Tuesday, July 31, 2007

socializing the social

I was at the Dublin office all of last week and although I was working rather hard, I had a lovely, lovely time. I spent my time there in three ways: first, working on wireframes for the new social networking features that will eventually show up on WebJunction; second, doing a series of meetings with other OCLC product managers and their friends to find out which, if any, of those features might be useful to their services and/or community building efforts; and three, working closely with my WJ colleagues Dave Ungar, Michael Porter (libraryman), Clayton Wood, and our Seattle-based colleagues on the future direction and strategy for social networking at WJ. LMTU, jam-packed fun and excitement.

First night, libraryman and I were blessed with the opportunity to connect up with Jasmine & Bob (OCLC Social Networking) along with Lorcan, Thom, Stu, and Eric (OCLC research) over dinner. The bulk of our conversation fell on the topic of the relevance of emerging social tools to OCLC services and the cooperative at large. Later, over a makeshift bar (with contributions from Stu) at Lorcan's house, we meandered around current implementations and process, as well as discussed the im/prudence of "disruptive" technologies and "subversive" processes in the context of a much larger organization. We left with varying degrees of agreement on the extent to which both patron and library staff services should be "socialized" but we sure had fun dreaming up new ways to get stuff done that's not just cool, but ultimately supports the cooperative on the whole. BTW: Lorcan pointed to this cool list of tools yesterday. you may have already seen it, but I was wowed by it and wanted to pass it on here, just in case.

Next few days we rocked the WJ wireframes process, although we didn't quite get them into full draft (yet). As soon as they and initial design drafts are finished, we'll take them out to our community for initial review and feedback. Preview: what are you and your friends doing (in libraryland)? ;) Please leave comments, email, directmail, or whatever your preferred method of contact if you're not a regular WJer and you'd like to be involved in this feedback!!

Mid-week I spent a (too brief) lunchtime with George, whose careful leadership and trusted mentoring are always welcomed. If only he'd move to Seattle. This in between non-stop (literally) meetings with everyone from WorldCat.org to Delivery and Collection Analysis. I know there are those who like to refer to us as the "Anchor People" of libraryland (nice!) or to our OCLC headquarters as "the Deathstar" (not so nice, but funny!), but when you take a step back and think about it - we do some fairly mind-blowing things together as a cooperative.

By the time Friday rolled around, having spent nearly every waking hour in conversation with one or another of my colleagues about social networking, some things started to gel for me that hadn't before. Ideas are still marinating, but so far, here's how it goes:

-social tools are useful because they connect people around shared information, activities, or interests
-social tools might be efficient augments to online delivery of both tools and content (or data) because they can facilitate support, deliver news and documents, and connect people who work w/ the same stuff
-depending on what my role is in libraries, or how broadly I like to get involved or connect, I might want to have a fully integrated social experience (lots of people, lots of tools, lots of content) or very narrowly defined social experience (only people I work with, only content I care about, only the tools I use)
-if we could all get together on a shared platform (a single portal?), we could deliver the range between these extremes to "everyone" without their having to move from place to place on the web, and according to their preferences
-although i think primarily in terms of services to library staff, since that's where i spend most of my work time, consumers probably could benefit from exactly the same sort of thing - everything you can do with libraries, all in one place, and it's social

ideas are cheap, i know, but this is where my big giant dreams are starting to settle.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Encore t-shirt contest

Innovative Interfaces has a fun Flickr contest up, to see where their Encore t-shirts have gotten to. If you have an Encore t-shirt, upload your photo! I like the way they're using Flickr's ready-made tools to drive their own customized marketing campaign...

Friday, July 27, 2007

New study about youth and tech assumptions

Andy has again ferreted out more interesting stuff. This time it's a new global study from MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft about how kids and young people interact with digital technology. The study "challenges traditional assumptions about their relationships with digital technology, and examines the impact of culture, age and gender on technology use."

