Thursday, November 30, 2006

virtual pals

This just in from BBC Technology News

A survey found 43% of online networkers from the US felt "as strongly" about their web community as they did about their real-world friends. It also revealed net-users had made an average of 4.6 virtual pals this year. The survey, from the US-based Center for the Digital Future, of 2,000 individuals forms part of a six-year study into attitudes to the web.

4.6, huh? That's a pretty good average acquisition of new pals. I certainly don't make that many new friends in my real-world community per year! But I would say that I make more than that in my virtual life. I guess that makes me more virtually oriented than real-world oriented. It's funny when you see yourself in a whole new light.

Google Answers

Also spotted by Carrie on today's Library Journal site:
Google Answers Calls It Quits

The article indicated virtual references from libraries might think about ways to fill the void. Maybe there is some talk-value/hay to be made from this, at your local level?

New library ROI study

One of our super-sleuthing, able-to-secure appointments, and locate-awesome-interviewees-in-the-nick-of-time, public relations professionals at OCLC, Carrie, just found another study that reinforces our Advocacy campaign to elected officials and library funders for public libraries that runs in Governing magazine currently in the US, and Canadian Public Administration and University Affairs in Canada. Here's the clip:

Libraries tout economic returns

Nine library systems in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties released a report Wednesday showing residents got an economic benefit of $3.81 for every $1 spent on libraries in 2005. [emphasis mine]

This was the first study that attempted to put a dollar figure on the value of public libraries in Southwest Ohio.

Read the full story in today's Cincinnati Enquirer.

Another interesting note: the entrepreneur that we interviewed and highlighted for our latest ad, Sam Holman, has recently had another interesting, out-of-the-box idea. It just goes to show, you start to change the world and then it seems, you just can't help yourself!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Keeping Computers Running - The MaintainIT project

Franziska Marks from the MaintainIT project asked me if I would blog about this worthwhile effort and I am happy to point you to it. From the website: "The MaintainIT Project is a three-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We are working with public libraries to identify best practices of technical support for public access computers (PACs). The Project works with libraries throughout the U.S. and Canada, while focusing on libraries in the 18 states that are receiving the first round of hardware upgrade grants from the Foundation. MaintainIT is a project of TechSoup, a nonprofit with extensive experience helping other nonprofits use technology effectively."

They are focusing, at the moment, on success stories from small, rural libraries so if you or you know of someone who might have a good story, practice, tip, or technique around how best to support public access computing in these libraries, submit your story or spread the word.

Our colleague Joe Anderson from WebJunction is on the steering committee as is the awsome Helene Blowers, from the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Public libraries and funding

So I'm part of a team that is thinking about public libraries and funding. Right now my head is in the realm of bonds, levies, millages, etc that communities pass in order to do library building campaigns or special projects.

If you had to guess, why do you think people support these types of projects? What are some of the reasons they might NOT vote/support for them?

Any communities that have run up against this issue?
(I've read about Lawrence, KS and Minneapolis, MN, among others...)

Does the size of the community make a difference?

Curious to see what you think.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Room to Read

John Wood
I am so fired up. Yesterday coming home from Thanksgiving travels I read Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. I loved it. Every minute. Of course, it helps that the author, John Wood, used to be in technology marketing. And now he's building libraries. Okay, okay--so those ARE two of my favorite topics of conversation.

But mainly I love the way he thinks. Every situation he describes, he's always thinking about the consumer, the other person, and the way a message is going to be perceived by that listener. Explaining What's In It For Me (WIIFM) to your audience--be it the government of China or a 10 year-old boy--has been writ large on this guy's psyche.

He's an entrepreneur extraordinaire. And he thinks BIG. For anyone who's dreamed of becoming Mother Theresa but doesn't know where to start...this book lets you dream vicariously and then still realize you can contribute AND keep your day job.

There were also a couple of sections that existing libraries may want to note. One was about communicating your results to potential funders. The idea is that people have thousands of charities to choose from. Give people every reason possible to pick yours.

Here's the killer quotation, IMO:
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work."
--Thomas Edison

Check out the video, Web site and Room to Read itself.

What an inspiring way to come back to work after a long weekend!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

structure and innovation

This is fascinating. My new friends over at social signal just recorded an interview/dialog between Corrie Fisher (Gates Foundation) and Jed Miller (ACLU) about how organization structure influences web strategy.

