Monthly Archives: January 2008

Advanced Search Ideas

Boxes and Arrows has a great little article on making advanced search more usable to people other than the “most fanatical users”:

Tim Bray wrote, “The people who do use Advanced Search are your most fanatical users, the professional librarians, spooks, and private investigators.”

Even if you skim through most of the article, check out the final few paragraphs. I really like the model they are describing for a just-in-time, fully customizable, no-more-than-needed advanced search that pops up after the user realized their simple search didn’t really get them what they needed.

Library 2.0 debate

I’ve been staying out of the “is Library 2.0 overrated” debate that was sparked by John Blyberg – until I read David Lee King’s take on the discussion. As always, David has some intelligent and thought-provoking things to say about the discussion in the blogosphere, and the main theme of his post (are librarians *really* out there in the social networking world or just dipping their toes in the pool and then complaining that they aren’t getting wet?) struck home with me. I’ve said before that participation is key to getting people to notice you in the Web 2.0 arena – that goes for organizations as well as individuals. As David puts it in his article, Has Elvis Left the Building?,

How about #2? Who’s this Elvis guy? Elvis is the librarian – has he left the building? Or is he still sitting behind the oak reference desk, waiting for patrons to visit? You cannot participate if you haven’t “left the building.” What does it take for librarians to be successful in the digital space? Well… we have to go there. Not just randomly peek in once in awhile, but actually be present and active in that space.

He continues on from there, but that is an excellent point. At my library, we have Bobbi, whose job it is to be present and active in the Web 2.0 space. She does a great job and we get a lot of response to our 2.0ish efforts (considering the size of our population, at least) because of it. Not every library is that lucky, I know that, but just randomly posting a comment or two on a mostly ignored blog or creating a profile on a social networking site that you never return to isn’t going to get the masses to come in to see you. You have to be there – commenting on your friend’s pages, commenting on their blog posts, commenting on their Flickr photos… You get the idea.
I’m pretty bad about commenting – I only do it when I’m really fired up about something or I feel I have something important to say (yes, the bold was necessary – it has to be *that* important). I’m going to work on that, both personally and professionally, and become more of a presence outside the building, as well as inside of it.

Could Instant Messaging XMPP Power the Future of Online Communication? – ReadWriteWeb

Just a quick pointer to something I’ve found interesting… Could Instant Messaging XMPP Power the Future of Online Communication? – ReadWriteWeb (RRW). The article discusses the use of Jabber (AKA XMPP and the framework behind Google’s Gmail Chat) as a way to help ease the load of stateless HTTP. Right now, every time a web server updates, browsers have to specifically re-request the page to find updates. RRW says that this may not be required if the browser “logs in” to the page using XMPP and then just waits for updates. According to RRW:

Tivo, they say, no longer requires your box to check in with the Tivo servers periodically – the server sends a signal via XMPP to available boxes when new information is published. Tivo is essentially using machine-to-machine Instant Messaging for real time communication within its service.

So it’s already in use in some applications! There are some other applications that the article mentions – no more hourly checks of RSS feeds – readers can go get the new post only when pinged by the server. That would cut down on a LOT of traffic on the net all by itself! There were also some reservations expressed in the article, such as whether a completely open standard could make it worth a company’s while to build upon it if everyone else can do the same thing with no barriers. I’m hoping to see it used more – I can really see where it would be a handy way to get up-to-the-second updates from a lot of different sites, without constant polling or refreshing involved!

Library Web Chic » Blog Archive » Getting things done aka how I keep my head above water

I was just reading through my feeds and discovered a new convert to the Getting Things Done cult. Karen, of the Library Web Chic blog, has found the system and started to use it. She also found an interesting tool that I hadn’t run across (and I thought I’d used ALL the GTD applications…)

Library Web Chic » Blog Archive » Getting things done aka how I keep my head above water
To solve this problem, I went open source software searching and came up with a nice program called Task Freak.

I’ve been using Outlook’s task delegation (with the assistance of the Clear Context GTD plugin for Outlook) to send tasks to my staff – but something like this might be more flexible. Clear Context is only installed on my work computer (cause it’s rather pricey…), but I do work from home sometimes – if I could send tasks via Task Freak instead, I’d be set! Thanks to Karen for pointing this tool out!!

I want, I want, I want….

It’s probably too late for my birthday, and most assuredly too expensive (unless more than one person wanted to go together to get it for me…), but the Eye-Fi looks to be the coolest little gadget I’ve seen in a while. I’m seriously considering getting one for my Mom (hassle-free uploads from her camera to Flickr? My laptop? The house’s file server? I’m so there!!!), making this not something I will be able to pick up for myself for a while. Perhaps this and a gift subscription to Flickr would be the way to go for her
. If you can upload directly to Flickr, from your camera, in any wi-fi enabled spot, I’d be in geek heaven!!!

Pingie

Got a “can’t miss” RSS feed that you really need to keep on top of, even when you aren’t at a computer? Try out this new service called Pingie to transform your RSS feeds into text messages. Admittedly, this really should have gone on the new LL2.1 blog, but we have SO MUCH new and interesting stuff already in the pipeline, that I’m not sure this would have been able to fit in this year. Anyway, I can see LOTS of applications for this – but you’ll still have to be careful about what feeds you redirect in this way. 140 characters is not going to get you the full text of any feed – but for “breaking news” feeds, or “library books about to come due” feeds or the like, this might be an excellent resource!

Library Learning 2.1 – The Grand Kick-Off

The opening salvo in the Missouri River Regional Library’s Library Learning 2.1 program went out yesterday. Our first post was written by Bobbi and dealt with the library’s new downloadable ebook service (via netLibrary). Bobbi did a great job of providing screen shots and clear directions on how to use this somewhat complicated program. Not only is this great information for our staff, but it is a fabulous resource for them to use to provide this information to our patrons, as well. So far, in the first day, we’ve received 6 comments (4 of them from staff members other than Bobbi and myself!) and they seem to be quite enthused about the idea of both this program and the ebooks themselves (with the exception of SexyBeast, who isn’t an ebook fan, but is a fan of the LL2.1 program…).
As you’ll note, since this program is available for patrons, we haven’t required “real” names – any staff member can participate in an anonymous way, if they so choose. This seems to have taken some of the pressure off of some of the staff who really don’t want everyone in the world knowing what they think of our topics.
Next week it’ll be my turn. I’ve already written up an introduction to online privacy in a socially networked world and will post it on the 14th. Feel free to comment on any of our posts – this is open to the outside world, not just to the staff – and add your knowledge, insights and questions about the various topics!

BAM!

For the Book A Month Challenge, this month’s theme is “time”. The post announcing the theme has a lot of great suggestions, but I’ve chosen one – The nature of space and time / Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose – that seems to be fairly interesting. I’ve read the Stephen Hawking book “A Brief History of Time”, but I hadn’t heard about this one. So, as part of the Book A Month challenge, I’ll pick this one up at my local library and give it a whirl!