Friday, September 29, 2006

Journal Feature: Knowledge Technology & Policy

In its 19th year, Knowledge Technology & Policy is an international peer reviewed journal devoted to both the promises and problems of technology. Focusing on how politics and society factor in the development and adoption of new technologies and new forms of knowledge, its editorial board is made up of scholars in computing, communications, medical informatics, administrative sciences, art and design, economics, and information science. Recent and upcoming articles include: "Information Technologies and the Transformation of Democracy," What's New about the 'New Surveillance'? Classifying for Change and Continuity," "Is the Cell Phone Undermining the Social Order?: Understanding Mobile Technology from a Sociological Perspective," and "From Teenage Life to Victorian Morals and Back: technological Change and Teenage Life." Since we subscribe to this journal in online form only you can't browse recent issues in the Library but you can sign up for a TOC alert at the publisher's website. If your interest in KT&P is less rabid you can forget about it and feel safe in the knowledge that it's indexed in Sociological Abstracts, International Bibiliography of the Social Sciences, and the Social Science Citation Index, so pertinent items will turn up in your regular searching.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Historical Statistics of the United States

The Penn Library Web now offers Historical Statistics of the United States (Milliennial Edition Online). This e-resource reproduces material published in Historical statistics of the United States: earliest times to the present. Millennial edition. 5 volumes. New York: Cambridge University Press (with the cooperation of the US Census Bureau), 2006. [Van Pelt Reference Desk: HA202 .H57 2006]

HSUS is the best starting-place for statistical information on the United States, for the colonial era and 1790-2000 (including the Confederate States of America). Presents 37,339 data series on: Population, including vital statistics, immigration and emigration; Work and welfare, including labor, slavery, education, health, economic inequality and poverty, social insurance and public assistance; Economic structure and performance, including national income and national product, business cycles, prices, consumer expenditures, savings, capital, and wealth, business organization, and financial markets and institutions; Business sectors and industries; Governance and international relations, including government finance, elections and politics, crime and law enformcement, wars, armed forces, and veterans, and international trade and exchange rates.

HSUS is arranged conveniently for subject browsing. Introductory essays for each topical section provide a guide to the data, sources, and historical trends emphasized in the literature, with bibliographic citations for further research. This continues the tradition set in earlier US Census Bureau editions of HSUS.

HSUS offers several options for table or data series output: Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, CSV-format text tables, tables suitable for importing into SPSS or SAS, PDF-format pages, and graphs (bar, line, scatter).

Network visualization site

Visualcomplexity.com is a resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks. The project's main goal is to leverage a critical understanding of different visualization methods across a series of disciplines as diverse as biology, social networks or the World Wide Web. The site displays hundreds of projects that "either provide advancement in terms of visual depiction techniques/methods or show conceptual uniqueness and originality in the choice of a subject." Whatever one's level of understanding of the workings of the software used in these projects or of the depicted networks themselves, the displays are aesthetically stunning.

For more information about information visualization the site includes a page of resource links to related sites, including SPIDER: Social Psychology of Information Diffusion--Educational Resources and An Atlas of Cyberspaces, (maps and graphic representations of the geographies of the Internet).

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Homeland Insecurities

The July/September 2006 issue of Cultural Studies (Volume 20, Numbers4-5) is devoted to the implications of the creation of a Department of Homeland Security but, as issue editors James Hay and Mark Andrejevic point out, is not limited to this institution but rather "a variety of programs oriented toward the management of risk." Articles include: Designing Homes to Be the First Line of Defense: Safe Households, Mobilization, and the New Mobile Privatization by James Hay;Becoming Bombs: Mobilizing Mobility in the War of Terror, by Jeremy Packer; Watching Ourselves: Video Surveillance, Urban Space and Self-Responsibilization, by Bilge Yesil; Identifying the 9/11 Faces of Terror: The Promise and Problem of Facial Recognition Technology by Kelly Gates; Interactive (Insecurity: The Participatory Promise of Ready.gov by Mark Andrejevic; Derivative Wars, by Randy Martin; Surviving the Inevitable Future: Preemption in an Age of Faulty Intelligence, by Greg Elmer and Andy Opel; Public Secrecy and Immanent Security: Strategic Analysis, by Jack Bratich.

