October 2005
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Month October 2005

p2p downloading is your friend

Thursday, I get to defend p2p downloading at a (semi) local community college. Also scheduled to talk is a musician, a network admin, and I believe an ethics professor. Should be a great mix!

I can’t decide if I want to call the talk “The Devil Made Me Do It” or “Home Taping is Killing Music” but either way it is here for you to look at.

In the spirit of sharing, the first person to find the reference to a band in my CSS file will get a secret link from which to download a few of my favorite songs of the week!

lawley, libraries and the long tail

Tuesday morning’s keynote was given by Liz Lawey. Her talked rehashed much of the social software stuff going on outside of libraries and inside libraries. This boosts Jenny’s thought that “2005 is the year that libraries got it

Lawley stated that “Libraries have always been good at the long tail.” For instance, we can go beyond the NYT best seller list and promote books that have been tucked away. Rick loves finding hiden gems when he goes through the deselection process. All of this social network software is trying to do this through computers. Which method is easier and which is more successful?

Another interested tidbit from her talk is the idea to use popular tagging sites to find out what people (not librarians – ha) call certain things. This could be of help when naming library services.

internet at schools keynote

I figured that most people at IL2005 would be attending and blogging the primary keynote, so I snuck away for the alternate: “The New Read/Write Web: Transforming the Classroom” by Will Richardson. We’d be better off spending more time thinking about the information gathering/processing/producing of young people. They should be served by libraries just like adults, and they are our future taxpayers, dig?

He made a few points that really got me going:

The web isn’t about technology anymore. Technology is fading into the background. This was echoed by Jessamyn in the social software session when she stated that Flickr is so easy that every living member of her family can use it. So, the playing field is leveling out, the web is being democratized, however you want to put it. HTML is no longer a requisite skill for getting text, pictures, and video on the web. Richardson emphasized that digital documents are not only easier to make, they are easier to publish.
For libraries, this means we can get more of our staff, people that might not be able to write a page out of HTML, to contribute.

The read/write web builds confidence and encourages people to do more. He told the story of his daughter who drew a book about weather, which is now a photoset on Flickr. It has been viewed over 500 times, which is a great distribution for a young person.

know what :::> know where. Richardson wants to forget about “just in case learning.” He thinks that when facts are readily available, it is more important to know how to find them, rather than know them all. He must get a ton of cross looks in the school systems. As a reference librarian, this was music to my ears. Nonlibrarians often ask me, “How do you answer all the questions people ask? You must be so smart” to which I respond, “No, I’m smart because I know where to find everything.” Knowing the process is vastly more powerful than one just one outcome, isn’t it?

We must teach our kids to have discussion about truth. Librarians have been ranting about this for ages, it is called information literacy. The New York Times, Wikipedia, Britannica, magazines, whatever: for anything serious, more than one source needs to be consulted. Nothing should be taken as the Absolute Truth. The importance of this skill increases as the amount of extant information in the world increases. Again, thinking critically about information is more important than memorizing a fact.

Teachers must be creators as well. Kids need models for how to blog. If they don’t have guidance, they’ll be “blogging” on MySpace, and not practicing very good Web safety. Banning blogging in schools is shortsighted. Flickr is banned in the school system of Kentucky. So students use the tool on their own time, rather than receiving instructions and teacher added value.

Richardson prefers “publish your homework” over “hand in your homework.” Students’ output should be on the Web to be part of the conversations going on. Instead of doing homework for their teacher, they could do it for an audience, and be motivated to do well by the idea of reputation. This would certainly approximate the adult world a bit more.

Let’s not contain our ideas in text, let’s spread them around with links, IM, flickr, blogs, wikipedia, etc. This meshes perfectly with what Jenny and I independently mentioned during the “Future of Public Libraries” session. We need to get our libraries’ content out into the swirling online world, interacting with itself, people, and the web.

Take a look at his blog, Weblogg-ed: the read/write classroom

that was quick

The 5th generation iPod, the one that plays video, was released only a few days back. However, there is already a decent amount of (pre-converted to the appropriate file type) content available via BitTorrent. It won’t be long before I can get the Daily Show not only downloaded automatically to my desktop, but sent straight into a video iPod. This is one step closer to the failure of content providers’ current business model failing.

If you’re wondering how, azureus is a BitTorrent client that supports RSS Feed Scanner which reads RSS feeds from torrent trackers such as torrent spy

hardware solutions presentation

For the participants, and anyone else interested:

Smart Computing at Your Library: Saving User and Staff Time (and Keeping Sane) or Geek to Live, Don’t Live to Geek.

stanford and iTunes, thoughts on education

I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a troublesome time accepting podcasting as the new hotness, especially for my personal information input and output. However, as a librarian who wants to meet users on their terms, I see the value in having engaging non-text content for those with different tastes. We might not have many people subscribing to our YA review podcast, but that will likely change. And for now, people listen on the web. The same will hold true about our “Click-A-Story” program from the YS department, in which the librarians will record public domain fairy tales.

