Friday, December 29, 2006

Links from Wikipedia

If you want to see which Wikipedia articles link where - to your website, for example - use the "Search web links" page. You can also use entering "*", you'll get a list of articles that link to embassy websites, ordered alphabetically by embassy. Neat!

more PD resources...

See also the Public Diplomacy Council & Public Diplomacy Institute's list of key PD resources, and PDI Director Bruce Gregory's periodically updated (but unfortunately not cumulated) review of PD books, articles and websites. The Public Diplomacy Council is also the publisher of a new (December 2006) book edited by former PD officer William P. Kiehl: "America's Dialogue with the World" includes contributions by Dan Sreebny and Joe Johnson, among others (see TOC below). Some of the contributions are available in article form at the the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

--William P. Kiehl
The Message is “Liberty”
--John Hughes
The Indispensable and Unappreciated
Global Role of the United States
-- Michael Mandelbaum
Refocusing America’s Message
--Anthony C.E. Quainton
You Talkin’ To Me?
--Ralph J. Begleiter
The Role of Competitive Fellowships
--Alice Stone Ilchman
Professional Exchanges, Citizen
Diplomacy and Credibility
--Sherry Lee Mueller
Arts Diplomacy: The Neglected
Aspect of Cultural Diplomacy
--John Brown
Public Diplomacy: The Field Perspective
--Dan Sreebny
The Technology Dimension
--Joe B. Johnson
Many Voices: Is Anyone Listening?
--Adam Clayton Powell III
Opportunities for Public Diplomacy
Programs in USAID and the Peace Corps
--Jerrold Keilson
Conclusions & Suggestions
--William P. Kiehl

Interesting PD site

The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy website has much information about cultural and public diplomacy, including a very impressive list of recent books, articles, reports and other resources on cultural diplomacy.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

FirstGov Visitor's Portal

FirstGov has added a "for visitors to the U.S." section to the portal, providing information presumed to be of interest to anyone planning a visit. Includes border wait times, college/unversity locator service, information about travel, study, doing business and working in the U.S., visa and immigration information, history, culture, U.S. government, laws, etc.

New laws 07 has compiled a list of new state laws taking effect 1/1/07. Maybe of interest to journalists?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Thumbnail previews

If you'd like to provide thumbnail mouseover previews of urls on your site, provides the service free of charge. All you need to do is paste a little snippet of code into your html page.

Foreign Policy In Focus

Foreign Policy in Focus is a joint project of the International Relations Center and the Institute for Policy Studies FPIF's political agenda, in its own words: "FPIF aims to amplify the voice of progressives and to build links with social movements in the U.S. and around the world. Through these connections, we advance and influence debate and discussion among academics, activists, policymakers, and decisionmakers." Among much interesting material, see the recent exchange by Nancy Snow and others on public diplomacy and anti-Americanism.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

History News Network

George Mason University's History News Network
argues that the history in the media is too often abridged to serve the purposes of journalists, economists, politicians, pollsters and others seeking to shape public opinion. HNN's mission statement:"To expose politicians who misrepresent history. To point out bogus analogies. To deflate beguiling myths. To remind Americans of the irony of history. To put events in context. To remind us all of the complexity of history." The sections on Breaking News and Hot Topics will be of particular PD interest.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

LC RSS feeds

The Library of Congress is now offering a number of RSS feeds....


  • News
    A bulletin service of the latest news from the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing resources to Congress and the American people
  • Upcoming Events
    Listing of the dozens of free concerts, lectures, exhibitions, symposia, films and other special programs offered at the Library on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
  • New on the Web
    Updates on new collections, features, reference materials and other services available on the Library's award-winning Web site
  • New Webcasts
    The latest webcasts and podcasts of lectures and events sponsored by the Library
  • What's New in Science Reference
    New products and services on the subject of science and technology from the Library's Science, Technology & Business Division

Copyright (from the U.S. Copyright Office)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

International Calendar of Events

The State Department's Office of International Information Programs has put together a nice International Events Calendar for events that are of interest to the international relations community. Includes links to State Department information on events and issues.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

2006 best 2.0 applications

The 2006 award-winning web2.0 applications are worth a browse..

Future of bibliographic control

From LOC, a Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control "Advances in search-engine technology, the popularity of the Internet and the influx of electronic information resources have greatly changed the way libraries do their work. To address those changes, the Library of Congress has convened a Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control to examine the future of bibliographic description in the 21st century."

DOJ capital punishment report

DOJ's Bureau of Justice Statistics has released its annual report on capital punishment Presents characteristics of persons under sentence of death on December 31, 2005 and of persons executed in 2005. Preliminary data on executions by States during 2006 are included. The report also summarizes the movement of prisoners into and out of death sentence status during 2005.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Creating dynamic research guides with OPML

Wilcox, Kimberley, "Gear Up Your Research Guides with the Emerging OPML Codes" (Computers in Libraries, Nov-Dec 2006, pp. 7-8; 46; 48).
Outline Processor Mark­up Language (OPML) is not widely-adopted yet, but its ability to create dynamic research guides, with feeds of new titles from the library catalog and databases, latest headlines from selected blogs, etc. should attract the interest of reference librarians. Wilcox discusses how to start taking advantage of OPML even before the most popular RSS aggregators fully support it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

U.S. entry process rated worst by travelers

The Discover America Partnership is an " effort led by some of America's foremost business leaders to strengthen America's image around the globe. These leaders recognize that public diplomacy is not the sole responsibility of government, but also of business and the American people." The group recently issued a report demonstrating that the U.S. entry process is considered the "world’s worst" by international travelers. The organization suggests that minor improvements in welcoming travelers could yield substantial diplomatic and economic gains. Read the 11/20 press release and summary of findings.

p.s. - the commercial sector appears to be very committed to the PD cause! In the past week alone, 3 such organizations have come to my addition to the Discover America Partnership, there's Business for Diplomatic Action (discussed in post below) and Compete America.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Understanding the Federal Courts

This latest version of Understanding the Federal Courts is from 2003. Available as an attractive pdf or easy to navigate website.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Transforming NATO (again)

CSIS recently released "Transforming NATO (again): a Primer for the NATO Summit in Riga 2006". The report, a joint effort by CSIS, the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, and the Clingendael Centre for Strategic Studies, provides an overview of inititatives slated to emerge from the Summit, and offers suggestions on ways for the Alliance to prepare for its next summit in either 2008 or 2009.

Free Government Info

Free Government Info (FGI) has many interesting nooks and crannies (see f.ex. its blogroll of "recommended government information blogs" ) , and is surely worth checking in on from time to time. It also provides an RSS can read it when you drop by here under "more RSS feeds" on your left, or subscribe to it directly.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

World's best blog?

Deutsche Welle's Best of the Blogs has named the Sunlight Foundation blog as winner of the 2006 International Weblog Awards. The mission of the Sunlight Foundation is (in its own words) "to use the power of the Internet and technology to help citizens learn more about what Congress and its representatives are doing, and help reduce corruption and produce greater transparency and accountability in government. The blog has been the epicenter for the Foundation, where the group writes about its projects, exhorts readers to join into investigations and updates people on these "distributed journalism" efforts."

