Glossary functionality

The National Weather Service has added glossary links for technical terms and acronyms in the text products surfaced via their website, e.g. the Huntsville Area Forecast Discussion. The links point to a separate glossary application, which doesn't seem to succeed in looking up the word that's passed by the link.


What I'd really love, even beyond getting this particular app to actually work, is a mouseover kite containing the appropriate gloss. There are all sorts of javascripty ways to do that, but the easiest way (in a modern browser, if the gloss is short) is to simply wrap the technical term or acronym in a span element with a title attribute containing the textual gloss. Fewer clicks, more happiness.

This sort of functionality should be a standard component, IMO, of any technical document (a classics journal article, say) that's posted to the web with any desire to reach students or a non-specialist audience. With a bit of infrastructure work, and maintenance of a glossary, it could be made to happen almost automagically as part of a publishing workflow. I'm sure there are sites where that's already the case.

Concordia licensing and openness

Andy Powell hopes "that the conditions of funding in this case mandated that the resulting resources be made open rather than just free" and wonders what licenses will govern the content produced or incorporated by the various projects funded under the joint NEH/JISC Transatlantic Digitization Collaboration grants.

I can only speak for the Concordia project, a collaboration of ISAW and CCH.

In answer to the first question: no, I am not aware of any mandate placed on us in this regard. We did make explicit commitments of our own in our proposal about licensing, and we're now bound to abide by those.

Here is a list of the software and content that we will use, modify or produce, indicating the license that now governs (or will govern) each:

Tastes like mushrooms

I enjoyed reading William J. Broad's "Inside the Black Budget" in today's New York Times, even though in the end I think the title is a little misleading (there's also an accompanying slideshow). The article is an imperfect mashup between a soft piece on the Bush White House, the Pentagon's black budget and Trevor Paglen's new book I Could Tell You but Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me (Brooklyn, Melville Publishing House, 2007; ISBN: 9781933633329). I found the patches aspect to be the most interesting angle, even though the black budget and its increase under this administration is a news-worthy topic of significant importance.

Soldiers, veterans and defense contractors know that patches, both official and unofficial, are a ubiquitous part of the visual culture of the military and the industries that support it. As the article notes, patches and their heraldry "are real if often unofficial efforts at building team spirit." They are sometimes also vehicles for advertising, and for satire and social commentary, aspects that go unaddressed in Broad's article.

I was surprised that there was no effort to decode a patch that's mentioned prominently:

One patch shows a space alien with huge eyes holding a stealth bomber near its mouth. “To Serve Man” reads the text above, a reference to a classic “Twilight Zone” episode in which man is the entree, not the customer. “Gustatus Similis Pullus” reads the caption below, dog Latin for “Tastes Like Chicken.”
It's just a guess, but I don't think that's a patch for a unit that flies stealth aircraft.

And then there's "semper in obscurus," featuring a big mushroom. This is blandly captioned by the Times (presumably following Paglen) thus: "Special Projects Office: Oversaw F-117A stealth fighter support." Can our intrepid researcher and reporter not have heard the standard line -- ubiquitous in defense circles -- about being treated like a mushroom?:
They keep me in the dark and feed me bullshit.
I don't think that one's got a straightforward positive morale message.

Somewhere I've still got a very unofficial patch that started circulating among active-duty personnel at Grissom Air Force Base in the early 1990s, shortly after its realignment to the Air Force Reserve was announced. It features an individual in BDUs reclining in a desk chair with his feet up on the desk and his hands clasped behind his head. A box on the desk, labeled "IN", is piled high with papers; there's a spiderweb in the "OUT" box. The caption is an acronym: FITBIC. There was more than one expansion widely offered for that acronym. The one intended for anyone senior who asked was: "Faith, Integrity, Trust. Because I care." I'll leave it to you, gentle readers, to puzzle out the other supplement.

Comment feed recycle?

Well, either my feed reader is playing up, or Blogger somehow/why reset all comment feeds this morning. And it's not just this blog: the comment feed for AWBG reset too.

Concordia grant award

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a nice event at the Folger library during which the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities announced the award of 5 grants under the NEH/JISC joint Transatlantic Digitization Collaboration rubric (press release).

I'm happy to report that Pleiades is part of one of the winning proposals. The award goes jointly to ISAW at NYU and to CCH/Classics at King's College, London for a collaboration we're calling "Concordia" (to reflect its focus on cross-project interoperability). The principal investigators are Roger Bagnall and Charlotte Roueché. Sean Gillies, Gabriel Bodard and I will join them in working on the project. The period of performance is 1 April 2008 - 31 March 2009.

What will we do?

Our advisory board: