Thursday, August 31, 2006

Good to Great and the Social Sectors

Those of you who have heard an OCLC speaker recently may have heard us quote a small monograph by Jim Collins, the author of the best selling business book Good to Great. Collins noted that many of the people who were attending his lectures and book signings were executives in not-for-profit organizations. He thought that in trying to implement business strategies in these organizations, they were on the wrong track. So he wrote this short piece, Good to Great and the Social Sectors.

Jeff Penka, one of the folks behind QuestionPoint, has pointed me to a site that features audio excerpts from Collins's lectures. One quote jumped out at me:
A key link in the social sector is "brand reputation,"
built upon tangible results and emotional share of
heart, so your potential supporters believe not
only in your mission, but on your capacity to deliver
on that mission.

So how is your mission holding up? Can you convincingly tell supporters why you exist? And can you convincingly tell them how you will make your mission a reality?

By Courage Born

“A time for us, some day there'll be,
When chains are torn, by courage born,
Of a love that's free.”
("A Time for Us" (love theme from Franco Zeffirelli’s film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet) words by Larry Kusik and Eddie Snyder and music by Nino Rota)

In early August at the wonderful Folger Shakespeare Library I had the pleasure and privilege of attending my first RLG Member’s Forum, More, Better, Faster, Cheaper: The Economics of Descriptive Practice. I confess I have been longing to attend more than a few of RLG’s forums over these many years – and this one by no means the least – but alas till now, RLG member forums were always tantalizingly just beyond my reach.

The presenters and topics over the 1.5 days of the Forum delivered a richly-colored, conversational book of tales drawn from real world pursuit of the often mysterious backoffice activities of processing and description in libraries, archives and museums. It was a unique and marvelous experience that got my cataloger senses all a-tingling.

My RLG Programs colleagues, Merrilee Proffitt & Günter Waibel have provided the event an eloquent recounting (see posts 1, 2, 3, 4 on, a longtime favorite blog that IAG congratulates on its first anniversary – keep up the good work, Anne, Günter, Jim and Merrilee!) and the presentations and audio files are now available on the Forum page

With far more qualified commentary appearing elsewhere I’m tempted to avoid comment of my own, but I simply cannot resist the desire to add my own observations. So with due apologies to the speakers and my RLG Programs colleagues who truly know these topics, I offer these, my own poor observations and ruminations:

An almost common set of problems: The perennial issue shared by libraries, archives and museums is the tendency for the collecting impulse to overwhelm available processing bandwidth (in particular the capacity to create suitable metadata). Beyond this commonality though, nuances give each domain its own special requirements. Libraries have traditionally focused on provisioning open access to mass-produced content and burdened the user with the lion’s-share of the effort to discover connection, context, and meaning. Archives and museums, by contrast, have traditionally focused on stewarding unique (or unique-by-provenance) objects which are delivered via controlled access with value-added assertions (by evidence and/or expert) of connection, context, and meaning. To wit, an assembled exhibit is not the book stacks, and a finding aid is not just a fancy search results list.

A not so-common set of deliverables: Building a bibliographic record (libraries), finding aid (archives), or object catalog record (museums) are all resource intensive, but each endeavors to accomplish objectives as much dissimilar as similar and are engineered to assumptions specific to the domain, agency, and primary audience. For example, publication details mean little for unpublished materials, and the chain of ownership for a painting will be carefully noted by a museum while libraries rarely capture or retain this information for items in their general collection.

Shared metadata isn’t a universal idea, yet: Libraries have sought and gained significant economies by collectively building, sharing, and managing metadata. But this is mostly unexploited territory for archives and museums, agencies that have long tended to focus on meeting the perceived needs of a specific, known, local (as in face-to-face) audience through agency-specific practices and local files. While there might initially seem little opportunity for libraries-like collective economies, archive and museum collections frequently hold in common references to people, places, and things (e.g., biological specimens are instances of species) and versions and/or reproductions of objects held elsewhere (e.g., works-of-art – see BTW an interesting discussion about a w-o-a microformat). And as with everything else long held sacred, the Web is ever an agent of change and is shifting archives’ and museums’ perceptions of exactly who and where the significant audience for their collections are. And this reshapes how they think about building and disseminating metadata. As presented by Kenneth Hamma and Erin Coburn, the Getty has been working on a noteworthy, Web 2.0-friendly approach to exposing authoritative information about its collections (see RLG TopShelf item for more information), and, if widely adopted, such an approach offers the promise of collectively exposing museum metadata for reuse.  

