Tag Archives: Technology

Library Technology: Problems, Futures, and Directions

This is a keynote that I delivered at the MOBIUS Consortium conference in Columbia, Missouri on June 2, 2015. I talk about why library technology is terrible, why technology is a unique thing, the speed of change, what technological futures are near, and the broad strokes of how I think libraries need to respond in order to suck less at tech. It’s a fun time for everyone.

There’s one little technical glitch in the middle where Keynote decided to crash, but otherwise I’m pleased with the way this came together.

Just a few hours after I gave my presentation, in which I talk about the rise of voice interfaces to machine learning algorithms that act as personal assistants (a la Siri, Cortana and others), SoundHound drops this bombshell of a demo on the web:

That is ridiculous stuff, right there. But at least it shows I’m not wrong to be paying attention.

CES 2015 – Best & Worst

Here’s my last video from CES2015, a wrap-up that’s full of the best and worst of the technology that I saw. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my coverage, and I’ll get a chance to head back next year for another run at the largest technology show in the world.

If you want to catch up on all of my coverage, you can see everything I posted via this link.  And if you have any questions about technology and libraries, want to pick my brain about anything that I saw, or want to ask me about specific technology recommendations for your library, feel free to drop me a line.

CES 2015 coverage sponsored by Springshare. If your library needs a solution for desk scheduling, research guides, or room booking, check out their LibApp platform

CES 2015 Press Day

The day before the actual conference exhibits and such open at CES is Press Day. Effectively, it’s a day full of large press conferences that require standing in line to hear the big announcements from all the major players at CES: Samsung, HTC, Panasonic, and such. The evening of Press Day, however, has one of the better press events that happens at the same time as CES every year, Pepcom’s Digital Experience. This report is a wrap up of what I saw at press day, which includes new 3D printers from Ultimaker (one of my favorite 3D printer manufacturers, along with Lulzbot and SeeMeCNC, both of whom I’ll report on as part of tomorrow’s coverage), a handful of drones, and an interesting robotics platform that I think could be useful for library programming with kids and young adults.

I apologize for the audio quality, especially during the first part of the video. I’m not sure exactly what happened other than my microphone really didn’t like some of the ambient sounds in the room. I promise, it gets better.

CES 2015 coverage sponsored by Springshare. If your library needs a solution for desk scheduling, research guides, or room booking, check out their LibApp platform

CES Unveiled 2015

After a full day of travel, I attended the first press event for CES 2015, CES Unveiled. This is the event where the eager press gets its first shot at video and interviews with newest and shiniest tech of the year…and some of the silliest. The standout at this particular event seemed to be Belty, a (and I assure you, I am not making this up) automated smart belt. It was so popular that I couldn’t even get close.

It’s pretty easy to make fun of some of the products, whether that’s the bluetooth enabled propane tank sensor (even more frightening? There’s MORE THAN ONE OF THEM ON THE MARKET) or the $180 smart basketball.  On the other hand, there are some really interesting things as well, like the Ozobot robot platform that allows kids to learn programming thru interacting with it via the Blockly programming language. Even better, the company that makes them is working towards open sourcing the hardware to allow the enabling of even more interesting interactions.

All of those, and more cool stuff, in the video below. Thanks for watching!

CES 2015 coverage sponsored by Springshare. If your library needs a solution for desk scheduling, research guides, or room booking, check out their LibApp platform


Amazing article in the New York Times from Kevin Kelly about home schooling his 8th grade son, and the lessons learned from the effort. Some amazing pieces of advice about technoliteracy and what everyone should know and learn about technology…here are my favorite bits:

  • Every new technology will bite back. The more powerful its gifts, the more powerfully it can be abused. Look for its costs.
  • Technologies improve so fast you should postpone getting anything you need until the last second. Get comfortable with the fact that anything you buy is already obsolete.
  • Before you can master a device, program or invention, it will be superseded; you will always be a beginner. Get good at it.
  • Every technology is biased by its embedded defaults: what does it assume?
  • Nobody has any idea of what a new invention will really be good for. The crucial question is, what happens when everyone has one?
  • The older the technology, the more likely it will continue to be useful.
  • Find the minimum amount of technology that will maximize your options.

Just brilliant stuff. Read the whole article.

There's an app for that – OITP Brief on Mobile

The American Library Association Office of Information Technology Policy, better known as ALA-OITP, just released their Policy Brief on Mobile Tech, There’s an App for That! Libraries and Mobile Technology: An Introduction to Public Policy Considerations. Written by Timothy Vollmer, formerly of OITP and now working for Creative Commons, it’s a great “state of the union” brief on Mobile tech, and how it effects the library world in the current and near-future time frame.

