ALA Annual 2010 Unconference

If you didn’t get the chance last year, the ALA Annual Unconference was awesome, and it’s back this year for a return engagement. Whether you are a fan of the Unconference form, or just interested in what the buzz is about, the 2010 ALA Annual Unconference should be a really, really good way to spend the Friday of the Annual Conference.

One of the things that people say brings them to Annual is the opportunity to network, and attendees consistently say that they want more networking opportunities. This is the perfect networking opportunity, and I give you a money-back guarantee for the cost of the Unconference that you’ll meet interesting and thought-provoking people.

Go! Register! Attend! You’ll love it.


Online Information 2008

I had the pleasure of presenting for Elsevier at Online Information 2008 in London, England this past week, and have had some requests for my slides and such.

Here is my presentation, in a few different formats. Up first: video of the slides, with audio of me talking. This was recorded live, and the levels are a bit weird because of my walking to and away from the mic. I never really learned how to hold still and talk. You can listen here, or click through to and download the quicktime if you wish to listen to locally.

Next are just the slides, as a PDF from Slideshare. If you want to download the slides, this is the way to do it.

Digital Culture Library Issues

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, 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?

Library Issues

Computers in Libraries 2008 Calendar

As an experiment, I created a Google Calendar for Computers in Libraries 2008 and asked a number of my friends to help me fill it in with the schedule. Why? Because Google Calendar is an open standard, and allows people to do all sorts of sharing. People can add the calendar, overlay it with their personal calendar, copy events off….it’s just a much better way of dealing with this sort of information.

If you are interested, the calendar can be found here: HTMLiCal XML

If you want to be added as an editor, just drop a comment to this post with your gmail address, and I will add you. If this is useful, we’ll see about doing it for other, upcoming library conferences.

Library Issues

Some clarification re:conferences

Just some quick thoughts about my recent posts, as responses to comments.

Todd said:

Virtual meetings are all very nice, but its never the same as meeting people in person. In addition, real-life conferences give you a chance to see places you might not have gone otherwise…virtual conferences mean you stay right where you are.

I completely agree. My suggestion to virtualize aspects of the conference experience are not intended to downplay the value of face-to-face meetings. It’s just that we need to recognize that F2F isn’t necessary for communication to happen…it brings bonuses, but for the purposes of conducting business (like, for instance, the ALA Midwinter meeting), virtual is the appropriate realm.

Tom Hogan said:

Jason, thanks for attending Internet Librarian in Monterey, and I hope you found it worthwhile. As I mentioned in my little welcome speech, we had a record turnout this year, which is due primarily to the variety and excellence of the presentations from people dedicated to the information profession.

I’m sure that online conferences have their place, but I have to agree with Todd that people still want to meet in person from time to time. As long as that holds true, Information Today will continue to organize them. Regards.

Hi Tom! I was one of your “people dedicated to the information profession” that presented at IL this year. I was one of the faculty for what I believe was the largest preconference at IL.

Again, I’m not saying that virtual is done at the expense of F2F. Ideally it should be done in conjunction with…the very fact that we are talking as if there is a dichotomy between the two is ludicrous.

The truth is that the best librarians I know are both virtual and physical, all the time. They are connected, and consider their prioperceptive virtual self without effort. They are the librarians that you saw at IL who were sitting next to each other, blogging the session, updating Twitter, and IM’ing the person next to them with comments about the session. To pretend that being at IL “in real life” precludes a virtual component is to miss the forest for the trees.

My point is that we also should be reversing this equation: we should be making the virtual a significant and integral part of the ongoing F2F conference experience. The fact that at a conference called Internet Librarian we still have physical pieces of paper for people to sign up for dinners around town is, to put it mildly, amusing.