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What’s Next?

Only about 2 hours after the exhibits closed, the hall was a buzz of deconstruction and packing activity.  I hope you enjoyed the conference–I certainly did!

So what’s next?  Some of the ITI staff is heading to San Jose for next week’s KMWorld/Intranets, Enterprise Search Summit West, and Taxonomy Boot Camp conferences–ITI’s last conferences of the year.  I am heading for Charleston, SC next week and the Charleston Conference.  And this blog will come to life again as Live From London V when we cover the Online Information conference in London, December 4-6.  Information Today’s conference coverage finishes for the year with an article on the Grey Literature (GL9) conference in Antwerp, Belgium on December 10-11.

But the main thing for you now is to remember to mark your calendars for next year’s Internet Librarian conference (see the next post for the details).

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and IL2007 Blog  Coordinator


From physical to virtual and back again

Liz Lawley from the Rochester Institute of Technology Lab for Social Computing closed the conference with a fascinating look at gaming and how it is affecting the information world.  She noted that the boundaries of gaming blurring and context is collapsing.  Gaming is becoming professional networking.  Liz plays World of Warcraft, along with her entire family.  She  went to a gaming conference recently where professors and graduate students were playing each other, and real world colleagues became virtual playmates. 

This graph shows the number of World of Warcraft players for the last several months.  Over 1 million players are online concurrently during prime time in the US.  Why is gaming so popular, and why does it work?  Liz feels that it puts the fun in functional, and game mechanics become like functional software.  Here are 5 ways to make something fun:

  • Collecting:  get stuff and show it off by piling it up in front of us (like poker chips)
  • Points:  get a score
  • Feedback:  know that we are doing the right thing
  • Exchanges with players
  • Communication

Game developers follow these principles by ensuring that you do not get attacked in their game during the first 5 minutes.  They want you to be initially successful so that you can explore the game and learn how to play it.  One way they do this is to introduce non-player characters who deliver information to the players.  They also make the first levels of progression easy to bolster the player’s confidence.  The chart below shows the stages through which typical game players pass.

Even some real world programs use gaming techniques, such as:

  • Tupperware parties:  build the self-esteem of the salespeople
  • Summer reading programs in libraries:  children earn prizes for reading a certain number of books
  • eBay feedback:  buyers and sellers get points and improve their standing in the community
  • Friendster:  collect friends

Particularly for children, there is much that they can learn from gaming.  World of Warcraft lets them interact with people of other generations and develop social skills.

Some games blur the boundaries between virtual worlds and the physical, real life one.  ChoreWars awards points for doing chores.  Participants are motivated to collect points and redeem prizes.  Attent by Seriosity attaches values to e-mail messages to prioritize them and attach an importance to them.  Participants have a limited number of points to "spend"  when  they send a message, which forces them to consider how  important it is.

Gaming has applications for libraries.  How can we make the catalog a game?  How can we make the library fun and make people want to return?  Can we deal with burnout?  (Some games require a long list of repetitive tasks to be completed before the player can advance.)   For those who are interested in further study of the fascinating world of gaming, Liz recommends reading the book Theory of Fun for Game Design, by Koster.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and IL2007 Blog Coordinator

Costumes Around the Conference

Today is Halloween, and several attendees observed it by coming in costume.  Below are a few pictures of some of those folks. 

Google marked the day too with a special logo.


Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and IL2007 Blog Coordinator

The Library as Community Commons

Terry Huwe, director at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE; Univ. of California, Berkeley), and columnist for Computers in Libraries, talked about the recent changes implemented at his library. Library skill can drive organizational change – and they used it to vastly increase the reach of the library staff into the lives of its users.

IRLE has fully renovated its Library. The new “Library Commons” provides an array of digital and traditional library services in a homey and inviting environment. The library has become like a comfortable, cozy living room—but one with appropriate technical options like wireless. The space has brought them opportunities to show the integrated environment they offer. It became the community builder that they had hoped it would.

The challenge today is how to mix/integrate new technologies with legacy (static) systems. Standard Web technologies can be the “glue” for most 2.0 applications.
The Library Commons is powerful – and has proven to be a popular place. It has provided pervasive technology and effective group spaces – it’s become the place to hang out.

Given the changes within the university—collapsing of traditional departments, merging of fields, collaborations across disciplines—means there are opportunities to guide them.
They have taken the lead on introducing many new technologies. They evolved from strength in Web management to blogging, Webcasting, Webconferencing, wikis, Facebook involvement, etc.

On their radar are social bookmarking, instant messaging, Facebook…but Terry said it’s important to match the right 2.0 tools to your situation.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.

Checking Out Virtual Lives

I came to the session titled World of Warcraft Versus Second Life because I was skeptical but wanted to expand my horizons. I also thought it would help me understand my son’s fascination for gaming.

I was very surprised to first hear Cindy Hill talk about her virtual work existence when she was at Sun Microsystems. She said that nearly 50 percent of Sun employees now have no assigned physical space and work outside the Sun offices regularly—resulting in monetary and environmental savings for the company. Sun also worked to change the office space so it was more collaborative. It also changed IT so that the distinction between outside and inside is gone. But, here’s the big news: The company will be building a new office named MPK20—but it will only be a virtual building. This will be their own space rather than in Second Life, so they can maintain confidentiality and privacy. People will retain their real names. It will offer an enterprise-grade infrastructure. Design concepts from virtual worlds are now playing into designs for new enterprise work spaces—very cool stuff!

