Access Schmaccess

I just finished watching most of a talk called Access Schmaccess: Libraries in the Age of Information Ubiquity. Now before you non-librarians stop reading, this was mostly not about libraries. For almost the first hour, Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor (MI) District Library’s Associate Director of IT and Production, talks about the internet, and how it has changed and is changing our culture.

He’s a very engaging speaker – I admit that I didn’t expect to make it through more than 5 or 10 minutes, and I wound up watching nearly the entire thing – 90 minutes – all but what I assume is the Q&A at the end. He talks about memes and torrenting and kickstarter all kinds of interesting and relevant stuff. Basically he’s pointing out all the ways that our culture has shifted, building a foundation so that you can see a way forward for libraries. It’s a reminder that the types of information people want is changing forms – people still want to learn things, but increasingly the information they want is not necessarily contained in a book, or easily learned from one. I’m not doing a good job of putting my finger on this, but I think what he did is take a giant step backward from where a lot of articles about makerspaces in libraries start and explaining the “why?” of this shift, rather than just saying “people want to make stuff! 21st century skills!” etc etc.

Anyway, he doesn’t really talk about libraries until about 0:50, and even so the next 20 minutes are still pretty general. It’s not until about 1:07 that he gets into really library-specific stuff, but he’s talking about very interesting things. His library’s summer reading game is now online and has quests and badges. They circulate synthesizers and other crazy instruments, in a semi-secret way. It was a great talk, and I encourage you to watch it. He gave a shortened version of this talk at the Maryland Library Association’s conference recently, and I really wish I’d been there to see it.


What's interesting today

The Devil’s Workshop: So My Students Can Eat
A community college professor writes about how his students have to choose between paying tuition and paying for groceries. I had never even thought about this in any kind of depth, and I’m not alone in that. So fundamental.

John Green’s tumblr: Why Libraries Are Different From Piracy
John Green is an author. In this post, he talks about the differences between getting a book from the library and pirating it, and why he thinks it’s better to do the former than the latter. An interesting take on this from the author’s perspective.

What's interesting today

Library Journal: Statistical Abstract Saved by ProQuest and Bernan Press
While it’s very, very good news that the Statistical Abstract won’t completely disappear now that the government has pulled the funding plug, as the author states at the end – it’s sad that was used to be a free online resource is now going to be tied up behind a paywall. And this will do no good for libraries who can’t afford the subscription.

New Media Consortium: NMC Horizon Connect Session > Howard Rheingold is Net Smart
I attended this free webinar today, and it was a great presentation (not just because I won Rheingold’s newest book, Net Smart, which will be released tomorrow). In the presentation, he outlined five literacies that aren’t being taught in school much, if at all, and that he thinks people need in order to survive and thrive online: Attention, Participation, Collaboration, Crap Detection, and Network Awareness. I’ve got some notes from this that I’ve posted under separate cover, but if you’d rather just watch it yourself the recording is here, it uses Adobe Connect. I believe they also said they will get it up on their iTunes U site.

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

In the Library With the Lead Pipe: Out of the Library and Into the Wild
A great piece about putting your library skills to use elsewhere in the community. This was written by a library school classmate of mine, so my initial surprise at how many of the folks in the photo I recognized was quickly explained!

NEH announces $17 million in awards and offers for 208 humanities projects
The title says it all, today the National Endowment for the Humanities announced grant recipients for a variety of projects across the country. My eye was drawn to this due to some chatter on Twitter about one of the Virginia winners, George Mason University. They’re working on building out a mobile tour that provides a history of the National Mall. I scrolled through most of the PDF that gives brief details on the winners, and there’s a lot of great stuff being funded.

The Education of Oronte Churm: Mike Daisey is a Liar, and So Am I and More About Mike Daisey, This Time With George Clooney!
Ponderings on why Mike Daisey did what he did with that Foxconn monologue, and why it matters.




What's interesting today

More like “What Was Interesting Yesterday.” I had time to collect these links but that was it.

The Digital Shift: Large California Consortium Joins Movement Toward Library EBook Ownership
A system in California is among the first libraries and consortia to invest in the hardware infrastructure necessary to purchase and lend ebooks, rather than lease and lend, which is the (current) primary model. There’s also some info about a very smart publishing house that’s signed on with libraries doing this. I hope that this winds up working well, and that the Big Six follow suit. If nothing else this is going to expose this publisher’s catalog to a lot of people who might otherwise not come across their books. I know for myself, if I just really want an ebook or two to read for a trip, I’ll search for a few things on my to-read list but once that gets tiresome because it’s not available, I’ll just start browsing the system for anything that sounds interesting.

New Rambler: How do we explain patron privacy in a world of target markets?
She’s right, people are surprised that this is our standard operating procedure. When someone discovers this it’s a great opportunity to mention that we do things this way because we believe in intellectual freedom, and a good part of that is your right to read whatever the hell you want without worrying about Big Brother or a relative finding out about it. That said, libraries can and should be doing a lot of this stuff. The trick is to do it on an opt-in basis. Opt in to have us save your borrowing history, pick up your partner’s books, and send you information about things you might be interested in.

But then again. . .
Wall Street Journal: Stores Smarten Up Amid Spam Flood
There’s a limit to the usefulness of this kind of thing. I have unsubscribed from email lists of more than one company that I have shopped at due solely to the sheer volume of email they send. I want to know about your sales but you do not need to remind me of your existence every day.

New Media Consortium: NMC Horizon Connect Session > Howard Rheingold is Net Smart
Free webinar coming up next week, hopefully it will be an interesting discussion of how new/digital/social technology is affecting our lives.

Brainstorm: Plumbers Need Postsecondary Education, Too
Very true, and it’s too bad that this type of education gets lost a lot of the time. Not everyone wants to go the traditional four-years route, and not everyone should.

Wired Campus: TED, Known for Idea Talks, Releases Educational Videos
This is a very cool initiative! Take a few minutes to watch that promo video.

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.

Internet Blackout Day

Obviously I have not joined the Blackout today, but that doesn’t mean I don’t support the cause. In case you haven’t already heard, there are two bills in Congress (PIPA in the Senate and SOPA in the house) right now that threaten free speech, and freedom of information, on the web. Watch this brief video to learn more about these two bills, which are being presented as anti-piracy bills. They aren’t actually going to stop piracy. Corporations who are concerned with this have plenty of tools already – which they stretch to the limit to go after individuals who they claim are infringing their copyrights.

Please contact your reps in congress about this if you haven’t already. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a quick and easy way to do this but you can also look them up and call or email directly.

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.