Data Failure First-hand

A lot has been made recently of AT&T’s seeming inability to support their millions of iPhone users and the associated data needs. Lately it seems that a new story pops up every day highlighting some flaw in AT&T’s network and/or ability to handle data demands.

Many of the stories are anecdotal, so here’s one more personal anecdote to add to the growing evidence.

Note the irony of the photo above: with good signal strength and a 3G connection, I still received the infamous “No Internet Connection” message. This happened repeatedly on a recent central Florida trip. In areas of strong coverage, AT&T’s network was simply unable to move data. This occurred in an area that plays host to thousands of guests, and unfortunately this seemed to be the norm rather than the exception. You’d think that a well-known tourist destination would be a logical place to beef up the network, but apparently it isn’t. No wonder so many people are waiting for Verizon to start carrying the iPhone!

Visualizing Your Web Browsing History

Charts, graphs, interesting statistics – whatever it may be, I’m often intrigued when people find new ways of looking at or representing data – especially when it’s somewhat boring data to begin with! I found an interesting tool the other day, and the gears have been turning as I try to think of ways that libraries could use this.

The tool is Voyage, an add-on for Firefox. Voyage creates a graphical representation of your web browsing history, and it helps you visualize what paths you followed to reach content.


There are a couple of potential applications that spring to mind here. Voyage could potentially be used for website usability. By creating a visual roadmap leading from start to data, people can better understand the routes users take in navigating their websites. Beyond just usability though, I can imagine this tool being useful to those who do library instruction by help them understand the same thing: how do users navigate to the content they need? By reviewing a user’s search history, a seasoned searcher might be able to help refine the person’s technique in order to make them more efficient.

People have a number of ways that they try to measure, examine, and interpret user data. Every little bit of data that we can analyze helps to refine the user’s experience, so now we have one more gadget in the tool belt.

Google Goggles

If you haven’t heard about Google Goggles yet, it’s worth checking out. We all do text searches, and some folks are doing voice search as well. But how about a visual search? I don’t mean searching for an image – I mean using an image as the search object. Goggles is currently available for Android phones. I’m curious to see whether Google will roll out a version for the iPhone, WebOS, or other platforms. Goggles’ potential is easy to see (no pun intended). Time will tell whether there is a demand for this type of search. The things that work are interesting enough. However, I think the things that Google says it can’t do (yet) are even more interesting!

Enough Already!

Social media tools are enjoying a heady run with seemingly more popping up on the scene every day. Every company/organization/celebrity under the sun is trying to get is to follow their data streams. There reaches a point though, when we sometimes need to say, “Enough is enough!”

Case in point: Recently I saw a Twitter post about a new automated storage facility being unveiled by the British Library. I followed the link to the story in the Yorkshire Evening Post, and I was pretty shocked by what I saw when I tried to read the article.

Newspapers are ad-supported. I get that. We all get that. Lots of websites are ad-supported as well. We all get it. In fact, most of us are probably pretty adept at just zooming in on the story and ignoring all of the surrounding garbage stuff. It’s a little annoying when they insert ads in the body of the story and we have to dodge around them, but again, we’re kind of used to it. However, when they start disguising their little plugs as section headers within the story, it has gone too far.

As I read through through the story, the first two plugs were links to content elsewhere on the website. However, the next two were links to the paper’s Twitter and Facebook presence. I really didn’t need those masquerading as section headers within the story, especially when there is a handy-dandy social media box right below the story.

So you have some social media accounts, and you’re proud of them. Well and good. Just don’t shove them in our faces, please. I can find them in the little box . . . if I need them.