Wednesday, May 21, 2008

MLA 2008: Croquet, not Second Life, is the Technology Trend

The first web search tool that I ever used was called WebCrawler. The service was also the hot topic at almost every conference I attended for two years. Soon, Lycos and the other search tools began to appear and the search landscape changed. It took about five years and several iterations of search tools before Google appeared on the horizon.

WebCrawler is now a footnote in web search tool history, although the current developers would likely argue my assessment.

At the MLA 2008 Tech Trends panel an audience member wondered why we didn't discuss Second Life.

In effect, SL is the WebCrawler for virtual environments. Other platforms will soon be appearing which will change the virtual world landscape. Wallace McLendon alluded to this when he mentioned the Croquet project in response to the question. SL was first to market and will likely become a footnote in virtual environment history.

Croquet is very interesting since it is an open source virtual environment platform which allows an organization to create a custom virtual environment and designed it to best meet the needs of its customers. Here is Marshall Breeding on Croquet:
""It's exciting to get an early glimpse of an emerging technology from another branch of the evolutionary tree. That's how I would characterize the Open Croquet Project, the most innovative-and most difficult to describe-technology I've seen all year."

I certainly encourage libraries/librarians to learn from playing around in the SL sandbox. Experiment. Understanding WebCrawler helped librarians understand the potential of Google. Understanding SL will help librarians understand other virtual environment platforms. However, open source efforts like Croquet are the real technology trend.

It is highly likely that Croquet will be discussed at a future panel once the platform matures and more institutions begin creating educational/instructional modules/worlds with it.

For a tour of Croquet:

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, May 19, 2008

MLA 2008: Technology Trends Panel

This AM I participated in the Technology Trends Panel. While we have several conference calls and many email messages, I enjoy hearing the other panelists speak as if I were in the audience. Rikke Ogawa also does an excellent job as a Google jockey (I hear she is available for parties) and Susan Lessick is great at herding the cats.

We had hoped to have the panel in a more informal setup using stools and simply pass the microphone. The cost for the chairs was quoted at $200 a piece! Somehow I can't even image needing to bring a tie to Hawaii. Sandals would seem to be the more appropriate attire.

Oh, and if you find that you have accidentally taken an audience response clicker, please contact me to arrange return.

photo: Tech Trends Audience Sphere: Related Content

MLA 2008: If It's Free, It's For Me

When I enter an exhibit hall I am on a quest. A quest for cool free stuff.

Pens I have. I have coffee cups full of conference pens. I need one, maybe two of them. My most prized is a Google pen I got at an Internet World conference the day Google went public. I can get $4 for it on eBay.

I also have plenty of interesting paper clips, bags, and pads.

In an earlier conference post from the MLA 2008 annual meeting I sounded off regarding the outrageous amount of paper and literature flowing out from the vendors. I don't know if my posting set off a conversation, but as I was walking through the hallway yesterday I overheard a group of people talking about this very issue. One attendee just commented to me that this is not a very 'green' conference from the vendor standpoint.

The solution is simple, vendors should reduce paper and increase the amount of cool free stuff. The cost of USB drives has fallen. Every one can use more of them. Even MP3 players can be had for a couple dollars. How about some iPod skins? How about other USB or Bluetooth gadgets? One of these would be cool.

The best free item I got so far was not at the conference, but on the corner of Wacker and Michigan. It was a free sample of Reynolds Handi-Vac vacuum sealer. I didn't even have to provide demographic information to their survey takers. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, May 18, 2008

MLA 2008: The (Research) Culture of Libraries

As I walked around the MLA 2008 poster session this afternoon I noticed that there were a fair number of projects funded by small grants. It seems like five thousand dollars can fund a fairly basic project.

This observation blended nice into the title of a late Sunday afternoon session I attended entitled 'Developing a Research Culture in Your Organization." I arrived to the session late (sorry, Jerry! I missed your presentation!) since I was still down in the exhibit hall for the poster session and kept running into people. Social networking classic, if you will.

I arrived in time to see Susan Whitmore's presentation. Susan provided an overview of a NIH staff survey to uncover what the staff felt they needed in order to move towards a more research oriented organization. Using research to begin building a research culture.

