Wednesday, 24 December 2008

XBRL saves the day... maybe

Earlier this year (on another web platform) I wrote about XBRL and the impact it would have on standard business reporting and governance, so I was more than a little bit interested to see the recent post on ReadWriteWeb on XBRL titled XBRL: Mashing up Financial Statements. Given the current state of financial affairs this is probably a good blog post to finish the year.

XBRL or eXtensible Business Reporting Language, is to quote Wikipedia "an open standard which supports information modelling and the expression of semantic meaning commonly required in business reporting". So what does this mean?

Well it means that entities (companies, government agencies, non profit organisations) mark up their financial reporting once (and in standard way), and the information can be readily harvested for governance and reporting requirements.

So what is the fuss about? Well, Ernst & Young state that "Once the XBRL standard is accepted, management, investors, regulatory agencies, and others will reap significant benefits whether sharing information within a single organization or trading documents across company lines."

In Australia, adoption of XBRL is being lead by the Department of Treasury and its Standard Business Reporting Programme while the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is acting as a facilitator. Sponsors include: CPA Australia, The Institute of Chartered Accountants, PriceWaterHouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, MYOB, Fujitsu, and Deloittes. So it is a fair bet to say you are going to hear more about XBRL in 2009. If you want to know more there is a very good video on (you guessed it) YouTube. See following for details. While this Youtube video cites US examples, XBRL is being applied internationally.



Not that standard business reporting or XBRL on their own would have saved us from the current economic yuckiness (highly technical terms that suggests we are up to our eyeballs in crap), but hopefully streamlining and making business reporting easier, more automated, and transparent, may make it harder to hide some of the smelly business shenanigans that has brought the financial market to its knees... and that has to be a good thing.

Now all we need is a international standard xml way to record and report library performance statistics. In my experience the only librarians who hide and don't report their stats are the ones that, well... have something to hide.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Second Life TV: coming to a library near you?

Last night at a party I met StarrSonic in first life. StarrSonic is the Executive Producer of SLCN: Second Life Cable Network. As the name says, this is cable TV produced in second life and distributed via second life and the web.

"SLCN is a professional video network designed to expand the in-world audience as well as deliver virtual entertainment to the real-world. All the video clips found on [their] website are archives of live events as they happened in Second Life... Typically, the live video is seen on screens at various locations in Second Life as well as streamed to [the SLCN] website... SLCN offers special interest channels for community, lifestyle in addition to sports. If you would like to add the SLCN stream to your land please see Get SLCN. SLCN.TV programs are also available as video podcasts. See the SLNC Podcast page to subscribe with iTunes or other RSS manager software." In Second Life the SLCN Offices are located at Northpoint (125, 185, 33).

If you have not come across Second Life TV, you can get an idea of what a programme looks like by checking out the Cybergrrl interview with IBM. The interview takes place in IBMs new Second Life Green Data Centre.

While digital cameras, post production processing, and distribution have revolutionised the film and television industries, Second Life TV has the potential to take things one step further. For example, Second Life TV is significantly cheaper to produce. See the following table which I sourced from StarrSonic's blog.



Currently the Second Life 'production values' are not as good as mainstream TV, however developments in gaming interfaces and film animation, together with ever increasing broadband, may see this gap reduce over time.

Second Life TV therefore has the potential to democratise and open television production. So this is an area worth keeping an eye on. As mainstream TV is very heavily regulated, it will also be interesting to see how issues such as media cross ownership, censorship, and copyright are addressed in Second Life TV.

For school, public, academic (and who knows may be even business) libraries there may be an opportunity to work with clients to create second life TV content and then wrap this content into the libraries existing Web 2.0 online offerings. 14 years ago VICNET was about empowering community groups by hosting static web content. Does Second Life TV give libraries a role in helping patrons build and present virtual multimedia content? Could libraries then allow clients to embed this TV content into other online resources such as online local history collections, group assignments, or school projects? Is there a synergy between potential content building in public and school libraries and community based web TV? I suspect anything is possible, it just needs imagination.

So congratulations to SLCN: Second Life Cable Network for building and developing what looks like an interesting and sustainable business model for web broadcasting.

Oh, and by the way, it was great to see the role women are playing in Second Life TV. If you want to see more on my views about the role of women in IT go to Is there enough Girrrl Power in Library IT.

Looking Forward: Film + Library = Hollywood Librarian?

Those who know me know that the in-laws are very heavily involved in the local film industry which is why I was flicking through the December / January issue of IF: Inside Film magazine. In this issue there is an article on the top tech trends for the film industry in 2009 and guess what? Some (though not all) of the predictions could be talking about libraries.

This should not come as a big surprise, as both film makers and librarians are increasingly concerned with how to present online content in ways that the target audience will use. By 'use', film makers and librarians are interested in how audiences / patrons engage with content rather than just passively consuming content. Film makers and librarians are also interested in building online loyalty or stickiness.

Though the following quote from the article is about the film industry, it could easily apply to libraries in 2009: "The by-products of digitisation has allowed the convergence of all traditional media formats, and as audiences grow more multimedia savvy by the day, producers will be challenged to create encompassing visual content."

Where librarians have traditionally focused on presenting (for the most part) linear narratives - be it fiction or non fiction, AND where film makers have been traditionally focused on presenting film narratives; both are now more involved in exploring ways of presenting bits of multimedia information in nonlinear ways. Examples include blogs, wikis, and other interactive Web 2.0 offerings wrapped around film and television program web sites in the way that libraries are increasingly wrapping blogs, wikis, and other interactive Web 2.0 offerings around library catalogues and portals. Libraries and the film industry are also looking at how they can incorporate elements coming out of the online game industry into their own online products. Needless to say, both libraries and the film industry are concerned with issues of online copyright as well as environmental sustainability.

I suspect that if there are avenues and opportunities to share ideas, both librarians and independent film makers could learn from each other. By international standards the Australian film industry is small and there is less money floating around, so the industry has to (and often does) work smarter, doing more with less. What is there to lose by getting librarians and independent film makers to share ideas?

As of late December 2008 the text of the IF: Inside Film article on the top tech trends is yet to be posted onto the IF web site. So to summaries, the overlap between the issues faced by the film industry and libraries in 2009 is:

• Increasing Digitisation,
• Film Game Convergence,
• Environmental Sustainability, and as always
• Funding.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Scholarly Wikipedia?

Earlier this year a colleague complained that she had recently returned from a meeting of reference librarians held in a certain nameless (hint - some would say souless) planned city to the north, and the day was spent with the (insert collective noun for reference librarians) bitching and moaning about Wikipedia. The crux of the complaints was that they saw Wikipedia content as biased, lacking in authority, simplistic, and basically not as good as what would be delivered by a good reference librarian. (What's that I hear - the sound of users voting with their feet.)

