February 2006
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Month February 2006

google page creator

If I wrote a post every time google released some new product or feature, my keyboard would be broken. But I’d like to mention Google Page Creator because it illustrates that the barriers to being a content creator on the web continue to be demolished.

Here’s the page that I made in about 30 seconds:

If you have a gmail account or any other google identity, you can sign in with your user/pass. There’s a 100MB limit to the content you can have, and no AdSense appeared on my page. The W3C Markup Validation Service gives the page 13 errors.

The servers are being hammered right now, but if you get in and make a page, post the URL in a comment here, I’d love to see what can be done.

practice safe text

According to Virgin Mobile, 3.8 million people in the UK complain of text-related injuries per year. You read that correctly. They are so mad for text messaging that some people are getting repetitive stress injuries from pressing buttons on their phones.

Virgin Mobile set up a semi-educational website titled PracticeSafeText.com that includes some information about texting and some textercises with which to prevent injury.


finally a nice library sign

nice library sign
It’s great to see some NICE library signage after all the crummy ones. I found this one on The Fiddling Librarian 3.0. He was clever to note that it is a haiku!

how about some fun?

The topic of putting content where our users will find it (instead of keeping it locked away on our websites) deserves to be taken seriously. I was pleased to see the discussion at Librarian In Black about MySpace, a prime example of a potential place to put our data. MySpace deserves to be taken especially seriously because by some reports it gets more traffic than google. You like for your content to be findable via Google, right? Well why not MySpace?

One thing missing in all of the serious talk about libraries and MySpace is the fact that MySpace is, well, not entirely serious. This struck me as I was reading the profile for the UIUC Undergrad Library, as well as comments from students.

Ohhh…the time spent studying with you. Misses you…*muah*. Go Illini!


I love the Undergrad Library.

I love the Undergrad Library so much that I am even there right now!

Welcome to Myspace.

I’m all for our libraries being fun, and having fun with our users. Am I wrong in thinking that “fun” falls within the scope of meeting the entertainment needs of our users?

eInk newspaper in Belgium

Yeah, I know, paper is an amazing technology, and books are really useful. They’ll be gone some day though. We’ll all likely be worm food when that day comes, but it’ll happen nonetheless. Now the world is one step closer.

Spending hours reading the papers may be an ideal pastime on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

But what if your newspaper updated itself during the day? What if the pictures moved and the interviews could be listened to?

In Belgium, this is coming true – at least for a three-month trial period. The Antwerp-based daily De Tijd will soon become the world’s first newspaper to publish a digital version on so-called ‘electronic paper’.

Those lucky Belgians will now get to eat great waffles and have eInk newspapers! Here’s the full article: Belgian newspaper to become first ‘paperless’ daily. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there’s going to be a revolution and newspapers are going to stop their presses soon. I’m just saying that this is a step in the evolutionary process.

One of my favorite essays about paper is The Social Life of Paper by (a way pre-Blink) Malcolm Gladwell. If you missed it in 2002, give it a read. There is even a great bit about Melvil Dewey in the article.

give them help

“When I think of the need we are serving, I am able to accept the stacks of forms on my work desk better.” RickLibrarian

Pretty much every time I’m in a conversation with librarians about the implementation of a new technology, someone asks something to the effect of, “This is great! I love it, I get it, but how do I convince other people at my library that we should be doing this?” Staff buy-in is a huge issue. There are many reasons an individual might not be interested in learning and using new technology. Discomfort with technology and fear of failure are two reasons stemming directly from the technology specifically, but there are also others. Here I’m thinking about a general dislike of change. It is probably easier to get people to warm up to technology than it is to alter their worldview regarding change, though I’m sure it can still be a monumental task. Can people resistant to change enjoy working in libraries? Maybe some Heraclitus would do them good.

So, what’s the best way to get staff to drink the proverbial kool-aid? You could present them with some statistics about the technology, but that’s not going to do much. Numbers are abstract and cold. You could tell them that every library is doin’ it, at which point they’ll expect you to jump off of a bridge. No, the best way to create buy-in is to appeal to their sense of being a good librarian. The most important trait a librarian can have is the desire to help.

Jettisoning technology’s emotional baggage and communicating that IM/weblogs/telephones/whatever meets a need in the community helps people understand why it is important. And I know this sounds harsh, but if people have lost their drive to be helpers they need to be far, far away from the public. Good librarians do all sorts of inconvienent things for the sake of better helping their users. Truly great librarians often don’t even see these tasks as inconveniences because they concentrate on the end result of helping rather than the means. I’m going to incorporate Rick’s story into my spiel about creating staff buy-in because the same great motivation is at work. While this weblog is mostly about technology in libraries, but I hope to inspire people to become good helpers along the way. Let’s make libraries easy.

links for listeners and others

Some days are rather busy.

Here are some notes I put together for my talk with some Canadian librarians this afternoon. The talk was through the Education Institute and titled “Socialize Your Library”.

I just got back from a local library and gave a talk about spyware. No link yet because I just used an old powerpoint for that.

In a few hours (2am for me!! – ha!), Sarah and I get to use Skype and Jybe to communicate with a bunch of folks in the Netherlands. Like some other IM talks I’ve done (including one to an enthusiastic audience last Friday in Edwardsville, IL) this one is called “Having A Phone”. Since we joined forced for this one, there are all sorts of good bits from Sarah in the notes, as well as a distillation of her thoughts on the new Question Point (on which I’m getting trained later this month).

I hope these get some use!

Bad Sign

Hot on the heels of my post about libraries trusting patrons, and writing a sentence about drinks (gasp!) in our buildings, I walk into a local library and see this sign. Does this make anyone else as sad as it does me? Why does this library want to treat their patrons like children? Clearly there are much nicer ways of getting this point across. My favorite part of this sign is the miniscule “thank you” at the end of the message, put there as if forced, or even patronizing. The font they used is so small, you’ll likely have to click through to flickr to see a larger sized image. Look at the weight they’ve given to the “NO” in comparison to the “thank you”. This is what user hostility looks like.