Archive for the ‘technology’ Category.

I’m ba-ack — at CIL, that is

Um. Yeah. It’s been a while. Hi. So I’m at CIL 2010 and figured I’d try some mild conference blogging to ease back in. Mostly because my favorite name for a session ever is… “Black Ops Ninja Style Tech Projects.” This one’s Sarah Houghton-Jan, John Blyberg, and Amanda Etches-Johnson, so you know it’s going to be good — and here’s what my scattered notes summarize. I can’t call it liveblogging because this session was yesterday — it would have been liveblogging had I been able to get internet to work in that particular room. Nice touch: Taking ?s from twitter during the session.

Sarah Houghton-Jan

Exciting projects get thwarted early by barriers that sometimes don’t make sense. Hear no once, think no always be the answer. New tech mgr herself found ways to get around: Be a bully, be subversive, be sneaky, read the policy manuals and find huge examples of policy to quote.

John Blyberg

Things are done just because they are done. Asked mom: Why you do this thing with the pie crust — because my mother did it, because my grandmother did it, no reason.

how get into culture of libs and win hearts and minds?

Every lib has staff who are lead employees — take initiative to look at innov. things going on and want to implement. As mgr, embed these ppl different areas of lib so c/b change agents, give responsibility so they can spread those thoughts among staff. And give feedback what ppl thinking and real-world elements in play.

Amanda Etches-Johnson

manages tiny team, her and two dev, web dev, digital exp, emerging tech at her lib. High degree autonomy.

know your lib’s strategic plan and make sure your black ops fit in. Esp with tech projects — don’t implement just for sake of impl, but bc strategic, fits in w/ lib’s goals.

Ex: 2 yrs ago resp. website redesign project and dec. implement a CMS, retrospect, not good idea same time. Had some Drupal exp. for nonlib projects, wanted use. Not sold because this will be easy. Fits in with strategic plan: Free and open source.

Sarah H-J

Blending into env. and sneaking up on ppl last minute. Make chngs w/o ppl noticing. By the time they notice, been going a while, can say, hey, it’s been up for months with no problems. Ex: Catalog — added links so could ask circ desk for help. Thought won’t say yes to that, think will be overloaded. Didn’t realize in a month. Uptick 5-10% in traffic, but that’s another 5-10% ppl getting ?s answered and finding contact info they need. Also covertly introduce ideas through emails, little mentions at meetings. Start sending out notices. Ex: Want to start twitter? Start sending out notes: Stats on twitter, what this lib is doing w/ twitter, so when you introduce idea it’s familiar. If heard of idea before they’re much more apt to say yes when formally introduced bc it’s familiar, not foreign.

John B

SOPAC: Integrates w/ drupal, merges CMS with catalog for seamless UE. Back in 2004 — post content and solicit comments from users, very new and scary thing, let alone let users add metadata, reviews, etc. to records. Scared the crap out of librarians. Couldn’t understand diff between adding metadata held in separate repository but connected to record as opposed to changing record = FUD. Got it done — really we just did it. Said we were doing a website redesign. Very literal about it: Doing a CMS that allows the site to be more dynamic, didn’t provide a lot of info. If did, process would have been bogged down with what ifs, which wasn’t going to get the project done. As IT staff, were experts, didn’t want to have process hijacked by ppl not know what talking about. Went ahead and launched, = huge success. So bc huge success, very little pushback from staff, they got excited by prospect being content mgrs. Provide countervision for ppl to latch onto. easier to ask forgiveness.

Amanda E-J

Follow evidence based practice. Borrowed from evidenced based practice from medical field. Questioning approach to practice leads to scientific experimentation. Some ppl hide behind use as excuse not to innovate. EBL for her = innovation. Start with what do we do, lit search, not out there, turn to network. Ask colleagues for experiences. All of that = ev based practice. If no evidence, do anyway, but collect ev self as go along and share it part broaded body prof knowledge.

Not a lot at point — mechanics of drupal. How create subject guide, how use modules do spec things on website. Wrote blog posts about it, writing article for her intranet, etc.

Sarah H-J

Avoiding collateral damage. Someone gets excited and blazes ahead w/o talking someone else. Sometimes us or sometimes we exp. collat dam. Don’t step on toes power- or support- or staffing- or funding-wise. Move ahead in thoughtful way. Talk to write ppl, dept heads, make sure no unintended impact on them that will crash project and create sit they don’t trust you for future projects. Get ppl who going to be affected involved at early stages. Have help define goals and scope of project. Forget other ppl smart too and smart about things we may not know about.

