Ray Beckerman’s long article has good advice about avoiding Twitter’s “Retweet” button that accompanies every tweet, and instead using what he calls the “traditional retweet,” done manually with cut-and-paste. Up until a year ago, when Twitter introduced its own version of retweet, this was the only way to retweet. From the time this came out it’s gotten many strong negative reactions. Beckerman states the case so eloquently that I’m excerpting his words here, starting with words from the conclusion, which are likely missed by a lot of readers (boldface added):

Conclusion – If you want to be invisible, then by all means use the pseudo-retweet. If not, then this is my advice:

  • Don’t use Twitter’s so called retweet function…. ever.
  • Use genuine, traditional retweets only.

Beckerman explains how to do a traditional retweet, and also has a detailed list of 13 reasons why the traditional retweet is superior to the Twitter-version retweet, worth a detailed reading. Along the way, he has interesting commentary about the odd stance of Twitter on retweeting:

Ironically, the most important feature on Twitter is one that Twitter itself did not develop, and has never adopted: the traditional retweet. It was developed by the customers, on their own, and not by the company. And amazingly, to this date Twitter itself has never incorporated it, although doing so would be as easy as pie.

Twitter’s management doesn’t get it. They try to justify their pseudo-retweet on the theory that a retweet is for the purpose of repeating, or rubber stamping, and thus paying homage to, some genius’s isolated statement spoken in a vacuum, to a vacuum, to be broadcast into an abyss. … Twitter’s competitive edge is the traditional retweet. By abandoning that, it is relinquishing its competitive advantage.

My advice to all Twitter users is that you should not use what Twitter calls a “retweet”. It is a counterfeit, and does not have any of the key properties of a retweet. Just skip it. The true, traditional “retweet” is the life blood of Twitter, and what has set it apart from other similar “microblogging” services.

I especially appreciate Beckerman’s stress on the value of Twitter as a conversational medium, with the traditional retweet as an integral part of the process. As he says, the Twitter-version retweet loses this valuable aspect, as tweets are treated as anonymous bits of information, not connected to a known person in the user’s chosen Tweet-stream.

Ray Beckerman is at: @RayBeckerman

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumseytemp AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumseytemp

Many of the aspects of the invention of the Web by Tim Berners-Lee are well-known, especially the technical details, but there are some aspects that are are more hazy — One is the question of what constitutes “The Birth of the Web”? The other is the interesting story of how the birth of the Web was interwoven with the birth of Berners-Lee’s first child.

Berners-Lee proposed his idea for the yet-unnamed web to CERN in 1989, and based on that, last year (2009) was celebrated by CERN as the 20th anniversary of the Web. But it wasn’t until 1990 that Berners-Lee named it “The Web” and demonstrated a real working model. And, notably, just this month, in his article on the future of the Open Web, Berners-Lee says that he’s writing on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Web — So he apparently sees the Web’s birth as having been when he did the nitty-gritty production work on it in 1990.

The events of 1990 raise more questions — Berners-Lee went to work on making a working model of the Web when his proposal was finally approved by CERN in early November 1990. At that time he wrote a more detailed description of his idea and named it “The Web,” so that’s been seen by some as the Web’s birth date. But it wasn’t until December that Berners-Lee, working with CERN colleague Robert Cailliau, demonstrated communication between a Web server and another computer. The exact date in December when this first happened was apparently not recorded. Apparently based on Berners-Lee’s description excerpted below from his book Weaving the Web, most commentators say that it happened “by Christmas day.” Here’s Berners-Lee’s narrative:

Meanwhile, I took one quick step that would demonstrate the concept of the Web as a universal, all-encompassing space. I programmed the browser so it could follow links not only to files on HTTP servers but also to Internet news articles and newsgroups. … In one fell swoop, a huge amount of the information that was already on the Internet was available on the Web. … The browser/editor was working on my machine and Robert’s, communicating over the Internet with the info.cern.ch server by Christmas Day 1990 [boldface added].

