Category Archives: Media

Privacy and Freedom of Information in 21st-Century Libraries

CoverI’m really priviledged to be a part of the latest ALA TechSource Library Technology Report, Privacy and Freedom of Information in 21st-Century Libraries. When I was given the opportunity to contribute to an issue with Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Sarah Houghton-Jan, Barbara M. Jones and Eli Neiburger…well, I said yes.

I wrote the chapter entitled “Social Networking and the Library”, and the general thrust of the chapter can be seen in this excerpt:

The central tension between libraries and social networks is simple: a social network gains usefulness when you are identifiable (people know who you are) and you share information about yourself (people know what you like). Libraries have, for years, operated under the general guideline that both of those pieces of knowledge are no ones business but yours….Taken at face value, as they relate to social networks, library ethical policies can be interpreted as directly contradictory with…privacy statements. Libraries have chosen, at times, to value privacy over access to social networks when these are in conflict. If the privacy of the patron is compromised via social networks, one possible answer is to attempt to limit access to those networks, which flies in the face of open and free access to information.

If you’re interested in the topic of Freedom of Information and how difficult holding on to library’s traditional values becomes in the 21st century, this issue is a great read. Head on over to Techsource and pick it up.

Interviewing Dr. Vernor Vinge

Dr. Vernor VingeIn one of the more surreal occurrences in my working life, I will have the opportunity to interview one of the titans of the Science Fiction world, Dr. Vernor Vinge, at the ALA Midwinter Meeting 2011 in San Diego, CA. The interview itself will be on Saturday, Jan 8th, from 1:30-3:30pm Pacific time in the San Diego Convention Center Room 29 A-D.

Plans are in place to livestream the interview at the LITA Ustream channel, and in addition to a set of questions from myself, I’ve decided to set up ways to take questions from just about anyone who wants. At the bottom of this post is an embedded Google Form where you can ask your question of Dr. Vinge…I’ll sort through any in the next 2 weeks and pick the best of the bunch for inclusion. In addition, during the interview itself, we will be taking questions not only from the live audience but also from Twitter (use the hashtag #alamw_vinge) and from the Facebook Event page.

So: hit the form below, and ask your question now. Watch the interview live on Saturday, January 8th at 1:30 Pacific time, and ask your questions as they occur to you. I, along with several awesome librarians, will try our best to collapse all of these streams into an entertaining and informative couple of hours for all.
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1500

This post is the 1500th here at Pattern Recognition, a monstrous amount of content by any measure, and easily the longest writing project I’ve been a part of. The first post to my blog was on February 10, 2003…2858 days ago. That’s better than 1 post every two days, or conversely, half a post a day, every day, for almost 8 years.  I decided to dig in and see how many words this thing has. The number left me gobsmacked: 189,299…at least 3 decently sized novels worth of text.

Blogging has been very, very kind to me over the last decade. From the early days when a post about my Master’s Paper was picked up by BoingBoing, to being asked by Karen Schneider to take part in a panel about library blogging at ALA Annual 2006 in New Orleans. Another member of that panel was Karen Coombs, and it was after that presentation that she and I were approached to write Library Blogging. Being introduced to Karen C. and working with her on the book was how I met Michelle Boule, and the three of us joined forces to create the BIGWIG Social Software Showcase in 2007. The vast majority of any success that I’ve had in my career, I owe in part to these three amazing librarians.

So happy 1500th post to this crazy blog. It’s been on BoingBoing 4 times, made the Digg homepage once, and has generally been the place I’ve gone to vent, to think, to critique, and to speak my mind on all sorts of things. My attention may have wandered to other pastures (thanks, ALA TechSource and Perpetual Beta) but the home for my writing is here.

Thanks to everyone who has ever read my writing, and thanks to those for whom Pattern Recognition was my introduction. I hope that I can write another of these at 2000, 2500, and 3000 posts.

Kindle 2 for $89 on Black Friday

I posted this first over at Perpetual Beta, but I felt the need to repost here.

Amazon announced today via Facebook and Twitter that one of their Black Friday deals was going to be blowing out their inventory of the Kindle 2 (the last generation of Kindle) for $89. These are new units, not refurbs, and include 3G access with the device.

This deal is going to get pounded, and who knows how many they have left in stock. If you want to try and grab one, the deal starts 11/26 at 9 am PST.

While I feel that one-day sale prices don’t quite get me where I thought we’d be when I made my < $100 eReader prediction back at ALA Midwinter 2009 as a part of the LITA Top Tech Trends panel, I’d like to think I could take this as partial validation of the prediction.

Knight News Challenge

David Lee King blogged about this just the other day, but it just came to my attention: the Knight News Challenge. Looks like a really interesting grant possibility. From the website:

The Knight News Challenge is a media innovation contest that aims to advance the future of news by funding new ways to digitally inform communities. Anyone, anywhere in the world can apply. Applicants must only follow three rules: Use digital, open-source technology, distribute news in the public interest, fit into one of four categories. As much as $5 million will be given away this year, apply before midnight EST, December 1st. >>

The idea of using digital, open-source technology to distribute information is right up the alley of librarians…even the four categories (mobile, authenticity, sustainability and community) speak directly to the strengths of libraries and librarians. If you are interested, or know anyone in your community that may be, the deadline for application is December 1, so get going!

