Archive | March, 2009

Badman Sketches

Derik Badman's creative sketch!

Derik Badman's creative sketch!

Hey, check out Derik Badman’s terrific sketches of speakers at Computers in Libraries 2009.

Jane Dysart, Conference Program Chair

Dead or Innovative Technologies

How can something be both dead and innovative?  Michael Sauers, who is sitting next to me, suggested that probably means not at the same time.  I thought maybe it really means “deadly innovative”.  With a slate of speakers like this, it will certainly not be dull and boring!  (Notice that this is an executive level session–the speakers got overstuffed chairs!)

(L-R) Marshall Breeding, Amanda Etches-Johnson, Steve Abram, Aaron Schmidt, Darlene Fichter

(L-R) Marshall Breeding, Amanda Etches-Johnson, Steve Abram, Aaron Schmidt, Darlene Fichter

I wrote the above while waiting for the session to start, and it was certainly anything but dull and boring!  It was fast paced, thought provoking, forward looking, and controversial in spots.  Here are some brief summaries of what the panelists said.

Marshall Breeding noted that he is not so much a mover and shaker but a survivor.  He certainly is a survivor–he has compiled a remarkable record of attending all 24 CIL conferences!  He has this view of library technology:

  • Take a pragmatic approach: adopt technologies that support the strategic mission ofthe libraries.
  • Help libraries be better libraries
  • Have a long view of the impact of technology on libraries

Libraries are good at taking the technology of the current and applying it to the reality of their last generation and calling it next generation!  We do not have a great track record at moving forward at the pace of change.  The transition to electronic content has been underway for a decade, but we still lack effective tools to manage them effectively.  We continue to cling to hopelessly ineffective tools.  Some of our technologies should be dead but in clinging to them, libraries are being held back.

  • Dead technologies:  Mainframes and proprietary platforms, text-based interfaces, any non-Web interface,  interfaces designed to make librarians happy
  • Dying:  Client/server computing, standalone library automation, and Web 2.0, which we have shoved into a silo.  It’s an add-on.  Web 2.0 applications often take users away from a library’s website.
  • Emerging and innovative:  Web-based computing, cloud computing, service-oriented architecture, shared automation implementations.  Rich internet applications that make our users happy.  Socially aware enterprise-level library automation.  Library automation frameworks built from the ground up as collaborative applicatins.  Social interaction cannot be an afterthought.

Amanda Etches-Johnson looked at 5 technologies and asked the audience whether each one was alive or dead.  The results are interesting.  Only one is alive:

–Many blogs are dead, but engaging, authentic blogs are alive and well.
Twitter is dead.  The corporatization of any social network kills it!
Information architecture is dead.  It is all about user experience right now, not building that great taxonomy.
Second Life is dead.  There’s nobody there.
Usability is alive and well.  It can be as simple as doing testing with users or writing content that users understand.

Aaron Schmidt speculated on what the future might look like.  He sees a promising future for RFID technology.  We are entering a post-desktop world and moving into mobile devices and the age of ubiquitous computing.  Soon everything will communicate with RFID, but nobody knows yet what the human interface will look like.  Many things are going from analog to digital, so there is a lot of  money to be made.  RFID chips now cost pennies instead of dollars and it will be possible to integrate them widely into applications. 

We can access a huge amount of information from the Web.  Information is going to multiple places as devices can synchronize themselves.  A new markup language, EEML (Extended Environments Markup Language), is  forming to monitor data, track positions, etc.  Everything potentially has a URI–the challenge is what are libraries going to do? 