And here are Berners-Lee’s touching words putting the birth of the Web in the context of the personally more emotionally affecting birth of his first child:

As significant an event as this was, I wasn’t that keyed up about it, only because my wife and I were expecting our first child, due Christmas Eve. As fate would have it, she waited a few extra days. We drove to the hospital during a New Year’s Eve storm and our daughter was born the next day. As amazing as it would be to see the Web develop, it would never compare to seeing the development of our child.

Berners-Lee generally says little about his private life, so I think it’s notable that he talks about it here, and it certainly is an indication that his personal life was taking precedence as he was working on making the Web — So it’s not surprising that the details of the Web birthing are hazy in his mind.

As mentioned, the quotes above are from Berners-Lee’s Weaving the Web — This has no preview in Google Books and no one has ever bothered to enter the excerpts above, that I can find in googling, so I’ve typed it in myself. With so many commentaries apparently based on the words in the quote (i.e. demonstration of the Web “by Christmas Day”) and with the unusual view of Berners-Lee’s personal life, it’s surprising that this hasn’t gotten more attention.

An open field for aspiring investigative journalists!

I’m left with the impression that I’ve just touched the surface of several interesting stories here, centered around the heroic figure of Berners-Lee — Working feverishly on the birth of the world-changing Web and waiting excitedly for the birth of a first child that would certainly change his own personal world. And the idea that the first communication that made the Web a live reality might have actually happened ON Christmas Day is certainly full of rich possibilities for a good story-teller!

Berners-Lee is a famously quiet, modest, altruistic person, who has chosen not to make money off of his invention of the Web — If he was one to seek publicity, I suspect the story told here would be told in the way that inventions of the past — Samuel Morse’s first telegraph message, Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone call — have been told — Shouted out, to the benefit of the inventors, and entered into the mythology of our history books.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumseytemp AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumseytemp

With Google Books being in the news in the last few weeks, I’ve been paying more attention than I have since the Settlement discussion wound down several months ago — In Twitter I’m noticing a large increase in the number of tweets about GBS, especially the number of links to specific book titles in it. Admittedly this is a purely subjective impression, but several months ago I don’t remember this happening frequently. So on Nov 9 I did a small survey of links (below) to GBS that I’ve found, searching in Twitter for google books. This includes a variety of links from the last day, concentrating on tweets whose authors seem to be modest individual tweeters, not “dotcom presences.” I’ve numbered the tweets so that I can refer to them in discussion below.

  1. uflsms: The web reputation systems book (readings) is also at Google Books: http://bit.ly/9HLyPn Not all pages are there, but most are.
    about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck · Reply · View Tweet
  2. berta1974: RT @gasolinero: «La Dificultad De ser Japonés» en Google books con una vista previa de 1/5 del libro http://bit.ly/94C3pW
    about 4 hours ago via TweetDeck · Reply · View Tweet
  3. maramirou: Mabrouk! RT:@zizoo My book is finally on google books 🙂 -L’hopital Razi de la Manouba et son histoire – Google Books: http://goo.gl/kQFKH
    about 5 hours ago via TnLabs · Reply · View Tweet
  4. dayski: The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius … – Google Books http://t.co/a9YdgtK via @ shr.lc – I like the get this book option on sidebar!
    about 8 hours ago via Tweet Button · Reply · View Tweet
  5. darthconnell: The Origin of Species is available in its entirety from Google Books http://t.co/bmpZFBY
    about 14 hours ago via Tweet Button · Reply · View Tweet
  6. stewartsm: The collected writings of Michael Snow – Google Books: Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 1994 http://bit.ly/bwSYVa
    about 15 hours ago via twitterfeed · Reply · View Tweet
  7. atomicpoet: The ABCs of Strategic Life Planning – Google Books http://ow.ly/19ROLn
    about 23 hours ago via HootSuite · Reply · View Tweet

A few observations — of the 7 books linked, 6 of them are recent, copyrighted titles, with #5 being the only public domain library-scanned book. Of the copyrighted books, all have a preview except #3. Interestingly, and consistent with earlier observations, a significant number of these books are in non-English languages (#2, #3).