Converting search to RSS

Saving your search as an rss feed is a good way to continually update your search results, without having to go back to reenter the search periodically. Both Google News and Yahoo News allow you to do this by clicking on the RSS icon once you've conducted your search. There are however a number of other services that enable the same kind of alert service via RSS, including Technorati (for the blogosphere) and Findarticles (for magazines and journals). Sharon Hously of FeedForAll has put together a very useful overview of such "RSS Ego Search" services at the RSS-Specifications site.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Foreign Media Relations Guide

Here's an article by Alvin Snyder that compares the public diplomacy approaches of the State Department with the way it's done in the commercial sector. The article discusses the organization Business for Diplomatic Action(BDA) (very slick website!) The mission of BDA is "to enlist the U.S. business community in actions to improve the standing of America in the world with the goal of once again, seeing America admired as a global leader and respected as a courier of progress and prosperity for all people." This it aims to achieve through its 5 point strategy plan, STARS:
Sensitize key U.S. constituents to the rise in anti-Americanism and its implications.
Transform the bad American attitudes that exacerbate the problem.
Accentuate America’s positive qualities and contributions to the world community.
Reach out to business leaders in strategic world markets to build new bridges of mutual respect and understanding.
Serve as the private sector connection for public diplomacy efforts by the U.S. government.

The organization recently issued a Foreign Media Relations Guide, which Snyder compares and contrasts interestingly with Karen Hughes's "Karen's Rules," the IIP media guidelines recently issued to the field. (see article by Elizabeth Williams in the WP Nov.8 and Karen Hughes's letter to the editor/rebuttal in today's (11/16)Post.

Civil rights database

From Researchbuzz: Washington University in St. Louis has created a new database of materials related to civil rights courts cases, including settlements, court orders, opinions, and case study research. The “Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse” contains documents related to over 1,000 cases and is available at .

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Immigration statistics

DHS has published some recent immigration statistics including profiles of legal and unauthorized residents by country of birth. Another resource that might be useful for IRCs is the 112 page Welcome to the United States Guide for New Immigrants, available in 11 languages.

Death and taxes

"Death and Taxes" provides a representational graph of the federal discretionary budget, ie the amount of money that is spent at the discretion of your elected representatives in Congress. Not sure if this is a very useful way to study the budget on a computer screen, but it looks nice, and might make a nice slide in a powerpoint presentation (also available in hardcopy as a poster!)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006's election day page's election page should just about cover it. Analysis, resources, and a dropdown that takes you directly to "voter info by state."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Presidential speeches tag clouds

Chirag Mehta's "US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud" site is really neat! By comparing tag clouds from presidential speeches 1776-2006, you get a vivid picture of how the agenda has changed over the years. The tag clouds show the popularity, frequency, and trends in the usages of words within speeches, official documents, declarations, and letters written by the Presidents of the US between 1776 - 2006 AD. Cycle through the administrations by using the slide rule at the top. Awesome!

Monday, November 06, 2006


Thinkature is a collaborative brainstorming web2.0 application. Collaboration is enabled through a shared workspace and chat. Looks very impressive...will report back once I've tried it out with some collaborateurs...

Yahoo election site

Yahoo's midterm election site appears to be a very complete service, drawing on a wide range of wire, print, broadcast and web sources. Bookmark for tomorrow!

Constitution Finder

Constitution Finder is a handy collection of constitutions in English...for a more thorough annotation, see Virtual Library Cat

CFR election guide

CFR's election guide is "A cross section of recent Backgrounders, op-eds, meeting transcripts, and interviews from, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Foreign Affairs."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Adding translation flags

Just below the ircworld banner you'll see that an assortment of translation flags have been added to the blog. Essentially, all this does is save the curious non-English speaking visitor the bothersome extra-step of having to cut and paste text into a translator like Babelfish. Machine-translated text is of sub-human quality, but occasionally good enough to provide some notion of what the text is about. And although the translations may generate more mirth than enlightenment, it is always a nice gesture to acknowledge that not everyone speaks English. For instructions on how to do this (some simple cutting and pasting of code) see the Digital Inspiration blog.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Combined Arms Research Library (CARL)

CARL is an essential resource for reseaching military and military history topics. Lots and lots of free information! In its own words...."The Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) electronic collections are largely composed of digital versions of paper documents from the CARL collections. Our intent is to improve the visibility and use of the intellectual resources at CARL by expanding the potential audience beyond the walls of the Library. The CARL will continue to select and digitize appropriate documents to meet the original goals of preservation and dissemination. We will also be adding documents received originally in electronic form."

Congressional staff salaries

Legistorm reports, "At long last, US congressional staff salaries are available for free on the web - and only here at LegiStorm." Disappointingly, it's only informaton about the salaries that is available, but even that might be useful. Legistorm says it has no partisan agenda and simply wants to make Congress as transparent as possible...and promises more resources to come, so it might be a site worth checking occasionally. A companion site, Storming Media is "an independent reseller of Pentagon and other US federal government reports on many subjects." Although documents are resold for a fee, the site is information rich and well organized and abstracts are free. In many cases, having the citation will enable the resourceful librarian to locate the document elsewhere, free of charge.

2 interesting election sites

Here are a couple of election sites snipped from the latest issue of Neat New Stuff . Electionline focuses on the timely issue of election reform, and includes a 75 page pdf. report "Election Preview 2006" - the report is "a comprehensive report on the state of election administration around the country" and "finds cause for concern in a number of states." A nice handout for journalists covering the election! The RealClear site is a feast for political junkies/gluttons.

annotations from Neat New Stuff...

  • [Election Reform Information Project] "the nation's only non-partisan, non-advocacy website providing up-to-the- minute news and analysis on election reform" provides info on the new procedures, new machines, and new rules that may affect the ability of citizens to have their votes registered and counted. Check here for your own states' laws on voting systems, paper trail laws, voter ID laws, provisional voting rules, voter registration databases, and early/absentee voting rules.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

OIG reviews IIP Speaker Program

The Office of the Inspector General's review of the IIP Speaker Program is the subject of an article that appeared in the November 2 Philadelphia Inquirer. Senator Joe Biden requested the review following a news story last year that suggested the Department was using a "political litmus test" for vetting and weeding out speakers critical of the Bush administration. The OIG's report concludes that no such litmus test exists under current leadership, but also applauds a new "Strategic Speakers Initiative" (SSI) that "should continue as a more focused stand-alone program to allow articulation on strategic policy issues." The SSI should complement a conventional speaker program that "places emphasis on a realistic balance in the selection of speakers." Read the OIG review here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Research Beyond Google

Here's an article worth reading: Research Beyond Google: 119 Authoritative, Invisible, and Comprehensive Resources


At LibraryThing you can catalog your own book collection and participate in a community of likeminded readers by sharing books and tags with others.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Google's Librarian Center

Google's Librarian Center has some useful stuff, and the newsletter is worth subscribing to. In the "your stories section" I found Laurie the Librarian's webcast/tutorial on how to set up and use Google reader, if you're having trouble getting started with RSS. Knowing how to create an online tutorial might be useful for IRCs, e.g. to walk people through the visa application process, show how to participate in a webchat, etc.

Immigration to the U.S., 1789-1930

From the Harvard University Library's Open Collections program: Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930
"Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930, is a web-based collection of selected historical materials from Harvard's libraries, archives, and museums that documents voluntary immigration to the US from the signing of the Constitution to the onset of the Great Depression."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Get your NYPL card now!

