Friday, October 27, 2006

Online Webcast Notes: Best New Technologies

Webcast: Best New Technologies: Keeping Up With the Storm.
Speakers: Stephen Bell and Aaron Schmidt
Part of the College of DuPage's Library Excellence Series. I was able to view free it via the Texas State Library programs.

This was possibly one of the most painful webcasts I have had to watch. Not in the sense that the content was bad. On the contrary, the speakers were interesting overall, but the transmission was terrible in quality. Extremely choppy, jarring, stopping at times, or the visual frozen while the speakers kept speaking. Out of the various webcasts I do throughout the year, this has to qualify as one of the worst. I will certainly be leery next time I do one of these from College of DuPage. My rant on the technology aside, it was pretty useful overall, albeit it a bit basic for me. My only other complaint: the "vignettes." I am sorry, but real people don't speak like they are doing an infomercial for their colleagues. It comes across as condescending, even if it is a program designed for library professionals who may be just starting to learn about the topic.

My notes then:

  • Mr. Bell began with a brief historical overview. Going back to Web 2.0 and even 1.0.
  • Participation on social software services will be on the rise. Schmidt cited the recent article about there being more older people on MySpace. (This story was discussed by Fred Stutzman here, mostly showing the numbers are not as simple as they seem).
  • The value of librarians and libraries creating profiles on MySpace and Facebook. Schmidt sees value in this. (See recent post by Brian Matthews on Facebook here.)
  • Brian Matthews, author of The Ubiquitous Librarian, joined via phone. He mentions that creating profiles on those services serves as a virtual storefront, a good publicity opportunity. Bell questions, wondering if use of CMS for academic libraries would be better. Matthews replies that there is opportunity in social networks, to show personality, to participate in dialogues with students.
  • Bell wonders if things like MySpace are getting too big. Are they a fad? Matthews sees that services like these will continue. The technology and the websites may change, but the user behavior will still be there. For a profile example, he recommends the University of Texas's Libraries MySpace. Do educate yourself first before you jump in.
  • Tips for approaching technology then:
    1. These are free services, but there are other costs such as time. Is the time spent learning and working with these tools give a return on the investment?
    2. Balance experimentation with time investment.
    3. Pick your edge: lead or trail.
    4. Identify the compassionate pioneers. Let someone figure it out, then come back and teach others.
    5. Make a plan for the library when it comes to use and implementation of these tools, but be flexible with the plan.
  • Discussion on the use of blogs. There are different types of blogs, and they have different uses and purposes. Library blogging does differ from personal blogging. Time can be an issue: how often to post, preparing posts, etc. Starting the blog is easy. Keeping it up is where the work is at. Look at other libraries for examples. Can see the Blogging Libraries Wiki.
  • On tagging, social bookmarkers. There is an advantage in their social aspect where you can see what others mark.
  • Laurie Allen, University of Pennsylvania, joined in to further talk about tagging. Much of the idea is to make resources findable for other people. Her library's catalog allows for U of Penn users to tag records and make notes.
  • On Wikis: Tool for peer production. Wikis can be public or private. Very accessible in terms of adding and creating content.
  • Discussion of IM: Highlight the element of real-time interaction. For many people, IM is as crucial as a phone. Consider using a tool like Meebo. Overall, use of IM is cheap and easy.
  • On monitoring tags, speakers agree it should not be so. It should be an open process.
  • On ownership of content, do the creators simply give away their creations to companies like Yahoo! and Google. Keep in mind the companies often reserve the right to reuse what a creator makes.
  • Don't feel pressure to use it all. Pick and focus on one or two things and give it your all there. For directors, be more open and give time to your more dynamic and young librarians to experiment and learn so they can teach others. In the end, the technology is just a tool.

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