Does your organization structure encourage or inhibit web innovation? Um. Yeah.

overcoming mistrust

I'm doing my homework on Howard so that I hopefully have something intelligent to ask when he visits Seattle for the OCLC Symposium at Midwinter. Following is a little tidbit I found in his rapid decision making paper:

In cooperative strategy, creating a "“shadow of the future" is a concept for thinking about how to create trust among strangers. The notion is to aggregate cues and indicators from the present and past that will reduce uncertainty about another personÂ’s future action. The auction site eBay does this by providing a rating system for sellers. Buyers rate their experience with sellers, so that prospective buyers have some indication of how a particular seller performed. If rating, ranking, and reputation systems can be created for other kinds of contexts, they can be used to help reduce the fear and mistrust among strangers in quick-response situations. For example, if organizations made peer-based ratings for key indicators of cooperation available companywide, individuals could use these indicators as a proxy for direct experience. Also, strategies that leverage the transitive nature of trust can help reduce the risk and uncertainty of interactions with strangers. Making social networks and degrees of separation visible could serve as proxies for how a person is connected to others with whom there may be a great deal of trust.

Let's read that one sentence again:

...if organizations made peer-based ratings for key indicators of cooperation available companywide, individuals could use these indicators as a proxy for direct experience.

So what he's suggesting is that if we can figure out how to indicate to one another where cooperation has successfully taken place, we can use those indications to facilitate quick decision making, rather than having to rely on our own personal experiences. Developing systems that help us communicate those indicators is key.

WebJunction has been grappling with the concepts of trust and cooperation in our online community since we opened our message boards to public posting in May of 2003. The first day we had cceller post for the first time. He has since posted nearly 200 questions and answers spanning the last three years. Though we didn't know who "cceller" was when he started, he has come to be known as the Chad, the Automation Services Manager in a North Carolina library. We now know his homepage URL and the things he cares about and works on in his library. Over time, the number of posts next to his name and the amount of personalized information he has shared with us has created a trusted peer-based resource for the library community.

In absence of the time it takes to read posts and get connected to an online community over time, it's nice to be able to communicate quickly whether or not newcomers can and should trust the advices of our members on our message boards. The only such indicator that we currently offer on the message boards (technically speaking) is the number of posts that show up next to the member's handle. This indicates the amount of time any one member has spent in the community and can be used as a rapid decision-making tool. But, has it been? And how do newcomers to a virtual social networking space know that the hundreds of posts that so-n-so has posted aren't spam, or flames, or trolls? Are there now better systems for quickly identifying whether a community-based source is worth hanging our decisions or actions on? What are they?

I still have a lot of catching up to do on Howard's work in this space, so I'm not quite ready to say this is my question for him yet. But, I thought I'd share where I'm at today...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Top Ten Research Tools

This list from CNet came out a month ago but I missed it until today. An interesting list that has only one "traditional" type resource on it which would be an official part of a library's collection: The 2007 Encyclopedia Britannica. Not one of the others is and so, supports the data in our Perceptions report that very very few people begin research in libraries, with library-supplied resources. The academic librarians among you (at least) will wince at this sentence, "These digital tools can keep you on track--whether you're working on a middle-school science fair, wrapping up a graduate degree, or pursuing a hobby."

Aside from the Britannica the other resources are:

Rather than cursing outrageous fortune and trying to beat these tools, we all should be coming up with ways to move our resources (people and content) into these tools as fast as possible--no, faster.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The 3rd Symposium Panelist for ALA MW

Oh boy, I'd have to go to the Symposium even if I wasn't one of the deciders. The third panelist will be Marc Smith of Microsoft Research. Marc is the Senior Research Sociologist, heading up the Community Technologies Group. Read about him, and his work here.

What a lineup! Howard Rheingold, danah boyd, Marc Smith and moderator Michael Stephens.

And I've asked for wireless Internet access to be available in whatever ballroom we are in...could hardly have a session on social networking in a dead space, could we? Which reminds me: the whole style of panels is not exactly the embodiment of a culture of participation. People take turns talking at you, the audience. You get to ask questions at some point. Granted, things are changing as bloggers provide commentary in real-time at many events, but it's unusual for this to be incorporated into the presentations. Does anyone have ideas, suggestions as to how we can make the symposium more network-y, more 2.0, more participatory for the 300 or so attendees?

