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Alf Eaton, Alf: UK Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-01-05 08:41

In a General Election, the residents of each UK parliamentary constituency elect one Member of Parliament to represent them in the House of Commons.

Each party can nominate a maximum of one candidate per constituency, often chosen from a shortlist of potential candidates in a selection contest.

Candidates who wish to stand for election must submit their nomination papers within one week after the notice of election has been published (i.e. up to 19 working days before the poll).

However, candidates usually start their campaigning several months earlier, and their intention to stand for election will often be announced in a local newspaper.

There are several places where parliamentary candidates are collected:

Some political parties maintain their own lists of prospective parliamentary candidates:

As well as prospective parliamentary candidates, some MPs will be contesting their seats again, and some will be standing down.

William Denton: The best paper I read this year: Polster, Reconfiguring the Academic Dance

planet code4lib - Mon, 2015-01-05 00:19

The best paper I read this year is Reconfiguring the Academic Dance: A Critique of Faculty’s Responses to Administrative Practices in Canadian Universities by Claire Polster, a sociologist at the University of Regina, in Topia 28 (Fall 2012). It’s aimed at professors but public and academic librarians should read it.

Unfortunately, it’s not gold open access. There’s a two year rolling wall and it’s not out of it yet (but I will ask—it should have expired by now). If you don’t have access to it, try asking a friend or following the usual channels. Or wait. Or pay six bucks. (Six bucks? What good does that do, I wonder.)

Update on 04 January 2015: Good news! The paper is now out from the paywall, so it’s freely available to everyone.

Here’s the abstract:

This article explores and critiques Canadian academics’ responses to new administrative practices in a variety of areas, including resource allocation, performance assessment and the regulation of academic work. The main argument is that, for the most part, faculty are responding to what administrative practices appear to be, rather than to what they do or accomplish institutionally. That is, academics are seeing and responding to these practices as isolated developments that interfere with or add to their work, rather than as reorganizers of social relations that fundamentally transform what academics do and are. As a result, their responses often serve to entrench and advance these practices’ harmful effects. This problem can be remedied by attending to how new administrative practices reconfigure institutional relations in ways that erode the academic mission, and by establishing new relations that better serve academics’—and the public’s—interests and needs. Drawing on the work of various academic and other activists, this article offers a broad range of possible strategies to achieve the latter goal. These include creating faculty-run “banks” to transform the allocation of institutional resources, producing new means and processes to assess—and support—academic performance, and establishing alternative policy-making bodies that operate outside of, and variously interrupt, traditional policy-making channels.

This is the dance metaphor:

To offer a simplified analogy, if we imagine the university as a dance floor, academics tend to view new administrative practices as burdensome weights or shackles that are placed upon them, impeding their ability to perform. In contrast, I propose we see these practices as obstacles that are placed on the dance floor and reconfigure the dance itself by reorganizing the patterns of activity in and through which it is constituted. I further argue that because most academics do not see how administrative practices reorganize the social relations within which they themselves are implicated, their reactions to these practices help to perpetuate and intensify these transformations and the difficulties they produce. Put differently, most faculty do not realize that they can and should resist how the academic dance is changing, but instead concentrate on ways and means to keep on dancing as best they can.

A Dance to the Music of Time, by Nicolas Poussin (from Wikipedia)

About the constant struggle for resources:

Instead of asking administrators for the resources they need and explaining why they need them, faculty are acting more as entrepreneurs, trying to convince administrators to invest resources in them and not others. One means to this end is by publicizing and promoting ways they comply with administrators’ desires in an ever growing number of newsletters, blogs, magazines and the like. Academics are also developing and trying to “sell” to administrators new ideas that meet their needs (or make them aware of needs they didn’t realize they had), often with the assistance of expensive external consultants. Ironically, these efforts to protect or acquire resources often consume substantial resources, intensifying the very shortages they are designed to alleviate. More importantly, these responses further transform institutional relations, fundamentally altering, not merely adding to, what academics do and what they are.

About performance assessment:

Another academic strategy is to respect one’s public-serving priorities but to translate accomplishments into terms that satisfy administrators. Accordingly, one might reframe work for a local organization as “research” rather than community service, or submit a private note of appreciation from a student as evidence of high-quality teaching. This approach extends and normalizes the adoption of a performative calculus. It also feeds the compulsion to prove one’s value to superiors, rather than to engage freely in activities one values.

