Tag Archives: library2.0

Library Blogging

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It’s here! It’s really here! For more news about the book, and general updates and such, visit the blog for the book: Library Blogging. I’ll talk more after I’ve had a chance to review it again, but so far it looks great.

For those going to ALA, Linworth Publishing is booth #2553, if you want to stop by and pick up a copy of the book.

Connections are Everything

After being tagged by Amanda, and looking back at the Michael Stephens post that tagged her, I decided to take her up on it. The meme:

Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.

It was terrifically hard to come up with any one thing that I am passionate for kids to learn about, simply because there are so many AND because both Michael and Amanda hit solid homeruns with theirs. But here’s my attempt (and here’s a link to the original photo).


connections
Connections are Everything. This isn’t just personal connections, although as you go through school, read online, join groups and such, the personal connections you make are central to your success in life. My connectivity to individuals in libraries around the world have made me better at what I do and enabled me to build a rich understanding of practices different than just those I am surrounded with on a day-to-day basis. Maintaining these connections are incredibly important, and the social capital gained from them (both bridging and bonding) is a key to being successful in the modern age.

Read another way, connections are everything in the very technical sense that understanding and interacting with modern information technology can be seen as the management of connections. How do you connect two disparate pieces of IT these days? An API, RSS, JSON, or some other standard. TCP/IP is the connection that runs the world. Building better technological connections make for richer and deeper options for our users, in ways that we may not entirely predict or understand.

If you focus on maintaining and understanding connections, you’ll be a better librarian.

EDIT: The lovely Jenica and Dorothea chime in as well with their take. These are all amazing, and if I taught at a Library School I would seriously think about designing a syllabus around them.

Last thoughts on SWIFT at CiL2008

SWIFT at CiL2008Just wanted to wrap up a few thoughts I had after sitting through the “input session” organized by ITI and The Otter Group on the whole SWIFT/CiL thing. Several really important points came up during that session, which I felt like needed to be pulled out for comment.

First was Ryan Deschamps comment during the (admittedly somewhat tense) discussion. Paraphrased, it was “you don’t just have to be good, you have to be better than me.” This wasn’t said egoistically, just to point out that any particular tool, especially a tool that is commercial in nature, has to be better in significant ways than the tools that are available for free. As well, the tool has to do something that the individual attendees of the conference can’t do either as easily or as quickly by themselves. While I’m quite sure that not everyone at Computers in Libraries is as talented as Ryan, I’m equally sure that anything he or any of the other seriously talented people who were at the input session were to build would be sharable and community driven. As Michael Sauers pointed out on llyfrgellydd.info, several presenters created tools for free, for the hell of it, that ended up being huge drivers of the conference. SWIFT has to be better than them, and it’s not.

Second was the issue that I have with perceived audience of this product. The product is marketed at people who use tools that rely on tags as metadata…flickr, blogs, delicious, etc. It, by necessity, has to have tags in order to pull all the disparate pieces together. But the very people using those services are the people who don’t need SWIFT. The Otter Group developed a platform that is useless for the very people that must use it for it to work.

Kathleen GilroyThird and last is what the session turned out to be. Meredith Farkas has, as usual, a thoughtful post on her take on the session, and comments on the very real tension in the room. I think the tension was a result of the clash between expectation and implementation…we expected an actual feedback session, and we got a sales pitch. Meredith got to the party a little late, and might have missed the fascinating anecdote about where Kathleen got the name for the product (SWIFT is named after a bird!).

We. Don’t. Care. We use products called things like ooVoo, Tumblr, Hulu, and Twitter. Clearly names are not at the top of our list when we choose products or service. We didn’t care about the history of the product, nor even really about its intended use. The street finds its own uses. The point of Web2.0 and Library 2.0 is to provide tools.

Several people in the room commented on the fact that The Otter Group seemed not at all interested in really hearing about the problems with the product. Everything was blamed on “being beta”, or on the lawyers, or something. My take on it is that they just don’t seem to get the social web, as hard as they tried and as much history as they have in trying to make it a commercial product. They fell hard once with their ALA Bootcamp, and if possible fell even harder with Cil2008 and SWIFT.

Oh, and since I know that eventually Kathleen and The Otter Group will see this: Who won the Wii?

