January 14, 2010

Living Digital Symposium (part 3)

ALCTS Symposium, ALA Midwinter Meeting, January 14, 2010

John Palfrey – Born Digital

noticed during the round robin discussions how many hats librarians are having to wear
the idea that there’s no one discipline that can answer a problem

busting myths about digital natives
not all kids relate to information and technology in the same way – there is no one digital generation
there are elite kids who go to schools like Harvard who are technical, they use the tools, they can teach us lots of stuff, and do awesome things
that’s who we think of as the digital natives generation
these are only a subset of the population, though
but it’s about what Henry Jenkins talks about – the participation gap

and of course, it’s not just the kids
lots of us use technology in advanced ways
the current terms aren’t adequate – many of us are “digital settlers”

the social life of kids today is changing very quickly – how kids create digital identity
kids don’t distinguish between their online and offline identities
and they’re creating all the time in this converged environment

most kids are looking down at their laptops
multitasking is part of their culture
is there a difference between multitasking and switchtasking?

the way they relate to information is a presumption that the nature of media is digital
-pictures, YouTube, and increasingly print
presumption that they’re full text searchable, too

they also expect that they can do something social with that media
these technologies were developed by young people for young people
the creativity is not just in how the tools are used but in creating the tools, too

– intellectual property
a large group of the techie kids are getting their music free online & they know it’s wrong
the power of social norms trumps the law
we can give them all these great services, lock things down, etc., but these kids are showing us that they’re going to do what they want to anyway
– credibility
asked kids where they go for information; if it’s for a course, they check the course books; otherwise, they open a web browser, searched google, and scanned the results for the wikipedia entry
the most sophisticated kids knew not to trust the wikipedia entry and would triangulate with other information and links
on the other hand, other kids just copied and pasted it verbatim into the paper
– information overload
they’re getting their information through osmosis online

the Google Book Settlement is a crucial piece of the future for libraries
libraries as publishers – we’re not just creating a space or information
emphasize ways to collaborate as publishers in these information zones for young people
they don’t start with our resources that we’re building as publishers – they get there through search engines
Google Scholar is a way through this zone
is that a good idea? should we think about our own forms of search engines and interfaces? should we partner with one huge player? have to think about our role

there is enormous growth in print on demand
a lot of it is self-publishing and in the academic space (course books), but there’s also a reason to believe machines (like Espresso) will be supplanted by the kindle and ebook readers
in five years, these machines will have an enormous impact on libraries
it’s not just the young people who are born digital – it’s the information, too
they may still prefer a physical object as a book

have to think not just like social scientists or librarians but also like architects
one of the things we have not yet done is describe the digital library in the same way we do the physical one
you’d hire an architect for a physical building and describe it in a visionary way
we don’t do that for the digital library, even though half of users may come not come through the front door of the building
need to come up with a design that’s inspiring and isn’t digital only
we can be wildly successful at bringing people into libraries and providing services if we do this

question from audience: tension between libraries and privacy with this generation
answer: john was blown away by how strong the ethos of privacy is in the library community; in young people, privacy expectations are changing very quickly; they do care about privacy, but it’s highly contextual; they care about it in certain ways (keep info from their mom but fine with a million people seeing it); because there’s such a strong ethos, this is a great teaching area for librarians

question: when social norms trump law, how do we define when that’s okay?
answer: just because everybody does it doesn’t make it okay; analogically, is file sharing like underage drinking? we don’t have a good answer for this. we’ve come up with a lot of different scenarios, but we’re at a moment where copyright gets more stringent while the social norms swing the other way

John Wilkin – Thinking and Acting Globally to Better Serve Local Needs: the Michigan Digital Library

digital libraries have just completed an unremarkable decade
are we getting our resources into the right place to reach users?
70% of OAIster content was missing from Google
our stubborn refusal to deny a discovery resource

What Is Hathi Trust?