An ircworld post a few months ago referred to Kevin Kelly's article about the virtues of getting a New York Public Library card and - for CA residents - a SFPL card. I've since learned that anyone anywhere in the world can be the proud holder of an NYPL card - mine just arrived in the mail today! For the $100 annual fee, anyone anywhere can get full access to approximately 85 databases - this is something you might like to mention to academic and library contacts wherever you are!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Multiple-engine search

In her interesting presentation for NOLUG at the Oslo College yesterday, Marydee Ojala mentioned that Google and Yahoo were so displeased with the wonderfully named Yagoohoogle , that its owner has obliged by renaming it Twingine (note that a similar service, Yahoogle, is still out there, whatever G and Y may feel about it) Marydee showed us some other interesting multiple engine services: searches in G, Y, and M, and displays the distribution of results between the three engines. And is neat, but only works in IE. It compares searches (2 at a time) between alltheweb, altavista, teoma, wisenut, google, yahoo, and msn, and creates a graphic display of overlapping hits and shows where in the respective SE rankings the hits occur. It also displays links that are unique to each of the engines. Mousing over any of the hits (ie. links) displays a thumbshot of the site.

This morning I stumbled upon another interesting multiple engine search service, resultr This service allows you to create and save your own custom made search engines, by combining from more than 40 pre-selected search engines in 8 categories (News, Blogs, Media, Jobs, Social Info, Reference, Shopping and Local). Unfortunately, there is no way (that I could see) of adding your own favorites - for example - to the menu of engines you can select from. Such a feature would make it a far more useful service.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Library as conversation

ALA and the Information Institute of Syracuse University have prepared a draft paper on libraries and Web2.0 Participatory Networks: The Library as Conversation . Once again, the virtues of conversation...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Clusty's Benjamin Franklin Portal

The people at are now offering a Benjamin Franklin portal: "Welcome to the Benjamin Franklin web portal: a comprehensive, one-stop site that includes carefully curated educational resources, Franklin's own writings and proverbs, and tens of thousands of websites scattered throughout cyberspace. Befitting this founding father's leadership in establishing the country's first public library, this free site, in honor of his Tercentenary, is accessible to anyone with an internet connection."

5 Weeks to a Social Library

Social Library? Sign up for this online course if you want to learn all about it.. "Five Weeks to a Social Library, the first free, grassroots, completely online course devoted to teaching librarians about social software and how to use it in their libraries." And if you're not one of the lucky 40 participants who will be expected (or if you don't have time), know that "course content will be freely viewable to interested parties and all live Webcasts will be archived for later viewing."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Google launches

Google takes another step in moving computing from your pc to the web with its launch of Google Docs & Spreadsheets. The document part of the service is simply Writely in bought (not borrowed) Google finery - Google bought Writely back in March. Go to now and you'll end just end up at the new Google site.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Firstgov Reference Page

The Reference Center and General Government page at Firstgov has lots of useful stuff, including maps, a locator for local, federal, and national libraries, list of online library databases, agency telephone directories, free image and photo banks, and much more.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Politics and technology

Neat New Stuff alerts us this week to an article that might be of interest to contacts with an interest in U.S. politics: "Librarian Laura Gordon-Murnane provides an excellent review, with links, of the top liberal and conservative blogs, candidate blogs, official party blogs, and local political blogs.Politics and Tech Tools - Blogs, Aggregators and Tracking Tools"

Population Research Bureau

This month the population of the U.S. will exceed 300 million. A wonderful reference resource for information about population, migration and demographics is the Population Reference Bureau, publishers of the 2006 World Population Data Sheet.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Another new portrait of American (youth) civic participation

Yet another gloomy snapshot of American attitudes towards civic participation is provided by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at the University of Maryland.
In a report released yesterday, they found that nearly two-thirds of young Americans were disengaged from political and civic life and only a quarter regularly voted.
Still, not all the results were grim.
Seventy-two percent of youths said they followed the news at least some of the time to see what was happening in government and public affairs.
The 37 page report can be accessed at:

Google gadgets

Google has rolled out a number of gadgets you can add to your webpages with a little cutting and pasting of code. Although USG websites will want to steer away from the frivolous, some of these might actually be useful: a calendar to show embassy events, a translator or dictionary widget where visitors can quickly translate or lookup words they might be uncertain about, a map which shows the location of the embassy or an embassy event, a currency converter for pages with consular fees, or an American history quiz for your American history page. More interesting than the specific gadgets is the underlying web2.0 concept of developing such things that can be shared across websites...for the adventuresom, the API is available here.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Human Rights search engine

Hurisearch is a search engine for human rights information. In its own words.....

  • It gives you direct access to the content of over 3000 human rights websites. Currently over 2'300'000 pages have been indexed.
  • It filters out the non-relevant content: only the pages from websites with a main focus on human rights are indexed.
  • It provides fresh information. The crawler visits all sites periodically. The frequency depends on the type of organisation: every 24 hours for the Intergovernmental Organisations, National Human Rights Institutions, and Academic Institutions; every 8 days for the NGO collection
  • It uses powerful drill-down techniques which become indispensable for in-depth searching: search by language, by organisation, by country, and more.
  • It instantly analyses search results and recognizes the prevalent human rights themes - suggesting new and useful search directions.
  • It prominently displays information produced by local grassroots organisations who often produce very relevant first-hand information (these important sources are lost by larger non-specialized search engines).
  • It is completely independent from political or commercial interests - this is guaranteed by HURIDOCS.

Foreign policy debate

Stanley Hoffman reviews books by Francis Fukuyama, Stephen M. Walt, and John Brady Kiesling in "The Foreign Policy the U.S. Needs" (New York Review of Books, Volume 53, Number 13 · August 10, 2006) John Brady Kiesling is a former Political Counselor at the embassy in Athens who resigned from the foreign service in 2003. His resignation letter held that U.S. foreign policy was no longer compatible with U.S. values or interests. The chapter on public diplomacy in his new book, "Diplomacy Lessons: Realism for an Unloved Superpower," argues that "The realistic goal of public diplomacy is not to make America loved...the attainable goal of public diplomacy is to foster an image of the United States that is tolerable enough to ordinary, conventional human beings that foreign governments, whether fundamentalist tyrannies or liberal democracies, can easily afford the political cost of cooperating with the American superpower on terms close to those we seek."

Friday, September 29, 2006

Treaty status on Thomas

Two features of not to be overlooked are the treaties page, which allows you to track treaties by word/phrase, number, Congress number, type, or date transmitted to the Senate, and the "Legislative Resources for Teachers" section, with "Classroom resources and general information for educators at all levels."

Hard or soft pd?

Here's an article about a recently leaked report from the Pentagon that recommends a tougher PD approach in broadcasts to Iran. Al Snyder dicusses the article in the context of the familiar debate about hard vs. soft diplomacy, ie. whether PD's best chances lie in changing minds or in changing hearts.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Genealogy and Family History Resource

Despite its 1998 look, the Genealogy and Family History Internet Web Directory is an impressive, up to date resource: "Key worldwide educational Internet genealogical databases and resources. This is a professional genealogy and family history worldwide humanities and social sciences mega portal, connected to thousands of related sub-sets, with billions of primary or secondary database records."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

WP political ads database

The Washington Post's political ads database "includes political advertisements funded by campaigns, parties, committees, and independent advocacy groups. Most of the ads are tied to specific U.S. House, U.S. Senate, or gubernatorial races throughout the country. Some of the ads are more general "issue" or advocacy ads not tied to a particular race or candidate." Many different search options, including by candidate/organization, state, party, type of race, issue, character (e.g. "real people", "blue collar", "children"), type of ad (e.g. "attack", "emotional", "biographical"), cue, type of music, etc. Should be of great interest to political scientists/U.S. election pundits!