Long Bet

One of my favorite sites on the Internet is Long Bet, where people publicly bet on long-term future issues. The third Long Bet has been decided, and it has to do with Video consumption. In 2002, Jim Griffin bet Gordon Bell that:

A profitable video-on-demand service aimed at consumers will offer 10,000 titles to 5 million subscribers by 2010.

If you can remember back to the period when this bet was made, there was no YouTube. Read the comments on the initial bet to see just where people’s minds were in regards to video at the time. The first few comments mention companies like Intel, Sony, Viacom, and Time Warner….and the reasons that Gordon Bell give for the bet not being possible include things that look silly in retrospect: Sufficient bandwidth (at least 1 Mbps), a codec that will deliver TV quality picture, and my personal favorite where Bell says “I don’t think five million people will want to watch movies on their PC screens while checking their email.”

Just goes to show how fast technology changes, and how fast culture and expectations are altered by the technology as it changes.

Anyone want to make a Long Bet regarding libraries? I’m interested. 🙂

COSLINE 2010 Ebooks Presentation

I had the pleasure of presenting on eBooks to the Council of State Library Agencies of the Northeast recently, and being on vacation this past week has made me later than I wanted at getting my slides online. I had a great time, met some really thoughtful and smart librarians…if this group is the leadership for public libraries in New England, they are in very capable hands.

Here are my slides, for what they are worth. I attempted to do an audio recording of my presentation, but jumping in and out of Keynote makes the timing on it all wonky. I’ll see if I can’t edit it together into something that makes some sense, but that may take some time. For now, here are the slides, sans voice:

Must watch, right now

My favorite talk I’ve heard in a long, long time was at the LJ/SLJ Ebook Summit, from Eli Neiberger, about How Ebooks Effect Libraries. He’s recently put the recording and slides up on Youtube in two parts. Every librarians needs to watch these, and take notes…Eli gets the issues, lays them out, and doesn’t pull punches. Love. This. Presentation.

Part One

Part Two

For the record, I haven’t forgotten about my ongoing discussion with Bobbi Newman (and now spreading across the web onto other blogs). I’ve still got lots to say, but I’ve been tied up. Will get the words out ASAP, promise.

MSU Libraries Emerging Technology Summit 2010

Here are my slides from the Mississippi State University Libraries Emerging Technologies Summit 2010. They very graciously asked me to keynote the Summit, and I’m hoping that the talk was thought provoking and helped kick off what looks to me a really great day of programming.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll make sure to find the answer!

Serialized Literature makes a comeback

Way back in 2008 at the Online Information conference in London, I talked a little about where I thought we’d see writing in general go, given the technologies that were mature/maturing: eReaders (the Amazon Kindle had been for just a year at that point), blogs and blog software, and more. I predicted that we would see a revitalization of the sort of serialized long-form content that was prevalent in 19th century literature, like Dickens and Doyle. It made sense to me at the time, given that one could subscribe to an ongoing series, have it automatically delivered as written/released, enjoy it on your container of choice (eReader, mobile phone, etc).

While there have been a few attempts at serialized writing in the last few years, it’s only very recently that I think authors have hit on a model that might work well. There are two that I’m aware of that take slightly different paths but are, in the end, paving a path to an old way, but a new channel, of publishing.

The first, and most exciting to me, is The Mongoliad. From the wikipedia entry:

The Mongoliad is an experimental fiction project of the Subutai Corporation, scheduled for release in 2010. The corporation is an application company based in San Francisco and Seattle, whose chairman is speculative fiction author Neal Stephenson. Stephenson is the guiding force of the project, in which he is joined by colleagues including Greg Bear.

The work is intended to be distributed primarily as a series of applications (“apps”) for smartphones, which the Corporation views as a new model for publishing storytelling. At the project’s core is a narrative of adventure fiction following the exploits of a small group of fighters and mystics in medieval Europe around the time of the Mongol conquests. As well as speculative fiction authors Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Nicole Galland, Mark Teppo and others, collaborators include filmmakers, computer programmers, graphic artists, martial artists and combat choreographers, video game designers, and a professional editor. In a departure from conventional fiction, much of the content of The Mongoliad will be in forms other than text, not bound to any single medium and not in the service of the central narrative. Once the project develops momentum, the Corporation envisages fans of the work to contribute, expanding and enriching the narrative and the fictional universe in which it takes place.

So this is collaborative, multimedia, world creating…which just happens to be led by two of the biggest names in genre fiction. I’m a complete sucker for Stephenson, and I signed up as soon as the site went live. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this project goes.

The other interesting serialized novel being done is also in the genre fiction realm, the DragonsBard project by Tracy & Laura Hickman. Tracy Hickman is probably best known for being half of the Weiss & Hickman writing duo that gave fantasy the Dragonlance world of novels. Unlike the Foreworld stuff above, which is a subscription model, the DragonsBard publishing model is a single price upfront, which gives you access to the ongoing story and a limited-edition signed & numbered hardcover of the story when it’s over.

There are two things that I find interesting about this model of publishing. The first is it’s leveraging of technology to provide not only different sorts of distribution, but also different types of content completely (images, video, etc). The second is how it allows for the complete disintermediation of the publishing house.

I look forward to seeing if other authors take this approach. I also look forward to seeing how these sorts of works get cataloged. 🙂