"I certainly never write a review about a book I don't think worth reviewing, a flat-out bad book, unless it's an enormously fashionable bad book." --
says, John Gardner in Conversations with John Gardner
Quoted from 'Dictionary of Library and Information Science Quotations'     Edited by Mohamed Taher & L S Ramaiah. ISBN: 8185689423 (New Delhi , Aditya, 1994) p.150. Available @ Amazon.com

Monday, July 31, 2006

Islamic Societies in Practice

This book is offered to those who seek a deeper understanding of Arab and Islamic cultures. The motivation can be self-serving, and if that is the case, then one purpose of the book will be achieved because information will replace ignorance. If greater mutual understanding is achieved, then a more valuable humanistic goal will have been reached...
This means incorporating into our basic education and worldview the idea of a shared Judeo-Christian-Islamic heritage where both convergent and divergent forces have operated. Such an approach does not weaken the West, but it strengthens our world (from the book's closing lines; p. 232)

I think the title of the book is a good reminder. It simply allows us to reflect on our daily lives. And, in this sense, best practices and good practices depend on knowledge sharing, anyways. This is true not only for communities of practice in the corporate world, but also for the society at large.

The book I found of interest in this regard is: Islamic Societies in Practice, by Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, University Press of Florida; 2nd edition ( 2004); ISBN: 0813027217; more details at Amazon.com

Book Description
Originally written in the wake of the Gulf War, this book introduced the West to everyday Arab-Islamic cultures and societies, humanizing the region and its people. It ventured behind the headlines to offer a positive, constructive view of Islam and Muslims, showing how Islam is lived and practiced in daily life.
Now revised and expanded in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Islamic Societies in Practice embraces the breadth of global Islam with significant new material on Islam in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States, as well as the Middle East. New maps and illustrations are included, detailing the diversity and representation of Islam and Muslims throughout the world. Additional material includes discussions of male and female relations; folk Islam, popular expressions of faith, and the five pillars; Sufism, including the Turkish Dervishes; ethnic and racial differences in the Muslim world; Islamic law and the application of harsh punishments; political Islam and the future of the state in the Islamic world; and the many voices of progressive Muslims--feminists, human rights activists, and anti-extremist writers.

Choice Magazine, March 2005 Vol. 42, No. 7
...compares and contrasts Muslim values and ways of live with the dominant values and practices of Western societies...

See more reviews at the publisher's Website

1 Islam and Muslim societies in practice 5
2 Islam and the five pillars as observed by Muslims 28
3 Arab-Islamic values of social practice 60
4 Women and men in Muslim societies : family and community relations 83
5 National, religious, and ethnic identity : relations with the West 117
6 Islamic law : the foundation of Muslim practice and a measure of social and political change 163
7 Liberalism, moderation, or extremism : the future of the state in Muslim societies 197

My comments:
My fascination with this book began by seeing the title. I thought societies, as used herein the title, is more comprehensive, than terms such as culture, community, etc. Practice, as another word, in the title, narrowed the scope of the book indicating that it is not deconstructing the theory; rather it is about sharing knowledge relating to Muslim societies, per se.

In short, I find this book easy to read. It is a value-added asset for any library that specializes in Islam and Muslim world, as well as, in area studies.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Book in Embryonic Stage - But Ready for Delivery

This post is updated regularly, last updated Nov 1, 2006

"Networked Pre-publication Models: Opportunities, Possibilities, and Outstanding Questions in the `University without Walls'," Journal of Religious and Theological Information 2:1 (Fall, 1994) 95-114. Originally presented to the Special Topics Forum "Networked Electronic Publishing: Present Models and Future Opportunities for the Academy" as "Networked Pre-publication Models: Opportunities and Possibilities", American Academy of Religion, San Francisco, November, 1992.

What happens to a book before it is published? Much was happening, in the past, as in evident from the above citation.

But now with the emergence of the blogosphere, a book in its formation stage is being read by 1000 editors, not all of them are professional. A researcher, at Institute for the Future of the Book, looks deep into these prospects!!!

It is, in short, still all-ado-about a book in its embryonic (or pre-production) Stage? Will there be no need of ghost editors? Will the Book Acquisition Department in publishing houses get shrinked? And more questions may now pop up.

I just read the following news story (Thanks to Joseph Romain):

Scholars turn monographs into digital conversations, By JEFFREY R. YOUNG, The Chronicle of Higher Education (From the issue dated July 28, 2006)

While most scholarly books are reviewed by a few carefully chosen experts before publication, McKenzie Wark's latest monograph is getting line-by-line critiques from hundreds of strangers in cyberspace, many of whom know absolutely nothing about his academic field. continue reading

  • See another like minded blogger's post on the above subject Books or Bytes by Neil Campbell
  • See also Google for more such activism
  • Saturday, July 22, 2006

    The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam - Revisited

    [P.S. This book (published in 2002) has received an interesting comment now, and hence it deserves a revisit].

    Question: There is a book entitled The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam. It discusses within it many things, including the etymology of the word “mosque”. It says that this word is derived from the Spanish word for “mosquito”. It claims that the word was first used during the Christian invasion of Muslim Spain in the 15th century when the forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella boasted they would swat out Muslim prayer houses like so many mosquitoes. Is this true?

    Answered by the Scientific Research Committee - IslamToday.net

    This etymology is incorrect.

    The Spanish word for "mosquito" is mosquito and literally means “little fly”. This is a case where the English language borrowed the word directly from the Spanish.

    The word for “fly” in Spanish is mosca, which is derived from the Latin musca. The diminutive suffix “-ito” is attached to it to form the word mosquito or “little fly”.

    The Spanish term for “mosque” is mezquita, derived from the old Spanish mesquita. This word was most certainly derived from the Arabic word masjid, which many Arabs then and now pronounce as masgid.

    In Spain during the era of Muslim rule – and this was before the time of King Ferdinand – Spanish speakers were using the word mosquito for the insect and the word mesquita for the Muslim place of worship. The two words are not related to one another in any way.

