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.


Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Awe inspiring interactive websites

While we are on the topic of interactive interfaces, here are some amazing examples. Some of these come from a post on You The Designer titled 10 awe inspiring interactive websites. What is also interesting about this post is the comments. Some of the issues discussed are:

• These sites can be expensive to create and maintain. Budgets of 200K and up just to create a site is not unheard of, while the interactive web sites designed for big multi nationals like Coke or McDonalds cost a lot more again.
• They can be slow to load; the more gizmos you have, the longer it takes.
• Some of the links can be very obscure and hard to find, so people give up and move away. Yes clever web designers can win awards for tricky sites, but the rest of us would be hard pressed to find a link. Don't forget you are designing the site for your clients, not for yourself.

I guess the trick is getting the balance right, make sure the pages load quickly, that they take into account usability, and that they obviously don't blow the budget. After all, other than Ms Dewey's Ask a Librarian web site, we don't have the online marketing budget of Hollywood blockbuster.

Hollywood and the gaming market, along with multi nationals like McDonalds and CocaCola, are the drivers behind a lot of the innovations and technology behind interactive web sites. So it should come as no surprise that interactive film web sites are at the forefront of interactive design. For example, in 2008 the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix web site won the Web Marketing Association's Best of Show Award.

Libraries of course can't compete in against these player. However, the Portable Film Festival site shows is that it is not just about big bucks. You can do a lot by being smart and encouraging people to contribute content. So, if as a web 2.0 library your clients are contributing multimedia content, why not give them an attractive interactive web site to showcase their contributions? This can only build client loyalty.

But back to the WOW examples of interactive web sites. Just remember that when looking at these sites make sure you have your speakers turned on and that you are using a fast Internet connection. Enjoy!

2 advanced studio










The Mix Head










Red Interactive Agency










Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix








Coca Cola Australia










Ms Dewey

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

...and while we are on the topic of interactive digital content, there was an announcement on a number of listservs about 27 October being UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. This year the celebration has the overall topic “The Audiovisual Heritage as a Witness of Cultural Diversity”.

One thing that is immediately apparent about the content on the Portable Film Festival web site is that the content has been created by people from all over the world. This includes Malaysia, Singapore, Columbia, and of course Australia. So here is a site that is very much involved with interactive and multimedia content as a "witness of cultural diversity".

So, is your doing anything to celebrate this UNESCO event?

As an aside, I understand where UNESCO is coming from, and fully support the efforts of saving and protecting our historic audiovisual content, BUT I wonder if the term 'audiovisual' actually resonates with the digital natives who are out there busy creating the online, interactive and multimedia content for this generation.

Sites to check out:

• Go to http://www.ccaaa.org/wdavh to see the CAAA: Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations announcement and trailer on the UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.

• Click here to see the UNESCO stuff on the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, and

• Click here for the IFLA announcement on the UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.

Interactive media and the Portable Film Festival

With increases in bandwidth (cost of course is another issue) and the rise in dynamic content, there is some really interesting stuff happening in the interactive media space. This is something libraries need to think about. After all, some of the really cool stuff is being created by digital natives and these are our clients of the future.

These digital natives are creating and publishing more and more content, be it at school, university, home, or even the workforce. For example, Melbourne Australia is one of the centres for programmers working with online game software, and they are creating a lot content. This is a young and dynamic workforce, and I suspect there is a lot we can learn from them.

For example, check out the Portable Film Festival. Check out the films, the web site, and see just how young this team is. Given dynamic nature of the medium, it is not surprising that there is a cross over between the interactive media industry and film culture.

So, what role is there for this type of dynamic content in making library interfaces more appealing to digital natives? Should we tag, capture, or preserve this type of content? Is there a role for library portals as a space for showcasing local content and talent? Should / could public library spaces be used as incubators for interactive content generated by the local community?