So without passing judgement on these reference librarians (after all I wasn't at the meeting, and all the reference librarians I know actually use Wikipedia) I was interested to read on ReadWriteWeb that the scholarly journal "RNA Biology, has decided to ask every author who submits an article to a newly created section of the journal about families of RNA molecules to also submit a Wikipedia page that summarises the work. As Nature reports, this is the first time an academic journal has forced its authors to disseminate information this way."

According to the ReadWriteWeb post, "Every new Wikipedia page will go through the same peer review process as the original article, though afterward, of course, the pages are open for editing just like every other page in the Wikipedia."

It will be interesting to see if this is an important shift in the way in which scholarly information is disseminated. It will also be interesting to see if this actually makes scholarly information more accessible to the wider community. I can just see school and university students sneaking their Blackberries and iPhones into exams to look up Wikipedia for answers. Oh the ingenuity of digital natives!

Looking back: VICNET and proto Web 2.0

The end of the year is also a good time to look back as well as forward. Over the last 2 years there has been a lot written about Web 2.0, Learning 2.0, and Library 2.0; but there are examples of Web / Library 2.0 activities and software that go back much further, like back 14 years. So lets spend some time looking back.

VICNET began in 1994 and was officially launched in May 1995. In its time VICNET was Victoria's largest website. For example, by late 1999 VICNET web servers received 10 million hits a month. VICNET's success was driven in part by the fact that they hosted nearly 2,000 websites for Victoria's community groups. So with all this free online social networking, VICNET was like mySpace or Facebook years and years before mySpace or Facebook became household brands. At the time this was not called Web 2.0 or Library 2.0 because these terms had not been invented. As a aside, there is a story behind why the very successful VICNET logo was killed off, but this blog is probably not the appropriate forum for going over this sad and sorry tale. Needless to say, the person who was in charge of marketing for the State Library of Victoria at the time is no longer in that position.

But even way back then, the statistics showed the power of online engagement and proto Web 2.0 services. For example, look at the following web statistics:

State Library of Victoria Online visits versus VICNET Community Portal visits






















Financial YearState LibraryVICNET
2006 – 2007New measures implementedNew measures implemented
2005 – 20062,836,31531,722,019
2004 – 20052,006,32321,732,747
2003 – 20042,000,75922,000,000
2002 – 20031,766,97019,897,157
2001 – 20021,204,96216,100,241

Source: State Library of Victoria Annual Reports,
http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/about/information/annual_reports/index.html

VICNET was (and is) more than just web hosting, but this look back into the past shows that with vision and determination libraries can indeed be innovative and ahead of the pack. The question is - what innovative and strategic things should we be doing today and tomorrow.

The matrix of the mind: Plugging your brain into Amazon

I've being doing some catch up reading, and as it is the end of the year it is also a good time to think about the past and the future. Speaking of the future, I was interested to see an article in the November issue (I did say I had to catch up on reading) of Scientific America titled Jacking into the Brain: Is the Brain the Ultimate Computer Interface?

So what is all this about? Well, imaging being able to plug your brain into a computer (or a USB stick) and down load the complete works of Shakespeare, or War and Peace, or a technical manual directly into your brain. Imagine being able to plug your brain into all the books on Amazon. Imagine being able to download study notes while you sleep. This article is about whether this is possible, and what are the issues. Who knows, combined with a semantic web type product that watches what you download, there may even come a day when the information that interests you is downloaded into your mind without the need for you to go out and find it. Now what would this do to learning and libraries?

Though we know a lot about neuroscience, there is still so much we don't know. So this cyberpunk fantasy is still a long, long way off. And as any student who has photocopied or downloaded pages and pages of material for an assignment can tell you, there is a BIG difference between downloading information, processing information, and UNDERSTANDING information. So breath easy, it looks like there will be lots of sleeps before (as in the Matrix film) you can download a manual on how to drive a helicopter and then off you go.

This said, there is some really interesting and important work being done in the area of Machine / Mind interfaces. For example, there is work being done that allows amputees to control prosthetic devices by thought.

However, one of the really fascinating sections of this Scientific America article dealt with the way we would have to translate a machine's thoughts (binary code) into human thoughts. While even the most powerful computer in the world still basically operates by processing lots of 1 ons and 0 offs, it appears that the 'binary code' of the mind is much more varied, multi-dimensional, and subtle. The "oldest notion [we have to explain neural activity] is that a rate of code is made up of voltage spikes when a neuron fires in a given interval". However, it appears that there is much more going on within each spike, and the most advanced research suggests that patterns of brain activity are also influenced by the interaction between groups of neurons firing in both space and time. So much for the boring and simple binary code.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Being Digital in school, home, and community

I have just being reading the recent Monash University Faculty of Education research report titled Being Digital in School, Home and Community. This survey asked 2,635 year 10 students what digital technology they use, and what they think about digital technology in their school, home, and community. "Demographic factors selected for analysis were school sector, gender, socioeconomic status (SES), geographic remoteness and cultural diversity.

So what does it say? Well; some of it will come as no surprise:

• most young Australians have home computers and use them daily,
• computers and the internet are important for schooling,
• young people multi-task when using technology,
• girls tend to use digital technology for communicating and boys use it to play games, and
• private schools have better access to computers and internet capacity than state schools;

There are also some fascinating information in the report's details. Some tidbits include:

• Lower levels of ownership of certain technologies such as computer/video games and office technologies reflect different levels of interest rather than barriers based on cost.
• 40% of the highest socioeconomic segment and just over 20% of the lowest socioeconomic segment had access to computers at home prior to primary school [talk about digital natives!]
• 20% of boys and 10% of girls use their computers for programming. Even though this is low I was surprised by this level of programming, but the report did suggest what is meant by programming is open to interpretation.

There are also some possibly controversial observations, including:

• there is little evidence of innovative use of digital technologies in schools, "although students used school computers for finding information, for word processing... spreadsheets and databases, this survey did not find evidence of creative or innovative computer use transforming educational practice in schools as judged by the young people."
• the majority of students across school sectors found that rules on internet usage interfered with their ability to use school computers for their school work. "Much of the interference related to the blocking of access to internet sites. Many of the schools surveyed limited their access to email and chat programmes thereby restricting the ability of students to communicate with each other online and send their schoolwork from school computers to their home computers using their preferred email accounts".
• young people learn about the internet mainly by themselves [what no librarians - mock horror!] "Around half of those surveyed report learning at least a moderate amount about the internet at school. However, 11 per cent of those surveyed reported not learning anything at all about the internet from school. These data may indicate that schools could be doing a better job in teaching students about the internet or, alternatively, that by the time young people begin using the internet at school, they have already learnt about it from their other sources."