I was honored to have been an early reader on this piece, and to have been able to give feedback to Timothy as he worked it up. If you have any interest at all about the future of libraries and the mobile world, this is a must read.

ALA TechSource Trends Webinar

TechSource has posted the recording of the TechTrends Midwinter 2010 Webinar that I was a part of a couple of weeks ago, along with Sean Fitzpatrick, Kate Sheehan and Greg Landgraf. I’m really pleased with it…check it out, and let me know if there are any questions you’d like me to follow up on.

TechTrends: Midwinter 2010 Webinar Archive from ALA Publishing on Vimeo.

TechTrends: Mid-Winter 2010, an archive of the 2/11/10 ALA TechSource webinar. The ALA Midwinter meeting was discussed from a library technology perspective. Our panel of experts offered their own unique perspective, sharing what they learned from the conference and what trends they thought stood out, plus, a question-and-answer session with the panelists.

Product Review: Eye-Fi

As a part of having a new Eliza around, we went camera shopping for a new digital camera. I asked for feedback from a bunch of friends as to what digital camera they used and liked, and took those suggestions and matched them against my list of requirements. I wanted something that would do both still and video well, preferably HD video for future-proofing, and had a decent pocketability.

After a failed attempt at locating the Sanyo Xacti model that I wanted, I discovered the Canon TX-1. We’ve loved our Canons from the past…our last two cameras were Canon; one of the original Elphs, back with they were APS film based, and then our immediate past digital, a 4 megapixel Elph. With our history with Canon, plus the TX-1’s optical image stabilization, we decided to give up on the Xacti and just go with the Canon.

But that’s not the product I wanted to sing the praises of in this post. No, I’m beyond thrilled with the memory card I bought to go with the TX-1. Yep, the memory card…if your digital camera takes SD cards, you should immediately buy one of these:


A brilliant little piece of tech, the Eye-Fi combines a 2 gig SD card with built in wifi, giving any camera the ability to automatically upload pictures that you take to your computer, to any of dozens of web photo sites, or both. The card comes with a little USB dock, and has the software necessary to tie the card to your computer and website on itself. You plug it into your computer, and it walks you through linking the card, your wifi point, the computer you’re on, and the website in question.

Once it is set up, the process is simply take a picture, and…that’s it. You take a picture and as long as your camera stays on it will upload your pics to your computer and to the web automagically. Now there are limits, and ways that I would love to have the product behave that it doesn’t.

For one, the card attaches itself to your wifi point…not to your computer. I would vastly prefer the card to attach via an ad-hoc network to my computer, and then have the computer do the heavy lifting to the web. That way it would work even when I was traveling, without having to logon to the Eye-Fi manager website and manually change the settings. You can make it work now, but it’s less easy than I’d like.

Still, if you do most of your uploading from home, it doesn’t get any easier than this.

Technophobia or payola?

Welcome to the gang from Digg! I think the site is finally stable now (thanks Blake). Thanks for stopping by…

In an article today on CNet, the Register of Copyright of the US, Marybeth Peters (who, let me remind you, is an Associate Librarian for Copyright Services for the Library of Congress) admitted that she was a:

…self-proclaimed “Luddite,” who confessed she doesn’t even have a computer at home. “In hindsight, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”


I’m sorry, but I thought that just said that the person responsible for administering Copyright law in the US doesn’t own a computer.



She goes on to say things like:

Peters indicated she was less thrilled, however, about a portion of the DMCA that generally lets hosting companies off the hook for legal liability, as long as they don’t turn a blind eye to copyright infringement and remove infringing material when notified. That’s one of the major arguments Google is attempting to wield in fighting high-profile copyright lawsuits, including one brought by Viacom, against its YouTube subsidiary.

“Shouldn’t you have to filter? Shouldn’t you have to take reasonable steps to make sure illegal stuff that went up comes down?” she said. She added, without elaborating further, “I think there are some issues.”

No, you shouldn’t, Marybeth. Filtering means that we are placing the responsibility of policing onto the providers of the service, and not on the people ultimately responsible for the infringement. It also means that we move farther from Net Neutrality, because there is a slippery slope from “monitor everything” to “oh, since you CAN monitor everything, prioritize something”.

Is there anyone at all in the actual copyright process that understand that the law is broken beyond repair right now, and that the digital world really does change the rules? Or is it just that all of our media laws are now being written and propped up by corporate interests instead of being written for the good of the people?