May 2006
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Month May 2006

funny stuff

A few people have emailed me asking about my absence, so here’s a quick note saying hello to everyone. I’ve been off doing fun things, usually involving riding one of my bikes fast, far, or both. For some content, here’s a great comment I found on the MySpace of one of the TFML’s MySpace friends:

omfg! take ur town off of myspace! people could molest you!!!!! jk jk jk. lol. jus got back from my aunt &uncles crawfish thingy. fun fun. okay. laterr.

The library had a slew of 6th grade classes come in to hear about the summer reading program today. Their eyes popped when we told them about the library’s efforts with books on iPod, IM, video games and MySpace. Some of them were so shocked you’d have thought we showed them a married bachelor or a three sided square. I didn’t know our image issue was *that* bad.

why does library polity create such harsh policy?

Dang! Take a look at Don’t scar on the first cut from Signal vs. noise. Here are a few pull outs:

Policies are codified overreactions to unlikely-to-happen-again situations. A collective punishment for the wrong-doings of a one-off.

The problem with policies are that they compound and eventually add up to the rigidity of bureaucracy that everyone says they despise. Policies are not free. They demean the intellect of the executer (“I know this is stupid, but…”) and obsolve [sic] the ability to deal with a situation in context (“I sympathize, but…”).

I’d like to slightly change the statement “Policies are codified overreactions to unlikely-to-happen-again situations” to also say “Policies are codified overreactions to unlikely-to-happen situations.” Don’t we plan for mythical contingencies? And really, what are the chances that someone is going to spill coffee while using a computer, and what’s the worst that could happen if they did? Replacing a keyboard for $10? Is that *possible* loss of $10 worth having to tell people they can’t have a drink at the computer? Having to disappoint them, and the chore of having to babysit doesn’t seem worth it to me. I know what you’re thinking: “What about the $1200 computer at risk?” I think the chances of something spilling into a fatal location are infinitesimal.

I’m glad there’s been an increase in talk about library policy lately because I’m afraid getting libraries to give up lame policy might be harder than getting some libraries to implement some neat technology.

IM news

A while back I posted about a downloadable IM client from MySpace and it is now available for download. They’re calling it MySpaceIM. The really funny thing about this is that just yesterday, some news came out about AIM’s forthcoming AIM Pages [article, screenshot], which is being touted as a MySpace killer. Anyone with an AIM screen name will have access to a create a page:[name here]. This is another potential place for your library’s content to be discovered. The whims of the market make doing a great job of putting a library’s content into popular websites a potentially time consuming task, but one that has great promise for increased exposure and relevance. I’m just waiting for some large, metropolitan library system to have an official presence on AskMetafilter. Imagine the cred the library would get from its town’s geek and netizen population, a group of people who often get their content needs met without libraries.

MySpace and AIM will only woo people to their products if there’s serious value added over sticking with the IM client/online profile service in which they’re already firmly entrenched. Which illustrates that libraries need to clearly define and promote the value we add to the content and computers in our buildings to woo people that are firmly entrenched in non-library content acquisition and use.