Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Why selection is important to Librarians ...

A blog post by Carl Grant, President of Ex Libris US

It brings to mind an opinion stated in a recording I once heard (and remembered well because I found it so alarming.) It was a recording done by the Chronicle of Higher Education and was called “Libraries vs. IT Departments.” In that recording, an IT person basically said that academic libraries offer access to content which they never own and to which they offer little added valued. If all the library does is license content, why not fold it (the library) into the institution’s purchasing department? It’s a scary statement. It becomes even more disconcerting when one realizes that some of the comments in these blog posts will further exacerbate that type of thinking by ceding the control of selection of content to outside parties. True, those outside parties may offer large and impressive lists of content, but the fact remains, the library will have ceded control of selection, i.e. the “authority” and “appropriateness” aspects of their differentiation. Once libraries have done this, they have paved the path for the content providers to bypass the libraries entirely and to offer their products/services direct to end-users.
Not personally sure I agree with all of this, and the conclusion he reaches is that we do need a federated search tool to amalgamate resources into one place. (We do have a Federated Search tool, just not his.) He also ignores the value that Librarians add through user education, not to mention the sheer workload of managing and tracking electronic and print collections.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Problems with running educational sessions in 2nd Life

Taken from Massively:

"Partway through the 90 minute Q&A session, the educator vanishes, but returns in the last half hour, suddenly flooding the area with his whole class, who had so far had little actual experience with Second Life, no idea what they were doing, and little idea about their purpose in being there. The remaining 30 minutes of the session was a mish-mash of unproductive cross-talk and likely yielded little or no positive outcomes for anyone present."
It seems this kind of activity needs its own set of rules establishing ...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Monday, 23 March 2009

librarians of the future cont/

Peter Murray Rust continues with parts 2 http://wwmm.ch.cam.ac.uk/blogs/murrayrust/?p=1346 , 3 http://wwmm.ch.cam.ac.uk/blogs/murrayrust/?p=1353 and 4 http://wwmm.ch.cam.ac.uk/blogs/murrayrust/?p=1387 of his blog on librarians of the future.

Listing the following contenders
  • DBPedia
  • Harvard University
  • Tony Hey
  • JISC
  • Brian McMahon
  • Peter Morgan (the only university librarian on the list!)
  • Rufus Pollock and the Open Knowledge Foundation
  • Protocol Online
  • Sourceforge
  • SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)
  • Peter Suber
  • Robert Terry
  • Virtual Observatory
  • Jimmy Wales
  • John Wilbanks
  • Elias Zerhouni

Zittrain Unpacked

Every so often, a group of my Open University colleagues gathers to discuss a book that one of us regards as important or interesting. Last week it was my turn to talk about Jonathan Zittrain's The Future of the Internet -- and how to stop it. The mp3 of the talk is here. The sound quality is variable, I'm afraid, and I only had one microphone, so it's not Radio 4 quality. it runs for about an hour and includes a delicious excerpt from James Boyle's recent RSA lecture.

If you're listening to it, you might find the slide below helpful.

And if you're podcast-averse, my colleague Doug Clow did an excellent live blog of the talk, for which many thanks to him.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Innovation in e-information - the UKeiG 2009 conference


Tuesday 16th June – Wednesday 17th June

"Information Professionals have to be highly innovative if they are to support their organisations in delivering effective e-information services. This major UKeiG event brings together experienced practitioners in many fields of e-information to share and discuss issues on innovating and improving delivery of e-information services. Delegate involvement will be key with opportunities to discuss future issues, share experiences and formulate practical, often innovative, solutions to emphasise the pivotal role of information professionals in driving, supporting and demonstrating effective information management."

librarians of the future

Peter Murray Rust's blog regarding the librarians of the future:
first on his list:
Anurag Acharya
Tim Berners Lee
Steve Coast
Greg Crane
Paul Ginsparg

and some comments:

Thursday, 19 March 2009

A shared culture

The library of the future - Guardian of Scholarship?


The library of the future - Guardian of Scholarship?

Tomorrow Peter Murray Rust will be posting a "list [of]about 10 people who I think are currently librarians of the future"

any bets as to who'll be on the list?

James Boyle's RSA lecture on 'The Public Domain'

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Warriors in disguise?

in the Arts section of The Guardian: 18/03/09. An article by Michele Roberts describes her training as a librarian and concludes
"Librarians are necessarily heroes and warriors - albeit in disguise". I wonder what she means ....

7 things you should know

with thanks to Stephen's lighthouse ... Educause's 7 things you should know covers:
  • Location-Aware Applications, March 2009
  • QR Codes, February 2009
  • Alternate Reality Games, January 2009
  • Lecture Capture, December 2008
  • Flip Camcorders, November 2008
  • Ustream, October 2008
  • Zotero, September 2008
  • Geolocation, August 2008
  • Wii, July 2008
  • Second Life, June 2008
  • Multi-Touch Interfaces, May 2008
  • Ning, April 2008
  • Google Apps, March 2008
  • Flickr, February 2008
  • Lulu, January 2008
certainly covers more than 7 things I didn't know....

