Sunday, December 13, 2009

Screencast Software

I've been playing around with screencast software today. I have Jing's free version installed on my computer and I just installed a trial version of Camtasia for mac. Here is a screencast I did for my 451 class, demonstrating how a project about folk music could be searched using the Music Index Online database.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


First, I've found that I really like the New York Times' Tech section. It's one of my favorite news sources since I've bookmarked it. Today I read an article about how iPhone "Apps" are changing not only the evolution of smart phones, but also the development and distribution of games.
The popularity of Apple’s app model has reached a fever pitch. Tens of thousands of independent developers are clamoring to write programs for it, and the App Store’s virtual shelves are stocked with more than 100,000 applications. Apple recently said that consumers had downloaded more than two billion applications from its store.

The full article is here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Podcast Watch

Listening to the podcast On the Media, which is out of WNYC, the public radio station of New York City, would probably be a good bet each week, because their topics often merge with topics related to librarianship. However, sometimes they hit librarianship more directly, as they did on their past show: The Past, Present, and Future of Books.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Website of the Day

Andrew Sullivan's blog The Daily Dish is one of my favorite news sources. His readers regularly send in photos taken from windows and these photos are shared on the blog with the heading, The View From Your Window with the location and time listed below the photo. Now The Atlantic (which Andrew Sullivan works for) has collected a portion of these photos into a book. Sullivan provided a link to, where you can create your own books. You can also page through books like you would a physical book. It's the first time I've ever been to the website, and it's pretty cool. For a sample, here's a link to the Atlantic book The View From Your Window.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Continuing Evidence

...that the eReader is not a fad: Barnes & Nobles' Nook has sold out. Really, it shows a problem with production and distribution, but eReaders are desirable gifts. The Kindle is only about two years old, and there's already a swell in competition and attention. It's not changing the culture as fast as the iPod, but it's changing things.

Friday, November 20, 2009


People have been sharing hilarious bits of viral culture with me lately, showing how the Internet helps word-of-mouth campaigns and vice versa. YouTube has played a prominent role, as has Amazon, two titans of 2.0. People will often ask: "Where did you find out about this?" and I say, "People told me about it," just like I told them. Every bit (especially the oozinator and the shake weight) has elicited tearful laughter or stress relief. That doesn't go unshared.

Check out how many reviews this t-shirt has.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Website of the Day

In class today we talked about the advantages of presenting a single box search to users over the multiple boxes of most library search engines. Dartmouth college has adopted the single box search using Summon. I don't entirely understand how to describe it, so I think you should just take a look for yourself.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Article of the Day

I have an iPhone now, in addition to my Kindle. I read my iPhone on the bus, and my Kindle at night. I realized yesterday morning when I had a half hour before my class started that I was reading my iPhone at College Library, rather than just using a computer. So I went an used a computer, mainly because it's novel for me to read the news on such a large screen. Some people have asked if it's hard to read the iPhone when the writing is so small, but I haven't found it to be difficult. I wouldn't want to do it for a long period of time, or read a novel on it, but it's fine for bus rides.

An article ("Library in a Pocket") in the NY Times today discusses smart phones vs. e-readers.
With Amazon’s Kindle, readers can squeeze hundreds of books into a device that is smaller than most hardcovers. For some, that’s not small enough.

Many people who want to read electronic books are discovering that they can do so on the smartphones that are already in their pockets — bringing a whole new meaning to “phone book.” And they like that they can save the $250 to $350 that they would otherwise spend on yet another gadget.

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Website of the Day

I'm not totally sold on, but it's definitely addicting when you start. The major drawback is that there aren't enough movies cataloged yet, so if your tastes range into more obscure areas, you'll find yourself getting frustrated.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Article of the Day - 2 other industries fighting to evolve

In the New York TImes this morning, I read (for free) two articles. The first is a blog entry with the headline About Half in U.S. Would Pay for Online News, Study Finds .

Americans, it turns out, are less willing than people in many other Western countries to pay for their online news, according to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group.

Among regular Internet users in the United States, 48 percent said in the survey, conducted in October, that they would pay to read news online, including on mobile devices. That result tied with Britain for the lowest figure among nine countries where Boston Consulting commissioned surveys. In several Western European countries, more than 60 percent said they would pay.

Staying in the Tech section, we see Nicholas Carr contemplating The Price of Free: what will happen to TV if we all stream shows from the web?
When, in late September, rumors surfaced that Comcast was trying to buy NBC Universal from General Electric, Wall Street reacted with dismay. Grandiose attempts to combine media production and distribution — programming and plumbing — are nothing new in the entertainment business, but they almost always end in disappointment. Witness AOL Time Warner. So what in the world could be prompting the Comcast chief executive, Brian Roberts, to start down this accursed path?

I fear that I’m to blame.

