Monday, 23 February 2009

Joker Slumdog Milks Oscar While Vicky Cristina Reads and Walle Makes His Departures

Well it HAS been a fun day. It’s always fun to watch the Oscars, especially if you are lucky enough to sit with one of the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Not that they can tell you who they voted for, that's a big no no. But wining an Oscar does change a person's life, if for no other reason than the fact the trophy is actually quite heavy. Who needs weights when you have an Oscar? (Trust me I have lifted one) God only knows how Philippe Petit balanced his Oscar on his forehead. I suspect this will become an Oscar legend.

If the blogs are anything to go by, it looks like most people: loved Hugh Jackman, especially his opening number, were very pleased Heath Ledger won the posthumous Oscar, and agreed the Slumdog kids were very cute. There was a BBC interview with these young kids over the weekend, and surprisingly they are still living in a slum in Mumbai! Though apparently they are now going to move into bigger homes.

Yet for me, the stand out in many ways was Jerry Lewis winning the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his fund raising on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In the USA, the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon has raised more than USD $2 billion since 1966! Now that is no mean feat.

Friday, 20 February 2009


It is interesting to see how sectors outside of libraries approach the capture and sharing of online content within the Social Web / Web 2.0 environment. This is especially true when it is a home grown initiative. I was therefore very interested to see that those clever guys at are at it again, though this time they are doing it with documentaries via a project called Docummunity.

"Docummunity encourages members to upload short video clips, photographs or original music based on a specific theme for use in a long form documentary. By contributing to the community, members will be afforded access to all the other uploaded media in order to make their own version of the film."

Last year on the best attended VALA general meetings was the presentation by Simon Goodrich (who is the President of the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association) and his business partner Andrew Apostola. Simon and Andrew explained how they are successfully using social media strategies to build online communities around online film content. They were also doing some interesting work with portable devices (i.e. blackberries and iPhones).

Libraries have been using social media to foster online communities for many years. For example, the State Library of Victoria's mc2: My Connected Community or their Inside a Dog book portal for teenagers. However, as libraries focus more and more on using multi-media online content we should be keeping an eye on what the film industry is doing with social media. And remember there is a growing evidence that Gen X and Co. are starting to use youTube over Google as a search engine. Are we seeing an emerging visual rather than text focused generation when it comes to information seeking. As libraries how are we going to respond to this? For background see:

  • Ping - At First, Funny Videos. Now, a Reference Tool., 18 January 2009. "YouTube is rapidly morphing into a popular search engine and a new entry point into the Web".

  • Is YouTube the Next Google? ReadWriteWeb, 18 November 2008 "In the first half of the 20th century, people grew up reading books and newspapers. Then there was a generation that grew up on movies and television. The last shift was to the Internet. And now web video is creating yet another generation."

Docummunity should also be supported because it is about sharing content and the democratisation of film content, as distinct from locking content away behind large multinational corporate barriers so it is difficult or expensive to reuse.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Government funding to support the creation of games and interactive content.

In these dire economic times it was interesting to hear this morning that the Australian Government through Enterprise Connect is providing $17 million Australian dollars over 4 years to fund a Creative Industries Innovation Centre. This centre will be based at the University of Technology, Sydney, and will support "small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in the creative industries sector improve their productivity and competitiveness by providing professional business advisory and development services. The Centre also builds collaboration between researchers and businesses, and assists creative businesses to access the latest technologies and market specific information."

This is of interest to libraries because the CIIC will assist Australian creative industries in the areas of publishing, writing, games, and interactive content. For Australian libraries more LOCAL interactive content can only be a good thing, right!

Gaming and interactive content is becoming more and more important in LibraryLand no matter where you are. For example, the American Library Association (ALA) has launched a number of initiatives around gamming and interactive content. For details, check out their News about Games and Gaming blog.

