Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Good night, sweet princess...

Indulge me. This message isn't about libraries or information overload or perceptions of anything but sadness. Molly Ivins died tonight.

I only met her twice: once at a book signing in Chicago, once when she spoke at a Public Library Association national conference (more on that later). But she was a national treasure, and I think of a lot of us who knew her mainly through her work are grieving tonight.

She wrote with wit and love, delightfully skewering the rich and providing solace (and the occasional kick in the butt) to the less fortunate. She was our most acute observer of George W. Bush, at least from the president's left; she had known him for decades and understood him well. If we missed her for nothing else, we would miss her insights into the man she dubbed "Shrub."

About that PLA conference: I was director of PLA in the mid-1990s, the guy who kept the seat warm between Joey Rodger and Greta Southard. At our conference in Atlanta in 1996, Molly was the closing speaker. She was supposed to fly in that Saturday morning on an early flight from Austin. A car and driver would meet her at the airport and bring her to the convention center where she'd meet a few of us for coffee, and then speak at noon. Now remember, almost no one had cell phones then. We waited and waited. No Molly, no car, no way to find out what the hell had happened. By 11:30, I was nearly comatose---there were 2000 people in the room already, and I had no one to speak. My friend Jim McPeak, who was keeping vigil with me, offered to find me a size 26 dress and a wig so that I could do the talk in drag. At 11:50, the driver showed up, full of apologies. The flight had arrived, he was at the gate with his little "Ivins" sign, but no one approached him. My heart sunk. Had she missed the plane?

Traffic was backed up for blocks around the convention center. Jim took off for Lane Bryant. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a taxi pulled up, and out jumped the unmistakable figure of Molly Ivins. "Do y'all know where the librarians are meetin'?" she drawled. "Ms. Ivins, please come with me," I answered through clenched teeth. She had some half-baked excuse for why she didn't make connections with her driver, and she had only one question: "Where can I grab a smoke before this shindig starts?" We found a lounge, she wiped out a cigarette, and we made it into the ballroom with minutes to spare. And then she delivered an absolutely flawless address.

Y'know, in August 1977, Groucho Marx died three days after Elvis Presley. Dick Cavett said that it was the only time in his life that Groucho's timing had been bad. I feel the same way about Molly Ivins' passing: we only have 720 days of the Bush administration left. How are we going to really understand them without Molly there to interpret for us?

New blogger

So I have a big list of blog topics brewing--currently the list is at 8 and it keeps growing!

Some of my catch-up topics that I'd planned to blog and are now old news :
  • Apple iPhone (already lots of chatter out there in blogland)
  • Windows Vista (a somewhat lack of enthusiasm here? Article from FT about the end of an era)
  • ALA MW 07 rocked (I will post photos here and to Flickr. I know...sometimes that pesky day job gets in the way. Oh wait, you're saying that blogging IS part of my day job? Oh, and then there's that... (Fun Symposium pics from other people...) Tags to search on are OCLC_symposium, ALA_MW_2007, MW2007, ala2007
    (and Michael, I agree with you--I don't like underscores in tags either)
  • Speaking of tags, hey hey we were able to upgrade to the new blogger tonight finally. They have been teasing me for quite awhile that I could try it out...but I couldn't post to IAG from the new system. So going forward we'll be able to integrate all the "DUH" elements like tagging and labeling posts. It will make us much easier to find good tidbits. Interesting--I wonder if we'll naturally fall out along authorship lines, as well? This will be an interesting exercise if we go back and classify all 991 posts! (And yes, I have brought up the idea of a Controlled Vocabulary but dunno how Web 2.0 it is...but for a multi-person corporate blog--anyone have recommendations to share?)
  • Americans for Libraries Council (ALC) has released a fantastic new site called Act for Libraries. It's meant to promote ideas, research, action and investment to strengthen America's libraries. (Sorry Alane, I think they mean U.S. America, not North America). Lots of good videos and mini-case studies there. You will be inspired here! (Plus I met some of their staff at MW...shout out to Chris and Bruce!)
  • Urban Libraries Council (ULC) has also just released an awesome-sounding report, Making Cities Stronger (PDF). Although I admit. I swiped Liz's copy from the WJ HQ when I went to go visit, and I have not actually cracked it more than page 2 yet. The title alone makes me want to read it cover to cover. It is right up my alley!
Not old news, but Michael Gorman (yes, THAT Michael Gorman) is hosting The Chronicle's Brown Bag discussion tomorrow (Feb 1 at noon EST). This news make make your blood boil or you may be relieved to know that we bloggers have not hacked him to itty-bitty-digital bits (yet). The topic is rather large and vast--they would appreciate your questions and comments, I am certain:

The Changing Role of Academic Libraries in the Information Age

Finally, welcome QuestionPoint to the OCLC family of blogs! They've been blogging for the QP user group for some time now--but they decided to flip the switch and let anyone read it. Rock on! (Of course I read this with some amusement, because we have an internal discussion going on about blogs and product blogs, legal necessities, etc. and I had just told two other services to "please hold off starting your blog quite yet" because our internal "Blogfather" (no lie, this is what we are calling him) was still scratching around with some possible policies. So...good things come to those who wait, right?

Speaking of waiting, you've had to wait for me, to get all this juicy info! Thanks for waiting...

Kudos to Colleagues: Chrystie and Rachel Rock!

Every now and then you just have to speak out when you see a colleague making a mistake. Right now, I have two colleagues in our Seattle WebJunction office who are guilty of inappropriate modesty, and I say, "Enough!"