I’m presenting this little sample not so much to draw specific conclusions about the nature of tweets on GBS, but simply to draw attention to my clear observation that people ARE tweeting links to GBS books more than they were 6-12 months ago. This certainly indicates an increase in awareness of GBS, and goes along with my general impression, especially from statistics provided by Google, that it’s getting heavier use than most commentators, especially anti-GBS ones, are acknowledging.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumseytemp AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumseytemp

The Books in Browsers conference that met at the Internet Archive in San Francisco October 21 & 22 was a great experience for me and I’m sure for most of the approximately 100 attendees.

Follow-up: Conference reports & Commentaries – Most recent at the top

Presentations – List is derived from the pre-conference Agenda. Twitter addresses are included for presenters who have them — For other attenders on Twitter see here.

Thursday, October 21

  • Allen Noren (@allennoren), O’Reilly Media – Books in Browsers
  • Bill McCoy, Webpaper – Browsers for Books: Formats and User Experiences for Digital Reading   [Slides]
  • Dominique Raccah (@draccah), Sourcebooks – Immersion: What we actually know about adding media to books
  • Waldo Jaquith (@jaquith), VQR – EPUB for website producers
  • Keith Fahlgren (@abdelazer), Ibis Reader – Piercing the Clouds: Privacy, Confidentiality, and Web-based Reading   [Slides]
  • Nicole Ozer, ACLU – Digital Books: A New Chapter for Reader Privacy
  • Jason Schultz (@jason_schultz_), UC Berkeley – Using open licenses to ensure reader privacy
  • SJ Klein (@metasj), OLPC – Rural uses of browser books   [Description: PPT Slides]
  • Jim Fruchterman (@JRandomF), Benetech – Accessibility for browser based books
  • Joseph Pearson (@josephpearson), Inventive Labs – How we’re using Monocle in the Labs
  • Minh Truong (@minh_truong), Aldiko – Books and Apps
  • Daihei Shiohama, Voyager Japan – From mobile comics to broad platform experiences
  • Michael Ang (@mangbot), Internet Archive – Designing books for touch   [Slides in New version of BookReader | Old version]
  • Keynote: Brian O’Leary (@brianoleary), Magellan Partners – A Unified Field Theory of Publishing   [Full-text]
  • Evening Keynote: Books in Browsers – Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive   [Video & Text]

Friday, October 22

  • Keynote: Bob Stein (@ifbook), If:Book – For publishers, working together to support an open-source platform for Social Reading is the key to taking the initiative back from Amazon, Apple and Google   [Background]
  • Keynote: Richard Nash (@R_Nash), Cursor Books – Remember, the reader writes, too… On how discoverability begins with the writer.
  • Kovid Goyal, Calibre – An Alexandria in every neighborhood
  • Aaron Miller (@bookglutton), Bookglutton – A network of Books [Slides]
  • Otis Chandler (@otown), GoodReads – Finding Shelf Space in a World Without Shelves   [Slides]
  • Hadrien Gardeur (@Hadrien), Feedbooks – A Connected Bookshelf   [Slides]
  • Michael Tamblyn (@mtamblyn), Kobo Books – Life Among the Freegans: The Co-Existence of Free Books, Paid Books, and the People Who Read Them
  • Erin McKean (@emckean), Wordnik – Things are looking up for looking things up?
  • Eli James (@shadowsun7), Novelr – Pandamian: A Publishing Support Layer   [Full-text]
  • Kevin Franco (@FRANCOMEDIA), Francomedia – Thriller-based Transmedia and the reader experience
  • Fran Toolan (@ftoolan), Firebrand – A Conversation: Rights in the Book Web
  • Keynote: Matthew Bernius (@mattBernius), RIT – Returning to the Canon for Inspiration: Vannevar Bush, Walter Benjamin, and the future of reading   [Links]
  • Pecha Kucha 7 …
    Blaine Cook (@blaine), Romeda
    Craig Mod (@craigmod), “Post Artifact Story Telling”
    Jacob Lewis (@jacoblewism), Figment
    Cart Reed (@Ebooq), Ebooq

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumseytemp AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumseytemp

** Post-conference: Links to Presentations & Follow-up **

The Books in Browsers conference is in San Francisco, Oct 21-22, at the offices of the Internet Archive. Here’s a list of attenders on Twitter, which is about 2/3 of all attenders. In some cases it was difficult to tell if a corporate Twitter name was the best to use for an individual. I have not put people who are on Twitter but have their tweets protected — If you’re one of those and you want to be on the list, let me know.