Sustainable solutions match processing bandwidth to acquisitions volume: The presenters provided a variety of case studies. Operational strategies frequently emphasized altered practices: streamlined archival processing, focusing on core or collection-level metadata, re-prioritizing to do more detailed metadata for some resources (high use/visibility) at the expense of other resources (lower use/visibility), and embracing the idea of a “living” record (enrichment over time). For some cases, options included short-term, added staffing for specific projects. A few worked the collecting side by pushing for greater selectivity, and working upfront with donors to reduce downstream processing burdens.  

Share the burden with the donor and the user: This was an interesting thread that surfaced several times unheralded. Can we shift more of the load to the donor or the user? For example, for archives and manuscripts, a willing donor can be especially effective in doing some processing activities with their donated materials such as locating and segregating materials subject to access restriction. Folksonomies (e.g., The Art Museum Community Cataloging Project, PennTags) can provide a means for interested users to enrich access points, and tagging offers a vector for expanding the user base and contact with the users of the collections.

Surface the collections and content imperfectly now rather than better later: Jim LeBlanc of Cornell described Cornell’s systematic, successful effort to eliminate a 100K backlog of uncataloged library materials. The faculty has expressed great satisfaction with the library’s policy of no backlogs – users would much rather hunt and browse in the stacks than wait on perfect cataloging. Likewise, with some presenters reporting low-priority archival collections facing conventional processing queues spanning years – even a dozen years or more – a basic, created-on-receipt finding aid could go far in the world of the Web to surface collections

There is no magic bullet: One thing that stood out time and again in the presentations was that success was rarely complete and no single tactic satisfies every requirement. Mass digitization, for example, might deliver significant and rapid indexing and access, but without metadata/finding aids to assist in providing context, is the digital version of the original delivering its full/true informational value? Emerging also from the presentations was a clear sense that workable solutions arise from trial and error and repeated modification, a focus on user needs, and are, of course, by courage born (change is hard – another shared attribute of libraries, archives and museum).

So, gentle readers, what jewels lie hidden in your backlog, and how do you plan to uncover them?

marketing for small libraries

Speaking of budgets (for postage and otherwise!) Cindi Hickey has just published Kansas State Library's Marketing the Small Library at WebJunction Kansas. Although it was originally published in 2002, it's still a fantastic resource for small and rural librarians who may otherwise find that library marketing publications don't take their special circumstances to heart. Two guiding principles of the publication are that (1) effective marketing can be done on a shoestring and (2) in a small library, marketing is an excellent use of staff time and results in better library service. Cheers to that. Thanks to Cindi and everyone at the Kansas State Library for sharing.

BTW, WebJunction has more resources for small and rural library staff at - though we're still working on the postage thing.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Alane organized a day of discussion with some state library folks today, along the lines of branding and marketing.

Here's what floored me, as we talked: Libraries in their area were NOT doing ILL because of the cost of postage. That's right--POSTAGE.

Is this a standard worry in libraries today? Only in small libraries? Large libraries? Do you not turn on resource sharing for your end-users because you are worried about the costs to-and-fro?

In today's information economy, postage seems like the lousiest reason in the world to not get information to the people who need it. But in today's economic reality, our conversation today made me realize that this is the world that some (a lot?) of libraries live in.

What's it like in your library? Is this isolated or normal?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tide's Clean Start program

Here's an idea that just feels good today, on the anniversary of the Katrina hurricane. Tide laundry detergent and Second Harvest set up a free mobile laundry station, for people who were displaced in a natural disaster.

Now this program seems cool to me on a number of levels:
1. It pairs a nonprofit group with a consumer brand
2. It provides a public service to a little-thought-about constituency (who thinks about clean clothes in natural disasters? No one--until day 3 and we all stink!)
3. It shows Tide to be a brand that cares about you, as well as your clothes
4. It's a tangible vehicle that drives around with your marketing/branding on it. It drives around the country. How much cooler than that can you get?
5. It gives you as a user a way to tell your story (complete the virtuous circle) on the Web site.
6. It has a video component and I am soooo wanting to do video lately for some reason.
7. Okay, I admit it. I work in the creative department and I love the way this site feels, with the handwritten polaroids and the personal testimonials. It really gave me an emotional link to...laundry detergent.