First, Chrystie Hill, our fellow blogger here on "It's All Good," has been selected as one of Library Journal's "Movers & Shakers" for 2007. According to LJ, Movers & Shakers are "up-and-coming individuals from across the United States and Canada who are innovative, creative, and making a difference. From librarians to vendors to others who work in the library field, Movers & Shakers 2007 will celebrate the new professionals who are moving our libraries ahead." A supplement to the March 15, 2007, issue of LJ will feature all the honorees.

Second, Rachel Van Noord was one of 100 librarians selected as an Emerging Leader by ALA. Rachel has been working on e-learning for WebJunction for a while now, and was one of the co-authors of our recent study, "Trends in E-Learning for Library Staff; A Summary of Research Findings." The Emerging Leaders Initiative was created by ALA President Leslie Burger---my hero---to create a cadre of 100 young (35 or under or fewer than 5 years of post-MLS experience) to take on leadership roles within our profession.

Working on WebJunction and QuestionPoint at OCLC has enriched my life by exposing me to a lot of newer members of our profession. These people fill me with hope, because they are willing to challenge our conventions and they have no fear. Their dedication is unquestioned and their questioning is dedicated!

Monday, January 29, 2007

this job rocks

I'm finally out of my delirious post-ALA-midwinter state. I have yet to actually follow up with all the people I've collected cards and other articles of connection from, but I have started to re-collect those cards and scribbles from my various portfolios and handbags, and that's a start. I've promised myself to get back into touch with these folks before the end of the week, and that's a public commitment.

Back at work and slightly rested I'm feeling incredibly giddy about my job. For one thing, ALApalooza always makes me feel giddy. Maybe there are stages of ALA conference or meeting recovery, but I still feel sort of like I'm on a post summer camp high. I love seeing all my peeps f2f, and meeting some new ones (especially from outside library land) as well. But there was also (seemed to me) a bit of a WebJunction buzz around the conference, and it perhaps helped that it was in our hometown, but it was fun nonetheless. Also feeling a bit in awe of my colleagues, those both at home and back in Dublin. Jenny, Alane, and Alice, I learn so much from you and I am honored to talk networks, netflix, or noir any day of the week! WebJunctioneers, and I say this to all of you, I am humbled to work with such a stellar group of super-smarty-pants people. WJ partners and members, I am so appreciative and energized by your commitment and advocacy for this fantastic community of library staff we're building together. Some of your testimonies at the conference and floating around email just afterwards have really made a huge impression - reminding us of why we're all here to begin with (changing the profession, supporting libraries). And from my colleagues beyond the WJ, of course, I draw just as much. From tips on vintage belt alternatives (Michael McG suggests a slender men's tie) to Patrick's I could live here! exclamations, and on to Rebecca's everlasting patience and guidance on all things writing and library related, I feel truly grateful to be in this profession with all of you. All that said, and I come to work today, the first "real" day after ALA since I was pretty much out of my mind all of last week, and my colleague is wearing this shirt:

love this shirt

It totally made my day. I'm not even gonna say that it doesn't get any better, because I know it does. It gets better. Isn't that cool? And I'm sure 1 zillion of you will beg to differ, but I definitely think that I have the best job in library land. Gush gush. Anyone know what the next stage is?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What's In a Name?

If Arts and Letters isn't in your blog reader, you might have missed this Washington Post piece titled A Librarian's Lament:Books Are a Hard Sell. The A&L lead was '“Information literacy” is all the buzz among librarians. It’s about mastering computer skills, not promoting a love of reading and books.'

Is it? It's a long time since I did "bibliographic instruction" (the phrase--not in vogue anymore--tells you it's been a while) and I don't think it was ever just about mastering computer skills as I distinctly recall hauling very heavy books to my classes, wa-aa-ay back in 1988. Yes, there were computers then.

But if I read author/librarian Thomas Washington correctly he is actually mourning something akin to "close reading" . Mind you, literary criticism was never about promoting a love of reading and books (and if you ever had to read a lot of, say, Jacques Derrida, you might have completely lost your love of reading) and literacy was about acquiring a skill not a love, although that might have been a happy by-product.

I am not fond of the term "information literacy" but surely, whatever the practice is, it's not about mastering computer skills, nor is it about fostering a love of reading and books. Mr Washington writes well, but it's a shame he used his bully pulpit to make it sound like these are the choices.

And quite frankly, "mastering computer skills" and "promoting a love of reading and books" sounds so last century....what fifteen year old is ever going to talk about mastering computer skills? Be like me deciding to pull the wiring out of the walls so I could master electricity.

A Rag Time Skedaddle

The 80,000,000th record was entered into WorldCat this morning. What makes this so much fun is that it was for "A Rag Time Skedaddle," a 78 RPM (kiddies, ask your great-grandparents) recording that is coming into WorldCat as part of the load of RLG master records. Interestingly enough, there are several other versions of this piece already in WorldCat, recorded for different companies on 78s and wax cylinders, and included in various songbooks and pianola rolls of the day.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Family photo of Symposium speakers and staff


A nice family photo of the people behind the OCLC Symposium 2007. As you know, Alane is the mastermind. Carrie in blue did a lot of the legwork. Andy in the black jacket did a lot of the support in terms of materials. Cathy in green is our Vice-President and generally rocks the house. Ditto for Jenny in black but she is our Executive Director of Creative and Branding Services. Not pictured here is Marc Smith from Microsoft Research, and IAG's own Chrystie, whose work on online communities was a very interesting conversation point for our discussions yesterday evening with the speakers! Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bloggers at the OCLC Symposium


Thanks to James (Government documents) for sharing your power strip with us. We blogged hard, as you can see from the stream-of-consciousness posts, eh?! Posted by Picasa

The Tag Cloud from the OCLC Symposium

  Posted by Picasa

Michael's book

Get the ALA TechSource book at 1/2 price at the OCLC Booth in the exhibit hall this evening. If you're not at the conference, but you'd like the book at half-price this evening--I will check and see if we can honor your request here. Leave me a comment and I'll try to work it out. Geolocation issues cannot stop knowledge transfer.