More from CiL2008


Griffey

Originally uploaded by dwfree1967.

Today was my last day at Computers in Libraries 2008, even though the conference itself goes on through tomorrow. I fly out tomorrow early, in hopes of getting back to TN before dinner.

CiL is always a great conference. Like most conferences, it’s all about the people and the hallway conversations…not that the sessions weren’t great. For instance, the the Academic Library 2.0 preconference was amazing. 🙂 In all seriousness, there are a lot of very smart people doing very clever things, and a lot of them were at CiL. I’m honored and humbled to be able to hang out with some of them.

I’ll try and do a wrap-up post linking out to all the things I found most interesting later this week after I’ve had a chance to decompress.

My Take on SWIFT

Many of the librarians that I admire have chimed in on the ITI/Computers in Libraries/Otter Group debacle. I’ve read over lots of the documentation provided, including the FAQ that was mailed out to attempt to assuage our concerns.

On the surface, the idea of a consolidated site for information on the conference seems like a good idea. So why the enormous pushback from the liberati? Several reasons:

The first is the one that David Lee King and others pointed out…the licensing agreement for SWIFT was onerous, to say the least. While they have said the agreement is changing, there is no evidence of said changes yet.

The second is more substantial. It harkens back to Tim Spaulding’s discussion of the difference between tags in LibraryThing and Amazon. Why did the tags in LibraryThing work, and in Amazon they did not? Because the tags in LibraryThing are my tags, they are your tags, they are tags that are used to describe things that are important to you, things we/you own. They are personal.

The tags in Amazon are not…they are potentially things you own, but they are not personal in the same way. There is a low ownership consideration with Amazon…as Tim points out, they don’t even have a way to export your tags.

SWIFT, in its way, is similar. It is a service asking for users….not users asking for a service. It is not personal, it is not needed, and it is not ours. Some of this is an issue with the method in which SWIFT was presented (poor marketing) and some of it is simply that it is a tool that no one needed.

Identify a need, then present a tool. Not the other way around.

Autonomous Self-Checkout Idea

Here’s an idea I had today that I wanted to get down so I don’t forget it…autonomous self-checkout with cell phones. Here’s the idea:

You write a web-service that logs the customer into their account from their cell phone browser, and then takes over the camera on their cell. They point the camera at a bar code on the book in question, and you software looks it up in the catalog and checks it out to the patron.

The difficult part for the library is how to enable the deactivation of the security strips that most of us use…ideally, the security system would be tied to the catalog, and would know when a book was checked out and when it wasn’t, and alarm only as appropriate.

This would take library staff completely out of the checkout process (which self-checkout already does) but would ALSO take any specialized equipment out, and allow for nearly complete patron autonomy in the stacks.

The interesting thing is, I’m pretty sure that all of this is possible with current open source software. Certainly there would need to be some development, but I don’t think anything would have to be completely written from scratch…maybe connectors that transfer data from one system to the other.

Thoughts? Is this being done anywhere? Or did I actually have an original thought?

Library Building update

Besides being way too long since my last post (it is getting busy around here, and Eliza hasn’t even shown up), it’s about time for an update on the Library Building Project.

If you take a look at the wiki, we’ve basically filled it with information about all our existing square footage, projected square footage, and basic collection decisions. At the last building committee meeting, we received the go ahead from the committee to look at compact shelving for our entire collection. This was a huge concern, we weren’t sure that everyone would see the benefits…the numbers are there in the wiki, but it saves us nearly 20,000 sq ft that could be used for patron-centered services.

I’m particularly happy with the feedback form. People are starting to use it to tell us what they want out of the new space, and we’re marching ever toward a shiny new patron centered library.

The Kindle and Reference 2.0

Ok, so we’ve all seen the press, read the Newsweek story, and if you’re reading this you probably read my take on the Amazon Kindle. Here’s a new feature that wasn’t heavily marketed for the Kindle, that has a direct impact on library efforts…and the surprising thing is, it has nothing to do with reading a book.

I’m talking about Amazon NowNow.

It’s an “experimental” feature on the Kindle, but NowNow is a human-powered answer engine that uses the Amazon Mechanical Turk group to search and answer questions for users. The service is in beta, and has been for a year or so (Jessamyn blogged about NowNow back in January).