Now here's my take-away for you, oh my librarian friends: if they can make me this excited about laundry detergent, JUST THINK what goodwill, shows of affection, *emotion* there could be around libraries!! I tell you what, it could be huge. More tomorrow. We had a great meeting today. I am all fired up for libraries.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Freedom to Sing

World Wide Wadio is "an All-Star team of radio writers, directors, producers and sound designers" in Hollywood. Among their clients are American Airlines, Cadillac, Pepsi, Tyson Chicken, MTV, Fox TV, ABC, DirecTV...

They've got another venture, (you're librarians, you're good at intialisms and acronyms...) that was set up as a protest and activism site on behalf of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. "Our dream is to spread our message through the Internet and the Mass Media; to have as many people as possible singing and sharing our song, proudly wearing the message on our merchandise... and taking the first crucial step toward that most American of all activities: political protest in the name of Free Speech."

And so, they've done a song parody of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee"* called "FCC FU." A complete version is available at YouTube here, but work friendly perhaps only if you're wearing headphones and using a computer not in a public space (not because of profanity but not everyone will enjoy the parody and goodness knows we all want to avoid contributing to a hostile work environment) . This version is a full choral one, but there's a "heavy metal" audio version available at the FFCFU site (click on downloads).

* To this British-born, Canadian citizen, the tune is "God Save the Queen."

New toy and more travel

Hey hey hey. I've been on the road for the past three weeks and thought I'd give a quick shout out before I head for the airport again this morning.

Lots of crazy stuff going on in the eBook world, with Springer, Taylor & Francis and EBSCO all announcing eBook offerings. Hmmm, could it be that we're finally at the NetLibrary tipping point for eContent? (Of course, I should also mention the Airiti content now added to NetLibrary, too, for good measure.)

I was in Dublin for most of the time--and as I sat through the presentations last week of all the stuff going on, it was clear that excitement is in the air. has clearly generated some interesting opportunities and staff are starting to dream big again.

Of course, frequent commenter Andy pointed out that we can't get too excited quite yet.

Eric found this bit of novel communications. Info-graphics of the highest caliber. (It is from Princeton, after all...) Perhaps we can convince someone in OCLC Research and Programs to do the same map for Resource Sharing materials. Or something.

Oh yeah, almost forgot: I got a new mobile phone this weekend that is bluetooth enabled. I've been limping along with a super-basic phone for years now. I still need to play around with the new one, of course--but I'd like to see if I can beam eAudiobooks to it! It should work, it's one of the new ones with iTunes enabled!

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Beloit List: Friday's Jolt of Reality

Beloit College in Wisconsin has released its annual "Mindset List," which, in the words of the press release, "looks at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of today's first-year (college) students." The list is developed by Beloit's Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief.

For today's 18 year olds:

* They have never heard anyone actually "ring it up" on a cash register.
* A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents'.
* A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.
* They have never had to distinguish between the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and football teams.
* They grew up in minivans.
* They grew up with and have outgrown faxing as a means of communication.
* Carbon copies are oddities found in their grandparents' attics.
* Mr. Rogers, not Walter Cronkite, has always been the most trusted man in America.
* Bar codes have always been on everything, from library cards and snail mail to retail items.
* Public school officials have always had the right to censor school newspapers.

This is the environment in which we are working. How does this affect our services? And why do I feel just a little older today than I did yesterday?

A Source for Great Ideas

Maybe I'm the last librarian to hear about this, but Marilyn Mason sent me a message last week about a wiki on library best practices. For librarians who are looking for a little added inspiration, this would be a terrific place to start!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto, we hardly knew ye...

Most of my entries in this blog are about the environment in which libraries operate and the perceptions users have about libraries and information resources. Occasionally, I talk about the larger environment. I don't often get to go galactic here.

Alas, Pluto has been downgraded to a new class of dwarf planets by the International Astronomical Union. Just because the planet is smaller than earth's moon, follows a weirdly elliptical orbit, has a twin dwarf planet named Charon, and has been known to harbor terrorists, just like that, the astronomers toss it out of the solar system.