Look at the following image from the Australian ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) and see where libraries can fit in. I like the way CCI has mapped out the creative industry landscape, and from this diagram it is easy to see that libraries can fit into this space; either as part of the content industry sector, or the cultural industries sector.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation or CCI is lcated at the Queensland University of Technology. Partner Universities include Swinburne, University of Wollongong, and Edith Cowan University. There is a growing amount of information and presentations available on the CCI Wiki so it is definitely worth checking out. The CCI does work in a whole lot of areas that are of interest to libraries including: broadband policy, creative commons, creative workforce 2.0, digital futures and digital liberties, they even do work on standards and metadata.

So why all this fuss about interactive media and the creative industries. Well, it is very simple - its worth BIG bucks. Though be aware of 2007 research from the London Business School that identifies the problems that many sectors of the creative industries have in communicating value and therefore securing funding.

If you are interested, there is a free OECD publication from 2000 titled "The Creative Society of the 21st Century" [PDF File] while the more recent 2009 OECD publication "OECD Information Technology Outlook 2008" costs USD$ 149.00.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Yesterday Sundance, Today Berlin, Tomorrow the World

Yes, yes, I know it has nothing to do with libraries; but those who have followed this blog for some time will know of my previous blog on this topic.

Congratulations to my friends, the fabulous and talented Melanie and Adam, for the recognition their film Mary and Max received at the Berlin Film Festival. There was also a news story about Mary and Max in the Metro section of today's Age newspaper titled "Max Appeal".

Last year Mary and Max was the first Australian film ever to open the Sundance Film Festival. Onwards and upwards I say.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Mighty Book List Mashup

Like a quite a few people I was drawn to the ReadWriteWeb post titled "A Few Nights of Hacking Produces Reading Radar". Basically, in a very short period of time (with minimal resources but maximum smarts) a guy called John Herren has created a Mashup called Reading Radar.

From a library point of view what is exciting is that Reading Radar "lets you scan the New York Times top sellers and read reviews and related book information from Amazon; all without the distractions of other content on both the New York Times and Amazon sites."

How exciting is that! Check it out for your self. But image if more libraries started doing mashups like this! Image including geospatial stuff (like the sort of stuff Paul Hagon demonstrated at Information Online 2009 in Sydney), so that the mashup also showed if the books on the best seller list were in the library closest to you! Maybe OCLC should consider this sort of mashup in the next phase of the very impressive mobile phone interface for WorldCat.

John Herren is clearly very, very smart. There are some smart people in LibraryLand (e.g. Paul Hagon from the National Library of Australia) mashing up content and giving people a richer and more dynamic online library service, but we could always use more people like this.

For those who like to know the technical details I have lifted the following information from John Herren's blog. Reading Radar is a Mashup by John Herren. It is powered by The New York Times Best Sellers API, Amazon Web Services, JQuery, YUI, and the Maintainable Framework.

Information Online 2009: B3. Mashing Up the National Library of Australia

Life has been busy but I am determined to publish a record of the Information Online sessions that stood out for all the good as well as not so good reasons.

The address by Paul Hagon from the National Library of Australia stood out for all the right reasons.

For example, in Paul's Information Online 2009 abstract he asks the questions we should all be asking ourselves as we build more dynamic content based on API's, RSS feeds and tag clouds. "Are we creating an artificial barrier for entry to our collections by persisting with these interfaces and interactions? Are we building the interfaces for ourselves rather than our users? What type of interfaces can we design to break down these barriers and encourage entry into our collections?"

In answering these questions Paul used a number of case studies that showed what is possible away from the traditional library catalogue. The case studies are:

1. The Picture Australia redesign to improve the search by revising the way the search was presented and to offer relevance ranking in the search results.
2. The Picture Australia experiment to overcome the problem of bookmarking Picture Australia items without the interference of session details in the URL.
3. AskNow and API experiment so that AskNow participants could share bookmarks via Delicious.
4. The Then and Now mash-up, which experimented with using an institution’s online photo collection (in this case the Power House Museum's collection of historical photos of Sydney) mashed up with Google Maps Street view. See Paul's blog post "Powerhouse Street View Mashup" for details on this Now and Then project.