A few months ago, while stalking the aisles of my local Best Buy, I gave in to techno-temptation. I bought a Blu-ray player. What I didn’t realize until I unpacked the gadget was that it does a lot more than just spin high-definition discs. It is, as they say, Web-enabled. As soon as I plugged it into an outlet in my living room, its built-in WiFi antenna sniffed out my home network and logged on. The Blu-ray player became a gateway between the Internet and my television set

See! Many industries are struggling with the impact of new technology. There's a strange internal negotiation that goes on with consumers, wanting things quicker and freer, while also needing to acknowledge at some point all of the work that goes into that content.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Article of the Day

In my recent Learn@UW post I compared a potential library ad campaign to the Got Milk? campaign that started in the 90s. I sought out an article that might provide some insight into that ad campaign.

This quote from the article seems to suit libraries well: "Elated, Manning and Goodby sought to extend this dual strategy. They wanted to continue with the deprivation strategy, stimulating people to drink milk when they ate complementary foods. And, in addition, they also wanted to seize the opportunity to revamp milk's symbolism. Their second round of ads would continue to push milk's image from boring and old-fashioned drink to one that was cool and interesting."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Website of the Day

The website I'm going to endorse today is The most unique feature of the website is the ability to find products similar to a product that you like based upon the image provided. For example, if you like a pair of jeans, then you can search the image to get other similar-looking jeans. Just hover over the image and click on "See Details."

It's also nice that you can limit your searches by "On Sale" and "Free Shipping," and that you can refine the search by "Price," "Brand," "Color," "Style," "Material," and "Site." You can also upload an app to your iPhone. The website is easy to use, has lots of options, and isn't cluttered like many other online retail stores.

I need to buy a new pair of shoes, because the hole I have in my heel right now won't be good when the snow comes. This might be a good place to check. Never bought shoes online before. Hope they fit.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Articles of the Day

Check this Vanity Fair gem.

And this post, by Ben Casnocha, is a must read, and actually pertains to finding information.

Deep Thoughts

Whenever some declares a non-living thing as being dead, that person is really coming to terms with his or her own mortality and is starting small. Heard someone on the radio today say this: "I have this theory that nostalgia is dead." Nope. Or wait, maybe it is. I miss nostalgia.

Website of the Day

"We made the top 10!" That's the exclamation that reverberated around the office today, as news came from the Pew Center on the States' report on the most troubled states in the union. The website's worth taking a look at, good design, helpful information: Pew Center on the States.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What's happened to Rolling Stone? and how it relates to librarianship

At the end of the summer my dad handed me a few issues of Rolling Stone magazine. He'd gotten me a subscription as a present, finding a loophole in my gift-giving clause that says never subscribe to anything for me, because it will lead to more junk mail. By getting the subscription himself, he avoided that and was able to physically hand me the magazines, which sates his love of giving presents to people. When I got home I paged through the issues, but that's about all. I didn't really read anything, nor did I feel like I gained any insight into the music world. I did feel like I got a shot of popular culture that I hadn't taken in a while, tossed it back and forgot about it. The magazine just feels so...directionless.

The most disappointing thing about Rolling Stone is the reviews, not that the reviewers don't have things to say. They just don't have much space to say it as each album review is about five sentences long. Plus, they use a five-star rating scale, which is really no good anymore--there's no differentiation. Most of the reviews you'll see are between three and four stars. Anything over four stars is likely a reissue that is being reappraised or an album from an already accepted classic act. When I was first complaining about the meaninglessness of the ratings, I began reading the band names and their rating aloud to Kamie. Whenever I got to an album that was given only two and a half stars, she'd say: "Ooh, burn." And that's how I felt too, but neither of us meant it, and neither did Rolling Stone. There's no sense of meaning anything.

In contrast, an online music magazine like Pitchfork delves deeper into each album, rates their albums on a scale of 0 to 10 (including decimals, not halves), and usually has the songs available in a jukebox so that you can listen to the music they are discussing and determine if you agree with the critic's perspective. Any review that gets a rating of 8 or higher is given a special Best New Music tag, which makes is stick out. People dislike Pitchfork as a hipster taste-making site, but it's structure and perspective are clearer and better suited to a meaningful relationship with the actual music.

Compare the reviews of Cass McCombs' Catacombs.

Rolling Stone vs. Pitchfork.

Yes, that is a dig at Rolling Stone, because they never reviewed it, not even online.

It's probably more appropriate to compare a feature review of Rolling Stone: Devendra Banhart's What Will We Be. Pitchfork vs. Rolling Stone.

I have my own problems with Pitchfork. For example, the emphasis upon obscurity sometimes seems like the driving force behind the website. But it has a distinct personality, and it often heralds risk-takers when they are emerging, rather than the belated approval that is generally given to experimental acts and musicians who don't have the structural support to market themselves. And they're having a cultural impact. Indie music is way more popular than it was ten years ago. The sound of the music plays a role in that, but the meaningful approach that Pitchfork takes also matters.

Many of Rolling Stone's problems have do with the identity confusion surrounding the decline of print and the rise of online journalism. And libraries are dealing with the same thing! There are important analogies in the journalistic world that librarianship needs to recognize. Cultural gatekeepers are becoming more important, not less important as people (incorrectly, IMO) are increasingly saying. For example, the NPR program All Songs Considered talked about the decade in music and there seemed to be a consensus that there were no more gatekeepers to music and that was a major shift. I think that's the wrong way to put it. The gatekeepers have changed, from print to online, and from larger brand name magazines (like Rolling Stone) to Pitchfork, blogs, and information aggregator formulas.

