What's interesting today

Library Journal: EBSCO Releases Ebook Academic Subscription Collection
I’m sure I glossed over this when the information was released in early March, but I just read the print version of this blurb in the 4/1 issue of Library Journal and I’m highlighting it here for one reason: “. . . each title is offered with unlimited, simultaneous users.” This is important and I’m glad to see a publisher like EBSCO embracing this model. As the rep states, students don’t get it when an ebook is “checked out.” (And honestly, I understand the hows and whys of this and even I am annoyed that the waiting lists for ebooks are so stupidly long, it’s dumb.)

The Note On My Door: Counterintuitive digital media assignments
A post from a professor teaching a digital media class, who made his students do an assignment where they had to find a something that didn’t exist digitally. Librarian reactions are pretty much right on target, but I’m glad to see that the students found value in the assignment. Interestingly, this may get more and more difficult as libraries jettison unused print holdings or send them to off-site storage.

NMC Horizon Connect Session: Howard Rheingold is Net Smart

Today I sat in on a really interesting webinar sponsored by the New Media Consortium. Howard Rheingold spoke about the five literacies he believes are key to using the web, and social media, well. Here are my notes, but you may want to check out the recording of the webinar as well. There was so much chatter going on in the chat box and on the Twitter stream that I’m sure I missed things, though I tried to stay focused on his presentation. Continue reading

What's Interesting Today

Library Journal: OverDrive to Distribute Harry Potter eBooks
Very cool news, starting later this spring libraries that subscribe to the OverDrive ebook platform will be able to offer the Harry Potter series! As is noted in the article, you’ll only be able to get them through OverDrive or on the Pottermore website – the ebooks aren’t available through booksellers.

Triple Canopy: Anonymity as Culture: Treatise
I’m not all the way through this, as it’s long and it being the workday, I got interrupted. But so far it’s a really interesting exploration of the history of anonymity online. Also the design is really cool, it’s very easy to read.

Library Journal: Elsevier Backs off RWA Support; Still Opposes Mandated Open Access
Elsevier has dropped their support of the Research Works Act (which, in true government style, would not actually make research work). They also opened up access to 14 mathematics journals. But don’t let this fool you.

Social Friction & Social Media

Social Media Collective: In Defense of Friction

This is a post from late November that I’m just now finding time to circle back to. I think it brings up a lot of good points about how making things seamless in social media isn’t necessarily always a good thing. Facebook birthdays are a good example, but there’s also the issue of apps posting our activity to our Twitter and Facebook feeds, sometimes without our knowledge. For example, all the “I’m listing to whatever on spotify” posts from Facebook – I kept clicking ignore. Likewise with some other social reader thing that was reporting the last five stories read on various news sites by a couple of people – don’t care, and I’m not convinced the readers even realized that was being posted. Continue reading

What's interesting today

Oops, forgot to publish this apparently. This is what was interesting on Tuesday.

InfoDOCKET: OverDrive Posts Public Comment Apparently in Response to Friday’s Librarian in Black Post
OverDrive has published a post on their blog that touches on the issues surrounding ebook lending for libraries who have borrowers outside of their designated geographic area. It sounds like none of the people who contacted OverDrive heard back from the reps they tried to reach, this is thus far the only response. Kinda lame, especially since the post doesn’t even acknowledge that it exists because of this latest brouhaha. But, certainly better than ignoring the situation altogether. OverDrive is between a rock and a hard place, but it seems like doing a better job about communicating what’s going on would help enormously. (And perhaps instead of libarians putting pressure on them, we could work together to put pressure on the publishers.)

LifeHacker: Your Facebook Has Two Inboxes, and You’ve Probably Missed Messages From the Second
Just one more data point in the “Facebook thinks it knows what you care about, but really it doesn’t” column. Apparently you can’t change this setting so get used to checking two spots for Facebook messages, one of which doesn’t have an obvious update flag.

What's interesting today

The Digital Shift: Facebook Settles Privacy Complaint with FTC
Oh, Facebook. How we love to hate you, and hate to love you. Zuckerberg has intimated (or perhaps outright said, the only quote I can quickly find is from an anonymous employee) that he doesn’t believe in privacy online. Thus, I call marketing bullshit on that quote of his about “making sure only those people you intend can see [your info].” Shocking.

Charlie’s Diary: Cutting Their Own Throats
An interesting angle in the continuing conversation/debate/rant about ebooks and DRM. The upshot here is that by a) requiring DRM and b) outsourcing sales of ebooks to vendors like Amazon, the Big Six are putting themselves out of business. I’m not sure it’s quite that drastic, but it hadn’t occurred to me that they’ve done what the music industry did when iTunes debuted, which is give control of their content to another business that is in the position  (or will be soon enough) of calling the shots moving forward.