Somehow, I don't think Pluto really cares about all this. But you know who does? Catalogers. Check out my colleague Giles Martin's comments on the change in his blog entry, "Classical Planets and Plutonian Objects." (To paraphrase Dave Barry, I think "The Plutonian Objects" would be an excellent name for a rock band.)

Friday, August 18, 2006


Earlier this month, Tim over at Library Thing posted an introduction to their new "Talk" feature, under the heading Forums are Broken (thanks Joe). In his post, he outlined the difficulties with forums that WebJunction has been struggling with since we went live all the way back in 2003. I perked up because, as the Community Manager at the WJ, I am a bit of an advocate for online communication whatever the format. And I've been paying attention to the DeathMatch discussions as online communication tools have changed over time.

At WebJunction we talk a lot about "Read, Learn, and Share." Our original concept was to place discussions (forums, blogs) side by side with articles and courses, so that no matter what you're interested in or looking for, you find the info you need (regardless of format). The point was not to be the forums, or the posts, or the articles, or the courses. The point was to be the information and the people behind it - and to find them all together. Maybe we were thinking mashup but didn't have the vocabulary, tools, resources, or even examples to draw from in our original design.

Our vision was never quite realized at least through our technology at the topic level. You can certainly say that WebJunction is a single space where you can do/see it "all" come together, but our applications are still siloed. But over time we've realized that some individuals in our community have different formatting preferences - and these relate to those disparate applications. Some people prefer forums. They're the "message board people" and I think it's something like 5-6% of our registered members have posted there at least once. Then you've got the "course people" who come to WJ just to take a course, and it's something like 50% of our members have enrolled in at least one course. Then you've got the "content people" - our biggest group - and these are our visitors and members, the folks who browse and search, and something more than 200,000 have visited our community at least once. Are these preferences due in part to the fact that we never were able to pull the applications together on a single page? (Do try our new search for the closest we've got to aggregating our applications thus far. And we do some manual linking in the meantime.)

George's recent perceptions post (on different communication styles and points of view) also brings to mind the different tech formats that online users are comfortable with. Surely some of these differences will always just be there, and we'll continue to see the discussions about how forums are better than blogs, and talk is better than forums, etc. Surely I don't deny the need to constantly push forward our technologies - making them more integrated, useful, usable, and convenient. Part of that is saying this new thing is better than that old thing. But isn't the point ... and perhaps I say this just to remind myself and all of us what we're actually doing here ... just to get us connected and talking to each other? Let's keep our overall purpose in the forefront as we continue to develop the tools we use online.

I look forward to seeing how Talk plays out for Library Thing. And at WebJunction we'll continue to work to pull all of our applications and formats together (whatever they are) so that we can also make some connections between folks who are now siloed, perhaps not by their own personal preferences, but by the disaggregation we're currently bound by.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Curse of the "saved drafts"

I have just run into the problem of "saved drafts" on blogger.

Whenever you start your post, that's when blogger slots it into the blogstream calendar. So if you read IAG through RSS, you're all good. But if you visit the browser page (as I do), you'd miss it. So I'm meta-posting to say if you haven't added the box to your blog yet, but think it might be really cool to let anyone find the riches in your library from among the 1.3 billion possibilities of high-quality, vetted material, be my guest!
Find instructions below, under Tuesday, August 15.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Thinking About the Future

This is (serendipitously) a good post to follow George's one on perspectives. In the September-October 2006 issue of The Futurist is a short article about a book called Don't Believe Everything You Think, by Thomas Kida. It begins: "Our understanding of the world is largely based on what we believe, and we tend to believe what we have experienced first hand or what we have heard from parents, peers, professors, prophets, and pundits."

This is borne out in the data in our Perceptions survey. One question we asked participants was "How do you judge if electronic information is trustworthy?" 86% of all respondents answered: "based on personal knowledge/common sense." This is hilariously awful....because we can all dig up stories about the number of people who think Venezuala is the leading importer of oil to the US, or that China is the biggest trading partner of the US, or that certain kinds of weapons were found in Iran, or that young adults can't locate Indonesia on a map. Or closer to home, how many times have I been told by librarians that there are many people in their communities with no access to the Internet...? Lots. And when I ask what data support that, I've yet to be shown any.