How do libraries position themselves on the front lines? Adopting new technologies will help, but it's meaningless if there isn't a directed personality behind it. Trying to adopt everything or bring everyone into the mix could alienate old patrons without bringing in anyone new. Why? Because new technologies without any purpose are like a parent suddenly adopting his or her child's fashion sense. It makes someone look older, not younger.

Parting question: Do libraries need to brand themselves?

Friday, October 9, 2009

#23. Summation

I found a blog called "Library 2.0: An Academic Perspective." It's no longer running, since Laura Cohen, the person who was maintaing the website, has retired. But in her penultimate post, entitled Snake Oil, Bandwagons, and Library 2.0 she raises issues that are worth thinking deeply on, and thus worth ending on.

I'd also like to say that throughout this process I have begun to think not just about learning 2.0, but also about how to manage the onslaught of new technologies. Must everything be discovered? No, I don't think so. Some people seem to be far better at this. They can examine a new website or service, get the gist of its value and move on. I tend to turn things inside out in my ming, continually move for new perspectives, question again and again if it's actually worth something to me.

There was a portion of time during this 23 things exercise where I felt like I was being forced into a situation where I couldn't see the value. That doesn't mean the tools aren't valuable for other people, but I wondered why I was exploring. And I can't even say I was really exploring that heartily. I explored some of these services from the balcony of my hotel room (so to speak).

But going through the process has also made me reflect on what I like and made me think about how things that I've encountered could be used in creative ways. A week ago I devised the initial stages of a new feature for the library that I work at on the UW campus. I talked to a full-time librarian about it and he said he liked the idea. It's given me the idea to seek out a practicum where I can learn how to create podcasts. I've wanted to do this for a while anyway, and thinking about it all has brought me to this point, where I want to take the thinking to action. That's a good result from an exercise like this.

#22. Downloadable Content at Libraries

Instead of going to NetLibrary to look at the audiobooks, I've decided to do a little research on how actual libraries are using downloadable content. I read about the New York Public Library first. They have a FAQ section that is sort of amazing. They have different formats for music, ebooks, audiobooks, streaming video, etc. Then I looked at the Boston Public Library and they seem to be using the same service called OverDrive.

#21. Podcasts

I can understand why many people wouldn't be interested in podcasts. Most of them I find to be boring or irritating. But it's the podcasts that I like that make them worth it. I got into listening to podcasts because I started to listen to talk radio in my car, right around the same time that I got my first iPod, maybe 2004. I started to read a lot of news online, and so podcasts were a natural ally in the quest for more and more news.

I listen regularly to the Slate podcasts, all of which are good. I subscribe to Filmspotting (a weekly film podcast), Savage Love (weekly sex advice podcast), Musicheads (weekly music podcast). I cherrypick the rest, dipping in to Fresh Air and several others.

I don't know why more newspapers don't do more casual, personality-driven podcasts. They're a great way of luring in a new audience. I really dislike the podcasts that are read from scripts. I like the ones when people are passionate, interesting, experts, etc.

I like podcasts about film and music, so I've begun downloading podcast called The /Filmcast.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

#20. Youtube

I don't know if you've ever seen this, but it is one of the first videos that I saw on Youtube that I began showing to people when I talked to them. It has a lot of the Youtube touchstones: amateur production, little to no editing, drama, the sense of having witnessed something inexplicably entertaining. Good stuff. If you haven't seen it, I assure you you won't be traumatized, and implore you to stay until the end.

Videos on Youtube, one of the things that I use Youtube for the most, often makes them unembedable, but someone is always putting a new one up, and if they have to, will videotape their own television. But it feels much more about fandom than about not paying for something. Like this video, how can you not love it?

#19. Urban Spoon

OK, is insane! First, I looked at restaurants in Madison, and this ranks them, which makes me want to go to some of the restaurants I haven't been to and to not name the one that isn't on their top ten, lest it get busier than it already is. I checked out the breakfasts, because we basically only go to the Original Pancake House. Marigold Kitchen seems to have a good rating, and you can access the menu, see a map to its location, read reviews.

The oddest thing was that I checked out Green Bay after Madison, and noticed a link to Luxemburg, this tiny town that I grew up in, not exactly the most urban place for your spoon, and it had a top ten of restaurants from that area! And they are pretty good suggestions. Excellent tool for travellers, for vacation, for dumbfounded resource searchers, extremely comprehensive and easy to use.

#18. Google Docs and Zoho

The two words that keep recurring throughout this process of web 2.0 exercises is the emphasis upon things being free and communal. I've used google docs in a few classes, and the more I use it, the more I see its use. No more group emails where documents are attached and people try to edit them, not knowing what the current state of the group project is. No more of the inability to open documents because your Mac cannot open the file extensions of new Word packages (i.e. docx). For example, I have to be on a computer with the newest version of Word to open the lectures for this class. That computer doesn't exist in my home. But Google docs works well!

