Category Archives: Research

News site Vocativ uses intelligence-gathering software to dig into the Deep Web.

One of the things that librarians evangelize about is the concept of the “Deep Web”. Search engines like Google only serve up surface information, and there is much more out there. As this FastCompany article explains, “The ‘deep web’ consists of all the things available on the Internet that standard search engines overlook–things like spreadsheets and Word documents, subscription-only journals and pages with dynamic content.”

Librarians, of  course, want to mine this information for their patrons’ research needs, but a news site that launched in October called Vocativ is using software formerly used by bleeding-edge financial analysts and intelligence agencies to dig up highly unusual stories.

Unlike a lot of popular “news” sites, Vocativ is not regurgitating stories found elsewhere. They are using original research and actual journalists and analysts to tell stories that no one else is finding. Here are a few examples:

Some of Vocativ’s stories tend toward the salacious and sensational, but they are never boring, and never what you will see anywhere else.

Posted by Karl S.

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Librarians at University of Oregon 3D Print “Backup copies” of Rare, Fragile Fossils

When scientists want to study Oncorhynchus rastrosus, the saber-toothed salmon, they have to treat the fossil skull housed in the University of Oregon’s paleontology department with great care. Its age and porosity make it nearly impossible to handle without damaging it. Displaying it to the public is out of the question.

Lower portion of salmon skull, seen from right side

Lower portion of salmon skull, seen from right side

However, paleontologist Edward Davis did have a CAT scan of the remains, and science librarian Dean Walton has used that data and a MakerBot Replicator II to make a 3D plastic replica which can be handled, measured, and used in displays and demonstrations for the public.

3D Printer at work (image courtesy of UO Science Library)

3D Printer at work (image courtesy of UO Science Library)

Other scientists are lining up to print their own bones. Next up is anthropologist Stephen Frost, who intends to print plastic copies of samples that he usually travels to Africa to work with.

No word on whether UO will make the models available for home printing via Thingiverse or another repository of 3D-printing instructions.

Posted by Karl S.

Citing Social Media!

As social media continues to grow as a “source” of information, knowing how to cite these sources will become increasingly more important.  Here is a graphic that shows the APA and MLA styles for citing some social media sites.

citing social media guide

Posted by Tom R.

Digital Learning Report Card — How does Oklahoma Fare?

It is said that education is our nation’s great equalizer. Ensuring the next generation of Americans has an equal opportunity to achieve success is a fundamental principle of our educational system. There are many who feel that digital learning has the potential to accomplish this important task.  Digital Learning Now! is one of those entities that espouse this philosophy.

Digital Learning Now! is a national campaign under ExcelinEd with the goal of advancing state policies that will create a high-quality digital learning environment to better equip all students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in this 21st-century economy. The policy framework stems from the belief that access to high-quality, customized learning experiences should be available to all students, unbounded by geography or artificial policy constraints.

Digital Learning Now! recently released the 2012 Digital Learning Report Card, which measures each of the nation’s 50 states against the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning as it relates to K-12 education.

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Highlights of the report indicate that states are:

  • Advancing student-centric reforms
  • Reducing barriers to blended learning
  • Encouraging the use of technology
  • Offering a more personalized college- and career-ready education

How does Oklahoma fare?  It doesn’t look good folks! Read on for more information: This work produced a consensus around the 10 elements of high quality digital learning that identified specific issue and polices states need to address in order to support emerging next general models of learning.

Where does Oklahoma stand, you may be wondering?  Well, the state’s overall score is a 69% — that’s a D+ when combining all ten digital learning element scores.

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One of the most encouraging findings from Digital Learning Now’s research is that more than 700 bills involving digital learning were considered in 2012, with over 150 signed into law.  Along with DLN, it is encouraging to know that leaders in nearly every state proposed or enacted policies to advance digital learning since the release of DLN’s first state report cards in 2011.  Examples from Oklahoma include SB 1816 signed on June 8, 2012 that created the statewide Virtual Charter School Board, and SB 169.  It establishes that a virtual education provider that offers full-time virtual education to students who are not residents of the school district with which the provider is contracted shall be considered a site within each school district and subject to the state’s accountability system.