Jenny: sorry – this is where I had to deal with something outside of the symposium, so I don’t have notes after this point

3:32 pm Comments Off on Living Digital Symposium (part 3)

Living Digital Symposium (part 2)

ALCTS Symposium, ALA Midwinter Meeting, January 14, 2010

John Yemma – Going Web-first at The Christian Science Monitor

The CSM reports the news but also tries to help find solutions
“The Economist with heart”
like every news organization, they’re struggling
moving off the CS Church subsidy in five years and have to create a sustainable model
moved to only one day print
3 publications now – the daily news briefing (2000 subscribers), print, web
the newsroom now feeds all three of these products, but feeds the web first
have boosted their traffic 50% year over year
now that they’ve broken out of the print design paradigm, all of their efforts are decoupled from print and assets are put directly against the web (SEO, more timely news moment-to-moment)
new content management system facilitating all of this
when you move to web first, you have to democratize content creation (not just HTML so that non-technical people can publish on the web)
building a strong community strategy, particularly on Facebook
do a lot of online research, feedback research
they’re essentially on a weekly newsmagazine schedule (big shift for a formally print newspaper)
moving to a harder news approach
new marketing effort for the Daily News Briefing

the web is not just destination websites, replicas of print products
the digital generation we know isn’t living on destination websites
disaggregation is the world we’re dealing with now
we’re also at the end of the internet growth area, which means it will be a struggle since the barriers to entry are so low
very difficult to put general news behind a pay wall
everyone is a journalist; the glory days of journalism are gone (which is good in a way)
thinks rules should be relaxed to let newspapers own a cable channel
it’s an interactive publishing medium now and adaptation is the only way to go

Tom Corbett – Collection Development in an all Digital Age

when he shows kids you can increase the text size on the kindle, they look at him funny and don’t get it
they’re doing a lot of recreational reading on the kindles
started his job at cushing academy and then got on the rollercoaster of having his efforts labeled as “the end of reading”
the decision had already been made to make the library digital before he started (although he did agree with it)

Ann Wolpert – Is There an App for that? Digital Natives and the Information Commons

she’s looking forward to the day Tom’s students get to MIT and looks at the complex structure of services and asks “is there an app for this?”

no longer have clear answers about how we define “the library” anymore and what it is
now we’re faced with the challenge of creating new definitions

3 things that are profoundly different because of the internet than what we’re used to in the past
1. networks (the internet) moves content from the center to the edge
2. fundamental changes in the way people assess and value information; the perception that if it’s not on the internet, it doesn’t exist
3. lets libraries customize the services they provide to their constituencies; our model used to be we build it and you come to us; for the first time, the internet gives us the chance to ask who our patrons are, let them come to us over the internet, and lets us design services for this

every generation is different and the same
information seeking behavior is learned (MIT says that learning now comes from Amazon and Google & other commercial entities who have their own models and purposes)
remember the heated debate about using calculators in the classroom?

peter drucker said of not-for-profits that the primary purpose is to attract customers; you have no reason to exist if that’s not your goal

those aspects which are different deserve our creative attention
– digital natives will live in online communities
– experience with technology will be amazingly varied
– exposure to norms of scholarship likewise plagiarism, source evaluation, and rigor
– naive users equate applications facility with advanced expertise in all domains

what a good information commons will be mission-based:
– librarians are educators who partner with other educators in the process of instructing a community, both formally and informally, about information and how you use it well
– libraries are service-providers; technology is completely insufficient without context and support
– good polices are essential; have to also remain flexible and adaptable (now switching to a financial model)

(then I spoke about gaming in libraries)

10:14 am Comments (1)

Living Digital Symposium (part 1)

ALCTS Symposium, ALA Midwinter Meeting, January 14, 2010

Margaret Ashida – Going Global in the Knowledge Economy

the global economy is a knowledge economy
agriculture –> goods –> services (shifting economices over time, now it’s services)

(one person raised her hand when asked if there were any digital natives in the room – yay!)

today’s students are very different and are not the ones our education system is designed to teach
today’s social networks and tools are important for recruiting and engaging with prospective employees now
there’s no expectation anymore that you’ll stay at the same company for 30 years
have to give employees the feeling that their work matters
IBM let all employees chat online with the CEO

(there have been so many studies about this stuff now that there are studies saying, please – no more studies
mastery of science, technology, math is vitally important for all of our kids
“the opportunity equation” – took a lot of these studies to another level (Carnegie Corporation)
– aligned the recommendations by stakeholder groups
first STEM students will come out of the program in 2011 – 166,000 of them
momentum is building around the country around STEM
more than 150 schools now

teaching innovation is a major focus
more than 500 stakeholders in the Rochester STEM program
“need to embed STEM learning from twinkle to wrinkle”

North Carolina’s design principles:
1. make STEM literacy & economic opportunity attainable for ALL NC students as soon as possible
2. drive scalable and sustainable innovations for continuous improvement
3. focus on success at a higher level & empower communities along with their educators to innovate
4. empower & support a culture that nurtures the creation of innovative STEM professionals
5. incubate supports collaboration & network behavior for STEM excellence through knowledge capture

“think globally and act locally”

Kevin Guthrie – When Books are Bytes, What Adds Value?

