wanna stay in the loop?

The godfather of libraryland news and information sharing, Blake Carver, has a new endeavor: LISEvents. Sure, there are library conferences, workshops, and other activities listed all over the ‘net, but few of them look this good. As a bonus, in addition to event organizers listing their information, speakers can make themselves known by adding expertise and contact information.

I forsee LISEvents becoming the go-to place for event organizers, speakers, and audiences. So, jump on the train now before it leaves the station!

library lending with the Kindle

kindle with newspaper
Amazon Kindle

I’m sure by now that you’ve heard the Amazon announcement that they will be offering a service to allow libraries to lend books to Kindle users. Well, the thing that got this academic librarian excited is this line from the press release: “If a Kindle book is checked out again or that book is purchased from Amazon, all of a customer’s annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.”

One of the common complaints we received in our pilot programs using Kindles in the classroom was that because the students had to return the devices, they couldn’t keep the notes they had made in the texts. Of course, even with this model they won’t be able to access their notes without checking out the book again, but at least it’ll be an option for them.

Of course, there is a down side to this announcement — the lending will be facilitated by OverDrive.  Unless you’ve been a library news hermit for the past few years, you’ve heard the complaints (and very few praises) about the OverDrive platform, and the struggles of librarians and users in getting the materials checked out and downloaded to devices. I hope that because Amazon will be relying on their fantastic Whispersync technology to retain notes and bookmarks,it will just as easy to check out and download the Kindle books through OverDrive.

I went to a con…

This past weekend I went to my fourth RavenCon, the local science fiction slash fantasy slash gaming slash podcasting slash writing slash whatever convention. As I was getting ready to head over to the hotel for the first day, I reminded myself that there would be a lot of “attempts at conversations with socially awkward people” and I shouldn’t be too put off by this. As it turns out, there were far fewer of them than what I encountered at my first RavenCon, in part because I now have a “tribe” of folks that come regularly and with whom (for the most part) there are no awkward conversations.

In fact, I spent very little time participating in the con programming, and far more time talking with friends about anything and everything. So, I can’t really say whether this was a good RavenCon or not, except that for me, it was fantastic and more fun than I expected.

The Holiday Inn Koger Center renovated the lobby since last year, putting in a bar and lots of conversational seating groups. This became our default gathering space around meal times or between panels. At any given time, if I wandered out there, I’d see at least one person that I knew and wanted to hang out with.

I also found myself living the mantra of “where I am now is where I want to be.” Often when I am at conferences or conventions with many options of things to do and people to do them with, I will end up feeling like the option I didn’t choose would have been better, regardless of whether that is true or not. This time around, I managed to enjoy myself with most everything, at least, until the end when I was too tired to enjoy much of anything that wasn’t my bed and a darkened room.

That’s what I call a good con.

multitasking & efficient use of resources

Lukas Mathis wrote recently on his blog Ignore the Code about multitasking and what that means for humans versus computers. He made one point that resonated with me:

“The fact that the iPad only lets me see one app at a time often does not help me focus. Instead, it forces me to switch between apps constantly, thus preventing me from focusing on my task. Every time I have to deal with the iPad’s task switching, I’m interrupted.”

I noticed this when I was using the iPad at the last two conferences I attended. It was great for focusing my attention on the speaker and content, because I had to leave the note-taking app and open the Twitter app if I wanted to check on the back channel chatter. However, it was frustrating for that same reason, as it also meant that if I wanted to toss out a pithy quote from the presentation, it meant taking a chance on missing something important while I switched programs.

When I’ve had a laptop or netbook with me for note-taking, switching between programs was a simple keystroke that took a fraction of a second and barely any of my mental focus, and more often than not I could have Twitter and my note-taking program open side-by-side. While I was using only one resource at a time, by being able to switch between them quickly, I could “multi-task” efficiently.

Thankfully, I don’t often have need to do this on a mobile device like the iPad or my Android phone, so right now this isn’t a problem for me. However, if these types of interfaces become the new standard for computing, someone will need to find a way to allow for multiple screens running multiple programs that can be moved between with the flick of a finger. Otherwise, we will have even more problems focusing on the task at hand.