Thursday, September 21, 2006 - CRS Reports - CRS Reports More than you ever wanted to know about CRS reports, including
Historical Introduction
CRS Products
Where to Look Online for CRS Reports
General Listings
Subject Specialist Listings
Limited Listings
Fee-based Access Sources

Federal Forms Catalog"The U.S. Government's Offical Hub for Federal Forms" - provides citizens and businesses with a common access point to federal agency forms.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

New portrait of American civic participation

The National Conference on Citizenship, a nonprofit organization created by Congress, has just released a 47-page report on American civic participation. Its findings appear to confirm a decline in the willingness of Americans, especially the poor and less educated, to be involved with their communities.
This study, following up on the work of Robert "Bowling Alone" Putnam, can be accessed at:

A Washington Post article, writing about the launch of the report and featuring Putnam's response, can be found at:

Monday, September 18, 2006

Supreme Court oral arguments

From a SC press release:Press Release - September 14, 2006: "Beginning with the October 2006 Term, the Court will make the transcripts of oral arguments available free to the public on its Web site,, on the same day an argument is heard by the Court."

GPO Access Core Documents

Here's what GPO says about the Core Documents service:
Core Documents of U.S. Democracy

To provide American citizens direct online access to the basic Federal Government documents that define our democratic society, a core group of current and historical Government publications is being made available for free, permanent, public access via GPO Access. These titles contain information which is vital to the democratic process and critical to an informed electorate. They support the public's right to know about the essential activities of their Government. Immediate, online access to authenticated versions of these Core Documents of Democracy increases in importance as Americans grow ever more dependent on remote electronic access to basic information resources -- both past and present.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Another site for 09/11 conspiracy buffs...

Another resource - in addition to the NIST site (posted below) - that addresses the conspiracy theories surrounding 09/11 is this Popular Mechanics article.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Documents in the news

Journalists aren't always meticulous about providing sufficient information about the the documents they cite (ie., "According to a new government report...") Peggy Garvin's brief guide to "documents in the news" sites is useful when tracking documents that prove to be elusive despite their newsworthiness.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ready for elections?

Marylaine Block discusses some of her favorite election sites in this short article.

NIST and the WTC

NIST and the World Trade Center Conspiracy buffs will be troubled by this fact-filled National Institute of Standards and Technology site on factors contributing to the probable cause of the post-impact collapse of the WTC towers. The site presents detailed results of a three year building and fire safety investigation.


Thanks to Ankara for a tip about GovTrack which describes itself thus: is a nexus of information about the United States Congress, following the status of federal legislation and the activities of your senators and representatives.

GovTrack is an independent website run by a graduate student in his spare time. Data is collected from the official government websites via automated processes daily.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Guide to the Federal Register and CFR...and more

Thanks to Virtual Library Cat for the tip about Richard J. McKinney's useful Guide to the Federal Register and CFR While you're there, go up one directory to the Law Librarian's Society of Washington DC's legislative sourcebook for many other useful legislative sources!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Google's News Archive Search

Google's News Archive Search describes itself as "an easy way to search and explore historical archives. In addition to helping you search, News archive search can automatically create timelines which show selected results from relevant time periods." The "advanced archive search" feature lets you limit your results to items published between specified dates or years.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Inflation Calculator

Neat reference tool: the Inflation Calulator uses statistics from Historical Statistics of the United States and Statistical Abstracts of the United States to calculate inflation for given amount during the period 1880-2500.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Plain language! provides tips and advice on how to utilize simple, unambiguous writing and an effective layout strategy for webbased communication. Or rather, tells you how to express yourself clearly and effectively on the web.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Poll Pub is an Ajax application that allows you to create a poll, contest, or survey for placement on your blog or website. Poll Pub tallies the results and displays them for you in a handsome pie chart. Handy for getting feedback on your website, or on programming events, current issues, etc.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Thumbtacks and Zohoshow

Thumbstacks and Zohoshow are two examples of web2.0 presentation managers, like powerpoint light. Sign up, log in and create, store and share your presentations on the web.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Weekly status reports on Iraq

Weekly status reports on Iraq from, described as "comprehensive status report on Iraq provides weekly updates in the eight key areas identified as pillars of U.S. Government policy." Lots of detailed information (this week's issue is 37 pages) including maps, statistics, organizational charts, etc.

Google Webmaster Central

Google has created "Google Webmaster Central," a site with useful resources and information for webmasters. As Researchbuzz points out in its brief and to the point review, the site is not just for techies and should be of interest to just about anyone who has a web presence.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The September Project

The September Project is a good place to look for ideas on how to commemorate 09/11. It describes itself as a "grassroots effort to get people together on September 11th to talk about issues that matter. September Project events take place in libraries, where all people are welcomed, and where the exchange of information and ideas flourish. The September Project encourages individual communities — neighbors — to make sense of the world together." The website has a list and annotated map of the (currently) 408 libraries participating in the project, and urges more to join! An attendant blog provides updates on September Project goings-on. Thanks to Marylaine Block's Neat New Stuff for the heads up!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

News Dump

For a newsdump, try newsdump!

Simply Headlines

With Simply Headlines you can create a tailor-made email newspaper consisting of rss feeds of your choice. Above is an example of an html email newspaper drawing on rss feeds from,,, and The email arrives in your emailbox at whatever hour you specify, and then you can send it on to your grateful contacts to enjoy with their morning coffee. You could easily use this service to generate rss-based newspapers in different subject areas - foreign policy, library issues, business news, etc.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

United Nations Treaty Database

The United Nations Treaty Database is (presumably) the definitive source for UN treaty information. Government offices, such as IRCs, can get a userid/password for free access by contacting

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


If you have a blog and would like to know what outgoing links your visitors are clicking on, try


Buttonator is a nifty little tool that enables you to create buttons (like the NOTIFY ME! button in the email subscription form on the upper left) quickly and easily.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Top Ten Sources

Top Ten Sources is worth a visit. Here's what they say about themselves...
"Yes, there are over a billion blogs, but don’t you really want to know about the best ones? Top 10 Sources publishes lists of the best ten blogs (or RSS feeds) on a variety of subjects. We show you the best blogs on sports, entertainment, science, people, finance … you name it. And our pages are dynamic, always full of new, fresh content, thanks to RSS technology."

Virtual Chase

The Virtual Chase website has a "database of sources" that provides, among other things, a nice overview of internet resources for researching companies and people. From the Virtual Chase blurb:
"Ballard announces the completion of the Database of Sources on The Virtual Chase. Released in beta during April of this year, the database contains abstracts and links to Web-based sources of information for conducting research on companies or people and for finding legal or factual information. You may browse the database by subject or search it by keyword."

Friday, August 25, 2006

New research about how the Arab world sees United States policies

Here is a link to some counter-intuitive research findings about the Arab world's perceptions of US policies.
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy published at the end of July a paper entitled "
Assessing What Arabs Do, Not What They Say: A New Approach to Understanding Arab Anti-Americanism."
The authors examine protests in the Arab world against American policies over recent years and, according to the introduction, "show how regional animosity toward the United States and its policies is episodic and event-driven, with little evidence of a continually rising tide of popular hatred. Supported by detailed graphs, tables, and timelines, the paper urges policymakers to pay at least as much attention to Arab behavior as they do to potentially distorted and easily manipulated perceptions of Arab public opinion."
The research was of course conducted before the recent round of fighting between Israel and the Hezbollah, but looks to be of interest. The link below takes you to a summary, from which you can access the full paper.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Lexis/Nexis source directory

Here's an interesting tip from Virtual Library Cat:
"LexisNexis has provided a new online tool to search its directory for a source before you even sign on to their service. "Source Locator" is a "powerful new tool for retrieving targeted information about the more than 36,000 LexisNexis sources". After your search you not only get a list of all sources that meet your criteria, but detailed information about each source."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Power and Interest News Report (PINR)

Power and Interest News Report appears to be a useful international relations resource - here's the "about this site" blurb
"The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an independent organization that utilizes open source intelligence to provide conflict analysis services in the context of international relations. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader."