Later, when she covers the many ways people try to deal with or work around the problems on their own:

There are few institutional inducements for faculty to think and act as compliant workers rather than autonomous professionals. However, the greater ease that comes from not struggling against a growing number of rules, and perhaps the additional time and resources that are freed up, may indirectly encourage compliance.

Back to the dance metaphor:

If we return to the analogy provided earlier, we may envision academics as dancers who are continually confronted with new obstacles on the floor where they move. As they come up to each obstacle, they react—dodging around it, leaping over it, moving under it—all the while trying to keep pace, appear graceful and avoid bumping into others doing the same. It would be more effective for them to collectively pause, step off the floor, observe the new terrain and decide how to resist changes in the dance, but their furtive engagement with each obstacle keeps them too distracted to contemplate this option. And so they keep on moving, employing their energies and creativity in ways that further entangle them in an increasingly difficult and frustrating dance, rather than trying to move in ways that better serve their own—and others’ —needs.

Dance II, by Henri Matisse (from Wikipedia)

She with a number of useful suggestions about how to change things, and introduces this by saying:

Because so many academic articles are long on critique but short on solutions, I present a wide range of options, based on the reflections and actions of many academic activists both in the past and in the present, which can challenge and transform university relations in positive ways.

Every paragraph hit home. At York University, where I work, we’re going through a prioritization process using the method set out by Robert Dickeson. It’s being used at many universities, and everything about it is covered by Polster’s article. Every reaction she lists, we’ve had. Also, the university is moving to activity-based costing, a sort of internal market system, where some units (faculties) bring in money (from tuition) and all the other units (including the libraries) don’t, and so are cost centres. Cost centres! This has got people in the libraries thinking about how we can generate revenue. Becoming a profit centre! A university library! If thinking like that gets set in us deep the effects will be very damaging.

John Miedema: Lila Slipstream. Content is written naturally using existing digital writing software.

planet code4lib - Sun, 2015-01-04 22:21

The Lila cognitive writing process begins with four steps:

  1. Content is written naturally using existing digital writing software, on a mobile app, a laptop, or other device. This is a good time to emphasize that Lila is not just another writing studio, e.g., Scrivener. It is a cognitive solution to extend reading, thinking and writing capabilities. There is much to follow.
  2. Content needs to be converted to a standard “slip” format. The slip format requirements are minimal: a subject line, content, and markup for suggested categories and tags. Various writing tools could easily export to this format.
  3. A “stream” of slips will be generated over time, hence the term, “slipstream.” This slipstream involves creating and collecting slips into a repository. Existing technologies like Evernote and Google Drive can be used to collect content into a repository. Lila adds to that. Natural language processing will be performed upon the content in the repository; this processing will be described later.
  4. A graphical user interface is used to visualize the content in an organized way. A default view can be generated at an early stage using the categories suggested by the writer. Analytics will performed to generate other views; this processing will be described later.

William Denton: Animated intersecting circles

planet code4lib - Sun, 2015-01-04 17:07

I was looking again at some of the intersecting circles I wrote about last month, looking at 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 intersecting circles one after the other, and it looked pretty smart, so I tried making an animated GIF out of it. The R package animation makes it pretty easy.

Here’s the setup, which gives the drawcircles function.

circle <- function(x, y, rad = 1.1, vertices = 500, ...) { rads <- seq(0, 2*pi, length.out = vertices) xcoords <- cos(rads) * rad + x ycoords <- sin(rads) * rad + y polygon(xcoords, ycoords, ...) } roots <- function(n) { lapply( seq(0, n - 1, 1), function(x) c(round(cos(2*x*pi/n), 4), round(sin(2*x*pi/n), 4)) ) } drawcircles <- function(n) { centres <- roots(n) plot(-2:2, type="n", xlim = c(-2,2), ylim = c(-2,2), asp = 1, xlab = "", ylab = "", axes = FALSE) lapply(centres, function (c) circle(c[[1]], c[[2]])) }

We want to go from 1 circle to 60, then back down to 1, and then loop all of that so it repeats. The looping is taken care of by the GIF, but to generate a sequence of numbers (1, 2, 3, …, 59, 60, 59, …, 2) (the 1 will happen when the loop starts again ) we can use a simple R command. Here’s how to do it up to 10 and back:

> 1:10 [1] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > 9:2 [1] 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 > c(1:10, 9:2) [1] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

Putting it all together:

> library(animation) > saveGIF({for (i in c(1:60, 59:2)) drawcircles(i)}, interval = 0.2, = "intersecting-circles.gif") (1, 2, 3, …, 59, 60, 59, …, 2) intersecting circles, looping

The GIF is 2.1 MB, which is pretty large. Perhaps there’s some way to make a smaller file. In any case, it’d be nice to see that projected on a huge wall. Nice vids.

