I’ve got a few things going on this Spring that I felt I should promote here on the blog, just to tie together some interesting content that people might be interested in. So here’s a quick look at what I’m either doing or working on over the next few months.
This coming Monday, April 16th, I will be speaking at the Southern Illinois University LIS Spring Symposium about the Post-PC Era, which should be a lot of fun. I’m always excited to meet with new librarians, so this should be fun.
Coming sometime this month is Gadgets & Gizmos II: Libraries and the Post-PC Era (link forthcoming), a Library Technology Report from ALA TechSource that is a followup to my 2010 LTR on Gadgets and Personal Electronics. In it, I take a look at how the world of personal electronics has changed in two years (TL;DR version: A LOT) as well as some new tech that libraries are either just starting to implement (3D printing) and some trends that I see coming in the next couple of years (health and other personal data tracking, drones).
The thing that I am maybe most excited about is that this is the first Library Technology Report that will be Creative Commons Licensed. It will be published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which is a big experiment for ALA publishing. I intentionally asked to allow derivatives, because I’m very curious what might spring from that. I’m also very interested in how a CC license will effect sales of the LTR…most LTRs rely on subscription sales for the vast majority of their volume, but I wanted to try to reach as many people as possible. But it still makes ALA Publishing a bit nervous, I think, to have the CC on it, at least if you judge from the amount of time it took to get it ok’d.
And then finally, I’ll be doing a webinar for Techsource based on that very same tech report, a 2 day online workshop on May 10th and 24th titled “Gadgets in the Library: A Practical Guide to Personal Electronics for Librarians“. The workshop is going to be a great mix of practical advice for the management of tablets and eReaders (and other personal electronics…leave a comment if you want me to cover something specific!) and a look at some of the newly-affordable hardware coming down the road in the next year or so.
In June I’ll be attending the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, and will be meeting with various LITA groups, as well as the Library BoingBoing/LibraryLab Members group. I’m also hoping to catch up with the LITA CodeYear IG, which has some cool things starting to come together. Exciting stuff happening at Annual, I hope you’ll come join me!
What is LibraryBox? It’s my newest hack, a hardware and software project that takes the “pirate” out of PirateBox to produce a tiny, battery-powered, linux-based, anonymous file server capable of serving arbitrary types of digital files to anyone with a wifi-enabled device.
But, you may ask, what is it for? It’s for any situation where you need to distribue digital files but don’t have or don’t want Internet access. LibraryBox is based on a fork of the PirateBox project, using the TP-Link MR-3020 router, an 802.11n router that is capable of running on a USB 5 volt power source. This means that for about $40 and some time, you can have a file server that fits in your pocket. I loaded my demo unit with the top 100 Public Domain ebooks from Feedbooks and Project Gutenberg, and hooked it up to an iPad battery pack that will run it for 16 hours.
This means I can be a walking digital library, giving people access to eBooks anywhere I happen to have the LibraryBox. These could be used in a million different ways, from bringing eBooks, Audio, even movies to areas with digital devices but without Internet access to just being a personal file server for conference slides or other resources.
More information, including pictures and such, are all up on the LibraryBox website. The code is all licensed under the GPL and is available on Github. Several people have looked at the project, and I’m hoping that others will see the value and help me make it better. There’s lots of improvements possible, and I (and hopefully many others) will be working on making the process easier and better for users.
At CiL2012 I did a preconference about management of personal electronics called “Personal Electronics & the Library”. Here are the slides from that presentation, for your perusal:
LITA has amazing people on its ballot this year, but you don’t need to take my word for it…you can help make sure that the issues you think are the most important for LITA and ALA at large are put directly before the two candidates for President, Cindi Trainor and Aaron Dobbs. How, you ask? Go to this Google Moderator page and put your question there…Andromeda Yelton will be organizing these and getting them to the candidates to be answered. All of their responses will be put up on LITABlog.
Help us make these elections the most transparent and communicative in LITA’s history…ask your questions!
I presented an encore of my VALA2012 presentation to librarians in Perth as well, at Curtin University. Here’s a recording of that particular presentation, where you can better see some of the slide effects and design choices that I talked about previously. The audio isn’t fabulous, but is serviceable and the video came out quite well.
I was lucky enough to interview Jason Chen via email about his new ebook startup Storybundle. He had some interesting things to say about the ebook market. Unsurprisingly, as a new ebook startup, he didn’t even consider libraries at first.
As to whether or not this is good for libraries, at the current time I hadn’t even considered libraries, so I’m going to aim for personal use for the first few bundles and see where things go from there. It depends heavily on the author, because the promo is a limited time thing, and making a sale to a library becomes a forever thing.