Darlene Fichter noted that the mass media revolution has become the personal media revolution, and information will become a media age.  She knows 3 things:

  1. Technoogy can hurt you sometimes. (Don’t walk across the street while Twittering.)
  2. The forecast is cloudy.  Unpredictable things could happen when you pull books off the shelves.  Are all clouds friendly?  Do we watch them?  Cloud computing will be like a tornado for libraries.  Cataloging should be a service in the cloud.  Why do we have local catalogers?  What about one database to rule all?  Google Scholar will be gone if the economy continues like it is because it won’t generate enough revenue.  Some vendors are moving into this space and are developing article databases.  How many computers will we need in cloud computing?
  3. These technologies must die:  Windows Vista, power cords and adaptors

Steve Abram gave his usual fast moving talk covering lots of ground and providing advice for libraries who want to survive in the future.  He thinks that some of the service practices at the Hyatt (the conference hotel) can be used as a model for what libraries should not do to provide good service, such as:  keep the bar closed all day, never make eye contact with customers, keep the coffee counter closed most of the day, and staff should move as slowly as possible–backwards in time if possible.  He thinks the Hyatt’s motto could be:   “Putting the frown in our logo every day”!

Stephen’s points to ponder:

History has shown that every time we have a recession, we create a new economy.  We’re now entering an information economy.

What is the deadest technology for libraries?  The attitude that “We don’t want to evolve because we want to wait for the climate to change.”

Watch the kids and their toys.  They’re doing interesting things, and they’re different.

Are we going to a totally build-it-yourself world?  Imagine Ikea merging with GM! Maybe cars will be delivered like this:

The "IKEA car"

The "IKEA car"

So when journalism goes away, will you be ready to assemble your own books and newspapers–like this? 

Do-It-Yourself Newspapers

Do-It-Yourself Newspapers

If we’re going to worry about the container and not the knowledge,  we’re in trouble. 

How do your community surveys do?  Do you offer podcasts?  Are your content displays innovative?  Can you circulate books from  anywhere,  like  the parking lot, nursing home?

How do we support kids as they grow up?  The people in charge of leading school organizations are the least knowledgeable about the 21st century?

How do we get the confidence to cope with change?

We can only lock up our computers so far, and we cannot control the way people are using their computers. 

How are our libraries evolving?

How do make sure we know that there’s an elephant in the room and we have to address it?

There are many routes to the future–what’s  your bread and better?  Do you create a user experience?  Does knowledge get created?  It’s not about storing stuff.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and CIL 2009 Blog Coordinator

Twitter Day @ CIL

Wow what a day!  We, our conference twitter bunch using #CIL2009 in our tweets, are a top trending topic on Twitter today!  We rock!  Follow the Twitter stream for CIL here.  We figure there about 60 tweets a minute from CIL.  Amazing.

Following this morning’s keynote, I was walking with our keynote speaker Paul Holdengraber of NYPL who was checking his blackberry.  He showed me a message from a NYC friend that said, “You really wowed them at CIL”.  Paul said to me,”This came in  not a half hour after my talk.  How did she know?”  I said, I suspected she saw it on Twitter.  I shared with him the stream of comments about his talk.  He was most impressed with everyone’s comments.  Apparently the NYPL has been trying to talk Paul into twittering and suggested he would have lots of followers.  Well, Paul, we know you’ll probably have at least 2000 information professionals who will be following you as soon as you sign in and probably many more thousands around the world.  See on Twitter soon.

Jane Dysart, Conference Program Chair

Live Streaming Wed Keynote: Michael Edson

If you enjoyed our Tuesday morning keynote, make sure you check out tomorrow’s keynote speaker, Michael Edson, Director of Web & New Media Strategy, Office of the CIO, Smithsonian Institution.  Under links on the right hand side of this Infotodayblog web page you’ll find the link to the live stream.  We’ll be archiving it too so you can look at it again and again.  Should be fun.

