Archive for February, 2010

Webstock 2010

Graphic on the front of the programme

Last week I went to the Webstock conference (proper) and the ONYAs awards dinner. Webstock is a weeklong conference with three days of workshops and then two days of presentations. It was fascinating to attend a conference that is outside of my normal working experience. I’d recommend this to anyone.

There were several themes that I thought were interesting for libraries.

Augmented Reality
‘the creep of the computer into social and physical space via mobile devices’
Our real-life experience of urban spaces is increasingly being augmented by mobile devices. We can navigate using digital maps. Geo-location games like FourSquare encourage users to share where they are and to visit venues (in real life!) This is not true for everyone of course – communities pick up and use technologies in different ways and at different rates. (As evidenced whenever libraries try to withdraw a collection e.g. videos.) It’s very easy to find a community that will support your point of view – there still needs to be a space where different community groups can interact.

Make it easy
‘do your work to improve someone’s day’
Think about the human experience. What do humans ask? (e.g. “where do you live?” instead of “address”.) Think accessible options at the beginning of a project. Improving accessibility improves the experience for everyone. You don’t have to understand all the accessibility guidelines or use a checklist. Just take a little bit of time to make it inclusive. There are conventions in design. Everything may look similar but that helps users navigate through the application. Think about human psychology – what’s the impact of ignoring social design techniques? e.g. making users login using a barcode rather than a name. There can be security issues if the process isn’t easy.

Give up control
‘live as users live it’
Don’t waste time trying to predict everything – your users will do things with your creations that you never even dreamt of. Listen to their feedback and improve the things you can.  If there needs to be a separation between official and supporter brands then facilitate the separation with pre-designed templates. Go where your users are – don’t expect them to come to the things you are building. Use the things as they use them – social media especially is not a 9-5 thing. 

There were some excellent trade stands as well. Silverstripe ran a “How do humans win?” wall and Springload had their own cartoonist to illustrate a wall of words provided by attendees.   Intergen’s bach space was a welcome retreat from the regular town hall space.  3months used lego to illustrate the Agile process.

The ONYAs were a celebration of those who design, develop and create New Zealand’s best websites and applications.   It was the first year it was run. Nice to see Christchurch City Libraries nominated for “Best corporate content”  even if they didn’t win. (Nice to talk to them in the dessert break too!) Congratulations to the winners.

After a good night of presentations and food and drink, this is how it ended.


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Being A Digital Native

I found this video which was apparently played at Vala [I am surprised some of my co-conspirator’s who went haven’t posted it already] It is too cute, so had to post it up. The other day, me and the Editor In Chief were talking about how our youngest will never know a time without broadband and possibly Youtube [or it’s future equivilant if it ever becomes old hat] He loves watching the Muppets on Youtube. 🙂

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It’s been a busy couple of weeks away from library land for me. We have been moving house, literally that is, and my time has been taken up with plumbers, electricians, house moving companies, large trucks and builders. To everyone’s surprise all our ducks fell into place and since the house was uprooted on Monday we are now on site, connected to piles, have water, sewerage and phone. One of the most pleasing things for me is the fact that by some miracle of modern technology, Telecom will provide me with broadband. The max theoretical speed is 2.5MG, so will pipe slower, but that’s better than dialup hell.

So now that we are starting to settle in, and I return to work tomorrow, I find myself looking forward to thinking library thoughts. Hopefully there won’t be too much to catch-up on at work, but I know I have a couple of hundred emails to wade through. The library is being painted at the moment, and the boss decided that while everything had to be moved, she may as well to a shuffle. The upshot is I am being moved from my office into the shared workroom. I think she was expecting me to throw the cot when she sent me the email, but while disappointed to lose my little sanctum, I can see the broader benefits to the workflows to be too upset.

It’s a funny thing how moving a house gives you a whole new perspective on life.  One thing that I have missed is my blogging, so expect more regular posts from myself. This rural librarian can still be connected, even if we have no cell phone coverage…

My Idea of Stress. Don't drop my house, please.