Ithaka is a not-for-profit org dedicated to helping the academic community (JSTOR, PORTICO,Ithaka S+R)

universities become dramatically more accessible and will be drawn more into commerce
commerce is drawn into the world of the academy; it’s never impacted the academy in these ways before (especially scholarly communication)
systems were oriented towards serving scholars, but now that the knowledge is digital and uses a common network, the scholar uses Amazon to search for a book, not the library – that’s new
scholars used tools designed for them – the lines are blurring now
the network is now ubiquitous
the pace of innovation is on internet time
today’s value added is tomorrow’s commodity – anybody can hire a vendor to do something
content is moving to the wire

compared Blockbuster (physical infrastructure) and NetFlix (distribution network, customer service focus)
analogy to libraries

libraries can’t depend on the centrality of their building as a source of value in the provision of information
it’s still very valuable, but by itself it’s not value for disseminating knowledge
it has to have service layers on top of it & libraries have to compete to serve their natural constituencies

journals have made the transition to the electronic environment
evolutionary innovation, not transformative innovation
libraries are doing this, too

what about books, though?
the transition from the objects to the bits
the value in moving physical objects is going down
journals are very specialized; books are not specialized to the academy like journals
the tools and capabilities provided are likely to be optimized for a non-academic audience

in this environment, the advantage goes to scale
what needs to be a specialized resource? we keep thinking some things need to be specialized, but then we watch Google come in and do it “good enough”

there is a tension to be managed between serving your institution or a broader audience
how do you justify the local bills when offering digital collections globally? how do you match the constituencies who pay with those you serve?
pressures on costs make this a more challenging question
can the university really say our mission is to serve the world?

great evolutionary change, but haven’t seen transformative change yet (will come with ubiquitous network, when users use the network to do scholarship in creative ways – not just a better way of doing what we always did)

a race to providing many-to-many ineractions, sharing, and research support tools that assist the knowledge creation process (in contrast to approaches focused primarily on knowledge dissemination)

as more content & knowledge go digital, pressure on libraries & publishers to add value through the specialized services they provide to researchers & students (as opposed to assistance in the use of physical objects)

question from audience: when will books really become digital?
answer: there are likely to be two phases. google book search said, hey this is possible. before that, most people said all of the content would never be digitized. we don’t have to wait until it’s all there, so the pressure will come when the readers are good enough. that market is growing, so the commercial pressures will wash over us at that point. that’s maybe 3 years away. the upper demographic is using the readers, and the younger ones are using the iphone. but it won’t be because every book is available digitally and freely

question: what about the role we play in contextualizing resources? do people value the JSTOR classification scheme?
answer: there’s too much information already, and there’s only going to be more. the quesiton kevin doesn’t know how to answer right now is tools – at some level, tools want to go to the cloud/network level; believes in the value of the face-to-face interaction and understanding needs; contextualizing locally will have value, but you have to make investments to understand the needs of that community. how do I understand what I can do for my local constituents because I’m here physically in this area – that’s where nobody can compete with me.

See Also: Ithaka’s Case Studies in Sustainability

9:03 am Comments (2)

January 11, 2010

One Approach to Org Twitter Accounts

I’ve been mulling over this post for several weeks now, but a conversation that happened on Twitter today prompted me to finally write and publish it. It started when Kenley Neufeld wrote a post about participating in ALA and tweeted the link. Cyndi E. engaged Kenley in a conversation about ALA following its members back on Twitter, which led Kenley to ask ALA’s Midwinter Meeting account what its follow policy is.

what's your follow policy?

