Archive for the 'Welcome to the world of tomorrow!' Category

Libraryman

Killing Our Libraries

A motivational poster of sorts. Large size is the only way to really see it.
killing our libraries - mini-poster 2009

Libraryman

LITA2008 Video Summary

Just saw this quick, 3 minute summary of LITA2008 pop up on their blog, complete with my ugly mug. Enjoy! :)
American Libraries Focus Video: LITA2008
AL LITA2008 video/post is here.

And…you know, you can always hear the “hi-fi sci-fi library” song and watch its video here. :)

Thanks again to all who attended LITA and were so generous with their support and time. Hope you enjoyed the session! An Internet Librarian (IL2008) post is coming soon.

Libraryman

hi-fi sci-fi library: The Presentation

(Maybe) You’ve heard the song and seen the video. Now you can see the presentation that inspired them both!

-Hi-Fi-Sci-Fi-Library: Technology, Convergence, Content, Community, Ubiquity and Library Futures.
LITA National Forum – keynote – October 18, Cincinnati, OH

Description:
So you think its an interesting time to be a librarian now? Just wait! Through an examination of past trends, current tech, emerging tech, academic futurism and a dash of pop culture, well take a realistic peek at where library technology is headed. Well then take this information and start planning what we can do now to ensure that libraries not only continue to offer our vital service, but that our role and positive contributions to society increase – perhaps quite dramatically.

The presentation is stuffed full of multi media, special effects and lots of realistic, yet fun and thought provoking surprises designed to get your mind chugging along as is contemplates the future of Libraryland. A future populated with hi-fi sci-fi libraries!

These two intro slides will be running at as people are filtering into the room (they are slightly clipped here, click to see the whole slide):
hi-fi sci-fi library: LITA 08 Intro Slide #1

hi-fi sci-fi library: LITA 08 Intro Slide #2

Hope to see some of you there!

Libraryman

Tomorrow’s NEBASE Intro Slide

Designing PowerPoint presentations is FUN! And this is one I’ve wanted to work on for years. For almost ten years now, actually. It is the first time I’m presented the session and it a new direction, so *fingers crossed*. If nothing else, it will be unexpected, fun, entertaining and I *really* think, thought provoking. If you happen to be near Lincoln, NE tomorrow, why not swing by? A more *ahem* “refined” and adjusted version will be used at my LITA keynote session in October too.
hi-fi sci-fi library, baby! :)
NEBASE Annual Meting Keynote Intro Slide-2008

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Now playing: David Lee King & Michael Porter – hifi scifi library

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

Libraryman

Chumby Is Here!

My new Chumby just arrived today. It matches my new living room color scheme, but I digress… Oh, I just can’t wait to get home and play with it! It is basically a small wireless open source computer displays widgets, cams, pictures, RSS feeds and also has speakers to play web tunes (even works with another fave of mine, Pandora). I may use the countdown clock, the moon phase clock and of course, this is now my new alarm clock. So long bacteria laden hotel room alarm clocks. Hello bacteria laden Chumby! Ha ha!

The 2008 gadget of the year? Wonder if *you* will be asking for one as a gift at the end of the year? Hmmm…..

Chumby time!

Hooray! Libraries, library staff and most importantly, library patrons are accessing content with tools like youtube. And Joost. And others. This is important. And libraries are in that loop. Woo hoo!

But…what about the oceans of content that just isn’t “free” and/or centrally located and is distributed more and more via electronic means? What about the content in the long tail that only for-profits are doing a successful job of distributing (aka selling in most instances). In libraries there is inter-library loan of course. And there is eBay and Amazon and a host of others that have cut into library business to some extent (not necessarily a bad thing at all, right?). But there is Netflix. Netflix (just for fun, why not check that link out and think about it in terms of what libraries do. Some startling concepts may stand out.), just keeps popping up on my radar over and over again. Brightly. Here’s the latest instance:

US DVD rental firm Netflix is to release a set-top box which will let subscribers download movies and other programmes over the net.
*link*

So what does this indicate for the future of content access in libraries?

Granted, there have been a small slew of set top boxes designed to specialize in content delivery in the last couple of years. But with Netflix participation, for me at least, the implications for libraries and content delivery futures grow in significance and immediacy. As these services exist now, and as they are shaping up, libraries are cut out of almost all of this business. Influencing or being included in this sort of content delivery model would take significant investment from larger (or combinations of larger) library related business or organizations (including non-profits and even government agencies potentially).

True, “Netflix has spent about $40m on the development of its streaming service during the past year.” and that of course surely does not include licensing and revenue related math for the studios, etc. True also that money talks, eh? Still, given the mission of the library (particularly Public Libraries) it seems worth noting that:
As an industry, within the larger library-centric institutions that could make important impacts:
-We are not researching this kind of content delivery in any truly significant way.
-We are not planning to, in the future, provide specific deliverables based around his kind of content delivery.
-We do not have organized, direct or significant relationships with the companies that own the largest collections of popular content and manage it’s distribution to approach them as a potential distribution channel.
-We do not have the legal and negotiation teams that would be required to get our patrons access to the content controlled by companies mentioned above.

While the above list is a bit intimidating, is it insurmountable? I keep thinking about the last interview I read with Reed Hasting, CEO of Netflix. It concluded with the question “What is the future of Netflix?”. His answer, was “there is a reason we are named Netflix and not DVDflix”. Obviously and wisely they are eyeing content delivery. And so are libraries? Certainly there are hundreds of other companies doing so, many of which have an eye on (inadvertently I’m sure) further reducing our market share and value. This is all fine and well. But it makes one again wonder: are libraries at large doing the work necessary to be positioned in the content delivery market? What about libraries??? Will we care more when our DVD circulation drops? Or when Netflix becomes NetLibrary (serious point and little inside joke there too)? Interestingly, someone once said to me that “the most valuable asset NetLibrary really has is the name NetLibrary”! Wow. In light of what Reed Hastings said in the interview I keep recalling, it gives pause.

Netflix hasn’t changed their name. Yet. But their mission, and the missions of other content delivery centric companies seems clear. And it is threatening to libraries. And I am concerned that this threat is not being surfaced and dealt with sufficiently across our industry. If we were all watching the Netflix business model evolution closely we might talk about (and work on) this more. Perhaps when Netflix changes their name to NetContent or NetAV..or NetLibrary, more aggressive action will be taken in our industry?

I REALLY wonder what you think though.

And now for something completely different! Me being a dork with my new XO laptop. Woo hoo!
Me and MY XO

Libraryman

Kindle

ebooks kindle amazon

*link*

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

Libraryman

facebook Fixes IT?

Ah ha!!
The facebook “story types adjustment “equalizer”” solves a problem and demonstrates that the cluttering problems that many have complained about (with just about every successful social networking tool out there) are actually quite fixable. And fixable in a way that can be intuitive. Wow! Don’t you love big brains in action? This isn’t the ultimate solution to be sure, but it shows that there are rock solid legitimate solutions to this problem that are readily accessible and understandable to general users of social software. This stuff is going to drive how we use the internet for a long, long while, and that is GOOD.

facebook Fixes IT?
facebook is on top right now for quite a few reasons and this is yet another example of why. Good on ya’ facebook!

*update*
Some wondered if this “equalizer” really worked, so I took a screenshot showing that after it was launched (yesterday or today) my feed was sparse and text. Shortly after I adjust my settings, you can see the more dynamic content returning to my home page (these are the posts towards the top with pictures, etc). Please note the typo that says “storytimes” instead of story types. It was ten years ago that I was a Children’s Librarian, but those days happily never really leave you.
facebook fixes it and here is a demo of it working

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