Shoutout to Taming Data Readers/So You Want a Ph.D….?

I’d like to thank the readers of this blog. I am completely amazed each day that anyone finds what I want to natter on about in any way interesting. But I am pleased that you do.

The following video has nothing to do with taming data, but it is funny. (If you are doctoral student or work in academia, anyway!) I hope you enjoy it.

I’m not getting my doctoral degree in the Humanities, but I couldn’t stop laughing when I watched the video. Too much of it was, “ouch!”

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Thanksgiving

I’m going to take this week off, but I wanted to leave you with some “food for thought” this holiday week. The infographic contains some modern Thanksgiving factoids. I hope you enjoy these two videos on Thanksgiving; the first is from the Native American point of view, and the second is about the first Thanksgiving from the point of view of European descendants.

Infographic: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Thanksgiving
To view a larger image of the infographic, please click on it.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Thanksgiving

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Digital Preservation Education for NC State Government Employees

This past week, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources released guidelines for state employees responsible for preservation of the state’s public record. I have included the press release below. Whether or not you are an employee of the State of North Carolina, if you are interested in learning about digital preservation, I encourage you to spend some time exploring the site.

The digital information of today is our heritage of tomorrow.” –Governor Bev Perdue

The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources’ State Library and State Archives (Cultural Resources) are proud to announce a new website to guide local and state government employees responsible for the preservation of our state’s public record. The site,, has resources that can help North Carolina government employees – and those responsible for digital information in general – learn how to ensure that today’s digital information is saved so that it can become tomorrow’s heritage.
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“Quantitative Easing” Explained with Cute Bears

Did you understand the controversy over “quantitative easing” at the G-20 Summit last week? Were you able to sift through the news to find and understand why the US should not print more money and buy $600 billion in US Treasury Bonds? Did you even know there was a controversy? Or, like me, did your eyes glaze over at the very thought of trying to understand global monetary policy and having to listen to and understand yet more bad news about the economy?

First, I’ll describe the controversy. According to press reports,

Both China and Germany have publicly slammed the U.S. Federal Reserve’s recent decision to buy $600 billion in Treasury bonds, a move Washington maintains will jump-start the U.S. economy and fuel employment. Both governments argued that the infusion of cash would devalue the dollar – essentially manipulating currency to give U.S. exporters a leg up.

But what does that mean for you as a consumer and taxpayer, especially if you are a U.S. citizen? Will this policy decision be good, bad, or indifferent for us taxpayers? NPR’s Planet Money explains it this way:
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Oxford Launches Research Data Management Website

The following announcement was posted to the Research Data Management listserv on 14 November 2010 via S. Hodson. I thought it might be on interest to some of you.

The University of Oxford has recently launched a new Research Data Management Website:

The development of this resource was ‘a close collaboration between Research Services, Computing Services and the Bodleian Library and is an important deliverable from the EIDCSR project ( and

From the University of Oxford’s internal announcement:


A new website designed to support researchers with their research data management activities is now available at This has been developed by Research Services in collaboration with OUCS.

The website includes information about

· research funder requirements in the area of research data management

· services available within the University to assist researchers in this area

· guidance on how to produce a data management plan as part of a funding application

· further sources of advice and online guidance, updates and news, and tools and training available to help.

Previously, web-based information about research data management was available from a number of sites across the University but it was felt that a single source of `signposting’ information would be a valuable resource for researchers from all subject disciplines at differing stages of the research cycle, increasing understanding of the benefits of improved research data management, as well as communicating the range of services available.

The website is one of the project outputs from the JISC-funded ‘Embedding Institutional Data Curation Services in Research’ (EIDCSR) project, which aims to scope the requirements to manage and curate research data generated by Oxford researchers. The intention is that information available from the site will increase as policy and services in this area develop.

We would welcome your feedback and any help you can offer in publicising this site further (eg.linking to this from existing University websites). Please do get in touch by contacting either Kathryn Dally ([email protected] ) or Sian Dodd ([email protected]) in Research Services.