John B

What if you’re wrong and the new thing not a success, not what ppl want? Twitter ?

When deploy things need to deploy like a fire jumper. Drop in and establish a foothold and stay there. Give it resource you need to succeed. Great successes built on a legacy of failure. If you are wrong, own up, apologize, put effort to analyze why not make it work. Was idea bad? or bc didn’t have enuf resources? or bc didn’t implement it well? APply lessons to next time.

Audience comment: Sometimes just too soon and if you try 6mos later will work. Timing is everything.

Amanda E-J

cb hard to recover from no. NO right now doesn’t nec. mean no 6 months from now. Keep pushing ideas forward.

Committees bad, project teams, good. b4 user exp. libn, was ref libn and chair of web team. Had resp but not auth. Typical webteam. 12 ppl. Bad, spent hours discussing color of input button. No real auth to make dec. When bc user exp libn got auth. No mandate, just “make website better.” Disbanded web team and assembled project team based on site redesign. Ppl not problem, structure problem — some same ppl from webteam came to project team. Project team lasted 6 months, had 4 tasks, based around redesign. Had 2-day retreat at student center next door. Built wireframes figured out top level nav. Needed project team to buy into process.

Sarah H-J

twitter ? — how decided when push forward w/o talking to ppl vs. getting stakeholders on board?

Judgment call. In circ. ex. knew from previous exp. that group of circ mgrs would present unrealistic fears and staffing impact expectations — knew would happen again this time. Instead letting fear get better of them, just blaze ahead and do it. Think about past exp. w stakeholders and likely repercussion if do it wo asking. If notice the next day, repercussions, admit wrong, back track, and go the other way.

trust and follow instincts. Have sense what serv will help users. User focused. If done research and looked topic in depth, trust instincts and move forward. Current web redesign horrible project. Paid graphic designer — they did 3 samples, crap. Did 2 new, crap. Admin said make it work cause we paid. Spent 9 months trying. New web libn — 2nd day mocked up a new design. She loved, but back of head oh we paid for old thing, did bunch of work need to undo. Slept on it, trusted instincts, went with what was better. Everyone thrilled. If brain and heart tells you to do, do it. yOu know what you’re doing, have conf. to convince others.

John B

Know when to quit. If you need to scrap work, then that’s the way to go.

? from audience — when good to implement a stupid idea when someone really attached. John: Do user prototyping stage internally and then open outwards if not sure.

Audience comment — think in terms of undermining trust in your work. But if going ot help someone work w/ you better if implement their idea and doesn’t undermine project/trust in long run, then worth it.

Ppl want stability, want to be able to do their jobs. Make sure keep basics running before push new. Move from culture of reaction to culture of innovation. Make sure your staff sees you at the person trying to make things work so when roll out new ideas they trust and know you have their best interests at heart, will support you. Take care of back end first.

Sarah H-J

? from audience — what if someone comes w/ you w/ untenable project, how say no.

Hold to same standards. What evidence do they have, what libs have done it and it worked, etc. Say let’s think about it and you tell me why you think it’s important. take it to x group or team and then come w/ ideas and concerns — sometimes other group says no for you.

john b – make sure they are personally invested in idea. If not invest own time or staff resources that tells him they’re not really serious. Will listen if they know what they’ll invest and do to make idea a success.

a e-j — usually rel to website. If not think will fly, paper prototype, test, let testing decide. Sometimes her instincts wrong.

Audience comment — don’t show all cards up front. Leave out things know people want so they give sugg thing you’re going to implement anyway.  Say we’re willing to do xyz if that will help you out.

Audience comment — say a positive no to build political capital.

RT — 10th thing — it’s all about the politics.

I resemble these remarks

Yet another one of Pew’s endless reports — this one from a survey done in April 2009 — talks about the increase in wireless Internet usage. The part that interests me is that about mobile devices:

The report also finds rising levels of Americans using the internet on a mobile handset. One-third of Americans (32%) have used a cell phone or Smartphone to access the internet for emailing, instant-messaging, or information-seeking. This level of mobile internet is up by one-third since December 2007, when 24% of Americans had ever used the internet on a mobile device. On the typical day, nearly one-fifth (19%) of Americans use the internet on a mobile device, up substantially from the 11% level recorded in December 2007. That’s a growth of 73% in the 16 month interval between surveys.

