Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Nice Finale!

Two weeks ago, I did my last Perceptions Report program, a joint event for librarians from Temple, Penn, and Drexel Universities in Philadelphia.

This was an exciting event; according to Larry Alford, the Vice Provost for Libraries and University Librarian at Temple, this was the first time the three staffs had gotten together for a continuing education program. There was a palpable excitement in the room, and that sure fed my energy level, even at my advanced stage of dotage.

The question and answer session was terrific. In fact, I was asked a question I'd never been asked in 47 other events in 2006---"How can we use the Perceptions Report in our university fundraising?" This sparked a lot of discussion, but the main thrust was that having new services mean new opportunities to offer donors, like naming opportunities for group study rooms or learning commons.

This was also the first time in all those trips I couldn't fly home. The Philadelphia airport was socked in; it was murkier than a politician's alibi. I started talking to three other guys who were headed for Columbus and we decided to rent a car and drive home. We left the airport at 9:15 p.m. and pulled into the Hertz ramp at Port Columbus at 3:30 a.m.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Top 10 Gifts - 2016

From the innovative people at the Innovation Lab comes a list of presents via the crystal ball, from 2016.

1. Robot suit - kid getting bullied at school? Get one of these.
2. 3D printer - no worries about running out of candles. Just print some more.
3. Live Concrete - lighting the house is so passe. Light your concrete driveway.
4. Interactive fabric - wearing the same dress as your sister? Change the colour and pattern.
5. Holographic TV - Really get Lost.
6. Biometric locks - forget your keys? Just think about it.
7. Nano hard drive - millions and millions of GBs.
8. Remote controlled gardener - grow your own.
9. RFID geo-aware Fridge - Now, if only it would buy the milk.
10. Nanotreated kitcheware - Scrubby pads? What are they?

From all us here at IAG, to all of you, Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

OCLC Symposium in Seattle

Thanks to the 133 of you who have already registered for the Symposium at ALA MW which will be in the Metropolitan Ballroom, Sheraton Seattle, beginning at 1:30pm on Jan 19th. You all will definitely get stickers. What stickers? Well, you'll have to come if you want to find out and you'll have to register to make sure we have enough stickers.

And good news...wireless will be available for bloggers! I suppose I should say, in theory, wireless will be available because we've found that big windowless ballrooms in hotels are not always consistent in where wireless can be picked up. But make sure your battery is fully powered unless you want to sit against the wall.

If you've forgotten who is on our panel: Michael Stephens is moderating. danah boyd, Howard Rheingold and Marc Smith will be speaking about social networking and, I suspect, identity, community, privacy.

Blog Salon - Time and Place at ALA MW

After much to-ing and fro-ing, we have decided to hold the Blog Salon on Saturday evening, January 20th beginning at 7:30pm. It will be in the Blue Suite* at the Sheraton Seattle. We were going to have it on Friday but there are many evening events, some of which your IAG bloggers want to attend. And on Saturday, there will be a reception celebrating the life and achievements of Fred Kilgour. Here's the information from our website (please register!). Hope to see you all at both events.

5:30 - 7:00 pm, Westin Seattle, Grand Ballrooms I & II
Celebration of Life for Frederick G. Kilgour. Join us for brief remarks about the impact OCLC Founder Fred Kilgour had on contemporary librarianship and other remembrances about Mr. Kilgour. A wine and cheese reception will follow.

*If you've come to past blog salons, you'll recall that we don't know the actual room number of the OCLC suites until our intrepid conference staff arrive at the hotel. As soon as we have a number, we'll post it here. Hotel front desk staff will know too, and you can just ask for the "OCLC Blue Suite."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Low Disk Space: confessions of a digital packrat

Warning for anyone using a laptop: when the nifty little reminder warning comes up that says, "You're running low on disk space," and then, "You're running critically low on disk space," for the love of e-mail--ignore them at your peril.

All day today I've been wildly deleting team status spreadsheets from 2001, product introduction powerpoints from products that OCLC has long since discontinued selling, multiple random vacation photos...all to no avail.

I have used my memory so carelessly, I now don't have the requisite amount in order to delete the very large programs that I rarely use, such as Flash (not the player--the software to create Flash files.)

I feel like a prophet of PC user doom here...but let my very unproductive day be a lesson to us all! And does anyone have any hints besides deleting files and programs, emptying recycle bin/temp files, running ad clean up programs, compressing files?
(And do check out the fun "Are you a digital packrat?" quiz from microsoft.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ten bullets on online communities

Yesterday Danyel Fisher came to OCLC's Seattle office to talk to WebJunction staff about his work at Microsoft Research and the Community Technologies Group (we'll see his colleague Marc in Seattle next month). I made some comments about the first portion of his talk (all about community data analysis) here.