According to The Futurist article, Kida identifies six reasons for mistakes in our "personal knowledge/common sense."
  • we prefer stories to statistics
  • we seek to confirm, not question, our ideas
  • we rarely appreciate the role of chance and coincidence in shaping events
  • we sometimes misperceive the world around us
  • we tend to oversimplify our thinking
  • our memories are often inaccurate

There's an interview with Kida about this book here.

"The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory." Paul Fix

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bloggerographic Instruction on

Better late than never...I am now officially posting a "How to Add the WorldCat search box to your blog" set of instructions.

Why would we need them, you might wonder. and the WorldCat search box is so intuitive, people will just *figure it out.* That's both true and not true. There are plenty of things that I understand and can appreciate conceptually--but if you ask me to actually MAKE THEM HAPPEN all by myself (!), sometimes I would like a bit of hand-holding.

So if you are like me, grab hold and we'll walk through together. If you've already loaded the box on your site, please share the instructions/configurations for your blogging software. I'll explain how to do it for blogger:

Step 1. Go to and select the top link in the blue box, "Put our search box on your site »" You are officially becoming a WorldCat affiliate!
Step 2. Either log in or (more likely) Create an account
Step 3. Fill out the short Web form, which asks you to select a user name, password and to provide a few identifying details like e-mail address, etc. (to confirm your account).
Be prepared to agree to the terms and conditions. (It's pretty standard legalese stuff, from what I can tell.)
You can opt-in to e-mail updates from here, too.
Step 4. Voila! The resulting screen provides code to copy and paste into your blogger template.
Step 5. In a separate browser window, log in to your blogger account. Select the "Template" tab for your blog--assuming you are using a standard blogger template. If you created your own template design, rock on with your bad self.
Step 6. Take courage and scroll down in the code view. Look for the HTML comment line that begins and ends with < > and says

!-- Begin #sidebar --

Then you can decide where you'd like your box to go. On ours, I chose to put it right after our names so it stayed *above the fold.* Regardless, identify some text in the code view that you recognize where it is on the page. Get ready...
Step 7. Copy the code chunk into the spot you've identified in the code view of your blogger template.
Step 8. Preview your changes, to see where the box ended up.
Step 9. Revise placement, as you see fit.
Step 10. Save changes and republish your blog!

That's it! Congratulations, you've just added the potential to find more than 1.3 billion materials in libraries worldwide. In 10 easy steps. Now, how do you do it for Movable Type and others? Comment in here, so we can all share how easy it is.


Last week I was away from Dublin, attending the WebJunction staff retreat and participating in a webcast for InfoPeople in California. One of the things we talked about at the retreat was gaining perspective, understanding where other people are coming from and how they operate based on personality, background, and working styles. (Yes, we were in Myers-Briggs Land.) It was very informative, and I think it gave all of us on the team a deeper understanding of our colleagues.

When I returned to OCLC on Sunday, many trees had been cut down from the front entrance of our building, due to a disease that had infected the honey maples that filled the berms around our parking lot. As I approached the building, I saw things I never had before. Sunlight glinted off the walls differently. I recognized stark angles in the architecture that I'd never seen. There was no shade where there had been just the previous week.

Today, I returned to OCLC from a meeting in downtown Columbus to see that a whole new group of trees had been planted where the old ones had been removed. They were much smaller, of course, and they were still sort of cramped from being transported here from the nursery.

It was a concrete reminder of what we had discussed at the retreat. The old trees were both a comfort and an obstacle. They housed birds and they leaked an awful resin on our cars. They provided shade, but they kept us from seeing the whole of the building before us. We all had our own feelings for good or for ill about the trees. And suddenly, they were gone.

The new trees are small, but we'll all get a chance to watch them mature (if the fates allow). We have no guarantee that they (or we, for that matter) will be here in two, three or ten years. They won't give us shade today, but the birds can come back and start a new life in their branches. It's up to us how we will look at these new trees, to decide what they are and what they will mean to us. It's all in our perspective.

This week, I'll get perspective on two cities that couldn't be more different if they tried. On Thursday, I'm speaking to the North Carolina Public Library Director's Association meeting in Asheville, North Carolina; on Friday, I'm at the Nevada Library Association conference in Las Vegas. That transition should provide me some additional perspective!