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Boy and his Robot

"In a matter of a moment,
Lost till the end of time.
It's the evening of another day,
And the end of mine."
"Some Other Time" - Alan Parsons Project (Web site ; Wikipedia entry. Song by Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons. From the album, I Robot [AMG entry ; Wikipedia entry])

In celebration of national Children’s Book Week in the U.S., I’m delighted to add my voice to those remembering favorite books of our youth. A good story is one of the most welcome and enduring gifts any human can give another.

Books, reading, writing, music, drama, and libraries were integral parts of my childhood. My mother, a school teacher by training, made sure that books and reading were part of every day. And like Alane’s godmother [post], my mother often delivered an original story at bedtime, usually an adventure of the whimsical Princess Tannenbaum, a character invented originally to entertain my older sister. I would in time become a voracious reader, and I can remember fondly selecting and checking out armloads of books in my elementary school library, and the nearby public library. For several of my elementary school summers I would accompany my mother to story times weekly at the public library. More often than not these were story times that she delivered (it was a small public library branch with only a part-time children’s librarian).  

I remember so many wonderful books, and have no doubt forgotten far more. But one that I have special memories of was The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey. Told in the first person, the story is a suspenseful tale of a young boy and his robot, Rex, who become separated, and their break-the-rules quest to be reunited. Moon colonies, robots, youthful rebellion, chase scenes – what more is needed to whet the appetite of a young boy? I recall being attracted to book because of its cover (a running robot, of course). No doubt my first foray into sci-fi was made under the influence of my comic-book-reading, sci-fi-consumed, older brother, a loyal watcher of the original Star Trek. Ever has he been a bad influence. And long have been the pleasant hours I’ve idled away reading science fiction including reading everything I could find by authors like Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, and Robert A. Heinlein.

So may children everywhere read this week, and every other week of the year!

[Image: A full-size model of a robot from the animation Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Wikipedia entry ; graphic novel version) on top of the Ghibli Museum (Wikipedia entry) in Mitaka, Tokyo]

More childhood books

Okay, my favorite childhood book is The Angry Moon by William Sleator.
It is already out of print , but if there is still a copy of it at the Alva Public Library, it will have my fingerprint DNA all over it.

In fact, now that I think about it--we never actually owned that book. I just ALWAYS got it from the library. The children's librarian there was the best reader's advisory service ever. Maybe that's where I got my "I love the library" gene.

I bought my Mom a copy of the book for Christmas a couple of years ago. To me, it was like I was giving her a sacred piece of my childhood back. To her, I think it symbolized just how looooong ago it was that she was tucking us in, reading us stories, reading us more stories...

I also loved Encyclopedia Brown stories. My Grandmother had me read all the Old Mother West Wind stories. And we heard ALL the Just So stories on cassette.
Just last night I was looking at my cat, who wanted to go outside in the rain. I couldn't help but think of the Cat who walks alone, with her "wet, wild lone and all places are alike to her."

Who else at OCLC is celebrating Children's Book week this week?

Walt Crawford

Stu Weibel
The Dewey crowd (Joan, Juli, Giles and Winton)
Also, the

The Insider Travel blog
Donna Baumbach
Jenica Rogers
Add your name to the list!

The (Young) User Is Not Broken

With a nod to Karen's now famous June post, The User Is Not Broken, I can offer the cold comfort that we in Libraryland are not alone in the efforts of some in our community to blame library users for not conforming to our world--and in particular, for some librarians being really really annoyed with young people for not being just like "us."

John Naughton is a columnist at The Observer, and gave, as he put it, a rant to the attendees at the Society of Editors conference on November 12. It's quite funny in a rueful, rant-y sort of way so read the whole thing, but this excerpt will tell you why I connect it to Karen's, er, rant (and I mean that in the nicest way):

" any other industry, the discovery that your potential future customers weren't interested in buying your product would prompt an investigation into whether there was something wrong with the product. But what one hears - still - from the newspaper industry is that there's something wrong with the customers. And what one finds, on closer examination, is that the industry seems determined either to insult or to ignore them (my emphasis) [...] These kids have been socially conditioned in a universe that runs parallel to the one inhabited by most folks in the media business. They've been playing computer games of mind-blowing complexity forever. They're resourceful, knowledgeable and natural users of computer and communications technology. They're Digital Natives - accustomed to creating content of their own - and publishing it [...] These are the future, my friends. They're here and living among us. They're not very interested in us, and I'm not sure I blame them. The best we can hope for is that one day they may keep us as pets."