    The word “mosque” was introduced into the English language in the late 14th or early 15th century from the French. It comes from the French word mosquée from the old French word mousquaie. The French, in turn, derived the word from the Italian word moschea from moscheta. The Italians got it either directly from the Arabic word masjid or from the old Spanish mesquita.

    >>The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition; © 2000 Houghton Mifflin Company.
    >>Online Etymology Dictionary, ETYMOLOGY Moo-Muc
    [source: Discoveringislam@yahoogroups.com, Wed, 19 Jul 2006

    About the book:
    The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam. By Yahiya Emerick. Forward by Qasim Najar. Indianapolis, IN., Alpha Books, 2002.(ISBN: 0-02-864233-3). U.S. $18.95 / Canadian $28.95.

    My comments (with editorial assistance of Prof. Khaja Jalaluddin):
    There is an urgent need to provide a reference book, to the ordinary people and the specialists, which highlights the meaning and the message of Islam. Yahiya Emerick’s book entitled ‘ The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam’ successfully meets this need.

    Islam is the simplest religion. Its message is direct and its objective clear. It has the lowest number of rituals. It never indulges in any philosophical complexities. It has always appealed to the common mind. The present stereotyping of ‘militant Islam’ is not its true color. The political aspect of Islam, for most of its followers, is only secondary in nature. The book under review tries to present this bottom line, to a world that is baffled after 9/11. The time has come to give Islam its legitimate place in the galaxy of religions. This book is a good guide for those who know little about Islam but who want to understand it sincerely. It describes in a matter-of-fact way what this religion is all about and what it is not about.

    As a useful reference source, I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning the truth about Islam. In conclusion, I find it appropriate to quote Tennyson: ‘Let knowledge grow from more to more; and more of reverence in us dwell.’
  • For my complete review see Muslim World Book Review, 2003
  • See also Google for more reviews of this book

    See also my other reviews at: Islamicity.cjb.net and the list includes, Book Review of Lunde's Islam, Review of Index Islamicus CD-ROM, etc.

  • Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    Livre, by Michel Melot

    Serendipity, it seems, brought to my attention (synchronously) three different perspectives, contextualized within the frame-of-reference of the future-of-the-Book - as well as, dealing with computer-mediated communication:

    First, is in today's newspaper, a review of Abebooks.com, "Old books' dot-com burst," by ELLEN ROSEMAN The Toronto Star, July 17, 2006:

    Paradoxically that new media, the Internet, has rejuvenated trade in a media bound in tradition Ten years on, the Victoria used-book store that got in early now turns over $165 million in titles a year....

    As part of its 10th anniversary celebrations, Abebooks is running print advertising for the first time.

    Building on its slogan, "If you can't find it here, it doesn't exist," the company has concocted a list of non-books that would never be written. Continue reading the full article

    Second, is the following quote about how the computer is absorbing our time and young minds:
    We all know about someone else who we know can finish our sentences. How about a computer that can finish our sentences? A virtual mirror of our brain and whatever it has memorized?
    Certainly the reverse is true for the young people of the upcoming generation. Many of them are extensions of the characters in songs, movies and video games. To them, it is easier and more fun to absorb the programming of an electronic medium than it is to accumulate a lifetime of microexperiences that would become the intellectual essence of one's mirror medium. Continue reading When Virtual Reality Meets Mega Reality @ Magic of the Mind: An evolving book about imagination and innovation in the complex world...

    And third, is about the future-of-the-book; a review of Livre, that popped up in my email today. I am simply amazed by the idea plane (presented so realistically in the verbal plane) as depicted in a new work on history of libraries and books (in French). [P.S. The following review is NOT from my desktop; rather, the review is written by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us.] And, an extract from the review is reproduced below:

    Full citation for the book under review:
    Auteur(s) : Melot, Michel
    Titre(s) : Livre, / Michel Melot ; préface, Régis
    Debray ; photographies, Nicolas Taffin
    Publication : [Paris] : L'Oeil neuf éd., impr. 2006
    Description matérielle : 1 vol. (197 p.) : ill. en noir et en
    coul., couv. ill. en coul. ; 27 cm
    Collection : Collection L'âme des choses
    Sujet(s) : Livres
    Livres et lecture
    ISBN 2-915543-10-0

    The French make beautiful books, and they write about them well. Among the leading such writers, currently, is Michel Melot. His volumes on French prints and libraries are well-known and make good reading. Now he has added an intriguing, stunningly - presented, thoughtful work on the uses and future of "the book".

    The present book exhibits all of this experience and erudition well. But above all it is immensely-readable. Melot's subject, here, is the meaning of the thing we have called a "book": its limitations, its possibilities, the old uses to which it has been put, the new uses which only now perhaps are developing for it. How, exactly, do we appreciate the "book" as opposed to other products of the human imagination: is the book something derivative, something utilitarian, or something more of the
    imagination, and one which affects us as we affect it?

    And, whither the book now, in the digital age? That is Melot's "comma"... He is convinced, as most of us are now, that the reading of books will continue. But he is not convinced that we yet really understand in what directions. The "book" has many
    surprises in it for all of us, it seems. Melot begins (p. 17)

    "No sooner have you opened this book than it has disappeared before your very eyes, beneath the text which you are reading. Nevertheless you hold it, and you see
    and you handle, opening it and turning its pages and closing it.

    "At some point you will replace it on the shelf, to take it down again later on or to leave it there for a while. You will not discard it entirely, I hope, and it will
    remain there, somewhere, forgotten perhaps but entire, unmoving, patient, awaiting other hands than your own, and other points of view.

    "It even is possible that it will outlive you, possible also that it will be destroyed, but whatever happens, it has woven between you and me an irrevocable link, of which the very fibers of its paper, even more than the words
    of texts which can lose their meaning, so durably bear witness.

    "If you had read this text on your computer, things would have gone differently. It would have been, you believe, the same text. You read it the same way, you won't forget it, perhaps, but your computer will. The text will leave you if you don't 'save' it. You will keep only the computer, empty although open, and its possibility of offering you the reading of a thousand other texts, all equally-ephemeral..."