Alf Eaton, Alf: Creating a map of Grade I listed buildings

planet code4lib - Sun, 2015-01-04 16:41
  1. Open the list of datasets available from the Environment Agency.
  2. Find the English Heritage “Listed Buildings” layer; select “Shapefile”, click “Download”.
  3. Unzip the data archive:unzip && cd Listed_Buidings_shape
  4. If ogr2ogr is not already installed, install it:brew install gdal
  5. Filter the data to select certain columns and rows:ogr2ogr -select "NAME,GRADE" -where "GRADE IN ('I')" listed_buildings_grade_one.shp listed_buildings.shp
  6. Create a new zip archive:zip listed_buildings_grade_one.*
  7. Upload the zip file to CartoDB, to create a new table.

John Miedema: “Our words and inscriptions are the floating roots that actively capture the cognitive debris from which we build new thoughts and ideas.” Clark, Natural-born Cyborgs

planet code4lib - Sun, 2015-01-04 14:29

Before long he noticed certain categories emerging. The earlier slips began to merge about a common topic and later slips about a different topic. When enough slips merged about a single topic so that he got a feeling it would be permanent he took an index card of the same size as the slips, attached a transparent plastic index tab to it, wrote the name of the topic on a little cardboard insert that came with the tab, put it in the tab, and put the index card together with its related topic slips. The trays on the pilot berth now had about four or five hundred of these tabbed index cards.

Pirsig, Robert M. (1991). Lila: An Inquiry into Morals. Bantam. Pg. 25.

In Pirsig’s system, content came first, and later classification into categories, a bottom up approach. It reminds me of another passage I read in Andy Clark’s Natural Born Cyborgs:

Picture yourself in the humid swamplands of the area known as Ten Thousand Islands—a maze of black mangroves extending from Key West to the Everglades. You are stunned by the distribution and density of these unusual trees, some of which reach heights of more than eighty feet. Yet often, these large trees stand neatly, one per island, on their own small beds of land. How did this neat arrangement arise? The answer is unexpected, for the trees did not seed upon the islands. Instead, the islands were built by the trees. The mangrove … grows from a floating seed that ends complex vertical roots through the water, searching for shallow mud flats. The first result looks like a tree on stilts in the water, a bit like those famous swamp houses seen in many a Hollywood movie. But quite soon, the raised roots collect dirt and debris carried through the water, and a small island begins to form. Sometimes several such islands merge creating a new shoreline. In these swamplands, our standard expectations (that trees need land to grow on) are upset. Most of the visible land is built by the trees. The tree comes first, the island second.

In much the same way, I suggest, we tend to think of words and language as simply built upon the preexisting islands of our intelligence and thought. But sometimes, perhaps, the cycle of influence runs the other way. Our words and inscriptions are the floating roots that actively capture the cognitive debris from which we build new thoughts and ideas. Instead of seeing our words and texts as simply the outward manifestations of our biological reason, we may find whole edifices of thought and reason accreting only courtesy of the stable structures provided by words and texts.

Clark, Andy (2003). Natural-born cyborgs: Minds, technologies, and the future of human intelligence. Oxford. Pg. 81-82.

Alf Eaton, Alf: UK parliamentary constituencies

planet code4lib - Sat, 2015-01-03 14:12

Every 5 years, the Boundary Commissions for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland review the UK parliamentary constituency boundaries.

The last completed Boundary Review recommended 650 constituencies, and took effect at the General Election in 2010.

Office for National Statistics

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has produced a guide to parliamentary constituencies and a map of the current constituencies.

The Office for National Statistics publishes a CSV file listing the names and codes for each parliamentary constituency (650 in total), under the Open Government License.

“The nine-character codes are created by the ONS. The England and Wales names are statutory names taken from the Statutory Instrument (SI). The Northern Ireland nine character codes and names were supplied by NISRA (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency). The Scotland names and nine character codes have been sourced from the National Records of Scotland (NRS).” Constituency names

The parliamentary constituencies of England are named in The Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 2007. Wikipedia contains a history of the constituency redistributions.

Ordnance Survey Shapefile

The Ordnance Survey produces the Boundary-Line data, which includes an ESRI Shapefile for the boundary of each parliamentary constituency. The Boundary-Line data is published under the OS OpenData license, which incorporates the Open Government License.


