Thursday, January 29, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig

Wonderful to see everyone at the Blog salon. It was a tweetable event, as we finally found a hotel who would turn on wireless for us in a ballroom. There were a number of people using their mobile phones to post news. (Me, for one.) One unlucky new friend had actually shattered his iPhone screen, earlier in the day. (But it still worked just fine!)

Blog salon 2009 photos uploaded to Flickr.

In other news, a colleague just sent me a nifty, if not very involved social networking ROI calculator for nonprofits. You may or may not want to hide this from your library director, as this tool is geared more for direct fundraising efforts. I plugged a few numbers into the model and it promptly told me that social networking was going to be negative 90% of the time invested in 3 years. So...YRMV but it is a fascinating look at trying to be a dollar figure on all that "wasted" Facebook/Twitter/Twine time.

Our hearts go out
to Perrot Memorial Library staff in Old Greenwich, CT.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday Saturday and my feet aren't as tough as they used to be

So I had a fun-filled Saturday today. It was a WorldCat-filled day, seems like.
I started out at the WorldCat Local meeting at 9 this morning. Went to the booth, collected literature. Trucked to the Hyatt for the meeting. Very good questions and interest, with all the new features coming out.

One thing it seems like we (OCLC) should be more vocal about is the point of It's primarily a way to connect end-users on the Web with local libraries and library materials. All too often we get caught up in feature/function and loose the big flick of why we're doing this in the first place: library visibility.

It is so fun to see familiar faces and meet new friends. There was talk yesterday at the Symposium of a future contact lens that could be embedded with in theory as someone is walking up to you, their name and how you know them could flash up at you. That would be REALLY helpful at conferences!

But I digress. I did make time for lunch with colleagues at the Corner Bakery, a popular spot with tasty salads and sandwiches. Then back to the convention center for the WorldCat Local meeting. Panic because no catering. Whoops, we didn't order any catering.

It was really heartening during the session to hear OCLC's view of the usability test outcomes from graduate students, undergraduates and public libraries...and then to hear the same comments echoed from librarians at the WorldCat Local session this afternoon. There were speakers from the University of Washington, University of Delaware, University of California and...(?) memory escapes me. But all very very interesting stuff.

The gentleman from UW who spoke about their installation of WorldCat Local was saying you have to trust your users and prepare for success--their ILL fulfillment traffic went up by 300% or some ridiculously large number. In terms of "trust your users"--he had staff not believing that people needed all this information! (They didn't need it before...) And I think the idea was, they weren't finding it before, so they didn't know it existed.

The theme of the day seems to have been, "People expect a Google-like experience, and we want to figure out by hook or by crook to make it happen." This is a great shift from what I have heard at previous conferences. There is no hand-wringing or drama about if Google is going to take over the world. Now it seems most people are simply taking it as fact and trying to figure out what to do about it. And luckily, and WorldCat Local seems to be mentioned as part of the solution, anyway.

So then while the meeting is still going on, I have to hop out to meet with a publisher rep about advertising. Print advertising still attracts eyeballs, but there's not a lot of innovation going on there. Online and event advertising seemed to be a hotter topic, based on the conversation we had. What advertising do you notice most? Notice least?

Then it was back to the hotel to prepare with other groups of people for sessions tomorrow. And I left my scarf in the hotel lobby bar. Shoot. Then a quick hop up to the OCLC Green Suite for the next-to final meeting of the day. A large-group discussion, with food and snacks.

Tomorrow is the OCLC Update Breakfast. There have been so many news releases this week--it will be a wonder if we can cover them all in an hour.

See you at the Blog Salon tomorrow night! 5:30 to 8 pm, Hyatt Regency Centennial I, F/G.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Evolution of the Web continues, a slide from Nova Spivak's presentation.

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Nova and David take a break from all the great questions from the audience.

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David, Roy and Nova discuss the semantic web.

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Video of Symposium will be available

Thanks to everyone for coming. We'll have a video of the Symposium available soon....likely in the next 2 weeks or so.

Questions and Answers

Q. What are the speakers associations with librarians?
Q. What do they think about the idea that students today aren't able to write long form or sustain deep ideas? (The semantic web is broad but there's not a lot of depth.) What happens to our democratic process?

Nova example: Is Google making us smarter?
Is intelligence the speed at which we get the answer, or the quality of the answer?