    No less than Régis Debray -- sometime-professor of "médiologie" now, in Paris, and recently president of the ENSSIB national library school's Conseil Scientifique -- offers the Introduction, praising Melot's erudition and the originality of his thinking, reminding us that new technologies experience, "a first phase of
    popularity, followed by a second of disenchantment", and that digital text is no exception: "one can imagine a complementarity, happy and pragmatic, between the computer screen and the book". Continue reading the Full review

    See Also:
    >>>>Another review by Jack Kessler: Word Matters - Multicultural perspectives on information societies
    >>>> Forthcoming: Watch this site for comments on:
    a) http://futureofthebook.com;
    b) Institute for the Future of the Book's Website

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Business of Blogging Report 2006

    Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary named blog the word of the year in 2004, undoubtedly because of the enormous impact on the presidential election that year. In case you've been asleep since then, blog is short for weblog, an online diary where the blogger shares her opinions with the world, discusses personal interests, rants on politics, or just logs in the events of the day. Continue reading from Booklist

    This world of blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc., is also known as the read/write Web. Interestingly in todays flat world, blogs are where the heart of the businesses marketing is being transplanted. Businesses, let me reiterate, need to know three things, synchronously, viz., a) input, b) thruput, and c) output. And, the Report (in hand) is just a sample of visualizing the Return-on-Investment.

    The Business of Blogging
    Published By: eMarketer
    August 2006
    17 Pages, 38 Charts
    Price from: $695 / £ 375.30 / € 549.05 More details; and Table of Contents

    Key questions the The Business of Blogging report addresses include:
    What are the three main reasons blogs have not caught on with businesses?
    How many US businesses are currently blogging?
    How many plan to blog in the future?
    Should marketers tap into the blog market?
    How large is the blog audience?
    What are the dangers of blogging?
    And much more

    American Advertising Federation (AAF)
    Backbone Media
    CIO Insight
    comScore Networks Inc.
    Forrester Research
    Gallup Poll
    Guidewire Group
    Harris Interactive
    Makovsky & Company
    Pew Internet & American Life Project
    PQ Media, LLC
    Princeton Survey Research Associates

    Among the conclusions:
    A year ago, eMarketer looked at the business of blogging, and determined that blogs were a personal forum, a one-to-few-medium, and were not practical for businesses. Things have changed.
    Blogs that cover product and strategy issues in a compelling, behind-the-scenes way are far more engaging than any press release.

    Companies are learning (sometimes the hard way) that monitoring blogs is now an essential part of blog management.
    eMarketer believes that a majority of business will participate in blogging over time, as consumers come to expect an alternative to traditional corporate communications. Monitoring blog content is also vital to brand management
    Continue reading...

    Comments from other reviewers:
    Review: eMarketer $695 2006 Business of Blogging Report
    A year ago, we told you that eMarketer's 15-page, $695 2005 Business of Blogging report was not worth the money, and brought no new insights to the conversation. Now, the 17-page, $695 2006 eMarketer Business of Blogging report has been published. And this time we recommend it for corporations that still need an overview of blogging.

    Report changes tune on blogging for business
    Today, eMarketer released a report called, “The Business of Blogging: A Review“, that “analyzes the contradictions behind why everyone is talking about blogs but so few business are actually posting them.”

    eMarketer Releases The Business Of Blogging Report
    I was fortunate to receive a full media (re: Blogger Media) copy from eMarketer entitled, The Business Of Blogging. This fifteen page report outlines the current Blog space in terms of business adoption and the possibilities for growth going forward.
    While I’m not sure that there is anything available within this report that has not been made available publicly before, it does shed light on this burgeoning medium that is not being widely used by the corporate world for, what seems like, obvious reasons.

    My comment:
    I feel this is a useful analysis on creating an awareness about the value and return-on-investments. Knowledge managers, CEOs, and other information professionals will find this beneficial.

    See also:
  • Report changes tune on blogging for business
  • The Business of Blogging: A Review, By James Belcher
  • Beyond Blogging 2006 - Washington DC, Friday, May 19th, 2006
  • Weblog Research : Business Blog Consulting




  • Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    An Army of Davids - It is All About Blogs and Infostructure

    Blogs, blogging, bloggers, blogosphere, etc., has received a great attention from the print media. There are many books that talk about blogs, and this is an encouraging approach to look at a new Web genre.* Interestingly, the Library of Congress has 28 books under the subject heading, viz., Blogs.

    The book, reviewed here then is: First about blogs as used by humans (aka human bandwidth) in the cyberspace; and Second, about the infostructure (i.e., human bandwidth, message, messenger, etc.,)--not infrastructure (i.e., medium, tools, hardware, etc.)--used for the transfer of ideas on the Web. Incidentally, mine is not the first blogpost (or comment) on this book; it is nearly the 300th. And, Amazon.com has 27 reviews (with 27 topic tags for this book).

    So, what is my contribution? The answer is, I aggregate (as a linker to the deep Web) and add my comment, which together enables in decision making (for thinkers who are at the surface of the Web).

    About the Book:
    An army of Davids : how markets and technology empower ordinary people to beat big media, big government, and other Goliaths by Glenn Reynolds. (Nashville, Tenn. : Nelson Current, c2006). 289 p. ISBN: 1595550542; 9781595550545 [Read more about the book, at the publisher's Web site]

    CONTENTS: Introduction: Do it yourself -- The change -- Small is the new big -- The comfy chair revolution -- Making beautiful music, together -- A pack, not a herd -- From media to we-dia -- Interlude: Good blogging -- Horizontal knowledge -- How the game is played -- Empowering the really little guys -- Live long--and prosper! -- Space, it’s not just for governments anymore -- The approaching singularity -- Conclusion: the future

    The best comment I think comes from Publisher's Weekly [see Amazon.com]

    "And while Reynolds may seem naïve in ignoring any potential negatives that could arise from widespread, unmitigated, technology-enabled empowerment and does little to touch upon the ethical implications of the everyman becoming a superman, he brings a contagious sense of optimism to this "new reality." Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    My comment:
    The strength of the book is it gives you an excellent outlook of the physics and chemistry that which makes blogging a good social activity - and illustrates the growing nexus between the Web bandwidth and the human bandwidth.