This is the first time I'd heard of Zoho. I didn't create an account, because I already have access to Google Docs and because I feel like taking a break from signing up for these services that are coming too fast for me to actually use them. Zoho looks like it offers a lot, though it's a bit overwhelming to consider it all. I don't know how other people take this kind of thing in. Do you feel compelled to look at it all? Maybe find one service that intersts you and just use that? It's a bit too much for me. Google has it right IMO. Simple look, practical, flexible applications. The creativity comes from the user. It's easy to do a lot with little.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

#17. Playing Around

Well, I created an account, but there is no "Edit" tab that I can see. The only tab available to me is "View." I can tell I'm signed in. Don't really understand what's going on. Maybe later.

I don't know about favorites. Lately, I've really liked the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. My fiancee and I have watched it a few more times recently and it's very quotable. Now when someone speaks with a British accent, I'm tempted to tilt my head, simulate a bad British accent and say, "You sound like you're from London." When someone needs to move on, I say, "It's like The Sopranos--it's over. Time to find a new show." Etc.

For the headier side of my personality, I'd recommend The Complete Essays of Montaigne, translated by Donald M. Frame. If I could only take one book to a desert island, blah blah blah, this would be it. I used to think the complete works of Shakespeare, but that just seemed like the appropriate answer. Honestly, I'd take Montaigne. The first essay is called "By diverse means we arrive at the same end" and the last one, is called "Of Experience." But the essay I've been reading lately, also from the "third" book, is titled "Of Vanity." I just flipped it open to a random place in the essay and found this:

Whatever it is, whether art or nature, that imprints in us this disposition to live with reference to others, it does us much more harm than good. We defraud ourselves of our own advantages to make appearances conform with public opinion. We do not care so much what we are in ourselves and in reality as what we are in the public mind. Even the joys of the mind, and wisdom, appear fruitless to us, if they are enjoyed by ourselves alone, if they do not shine forth to the sight and approbation of others.

This made me think of writing this blog, and all blogs in general. There's something strange and fruitless to the feeling that others must read it, and I don't really know why that's so important. But it feels like it is, whether by art or nature. And I wonder about how good it is too, which is why I closed my Facebook account. I did feel defrauded by the notion that I somehow needed to live in the online public square.

I remember writing to a friend (a letter, by hand, on sheets of paper, because Montaigne will inspire that kind of thing) calling Montaigne a friend. I regretted it after I'd sent the letter, because it felt ridiculous to write. And it still sort of is, but there's something about this book that feels a lot like the best aspects of friendship.

#16. Wikis

When I hear the word "wiki," my immediate thought is of Wikipedia. I generally think Wikipedia gets a bad name, particularly since I use it so much for quick reference. I wonder if people (particularly librarians) who badmouth wikipedia ever use it. Its openness does make is susceptible to tampering and misinformation, but as this 2005 article shows, Wikipedia is nearly as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica.

Plus, if you think about it, suggesting that Wikipedia is entirely unreliable, because it's susceptible to tampering, or some form of information sabotage, presents a pretty cynical view of the world. Are people really going around deliberately adding in wrong information? The accidentally incorrect information is often corrected over time by people who know better.

There are citations. There are warnings at the top of entries that have disputed perspectives of its bias. There are notes applied to records that need to have the writing be cleaned up and clarified. I can only speak from experience. I do not feel that the writing on Wikipedia is worse than the writing in Encyclopedia Britannica. As a matter of fact, I think it's better. And the speed with which new entries can be created and developed makes it a no-brainer for me. If I were writing a research paper, I wouldn't cite Wikipedia, but I really wouldn't go to Encyclopedia Britannica either.

The library that I work at now uses a wiki for training information, which is useful as a reference tool for newly hired workers who often need simple reminders of how to perform their jobs. The wikis often save the managers time and help the new workers to save some of the anxiety of starting a new job, since you can't remember everything that you're told or taught, and you don't want to keep asking your boss for reminders. Plus, jobs change, and the wiki provides a platform for simple, quick changes.

Of the examples on the 23 Things page, I like the Library Best Practices page the best. It's an effective way to organize a large amount of information, and not only add to it, but change it as library practices change.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Library 15.0.

Dr. Wendy Schultz's article "On the way to the library experience of the future" is a fun article. I often like reading about things like this, how libraries will be different in the future, with flying e-thoughts and information vacations across the sparkling bridges of one's synapses.

This will be the library for the aesthetic economy, the dream society, which will need libraries as mind gyms; libraries as idea labs; libraries as art salons. But let’s be clear: Library 4.0 will not replace Libraries 1.0 through 3.0; it will absorb them...

But Library 4.0 will add a new mode, knowledge spa: meditation, relaxation, immersion in a luxury of ideas and thought. In companies, this may take the form of retreat space for thought leaders, considered an investment in innovation; in public libraries, the luxurious details will require private partners as sponsors providing the sensory treats. Library 4.0 revives the old image of a country house library, and renovates it: from a retreat, a sanctuary, a pampered experience with information—subtle thoughts, fine words, exquisite brandy, smooth coffee, aromatic cigar, smell of leather, rustle of pages—to the dream economy’s library, the LIBRARY: a WiFREE space, a retreat from technohustle, with comfortable chairs, quiet, good light, coffee and single malt. You know, the library.