Thanks to the APF discussion list for pointing to Naughton's speech.

Childhood Books

I was born in London, England, and did not move to Canada until I was ten, so my reading choices were formed by the Britain of the 50s and 60s. There wasn't much transparency in cultural borders then. There was BBC 1 and BBC 2 on the television and books were written, for the most part, by British authors. Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, Arthur Ransome and Enid Blyton. Rupert Bear and Tintin. I loved them all.

But especially I liked Swallows and Amazons by Ransome, and the Famous Five series by Blyton (there are 21 books in the series so I am linking to the first one....and have you noticed that some Wikipedia articles have links to

Enid Blyton wrote books that appealed to different aged children....I read Noddy books when I was young, graduated to the Magic Faraway Tree series, and then to the Famous Five and Secret Seven series. Actually, I can't remember at all if that's the sequence in which I read these books. It's very likely that I re-read them many times, and as I was the oldest, I probably read the easier books to my siblings. I do recall having conversations with my sister Kath about which were the most desirable of the magic countries at the top of the tree. I am pretty sure we favoured The Land of Birthdays, and The Land of Take What You Want.

Looking back, clearly I liked series, recurring characters, and fantastical and improbable adventures. A mixture of the comfortable and the impossible. This persisted in later reading interests: the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, the Narnia books, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and most mysteries with recurring main characters, although sometimes they die which is traumatic.

I started reading the Narnia books when I was about 8, after my godmother Sybil, read The Silver Chair to me and Kath at bedtime during one long visit to us in Scotland. But Syb gave Kath and me a gift none of the rest of you had or can ever have: for many years, she told us stories while we were in the bathtub, about Herbert (pronounced 'erbert) the goldfish who went down "the plughole" (the drain in the bathtub) and had many adventures. She might have made them up on the spot, and never has written them down, as far as I know.

So, here's to children's authors, published and unpublished, famous and not, everywhere. Thank you for all the happy hours spent in the bathtub and reading under the bedcovers by flashlight, caught in the magic of other lives and other places.

Happy Children's Book Week

Today, a lot of us are blogging about the books that influenced us as children, in honor of Children's Book Week. Frankly, I've had a heck of a time coming up with an entry. My fellow "IAG" blogger Eric suggested that my favorite had to be "Curious George." Given that this was one of two hated nicknames my so-called friends tagged on me when I was a kid (the other being Georgie Porgie), you can understand why I declined.

The fact is, I don't remember a lot of children's books. Part of this is due to my advancing age, but part of it is due to the fact that I skipped directly to adult books. I read 1984 for the first time when I was in eighth grade, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a freshman in high school, Slaughterhouse Five when I was about 14. I got thrown out of Boy Scouts for reading a Perry Mason novel with a racy title (The Case of the Vagabond Virgin) on a camping trip.

There are two books I do remember from childhood that had an impact. When I was 8, I became an altar boy. During one of the holy seasons, we had long stretches where we altar boys had to be in observance at the altar. There were no services at the time, just me, the Eucharist, the smell of incense, and a huge, empty Gothic church. We weren't allowed to bring our secular reading material to church (Spiderman not being a favorite of Father Beachler), so we had to read the religious books. One of them was Lives of the Saints by Alban Butler and others. This book convinced me that I was never going to lead a saintly enough life to get into heaven, making my decision to leave the church several years later much easier. On the upside, the lovingly illustrated martyrdom stories were harrowing enough to pave the way for my future love of Ambrose Bierce and Charles Addams.

The other book I remember is the one that started a love of science fiction that lasted for several decades: Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine, by Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams. Danny was a boy scientist who invented amazing machines and had terrific adventures, sort of a pre-pubescent MacGyver.

I've tried to get my grandson Jake interested in the classic children's books as he develops his reading skills, and he is now proficient in Green Eggs and Ham and a few others. I guess I am going to have to develop a love of children's literature by proxy. But actually, I'm looking forward to introducing Jake to Morticia, Gomez, and Uncle Fester...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

online community management course

This is cool - it's an online community management course from Rawn Shah (IBM)) and the University of Arizona's MIS program. Take a look at the syllabus and course topics - it's the stuff I'm thinking about everyday! My oh my, what I wish I had learned in library school...

