Monthly Archives: October 2008

LinkedIn Applications

Well, it looks like LinkedIn is going the way of Facebook and MySpace and adding an application section to its offerings. I’ve been playing with it for a couple of days now and have just a few thoughts…
Wednesday morning – when the announcement was made – I jumped in and started playing. The applications available looked pretty interesting, but of the ones on offering, I took only the Slideshare, My Travel and Huddle Workspaces ones. I immediately hit a snag – none of them worked well (or at all, in the case of Slideshare) in my Firefox 3 browser. I reluctantly gave in and fired up IE7 and gave it another whirl. That seemed to fix the issues I was having, but it made me very unhappy…
And then I ended up posting this without finishing it, so I’ll do that now. I do love scheduling posts, except when I forget that I’ve scheduled them.
Anyway – it’s been a couple of days since the apps were added and I haven’t noticed any really outstanding uses of them – yet. I think the Huddle one – where you can create a workspace on LinkedIn and collaborate with your “connections” will be really interesting to watch. I may post again about this later if I find any really good uses of these – but it seems like I’m not the only one with issues getting them going, so I just don’t have a lot of “real world use” information yet!

The common discourse and you

I’m currently listening to a book on CD (errr, rather .wma, since I’ve checked it out from my local public library via netLibrary and am listening to it via the DRM-filled magic of Windows Media Player – but that’s another post entirely) called “Way With Words: Writing, Rhetoric, and the Art of Persuasion” that brought up an interesting point in the 4th lecture on Audience. The professor, Michael Drout, used the term “common discourse” to explain why you should go beyond knowing who your audience is and actually understand what the common culture of the audience. He used magazine articles as an example – read the magazine and understand what type of language is used (jargon; plain English; first, second or third person; etc.) and what conventions the audience expects. Since you can’t know who exactly will be in your audience, the next best thing would be to cater to what they expect from you. This comes on the heels of a post by Aaron Schmidt, of the Walking Paper blog that gives tips for being a good presenter. Michael Stephens saw that post and pointed to his own collection of tips for presenting at Tame The Web.
All of these things came together for me this morning in a sort of synthesis of information – which I’m going to share with you. Dr. Drout was referring to audience as a writer or speaker, Aaron and Michael were talking about speaking and presenting and this blog tends to talk about (when it’s not overtaken by conference posts) web sites and web site design. All of these creative endeavors require that you take into account your “audience” – but none of them have a well-defined audience at all. Anyone can read a magazine article, show up for a presentation or visit a web site. You may have a vague idea of the type of people who will show up (librarians interested in webby 2.0 stuff, such as the last conference I attended), but even within a fairly limited audience range, you will find vast differences in technological abilities, interests and understanding. Because of this difference, “writing for your audience” becomes pretty much useless advice.
Instead of writing for a particular audience type, check out the audience’s expectations via the common discourse. Use Slideshare to see what kinds of presentations were given at the last conference at which you are speaking; read a back issue or two of a magazine for which you want to write; visit similar or competing web sites that do much the same thing as the web site you are about to design/write copy for/etc. This will require a bit more work on our part as content creators, but it will – hopefully – improve the effects our words/presentations/sites have on our audience – and that’s the point of doing all this writing/presenting/web site creating, right?

