four talks in six days in two countries

If the title sounds familiar, it’s because it is. I’ve been trying to combine more of my public speaking trips which means more weird weeks like this one and that one, but it works out a lot better on my end. After I got back to Massachusetts from Access, I drove over to NELA and gave three talks there. I really enjoy NELA but there were some complications this time around mostly involving iffy wireless (and hotel staff who were just repeating what their outsourced IT told them which the IT-librarians knew was a little fishy-sounding, but I digress) which means I wasn’t doing much blogging and had a period of radio silence here and on Flickr and on Scrabulous, etc.

I got home today and I’ve uploaded the latest talks. One was all new, one was a modified version of an earlier talk and one was a talk I gave earlier, but with twice as much time. All of them went really well but I have a sore throat and will be heading to bed as soon as they’re linked here so that I can be bright and bushytailed for work which starts tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who made my trip easier, more pleasant, and fun.

off-topic: see me be revolting at SXSW

South by Southwest is a big conference thing in Austin Texas in March. It’s made of music, movies and something they call “interactive” which is basically Internet. It’s an interesting conference that I went to once in 2000 and it changed my life pretty much forever. I met a bunch of early bloggers in the flesh and we became friends and the rest is pretty well trod-upon history. During SXSW since then I was often petsitting for my blogger friends while they went to Texas. This year I may be going. There is a panel called Social Network Coups: The Users are Revolting! put together by Annalee Newitz who is all sorts of excellent. There is a good chance I will be speaking on that panel in my role as moderator of MetaFilter. IF… if the panel gets chosen. Fortunately, SXSW is a pseudo-democracy so you can vote for panels you’d like to see. And I say pseudo because you can also implore your friends to vote for you and/or your panel and it’s all kosher. So, if you’re picking up what I’m laying down here, please consider voting for my panel, or any number of interesting panels you’d like to see, whether you’re going or not. And the title of the panel? Pure coincidence.

Socially Portable, my contribution to the BIGWIG showcase

I decided to do something for the BIGWIG Social Software showcase even though I wasn’t going to be at ALA. I think I missed out on most of the awesome parts of this excellent idea/event, but I was still happy to put a little something together. Then I went to NYC for a long weekend, and ALA happend in DC and I sort of forgot about it until now.

I have to say, a wiki with the exhortation “Please note that all contributions to Social Software Showcase may be edited, altered, or removed by other contributors. If you don’t want your writing to be edited mercilessly, then don’t submit it here.” (as all mediawiki wikis have) seems like an odd place to put presentations that you’d sort of hope wouldn’t be mercilessly edited, but that’s a small gripe in an otherwise enjoyable exercise. My presentation is called Socially Portable and is a short and hopefully amusing look at portable applications (for Mac and Windows) for people interested in having identities that are not just flexible but actually mobile. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks very much to Michelle, Jason and Karen for putting this together.

be social – explaining social networks to librarians and parents

I did a short tour of some New Hampshire libraries over the past few days. I did a little talk called MyWhat? Decoding social technologies.. It’s only about five slides but most of it was doing a tour of some of the more popular social networks [Facebook, MySpace, Flickr] and showing how they worked, how kids were using them and what parents and librarians should know.

Remember that a lot of the digital divide that we deal with now isn’t that people don’t have computers per se, it’s that they’re not in networks and groups of people that understand them and can answer complex questions about them. The library is often an integral link in this equation. A lot of my time at these talks is spent answering questions about how these social tools work, how I use them, how librarians might use them, and how kids and teens can use them safely and effectively. A lot of the print materials I’ve come across err on the side of caution which is not a bad idea but often there’s no “Hey you really SHOULD try this” couterpoint. I hope I was able to offer that somewhat.

but once libraries get to facebook, what do they do there?

Jenny points out the UIUC library search which is a widget that can be put on any user’s facebook page so they can search the library catalog right from Facebook.

Facebook recently opened up their site to other applications and there has been a huge explosion in what people are sharing on their profile pages. From my own subjective perspective, it seems like these applications are getting more people to Facebook and keeping them there, doing stuff. In my 2.0 talks I have often talked about how libraries could create “presence” using social tools and I’ve pointed to Facebook groups like Awesome Resources which is a group of 30+ librarians doing what librarians do best: sharing resources and helping each other find things.