BTW, here’s Michael tweet from a few days ago:  “Working on keynote for Computers in Libraries Wednesday. Need to write new talk about the public domain. Inspired by James Boyle, Jefferson”

Justifying 2.0 Tools

100_2825-mdee-crp_512x6131ONLINE magazine editor Marydee Ojala packed ’em in to her talk called Evaluating, Recommending, & Justifying 2.0 Tools. Good thing her slides will be posted, because there was a ton of info. Here are a few phrases that really caught my attention:

  • “Is social media becoming more traditonal, or is traditional media becoming more social?” (Answer: A bit of both)
  • Decide what your problem is before you start looking at social tools. Find a tool that does what you need, rather than choosing a tool and looking for ways to use it.
  • Before starting to use any tool, do some research to determine how much chance there is that tool will survive and whether there’s tech support for it.
  • When trying to convince management to adopt a 2.0 tool, make sure it’s one that aligns with your org’s goals, and then build a case based on outcomes.
  • Know who your stakeholders are & understand that they have different world views.
  • Be prepared with counter-arguments for others who don’t see the value of social tools.
  • She echoed something I said in that same room yesterday: Get outside your comfort zone and engage other people!

~Kathy Dempsey, editor, Marketing Library Services newsletter


Unconferences Panel (L-R) John Blyberg, Steve Lawson, Stephen Francoeur, Kathryn Greenhill

Unconferences Panel (L-R) John Blyberg, Steve Lawson, Stephen Francoeur, Kathryn Greenhill

We’re all here at CIL and it’s hardly necessary to say that it is a conference.  It has keynote addresses, speakers, exhibitors, a program, and a well designed infrastructure, all overseen by a very competent Conference Planning Department at ITI.  But what’s an “unconference”?  Does it have any of these features?  Are they necessary?  Evidently some people don’t think they are, and unconferences are a new type of event that is becoming popular.  (I have noticed some of these events beginning to appear on the conference calendars, and have included some of them on the  ITI Conference Calendar. ) 

Unconferences use open space technology and don’t have a pre-determined program.  Instead,  the start of the event, attendees decide what will  be discussed.  The book Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide by Harrison Owen has many guidelines for unconferences, such as:

  • Whoever comes are the right people. 
  • Whatever  happens is  the only thing that could have. 
  • Whenever it starts is the right time. 
  • The “Law of  Two Feet” applies:  “If any person finds him or herself where they are neither learning or contributing, they must use their two feet and go to a more productive place.”  Basically, unconferences are trying to capture what goes on in the hallways between sessions at a traditional conference.

Unconferences started in August 2005 in response to O’Reilly’s FOO Camps when someone who thought he was not invited arranged “an open welcoming yearly event for geeks to camp out with Wi-Fi and smash their brains together.” They go by a number of names: Barcamp, Podcamp,  Library Camp,  Libcamp, Bibcamp, Mashed Library, etc.  But many people think that it doesn’t really matter what they’re called.

Here  are some of the guidelines and experiences mentioned by the panel:

  • You can’t prepare for an unconference!  It’s more like hosting an open house.  You do need to let people know when and where it’s happening and arrange for a place to meet.  As planning proceeds,  the organizers should model what’s going to happen by telling people who inquire that they don’t know what’s not going to be discussed. 
  • Unconferences are not for one particular type of attendee.   They succeed best when some of the traditional conference amenities and procedures are incorporated. 
  • Should keynotes be included?  The advantage is that they get people focused but the danger is that they might stifle spontaneity. 
  • What about registration fees?  Do they prevent people from signing up?  What will  you do with the money?
  • You need to select a place and time.  Libraries have real estate which is an advantage when you are looking for a place to meet. 
  • Every day is a bad day for somebody, so you need to just go ahead and schedule it.  Of course, if a major industry conference is happening simultaneously, it may not be possible to get attendees.  But scheduling an unconference immediately before or after a major conference may be a good idea.
  • Wikis are an excellent unconference plaftorm, both to announce them and for people to add to them. It’s  important to seed the wiki first–blank wikis rarely succeed.
  • Think about amenities and giveaways for attendees.  It helps get them excited about the event.  Give them something useful like a notebook.
Typical giveaways from recent unconferences

