Web Design: Right Brain at Play

Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, is full of ideas on how to engage the right side of the brain in a way to stimulate creativity and meaning.  He illustrates one concept by providing three lines of type all using different fonts.  He supplies the font names and quizzes the reader to try and match font name with font type.  I found it an easy exercise based on my experience with Microsoft Office font options.  He offers hope to the design challenged souls by pointing out that typography was at one time a very specialized field before the invention of personal computers.  Computerization has opened up this field to the lay person. 

Typography can say so much.  Type in a slogan or our name and see the results using all the different font styles at http://www.fonts.com/.  Daniel Pink suggests designing your own font www.fontifier.com

Pink says another right brain activity is getting involved in gaming.  I’m not sure these design tools count, but they are fun to use when planning a project or just taking a break.  Here is my collection including the basics, some power designers and some just for fun. 

Color is a powerful way to provide expression.  Combining the correct colors for the right message makes them even more powerful.  Web design has overcome many limitations to the original number of web friendly colors, but to start, here are basics http://www.computerhope.com/htmcolor.htm & http://html-color-codes.com/  

If you notice the web safe color limitations, this is another way to look at color http://design.geckotribe.com/colorwheel/   The entire color wheel is at a designer’s disposal, at http://colorschemedesigner.com/ which has many ways to manipulate palettes for a preview.  

Texture is fun to play with http://www.allfreebackgrounds.com/backgrounds.html 

Photographs can add some color as well.  Ideas for visual impact are fun with this image generator http://labs.ideeinc.com/multicolr

 Using the right half of the brain to engage through the use of design and gaming are just a few of Pink’s ideas.  I try to add right brain activities to my projects and schedule whenever possible!

Google for Librarians

Dan Martin is the writer of Google Corporation’s Public Policy blog.  He visited CUA’s School of Library and Information Science to share “Google for Librarians.”  Google upgrades and tests its information indexing on a daily basis.  The company mission to create transparency for information, support open formats and to promote democratic goverment is achieved through a multitude of iniatives.  

Historic family photo

Historic family photo

Wired writes about Google’s algorithm, http://www.
, as it constantly seeks to improve its performance for its users, against its competition and maximize the ways information can be indexed, maintained for currency, personalized, and localized and a synonym match for common abbreviations, slang and words with double meanings.  

If users sign in when searching Google, data records are established that further refine and narrow searches based on past searching behavior.  This data helps to match more relevant information dealing with complex issues, professional literature, specialized hobbies and repetitive searches.  

Google was the first search engine to allow search criteria exclusively in the medium of images.  Now a search can be limited to blogs, books, and news archives and if you are “feeling lucky” the links can be displayed by popularity. 

Google Scholar can be searched by keyword, author, and a subfield link “cite index” find material that has made bibliographical reference to the writing.  Advanced search can limit material to writings from a particular time period and very recently has added legal opinion results. 

Google Books continue to build their library and numbers 7 million books to date.  Full view provides a complete document.  Overview provides a summary and a link on where to purchase the book and World cat for the nearest library for books to loan. Snippet view highlights sentences were the keyword has been found and again links for purchase or loan. 

And there is more!  Life magazine has provided 10 million photos now available on the images search page.  “Google insights for Search” was once a destination for advertisers, but is finding a wealth of information in top searches.  When information is placed on a timeline, even more data is revealed.  February 2010 the top searches focus on Olympic athletes.  In the fall of 2009, “mortgage help” was one of the most popular searches at the same time Wall Street was experiencing a crushing decline. 

And what does Google have in the works for the future?  Ultra broadband applications are being accepted from cities and individuals through the deadline of March 6, 2010.  Google will select a city to build the Ultra broadband community of experimentation.  Google also is working on access for underserved countries.  However a recent study has partnered with Harvard University to study why American consumers are paying more for slower speeds than other countries.

A favorite library story

James Madison Building, Library of Congress

James Madison Building, Library of Congress

Ruth S. Smith, in her book Cataloging Made Easy, tells one of my favorite stories in the history of libraries. 

“A heartwarming story about Abdul Kassem Ismael, the scholarly grand-vizier of Persia in the 10th century and his library of 117,000 volumes has been traced back to Isaac Asimov’s Book of Facts(Grosset & Dunlop, 1979).  On his many travels as a warrior and statesman, the grand-vizier carried along his beloved books.  Since the 400 camels who carried the books were trained to walk in alphabetical order, the camel-driver librarians could put their hands on any book their master asked for.  Arrangement was the important key.”

Can Librarians Be Googled Out of Reference?

I’ve heard of sport where librarians attempt to beat Google in answering a ready reference questions, but a better match is managing the growing body of information threatening to drown, overtake, and consume society. Electronic resources provide effortless access to information answering “who,” “what” and “when” questions. The more difficult questions of “how” and “why” become obscured within this same system. Core competencies for reference and user services librarians require proficiency with all forms of recorded knowledge from papyrus to YouTube. Google has a formidable opponent as it attempts to replicate the information finesse of a professional librarian when researching complex matters.380-graphic-designs3

In 1876 Samuel Green was the first to introduced the general concept of reference service through employment of “pleasant and cultivated female staff” to assist the user in selecting books to suit their needs (“Working the Reference Desk” by Marcella D. Genz, Library Trends, Winter 1998). Now this is telling about the history of librarianship!

For the historical perspective, the class textbook, 2nd Edition of Reference and Information Services in the 21st Century lists the authors whose collective writings illustrate the role of reference service over time and include Samuel Green, W.W. Bishop, James I. Wyer, Margaret Hutchins, William A. Katz, Richard E. Bopp, and Linda C. Smith.

Modern libraries may retain Green’s practice of hiring pleasant staff, but job parallels from 1876 to 2009 drop off rapidly from there. Stereotypes may live on, but the realities of the labor market demand highly trained professionals in library science as well as in the modern technological forms of current knowledge. ALA’s Reference and User Service’s Association (RUSA) outlines a broad and extensive skill set for current jobs in “Professional Competencies for Reference and User Services.”

Golden Ticket to Libraries

I’m recently convinced that I hold a golden ticket as a CUA-SLIS student. In an attempt to capture my accumulative list of class projects up to the midpoint of my graduate school education, it was with dizzying realization just how many professional librarians have generously provided mentoring. I’m unsure of blog etiquette so I won’t blast names on the public airwaves, but my gratitude goes out to directors at Mullen Library, Northern Virginia Community College, Library of Congress Folklife Archive, Newseum, Library of Congress Law Library, Textile Museum, Himmelfarb Health Services Library at George Washington University, Corcoran Museum Library and United States Geological Survey.

Bruce Rosenstein DC/SLA

Bruce Rosenstein DC/SLA

My professor of the Special Libraries course, Bruce Rosenstein, in his book entitled, “Living in more than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life,” suggests mentoring and being mentored are ways to broaden the dimension of one’s life. This quote seems appropriate, “Most of us have many things for which to be thankful, and the people we encounter rarely receive the thanks that are often due.” (p. 12). And, so I thank all of my mentors who generously shared their time, knowledge, skill and expertise.  These experiences enrich the educational process in ways classroom instruction cannot convey.

Fall Ritual

Fall is my favorite time of year and it’s a personal ritual to explore new opportunities, assess goals and realign activities accordingly.  As the new school year begins, I’m realizing a long-term goal to establish this blog as a place to organize highlights of my studies.  I’m also rejuvenating my personal web site.  This marks the start of my second year in the graduate School of Library & Information Science at Catholic University.  I’m excited the blog will give me professional stretching room to grow, but a small voice says its one more responsibility in a very full schedule.  Subsequent blog posts or the lack thereof will reveal this story. fall_clipart_21

After graduate school, I will probably continue with this fall ritual, perhaps by deciding to eat a healthier diet, starting an exercise program or volunteer time to help others in need.  Brain health is becoming a popular goal perhaps due to changing demographics.  Lifelong learning and mental stimulation, combined with other healthy choices seems to prevent dementia in old age, according to “How Fit is Your Brain?,” Virginia Hospital Center’s Health Reach, Fall 2009, p. 4. The article suggests cross training techniques to learning outside the area of familiarity such as gaining a new language, enrolling in an art class, or joining a book club, which stretches the brain to think in new ways.  The article provided me with a moment of satisfaction as graduate school abundantly fulfills this challenge for me.

Then I stretched my brain a little more.  Exercise has its logical connection to health clubs.  Where do people go to stretch their brains?  I hope the library is the obvious conclusion.  Promoting good health and keeping the brain fit is just one more reason the profession of library and information science is so important.

Navigating the Commute

The midway point of my commute comes at Constitution Avenue between the White House and the Washington Monument. Congested traffic, jay walking tourists and the occassional flash flood can try the patience of most drivers.  Some days I equate this journey from Vienna to Catholic University with the time and energy equivalance of a part-time job.  Other days I am struck by the city’s dynamic living of democracy.  Senator-Kennedy-flag-half-mast

August 28, 2009 was one of those times to pause and reflect.  The flags around the Washington Monument flew at half-mast in honor of Senator Ted Kennedy.   The next day he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  And the event of international proportions unfolds while Catholic University’s School of Library & Information Science continues on with the planned BBQ! 

I recall my spring commute with a smile, but only in hindsight!  Within the span of a few days,  I detoured around World Bank protestors hanging from construction cranes, sat through several red lights for what appeared to be a flag burning in the intersection of Constitution and 15th, and then there was the radio message warning me that “there appears to be a brigade of wheelchairs headed up Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capital.”  What stands between home and making it to class on time is an adventure all its own.  Of course there is always the Metro, but that is another story…