IL Overview

Now that I’ve been back from Internet Librarian for a couple of days, I’m ready to write the final overview post for the conference. My big take-aways from this conference were the theme of experience – libraries & librarians providing experiences, not just service – and the absolute utility of Twitter. It seemed like many of the presentations I went to discussed the need for libraries to provide experiences for their patrons, not just books or “customer service”. The obvious presentation was David Lee King’s Designing The Digital Experience, a presentation based on his new book, aptly named “Designing The Digital Experience“. While his presentation was all about the experience, there were other presentations that just touched on the idea – but so many of them did that it stood out to me as a theme for this year.
As for the utility of Twitter – one anecdote comes to mind as the defining moment for the conference. One of my Twitter “tweeps” (twitter + peeps) sent out a tweet announcing $3 margaritas at a local establishment in Monterey. Within 20 minutes there were at least 20-25 people wandering in saying that they had heard that there were cheap drinks available (and yes, I was one of them…). One of our keynote speakers, Harold Rheingold – author of “Smart Mobs” – spent some time discussing the rise of groups of people who congregate where ever the tweet, text message or other “update” message says their friends are. This was definitely a case of a smart mob of librarians getting together for excellent conversation over so-so margaritas.
Finally, I did spend a good number of bytes complaining about the wireless access at IL 2008 this year. I stand behind that – I didn’t get a really good wireless signal until the last half of the last day of the conference. On the other hand, this year’s conference included a “blogger’s row” of tables set up at the front and back of every room. They were a really good idea (though they would have been more useful if we’d have had wireless access…) and something that I’d like to see at more conferences. The conference, in general, was useful and – as always – the bar/restaraunt/hallway conversations were among the most useful parts of the conference – because of the quality folks that attend this quality conference!

Liz Lawley – Technical/Tangible/Social – Closing Keynote
Liz sees libraries moving to being just “behind a screen” – we need to embrace the tangible as well as the virtual. “social proprioception” – term that Clive Thompson used (Liz loves his skills as a tech journalist) in regards to Twitter – it’s the general sense we have of ourselves in the world. Twitter, Facebook statuses, etc. do this for us. Location is important because we still care where things are – tangible stuff is still important to us. She then talked about ambient information (much of the same stuff that Michael Porter talked about yesterday) and said that this background info helps us to keep track of information around us – not necessarily in the forefront of our attention, but keeping us aware. Home Joule from ambient devices – it’s all cool. Avialabot ( it falls over when your buddies IM status becomes unavailable and stand up again when they come back. She showed video and it was hysterically funny. She continued the ambient, but tangible, gadgets with a Chumby.
Nebaztag – smart rabbit that can keep track of your stuff and talks to you, glows, and is way cool. Next came the mir:ror – an RFID tag reader with an USB interface. It does specific tasks when it encounters an RFID tag – and they sell stickers with RFID tech embedded within it. “give powers to your objects”. Next is botanicalls – stick the sensors in a plant and it will Tweet you when they need watering and thank you after it’s done. Check the “pothos” twitter account – 441 followers getting updates about that plant. The Arduino is an USB circuit board that is open source, programmable and comes with a community to support – lets you build your own *stuff*. It can sense humidity (used in the botanicalls above), light levels, etc.
She then showed us the Make: and Craft: – 2 magazines that all libraries should be subscribing to. She showed – a knitting social networking site – and which is a marketplace for handmade stuff. She next went to Moo cards – tangible representations of our Flickr/websites/other web stuff. Lulu – self-publishing, create book portfolios of websites you have done for an interview.
Social hardware – little, travel-sized power strips – social in a tangible way, not necessarily a social way. Libraries can play a role in bringing people together in a geolocal way around tangible objects.
She finished up with a couple of library cafes and the fact that a welcoming, physical space that is technologically enabled (wifi,etc.) and social –these are popular spaces!

What’s hot with RSS – Steven Cohen

Readers – not much new – Feedly, changes the Google reader experience – enhances, no real “new stuff”. Allows tweeting directly from the reader. Firefox introduced Snowl and it really failed.
Google reader is becoming more popular – he went through some of the features including the Mobile and Most Obscure features in the Trends. Searching feeds is cool – Cohen thinks that Google should get into searching because they are doing a good job with searching through your feeds
What’s going on with RSS these days? Lifestreaming (FriendFeed & Tumblr) – Tumblr’s features allow you to push the info to an URL that you own.
RSS Tools:
• Feed Sidebar in Firefox
• Libworm
• Techmeme
• YouTube – search YouTube*term*.rss
• Twitter Search
• Open Congress – seach by person, bill, issue or whatever and get updates every time something happens
• Justia Dockets
• Justia Case Alerts
• Ebay – 3rd party tool –
• Delicious Tags
• E-Lis
• Google News, Blogs
• Flickr Tags
Page2RSS – get RSS feed of changes for any page – whether they have a feed or not. [ed note – this going into Pipes would make things really easy – no more scraping for data yourself!]
Update Scanner – scans for updates (Firefox extension) on any page and highlights the changes
Staying current – sites he uses to stay current – check the link above
Know who your FOL’s are and do good shit for them.
Showed Firefox extension called ScreenGrab which lets you save part of a page as an image. Next was Cool Iris – lets you open a new browser window easily, next shows