All these case studies either enhanced library productivity (as in the case of AskNow) or improved the way clients could use content.

It is interesting that while there are so many free APIs out there, libraries still seem to be a bit slow on the up take. Yes there are some people like Paul doing some remarkable stuff but this seems the exception rather than the rule. And a lot of this stuff is free for God's sake! There should be a stampede of librarians doing mashups, especially as not everything has to be as technical as the examples cited by Paul.

The question of mashing up as a new core competency for librarians was raised in Paul's Information Online 2009 session. Unfortunately a librarian from the floor confused this issue with the need for the profession to (quote) "focus on metadata". Go figure?!? Used wisely, Mashups have the potential to empower libraries and give us the opportunity to provide really rich and relevant content to clients. How many librarians, (especially those who have done
Learning 23 Things and the follow up Learning 2.1 programmes) have started using the power of mashups in their libraries? I know some have, but what about the rest? Time is ticking.


Click here for a copy of my notes with a podcast of the Pauls's address.

Click here to see what bloggers are saying about Paul Hagon. Paul's own blog is called... "Paul Hagon". Not very original I know, but there is some very, very good stuff on Paul's blog so it is worth checking out.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

iPhone Applications: by youngest and quantity

There was an interesting news item on the radio today about iPhone applications. Doodle Kids, which is a FREE iPhone application (designed for children) that lets you draw pictures on your iPhone screen. This application is in the top 10 iPhones by the number of downloads. Cute but so what, I hear you say. Well, the programmer is 9 years old! Talk about being a digital native.

The programmer is Lim Ding Wen from Singapore. He wrote the programme for his sisters. the software was originally written for the Apple IIGS and was then ported to iPhone with the original Super Hires colour palette. Ding Wen is also "an ActionScript and JavaScript programmer. He also understand Applesoft BASIC, GSoft BASIC, Complete Pascal, Orca/Pascal and a little Objective-C."

Amazing! There is a delightful video on YouTube of Ding Weng showing how his software works. See following for details.

Oh and by the way, I last blogged about the number of iPhone applications on 4 January 2009. At the time there were (according to almost 14,000 apps written for the iPhone. Now, a little over a month latter, there are over 21,000 iPhone apps of which 1,500 relate to books, another 1,500 relate to education, and 940 which relate to reference. Games (4,471 apps) and Entertainment (2,809 apps) represent somewhere in the vicinity of 35% of all iPhone apps. About 76% of all the iPhone apps cost less than USD $2.00 to download. I guess it is easy to see what is driving this market.

Information 2009: B2 Inside a Kid's Book Portal

Those who know me know I used to work at the State Library of Victoria, so you can understand my interest in the State Library's Centre for Youth Literature teenage reading portal called Inside a Dog.

Founded in 1991, and located at the State Library of Victoria since 1999, the Centre for Youth Literature is one of those hard working vital institutions that make Melbourne such an exciting and literary place. The Centre and its many activities also helped underpin Melbourne's success at being recognised as the second City of Literature as part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.

But back to Inside a Dog. This has become Australia's number one website about books for teenagers. According to the io2009 presentation Inside a Dog also has a significant global audience. "It promotes Australian and international young adult literature in a language (and format) that young people understand. It features news, book reviews, a writer-in-residence blog, author interviews, links, competitions and lots of opportunity for contributions from young readers."

The success behind Inside a Dog is that it:

A. Lets its audience take some control. While the content is monitored for inappropriate use, Inside a Dog encourages it's audience to be creative.

B. It provides lots of opportunities for its audience to participate. They can blog. For example, they can blog about books they like and don't like, though I must admit the number of blog posts seem a bit low. Maybe in the summer school holidays things go a bit quite. The target audience can also participate in competitions, surveys, check out featured books, grab downloads, and engage online with a writer in residence.

