what’s old is new is old

Rochelle from Tinfoil + Racoon posted a link to a great article about SMS and postcards on the LJ TechBlog. The article gives an interesting history about the popularity of the postcard and posits that it was the first MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service). The abbreviated writing found on old PCs is really similar to the short hand we see in txt messages.

“Sorry will not take lesson tonight but will resume on the 20th next Yours truly Mrs Brown” (Mailed: March 1908);

“We live where the X is on the card Bill, House has garden to water side Bob”;

“The Annual Meeting will be held at Brisbane House on 18th. Your attendance is requested. Hon Sec.” (Mailed: 15th October, 1900);

“Hope you will be able to stand the shock of receiving this P.C. in haste ET” (May 1906)

What’s really funny to me is that my Series 60 Nokia 6682 has a “send via postcard” feature built into the camera. For a fee, you can have a photo printed and sent to a specified address with a customized message. How’s that for a mashup?

useful ‘criminality’

In my recent talks on gadgets I’ve been mentioning the Sony Librie, which is the latest incarnation of eBook readers. The Librie is interesting because it solves some of the problems that plagued previous eBook readers, but it ignores, to its detriment, other important issues.

The neat features of the device come from the electronic ink (developed by Sony and Phillips) it uses. The resolution is quite high because the display is 170 dpi vs the ~72 dpi we’re used to on computer monitors. Supposedly, 200 dpi is indistinguishable from paper. Isn’t it great that a $600 device can’t match the quality of a less than $0.01 technology?

The other great thing about electronic/ink paper, is that the device doesn’t use battery life to display the text. It only sucks up valuable battery juice when “pages are turned,” by pressing a button. The expected life of one set of batteries is 10,000 page turns.

While this is all peachy, the story of the content is more like sour grapes. The device was designed to use only Sony’s proprietary eBook format (BroadBand eBook). Strike one. There are only some 400 titles (Japanese language only, presently) available. Strike two. Once an eBook is purchased, it stays on the Librie for only 60 days. Strike three. The Digital Rights Management (DRM) on these books takes away one of the most useful (potential) things about eBook readers: storing thousands of eBooks on one small device to be recalled (and searched) at a moment’s notice.

All of the above is a long winded intro to an article titled Sony Librie English GUI Firmware Patch which fulfills my prediction that someone would make it easy for people to hack the Librie for use with their own files. For now it is only TXT files, perhaps soon PDFs.

DRM: Turning people who have reasonable expectations from their devices/files into criminals.

DRM: Not really stopping the stubborn.


For more on the Sony Librie in relation to libraries, see the next Product Pipeline in Fall 2005 “Library Journal NetConnect” where I write about it a bit more.

MLS Tech Summit – "Social Bookmark Services: What Does It All Mean?"

Thursday I attended a presentation by Jenny, see the title above. I brought by laptop and blogged a play-by-play of the action, but haven’t posted it because her presentation will be online as soon as she recovers from the nasty bug that seems to be going around the Chicagoland area.

Instead, I think I’ll show a few things I’ve worked on since I saw the presentation. I was familiar with the majority of tools she talked about, had even considered how I might use employ them in the library, but got the spirit to get going only after seeing the presentation. Jenny was very ill throughout the presentation, but inspired the crowd anyways.

-First, here’s the photostream of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library on flickr.

-I also started a flickr group called Public Libraries to encourage more to try flickr. Like Jessamyn mentioned, the Thomas Ford Memorial Library and the Rutland Free Library are flickr friends. Awesome!

-The following picture is the most interesting to come up today.

If you click through to flickr you’ll see that it is a display of new materials and I’ve put two notes on the photos and added links into the catalog. I’m not 100% how this is going to be used, but I like the idea of highlighting certain materials through more than just formatted text, or the image of a book cover. There might be a way to clearly display some book titles through a photograph. It would be fun, and I think a connecting thing.

Since the library website is based on Movable Type, we can use flickr to easily post photos to liven up pages. (When looking at a photo of yours, it is a two click affair to send it to a blog). I think with this, and a redesign of some elements of the page, I can improve the site’s look and perhaps content arrangement.

Rick and I spent a few minutes talking about the new thomas ford memorial library del.icio.us account, explored the implications of its metadata/tagging and looked at how displaying a del.icio.us rss feed works on a webpage. I finally took the time to play with a few RSS -> HTML (or at least javascript) scripts and was pretty pleased by Feed2JS. I used it to display the links tagged “recipe” on our staff exchange. I figure that sharing recipes might be a good way to get more staff interested in del.icio.us. Here’s what it looks like (in beta):

We also talked about displaying our entire del.icio.us feed as an ‘interesting links’ page. It’s free (as in not work for us) content for our site. RSS -> HTML will be good to use with our flickr feed as well. This code cocktail can provide our library’s site with fresh graphical content.

Besides these applications of social bookmarking tools, I like the idea that the library has a presence on flickr and del.icio.us. At this point I’m not quite sure to what this presence will amount, but it sure would be neat if people started monitoring what we were bookmarking and to teach patrons how.