You can subscribe to new reports via email, and monitor the site via rss.

2 from Neat New Stuff

Marylaine Block's Neat New Stuff always contains some interesting are a couple of recent ones

Library Tourguide to Technology
A blog from Sandra Stewart, a branch manager at San Jose Public Library, who says "I keep up with about a dozen technology and library blogs daily. You, gentle readers, get the condensed, cream of the crop, what I think applies info."

SchoolMatters: a Service of Standard and Poors "A place for parents, educators and leaders to research information about public schools." Type in the school or district name to get performance, finance, and relevant demographic data.

World Cat

The worldcat database of library holdings is now freely available, and offers some useful search toolbars and plugins at If you're using Firefox, you can add Worldcat to your dropdown search window. Very handy!

Fuzzy Gazetteer

Language problems and illegible records can result in inaccuracies that sometimes lead librarians off on wild goosechases for places that don't exist...that's when the Fuzzy Gazetteer comes in handy: in its own words, "The Fuzzy Gazetteer enables you to find geographic features even when you do not know their exact names. A list of similar names is returned, web-linked to the JRC Digital Map Archive of the European Commission. Searching 7,205,433 place names world-wide."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Urban Dictionary

Although it has none of the scholarly heft of J.E. Lighter's "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang" might be a useful supplement for identifying obscure slang and neologisms. Incidentally, Lighter's monumental work was dropped by Random House after volume 2 (H-O). The good news is that in 2003, the project was taken over by Oxford University Press, which intends to release volume 3 (P-S) this year and the remainder as volume 4 in 2008 (see Nicholson Baker's review of the first volume ("Leading with the Grumper" New York Review of Books, August 11, 1994) is a classic and hilarious read. Although not on the internet, it's worth seeking out at your local library (or embassy IRC!), and is also republished in the Baker compilation "The Size of Thoughts: Essays and Other Lumber"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

World's largest E book fair upto 4th August

URL link :

World's largest Ebook fair has started. You can download e-books freely from acollection of 330,000. This Fair is only till August 4, 2006. Topics rangingfrom Fiction to Religion is available at free of cost. Make use of it and please inform librarian to make use of this opportunity and have a collection ofe-books at library. Religious institutions, Information centres, callers canalso use this opportunity to the much extent since WAMY's book collection is also available there.

You are encouraged to participate in The World eBook Fair, either to download any or all of the 1/3 million eBooks provided here or to add your own eBooks. The World eBook fair is currently scheduled for the next few July and August periods as follows:
-2007 1/2 Million eBooks
-2008 3/4 Million eBooks
-2009 One Million eBooks

The World eBook Fair, Project Gutenberg, and World eBook Library, along with our other participants, join together to encourage you to assist in bringing many entire libraries to the general public and to encourage ever increasing levels of literacy and reading.

We hope the invention of eBooks will advance the world as much as did the invention of The Gutenberg Press, and look forward to the Neo-Industrial Revolution following the advent of eBooks, just as the invention of The Gutenberg Press undoubtedly led to the first Industrial Revolution, and your participation can help bring this new revolution in reading and libraries to the world.


IRC Jakarta

Monday, July 24, 2006

Full text government documents

another tip from Resource Shelf: GPO allows you to limit searches of the catalog of USG publications to those that are available in full text. You can also browse the monthly list of new full-text accessible publications - excellent resource if you're doing a document alert service!

McCarthyism and Libraries

Stephen Francoeur's thesis on McCarthyism and Libraries includes an interesting discussion of the controversy that surrounded USIA's overseas libraries. McCarthyism and Libraries: Intellectual Freedom Under Fire, 1947-1954

Deep Quote

Deep quote is a useful tool that creates a link to a specific line of text on a remote webpage - in other words, it allows you to create in-document links (anchors) to pages on the web. For example, if you wanted to make an argument for the International Visitor's Program by quoting Karen Hughes, you could do it like this: "As Karen Hughes has remarked, it is important not only that other nations learn about the U.S., but also that Americans learn more about other nations." For Firefox users Deepquote also provides a bookmarklet that enables you to generate a deepquote-link with your right mousebutton.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Locating expertise

Jack Vinson's "Knowledge Jolt with Jack" blog had an informative and richly-linked posting last month on the important issue of how to locate expertise on a given topic. Includes referrals to several "find an expert guides," notes on the etiquette/ethics of getting people to share their information, and the growing importance of social communties of knowledge (e.g. Knowing who is in the know can be useful for everything from really tough reference questions to identifying participants for speaker programs.

Interesting gov-pub site

Here's another useful tip form Marylaine Block's Neat New Stuff:
"Government Publications Library Blog : Gov docs librarians at the University of Colorado-Boulder help you follow current events through current and historical government documents, maps, and photos: Bush's veto of stem-cell research funding, the extreme heat, the crisis in the Middle East, the Geneva Convention, urban legends, etc."

Fallows on Web 2.0

James Fallows has an article in the July/August issue of Technology Review that nicely summarizes some of the collaborative tools - and underlying principles - that are commonly referred to as "Web 2.0". Curiously, an earlier ircworld posting that reviewed some of these same tools referred back to Fallows 1996 article "The Java Theory", which presented a scenario wherein computing applications would move from personal computers to the net - the article would have been even more foresighted had it been entitled "The Ajax Theory."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Latest PEW report

The latest report (06/16/2006)from the Pew Global Attitudes Project concludes: "America's global image has again slipped and support for the war on terrorism has declined even among close U.S. allies like Japan. The war in Iraq is a continuing drag on opinions of the United States, not only in predominantly Muslim countries but in Europe and Asia as well. And despite growing concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions, the U.S. presence in Iraq is cited at least as often as Iran - and in many countries much more often - as a danger to world peace."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Zoho provides an attractive "office suite" of web-based collaborative tools, including a word processor Zoho Writer that appears to be a good competitor for Writely

More on where to get photos...

Here's a posting to print-pubs-l that Mary Ann alerted me to...thanks!
"Many tourist bureaus throughout the U.S., including the Washington
Convention and Visitor's Bureau, have Websites or CDs available with photos
of buildings and sites in their state. In the case of the Washington
Bureau, anyone can use the images as long as the Washington Convention and
Visitor's Bureau (WC&VB) is given credit. Among the listings for other free
links to many individual state and local government sources including DC, the Convention & Tourism Corporation pressroom page,
where 300 dpi jpeg downloads may be accessed directly by post or clients
upon registration from any country in the world. . . . . "

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Wex, according to Wex, is "an ambitious effort to construct a collaboratively-created, public-access law dictionary and encyclopedia. It is sponsored and hosted by the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School ( Much of the material that appears in Wex was originally developed for the LII's "Law about..." pages, to which Wex is the successor."
Wex has a clean and attractive interface, and each article includes, on the right side of the page, a nicely ordered "menu of sources" for further reading. (See for example the menu accompanying the death penalty article).