Pictures of Traces...of People, Places and Things

Marc Smith from a sociological point of view...Microsoft Research is all over the world. The Community Technologies group. Why are we able to engage in ordered behavior--and when are we not? And why?

Everywhere you go, you leave footprints in computational media. They are aggregatable.

William White? Data Collection aggregation.

Scaffolds for collective action:
E-mail, chat, buddy lists, IM, usenet, web boards, forums, ebay, blogs, wikis, MUDs, MOOs, Graphical Worlds, MMORPGs, Mapster, Kazaa, Gnutella

MoSoSo: Mobile Social Software. Everything is available, in your pocket. it's thing that has sensors. It's based on collective action.

Computer-Mediated Collective Action: it's hard to get things done with multiple people. (MS Word by yourself, you get some goodness. eBay by yourself--don't get much out of it!)

Variety of systems to make collective action in public. (Delicious, Digg, Slashdot)

Wikimapia--Annotating everything. You stood there for awhile. Your computer noticed, for you. (You were not aware of this...)
Evolution of Cooperation. Bob Axelrod.
Governing the Commons. Elanor Osterman.
Study of How We Present Ourselves in the Physical World. Goffman.
The Bible of Social Network Theory.
Tufte's Visual Explanations
(His own book,.)
Garret Harden, Wellman.

Information foraging and what's left behind...(ants at work by Deborah Gordan.) "What do ants do in their spare time?" Ants leave trails.

Relationships for usenet communities. usenet still not dead yet--good place to look for relationship spaces, traces.

Social networks: not new. Reciprosity--networks and and association. Largely available because of computational ability.
Social Network theory is not Social Network Service.
*Ties* are as old as the internet. You can have lots of flavors of ties. "me too" is okay to say, now.

SNA Resources: INSNA.

We can see patterns of behaviors over time...answers and answer person. Footprints in cyberspace...we're leaving the artifacts behind and analyzable.

Egos, Alters, Out Degrees.
Answer person signatures (only replies), Discussion People (starts conversations).
We can see the patterns people leave behind--and can be correlated with how important the information/information quality is.

Pervasive Inscription Revolution: "We are all authors now" phenomenon. Each of us will leave behind 3-5 terabytes behind. Silt up and storing information.

We are building digital mirrors back for digital lifestyles.
SNARF: Social relationship and Network Finder. (Unread mail, the people you've replied to...the patterns. The computer already knows who your friends are. It can tell, by who you've replied to.)

Information visualizations: tree map.

Mobile Social Networks. No longer temple/warehouse of information. No it's easier to get information OUTSIDE the temple. The temple is a part of every street corner. (Alice note: What does that do for a library? Makes me think my kiosk idea is not as corny as it sounded...)
and you can register, you carry a device in your pocket. beams information about you to others--and writes your report for you.

YOu can scan barcodes on objects and then. Working with King County library system. YOu're in a bookstore, you click the barcode and you've reserved the book and they'll mail it to you.

Slam can watch you roller-blade in the park. And next it can tell you your heart rate and how fast you were going. Annotate, rank and review.

Libraries are not necessarily Librarians. He mentioned "warehouses of dead trees."
The future of libraries may be in doubt.
But the future of librarians should be clear: the need for information guides is ever greater.

Made the comparison to professional photographer.

Q. SNARC in production?
A. In release to Web form. (In other words, no.)

Q. Could he speak to the community of internet users?
A. Tools show practical advantages, patterns. Relevance. Recency is not Relevance and that's ADD when you mistake the two.

Q. Issues of Privacy and Surveillance?
A. Accelerate our rendez-vous with regret. He wants his team to bleed instead of users. But software can be domesticated...and the Model T Ford did not have a cupholder. We do have choices about exposure and control. the walls have melted away--people who are not in this room, are in this room. Social order and rules are in flux. But we'll live through it.

Tag Cloud shows who is in the room. (I took a photo and will post it ASAP. We'll link to the Office of Research Tag Cloud generator soon.)

Why teens (heart) MySpace

Dissertation on shifting natures of public life for American youth. Why have social networks become so popular with teens these days?

100 years ago--as of age 14, youth were already part of the working world. (Exceptions were those that could afford to go to High School.)

Head of Households--Labor Unions lobbied congress for compulsary education for minors. High school *myth* for sports teams and proms--schooling system for age segregation.

By 1950s, teens were a particular target demographic. 1941 saw the term "teenager" enter the language, from marketing language/segmentation.

Today we have a highly structured teenage life. Super structured life in regulated environment. After-school activities galore. (No latch-key kids...) Kids stay up all night doing homework--the one reprieve they have with unstructured time is Online.

The reactions of strangers let you know where you are, in the larger context and status. You have to learn what the social cues and norms are. You learn social rules by engaging with strangers--young people are doing the same thing online.

Two populations:
1. those who hold control over them (parents, teachers)
2. those who want to prey on them (marketers, predators)

If these are the only adults you interact with, you don't learn the social cues and norms. Social life has changed dramatically.

Jane Jacobs. Death and life of the Great American City.

Friendster--geeks (bloggers), freaks (burningman), and queers (mostly gay men). Fakester genocide. Musicians and people goofing around (salt, pepper profiles) joined. Friendster kicked off the people not using the system "as they intended it to be used."

MySpace copied Friendster except didn't kick off non-dating profiles. Bands became really popular on MySpace. Bands have fans--fans go on the band profile and use it in unique and interesting ways. Music is the glue of teenage culture in the US. This became a way for teens to learn about new music, a currency.