Nova Spivak

Nova is a semantic Web pioneer and publisher of Twine.

Library 3.0--the Semantic Web. is based on the Semantic Web, create public or private collections. Combine the wisdom of crowds with automated annotations.

The social graph just connects people.
The semantic graph connects everything.
Nodes and links.

Everything is becoming metadata. A higher resolution Web. (Like megapixels on cameras--a more granular interpretation.)

In the semantic web we're putting the metadata into the data. Transforming the Web from a file server to a database. (But hidden from other applications.) RDF and OWL are the languages.

A programmer has to understand the API, do some work...but on the semantic web our data can talk to each other easily. The Web for machines. Software will be able to understand the Web.

Smart Data. Get humans out of the loop--it's not going to scale if humans have to do everything. The Smarts move into the data itself rather than being hard-coded into the software.

(The Evolution of the Web: Connections between information and Connections between people.)
*PC Era--e-mail. (Front end decade)
*Web 1.0--early back-end issues. (Back-end decade)
*Web 2.0--making the Web more friendly, more interactive with rich media (Front end decade)
*Web 3.0--another shift. (Back end decade)

Web OS will be like middleware. When the Web starts functioning like an operating system.
*Web 4.0--the Intelligent Web. Ubiquitous personal assistants. The notion of the Web spilling out over everything and making everything smarter.

5 main approaches to semantics:
Semantic Web
Artificial Intelligence

Some approaches make the data smarter, others make the software smarter.

The future of Information Retrieval...the tools make it easy to make MORE information. Leveraging the social Web: but as we move towards Web 3.0...we can use machines.

All human knowledge, of all forms, will be represented on the Web in 20 or 30 years.
How do you add Semantics?
(At Twine we use all of them.)
Manual Tagging--Hard/precise, tagged by experts. Easy/fuzzy, tagged by nonexperts.
Automatic--Hard/precise, database integration

Libraries that learn:
The library brain, fires in slow motion. (Librarians have to have ideas, then put them into place, then people notice, etc. Soon they can self organize.
*Digitize everything and put it all online.
*Automatically self-assemble and self-organize.
*Build personalized experiences for users.
*Detect and adapt to changing needs and usage

As users do this, recommendations and filtering become really important.

Information Finds Us

Roy Tennant kicked off the session, and encourages us to realize that information
Our two speakers:
David Weinberger. Former speech writer for Woody Allen's comic strip!

The Kindle. One significant rev from the Kindle doing to books what the iPod did for CDs. Will make reading social again...rather than something private. (Remember reading on our parents' laps?)

OR...Copyright law. World of books and writing fundamentally change.

We're now in an Age of Abundance. An abundance of good stuff and crap. But we're able to manage the crap okay. What's harder is to manage the good stuff.

Libraries role: social spaces. Access to technology--especially economic disparity. Libraries are sym bols of a community's commitment to equal access.

It also makes sense to have a collection (that we can draw a boundary around.) The idea is that there is a place in town to get knowledge and culture. There is a place where this stuff can be contained and curated.

Books are based upon scarcity...hard to find, hard to publish, premised on scarcity and not on abundance. Books divided into topics, content. Not having links out is an act of stinginess and cowardace. (Stripped of value when they're not connected on the rest of the network.)

As content gets digitized, they become pointers

Manage Abundance.
Warned that we'd be overwhelmed in information. The solution to the information overload is to generate more metadata.

The old way was to physically separate the metadata from the data. But this is impossible in the age of abundance. (There's an implicit set of values and politics in that decision.)

We don't confuse the label with the person.
Metadata becomes the data and the data
Metadata is the thing that you know, and data is the thing you're looking for.

If we're going to manage all this data, we're going to have to do it ourselves. But the old ways of doing things, do not scale.

The Library of Congress experiment. Wikipedia is one example.
We will do it Together. We're just begun to invent some of these things.

And we're not going to get it right. (But metadata will save us...the page needs more sources, more citations. The metadata frees us to learn more.)

It's going to be good enough. Generally, good enough is good enough. In the world of abundance, good enough is good enough. NOW we need the media literacy to know that good enough is NOT good enough (medical information, air traffic control.)

All of these attempts will always be outpaced by abundance. It's yeasty but it's messy.

Our highest calling as human beings--Knowledge. Is being displaced by Google?
No--it's not the highest knowledge. it's understanding. Understanding is plural, is complex, always developing.