Monday, August 14, 2006

OCLC makes the Onion

Hey Gang. I've been meaning to catch up--there have been lots of blogworthy news tidbits filtering through the grey matter this past week while I've been in Dublin. Here's a sampling:
Moviebeam--an alternative to Blockbuster, Netflix or the library. It's basically a box with 100 movies in it that rotates 10 new movies on/off each week. What I didn't understand from the news coverage was that it still costs additional $$ to actually watch the movies. Bummer.

Google-MySpace deal
. $900 Million so that Google is the search engine on MySpace. Quote from the article:
According to Hitwise, 10.8% of Google's traffic was coming from for the week ended July 29.

(Just in case any of us doubted the MySpace traffic potential...or Google's plan to go head-to-head with Yahoo in the social realm.)

But here's the kicker for news today:
OCLC Made the Onion! (And no, it's not for or Fred Kilgour...)
Check out the fake news clip about the Dewey Decimal Classification System
And theI'm sure the Dewey bloggers are thinking up an equally witty response.
Thanks go out to A. H. and Naomi K. Young, the Principal Serials Cataloger at the University of Florida for popping me a note about it!

Telling Shadows

This is the last time,
That I will say these words,
... Say these things.
They go away,
But they never do.”
(“This is the Last Time” – Keane ; Composed by Chaplin/Hughes/Rice-Oxley/Sanger) [Web site ; Myspace ; Wikipedia entry]

In his novel, 1984, George Orwell envisioned a world where government personnel – aided by the wide deployment of eavesdropping technology and a insidious, report-on-your-neighbor culture – could watch all citizens most of the time. Thankfully, Orwell’s fictional world of an all-seeing, totalitarian state has not materialized, but our electronic life is changing in ways that increasingly positions the commercial sector – and by extension, potentially the government sector – to have an extraordinary knowledge of the patterns of just about everyone’s daily life.

  • Query trails divulged: The inadvertent release by AOL of query trails has been big news [see TechCrunch item – 330+ comments and counting]. Called “undistinguished identities” (i.e. information about us that compiles our online behavior), our query histories – even unattributed – are a potential boon to many parties (e.g., marketers) and if attribution can be established, an extraordinary threat to personal privacy [see ZDNet item that references a piece by Scott C. Lemon who coined the phrase].

  • Text message forensics: There is work underway [see BBC item] to determine whether text messaging composition patterns are sufficiently distinctive to allow persons composing messages to be identified directly from their messages.

  • Who walks where: The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan [Web site] has invented a floor covering which can determine the weight, age, and sex of the individuals strolling across it, apparently with a high degree of accuracy [see endgaget item]. This has obvious application for, say, tracking customer movement patterns in retail establishments.

  • Social visibility: In his post, “Social Networks and Information Retrieval,” my colleague Stu Weibel reports on the recent ACM SIGIR conference and notes that electronic social networks aren’t new (e.g., Usenet has been around many years), but that the second generation of social networks (Friendster / Myspace / Facebook) has engaged new users in new ways: Stu writes, “for the first time, one's place in a social network is visible to all, and subject to self-aware 'gaming' by the participants, as well as exploitation by information retrieval scientists, marketeers, predators, spooks, and even parents with the courage to delve.

As I commented in an earlier post on personomies, many good things can potentially flow from the selective gathering/sharing of personal information. And good things may also flow from exploiting the aggregation of anonymized, but demographic-specific information (e.g., if a floor covering technology installed at a library could reveal what sectors of a community use the library when, managers can optimize staffing levels and  programming). But intrusive and dangerous applications may arise from the same data just as readily. And that gives one great pause.

It’s tempting to suggest that technical advances which lessen privacy will be countered by those that help preserve it (e.g., PrefPass [see TechCrunch item]), but the pace of development and deployment seems to favor the privacy-threatening. And privacy-protecting policies, practices, and regulation – arguably not yet up to even governing yesterday’s technology – remain perpetually outpaced. There are also questions about the capacity of entities like AOL to keep the data safe even if their policies are acceptable.

So, as our electronic shadows grow ever longer and our past persists in the digital ether, gentle readers, what are our shadows telling to whom? And how do we individually and collectively navigate the promise and perils of exploiting personal data?

