StephenK's blog

Sadly, no LISTen Halloween special

Due to illness, there will not be a Halloween special of LISTen: The LISNews.org Podcast.

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A word of electoral caution

After getting all the Obama-Biden campaign e-mails clogging my inbox prodding me to go participate in "early voting", I figure I should write something. It is only fair that I should speak from news reporting experience. Some of my best memories as a print reporter were the camaraderie among reporters on election night regardless of who competed against who in what format.

Election night reporting is misleading. The results reported are merely unofficial. Election races are never decided on election night. In the wake of the Help America Vote Act, there is no way any election in the United States could be decided that way.

Absentee ballots are not counted on election night. "Provisional ballots" are not counted on election night. Ballots cast during early voting, such as in the period that kicked off today in Nevada, are not counted on election night. The totals we see on Election Night frankly aren't real as they reflect regular ballots cast only that day.

As someone with interest in politics, I do occasionally watch C-SPAN. A panel discussion was presented a couple nights ago in which there were guesses made. The guesses focused on the potential percentage of ballots in play that won't be reflected in Election Night totals. Ten years ago such votes would only make a difference in very close elections. Current guesses are that perhaps fifty percent of the nation's ballots are already cast.

What might this mean? If almost fifty percent of the ballots are not counted in the totals reported on Election Night, any frustration coming out of such is likely quite pointless. Depending upon the state, the count of absentee ballots as well as provisional ballots and early ballots could stretch onward to Thanksgiving.

Why bring this up on a library-related blog? One thing in the public library setting that it may be prudent to prepare for is questions about how we elect Presidents. US citizens do not vote directly for a President or Vice President. That is the job of the Electoral College on December 15th. While electors are normally pledged to their respective candidate there does exist the chance for them to make their own decisions. An example of this is the 2004 election when John Edwards, then only a candidate for Vice President, somehow got a single electoral vote for the office of President.

I remain skeptical that this will be conclusively wrapped up in two weeks. With as much as the Obama-Biden campaign has recently blanketed the airwaves of Las Vegas about early voting, I wouldn't be surprised if the country gets pretty close to that 50% mark of ballots not counted until after Election Night. Proceedings similar to the circus atmosphere of 2000 may well arise.

In a potential situation like this, there may well be a need to be nimble in creating displays and preparing for potential information needs of patrons.

Creative Commons License
A word of electoral caution by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Prayer Request

My learned colleague Liana Lehua serves at the studios of Podango Productions in San Francisco. On October 4th she went radio silent on Twitter. As I feared something to be wrong I recently attempted to make contact.

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Works in progress for LISTen #44

For the sake of those who want something more than just plain text:

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Random thoughts again

Between looking at the "biblioblogosphere" reaction as well as the comments on recent Annoyed Librarian's posts, I am confused. I don't get the virulence. I really don't. The rampant conservativism as well as fundamentalism is also breath-taking.

I understand that there seems to be veneration of Library Journal as an institution. I don't understand why there would be such a vehement reaction to this whole matter. What Library Journal did is hardly earth-shattering and has popped up elsewhere in far larger publications.

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Work-in-progress for LISTen #43

I do caution that this likely has warts, typos, grammatical silliness, and worse. It is not a finished item and should not be treated that way. It is a work-in-progress that I am not finished revising and editing. It is planned that such be included in LISTen #43 in one form or another:

Commentary – The Strange Case of the Annoyed Librarian

For all the heat generated recently over the hosting by Library Journal of a blog by a person writing under the pen name “Annoyed Librarian”, there are disturbing things to be considered.

Voting Days Coming Soon

This is an unusual time with so many national elections occurring within roughly the same time span. Within the Anglosphere, the following elections are coming up in next several weeks:

  • Canada - October 14th
  • United States - November 4th
  • New Zealand - November 8th

Barring a dissolution of Parliament being advised by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the United Kingdom or the federal government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd losing confidence or supply in Australia those are the three main election contests to come.

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An interesting yet somewhat NSFW video

This was pointed out to me by Liana Lehua via Twitter:

Nevada is one of those states referenced where voting registration wraps up on October 4th.

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Thinking about budgeting

I wrote the following stream of words and sent it to JESSE. Such has been stuck in the moderation block and not left. Considering that, I relate such here at present. A few days ago I wrote:

I am temporarily departing from the state of "lurking" to put forward an
idea. I produce LISTen: The LISNews.org Podcast. We are coming up on
our one-year anniversary. We are also coming up on seemingly
unavoidable economic issues.