People realized how to customize their myspace profile: a copy-paste society. Find the right code on someone else's page. Taps into

Teenagers usually Google for MySpace. And then click the first link.

Teens copied a lot of phishing schemes, ads. But it was very powerful to be able to identify your friends. You list a lot of friends who may or may not be actual friends. You're writing your community into being. I want to engage in this world of 900 people--built on the relationship or potential relationship with people.

People get on, and have their own micro-world. Painful, 20-year old version of a yearbook. Comments on myspace created conversation. But people started using myspace comments for casual conversation-but they're being witnessed in the public arena.

Breakups on myspace! Does so publicly on myspace. "I'm going to make sure everyone sees what I said." Making the conversation accountable. See what's being said and by who.

Niche groups throughout myspace with separate patterns. Unique to myspace. Trying to figure out status and boundaries.

* Persistence
* Searchability
* Replicability
* Invisible audiences

What happens when every single thing I do, is recorded? Privacy as in, I get to control the community. Concerns over privacy. You're going to stop talking, when a powerful adult comes into your life. (We adults don't experience this...)

Teens have lost their hangout space. In the US, mobile phones are used as a leash for teens. But other places (Japan), you can use your phone as a location device--you can know who your friends are, in what geographic area. What kinds of interactions will you find valuable. Teenagers as part of adult society...when they're segregated out, how do we teach teenagers about how to be a part of our society? (Because regulation and strict guidelines/structures don't work.)

Q. How do rural kids use this?
A. (Look at written stuff.) Pew says more than 90% of teens have access to the internet. Social/economic status plays a part. For people with home access, it's to solidify relationships. For people with only public access (libraries and schools), they have been written out of the equation. *Kids are not able to use the social tools in the very environment where they are meant to gain access --aka the library banning and blocking environment*

In an urban environment, kids will be lined up at an Apple Store, in order to get on MySpace.

More Polling Questions

Do you regularly read blogs?
58% Yes
42% No

Do YOU publish a blog?
31% Yes
69% No

Do you participate in sites such as Facebook, MySpace or Flickr?
36% Yes
64% No

Do you regularly participate in a long-running mailing list, BBS, forum, wiki, chat room, online community?

86% Yes
14% No

Howard Rheingold

Cyberspace is Social. Participation. Howard has given this presentation in 2nd Life twice, but this is his first time to give it in First life.

He tells the story of his daughter growing up when search engines first start got started. The concern about accuracy and authoritative...the locus of responsibility shifted. Now it's up to the reader, to determine. The reader determines who the author is--and what his/her identity is. It's a new critical reading skill.

Teachers and administrators did not see these new critical thinking skills as critical to education. In fact they were threatened. Now it's happening mostly after school and on weekends, instead of in the classroom! (Alice's note: Is this backwards or what?)

Fuss over Pornography on the internet. Telecommunications Act of 1996. Communications Decency Act. Moral panic and concerns for children. Howard testified at the ACLU trial. His daughter provided an affidavit about online experience.

Described that online communities could make their own rules and have discourse. DOPA. The attempts to put forth legislation for internet protection won't stop.

Cartoon: "Well I don't think you should be eating fast food, but if you're going to try it--well, try it in a safe environment."

Children appreciate when their parents try to ask about their online lives. You're trying to teach your kids how to be citizens in the democracy.

Opportunity today: make use of the natural enthusiasm for cultural production and consumption. Digital natives use the media available to them, about issues they care of. They can organize with participatory media...

In Madrid, bloggers and texters threw the election. People sent each other text messages--to go show up in protest. (Smart Mobs.) Now President--last minute get-out-the-vote campaign. Oh My News.

Oh My News called for street demonstrations.

Public Voice--media production with civic engagement. Phil Agre: How to write for a Web zine. (Public voice vs. private voice.)

15-20,000 students in LA to organize a school walkout for demonstrating against immigration.

Youth are not passive media consumers. They seek, create, modify digital media online. Digital natives have learned how to learn: they carry the equipment, the internet is not new technology but a stable feature of life.

Kids need guidance in learning how to use participatory media and apply it to political democracy. Many kids feel like government is detached and removed from daily life. But when they found out legislation might connect in their daily lives, they figured it out. Quick!

How do kids learn today? Reading and discussing texts. Voice is important--a unique style of personal expression. Energetic involvement in identity formation. Online media fits something for adolescent needs: self-expression and trying on identities. Youth can move that private voice dialogue into a public voice discussion.

Public voice is the fundamental participle of public opinion. American democracy is a bit messy in the public sphere. Phil Agre again: The Practical Republic.

Participatory media can give powerful experiences to young people. Communities, movements, markets and civilizations start through communication media. The tech. power of many to many communications enables collection action.

We are human because we are social networkers. (Early man organized against predators.) We now have capabilities to do natural activities of humans, amplified. Humans on nodes can learn, organize and transact at rates never before possible.

Henry Jenkins.

Teaching students about participatory media: he has students blog about a particular topic, and use persuasive speech.

Participatory Media Literacy.

We need to study what civic engagement means today, and how students can use their skills for communities, as well as self-expression.

Q. What are the top 2 things you recommend for librarians to do, and to stop doing?

A. Opportunity to LISTEN. What do those kids care about? (skateboard, immigration law, etc.) They can use the media that they're becoming fluent in, to advocate on issues they care about.

DOPA Act is not law. You don't have to do it!

Q. How can I teach digital literacy skills when I block MySpace and YouTube?
A. You don't have to block those sites. It's not law. It may or may not be passed...

On a Culture of Participation

Device question.
In your professional opinion, do you think your patrons are more comfortable when asking questions/requesting information from a librarian in person or online?
1% In person
20% Online
15% Doesn't matter, either one
39% Do not feel patrons generally talk to librarians

Culture of Participation story.
Control is an issue--we can't control conversations.
Cluetrain Manifesto. We need to be human when we talk with each other. Human conversations dominate.

