Category Archives: Personal

Starting 2015

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Here we are in the last gasps of 2014, and I feel like doing both a bit of retrospection and a look forward and what’s coming in the new year for me. Partially because I’m excited about the things I’m doing, and partially because I am looking forward to meeting awesome new librarians and attending some new conferences.

Looking back at 2014, it’s the year where my professional life changed completely. After nearly a decade at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, I left my position as a tenured Associate Professor and struck out on my own as a consultant, speaker, writer, and maker. I realize how unbelievably lucky I am to be able to do this, just the ability to take that risk is a privilege that I am aware of every day. I am thankful for the fact that it is going very well. In the last 6 months I have:

  • Completed my first major grant project (the LibraryBox v2.1 Knight Foundation Prototype grant)
  • Published a library technology report with ALA TechSource entitled 3D Printers for Libraries
  • Spoken at Warren County Public Library in Bowling Green, KY for their annual Staff Day
  • Attended an unconference for Code4Lib DC where I led an open hardware workshop teaching intro to arduino for librarians
  • Went to 3 separate Maker Faires (Nashville, Atlanta, and Chattanooga) where I talked to several thousand people about LibraryBox
  • Attended DLF Forum for the first time, speaking on a panel about Makerspaces in academic libraries
  • Won a consulting bid to help build a brand new public library, acting as the technology consultant for the project
  • Managed to make it way out west for LITA Forum 2014 in Albuquerque, NM and delivered a workshop on customizing and hacking LibraryBox
  • Presented a webinar for Infopeople on LibraryBox, focusing on the new code release
  • Completed a complicated analysis of possible areas of technology-driven collaboration for two academic libraries
  • Spoken at the Hoover Public Library Staff Day in Hoover, AL (a spectacular library and bunch of librarians, btw)

Even with all that, 2015 is shaping up to be even busier. Here’s what I’ve got on tap for just the first 3 months:

  • Once again attending and reporting from CES in Las Vegas from Jan 4-9! I’ll be posting soon about this, as I’m doing something slightly different this year…news on that in the next week or so.
  • On January 13th, I’ll be doing a webinar on privacy and information security and libraries…again, more news on that ASAP
  • I’ll be attending the ALA Midwinter conference in Chicago, and I can’t wait to see everyone there
  • I’m also attending my very first Code4Lib conference! This one I am particular excited about, as I’ve been involved with the community on and off over the years, and just never made it to a conference. This should be amazing.
  • Finally, rounding out the conferences for the first quarter of 2015 is The Collective, a brand-spanking new library conference being held just up the road from me in Knoxville, TN. I’m excited about what the organizers are trying to do, and am very happy to be supporting it.

And on top of that, I’ve going to be keynoting the New Jersey Library Association conference in April, doing a preconference at Computers in Libraries that same month, traveling to Idaho for the first time in May to help with a library-driven Maker Faire, and heading to Missouri in early June to keynote for the MOBIUS Consortium conference.

Whew.

If you are attending one or more of the things I’ll be attending in 2015, drop me a line, I would love to meet up and talk about librarying with you. And even with all of that above, if you are interested in talking to me about helping your library or conference in any way, please let me know. I am excited that I have some small part in trying to make libraries better everywhere.

New Theme, Same Blog

I decided after seeing some work that a friend was doing on their blog to take a closer look at this old thing. I’ve been blogging in one form or another on Pattern Recognition for almost 12 years, since February of 2003. I started blogging using Blogger, just prior to their purchase by Google. At that time, you could use the web interface of Blogger, but have it publish your blog to your own hosting space as just HTML files, which is what I did, hosting the resulting HTML at Ibiblio at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The first blogging software that I fell in love with was Dave Winer’s Radio Userland, an old-school bit of software that did all it’s work client-side on your computer and then published to your webserver when you wrote a post. I tried it out and loved it…I bought a license and it was a revolution. I don’t know exactly how to explain to those of you that didn’t experience that early web blogging boom, but to be able to just write something without worrying about code and then to just click a button and have it live on the web without fiddling with FTP was just fantastical.

And then there was WordPress. I moved over to a pre-1.0 version of WordPress after testing its predecessor B2. For years and years my WP database prefix was still B2- because of this…and once I was in WordPress, I never looked back.

I’ve changed themes a few times over the years, but had really settled in to my old one, creating a child theme and just customizing the heck out of it. But I have been thinking for a long time that it needed more polish than it really made sense to do, as the old theme just wasn’t modern enough to take advantage of a lot of the new abilities that WordPress has added under the hood. So I’m switching up, and I’m going to see how this one feels. If I keep liking it, I’ll start iterating on it to make it more my own. But for now, let’s see what it feels like for a few months. I’d love to hear feedback if you have any on the look/feel.

