Tuesday, April 24, 2007

the death of hi-fi?

Audiofile - Salon: "Along with the album and the record store, we can evidently add high-fidelity sound to the list of things devalued by digital music. According to an Associated Press article, the struggles of audio equipment retailers like Tweeter and Circuit City, as well as the continued popularity of sonically sub-par digital file formats (e.g., MP3s), are proof of people's waning interest in high-quality sound.

An audio expert quoted in the story likens the difference between the sound quality of an iPod and a high-end stereo system to the difference between a 'moped' and a 'Ferrari.' So why are so many people willing to settle? Because they like convenience and have bad ears, that's why.

In more delicate terms, the article points out that the sonic disparity between digital audio files and 'better' formats is indistinguishable to all but the sharpest audiophiles. And even if they can detect some difference, most listeners are happy to accept a loss of quality for an increase in storage capacity and portability. A hi-fi stereo might sound great, but an iPod's a lot easier to use on the stairmaster.

Not to reveal my latent dorkiness, but simmering underneath this article is a question I've thought about a lot. What exactly is 'good sound' anyway? Frankly, I'm pretty much in the same boat as the guy quoted in the story who said, 'I honestly can't really tell the difference between CD, tape and digital."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Feature Detection - A Tool for Unifying Dictionary Definitions


Feature Detection - A Tool for Unifying Dictionary Definitions

Jørg Asmussen

Det Danske Sprog- og Litteraturselskab, DSL

Society for Danish Language and Literature, DSL

Dept. for Digital Dictionaries and Text Corpora

Christians Brygge 1

DK-1219 Copenhagen K


The London Library

The London Library:


The London Library was founded in 1841, as an independent subscription library designed to serve the needs of readers and scholars by lending books for use at home. It was not the first such subscription library, but it was the first to collect and offer more than new books for current needs, to provide the range of books spanning several centuries otherwise only available in major reference libraries.

The Library owes its foundation to the vision of Thomas Carlyle, who in many ways remains its tutelary genius. But he was not alone in his desire to establish an institution which would allow subscribers to enjoy something of the wealth of a national library for use in their own homes: the Earl of Clarendon, that enlightened early-Victorian politician, was the Library's first president, Thackeray its first auditor; Gladstone and Sir Edward Bunbury were on the first committee. Early members included Dickens and George Eliot. The Library's long-standing role at the centre of the intellectual life of the nation is reflected in the roll-call of its past presidents and vice-presidents, which include Tennyson, Kipling, T.S. Eliot, Rebecca West and Isaiah Berlin. The Library's current president is Tom Stoppard.

Search the Online Catalogue (For pre-1950 acquisitions please also consult the printed catalogues

Literary Encyclopedia: Circulating Libraries: " became an important cultural institution in Britain in the 1780s, doing much to enable the rising middle class to have access to a broad range of reading material, especially fiction. "

he first instances of lending books for money can be traced back as early as 1660s when there are records of booksellers allowing customers to borrow books for a fee as an alternative to outright purchase. Over time, it is believed, such booksellers began to differentiate their stock between titles for sale and titles for rent. The first recorded library dedicated to circulating books for a fee appears to have been that of Allan Ramsay, the Scottish poet, who rented books from his shop in Edinburgh in 1725.

The practice gained momentum and by the 1740s there were at least three circulating libraries operating in London. The term “circulating library” is first recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary as being used in a proposal by Samuel Fancourt, who had previously managed a library in Salisbury, to establish such a library in London in 1742.