It was a pity the survey did not look at where students did their after school internet and digital activities. While many young people use home PCs, a lot also use public libraries even when their have the internet at home. Why, would be an interesting topic of research. Still there is a lot in this report worth checking out.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

6 forces of change in 2009 and media barons

I sometimes think I must be a frustrated "futurist" trapped in the head of a librarian, or maybe I have always being interested in how things interconnect and work in real time. For example, what happens if you push this lever, press that button, or pull that halyard (maybe that is why I like sailing).

Anyway, I was interested to see a post from Ross Dawson titled Six important forces that will shape 2009. Interestingly, Ross says that the economic downturn may actually accelerate the pace of change as business and government looks to emerging technologies to deliver even greater efficiencies.

To summaries the 6 forces of change in 2009 are:

1. Constant partial attention,
2. Half of us expose ourselves; the other half watches,
3. Gen Y wakes up to Gen Z,
4. Outsourcing for the masses,
5. Companies become social, and
6. Media industry shatters.

I certainly recommend you check it out. However further to force number 6 Media industry shatters, there is also two pertinent and interesting items in the December 2008 issue of Vanity Fair. One item is about the Murdochs and Newscorp, and the other is about Bloomberg News.

What makes Bloombergs so interesting, and as a result successful, is that their business model was based from the start around online service delivery. Bloomberg must be doing something right because at a time when so many media conglomerates are shrinking, Bloomberg is growing. For example did you know that "Bloomberg News’s 2,300-person staff is larger than the combined editorial operations of the [New York] Times and The Washington Post, or that included among its 135 bureaus are 30 in the Asia-Pacific region alone, or that Bloomberg had not so much been bucking the industry-wide trend toward contractions as obliterating it." Bloomberg's annual operating profit is also estimated to be more than USD $1.5 billion!

While all may not be well with Bloomberg in the current financial crisis, "Lehman Brothers alone had more than 3,000 subscribers to Bloombergs", the following approach seems to have put them in good stead:

"Every story needed to include “the Five Fs”: first, fastest, factual, final, and future. Leads were to be exactly four paragraphs long, comprising the stating of a theme, a quotation in “plain English from someone who backs up that theme,” numbers-based details that further support it, and an explanation of what’s at stake. The use of “but” was banned—it forced readers “to deal with conflicting ideas in the same sentence.” Words such as “despite” and “however” were to be avoided for the same reason."

I guess this goes to show that if the market sees value in the information they will pay for it.

ticTOCs free table of contents





What with Roadshows, Digitisation Projects, the wonderful NLS4 symposium (it was good to see so many dynamic newbie Librarians together in one spot), and the usual frenetic round of end of year functions, life has been busy so blog postings have been down.

BUT, it was interesting to see the blog postings coming out of the UK about ticTOC. TicToc is a FREE table of contents (TOCs) service. It provides access to the most recent tables of contents of over 11,000 scholarly journals from more than 400 publishers.

So far so good, what I really liked about TicToc was that it is very easy to use, it has a nice interface, and you can set up RSS feeds. (Gota love that!) As an aside, the free bit is actually important. For details see free web and the future of libraries

Following is a quote from the ticToc media release: "Using ticTOCs, you can find journals of interest by title, subject or publisher, view the latest TOC, link through to the full text of over 250,000 articles (where institutional or personal subscriptions, or Open Access, allow), and save selected journals to MyTOCs so that you can view future TOCs (free registration is required if you want to permanently save your MyTOCs). ticTOCs also makes it easy to export selected TOC RSS feeds to popular feedreaders such as Google Reader and Bloglines, and in addition you can import article citations into RefWorks (where institutional or personal subscriptions allow).

You select TOCs by ticking those of interest - thousands of TOCs, within a tick or two (hence the name ticTOCs)." How cute is that.

If you want to see the full media release go to scholarly journals new free service makes keeping up to date easy. This is located on the ticToc News Blog.

ticTOCs has been funded under the JISC Users & Innovations programme. I am often in awe of those clever people at JISC, so to paraphrase a well known Australian TV commercial for margarine: "Good on ya JISC - you aught to be congratulated".

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Being Digital in school, home and community

Congratulations should also go to Ilana Snyder from Monash University for being appointed a Professor. Last month, Ilana gave a very well received address to librarians in Melbourne on Literacy and Education in the Digital Age. Click here for a copy of the power point presentation.

During this address, Ilana mentioned that she was about to release the findings of an Australian wide survey on the attitudes of teenagers towards digital information. This survey also looked at the way teenagers use digital information. While this survey was focused on "understanding more about the current generation's digital communication practices and the implications for schools", this remains a topic of vital importance to libraries.

For more information on this Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant funded project go to the "Being Digital" home page at http://www.education.monash.edu.au/research/projects/beingdigital. This URL includes a summary of the survey findings with case studies to follow soon.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Mary and Max

Ok, so this has nothing specifically to do with with libraries and technology but indulge me. It does however have something to do with pen friends, so there is a literary link in there somewhere. The film makers have also put together a very cool web site, so there is an interest in the way they use online communication channels.

Congratulations to Melanie and Adam and all the crew on the news that Mary and Max has been chosen to open the Sundance Film Festival. Adam and Melanie are the gorgeous dynamic due that won that Oscar for Harvie Krumpet.

I haven't had time to check the facts, but I am pretty sure this is the first time an animated film, let alone an Australian film, has opened this prestigious film festival.

All I can say is I should have taken that afternoon off work a few months ago to visit the set. Oh well there is always next time.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Yahoo Glue

I have kind of been half following the discussions around Yahoo Glue but on seeing the very positive review on ReadWriteWeb I thought I better check it out. After all, if it out Googles Google you want to be there and see history in the making. :-)

As ReadWriteWeb states: "Yahoo! Glue search results include web search, images, news, blog search, Wikipedia and YouTube videos". To be fair I tried out the same searches I had used last July on Miss Dewey, so (drum roll) hear are the results as of 20 November 2008:

* 1936 Australian Tax Act - Zip, no, null results, zéro pointes. Ms Dewey gave good results on this search.
* Osama Bin Ladin - Mmmm; some videos from YouTube and the Wikipedia entry along with some blog postings. Ok, but not great.
* George Bush - Getting better. In the land of 'Yahoo Glue' George W Bush beats Osama Bin Ladin hands down.
* Alain de Botton - OK but the results are a bit limited.
* Joomla - bit better.
* Waiting for Godot - Mmm, Ok but not great. I am OK with sponsored links as long as they are relevant to the search, but I am not sure what an online Wills service has to do with an Irish play.
* Lord of the rings - Much better results.
* Legal - Good results but this is a very general search.