Knight Foundation News Challenge Semi-Finalist

I found out this morning that my Knight Foundation News Challenge entry (Make the Things that Measure the Future: Libraries & Open Hardware) was chosen as a semi-finalist! Out of 680 initial proposals there are now 41 proposals left in the “Refinement” stage. We have a week to answer a new series of questions, along with responding to any comments or questions that were generated by our initial proposal.

The Knight questions are:

  • Who are the users of your project, and what have you learned from them so far?
  • What are the obstacles to implementing your idea, and how will you address them?
  • How much do you think your project will cost, and what are the major expenses?
  • How will you spread the word about your project?

I have good answers to all of these, I think, and will spend the next week making absolutely sure that the answers are as clear and precise as I can make them. What I don’t have just yet is a lot of comments to respond to from the public. This is where you, Internet people, come in. What feedback do you have about my proposal that needs comment, or questions that need answered? Please comment on the Knight proposal page, and I will take those comments and questions and use them to hopefully move my proposal forward into the next round!

Support the Ada Initiative

Ada-Initiative-color-stickerLike many librarians, today I’m blogging about a fundraiser for a group that I think does incredibly important and useful work in the technology world: The Ada Initiative. Named after one of my heroes, Ada Lovelace, it is a group that is dedicated to supporting women in technology. They do this in a variety of ways, from advocacy, to the development of codes of conduct and the promotion of safe spaces for women, to education for organizations and individuals about gender diversity and the skills needed to support these efforts.

The Ada Initiative can only do these things through the support of people who believe in their efforts. For the next 5 days, there is a $5120 matching grant opportunity for librarians that give to the Initiative. This is the first time that the Ada Initiative has focused on librarians, and I for one want to show them the degree to which librarianship believes that diversity in technology is a necessary thing, and that we desperately need to provide safe spaces for women in tech spaces of all types.

eliza with arduino

I also want to ask that you think about the amazing women that you know in librarianship and technology, and consider donating as a way to honor them. I’m donating to the Ada Initiative as a way to help ensure that the next generation of women in technology don’t have to fight the same fight as this generation. I’m also donating so that just maybe Eliza can continue to be interested in science and technology and not be discouraged or dissuaded by the sexism of the world around her.

If you’d like to join me in donating, please use the below link to do so, so that your donation is counted for the matching grant.
 

 
Donate to the Ada Initiative
 
Thanks to the Ada Initiative for all that they do to support gender equality in science and technology.

Apple’s September 9th 2014 Announcement Predictions

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Over the years, I’ve become known as a fan of Apple’s hardware and software solutions…and it’s true, I am overly fond of the way they do things. This isn’t to say that I’m not critical of them, as I do think they make mistakes (iPod HiFi anyone?). But I’ve been following them for many, many years and have a good understanding of their predilections.

On September 9th, Apple will be holding a press event that is promising to be one of the most interesting in many years. September is always their biggest press event of the year, as it’s when they introduce the newest model of iPhone, by far Apple’s most important and popular product. There have been lots of rumors and discussion around the Internet that seem to point to this year being particularly revolutionary. We don’t have the whole story yet (no one holds their cards closer than Apple does) but here are a few of the things that seem like good bets, and that might be interesting to Libraries and Librarians.

The first is the new iPhones. Yep, that’s plural, since it appears that Apple will be launching two new phones, for the first time in two different screen sizes. All of the rumors point to Apple releasing a 4.7 inch version and a 5.5 inch version of the iPhone this time around, marking only the second (and third!) time they’ve changed screen sizes with their phone. The original iPhone through the iPhone 4S were all 3.5 inch screens, the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S are all 4 inch…and now it looks like we’ll get 2 phones that are larger than that. This isn’t a huge surprise, as the overall cell phone market has been growing their phones for years now…the newest Samsung Galaxy 4 has a 5.7 inch screen, for instance. For Apple, growing screen sizes is harder, because the iPhone human interface guidelines insist on appropriately sized touch targets for the interface, and increasing the screen size while also increasing the pixel density can be hell on developers trying to make apps that work for every device. The best guesses yet for the resolution of these new phones comes from Apple blogger/journalist John Gruber, who puts the 4.7 inch screen at 1334×750, or 326ppi, with the 5.5 at 2208×1242, which works out to an incredible 461ppi, more dense than a printed magazine page.

The new phones will also undoubtedly be thinner and faster, most likely running a new A8 chipset that was designed by Apple. The A7 that debuted in the iPhone 5S is a remarkable processor, giving an insane amount of processing power at efficiencies that are hard for other devices to match. If they’ve improved on that, the A8 is likely to be a breakthough, giving desktop-level processing power in a mobile package.