The Inside a Dog presentation at Information Online was uplifting and positive, and demonstrates what is possible when the target audience is allowed to run with something. In this case it is a strategy that has worked. Inside a Dog should also to be congratulated for encouraging teenagers to read.

In case you are wondering where the name Inside a Dog comes from, well apparently Groucho Marx once said "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside a dog it is too dark to read."


Click here for a copy of my notes with a podcast of the Inside a Dog presentation.

Bloggers don't appear to be saying anything about the Inside a Dog presentation. Pity, it was a good presentation.

Click here [PDF file] to access Linda Angeloni and Lili Wilkinson Information Online 2009 paper titled "Engaging Students Online at the State Library of Victoria".

Friday, 13 February 2009

Libraries Helping Bush Fire Devastated Communities

Even though the threat of the devastating Victorian Bush fires is not over, it is fantastic to see that the local libraries are already considering the ways they can assist in rebuilding the effected communities. According to the local library email traffic "Local Government Victoria is working with affected councils on a range of resourcing, service and infrastructure issues, including libraries." This is encouraging, as it recognises the role all libraries (but especially public libraries) play in community building. The need for a FREE PUBLIC place (a third place) where people can come together, access and share information, or just be, is important in any community. For communities that have been so devastated it is vitally important.

However, to meet the more immediate needs of the effected communities, I agree with Julian Shortland (a Sydney based Library Technician) who emailed the following:

"One thing public libraries can do ASAP is ensure their IT people remove their blocks on Web 2.0 services such as Facebook, Myspace, bebo, etc to allow users who's PCs have been destroyed to post updates that they are still alive to put their friends' minds at rest, and to see if their friends have also survived. While many survivors may have their mobile phones and PDAs, they do not have their chargers, so these devices are now flat. Also, needs to be unlocked to allow people to access MSN, Yahoo, AIM, ICQ and similar chat products without installing extra software."

It is ironic that while librarians are busy talking about how to use Web 2.0 technology and how to encourage social networking and community building, that so many of their local IT departments are busy blocking these things. I know of more than one Chief Librarian who complains of the obstacles their Council IT department puts in front of them; blocking them from offering social networking services.

It begs the question why, and I guess this can be divided into three broad categories:

A. Trying to keep bandwidth costs down,
B. Risk mitigation; protecting the local council against the "misuse" of the Internet terminals in public libraries, and
C. It is easier to say no than to make things happen.

But does it have to be all or nothing? Is there are smarter third way that opens up the use of social networking / Web 2.0 services in public libraries while still putting some parameters around things? Regional Library Services (where they control their own networks) appear to be more flexible in this respect. Rather than block things, maybe a better approach is to open up services within a code of conduct framework that patrons are asked to first sign up to. Monitoring and blocking patrons when they then breach the code of conduct would help protect against misuse. I am reminded of the ALA's Report to President-Elect Obama [PDF file], which asks now President Obama to:

* Support legislation and fund programs that include Internet safety education, as opposed to Internet blocking and filtering;
* Oppose any further filtering/blocking requirement for the E-rate and other programs; assure protection of First Amendment rights and other civil liberties in the online/digital environment;
* Support vigorous enforcement of existing child pornography laws; increase public awareness about reporting child porn and other illegal Internet activities.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

WorldCat on my mobile phone

When I have not been busy with a digitisation project at work, and (in my own time) my other library profession activities, trying to wade through my Information Online 2009 notes, and getting over the shock of the weekend heat wave and devastating bush fires; I have been checking out the OCLC's mobile WorldCat. This is a WorldCat interface designed specifically for a mobile phone. I have been testing the mobile WorldCat in Australia with my iPhone

According to OCLC, with this interface you can:

* Search for library materials
* Find a WorldCat library near you
* Call a library — Highlight and click the phone number in a library listing to place a call, and
* Map a route — Find the fastest way to a WorldCat library using the mapping software already on your device.