    The weakness of the book is it leaves you, on your own, to get a feeling about: a) precisely know how muany Davids are around; b) how strong are the Goliaths; c) how strong or how weak is the human bandwidth and d) whether blogging is a movement, or not a movement of any type.

    In addition, I have not found any reference to the following outlook about a type of movement taking place in the blogosphere:
    For decades, perhaps for as long as independent newspapers have existed, political operatives have used "spin" to shape the way the news media respond to candidates and their policies. Spin can be understood as a kind of top-down power that depends on the social network linking political leaders and the news media. Some have argued that weblogs or blogs have emerged in recent years to disrupt this culture of spin. They see blogging as a grassroots movement that also tries to shape or control public perceptions of important events and issues. Others have claimed that the blogosphere has merely enhanced the influence of traditional interest groups, giving ideologues of the left and the right even more power to “spin” the world as they wish to see it. How can we understand the interplay between spin and blogs? [See: "Spinners and bloggers: political communications in the digital age," M.I.T communications forum

    While, An Army of Davids, does give you overall structure (as in physics) and ingredients (as in chemistry), it, however, lets you to form your own conclusions. This limits our understanding the nature, structure and contribution of the blogs. For instance, you need to look elsewhere for the actual numbers of this army. See Blogalysis=Blog+Analysis; and Are blog comments important?

    Goliaths are masters of numbers and they have, neither the stamina nor patience to read 289 pages. Nevertheless, I will recommend this book, since it lets you visualize About the world of Blogs.

    Some metadata:

    LC Classification: HM846 .R48 2006
    Dewey Class No.: 303.48/33 22

    LC Subject Headings:
    Technology - Social aspects.
    Digital media - Social aspects.
    Internet - Social aspects.
    Freedom of expression.
    Knowledge, Sociology of.
    Creation (Literary, artistic, etc.) - Social aspects.

    Technocrati Tags: Army of Davids; Goliaths.  Blogs on Davids Army
    *more on the debate of what is blogging upto ...:
  • Blog - A Common Tool of Interaction
  • Is Blog A Rapid Mechanism of Interaction
  • New Medium or New Genre?
  • "Blogging is a format, not a genre"
    Former blogger Steven den Beste made the distinction between "thinkers," who post primarily their own thoughts, and "linkers," who mostly direct readers to other sources. If thinkers are sources, linkers are what journalists call "editors." ...
    Reading ABOUT blogs -- as opposed to reading blogs -- has become a yawner. They're out there, and they're being heard. I am blogger, hear me roar.

  • Blogging as Literature/Genre of Blogging
  • Mrs. Giggles on Blogging and the Genre
  • Frontloading genre before blogging
  • Pseudonymity, Blogging as a Genre, Etc.
  • Blogging Genre: CitJ
  • The Genre of Blogging

    A "genre" is a style or type of work or text within a particular category, one that (as Price and Price define it in Hot Text) works with "a familiar pattern, a way of organizing information that has become so common that readers will probably recognize each new instance as belonging to the genre..." (272). Keeping this defintion and the various nuances of genre that we will discuss in class, write a web-based essay that identifies and analyzes a particular genre of web sites. Be sure to explain how the genre "works" by explaining the various aspects of the web sites that characterize the genre. source: Web Genre Analysis Assignment

  • Blogging & Bandwidth
  • Republicans and the Gandhi Walkback
  • The Harvard Bloggership Conference in a Nutshell
  • More on Social Media Monitoring

    See also:
  • Web Genre Visualization (2002). by Maya Dimitrova, Aidan Finn, Nicholas Kushmerick, Barry Smyth. CiteSeer
  • The Blog: A Lively New Web Genre in (Meme)X Marks the Spot: Theorizing Metablogging via "Meme" and "Conduit" Dennis G. Jerz. Details
    My related posts:
  • Visualizing Comments on Blogs
  • Blog As A Teaching Tool
  • Infostructure / infrastructure: Categories
  • Sunday, July 09, 2006

    Word Matters - Multicultural perspectives on information societies

    World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and like minded people have been working to handle many issues that relate to the information age. The book in hand is just one contribution from many such concerned minds.

    I wrote to Jack to permit me to post his review of this book. And then followed the correspondence with him:
    What a great bit of puzzles about this book:
    a) WSIS doesn't have it even in its marketing (if it shows no signs of being a partner / allied in publication of the content);
    b) the review you wrote is not accessible;
    c) none of the online book stores, including bn.com, isbn.nu the Amazon sites have it (except Amazon.fr)
    d) LC, Br Library, and Candian National Lib, do not have this book!!!
    e) an interesting thing to be noticed is when google translates the title it would be: Stakes of words [google]. This gives a turn to the matter and matters in words!!! and,
    f) I found hardly three reviews, incl yours. None of the databases I checked incl LISA, LL, and those indexed by EBSO Host, PROQUEST, etc., has this title.

    Am I making fus all-ado-about nothing or the world does not care for whatever the word matters??? Continue reading Jack's response to all of the above puzzles***

    Word Matters: Multicultural perspectives on information societies, A cooperative publication coordinated by Alain Ambrosi (WFCN) and Valérie Peugeot (Vecam)
    with the collaboration of Daniel Pimienta (Funredes). four languages; (Caen : éds. C&F, 2005), 656 pages, 39 euros, ISBN: 2915825033.

    From the Publisher: Word Matters, a collective work by some thirty authors from civil societies all over the world, deciphers the central concepts of the “information society”.