The press release is a good summation...if anyone can find a link to the real study, post it in the comments. Here are the highlights of the study, from the press release:
     -- Technology has enabled young people to have more and closer
friendships thanks to constant connectivity.
-- Friends influence each other as much as marketers do. Friends are as
important as brands.
-- Kids and young people don't love the technology itself -- they just
love how it enables them to communicate all the time, express
themselves and be entertained.
-- Digital communications such as IM, email, social networking sites and
mobile/sms are complementary to, not competitive with, TV. TV is part
of young peoples' digital conversation.
-- Despite the remarkable advances in communication technology, kid and
youth culture looks surprisingly familiar, with almost all young
people using technology to enhance rather than replace face-to-face
-- Globally, the number of friends that young males have more than
doubles between the ages of 13-14 and 14-17 -- it jumps from 24 to 69.
-- The age group and gender that claims the largest number of friends are
not girls aged 14-17, but boys aged 18-21, who have on average 70
Also, Microsoft has pulled out a few verbatim quotations on the study.

There were also really interesting global differences noted. One that stuck out for me was China. Because of the one-child rule in China, many kids reach out to online friends for companionship much more than in other countries where they may have siblings at home. It's such an interesting mix of culture, social norms, tech and gender!

If you remember our Symposium from ALA MW 2007 (scroll down), some of the privacy/parental controls situations that danah boyd described are now evident in the research.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Metrics of scholarly authority

Did I mention we are suffering under summer's mandate to slow down and enjoy the view, here at IAG? I have spent the past three weeks in hectic report-writing and budget-reconciling land, but have emerged relatively unscathed now that both have been submitted to higher powers.

I have been attending to civic matters, and busy catching up on correspondence. One of which was a message from (gulp) more than two weeks ago about an interesting blog topic. I flagged it at the time and now am finally returning to it.

Andy suggested it from a Chronicle article about Web 2.0/3.0 methods of establishing relevance and authority. Here the draft list the author, Michael Jensen, presented that Andy circulated as brain food with commentary:
  • Prestige of the publisher (if any).
  • Prestige of peer prereviewers (if any).
  • Prestige of commenters and other participants.
  • Percentage of a document quoted in other documents.
  • Raw links to the document.
  • Valued links, in which the values of the linker and all his or her other links are also considered.
  • Obvious attention: discussions in blogspace, comments in posts, reclarification, and continued discussion.
  • Nature of the language in comments: positive, negative, interconnective, expanded, clarified, reinterpreted.
  • Quality of the context: What else is on the site that holds the document, and what's its authority status?
  • Percentage of phrases that are valued by a disciplinary community.
  • Quality of author's institutional affiliation(s).
  • Significance of author's other work.
  • Amount of author's participation in other valued projects, as commenter, editor, etc.
  • Reference network: the significance rating of all the texts the author has touched, viewed, read.
  • Length of time a document has existed.
  • Inclusion of a document in lists of "best of," in syllabi, indexes, and other human-selected distillations.
  • Types of tags assigned to it, the terms used, the authority of the taggers, the authority of the tagging system.

The items I noted in red are ones where social networking systems would play a fairly obvious role in establishing or enhancing authority under these systems. The things noted in green/italic are somewhat secondary qualifications; i.e., the other social-y stuff will contribute, over time, more and more to, for example, the "prestige of the commentors and participants." That is, if I don't do the other things, my prestige will go down. They are (again, over time) likely to become effects as opposed to causes.

So... from a library perspective, does this mean that:

A) There should be a way for libraries to catalog/reference/rate scholary authority in some way? If the "old way" was to provide access and metadata for materials that had been conferred with authority by being in certain publications or by certain authors... how do we provide discovery/delivery for stuff where the authority is vested in a much less central way? And...

B) Should libraries seek to influence this "new authority" in any way, or simply promote its effects and/or best-in-class systems. That is, should librarians seek (in an organized fashion, and/or more than other users) to impart authority on various materials? Or should the task be to provide access based on authority.

