Tag Archives: writing

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.

Improv Electronics Boogie Board – CES 2012

Here’s a product that intrigued me, but I can’t really nail down why. It’s not immediately apparent what sort of problem this solves. But it was interesting enough that I’d love to see if anyone out there sees a use for libraries. I’m going to see how it works for writing practice with my daughter, so there could be an instructional use for toddlers…

Writing, ownership, and blogging

I don’t remember the last time that I went an entire month without writing something here. It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that my blogging here at Pattern Recognition has suffered as a results of many things. Some of those reasons are simple;: I’ve got other platforms that I’m using now, including other social networks (Twitter, Google+, Friendfeed, Tumblr) and other blogs (ALA Techsource and American Libraries’ Perpetual Beta). I use some of these because they are easy, some because I like the conversations/community, and some because they pay me.

What I don’t like is that my writing, thoughts, interests…the comprehensive set of my online self, really…are distributed and scattered. I was ok with it for a long time, and I’m becoming very much not ok with it anymore. In the past, I’ve dabbled with pulling things from those other networks back here, but that doesn’t actually bring any of the reasons I use them here….it just brings the content. Which isn’t always what it’s about.

When I started writing here at PatRec back in 2003, none of those other networks even existed. It’s possible that if I were to start writing online these days, I wouldn’t even think of hosting my own blog, and one of the possibilities is that it’s time to let PatRec die a natural death. It may be that a distributed presence is the future of personhood on the ‘net….except I don’t think that’s true. I believe strongly, more than ever, that it’s important to own and control your own words, both in presentation and in regards to copyright/legal control. So I’m confronted with this tension: I like the tools that I don’t own, but I want to own the stuff I make with those tools.

I’ve been thinking a LOT about this. And I’m going to start experimenting with some ways to change things, starting with a post that I’m working on now about iCloud and Lion and the future of the filesystem. I would love to start a conversation about this, and see how others are dealing with this tension. Because I think I’m going to start reeling things in, reducing my contributions to other channels, and try to re-center my online presence.

Serialized Literature makes a comeback

Way back in 2008 at the Online Information conference in London, I talked a little about where I thought we’d see writing in general go, given the technologies that were mature/maturing: eReaders (the Amazon Kindle had been for just a year at that point), blogs and blog software, and more. I predicted that we would see a revitalization of the sort of serialized long-form content that was prevalent in 19th century literature, like Dickens and Doyle. It made sense to me at the time, given that one could subscribe to an ongoing series, have it automatically delivered as written/released, enjoy it on your container of choice (eReader, mobile phone, etc).

While there have been a few attempts at serialized writing in the last few years, it’s only very recently that I think authors have hit on a model that might work well. There are two that I’m aware of that take slightly different paths but are, in the end, paving a path to an old way, but a new channel, of publishing.

The first, and most exciting to me, is The Mongoliad. From the wikipedia entry:

The Mongoliad is an experimental fiction project of the Subutai Corporation, scheduled for release in 2010. The corporation is an application company based in San Francisco and Seattle, whose chairman is speculative fiction author Neal Stephenson. Stephenson is the guiding force of the project, in which he is joined by colleagues including Greg Bear.

The work is intended to be distributed primarily as a series of applications (“apps”) for smartphones, which the Corporation views as a new model for publishing storytelling. At the project’s core is a narrative of adventure fiction following the exploits of a small group of fighters and mystics in medieval Europe around the time of the Mongol conquests. As well as speculative fiction authors Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Nicole Galland, Mark Teppo and others, collaborators include filmmakers, computer programmers, graphic artists, martial artists and combat choreographers, video game designers, and a professional editor. In a departure from conventional fiction, much of the content of The Mongoliad will be in forms other than text, not bound to any single medium and not in the service of the central narrative. Once the project develops momentum, the Corporation envisages fans of the work to contribute, expanding and enriching the narrative and the fictional universe in which it takes place.

So this is collaborative, multimedia, world creating…which just happens to be led by two of the biggest names in genre fiction. I’m a complete sucker for Stephenson, and I signed up as soon as the site went live. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this project goes.

The other interesting serialized novel being done is also in the genre fiction realm, the DragonsBard project by Tracy & Laura Hickman. Tracy Hickman is probably best known for being half of the Weiss & Hickman writing duo that gave fantasy the Dragonlance world of novels. Unlike the Foreworld stuff above, which is a subscription model, the DragonsBard publishing model is a single price upfront, which gives you access to the ongoing story and a limited-edition signed & numbered hardcover of the story when it’s over.

There are two things that I find interesting about this model of publishing. The first is it’s leveraging of technology to provide not only different sorts of distribution, but also different types of content completely (images, video, etc). The second is how it allows for the complete disintermediation of the publishing house.

I look forward to seeing if other authors take this approach. I also look forward to seeing how these sorts of works get cataloged. :-)

Wolfram|Alpha post at TechSource

Forgot to mention here that I have a new post up over at ALA TechSource about Wolfram|Alpha and how libraries can use it.