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Soundbites from VALA2010

I had the priviledge of attending VALA2010 in Melbourne last week.  Here are my soundbites:

Open Source is the new black, but few are able to wear it. So many of us are constrained by IT infrastructure, obligations and learned helplessness from vendors of LMSs that it requires more than a step in faith to implement.  However, those who do use OSS really love it.

One search to rule them all. All kinds of single search discovery tools are making their way into our libraries.  Yet one speaker said we’re moving beyond federated searching now.

Librarians are too fond of forming committees to open doors. Stealth projects can be more successful.

Twitter provides a depth to conference attendance that I found valuable.  The back channel discussion reinforces salient points and also crowdsources note taking.  See Twapperkeeper for an archive.  For someone like me who struggles with the social aspect of conferences Twitter is an excellent ice breaker and I loved meeting my tweeps throughout the conference and at the 2 dinners I went to.  In fact, without Twitter I probably would have found things rather ho hum.  I have never seen so many iPhones/Droids in one place as I did at VALA.

Libraries and technology are in transition. (Aren’t we always?)  Web 2.0 should now be considered foundational rather than an addition to be glued on.  More and more libraries are not about teaching people how to use electronic interfaces, but about content.  Though I would have to add that YMMV depending on your user population.

Cloud computing is here.  If you are not in the cloud you need to fly there.

There was a lot more but I’m leaving some for Amanda to post!

You might like this though – a vision of libraries in 2015 from University of Technology Swinburn students.

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Apologies In Advance

Hi Folks

I will be fairly inactive over the next several weeks. Next week I am shifting my house from one bit of land to another, and will be without power, phone and Internet. Reconnection may take a while especially since I am not sure if we can get broadband where our house will be.



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As you can guess from the title of this post I a was not quite sure what to call it. I wasn’t sure actually what I wanted to write about, so thus you get this.

My Editor-In-Chief, and I were discussing employment, job descriptions and career paths the other day, and she said that she thought I had found the path that I was passionate about. Never before in my professional life had I thought about or brought so much work home. It was nice that she recognised something that I had been thinking for a while about. Since taking up blogging, and really engaging in the technical and social media side of librarianship, I have come to think I have really found the area in which I want to put down my professional roots. Having found that core part of my career that really engages me, I have also discovered that other parts of Librarianship and the management of libraries has reopened themselves to me. It’s quite thrilling really.

It is thus that I came across the call for speakers for Internet Librarian 2010 in America [Hat tip Librarian in Black]. I can confidently say I wont be attending 😦

Seeing that brought back to the fore of my mind an idea that has been percolating around for a while. What we need here in New Zealand is a New Zealand equivalent. Sure there is the LIANZA Conference and The National Digital Forum, but one of these events is a large broad spectrum conference with a focus on all forms of Librarianship, and the other is across complementary professions. What we need, well I think anyway, is a small event. It doesn’t have to be many days, or particularly large, or even complex. Maybe a weekend foocamp type structure could work. I even had a radical, or maybe ridiculous, idea of having a tech free environment for part of it, but let that go as being edgy for the sack of edginess.   This event could be aimed squarely at the burgeoning community  Internet librarians that are developing our institutions, where they/we could gather and really chew the fat over the latest goings on in cyberspace.

I had thought of seeing what the Ikaroa committee thought of it, but decided not to as it’s more a ITsig sort of gig. But then I’m not a member of ITsig (which may have to be rectified), so wasn’t confident in putting it forward to them.  As a by the way, how many people are members of multiple sig’s? I am a member of Pubsig, but could quite happily also join Catsig and IT sig…

So what do you think?

I will leave you with this video I spotted on The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarians Blog’s, which is the evolution of Twitter visualise,  a Twitter code swarm. An no I am not sure what you get from watching it, but it is cool.


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In case you missed it, Barbara Garriock was on the LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast this week talking about the proposed library charges at Tauranga City Libraries.

LISTen is one of the regular library related podcasts I listen too.

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