Friday, July 07, 2006

World Almanac e-newsletter

The World Almanac Education Group provides a free monthly e-newsletter. A typical issue includes an overview of the previous months events, birthdays, obituaries, anniversaries, a special feature (this month it's on the death penalty: Thirty Years of Gregg v. Georgia), sports, quotes, and other factual and quick-reference information. To subscribe, send an e-mail to: with the subject line reading "SUBSCRIBE." What's in this issue?

More photo stuff

Here's a tip from Marylaine Block's Neat New Stuff: " is a search engine for creative commons photos, located in Vancouver, BC. We aim to be a community for designers, developers, photographers and other media publishers who want better, easier access to license-specific media on the web."

Once you've found a good photo, have some fun with Polaroidinizer - you just enter the url of the image, add a text, and Polaroid-o-nizer produces a signed snapshot like the one on the right. Polaroidonizer can also be used for more legitimate purposes, e.g. promotion of embassy/irc events, email invitations, or personalized photos for thank-you notes the Ambassador wishes to send to people he/she has met.

Monday, July 03, 2006


NativeWeb is a portal to information about indigenous peoples and issues. Here's the annotation from the June 30 issue of the Scout Report :
"A number of websites are dedicated to providing information about various groups and organizations, and NativeWeb just happens to be one of the best known sites dedicated to disseminating information from and about indigenous nations, peoples, and organizations around the world for the past ten years, the site has grown tremendously, and it functions as a very nice clearinghouse for materials ranging from ongoing archaeological excavations to higher education grants for organizations that serve indigenous peoples. With its relatively clean design, the site is easy to navigate, and first-time visitors will appreciate the "In the News" section, which offers selected recent news items that relate to indigenous and native groups around the world. The real substance of the site can be found in the tremendous "resources" section, which contains thematically organized links to high-quality online materials. Finally, visitors can also sign up to receive updates when new resources are added to the site.

Abraham Lincoln: The Lincoln Institute provides support to scholars studying the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln: The Lincoln Institute provides support to scholars studying the life of Abraham Lincoln.

See America local

Thanks to a posting by Tara Calishain in the ResearchBuzz newsletter, I found the TurnHere site. It hosts a large number of viewable digital videos about three to five minutes long, each featuring a small town or city neighborhood. Nearly all are in the US, though there is a smattering of films from other countries. Many are frankly commercial, and boost local businesses. (One slightly too cute pet shop is called "Muttopolis.") But the sense of place you get from watching them is remarkable, and I find them far more effective at conveying a sense of America's variety than any number of big-screen travelogues concentrating on the usual tourist places.
The site should go down well with a young audience: many of the videos are aimed at the arts and urban chic crowd. It could be suggested to contacts being sent to the US for the first time as well, to help prepare them for what they will see. Or pass it on as a fun site, which it is.
Access it at:

Tel Aviv IRC

4th of July facts from Census Bureau

In the Census Bureau's series "Facts for Features," a compilation of quick facts for July 4th statistics/trivia buffs.

bibliography: Islam, the People, Culture, and Politics

Here's a new bibliography from the Muir S. Fairchild Research Information Center at Maxwell Airforce Base: Islam, the People, Culture, and Politics

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Quikmaps is an amazing tool that makes it easy to create those annotated google maps you see all over the web. Enables you to add markers, colored lines, scribbles and notes to your map, then save it and generate the code you need to paste it into your website . Below is an example of a stroll from the U.S. embassy to the Prime Minister's office in Oslo. To move the map within the frame, just depress the left mouse button while dragging the map. Click on markers for more info. Very useful for creating maps for offsite embassy events, for example. This application seems to work better in IE than in Firefox.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Snapshot USA

The latest ejournal from IIP, Snapshot USA is a very nice collection of essays and facts about aspects of the U.S. that pupils/teachers often ask about. As usual, the IIP reference team has compiled a useful and nicely annotated collection of internet resources for further reading.

Digital library cards

Kevin Kelly's article about accessing librry databases from home is a timely reminder than information doesn't really want to be free, and that even in the most wired societies, a public library is a wonderful service.

Genealogy resource

Although it is a fee-based service,'s digitization of the entire U.S. Federal Census from 1790-1930 might be useful to know about when turning away genealogists in a helpful manner. See also the Wall Street Journal article (06/22/06), "New Ways to Dig For Your Roots Online" Thanks to beSpacific for both of these tips.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Virtual Library Cat

Ernster the Virtual Library Cat at the Hofstra School of Law has a blog where s/he provides library related "News and Views from Ernster, the Deane Law Library Virtual Cat." See this cat's rss feed among the feeds in the left hand column.

Eigen's Political and Historical Quotations

Eigen's Political & Historical Quotations is, by its own account, "the world's largest collection of memorable quotes about and by historians, politicians and other public figures. The collection is designed for the use of students, journalists, teachers, historians, political scientists and the many other people who are interested in politics and political history."

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

and another....

When it rains it pours...Ralph just alerted me to another great source, this portal to "Free Images on the Web: Photos and Paintings", from the Merriam Library, California State University at Chico. Thanks Ralph!

Good source for free photos

The USDA's Online Photography Center is a wonderful source for U.S. photos that are in the public domain and may be used free of charge. Also includes a "DC landmarks" section, which is great for publishers, journalists, and others who are looking for images representing the U.S. government.

New Pew Report

A new report from the Pew Global Attitudes Project shows renewed decline of the American image abroad: "A year ago, anti-Americanism had shown some signs of abating, in part because of the positive feelings generated by U.S. aid for tsunami victims in Indonesia and elsewhere. But favorable opinions of the United States have fallen in most of the 15 countries surveyed."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Public Conversations

The Public Conversations Project asks "How can political or ideological adversaries engage in constructive conversations despite conflicting values and worldviews?" - a familiar challenge! The guide"Fostering Dialog Across Divides" offers advice to diplomats and others who seek an alternative to the "we're right, you're wrong" approach.

ESL resource, is a handy site for teachers and others interested in English as a second language. Note also Stewart Clark's site, English Matters

State of the Union Concordance This site uses a "tag cloud" to show word frequencies in all State of the Union messages since 1790. A goldmine for anyone interested in the development of rhetoric and content in the SOU during the past 200 years.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Came across a review of this statistical web site in CHOICE (June 2006, p. 1808), and it does seem rather useful. CHOICE rates it as "essential": "What sets NationMaster apart from other statistical Web-based databases are its numerous reliable sources and its visual presentation of statistics." Sources include CIA's World Fact Book, the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stumpers-l and project wombat

The old stumpers-l list, for all conceivable reference questions, has been reborn as project wombat, with some useful new features.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pew on PD

A new book from the Pew Institute, America Against the World, paints a bleak picture of the U.S. image around the world; interviews of more than 90,000 people in 50 countries over a four-year time span suggest that anti-American sentiment now extends beyond U.S. leadership and foreign policies to Americans themselves. Some reviews: Newhouse News, IHT, New America Foundation, CSM, Foreign Affairs See also co-author Kohut's testimony on this issue in the House last November.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Exotic library jobs

I think my job is fairly interesting and unusual as far as library jobs go, but it surely doesn't compete with the Camel Mobile Library of Kenya!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Another fun tool

The Newspaper Snippet Generator is a fun tool that bears some resemblance to the Einstein blackboard tool, reviewed here some months ago. Just type in a text, and the Newspaper Snippet Generator will produce an authentic-looking newspaper article containing your text. With the help of this little tool, it is truly amazing what you can find in ProQuest's Historical Newspapers database!