Check it out! I’m playing with W|A and still thinking a lot about proactive reference these days, while I put the finishing touches on my Mobile Technology and Libraries book for Neal Schuman that will coming out sometime in the Fall as a part of a 10 book “Tech Set”. Once I get the manuscript turned in, expect to see a lot more rambling in this space.

ALA Techsource

Well, it’s official. I will be writing for ALA TechSource over the course of the next year! A monthly column on the TechSource blog, with wide-ranging topics that I hope inform and make people think about technology and libraries.

I’m thrilled to be a part of the TechSource team, and can’t wait to get started. Thanks to everyone who made this opportunity happen.

Collaboration and writing

So, Karen put up some of her thoughts on our collaborative adventure in writing a book over at LibraryWebChic, so I thought I’d follow up with my take on the ongoing quest to write.

We are a long way apart. Thankfully, we have leveraged online tools like nobody’s business. Here’s a short list of the whats and hows:

  • Google Docs: for initial writing, for sharing, for co-editing each others work. I’m quickly forgetting how I ever got things done without Google Docs.
  • Flickr: for the sharing of screenshots for insertion into our final documents. We’ve created a private group with only us as members, and that way either of us can just upload/download the pics we need. Flickr used to raise a stink about screenshots, but they actually have the option to label something a screenshot in the advance settings of their website upload tool now.
  • IM: for lots of communication, and logs that allow me to go back and check what I agreed to do. :-)
  • del.icio.us: I’m using it for bookmarks to things I’m referencing, so that I can go back and build a more formal bibliography later. I’ve also thrown links at Karen that I think might be useful to her sections.

One of the more interesting things that I’ve found out has to do with personal communication style. I don’t like the phone, and prefer text-based communication (mainly because I can review it when I need to refresh my memory). Karen likes to talk on the phone, and hash things out that way. This far, we’ve done a combination of the two, and it’s worked well…I keep bugging her to upgrade her PowerBook to a MacBook so that we can iChat when we have questions, but so far, no go. :-)

As Karen mentioned, the biggest problem we’ve had so far is the transporting of some of the “finished” chapters, with really large images inline and such. What I think we need is basically on online drop-box that we can both use, preferably with a fast pipe and a pretty ajaxy drag and drop interface.

Writing projects

Well, now that both contracts are signed, I can talk a bit about my next two writing projects.

First up, I’ve agreed to write an article for Library Journal. The topic? A new reference/instruction project here at UTC involving podcasts and iPod rentals. We’ve got grand plans that we hope to put into practice over the course of 2007 that involve video and audio production and leverage our new website (just launched today!). We’re looking for integration and experimentation from our reference/instruction team, and I have faith they’ll come up with uses that I can’t now imagine. But for LJ, I’m going to write up the entire planning process, from grant writing to how we’ll handle the various challenges involved in a project of this scope.

Second…I’m currently under contract to write a book for Linworth Publishing, tentatively titled Biblioblogging (almost certainly that will change), along with my partner in crime Karen Coombs. I plan on blogging portions of the work, research, and process involved in this writing as well.

These two things, along with the new job…well, let’s just say that 2007 is promising to be interesting if nothing else.

Back from Thanksgiving

And there’s a bevy of stuff happening at MPOW. We’ve launched the official beta of our new website, and I’ve signed to write an article for Library Journal.

Yeah, yeah…let the stoning commence!

To be fair, I did request and get the “better” publication agreement from Reed, as well as request and receive permission for a clarifying line of text to be added to the agreement (the clarification was in the realm of the term of the contract, and what rights reverted to me after 6 months). I will be able to self-archive the work, which was a big deal. I feel like I was treated fairly in the negotiations, now I just have to write.

So what am I writing about? There’s a great opportunity at MPOW revolving around our instruction section and podcasts/vidcasts/netcasts/whatever the cool kids are calling it these days. I wrote a grant proposal for 30 ipods and supporting equipment (including everything we need to produce nearly professional level videos), and we’ll be moving forward with integrating podcasts into our new instruction/outreach efforts. So my work for LJ will be chronicling that process, as well as looking at ways that libraries can leverage this technology to greatly enhance their efforts towards patron education.

I’ll be blogging some of the process…it’s exciting, because it’s a completely new feature for MPOW, plus it will involve a lot of integration with the new website and the instructional team.

So remarkably busy

I’m falling so behind on blogging! Right now, I feel guilty writing here, knowing that it’s Nanowrimo and I’m not working on the novel. Add to that I now have 2, count’em, TWO possible publication opportunities that hit me this week. One involves blogs and blogging, and the other is a write-up of some podcasting work that I’m in the preliminary stages in setting up. More on that later as well…I don’t want to talk too much about any of this stuff before contracts are signed and such, but it wouldn’t be far off to say I’ve got many irons in the fire.

So right now, in order to not be terribly overwhelmed, I’m concentrating on nanowrimo. Once there’s a bit more clarity on the other issues, I’ll share as I can. Especially about the podcasting…an exciting opportunity might be around the bend on that front.