This is the library as sci-fi romance novel. But I particularly like the bit about newer forms of library not abandoning old forms, but "absorbing" them. The proselytizing about new forms of technology often feels as reasoned and fruitless as the condemnation of new technology, just as the library's utopian future seems as likely as its dystopian one. These are extremes, but they're not caricatures of libraries or librarians, but all part of a vast consciousness, with different worries and different hopes. It's not useless to let reality get away from us. Daydreaming is probably one of the most practical things I do.

#15. Article Critique

I'll start with the first article by Rick Anderson, entitled "Away from the 'icebergs'." I've mainly got criticisms for this article, but I think he's right when he says this: "No profession can survive if it throws its core principles and values overboard in response to every shift in the zeitgeist. However, it can be equally disastrous when a profession fails to acknowledge and adapt to radical, fundamental change in the marketplace it serves. At this point in time, our profession is far closer to the latter type of disaster than it is to the former."

But to say that libraries need to cut down on their "Just in Case," collections, while also saying that patrons will demand access to everything and libraries should be prepared to give it to them, he doesn't acknowledge the disconnect. It's like people not wanting to be taxed a lot, but still wanting the government to enact loads of programs. They're opposing notions. I don't think libraries should avoid a realistic examination of their policies, but to avoid the ridiculousness inherent in "everything all the time," without addressing the practical implications (i.e. cost) and flights of logic, makes the article seem like empty talking points about how it's important that libraries move into the future.

I'm ambivalent about the one-button commands. Not everything requires training, but it all requires learning. It's paradoxical that the intuitive buttons on the iPhone are so hard to replicate on other interfaces. Simplicity is difficult to pull off. A miscalculation about making something easier can remove necessary complexity or make something more confusing that it needs to be. For example, if someone uses Dreamweaver to make a "good" webpage, they don't really know how to make a webpage. Some things need to built on a strong foundation.

He's right that a stripped down, simplified interface would be helpful (like the iPhone), and I'm likely more critical of this article because I dislike this sort of tone more than anything, but there are many different types of users at a library. It's not just tech-savvy undergrads using the collection (and not all undergrads are tech-savvy). That doesn't mean things can't change, it means that new features need to be so intuitive (e.g. iPhone, iPod) as to need no instruction, or they need some form of tutorial or instruction. I'd suggest making learning tools (like podcasts and tutorials) more engaging, while also thinking about how to simplify the complex processes.

#14. Technorati

Technorati seems useful for finding out about useful postings in blogs that aren't popular. It also highlights the importance of knowing how to tag if one wants one's voice to get heard.

When I searched "Library 2.0" in the blog section, I got many interesting links, like "How to Customize Your Library Facebook Page," "Should Your Library Have a Social Media Policy," and "Libraries 3.0 Teen Edition." When I searched the "Web 2.0" link through the Blog Directory, I received a list of links to websites that focus upon "Web 2.0" practices.

I found this second search more helpful, because like I've already said, I like to engage with things through a recognizable personality. The blog searching feels a bit random, whereas a particular blog (or a few blogs) often has a focus and perspective built into it. If I can find a few blogs about web 2.0 that have different perspectives, I can compare them and learn from where they overlap and where they diverge. Some of these blogs: TechCrunch, Mashable, and Technology Bites, just to start with.

#13. Not So Yummy

OK, a few things I just want to gripe about: the person speaking over the top of the tutorial has this sharp "s" sound in her voice, the kind of thing that happens to many people with dentures, and it annoyed me quite a bit. It might have something to do with the equipment being used to record, as a few times, particularly with "p" sounds, there are small blasts of distortion, and the whole overall sound is a bit harsh. Not the best tone for educational listening, or any listening really. Moving on... makes me think of LibraryThing for researchers. But it doesn't have that zip that I'm looking for. Wading through all these tools just becomes tiring after a while, particularly after I've used some technology that is extremely user-friendly (e.g. iPhone, iPod). For example, one of the new technologies that I want to learn is podcasting. I clicked on the tag "podcast" and selected the popular tab. I wasn't impressed with what I found. Very simplistic posts, like the kind of thing about nutrition you'll find on Yahoo news links throughout the day. If I want to learn about podcasting, I'll pursue it myself, through basic online searching, or through the traditional library means.

Researchers could definitely use this tool. But I don't see how the bookmark feature on your computer is any worse than You lose the social networking aspect of, but I wonder if that's any loss. I'm glad that I've introduced to myself, in case I talk to someone in a library situation about it, but I'm not really excited about it for myself.

#12. We're gonna march on...

Another interesting website that I hadn't heard of yet. You have to be a bit of a joiner, or, understand how to manage your time so as to benefit from the website's tools. I think I could benefit from this one. It made more sense to me immediately, maybe because it doesn't try to do too much, at least not at first blush. It probably also helped that I've signed myself into these other websites and feel myself beginning to develop a style. I don't feel a real need to branch out too much from my political info that I get. But I could definitely benefit from professional expansion. So I've focused on tech news. I created a roll and searched "library" and received these links.