Producing a podcast with somewhat of a current awareness focus is
neither cheap nor simple. We just ended approximately nine hours of
work on the floor at BlogWorldExpo as duly-accredited media members this
weekend. The first of a few episodes containing interviews with
technology vendors was just posted in the past couple hours. For all
the technologies that undergird Library 2.0, key players in bringing
such tools to market were present there. You can find that first
coverage episode online at
http://lisnews.org/listen_lisnews_org_podcast_episode_38 .

What was remarkably lacking at the event was any sort of representative
from larger technology media. For librarians and librarians-to-be
wondering about the new tools and services launched at that show,
turning to outlets such as CNET or the TWiT.tv network will not bring
any coverage as they sent no one. Coverage of tech questions geared to
library service was provided through what we did in interviewing.

The date when we will hit a snag in financial terms is October 16th.
While the team has been trying rather hard to shore up its financial
position, we have had no success so far. Recognizing that we work in
current awareness as well as providing educational segments about
practical functions, it seems appropriate to ask if there were a program
in librarianship with which we could partner. We are happy to provide a
practical test-bed for students in using Web 2.0 technologies much akin
to how a journalism program hosts a student newspaper or other such
outlet. Getting a chance to keep the podcast going as well as to
provide LIS students with practical podcasting experience would likely
broaden discourse in the profession.

If there is interest in exploring potential relationships, the initial
point of contact is Blake Carver at LISNews. The podcast is produced by
Erie Looking Productions which has somewhat of a studio-network
relationship with LISNews. The main reason to initially communicate
with Mr. Carver is that any potential partnership must ensure that there
need not be drastic changes to the podcast provided to LISNews and that
there be appropriate decision-making structures. Mr. Carver can be
reached via e-mail at [email protected].

It must be noted that this is not limited to institutions found in the
United States as partnerships with institutions throughout the
Anglosphere are possible. Inquiries from the UK, Canada, Australia, and
New Zealand are wholeheartedly encouraged. With CILIP re-posting the
podcast on their own server we already have taken a step at serving
internationally.

Thank you for your patience and forbearance in regards to this message.

Respectfully Submitted...

A spreadsheet containing draft figures for the podcast to continue as a free-standing unit can be found at the Pownce blog. It may be cheaper to have the podcast operation be part of another entity. It may be cheaper to remain free-standing. I just don't have enough data to say either way.

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A bit of humor that is NSFW

Considering that we already have the librarian action figure, this just amuses me:

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So, what are we fielding at BlogWorldExpo

Sometimes it is appropriate to talk about the technology used in production. Why? Some days I would much rather serve as the pathfinder for others rather than have most in the profession engaged in the Sisephean task of reinventing the wheel.

Out of the production team, one member of the team is in Ohio on leave while two will be able to attend the conference. The production engineer is the only one with media credentials for the conference. In the lobby outside the south hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center is where I will hiding out as I have no badge.

I wish I could pull off a bit akin to "Blazing Saddles" to get in the door. For this, badges are quite needed. I will be in the background for this.

We're putting a non-librarian out on the floor. That was not my choice but I have to live with who had the successful badge application. I applied for badges for the whole team, it should be noted. While Blake and I can both advise the person on the show floor about possible topics we could use all the advice possible. The engineer cannot keep running off the fairly big floor to the areas outside to ask me what to do so any suggestions of inquiry areas will help.

Most, but not all, of the tools we are planning to take:
1. 2 laptops with their necessary accessory components
2. One ICD-P620 Sony voice recorder
3. One condenser microphone
4. Headset for reviewing audio recordings
5. Diagnostic & Repair tools as needed

We won't be ready or able to do video work. With only one person on the floor that isn't really feasible either. When Pixelcorps filmed at New Media Expo they had to have multiple crew members involved. While their most expensive piece of equipment was the portable LED-based light, it still was a two-person minimum matter.

We have the capacity for audio reports to be recorded on the floor. While our person on the floor is recording, I will be outside editing. As the recent techcrunch50+2 showed, banking on having usable WiFi is not necessarily a viable proposition. As such, we will have no way to receive feedback while at the show. This is why Blake's post noted that there is a deadline to get feedback before we have to go get media credentials. Once the show starts and we are there, it will be the engineer's judgment supplemented by my advice.