Another book to read: Wikinomics.

Michael is explaining the self-tagging exercise. Send in your tags in the comments section, if you like. We'll include you in our tabulations!

It's all about Experience, Play and Discovery.
Check out the cover of this month's

Does your library have a blog?
? % Yes at my public library
? % Yes at my public library
? % Yes at my public library
? % Yes at my academic library
? % Yes at my school library
? % Yes at my special or other library
54 % No, we don't have a blog at our library

Who's Watching Your Space

Symposium is starting! The room is packed...The agenda:
*Social networks
*Privacy and trust
*Participant behaviors
(and what you think...)

Little known facts about Michael Stephens: He likes to take photos of abandoned buildings, and used to work at a video store before he went to library school!

Facts about Howard Rheingold: He is credited with inventing the term, "Virtual Communities." He attended Reed College.

Facts about danah boyd: She was declared the High Priestess of Social Friend Networking.

Facts about Marc Smith: Co-editor of Communities in Cyberspace.

Tags for OCLC Symposium

Tags we'd ask you to use, for the Symposium when you post/link, etc:

Whoo Hoo the room is filling up!

T minus 30 to Symposium

Hang gang! We are about half an hour away from the OCLC Symposium, here at the Sheraton Metropolitan Ballroom in Seattle. To me, the Symposium is what officially transitions us from "pre-ALA" into full-blown conference mode.

Can I tell you, I love the ALA conferences. It's always so fun to see everyone, to make new friends, to flip through a fresh box of crisp new brochures, to hear what new ideas are brewing out there in libraryland.

I've been off working on a Special Project the past couple of months, which means you haven't heard as much from me lately! Never fear, there will be lots of information forthcoming. We're in the middle of the research phase of the project now, working with Leo Burnett. When I have data to share, you can be sure IAG readers will be one of the first audiences to hear it!

So back at the Symposium, we're getting all kinds of social-y things cranked up. When you arrive, you'll be issued a *clicker* so you can register your vote with audience participation questions. Then we also have a cool little social/self-tagging exercise planned, as well. Here's how it will work:

As each person comes in, they receive a badge with descriptive tags on it. It includes things like "Gamer, Blogger, traveler, Photographer, Artist, Millenial, GenXer, Boomer, mac, PC,MySpace, 2.0, Techie, Cataloger, Administrator, Reference
Academic, Public, Special, School
." So then once everyone self tags by highlighting relevant terms (a good conversation starter, in and of itself...) then we'll gather up everyone's tags and see who's in the room--and do a tag cloud display. So it gets into issues we're exploring at the session itself: social networking, privacy, personal information in a public space and the exchange that happens...

Another fun bit that I am quite excited about! We have a videographer who is randomly filming the event--the pre, during and after. We'll edit it for coolness and then mount to YouTube. It's not exactly the stellar time of storytelling I was hoping for, for OCLC's first foray onto YouTube. But hey, I'll take something over nothing!

Had dinner at the Flying Fish last night. Highly recommend it, especially the not-on-the-menu vegetarian meal. Absolutely gorgeous food.

Okay, people are starting to arrive so I will post this and continue to post during the event. We have wifi in the ballroom, so other people will also be posting. We have some power strips around the perimeter, so you will be able to plug in when you need to!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Blog Salon Room Number - 3028

The Blog Salon will be in room 3028, the OCLC Blue Suite, Saturday beginning around 8pm. The Sheraton is under construction so you come in at street level and need to go up to the ballroom level (2) to get an elevator.

Hope to see lots of you there...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Social Networking is Hot

Three hundred and forty seven people have registered to hear Howard Rheingold, Marc Smith and danah boyd speak on social networks, identity formation, and social networking sites at the OCLC Symposium on Friday afternoon, just before ALA MidWinter officially begins. Our moderator, Michael Stephens, is there already, without his suit jacket, but with all his marbles. It's all good.

But what if you aren't getting to Seattle until late Friday? Well, you'll miss the live Symposium but the video of it will be on the OCLC web site in a few weeks...but even better! There's another session you can attend on social networking! Hot!! (I've been talking to Michael S a fair bit. Can you tell?)

Our colleague Jasmine de Gaia is hosting a session on Saturday, 8:00 - 10:00 am, Sheraton Seattle, Metropolitan B Room. It's called Social Networking: Best Practices for Libraries and has three terrific people lined up to talk about library social networking experiences: Jenny Levine, David Lee King (who's got a great series on "inviting participation" on his blog) and Lisa Hinchliffe. There are 192 people registered for this session already.

Totally hot!!! Really.

(I say this, knowing I risk a snarky remark from the Annoyed Librarian.)

speaking community into being?

I've been away taking care of personal stuff. But on one of the plane rides to or from all of that, I had the pleasure of reading danah boyd's Friends, Friendsters, and Top 8: writing community into being on social network sites. I admit that this has been on my reading list since I saw her post on many2many back in early December, but I made a point to read this now so that I'd (hopefully) have something intelligent to say to her when we meet later this weekend at ALA-Midwinter (btw: so looking forward to seeing folks in person!).

This doesn't happen to me a lot, I promise, but I think I have an intellectual crush (don't worry, it's very professional) on danah boyd. And when I meet her, I might, if I'm not too shy, ask her what she thinks (if anything) of the distinction between speaking and writing, and if she thinks the format of our communication makes any difference in the formation of social connections in online communities. I thought of this after reading her paper, and then Richard Powers' essay How to Speak a Book (NYT Book Review Jan 07, 2007). Will speaking our communities into being be another bridge between real-time and virtual connection?