On Twitter

I resisted Twitter for a long time, and when I finally signed up I felt a bit sheepish about all my pooh-poohing. So why did I finally sign up? Because friends were having conversations there that they weren’t having via other mediums, like chat and Facebook. I have found that I really like hearing about the stupid annoyances and routine happenings of the lives of folks whom I care about but rarely see. Recently, danah boyd wrote an interesting post that defends the social aspect of Twitter, in the face of a report that finds that the majority of tweets are meaningless blather:

I vote that we stop dismissing Twitter just because the majority of people who are joining its ranks are there to be social. We like the fact that humans are social. It’s good for society. And what they’re doing online is fundamentally a mix of social grooming and maintaining peripheral social awareness. They want to know what the people around them are thinking and doing and feeling, even when co-presence isn’t viable. They want to share their state of mind and status so that others who care about them feel connected.

That is exactly what finally drew me in. Once there was a critical mass of people I cared about on Twitter, I started paying attention to their tweets, and eventually I jumped in myself because it seemed silly to email someone in response to a tweet they had posted Sunday night, which I was seeing in my newsfeeds over lunch on Monday. I still really don’t care about following news organizations or random famous and semi-famous strangers and librarians. To me that’s not what Twitter is for, though it makes sense to use it that way (and I do follow a few of those types of accounts). That’s also partly why I still have my account locked, because I don’t use the service in such a way that I see any reason for some random person I have never met to follow me. To me it’s a social space similar to Facebook, and I apply the same rule of  “do I (or would I if you lived nearby) hang out with you in real life?” before I friend or follow someone.

It strikes me that all this kind of silly stuff we post to Twitter is probably what people who talk on the phone a lot talk about. Despite the fact that I will post it on the Internet, I still won’t pick up the phone and call any of my friends to discuss these kinds of little things.

Politics of Class Online

I find Danah Boyd‘s work absolutely fascinating. Her application of ethnographic research methods to the technology sphere, and in particular social networking, contributes immensely to my understanding of these technologies and how they’re being used. I just read a transcript of a talk that she gave at the Personal Democracy Forum last month (The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online) and it’s really gotten me thinking. Here, she’s looking at another side of the digital divide which I think gets lost in the conversation:

Social media does not magically eradicate inequality.

When we talk about the digital divide, we’re usually focused on access. Who has access to the web? What kind of access? Is it access they can afford? Is it access that is convenient? Are the speeds at which they can connect fast enough to actually engage with what’s going on? But in my experience, that conversation rarely gets to a point where you’re talking about what they’re doing when they’re online and who they are. Have you ever thought about the fact that there are class and race differences between who is using MySpace and who is using Facebook? As she points out, on the web we (as a society) are essentially replicating all the different social stratifications that exist out on the sidewalk. It makes sense if you think about it — with social networking sites many of us are essentially just recreating our offline social networks. That means you go where your friends are. But how many of us are aware of this, and to what extent?

Anyway, I highly recommend reading through this transcript if you have an interest in social media, social networks, and how people use them. This kind of broader thinking can really help to provide a better context for what’s happening in the different areas in which we’re all focused (for example, I pay attention to reports and information about what undergrads are up to, and  give maybe a cursory glance to the stuff on other age groups).

Holiday pics

After thinking some more about the question of whether or not to make fewer photos on Flickr public (Privacy on the Internet . . . and Me), I’ve decided that I’m going to make more of them friends & family only, especially those featuring people*. That means you’ll have to make a (free) Flickr account (they’re owned by Yahoo!, so you can use an existing Yahoo! account) and be friended by me in order to see them. And in order to be friended I need to know you in real life. Them’s the breaks.

There are ways that I can share the photos out to people without accounts, so I will probably do that with big events and parties. But for random occasional/incidental photos you’ll need a login. I am toying with the idea of making a guest account — something that folks who don’t have a Flickr accunt and aren’t interested in having one could use to get access to my photos — so let me know if you are intersted in this.

All that’s to say that I started this new system with the family holiday photos I just uploaded. I’m still debating on whether or not I want to go back and change the permissions on photos I’ve already uploaded. (I suspect this will happen some weekend when I’m bored. We’ll see.) So, consider this your warning that at some point, certain of my photo archives will disappear if you are not already a Flickr friend.

*Contributing to this decision was the fact that within a couple of days of writing that post I noticed that a photo of mine had been favorited by someone who was going around making a collection of photos where ladies’ pants were riding a bit on the low side. Luckily the gal in the photo in question was a stranger, but still. It appeared that at some point Flickr had deleted their original account, but they had created a new one and were going back and re-finding all their favorites. Ew.