IL2009: Technology: The Engine Driving Pop Culture-Savvy Libraries or Source of Overload?


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Speaker: Elizabeth Burns

Technology and pop culture drive each other. Librarians sometimes assume that people using technology like smart phones in libraries are wasting time, both theirs and ours, but we really don’t know how they are using tech. Librarians need to learn how to use the tech that their user community employs, so don’t hinder your staff by limiting what tech they can use while in the workplace.

Libraries also have the responsibility to inform users of the services and technology available to them. Get the tools, learn how to use them, and then get to work building things with them.

Your library’s tech trendspotting group needs more than just the techie people. Get the folks who aren’t as excited about the shiny to participate and ask questions. Don’t let the fear of Betamax stop you – explore new devices and delivery methods now rather than waiting to find out if they have longevity. You never know what’s going to stick.

Speaker: Sarah Houghton-Jan

"Information overload is the Devil"

Some people think that it didn’t exist before mobile phones and home computers, but the potential has always existed. Think about the piles of books you’ve acquired but haven’t read yet. Information overload is all of the piles of things you want to learn but haven’t yet.

"We have become far more proficient in generating information than we are in managing it…"

Librarians are more equipped to handle information overload than most others. Manage your personal information consumption with the same kind of tools and skills you use in your professional life.

Some of the barriers to dealing with information overload are: lack of time or (a perceived lack of time), lack of interest or motivation, not being encouraged/threatened by management, not knowing where to start, and frustration with past attempts. Become like the automatic towel dispensers that have the towels already dispensed and ready to be torn off as needed.

Inventory your inputs and devices. Think before you send/subscribe. Schedule yourself, including unscheduled work and tasks. Use downtime (bring tech that helps you do it). Stay neat. Keep a master waiting list of things that other people "owe" you, and then periodically follow-up on them. Weed, weed, and weed again. Teach others communication etiquette (and stick to it). Schedule unplugged times, and unplug at will.

RSS/Twitter overload: Limit your feeds and following, and regularly evaluate them. Use lists to organize feeds and Twitter friends. Use RSS when applicable, and use it to send you reminders.

Interruptive technology (phone, IM, texts, Twitter, etc): Use them only when they are appropriate for you. Check it when you want to, and don’t interrupt yourself. Use your status message. Lobby for IM or Twitter at your workplace (as an alternative to phone or email, for the status message function & immediacy). Keep your phone number private. Let it ring if you are busy. Remember that work is at work and home is at home, and don’t mix the two.

Email: Stop "doing email" — start scheduling email scanning time, use it when appropriate, and deal with it by subject. Keep your inbox nearly empty and filter your messages. Limit listservs. Follow good email etiquette. Delete and archive, and keep work and personal email separate.

Physical items: Just because you can touch it, doesn’t mean you should keep it. Cancel, cancel, cancel (catalogchoice.org). Weed what you have.

Multimedia: Choose entertainment thoughtfully. Limit television viewing and schedule your entertainment time. Use your commute to your benefit.

Social networking: Schedule time on your networks. Pick a primary network and point other sites towards it. Limit your in-network IM.

Time & stress management: Use your calendar. Take breaks. Eliminate stressful interruptions. Look for software help. Balance your life and work to your own liking, not your boss’s or your spouse’s.

[Read Lifehacker!]

NASIG 2008: Information Shadows – Ubiquitous Computing Serializes Everyday Things


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Presenter: Mike Kuniavsky

Thinks about how technology and people interact with each other, and how the technological side can be made more interesting or better for the user.

Ubiquitous computing was coined to describe computers that are woven into every day life to the extent that they are indistinguishable from it. The power of technology should not be limited to viewing the world through its limited frame.

When something is cheap, you can have more than one, and with specific and varied uses. This is also a way of thinking of computer and networking technology. When processors were expensive, they had to serve multiple uses. Now that processing power is cheap, we have a wide array of products with different functions which all use these inexpensive processors.

When machine read-able code is meshed with human interface devices such as mobile phones, we are able to deliver even more information than what can be put on the packaging. Metadata can be attached to anything!

When Amazon expanded ISBN to ASINs, it allowed anyone to point to the “handle” for any object sold by Amazon. We can now grab that handle and toss it around as we wish.

For Kuniavsky, a serial is an agreement between a consumer and a publisher who provides a particular type of information in the form of a soft-cover book that arrives regularly in the mail. The paper manifestation of the agreement is one way it is fulfilled, but it’s not the only way.

A time-share condo is like a journal. The form and usage period is fixed, and the occupants are variable. (In this case, it’s as though the time-share condo is subscribed to you.) You own the possibility of an object with some rights to it forever. A vacation club changes the dynamic to owning the right to request a class of things that changes in a way that is predictably different.

Until recently, the logistics of sharing objects has been complex, unless the people involved were highly motivated. Ubiquitous computing gives us the ability to track, trade, and share objects in a way we never could before. Bag Borrow or Steal is a designer bag sharing site. It’s sort of like Netflix for the fashion-obsessed purse fiends.

The trackable metadata of physical objects that allow them to be converted to subscriptions. Technology enables these relationships to be embedded and automated. We are shifting from the ownership of objects to access to them.

Technologists often leave out the information management aspects when talking about the wonders of technology. Librarians and information managers understand how to deal with the digital representations of physical objects. We need to think about how our can work apply to the serialization of everyday objects.

The world needs shadow wranglers.