Tag Archives: CIL 2009

The trendy and the dead

6 Apr

Another CiL has come and gone, leaving in its wake longer Facebook friends lists, crowded Twitter feeds, numerous travel horror stories, and several gaggles of library folk who’re more informed and engaged than they were a week ago.* My Day 3 began with Michael Edson’s excellent keynote address detailing the insights he’s gained as the Director of Web and New Media Strategy for the Smithsonian, and ended in a Holiday Inn in Edison, NJ, quite further from home than I’d hoped to be. (But then, getting back to Ithaca can be difficult.)

Since the conference, I’ve found myself considering and reconsidering Amanda Etches-Johnson’s presentation during Tuesday evening’s Dead and Innovative Technologies session.  In a display of audience participation which warmed the cockles of this former teacher’s heart, she’d put the name of a technology up on the big screen and ask the audience if it was alive or dead. Unsurprisingly, “blogs”, “Twitter”, “Second Life”, and “information architecture” went up on the screen to be soundly and joyously declared deceased by the crowd, and Amanda concurred with their assessment.

But then, with the first two examples, she did something I found very interesting. She showed how the purposes of blogs and Twitter had become diluted in content and infested with corporate advertising, and noted that this proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that such things were no longer trendy.  And the part of me that used to teach LSAT prep perked up and said, “That’s a scope shift. Just because something’s not trendy doesn’t mean it’s dead.” And sure enough, then she showed a blog that was honest and interesting, and a helfpul Twitter conversation between a library and a patron. In cases like these, such tech doesn’t seem nearly so dead.

It’s easy, I think, when we play around with so much new tech, to mistake trendiness for viability.** It’s easy for library folk to forget that, by and large, we are not our target audience. Neglecting technology that our patrons might still be using because it’s not trendy is just another iteration of the mindset that gives us user-unfriendly OPACs that librarians think are awesome.  And considering that most studies of library presence in Facebook indicate that the kids don’t really want us there right now, maybe communication and networking technologies like these only become viable for libraries when they’re not trendy anymore.  

Finding the viability window for communication technology strikes me as one of the major issues that librarians need to grapple with in coming years, and Amanda and the other presenters did a great job of kicking folks’ brains into gear on the subject. And, it was fun to play RockBand with her.

* Based on extrapolation from a representative gaggle who’s posted to this effect on their various blogs.
** Of course, the fact that I’m still blogging and Twittering indicates that I’m clearly immune to this. Or slow. One of those.

CiL 2009, Day 2: Retrospective

1 Apr

Since I never seem to write these on the day itself…

Yesterday was theatrical. It began with a keynote interview with Paul Holdengraber, who’s bringing a magnificent sense of theatre to the NYPL, and ended with a boisterous panel on dead and innovative technologies who cursed and ranted and raved and challenged and generally played the audiences assumptions and biases like pros. (Which, I suppose, they were.) 

In between, I spent most of the day on the Open Libraries track, the highlights of which were Jessamyn West tempting me back to the verdant fields of Firefox add-ons and Shane Beers and Amy Buckland talking open access (and reassuring me that I’m not alone in dealing with the tribulations inherent in maintaining an academic institutional repository).

Amy also gave me a Library Society of the World banner for my badge. Rock.

Last night was also the first time I went on one of the semi-organized dine-outs, this one dedicated to taxonomies and folksonomies. The discussion of those issues ended up taking a backseat to more general chat and delicious tapas (and lots of chat about the delicious tapas), but it still made for a fun evening. This year involved a lot more networking for me, and I enjoyed the conference far more because of it.

And I ended up with two banners on my badge. I’m reasonably sure that’s how they keep score.

CiL2009, Day 1: A retrospective

31 Mar

This retrospective was supposed to be written and posted last night, but while delicious tapas and a pitcher of sangria have many virtues, the facilitation of effective blogging lies not amongst them. Instead, I’m typing this while waiting for the second day’s keynote (an interview which seems to involve at least one individual that I played RockBand with on Sunday) to begin.

Saw a number of interesting presentations yesterday; the two most interesting involved sharing code from your library and learning about academic library users, respectively. The first half of the latter described a study of students at the University of Maryland that, among other findings, happily noted that 54% of students used UMD’s ResearchPort system in their last batch of course-related research (with 35% using it first), while only 36% used Google (18% using it first). And they even put all the tools necessary to run a similar study in the conference materials, and put their prototype up on the web for us to look at. The second half involved an interesting discussion of user-generated social tagging of library resources.

The first presentation that really struck me, though, was from the University of Colorado’s Nina McHale, who talked about building widgets and other chunks of sharing code based on library resources, and allowing people to take that code and do with it what they will. It was one of those presentations that turns your brain inside out in a good way, because while we’ve snagged other folks’ embeddable code — most notably Meebo — we haven’t thought of building our own widgets for others to use. It’s an idea that I think may find a lot of traction back home, and I’m excited about exploring it.

Another fun note: I had a question for Nina, but I watching the clock told me that having to leave for my lunch committment would prevent me from asking it. On a lark, I looked for her in Facebook, found her, and — apologizing for the possible presumptuousness — asked my question via Facebook message. She not only answered it, but friended me… which made our accidental face-to-face meeting later that day all the more interesting.

I love living in the future.

Back to the beginning

30 Mar

Well, the beginning of this blog, anyway. CiL2008 inspired me to start this thing, so it’s exciting to be back at CiL2009. And not just because I got to regale librarians with RockBand renditions of “Call Me” and “Dead or Alive”.

Last year I took a tremendous amount of information back to Catherwood and Syracuse. The study that I talked about in one of the first posts here found its way into a major project for my planning, marketing and assessment class (and a number of minor assignments for others), not to mention informing my contributions to the Web & Digital Projects Group and the various committees I serve on in CUL.  And that’s only one presentation.

Hopefully, this year will top it.