The number of articles that have come out recently about podcasting in education aren’t being published (just) because of hype^1^. We’re seeing an effort to meet the information gathering/processing habits of digital natives.

Prescriptivists say that this is the breakdown of the educational system, that we’re kowtowing to people who don’t know any better, and that the sky is falling. Isn’t it funny that these naysayers (including our own M. Gorman in the below article from The Chronicle) think that the Absolute High Standard of pedagogy is very similar to the system to the one in which they were educated? I’d really like to know why the evolution of education from, say, the 1800s to the present wasn’t a bad thing. Why aren’t these people advocating the use of slide rules, no, excuse me, abaci, to teach mathematics. Or maybe just a pile or rocks. Me? I think our “Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.”^2^

Take a look at itunes.standford.edu which is an entrance into Stanford produced and branded content in the iTunes Music Store. It is a fine example of an institution not being static, but rather being user-centered, and getting great PR in the process. Not only is there content for non-Stanford people to download and enjoy, but there’s an entire private section for students and faculty.

I know that libraries have hours and hours of of stuff to which people would love to listen. Now if only we can get Apple to give us libraries.itunes.com…

^1^For example, The Net Generation Goes to College from The Chronicle of Higher Education and the front page “Missed class? Try a podcast ” from the October 20th Chicago Tribune

^2^Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants By Marc Prensky

planning for tech workshop @ IL 2005

This morning Michael and I gave a workshop on planning for technology in libraries. One very interesting thing to note from the morning is that 100% of the people in the workshop have WiFi in their institutions. How’s that for saturation, right? I found this encouraging. Out of all the technologies we mentioned, here are the few that people found the most interesting.

hot technologies

10 points on IM in libraries

Here’s a barebones distillation of IM in libraries. I’m going to use it as a starting point for my upcoming cybertour at IL 2005.

1. Instant Messaging is free (minus staff time)

2. Millions of our patrons use IM every day.

3. For some, not being available via IM is like not having a telephone number.

4. There are three major IM networks (AIM, Y!M, MSN)

5. Y!M and MSN will be interoperable at some point.

6. Trillian is a multi-network IM client, meebo is a web-based multi-network client. Use them.

7. Having practice sessions in-house is a good way to get staff excited about IM in libraries.

8. Staff can communicate in-house using IM.

9. Libraries can choose to have one IM point of contact, or they can choose to divide it departmentally.

10. IM is user-centered and builds relationships with library users.

the next generation of gaming consoles

Do numbers like 1080i and 32:9 get you excited?  What about online gamer-created talk shows?  For the latest Product Pipeline in “LJ’s netConnect” I’ve written a bit about the three upcoming video games systems coming out.  If you’re heard all the flap about games in libraries and would like an introduction to what many, many, many people will be doing with their leisure time, give it a read.  In addition, here’s A Brief Timeline of Home Video Game Systems

1974 – Atari Pong
1977 – Atari 2600
1982 – ColecoVision
1985 – Nintendo Entertainment System
1985 – Sega Master System
1989 – Sega Genesis
1988 – Atari Lynx (Portable)
1988 – Nintendo Game Boy (Portable)
1991 – Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1995 – Sony PlayStation
1996 – Nintendo 64
2000 – Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2)
2001 – Microsoft Xbox
2001 – Nintendo GameCube
2004 – Nintendo DS (Portable)
2005 – Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable)
Q4 2005 – Xbox 360
April 2006 (expected) – PlayStation 3
2006 (expected) – Nintendo Revolution

testing, testing again

Now I’m testing Flock’s Flickr tool (say that ten times fast). Using the browser’s blog authoring tool, it is possible to pull up one’s (or anyone’s) photos on Flickr. The pictures can then be dragged-and-dropped into a blog post. I’ll choose to post one of my dog in his Halloween costume. I give you Darth Mao:

darth mao

Interesting to note that the search box in Flock defaults to Yahoo! Could they be poising themselves for a buy-out already? Other options in the search box are google, amazon, ebay, technorati, and wikipedia.

Speaking of wikipedia, tonight the Periodicals librarian beat me to the punch answering a reference question about the usage of a word. She found an answer on wikipedia while I was walking to the dictionary. I tell ya, give’em an inch… 😉 She was pleased and so was I.

One more thought about Flock, or the concept of a highly personalized browser in general. Let’s say, like I have, that I set up my browser to interact with my Flickr account, blogs, del.icio.us bookmarks, and maybe things like RSS feeds and email. I’m sure other things might pop up too like calendar and netflix widgets. This is fine and dandy when I’m on my own machine, but what happens when I’m using a computer at a friend’s house? I won’t have access to my information powerhouse browser, and in fact, I might be invading his space by using a browser with all of his details. Perhaps when this stuff matures, browsers will have a login process to present you with all of your personal goodness and all of the conversations your web applications are having with each other. Right now, though, this seems like a terrifying prospect. Would you give Internet Explorer all of your usernames and passwords *for storage on the web?* Heck no.