Hey, that’s me they’re talking about! Before I got my piPhone in March, I had an old brick of a phone that basically… I know, how silly… made phone calls. Now, I read email or look things up or otherwise go online on my iPhone just about every day — and after just four months, you’d have to pry the thing away from me.

And that’s some serious growth in less than 1.5 years. Some interesting stuff for libraries piloting mobile services.

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So, last week my cell phone died — it was about 5 years old, I’d been out of contract for some time, and after being finicky for a while it just stopped charging. Since I didn’t want to travel without a phone on Monday, I shopped around on Saturday and ended up with… an iPhone! I have been coveting an iPhone since they first came out, particularly since my husband has one through work and tends to taunt me with his.

Mine’s a refurb, but still not so frugal — especially because the data plan will cost about $35/month (including taxes) more than what I was paying for my previous phone-only plan. How do I justify this? We poked at the numbers and figured that if we could cut at least $35 out of recurring monthly bills to come out even, we’d go for it. Here were our steps:

  1. The first thing to go: long-distance home phone service, saving around $10/month. (The iPhone gets great reception in the house — we’d been holding off on dropping long distance because my old phone, well, didn’t.) Total savings: $10/month
  2. Then, we called DirecTV, asked for the cancellation department, and made noise about switching to cable. Savings? A one-time $25 credit and $10/month off our bill for 18 months. Total savings: $20/month
  3. We then dropped down a Netflix tier to save $4/month — we’ve been holding onto movies way too long and watch fewer DVDs since we  have streaming, the library, and Redbox as options. Total savings: $24/month
  4. Then, we called Comcast, asked for the cancellation department, and made noises about switching to DSL. They dropped us to a slower tier — still faster than the DSL service we can get in our area — saving $20/month. Total savings: $44/month

So, iJustify the iPhone (which I’ve nicknamed piPhone because it was purchased on 3/14) by saying it is saving me $9/month :) .

What should we have done? Cut all of the above and not bought an iPhone. But I do think there is a case to be made for not being frugal all of the time — I’m not a go-out-and-buy-every-new-gadget type of person, but my gosh, do I love my new iPhone.

What sorts of things do you splurge on?

(xposted at mashup mom)


Watched part of LITA’s “Top Technology Trends” panel on streaming video earlier today, very cool. As someone who doesn’t often get to participate in ALA “live” (and has only ever read summaries of TTT after the fact), I appreciated the chance to catch the bits of discussion you inevitably miss in writeups — and to see the panelists’ reactions to one another. This is definitely something I’d like to see more of, esp. from LITA, who should be out in front pushing for virtual participation.

The now-liminal status of the printed word

I had to link to this Christine Rosen piece from The New Atlantis on “People of the Screen,” largely because it uses the phrase “the now-liminal status of the printed word.” (I just don’t get to see the word “liminal” thrown about enough.) Yes, another doom-and-gloom article about the demise of print, wrapped up in an “I’m so intellectual” package — and, oddly enough, available to read in full on the screen. To wit:

Such is the end of the tragedy we are now witness to: Literacy, the most empowering achievement of our civilization, is to be replaced by a vague and ill-defined screen savvy. The paper book, the tool that built modernity, is to be phased out in favor of fractured, unfixed information. All in the name of progress.

There’s so much to take issue with in this mish-mosh of an article that one hardly knows where to begin. A little research here and there, however, might help clarify matters. For instance, Rosen bemoans the fact that:

Rather than reading deliberately, when we scan the screen in search of content our eyes follow an F-shaped pattern, quickly darting across text in search of the central nugget of information we seek. “’Reading’ is not even the right word” to describe this activity, Nielsen pointedly says.

People have being doing these sorts of “eyeball studies” for years, and guess what? People don’t “deliberately” read newspapers in a nice straight line, either — they tend to read in an “S” or a “Z” pattern, looking for clues in photos, headlines, graphics, and captions before settling into the meat of a story. And, go figure — the Poynter Institute reports in the results of a recent eyeball tracking study comparing print newspaper reading with online reading that:

Once people chose what they wanted to read they read more thoroughly online than in print.

  • Online readers read both short and long stories more completely than either broadsheet or tabloid readers (online 62% of the text of stories longer than 19 inches was read compared to 52% in tabloid and 49% in broadsheet.)
  • Online readers, overall, read an average of 77% of the stories they chose to read.
  • Implication? Can we get over the longing for the “good old days” when supposedly people sat and read the newspaper cover to cover? It is clear that once engaged, the online reader stays with the text of a story longer than the newsprint reader.