To learn more, check out the report.  Also, check out the Digital Learning Now Report Card website which features an interactive map, a tool to compare state scores and downloadable state profiles for more details on where Oklahoma stands when it comes to providing high quality digital learning.

Posted by Pamela Louderback

Help in the Classroom!

Happy April!  Did you know that the Library of Congress is an excellent resource for help in finding materials for your classroom (primary sources, presentations, lesson plans, etc.)?   Why not check out the world’s largest library and see what they have to offer?  Here’s an infographic (courtesy of BestCollegesOnline.com) that outlines some of these resources.
Teaching With the Library of Congress

Posted by Tom R.

100 Websites Your Should Know and Use!

Back in 2007, Julie Wiedemann (the editor in charge at Taschen GmbH) gave a TED talk on the “100 websites you should know and use” (one of the most viewed TED blog posts ever).  Here is the updated version for 2013.  Enjoy!

http://blog.ted.com/2007/08/03/100_websites_yo/

The ones that are no longer functional have been “crossed out.”  But, because there are so many amazing resources available these days, please feel free to add your own ideas and/or compile your own list. Happy surfing!

Posted by Tom R.

Dream Facts: How Dreams Help With Stress, Problem-Solving

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
C.S. Lewis

Ever wonder how your dreams can work for you?  Learn the nine amazing facts about dreams recently posted on Twitter by Jena Pincott, science writer and author of Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?:

Control them, harness them… and lose weight while you’re at it? These dream facts demonstrate how your nightly “mind movies” might be put to work for you.

1. You Can Use Them For Problem-Solving: You’ve heard it before, and now it’s legit: Sleep on your problems to solve them. The catch? According to a recent study from the U.K.’s University of Lancaster, dreaming is only an advantage when it comes to solutions that require a Eureka-like flash of insight. (For instance: What word can form a compound word with canal, true and boat?) During REM (rapid eye movement) sleep — the eyeball-jerking stage when vivid dreams often occur — the frontal cortex processes new information like the riddle above. As new experiences integrate with preexisting knowledge, memory networks are stimulated — and as a result, form new, random and sometimes wacky connections between unrelated concepts. Later, we wake up, stretch, and — we can’t explain how — the brilliant and now-perfectly-obvious answer just comes to us. (One we couldn’t see when we were doggedly trying to get at, for instance, the word love.)

2. You Can Dream Up The Next Big Thing: The automatic sewing machine, the computer-controlled anti-aircraft gun, Otto Loewi’s Nobel Prize-winning experiment on nerve impulses — all came as concrete plans in a dream, says Deirdre Barrett, a psychologist at Harvard University and author of The Committee of Sleep. So: How do you increase the chances that you’ll have your own Nobel-worthy breakthrough? First, think of your problem right before you go to sleep, says Barrett. Conjure up an image of the problem you need to solve (your Mac’s frozen screen; your husband’s sad face). Then, whatever you do, don’t move when you wake up. (Even turning your head may displace the dream!) If you’ve had nonsensical dreams, think about whether the imagery or events could be a metaphor for something that relates in any way to the problem you’re stuck on, says Barrett. In her weeklong study, 50 percent of the volunteers had a dream about their problem and 25 percent actually dreamt up a solution.

3. Why, Yes! You CAN Be In Fiji By Midnight Tonight: Why, Yes! You CAN Be In Fiji By Midnight Tonight: You can try to control the content and stickiness of your dreams — if you believe the many new smartphone apps that are available. A recent tool, Sigmund, developed by Harvard and MIT graduate students, whisperingly repeats words that you pick out of a database (beach, flying, mermaid, queen) during your REM cycle (based on predictable sleep-wake times). Another app, Dream:ON, uses the phone’s motion-detecting accelerometer to gauge when you’re in REM (you’ll be stick-still), at which point it kicks in with the sounds of your pre-programmed dream (walking in the woods, frolicking at the shore, whatever). No one’s saying app-influenced dreams are exactly like the movie “Inception” — not yet, anyway.

Read more about the remaining six facts of how dreams help with stress and problem-solving by visiting the following link – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/dream-facts-dreams-dreaming-sleep_n_2623249.html#slide=2065084

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”
Lao Tzu

Sweet dreams…

Posted by Pamela Louderback