Bottom Line: Yahoo! Glue is nowhere near as good looking as Ms Dewey (no suprise there), but Ms Dewey also beats Yahoo! Glue when it comes to search results! Yahoo! Glue seems to work if the search is very general or very populist, but it really falls short if the search is specific or something other than mainstream. In terms of searching, Google can go back to sleep as there is no threat here from Yahoo! Glue. This said, Yahoo! Glue has a very nice results interface that groups like with like within common boxes; and it is easy to use.

I am also pleased to see that Yahoo! Glue actually presents search results when you search on Ms Dewey so all is not lost. See following image for details.

Storytlr and lifestreaming

Fresh from Mashable is a news item about Storytlr which is an Web application that "enables you to create a simple event-based timeline of your photos, videos and tweets". If you have not heard the expression, StoryTlr also functions as a lifestreaming application.

Oh no I hear you say - not another trendy geek term that you have to learn. Those of you with kids and stay at home young adults are at a distinct advantage when it comes to picking up the geek speak from the street. :-)

Well don't feel to bad, as of today Google news only returns 39 hits for lifestreaming so the main stream media is yet to cotton on to this expression. BUT, as of today there are 37,199 hits for lifestreaming on the Google Blog search. Now what does that say about the main stream media!

But seriously, Lifestreaming is a concept that has been around for some time now and I know some of you are right into it (because you have told me). But if you are not already aware, those fantastic people at ReadWriteWeb have a Lifestreaming Primer. This includes a list of some of the other lifestreaming applications.

While a search on Google Trends brings forwards the following results:

"life streaming"

1.00
life streaming

22.0
lifestreaming

0





So what is the driver here? Is it the technology, or is it something about todays society's fascination on fame and that everybody wants to be a celebrity?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Is the blog dead?

There is an interesting post and set of comments on Pegasus Librarian which relate to the question Whatever happened to the Library Blog?. Pegasus notes a drop in library blog traffic as well as the following:

"Two years ago, blogs provided a venue for people's carefully thought-out ideas as well as for their off-the-cuff thoughts, gut reactions, and general banter. In this way, they were like the sessions and the between- and after-session banter at a conference. Today I think that blogs have begun to take on the more focused character of the actual sessions at a conference."

Is this true, and if so does it matter? Are we over blogs and are we more interested in microblogging? The evidence from Universal McCann’s Social Media Wave 3 Research suggests that blogging has become mainstream, and while it has experienced strong growth in Asia the growth has plateaued somewhat in the more US market.

There is also an interesting article in the UK based NMK: Knowledge for the Digital Economy titled Record visits for UK blog sites that looks at the uptake and use of blogs in that part of the world. One one hand it appears that blogs are "increasingly displacing traditional media usage and recent statistics (less people read newspapers than read blogs) appear to back that up". Yet at the same time other are writing off blogging as passé.

Mark Twain apparently once said "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated". Is this the same for blogging?

E-Waste Part 2: Peter Garrett fails again, and again, and again

Bibliothekia ties very hard to stay out of politics, but the news item in today's Australian Newspaper IT section titled Garrett rules out electronic waste tax has left me with little choice. After all, it was only yesterday that I posted two articles How Green is your Library and E-Waste.

So what am I so heated up about? Well to quote the Australian:

"Australians generate up to 140,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, only 4 per cent is presently recycled. There is a new e-waste plant built by by Sims Recycling Solutions in Sydney that was opened by Australian Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett... [This plant] has the capacity to divert 20,000 tonnes of waste from landfill every year... and turn the hazardous tangle of broken equipment into new materials for future products."

So far so good.

But despite "Sims officials delivering a clear message that Australia needs to introduce laws for mandatory e-waste recycling as a matter of priority" Peter Garrett has backed away.

Is Peter for real? Here is a man who fronted the band Midnight Oil, who sang songs protesting against uranium and asbestos mining, and who was the president of the Australian Conservation Foundation (1989-1993, 1998-2004), but who now pussy foots around the issue of toxic E-waste. Mind you this is also the man who has:

* supported the Gunns company's plan to build the Bell Bay Pulp Mill in the environmentally sensitive Tamar Valley in Tasmania,
* approved a controversial plan to dredge Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay,
* approved a major expansion of South Australia's Beverley uranium mine, and
* introduced means testing on the government rebate on solar panels which has had the effect of gutted the solar industry in Australia. The largest local producer of solar panels (BP Solar) has been forced to take its production off shore.

Well thank God Peter Garrett is an environmentalist, because who knows what environmental degradation he would cause as Federal Environment Minister if he was anti the environment.

National Geographic and Gaming

You'll have noticed over the last few weeks there have been a few posts on this blog about gaming. Personally, I think gaming and interactive interfaces are going to play an increasingly important role in libraries over the next 2 years. Gaming and interactive interfaces are also starting to play a greater role in online education. I was therefore interested to see a report on Tech News World that National Geographic has started up a gaming division in partnership with Namco Bandai Games America and Sony Computer Entertainment. Click here to see the full text of the Tech News World article, but the following quote cuts to the chase.

"The new developer's first gaming title, "Herod's Lost Tomb" is available for as a free flash-based game online as well as in downloadable versions for Macs, PCs and the iPhone. The game, the goal of which is to find hidden objects, is based on content from the December issue of National Geographic magazine as well as a television broadcast on biblical figure King Herod, airing on the National Geographic Channel."

Onlines games from National Geographic should be of interest to public and school libraries, but what should be of interest to all libraries is the fact that National Geographic is linking the online games to their print and TV content. Libraries who are getting into gaming would be wise to consider an integrated approach, but then we are wise - arn't we.

I can see the Australian War Memorial adding interactive content and games around their online exhibitions, though this would need to be done in a sensitive way. I can see public libraries integrating gaming content into other parts of the collection and programs; and I can see gaming as part of online education and being integrated into the offerings of school, college, and university collections and programmes. The possibilities are endless.

Note to Brisbane City Library (see the post gaming and testosterone in the library) - maybe you should ensure that books, tapes, and CDs about sports and sporting people are taken out of the collection and integrated into your fantastic dedicated gaming and sports area.

Oh and by the way, because the games are from National Geographic, the images are fantastic.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

How Green is your Library?

Unlike Karen (the Free Range Librarian) Schneider, I keep forgetting to travel with my camera. So unlike Karen, I did not take any photos of the wonderful temporary Greenhouse pavilion by Joost which is located at Federation Square in Melbourne until 29 January 2009.