(Note, the image accompanying this posting is from Apple’s masterful 1984 Superbowl  advertisement [Wikipedia entry].)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Time for a Blog?

Well, is it? Would a separate blog for be interesting, and useful? Alice and I have mused that there might be enough interest in being able to hear from a person (or more) involved in the day-to-day inner workings of, and give anyone who cares to, a place to provide feedback and comments to the whole team of WorldCatters at OCLC. Given that is an open Webby creature, does it make sense to have an open Webby place to talk?

Let us know! Is it time for WorldBlog?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Would You Like a Book with that Latte?

In October, Starbucks will start marketing books, debuting with one by Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays With Morrie. The new book, For One More Day, will be available at Starbucks across the US.

Interesting, eh?

Story at The Seattle Times.

Monday, August 07, 2006


I'm heading out to our annual WebJunction staff retreat for the next few days. If it's anything like last year, it will be a fantastic time ~ with lots of bonding (our program and development teams are geographically dispersed) and connecting (on shared vision and goals), not to mention the tasty food (organic, sustainable - how appropriate!). I look forward to sharing our experiences when I'm back at my desk next week...

Sunday, August 06, 2006 Is Live!

The new public version of WorldCat is live. Give it a test drive!

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Entrepreneurial Summer Reading List

Businessweek came out with a bit this summer, titled "Books that Matter." What they've done is basically ask a bunch of small-business owners and entrepreneurs what books and materials they've read to inspire them.

A few of the results are surprising. For the Collection Development/Acquisitions-minded folks amongst us, do these surprise? delight? Cause extreme facial distortion in consternation?

For me, I decided to check out The Piano Tuner because the world needs big ideas. If I am so inclined, I could also write a review. Or you could. Have you read it?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Net Neutrality discussion

A random photo crossed my desk today. Apparently an Audiobook company in Canada is trying out a new billboard campaign. Hmmm....

Other things that crossed my desk--lots actually--but one I took note of was a message from the eBay CEO, Meg Whitman. She was urging me (as an eBay community member) to get involved in a congressional debate about access to the internet. She's urging you, too, as an internet user.

There's talk about the "fast lane" and the "slow lane." And how ISPs and cable companies want to monetize access to the fast lane.

I admit--I haven't read nearly as much on it as I'd like to, yet. But I can't help thinking if this future comes to pass, it means one more budget hurdle that every library every where has to overcome. Or be relegated to the slow lane.

Looking on the bright side--if it DOES come to pass (shudder), maybe libraries can band together and our physical manifestations could be a "Fast Lane Place." So you bring your 500 gig iPod to your library, download a couple of movies and lectures for your evening commute, rock on.

Check out the verbal commentary from Tim Berners Lee and David Farber, too.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Share Your "Fred" Thoughts and Memories

For those of you who wish to comment on Fred Kilgour's achievements, or on his impact on librarianship, or share a memory, or to express condolences to his family, OCLC has set up a forum on the Community page here.

Thank you.

Digital Kids

"Worldwide research on very young children and their use of IT is limited, but one recent report from Sheffield University in the UK called Digital Beginnings makes for interesting reading.
For instance by the age of four, 45% of children have used a mouse to point and click, 27% have used a computer on their own at home, rising to 53% for six-year-olds, and 30% have looked at websites for children at home."

This is from a BBC News article (there's also a video) about the Digital Beginnings project which has a rich site here. The full report mentioned in the Beeb piece is called Digital Beginnings: Young children's use of popular culture, media and technologies and has a 2005 publication date. The data from questionnaires is included.

From the summary:

"This study has offered a variety of perspectives on the changing worlds of
very young children in contemporary society. It has provided evidence of the
extensive nature of children’s engagement with popular culture, media and
new technologies and suggests that they are competent and confident
navigators of digital worlds. There is now a need for educators to respond to
the challenge this presents by developing curricula and pedagogy...
Not to do so is to assign our youngest children to an education which,
although generally successful in preparing children for encounters with the written word on paper, is not yet as successful in ensuring that they are proficient with the multimodal, multimedia texts and practices which permeate everyday life in the twenty-first century."

I'd say there is also a need for librarians to respond to this challenge.

Hat tip to pasta&vinegar for the initial link.