Side note: the thought of switching to speak from write terrifies me. But maybe that's a sign that I am getting older and set in my tappity tap ways. Maybe. I guess we'll see...

Blog Salon - ALA Midwinter

The Blog Salon is on Saturday, January 20 at the Sheraton Seattle, starting around 8pm. It will be in the OCLC Blue Suite. We don't know the number of the room yet, but you can ask at the Front Desk or the Concierge's Desk, or come back here Friday when one of us will have posted the room number.

The Salon is right after the Celebration of Life for Fred Kilgour. That event is at the Westin Seattle, in Grand Ballrooms I & II. it begins at 5:30pm.

Alice was going to do this reminder but she's been saying she'll post stuff for weeks! She's already in Seattle, being busy. Yesterday she emailed me and said she was off to get a haircut at an Aveda training insititute and hoped she wouldn't end up with a "wacky west coast girl 'do."
We'll have to see if she did!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Howard Rheingold Interview

How nice of CNET's Second Life Bureau to have a chat with Howard Rheingold just ahead of his participation in the OCLC Symposium on Friday. It's a great snapshot of his current interests and thoughts on virtual communities. This quote foreshadows his presentation starting about 1:55pm PST on January 19:

"I personally think that the importance of online discourse ought to be taught in high school, but public education changes slowly. My latest effort is at I'm trying to find some funding to set up after school and summer programs to teach participatory media as an avenue to civic engagement about issues that young people care about."

We won't be streaming video from the Symposium but will--as usual--have it up on the OCLC web site in a few weeks.

Thanks to Andy Havens for alerting me to the interview.


I have been rummaging around in LinkedIn which is described by Wikipedia as a "business oriented social networking site, mainly used for professional networking. As of January 2007, it had more than 9 million registered users, spanning 150 industries and more than 400 economic regions (as classified by the service)."

I had forgotten I had a profile on LinkedIn which I set up ages ago, when Cindy Cunningham, the Director of Media Cataloging at Corbis in Seattle, invited me to join her network. After I'd joined I did nothing with my network. Recently, though, LinkedIn showed up on my radar.

My husband who is job hunting joined and is enjoying finding and connecting with people he'd worked with in a couple of past jobs.

And Stephen Aquilar-Millan, a UK-based futurist whom I know, had mentioned on the listserv we both belong to, that he had recently joined LinkedIn and was viewing it as an extension of his corporeal network for now, but that "[e]ventually, we will have to start to develop content within the network. It's at this point that the system will be truly tested as it will show whether we have connections because people are being polite, or we have connections because people think that we are doing something useful. That's always a moment of truth!"

I've been building my network, looking for and inviting people I know to join. A few have commented that they don't really use LinkedIn and don't find it very useful at the moment. Certainly one of the reasons for this is that few of us are job hunting as most of the people in my network have salaried, on-going positions. Stephen the futurist, however, has a consulting business and so might find this sort of very defined social network more immediately relevant to him.

I do find the "three degrees of separation" fascinating and perhaps this is one motivator for me to participate. For example, I spotted the name of a well-known libraryland person--someone I know personally too--who is connected to me, not through any other libraryland person, but through one of the futurists in my network. I had no idea they knew one another! Although "knowing" a person in LinkedIn can mean something much more tenuous than meatspace "knowing", the ability to identify and make visible these tenuous relationships in a virtual community is one of the most interesting aspects of it all, to me.

Recently, Guy Kawasaki, entrepreneur, blogger and self-professed hockey addict, blogged "Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn." He wrote: "However, it is a tool that is under-utilized, so I’ve compiled a top-ten list of ways to increase the value of LinkedIn."

Another top ten list! Which actually includes 13 points. And it struck me, reading his list, that librarians working in corporate libraries might find LinkedIn a good source of competitive intelligence, as well as a place to showcase their research and reference skills.

LinkedIn has recently started a service called LinkedIn Answers in which questions from within a member's broader network (people you know, know these people, who know these people) can be answered or experts' names suggested. For example, there's a question from my network asking for help in finding information on world stock market growth in 2006. 14 people so far have provided what look like good links or answers. So, Stephen Abram, Mr President-Elect of SLA, perhaps this is one way to increase the visibility of the members of your association?

Any IAG readers who are also members of LinkedIn, send Alice and me invitations to join your network! And if you've opinions on the usefulness--or not--of this kind of social network, leave a comment.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Our Iceberg Is Melting

This seems to be the era of the penguin. Opus is back in the Sunday comics, March of the Penguins and Happy Feet are huge hits in the theater, and now...Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions. No, this has nothing to do with global warming. Instead, John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber have written an enchanting little fable about a penguin who discovers that the iceberg on which he and his flock live is about to collapse. How will he convince the leaders of the flock about his findings? If he can convince the leaders, how will they build consensus to determine a plan of action? And can they implement change in the face of apathy and antipathy in the unknown amount of time they have left?

If this sounds like the challenges you face in your regular day-to-day work (OK, not the iceberg part, but the change part), then you will love this book. It's funny, it has terrific illustrations by Peter Mueller, and it manages to be inspiring without being preachy.

This is a book you can (and probably should) read in one sitting. And then read it again a few days later and see how well Kotter and Rathgeber have constructed their tale. And finally, check out their web site to get ideas about how to implement the penguins' ideas into your daily work.

Kudos to my colleagues at the OCLC Library and Information Center for pointing me toward this book.

Pew Social Networking Sites Study

Although the Pew study [pdf] on social networking sites has been mentioned all over the place, I would be remiss in not mentioning it here. For one reason, it has important information for librarians (55% of online teens use social networks). For the second reason, because OCLC will publish a complementary report in the spring.