Typical giveaways from recent unconferences

  • Give people a sense of what to expect.  Many people have never been to an unconference.  A list of possible discussion topics submitted in advance is useful, but be sure to allow ideas to be submitted at the start of the conference. 
  • The conference will run itself once it starts because people take ownership of topics they have submitted.  Most of the sessions take the form of round-table discussions rather than formal presentations.  Notes of  the proceedings can be put on the conference wiki.
  • If you feed them they will come, and if you give them liquor, they will come next  time!  Make sure that people have a quality time.  Have some structure to take care of problems that occur.  Have the kernel of a discussion ready to get the conference started in case no discussions start.  Sometimes good keynoters can be used for this purpose.

Unconferences won’t replace traditional ones, but they inject intellectual thought into the time between them and re-energize people.  You can get a lot of results from an unconference and build a continuing community as issues come  up.  They are an interesting phenomenon and one worth watching as they develop. 

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and CIL 2009 Blog Coordinator

Social Network Profile Management

Greg Schwartz: Tips to manage your identity: Own your username (look at checkusernames to see if your name has been taken). Join the conversation (if the conversation is about you, you need to say something). Listen to what others are saying about you (follow your username). Be authentic (connect your digital identity with your real one).

Amanda Clay Powers: Teaches 2.0 in Mississippi. Social networks are just another way to let people tell their stories. Disconnect between what people know and don’t know. Why are librarians are on social networks? Creating and managing identity is tied into information management and metadata. Our place is to educate people about what they’re doing with information about themselves. Facebook – upper left hand has feeds that you can manage to control what you see – privacy settings for profile.

Sarah Houghton-Jan: Library social network profiles: managing your identity as a library. Sarah’s Rules: Identity: Register with uniform user names, Register with uniform generic email, Profile information on site should be current. Communication: Quick replies to users’ messages, Personal in tone when posting, speaking, Keep it open to everyone. What not to do: Identity: Register with random strange usernames, Register with individual emails, Outdated profile informaiotn. Communication: Slow ow no replies to users, Institutional in tone, Restricting access.  Watch our for over- and under-management. Look at, Open ID and ClaimID, or Hellowtet, AtomKeep.

Michael Porter: Making sure that WebJunction’s presence on social networks is appropriate and there. He’s LibraryMan. Online resume for the company. Search Twitter for WebJunction. Flickr pictures. Photos of swag. Tweet about workshop. Show personality through photos. But don’t be too goofy because might be interpreted as insensitive. Have fun with tools. Don’t post nearly naked pictures. Do share success stories. Don’t put embarassing pictures.

Start of conversation. Should you have separate identities for personal and professional uses? They will bleed together over time. Functionality is more important than brand. What happens when your boss friends you? Your personal identity and your professional identity are intertwined. You don’t have to post everything. Creating institutional profiles versus personal profiles. Apps you can add to institutional identity on Facebook. Cross pollinating from one social network site to another is important for marketing your library.


Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals

Designing the Digital Experience

David Lee King speaks with Helene Blowers before his presentation

David Lee King speaks with Helene Blowers before his presentation

David Lee King (his blog) recommends the book Experience to get an understanding of what experience is and how we are becoming an “experience economy”.  We can use this concept in designing the digital experience.   There are three paths.

Structural path.  Create a better experience by making your website easier to use–focus on their goal instead of how to use the site.  Stay out of the user’s way.  They aren’t interested in your site’s structure and all its cool features!  Be quick and fluid and get improvements out quickly.  Look at your site with critical eyes and don’t think about the potholes.  Don’t make your users think–if they have to think about how to use the site, you have failed.

Community path.  Create a memorable community-based experience created through online participation in a community.  Give users the ability to create reviews; have real conversations through commenting, instant messaging, online forums, etc.; invite user participation by issuing invitations to interact and share their thoughts; and let them tell their stories.  (See what David’s library, the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library is doing.)