The information gathering strategy we have is something librarians might not be used to. The first round will involve having the engineer out on the floor without a voice recorder but with a writing utensil and a notebook observing. After that we'll review things against inquiry priorities that were established beforehand as well as any suggestions I may give.

Once that is done the engineer returns to the floor to make the rounds while occasionally bringing me back audio files to review. My purpose in reviewing the audio files would be to see if follow-ups were needed. On the second day such would also include hopefully getting started on editing work so that the podcast can be released on time.

BlogWorldExpo is a very rich environment full of vendors that offer things to libraries and librarians. With recent attempts at incarnating a Library 2.0 culture using such tools, representatives of the vendors libraries rely on will be available. These will not be vendors specific to the library profession by any stretch of imagination.

As libraries and librarians start to reach beyond our own little niche, though, we eventually do have to engage with the world around us. What we are trying to do is to produce something that meets the needs of librarians rather than general tech reporting offered by an outlet like CNET. CNET has a general audience and that has worked for them well enough to where they have been bought by CBS. LISTen really doesn't serve a general audience so it behooves us to focus on what the audience wants to learn. Who knows? Perhaps someone might suggest an area of inquiry that CNET would not follow up on?

While this may seem hideously complex, it really isn't. This is the way news-gathering and reporting happens. The only reason it seems to be complex is that we are trying to be open and transparent about such so that others can learn. Look at LISTen as being akin to a teaching hospital without a Dr. House rambling around the halls. If someone was really interested in doing so, this would be an easily adapted strategy for covering ALA Mid-Winter by folks other than LISTen perhaps.

Feel free to ping us as Blake describes.

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Another videotext thing

Sometimes the team communicates matters aurally. This time the method used is more visually based:

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DTV Test Monday

Until things relative to telecomms are resolved...

...this is all I have in terms of capacity for doing telephone interviews:

C139 with headset jack bridging

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About the experimental transcript offering

A few thoughts about the experimental transcript offering:

  1. This was an experiment that I did not initiate. Someone else on the Las Vegas end of things kicked this one off.
  2. The experiment that was initiated by someone other than me had the stipulation that an offering could not be free.
  3. In setting the price, the object was to ensure that there was some revenue being developed. There is hardly any profit to this.
  4. The use of Lulu has several reasons behind it. First and foremost it allows the outsourcing of many business functions I do not want to deal with. Reporting sales tax collection to the state authorities in Nevada is not fun and is a pain in the backside for small entities. Secondly it allows for outsourcing of fulfillment to an entity with infrastructure for effectively handling that.
  5. Transcript copies are offered as digital downloads as well as print versions. The print version was put together to be okay for adding to collections. There was debate about creating a vendor CIP record for such but timings did not allow that.
  6. To paraphrase the person who started this, talk is cheap so put your money where your mouth is. The reason why the transcript offering has a cost attached to it is to help bring up the issue of commitment. While the current episode was easy to put a transcript together for the problem arises in about eighteen days when BlogWorldExpo 2008 kicks off and there are floor interviews. For the work that that would require, some level of commitment would have to be exhibited before the event.
  7. Is there a magic number that needs to be reached? To the best of my knowledge, no. Then again, that is not something that I will be judging. The numbers from downloads and plays may well be considered against any sales figures that develop. Such just helps flesh out whether one thing needs to be prioritized over the other. If there were a massive turnout for the podcast but not for the transcript, then our focus would be more on the podcast. If things were otherwise then that may lead to some interesting discussion about where things may go.
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Why LISTen does not offer transcripts

The question arises at times as to why LISTen does not have transcripts available. The first thought in my mind is that the team is producing an audio production and not a weekly newsletter. Even at the longer length, LISTen is geared quite a bit towards folks who are making their morning commute to work. With the prevalence of "bedroom communities" in the United States it only appeared logical to consider listeners having commutes longer than five minutes.

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A quick announcement

You can also use the uploader below:

Trying the LibraryThing widget

And this is set to randomize on load:

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Saying with slides and sound

Mixing a little bit of Keynote with Garageband and showing odd colors, hopefully something is conveyed:

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Morning hours

Sometimes recording interviews is not simple. There can be much involved in preparing. As I write I am wondering when I might fall back asleep (tried once already and failed) after getting up well before dawn. Working across time zones can be hard in scheduling things because if an interview subject on the east coast of the United States wants to talk at 8 AM their local time, I have to be up by 4:45 AM at the latest Pacific time. The engineer for the production has to be up quite a bit earlier to make sure everything fires up and doesn't die.

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