"With floors of old shipping crates, tables made from fire hydrants and a feature wall of wild strawberries, The Greenhouse takes sustainability to a whole new level!" How fantastic. Check it out!



Though this pavilion is temporary, it makes you think about long term sustainability. In particular, it made me think about all those new "Library as Place" monumental libraries that have been built around the world over the last few years. How sustainable and environmental are they?

I was therefore pleased to discover a blog titled Going Green @ Your Library. The tag line for this blog is "Environmentally friendly practices for libraries and beyond" How good is that! There is also a blog titled The Green Library. So check them out and lend them your support.

One of the less obvious, but still impressive, features of the Brisbane City Library building is the fact that it was made of a lot of recycled, recyclable, and sustainable building materials. The Brisbane library building also treats and reuses water. You will notice from Karen's Flickr photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kgs/sets/72157609222728130/, that though this building uses sustainable materials it is still pretty slick. So does this mean that when it comes to sustainable library buildings we can have our cake and eat it is as well?

E-Waste

And while we are on the topic of sustainability and the environment, and because this blog has a focus on technology, check out the National Geographic Magazine quiz on E-Waste located at http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/01/high-tech-trash/trash-quiz-interactive and the associated article from January 2008 titled High-Tech Trash. What is your library doing about sustainable buildings and reducing high tech waste?

More on Gaming and Testosterone in the Library

In a recent post titled Gaming and Testosterone in the Library, I discussed a visit Karen (the Free Range Librarian) Schneider, Lizanne Payne (from the Washington Research Library Consortium) and I had to Brisbane City Library. Though I forgot to bring a camera, I promised I would add a link to Karen's photos once they were posted online, and so here they are.

There are photos of the sports and gaming area that has done so much to attract males between the ages of 18 and 35 into the library;

There are photos of the amazing book return system (the first of its kind in Australia). This book return system will cover its costs in 10 years via occupational health and safety savings alone; and

There are photos of the open holds area located near the entrance. The books on the open hold shelves are shelved spine down to discourage patrons from taking other peoples books.

As I said in my previous post, there is a lot that is interesting and amazing about the Brisbane City Library. Thanks Karen for posting these photos, and thanks Sharan for being such a fabulous guide. To view all the photos go to Karen's Flickr account at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kgs/sets/72157609222728130/. Enjoy.

Monday, 17 November 2008

VALA CAVAL Roadshow

Well, the VALA / CAVAL roadshow is over and Lizanne Payne (the Executive Director Washington Research Library Consortium) and Karen Schneider (the Free Range Librarian & Equinox Community Librarian) have gone back to the States. Lucky for me (because I did not have to do it, and I would not have done it as well), Michelle McLean has done a fantastic live blog on Lizanne's and Karen's presentations at the State Library of Victoria on Friday 14 November. For the details, check out Michelle's blog at http://connectinglibrarian.com/2008/11/13/vala-caval-anniversary-series-2008/. Thanks Michelle.

It was also a delight and a pleasure to travel part of the way around the country with Lizanne and Karen. Both Lizanne and Karen are insightful, interesting, as well as interested, and passionate about libraries (... and food - funny how libraries and food seem to go hand in hand). All in all it was an inspirational week on the road and it was also great to catch up with colleagues from Brisbane and Sydney. Outside of the library presentations, the highlight for me was being at the Democrats Abroad function in Sydney as the returns came in from the US election. If you saw the coverage on CNN, when they crossed over to Sydney (and you looked very, very closely as it was a room full of lots of people) there we were waving and cheering. For more on this memorable event check out Karen's blog at http://freerangelibrarian.com/2008/11/05/the-whole-world-was-watching

...And finally, this roadshow would not have happened without VALA and CAVAL working together in partnership, and with the support of the University of NSW and the State Libraries of NSW, Queensland, West Australia, South Australia, and Victoria. Here is an example of the benefits of working collaboratively. We are not large well funded profession, so there can never be too much co-operation and collaboration.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

The human in the WiFi

Following on from my recent post Gaming and testosterone in the library, I thought I would check out the Barbican Art Gallery, as this is the gallery that put together the Game On exhibition which is now on at the State Library of Queensland. It is on the Barbican web site that I came across an interesting installation called Frequency and Volume by the Mexico-born, Canada-based artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

"Working at the crossroads between architecture, sculpture and performance", Hemmer also makes use of technology; and it is this use of technology which is particularly interesting. Following is the text from the artists web site explaining how it works.

"FREQUENCY AND VOLUME consists of between 100 and 800 square metres of projected shadows which allow participants to scan the radio spectrum of the city with their bodies. As a shadow appears it tunes any radio frequency between 150kHz to 1.5GHz based on its position monitored by a video tracking system. The size of the shadow controls the volume gain of the specific audio channel. We can have 16 frequencies tuned simultaneously and the resulting sound environment is a composition controlled by people's movements. This piece investigates the contested radio space in the context of the increased surveillance of the body as an antenna. The system tunes all sorts of signals including air traffic control, short wave radio, cell phones, police, taxi dispatch, pagers and more."

Let's hope some Australian cultural institution picks up this exhibition as it adds a whole new (human) dimension to WiFi. It is also interesting in how it allows the audience part of the interactive process. There is a great video of this exhibition from when it was held in Mexico, it is at the artists web site at http://www.lozano-hemmer.com/video/fnv.html. Enjoy.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Google goes back in time and stops text messages

Last month I read Philip Matyszak's informative and entertaining book Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw on ReadWriteWeb that Google is going to work with the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities to embed the Rome Reborn project into Google Earth. This means Google will overlay ancient Rome onto Google Earth. Fabulous, now when you do your online stalking (I mean research) via Google Earth you can step back in time.

Not surprisingly (given they own it) Google has also loaded onto YouTube a great short video about this project. The URL for the YouTube video is at http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=MqMXIRwQniA but I have also embedded it into this post.





Interestingly, Google has also released Mail Goggles. What is this I hear you say. Well, according to Google, Mail Goggles stops you sending email you might latter regret.

For example, you are attending an ancient Roman bacchanalia, and after drinking too much wine, and flirting with too many slaves, you stupidly fire off an email to the Emperor telling him that his wife looks like the side of the Colosseum. 'Buggerous' you think to your self, now you are going to end up in a staring role with a hungry lion at the said Colosseum. But don't worry, because it is Friday night and you only use gmail you are safe. Set to late-night Friday and Saturday by default, Mail Goggles can be configured to give you pause any day of the week at any time period you prefer. During the nominated time period the email won't be sent until you first answer some maths questions. The theory being that if you are drunk you will not be able to do the sums and the email will be blocked. Of course if you are a wiz at maths when drunk your stuffed and you will end up as lunch for some lion.