I had a handful of people at VALA 2012 ask me not about the content of the talk (although I got a ton of those) but about how it was I put together and ran the presentation itself. My goal with the presentation was to make it look and run like no other presentation that people had seen…I don’t think I got 100% of what I wanted to achieve, but I got about 75% of the way there, and definitely got the idea across. I told a few people that what I wanted was for my presentation to look like something out of Harry Potter, something that was surprising and magical.
So how did I do it? I create all of my presentations in Keynote, the Apple presentation tool. It’s slide-based in the same way that Powerpoint is, but Keynote makes it very easy to produce awesome looking presentations. Honestly, the difference in the two couldn’t be more apparent as soon as you start using them. Keynote makes things like spacing, fonts, effects so smooth and easy that there’s no excuse for bad slides.
You may want to give these images a second to load…they’re pretty huge animated gifs. They were the easiest/fastest way I could think of to show off some of my animated slides.
One of Keynote’s strengths, especially in relation to Powerpoint, is that it handles media very, very smoothly. When I started thinking about my VALA 2012 presentation, I made the choice to include a ton of video content, including animated backgrounds for some of my slides. Some of these were animated gif files, and some of them were Quicktime videos (or other formats that I converted to Quicktime via IVI Video Converter). Keynote has controls available for Quicktime files built-in, allowing you to choose a start frame, end frame, poster frame, and whether or not the video (or gif!) loop, or loop back-and-forth. So I collected or created the videos and gifs and then used Keynote to set their start and stop times, and in the case of some of the gif backgrounds, whether they should loop directly, or loop back-and-forth. This gave the presentation a very distinct feel.
To drive the presentation, I use the Keynote Remote app for the iPad, which links to Keynote on your Mac via either Wifi or Bluetooth (but NOT BOTH…that can be really weird). This lets you use the iPad as a remote, moving from slide to slide and seeing your Presenter Notes as well (you do know that Keynote and Powerpoint both have a Presenter View…right?). So the iPad is my “cheat sheet” for the presentation, showing me where I am and my notes for that slide.
If it all works, it’s brilliant! If it doesn’t (and sometimes it doesn’t…wifi goes down, bluetooth is being flaky, tech gremlins act up) then we need to have a plan B…or C, or sometimes D. I always have a backup presentation remote with me, just in case, and I always know my presentation well enough that I don’t need my notes, mostly, to do the talk.
Between the ease with which Keynote makes beautiful slides, the iPad as a remote to make my life easier, and a bit of aesthetic judgement in the arrangement and choice of images (if it helps, I like to think of my slides as the set of of a play), I think that you can put on a pretty compelling presentation.
If you’d like to see the presentation in full, a full videocast of it is online. It’s not exactly as it was in person, as the slides didn’t always get captured as video, but it’s as close as you’ll come without being there.
My talk from VALA2012 is now up and online! Please take a look, and let me know what you think. I’ll have the slides up separately, but the live show is a better way to get a feel for the presentation.
Very interesting announcement today from Jason Chen, tech blogger of Lifehacker and formerly of Gizmodo. He’s getting out of the tech blogging business and launching an ebook startup, StoryBundle. From the StoryBundle site:
You know those indie video game bundles where you pay what you want for a batch of quality titles? We’re like that, but for ebooks.
We give you a handful of ebooks (about five or so) for a low price that you choose, all DRM-free, delivered to your ereader.
We only choose quality independent authors so you can be sure what you’re buying is good. Plus, you decide how much these books are worth. Great reads delivered cheaply without killing a single tree? That’s something everybody can feel good about.
Very, very interesting. I have a huge number of questions, mainly: how can he possibly hope to compete against Amazon in this space? I suppose the idea is that DRM free and name-your-price luring readers, but I’m not sure why that will lure authors. I can’t imagine that it’s a better deal for authors in terms of either reach or profit. But it’s a really interesting experiment, and we all know that we need more models for this stuff. I’ve got a request for an interview out to Jason…I’m very curious as to how this model might work with libraries.
At CES 2012, I had a chance to talk with Bre Pettis, CEO of Makerbot Industries, about how libraries and 3D printing can be a really, really great match. Take a look at the video…I’ll be writing a LOT more about 3D printing in the near future, or you can go back and see some of the stuff I’ve already written.
I'm Jason Griffey, a librarian, technologist, writer and speaker. This is my personal/professional blog, but I also write Release Candidate (focusing on future tech) and for the ALA TechSource blog. Visit my homepage for more.