Theory

Theory

Are you really doing anything in your library?

Christopher Harris wonders Are you really doing anything in your library? What are you telling people that you are doing in your library? This might be a better question to ask yourself. Now, more than ever, it is critical to remember that there is indeed a difference between what you are doing and what others know you are doing. Libraries of all types need to spread the word about what they are doing. We need to take ownership of the expertise that we possess and the valuable services we provide.

But isn't all of this just some marketing mumbo-jumbo? Does it really matter?

Target of "Anonymous" changes

Cade Metz reports in The Register about a hacking attempt made upon the personal Yahoo! Mail account of Sarah Palin. The online activist group known as "Anonymous" which previously targeted the Church of Scientology has now turned its sights on Mrs. Palin. The pilfered files are available at WikiLeaks.

Those seeking e-mail encryption tools can find such at the GNU with GNU Privacy Guard. A variety of guides by the NSA in configuring systems securely can be found

National Explainer: A Job for [Librarians] on the Demand Side of [Life]

This Post Over At PressThink got me to wondering about how "we" could work as "National Explainers." Who is "we"? Librarians? Bloggers? Both.

This American Life's great mortgage crisis explainer, The Giant Pool of Money, suggests that "information" and "explanation" ought to be reversed in our order of thought. Especially as we contemplate new news systems.
1. The Giant Pool of Money: Greatest Explainer Ever Heard
2. Explanation leads to information, not the other way around
3. A case of demand without supply?
4. Start with clueless journalists!

Invisibility Cloak Metamaterial Could Speed Up The Net

One of the big stories circulating around the web is that scientists are working on an invisibility cloak that bends light around it kinda like the Predator.

Turns out that the metamaterial used for this cloak might also have implications for the future of the online world. Tonnes of data is transmitted every second by light waves in fibre optic cables. When these light waves get where they're going, they have to be spread out and processed by bulky equipment. In the grand scheme of computing, this is a fairly slow process.

It could be sped up. Now if only there were something capable of spreading large amounts of light around it, kind of like the materials you'd need to make an invisibility cloak.

More from the Beeb.

Can the Elliott Wave Predict Library Usage Patterns?

Eric Schnell Wonders Can the Elliott Wave Predict Library Usage Patterns?

Assuming that there is something to the principle, I wonder if one looks at circulation, gate count, interlibrary loan, reference transactions if the Elliott Wave will show itself.

Would tenure pressures in public libraries make good changes?

rudibrarian Wonders Would tenure pressures in public libraries make good changes?

To make clear my assumption here: since public librarians are not pushed to produce in the same ways that tenure track academic librarians are pushed, little time, space, resources are provided to resolving thorny issues in public librarianship. Or so it seems?

LISTen: The LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #31

Interviews! 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 drop.io powered tool below:
drop.io: 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 [email protected]. 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 Worldcat.org Website of David Michael Slater

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...

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

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.

RFID Testbed Can Read Hundreds of Tags Simultaneously

As many libraries make the transition to RFID tags, the implications of processing high volumes of materials become larger. The greatest thing about RFID tags is that, with proper technology, you can read multiple tags at the same time. Barcodes still require a one at a time read.

Now a new technology allows not only the simultaneous reading of hundreds of RFID tags, but also the simultaneous reading of different types of RFID antennae with the ability to assess and acquire information on new tags previously unknown to the reader.

Hundreds of items at a time? Sign this circ jerk up!

The Guide To Optimised Thinking

When it comes to the gathering, coalescing, and analysis of data, most places can't compete with the United States CIA. I think a lot of library types would like to know some of their secrets, at least when it comes to data and information processing.

Well, now you can.

The CIA recently released a book titled Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. Obviously, the book is aimed more towards people working for or with the CIA, but there's some interesting bits in their for the information science nerd too. The book is available online in its full text glory if you've got the interest.

via Mind Hacks.

The rise of Literature?

Here's the argument: contemporary mainstream fiction is very different from the storytelling of the deep past because of a demand side shift. Women consume most fiction today, and their tastes differ, on average, from those of men. How do they differ? To be short about it men are into plot, while women are into character. This means that modern literary fiction emphasizes psychological complexity, subtly and finesse. In contrast, male-oriented action adventure or science fiction exhibits a tendency toward flat monochromatic characters and a reliance on interesting events and twists.

The History of TEMPEST

One never knows how and where information may be encoded.

Take the case of an Bell telephone engineer back in the early 40s. He noticed that an oscilliscope seemed to spike every time the brand new, fancy, and highly top secret encrypted teletype machine coded a letter. He figured out that, if one studies the spikes, they could read the plain text the machine was encrypting.

And thus was born TEMPEST, the US Government's top secret method of gathering information based solely on the electromagnetic waves that all electronic devices give off. Newly de-classified documents recount the history of this still highly confidential information gathering system.

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