Monday, June 30, 2008

It's All About the Relevancy

"Screw 'information overload': there is never enough information for individuals who crave relevant info."

Well put.

Via: Trendwatching (Infinite Transparency)

Friday, June 27, 2008


"Gates crafted with cardbord boxes then installed in specific alley ways."

Specter is a genius a recontextualizing outdoor, urban spaces.

The Idea Is the Verb

Puma has produced a great series of films for their I-Cycle project. Bringing together empathy (through story telling), DIY spirit, and philanthropy, the first film "A Bicycle Is Born" is a great introduction to the rest of the films and the ideas behind them.

We librarians need to amp up our message as knowledge facilitators. We need to create & promote professional and engaging stories of the personal connections we make with our patrons. I-cycle is a great example for us to learn from.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Libraries and Gaming

Jaap vande Geer of DOK Library fame recently posted an interesting video entitled, "If you're not gaming you're losing!"

Gen Con, a gaming conventions organization, will be holding Gen Con Trade Day on on August 13, 2008. ALA's Dale Lipschultz gives this description

Gen Con Trade Day, on Wednesday, August 13th, will feature a
half-day program of special sessions specifically for librarians. Two sessions,
one on circulating games and one on using games in library programs, will be led
by Christopher Harris, Coordinator of the School Library System for Genesee
Valley BOCES, an educational services agency that supports the libraries of 22
small, rural districts in Western NY. In addition to his writing on Infomancy,
Christopher is a technology blogger for School Library Journal on Digital
Reshift as well as a regular technology columnist.

A third session will bring together retailers and librarians
that have successfully collaborated on bringing games into libraries (note - you
can get a free five-day pass if you're a fit for one of the final slots on this
panel, e-mail

A final, keynote session will bring together industry
participants from multiple areas to discuss a broad, critical issue for the
future of games.

The afternoon programming will be followed by a reception where
you can meet, mingle, and learn from other librarians, game company executives,
retailers, distributors, and others in the game business.

On Thursday, August 14th, you'll get special early access to the
largest exhibit floor in the games industry, giving you a chance to talk
directly with the manufacturers, take part in games demonstrations, and see the
hottest new releases.

To learn more about this exciting event, click here:

Finally, Tom Storey gives a nice profile on Gamers and Boomers in his article, "The Big Bang."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Context Over Dogma

Chris Bangle, Chief of Design for BMW Group, described BMW's design philosophy as context over dogma. That phrase specifically struck a cord with me, especially when I viewed R. David Lankes presentation on Participatory Librarianship.

As I interpret it, Lankes describes the need to get away from item level descriptions and focus more on how that item may be connected to other items. Lankes argues that the connections are key in new knowledge creation, and the library should provide the user all the tools necessary to make those connections. In essence, the interconnected data (i.e. the whole) is greater than the sum of its parts, and it can be reconfigured anytime to meet the user's specific information needs.

It is analogous to the retail mantra "right product, right place, right time, right price." However, information is not necessarily bound by physicality. Through the use of technology, we have the means to give the user the ability to structure information as they see fit.

The Right Product

The right product is based on the user's need. Having the information accessible/findable is one part. Being able to adapt the information to the user's need is another. Finally, giving the user the ability to easily find it for future use and the ability to share it make the information and services we provide exactly what the user needs.

The Right Place

When contemporary users have an information need, they want the answer quickly and efficiently. Should it matter that the user is in the grocery store, at a ballgame, or in a restaurant? No! We need to be able to provide value-added services regardless of whether the user is in the library, at a computer, or out and about. The right place is wherever the user is at.

The Right Time

The right time is anytime. Whether the physical library is open or closed, access to information should never cease. This could be through proxy access* to databases or to knowledgeable library staff that are part of a consortium like Ohio's Know-It-Now 24/7.

*But why should we have to go to the library's Web site to gain access? We should devise a way to access networks that are library branded but free of the library's Web site. Something akin to what data portability is all about.

The Right Price

Free*. I've commented on this before. Libraries, even special libraries in some cases, should make their services available to the community at large for free. Free in the sense of initially being subsidized. For public libraries, that is through taxation and grants. For academic libraries, that is through tuition and grants. For museum libraries, that's through fees and grants. For special libraries, that is through a reinvestment of profits. In each case, there are real opportunities to create additional revenues through premium services. Those premium services, if shown to the patron/client as being truly beneficial, will offset the cost of the program, and, hopefully, introduce an additional revenue stream.

Our dogma is to have strict control over the organization of our product. In our world of mass customization, user control, and budding transparency, our dogma is our death knell. However, technology is a tool that allows us to contextualize the information for the user's specific needs. Our relevancy depends on the value our users place on us. Context over dogma indeed.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Libraries Should Vaynerchuk-It

About 2 weeks ago, I was introduced to the world of Gary Vaynerchuk, "Social Media Sommelier," via Trendwatch. I've been very impressed with his ability to reach the hearts and minds of people who could have cared less about wine, and he's transformed his family business from a $4.5M/Yr. company into a $60M/Yr. enterprise mostly by using ingenuity, passion, and Web 2.0 technologies.

Recently, Vaynerchuk went into a Borders while attending a tech conference. He found his just published book on the shelf and inscribed a secret password that, if e-mailed back to him, would garner the e-mailer a prize. The act brings together personalization, humanity, and accessibility to a product who's brand is all about those three things.

Libraries have for too long carried the banner of austere authority, inhumanity, and poor accessibility (think most OPACs, go here for Next-Gen OPACs). We need to reach not just library users but all internet users in meaningfully branded ways. We need to demonstrate our passion not as zealots but as information enablers. We need to Vaynerchuk-It.

The Gary Vaynerchuk WLTV Gift Pack #2 Tasting - Episode #147

Data Filters

Information Overload | Information Literacy

We're all familiar with information overload, but how are libraries positioning themselves as information solutions. Information literacy instruction (ILI)
teaches our users to effectively navigate information sources based on
their needs and gives them the ability to critically evaluate the
information and their outcomes. Certainly, ILI gives people a sense of
empowerment by giving them the necessary filtering tools. However,
what if the information recalled still overwhelms? Faceted navigation and clustering may alleviate some of these concerns, but, after reading about ImportGenius @ Springwise, I wonder if libraries don't have the capabilities to bring more value-added, income-generating services to the public.


ImportGenius takes public
data created by US Customs and packages it in a way that makes
searching easy in what was considered by most a massive data dump.
Subscriptions to ImportGenius run close to $400 a month and additional
fee-based modules can be added to the the base subscription.

The New Business Model

Free! Chris Anderson (Long Tail fame) wrote recently in Wired about what he believes to be the future business model--offer
introductory level services or products for free and then offer
upgrades to those at a premium. You can see this already at work with
services like WordPress and Picnik. Libraries already offer many services for "free." I think smart libraries that offer premium services, like Georgia Tech
and many others, are a very viable way to create additional revenue,
especially in the public sector. If marketed successfully, the
additional streams of revenue could fund the creation of more
information-based utility services (specifically, branded utility services based on the same revenue-generating model described above).

Key Take Aways

"Find a way to make public data more accessible, and you'll import some tidy profits yourself!" - Amber York, Springwise

"The first wave is freedom of choice and the second wave is freedom from choice." - Bill Joy, who inspired Peter Gabriel's The Filter (via: Contagious)