Pew surveyed 935 teens aged 12-17 in the United States. The survey conducted for OCLC included over 5700 participants 14 and older in six countries: US, Canada, UK, France, Germany and Japan.

Of course, we expect to see similarities in the data...the addition of countries outside the US in our survey will be interesting. Will there be cultural differences? We expect there will be but don't know where.

Lee Rainie from Pew and I will be on the same track at the Computers in Libraries conference in April, speaking about our studies.

Top 5 Consumer Trends

Courtesy of one my favourite newsletters,, are the top five themes on their radar. All are relevant to libraryland--make sure you go to the site and read the complete report. And why not subscribe to the trend briefing?

1. Status Lifestyles
"[A]s mature consumer societies are increasingly dominated by (physical) abundance, by saturation, by experiences, by virtual worlds, by individualism, by participation, by feelings of guilt and concern about the side-effects of unbridled consumption, status is to be had in many more ways than leading a somewhat dated lifestyle centered on hoarding as many branded, luxury goods as possible."

2. Transparency Tyranny
"As camera and video phones are becoming both ubiquitous and more powerful, reviews of anything and everything will go multimedia. The impact? Well, a picture says more than a thousand words, and a video says more than a thousand pictures ;-) EVERYTHING brands do or don’t do will end up on, or on an undoubtedly soon to be launched youtube-clone dedicated to product reviews."

3. Web N+1
"if you feel the online world is evolving so fast that it’s hard to tell your web 0.2 from your web 2.0— tough luck! 2007 will see a broad debate on what constitutes web 3.0, web 4.0 and who knows, even web 5.0. So while the web 2.0’s user-generated avalanche will continue, we’re going to hear and obsess (again) about the Mobile Web, the Internet of Things, INFOLUST, Exploding TV, the Metaverse and so on...Quick tip: start by (re)reading everything by Kevin Kelly, who has been correct in predicting the Next Big Online Thing over and over again. When it comes to the shift from offline to online, the predications are out there, we haven’t seen anything yet, and you have no excuse not to know about it."

4. Trysumers
"Hate the name, love the trend. TRYSUMERS incorporates transient, experienced consumers who are becoming more daring in how they consume, due to a myriad of (sometimes) unrelated societal and technological changes. Here’s our beta-definition:
TRYSUMERS: 'Freed from the shackles of convention and scarcity, immune to most advertising, and enjoying full access to information, reviews, and navigation, experienced consumers are trying out new appliances, new services, new flavors, new authors, new destinations, new artists, new relationships, new *anything* with post mass-market gusto.' "

5. The Global Brain
"[A]ll of the world’s intelligence and experience, fully networked, incorporating not only the usual suspects like gurus, professors and scientists, but the experiences and skills of hundreds of millions of smart consumers as well. With the 'shortage of talent' that every brand on every continent seems to fear in 2007, tapping into THE GLOBAL BRAIN seems a, well, no-brainer. This year, expect many corporations, small and big, to aggressively court the 1% of most creative and experienced individuals roaming the globe."

Friday, January 05, 2007

Five Things to Know Eric Well

Like to get to know you well,
Like to get to know you well,
Like to get to know you well,
So we can be one,
We can be one together.
“Like To Get To Know You Well” – Howard Jones (Web site ; myspace ; Wikipedia entry)

To be tagged twice (Walt, George) and have not just Walt and George, but also my colleagues, Andy (post), Alane (post), and Chrystie (post) pen delightful “Five things you don’t know about me” meme responses leaves me no obvious out, so I humbly submit my five:

  1. Pets: I’ve had the usual assortment of turtles, fish, cats, and dogs as pets. But the most exotic pets I ever had were a pair of chameleons. They were a big hit when I took them to school for show-and-tell, especially with several of my female classmates, who -- after some initial reticence about handling a lizard -- became quite enamored of the lizard’s quick color changes and the light touch of chameleon feet. I guess the lizards seemed to be sort of mood rings with attitude (mood rings being an “in” thing about that time).

  2. Flying: My first plane trip was aboard a Piedmont Airlines (which would later merge with USAIR, now US Airways) prop plane from Charlotte, NC to Greenville-Spartanburg, SC. The twenty-minute or so trip was a gift from my father. An uncle picked me up at the airport. My parents drove down as the point was actually a trip to visit relatives in Greenville. I think I was around 10. Very cool – I declined the Coke and peanuts so I could look out the window for the whole trip without distraction. And, yes, I ‘ve flown a few – well, quite a few -- more  airmiles since then.

  3. Brush with fame* 1:  I traveled with Rick Springfield and his band (Web site). OK, well I was sitting in coach, and they were in first class, and it was only from Detroit to Louisville (where I was slated to speak at a Music Library Association conference, and they obviously had a gig). Who doesn’t remember the 80’s hit, “Jessie’s Girl”!? (See, you’re singing the chorus, now, aren’t you? ;)

  4. Brush with fame 2: On a trip to New York many moons ago, my then colleague Bede Mitchell and I were leaving the fabulous Rizzoli Bookstore at the same time a very stylishly- dressed couple were trying to enter the store. With a polite smile, the gentleman held the door open for us, and the woman graciously waited for us to exit. Who were they, you ask? Robert Wagner and Jill St. John. And no, neither of us were impolite enough to ask for autographs or try and take a picture. I know it was the right thing, but I kinda wish I had a picture now...

  5. La Femme: And speaking of beautiful women, I acknowledge George’s fine choice of Meredith Vieria as the woman he’d most wish to meet, but for me, it’s always been Catherine Deneuve. National symbol of France (see Marianne), Chanel model, Belle de jour – ‘nuff said.

Knowing full well that he’s done nothing to warrant being so victimized, I nevertheless – and with no malice aforethought – tag my esteemed colleague Stu Weibel, author of the fabulous Weibel Lines to reveal five mysteries lest the chain be broken and the angels weep for all of us (see 2nd quote).

