Formal Speaking

Spring & Summer Speaking schedule

Spring and Summer are bringing another round of speaking appearances, all of which I am very excited to be doing. I’m heading to some great conferences and am really excited to meet awesome librarians across the country.  If you are going to be attending any of the following, please say hello!

If you are planning a conference in the Fall or Winter and are looking for someone to talk libraries, technology, the failures of the present and the promise of the future, or the promise of the present and the failures of the future, get in touch. I would love to speak for your libraries and librarians.

Photo credit: Cindi Blyberg

raspberry pi camera

Measure the Future and Privacy

If you are curious about the Measure the Future project (using simple and inexpensive sensors that can collect data about building usage to make strategic decisions that create more efficient and effective experiences for patrons) and how that might overlap with library patron privacy concerns, I posted a lengthy outline of the ideas and concepts on that front over on the Measure the Future blog.

An excerpt:

The thing that I’ve gotten the most comments and emails about is the degree to which Measure the Future is “creepy.” There is both and implicit and explicit expectation of privacy in information seeking in a library, and when someone says they are thinking about putting cameras in and watching patron behavior…well, I totally see why some people would characterize that as creepy.

So here’s why what I am planning isn’t creepy. At least, I don’t think so.

Go and read the rest if you’re interested.

Carbon3D_logo_oncharcoal

Carbon3D Printer Analysis

This morning, a new 3D printing company (Carbon3D) won the marketing lottery, by appearing in a story in the Washington Post, and then being featured pretty much everywhere possible online. They were tweeted hundreds of times.

While I trust that they really are doing something different, the overall technology isn’t new…it is a variation on stereolithography,  which predates fused deposition modeling (what most library 3d printers are using) as a technology. It’s not even the first consumer level stereolithographic printer! The Form 1 (http://formlabs.com/products/form-1-plus/) has been out for a couple of years now, and at least one library (Darien) has one in operation.

In order to figure out what it was that they were doing differently, I had to read their paper that was published yesterday in Science. Unsurprisingly, WaPo got a lot of the tech wrong, or at the very least wrote it in such a way that it is very confused. Take this section:

“To create an object, CLIP projects specific bursts of light and oxygen. Light hardens the resin, and oxygen keeps it from hardening. By controlling light and oxygen exposure in tandem, intricate shapes and latices can be made in one piece instead of the many layers of material that usually make up a 3D printed object.”

“Bursts of oxygen”? You can’t “project” oxygen into a liquid like you can a laser. And “instead of the many layers” is also raising red flags. There may not be distinct layers in the same way as FDM printing, but there must be some form of progressive building.

What is actually going on is that they are, indeed, using a UV projector to selectively harden a photosensitive resin. What is different about their approach is that they are projecting through a membrane that is selectively oxygen permeable, which allows for a “dead zone” of resin that can’t harden (due to the oxygen level), above which the UV sensitivity kicks in and the resin hardens. They call this process “continuous liquid interface production technology” or CLIP.

The paper doesn’t say it outright, but knowing the technology, I’m guessing that their hardening process is a continuous build. Rather than a laser-based traditional resin printer, they are using a projector, which I can imagine is more like a video, continuously painting the surface to be hardened. It would be more like pulling sugar, where the liquid becomes solid as you lengthen it, and there would be no layers per se, but more of a crystalline lattice. This would account for the smoothness of the prints. It is also, to be fair, a complete guess on my part.

This change in the traditional stereolithography process apparently gives them a huge increase in speed, which is the key differentiator here. They appear to be able to print objects very, very fast. It also looks like they have the cash to research and develop it commercially, with both Silver Lake and Sequoia as backers.

So what does this mean for libraries? Honestly, not much for the moment. This particular technology could be very inexpensive to make…or, given the proprietary nature of the membrane and resin, it could be ridiculously expensive. The company hasn’t announced any pricing or even availability, so we really have no idea when it might be available. When it is, I’ll revisit and see what I think for libraries. For now, this is interesting, but just a news item.

LibraryBox at Computers in Libraries 2015

LibraryBox AnimatedWay back in March of 2012, I debuted the very first proof-of-concept for the LibraryBox Project at Computers in Libraries in Washington DC. It was the first time a LibraryBox was tested in public, and the reactions and feedback were integral to moving the project forward to where it is today. The first one was actually embedded in a real book (I liked the irony of the presentation).

Where it is today is amazing! We are polishing the v2.1 release of the open source code that lets anyone in the world build their own offline digital file sharing device, which includes a really improved interface, better performance, built-in text translation of the interface into 8 different languages (with an easy framework for adding more), and support for even more hardware.