For more on Mail Goggles go to the Gmail lab settings.

As an aside, between Edward Gibbons and Hollywood, there is the general impression that ancient Romans loved their drunken orgies. However, if you have ever seen an episode of the UK TV shows "Ladettes to Ladies" or "Footballer's Wives", I am not sure that we in the twentieth century can point the finger at the ancient Romans. It looks like there may indeed be a role for Mail Goggles after all.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Connections, Content, Conversations

It seems only yesterday that VALA2008 was over but here we are already hard at work on VALA2010.

I am biased but VALA has gone from strength to strength with each conference enjoying record attendance from delegates as well as vendors. More on this in a minute. I guess this says something about the quality of the papers VALA gets from hard working, innovative, and thoughtful librarians.

Anyway, the theme of VALA2010 is Connections, Content, Conversations. This includes the technology and processes we use to engage and partner with clients. It includes social web, semantic web, and the way we connect clients with content; indeed how we allow clients to contribute, deconstruct, and recreate content. This two-way process between librarians, as well as librarians and clients, is what is meant by conversations. And by the way, lets not limit this to librarians. The museums, galleries, and archives are also doing some very interesting work in this area. Don't you love the way Gallery, Library, Archive, and Museum spells G.L.A.M. Doesn't that make you feel special? Of course it does.

Anyway, the deadline for abstracts is not until next year but if you want to know more check out the VALA2010 Call for Papers.



VALA has clearly grown out of its current venue at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre or MCEC. So it is timely that MCEC is moving across the river into a new building. This means that VALA2010 will be located in the largest, greenest, and most technological advanced exhibition and convention centre in Australia. The MCEC building is nearly complete and there is a great gallery of images available on the MCEC web site at: http://www.mcec.com.au/About/MCEC-Complex/Gallery.html as well as an interactive green map at http://www.mcec.com.au/experience/default.html#.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Integrating cultural agencies

Back in September I posted an article about the Charlotte and Mecklenburg Public Library Imaginon centre. As I said at the time, Imaginon is kind of like ScienceWorks and ACMI rolled in together with a public library and a youth theatre.

We are seeing a convergence of technology, so why not a convergence of information centres and cultural agencies? Actually, the merging of cultural agencies is not new. Back in the 1850s when they were created, what is now the State Library of Victoria, Museum Victoria, and the National Gallery of Victoria were all under one roof.

The Imaginon web site brings things together, but this is easier because all the bits belong to together and are under one roof. This is harder if the discovery centre, library, and youth theatre are located in very separate spaces, and belong to very different cultural organisations.

A few years ago the Victorian Government looked at introducing shared management services for the state's cultural agencies. It also launched the Culture Victoria web site. But is putting a fancy flash discovery layer over the top of a number of collections giving users what they want? Does it offer true Google like searching across these many collections and web sites? Is there consistent meta data in place to facilitate searching across these agencies? If you find something from one agency e.g. a book about Ned Kelly; does it give you an Amazon type of experience and suggest you check out photos of Ned Kelly from one of the other agencies?

Certainly the main Victoria culture agencies (the State Library, the Museum, and the Gallery) don't feature the Culture Victoria URL or indeed its existence from their respective web sites; so what's the point of having it? Interestingly, there does not appear to be much about the Culture Victoria portal on the Arts Victoria web site. This includes any reporting of usage statistics. I suspect the usage stats are so low they will never see the light of day. Then again, the Arts Victoria web site is so badly designed, and looks as though it was last redesigned in the mid 1990s, that you would be lucky to find anything useful on this site.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of setting up integrated and content rich portal to help people find things - but they have to work. They also have to give the target audience what they want. The problem with the Cultural Victoria web site is that it looks like it was designed to appeal to arts apparatchiks who run the show rather than the end user out there on the street. Is it any wonder that users by pass fancy smancy flash laden cultural web portals and just go to Google to find what they are looking for.

By the way, if I didn't care about these cultural agencies I wouldn't bother with this post.

Gaming and testosterone in the library

After the Brisbane leg of the VALA and CAVAL 30 year anniversary roadshow; Lizanne Payne, Karen Schneider and myself checked out the Brisbane City Library. This library really is a showcase in many ways. Brisbane is blessed to have two amazing library buildings; the State Library of Queensland and the Brisbane City Library. Last year the State Library was nominated as the best public building by the Australian Institute of Architects (you should check out the outside terrace with the amazing tea cup collection), while Brisbane City Library (also no architectural slouch) is an environmental masterpiece. The City Library building uses recycled materials, there is on-site treatment and reuse of solid waste, rainwater harvesting, and a river water cooling system.

There is a lot that is interesting and amazing about the Brisbane City Library other than their amazing book return system (yes I know I am using the word amazing a lot). However, what stuck me was the gaming area and the sports area. Here there are bean bag type lounges for people to sit (or slouch and slide) on while they do online gaming. There are also dedicated large scale TVs, i.e. always tuned to sporting channels. I forgot to take my camera, but I know Karen took heaps of photos so when Karen uploads them I will point to them.

UPDATE: Karen's photos are located at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kgs/sets/72157609222728130

According to the Brisbane Council annual report, "since the move, library use has exceeded Council’s expected 30% growth. An average 91,000 people visit the library each month, an 85.7% increase on visits to the former Central City Library. Loans of books and other items have increased by 53.5% to 72,000 per month." Interestingly, there has also been a massive increase in patronage from males aged between 18 and 35. This is amazing!

While this extra testosterone can't all be caused by the sport and gaming areas, they must have helped. The comment made about these areas is that in the past people got their sporting information from the newspapers. Now more and more people get their sporting information from either the Internet or pay TV. So if you can't afford the internet or pay TV, and don't want to go to a pub to watch Fox Sport, you are stuck. Personally, I think it is great Brisbane City is providing these services and attracting what has been a difficult demographic for libraries. Who knows, the sport heads might then stumble on books by Jane Austin, Russian novels, or Pinter plays. (just kidding - but then again you never know).

There must be something about gaming in the air in Brisbane at the moment, because at the same time the State Library of Queensland was about to show the excellent exhibition Game On. This exhibition is organised by the Barbican Art Gallery in London, and was previously very well received at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne.