What the research uncovered was the the staff really didn't understand research methods, and requested training. So, the library leadership brought in experts to teach research methods. I understand the presentation was focused on their process and not outcomes. Perhaps it is too early to tell. Still, I walked away wondering about the impact of the training. Has there been a culture shift? Does the staff think in research terms? How many new projects have there been? Was there an increase in research dollars?

I will need to catch up with her on the network.... Sphere: Related Content

MLA 2008: It's All About the Network

Mark Funk's MLA 2008 presidential address and the McGovern Lecture by Andrew Zolli, (Founder of Z+ Partners Inc.; a think tank) dovetailed with one another nicely.

Mark broke away from the 'we’ve always done it that way” approach to presidential addresses and discussed how social networking should be used by MLA to rethink how we do association business. Activities such as committees, the CE clearinghouse, our traditional print publications, and the annual meeting itself can leverage emerging technologies and social networking.

The most important point he made is that it is not about the technology, but is all about the connections between people.

The title of my blog is a classic quote from Marshall McLuhan's classic work, Understanding Media. He is known for his visionary interpretation of the effects of technological communication on society. For those who are unfamiliar with him, it was McLuhan coined the phrase "global village." in addition to the "medium is the message." In this now 44-year-old text, McLuhan asserted it it is not the media or a technology in of itself that is important, the the impact that it has on society.
"the personal and social consequences of any medium - that is, of any extension of ourselves - result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.

To the point that Mark made, and reinforced Zolli, it is not what Web 2.o can do for our association, it's members, and our customers. What it IS about is the impact that Web 2.0 and social networking technologies have on how we connect and relate to one another. It is not about how we should use Web 2.0 technologies, but rather the impact these technologies have on the way our association conducts business, communicates, and presents it's scholarly communications. Sphere: Related Content

MLA 2008: A Brisk Morning Walk

One of the advantages of heading west a time zone is that my body clock is still an hour ahead. So, getting up this AM for the 20th Majors Walk for Fun was not a problem (free t-shirt and Elsevier sponsored box breakfast). I was unable to recruit anyone last night at the opening reception willing to get up early, or whom didn't have committee meetings, I showed up figuring I would know someone or meet someone new.

As it turned out, that someone I knew turned out to be fellow Ohioan Marlene Porter from the U of Toledo (or a part of the University formerly known as the Medical College of Ohio). Discussion topics ranged from the challenges she is facing during the MCO /UofT 'merger,' the recruitment process for a new Assistant Vice President/Library Director at Ohio State HSL, and PC vs. Mac.

We also spent time on the issue of library culture and the issues with change and technology innovation. Essentially, how library organizations still struggle. I highly recommend that librarians read Serious Play by Michael Schrage. One of the book's messages is that innovation is not so much about the end product as the way the process stimulates communication and collaboration.

The weather was great, since it was a bit cool I didn't even break a sweat. The walk took us to the lake front just north of Navy Pier by the Ohio St. "beach", up the lake front to Chicago Ave (or there about, I was talking and not looking at street signs), then west to the Water Tower and then back down Michigan Ave.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I associate the Walk with one of my former co-workers, Barbara VanBrimmer. Barb lost her battle with cancer a few years ago. Every year Barb and I would go on the Walk together and would talk about everything BUT work. I am choking up as I type this.


Well, time to get ready to get down the the conference space just in time to hear Mark Funk's Presidential address. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, May 17, 2008

MLA 2008: What's Coming In Under My Door?

I just got back to my room after the MLA 2008 opening reception. The MLA tradition is that most people go to the reception early and then get together with friends for dinner.

Since the vendors don't put out their best free stuff at the reception, plus I am planning to do the 6:30 AM Sunday Majors walk (free breakfast and a t-shirt), I went to dinner with friends beforehand and didn't get to the reception until the last half hour.

After getting back to the room, dressing 'down', turning on the TV (Note to Hyatt: Why provide a 37" wide screen without offering HD?!) and booting up the Mac a bunch of stuff came flying under my door.

It isn't enough that we get vendor materials in the mail before the conference and in my conference pack, we also get it hand delivered to our rooms. I fully understand the role that vendors play in putting on a conference. Conferences are expensive. Vendor support is essential. In fact, a vendor is probably paying for my Internet access as an 'official conference blogger." Thank you, whomever you are.