HTML2PDF is a neat tool for creating pdf files out of html pages. Very useful if you'd like to create hardcopy handouts of webpages for presentations, etc. Just enter the url of a webpage, and html2pdf creates a handsome pdf document.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Campaigning on the Blogs

For Washington pols and presidential candidates, a new staffer is becoming indispensable: the Internet specialist.

An article in TIME magazine about the importance of having internet specialists who have contact with bloggers.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Serious games

Wired News reported March 27 that DOS and the USC Annenberg School for Communication had co-sponsored a "Reinventing Public Diplomacy Through Games" competition. 4 finalists have been announced:

Exchanging Cultures: Exchanging Cultures, a diplomatic game built inside "Second Life," was created to facilitate the creating virtual communities and relationships based on the exchange of cultural items like: dances, art crafts, food receipts, architectural models, clothing, cultural routes and images of real original places for travelers and explorers.

Global Kids Island: Fostering Public Diplomacy Through Second Life Global Kids, Inc. envisioned a Public Diplomacy program within Second Life where the youth in the after-school program will spend the month learning about a global issue, experience an interactive and experiential workshop designed to educate about the issue. Their demonstration will be shown at the awards ceremony. For more information on the organization:

Hydro Hijinks: Hydro Hyjinks is a class project designed to promote discussion about international water issues and to educate players from around the world about sources of international conflict over water rights. Watch the video tour of the game at: .

Peacemaker: PeaceMaker is a cross-cultural political video game simulation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which can be used to promote a peaceful resolution among Israelis, Palestinians and young adults worldwide. More information, please visit their website: .

GAO PD report

U.S. Public Diplomacy: State Department Efforts Lack Certain Communication Elements and Face Persistent Challenges, GAO-06-707T, May 3, 2006

(from intro...)
"Public opinion polls have shown continued negative sentiments toward the United States in the Muslim world. Public diplomacy activities--led by the State Department (State)--are designed to counter such sentiments by explaining U.S. foreign policy actions, countering misinformation, and advancing mutual understanding between nations. Since 2003, we have issued three reports on U.S. public diplomacy efforts that examined (1) changes in public diplomacy resources since September 11, 2001; (2) strategic planning and coordination of public diplomacy efforts; and (3) the challenges facing these efforts. We have made several recommendations in the last 3 years to the Secretary of State to address strategic planning issues, private sector engagement, and staffing challenges related to public diplomacy. For example, today's report recommends that the Secretary develop written guidance detailing how the department intends to implement its public diplomacy goals as they apply to the Muslim world. State has consistently concurred with our findings and recommendations for improving public diplomacy, and the department, in several cases, is taking appropriate actions. However, the department has not established a timetable for many of these actions."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Google Maps come to Europe

Google has finally added some European cities to its maps (satellite imagery of Europe has been available for some time, but not maps) For the adventuresome, it is possible to download the Google Maps API (ie. application programming interface) and embed Google Maps in your web pages using JavaScript. This will enable you to draw markers and add overlays, links and notes to the map, and to build more sophisticated map applications. Read more about this here.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Edsitement is a useful resource for educators, from the National Endowment for the Humanities in partnership with the National Trust for the Humanities, and the Verizon Foundation. "This educational partnership brings online humanities resources from some of the world's great museums, libraries, cultural institutions, and universities directly to your classroom."

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Site for tracking the latest opinion polls

For those of you who monitor public opinion polls, a firm called Angus Reid publish on their web site the results of recent polls, both American and foreign, called Global Scan.

Angus Reid describe themselves as: "a partnership dedicated to understanding public opinion in North America and around the world. This commitment begins with our highly popular Global Scan service which provides a daily summary of published polling results from all over the globe. In 2005, there were over 1.2 million unique visits to Global Scan as journalists, scholars, students and members of the public sought to acquaint themselves on issues ranging from democratic processes to emerging attitudes in the Middle East."

The main poll site is:

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Public Agenda Issue Briefs

Public Agenda Issue Guides are a useful reference resource for current topics. In Public Agenda's own words, "Issue Guides are used by journalists, policy makers, teachers, students and citizens who want to better understand controversial topics. Public Agenda Issue Guides provide facts and figures, different perspectives and analysis of public attitudes from surveys conducted by Public Agenda and by other respected polling and news organizations."

Think Tank Town blog at the Washington Post - update

On February 13 I posted details of the Think Tank Town blog hosted at the Washington Post. Earlier this month Ron Nessen, its author, left the blog, which has now reappeared in a different format. According to the Post, " edits and publishes columns submitted by 10 prominent think tanks on a rotating basis every other weekday. Each think tank is free to choose its authors and the topics it believes are most important and timely." The think tanks featured include the obvious names, such as Brookings, the Rand, and the Council on Foreign Relations.
To access the column, use the drop-down menu headed "Today's Editorials, Opinions, Columns" and scroll down to "Think Tank Town." The changes make it a slightly more limited resource than before, but it is still useful.

About "Public Diplomacy"

The report "Public Diplomacy before Gullion: the Evolution of a Phrase" traces the history of the phrase and concept public diplomacy before Fletcher School of Diplomacy dean Edward Gullion officially "coined" it in 1965. The author, Nicholas Cull, is a professor at USC's Center on Public Diplomacy, and the author of the forthcoming "Selling America: US Information Overseas, a history of the U.S. Information Agency." (The report might be useful for PD speechwriters!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Google Services

Here's a very thorough overview of Google services and tools:
Thanks to Oli for this one!

Language Map

MLA has revamped its language map, which is a pretty neat resource! This is what the MLA site says about it:
"The MLA Language Map is intended for use by students, teachers, and anyone interested in learning about the linguistic and cultural composition of the United States. The MLA Language Map uses data from the 2000 United States census to display the locations and numbers of speakers of thirty languages and three groups of less commonly spoken languages in the United States. The census data are based on responses to the question, "Does this person speak a language other than English at home?" The Language Map illustrates the concentration of language speakers in zip codes and counties. The Data Center provides census data about over three hundred languages spoken in the United States, including actual numbers and percentages of speakers.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

History Matters

Designed for high school and college teachers and students,
History Matters serves as a gateway to web resources and offers
other useful materials for teaching U.S. history. Here is a fuller annotation from a recent issue of the Scout Report:
"Arriving on the site, visitors will find three primary sections: “Many Pasts”, “Making Sense of Evidence”, and “www.history”. In “Many Pasts”, visitors can explore over 1000 primary documents, including photographic images and audio interviews. “Making Sense of Evidence” provides material on how historians approach resources as they attempt to craft intelligent and erudite narratives. The final section, “www.history”, contains brief reviews of over 800 websites that address various aspects of American history. The site also contains a number of other gems, including “Secrets of Great History Teachers”, which features interviews with those who impart the knowledge of the ages with wisdom and insight."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

People Finders

ZabaSearchappears to have stopped providing people's ages in their free searches. Even more impressive - or ominous - is Melissa search, which - in addition to age and address history - provides a list of possible relatives! See the whole array of lookup services from Melissa.

Nice site for kids/teachers

This is a neat "U.S. History for Kids" site from PBS. Check out the main page also, lots of ideas for educators and very professionally presented.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Useful stuff!

