Safe Searching

We have a lot of children come to the library to use our internet. We always have a parent sign a consent form, and make them aware that we don’t have search restrictions. It’s up to them to monitor what they’re children are doing on the internet, just like it would be at home.


I came across this wonderful search engine just for kids that I might start recommending. It’s called KidRex and features colourful graphics and safe search options. What makes this so different?  The site is powered by Google’s SafeSearch and Google Custom Search technology that screens sites for unacceptable content. The site’s researchers plug in keywords everyday to make sure that no sexually explicit sites pop up, and so it is nice know it is monitored on a regular basis since sites often find ways to prey on unsuspecting youngsters.

Not sure how to get your kids to use it?  Why not set it as your homepage?  It’ll pop up right away and they won’t have to go searching for it!

Frivolous Friday. Not so Frivolous.

If you’ve ever done a Google search, you’ll know that when you begin to type in what you’re looking for, Google provides a simple drop down list of possible words you might be ready to type.  Where do these options come from?  From fellow users, of course.  So, when you see those five or six possible results below the search box, they’re actually questions people have typed into Google. The most popular searches, actually, not just random or recent searches.

When you think about it, it’s  insight into a culture.  Heartbreaking insight, actually.  Watch the video below and you’ll see what I mean. (Keep in mind, some of the search results are quite graphic. But even those say something about the state of our fellow human beings today.)



Blink a book?

Google Glass

Google Glass (Photo credit: Stuck in Customs)

Ereaders and eBooks are a commonplace thing now. Just about everyone has a smartphone, tablet or computer and can access eBooks in some format or other. We see a steady stream of eBooks being taken “out” of our library through OverDrive, and those are just our patrons who use the free eBooks. There are probably plenty more patrons who purchase eBooks as well. It’s a great way to read books, whether you use it for travel or just an easy way to pick up that 400-pager before bed.

Recently, I read an article wondering about the coming of hands-free books and how it would impact our society. Author and social media manager at CNET, Nathan Bransford, had an idea about the new Google Glass device and the possibilities of hands-free books.  Haven’t heard of  Google Glass? You can read more here, but essentially, they are an experimental device–a wearable computer–that will act as a recording device, a camera, an information center and entertainment piece….all under the guise of a simple pair of glasses.  The Google Glass is still in the development stages, but Google has started a project where it is loaning out the glasses to people who presented them with creative ideas about how they would use them.  So, we’ll have to see if this moves to a stage where everyone can purchase a pair and start using them!

Now, the concept of reading on the Google Glass is something Mr. Bransford was concerned about, but for different reasons.  The viewing area is apparently quite small, and wouldn’t work well for doing a lot of reading.  He was most excited about the thought of being able to read (hands-free) while walking or traveling on the train. It really is an interesting concept, one where you might control flipping the pages with a blink of an eye or some other simple gesture. 

But as some of his readers pointed out, there are implicit dangers here. Of course, we’re thinking of using this as a reading device in the best possible ways, but what about people who will try to read while driving? (You know someone will do this!) Even the idea of reading while walking could have HUGE problems, with people not being aware enough of their surroundings already when they walk with iPods or other listening devices etc. There are just so many applications where using the glasses would be dangerous.

The Google Glass is very well designed, so much so that it isn’t all that noticeable when a person has them  on.  They could easily be mistaken for a regular pair of glasses. The possibilities here for reading are probably very real, and it’s only a matter of time before someone develops an idea to make books available for people who will own them. But along with using common sense, there should probably be some safeguards so that they won’t be misused. What do you think?  Would reading a book hands-free using a device like Google Glass be something you’d want to try?

Google Street View

For our Frivolous Friday post, a story in pictures. One of our favourite things at the library is Google Street View.  Some of us use it to see the places we read about in books. Some of us just want to know where that French bookstore is located. And we’ve probably all dropped in on our homes to see what was going on the day the Google trucks went by.

But what about those unexpected images that get captured just because the cameras are pointed somewhere at the exact moment something interesting or terrifying happens?  Well, artist Jon Rafman has started the Nine Eyes of Google Streetview, a project that has him putting together all the unexpected images shot by the nine cameras on the Google trucks.

These photos are amazing, heartbreaking, funny, shocking and frustrating, but they’re all interesting.

Be warned, some of the images feature nudity and some can be disturbing, but take a few moments to scroll through the site.  You’ll be amazed and it’ll make you think about Google Street View a little differently the next time you log on.


Every year, Google releases  its annual Zeitgeist list of most popular search terms.  You can see just what people were looking up on the internet all year, and which words stopped being trendy. For the most popular search terms this year, the list includes:

1. chatroulette
2. ipad
3. justin bieber
4. nicki minaj
5. friv
6. myxer
7. katy perry
8. twitter
9. gamezer
10. facebook

And if you look back at 2009, you’ll see that we were curious about completely different things.

1. swine flu
2. wamu
3. new moon
4. mininova
5. susan boyle
6. slumdog millionaire
7. circuit city
8. myspace layouts
9. michael jackson
10. national city bank

I have to admit, some of these terms I’m not even familiar with, but maybe it depends on your age group (I’m probably dating myself here!).  For a complete list, you can stop by the Google Zeitgeist page and see all of their lists for 2010. Maybe you’re even ON it!