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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. -- Read More

About the experimental transcript offering

A few thoughts about the experimental transcript offering: -- Read More

  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.

Trying the LibraryThing widget

And this is set to randomize on load:

Saying with slides and sound

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

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.

LISTen #32 should be interesting. I had the chance very early this morning to talk to a representative of the Department of Homeland Security. For the sake of librarians curious about recent laptop "seizure" news I tried to get an agency rep on to speak directly about the matter. Twitter for me sometimes serves a similar purpose to having a radio scanner running in a news room. Sometimes it is best to just see what trends, issues, or concerns may pop up. This is one of those cases.

Getting a rep lined up was not easy. Lining up interviews for the program is not easy, for that matter. Work to get a representative to speak started on Monday and continued during. I got bounced around a few times among component agencies of the Department of Homeland Security. Finally, after all that bouncing around, I wound up hitting the departmental press team in DC. From start to the finish this morning that took about a week.

There is a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes as of late. For the most part the only folks who get to hear about it are family as well as Blake. I enjoy getting good programming out there but I will say that it is not easy. There is no magical code word to utter to make interviews just happen. While folks like Rush Limbaugh and the ladies on The View have people who do booking, I pretty much have to do that myself. That gets interesting in and of itself sometimes as it is sometimes difficult work.

Sometimes I just like to show some behind the scenes stuff about how things work out. While it may sound easy on the podcast, there is a ton of work involved. Hopefully it pays off for listeners.

Right now the big issue I have to ponder is why we have nothing showing up in the iTunes Music Store and there are presently no download links or embedded audio players. This may or may not have something to do with the move to ibiblio and inquiries are underway. Part of the work that is involved in my part is making sure I have backup plans ready. Today involves probably some prototyping, I think.

Testing something in editing I haven't tried before

This shows a nice intersection between iMovie and GarageBand as tools:

Granted, I did have that one relative offer to build something running Cinelerra but I do not think that the time is ripe for that yet.

As to my previous blog post

The previous post which apparently touched quite of bit of nerves has been deleted. It shall not return.

Cringeworthiness

I am posting this early although it is a draft script and quite subject to revision prior to airing on the next episode of LISTen.

As this is recorded, ALA Annual 2008 is underway. I will admit upfront that I am not a member of the American Library Association and never have been. I simply cannot afford it while I can afford Christian College Librarians which is headquartered at Harding University in Arkansas. I can manage annual dues of twenty dollars far more easily than what is asked by ALA.

While following Twitter and lurking on Blip-Dot-T-V, I have noticed some things. While librarians are supposed to be masters of information, we cannot present it all that well. Although we like the new vistas opened to us by today's great Web 2.0 tools, we are somewhat lacking in understanding how to use them effectively to serve those we are supposed to serve.

When I see a technology thought leader post a video running only seven minutes but with a file size in excess of three hundred megabytes I cringe. When I see Twitter used for things it was never meant to support I cringe. I wouldn't be surprised if such was why Twitter would not even give me a "fail whale" for a good chunk of Friday as ALA Annual began with I presume plenty of tweeting librarians.

Just as much as there are style guides for students who write papers, there are also guides for production. We try to follow a blend of TV and radio pacing in the production of LISTen where our "ads" are used basically as transitions between segments. There are styles of presentation that exist and can be chosen among. When we produce for video we follow prevailing standards for how things are done in that form. We rarely release things in video with dimensions beyond 720 by 480 pixels because that is equivalent to analog broadcast television in North America already. While we could provide more resolution the problem is a lack of viewers who can use such. Sticking to a web standard of 320 by 240 pixels in MPEG4 format allows us to post video that is the most portable whether watching it on-screen, on an iPod, or eventually on a device like an iPhone. For other cell phone types, 3GP is the encoding standard used to knock things down to a format accessible over current networks even though it is somewhat degraded through fairly severe compression.

While I see "disruptive technology" applauded, I can say it is perhaps a mis-appropriation of a phrase. Librarians have championed disruptive technology advances in the past. The engineering feat that was the shared academic catalog now known as WorldCat is one of them that continues today to impact the world around us. My biggest fear, though, is that we use that turn of phrase as an excuse for creating things with tools we don't know fully how to utilize and to accept such produced items regardless of their quality.

I am sometimes outright horrified at what I do see by way of Twitter in terms of what is being said at ALA Annual as to tech. While we fancy ourselves as being quite adept at tech, it should be noted that systems administration abilities to keep an integrated library system running do not translate well into handling Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro let alone Audacity. We do not teach showmanship in library school and assume that students pick such up during their undergraduate studies. In a world where we are expected to perform for an amorphous, faceless audience, librarians are ill-equipped to handle things. Just as much as we can "write" with Word we cannot have something accepted if style conventions are not followed. Why is it any different from the tech tools we have like YouTube and social networks?

We must avoid the cloister. Librarianship is turning upon itself to be a monastery that keeps to its seemingly pious works while feeling it does good for a world it is increasingly not connected to. I can only hope that we are at a precipice now rather than having already taken a leap off it. -- Read More

Sitting at the bar at Turtle Restaurant in the Lambert Beach Resort

This is one of the few times I am blessed to write a blog post on LISNews from another land. Right now I am trying to eat dinner at the Turtle Restaurant. It has been an interesting trip in and out of the British Virgin Islands. If anything I will spend more time airborne than I will on the islands.

Will LISTen happen this week? One way or another, yes. The dominant US-flagged air carrier out here is American Airlines and so far there have been only minimal flight disruptions. Saturday may be a different story.

Have a beautiful day and, barring anything unforeseen, LISTen returns at the usual point.

Parts and Equipment Wish List for LISTen

You can find the wish list for the LISTen team in terms of equipment purchases online.

That list contains some of the bigger pieces that we are seeking to acquire. Right now we do not have the funds to do such. Our top two priorities on the list are the Mac Mini and the Nokia N800. The Mac Mini would swap out for the studio computer that is frankly getting very flaky. This is not to say that this would replace the non-networked computer that recordings are made to. We need a computer that is somewhat more reliable for proceeding with Skype calls and other matters. The Nokia N800 would allow for field recordings to happen. I am still trying very, very, very hard to get things in order so I can get into ALA Annual. Unfortunately I have been waiting over a month to hear back from the ALA Public Information Office.

The LifeBook and the external Sony drive are lower priorities. While they would be nice they would not necessarily reduce some of the interesting issues that arise with the hardware we've got right now. The LifeBook would be a more technically capable alternative to the N800 for doing fieldwork in terms of carrying out interviews. The Sony drive would help allow us to be able to back up the show's archives. -- Read More

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