A couple of interesting posts from Gary Price's Resource Shelf: PC Magazine's May 2006 101 Freebies features 101 free downloads, sites and services - listed alphabetically and by category. Browse through and you're sure to find something interesting! For another list of useful resources, see the SEOMoz Web2 Awards - "more than 300 Web2.0 sites in 38 categories."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Google Guide

Google Guide is a tutorial on how to use Google more effectively. Includes hand cheat sheets in pdf format, and information about:

* How to select terms and search (more) effectively
* How Google interprets your query
* What's included with your results
* How to search using Google's special tools and shortcuts
* What to do when you can't find the answer you want
* When Google added services, features, and options (Google's Feature History)
* How Google works

Saturday, March 25, 2006


BigCite presents quotations in tag clouds. Quotations are organized by tag(ie.subject), author, recency, and popularity. And of course you can also use search to find quotes.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Nixon Library to join the presidential library system

The Washington Post reported on March 20 that the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace is about to join the presidential library system operated by the National Archives.
Hitherto, the Nixon Library has been financed by private funds. As part of the changeover, the library will be run by a federally employed director, and the archival and curatorial staff will be federal employees.
It is unclear how the change will affect the availability of materials at the library. The Post article carries critical comments by researchers noting what they regard as the unsatisfactory performance of the library in the past.
The article can be accessed at:

Libraries and the USA PATRIOT Act

CRS report on the topic updated 02/03/2006

See also ALA on this issue.

The Justice Department addresses some of the concerns regarding Patriot Act & libraries at

The CRS report USA Patriot Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006 (02/21/2006) also contains information about the Act that pertains to libraries.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Census Scope

CensusScope, in its own words, "is an easy-to-use tool for investigating U.S. demographic trends, brought to you by the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN) at the University of Michigan. With eye-catching graphics and exportable trend data, CensusScope is designed for both generalists and specialists."

City and county codes

The Seattle Public Library has compiled a page with links to city and county codes available for unrestricted searching on the World Wide Web.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Human Resources

An absurdity of the information age, and an extremely annoying one, is that the advance of information technology has rendered that handy old ploy for getting information from someone - calling them and asking for it - well nigh impossible. Fortunately, I'm not the only person who gets upset about this - the gethuman "free website is run by volunteers and is powered by over one million consumers who demand high quality phone support from the companies that they use." The gethuman database lists nearly 400 provides effective tips on how to break through the automatic phone systems to get to a real live human.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sunshine Week

Although it had escaped my attention, this is Sunshine Week Al Tomkins of the Poynter Institute has compiled some resources for the occasion in his daily "Morning Meeting"column. Also relevant is today's ALA Public Library Briefcase on Finding and Using Public Records

"The State of the News Media 2006" report

Project for Excellence in Journalism: "The State of the News Media 2006 is the third in our annual effort to provide a comprehensive look each year at the state of American journalism. Our goal is to put in one place as much original and aggregated data as possible about each of the major journalism sectors (Newspaper, Online, Blogs, Network TV, Cable TV, Local TV, Magazines, Radio, Ethnic)."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

National Atlas

National Atlas presents a vast collection of U.S. data in 12 different subject categories through maps.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

World Public Opinion, PIPA and COPA

Here are some interesting public opinion sites: Center on Policy Attitudes (COPA) monitors U.S. attitudes about domestic policies. PIPA, the Program on International Policy Attitudes, maintains the website "Americans and the World", which monitors American attitudes on global issues. In January 2006 PIPA also launched the World Public Opinion website to "increase understanding of public opinion in specific nations around the world as well as to elucidate the global patterns of world public opinion."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Although IRCs are nowadays rarely asked to find somebody a good book, American Corner staffers and public library contacts might be interested to know about Whichbook. Whichbook tries to bring the reader and good book together by building a profile of desired characteristics on several continuums - e.g. happy-sad, funny-serious, conventional-unconventional, gentle-violent, optimistic-bleak, etc - essentially automating the procedure of a public librarian interrogating a prosepctive lender. The overarching idea, according to Whichbook: "Instead of starting from the overwhelming choice of books available, whichbook starts from the reader and enables each individual to build the elements of that elusive 'good read' we are all looking for but don't quite know how to define."

Friday, February 17, 2006

European Library

The national libraries of Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy-Florence, Italy-Rome, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia-Moscow, Russia-St.Peterburg, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Vatican City have joined forces in the European Library: "a portal which offers access to the combined resources (books, magazines, journals.... - both digital and non-digital) of the 43 national libraries of Europe. It offers free searching and delivers digital objects - some free, some priced."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

PD and IIP, class dunces is an OMB website where the taxpayer can find out how USG programs are performing. Here's what they have to say about three programs that are close to our hearts, Public Diplomacy, IIP, and Global Educational and Cultural Exchanges:

1. "Public Diplomacy"
"These programs articulate the foreign policy objectives of the US and create an international environment receptive to US interests through exchanges, training and outreach activities. Public Diplomacy also provides US policy-makers with information about how the US and its actions are perceived abroad."

Our grade is not so good:

Results Not Demonstrated
A rating of Results Not Demonstrated (RND) indicates that a program has not been able to develop acceptable performance goals or collect data to determine whether it is performing.

* These programs have had difficulty measuring their impact, if they have been evaluated at all. Frequently there is anecdotal evidence that a program is achieving success but there is no formal data to support those claims.
* Few of the State Department public diplomacy programs link budget to performance.
* There is no broad overarching US Government public diplomacy strategy. Because of this lack of a plan, programs such as this one may not be the most effective both in the long and short term.

So how is IIP doing...?

2. International Information Programs
"These programs, products and services work to counteract negative perceptions of the U.S. and build understanding between the U.S. and international audiences. They deliver America's message to the international media, government officials, opinion leaders and the public in more than 140 countries in seven languages."

The grade?

Results Not Demonstrated
A rating of Results Not Demonstrated (RND) indicates that a program has not been able to develop acceptable performance goals or collect data to determine whether it is performing.

* International Information Programs are primarily reactive. The current structure and nature of the programs force staff and resources to be dedicated to events that have already taken place rather than planning new programs, ways to reach new audiences or being more proactive in their outreach activities and programming.
* The program has had difficulty setting measures in the past. The program recently developed new long and short term goals. However, measuring public diplomacy outcomes annually is challenging due to the long-term nature of opinion and behavior change.
* Public Diplomacy programs, including IIP, are not based on a broad overarching USG Public Diplomacy strategy and thus may not be the most effective both in the long and short term.

Here's a surprise though, and food for thought; Educational and Cultural exchanges, a subset of public diplomacy, and the results of which are surely as intangible and hard to measure as for PD and IIP, gets the highest possible rating. (I guess what distinguishes Exchanges from IIP and the rest of PD is that it is not burdened with the more challenging tasks of articulating U.S. policies in a positive way and counteracting negative perceptions of the U.S.) :

3. Global Educational and Cultural Exchanges
Effective (with three stars)

Global Educational and Cultural Exchanges has the following objective::
This program manages exchange programs that help increase mutual understanding and respect by promoting personal, professional, and institutional ties between private citizens and organizations in the United States and abroad, as well as by presenting US history, society, art and culture to overseas audiences.

This is the highest rating a program can achieve. Programs rated Effective set ambitious goals, achieve results, are well-managed and improve efficiency.

* These programs are managed effectively and reach designated targets. Each program has a specific population, gender or location-specific audience they are trying to reach. For example, the State Department is reaching out youth in the Muslim World and women through their Partnerships for Learning and Youth Exchange and Study Programs.
* Educational and Cultural Affairs at State Department use performance data and tools to make management decisions. They are now focused on meeting with staff regularly and have adapted tracking systems to better monitor and evaluate ongoing activities.
* There is no broad overarching US Government public diplomacy strategy that would include programs such as this one. Because of this lack of a broader strategy, programs such as this one may not be the most effective both in the short and long term.