    More thoroughly? Say it ain’t so, Joe…

    But let’s step back and talk “liminal” for a minute. One important component missing from this article (and from most “it’s the end of the printed word as we know it” scenarios): Liminal implies potential and possibility. These are good things. If you find being on the threshold unsettling, you’re not alone; it doesn’t mean the sky is falling on us all.

    It’s also worth noting how people read different interpretations into the same thing, from Rosen’s interpretation of Jakob Nielsen’s eyeball research to the recent NEA report on reading. The Smart Bitches just linked, celebrating the finding that reading is on the rise for the first time in 25 years. Walt Crawford just linked, noting that the previous “fall” in reading rates “was nonsense and cooked data,” so why assume NEA is doing it right this time. Stephen Abram just linked, listing with little comment the report’s “key findings,” like “The U.S. population now breaks into two almost equally sized groups – readers and non-readers.”

    Discover recently posted a fascinating article on “How Google is Making us Smarter,” which notes near the end:

    That doesn’t mean we must approve of every possible extension of the mind, and even good extensions will have some drawbacks. Socrates worried that writing would make people forgetful and unwise. Sure enough, writing did rob us of some gifts, such as the ability to recite epic poems like The Iliad from memory. But it also created a much larger pool of knowledge from which people could draw, a pool that has continued to expand (or, dare we say, continued to extend?).

    Yes, gloom and doom scenarios are nothing particularly new. Just as writing enabled the creation of that larger pool of knowledge, though, the content creation tools of the read/write Web (and the interactivity it invites) similarly enable the creation of a new pool of knowledge, a new collective wisdom to draw upon. We may not know exactly where this all leads us, but we can explore the possibilities — speaking of being in a liminal state.

    Call for collection development articles, The Tech Static

    The Tech Static, a new technology-related book review outlet and collection development resource for librarians launching this November, is soliciting article queries. Current needs include:

    * Advice on weeding technology-related titles
    * Overviews of “hot” new technologies, software, applications, certifications, or new releases for which libraries should stock updated guides
    * Discussion of ways to fund useful collections of technology titles
    * Suggestions of what types of professional technology titles to stock for staff’s reference and development
    * Series overviews and recommendations for library purchasing
    * Any other advice, how-tos, or “how-we-did-it-good” articles related to collection development in the area of technology.

    Experience with collection development in this area, or with newer technologies, library tech support, or other technological background a plus. Email your queries to

    The Tech Static does not at this time provide monetary compensation for reviews or articles. The Tech Static asks for first electronic publication rights; the copyright and reprint rights for your work remain with you.

    Just browsing

    Anyone else playing with Google Chrome? Whatcha think?

    (Don’t know what it is? Read the comic!)

    Of shoes and CIL

    A recent post at Get Rich Slowly on “What do you Splurge on?” got me thinking about my cute and comfortable new conference shoes. (Yes, I realize that for some people $90 shoes aren’t a “splurge,” but it’s all in the context… And never buy something on w/o searching for discount codes first. Just saying.) This is the first time I’ve tromped around a conference for a few days without limping my way to the airport later; I liked these shoes so much I went and bought another pair in black.

    But enough about the shoes, except that “wear comfortable shoes” is one of those conference tips to always take seriously. I’m just back from this year’s Computers in Libraries conference, where as you can see I did some very serious work.

    I also saw some useful and inspiring presentations, but kept thinking: how can we translate these ideas to libraries that don’t have the resources of, say, a PLCMC or TSCPL? I’d like to see a conference track on innovation in smaller libraries, and was wondering if you all concur — and what types of topics you’d like to see there? Are you doing cool things in your library without a lot of resources? Who else do you know that’s doing so?

    Memeo Autocrap

    Just a friendly consumer warning. I bought an external western digital hard drive to back up my data. When I plugged it in, it gave me the option to install Memeo autobackup software. Not until the software was installed and the backup started did it mention that this was a 30-day trial of $29.95 backup software… nice.

    24 hours later, my initial backup finally completed (!). My system has been running slowly ever since, and the ‘autosync’ and ‘autobackup’ options don’t want to stay out of startup. The windows uninstaller keeps crapping out. If you buy a hard drive with this product on it, my advice is — STAY AWAY.

    (this message brought to you by the letter “A,” for annoyed.)