The Portable Film Festival (now in its third year) is a daily online film channel. How good is that! They (and I quote) profile one great new release each day, every day of the year, plus hunt, tag and collect random great web-based films spotted by Portable Film Festival curators. This is the Portable Film Festival's serious commitment to international screen culture and to broadcasting and distribution models outside of traditional old media channels. Through our site, quality international releases will find audiences online, every day, all year round.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Welcome to the World Wide Web Foundation

And just when we start to worry about the increasingly centralised and corporatised web that comes with cloud computing and mega server farms, along come Sir Tim Berners-Lee to announce the launch of the World Wide Web Foundation. The World Wide Web Foundation seeks:

• to advance One Web that is free and open,
• to expand the Web's capability and robustness,
• and to extend the Web's benefits to all people on the planet.

These are noble and worthy goals - let's hope they succeed.

Data in the cloud and the Library of Alexandria

If you listened to the excellent ABC Background briefing on Cloud Computing, you would have heard the following quote:

Long before the Internet in 1943, IBM chief Thomas Watson famously declared that the world probably only needed five computers. As PCs and laptops multiplied, everyone remembered the prediction and laughed. But with the rise of cloud computing and the mega data centres, no-one is laughing any more.

What does this mean for libraries? What happens when we all rely on a few copies, or server farms, to store our data? You could argue that a lot of knowledge from the ancient world was lost because it was stored in too few places. Yes, there was the Pergamom, Caesarea Maritima, and of course the largest of them all, the Library of Alexandria, but when these were destroyed a lot of western knowledge was lost. Was this a case of not enough back ups?

Unfortunately, throughout history, many of libraries have been destroyed, sometimes accidentally, but often the destruction is deliberate. In his book "Lost Libraries: The Destruction of Great Book Collections Since Antiquity", James Raven talks about the resonance of loss, and he is not just talking about the loss of books. There is a loss of memory, learning, and understanding.

Of course libraries have considered digital preservation. There is www.digitalpreservation.gov, DLF: Digital Preservation, the Digital Preservation Coalition, and the NLA Digital Preservation Policy to name but a few. Is this enough? Do our existing digital preservation frameworks and policies cover us in the world of cloud computing?

Meanwhile back at Alexandria, Luciano Canfora'a book "Vanished Library: a Wonder of the Ancient World" is a great study into this library, its demise, and its impact the city and the ancient world.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Cloud computing on Background Briefing

In the last few months, I have done a number of posts on cloud computing. So, I am definitely going to tune into the ABC's Background Briefing this Sunday morning to hear what they have to say on the topic. Actually, I'll probably have one ear listening to the radio while I'm watching The Insiders. After all who needs soap operas and thrillers when there is NSW state politics. Talk about a train crash in slow motion, but I digress, back to cloud computing.

Libraries are relying more and more on cloud computing, so this really is something we need to understand if we want to make it work for us. To quote Princeton University's excellent UC Channel or University Channel: "'Computing in the cloud' is one name for services that run in a Web browser and store information in a provider’s data centre — ranging from adaptations of familiar tools such as email and personal finance to new offerings such as virtual worlds and social networks." There is also a very good article on the Cloud Computing Journal titled: Twenty-One Experts Define Cloud Computing, and of course, there is the Wikipedia article.

If your library uses any of the thousands of Web2.0 services you are using cloud computing. So prior to the ABC programme here's my 2 cents worth, and yes some of it I have said before, but I think it is worth repeating:

• If like Del.ico.us, the cloud service allows you to make a local back up - do it on a regular basis. Service have been known to go under, disappear, or have service disruptions. Why even Google has been known to go down. What will you do when the software in the cloud goes sour?

Checkout and tag sites such as cloudtrip. These sites provide lists, ranking, and reviews of cloud computing services.

• Make sure you have covered issues such as copyright and data security. When you sign up for a Web 2.0 / cloud computing service, do you actually read the licence agreement?

• See what's out there, experiment, use it, but if you don't like it (or if you see something better) move on.

Checkout, tag, and set up an RSS feed for the online Cloud Computing Journal and / or the Cloud Computing Expo site.

• Take the time to checkout the Princeton University UC Channel Computing in the cloud web site.

Friday, 12 September 2008

50 Content Management Systems worth checking out

If you are considering online content management, Jason Mayfield has a very good posting titled 50 Content Management Systems on his blog Open Jason. Some of the applications / software on this list are well known but others are not. All in all, it is a good list, and even though this posting is 6 months old (I only stumbled across it today) it is still worth checking out.