But the second part of Danyel's discussion was a list of ten things that he and his team had noticed, observed, or could suggest for online community management, based on their research in social networking. I admit freely that I am not into the whole top ten list thing, but I thought I would take this opportunity to share Danyel's list, with my short-hand commentary. Because social networking is the now thing, I wonder how these comments/observations will chance over the coming year?


1. know what your space is for - have a purpose
2. know what your space is doing - it's there, just pay attention
3. most people won't do much of anything - remember that 100:9:1 rule
4. let users know what they're doing - show them
5. top 10 lists are a game - people like to play with the data, such as, I can be the top poster if I just post 243 more replies in the next 3 hours!
6. critical mass is critical - you have to have some there there
7. bring in new people - show them around, help them out, welcome them
8. you don't own the community - it's a party in your living room
9. negative reputation doesn't work - it just pushes good people away, the bad guys like the negative attention and will go after it
10. it's all under the same brand - community is community is community; the action doesn't all have to happen in a single spot

It's "Top Trends" Time!

As Stephen Abram notes at his lighthouse, it is the time of year for all sorts of lists, and like him, I love them. Here's a good one to start me off meta-trendspotting (I just made that up...looking at trends in trendspotting). Read/Write Web has a long overview post titled 2006 Web Technology Trends and promises more in-depth posts and analyses. It's too long to summarize but starts out with "Undoubtedly 2006 has been the year of the social network..."

Considering there are about 6 or 8 announcements of funding for various social networking companies in the past couple of days via ....fer sure, eh?

SES Chicago and other distractions

"Helloooooo," she says, emerging from her rock. "Hellllooooo is anybody home?"
What a lovely rock it's been.

So in case you hadn't guessed it from the title, I've been in a week of Search Engine Marketing land at SES Chicago. I met lots of Googlers, Yahoos, Ask-ers and MSN AdCenter types. I rubbed shoulders with some of the smartest, savviest search engine marketers around.

Made some new Canadian, Australian, and Chinese friends. Learned a lot about Paid and Organic search. Will blog the coolest sessions for you, as holidays wind down. I will say this, for now: listening to the panel on Social Search talk about your company's need for trusted, authoritative information--I was about to fall out of my chair thinking about libraries.

We have such a valuable asset--trust and authority--now how can we use those characteristics to differentiate ourself in an online space?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Thriving Physical Library

If you search for "library", "donation" and "million" in Google you will see that libraries all over the place are receiving hefty donations that in many cases are for building, rebuilding or renovating libraries. Many donations seem to be in the 1-2 million dollar range, but there are a few that stand out because of their size. The University of Calgary, in Alberta, where I worked for over ten years recently received a $25 million dollar donation from a single source--that's Canadian dollars and translates to around $22 million US at today's exchange rate. This is in addition to $113 million in base funding from the provincial government. As an oil-rich (and natural gas rich) province Alberta is awash in money and it is good to see libraries sharing in the wealth.

Oddly enough (to me anyway), although the money is going towards building a physical library it is to be named the Taylor Family (after the donor) Digital Library. In an email to U of C staff, the President, Harvey Weingarten, wrote: "The Taylor Family Digital Library will allow the University to bring together a vast amount of information, and more importantly, the professional staff to help students find their way. It will offer more study space, more computer workstations, specialized training and seminar rooms, wireless Internet access and more than 50 rooms that can be used to discuss and present information. The Taylor Family Digital Library will result in a 30% increase in available study space on campus, the kind of space we need to further the opportunities for collaborative, multidisciplinary teaching, learning and research."

I can only imagine that despite the planned floor space of 42,000 metres the hope is that people will associate the "digital library" building with digital collections. But I am not sure why a physical building is needed to "bring together a vast amount of information" and I think this is mixing up the brand message in a way that doesn't really celebrate what will likely be an outstanding physical space, while also participating in the truly digital library initiative in Alberta, the Lois Hole Campus Digital Library.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Governing, December 2006

There are at least two articles in the December 2006 issue of Governing magazine that every public library director should read.

The first is the cover story, "Blackout," talks about the impact on the social weave of a city when its newspaper reduces local coverage. What can a library do to fill this gap in providing space for discussion and community building? How do you get the word out about what libraries are doing in an environment where most of the local media are owned and programmed somewhere else, like national radio or newspaper chains?

The second is the Tech Talk column by Ellen Perlman, in which she discusses the unheralded role of the public library as a first responder when a locality is faced with a disaster. Ms. Perlman refers to the recent report by John Carlo Bertot, Paul T. Jaeger, Lesley A. Langa, and Chuck McClure, that was cited in Library Journal in August.

Governing is an indispensable source for information on local government, and a limited number of subscriptions is available free for elected and career government officials. Information here.

New Trendwatching

If you think YouTube is the be-all-and-end-all of online user-contributed video, you might want to check out the current issue of Trendwatching. This issue, titled "Generation C(ash)," is all about some new web sites that are monetizing user-created content for the masses. It may also give you some ideas about what's happening in the latest wave of video social networking software.

