I was lucky enough to be the guest on the Dquarium Bibliotech podcast earlier this week, and had a great time talking to Kayhan, Erin, and Doug. We talked about library technology, the Librarybox project, ebooks, and more. Listen in, and if you have any questions feel free to drop them in the comments.
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- Before you can master a device, program or invention, it will be superseded; you will always be a beginner.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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
Oh wait, IT DOES SAY THAT THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR COPYRIGHT 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?
Many libraries are undergoing a re-evaluation of their technology underpinnings…their ILS, their electronic access mechanisms (OpenURL resolvers, OPAC, Metasearch), and other pieces of the melange we use to get our patrons what they need.
If you were going to attempt to move away from commercial, closed-source products and towards open source solutions for the following, what would you use? What are the areas where you are just not convinced that open source is ready for prime time, and in those cases who do you think is the most progressive choice for an academic library?
- OPAC (if separate from ILS)
- OpenURL Resolver
- Other tools I’ve forgotten…
I’ve got some feelings about a few of these areas, but in others I’m just not sure. Help me make up my mind what to play with…
Been thinking a lot about user interfaces lately…what happens when the “language” of your users changes? For example, how many companies have cute phone numbers that spell their name…something like 1-800-GRIFFEY. Before cell phones, dialing this made sense: you pressed each letter in turn: 1-800-475-3339. (warning, number goes nowhere)
Post-SMS, how many teens do you think will see that number and try to dial the number as if they were texting? I’ll admit that when I think about dialing letters, I default to “txt” behavior.
This isn’t an example of the interface changing. It’s the same phone, with the same letters in the same order. But the expectations of that interface have changed.
Where have libraries been guilty of this? We have an interface, and it’s still being used…but the patron expectations have shifted slightly, and we haven’t taken that into account…