It also appears that there is something happening with the new iPhone and a payment system for the real world. Bloomberg and others have reported that Apple has reached some type of deal with all of the major credit card companies (Visa, Mastercard, et al) and the rumor that they will finally be including some type of NFC technology in the new phones (my money is on a new, software-based system that allows for on-the-fly programming of the NFC communications protocol) that would allow for tap-to-pay interactions at all of the vendors that support such.

Add all that (new sizes, payment system, new processors) on top of the announcements that they made back at WWDC regarding iOS 8 and the massive changes that it will bring to the platform…it’s gonna be a big day for the iPhone. iOS 8 brings the most radical changes to the platform since the introduction of the App Store, including the introduction of true inter- and intra-app communication abilities (to the extent that apps can even have functionality that extends INTO another app, for instance one photo app “loaning” a filter to another totally unrelated app for use). It’s not exaggerating to say that iOS8 will change how the iPhone can be used by people, adding huge amounts of additional functionality. I’m perhaps most looking forward to custom keyboards (one of the aspects of Android that I most miss on the iOS platform), but I’m excited to see what developers come up with, because Apple is handing them a whole new suite of toys to play with.

If that were all that Apple was announcing and showing off, it would be a huge deal. But it seems like they may have finally chosen this as the time to announce their Wearable computing platform. Exactly what that means, only Apple really knows, but all of the rumors seem to point to some sort of wristwatch-like object that does…something. It’s really a mystery, but one Apple reporter quipped that the so-called iWatch is going to be a watch in the same ways that the iPhone is a phone. Whatever it is that they announce, it’s almost guaranteed to be interesting.

The other thing that’s pointing towards this being a big day for Apple is the choice of venue. Apple is using the Flint Center for this announcement, which they have only used 3 times in their history. Once was for the original announcement of the Macintosh in 1984, and once was for the return of Steve Jobs and the original iMac. To be fair, the third was for the iMac SE, which was a much smaller deal, but the two others are among the biggest announcements ever from Apple, ranking with the launch of the original iPhone in how important they were to the history of the company. It appears that Apple has built an entirely new building just for the announcement of their new products at the location of the Flint Center, and this is shaping up to be quite the September for Apple.

iOS8, two new iPhone models, a wearable device of unknown purpose and type, something that requires an entire building to show off….this Tuesday is gonna be really interesting. Join me at 12pm Central on Twitter @griffey for the annual live-tweeting of my thoughts. See you then for all the excitement!

Addendum

One of the refrains I often get in the library community when I do posts like this that focus on gadgets, especially specific gadgets, and even more especially Apple’s specific gadgets is “But how does this relate to libraries?”. As if libraries didn’t, oh…help patrons navigate their gadgets every single day or have dozens of electronic resources that need to interoperate with these devices. Perhaps there are even a few librarians that use these devices to help patrons in the real world. I don’t really have a single answer as to why librarians should be interested in the most popular hardware that runs the second most popular operating system used to access the Internet. Perhaps not all librarians need to be completely aware of this stuff, but someone certainly does, hopefully someone in your library or library system.

Month One

Today marks the one month anniversary of leaving my position at the University of TN at Chattanooga, walking away from a tenured professorship, and trying to build a business on my reputation and skills.

So how’s it going?

Right now, it’s mostly proposal limbo. I have something like 8 different consulting proposals that I’ve either put together or been attached to over the course of the month. Of those 8, 2 are definite no-gos, 2 need revisions and resubmittal, and 4 are still floating in the ether of uncertainty. I’ve got a handful of speaking engagements (but am always happy to come and speak with librarians about technology) and over the next few months will be:

Those are all in roughly the next 12 weeks!

Which is a lot of words to basically say: Things are uncertain, but good, and I’m keeping busy. :-)

I’d love to hear from anyone who needs technology planning at their library, though…I would love to turn a few proposals into contracts. What can I do to help your library?

Maker Spaces in Libraries & The White House Maker Faire

As some of you may have heard, the White House is hosting a Maker Faire in the very near future. See this release for more details: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/02/03/announcing-first-white-house-maker-faire

Maker spaces in libraries allow everyone to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills and facilitate opportunity for collaboration and community engagement that will aid in the next generation of STEM jobs. They provide access to tools (from books to 3D printers) and, most importantly, ‘access to each other’. Library maker spaces are powerful informal learning spaces that give local community members the ability to create, hack, and make their future.

A number of organizations are working together to show library support for making in our communities. If you and your institution support President Obama’s call for, “an all-hands-on-deck approach to science, technology, engineering, and math…to make sure that all of us as a country are lifting up these subjects for the respect that they deserve,” please email Lauren at lmbritto@syr.edu to sign up as a supporter. Time is running out, and having as many names as possible on the list will help show the White House that libraries are a vital part of the Maker movement, and integral to supporting their communities.