Friday, December 08, 2006

PLA Service Responses - Your Input Sought

Hi, everyone---long time, no blog. Sorry. A combination of excessive road time, some lingering minor illnesses, and a 10-day Thanksgiving vacation knocked me way off schedule.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that the Public Library Association is updating its service responses, a process that began with Planning and Role-Setting for Public Libraries in 1987 and continued with Planning for Results in 1998 and 2001. June Garcia and Sandra Nelson, the consultants working on this project for PLA, have now identified 17 potential service responses for which public libraries could plan, based on input received at the 2006 ALA national conference and via the PLA blog. They're seeking comments and input on the list before January 1, 2007.

You'll find the list and a place to comment at this location on the PLA blog.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

To Your Scattered Bodies Go*

Chrystie recently posted about the report issued by the Center for the Digital Future (at the Annenberg School for Communication, which is at the University of Southern California) which is the seventh in its Digital Future Project. She noted one statistic from the report--that 43% of people who are members of online communities feel as strongly about their virtual communities as they do about their real-world ones.

Sherry Turkle's 1984 book The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit was the first book I read that suggested the computer was not an appliance but was part of ourselves--an extension of ourselves.

At the 2005 Annual meeting at OCLC CAPCON, Joel Foreman from George Mason University suggested that we computer users are already cyborgs in that our various computers are extensions of ourselves and without them we often feel as if part of us is missing.

But actually, I digress from what I set out to tell you about which is a very interesting and readable article by danah boyd, one of the stellar speakers at the OCLC Symposium at ALA Midwinter in Seattle. (danah just happens to be a Fellow at the Annenberg School.) The article is "Friends, Friendsters, and Top 8: Writing community into being on social network sites" published in the December issue of First Monday (the whole issue is well worth reading).

The editors introduce the issue with these words (which allow me to tie my ramblings here together): "Increasingly, who we are is represented by key pieces of information scattered throughout the data-intensive, networked world. Few spheres of our daily lives remain untouched by technologies of identity and identification: medical records are increasingly digitized and aggregated, loyalty cards collect shopping habits, Web cookies track online activities, electronic toll collection systems record vehicle locations, detailed user profile pages fill social networking Web sites, biometric scanners are in use at workplaces, banks, and airports. Online and off, the digitization of identity mediates our sense of self, social interactions, movements through space, and access to goods and services."

I think many librarians around my age would like to believe we are all still living in Kansas. I am becoming sure that "Kansas" stopped existing about 15 or 20 years ago and that we now live in a profoundly different place. I am not sure I buy Ray Kurzweil's idea of "The Singularity" but I agree with this from the Wikipedia entry on him: "Raymond Kurzweil states his belief that the future of humanity is being determined by an exponential expansion of knowledge, and that the very rate of the change of this exponential growth is driving our collective destiny irrespective of our narrow sightedness, clinging archaisms, or fear of change."

* The first of Philip José Farmer's Riverworld Saga series.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

eLearning Technology blog "visitor guide"

I don't regularly follow the eLearning Technology blog (gasp!) but I just learned about this fabulous visitor guide for new readers there (thanks to nancy at full circle). It's for readers that are new to the blog, introducing them to the author, the purpose of the blog, the most pertinent posts, articles and topics, how to interact with the content, etc.

It's a fabulous idea - especially for those of us who get to blogging and/or who have been blogging for awhile - because it's easy to lose sight of biblioblogosphere-forest through the mybiblioblog-trees. It's one way to keep a well established blog from sounding or feeling like you mean you've never been to my treehouse? where ya been? under a rock? It also occurs to me that this might be a great branding exercise, even if it's just for yourself or for internal sharing, especially if your blog has been up for awhile and it's time to reframe, repurpose or reset.

Seizing the Means of Production

In the Environmental Scan, we referred to "disaggregation" to describe the wide-spread phenomena of institutions, content, professionals and other mediating entities increasingly being removed or diminished in their interactions with end users and consumers. It's a theme that continues to interest me. Here, from the Center for Citizen Media blog is an article, "The demise of the Professional Photojournalist."

Bloggers participate in journalism. Flickr and YouTube contributers participate in photo- and videojournalism. Civilians catalog (a lot!) at LibraryThing.

Ten years ago, Derrick de Kerckhove, then and now the head of The McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto said, in an interview with Wired's Kevin Kelly:
"In a networked society, the real power shift is from the producer to the consumer, and there is a redistribution of controls and power. On the Web, Karl Marx's dream has been realized: the tools and the means of production are in the hands of workers."

So, perhaps "Web 2.0" is just this century's way of saying "seize the means of production." (and I discovered plenty of people writing about this on the Web...) However the phenomenon is described, it is clear that experts who manage and mediate content are required--and perhaps most importantly--desired less and less. Now, if only we could find a way to disaggreate expertise from the expert and send it out where its needed.