So how does it shape up? Well, from the outset let me say that OCLC has done a great job in developing a very clear and easy to use interface that fits neatly onto the iPhone. While the iPhones has a large screens as far as phones go, there is a lot less real estate to play around on the iPhone than a lap top or PC. The Mobile WorldCat could have ended up messy and cluttered but on an iPhone it is not.

As you can hopefully see from the following sequence of images. I used the mobile WorldCat interface to do a keyword search on Peter Hall's remarkable, magisterial, and seminal work "Cities in Civilization". Mobile WorldCat brought up 1,542 hits with Sir Peter's work on the top of the list. Even though there is limited screen space on a mobile phone, the mobile WorldCat interface still provides room for a thumbnail of the front cover.

It was then very clear on the Mobile WorldCat interface to see where I should click if I wanted to see related books (with very good results), related subjects (again right on topic), or find a library in my area so I could borrow the book. In addition, Mobile WorldCat also allows me to email a title link or a formatted citation direct from my phone.

So far so good, but does mobile WorldCat find a local library if I live outside of the USA? Well, the good news is (to paraphrase Obama) yes it does! It certainly works in Melbourne Australia, and that is about as far away as you can get from OCLC's home in Dublin Ohio. I entered my Australian postcode (zipcode) and up came a list of local public and academic libraries, as well as the State Library of Victoria, which is located very close by in the city centre. Top of this list of local libraries was the closest library, i.e. my local Stonnington Public Library Service.

As you can hopefully see from the series of images, it was then very easy to either use the link on Mobile WorldCat interface to go directly to my public library's catalogue record for this title so I could enter an online reservation; or (when choosing the "Get more Library Information" link) find out the more details about this library. What was really good; is that it did not just give me general information about my local library service, I actually got specific information about the closest branch! It was then very easy to click on a link which launched Google Maps on my iPhone, which then showed me where I was, where the closest library was, and drew a route on the map to tell me how to get there. As you can also see from the last of the images, the library's phone number was hyperlinked, so I could have clicked on the phone link and my iPhone would have dialed the number directly.

It must be early days, because as of 11 Feb 2009 there are only 85 hits when I searched Google blogs for posts relating to "mobile AND phone AND worldcat", but this service looks fantastic on my iPhone, it is very easy to use, it does what it says, and it is great to search the catalogues of my local libraries from my phone. And no, I am not being paid to say this.

Now, if there was a way of linking in my local library's online full text database offerings and federated search engines via my iPhone life would be wonderful. Oh well, Rome was not built in a day.

Click here to view blog postings about the mobile phone interface for WorldCat, and try it out for yourself.

As of February 2009 the WorldCat mobile phone interface is compatible with these phones and mobile operating systems:

* Windows Mobile 5.0
* Blackberry
* Palm OS 5.4 or later
* Apple iPhone
* Nokia
* MIDP 2.0, CLDC 1.1 Java

Monday, 9 February 2009

Information Online 2009: Presentation B1

Credit should go to ProQuest / Serial Solutions for their ongoing research into what academics and students THINK of academic libraries, as distinct from whether they actually USE their academic library’s online resources. Both John Law and Jane Burke gave very good presentations at Information Online 2009 (io2009), but this post is about John's address, so on with the show.

As John put it, "the academic library's brand is impeccable. It is the first choice among students and faculty members alike when they must locate high quality research materials". Yet when it comes to the online offerings, academics and students appear to be turning away from the library, with "users... willing to sacrifice the quality of the search results in favor of a pleasant search experience" i.e. they are using Google rather than the library.

This contradiction (users liking the library but turning to Google rather than the library's online offering when doing research) has been discussed for some time, yet it remains an important topic of discussion and concern for any library who's focus is supporting research. The challenge for libraries is not to compete with Google (we have lost that battle a long time ago) but to mark out a space where the library can offer quality results from within a pleasant search experience.