So what’s the big deal? Well, the Kindle is an always-on internet appliance…anywhere you can get a cell signal, you can be online with the thing. Which means that you can ask a question and get an answer, from nearly anywhere, from a human, emailed directly to the device you used to ask the question in the first place. And this is built into the device…yes, Amazon might decide to charge for this, but right now they aren’t.

Is this Reference 2.0? Imagine being asked a research question by a patron, finding the perfect article for them, and being able to send that article to the device they are going to use to read it. Yes, I realize that laptops sort of fill this goal already, but the Kindle is certainly a more user-centered way of getting at this process. The patron doesn’t have to find a way to ask us questions…the device they are using is a direct line to us. It might not be that distinct from a webpage with a meebo widget…but I think it is qualitatively different somehow.

How?

Discuss.

More on the Kindle

Wow!

The Kindle is for sale at Amazon right now, and the details of the device are intriguing. More highlights:

  • It connects to the net via cellular networks, specifically EVDO. So anywhere you can get a cell signal, you can buy a book. And there is no charge for the connectivity…Amazon is underwriting it.
  • There looks to be subscription models for newspapers, magazines, etc, all delivered automatically in the background. Wake up every morning and the Times is waiting.
  • New York Times® Best Sellers and all New Releases $9.99, unless marked otherwise.

And, my favorites:

  • Includes free wireless access to the planet’s most exhaustive and up-to-date encyclopedia—Wikipedia.org.
  • By using the keyboard, you can add annotations to text, just like you might write in the margins of a book. And because it is digital, you can edit, delete, and export your notes, highlight and clip key passages, and bookmark pages for future use.
  • The source code for the device appears to be available…one can only guess that they leveraged some open source software and are complying with the license. Except that it’s machine readable source…hmmmm.

Here’s the bad:

  • They are advertising “more than 250 top blogs…” I take this to mean there is no open RSS reader built in. That seems a nearly criminal omission from the Kindle. I mean, RSS is the backbone of content choice on the web right now…come on Bezos!
  • It does support ebooks via Audible…so you can read or listen, as you choose.
  • From the License Agreement: “Amazon provides wireless connectivity free of charge to you for certain content shopping and acquisition services on your Device. You will be charged a fee for wireless connectivity for your use of other wireless services on your Device, such as Web browsing and downloading of personal files, should you elect to use those services. We will maintain a list of current fees for such services in the Kindle Store.”
  • And here’s a good one: “You agree you will use the wireless connectivity provided by Amazon only in connection with Services Amazon provides for the Device. You may not use the wireless connectivity for any other purpose.”

Ah, and here’s where eBooks and physical books diverge, and is the source of 99% of my frustration with the format (also from the License Agreement):

Use of Digital Content. Upon your payment of the applicable fees set by Amazon, Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Device or as authorized by Amazon as part of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Digital Content will be deemed licensed to you by Amazon under this Agreement unless otherwise expressly provided by Amazon.

Restrictions. You may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense or otherwise assign any rights to the Digital Content or any portion of it to any third party, and you may not remove any proprietary notices or labels on the Digital Content. In addition, you may not, and you will not encourage, assist or authorize any other person to, bypass, modify, defeat or circumvent security features that protect the Digital Content.

That book you bought? Not yours. Can’t sell it. Can’t even give it away.

Oh, and for those librarians who still hold tight to the privacy bandwagon:

Information Received. The Device Software will provide Amazon with data about your Device and its interaction with the Service (such as available memory, up-time, log files and signal strength) and information related to the content on your Device and your use of it (such as automatic bookmarking of the last page read and content deletions from the Device). Annotations, bookmarks, notes, highlights, or similar markings you make in your Device are backed up through the Service. Information we receive is subject to the Amazon.com Privacy Notice.

They know when you are reading. They know what you are reading, and that you bookmarked the sex scenes. Oh yes, they know.

So, exciting new product? Yep. Amazon, like Apple before them, has realized the power of a closed market segment, where they control the distribution and the consumption of media. The real test will be whether this survives the 2-3 year adoption cycle and moves into the magic price point range ($100-150).