Libraries could create various rolls that would help to not only present interesting news, but also expose the library to new trends or new practices. In other words, it could help patrons and professionals alike.

And given the name of a company called "Rollyo" with the tagline "Roll Your Own Search Engine," I thought of Jon Stewart's 1996 HBO stand-up in Miami. I watched this in high school and learned it verbatim.

To answer your question, yes, I felt very cool when he became popular on the Daily Show, because I felt like I'd already known that for years. I could still tell you parts of this stand-up word-for-word. I encourage you to seek out the whole stand-up, if that's possible. I used to have it on video; it might still be at my parents' house. In it there's a funny bit about how a pot rally would have difficulty organizing. Humor I've already used this weekend as the first day of my practicum at Memorial Library was the day of Harvest Festival on Library Mall.

The Napster Effect

The New York Times today posted an article about anxiety in the book publishing industry over pirated books.

YOU can buy “The Lost Symbol,” by Dan Brown, as an e-book for $9.99 at

Or you can don a pirate’s cap and snatch a free copy from another online user at RapidShare, Megaupload, Hotfile and other file-storage sites.

Until now, few readers have preferred e-books to printed or audible versions, so the public availability of free-for-the-taking copies did not much matter. But e-books won’t stay on the periphery of book publishing much longer. E-book hardware is on the verge of going mainstream. More dedicated e-readers are coming, with ever larger screens. So, too, are computer tablets that can serve as giant e-readers, and hardware that will not be very hard at all: a thin display flexible enough to roll up into a tube.

Read the full article.

Friday, October 2, 2009

#11. LibraryThing

Like most new sources with this much information, my initial impression is to feel overwhelmed. But inevitably you find a way in. I found it through the "Statistics" portion of the website. I'd already added in four books and from the statistics page I clicked on the "Characters" link on the Common Knowledge tab on the left. This brought up links to characters in the books that I'd added. You can do several things, one of which is to find similar characters in other books. Honestly, not so impressed with what I found. Nor am I eager to catalog the books of my collection, and navigating the various avenues of bookdom, I'll take Amazon, thanks.

Still, there are cool things with websites like this. I was down on LibraryThing until I searched a few books that I genuinely love and I found a few people who feel similarly about those books. I can't exactly put my finger on why it feels different reading those comments about the books as opposed to reading comments on Amazon. The interface of LibraryThing just feels much more grassrootsy, "lo-fi" to use music terms.

Like all new resources, it seems, it's important to get over the initial pessimism or cynicism about how they can be useful. I won't take all of these tools with me, but I might adopt a few of them. I hope I give them a shot.

#10. Image Generators

This was pretty fun. I've really only dipped my toes in so far, but I approached this exercise from a grad student's point-of-view with employment on the mind. How can I use these image-generators in a productive way while in a library position. I've been thinking much more about how I can sell myself and demonstrate my ideas, particularly since I work at a library (and have for a year) that might have a full-time job coming open in the area that I work in right now.

While talking with a co-worker today (one of the full-time workers), I discussed the prospect of doing outreach for ILL, which is my job. I've been brainstorming most of the day, and so inevitably I thought about my workplace. I thought it might be interesting to treat an academic library's holdings, or a public library's holdings, the same way that commercial markets treat their products, they advertise. And the best form of advertising is the tease. Thus, holding the release of DVDs for a big release DATE, might inspire interest and intrigue. This kind of thing could be done with the image of a calendar advertising a new service, such as DVD releases.

#9. Honest to Blog

I've been looking at a lot of library/librarian blogs, and there are several that seem interesting. I'll probably narrow it down to one. I like getting to know the personality of a blog or publication, understanding its context, understanding when it changes its tone. It's intimacy as the best form of expansion; it's "less is more." Really, it's just nice to find a news source that feels something like a friend.

So, beginning my process... There's an academic/research blog called ACRLog, a blog that has a teaching bent called Hey Jude, the best candidate for my authoritative blog source, written by a man named David Lee King, a somewhat smart-assed blog with a tech edge called Closed Stacks, and a blog from a woman in San Jose called Librarian in Black.

Pitchfork's Actual Top 20

1. Radiohead - Kid A
2. Arcade Fire - Funeral
3. Daft Punk - Discovery
4. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
5. Jay-Z - The Blueprint
6. Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica
7. The Strokes - Is This It?
8. Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun
9. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
10. Avalanches - Since I Left You
11. Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele
12. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
13. Outkast - Stankonia
14. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
15. The Knife - Silent Shout
16. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
17. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
18. Kanye West - Late Registration
19. Spoon - Kill the Moonlight
20. Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights

I was pretty close. I thought the Kanye West album had appeared lower on the list and I just missed Ghostface Killah and Spoon's Kill the Moonlight. I remember seeing Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga lower on the list and I think that's their best album, but why quibble with a Spoon choice. I've never actually seen Spoon in concert, but right around the time KTM came out they were playing the Regent Street Retreat here in Madison, a tiny venue for such a band. I just decided not to go. For shame.