Back in 2012 at Computers in Libraries, I couldn’t have begun to predict the success that the Project has had. LibraryBoxen are sharing files to those without reliable Internet connectivity all over the world at this point:

View LibraryBox Around the World in a larger map

On April 26, at Computers in Libraries 2015, I will be giving a half-day workshop on the LibraryBox Project and how it can be used by you and your library for outreach, serving the underserved, and more. I will walk you through commonly-requested customizations (how to customize the look and feel of the interface, add your own logo, etc), walk through an installation so that you can see just how quickly you can build one yourself, and demonstrate all of the more advanced tricks you can do with these hyperlocal networks (from using one as a bridge for controlling presentations to using LibraryBox as a LAN for sharing files privately between computers).

One lucky participant will walk away with their very own prebuilt LibraryBox…I’m going to give away the one we build and work with during the workshop to one of the workshop participants. :-)

Register now!

If you are anywhere in the DC area and just want to learn about LibraryBox, it is possible to register just for the preconference, full attendance at CiL isn’t necessary.

Come and join me! After this workshop, you’ll be a card-carrying LibraryBox expert.

EDIT

Thanks to a fantastic suggestion from Nate Hoffelder, if you wish to attend the workshop and build your own LibraryBox to tinker on, we’ll do a “build your own” at the very beginning of the session. Here’s a quick list of the things you’ll need in order to do so:

  • TP-Link MR3040 router
  • A USB drive to use in the LibraryBox. I recommend the SanDisk Cruzer Fit line, and the sweet spot for price/GB looks to be 32GB right now. This is the Boxen’s hard drive, so the larger capacity means more things can be shared.
  • A laptop with Ethernet capability, for flashing the router, and the ability to SSH, in order to connect to the LibraryBox you build if you want to further customize it.
Apple Watch

Apple Watch Predictions

Tomorrow is March 9th, and that means that we will get the formal Apple announcement of the Apple Watch. As always, I’ll be live tweeting the announcement, but I wanted to make a couple of predictions here about pricing, mostly because I think they are going to surprise everyone.

All that Apple has said thus far about pricing is the quote from the initial announcement of the product that “Apple Watch will start at $350″. There are three tiers of the watch, each made of different materials: Apple Watch Sport, which is aluminum and glass; Apple Watch, which is stainless steel and sapphire; and Apple Watch Edition, which is 18K Gold and sapphire. The assumption from pretty much everyone is that the Sport edition is the entry level, due to the less expensive material construction.

And I think that’s probably right, that the Sport will be the lowest priced model. But I don’t think that the lowest price will be $350.

My guess, which I admit is a huge stretch and will probably end with me making a massive retraction after the announcement, is that the Apple Watch, the stainless construction one, will start at $350, because that’s exactly what Tim Cook said. They don’t accidentally say things at Apple. I’m guessing that the stainless version will start at $350, with upsell on the various types of bands. I’m betting that the Milanese loop will be an extra $100, and the metal clasp band will be at least $150.

As a result, I think that the Sport will be cheaper, maybe in the $250 range. Cheaper materials, rubber (excuse me, elastopolymer) bands, and I think they could get away with a $200-250 price and still be making their legendary profits.

I’m probably wrong. They are probably going to have the stainless versions starting at $499. But they’ve done this sort of thing before. With the launch of the iPad, there were rumors of a $1000 price point, and then they announced a starting price of $499 at launch. But if Cook stands on the stage tomorrow and says “You know, I told you that the Apple Watch started at $349, and it does, but the Sport is going to be only $249″ I will not be surprised in the least.

On the other hand, the Apple Watch Edition, with it’s 18K solid gold (even if Apple did find a way to make gold with less gold), is gonna be thousands. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it was $10K.

So am I gonna buy one? I’m probably 75% in the “yes” column, but a lot hinges on the pricing. If I do, I don’t want the Sport edition, I definitely want the stainless…I mean, it’s gorgeous. I am sort of in love with the stainless with Milanese loop.
Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 4.38.32 PM

 

But I also can’t really see paying the prices that some bloggers have guessed for that combination. I suppose we will find out tomorrow.

Support Circulating Ideas

So my buddy Steve Thomas just launched a Kickstarter in order to have transcriptions made of his awesome podcast Circulating Ideas.  I shouldn’t have to explain why transcriptions are a fantastic idea for a podcast, but I will anyway:

  • It will make the content available to people with hearing difficulty
  • It will enable full-text searching of the podcast episodes
  • Transcripts will allow people to text-mine the content in interesting ways
  • There will be a book (A BOOK) of the podcast made

All of these are awesome reasons to back the Kickstarter, but I’m going to back it because I think that the work Steve is doing on Circulating Ideas is interesting and serves as an amazing time capsule of our profession. You should back it as well…supporting interesting library work is how, after all, we get more interesting library work into the world.