Petcha Kutcha

I’m not going to be able to take notes about these – the format is 4 people doing 20 slides for 20 seconds each – I’ll just note the topics…
Rebecca Jones – Planning: Passionate about getting from where you are to where you want to be
Stephen Abram – Trendspotting Weak Signals from the future
David Lee King – The Librarian… Is The Product
Nancy Dowd – A Marketing Manifesto: A foundation for planning

Crafting the User-Centered library – Cliff Landis

It’s not enough to just create an account anymore, and it’s not enough to shove your bad services into a new space. He’ll talk about new ways of planning & implementing things today. Why use emerging tech? Outreach & service – we need to get away from designing for the user and start designing by the user. How do we approach new ideas? Planning approach – takes too long, jump through hoops, eventual success or failure – slow! Committee approach – take an idea and destroy it.
Association professionals through the ages video from YouTube – very funny!
The evolving library – where we are headed – try, assess, reflect, repeat ad victorium.
Action steps:
• Try – Yoda was wrong
• Be fast – try to do it within 3 months
• Be human – be real, be patient with yourself
• Don’t over-plan
• Assess – assess our relationship with our users and their relationships with our services
• Write assessment into your plans
• Get user feedback – and use it
Write a 3-minute plan – who will coordinate, what are we trying out, when it will be complete, how do we know it will be successful. Be willing to fail – spectacularly! What made your most amazing user experience amazing? Use that information to fix things and improve things
How to gather the tools – surveys, focus groups, user observations (jing), have conversations
How to gather your volunteers – have something to offer, get out of your library, remember that everyone loves to give their opinions, embrace the power of selling out – get some free stuff by doing a bit of advertising, offer swag (pickups at conference)
Implementation – something will go wrong, it’s ok.
Get the boss’ buy-in: data & stories, make it publishable – The Practice of Social Research by Earl R. Babbie is a good book to help you with getting the data into publishable form
Do it half-assed – you need the data and don’t need to wait ‘til its perfect! You can always refine & redo later.
Being user-centric – our users are the center of our universe, but we aren’t the center of theirs…
Be willing to do the work
Evolution will take care of the bad ideas. Create a culture of innovation – be brave and stop the naysayers in your library
Question time:
Talk a bit about how you set up a structure for getting user feedback? They are dealt with in meetings and spread as far as possible, reflected back to the users, and told to everyone who will sit and listen.
How do you deal with people who aren’t coming up with ideas and aren’t forthcoming? Ask ‘em what the hell they are doing if they aren’t coming up with new ideas.
What do you do about haters? Let ‘em hate – that’s why they are called haters, they are out there to hate, let them do that and don’t listen to ‘em.
How do you deal with the librarian who is still working in the libraries of 20 years ago? Expose them to new ideas, telling them what you are doing and what kind of ideas you are being exposed to (audience member said to pair them with new librarians with fresh ideas)
Do you have an opinion on pop-up surveys? No, he tries to stay away from those, finds them annoying – he’d rather people be pulled to a survey than have it pushed on ‘em.
What made his library’s blog so awesome, that everyone wanted to participate? Giving folks freedom will get them excited about the blog – let them go with what they want to write about.