Anyway, the rest of the top 20 is interesting. They gave Animal Collective the 14th slot! I'm not disputing it, I just thought they'd been building up tension between who was going to be number one, MMP or Kid A. Interpol at 20! Modest Mouse at 6... These are all really good albums, but there's something disappointing about the list and I don't know what it is. A collection of the decade's best albums is probably done better with the perspective of more time. 2009, after all, isn't even over. Five or ten years from now they should revisit the decade.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pitchfork's Top 20 ... maybe

Tomorrow morning Pitchfork will post their picks for the top twenty albums of the decade. I made a slapdash list of what I think they will pick. It's not like I didn't research it a bit, but it's possible that albums I've picked are already on the top 200 to 21 that they've already posted.

1. Radiohead - Kid A
2. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
3. Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
4. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
5. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
6. Strokes - Is This It?
7. The Knife - Silent Shout
8. Avalanches - Since I Left You
9. Jay-Z - The Blueprint
10. Outkast - Stankonia
11. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
12. Arcade Fire - Funeral
13. White Stripes - White Blood Cells
14. Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun
15. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
16. DJ Rupture - Uproot
17. Strokes - Room on Fire
18. Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica
19. Daft Punk - Discovery
20. Brian Wilson - Smile

As I was making the list quickly I was thinking to myself: "they're going to do it, they're going to put Walkmen's You + Me on the top 20!" But alas, I don't think they will, and it will remain an underappreciated album. I look forward to posting their actual top 20 to show a comparison between what I thought they'd pick and what they picked. Cheers.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

#8. Still waiting... RSS

on that confirmation email...

UPDATE: Finally I thought to check my spam email. There's something about retrieving something from the Spam folder. It's like the email has to prove itself past my sudden skepticism.

I did indeed figure out how to use RSS, to start with anyway. Before this exercise I'd already aggregated the websites I like to go to using the bookmark toolbar function on my mac computer. But this RSS feeder could potentially help me branch out a bit more. The browsing function is good in that way. My iTunes already aggregates my podcasts, so, it seems like it'd just get muddled to weave them into the news and cultural websites and blogs that I go to. I've sort of designed the RSS feed as a professional aggregator, infusing it with several library feeds, like Library Journal, Library Stuff, Librarian's Internet Index, The Shifted Librarian, etc. I'll need to do some more exploring, and I suspect that my next move will be to remove several feeds and build my way back up. I was thinking that the RSS feed wouldn't be that helpful when my computer can do the same thing, but if I'm working on a different computer... So it could have many uses and I'm looking forward to figuring those out.


I know many of you have probably seen this already, but this does a great job of showing the power of pictures. And music. I thought of it while strolling through Flickr and Mapr.

#7. Tech of the Week. iPhone.

I recently started a joint phone plan with my fiance. We both got our phones in the mail on Wednesday. I wasn't very pleased with the phone I'd gotten, so I did what anyone would do, I pouted. I hadn't bought a new phone in years, I don't even know how many, four or five probably. This new phone, it was supposed to be better. It was supposed to dazzle. It didn't. It wasn't any better than my previous phone and what it didn't have in dazzle it lost further ground with its confusing interface. Before this new beast of a phone, all I ever used my phone for was to make calls or send texts. That was fine with me, simple. Meanwhile, friends of mine had been getting newer and better devices. My friend Kyle's posts on Facebook would show a little note that it was created on his Blackberry.

At a bachelor party this summer two of my friends and I were driving toward Wisconsin Dells and we started singing along with a song on the radio. That got us talking about other songs, particularly fun or ridiculous songs, which prompted Bill to search his phone and pull up videos of songs we were talking about so that we could then sing along with those ("Hero" by Inrique Inglesias was stopped about half-way through, begrudgingly on my part).


A few weeks ago Kamie and I met a few friends for dinner, and while having a good time we spontaneously started talking about going to see a movie. We didn't know the movie times. Well, Amy brought out her phone, and we knew them in a few moments.

This is a long way to saying that the frustration with my phone built up to where Kamie told me: "Just get an iPhone." I tried to pout through it, but eventually the idea got the better of me. I gritted my teeth as the AT&T worker explained the pricing plans. That was Sunday. Still, when I got home, I started to really love it. There was no comparison to my previous phone. It made me think of the revelation I had when I first got an iPod: "This is...the best...thing ever." I still take my iPod with me everywhere I go. I'm one of those people. But it's a passion of mine, so I'm not ashamed.

In this post created today, Jonathan Margolis poses the casual question: "Is the iPhone the best gadget ever?"

I got the phone on Sunday. On Monday I was scheduled to get an oil change and have my tires rotated. Ended up getting my brakes replaced. Four or five hours later, I drove home. I was way on the west side of town, didn't have my school work with me. I did, however, have my iPhone. I used it to read the news, play games, send emails, listen to music. The only place that proved difficult: Learn@UW. I was able to login to my wiscmail and into Learn@UW, but reading posts/creating them seemed untenable. I also couldn't access the documents at the Reserves that I had a right to as a UW student. That would have been nice. Libraries, I thought, we need to understand the mobile format better. While sitting at Mazda for hours, things began to dawn on me, things I hadn't thought about before.

