Archive for the 'User Generated Content' Category

This still is taken from a promotional video about facebook*:
built by the people...for FACEBOOK

REALLY?
Well…maybe not so much.
You see, as things continue to evolve in relation to social networking and information access online, this premise starts to become something startlingly close to propaganda. And it is a premise I am beginning to disagree with more strongly. Why? Simply because facebook is a for-profit company. Their motivation as a business both officially and in practice is to make money. While I am positive there are many lovely people working there that are generous, kind and philanthropically minded, the bottom line is that facebook is a company that is very simply most interested in getting people to use their product; not so they can be useful to society, but so they can make money. And they will use they information they get from you to do just that. With no obligation beyond laws (largely constructed to facilitate money making in business) to guard your privacy. And they are under absolutely no obligation to return anything back to the community. Even if the *say* they are nice and want to do good, they are, in fact not formally bound to taking any actions in this regard.

Now, it is very true that facebook is an amazing service that many of us use, appreciate and are grateful to have access to (myself included). But society needs the opportunity to use these sorts of tools and features in a venue that both understands and guards privacy while at the same time protects information access rather then sells information paths of choice (through ads). An institution that is designed to build up the community it nurtures…you know, like libraries and schools.

And it goes beyond facebook-like tools (for community futures). I would suggest that Google-like tools (for search/basic information discovery) should have the same non-profit, ad-free (for the most part), purely motivated capacity as well for the greatest public benefit.

Problem is, when it comes to the future of libraries, and modern/connected civilization’s access to electronic (and physical) community and information access this is blatantly missing from the too dominant tools in electronic search (arguably, Google) and electronic community building (arguably, facebook). And what is missing is starting to feel more dramatic and chasm-like with each passing month.

Libraries need to continue (and significantly grow) their work as professional guardians of community access to information. This means we (libraries and library professionals) need to be the most highly trained facilitators the world has when it comes to information access, community connections, community interactions, privacy protection and electronic tools. You know, the things at the root of the popularity of tools like facebook and Google. The things libraries have been best at for decades (sans the electronic tools part, which is our only real achilles heel in this scenario).

I wish both information professionals and society at large would really seriously think about this. And then act on it in an organized fashion. College professors, primary school teachers, parents, politicians, students and anyone else concerned about the positive growth of humanity should think about this. The “market” does not always dictate what works best for society and this is an instance that requires larger forces than “the market” to intercede. If that doesn’t happen, because of Google-ish and facebook-like tools, our free, unbiased access to information and community stands at risk. There is a potential crisis brewing here and there are not enough people talking about solutions to this crisis in the context mentioned in this post.

It becomes more clear to me with every passing month: some amalgam of social networking tools (like facebook) and for profit search tools (like Google) should be a non-profit that helps people along in their community and information access journeys. All the while guarding their privacy in ways facebook and Google would never dare. Perhaps opt-in’s for users to accept ads could be built into that system to generate revenue to support the system, but in a less integrated way that didn’t affect workforce in the manner it currently does, particularly on facebook at the moment.

So far, facebook has been thumped on here, but Google is in the same boat. Like almost all of you, I use Google almost every day as well. And I am grateful for Google. But words like “Don’t be evil” as a corporate “Code of Conduct” legally means NOTHING (as opposed to a library’s mission statement and governance structure) If you do believe Google cares about ideals more than money, ask who controls their purse strings. Or look at the official Google URL the describes their code: http://investor.google.com/conduct.html. investor.google.com tells us quite clearly where their corportae priorities exist. And what their official mission and business plan entails. Compare Google’s “Code of Conduct” to ANY mission statement** at a Public Library and ask yourself: “Who do YOU want to control and steer you along as you seek information?” Which point of view would most people choose to support given this information?

Misleading content like that in the facebook video above and things like the Google Librarian Librarian projects hold more potential threat than it would first seem. At recent ALA conferences the Google booth was a very popular stop. Many librarians eagerly made videos about how great Google was for libraries…and then *poof* Google disappears from Libraryland for almost a year on their project blog and are nowhere to be found at this years ALA conference. It is that we aren’t importnat enough customers to get Google to stick with us? Did they get what they wanted from us (support) until they didn’t need it anymore? Each side has it’s perspective, but I assure you, Google attends the conferences it feels it needs to. They certainly aren’t staying away because they are short on funds. It most certainly is, at the very least a curious case of unexplained absence. Not the thing to do in the electronic information and community access environment we find ourselves today. It seems that if Google clearly understood this and did have their mission at the front of their minds, they would have thought this through more carefully and acted accordingly.

To this information professional and electronic community activist, it comes down to this: Google and facebook are both businesses, out to make money. Libraries exist to serve their community with information access and community connection opportunities. If individuals or corporations like Google, facebook, etc, really want to get good things done with community, and if you truly care about community and information access, I would implore you to work with library and information professionals, library schools and organizations like OCLC and ALA. Give them resources, support their work with what you are good at, bind yourselves intimately to their success. THAT would do no evil! Most importantly I would ask you to support your local library. And do so in a way that guarantees that participation as long as your company thrives. THEN I will think about giving you wider support and endorsement and not just think of you as a case study in what Libraryland needs to do to succeed without being taken advantage of and potentially usurped by you. Technology is a tool, and we simply mustn’t allow libraries to become a tool that gets less and less useful as it is usurped by a tool that is guided simply by money, with no permanent obligation to give back. That is one of the deepest societal tragedies I can imagine and its consequences would truly be severe and horrible.