Thanks to BLAINE Cook – A Twitter List that gives a live tweet feed of all attenders below.

Twitter name Name

bookgluttonNEWS Alber Travis BookGlutton
indiamos Amos India ITP, NYU
mangbot Ang Michael Internet Archive
glassdog Arthur Lance Internet Archive
kindleworld Basten Andrys Kindle Blog
mattBernius Bernius Matthew RIT
edwardbetts Betts Edward Internet Archive
kirkbiglione Biglione Kirk Oxford Media Works
nathanbransford Bransford Nathan Curtis Brown Agency
naypinya Brantley Peter Internet Archive
patrickrbrown Brown Patrick Goodreads
jambina Buckland Amy McGill University
otown Chandler Otis Goodreads
BLAINE Cook Blaine Romeda
VidLit Dubelman Liz VidLit
abdelazer Fahlgren Keith Ibis Reader
FRANCOMEDIA Franco Kevin Francomedia
snowmaker Friedman Jared Scribd
JRandomF Fruchterman Jim Benetech
Hadrien Gardeur Hadrien Feedbooks
rochellegrayson Grayson Rochelle BookRiff
epistemographer Greenberg Josh Sloan Foundation
m_gylling Gylling Markus IDPF / DAISY
usfsrlib Hewlett Jean USF Gleeson Library
jhorodyski Horodyski John Wrinkled Pants
JenHoward Howard Jennifer Chronicle Higher Ed
shadowsun7 James Eli Novelr
jaquith Jaquith Waldo Univ. of Virginia
UDCMRK Kalfatovic Martin BioDiversity Heritage Library
bookmasters Kasher Bob Bookmasters
billkendrick Kendrick Bill Smashwords
selfpubbootcamp King Carla PBS MediaShift
metasj Klein SJ OLPC
booksquare Krozser Kassia Booksquare
curiouslee Lee Mike OLPC / AARP
jacoblewism Lewis Jacob Figment Fiction
jessielorenz Lorenz Jessie Independent Living SF
ivorymadison Madison Ivory Red Room
armco Malkin Andrew Overbrook Consulting
kevinmarks Marks Kevin Independent
ronmartinez Martinez Ron Invention Arts
hughmcguire McGuire Hugh BookOven
emckean McKean Erin Wordnik
abrahammertens Mertens Abraham Red Room
KatMeyer Meyer Kat O’Reilly Media
bookglutton Miller Aaron BookGlutton
calliemiller Miller Callie LitLife
craigmod Mod Craig Pre/Post Books
tiny_librarian Morin Becky California Acad Sci
m_murrell Murrell Mary UC Berkeley
R_Nash Nash Richard Cursor Books
allennoren Noren Allen O’Reilly Media
brianoleary O’Leary Brian Magellan Partners
josephpearson Pearson Joseph Monocle
pilsks Pilsk Suzanne Smithsonian Inst Libraries
poezn Porath Michael UC Berkeley I-School
draccah Raccah Dominique Sourcebooks
Ebooq Reed Cartwright ebooq
sol613 Rosenberg Sol Copia
ericrumseytemp Rumsey Eric Univ of Iowa
jason_schultz_ Schultz Jason UC Berkeley
letiziasechi Sechi Letizia Bookrepublic
ifbook Stein Bob If Book
mtamblyn Tamblyn Michael Kobo Books
pthompson Thompson Patrick Inkstone Software
ftoolan Toolan Fran Firebrand Tech
minh_truong Truong Minh Aldiko
aweber9 Weber Andrew Random House
dwilk Wilk David Creative Mgmt Partners
adamwitwer Witwer Adam O’Reilly Media
tiffanycmw Wong Tiffany Aldiko

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumseytemp AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumseytemp

In a companion case study of searching for a book title in Google Book Search (GBS), I reported that there were multiple editions from Google Books but no editions from Internet Archive (IA). In this article, I report on searching the same title — Diagnostic and therapeutic technic, by Albert S. Morrow — directly in Internet Archive. GBS found four editions for the book, and IA finds three, from a variety of sources.


