When I write, talk about and present on social tools, media distribution and library futures I ALWAYS talk about functionality. Brand names are important but *functionality* is what really matters. It has always been my strong opinion that LIBRARIES need to be creating the spaces where people interact with each other the way they do on facebook/Twitter etc. Why?
Facebook, and a dozen other for profit orgs, reaches too deeply into our REAL lives and connections to be held responsible to business principles/concerns only. Meanwhile, library orgs understand community and the deeper issues of privacy and democracy more than any company tasked with making profit ever could. But quite frankly, we (the entire library industry) generally stink at software development. Happily though, for thoughtful (and talented) software development companies, library folks get privacy and the sacred trust of protecting information (and therefore democracy at large) in ways that would escape most any other professional. The understanding libraries have here is built into our mission statements and policies. These aren’t vague promises or “statements” to “not be evil” that have no teeth when it comes to how we operate in our communities. No, these policies and practices demonstrate understanding of and commitment to protecting privacy all the while focusing on developing communities for the benefit of the community at large. Once a company like facebook get the critical mass it has now, this sort of consideration must be part of its operational intent. If not, there will be dire consequences for our society.
So will we make the next sea change as an industry or will we get cast about by the whims of info fads, social buzz, and shiny tools…at the cost of our core democratic principles? Or, just maybe, can we find a work together for the betterment of all involved…
And to Twitter, facebook, etc, I would personally challenge you to approach us, and work with us. Step up and be more than a business. You have a powerful impact and your promise is inspiring…in much the same way libraries are inspiring (after all we are both all about information and community, aren’t we?). In many ways you already are fulfilling your promise, but you are treading on dangerous ground for society at large if you don’t guard information based on a higher set of principles than business success. We want to work with you, honestly. Please get in touch with us. Heck, start with me here! I can get a slew of us together to help you and we’ll all be better organizations for it.
Libraries have to get people what they want, when they want it, and in the format they want it. People care about content, not container. And libraries have to figure out how to do better. Why with the ranting on this same topic?
In chewing it over the past few days, I realized that I can count on one two hands the number of times I remember being really stunned by something on the internet. A moment of “a-ha!” or “YES!” or “I had no idea this could be done” and even a couple “I KNEW it would happen!”‘s. Last week I had one of those moments. I have to admit that I was disappointed in myself for not knowing about this service sooner considering that I have subscribed to similar (as similar as possible) services for years to test their functionality and content libraries. This, though, well, this freaked me out. Think about library circulation in the face of THIS content distribution model: “Any song, any time, for free”. Hummina hummina hummina! It isn’t perfect, but I put it through some paces for a couple of hours and am very impressed. I still heart Pandora and getting CDs from my local library, but still…. Even if it is made to go away for legal or copyright issues at some point in the future, think about functionality. This, well, this just blew my mind: http://listen.grooveshark.com/
The functionality isn’t really *that* different, than services like Rhapsody, MusicMatch (RIP), last.fm, etc, but the model of input into the stream seems to be tweaked a bit. And the pure joy of instant music gratifications will hit you on the head in the most glorious way. It’s funny how looking at something you know fairly well, through a slightly different lens can focus you minds eye more clearly and even turn your attention and work in different directions. Maybe grooveshark won’t freak you out too, but my mind has been all atwitter this week because of it.
And speaking of atwitter…..
Love Twitter? Sick of Twitter? Don’t care about twitter but heard about it a lot? Watch this!
So cool! A mosaic of your followers on twitter! It is a happy feeling to see all your friends and colleagues on Tiwtter in one image this way. Definitely a warm fuzzy. Hmmm…. maybe I’ll print and frame it…
Twitter vs. frendfeed. The definition and debate could rage (or not be cared about perhaps, lol). But taking all that debate out and forcing a simple choice between the two, which is a better tool?
So the exact question was: “friendfeed vs. twitter Even if it is apples to oranges, in an all or nothing cage match, who wins?”
The answers I got from Libraryland via twitter were:
The answers I got from friendfeed were:
My vote would go to friendfeed btw, though having a few choices for the way the information is visually displayed on the screen would be useful imo. On second thought, twitter,please buy friend feed and stick your designers on that interface. You could then take the folks on the ff team that prevent their version of the fail whale from appearing and put them to good use. Sorry twitter, had to tease you a bit there.
Now playing: Testify – Rage Against The Machine
Passing Me By – The Pharcyde
A couple of months ago I blogged about twitter and the beauty of the “fail whale”. So I sent them a link to my post and said that I really would buy said fail whale shirt should they sell them. To my great surprise they replied just a couple of days later saying “We don’t have those, but how about an official twitter shirt?” To which I very happily replied “Oh my! Yes, please!!”. I then sat back and imagined my geek cred level rising once I started strutting around in my new, yet unseen shirt. And what do you know, just two days later that this little number arrived:
I hadn’t actually worn it until today though, so it wasn’t twitter that was slow in responding, but me that was slow in posting their rapid reply.
Oh, and after they sent the shirt I learned that the “fail whale” designer actually sells shirts (and other assorted swag).
Also, while reading the latest issue of “Technology Review” magazine (one of my very faves btw), there was a behind the scenes tour of the twitter office. I didn’t see any of these shirts in the images though. *link* though registration is required to view.
Finally, I would again humbly request that you SEND IN YOU WEB CAM LIP SYNCH VIDEO for our (David Lee King and I) library song “hi-fi sci-fi library”. Info here. Have fun with it! And thank you! What are you people, camera shy? Puh-lease!!!! C’mon, I DARE you to do it!