*facebook image taken from this video. It appears you are required to be a registered user to view this video.

**Yep, that is a Google search result link.

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Now playing: Beck – Youthless

I usually spend a good 30-60 minutes making an intro slide for each presentation I do. I figure that the intro slide will be up there on the screen for 15 minutes or so before the session starts and people seeing it can start to get a sense of the session and the presenter and how they fit in as an attendee. And frankly, it’s just fun to try and take something that is not intrinsically beautiful (PowerPoint) and make something pretty or interesting to look that is appropriately evocative. Sometimes it works better than others, and themes tend to run in stretches, but the effort is always made. Most times, I’ll post a screen shot of the slide to flickr and often use it here on the blog as well. Well imagine my happy surprise a couple of weeks back when I saw the web site the folks from Inland Northwest Council of Libraries (INCOL) that had done the work for me. Check this out!:

The INCOL Workshop 2007 Banner

It’s a little silly and a little funny and says what we’ll cover and shows them who’s gonna be yapping at them for two hours. Fun! Thanks to who(m)ever whipped this little number up at INCOL. Nice work.

Oh, and btw, if you are in Coeur D’Alene this Friday, I still think you can get a ticket. If you’ll be there, pop in and say howdy!

Libraryman

One Laptop Per Child: Give One Get One

One Laptop Per Child
These are the fabled “$100 laptops” we’ve been hearing about for some time now. While they do cost more than $100 (twice that in fact) the concept is no less fascinating. Now, for two weeks only, you can buy one and give one in a sort of “donation bundle”. Not saying to plop down your $$$ here, but at the very least it’s an interesting initiative. Lots of potential for library reach here. At the very least a nifty gadget, right?
One Laptop Per Child: Give One Get One

A few weeks back I asked a question on my facebook profile page just to see what would happen. Would people answer? Would they think about their answers, be funny, rude, or ??? Here’s what popped up. All in all a lovely snapshot, from a (mostly) fine bunch of thinkers. Thanks for sharing your answers. New questions will pop up soon. Having said that, you know, I didn’t ask any of these folks if they would mind if I posted their answer on this blog. Is that an issue? Hmmmm…… If it bugs anybody who posted an answer lmk, but since the profile page is public there didn’t seem to be any violation of privacy. Yes?

Answers To A Library Question

Also, here’s a picture of my facebook friends, in handy wheel form, revealing connections between folks mapped on the wheel. It’s a handy, interesting and revealing device. Ahhh, sweet data visualization. You will see below that, well, I hardly have any friends on facebook that aren’t library staffers (or at least connected to at least one other Libraryland person on facebook). Try making your own friend wheel on facebook to see what it reveals about you! Hmmmm, think of the possible ramifications! :)

(click to find path to larger, readable version):
facebook Friends Wheel Aug 07

Libraryman

facebook Maneuvers and TweetVolume

In fairly huge social networking news, if you aren’t using (or at least monitoring the maneuvers of) facebook much lately, you might consider firing up your account again. They have been adding outside app functionality (with a few hickups, natch) in ways I’d hoped might show up on a social library web site first. *grumble* The facebook Developers Platform will help you make your own if you are smarter than me in this regard. I lament that this didn’t show up in Libraryland first, but you know, I also wish I could have written Sgt. Peppers and wishin’ don’t mean I’ve got the chops, brother! Still, it’s made the weekend more interesting watching people/friends/colleagues dive in over the weekend. Superpatron (Edward V.) said it best via twitter when he sent out the message “You got your facebook in my twitter!”. I love you, you glorious geek! :)

In other, more lighthearted social networking news, Tweet Volume is a tool that tells you how often words are being used on twitter. Hmmm…anybody else see the word occurrence below as telling?
I'm just sayin': Memorial Day oclc ala sex library 2.0 TweetVolumes
Thanks to thefreerangelibrarian for the Tweet Volume heads up. KGS, you are the bomb.

Libraryman

Libraryman on Ikea Hacker

Have you heard about the Ikea Hacker web site? It is themed around real projects people have completed that creatively use IKEA products. There are some pretty interesting projects posted on occasion and it can be a really fun and inspiring diversion if that sort of thing is your bag. While this isn’t *exactly* library related, if you count the fact that I finished my recent decorating project at the new place specifically for a party I hosted for WebJunction folks, well then it counts. Regardless, I am pleased as punch that the folks ’round Ikea Hacker way decided to post one of my very own Ikea hacks. There are actually several hacks in the single image posted, which makes it sort of like a “Where’s Waldo” for the Ikea dork set. If you are so inclined, here is a link to the post. Enjoy!

PS-Added value to this story: The connection to the image and the Ikea Hacker site was made through a group on flickr. Social software in action again, y’all!

Libraryman

Let’s Be More Like Pandora

A banner ad on Pandora this morning:

Community Connecting, Pandora Style

Love it! Let’s do this in libraries, why not?

Libraryman

YouTube: Quick list ad

youtube: quick list ad
“Quicklists…make it easy to collect videos you want to see, then sit back and enjoy!”
Users want this on their library web sites, right? Users want this capacity on every library web site, don’t they?

PS- Why aren’t libraries the kings/queens of the user generated content arena? They could be, right? Why not?