Programme Website:
JISCMRD Netvibes:
Community Discussion List: [email protected]
Twitter, Skype: simonhodson99
Programme Tag: #jiscmrd
Programme Manager – Managing Research Data
JISC Executive
Brettenham House (South Entrance)
5 Lancaster Place
London WC2E 7EN

E: [email protected]
M1: +44 (0) 7545 524 009
T: +44 (0) 203 006 6071

ICPSR also recently released guidelines for effective data management plans.

The Keeper of Manhatten’s Many Maps

So, you’d like a job taming data and providing access to information? Or, you already tame data and provide access to information, but you want to change jobs. What kinds of jobs are available?

The Wall Street Journal recently profiled a position they called, “The Keeper of Manhatten’s Many Maps“. The mapkeeper’s name is Hector Rivera. As part of his job, he

scans, catalogs and discovers lost streets and forgotten avenues as the Topographical Bureau Associate — or the map man — inside the offices of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. He works inside a room crammed with some 5,000 maps of Manhattan, some of which date back over 200 years.

Hector scans maps, does research, and manages the map room. He advises people who may be breaking ground on new projects, so they know what they are — and are not — digging into in a particular part of a city. Street locations have changed, so knowing what used to be where you want to dig may help you avoid problems when you begin a building project.

What is your dream job taming data?

Preservation Policies, Forbes, and an Email Time Capsule

email preservationI’m often asked why the preservation of digital materials is so complicated. After all, isn’t it simply about the storage and migration, or emulation, of digital objects and metadata? Why do you need all of these policies and procedures around a data or digital archive? Why can’t you just store the digital files and leave them?

Recently, opened an email time capsule the company set aside a mere five years ago. The blog post illustrates some of the difficulties of preserving digital materials over time — in this case, only half a decade.

First, I’ll describe the purpose of the experiment.

The experiment, which we called an “E-Mail Time Capsule,” was part of a special report on Communicating. We invited our readers to communicate with their future selves by writing a letter, which we would store for them, and send at a later date.

Over 140,000 people participated, choosing whether they wanted their capsule “opened” in one, three, five, ten or twenty years.

In 2006 and 2008, we successfully sent over 40,000 messages. And now we’ve hit the five year mark, and are in the process of sending 17,000 emails to our users –half a decade after they wrote them.

Simple, right? You set up three geographically disparate servers, and set one to send if the first one doesn’t, and the third to send the emails if the first two servers fail. However, it wasn’t quite that simple, as the author notes.

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Social Media Explained in Plain English

What is “Social Media”? How did it develop? What does it do? How does it benefit consumers and companies?

That is, if you want to define the term “Social Media” to someone who does not work in technology, how do you explain it?

For example, SearchEngineWatch defines Social Media as a technical definition that assumes the reader is tech-savvy.

Social Media: a category of sites that is based on user participation and user-generated content. They include social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, social bookmarking sites like, social news sites like Digg or Reddit, and other sites that are centered on user interaction.

Maxi Bongio of CommonCraft uses a less technical definition of Social Media. He explains Social Media in plain English in the animation below, using ice cream and ice cream producers as a metaphor for the phenomenon. He explains how Social Media can help customers promote, rate, and provide feedback for current and new products. Primarily, it is a way for people to communicate with each other.

I thought the explanation of Social Media using ice cream and ice cream producers simplified the topic and made it easily understandable for non-techies.

What did you think of this metaphor? Does it fully explain Social Media? Would you delete or add in any information?

The Social Media Revolution in Numbers

Is social media a fad? Or the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution? Do you like what social media says about your brand? More importantly — Are You Ready?

Socialnomics runs the numbers in this entertaining animation about the social media “revolution”. For example, how many years did it take radio, television, the Internet, the iPOD, and Facebook to reach 50 million users, respectively? The answer may (or may not) surprise you.

The statistics in the video below are based on the book Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business by Erik Qualman.

I’m not convinced that email is passé for the Millennials.

Did any of the data in this video surprise you? Do you disagree with any of the statistics and information presented? Do you believe that social media is a fad, or is it here to stay?