LISTen: The Podcast -- Episode #31


Yes, there are interviews this week. We rarely are able to fit in three but we did this week. First up was author David Michael Slater who discussed his writing career. Following Slater was the CEO of search engine Mahalo, Jason Calacanis. Calacanis talked about his company as well as the search engine field. Rounding out our session of interviews was Tim Darlington, Digital Services Manager at the library of Massey University. Darlington spoke about Massey University being the first of the academic institutions in New Zealand to have its library adopt a discovery layer such as Encore from Innovative Interfaces.

The close to the podcast notes that further answers to the question about choosing librarianship are no being sought. The answers received will be presented by the program's engineer next week. The new question posed was: "Why do you stick with Twitter?" Replies are needed by 0700 UTC on Sunday, August 10, 2008. Folks outside the United States wishing to provide an MP3 recorded answer can use the powered tool below: simple private sharing

Folks within the United States can also use that tool in addition to being able to call 646-495-9201 and entering when prompted extension 61340. Materials can also be sent as an attachment via e-mail to A link to Blake's post about how the process of replying to the question is shown below.

Referenced links:
Blake's HOWTO
Mahalo, the human-powered search engine
The personal website of Jason Calacanis
The new Encore interface to the catalog at Massey University
A sampling of books by David Michael Slater shown in
Website of David Michael Slater -- Read More

00:34:19 minutes (7.85 MB)

The answer could determine your library's future

Don sent over a link to The answer could determine your library's future: As libraries battle popular search engines and Internet research services for users, the new book The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld says that one simple question determines an organization’s future: Would you recommend us to a friend? Learn more about this one-question survey and the latest efforts in library customer service and assessment.

Will the Next Generation of Library Systems be Customer Generated?

Eric Schnell Wonders Will the Next Generation of Library Systems be Customer Generated?

It's no wonder that library systems of tomorrow are really just library systems of yesterday. It seems to me that as a profession we are stuck in a bad relationship with our systems and vendors. We just can't figure out a way to get out of it. Are we happy that III will not give us APIs? Are we so insecure with our relationship with them that we are content to take what they give us? Do we feel we are that powerless?

Does the Medici Effect Work for Libraries?

Eric Schnell asks Does the Medici Effect Work for Libraries? "Libraries looking to become more innovative can do so by intentionally creating an environment/organization in the Medici Effect can occur. This can be accomplished very simply by strategic reassignment of staff in key areas as the candidate did."

Where has imagination gone?

Is librarianship a profession that nurtures creativity? Lately I am not so sure. Reaction to the recent do-it-yourself project released about modifying a talking teddy bear to speak your RSS feed of your tweets as well as your friends brings something to mind.

Why just condemn it and move on? This actually present a unique opportunity. For example, purchasing a good Text-to-Speech voice from an outfit like Cepstral would allow you to cannibalize the software for that project to create a running audio stream reading an RSS feed you generate. If your OPAC supports generating RSS feeds of data like new books or newly returned books, you have a unique data set to play with. You could use an audio feed of such to give airport-like announcements of new books on their way in to the library. You could use that as your "hold music". While you might need a programmer on-hand to smooth over the rough edges in the software, this is an easy way to be creative.

One big thing about our profession is that we do not define creativity as the world around us does. That can be both good and bad. The way to handle the omnipresent relevance question is to take stock of two key things. The first is understanding what the minimum acceptable level of service is that your patrons expect. The second is being able to creatively work with what you have rather than what you don't have to either meet or beat those expectations.

Glitz and tech won't always get people in the door. There are people out in the world who don't know what a blog is or why Twitter should matter to them. There are people who cannot live without Twitter every moment of the day. For public libraries in particular, a key mission is to serve all sorts of demographic groups who make up the "public" you serve. In other library types the pressure is not as significant but it remains.

As culture splinters into ever-smaller niches it becomes an issue in serving those niches. Libraries cannot necessarily be all things to all people. Getting to the point of being something to most people is a start from which you have to build off using creative talent held by library staff.

After all, the splintering into niches has yet to cease in the United States...

The Web Time Forgot

On a fog-drizzled Monday afternoon, this fading medieval city feels like a forgotten place. Apart from the obligatory Gothic cathedral, there is not much to see here except for a tiny storefront museum called the Mundaneum, tucked down a narrow street in the northeast corner of town. It feels like a fittingly secluded home for the legacy of one of technology’s lost pioneers: Paul Otlet.

In 1934, Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or “electric telescopes,” as he called them) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. He described how people would use the devices to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks. He called the whole thing a “réseau,” which might be translated as “network” — or arguably, “web.”

Full story here.

Shopping is a way of interacting with the world around us

Shopping is a way of interacting with the world around us: "This means searching becomes a way for us to interact with the world around us, an experiental horizon where certain aspects loom large in the foreground while others are pushed into the background," he explains.

In particular, his research focuses on what is actually going on when we are "window shopping", i.e. strolling round and "just looking" at things without having a clear idea of what we are looking for. The people he has been studying search patiently for certain things, but more than anything, they are searching for the feeling of having found something that is better and finer that they could have imagined. At this point they have stretched the boundaries of what would be reasonable to expect to find.

Thinking about the future of museums: fourteen key issues

Over at Trends in the Living Networks Ross Dawson participated in a Future Directions Forum at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum, which after 20 years in its current location is looking to the future. He says The session raised many interesting questions and thoughts. His points below represent his perspectives as well as reflections on issues raised by people at forum. While the issues below were raised in the context of museums in areas like science, technology, and design, I think you'll be able to connect some of them to libraries as well.

Doing Away With Visual Real Estate

Most of us deal with a computer every single day. Some of us enjoy the experience more than others but we all share one common need.

Visual real estate.

In other words, we have one or more monitors and using those we can look at a given number of things. After a certain number, depending on your setup, you hit a point of diminishing returns. In other words, if you open too many windows, you'll clutter up your screen(s) to the point that they're unreadable.

Well, this could fix that. It could also have fascinating implications for the storage and retrieval of data. Think of it as microfilm 2.0.

DailyLit and Wikipedia

DailyLit, which offers up chunks of books on a daily basis, is now offering information from Wikipedia on various topics and bits of information.

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