#6. More Flickr

One of the API's that I explored was FD Toys' Trading Card Maker. It seemed a little inflexible to me, especially since I just recently got an iPhone and it seems crazily intuitive and flexible. Nevertheless, it wasn't unenjoyable to put a picture of myself onto a trading card. I would have liked to chop off the bottom. Alas.

Mapr also seemed cool. There are a lot of things that could be fun about this. One idea that popped into my head was to find pictures of places I'd visited in order to create a kind of geographical ID. Haven't gotten to that yet.

#5. Flickr

Tagging is a tool for organizing information, similar in a lot of ways to subject headings in catalogs. Tagging is also similar to slang in the sense that certain tagging words become popular and signify the sharpness of one's place on the cutting edge. Still, websites like Flickr come and go, and for every rising star there seems to be one hundred that burn out, either completely or far out of cultural prominence. Myspace is a good example of the quickly evolving levels of popularity and culture. This blog posting compares the popularity of myspace and facebook to white flight.

A thought: isn't Facebook doing a lot of these things. One of the distressing things about all of the innovation is that when new ideas emerge, they seem to be everywhere. I think people like the idea of having many of these innovations in one place and in user-friendly forms. Flickr is nice, but why not share photos, tag them, and display them to groups you already have with friends on Facebook.

There does seem to be a tension between hipness and practicality. Flickr can be a practical way to share photos with other people. It would be helpful (in a practical way) for libraries to tag photos they take of library activities, that way when people search a particular library, they can see what they want to discover. Seeing is believing, and creating a visual connection can welcome users in, not only virtually, but also in through the library's doors.

Flickr is also a good place to find artistic photos of a topic that interests you. For example, if I were doing a presentation on Madison's Memorial Union. It would be helpful to show it. But, of course, the images have to be downloadable. Google Image might work as well as Flickr for something like that. Might.

Monday, September 21, 2009

#4. Twit

I thought I'd be funny and give the definition of "twit," which defines as "an insignificant or bothersome person." But little did I know that "twit" actually has several other definitions too. As a verb (used with object) it means "1. to taunt, tease, ridicule, etc., with reference to anything embarrassing; gibe at. 2. to reproach or upbraid." As a noun it means "3. an act of twitting, 4. a derisive reproach; taunt; gibe." A "twit" is also a "weak or thin place in yarn caused by uneven spinning" and "an excited state; dither" as in to be in a twit about company coming.

The word "twitter" is also interesting. As a verb (used without object), it means "1. to utter a succession of small, tremulous sounds, as a bird, 2. to talk lightly and rapidly, esp. of trivial matters; chatter, 3. to titter; giggle, 4. to tremble with excitement or the like; be in a flutter." As a verb (used with object) it means "5. to express or utter by twittering." As a noun, it means "6. an act of twittering, 7. a twittering sound, 8. a state of tremulous excitement."

I already have a twitter account. My handle is Tastebudder, cause I'm in a band called The Taste Buds. Get it? ... Anyway, I don't use twitter all that much, though my friend Aaron uses it a lot for work, and he says it's a valuable information resource. For example, he'll be working on a new software that he doesn't entirely understand and will post a question and will receive help from people around the country in less than an hour. You have to build up your professional connections, but when you do, twitter seems like a helpful resource. It's a good way to build a community of niche interests or to join such a group.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

#2. Lifelong Learning

Ah yes, lifelong learning, a major buzzword in education. I love how school is referred to as an "old school" form of learning. 1). Set goals. 2) Accept responsibility for your own learning 3) View problems as challenges 4) Have confidence 5) Create your own learning toolbox 6) Use technology to help your learning 7) Teach someone 7 1/2) Play.

One of the things I wonder about is if I'm spreading myself too thin, or not thin enough. For example, there are so many things I'd like to do and learn, but making choices is a big part of learning. The same goes for reading: I'd love to read many, many books, but there is only so much time, and thus, decisions must be made.

I've learned to play the guitar over the past 10 years. I didn't play it much during the first four years that I had it. I distinctly remember thinking that I should just abandon playing it, because I wasn't getting any better and wasn't enjoying it much. But I'm glad I stuck with it. I've found it's essential to break through those moments of doubt if you're going to get better at anything. Now I can't imagine myself not playing. It's a true outlet and joy. It's changed the way I relate to music. It's made me want to learn others instruments.

This leads me to the hardest part of the lifelong learning, which is ironically the first step in their process: set goals. This is the hardest thing. It requires you to focus upon your desires and to not simply indulge them, but to edit them into a realistic form, into something that demands striving but is also possible. That's a strange negotiation between ambition and self-awareness.

My goal is to learn how to cover the Beatles' song "Blackbird."

# 1. Learning 2.0 Project

The Learning 2.0 Project emphasizes self-discovery of the new technologies shaping our world.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

#3. Hello

John Travolta can dance. I watched Pulp Fiction again recently (the first time since when it first came out), and the dance scene still kills.

This is a blog for LIS 635. I'll fulfill the 23 things requirements here.

I'd like to blog about other things in addition to the 23 things. I'm not sure what. I consider my recent reluctance to engage in passionate political discussions as a positive development, but who knows. Small talk. Getting a new dishwasher today. You're welcome.