Friday, November 03, 2006

10 Hot Trends

The Innovation Lab is in Denmark and refers to itself as "the Nordic observation post for the technologies of the future." Aside from the interesting trends they identify that I list below, they also have a storytime once a month at the Århus Public Library (which is, by the way, a very cool site) called "Tales from the Future" which are the free public versions of work they do. They say, "Recent popular topics includes cybersex and digital art."

So, here is IL's "Hotlist" (do they know Michael Stephens?) and I am excerpting so go there and read the whole thing because it's worth it.

These are important things to be thinking about because in one way or another, in lesser and large ways, these will all have a profound impact on libraryland.

1. CUSTOMERMADE When customers and users "infiltrate" the product-development work of companies or organisations and begin to design and create their own products and services.

2. GEO-AWARENESS The filling station knows you're on your way, and – via the navigating system in your car or your mobile – it will send you an offer on the petrol, and at the same time it will advertise the dish of the day in the station's cafeteria.

3. THING CONNECTION Thing Connection is the keystone of the 4A concept – Anytime connection, Anywhere connection, Anything connection – by Anyone. Otherwise known as ”An internet of things” – in other words: when things communicate with each other.

4. VIRTUAL WORLDS Welcome to another reality! Close to 400,000 people have already settled in the virtual world Second Life. Here, BBC has arranged a major concert, and Harvard University has held a conference. There are more alternative digital worlds in the offing…

5. WEB APPLICATIONS - THE NEXT GENERATION The Web, and not the PC, constitutes the new centre of the universe. This entails a shift from software to web-based applications where the overt and the social will come to play an increasingly substantial part.

6. DIGITAL PRODUCT PLACEMENT Digital and virtual advertisement pillars. The digital billboard of the future will be blank space – to be filled in with messages directed at specific target groups. Thus, a major sports event attracting different viewer groups will, simultaneously, be showing ads for the local bakers as well as for an international online bank – and on two different TV stations.

7. WEB VIDEO Show me – see me! At first we had Google in the lead. Then they were overtaken by MySpace. Today they have both been left behind by the video-sharing web site YouTube, which is right now the most visited site in the world. Moving pictures has taken pole position.

8. MIXED REALITY The fusion of digital, virtual and physical products is near. The remote control of tomorrow will juggle the programmes; and, at the smallest flick of your wrist, your new telephone will scroll through the menu – and then it can also be used in a virtual game of table tennis .

9. EXPANDED SEARCH Search engines are becoming more than just a match of words and numbers in a colossal database. More "intelligent", meaningful and automatic searches are starting to gain foothold.

10. HUMANITARIAN TECHNOLOGY Profit-generating technologies and humanitarian aid in one! Too good to be true? Probably – but it's nevertheless a reality. A perspicacious neo-philanthropy is immanent.

More Mexico

Try your best to forget yesterday,
A little bit of sun,
Without the rain,
Now there's nothing in your way.
Don't Look Back” - Thalía [Web site ; Wikipedia ; myspace]

In a prior post I recounted a recent trip to Manzanillo, Mexico for the Dublin Core conference. My experience of Mexico, however, did not stop there. Stu Weibel and I traveled to Mexico City to make presentations to librarians at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) [Wikipedia entry] better known by its acronym, UNAM.

Mexico City (Ciudad de México, México D.F) [Wikipedia entry] is the oldest (founded 1325), highest (7350 ft. above sea level) metropolis on the North American continent, and the most populous city (22 million people) in the Western Hemisphere and among the largest cities in the world. Sometimes referred to as the “Manhattan of Latin America,” Mexico City has the usual big city stuff (e.g., traffic, skyscrapers), but also offers uniquely Mexico City attributes such as a vibrant street vendor culture, and a user-friendly and high-volume-yet-efficient metro system. The country and the city have a remarkable history which is on display in many ways including in a number of excellent museums. Stu and I were particularly impressed by National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropología) [Wikipedia entry].

UNAM’s main campus is located in University City (Ciudad Universitaria) [Wikipedia entry], home to 1968 Olympic stadium and the amazing Central Library that boasts the world’s largest mural on its exterior [picture accompanying this post]. UNAM has some 140 libraries and provides education services to more than 500K students (and no, that’s not a typo – 500,000!).