The Case for Open Hardware in Libraries

Over a year ago, I was approached by Ken Varnum to write a chapter for a book he was editing, at the time called Top Ten Technologies for 2017. He was persuasive, and I had this crazy idea that had been bouncing around in my head for some time about libraries and open hardware. I told him my idea, and described the argument I wanted to make, and he told me to go for it.

So I did.

The book ended up being called The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know: A LITA Guide and my chapter in it The Case for Open Hardware in Libraries. I’m pretty proud of it, as it’s as close as I’ve been able to come, after a couple of years worth of thinking and speaking and writing, to distilling why I think this is an important thing for libraries to be doing.

Click the above link to download a copy for your very own, or take a look below for a quick skim. Either way, I hope that it starts or continues some conversations on this front in libraries. As always, if there are libraries out there that want to do this sort of thing, build their own hardware, create their own measurement tools, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to help you. Just let me know.

What can I do for your library?

The next stage in my career is going to be helping libraries everywhere be the best they can possibly be. How can I do that? Well, after almost a decade at the forefront of library technology, I have a broad set of knowledge that could be useful to libraries everywhere. I can help your library and librarians with:

  • Makerspace and maker equipment planning and training
  • Strategic planning for technology in the library
  • New building or space planning for patron and staff technology
  • LibraryBox building, development, use in outreach, gaming, disaster planning and more…
  • Implementation and management of electronics in the library, including iPads, eReaders, and other personal electronics
  • Communication planning and structural operations between librarians and external IT
  • Hackerspace/Makerspace workshops; Arduino, Raspberry Pi, 3D printing

I’m very interested in talking with libraries and librarians who would benefit from having my experience with library technologies directed at the issues facing them. I would also love to speak at events, staff days, conferences, or other places where a fresh take on technology and libraries might be needed…I have a rich and varied speaking career at this point; check out my CV for examples of the sorts of talks that I’ve given, and feel free to contact me for references.

I’m also interested in what libraries and librarians need, so if the above list isn’t what you’re looking for, let me know. Leave a comment, drop me an email, send me a tweet, whatever you’d like…let me know what would be useful to you and your library. What would be useful for your staff? Where can I do the most good, help the most, be the most effective? I’m interested in reinvention, so if I haven’t thought about your need, let me know.

As noted in my previous post, I’m going to work on LibraryBox over the next couple of months, but I’m interested in helping libraries everywhere be better with technology. Let me know what I can do to help you…email me at griffey@gmail.com and let’s work together on how we can make libraries even more awesome.

IMLS, Maker Faire, and Montana Academic Library Symposium

IMLS_Logo_2cStarting Wednesday, I’m heading out for a couple of really exciting events. The first is an IMLS Stakeholder meeting in San Francisco, CA on May 15th that is dedicated to a discussion of how library spaces are changing. From the press release:

The San Francisco meeting will focus on current trends, challenges and opportunities to consider for framing future investments in this area. The discussion will cover the following:

  • The Shift to Participatory Learning
  • Approaches to Technology and Space
  • Staffing and Mentorship Models
  • Connected Learning
  • Community Engagement: Partnerships and Programming
  • Measuring Success: Evaluation

I’m really excited to be a part of this discussion, and can’t wait to meet everyone involved. The event is going to be livestreamed, and they are looking for lots of community involvement, so please join in. The twitter hashtag is #imlsfocus and if you’d like to tweet me directly at @griffey, I’d be happy to ask questions on your behalf.

makerfaireThe incredibly awesome side-effect of being in San Francisco on Thursday and Friday of this week is that Saturday is Maker Faire Bay Area 2014, the largest Maker Faire in the world. This will be my first time being able to attend the grand-high-holy of maker faires, and I’m completely excited. I will of course have a few LibraryBoxen with me, and will be hanging out with Sparkfun showing it off when I can. Sparkfun is going to be located in the Intel booth, so come by and say hello, or just download some free books from the LibraryBox that will be stationed there.

And to round out the awesome week, I’m going to be heading over to Bozeman, MT for the Montana Academic Library Symposium 2014: Makerspaces, DIY Culture, and the Emergence of the Smart Library Building, where I’ll be delivering a keynote about…Library Spaces! I’ll be talking about how the digital devices that are coming over the next 5-10 years will impact the use of our physical spaces, how we can react to that, and how we can bolster our efforts in appropriately marketing ourselves to stakeholders regarding these issues. I’m really excited to meet the fantastic librarians in Montana, and talk about the future of our spaces.

As always, if you’re going to be at any of these events and want to meet up, drop me an email at griffey at gmail.com, or send me a message on twitter. I’d love to continue any of these conversations, or if you just want a LibraryBox demo, I’ll be happy to do that as well. Let me know!