In total, there were eight pieces of vendor literature delivered to my room, and no good free stuff. The problem I have with all this literature is that I will just throw it all away. In fact, I speculate that 80%+ of all the vendor materials printed and brought to the MLA conference gets thrown away at the conference site. The vendors will see that as a good thing since the 2o% percent retention may lead to few sales.

Even if I were a collection development librarian, I would probably still go to the vendor web site rather than take all their promotional literature. Good free stuff, that I'll take. (Anyone giving away USB drives?)

I just hope the Hyatt has an aggressive paper recycling program. Sphere: Related Content

MLA 2008: When is Self Check In, Not?

When I arrived at Port Columbus on my way to Chicago for MLA 2008, I used one of the self check-in kiosks at the ticket counter to check my luggage. I had already printed my boarding pass and just needed to check my bag. I went through all the steps, but had to wait for a desk worker to get my tag from a printer from behind the counter. It took about five minutes.

Upon arrival the Hyatt Regency Chicago I again approached one of the registration self check-in kiosks. I swiped my card and was stepping through the questions but a desk worker came over and started asking me question and selecting my options. My room wasn't ready, so I requested that a text message be sent to me when it was. I then went down three escalators to the conference registration site.

The registration confirmation email I received had a bar code printed out on it. The email directed me to use the new self check-in stations. Yes, you guessed it. I scanned the bar code and nothing happened. Once again, a desk worker needed to manually enter my information.

I figured that while I waited for my room I would write a blog entry. I had to go back up the escalators to the registration desk to retrieve my conference blogger 'password.' It turned out that no password was needed and my access would simply be deducted from my bill. (Thank you MLA!)

As it also turned out, my room was ready. Sphere: Related Content

MLA 2008: Technology Means More Baggage

I am sitting at Port Columbus on my way to Chicago for the MLA 2008 annual meeting. I have gotten very good at using various packing techniques to get all my 'stuff' into a carry-on bag. In fact, I have not checked a bag in almost three years. Well, until today.

Last year we utilized an audience response system in our tech trends session, which was very well received. Since last year's session was overflow, I am bringing along 100 'clickers' to use in the session. I had to go up a size in my luggage plan, which meant I had to check my bag. It is not too big a deal since I am not in a super hurry getting to the hotel.

It does, however, also mean lugging around a larger bag on the L, up the stairs from the station, and three blocks to the hotel. So it goes. I guess this is a new take on the concept of disruptive technology.

For those interested, this is the session I will be presenting at:
Session Title: Top Technology Trends: Bridge Today, Gone Tomorrow
Session Start: Monday 5/19/2008 10:30 AM - 12=noon
Location: Columbus KL

Description: As a follow up to last year's standing-room-only session, technology trend spotters in health sciences libraries will offer their latest insights, opinions and criticisms on where technology is leading us next. This energetic and sometimes irreverent panel discussion will be accompanied by a Google Jockey surfing the Web and highlighting mentioned trends on the main screen. Want to jump into the mix? The session will have audience participation in our lively question and answer time as well as an opportunity to give feedback on the trends presented through an audience response system.
Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, May 15, 2008

MLA 2008: Calling all Emerging Technology Librarians

Over the past year I have been seeing an increasing number of library openings with the title Emerging Technology Librarian (or similar) If you have such a title (or similar) and will be attending the MLA 2008 annual meeting in Chicago, I would be interested in talking with you.

The increase in the number of positions with this title is in of itself a technology trend.

Among what I am interesting in learning:

- what the role of this position is within your organization;
- is it a new position or a redefined one;
- is it 100% of your responsibilities;
- are you expected to perform traditional librarian services (e.g. reference desk)

So, how do we find each other? As one of the conference bloggers, I am hoping there will be a special identification ribbon. You can always stop by the Top Technology Trends: Bridge Today, Gone Tomorrow panel on Monday the 19th at 10:30 in Columbus KL. We can catch up after. If there are a few of us, we can have an informal round table or grab lunch (assuming you are not going to the Awards ceremony). Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Are We Ready for Half-Baked Ideas?