Colour ebook reader hits market

Using colour eInk as opposed to to LCD/LED.


Also very slow and over-featured. Seems to be for very early adopters., but expect that to change.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

James Boyle's lecture

Audio recording of the lecture is now online on my server.

Thursday, 12 March 2009


After the stimulation of James Boyle's talk last night I went home hoping for a bit of r&r.... but instead became riveted to Radio 4's Analysis Clever.com:
(podcast available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/podcasts/analysis/ since it's not on "listen again" - you can read the transcript but not copy it... what was James Boyle talking about??)

with contributions from Prof David Nicholas (UCL), Prof Tara Brabazon (Uni of Brighton), Stephen Fry and a bunch of school kids amongst others.

''A growing number of scientists are concerned that we are creating a digital generation, growing up online but unable to think, concentrate and learn in the way that their forebears did.

Kenan Malik examines the latest research to ask whether they are right to worry - or whether we should we asking wider questions about how we all use new technology.''

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Social media is [sic] here to stay... Now what?

This is the title of an interesting paper by danah boyd given at the Microsoft Microsoft Research Tech Fest, Redmond, Washington, February 26. You may remember her as the author of a fascinating dissertation on social networking.

(And, yes, she prefers to be known in lower case!)

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Why Kindle is worth watching

An excerpt from my Observer column this morning...

When it comes to technology futures, we're all drunks, always looking in the wrong place. Take mobile web browsing. Once we were all agreed that accessing the web via the tiny screen of a mobile phone was a non-starter, no matter what the networks said. The screens were simply too small to read a web page with any comfort. Mobile web browsing would not take off until larger-sized portable displays appeared on the market. QED.

Then Apple launched the iPhone, which like all phones, has a small screen. But it also came with some fiendishly clever software which enabled the user to expand the size of text displayed by its browser by simply pinching the image. And it also had an accelerometer which could sense the orientation of the device, so that if you turned the phone on to its side you got the web page displayed in landscape format. Suddenly it became perfectly possible to read web pages on a mobile device. The solution, it turned out, lay in software, not hardware. We were looking in the wrong place.

Same story with so-called eReaders - portable devices that store text and display it on screens. For a long time, our attention was focused on the properties of the screen. How easy was it to read in different kinds of lighting? What was the contrast like at difference angles of view? And so on. The market for eReaders was dominated by Sony, traditionally a manufacturer of neat consumer goods.

And then Amazon.com launched Kindle, its own take on the eReader. Technically, it was inferior to - and clunkier than - the Sony device. But Kindle took the US market by storm, especially after it was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. And the secret of its success? Simple: it's a wireless device that is permanently online via a mobile phone subscription bundled into the purchase price. So getting a new book on to the Kindle is a breeze: click a button to log into your Amazon account; choose a book; hit the "Order" button and in a couple of minutes there's a new book on your device...

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Social search: the coming thing?

Interesting post by John Battelle. Excerpt:

Search, and Google in particular, was the first true language of the Web. But I've often called it a toddler's language - intentional, but not fully voiced. This past few weeks folks are noticing an important trend - the share of traffic referred to their sites is shifting. Facebook (and for some, like this site, Twitter) is becoming a primary source of traffic.

Why? Well, two big reasons. One, Facebook has metastasized to a size that rivals Google. And two, Facebook Connect has come into its own. People are sharing what they are reading, where they are going, and what they are doing, and the amplification of all that social intention is spreading across the web.

This is all part of the shift from static to real time search. Social is the fundamental element of that shift. What are YOU doing? What is on YOUR mind? Who do YOU want to SHARE it with?

Searching Twitter

Very useful primer by Chris Allison.

Thanks to Jack Schofield for spotting it.

See also: This post by Tony Hirst.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

JISC's Green Issue

This contains an interesting article about the student experience:
"Through research, pilot schemes and a soon-to-report Committee of Inquiry, JISC aims to raise awareness of the core issues that can inform a student’s experience of ICT in FE or HE, whilst offering practical, technical and advisory help to institutions"


and provides a link to The Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience which I'd not heard of, but which sounds very useful:

"Our remit - UK wide - is to consider the impact of the newest technologies such as social networking and mobile devices on the behaviour and attitudes of students coming up to and just entered higher education and the issues this poses for universities and colleges.
Our aim is to bring focus and coherence to an area where there has been a great deal of dispersed activity to date and to do so in a way that brings it to the attention of a wider audience - one that includes those directing policy and strategy both inside and outside of universities and colleges. We are looking to draw the big picture and to interpret it clearly and concisely. "

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Jon Crowcroft's summary of Frances Pinter's seminar

Terse, as usual. But perceptive, as usual.

Jon is one of the smartest people in Cambridge IMHO.