Well, I work for ALA, and I run that account (along with three others), plus my personal one. The “royal” ALA has no official social media policy, although there is an internal staff task force working on one. I’m not on that group and I haven’t wanted to step on any toes, which is why I haven’t said much online about this topic, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought through some things for the accounts I manage. Given today’s conversation, I thought I’d share my approach and solicit feedback for what you think is and isn’t working.

Before I go any further, though, I want to note that I kind of fly by the seat of my pants with this stuff at work. I already have a couple of full time roles (as does pretty much everyone at ALA HQ), and tracking what’s said about MPOW online is pretty near impossible these days. Amongst the good and bad about the American Library Association, the term “ALA” also gets used for A List Apart (especially when they publish a new issue), the abbreviation for “Alabama” in news reports, Ala Moana in Honolulu, ala mode, “ala” meaning “in the style of,” in Spanish, and more. I do the best I can, but no one person could catch it all unless it was their only job responsibility. I know a lot of folks struggle to get support from the top in their organization, and I’m lucky that this isn’t one of the battles I have to fight.

All of which is my way of saying, your mileage may vary, even within ALA. These are just my thoughts for how I’m handling four Twitter accounts at work, and I’d love to hear how you think I could do this better. Maybe this list willl even give you some procedural ideas for your own institution’s efforts.

I mainly monitor and manage Twitter and FriendFeed accounts, so that’s where I focus my efforts. I’m lucky that others have taken on the mantle of managing ALA’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Second Life, and YouTube presences. These are the guidelines I’ve been following for Twitter (I still need to implement most of these on FriendFeed).

  1. My goals for the accounts are to listen, answer questions, interact, and inform.
  2. I follow most public accounts that follow us, as long as its not a spammer, bot, or “social media expert” who has thousands of followers. I don’t have anything against the gurus, but they’re not the audience I want to interact with. It may take me a week to log in and follow all the new folks, but that’s my goal. I’m somewhat passive about this because of the lack of an easy way to handle followers from one source, although right now I’m actively trying to follow any human being who say they’re attending our Midwinter Meeting this week. I do this to make it easier to listen and respond, plus it gives these folks the ability to direct message us.
  3. The exception to rule #2 is that I don’t follow private accounts. I realize some folks make their accounts private to avoid spammers, but I can’t tell those from the folks who truly want their tweets to be private. As an organizational account that multiple staff members might have access to, I don’t want to expose those tweets or set up a situation where someone might accidentally retweet something private.
  4. I try to do more than just click a bookmarklet, so I’ll rephrase content to get it down to 130 characters or somehow add value to the headline of a press release. I try to be human and avoid marketing speak, and I don’t get hung up on capitalization, even though my undergraduate degree is in journalism.
  5. I do my best to shoot for 130 characters to provide for easy retweetability.
  6. Although this doesn’t apply to all organizations, I’m a big believer in the “right of first tweet.” Within ALA, there’s no one “master” Twitter account for the Association as a whole. Instead, every office, division, round table, etc., has its own account. In order to help build the audience for those accounts and give credit, I try to not announce news first that really belongs to other ALA units. Instead, I do my best to retweet their tweets. That doesn’t always happen, but I think it’s their right to have the first shot at it.
  7. Something new I’ve been trying lately is to avoid retweeting someone else’s content immediately after they tweet it, especially if they’ve used a hashtag. Instead, I use HootSuite to schedule the tweet at a different time of day in order to try to reach a different audience that may not have seen the original one. If it was a morning tweet, I’ll schedule the retweet for the afternoon, and vice versa.
  8. I’m currently using bit.ly to shorten URLs so that I can get statistics for how often links are being followed. I also try to use custom bit.ly URLs for links I know I’ll re-use a lot. I fervently wish HootSuite would get rid of the frames on its ow.ly service or at least give URL creators the option to turn them off. Until then, I’ll keep using bit.ly.
  9. I deliberately retweet from individuals, not just other ALA units or organizations. My take on it is that we’re all in this together, and we’re all part of the conversation. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll be retweeting everything posted to the #nopants tag. 😉
  10. Rather than counting the number of followers as a metric, I’ve started tracking conversations. I still haven’t found what I consider to be an optimal way to do this, but for the moment, I’m clipping tweets to a notebook in my Evernote account (I’m on the free service for now) so that I can find them again. Because it’s so difficult to track the term “ALA,” I haven’t found an easy way to report out what’s being said about us, other than by manually writing up an email.
  11. Personally, I have an unlimited text messaging plan (I <3 texting), so I use notify.me to have Twitter mentions sent to my phone via SMS so that I get immediate alerts when someone mentions or directs a tweet to one of the ALA accounts. If you don’t want to go the SMS route, you can have the notifications sent to an email address, instant messaging account, or to a desktop app/widget. And this setup doesn’t necessarily mean I respond right away, especially if I’m out with friends, watching a movie, or if it’s late at night. I’ve worked hard to balance my work and personal lives, and so far it’s working fairly well. But the notice gives me a heads up, and I can then assess the urgency.