In "Open Source Scholarly Publishing" I summarized a scholarly communications model called open source publishing being proposed by Dr. Eric Mockensturm. It presents a dynamic environment that allows authors to present their ideas rapidly, even in 'half baked' unfinished form, and then fill in material as it becomes available.

Today, as I walked around campus, I listened to an Educause podcast from the Seminars on Academic Computing Conference by Jon Udell, Evangelist of Microsoft Corporation, entitled "The Disruptive Nature of Technology". The talk was primarily about the creation of personal digital space, or lifebits, the half-baked theme came up again.

"Web 2.0 and other emerging technologies invite exploration, innovation, and building with “small pieces loosely joined.” Yet those opportunities can disrupt traditional academic processes that undervalue amateur participation, discourage faculty from venturing outside their realm of primary expertise, and look to “enterprise solutions” for administrative convenience. Can the academy include “half-baked ideas” in its core mission and processes?"

Once again I wonder. Why is it that librarians still tend to favor fully-baked ideas, especially when it comes to providing services, rather than a more half-baked approach? 

This week I proposed to the three campus library directors (University Libraries, Law, Health Sciences) the idea of creating an Ohio State University Libraries Labs.  It will be OSUL's emerging technologies sandbox. The concept was well received and I will be leading the effort. The challenge will be pulling it together with no new personnel and limited funding.
Sphere: Related Content

Friday, May 09, 2008

MLA 2008 Conference Blogging Aggregated Feed

David Rothman pulled together a very cool Yahoo Pipes feed using Feedburner that aggregrates all of the MLA 2008 conference bloggers postings. The conference wiki has a feed as well, although I do not know when it was added since David indicated in his post that there wasn't one.

It also looks like David will be doing some neat audio/video stuff. I also plan to pull people aside and use the iSight on my MacBook to capture hallway talks.

We are trying to set up a schedule so all the bloggers do not appear at the same events. I guess it is a heads up to presenters that you may/will be blogged. I guess it is like a restaurant owner knowing that a critic will be dining. Since I am also presenting someone will be blogging about me!

Note to fellow bloggers: Should we get together sometime Saturday or early Sunday? While I know some of you, there are others I've never met. It will be great to put faces to blogs. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

An Official Blogger for the Medical Library Association Annual Meeting

I just received an email that I will be one of about a dozen 'official' bloggers reporting from the MLA 2008 annual meeting to be held in Chicago from May 16-21. I will be reporting from May 17-20th.

My posts will focus on technology/innovation oriented topics from the sessions, the hallways, and quite possibly Bearded Pigs events.

As an ‘Official MLA Conference Blogger,’ this site will be listed on the Blog Roll at the MLA Conference Wiki. Oh, and I also free wireless access at the conference hotel, which is an extremely limited commodity.

Now, if the bloggers only could get 'all access' passes to 'special' events... Sphere: Related Content

Friday, May 02, 2008

Schrage's Revised Law of 'Library' Networks

I have kept up on the happenings at the MIT Media Lab ever since I read Stewart Brand's The Media Lab nearly (gulp!) twenty years ago. One individual who cycled through the lab is Michael Schrage.

Schrage (author of an excellent book on innovation called Serious Play) has had a few interesting quotes over the years. The one I feel that is relevant to libraries is called Schrage's Law of Networks:

"The surest way to add value to a network is to connect it to another network"
Schrage was thinking about/referring to social networks when he came up with this 'law.' However, I feel it also applies to computer networks, consortium, etc. Replacing the word "network" with the phrase "library information system" a revised quote becomes:

"The surest way to add value to a library information system is to connect it to another library information system"

Creating new relationships between library information systems creates new relationships between information. New relationships between information sources/content then can help create new knowledge. Simply put, libraries can add value to each of our information systems by interconnecting them and the content.

Exposing and syndicating our content so it can be brought out of one information system into another will allow library customers create new relationships between information/knowledge. For example, exposing institutional repository content would enable customers to discoverable/findable from within the ILS or as learning objects within course management systems.

This is exactly the kind of information mashup/knowledge creation that service oriented architecture can help libraries achieve.

Sphere: Related Content