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Librarian Blog

How Wimberley skews

In our planning here at the library, we take into account all the demographic information we can get our hands on.

Today, a new dataset was released through the Texas State Library from a company called ESRI. The data give us a snapshot of what our ZIP code -- 78676 -- looks like.

And basically the information just confirms what Census data have already shown: We are older than the rest of the state and nation; we are wealthier; and we are more likely to be retired or, at least, empty nesters.

Not many surprises there. But, what does that kind of data tell us about what we should plan for in library services? We're talking about that.

Now's the time ...

With the holidays looming right before us, it is time for you and your friends to start working on that home movie for entry in the first Wimberley Film Festival and competition.

The library is sponsoring this event, which won't happen if we don't get some entries.

Movies should be 5 to 7 minutes in length, including credits, and should be submitted to us on a DVD.

I've heard there's some interest in the home-school community here, but no one has come around to get a copy of the rules.

Deadline is 5 p.m. Dec. 31.

Lights! Camera! Action!

Impressive

Libraries around the country are doing some incredible things far beyond the world of books and reading.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported this week on the opening of a Center for Public Media at the Pikes Peak Library called Library 21c.

That's a boring name for an exciting new venture.

The center staff hopes to help future filmmakers, video producers, musicians and others produce their own high-quality videos.

The study has video cameras, lights and editing programs.

The library will offer courses on studio sound, directing, producing and editing. And anyone who wants to use the lab will have to take a 101-type course to be able to reserve it.

Now, that's pretty darn cool, when you think about how much it would cost a college student, say, to produce his or her own video.

This is cutting-edge use of technology.

Other libraries are doing less extravagant things for their maker communities. And we have plans here to put together a maker space. If you have ideas about what you'd like to see, let us know.

Take hacking seriously

Just days before Christmas last year, my bank canceled my credit card.

Seems that my personal data had been stolen in the monumental Target hack.

A few weeks ago, the bank canceled my credit card again. This time, I was somehow involved in the Home Depot hack.

I never got an apology from Target. And I'm still waiting for one from Home Depot, but I'm sure not holding my breath.

So, I am very much on board with the movement to hold corporate boards of directors responsible for the safety of their customers' information.

I read about it recently online. My favorite quote is from John Kindervag, security analyst at Forrester: "We live in the post-Target era. There's a moral obligation to consider firing an executive team because of a data breach. It's a huge business failure."

Amen to that.

Meanwhile, I'm no longer shopping at Target or Home Depot. Maybe if all their customers took seriously this business of being hacked, we'd get directors attention.

Did a robot write this?

Humans have long been intrigued with robots, most recently as aerial drones but also as substitutes in other fields -- such as writing.

A few years ago, some programmers came up with a robot that they said could write simple sports stories. Give the computer a score and a simple play-by-play, and off it would go sprinting toward making an early deadline.

Most of the work in that direction did not get very far, or had not gotten very far when I left journalism about four years ago. (One crazy prediction: They will never replace Kirk Bohls.)

This past weekend Lisa Granshaw wrote in the Daily Dot online about robots that are working on fiction. One at Georgia Institute of Technology takes plot and action and comes up with something similar to a story line, although it's pretty darn rudimentary and not very interesting and also clunky sounding.

Two other robots she discusses toss out story ideas. To my ear, they sounded like simple machines that matched words from Column A to phrases from Columns B and C and threw those out for us to think about. Not especially ingenious.

If these are the latest and greatest forays into replacing human writers, there is still a long, long way to go.

And, no -- a robot did not write this blog.