I was pleased that John mentioned the "Ithaka's 2006 Studies Of Key Stakeholders In the Digital Transformation In Higher Education". This is an excellent report and I (along with a lot of other people) blogged about it in 2008. The Ithaka report has certainly generated a fair bit of discussion as it raises some interesting and troublesome findings. Findings that have been confirmed in the ProQuest / Serials Solutions research.

To get an understanding of how troublesome, check out the article Google Books vs. BISON from the Library Journal in June 2008. This article outlines how Google Books beat a university library's new online catalogue hands down. This is even more worrisome when you consider John Law's findings that academics and students use Google much more than they use Google Scholar or Google Books. These type of findings put the research library's online catalogue well down the list of resources clients are using.

Yet there is a positive note in Mark J. Ludwig & Margaret R. Wells Library Journal article that relates back to John Law's presentation. As a result of their work comparing their catalogue with Google Books, Mark and Margaret's library "plan[s] to implement a project similar to Google's “did you mean” tool to overcome spelling problems. [They] are also planning a regular monitoring program for “no hit” searches, with the goal of increasing overall results."

I also found their conclusion interesting and positive. They go on to say that (I have highlighted some bits):

"Our study also points out the necessity for librarians to investigate aggressively and stay abreast of disruptive technology and build it into new services wherever possible. Libraries and librarians must constantly be attuned to patrons' behavior; we need to consider how we can use our unique qualities and collections to everyone's advantage. The bar has been raised. The maturing Internet and evolving array of Web 2.0 services has turned our customer base into what many have called a “Google Generation.” We can debate that moniker, but, clearly, no one is calling this the “Academic Library Generation.” Our BISON catalog may not be extinct, but it is being hunted down by the competition. As in nature, libraries had best adapt, change quickly, and build on past successes."

Google might be bigger than us, but we don't have to take it lying down. :-)


Click here for a copy of my notes with a podcast of John's address.

Click here to see what bloggers are saying about John Law's presentation.

Click here to access John's inforamtion Online 2009 paper titled "Academic Libraries and the Struggle to Remain Relevant: Why Research is Conducted Elsewhere".

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Eye tracking and Good Web Design

I was in a meeting last Friday that was looking at the design of a new blog, when someone asked about best practice in relation to how people view and use web interfaces. Everything that I have ever seen or read suggests that if you draw a line from the top right hand side of the page to the bottom left hand side; users will invariably view everything to the left of the line (the upper left hand side) much more readily than the content on the right hand side of the line (the lower right hand side).

I was therefore interested to see that Google has recently blogged about the outcomes of their eye tracking study. Look at the following image from this study and you can see that most viewing is in the upper left hand side.

For obvious reasons this is often known as the "golden triangle" and it forms part of good web design. See the following examples.

While there is nothing really new in this Google study (Stephen Abram for example has blogged about eye ball tracking thermals and web usability for years) it is interesting that web designers still get this wrong. For example, have a look at the National Gallery of Victoria web site. All the core information and navigation paths are placed on the page in the very places people don't check out first; and the parts of the page where people do tend to look is blank.

Not that I want to pick on the National Gallery of Victoria, but they have won awards for their online offers. Go figure!?! I guess (like this Oscars) this demonstrates you can win awards for excellence and not actually perform. Did you know that Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, and Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar, and I bet you have never heard of some of the films which have won an Oscar.

But back to the Google eye tracking study, it is good to see that Google is still interested in "design[ing] a subtle user interface that gives people helpful information without getting in the way of their primary task: finding relevant information." Now if only more people took this approach.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Information Online 2009: Keynote - Sherman Young

I missed Dr Sherman Young's address in late 2008 at the NLS4 conference titled "Bring out your Dead: The role of books in a post web 2.0 world", so it was interesting to hear him give the first keynote at io2009 (Information Online) titled "The Trouble with Books: Finding their place in a Web 2.0 world".

Skilfully and playfully using the formulaic narrative style found in great ORAL epics such as Homer's Iliad or the Torah; and playfully giving a sideways glance to Julian Barn's A History of the World in 10½ Chapters; Sherman was entertaining (as well as informative) as he explored the development of oral communication through to print culture and then onwards to broadcast and online communications.