The list below is the titles retrieved in searching for Diagnostic and therapeutic technic in IA, in the rank they appeared:

• 1. Diagnostic and  therapeutic technic, 1911
Digitizing sponsor: Google; From the collections of: Harvard University; Downloads: 43
Source: Google: GBS-Library: Harvard

• 2. Diagnostic and  therapeutic technic, 1911
Digitizing sponsor: Google; From the collections of: unknown library; Downloads: 39
Source: Google: GBS-Library: Stanford

• 3. Diagnostic and  Therapeutic Technic, 1921
Digitizing sponsor: Google; from the collections of: unknown library; Downloads: 21
Source: Google: GBS-Library: Stanford

• 4. Diagnostic and  therapeutic technic, 1915
Digitizing sponsor: Google; from the collections of: Harvard University; Downloads: 27
Source: Google: GBS-Library: Harvard

• 5. Diagnostic and therapeutic technic, 1915
From scan: “Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from Open Knowledge Commons”
Digitizing sponsor: Open Knowledge Commons; Contributor: Columbia University Libraries; Downloads: 2

• 6. Diagnostic and  therapeutic technic, 1915
Digitizing sponsor: MSN; Contributor: University of California Libraries; Collection: americana, CDL; Downloads: 130

• 7. Diagnostic and  therapeutic technic, 1921
Digitizing sponsor: MSN; Contributor: Gerstein – University of Toronto; Downloads: 67

Observations and conclusions

Sources of records:

  • The first four records are from Google Book Search (although it’s not all of the records for the title that are in GBS). The IA record for these includes the URL for the corresponding GBS record without linking directly, so I’ve added links to help see the connection.
  • MSN books (#6 – #7) came to IA from the Microsoft effort to scan books in competition with Google, which ended in 2008.
  • Open Knowledge Commons (#5) is the only record that’s not GBS or MSN — It’s apparently related to a new effort by OKC  to scan medical books.

As in GBS, the reasoning for the placement of the different records — different editions and different contributing libraries — is ambiguous. The only order seems to be that records from the same sources are together.

The number of downloads appears to be a good indication of how long a record has been in IA. The MSN records (#6, #7) have been in the longest and have the most downloads. The GBS records (#1 – #4) were apparently entered later, at about the same time, since they have similar download numbers. The Open Knowledge Commons record (#5) was just entered this year, and only has two downloads.

The most interesting finding in this little case study (combined with the one on Google Book Search) is the duplication of GBS records in IA. This raises the question of how the two scanning efforts relate to each other — Which books from GBS are duplicated in IA? Is IA able to scan any full-view books in GBS? Do they particularly scan books from some contributing libraries?

Related articles:

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumseytemp AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumseytemp

I searched a small sample of ten pre-1923, public-domain books in Google Web Search in the last week, to find full-text versions, with the results below. These are all non-fiction titles, chosen more/less randomly, in subject fields of my interest — Medicine, botany, and history.


I did the searches in Google Web Search as detailed below — I looked at the first ten results, and recorded all occurrences of freely-available full-view versions for each title, with rank number. I’ve identified the GBS records by the library that scanned the book. For Internet Archive (IA), I’ve identified records by sponsor/contributor, and also noted whether the link goes to the book home page or the DjVu-formatted version of the book.

Both Google Books & Internet Archive records found:

• 1. American medical botany, Cummings and Hilliard, 1817
Google Web Search: American medical botany cummings
. . # 3 GBS-Library: Oxford Univ
. . # 7 GBS-Library: Harvard
. . # 9 IA:  Book Home Page – Sponsor & Contrib: NCSU

• 2. Portfolio of dermochromes, Jerome Kingsbury, 1913 (3 volumes)
Google Web Search: portfolio dermochromes kingsbury
. . # 1 GBS-Library: Harvard – Volume 1
. . # 5 IA:  Book Home Page – Volume 1 – Sponsor: IA; Contrib: U California
. . # 6 IA:  DjVu format – Volume 2 – Sponsor: IA; Contrib: U California