Social Media & Networked Technologies: Research & Insights – danah boyd

I’ve been looking forward to seeing this particular keynote since I heard danah (this is how she spells it – no caps – even on international capslock day) was going to be here at the conference.
She began her talk by telling us that she wants to talk about what’s going on with different kinds of social media and how to apply it. Web 2.0 – tech crowd sees it as a shift in development/deployment – a change in the way you get information out there. Web 2.0 – business crowd sees it as hope, coming right after the big crash.
Social network sites include: profiles (change from being “an IP address” to a digital body), public articulation of friends (used as social leveraging – getting social acceptance in return for being in the “top 8 friends”), comments – or wall – section (form of social grooming, even when their comments are banal and dull), status updates (peripheral awareness of everything that’s going on around you).
What are people doing on these sites? All kinds of social purposes – gossiping, flirting, making sure people around you are ok – stuff that we used to do because we were allowed to go out in physical public spaces, kids today really don’t have that kind of freedom because of fear.
“If you’re not on MySpace, you don’t exist” – Skyler (16, Chicago)
Properties of social spaces:
• Persistence – what you say sticks around
• Replicability – copy and paste things from one place to another
• Scalability – potential to reach millions with the reality of reaching pretty much nobody, possibility of broadcast but not necessarily the ability
• Searchability – you can make yourself searchable – or not
• Invisible audiences – public articulation of friends is an articulation of their perceived audience
• Collapsed contexts – socializing with different people in different contexts, but in the same place
• Public = Private –
What does this mean? A change in both social and information ecologies. Wikipedia is the most transparent information creation project EVER. Teach our young people how to read the information & histories in Wikipedia – teach them media literacy.
This is an attention economy – what bubbles up isn’t necessarily the best, but what gets the most attention.
3 points where intervention are desperately needed:
• Net Neutrality – all bits are created equal – she is a Comcast customer and she can’t use YouTube at all
• DRM –, runs the risk of killing off the ability for people to interact with text
• Defending Fair Use – it’s only a defense, you have to be sued before it comes into play
Web 2.0 is going to become very mobile – cluster effects aren’t happening because of a lack of mobile standards, we need to get over that.
Technology is radically reshaping public spaces and “public” as we know it.

Ubiquitous Computing & Library Futures – Chris Peters & Michael Porter

Michael started it off with introductions, then Chris introduced himself – they both pimped their and sites
Ubiquitous computing – a model of human-computer interaction in which info processing has been thoroughly integrated into everyday objects & activities. Computing happens when and where we need it – enabled by calm tech that just works
64G flash drive was $5469.99 in Oct. of 2006, in July of 08 that same storage was down to $300 and TB hard drives at Best Buy this month are $69.99. Ubiquitous computing in library – RFID tech. eye-fi card is another example of UC (Ubiquitous Computing). Ambient umbrella – wireless connection gives a weather update via the color of the handle. Wow.
Convergence – phones, hardware, software. Android phone is one example. Lederhosen with iPod controls in the pockets – Michael is gonna start wearing more lederhosen, now that he knows how cool they are. Chumby – passive, UC.
SatTV, Slingbox, Apple TV – all pretty much UC. Pico Projector + infrared keyboard + phone pen = UC.
• Ubicomp – Ubiquitous Computing
• Pervasive Computing
• Ambient Intelligence
• The Internet of things
Visions of UC
• Low cost info processing embedded in everyday objects
• Post-PC environment
• Computers should be invisible and unintrusive
• Tech should create calm
• Embedded
• Context Aware
• Personalized
• Adaptive
• Anticipatory
• Happens at the scale of The Body, The Room, The Building – different levels
What trends & tech will power UC
• Cheap info processing
• Cheap memory & storage
• Wireless networking
• Interoperability and open standards
• Universal addressability
• Sensors
• Position awareness
• Power
The above list includes hurdles, too – those are issues that we’ll have to perfect before UC is really *here*.
Spimes (space & time concepts combined into one made-up word)
• Everyday objects have
o Location awareness
o Social awareness
o Time awareness (history)
Examples of calm technology: picture of a scene that pays attention to your email inbox, as email comes in, more people show up in the picture; umbrella that glows to give you the weather report – glowing handle means that you need it; Ambient orb – changes colors based on stock market prices. Examples of location based services: showing specific coupons for restaurants within a block of where you are.
• Digital fabricators
• Rapid prototypers
• 3-D printer
• Desktop manufacturer
Biotelemetry – computers that keep track of your vital signs – picture Chris showed was embedded in the toilet – it does urinalysis on the spot, measures body fat and takes your blood pressure while you are sitting there. Brain wave controlled wheelchairs – cool stuff…
Library applications
• Location-based reference
• Anticipatory reference
• Information therapy
• Emotion mapping of the library
• Community manufacturing center with a 3-D printer
Slides at, links at

