Who Edits?

PaperTowns2009_6ATheTeen Book Club at our library (aka The Nerd Herd) read and discussed John Green’s PAPER TOWNS. In it, a character obsessively edits a fictional online resource very similar to Wikipedia. His complusiveness is a funny part of this book, but it seems that real life has taken a page from John Green.

Recently, at a presentation regarding Wikipedia and its users, employees were asked who actually edits this site?  If you’ve ever used Wikipedia, you’ll know that it is full of great information—some true and some not—most of which is contributed through user content alone. That means someone out there who knows a lot about a subject has taken the time to add his or her knowledge to the site regarding that topic. Is it always correct? No. Which is why many schools ban the use of Wikipedia when their students are doing research.

But for the most part, the content is probably pretty strong. However, the Wikipedia people set out after this presentation to find out exactly who was editing their site. And they came up with some very interesting facts. First, they conducted interviews with people who regularly contribute to or edit the site. They learned that a lot of these people were happy to work on a variety of subjects—whatever pleased them at the moment. Others were more specific and moved in one direction….like a user named Giraffedata, who had more than 15,000 edits to his credit…all for the same incorrect use of the term “comprised of” in articles. The Wiki people were VERY interested in Giraffedata, almost a God to some of them in the world of edits. So, they set out to find the person behind the screen name in hopes of honoring him with their own version of the Oscar in the Wiki editing world…a Barnstar.

And it turns out, Giraffedata is a 51-year-old software engineer names Bryan Henderson who has contributed more than 47,000 edits since 2007. And most of them are simply that one correction…..”comprised of”, which he replaces with “composed of” in proper form. He goes through articles systematically, week by week, and makes the change, determined to rid the world of his singular pet peeve. He even wrote a piece of software to help him find the newest additions to Wikipedia, and does his corrections each Sunday night. It won’t change the world, but in his own way, he’s making a mark in a unique way.

You can read more about Mr. Henderson and his quirky connection to Wikipedia right here. The article is full of pie charts, photos, and fascinating information not only about why Henderson does what he does, but how it impacts what you read. And if you are interested in making your own changes or additions to the information website, you can find out how to do it…well, on Wikipedia! It’s an arduous process, but once you learn how to do it, you’ve got a new skill. Give it a try!

Do You Confuse Words?

nyplToday, on the New York Public Library website, they have a wonderful post on the common misuse of words—even by bookworms! I know it drives me crazy when reading Facebook posts that contain simple grammatical errors—don’t even get me started on incorrect words. But the NYPL has listed the 14 words most commonly misused, along with their proper meanings and when to use them.

Allude vs elude?

Indeterminate vs indeterminable?

These words and many more made the list. Do you use any of them on a regular basis?

 

Scratch-Off

Last summer, our adult readers had a lot of fun with our “Goodies for Grown Ups” adult summer reading tickets. After joining the program and reading books, they were given special scratch-off tickets to win prizes that were donated by several local businesses. It was a big hit!

scratchoffmap2So, when I came across this Scratch-Off World Map, it reminded me of our program. The “I Was Here” map is a unique item designed by the Art. Lebedev Studio Shop to help travelers keep track of places they’ve been. It begins as a large, grey world map, but once you visit a place, you scratch off the country and the colour is revealed underneath. How is that for incentive to get visiting the world?

This gives me ideas for our upcoming summer program…..

Are YOU on the list?

Once again, Time Magazine has brought out its list of the Top 100 Most Influential People of 2015. Not only is the list interesting, but the pairing of the writers who put together the pieces on each individual is often inspired. There are actors, politicians, singers, artists, activists, scientists and more.

time100covergrid-finalThese people are not necessarily the most well-liked people in the world (Kanye West appears, as does his wife, Kim Kardashian West), but they are certainly the people who shape the world just by being who they are. Controversy might be seen as a negative, but it makes people talk about someone and what they stand for, and that’s influence.

Take a few minutes to drop by the site and see everyone on the list. The blurb about each person on the list is fascinating, and many are accompanied by a video. Of course, you can read the entire article in this week’s issue of Time magazine.

The covers, photographed by Sebastian Kim, can be found right here.

 

Check Out a Skill!

skillCheck out a Skill at the library is only in the mid-week phase, but it’s already been super popular, and helpful to those participating.  We still have sessions that are available if you have a technology skill you’d like to learn….anything from setting up an email, to opening a browser for the first time, to downloading audiobooks to your phone. Whatever your questions, we’ve got the answers.

Call us to book a half hour session sometime later this week, or next week. Our fabulous Skill Master, Caroline, will guide you through the steps to learn a new skill. Bring along your laptop, tablet, phone or other device you want to learn, or we can book you on one of our own computers to assist with the session. So far, it’s been a popular program, and maybe something we’ll be able to offer up periodically at the library.

So, check out a new skill today! (Or next week!)

They’re Human

Don’t forget, this weekend is the Lanark County Human Library Project. We’ve got four spectacular Human Books lined up, and the spaces are filling up fast.  If you’d like to reserve your space to speak with any of our featured books, please drop by the website to get your ticket. (If you’re unable to print one off at home, drop by the library and we’ll do it for you!)

humanfourThis is a fun project that each library in Lanark County will be running this weekend, with different Human Books to be reserved. The sessions are bound to be fascinating, and you can either ask the participants questions, or just sit and listen to them talk about their projects.

Please give us a call if you have any questions about reserving your space, or about the Human Library project in general. See you on Saturday!

Everyone Has a Story

I love watching TED talks. I think some of the most fascinating ideas and people being presented in this format. So, when I came across StoryCorps, the idea appealed to me on so many levels.

It began when founder David Isay found out his father was gay, and began looking into an interesting story about gay rights in the 1960’s. After doing several interviews with people who were once banished from acceptable society, he found talking to them and asking questions about their lives was not only rewarding, but fascinating. So, he decided to start a project where people could record stories with important people in their lives, to be kept for posterity in the American Folklife Centre at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. All artwork, photos and other important memorabilia are scanned and returned to the owner, but the recorded interview and a wonderful cartoon are uploaded and available for access through the StoryCorps site.

Isay wasn’t sure whether anyone would want to participate in his project, but he created the recording booth in the heart of New York City’s Grand Central Station to see what would happen. So many people….children, teachers, soldiers, grandparents….delighted in the idea of having their voices and stories saved for generations to hear. It was so appealing, the project expanded.

It’s not only the wonderful short stories in a question and answer format (often) that are appealing, but the artwork depicting each interview. I could sit for hours and watch each of these short works and never get bored. Sometimes, they’re heartwarming and will bring a tear to your eye, and other times they’ll make you laugh. But it proves that everyday people like you and like me, all have stories to tell.

The best part is that YOU can participate as well. You can drop by one of the locations, or request a special recording. How nice would it be for your children’s children to hear their great Grandma’s voice many years from now? Or to be able to access a long-forgotten family tale. It’s amazing how easily family stories can disappear from our memories.

I love the fact that this site also offers up a series of questions based on the person you want to talk with. There is a list of general questions that you could easily use at a dinner party or business conference where you might not know a lot of people, or find making conversation difficult. Give one a try! A bet you’ll have people talking about themselves in no time.

You can see Isay’s TED talk below. Take a few minutes to go through some of the great stories on the StoryCorps website, too. You won’t be disappointed.