He's asking great questions. What do you think?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Disaggregated Education

There was an interesting article in the Chronice of Higher Education last week (brought to my attention by the redoubtable Andy Havens) about iTunes U, and a course on the future of the internet which has been rapidly moving up the iTunes U best-seller list.

It seems to me that in the future, disaggregated education is going to grow in popularity and facility. Imagine if you could take courses from the world's best teachers, regardless of where you or they wanted to live or who wanted to tenure them or even if they were still alive. (My favorite professor of all time, Dr. Milton Plesur, should have been recorded and saved for posterity. That man could make American history come alive like no one else.) Then you could sit for examinations based on the canon of knowledge needed in that field (law, biology, English literature) to gain your own accreditation. Yes, it would be harder for The Ohio State University to organize its football team under these conditions. (The "OSU World of WarCraft Buckeyes," anyone?) However, there are certain advantages that seem apparent.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Noblest Taboo

If I tell you how I feel,
Will you keep bringing out the best in me?
You give me, you give me the sweetest taboo.

“The Sweetest Taboo” -- Sade (Website ; WCid ; Wikipedia ; composed by Sade & Martin Ditcham)

A very happy Fair Use Day to one and all (and thanks to Aaron for alerting me via twitter). 11 July has been designated as Fair Use Day by the folks at Fair Use Day

Fair Use (Wikipedia entry) is a concept in U.S. law that effectively provides a limited, legal defense against liability for copyright infringement if the use of the copyrighted content is for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, and the use meets a four point test as specified in 17 U.S.C. § 107.

Like almost anything in the copyright arena, there are nuances, and one can expect to find significantly differing opinions about what does and does not constitute “fair use” under the provisions of U.S. law.

Here is a sample of potentially useful resources:
o Fair-Use: Overview and Meaning for Higher Education (Copyright Management Center)
o Copyright and Fair Use (Stanford)
o Highlights of the Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia (Penn State) [ppt]
o AALL Guidelines on the Fair Use of Copyrighted Works by Law Libraries

Nice to see Fair Use Day earn a mention on several high-profile blogs including:
ars technica

It should be noted that this general concept of educational and similar uses exceptions to copyright is also present in the law of other nations; for example, in Commonwealth nations there is a kindred concept called “Fair Dealing” (Wikipedia entry).

So, dear readers, know the law, and help your users make full use of the privileges it accords. And celebrate Fair Use Day every day!

More (non)stereotypes: runner librarians

Having followed the NYT flurry about hip librarians, here's a fun correlation that the general public also might not naturally make--libraries and running.

But the Kennebunk Free Library in Kennebunk, Maine is doing just that to celebrate their 100 year anniversary.

It's a 5K planned for this Friday, with free massages and free meals for the runners. There will also be concerts, food and a raffle. Check out their sponsorship section! This library has definitely reached out to the community!

If you're in the Northeast (and it's not raining!), come show off your sporty side and work off your angst (if you have it) about the Times article.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Much Ado about Shushers

Is everyone else sick to death of discussing Sunday's New York Times article, "A Hipper Crowd of Shushers"? Sorry...I'm going to put my two cents in, too.

I have been absolutely amazed and dismayed by the reaction in some of the library community to the story. This was a "Fashion & Style" section article...you know, about how some people dress and where they hang out and what kind of clothes they wear. But from the tone of some of the reactions, you would think that this was a serious sociological dissertation about the entire profession. The NEWLIB-L listserv has been all a-twitter (no plug intended) about this article for three days now, and at least half a dozen people have sent me the link. (Why is beyond me; no one has EVER accused me of being hip.) (Oh. Maybe that's the point.)

