metacommentary – librarians are awesome, and clever

My web friend Mat Honan does a lot of neat stuff. He does triathalons, he writes for Wired, he goes traveling to interesting places. I follow him virtually via Vox and Flickr and other random places, not in a stalker-y way but just in a “hey this person is interesting” way. I think we have friends in common, but I don’t know him in person. So, when he started doing pay-per-post posts to his blog, I wasn’t sure if he was making a big joke or earnestly trying to make some money. His posts were definitely interesting and amusing, not taking themselves too seriously it seemed. However, I was and still am a little skeptical about this whole pay-for-placement thing. I keep an eagle eye out for it in libraryland, and I think many of us do. While I don’t think we’re perfect at this game by any stretch I like to think that you go to the library, and your librarian, to get objective information not filtered through shopping incentives, advertising and viral marketing.

I thought this was a worthwhile point to make, so I decided to pay Mat Honan to make it for me. Ten dollars well spent, I think. Don’t you?

status of libraries, museum and archives in affected fire areas of California

The California State Archivist reports on the status of archives, museums in affected fire areas in California via the California State Library Blog. [thanks anarchivist]

New (YPL) favorite blog

Not super fleshed out, but how cool is it that one of our venerable library institutions has a blog outlining some of the new things they’re trying and evaluating what they’ve already been doing? Please subscribe, right now please, to labs.nypl.org. [thanks pk!]

high tech to low(er) tech and the blogs in between

So, I gave my talk at Access and it went pretty well. I was a little out of my element since I’m usually the techie person talking to less techie people. Here I was representing the non-techies with a message of “hey don’t forget usability!” among other things. I had a lot of downtime in various lobbies and airports on the way back and so I poked around looking to see what, if anything, people had said about it. There was a short blurb on the K-State Conference blog about it.

Anyone who has been following my travels knows I have a particular soft spot for Kansas both because I’ve had a great time meeting and talking to people there, but also because they are doing some neat stuff with technology that helps make up for their geographical disatance from other KS librarians as well as other libraries generally. Just look at this list of blogs and feeds to see just some of the stuff Kansas State University is doing. Anyhow, I saw the post on my WordPress dashboard and left a comment. One of the things that I think separates people who I consider “bloggers” from people with blogs is this sort of inter-blog commenting. If someone says something nice (or not nice actually) about me, I try to leave a note. It just seems like decent etiquette and a way to say “hey welcome to the blogoworld” for newer bloggers, particularly library students.

I think an easy mistake for first-time bloggers to make is to assume that their blog is going to become some conversational destination wthout realizing that they need to go out and converse as well as bring people in to do it. The conversation that we all talk about cluing in to doesn’t happen in any one place, it happens in a lot of places all at once. Dale Askey, who was at Access 2007 and wrote the little blurb about my talk follows up with a little more explanation about some of these blog effects. He tells us about how after Amanda did her nuts and bolts talk about the Endeca rollout they did at McMaster, someone from Endeca’s Canada office emailed her a few hours later interested in talking with her about some of her ideas. Neat. This is the sort of back and forth we’d like to be having, it’s nice to see it really happening in ways that help libraries.

There’s a point to this story: people read and process our blogs in ways we cannot control and do not intend. Far from being a cautionary tale, I want to do a little dance because of this. We’re seeing what we said was the point behind blogging. Put information out there, and let people do with it what they will. Thanks to this little bizarre set of events I’ve related, I met new people [and] caught the interest of Endeca with my comments…

And, on the heels of that, NELA has a conference blog, complete with a Flickr photo pool and a team of local bloggers so anyone who can’t go can follow along at home. It’s worth noting that the entire cost to set this all up — except human time which is important but separate — was probably close to zero. Free WordPress.com account [note to NELA blog admin: consider disabling Snap previews, they're an obnoxious side effect of WP.com blogs], free Flickr account [note to Flickr admin(s): choose a Flickr web address by clicking here when you're logged in so the URL for your pictures is even more customized] and all the rest of it the feeds, the comments, the basic designs, just come along with it. I’m sure one or more of my talks will show up there and I’m excited to get to read about the large number of presentations that I can’t go to which I now know I can still read about.