There is also a shorter and more recent posting by Dion Hinchcliffe on Zdnet titled: Ten leading platforms for creating online communities.

In addition to the list of social networking platforms, Dion also has some very sensible things to say about creating social networks. After all it takes a lot more than a platform to create a community. If you have not already looked at Dion's post, check it out. It may save you a lot of time and heart ache when designing and supporting your own online library communities.

The Hollywood Librarian

A big round of applause to all those people who helped organise the screening of the Hollywood Librarian at the Capital Theatre in Melbourne last night. Ann Seidl's documentary covers a lot of ground, including the very real issues of library funding, and the fight US librarians had to ensure free unmonitored access to information. As an aside, it is telling that the US government spends much the same amount of money on libraries in one year as it does in Iraq and Afghanistan in one week. On a lighter note, the documentary is often very funny, especially when it uses old Hollywood films to explore librarian stereotypes. It is amazing how many films have featured librarians!

However, the most poignant, but also uplifting moments came when listening to the inmates of the San Quentin prison. If ever there is was an example of how libraries and reading can impact on peoples lives, it was listening to these guys talk about how the literacy classes, organised by the local librarian, had empowered them. Particularly moving was the inmate who had raised money (and got publicity) to help the save the Salinas Public Library from closure.

We should all be grateful that Ann Seidl took and the time and effort (and it took a lot of effort) to make this documentary and if it screening in a cinema near you - GO AND SEE IT.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

More on Social Media Wave 3 Research

I have found the Universal McCann’s Social Media Wave 3 Research so interesting I have to one more post. In case you missed it: in September 2006 the Wave 1 survey involved 7,500 internet users in 15 countries, in June 2007 the Wave 2 survey involved 10,000 internet users in 21 countries, while in March 2008 Wave 3 involved 17,000 internet users in 29 countries.

According to the Wave survey:

• Australia had the second highest rate of internet penetration (72.9%), the Netherlands had the highest rate (87.8%)
• The most popular activity across the survey population was watching video clips (82.9%). 22% of these people watched a video clip on a daily basis and 37% watched a video clip on a weekly basis.
• Reading blogs was also very popular particularly in Asia. In Australia only 62% of the survey recipients read blogs compared to 92.1% in Korea, 90% in the Philippines, and 88.1% in China. Most people read family personal blogs. More people (up 45%) have started writing blogs. More multimedia content is appearing on blogs.
• The take up of social networking is huge, from 27% in 2006 to 57.5% in 2008.

Following is the overall highlights from the survey. For the rest details, check out the survey for yourself.

Social media is a global phenomenon happening in all markets regardless of wider economic, social and cultural development. If you are online you are using social media

• Asian markets are leading in terms of participation, creating more content than any other region
• All social media platforms have grown significantly over the three Waves
– Video Clips are the quickest growing platform, up from 31% penetration
in Wave 1 to 83% in Wave 3

• 57% have joined a Social Network, making it the number one platform for creating
and sharing content
– 55% of users have uploaded photos
– 22% of users have uploaded videos

• The widget economy is real
– 23% of social network users have installed an application
– 18% of bloggers have installed applications in their blog templates

• Blogs are a mainstream media world-wide and as a collective rival any traditional media
– 73% have read a blog

• The blogsphere is becoming increasingly participatory, now 184m bloggers world-wide
– The number one thing to blog about is personal life and family

• China has the largest blogging community in the world with 42m bloggers, more than the US and Western Europe combined

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

VALA-CAVAL Anniversary Series 2008

After a lot of work and planning it great to be able to finally talk about the 2008 VALA CAVAL roadshow. In 2008 both CAVAL and VALA are celebrating their 30 year anniversaries, and what better way to celebrate 30 years of looking forward than to bring out to Australia two internationally respected and insightful speakers. It is also great to see two important Australian library organisations working together in this way. Thanks should also go to the venue partners.

After the Melbourne event on Friday 14 November there are also plans for drinks to celebrate these two milestones so watch out for more news closer to the time.

