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?