishers got together and formed an organisation called This organisation provides an indexing system for published articles. All the publishers who are in crossref use the same numbering system. That is why, if you are reading an academic article online and you scroll to the list of citations, you can click on one and find yourself at the cited article.

I love the doi because it is one of those instances where publishers who are usually in competition with each other have recognised a mutual, common need. They realised that if they all subscribe to the same indexing system, they will all benefit, which means,  crucially, that the readers of all their content will benefit.

So publishers now give all their articles a doi. That number is assigned by the editors when the article is published. You, the readers, can navigate around the vast online literature universe using the system — all 25 million items of it (more since I started writing this post). And if the publisher is worth its salt, if there is a doi, there should not be a broken link or other "dead" site, as the publisher will be maintaining the article in an archive.

Librarians’ life on Earth

Dave Lull sent me a link to a YouTube posting, so because it was from Dave I went nervously to check it out even though I usually steer well clear of this teenager (in my mind) zone. The video Dave refers to is called March of the Librarians . When I realised it featured the Seattle 2007 librarians’ convention, I steeled myself and turned on the volume to hear the commentary, as I was convinced Dave was going to be in it, and I didn’t want to miss him if so. Unfortunately, despite plenty of bearded characters, he was not singled out, so I don’t know if any of them was him. My curiosity unsatisfied, I switched my volume back to silent, and can only hope that, if he was there, he did not fall victim to a "vendor". If you are more interested in what librarians, rather than penguins, get up to in their natural habitat, then check out the video. I can promise that it is all very soothing.

Cool or spooky?

When I looked at Google Reader this morning, I saw a link called "trends" on my homepage. I hadn’t seen it before, so I clicked and found myself on a dashboard page showing my usage statistics. (I don’t know if this link only works if you are me, or if anyone can see it.)

This seems really cool. I can see at a glance what I’ve read most over the past 30 days, and which of my subscription blogs have updated the most frequently in the past 30 days. (The top 5 are the same in both lists: Books Inq. is top and Deblog conversation is next — but these are blogs with lots of posts on them, blogs that have fewer posts will not show up on this type of statistic.) You can also see at a glance the top (bottom?) ten inactive blogs, which is certainly useful when you have a lot of subscriptions and haven’t noticed when one or a few have stopped posting for a year.

There are other features on the dashboard, such as a tag cloud of my subscriptions, ability to see more blogs in the "read" and "updated" lists, and a histogram of the number of items I have read over the past 30 days (or longer).

Maybe this is more spooky than cool, I don’t know. It was a bit of a shock to see my reading patterns laid bare, and the potential for time-wasting by looking into all the details and fiddling around with my subscriptions is definitely there. But on balance, for me, cool factor wins. I’m glad I switched from Bloglines to Google Reader for this and various other "usability" reasons. I also worked out how to export my GR subscriptions into the Petrona blogroll, which for me was not easy, but after I’d done it the other weekend, I felt I’d learnt something.

Later addition: I apologise to James Long, who had earlier pointed out Google Reader trends to me, via an article I posted on Librarian’s Place. I blame my neuronal degeneration, but that’s no excuse really. Belated thanks to James, who has also kindly explained to me lots of other nice things you can do with GR trends.