Customer path.  Improve the experience for your customers.  Many consumer companies have discovered this.  For example, Starbucks has lots of information on coffee on its website, and Harley-Davidson has the motorcycle experience allowing customers to meet fellow Harley owners, which focus on the experience surrounding the product.  Libraries could offer book discussion groups on the Web and extend the physical experience into the digital space.  Think about how you can improve on the ordinary (David mentioned how WD-40 cans now have the straw attached).  If you were to start over with your website, what would  you do differently.  Compare your site to those in other industries, not other library’s sites–your customers are not using them!  Surprise and delight your customers.

What’s Next?

  • Connect the customer to your product.
  • Create an experience stage.  Every part of your customer contact is like performing a show.
  • Work on conversation to improve the ability to connect and interact.
  • Work  on organizational change.


Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and CIL 2009 Blog  Coordinator

Instant Gratification

Jane and Paul study the feedback after the keynote

Jane and Paul study the feedback after the keynote

Talk about instant gratification… right after the keynote with Paul Holdengraber, he and Jane Dysart search the Twitter feeds to see what attendees thought of his interview.

Strategies For Digital Natives

Helene Blowers speaks on Digital Natives

Helene Blowers speaks on Digital Natives

Who are Digital  Natives?  According to an accepted definition, they are people born after 1980.  Some of them are as young as 1-1/2 years old!   In 1983, the first cell phone was introduced–they were 3 then!  As we build  services for them, we  must keep in mind that they have always been surrounded by technology. 

The first Web was built on “Find”, now it’s built on connecting and access.  Engagement is critical; it won the election of 2008.  Lots of people are still  chasing information instead of learning how to get it to come to them.  If you’re not using social media, you are still stuck back in the “Find” era.

Here are 9 Realities of Digital Natives:

  • They have an online identity and it’s how they assert their authority online.  Social networks are where they are leaving their footprints. 
  • Creativity is  very important to Digital Natives.  They want to leave their imprint and are “cultural consumers”.   Creativity fuels their self-expression, which explains why remixing content is so important to them.
  • Quality of information is crucial to the functioning of an information society built on digital natives.  Social responsibility is part of quality.  We must learn how to shape our information to enable it to travel easily over the networks.  Even Encyclopedia Britannica has recognized that there are advanatage of socially editing information, and it has launched a wiki.
  • Safety.  Digital Natives have grown up in a physical world that is perceived to be safe, but there is a paranoia that the Web very unsafe.  But a recent National  School  Board study has shown that less than 0.1% have met someone they met online.  Digital Natives are smart and have been taught to exercise safe practices online.
  • Opportunity.  Every day the Internet becomes more important for society.  There are no barriers for Digital Natives; the playing field has been leveled.  They have a huge sandbox to play in! You can edit videos, make mashups, etc., and all you need is a computer and access.  Our libraries provide that.
  • Piracy.   The world of Digital Natives is based on sharing, so what we may call piracy is regarded as  sharing.  Only 3% of Digital Natives believe that sharing is criminal and should be punished.  Remix contests are springing up; Creative Commons has encouraged content use.  You are no longer known by what you own, but by what you share.
  • Privacy.  Is there any such thing in the digital world?  If your library isn’t paying to social networks, that should be a wakeup call!  “Lifestreaming” is a new trend–Digital Natives can trace their life history online.  Maybe  librarians  should become  “lifebrarians”!
  • Advocacy.  Online voices can be an advocate and can create leadership potential.

What does this mean for libraries?  Young minds, virtual users, and power users lead to enhanced opportunities  to read and grow,  connected individuals and communities, and wildly enthusiastic users.  Customers must connect with library staff, services,  and each other in meaningful ways.  Blowers said that at the Columbus, OH Metropolitan Library, where she is Digital Strategy Director, strategies of engagement, enrichment, and empowerment form the framework in defining new services for users. 

What’s a great birthday present for a Digital Native?  Buy them their own domain name!

Helene’s slides are on Slideshare.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and CIL 2009 Blog Coordinator