*“Brushes with Fame” was a call-in AM radio show in one town I lived in. Callers would relate quite a wide range of direct and indirect sightings, and – not always flattering – encounters with celebrities, or sometimes the caller’s own 15 minutes of fame (and what counts in the human mind as one’s shining moment oft times amazed listener and radio host alike!).

[Picture is of yours truly at age 4. I think I was probably looking for enemy agents in the hedges. They like to hide in the hedges, you know.]

Five Things About Alane

1. I never forward chain letters or email
2. Telling me to do something usually results in an intense desire not to do it
3. I am an ENTJ on the Myers-Briggs scale
4. I am an oldest child
5. I do not watch TV, DVDs, or go to movies

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"Five Things You Don't Know (or Care) about Me"

This is probably the most egomaniacal title I've ever used in a blog post, but today I got tagged by Peter Bromberg, the Assistant Director of the South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative to participate in the meme that seems to have started last month on Jeff Pulver's blog. I've read Peter's list, but I'm not sure there are five things about me no one knows about me (or at least cares about).

Anyway, here goes: Five things most people don't know (or care) about George Needham.

1.) I once hit my younger brother Dennis with a shoe because he could whistle through his teeth and I couldn't. Despite this, our sibling rivalry seems to have abated after 46 years. And he's still a better musician than I am!

2.) Despite having been on Jeopardy and winning two games, I have never been able to get past the second level of the telephone quiz to qualify for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" And I'd really, really like to meet Meredith Vieria.

3.) The fact that I'd really, really like to meet Meredith Vieria is the third thing you didn't know about me.

4.) I met my wife Joyce at an audition for On Golden Pond at the Jewish Community Center in Columbus. Neither of us got cast, except in each other's futures.

5.) When I was 8, I decided I wanted to be a bus driver when I grew up. When I was 9, my grandfather broke the news to me that the bus driver doesn't get to decide where the bus goes. That ruined that dream!

Next, I'm tagging five of my fellow OCLC bloggers: Alice, Alane, Andy, Chrystie, and Eric. You're it!


OK, here's a new (at least to me, which means that it could actually be older than dirt) buzzword: "placeblogging." This is a blog set up to discuss what's happening in a neighborhood, town, city, or other geographic location. As you can imagine, it could be useful for someone who has just moved into an area and wants the inside story of their new home, or for connecting movers and shakers, or as an advertisement about the community to the rest of the world.

A new site launched New Year's Day to host such blogs and already looks pretty busy. And an article posted yesterday to Information Week's site calls this the "first buzzword of 2007."

Wouldn't it make sense for libraries to be prominent in such placeblogs, or maybe even to start one if it doesn't already exist? Imagine how much the library staff could learn about its community by participating actively in this!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Welcome to 2007, the 4th year of It's All Good. Goodness me, that's hard to believe, although we are new at this compared to some of our blogging colleagues. I'll get to the subject implied by my title in a bit but I have to digress.

My husband and I were in British Columbia for the holidays. I picked up the Vancouver Province on Sunday as we headed for the airport as it was the only paper available. It isn't one I would read usually, but I was thrilled to find a whole section on horoscopes for 2007 (those of you who know me well will not be surprised, and those who don't will be amused, dismayed or will say, "that figures"). I quote Georgia Nichols, the Province's astrologer: "...if you're considering trying anything new, or ready to initiate a new venture, do it in 2007! Set into motion whatever you can [...] do not postpone or procrastinate. Jump on the proverbial bandwagon! Now is the time to go after what you want. What you begin in 2007 will be like planting in the Spring. What you begin in 2008 will be like planting in the winter."

It's all because of Jupiter. (Georgia has a nifty little tool if you'd like to see where Jupiter is in your horoscope. It was in Virgo when I was born.) So, there you go....time to jump on a bandwagon. Just tell your boss the stars are aligned, and you want to plant in the spring not the winter.

OK, what about KISS, or Keep It Simple Stupid? I was musing on this rubric today after I read in the Dayton Daily News about a study conducted on behalf of Diebold, which doesn't just make voting machines. It provides other self-service systems, like ATMs. And the study finds "consumers would view financial institutions more favorably if they offered more advanced features at automated teller machines."
Here are some of those advanced features;
  • 41 percent think more positively of their financial institutions when an ATM can remember user preference settings
  • 42 percent want to customize their ATM preferences via their online banking channel
  • Purchase features that could influence positive views included selling postage stamps, sending money, selling movie or event tickets, selling certificates of deposit and selling prepaid phone minutes.

Aside from being an excellent example of convergence, I got to thinking about a debate that reappears in libraryland in various guises to do with simplicity versus complexity. The simplicity proponents have suggested, for example, that the interface to a library system should emulate the spareness of Google so as to reduce the potential confusion of users, especially non-expert ones. The complexity proponents suggest the human operator must be able to invoke that complexity in order to fully utilize the features inherent in the system.

As with many debates in our space, this one seems to be presented as an "either/or" case. But this is not an either/or case...simplicity and complexity are contextual as this Diebold study suggests. The complexity of the more-than-money-dispenser ATMs is welcomed when convenience is the reward. You will notice too that the complexity lies in the features, not the interface. So, I'll extrapolate and suggest that users of library systems would not mind at all if the complexities of using those systems were about paying fines, changing addresses, getting library cards, ordering material from book stores, and submitting reviews.

It would be nice if one of the library system vendors undertook a similar sort of survey to ascertain what additional features--or complexity--library users would welcome.

And I'll note that our colleague Lorcan has written about some aspects of this topic several times.

The little article about the study in the DDN is behind a registration wall, but Diebold has a longer description here.