    Technology is never neutral: it carries social, economic and cultural conse-quences. New information and communication technologies are no exception. The words used in international negotiations or legislation are a poor reflection of such consequences; they propagate perceptions that are rarely subjected to democratic debate, the fundamental requirement for any political decision. At this juncture, as the World Summit on the Information Society unfolds, this book subjects the concepts of the information age to critical perspectives from different sensibilities and cultures, thus introducing alternative visions. Fully multilingual, this work is a reference for anyone who aspires to decode these key issues, and is an invitation to pursue the debate. With Carlos Afonso, Alan Alegre, Subbiah Arunachalam, Michel Briand, Sally Burch, Mavic Cabrera, Kemly Camacho, Dominique Cardon, Sasha Costanza-Chock, Marcelo d’Elia Branco, Luis Angel Fernandez Hermana, Rikke Frank Joergensen, Alain Kiyindou, Hervé Le Crosnier, Mouhamadou Lo, Raphael Ntambue, Sean o’Siochru, Stephanie Perrin, Marc Raboy, Pascal Renaud, Catherine Roy, Partha Pratim Sarker, Christine Schweidler, Marcelo Solevicens,Felix Stalder, Rosa Maria Torres, Roberto Verzola. publication details Content and Extracts

    From other reviewers:

    A. Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us wrote:
    FYI France: a review, of "Word Matters / Enjeux de mots, regards multiculturels sur les sociétés de l'information" (Caen : éds. C&F, 2005) http://www.cfeditions.com

    A printed book intended for anyone interested in the "outside" (non-anglophone) digital information world... a world as-yet remarkably lacking in, or some might say "free of", the particular philosophy and bias and cant which permeate so much of the anglophone approach to all of this now...

    A text, moreover, presented in English & French & Spanish & Portuguese, evoking previous trans-national and multi-lingual eras: for instance the 16th century, back when the Biblia Políglota Complutense appeared in Latin & Hebrew & Greek...

    The essays cover a broad range of subjects, from "Information Economy" to "Cybercrime", and from "Digital Libraries" to "Free Software". There are people here interested in "Virtual Communities", and others distressed by "Piracy". "Internet Governance" is of vital concern to some, while "Digital Divide" is more the central problem to others. "Gender", "Accessibility",
    and "Human Rights" all play central roles in our information societies going forward, various writers here point out.

    The ideas expressed here are novel, as well. In his essay Hervé Le Crosnier observes, for example, that:

    "the role of libraries in preserving, conserving and making available documents is still fundamental. Unlike the technical illusion of a world of documents that is 'auto-organized', open to all and where information moves freely, tackling the issue using the experience of libraries as a starting-point enables us to imagine, on the contrary, a balance between technological innovation and social conditions..."
    The book is a useful and even necessary addition to any library of "Internet" and "Information" and "Globalization" materials: at least because it represents an outside point of view to what usually gets heard. Continue reading this review

    B. Partha Pratim Sarker: This book points out that "technology is never neutral: it carries social, economic and cultural consequences". New information and communication technologies are no exception. Says, New book... via Tunis. By Partha Pratim Sarker writing from Tunis, 12/11/2005

    C. Subbiah Arunachalam: This is a remarkable book in more than one way...
    The book, like any other translated book, has problems with translation. For example, in the essay by Sally Burch, originally written in Spanish, Abdul Waheed
    Khan is referred to as ‘general sub-director’ of UNESCO (p. 54). Actually his designation is Assistant Director General!

    This is a book I will strongly recommend to both academics and practitioners in the field working in the area of information /knowledge societies. The wide range of topics dealt with and perspectives brought together will surely enrich their understanding. The Department of Information Technology or the Department of Culture, Government of India will do well to commission a translation of this book
    into many Indian languages. SUBBIAH ARUNACHALAM, CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 90, NO. 3, 10 FEBRUARY 2006: 456. [M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai 600 113, India. e-mail: arun@mssrf.res.in]

    My comment:
    This book is strongly recommended for libraries specializing in information technology, media relations, communication, cultural studies, ethnicity, races, diversity and international relations.

    Related Resources:
  • [WSIS CS-Plenary] Announcing "Word Ma tters" Alain Ambrosi
  • [WSIS CS-Plenary] Invitation in TUNIS : Power Knowledge...and Word Matters [details]
  • WSISblogs.org: Blogging the World Summit on the Information Society
  • Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility & WSIS
  • Google for more

    Technorati Tags: Information society; Information technology; Civil society; World Summit on the Information Society; Information Age; WSIS
    Hi M.T.,
    Thanks for your note here. You said,

    1. Now my blog has the review - yours' is on the top. Any comments about your content that I have added. I have crossed the limit of four para. Is that OK?
    Yes four paragraphs is fine with me: but, and per my earlier request to you, please include my email address next to my name -- "Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us" -- I appreciate your having provided a link to my website, but I find that most of my readers prefer to use email, for communicating with me directly, so for quotations of my work that address needs to be shown.

    2. F.Y.I Your link to the review is down. Is there an alternative source?
    My review appeared as an issue of my FYI France e-journal, the archive of which I store online but on a restricted site.

    3. As a librarian-cum-researcher I have collected info about this book. I feel we librarians must do this much if we are not into deep in the content domains--we must at least be good at aggregating and disseminating.
    Undoubtedly true. If librarians don't aggregate and disseminate, who else will? Without librarians, "Using the Internet is like drinking from a firehose", goes the now-old saying...

    Tell me if you feel the review needs more of this librarianship touch?
    Your review is fine as-is, I think: you provide a suitably - librarianly bibliographic citation -- complete with ISBN and URL -- so no one should have any trouble finding this one... And your good short summary tantalizes the reader into looking further. And your inclusion of my own remarks takes them in further still. So that's both the enticement and the solid information which any good review ought to include.

    Also, tell me if you disagree with my contextualization.
    Contextualization? Well, if you mean the obiter dicta in your own comments, no, I do not disagree at all. There are a few "loaded phrases", in what you say, but I am sure you know this, and they are "loaded" in just the right way, in my own opinion too: for example your "like-minded people" is a good characterization, I agree, of groups such as this bunch, in our digitizing & Globalizing trans-national world -- and your "Technology is never neutral" assertion most certainly is true -- and above all your point about the need for "democratic debate", in all of this, definitely is the addition most-needed to current Globalization developments, and one which would improve things greatly.

    So, if others might disagree with your contextualization, let me just say that I myself agree with you wholeheartedly.