We know how to do knowledge and science well. But we're getting an influx now of understanding. The tools are tools for understanding, not for knowledge.

Pragmatic roles will sort themselves out (collection, navigation, social space) but the Symbolic roles (equal access, knowledge is scarce) will change.

Libraries of the future explodes-linked, explodes with content!

OCLC Symposium: From Linking to Thinking

We are about 20 minutes from getting underway with the OCLC Symposium. The room is filling up nicely, and our speakers are getting ready. I forgot I had moved my photo download pointer to the new 500 Gig hard I will have to post photos up after that fact. Make your way over, if you're in Denver...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

WorldCat Mobile pilot meetings at ALA MW 2009

If you haven't already heard, there is a brand new WorldCat mobile pilot available. Go check it out--but remember it's a pilot, so plan on a few hiccups along the way. It's just the first step in making WorldCat more mobile-friendly...and we'd like to hear what you think about that.

How about you tell us at the WorldCat Mobile pilot feedback sessions at ALA MW. One session still has some space for a few more folks--so we'd love to hear what you think. If you don't have a Web-enabled device, here's your chance to see how it works. Join us on Saturday from 10 to 11:30 am. Register here.

I also completely forgot to tell you the details of the OCLC Symposium. The theme this time is From Linking to Thinking—How We’ll Live When Information Surrounds Us.
All the action starts at 1:30 pm at the Sheraton Denver Downtown, Grand Ballroom 1

We'll be exploring ideas of how the Web and always-on access may have changed even our very thought patterns. And from sitting in on the discussions, it is going to be a very good discussion. We've changed up the format, too--so it's more like a town-hall style meeting between two very interesting personalities: David Weinberger and Nova Spivack. I am brushing up on my Twines and making a trip this afternoon to check out a copy of David's book so I will be in the right brain groove. As if you needed additional fodder, check out KGS's review on TechSource.

Roy Tennant will moderate. See you there, or we'll have a streaming video of the session available after the fact. I hope to blog it, too.

Totally random other news
Coke has made a new commercial of two kids sitting in the library. Not some stellar, awesome library. But you know, libraries are good for quiet backdrops every so often. (Not a computer in sight, natch.) But we all know that TV is not reality. Event reality TV is not reality.

See you in Denver!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Texas Library Association Survey Results

The good folks at the Texas Library Association posted the results of their taxpayer survey yesterday. The complete package, available here, is really useful. It not only includes the results of the survey, it also includes the complete questionnaire the survey takers used, and a PowerPoint presentation reviewing and interpreting the results.

These results are especially relevant, because the survey was conducted during the first week in November, after the economic meltdown. Despite the uncertainty, school and public libraries still get high marks for relevance and importance in the community.

U of Illinois/Elsevier Paper on Library ROI

Staff from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and from Elsevier have produced an interesting short paper on the return on investment in academic libraries. They tie success in grant seeking to use of library resources and come up with a figure of $4.38 in grants for every $1.00 invested in the UIUC library.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pew Presentation

Here is an excellent PowerPoint deck from Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet Project, titled "How Libraries Can Survive in the New Media Ecosystem." The presentation was given by Rainie yesterday at Bryant University.

Your assignment is to read and discuss. Soon---with your colleagues, board members, and public!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

DCPL iPhone Application

Here's a pointer to the future: the District of Columbia Public Library has released an application for the iPhone and the iPod Touch to access its online catalog. The app allows you to check the catalog, set holds, see the library's hours, and even read book summaries.

What's even more impressive is that this is a release from the DCPL Labs. That's right, R & D for public libraries and their members, by a public library. What a concept!

Kudos to Ginnie Cooper and her team in Washington. This is a great way to show the feds what an innovative public library looks like.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Blog Salon at ALA MW 2009

Still seems strange to write 2009. But we have arrived here, ready or not!

With January comes various fun activities: my birthday, epiphany, ALA Midwinter.

For those of you braving the snowy weather, please plan to attend the OCLC Blog Salon at ALA Midwinter 2009:
OCLC Blog Salon
Sunday, 25 January
5:30-8:00 pm
Hyatt Regency Denver (attached to the convention center)
Centennial I, F/G

For everyone who plans to stay snug and warm at home, we'll plan to take plenty of photos, more photos and post some videos--so you'll still stay up on all the juicy conversations.