Stu and I made three presentations to about 60 UNAM staff who listened to spoken English, but were able to view accompanying Powerpoints with text chiefly in Spanish (courtesy of translation work by our OCLC Latin America and the Caribbean colleagues), an arrangement that seemed to work well for all concerned. I presented selected environmental scan findings (this version included some Mexico-related material) and college students’ perceptions-of-libraries’ data (ppt as pdf: English, Spanish), and also presented new, original research by Brian Lavoie on Mexico- and Spanish language-related aspects of WorldCat (ppt: English, Spanish). Stu delivered an engaging tour of key players, trends, and technologies that are shaping our experiences with digital systems and content and will significantly impact how libraries must deliver services in the future (ppt: English, Spanish).

The UNAM staff listened with interest, asked insightful questions, and seemed generally acquainted with many of the systems, services, players Stu and I referenced. From comments, the audience seemed especially engaged by the connecting-of-the-dots pieces and implications we both (Stu in particular) drew. The WorldCat analysis also garnered interest (and I’m pleased to report that Brian has continued pursuing related data mining work).

Thanks are due to UNAM (especially Director General Silvia González Marín and her colleague José Octavio Alonso Gamboa for the invitation and arrangements) for hosting us. And special thanks go to our colleagues, Tim Rapp, Director of OCLC Latin America and the Caribbean, José Antonio Yáñez, Director of OCLC México, and Patricia Ramírez, also of OCLC México, for all their work to arrange the event, accompanying Stu and I to UNAM [the five of us pictured here], and for sharing their love of Mexico with us.  

I find myself much smitten with Mexico. I have a found a jewel on the United States’ southern border, and now long to return.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

ALA Midwinter Events

It's back!! We will be hosting a Blog Salon at ALA Midwinter in Seattle. It will be on Friday, January 19th at the Sheraton Hotel in the "Blue Suite." Should we start it earlyish, say 5:30pm, so people can go for dinner afterwards? Or should we start it at 7, so people can go for dinner first?

If you've attended a Salon before you will recall that the suite number in the hotel is unknown to us until we all arrive in Seattle in January. We will tell you here what the room number is then, and the hotel front desk will also know. So, if you're coming to ALA MW, and you are a blogger, or a blogger wannabe, or know a blogger, leave us an RSVP here at It's All Good so we know how many cocktail sausages to order!

The second event I want you to know about is the OCLC Symposium. It will be on Friday, January 19th also, 1:30pm-4:30pm. I am not sure yet exactly where it will be held but will post that here when I do. We don't have all our panelists lined up yet, but we have some people and I am very pleased by who has agreed to come and speak.

But first, the topic! The title is "Who's Watching Your Space?" and our speakers are going to talk about social media and social networking, what these are, the history of social networking, how they have changed and might change society, and more specifically, what a culture of participation means for libraries and other public institutions.

And I am really, really pleased that danah boyd and Howard Rheingold will speak to symposium attendees. Howard is an éminence grise in the area of social networking, and the author of Smart Mobs (which is also the name of his blog). danah has done and is doing significant research on Facebook and MySpace and might be described as an éminence verte , given she is much younger than I am! Usually, the moderator for the symposium is an OCLC person, but this time we decided to to give our audience a break from our faces, so the gracious and inimitable Michael Stephens has agreed to moderate this panel.


More when I know more....

Discovering Mexico

No te puedo olvidar,
Contigo descubrí,
Tantas cosas que hay en mí.*
“Nadie Podrá” – Jesse & Joy [Web site ; myspace]

My colleague Stu Weibel and I journeyed recently to Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico for DC-2006: the International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications, the sixth annual conference in this series, and the eleventh year of Dublin Core-related gatherings that began with a modest invitational meeting of fifty experts at OCLC in 1995. The conference has now become one of the – if not the – premiere international conferences on metadata applications.

Our hosts, the University of Colima (Universidad de Colima), chose the warm and inviting Pacific coast setting of Manzanillo for the event. This area has a history that spans from Hernán Cortés’ original vision of the port of Manzanillo as a gateway to Asia (his plan: riches from Cathay would land in Manzanillo, be transported overland to Veracruz, and from there shipped to Spain – a vision briefly realized then abandoned for political and practical reasons) to fleeting celluloid fame as the beach on which Bo Derek ran in one of the few, remembered scenes from the 1979 hit film, “10.”