Gaming and interactive media is certainly something VALA is about to explore. For the last VALA meeting of 2008, we are very excited to have Simon Goodrich (President of the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association) and Andrew Apostola talk about the work they are doing in this space. Simon and Andrew are the guys behind the Portable Film Festival and Flickthru (which is being launched in early 2009) so keep an eye out for details on the VALA general meeting home page at http://www.vala.org.au/meetings.htm. We are planing to podcast this event.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Pipl

Even though it looks as though Pipl has been around since at least late 2007 it is new to me. Pipl is a search engine that focuses on finding information about people. According to the Pipl web site, their "deep search robots continually crawls the web and extracts facts and other relevant information from general web documents, personal profiles, blogs, news articles and other publications using natural language processing and statistical analysis; this data is then automatically converted into quick, simple and interlinked people profiles."

This said Pipl also acknowledges that it "does not verify the accuracy of the facts or the relevance of the tags in each profile". They also acknowledge that they are in an experimental stage. So check out Pipl and see what you think. Does this mean that you now know that you have arrived if you have a Wikipedia entry (that you did not write or ask someone to write) and you have a Pipl profile? :-)

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Will Plastic Newspapers make eBook readers redundant?

It has been a really busy couple of weeks so as you have noticed Bibliothekia has been unusually quite. However this morning there was a fascinating news item on the ABC's news radio about the worlds first plastic newspaper. Basically this product, which is brought out by the UK's Plastic Logic, is getting a lot of interest world wide. For example, the New York Times asks: Will this eReader replace paper, while MIT's Technology Review provides the following quotes in their review titled Plastic E-Reader Debut. Sorry, I have not had a chance to convert the imperial measurements quoted in MIT to metric but you'll get the picture:

The Plastic Logic reader's screen is larger, the size of a standard sheet of paper(8.5 by 11 inches) but it doesn't weigh much more than the other readers. It weighs 13 ounces compared with 10.3 ounces for the smaller Kindle. And it has a display on a plastic substrate, unlike the glass screen used for the Kindle and Sony Reader, which means that it is rugged.... Instead of dealing with buttons, users can flip through the pages of a book, magazine, or PDF using a touch screen and a simple swiping gesture. The Plastic Logic reader includes a "sticky note" function and a soft keyboard for marking pages.

While the Plastic Logic reader is not flexible it uses plastic electronic technology. This makes it much more sturdier and robust than the traditional eReaders. As Plastic Logic is planning to produce 11 million of these readers a year it is probably safe to say that eReaders are starting to become mainstream. Is this the end of newspapers as we know it. Think of the paper and trees that will be saved!

See the following images for details.




Monday, 29 September 2008

More on QR Code applications

Following on from the post QR Codes and Libraries, which explored some of the ways libraries could use QR codes, it is also worth looking at and considering the following:

There is a simple technical overview on QR codes at the Denso Wave site. These are the people who thought up QR codes. The Denso Wave site also has some good case studies. While these case studies consider applications within manufacturing, logistics, and sales; it is not hard to see how QR codes could be applied in libraries, especially in the areas of inventory control and library promotions.

2d-code.co.uk is an online blog / newsletter from the UK. It deals with a whole lot of issues about QR codes and provides some very good and interesting resources. For example:

• It looks like cameras that come with iPhones are not as good as some of the other phones on the market and this has an impact on the user’s ability to grab a QR code.
• Dr. Wolfgang Heubisch is making history. He is the first politician in the world to use a QR Code on his campaign posters. The QR Code resolves to a mobile site where users can have a simplistic ‘interactive dialogue’ with Heubisch.
• In the UK, the BBC has offered a QR code that has the BBC logo embedded. See the image that comes with this post. In this case the BBC QR code links to the bbc.co.uk/programmes web site.
• Taking it one step further, in Japan companies have started to embed animated flash videos into QR codes. Wow!

Want to know more?

• Well there is a short article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled Swipe your phone over a bar code to visit a website.

• There is a good video about QR codes on YouTube. See following:



• In addition, there is also a cluster of videos about QR codes and their application on Technorati.

• If you are looking for more technical information, there is also the Open Source QR Code Library, and

• Even Google has gotten into the act. Google has ZXing, an open-source, multi-format 1D/2D barcode image processing library which supports QR codes.

... and now that I have got you excited about the use of QR codes in libraries, check out the post on GoToMobile about the next generation atom tag 2D codes.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

International Right to Know Day

28 September is International Right to Know Day. If your a librarian, did you do anything to mark this day?

One of the interesting titbits from Mark Engelbrecht's and Kim Whittington's very good L2 Unconference presentation, was the bit about Charlotte and Mecklenburg Public Library strategic plan, and their core value that specifies the "Freedom to Know".

In Australia we often take our rights for granted. We often don't think about our right to read what we want, let alone our right to information that governments or business might have on us. Yet in the "land of the brave and the land of the free" libraries have been on the front lines as the right to privacy and civil liberties were eroded under the Patriot Act. You only have to check out the relevant ALA web page to see how serious this matter became.

So, how about you take the time to mark International Right to Know Day by checking out the following two links:

1. Click here to see the 10 Principles on the Right to Know posted on the Open Society Justice Initiative web site.

2. Click here to see information from the Radio Netherlands: The State Were In programme about the right to know information especially when it is about YOU.

QR Codes and Libraries

One other point of interest at last Friday's L2 Unconference was around library services and mobile platforms. With the take up of Blackberries, iPhones, and other portable devices; together with the expectations of digital natives to access information anywhere and at any time, this is an issue libraries can not afford to ignore. This is also a big area to cover, so lets focus on one small part of the equation - QR Codes.

QR Codes are two-dimensional bar codes that were originally created by Denso-Wave in Japan. The “QR” is stands for 'Quick Response', and they operate in a similar way to traditional bar codes, but QR codes allow for more customisation.

QR Codes lets people instantly pull your stuff onto their mobile platforms without the need to type in URLs or Google you.

But why would you want to do that? Well, we will get to that in a minute.

I had being looking at QR codes for some time, but I got really excited when I stumbled across MoFuse. In a couple of minutes I was able to add a QR code to this blog. (Do you see my QR code on the top right hand side of this blog?) You can read about how easy this is to do at Mobilise your blog. As you have probably noticed, I use this blog as a bit of a sandpit to test Web 2.0 applications. What I love about Mofuse is that is is very easy to use, its free, and it comes with great statistics.

In America, the Brooklyn Public Library has been experimenting with QR codes. They use the codes to identity each of their branches. They add the library branch QR code to flyers and posters. This allows patrons to grab the library branch QR code and quickly add it to their mobile phone. Then, using the code, the patron can then get the latest news about what is going on in their local library via their mobile phone.

In Australia, the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, has started playing around with QR codes in their campaign for Sydney Design 08.