So after demonstrating that the written word was not always in the ascendency, Sherman then posed the question - what role is there for book and book culture in today's online, Web 2.0, multimedia, and infobyte world?

Of course Sherman quite rightly points out there is a big difference between print culture, which is also online though often in a non-linear bit format; and books, which are often (but not always) structured as long linear narratives. However, Sherman's suggestion for the role of the ‘book’ in the future was a bit like the slow food movement's answer to fast food - books slow things down and allow for the development of long and hopefully considered discourse. People will still value books / eBooks because they are better than fast facts.

Those who know my cooking know where I stand in the slow food debate, and you only have to look at my LibraryThing profile to see my love of books. However, I worry that if we rely too much on books and slowing "things down", we may end up maintaining a small boutique position in the information future. While this small boutique position will be lovely and charming; and while we may maintain the community's goodwill through an aura of nostalgia for a simpler and bookish past, we may also run the risk of being second class citizens in the information future.

Ahh... I hear you say, now you are just being controversial for the sake of being controversial (well yes a little) because you will say quite rightly that libraries have also embraced database and lots and lots of online services which are not like books. But who are the real dominate powers in this information age - libraries or Google and YouTube? Today, are libraries mainstream or boutique in the online information world? Mmmmm.

It was therefore good that Sherman raised the question of why we have books when we have Google. Sherman used Google and the Telstra Bigpond ad that explains that "the great wall of China was built to keep out the rabbits" to demonstrate that "the internet has a wealth of information but (to its detriment) it ignores the content that exists in books". Google (and Bigpond) don't necessarily answer the question, but they do give you lots of results. Yes there is Google Books, but as Sherman explains, they are hidden to most Internet users who do not look beyond the first couple of search results.

So will the development of ebooks save books, or will we (to quote Sherman) continue to confuse book culture with print culture? And given the fact that libraries and librarians are so intertwined with books and print culture, what does this mean for us?

I was very pleased that Sherman specifically mentioned Joseph Schumpeter and his theory of Creative Destruction, as this is a particularly good way of explaining the impact of disruptive technology and possibilities it gives new players to gain the ascendency over established monopolies. Think IBM in the ascendency (growth of personal computers) Microsoft in the ascendency (the emergence of the Internet) Google in the ascendency - future - who knows. But what Sherman forgot to mention is that intrinsically tied in to Schumter's theory of creative destruction is the role of the entrepreneur. This is important as the technology alone is not enough. for example, Betamax was arguably technically better than V.H.S but V.H.S still won the day.

There has been a lot of research into what makes a good entrepreneur, but unfortunately they tend to display all the characteristics you don't often see (and sometimes don't want to see) in librarians. Entrepreneurs tend to be big picture people, fast moving, they don't like getting bogged down in detail, they often like working in disorder, they don't like rules and structures, and they don't like being told they can't do something. Of course librarians can be entrepreneurial, but does this sound like the characteristics of a typical librarian? Face it, we love rules and structures, and as a rule we distruct disorder.

One could (and some do) devote entire blogs to the theory and best practice around entrepreneurship, but to be brief consider this: the OECD thinks it is so important they have "launched an Entrepreneurship Indicators Programme (EIP) to collect internationally-comparable statistics on entrepreneurship and its determinants". If you are interested (and you should be) go to:

Personally, I hope books (and librarians) are, to quote Monty Python, "Not dead yet", but to survive in an ever faster changing world we need to understand how to utilise emerging disruptive technologies. We also need to be even more resourceful and entrepreneurial. Sherman's address was positive while still raising all the questions we need to ask ourselves, but we need to act. To paraphrase Sherman quoting Alan Kay: "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."


Click here for a copy of my notes with a podcast of the Sherman's address.

Click here to see what bloggers are saying about Sherman Young. Sherman's own blog is called "The Book is Dead".