Cultural Studies is available online (see
Penn Libraries main page).

Monday, September 25, 2006

New issue of Flow

The new issue of Flow: A Critical Forum on Television and Media Culture is out. It features columns by Jason Mittell, Nichola Dobson, Mark Andrejevic, John Corner, Amanda D. Lotz, and Michael Z. Newman.

Flow is published biweekly by the department of Radio, Television, and Film at the University of Texas at Austin. Some of you may know it featured our own Bill Herman (ASC PhD candidate) in a past issue writing on election fraud (The New "F" Word: Indexed Out of the Election Debate).

This issue's columns in brief:
"The Best of Television: The Inaugural Flow Critics' Poll" by Jason Mittell: Find out how Project Runway rates among academics!

"Wasn't that show cancelled? – The increasing DVD phenomenon" by Nichola Dobson: The expectation seems to be emerging that at the end of any series, or season, the show will be distributed and sold on DVD.

"Reality TV is Undemocratic" by Mark Andrejevic: The adjective, "democratic," like its somewhat more dramatic modern ancestor, "revolutionary," is rapidly becoming one of the more overused and under-defined terms in the promotional lexicon of the "interactive" era. In its broadest sense, the term is invoked to indicate that the public has been given a choice of some sort, or even more generally that it has been provided with the opportunity to "participate." Are these limited forms of engagement truly "democratic"?

"Television and the Practice of 'Criticism'" by John Corner: How contemplating criticism for television calls into question the very nature of criticism itself.

"Rethinking Meaning Making: Watching Serial TV on DVD" by Amanda D. Lotz: The rapid rise of TV on DVD prompts us to rethink and reexamine television audiences.

"lonelygirl15: The Pleasures and Perils of Participation" by Michael Z. Newman: The Internet has been the site of a zillion hoaxes, so what is so special about lonelygirl15?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Today's Front Pages

Each day The Newseum, Freedom Forum's interactive news museum, displays the front pages of 566 newspapers from around the world. 51 countries are represented. Alphabetical lists of countries represented and newspaper titles are available., i.e. the site is very easy to navigate. Today's Front Page, as it is called, is not an archive so much as an exhibit. The exhibit is that day's front pages. Previous days are not available so if you know ahead of time that you are going to be doing any kind of content analysis of front pages begin collecting images ahead of time (being mindful of copyright restrictions as outlined at the site).

Two webcasts from the Research Channel

Back to the Future: Managing Right in the Digital age
Digital Art? iPods? Downloaded movies? How does all this work in the emerging digital ecosystem, and who is getting paid? Steve Davis (CEO, Corbis), intellectual property lawyer turned entrepreneur, has built a global company around the concept of managing content and digital rights. He discusses the future of e-business and media services in this fast-changing, complex environment.

Blog Versus Print: Have Blogs Replaced Newspapers and Should We Care?
Have blogs replaced newspapers and should we care? An expert panel discusses the pros and cons of instant news in an event sponsored by the USC Information Services Division, USC Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities, and the USC Annenberg School for Communication. As newspapers scurry for readers and advertisers, more and more bloggers deliver gossip, news and commentary faster, cheaper and more efficiently. The debate is that, while bloggers respond more nimbly than traditional news-gathering institutions, they do so by sacrificing objectivity, accuracy and reliability.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Moon Musings

Imagine the world's knowledge stored for safekeeping on the moon! That's been put forth in a recent white paper on commercial uses of the moon by NASA astrobiologist David McKay. He sees long cave-like lava tubes under the moon's surface as perfect sites for giant digital libraries that would be able to talk back and forth to earth by satellite. I looked for the paper on NASA's website and couldn't find it but you can can read a little more about it in the Short Sharp Science blog.

