As we head from spring into summer, the birds are singing up a storm. In fact, I’ve noticed that they begin their daily song at approximately 4:00 each morning–when they wake me up.
Birdsong has become an active research topic, especially among neuroscientists. A key reason for this is that—like humans—some species of songbirds learn to vocalize through exposure to a tutor, like a parent, for example. I learned this from an article we recently uploaded to UScholar Works, Synthesizing Bird Song, co-authored by Franz Goller, a Biology Professor here at The University of Utah.
Goller and his co-authors created a physical model of the process by which a bird learns to sing and create songs. The physical model uses actual birdsongs and creates new songs based on these, electronically. Equations that take as input measurements of the varying air pressure and tension in the syrinx (the bird’s voice organ), are used to control the researchers’ electronic syrinx. A sonogram of the resulting electronic song is then compared to a sonogram of the original. Essentially, the electronic syrinx “learns” a new song that incorporates many of the characteristics of the original birdsong. That’s pretty neat.
“As goes General Motors, so goes the nation,” Lee Iacocca reportedly said. With GM’s bankruptcy headlining the news in recent days, Ken Jameson’s article in USpace called “Castle or the tipi: rationalization or irrationality in the American economy” seems timely (originally published in 1972 in the journal Review of Politics). Written in response to the American economy in the 1960s, the article discusses the tension between an economy based on the castle and one based on the tipi. Jameson concludes that the contradictions in these two economic approaches can lead to fundamental change. GM represents the castle metaphor Jameson uses: it’s multinational, expansive and has several lines and brands. Now owned 60% by the federal government, perhaps Jameson would say GM is moving more towards the tipi: fewer distinct products, smaller geographic area of business and fewer mergers and acquisitions. While we watch what happens with GM (and our nation’s economy as a whole), Jameson’s final analysis provides some perspective: “castle and tipi interrelate in a fashion which yields stability to a system which would otherwise be unstable.”
About a month ago, over 100,000 people began working for the 2010 Census . The upcoming census has already been generating news in some states, partly because of a concern that some immigrant populations will be undercounted. Why am I thinking about the 2010 Census? Well, we recently uploaded a new article, Leaving Gateway Metropolitan Areas in the United States: Immigrants and the Housing Market , by Gary Painter of USC and Zhou Yu, an Assistant Professor in Family and Consumer Studies here at The University of Utah. The article details where the new emerging immigrant gateways are in the United States and also presents some surprising findings related to immigrant populations and homeownership. The data used for the article was from the 2000 Census. Now as we prepare for 2010, I’m wondering what the newest census data will yield for scholars like Painter and Yu.
The Marriott Library’s digital collections page is a gateway to various formats of digital content including text, sound and video (to name a few). The Marriott Library is diligently working to expand its digital audio collections such as the Western Soundscape Archive and the Doris Duke Oral Histories. The Digital Technologies department is presently trying to perfect certain facets of the audio format workflow such as file compression, format selection, long term preservation and accurate representation of the compressed files. The recent focus on audio makes WSA (Western Soundscape Archive) a well deserved candidate for this week’s show and tell.
The Western Soundscape Archive collection has benefited from much deserved attention in the form of press releases and podcasts, and is now also being aired as a weekly radio series on KUER. This is a unique and searchable online collection featuring audio recordings of species and of their natural environment in the western United States. The source audio files are recorded by a team of recording engineers and are handed off to the Marriott Library where they are compressed and streamed as MP4. In September of 2007, the WSA collection was a recipient of a three year National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and it has accomplished much since then. The collection varies anywhere from sound recordings of species in their natural habitat, to ambient recordings of soundscapes, and spectrograms (visual representations) of acoustic observations of the Natural Sounds Program, conducted by the National Parks Services.
If you care for a wonderful alternative to sitting down and replying to a work email, or sweating over the deadline for that dreaded report, then look no further; follow a crew of biologists trekking through the grounds of the Beaufort Lagoon of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and listen to the whimsical call of an arctic fox (because I know that is something you have always wanted to do!):
You can also follow Jeff Rice (co-Principle Investigator for Western Soundscape Archive) to the beautiful Red Butte Gardens of Salt Lake City while he records the rattlings of a Great Basin rattle snake :
Or better yet, check out the Burrowing Owls of Snake River, Idaho while they mimic rattle snakes!:
Open Access News
How the internet is transforming scholarly research and publication
More on U-SKIS
By Peter Suber
Anne Morrow and Allyson Mower, University Scholarly Knowledge Inventory System: A Workflow System for Institutional Repositories, Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 47, 3-4 (2009) pp. 286-296.
Abstract: The University Scholarly Knowledge Inventory System (U-SKIS) provides workspace for institutional repository staff. U-SKIS tracks files, communications, and publishers’ archiving policies to determine what may be added to a repository. A team at the University of Utah developed the system as part of a strategy to gather previously published peer-reviewed articles. As campus outreach programs developed, coordinators quickly amassed thousands of journal articles requiring copyright research and permission. This article describes the creation of U-SKIS, addresses the educational role U-SKIS plays in the scholarly communication arena, and explores the implications of implementing scalable workflow systems for other digital collections.
PS: Also see our past posts on U-SKIS.
Data are at the heart of any discipline no matter if its chemistry, nursing, education, ophthalmology, social work, fine arts or business. Understanding the data, interpreting them and deriving meaning will, of course, depend on those working within the discipline. A research team at the University of Utah was formed to explore these notions by looking for new ways of gathering data across disciplines and finding ways of visualizing them for end users. The team–called Center for the Representation of Multi-Dimensional Information (CROMDI)–received grants from both the National Institutes of Health and the State of Utah to work on the “the display of information in ﬁve domains: anesthesiology, ﬁnance, process control, network security and monitoring, and live art performance.” The project cyberPRINT was a result of this group as well as numerous journal articles and performances. The most recent journal article, “Between art, science and technology: data representation architecture,” can be found in the U Scholar Works collection of USpace: http://content.lib.utah.edu/u?/ir-main,14299