Solving the Interest Problem – Kelly Czarnecki & Cliff Landis

Cliff started with a quote from the ‘net from someone asking if there is some kind of rental store for books – is this the user or the library failing. Bookswim is competition for us – we don’t trust our own users so we don’t do this. Users are willing to pay for this kind of service. Valdosta, where Cliff works, just did some user testing and found that things that are obvious to us are obviously not obvious to the library’s users. Sex, drugs & disease – gets attention and interest immediately. Beware the super-user ego-hug – really grateful and really heavy users of the library – watch out for assuming that everyone can figure things out just because they have. We also forget about the “out” part of outreach – do more advertising to people who aren’t already in your building – have a conversation with your non-users. Find out why they aren’t using your stuff!
Cliff is talking about teachable moments – I had one of those last night. The security at the karaoke bar was talking about getting a computer soon and being able to find the pictures online – once he got his computer – of us crazy library-types. I told him to get his butt down to the Monterey Public Library and do a Flickr search. Teachable moment!! Next he mentioned that we need to remember to ask our users for how they want to be contacted, etc. Picture of a porcupine with a tube on its head and the caption “utube – ur doin it wrong” got some big laughs.
Talking about user studies – use Jing or something to record their screen.
Kelly started talking about her library’s “Mobile Literacy Vehicle” equipped with laptops and staff to go out to underserved neighborhoods to do programs and such. Their other project is outreach to incarcerated populations – they do have some who come to the library after they’ve served their time. They also do these through virtual outreach – some of the kids have access to computers so they meet there occasionally. They also have an account with OPAL ( where they offer information and outreach for their – and other – libraries. They stream some of their programs so that they are available for people even when they are unable to attend. Ustream ( helps with that as well. They are also developing an Alternate Reality game to advertise their “one book” program.
Take homes:
• Market the library outside the library
• Find out what your (non)users want and need
• Are you doing it right? Measure and find out
• Involve staff in fundraising efforts of the library
• Develop out of the box partnerships
• Blend the traditional/nontraditional
• Create blogs and sites that are interactive
• Hire non library staff for programs and other perspectives
Question time!
How are they developing their alternative reality game ? It’s still being developed, but they’ll have a blog (written by one of the main characters in the book, To Kill A Mockingbird) that will be the main “starting point” for the game. They’ll have phone numbers that will have messages that will help people get farther into the game. Puzzles and clues will branch out from there.
What kinds of user behaviors did you see during testing? Cliff said that he noticed about 2 minutes of attention, then they’ll skip over to Google
How do you respond to a website that is imposed on you? Valdosta’s library goes wild – within the constraints that the University gives ‘em
What is the best way for a library to learn about their users’ interests? Cliff said that conversations are the best – he pays attention to the patrons and occasionally just sits there and smiles at folks and strikes up conversations with them instead of working and appearing busy at the desk. Kelly gets to play with stuff at her library and that play gets teens and kids interested and
Kelly asked if there are any success stories from folks in the audience.
Susan, an audience member, said that they provide books to kids who are waiting to see their incarcerated parents
Eunice gives away dictionaries (used & picked up a garage sales) to anyone who asks to use the library’s dictionary.