Those are the various Twitter issues I’ve thought through so far. Based on some other problems that have come up at work, I have some general advice for other organizations using social sites.

  • Did you know that the person who creates a Facebook page can never be removed? Never, ever, ever, ever plus a day. The only way is to delete the person’s account, which an organization can’t do if it’s a personal account. So be careful about who creates your organization’s page(s), because you’ll never be able to remove that person as an admin. You can add other admins, but you can’t remove the original creator. Add my voice to the chorus of frustrated users who wish Facebook would change this policy yesterday.
  • Be very careful when you’re setting up your bit.ly links. If you accidentally paste in the wrong URL (which I’ve done), you can’t go back and change it. Ever, as in ever plus a day. If you mess up a custom URL, you’ll never be able to get it back. Ever. Did I mention ever?
  • And speaking of bit.ly, if you haven’t already done this, you might want to go grab the most obvious custom bit.ly URLs for your organization so that someone else doesn’t use/steal/hijack them. Especially if you want a short and easy way to point to your own site on Twitter and get statistics for number of clicks. You can decide if you want to do this on other URL shortening services, too.

So those are some quick thoughts that have been swimming around in my head. I’d love to hear your thoughts about how I can do this better, and what you’d like to see from the ALA accounts I run.

December 10, 2009

Interactive Signage at DOK

I know a lot of libraries (especially academic ones) have screens near the checkout area that patrons can read while they wait in line. I love the idea of making those signs interactive, although I’ll be interested to hear how the hardware holds up over time.

7:31 am Comments (1)

December 8, 2009

Libraries Greening Communities?

Last weekend we had an energy audit done on our house, a fascinating exercise to watch. Besides the fact that I was interested to see what our issues are, I was captivated by the equipment used. Being a geek, it was extra fun for me. 🙂

infrared camera
infrared camera

As the gentleman who performed the audit (Jim) worked, we had a lovely talk about a variety of things, including libraries. We talked about ebooks (he has a Kindle) and libraries (he thinks we’ll be cut out of the picture) and library services in general. Jim mentioned how he tries to work with organizations to improve energy efficiency, including libraries. Apparently he’s worked with Wisconsin libraries to give each one a wattmeter to circulate to residents who want to monitor their electricity (see this example).

Jim is eager to work with Illinois libraries to see what we could do to help patrons who want to do more to make their homes more energy efficient. Chicagoland libraries already circulate museum passes, some libraries still circulate art, and there are toy libraries, so why not this service? Several libraries are offering new gadgets for circulation (GPS devices, Flip video cameras, ebook readers), so lending technology isn’t new, either. There’s a lot of talk right now about green libraries, but can libraries green go that next step and help green their communities?

I love the idea, especially when combined with complementary programs, reading lists, and community connections. Are any libraries outside of Wisconsin offering this type of service? If you’re in Wisconsin, have patrons been using your wattmeter?

November 11, 2009

Return of the Cybrary

It’s blast from the past day for me. During various server moves, somewhere along the way we lost my first site, Jenny’s Cybrary to the Stars, which I ran from 1995-1999. The main highlight of the site was The Librarians’ Site du Jour, the original library blog.

Jenny's Cybrary to the Stars

So when a reader alerted me that the site was missing, I had to start looking through backups to find the original files. Because I hadn’t worked with the files in a decade, they weren’t on any of my recent backup drives. I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to recover them but in the end, I found them on my old Zip drive. Yep, that’s right – remember Zip drives? Backup 1.0 FTW!

Zip drive FTW!

Some fun pages from the Cybrary:

Sorry in advance for the yellow background – it was the early days. :-p

10:01 pm Comments (4)

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