Click HERE to register or get more information on these speakers and this event.

The VALA CAVAL 2008 Anniversary Series

Proudly presents:
  • Lizanne Payne: The Future of Library Collections: Access and Stewardship in a Networked World.

  • Karen Schneider: The Nature of Open: How Open Source and Web 2.0 Bring Us Back to the Roots of Librarianship.

Locations and Dates

  • Sydney: Thursday, 6 November, 9.30 am to 12.30 pm: University of New South Wales

  • Brisbane: Friday, 7 November, 2.30 to 5.00 pm: State Library of Queensland

  • Perth: Monday, 10 November, 2.30 to 5.00 pm: State Library of Western Australia

  • Adelaide: Wednesday, 12 November, 2.30 to 5.00 pm: State Library of South Australia

  • Melbourne: Friday, 14 November, 2.30 to 5.00 pm: State Library of Victoria

Costs
AUD $220 (including GST) for VALA and CAVAL members, AUD $297 (including GST) for non-members.

Monday, 8 September 2008

The free Web and the future of libraries

In addition to the excellent Social Media Wave 3 Research, Universal McCann also offers a fascinating report on Free Internet Services.

Libraries have benefited enormously from the growth in free platforms [Blogger], search engines [Google], web mail [gmail], web based software [Google Docs], and content [Google Scholar and Google Books]. As an aside, in case your wondering I have deliberately only mentioned Google offerings. See Google takes over the world for the reason why.

Indeed the emergence of Web 2.0 / social media, and therefore Library 2.0, would not have been possible without the advent of these types of free services. As a result, we have become dependent on (and possibly addicted to) free stuff. To quote the Universal McCann report:

"Over the last decade we've become increasingly used to getting something for nothing. Massive advances in the technologies that underpin the Internet, in particular processing power, digital storage and broadband have provided the means to develop and distribute rich content and complex services to anyone for virtually zero cost."

While the Universal McCann report focuses on the business and marketing opportunities of the free web, this is still an important topic for libraries. I suspect that along with the many obvious benefits the free web has given us there are also dangers and risks. Within the higher education sector, the recent Ithaka Studies of Key Stakeholders in the Digital Transformation in Higher Education report suggests that there is a "growing ambivalence about the campus library among faculty members as more and more knowledge goes digital".

Unsettling though this is, why should we be surprised? After all, if people can get what they want quickly and freely from the web why would they stay loyal to libraries? As librarians we like to think we provide a better service than what is freely available on the Web, and indeed we often do, but this will not help us if we can't communicate and demonstrate this in a tangible way to clients. And don't forget Ross Dawson has us down for extinction by 2019, for details see http://www.rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2007/10/extinction_time.html.

It is time to get cracking. There is more and more free web stuff out there, so there are even more opportunities as well as more dangers and threats for libraries to consider.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Social Media Wave 3 Research

Last weekend I mentioned the social media statistics article listed on Mashable.com. Since then I have had a closer look at the report from Universal McCann’s Social Media Wave 3 Research.

This posting is to say - do yourself a favour and check out this report! It provides a wide range of very interesting and quotable statistics on the uptake and use of social networks, RSS, content sharing (especially photos and videos), blogging, and blog readership. 17,000 internet users in 29 countries made up the sample population for this research, so it is representative. I can see why this Universal McCann research is so popular.

18th & 19th Century Hansard: The Sublime & the Ridiculous

After praising the UK government for the innovative, open and transparent way it has digitised the 19th century Hansard, Bibliothekia was gob smacked at the utterly ridiculous and restrictive way the 18th century parliamentary proceedings have been digitised.

It is fair enough that the contemporary Hansard is located on the publications section of UK Parliament web site. The UK Hansard is even available on the UK Parliament web site about three hours after debates. But why is the record of the 18th century parliamentary proceedings locked away on the 18th Century Official Parliamentary Publications Portal and only accessible to "the higher and further education academic communities within the UK and other selected institutions"? There is not even an explanation as to why this is so.