For more information, check this out:

U.K. consultant Mary Aukland talked about her experiences of playing World of Warcraft—dressed in costume. She said there are 6 million players, each paying about $20 per month. It crosses generations and genders. She plays to chill out—it’s her form of relaxation. It also has sharpened her mental abilities and increased her eye-hand coordination. She also does it for social networking. It has taught her about herself and to be more assertive. It is also a good tool for encouraging reading—something that eases my mind over my son’s involvement with the game.

For libraries, the implications concern how people are organizing themselves in guilds and how they work in teams. And here’s a thought–Tomorrow’s CEOs are all playing Warcraft now!

Lori Bell’s whole family is involved—daughter, son, and husband all playing World of Warcraft while she stays in Second Life. She had the figure of 9 million players for WofW. People frequently don’t know what to do in Second Life, since there aren’t really games—so the retention rate isn’t very high. Both virtual worlds are addictive and fun.

Liz Lawley discussed some of her concerns about both—giving just a small preview of her afternoon keynote. Her 13 year old son loves SL. For him it fills a gap for his lack of control in the real world. For her, remodeling a real house is enough work.

She said that Second Life becomes a solution in search of a problem for most adults. Take a step back and ask why you are using it. “I can’t do anything in SL that I have an unmet need for in the real world.” She’s troubled by the segregation of adults and kids in SL—while in World of Warcraft she can interact and play with her children.

But with both, you need to ask why you are using them. It’s important to at least try these environments so we understand the dialog and the issues. From games, we can learn about what motivates people.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.

Internet Librarian 07 Becomes Part of History

As Don mentioned earlier, part of last night’s session was on gadgets and part was on a really cool project that four Dutch men have undertaken. They flew from Amsterdam to New York, rented an RV, and proceeded to drive it around the US, hitting the 5,000-mile mark as they got to Monterey. Along the way they visited libraries and interviewed all sorts of librarians about how they saw the future of libraries. Wow, what a story they have to tell.

(L-R: Edo, Japp, Geert, Erik in the RV)

And so it was no accident that they dubbed their project Shanachie Tour. ("Shanachie" is Irish for "Storytelling." They filmed their interviews and their trip, and are creating a documentary about it. At IL’s session they not only showed parts of what  they’ve filmed so far, they made our audience part of it. They did live interivews during the session and projected them on the screen in real time. Nothing like seeing yourself make history as it happens. 


I know that Erik, Jaap, Geert, and Edo made a lot of friends along the way. They certainly did in Monterey. Soon they’ll fly home and head back to work at Delft’s" Library Concept Center." ( But you’ll want to enjoy their web site while you wait for the finished product. Maybe you’ll see some of the colleagues in the crowd! 

Thanks, gentlemen, for reminding us how much American libraries rock–and for showing us how much Dutch librarians rock!

~Kathy Dempsey

CIL & MLS editor



Lunch in the Exhibit Hall

Wednesday featured a wonderful lunch in the exhibit hall, which was well attended–to the delight of the exhibitors.


Free "cybertours" were offered  throughout the conference.  Below, Jill Hurst-Wahl  presents Second Life.


Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and IL2007 Blog Coordinator


What’s Hot With RSS

This presentation by Steve Cohen, RSS enthusiast, gave me a major case of informaton overload.  Fortunately, links to all the tools he discussed are available on his wiki.  I  was especially impressed by two things Steve said:

  • "RSS is neither simple nor syndicated".
  • "The reference interview doesn’t end when the requester walks out the door.  It ends when his/her project is done.  So keep feeding them information as long as they need it."

Steve let us in on his RSS tricks. He is especially well qualified to speak on this subject because he has hundreds of feeds and reads (at least opens) thousands of items a day.  He very much likes Google Reader, which provides lots of data on his feeds and said, "Google Reader makes me smarter".  Here is a snapshot of Steve’s Google  Reader data page.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and IL2007 Blog Coordinator

New Web Applications: Mashups and Visualizations

Here is Darlene Fichter in costume for  Halloween after her presentation on mashups and visualizations.

Whereas Web 1.0 was the realm of people who knew HTML coding (i.e. programmers), Web 2.0 has made it possible for anyone to participate without knowing coding.  This has given rise to citizen journalism an explosion of photo sites, etc.  New applications can be created in minutes using wizards and other tools.


Mashups are a direct result of Web 2.0.  A mashup is a web application using content from more than one source to create a new application.  The term comes from pop music.  In the mashup ecosystem, open data content is the key; over half of today’s mashups involve maps.  Mashups used to involve coding, but new tools now make the task much easier.  Here are some of them:

  • Yahoo Maps
  • Frappr
  • Google My Maps
  • Yahoo Pipes
  • QEDWiki
  • DataMashups

According to The Programmable Web, at least 2,456 mashups exist

Data Visualization

Visualization is an important way to access data because the human eye can process information much better visually than textually.  Here are some examples of web sites using visualization to present data.

 Finally, a new trend is social data sites using these technologies.  One example is ManyEyes (see photo below)

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and IL2007 Blog Coordinator