2.0 keeping us connected

Kathryn Greenhill has a great sensible post on why learning emerging techologies is part of every librarian’s job. Kathryn worked with other Australian librarians on Library2.0 on the loose, an unofficial unconference for Western Australian library folks (and a few from other places). Kathryn is one of the many international librarians that I feel comfortable calling a colleague because even though we’ve only met in person once, I see her “around” many of the online places that I frequent and keep up with her via blog, twitter, flickr etc. I know this is sort of old news online, but I found it again via Manage This which is quickly becoming one of my favorite library blogs.

Carnival of the Infosciences #77 at my house, y’all come!

Chad strongarm^H^H^H talked me into hosting the wandering Infosciences Carnival which was probably something I should have done a long time ago anyhow. You can participate too, it’s incredibly easy. Send a link to the best library stuff you’ve been reading this week, either via del.icio.us using the carninfo tag or this submission form. Need to know more/ Check out the submission guidelines on the wiki, or just ask me or Chad. Thanks for contributing.

Not going to ALA

I forgot to mention here, I won’t be at ALA. I was planning to go. In fact I may still be on the schedule but my dear friends decided to get married in Brooklyn that same exact weekend and the choice between paying my own way to DC to be on a panel and paying my own way to NY to be at a wedding was pretty clear-cut. Close readers will note that this is the second time that I’ve passed up Annual to go to a wedding. It must be a popular weekend.

There are a few neat things going on that people should go to. The Hollywood Librarian premiere Friday night (trailer, behind the scenes video). I’d link you to the ALA press release about this but their search form is broken, as is their contact form. My friend Pete, a librarian who works at MediaMatters, is DJing a dance night with some other folks on Saturday night. No cover, no dress code, lots of librarians. More details here. I look forward to reading about the conference on the bazllion blogs covering it.

Michael Gorman, blogging on Britannica

A few people have pointed out Michael Gorman’s blog posts, appropriately enough appearing on the Britannica blog. For reasons that evade me he has one general post split into two parts. Web 2.0 The Sleep of Reason Part I and Web 2.0 The Sleep of Reason Part II. Let me just say that Michael Gorman is a smart guy and I just wish the things he said didn’t sound so… snooty. Statements like these “The task before us is to extend into the digital world the virtues of authenticity, expertise, and scholarly apparatus that have evolved over the 500 years of print, virtues often absent in the manuscript age that preceded print.” are things I can totally get behind but then he follow-up in his later post with “Google cofounder Sergey Brin has said that ‘the perfect search engine would be like the mind of God,’ but most of us took that to be billionaire hyperventilating not blasphemy.” and I don’t understand why he has to be that way.

My take on what is happening has less to do with the nature of scholarship and more to do with the blurring of the idea of “research” as something we do for entertainment as well as scholarship. This may be something I think because I’m not really affiliated with an academic community and perhaps things have changed more than I am aware of, but I don’t think the idea of the expert is going away, only that it’s shifting in many of our interactions. So instead of us asking our expert mechanic for his or her opinion, we’ll check not only Consumer Reports but also epinions and maybe Edmunds.com when we’re buying a new car. We have more data because of the Internet and the network generally, and in many cases there’s no reason plain old humans can’t do something with that data. Gorman glibly refers to the idea his relief that there is “no discernable ‘citizen surgeon’ movement” but why is there a problem with citizen journalism? Especially if, like tagging and folksonomies, these trends are offered as supplments to the existing canon of options, not as supplanters of them?

update: aaaaand Clay Shirky’s reponse to Michael Gorman made boingboing

survey: blogs and preservation

Coming on the heels of my article in Library Journal, Carolyn Hank has a survey on Blogger Perceptions on Digital Preservation that she’d like you to take.

Happy Birthday Little Weblog

Librarian.net is eight years old today!

You can take a peek at what it looked like when I first started it up, April 20, 1999. Back then we didn’t have CMSes and I had to upload the webpages uphill both ways in the snow to bring you all these excellent links. I didn’t have comments (though to be fair, I was slow on that bandwagon even once I moved to Movable Type). I based my design on Jesse James Garrett’s Infosift which predated lib.net by almost a year. I met Jesse mainly because I asked for design help [and to ask if he minded if I copied him] and my friendship with him and a big group of early bloggers paved the way to my work with MetaFilter and a lot of my interest in 2.0 technologies. Today I’m in Dodge City, Kansas preparing to give a talk about the big 2.0 thing and I’ll see if I can wrap all that in together and make it make sense to folks who don’t have a bunch of stuff on Twitter and who may wonder “Why MySpace?”