Like its recent predecessors, DC-2006 combined presentations of scholarly papers, working group meetings, tutorials, and opportunities for mingling and making informal connections with some of the best and brightest in the field. (Note: Tutorials and presentations are posted here; Papers are published in print and will also appear on the Web; Working groups reports will appear on the Dublin Core Web site). And as with prior conferences, conference-goers were treated to something uniquely local and truly world class – at DC-2006, courtesy of organizers Lourdes Feria and Javier Solorio of the University of Colima, we were invited to witness a special performance of the world-renowned Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad de Colima, a very talented group who alternated choreographed native dances, singing of traditional folks songs, and Mariachi music. The outdoor performance was marred only by the intrusion of a powerful rain storm that abruptly – to our collective disappointment – cut short a truly wonderful performance.

Stu has posted commentary (Stu’s posts here and here) on some of the major themes, findings and takeaways from the event including two posts on “data modeling,” a phrase to chase away the timid and solicit hair-splitting dialogue among the initiated. Wishing to avoid either response from IAG’s readers, I would suggest the things-to-know are twofold:
  • At its best, a data model is a well-thought-out and documented world view paired with rules of engagement. A commonly-adopted data model enables diverse parties to exchange, build, extend data and services without the risk of being Balkanized. It’s a good thing.

  • The DCMI Abstract Model (DCAM), a data model of the best sort, is gaining adherents, and in presentations at DC-2006 was variously suggested to have significant potential value to software developers, and was even put forward as a data model that might usefully inform the next generation of cataloging rules during a special session (see notes) on RDA (Resource: Description and Access, the in-development successor to AACR2)

Other presentations included a fascinating behind-the-scenes insight into work on the Archimedes Palimpsest (i.e. a project recovering the text of a work by Archimedes that exists only in ghostly form, if you will, in paper that was repurposed for other text (see Stu’s post here)). And I suspect many IAG readers would have enjoyed – as I did – being part of the lively, part face-to-face, part virtual “Special session on Social Networks: Tagging and DC metadata” that included podcast presentations (all three excellent – see notes and links here) with the presenters joining the discussion remotely via conference call. It would seem that more than a little evidence is emerging that users can contribute very usefully to the metadata flow.

All-in-all DC-2006 was an excellent conference, and I’m delighted my first trip to Mexico coincided with Dublin Core’s first meeting in Mexico. DC 2007 will be in August in Singapore, hosted by the National Library Board in cooperation with Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information of Nanyang Technological University. Mark your calendars.

[*English translation of the lyrics to “No One Will Be Able,” courtesy of my colleague Larry Olszewski:
I can’t forget you,
With you I found out,
So many things that there are in me.]

[Pictured: the Sailfish sculpture by the artist Sebastian in Manzanillo (Centro)]

five years in

This is a shameless promotional link to my libraries build communities blog, where I've posed a few questions to librarians who are between five and ten years into their careers. Please, pass the word. (Thank you.)

pulling next into now

A long time ago I interviewed for a "personal librarian" job with "digerati" celeb and futurist Linda Stone, who I've just learned has put up a wiki on continuous partial attention. Different from multi-tasking, continuous partial attention apparently feeds our desires to not miss anything. In "small doses" it's considered a "healthy behavior" but when we're always only paying partial attention, we "contribute to a feeling of overwhelm, over-stimulation and to a sense of being unfulfilled." Add it all up and we have some decisions to make about our place in these cultural changes.

Needless to say, I did not get the job. Perhaps it's because I haven't quite figured out how to do something "continuously" yet also in "small doses". It is tricky, isn't it? But I like the idea of trying to find that balance where my own techno-attention is concerned. If only I knew now what Linda knows next.

Media Education for the 21st Century

The title of this post is the subtitle of what promises to be a most interesting paper on digital media and learning, released by the MacArthur Foundation. Henry Jenkins, who is Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the primary author and the full title is "Confronting the Challenge of Particpatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century." Download it here.

The paper is part of a $50 million initiative by the MacArthur Foundation to "help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. Answers are critical to developing educational and other social insitutions that can meet the needs of this and future generations."

Well, that would include the library community, wouldn't it? Which makes this report and all the collateral of the initiative critically important for librarians. I'll just say that again a bit louder...CRITICALLY IMPORTANT FOR LIBRARIANS.

The initiative's blog, Spotlight, is here.
Henry Jenkins' blog is here.
Mimi Ito, Howard Rheingold, and danah boyd have all commented on this.