Tuesday, April 29, 2008

RSS Awareness Day

According to this site, May 1st is RSS Awareness Day. In one sense, pretty silly, but still - could be a chance to highlight some of our current awareness tools...

RSS Awareness Day

RSS Awareness Day

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's all good: Today's most e-mailed article from the Chronicle of Higher Education

According to the "Its All Good" blog, The Chronicle article including Bowdoin was the number one e-mailed article from the Chronicle site on Friday: It's all good: Today's most e-mailed article from the Chronicle of Higher Education

Saturday, April 12, 2008

WiFi as a shared resource

While I'm thinking about Computers In Libraries I'll mention one of the less - positive experiences of the conference - the wireless networking situation. It became a running undercurrent to the rest of the conference content. I think it is something that there should be more discussion about, in a number of areas:
  • In one strange sense, I was happy to experience the frequent network outages / instabilities. I know I, and probably most of those in attendance at the conference, come from situations of bandwidth luxury: A private home wireless network connected to a good DSL line, A research grade internet connection at work. It is probably good for us to be in the position of access scarcity every now and then, to remember that for many people that is till the norm.
  • In one sense it would be easy to blame the conference organizers for the instability of the networking situation, or the hotel facilities. But realistically - it is a big job to provide wireless infrastructure for a potential userbase of over 2000 people. From what I could see, ITI was making a real effort to accomplish this, and often succeeded.
  • The real issue for me is a question of "netiquette" - of social behavior. Often, the problem seemed to be that people could see the wireless network and connect, but couldn't talk to the outside world very well. I don't know what the bandwidth of the connection from the conference routers to the internet as a whole was, but it is obviously a limited resource. And yet, when people could connect, I'd see them browsing aimlessly, watching You-tube videos, looking at facebook pictures... etc. etc. -- not that there is anything wrong with that in the abstract, but when at the same time presenters are having to scrap their live demos because the network is so slow and unpredictable, it seems at best highly inconsiderate, and possibly mean spirited and a form of sabotage.
With all the talk of building community, of collaborating, of "sharing online" etc... etc..., I'd like to see more explicit discussion of this aspect of "social networking" - more consideration of the basic norms of appropriate behavior around a shared, limited resource.

More and more the digital world is ushering in a new form of economics, not based on the old paradigm where scarcity equals value, but where value equals abundance and ease of access. But wireless networks are not part of that world yet.

Okay, I'll take off my curmudgeon hat now. :-)

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Home from "Computers In Libraries"

I had a great time at the CIL conference. Of course I've got pages and pages of notes with ideas, web sites to look at, tools to try, powerpoint slides to review, etc... I don't think I"ll "blog" those as such but I'll probably put them online somehow to share with colleagues, etc... (As a note-taking device, I installed MediaWiki locally on my MacBook - to get some experience thinking in mediawiki markup. Seemed to work pretty well, and makes the case for putting the results up on a wiki somewhere, either my own or of the conference / library related ones).

What stands out for me, though, is more the emotional content of the conference. I hadn't been to a library conference in quite a while, and had forgotten the feeling of the shared passion and excitement that is generated by that many people getting together. The three keynote sessions were well chosen - each expressed the passion in a different way, and I did find myself relating the ideas presented to later, more technical, sessions. The Pew Internet & American Life Project and the Shanachies Tour sessions were obvious choices to me before the conference, but I was dubious of the "Gaming" related keynote going into (and probably for the first 15 minutes into it). I understood the interest in gaming and (some of) the values of integrating it into (some) library programs -- but I realize now I didn't really "get it". So this session was one of the bigger epiphanies for me at the conference, and really made me re-evaluate a lot of the other sessions I attended. Its not about the gaming per se - its about being engaging and interactive, about helping people be self-motivating through entertainment and social incentives.

My favorite example is was the "Pecha Kucha" Web 2.0 technologies session. For me it in a way embodied a lot of the themes that other sessions talked about. There was good information there, and useful stuff to be learned, but the whole presentation became more than the sum of its parts in the way that the different presenters related to each other, and the panel related to the audience. There was more synthesis and synergy than is achieved in most conference presentations - especially by the time Greg Notess made his "skeptic" presentation. (But I have to add that - in spite of what I said about my gaming epiphany later, I thought that turning the Pecha Kucha into a competition took something away from it - for me at least. Even though it was done at an audience member's suggestion, I felt it re-established a bit of the division between panel and audience that had been broken down. I suddenly felt uncomfortable and self conscious - I didn't want to judge between the panelists. So anyway, that is my $.02 worth for whoever may be listening).

I don't really feel like I've explained myself here - maybe I will write more as I continue to go through my notes and find examples. I think the Pecha Kucha thing was at the front of my mind from working on this, which was my attempt at putting into practice some of the "infotubey" goodness:

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Buying Music Modularly

This seems like an interesting direction:

Radiohead, iTunes and GarageBand are giving you the opportunity to remix the band's new single "Nude".

To make remixing easy, the separate 'stems'* from the song are available to purchase from iTunes _here_. The 'stems' available are bass, voice, guitar, strings/fx and drums. You can mix them in any way you like, either by adding your own beats and instrumentation, or just remixing the original parts.