Other options could be:

• To create QR codes for your patron's special interest. How good would it be to allow patrons to get web based information on their phone about the things that interest them. You could set up a QR code for different sections of your collection. These could even be posted on the end of your shelves, or against your Dewey numbers. Patrons can then choose if they want to be told about the latest cook books or crime fiction in the library.
• In the future every book and or author could have their own QR Code. Nate Hill from Brooklyn Public Library suggests that QR Codes linked to the Open Library's "goal to give every book its own web page, could prove useful in offering online information about any given book."
• Libraries could use a QR Code as a receipt for library events. The QR Code could also automatically add the date, time, and location to the patron's phone.
• QR codes linked to RFID could mean that patron's could then check out items using their phones. The library would not need to use special RFID readers. Using the QR code on a book, CD, or whatever; the client could also use the QR code to renew the item with their phone without having to log onto your web site.

If you want to learn more about QR codes, ReadWriteWeb (one of my favourite sites) has just done an excellent series of posts on QR Codes:

• Part 1 Will Barcodes Bridge The Gap Between Reality And The Net?,
• Part 2 Scanning Your Web Printouts, and
• Part 3 Barcode Scanning In The Real World.

The possibilities are endless.

Open Source and Libraries

Near the end of last Friday's L2 Unconference, one of the sessions touched on open source and mobile platforms. Open source is becoming a really big issue for libraries all the round the world. Even if you don't realise it, your library already uses a lot of open source. For example, you library servers, and large bits of your vendor's software, probably use open source. It is therefore not a surprise that there are lots of blogs and web sites focusing on this topic. More on open source later. However, in November 2008 VALA and CAVAL are bring out Karen Schneider as part of an Australian Roadshow to celebrate each organisation's 30-year anniversary.

Karen is an internationally recognised expert and commentator on open source catalogues as well as other issues around open source in libraries. Karen is also one of the top library bloggers. Karen blogs about open source at blog.esilibrary.com. So, if open source is becoming an important issue for your library, I really recommend you get along to one of these roadshow sessions. Booking details are on the CAVAL web site.

If you are just starting to get your head around open source, there are also some good definitions on the Open Source Foundation web site.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Imaginon

Also of interest at the Melbourne L2 Unconference was the presentation by Mark Engelbrecht and Kim Whittington from Charlotte and Mecklenburg Public Library in the USA. With some of the largest Fortune 500 companies based in Charlotte, it is obvious this a well to do community. However, the public library has being very innovative and entrepreneurial.

For example in 2006, the library received an award for Extraordinary Public Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This award recognised the interesting and innovative work the library had undertaken with their Imaginon site. Imaginon is kind of like ScienceWorks and ACMI rolled in together with a public library and a youth theatre. As you can see from the photo, Imaginon is quite a place.

What I find interesting about Imaginon; is that in being a shared facility that is a interactive discovery centre, library, and theatre; there are some very interesting cross over possibilities. For example linking story time programmes with acting classes, or science discovery programmes with reading programmes.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Skoolaborate

I am now sitting in the Westley Field's (from Methodist Ladies College) presentation on Skoolaborate: Schools collaborating to engage student learners. What I like about the start of Westley's presentation is his comment that we should not get too caught up with what is the right and wrong way of doing things. If we are on the cutting edge, and or starting out, there is no right or wrong way. We learn by doing. This of course touches on the theme of the unconference "Learn through play".

An important development is the use of emerging technologies in the learning environment. Westley mentioned the New Media Consortium's (NMC) Horizon Project. The Horizon Project is the centerpiece of NMC's Emerging Technologies Initiative. It charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative expression. CHECK IT OUT. This is not about science fiction; this is technology in development, and technology that will hit the shelves in the near future. Ignore it at your own risk!

So what is this new technology? Here are some examples cited:

1. services and things that beam out information to portable devices (and the portable devices are getting smaller and more flexible).
2. Screens (interfaces) that are flexible and very, very, very thin.
3. The take up of 3D holographs on flat screens.

This means we are going to be faced with more interactive, multi-dimensional, and much, much richer content. How do we deal with this, create it, present it, describe it, work with it? And it is not just about linear narratives. The individual can choose, create, add, or delete their OWN narratives and learning experiences, and then mash it up with their peer's stuff.

Westley also talked about some of the emerging online learning environments that are operating outside of the traditional school environment. For example see Global Challenge, Values exchange from New Zealand, or Mathletics. Some of these online services are paying top dollar for the teachers (mortals) behind the portal. So what does all this mean for traditional schools?

Well, some of the innovative stuff is happening because people can. It is not necessarily happening because they have a bigger budget than the school down the road. Some of the innovative stuff is also happening because the kids are creating content, interfaces, and processes. Being kids they see things in new and different ways. For example, Westly showed some very interesting virtual learning places that the kids actually created themselves in Second Life.

L2 Unconference

Here I am with a whole lot of librarians at Yarra Plenty Regional Library attending the second annual L2 Unconference. I forgot to bring my digital camera, and my phone takes crappy photos, so this post is going to more tell than show.

What is great about unconferences is that the attendees set the agenda. This ensures the topics and discussions come from the bottom up.

So what are the topics being considered? Here is a list that is in no particular order. At the end of the day I will try and bring the threads together and give my 2 cents worth.

* Tags, wikis, Facebook and other social media
* Open Source
* Mobile platforms'
* Online Learning
* Technology and social inclusion
* Gaming
* Engaging with youth
* Interactive interfaces and interactive content

Now more no this later.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

FFFFound, Insuggest, and the Semantic Web

Here is something interesting I found on the PortableContent blog. FFFFounnd "is a web service that not only allows the users to post and share their favourite images found on the web, but also dynamically recommends each user's tastes and interests for an inspirational image-bookmarking experience!!" How good is that!

FFFFound, and service such as Insuggest, offer us a whole brave new world of possibilities. Not only can we use Web 2.0 / social networking services to create, group, categorise, and share stuff; this newer breed of semantic web services also recommends stuff. So what does this ultimately mean for some online library reference services? Is the mortal in the portal dead?

Speaking of which, what was also interesting about FFFFound, is that Ross Dawson's extinction timeline featured on the FFFound front page when I checked it out during my lunch break. You remember Ross, he is the guy that says libraries will be extinct by 2019. It's funny, I have deliberately blogged about this extinction time line a few times to see what response there is out there in LibraryLand, and no one ever bites. Mind you I'm not alone. As of this afternoon there are only 34 hits on the Google Blog search engine for [ross dawson library extinction]. Does this mean you don't care?

Ross's original post (if you're still interested) is at: http://www.rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2007/10/extinction_time.html The image of the timeline from FFFFound is below.