Digital Rosetta stone

Tom James @ 30-07-2009

stone_writingJapanese researchers are developing a means of storing data for periods of thousands of years, to help solve the problem of an imminent digital dark age:

The team, led by Professor Tadahiro Kuroda of Tokyo’s Keio University, has proposed storing data on semiconductor memory-chips made of what he describes as the most stable material on the Earth – silicon.

Tightly sealed, powered and read wirelessly, such a device, he claims, would yield its digital secrets even after 1000 years, making any stored information as resilient as it were set in stone itself.

It’s a realisation that moved the researchers to name the disc-like, 15in (38cm) wide device the “Digital Rosetta Stone” after the revolutionary 2,200-year-old Egyptian original unearthed by Napoleon’s army.

This is a very similar concept to the Long Now Foundation’s Rosetta Disk, which is intended to be a very-long-term record of contemporary languages.

It is encouraging to know this problem is being studied and so many groups are looking for solutions.

[from the BBC][image from bwhistler on flickr]


ISBNdb – it’s IMDB for books

Paul Raven @ 10-04-2009

Heads up, academics and A-grade book geeks – here’s a site you’ll want to be adding to your bookmarks for research purposes. ISBNdb, as its name suggests, attempts to do for books what IMDB does for movies. From the FAQ page:

ISBNdb.com gets the data in a unique way – it scans libraries all across the world for book information. The scanning is random and similar in a way to how general purpose web search engines scan web sites.

Scanned results are then parsed and stored in a searcheable and browseable database that you see here on ISBNdb.com. An attempt is made at cross-indexing the database by author, publisher, category and so on. Cross indexing is still a work in progress and is likely to improve as the time goes on.

For each book you can see records received for it from different libraries, you can download original MARC record for the book as it was returned by the library.

Another interesting feature is ‘Books on the Same Shelf’ — it allows to quickly look up similar books in the same way they would be placed in a real world library. Currently, two classification systems are supported — Dewey Decimal Classification (trademark of OCLC) and Library of Congress Classification.

Starting late 2004 we also started scanning book merchants for best book prices. You will see best prices for new and used copies on all book pages below the left menu in most cases fraction of a second after you load the book data. Active and historic prices are also available through the data access API.

I just lost half an hour of productivity to that thing without even trying! And that API is just begging someone to do some good mash-up work; it’s the sort of thing author- or genre-specific fan sites could get some great mileage from.

My inner bibliophiliac library employee needs to go lie down in a dark room right now… [via GalleyCat]


Killer app

Sarah Ennals @ 05-04-2009

Killer app - Does Not Equal

Does Not Equal is a webcomic by Sarah Ennalscheck out the pre-Futurismic archives, and the strips that have been published here previously.

[ Be sure to check out the Does Not Equal Cafepress store for webcomic merchandise featuring Canadians with geometrically-shaped heads! ]