    I write to you (not because you are the next Shera, Ranaganathan, Sayers, etc. but)
    Nope, I'm not... :-)
    becaue the way you responded to my email yest.
    Email for me is fun. The formality required by previous forms of communication always frustrated me: the too-fine and too-precious art of letter-writing... -- and the telephone I find extremely inhibiting, not being of the "hey man, wazzup?" school or generation myself. But I do enjoy store-and-forward.

    And your request was well-phrased and polite: so often a writer stumbles across his own words online by accident, posted by others without permission or even notice and sometimes even attribution, and most often quoted very much out of context.

    So I was happy to reply and consent, in this case. And your added contextualization enhances my own points considerably.

    (First impression is the best impression, and that stays in memory forever).
    True of email correspondence, perhaps... not always, though... :-)

    Thanks for your kind response permitting me to do what I wanted to accomplish.
    Your posting is a good one: it would make me want to read the book, and to consider its ideas carefully, were I to come across it fresh now as a reader, and that is precisely the purpose of a good review -- also, the "Word Matters" and "WSIS" folks make important points, so the more energy people like you and me put into publicizing their efforts the better for all of us.

    4. Now, a word about my own comment on this book:
    What a great bit of puzzles about this book:
    a) WSIS doesn't have it even in its marketing (if it shows no signs of being a partner / allied in publication of the content); It's not a WSIS book, it is independent. There is no partnership or alliance in publication. The "Word Matters" writers are simply a group of, "people inspired by the WSIS effort, people who in turn have inspired the effort itself", as I said in my review.

    b) the review you wrote is not accessible;
    My review was released in a freely-distributed ejournal issue; but my own archive of it is stored now on my commercial site, controlled by me and accessible only through payment of a fee.

    c) none of the online book stores, including bn.com, isbn.nu the Amazon sites have it (except Amazon.fr)
    This is one of the primary "multilingual" access problems faced by the entire Internet, now: that for the most part it still speaks English-only...

    I say this pace Unicode and Open Systems and Creative Commons and other excellent efforts to broaden the Internet's perspective: not to comment upon technical capacities so much as to make your own point, in fact, once again but always-needed, that "Technology is never neutral" -- de facto, if not intentionally, the Internet like so many other Globalizing things is spreading "American" culture, now, through its propagation of American English as well as in other more subtle ways. So, even if the hardware & software & systems aren't doing so deliberately, the
    inertia & momentum involved in the marketing tug-of-war are: so, yes, Amazon.fr has a single entry for the book -- French-only -- and the others don't, yet... it's because the others all retain, de facto or de jure, their English-only biases, still...

    This is true of most online information resources, with regard to non-English texts: the version in English makes it there first --many of the others do get there eventually, although in a "first-to-market" world "eventually" is too late.

    So, even if bn.com & isbn.nu & amaxon.com & .es etc. all have interfaces and systems which can handle French character sets -- now... -- they didn't always -- one also needs to ask:

    a) do the _users_, as well, have hardware & software & systems which can see an "accent aigu"? -- one of my readers for instance uses, still, a Mosaic browser of his own design, which can't -- there is a problem with "legacy" hardware & software & systems, but there is an even more persistent & I believe perennial problem with "legacy" _users_, too! It is a problem with no solution: but The Customer is King -- the systems have to accommodate the users, not vice versa.

    b) the market, in addition, dictates English-only usage, currently, as even after all these years the Internet demographic still is primarily young & male & English-language-only...

    c) and "commercial considerations", such as the decisions made by buyers at bn.com and the amazons and isbn.nu -- (If I use that last site will they invite me there for a visit, I wonder? They say online, "Niue Island is Polynesia the way it all used to be.
    Swim with whales and dolphins. Walk through flocks of butterflies in virgin rainforest"...) -- are driven by, "b) the market", above, so the commercial guys won't buy "foreign" books until "b) the market" says they'll sell...

    If that last sounds circular, it is. Joe Stiglitz won his Nobel Prize for showing that. And until the Internet breaks out of that circularity it will remain a mere cultural conduit, and it will not be ready for truly primetime "scaling-up" to international & trans-national applications. And if it persists, in ignoring or neglecting or denying multilingualism, it will "miss its market", literally, and get replaced by something which does this better.

    Most of the world doesn't speak English -- still, or ever -- and "most of the world" is The Customer, and The Customer is King...in marketing, anyway...

    So, that's my long-winded reaction to your very valid observation that the Big American Boys haven't yet picked up on this very interesting but, to them, "foreign" book... "Too bad for the Big American Boys, then", is my own thought: that plus your own very good argument in favor of injecting a little "democratic debate" into Globalization...

    d) LC, Br Library, and Candian National Lib, do not have this book!!!
    The latter two will get it, I expect. The Canadians, certainly, as they have a fundamental multilingual access mandate; and among languages French -- one of the languages of this volume -- is a leading Canadian priority. Also there is a lot of WSIS etc. participation by Canadian librarians. Acquisitions anywhere take time, though, and "foreign" acquisitions budgets always are strictly rationed: so I should think 6 months at the inside but as long as 2 years at the outside, for this.

    The BL will acquire it too, I think: theirs is not so much a "multilingual" mandate as it is a "European" one, but qua European at least the "Word Matters" book probably will attract them -- again, 6 months to 2 years there.

    But LC is not a national library, remember -- merely an inhouse collection for use by members of the US Congress -- and its acquisitions mandate is neither "multilingual" nor "multinational / trans-national", but simply to acquire and retain only what the librarians there believe said members of the US Congress some day will want to read... So, no, LC indeed may never acquire this particular book: sadly, I believe, for both our Congress and our US -- I hope very much that I am wrong about this, but we in the US can be very insular in our thinking at times.

    e) an interesting thing to be noticed is when google translates the title it would be: Stakes of words [google].
    This gives a turn to the matter and matters in words!!! and, That is a good translation... funny turn of words, but perhaps appropriate just as you suggest...
    My favorite "machine translation" story is that of the team which fed the old saying in English, "The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak", into their shiny new system, which converted it to German and then re-converted back to English, and the saying came back, "The whiskey was good but the meat was bad"!

    f) I found hardly three reviews, incl yours. None of the > databases I checked incl LISA, LL, and those indexed by EBSO Host, PROQUEST, etc., has this title.
    These are _Anglo-American_ databases, Mohamed... This is your own point, again, about the need for "democratic debate" in the development of Globalization: you say in your review text that such debate is needed for "any political decision" -- but all decisions are "political", even and perhaps especially the supposedly-"economic" ones made by business-people -- just as, too, the supposedly-"technical" decisions made by computer engineers -- always, when people are involved, there is politics.