The reaction on The Annoyed Librarian is what really floored me. It opens with the anonymous Annoyed's screed against the story, "Take the 'Hip' Librarians, Please." Ordinarily, I would assume that any blog post that riffs a one-liner from Henny Youngman couldn't be all bad. This is a rule of thumb I will need to reconsider. But then, as of this morning, there are 36 additional comments, many even more vituperative in their comments about the article, about the people profiled in the article, and about the state of the library world in general.

I don't understand. We get furious when the media offer images of us as repressed spinsters and/or prissy confirmed bachelors. We get furious when they write about as young hipsters. When will we not be furious? And why do we waste so much time being furious?

The victim mentality in this profession needs to have a wooden stake driven through its heart ASAP.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

One of the Wonders

They say I must be one of the wonders,
Of God's own creation,
And as far as they see they can offer,
No explanation.

“Wonder – Natalie Merchant (Website ; WCid ; Wikipedia)

I suspect many IAG readers may have seen references to a recent article in the New York Times (“A Hipper Crowd of Shushers” – [Note: may require registration to access]) that follows on the heels of a piece in the New York Sun (“For New-Look Librarians, Head to Brooklyn”) which also seems to have been picked up by the New York Press (“Too Cool For School”) and is garnering attention in various blogs and other outlets (see below).

The subject of the pieces is, in large part, a group founded by Maria Falgoust and Sarah Murphy, the Desk Set (myspace), "an informal group of librarians, archivists, library science students and other individuals who love books," which periodically has social events in bars in Greenpoint or Williamsburg (i.e. New York City area). The articles focus on the librarians being young, hip, technologically savvy, and contemporary-culture literate. It seems to surprise the press that librarians could indeed be cool, and this issue of journalists' persistently errant standing perceptions (i.e. librarians all wear hair buns and say “shush” a lot) is earning the press a bit of umbrage from libraryland – at least as I judge by reactions among my friends on twitter and in the blogosphere – no doubt for statements like:

And, in real life, there are an increasing number of librarians who are notable not just for their pink-streaked hair but also for their passion for pop culture, activism and technology.” (NYT article)

Silly made-up words like “guybrarians” (I’m male and a librarian, but I’m not a “guybrarian”) aside, I find the overall flavor of the coverage rather pleasing. Librarians, archivists, and museum folks are cool – probably have been to varying degrees for the life of the profession, but it’s nice to see it recognized in words and pictures. And frankly, I think we are seeing a bit of a sea change (and yes, I was in library school in the 80’s – love my classmates, but Rick Block is right: the library science students then weren’t as interesting as they are now) – this new cohort is much more a “let’s try it” crowd versus a longstanding, well-entrenched “let’s wait till we’re sure” attitude that has pervaded the profession for too long.

Coverage in libraryland and the blogosphere I’ve spotted (oh, and you may want to follow some of the linked sites – interesting stuff):

LJ Insider
Suggested Donation

So, we each must be one of the wonders. (Myself, I wonder if IAG can get an invite to a Desk Set gathering and maybe try a few of those Dewey-numbered drinks? I’m guessing the drinks are all good!)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Canada Day

I believe there is a distance I have wandered,
To touch upon the years of,
Reaching out and reaching in,
Holding out, holding in.
“Elsewhere” – Sarah McLachlan (Website ; WCid ; Wikipedia ; Encyclopedia of Music in Canada ; myspace)

1 July is Canada Day (FĂȘte du Canada) [Wikipedia] a national holiday [Canadian Encyclopedia] – formerly known as Dominion Day – that commemorates the establishment of Canada as a dominion (i.e. a self-governing country that retains close ties to the British monarchy) on 1 July 1867.

We extend warmest greetings and best wishes to all of our Canadian readers, the wonderful folks who work in the thousands of cultural institutions across Canada – with a special shout out to our OCLC participating institutions and the WebJunction institutions in Canada – and our colleagues at OCLC Canada. (For more information on libraries in Canada, see, for example, the “Libraries” article in The Canadian Encyclopedia, or do a search in the WorldCat Registry).

Happy Canada Day!