When I went to Ann Arbor this week, I connected with Ed “Superpatron” Vielmetti on Facebook and it’s one of the fastest and best ways to get ahold of a small subset of my friends. When I was at the Berkman Center event last week listening to them talk about Digital Natives (versus tired old “digital immigrants” like myself) a professor mentioned that they did a show of hands survey of their incoming class to Harvard this year and asked who had a Facebook page. The answer wasn’t “most of them” but every single one of them. Granted Harvard skews in some ways towards the clueful and plugged in, but what an opportunity, knowing the one place that all of your students go online. I’m not totally sure if we know what to there once we get there, and I share the same privacy concerns as others about how much information we’re aggregating and personally identifying there, but I also feel that the UIUC search box is a little breakthrough application, sort of the way LibX was for Firefox. Exciting times, no?

some end of the week short links

It’s been a busy week this week. I had eight people come to computer drop-in time on Tuesday which was a tech frenzy of PayPal and email and inserting graphics and Yahoo mail address books. I’ve had a few of these links hanging around for a while waiting to find time to write proper posts, but I figured I’ll drop them in here. I see a lot of blogging as playing hot potato with a bunch of web content. You find it, you pass it on, the next person passes it on. The more content you shift, the easier it is to quickly ascertain which things you need to save for longer perusal and which need to just get passed on for the next person. I’ve read and absorbed these and thought you might like them.

DOPA dies on the vine

With the shift in power in Congress, DOPA looks like it’s done.

the final nail in DOPA’s coffin came with the switch of Congress from Republican to Democrat. Legislation that doesn’t get signed into law by the end of a congressional term has to start from scratch during the next term. In January, the Democrats will be in charge of both houses of Congress, and there’s no sign that they’re going to rush and re-introduce DOPA. Key DOPA critics in the House and Senate, including Reps Ed Markey, John Dingell and Sen. Patrick Leahy, will soon be in leadership positions. With the Republican losses in November, it will be harder for their caucus members to re-introduce DOPA, especially since Fitzpatrick is gone and they lacked Democrat co-sponsors in the first place.


confessions of a bookplate junkie

Hi. I’m in the Los Feliz branch of Los Angeles Public library where the air conditioning is brisk and the wifi is fast and free. Abby has an amusing wrap-up of her impressions of the WLA conference as well as some thoughts about Library Thing. It’s fun to hang out with other moderator/administrators of library-ish social-ish sites (LibraryThing for her and MetaFilter for me). A lot of the issues we deal with concerning identity, authority and content filtering as well as the sheer volume of the bits and bytes we move around mean that even though our sites are very different, some of the cat-herding aspects of being an overseer of a social software network are very similar.

Speaking of MetaFilter, here’s a fun link from there today: Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie.

library as conversation

I find it interesting that the conversation model is used frequently in favorable comparisons, implying that there is value in speaking and in being heard. I won’t contest that, but I think that it can sometimes gloss over power dynamics. In this way you can ask for input, for example, ignore it when you make your decisions, and then claim you “listened” to all the interested parties. Technically true, but not in spirit. This is apropos of nothing, just a sort of meme I’ve noticed lately. What I wanted to mention is Participatory Networks: The Library as Conversation which looks like a well-funded mini project produced for the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy by R. David Lankes and Joanne Silverstein, of the Information Institute of Syracuse.

They want feedback. They have a wiki and a forum. Please consider reading the draft and letting them know what you think about their ideas. I haven’t read it all yet, but the table-heavy image-heavy home page design with no actual text on the page (even using images where text naturally should go) and no ALT tags on all the images raises “participation” red flags in the “Who is this call for participation really geared towards?” way. Seriously, it’s a great idea to have the library be more interactive for the patrons. However, another slick web page that seems to be selling the idea of participation with phrases like “libraries are in the conversation business” makes me a little wary.

The paper has few endnotes or footnotes making it tough to detemine whether untrue assertions like “to join LiveJournal, you must be invited, thus the community confers identity” or typos in URLS ( are author mistakes or source mistakes. This is a smart paper, so I’m sort of just splitting hairs here, but I feel like in some ways I’m waiting to read papers written by people who use these social software networks in their daily lives, not just get test accounts to study them and write about them. The extreme local nature of libraries means that even smart ideas will have a hard time catching on in broad ways if you can’t make them relevant to all kinds of libraries. Just because social software and the read/write web make sense to techies, kids and academics doesn’t mean that I can explain it to the librarians I work with, yet. Wikipedia has an entry for the phrase “Will it play in Peoria” and that’s what I think about when I read papers like this.

Flickr, patron complaints about

Are you a library that has gotten one of the cut-n-paste emails warning about “hardcore and even child porn” images on Flickr? Do you host a library-oriented group that has suddenly had an inundation of inappropriate (and possibly pornographic) pictures from users unknown to you? If so, you are not alone. Libraries and librarians have set up a discussion forum in this Flickr group to talk tactics. Michael Stephens has some backstory about the problem on ALA TechSource, particularly concerning as we watch DOPA inexorably move through Congress.

Educate your users—your community—about the good and bad of social software. I’d much rather give a roadmap and some guidance to someone instead of blocking access.