The Ordnance Survey’s administrative geography and civil voting area ontology includes a “hasUnitID” property, which provides a unique ID for each region, and a “GSS” property that is the ONS’ code for each region.


The Boundary-Line SPARQL interface can be used to retrieve the GSS, Unit ID and name for each parliamentary constituency:

select ?name ?gss ?unit_id where { ?x a <> ; <> ?name ; <> ?gss ; <> ?unit_id .  } CartoDB

The Boundary-Line Shapefile includes the Unit ID (OS) and GSS (ONS) code for each constituency, so they can easily be used to merge the boundary polygons with other data sources in CartoDB.

If using CartoDB’s free plan, it is necessary to use a version of the Boundary-Line Shapefile with simplified polygons, to reduce the size of the data.

View the UK parliamentary constituencies in CartoDB.


Following the next Boundary Review, the number of constituencies will be reduced from 650 to 600 by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, introduced by the current coalition government.

"The key change is that the number of voters in each constituency will have to be within 5% of 76,641 - this is the figure gained by dividing the UK electorate of 45,678,175 by 596."

Patrick Hochstenbach: Solden 2015

planet code4lib - Sat, 2015-01-03 13:17
Filed under: Doodles Tagged: cartoon, cat, comic, doodle, fudenosuke, solden

District Dispatch: Panel of ebook policy experts to address 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-01-02 23:44

How much do you know about the current library ebook lending environment? A leading panel of library and publishing experts will provide an update on the library ebook lending market and discuss the best ways for libraries to bring together authors and readers in the digital age at the 2015 American Library Association’s (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Chicago. The session “ALA DCWG: Libraries and Ebooks—Where Do We Go from Here?” takes place from 10:30–11:30 a.m. on Sunday, February 1, 2015, in the McCormick Convention Center in room W196B.

Photo by Maria Elena via Flickr

During the session, leaders of ALA’s Digital Content Working Group (DCWG) and an expert panel provide insights on new opportunities available to libraries now that five of the world’s largest publishers provide libraries with nominal access to their full ebook catalogs. The expert panel will explore ebook lending issues, such as business models, pricing structures, privacy terms, and digital preservation. The working group will provide a summary of recent DCWG advocacy activities and explore new opportunities for collaboration between libraries and authors.

Speakers include Carolyn Anthony, co-chair of the ALA Digital Content Working Group and director of the Skokie Public Library (Illinois); Erika Linke, co-chair of the ALA Digital Content Working Group and associate dean of Libraries and director of Carnegie Mellon University Libraries Research and Academic Services; Steve Potash, chief executive officer for OverDrive, Inc.; and Matt Tempelis, 3M Library Systems Global Business Leader for 3M, Inc.

View other ALA Washington Office Midwinter Meeting conference sessions

The post Panel of ebook policy experts to address 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting appeared first on District Dispatch.

LITA: We Want YOU to Write a Guest Post!

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-01-02 20:21

Yes, you!

Are you looking for a platform to share your ideas with the library tech community? We’re a pretty friendly bunch in LITA and we hope you’ll consider sharing your intriguing library tech-related stories, plans, failures, hacks, code snippets – whatever! – here on the blog this year. There is a lot of room for contributor creativity, so get excited. You do not need to be a LITA member in order to write a guest post, though it’s great if you are!

To submit an idea for consideration, please email LITA blog editor Brianna Marshall at briannahmarshall(at)gmail(dot)com sharing a bit about yourself and a brief summary of your post topic.

Open Library Data Additions: OL. 150101

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-01-02 19:19

OL Output of Marc Records.

This item belongs to: texts/ol_data.

This item has files of the following types: Archive BitTorrent, Metadata, Unknown

Patrick Hochstenbach: Homework assignment #1 Sketchbookskool

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-01-02 18:58
Assignement #1 at Sketchbook Skool: “Draw an object that has some meaning to you” Filed under: Doodles Tagged: doodle, jackalope, memories, piano, sketchbookskool

Ranti Junus: “Thief of Time”

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-01-02 17:28

For something to exist, it has to be observed.

For something to exist, it has to have a position in time and space.

And this explains why nine-tenths of the mass of the universe is unaccounted for.

Nine-tenths of the universe is the knowledge of the position and direction of everything in the other tenth. Every atom has its biography, every star its file, every chemical exchange its equivalent of the inspector with a clipboard. It is unaccounted for because it is doing the accounting for the rest of it, and you cannot see the back of your own head.*

Nine-tenths of the universe, in fact, is the paperwork.

*Except in very small universes.

Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time

(that paperwork statement feels so true in so many things…)

John Miedema: I adopted Pirsig’s term “slip” as the unit of text for my cognitive system

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-01-02 03:23

I adopted Pirsig’s term “slip” as the unit of text for my cognitive system. Pirsig was referring to literal slips of paper, the size of index cards. I am working in a digital context but I share Pirsig preference for the slip concept. Its content length is optimal for random access, better than a page, easily re-sorted and re-categorized until the correct view on the content is decided.

I envision a slip to look like an index card, such as in Figure 1:

The slip has a subject line. It has a paragraph or two of content, just enough words to state an idea with context. The asterisk is used to suggest a category, “quality”. The hashtag is used to suggest a tag, “staticVsDynamic”. The processing of these features in a cognitive system will be detailed later.

A typical non-fiction work has about 100,000 words. Estimating 100 words per slip, a work would have 1000 slips. The count seems manageable for digital processing. Pirsig’s work had about 3000 slips, but then he was writing a metaphysics.

William Denton: Reading diary in Org

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-01-02 03:13

Last year I started using Org to keep track of my reading, instead of on paper, and it worked very well. I was able to see how much I was reading all through the year, which helped me read more.

I have two tables. The first is where I enter what I read. For each book I track the start date, title, author, number of pages, and type (F for fiction, N for nonfiction, A for article). If I don’t finish a book or just skim it I leave the pages field blank and put a - in T. Today I started a new book so there’s just one title, but to add a new one I would go to the dashed line at the bottom and hit S-M-<down> (that’s Alt-Shift-<down> in Emacs-talk) and it creates a new formatted line. I’m down at the bottom of the table so I tab through a few times to get to the # line, which forces a recalculation of the totals.

#+CAPTION: 2015 reading diary #+ATTR_LATEX: :environment longtable :align l|p{8cm}|p{ccm}|l|l #+NAME: reading_2015 | | Date | Title | Author | Pages | T | | | | <65> | <40> | | | |---+-------------+------------------------------------+-------------------+-------+---| | | 01 Jan 2015 | Stoicism and the Art of Happiness | Donald Robertson | 232 | N | |---+-------------+------------------------------------+-------------------+-------+---| | # | | 1 | | 232 | | #+TBLFM: $3=@#-3::$5=vsum(@3..@-1)

(The #+CAPTION and #+ATTR_LATEX lines are for the LaTeX export I use if I want to print it.)

The second table is all generated from the first one. I tab through it to refresh all the fields. All of the formulas in the #+TBLFM field should be on one line, but I broke it out here to make it easier to read.

Books per week and predicted books per year are especially helpful in keeping me on track.

#+NAME: reading-analysis-2015 #+CAPTION: 2015 reading statistics |---+----------------------+---------------| | | Statistic | | |---+----------------------+---------------| | # | Fiction books | 0 | | # | Nonfiction books | 1 | | # | Articles | 0 | | # | DNF or skimmed | 0 | | # | Total books read | 1 | | # | Total pages read | 232 | | # | Days in | 001 | | # | Weeks in | 00 | | # | Books per week | 1 | | # | Pages per day | 232 | | # | Predicted books/year | 365 | |---+----------------------+---------------| #+TBLFM: @2$3='(length(org-lookup-all "F" '(remote(reading_2015,@2$6..@>$6)) nil)):: @3$3='(length(org-lookup-all "N" '(remote(reading_2015,@2$6..@>$6)) nil)):: @4$3='(length(org-lookup-all "A" '(remote(reading_2015,@2$6..@>$6)) nil)):: @5$3='(length(org-lookup-all "-" '(remote(reading_2015,@2$6..@>>$6)) nil));E:: @6$3=@2$3+@3$3::@7$3=remote(reading_2015, @>$5):: @8$3='(format-time-string "%j"):: @9$3='(format-time-string "%U"):: @10$3=round(@6$3/@9$3, 1):: @11$3=round(@7$3/@8$3, 0):: @12$3=round(@6$3*365/@8$3, 0)

(Tables and the spreadsheet in Org are very, very useful. I use them every day for a variety of things.)

With all that information in tables it’s easy to embed code to pull out other statistics and make charts. I’ll cover that when I tweak something to handle co-written books, but today, after getting some of that working for the first time, I was able to see my most read authors over the last four years are Anthony Trollope, Terry Pratchett and Anthony Powell. There are 39 authors who I’ve read at least twice. Some of them I’ll never read again, some I’ll read everything new they come out with (like Sarah Waters, who I only started reading this year) and some are overdue for rereading (like Georgette Heyer).


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