    If you would try some citation analysis on any of the databases you have listed, I am sure you will find a significant bias -- still -- in favor of American and English imprints there. This is not just because of American market domination now, although that does play a role, it also is historical: these are Anglo-American databases designed at their origins to serve Anglo-American librarians who at the time had comparatively-little need for "foreign" books -- and the databases still are filled with such "legacy" data -- even the very largest, such as OCLC's WorldCat,
    only now are emerging into the big & bad & extremely complicated world of truly-international bibliography.

    There also are good bibliographic indexes in other countries which, like those you list, offer biases in favor of the products of their own particular home publishing industries -- again, not so much intentionally as simply historically and pragmatically, that by original design they were intended to serve local markets only. So, Swedish national bibliography offers Swedish imprints, Spanish national bibliography offers Spanish -- and if you dig into French national bibliography you will find a lot more references to this "Word Matters" book than you will anywhere
    else, simply because it is the work-product of a French publisher. International & trans-national bibliography are working hard -- "WorldCat", with all its limitations, is the best bet so far -- but the truly-global effort isn't "here" yet.

    The most famous example of this general problem is that of Google, recently. They offered to digitize everything in several major US and UK libraries, including the substantial "foreign" holdings, but the president of the French national library objected. When he supervised the celebrations of the anniversary of his nation's revolution he was horrified to find, he said, that the references to it retrieved from such databases as you cite led off with "The Scarlet Pimpernel", a very anti-French best-seller book which favored the aristocrats and the much-hated British, in those conflicts. So he has demanded that Google reveal the principles governing their search algorithm to him, and of course for commercial competition reasons they have refused.

    But what would be India's reaction if Anglo-American databases implemented there were, on searches for materials on Indian history, to cough up first-and-foremost some Victorian English best-seller entitled "The Black Hole of Calcutta"?

    Or consider Chinese reaction to similar database searching: telling their users that Chinese-English history was not about "opium wars" but about courageous British adventurers and The Royal Navy, in best-sellers such as James Clavell's "Tai-Pan"?

    It's exactly as you yourself put it, "Technology is never neutral".

    Am I making fus all-ado-about nothing or the world does not care for whatever the word matters??? How would you look at these? Any clues?
    This depends not upon the book but upon how you yourself define "the world". If you take that last term to mean the current established world of big business database-building, one by design or accident or both entirely dominated now by giant American corporate factors, then yes that world is not so interested in "Word Matters" and may not be for a long while.

    If on the other hand something changes -- some "democratic debate" gets injected into the Globalization process, as you yourself suggest -- or, and I myself believe more likely, the Third World simply grows wealthy and begins demanding their own way in "the market" -- then the database folks will swing 'round.
    It's by definition, actually: those search algorithms, and marketing generally in fact, are based upon "the market" -- "The Customer is King" -- and if the new customer turns out, increasingly, to be Chinese or Indian or Latin American, then "the market" and those databases just as increasingly will serve her / him what she / he demands. That's why the economists call it "supply & _demand_", after all... :-)

    So I would expect, myself, that over time explanations for Indian history will float to the top of the Google heap, more and more, which emphasize things like "The Sepoy Rebellion", rather than "The Sepoy Mutiny" and "The Black Hole of Calcutta" as they currently do; and thanks to increasing Chinese wealth, now, the world will be learning more and more about "The Opium Wars", too.

    So I am an optimist... I believe it's the way The System is very deliberately designed, in fact... :-) But these things indeed are political, as you yourself have suggested, and the politics in all of it must never be overlooked.

    No change ever happens without someone doing the changing, though; so if you personally would like to see a world more open to multi-lingual and multi-cultural information access, I encourage you to keep plugging texts like the "Word Matters" volume, _regardless_ of what over-sized and elderly outfits such as "LC, Br Library, and Canadian National Lib", or "LISA, LL...EBSCO Host, PROQUEST, etc.", do or don't do. The 1960s had a saying: "If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own..."

    May I post all of the above, incl your review not accessible comment?
    You may post anything I write ...
    And, yes, this permission includes the entire text of that review, which I have appended here in case you do not have it already: a citation URL should be just http://www.fyifrance.com, as we already have discussed -- e.g., Kessler, Jack (kessler@well.sf.ca.us). "Review, 'Word Matters / Enjeux de mots: Regards multiculturels sur les
    sociétés de l'information'", in _FYI France E-journal_(Feb 15, 2006) ISSN 1071-5916 ; http://www.fyifrance.com

    Would appreciate if you leave a comment at my blog
    Blogs are hard for me, Mohamed: I do love store-and-forward, as I said, but one primary advantage of that is my ability to centralize it -- if I begin blogging in addition to all the other online writing I do I will lose track of my own work, from having to maintain too many "centers", so I must stay with email. You please feel free, though, to re-post whatever I may write to you, or whatever you may see written by me but posted elsewhere.
  • Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Technology for the Rest of Us

    A. Can Librarians Be Techies? Today, most are. Are these also high-tech? May be, many are wearing this hat!
    B. Can Techies be Librarians? Today, most are not. Are these willing to wear this hat? May not!
    Are Librarians and Techies tuned to the same frequency when they communicate with each other? Sometimes, yes.
    Then, who connects (A & B), or fine tunes to avoid the noise (or entropy)? D.K.
    Speaking semantically, may be taxonomy, ontology and metadata facilitate this communication!
    Anyways, the nexus between librarians and techies is visualized in my Webliography. The following book attempts to show how one can move from "low tech," to "high tech" and fine tune this nexus, albeit technologically.