• 3. The Complete herbalist, or, The people their own physicians, Oliver Phelps Brown, 1870
Google Web Search: Complete herbalist, or, The people their own physicians
. . # 1 IA:  Book Home Page – Sponsor: Lyrasis, Sloan Fndtn; Contrib: Rutgers
. . # 2 IA:  Book Home Page – Sponsor: MSN; Contrib: U California
. . # 8 GBS-Library: Harvard

• 4. English and American tool builders, Joseph W. Roe, 1916
Google Web Search: english and american tool builders roe
. . # 1 GBS-Library: Harvard
. . # 4 IA:  Book Home Page – Sponsor: Boston Lib Consortium; Contrib: Northeastern U
. . # 5 IA:  DjVu format – Full Text of #4

• 5. Health service in industry, Irving Clark, 1922
Google Web Search: health service in industry clark
. . # 1 GBS-Library: California
. . # 2 IA:  Book Home Page – Sponsor: MSN; Contrib: U Toronto
. . # 3 IA:  Book Home Page – Sponsor: Google; Contrib: ?

• 6. History of medicine in its salient features, Walter Libby, 1922
Google Web Search: history of medicine in its salient features libby
. . # 1 GBS-Library: Harvard
. . # 4 IA:  DjVu record – Sponsor: MSN; Contrib: U California

Only Google Books records found, none from Internet Archive:

• 7. The Theory and practice of veterinary medicine, Austin H. Baker, Alexander Eger, 1911
Google Web Search: theory and practice of veterinary medicine baker
. . # 1 GBS-Library: Wisconsin

• 8. Atlas of diseases of the skin, Franz Mraček, ed. by Henry W. Stelwagon, 1899
Google Web Search: atlas diseases of the skin stelwagon
. . # 1 GBS-Library: Harvard – umQPAAAAYAAJ

• 9. How are you feeling now, Edwin Sabin, 1917
Google Web Search: how are you feeling now sabin
. . # 1 GBS-Library: California

Only in Google Books – Publisher Preview only – Google Book Search has in Full-view:

• 10. Beyond the Mississippi : from the great river to the great ocean, Albert Richardson, 1867
Google Web Search: beyond the mississippi richardson
. . # 3 GBS-Publisher: Preview of 2007 reprint, no full-view available. The title IS available when searched directly in Google Book Search ->>
>> Google Book Search search, limit to Full view: beyond the mississippi richardson
. . # 1 GBS-Library: Virginia


This is certainly not a larger enough sample to draw many conclusions, but I think it does show a few things:

  • There’s a lot of overlap between what’s in the two sources – The first 6 of the 10 books searched are in both Google Books (GBS) and Internet Archive (IA).
  • Not surprisingly, when there are titles in both sources, Google usually ranks GBS higher than IA (one exception: #3).
  • Libraries represented in GBS – Harvard predominates, with 6 of the 10 records — This fits my general Googling experience. Univ California is second with 2 records — This is a higher proportion than I’ve experienced.
  • IA sources – 3 of the 6 records have MSN as sponsor; of these, 2 are contributed by Univ California.
  • Links to Internet Archive are haphazard – In most cases there’s a link to the Book Home Page, as there should be, since it has a list of different formats available. In some cases, there’s also a link to the DjVu format, and in one case (#10), that’s the only link. Why does Google link to this format instead of others? Maybe it’s because DjVu is good for displaying pages with pictures. But the version of the DjVu format that Google links to is not the best one, as I’ve discussed previously.
  • In one case (#10), Google Web Search didn’t find any full-view versions, and Google Book Search did find one.

My purpose here was not to look at the proportion of all books that are in GBS or IA — That would take a larger sample, and more systematic randomizing. But I can report that I did find most of the titles I searched, which surprised me.

As I report in a separate article, it’s likely that there are  GBS or IA versions of other editions of many of these books, that could be found by searching directly in these sources.

There were no full-text versions in the Google Web Searches I did from any other source than GBS or IA. I was surprised at this, especially that Gutenberg.org did not appear in any of the search results.

Caveat: The results for the specific searches in Google Web Search will certainly change over time, so the study should be thought of as capturing a moment in time, not results set in stone!

Related articles:

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumseytemp AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumseytemp