August 2005
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Month August 2005

amazon chat

I looked at the PlayStation 3 preorder page on amazon the other day and noticed something different. By the product’s picture, there was a link reading “Chat with friends about this product.” When clicked, users can choose a product and enter into an associated chat room by signing in with their amazon account information.

There are plenty of categories related to consumer electronics, but also included are sections for a number of genres of books. Am I behind the times or is this feature relatively new? (Note: I’m guessing it is new because I tried to make it work on two machines with two different browsers, and it failed consistently. Anyone get it to work?)

You all can probably see where I’m headed, but I’m not saying that libraries should consider doing something like this simply because a commercial entity is doing it. No, libraries are too special to blindly mimic the commercial world. I am saying that talking about books is (at least partially) our turf, and hate to think of us losing ground. I wonder if amazon will have people actively chatting about books online, just like I’ve seen on p2p file sharing networks. Does that possibility make you feel like we’re not meeting the needs of some book discussers?

google IM roundup

Evidently the rumors of a Google IM (Google Talk?) program are true. It is reported that Google will unveil an IM program tomorrow.

The interoperability of email made it easy for people to be interested in and switch to Gmail, but they won’t have that luxury. I’m very curious how they’ll try to lure the 41.6 million AIM users away from their product of choice (let alone the 19.1 million Y!M and 14.6 MSNM users).

It is possible to connect to using Trillian as a Jabber account, but it can’t be used because there is no way to set up accounts. [via big blueball, new york times, LA Times]

Ooh, imagine a merging of Google Talk and Google Maps. That could be fun!

update: If you’re chomping at the bit for this news, redirects to so that’s probably a good place to look.

north suburban library system IM presentation

Sorry about the delay, but here are the links I promised everyone at yesterday’s presentation at the NSLS.

Fast Cheap & Easy: Instant Messaging in Libraries [ppt]
IM in Libraries, a Bibliography [word doc]

Both times I’ve been at the NSLS, the sessions have had a wonderful conversational feel. Audiences are getting more sophistacated about IM in libraries, so I think it will soon be time to step up and incorporate some advanced issues into the presentation.

Aside from what’s in the powerpoint, we talked quite a bit about IM vs. our local browser-based chat project, IM creating community, and staffing issues – always a favorite.

Red Room DVD

Down Under, they’ve taken a break from surfing and drinking Fosters to come up with a really interesting DVD rental model that surely has implications for our library world. Here’s a quote from the cool hunter explaining:

Rather than prowling meters of shelves and pacing back and forth along the aisles, Red Room DVD has created interactive movie stations which are equipped with touch screens. The stations allows you to browse the entire stores selection by new release or genre categories, locating your exact search within seconds. Once located, you can watch the trailer, access pictures and read critics reviews of your selected movie before you choose to rent it. The DVD is then ejected from a dispensing podium into your fingertips!

The article goes on to say that your Red Room DVD rental card can be refilled with credits using a credit card at the dispensing unit, and there are no late fees. What’s more, they also take an ATM like approach, with a machine on the exterior of the store, making it a 24/7 situation. One more thing, rentals can be reserved at a particular store for up to two hours. (That’s kind of harsh, huh? At least we give patrons 3 days, right?)

I’d love to use one of these machines. I have a hunch that the aggregation of reviews/summaries/screenshots/renting beats the pants off anyone’s OPAC. Now, I’m not saying that we need to have robotic materials dispensing machines (which probably could be easily achieved with conveyor belts and RFID), but I am saying that it would be great to have, for instance, Novelists’ content out where people didn’t have a search to use it?

Can anyone show me a prime example of an OPAC doing something like this?