    Technology for the Rest of Us: A Primer on Computer Technologies for the Low-Tech Librarian, by Nancy Courtney., ed. (Libraries Unlimited, 2005) 184 pp.
    ISBN: 1-59158-233-4

    FROM THE PUBLISHER: Librarians are affected by technology in every aspect of their jobs, yet often have little understanding of the technologies underlying the systems they use every day. Nancy Courtney and 15 well-known contributors discuss such technologies as Wireless LANs, Radio Frequency Identification, OpenURL and other essential technological innovations in everyday language. Source

    A Review: "The essays here are not meant to make you an expert but to give you a basic introduction to some of the current technologies impacting libraries and their patrons..." Library Journal (www.bn.com)
    Synopsis: Aimed at librarians in non-IT positions, this introductory guide discusses some of the essential concepts and tenets of the computer technologies they encounter every day. Eleven contributions from library and technology professionals use plain language ... Annotation © 2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR www.bn.com
    My comment: A book coming from an academic conference and based on academic librarians' best practices will be good for only a few non-slackademic* librarians. Hence, a low-tech librarian, such as a traditional, semi-professional, or library technician working in other types of libraries, may have difficulty in connecting these dots.

    P.S. See for more books in this area of New Media,
    H.W. Wilson's Collection Development: For Librarians @ Standardcatalogs.com
    * slackademic, noun
    A perpetual student who prefers the safety and comfort of academic life over the trials and tribulations of the real world. source

    Technorati tags: Techies Librarians

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    Current Awareness Sources: The Informed Librarian Online

    The Informed Librarian Online is a monthly compilation of the most recent tables of contents from over 305 titles.

    My Recommendation:
    I am one of the few librarians who have been reading this for a long time. While we strive 24 X 7 for providing current awareness service to our patrons, this publication offers a similar service to us. I think the sub-title should be: Save the Time of the Librarian.
    I wish every one gets to know and subscribe, if they like it. As a free member I receive the newsletter, and I am happy with this much.

    Continue reading the details of this publication at my other blog focused on teaching and learning resources, viz., Library Technicians

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    Careers for Bookworms and Other Literary Types

    Careers for Bookworms and Other Literary Types, 3rd Edition. by Marjorie Eberts; and Margaret Gisler. (McGraw-Hill Companies, 2002)

    This is a useful book with value-added information on looking outside the box for information professionals.

    You are a bookworm if you relish days lost in the library stacks somewhere between Sa-Se and Se-Si. You are a bookworm if you read every possible moment you can--on the train, at lunch, at the doctor's office, in bed. Now Careers for Bookworms can help you turn your passion for pages into a career. [book cover]

    Contents include: Career Possibilities for Bookworms, Careers in Libraries, Careers in Book Publishing, Careers in the Private Sector, Careers with Magazines and Newspapers, Careers in Glamour Industries, Careers in Education, Careers in Research, Careers with the Government, More Career Opportunities for Bookworms.

    The strength of this book is it has very detailed information for librarians, teachers, educators, researchers, writers, scholars, and those interested in publishing houses, bookstores, etc.

    It is a detailed catalog of types of opportunities and the skills that help, and includes for instance, the following:
    Finding Reading Jobs (in a broad spectrum)
    Working Closely with Books (in Libraries, publishing)
    Bringing New Books to People (in marketing)
    Providing Information for Readers (in media related jobs)
    Reading in the Limelight (Careers in Glamour Industries)
    Passing Knowledge on to the Next Generation (by teaching and training)
    Searching for Information (as information broker, consultant)
    Reading for the Public Interest (working for Government)
    Reading for the Profit Makers (Private Sector)

    A single weakness is that the book deals with careers in the fields of print and traditional occupations. There is no chapters on the new incarnations of the book: e-books, desktop publishing, online information services, information brokers, etc.

    On the whole, nevertheless, Careers for Bookworms and Other Literary Types is a handy source for both, the beginners, and those who wish to find alternative areas to apply for a job.

    Continue reading coments and more details about the book from Blogs; Content Directions, Inc. (CDI); Barnesandnoble.com; Amazon.com

    Related post from my other blog: Who is a Library Technician

    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    Web Vastu or A Spiritual Worldview for Marketing Website

    Is your Website spirit savvy?
    Is your Website not getting traffic and you have nightmares?
    If yes, read the new book: Web Vaastu

    Ancient Asian beliefs spin new Web for India online, June 27 2006, REUTERS, Express Network Reports.

    Spent a fortune on a flashy new Web site but still no one visits it? Tired of seeing your company slide down search engine listings?
    Firms in India are now turning to the ancient philosophies of vaastu shastra and Chinese feng shui, used for centuries to bring balance and harmony between man and the environment, in a bid to boost their businesses through "balanced" Web pages.
    Believers in vaastu shastra say the Indian science, which seeks to create harmony between nature's five elements - earth, fire, water, air and space - man and objects, can be directly applied to the Web, just as it is to home design.
    "Just as the world comprises of the five basic elements, each Web site has five elements and these need to be in balance with one another," says Dr Smita Narang, author of Web Vaastu, a new book that marries vaastu laws with the Internet.
    The book has proved popular with businesses.
    "Earth is the layout, fire is the colour, air is the HTML, space is name of the Web site, and water is the font and graphics," says Narang, adding that each must be chosen carefully and strike a balance with the other.
    Narang, a vaastu expert who has spent four years analysing around 500 sites, says a Web site that is not designed according to vaastu rules will have few hits and will negatively affect the business.
    Followers of feng shui, which promotes the idea of the removal of unnecessary objects to allow free flow of energy, say this Chinese science can also be used for the same purpose.
    "A Web site where the colours hurt your eyes, the music offends your ears or has too much information is probably too cluttered and does not give a positive flow of ch'i," says Vikram Narayan, a Mumbai-based feng shui practitioner.

    Media coverage and other news items from the website: http://www.webvastu.com

    A word from other reviewers:
  • A word from Vasanth Dharmaraj's Blog on the book
  • The Lies of Web Vastu
  • Google Blog search shows more of this type of structural dynamics

    P.S. I could not get a copy of this book for review for many reasons. My observations / comments are not included here. Hence, my advise is: Do everything to understand this worldview, or Do nothing.