Genealogy, Japan, Wales, More: Afternoon Buzz, July 10, 2012

Harvard Metalab has a blog post reflecting back on the first week of beta release for the Digital Archive of Japan’s 2011 Disasters. “Now, through the power of this custom implementation of the Zeega Engine, anyone can browse, annotate and visualize the 884,669 items (current) indexed by the archive; they can also use these items to build and share collections.”

Dick Eastman hips us to new offerings from FamilySearch: “76 million much-anticipated state census, naturalization, immigration, and vital records were added this week for 22 states, including Ohio, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.”

More genealogy: censuses from Iceland.

Wales gets crazy organized with the plants: “Wales has become the first country in the world to DNA barcode all of its flowering plants—a scientific breakthrough that opens up vast potential for the future of plant conservation and human health…. The Barcode Wales project was led by Dr. Natasha de Vere, head of conservation and research at the National Botanic Garden. Working closely with Dr. Tim Rich of the National Museum Wales, and with significant commitment from Garden volunteers and staff, she and her team have created a reference database of DNA barcodes based on Wales’ 1,143 species of native flowering plants and conifers, assembling more than 5,700 DNA barcodes.”

LifeHacker has a quick article on TopHQBooks, a search engine for free PDF books. Well, PDF items — I saw a catalog when I was poking around. But there are still over 5.5 million items here. Search or browse by country., the National Science Foundation Web site, has gotten a redesign. “The updated home page features a number of changes that include new graphics, more ‘white space,’ fewer overall links and a larger area for highlighting stories important to the work NSF supports.”

More Creative Commons por voo: “For anyone interested in Greek and Latin manuscripts, the scholarly landscape changed dramatically last week when the e-codices project announced that all its material is now available under a Creative Commons license.” Good afternoon, Internet…

Find Open Educational Resources and More

Hey! This looks pretty handy. The Open Educational Resources Center for California has a pretty unusual URL — — but a nice collection of resources that goes into open source education and a little beyond.

The front of this site has a great left nav that leads you to seven different resources for finding open textbooks, four each for open educational resources and open courseware, five resources for open media, and two resources for open quizzes. The front page also has some information on the open education movement and links to additional resources. Looking for something more specific? You can get category links to over 400 open textbooks here.

While you’re at the site, check out the Five Steps to Open Textbook Adoption and the goals of the OER Center for California. It’s a little sad; there’s a forum here but nobody’s participating in it, and the site itself feels a bit empty. Maybe take the ebook resources and turn them into a custom search engine?

Metasearch eBooks With Addall

Thanks to TeleRead for the pointer to AddAll’s new e-book search engine, available at The pointer from the front page says that it’s “available for testing,” so perhaps it’s in beta, but it worked fine for me. It searches over 30 ebook sites to find stuff for you to read.

You can search for ebooks by author, title, or keyword/ISBN. I did a search for winter in the title field. After a short wait I got a list of 1370 books. They were presented in a table that showed title, author, price, site, format, and description. You can sort all of those fields except description, so if you’re looking for cheap reads it’s easy to sort results so the no-cost books come first (as a matter of fact, that’s the default sorting method!)

If you click on the title in the search result you’ll go straight to the site that has the book — on the front page of my search I found books from Smashwords, Feedbooks, Project Gutenberg, and Manybooks. As I moved further into the site and got money results, I found books from Powells, Sony eBooks, CyberRead, and Fictionwise.

Of course, 1370 books is a bit many, so I was glad at the bottom of my page of search results I also got an advanced search form that let me narrow my search down by book format (Kindle, HTML, PDF, etc) as well as exclude keywords. I narrowed down my search to PDF and Kindle titles that weren’t authored by Shakespeare and … still got 503 results. I tried.

While I can think of other ways I’d like to search for books, like genre, this is a nice start. How about some RSS feeds so I can keep up with digital releases from my favorite authors? There’s not enough Rex Stout available in e-book format….

New Zealand Gets Its Own Free Text Archive

It’s not humongous like Google Books, but it’s certainly respectable! New Zealand now has the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (NZETC), over 1000 electronic books that feature well-known books about, by, or relating to New Zealand and New Zealanders (or I hope they don’t mind if I call them Kiwis.) The new site is available at

You can do a keyword search (there’s a simple or an advanced search) or you can browse. You can browse by author, by works, or by subject (Contemporary and Historical Māori and Pacific Islands, Language, Literature, New Zealand History, etc.)

I chose Historical Māori and Pacific Islands, not knowing enough to do a really good keyword search. The NZETC gave me a list of titles, from A Bibliography of Online Resources for the “Moko; or Maori Tattooing” Project to ‘A Curious Document’: Ta Moko as Evidence of Pre-European Textual Culture in New Zealand. I clicked on Legends of the Maori, as that looked interesting, and got what looked like an outline of a book. Each item in the outline had a direct link to that part of the book as an HTML page. You could read the book on the page if you wish, though sometimes I wished there was some kind of hyperlinked glossary. I initially had no idea what a pakeha was, nor a kai-haukai, and while I could and did look them up, it distracted me from my reading.

If you want to view the books on your e-reader, the NZETC makes the books available in ePUB format or TEI XML. I don’t think my Kindle will read ePub, but after doing a little bit of research I found Calibre, which is an open source program which converts to/from a variety of e-book formats (the useful pair in my case is from ePub to MOBI.)

The Maori stuff in the archive is fascinating to me, but I’m sure all of it’s worth a browse. Kudos New Zealand! Oh, and thanks for letting me access these materials as well, even though I’m over 8000 miles away.

Project Gutenberg, Still Awesome in 2009

It’s nice to know that in the age of iThis and 2.0That and eTheOther some Internet projects just keep going, keep whirring along, piling up all kinds of awesome. Such as Project Gutenberg, the book digitization project which is has been going since 1971.

You get a great sense of what has been accomplished if you go through the 2008 Year In Review, available at Several things were accomplished over the last year, including indexing of the CIA World Factbooks from 1990-2008 and the creation of a Firefox Plugin.

Project Gutenberg now has over 30,000 books available on its Web site. You can get a full set of statistics at, and of course the Project Gutenberg catalog at And look, if you haven’t visited the site in a while, check it out. You can now get audio books, sheet music, and ISO images for CD and DVD burning.

Congratulations Project Gutenberg! Here’s to another 37 years.