[Photo by Kyle Cassidy.]

On another moon front, it was only a matter of time until someone looked into lunar effects on media use. While lunar effects research on psychological and biological functions is nothing new, it's relatively untrod ground in Communications literature. Until now. Moon and Media: Lunar Cycles and Television Viewing by Heidi Vanebosch (Universityy of Antwerp), Keith Roe and Jan Van den Bulck (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) appears in the latest issue of Media Psychology (Volume 8, Number 3), available electronically from Penn Libraries webpage.

Article Abstract
A review of the literature reveals that the possibility of lunar influence on various aspects of human health and behavior has long been taken seriously in established scientific journals. The purpose of this article is to extend this perspective to media research by focusing on the relation between lunar cycles and television viewing behavior. In preliminary analyses performed on a data set containing daily television viewing figures and moon and weather information for Flanders in 1993 (over a 12-month period), a weak but significant positive relation between "the amount of television viewing" and "the percentage of the moon illuminated" was found. However, subsequent analyses of a data set containing daily television viewing figures and moon information for Flanders, Denmark, Norway, and The Netherlands in 2002 (over a 12-month period), revealed a weak positive correlation between "television viewing time" and "percentage of the moon surface illuminated" only in Denmark. Given these inconsistent results, it is concluded that further investigation is needed. Future studies should investigate data over a longer period of time, include additional moon variables (i.e., amount of moonlight), explicitly test the moon-sleep deprivation-television viewing hypothesis, control for other environmental factors (e.g., weather conditions), and search for alternative explanations for a possible relation between amount of television viewing and the moon cycle.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

2005 National Health Interview Survey adds cancer topics

The public use file for the 2005 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is now available. on the open web. The NHIS, which has been conducted annually since 1957, collects data on the U.S. population's health status, health care utilization, health habits and beliefs. It includes detailed demographic and socioeconomic characteristics for all survey participants. The basic components of the survey have remained consistent over time but new topics are added as needed. This year's survey added a special cancer section with six major sections: diet and nutrition, physical activity, tobacco, cancer screening, genetic testing and family history. Child mental health, child mental health services, and child influenza immunization were also added to the 2005 survey. The Survey is embedded in the National Center for Health Statistics site which is a part of the larger CDC.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

September CommQuote

The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

Thomas Jefferson (Letter to Edward Carrington, 16 January 1787)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Historical Wall Street Journal

The Historical Wall Street Journal, 1989-1989, is now available at Penn. Full text news, editorials, letters to the editor, obituaries, financial quotes, and advertisements are all searchable and available for viewing and printing. Users can search by keyword and Boolean operators as well as employ more advanced searching techniques. The results list generated by a search includes detailed bibliographic information for the articles retrieved including article title, publication, issue date, author, page, etc. Researchers can view isolated article images, or, for context, can click on "page map" to see the whole page on which the article appeared. Articles can also be emailed in pdf format.

Print holdings for WSJ are located in Lippincott Library in paper (last two weeks) and on microfilm.

And just to review! You can search WSJ in Factiva (1979-present, though some of those old years are just abstracts, the site is not clear when absolute full coverage begins) or ABI Inform (full coverage of the Eastern edition begins in 1984).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Security in an Era of Open Arab Media

The Stanley Foundation, an Iowa-based non-profit founded in 1956 with a longstanding interest in global institutions, has created "a Web feature," Security in an Era of Open Arab Media, to "explore the rapid rise of pan-Arab satellite television and other open media, examine its impact on the Arab world, and learn how it affects US relations" in the region. The site includes original articles, interviews, policy analysis, and the public radio documentary 24/7: The Rise and Influence of Arab Media, hosted by David Brancaccio. (A complete transcript of the program is also available.) Deeper into the site in the Publications section you can also find a downloadable report called Open Media and Transitioning Societies in the Arab Middle East: Implications for US Security Policy (The Stanley Foundation in association with the Institute for Near East and Bulf Military Analysis, 2005-2006).

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