Maybe some one is worried that we might stumble across the parliamentary proceedings dealing with the ridiculous War of Jenkins Ear. Not since the Garden of Gethsemane has there been so much fuss over an ear. Or maybe someone is worried we might find out too much about the shenanigans that went on during the South Sea Bubble. I can not think of one good reason why this material is not freely available to researchers everywhere.

At last month's VALA General Meeting, Mal Booth from the Australian War Memorial gave an excellent talk that outlined what the AWM is doing in the way of digitisation. Mal also warned against institutions signing away their digital rights to private organisations and then finding their digital content is locked away from their patrons. I hope this is not why the 18th century UK parliamentary proceedings have being locked away.

To the BOPCRIS Digitisation Project people at the University of Southampton - WAKE UP and take a look at what, and how, the people at Millbank Systems do things.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Open eGovernement: Digitising content

You have to hand it to those POMS. Not only is the British Government thinking long and hard about emerging digital and social media and what this means for democracy and how government and citizens interact [See eGovernment: The Power of Information Task Force], they are also going back and digitising a whole lot of stuff and making it readily available. Millbank Systems is "a small, informal group working within the UK Parliamentary Service that looks at prototyping services for the UK Parliament". One of their first cabs off the rank is digitising Hansard back to 1803. Not only is this an excellent service with an interesting yet simple interface, their development blog offers some very useful information for anyone else looking at doing something similar. They use open source for a whole lot of very good reasons, and even make their source code freely available. The Millbank model offers a very good example of how a team can not only get something done, they can do it in a way which captures what they have learnt. Transparent government doesn't get any more transparent than this! To quote a certain iconic Australian TV ad "Good on ya..., you aught to be congratulated".

And in case your wondering what Millbank stands for, and I quote: "About the Millbank Systems bit: well, Parliament has a few offices on Millbank, but apart from that it really doesn’t mean much. We just wanted a domain name we could spell." Love it!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Google's Chrome

There has been so much that has already been written about Google versus Microsoft as the browser wars heat up again with the release of Chrome. As a result, I am not going to add my bit, other than to point out that the issue around Chrome's internet privacy offerings, and how these are being used to gain people's loyalty, is going to be fascinating to watch. Bibiliothekia uses Mozilla Firefox, so will I move to Chrome? Maybe, maybe not. Yes Chrome seems to offer many very good features, but I keep hearing Siva Vaidhyanathan words on the Googlisation of everything ringing in my ears. What is also interesting is the way Google has use a comic strip to launch Chrome. What does this say about the attention span of the typical Google user? Does this mean Nicholas Carr is right after all and Google is Making us Stupid.

Premier's Literary Awards and the Uncommon Reader

Given Melbourne has been named the second UNESCO City of Literature, it is not surprising that last night's Victorian Premier's Literary Awards was an overwhelming success. A number of speakers pointed out the key role local publishers play in supporting the city's literary culture as they take a financial risk to bringing books to market. Without diminishing the role of publishers, the city's literary credentials are also backed up by numerous great book stores, inspiring local writers, and very importantly, an engaged, curious, adventurous, and dedicated population of readers.

The most inspired acceptance speech of the night (even if it did make the Premier appear more than a little uncomfortable) was Richard Flanagan's speech when accepting the John Curtin Prize for Journalism for Out of Control: Gunns and the Tragedy of Tasmania’s Forests. However, for me the most engaging and vivacious author was Lally Katz. Lally, it was fun and an honour to meet you. The story of coming to Melbourne from New Jersey, the hooker high heals, your wit and humour - face it you're fabulous. A very good friend won one of the previous year's RE Ross Trust Playwrights' Script Development Awards, so it was particularly delicious that you won one of this year's awards.

But back to the dedicated, curious, adventurous, and dedicated population of readers. I have just finished reading Alan Bennett's gloriously funny, witty, and subversive (yes subversive) novella The Uncommon Reader. While the book is about ERII discovering the joy and pleasure in reading, it is also a celebration of the power of words. Little wonder HM's obsession with books and reading unsettles the rest of the household and the Prime Minister. Now if only more world leaders spent a little more time reading. Surely, this could only make the world a better place.