So listen below to Steve tell you about the Kickstarter in his own words, then click the link and go give him a few bucks. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

Go support Recirculated! 


BONUS: for those of you that read this far, here’s the two episodes of Circulating Ideas that I was lucky enough to be a part of:


Episode 19


Special Episode on the LibraryBox Kickstarter

Daniel Boone National Forest

Poverty, Libraries, Jobs, Me

A bit earlier today I saw a handful of librarians on Twitter posting a link to a Library Director’s job with what appeared to be an appalling salary of $7.25 an hour.

Each of these tweets have been re-tweeted a dozen or so times as I’m writing this, so people are sharing it. Heck, I clicked through when I saw the salary, curious what sort of place thought they could get someone for that price, and where you could possibly live on that salary.

The answer? Just down the road from where I grew up, that’s where.

Elliot county

So the marker there is the library in question, and the little town north of it that’s circled, that’s my home town of Olive Hill, KY. The library is in the county seat of Elliott County, KY, in a town of just about 600 people called Sandy Hook. Here’s a larger map to give you some additional context about just exactly where this is located.

Elliott County large

 

This part of the world is where I spent the first 22 years of my life, as a kid and teenager in Olive Hill and then as an undergrad at Morehead State University just down the road. If you check the Google Street View of where the Library in question sits,  it is right next to an elementary school where I played basketball as a boy.

So when I say this, I say it with the conviction of someone who knows: there is very, very little likelihood that anyone posting about this on Twitter has ever seen poverty of the sort that they have in Elliott County, KY. Hell, the entire concept of the “War on Poverty” started just down the road from Elliott County, an hour southeast in Inez, KY, where LBJ launched his famous efforts to eliminate poverty in the US.  Elliott County is the 49th Poorest County by Median Household Income in the entire United States of America. For some more reference, the median household income for Sandy Hook in 2010 was $14,313.

If there is anywhere in this country where kids need a library to help them dream, this is that place.

I was curious after seeing this tweet…

…so I decided to take a look. And if this news report is to be believed, it’s true…the poorest postal code in Canada (B1W, the Cape Breton – Eskasoni First Nation) has a median household income of $19,392 Canadian, or $15,401 US. So there is literally not a single place in Canada that is poorer than Sandy Hook, KY.

With that said: should a library director be paid $7.25/hr? No, of course not. But in this part of Kentucky, believe it or not, that is a decent salary. Not because it is objectively an amount of money that someone deserves for doing their job, but only because the area around it has been forgotten. This part of the world has been given up on by the former industries that sustained it, by the clay and the tobacco and the lumber that were the only reasons money ever flowed into the economy of the area in the first place.

This is a place that I love, this Eastern Kentucky. Even now, decades after I left, I can close my eyes and see the soft clay streaking the soil. I can feel the limestone bones that make up the gentle foothills of the Appalachians. I can smell the warmth of a tobacco barn on a Fall evening.

These are people that need help. I hope they find someone for that job that can not only show the children of Elliott County that there is a wider world, but that just maybe one of those kids will find a way to help save my Eastern Kentucky.

LibraryThing vs Bookish

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Tim Spalding of LibraryThing, asking if I was serious about the twitter conversation we had:

He wanted some form of independent analysis of recommendations coming from LibraryThing and from Bookish in Bibliocommons catalogs. After exchanging a few emails, we came to the following agreement:

  • I would solicit and select 4 testers for the recommendation systems
  • The reviewers wouldn’t be told who had arranged for the review, nor who was paying them (reviewers were offered $200 for the effort) until after they had turned in the reviews and they were posted here
  • The reviewers would examine 7 different Bibliocommons catalogs and write up their thoughts, but there was no suggesting of the books they were to search for or anything like that…they had free reign to use the catalogs in questions to look for any books they wished.
  • Tim wouldn’t know who they were during the review, and not afterwards until the reviews were collected and this post went live
  • There would be no editing on his part of the reviews…what they said, they said. No picking and choosing to rose color anything.
  • I would collect and edit the reviews only in as much as needed to anonymize them.
  • Tim would get the names of the reviewers after this is posted in order to pay them, but he would have no way of knowing who wrote what among the reviews.

This was as good a protocol as I could put together quickly for a blinded analysis of the two systems. I can promise that as I write this, Tim has no idea who the reviewers were, nor has he edited the reviews below in any way. They are as independent a look at the two systems as I could arrange.

So what is posted below are 4 comparisons, in the voices of the reviewers, between the recommendations provided by LibraryThing and Bookish.

This was done as a consulting job, so in the interest of full disclosure I am also receiving a small payment for my work in doing this.

Now that these are public, I will be sharing the identities in both directions of this endeavor. Who wrote which review will remain anonymous, but both sides will be alerted in order to settle the accounts in question.