The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Monday, February 18, 2002

Christine says, "Hmmm... love memes, can't think of any library ones though. Except the fact that there are a lot of lion statues in front of libraries!"

True! The first submission to my call for library-related memes, although as Christine points out, it's not really a meme. I even carried the theme through on my Librarians' Site du Jour though, lo those many moons ago. Thanks for the post, Christine!

C'mon, librarians. I know today was a Monday, but we can do better than one submission! Or don't we have any library memes?

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Wow - 1930+ hits today, and I'm #15 on the DayPop Top 40! Behold, the power of Dave!
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Mobile Phones Morph Into Credit Cards

"Beginning in March, mobile-telecommunication company Vodafone Group will offer its U.K. customers the ability to use their mobile phones as a type of mobile credit card for making small purchases online. Users can use the m-pay bill service to buy items priced from $0.07 to $7 over the Internet or using a WAP phone, Vodafone spokesperson Janine Young says. The service will charge the purchases to users' phone bills or deduct the charges from their prepaid accounts, Young says....

Payment is authorized by a user name and password for Internet purchases and a PIN number for WAP purchases, the companies say. When users make purchases on the Internet, they do not need to have their mobile phones with them, Vodafone says.... When Vodafone launches its m-pay service in March it will have competition from, which began in Germany in May 2000 and is now operational in the U.K., Austria, Spain, and Sweden." [PC World]

Definitely a big step towards viable micropayments, and yes I know they've had this in Scandinavia for some time now. Can anyone tell me if any libraries in the U.K. or Scandinavia are - or will be - signed on to this service in order to allow patrons to pay for fines, printouts, registrations, etc., this way?

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For Bruce: Excellent Hacks to the ReplayTV 4000 [Slashdot]

Cool stuff, which shouldn't be illegal if you're watching the programs yourself and not giving them away to others (one shifted person's opinion). Of course, doing any of these things could land you in jail these days, strung up by the thumbs, thanks to the DMCA.

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In addition to Dave's great mention, I found out that the estimable Walt Crawford mentions my blog in the March issue of Cites & Insights. Walt finds the time to put together this publication each month and make it available on the Web as a PDF. I, on the other hand, spout my thoughts daily in my blog, sometimes by the minute. It's a telling difference, but only of preferred technique. It's the difference between print newspaper articles and Hyde Park. Both are valid and stimulating, and in our ideas, we're both right and we're both wrong.

I totally agree with Walt on that last point. The only reason I don't include him on my list of Shifted Librarians is because he doesn't have a blog. I read the first three issues of C&I religiously. I printed out the next few, but didn't get around to reading them - my fault, not Walt's. In general, I just don't read "magazines" anymore, either in reality or virtual reality. I get slices of news, information, commentary, and insight wherever I see it. It's pushed and pulled to me on a daily basis. And yes, I have the infamous, god-given, stereotypical, short attention span of Gen X-ers, so I don't find myself sitting still long enough to read all of C&I.

But don't you think for one minute that I don't regret that. I know I'm missing valuable information and commentary, especially the type that would temper my natural enthusiasm for all things gadget. I think I'm one librarian, and I think Walt is one librarian.

And Walt, inquiring minds want to know - would you argue with "stodgy" or "technophobic?" And thanks for noting my little corner of cyberspace, Mr. Not-So-Conservative-After-All.  ;-)

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Words of the Year 2001

"An annual feature here: Words of the Year 2001 from the American Dialect Society. The "Word of the Year" was, unsurprisingly, '9-11.' " [Backup Brain]

Librarians love this kind of stuff. However will I work "Netwallah" and "cuddle puddle" into my daily lingua franca?

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I've gotten a lot of comments today about my theory about Web services in libraryland. Most folks think that it's overkill for what I'm suggesting, but I'd like to first point out that when I say "Web services," I mean user-friendly, standards-compliant, DIY Web services like Dave does, not the kind of behemoth Microsoft is talking about.

So given that disclaimer, I recognize that yeah, WS is probably overkill for just displaying what amounts to statistics on a Web page, although I like the idea of not having to refresh the page in order to view the most current stats. I guess I still don't understand enough about this topic, so can somebody please help me out? If it isn't applicable or appropriate in my sphere of work, that' s fine, but I don't want to miss the boat on this, and I hate feeling like there's something I could do better or more efficiently if only I understood how.

So what would be a good application of WS in libraryland?

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Dave, Doc, and John are all understandably upset about the blog article in Wired today. I totally understand this, especially because I hate it when people mis-quote me, take my comments out-of-context, or just "don't get it."

Having said this though, I'd like to respectfully note that the article, combined with the Dvorak article, and the NPR piece give me a starting point for discussing blogs in my organization. I know it doesn't make sense to use such woefully ignorant articles as a basis and that it's not fair to present the concept of blogging (and K-logging) from this foundation, but most of the people I deal with couldn't care less about blogs or reviews from online sources.

That's why I called all of this new PR a "tipping point," because now I can show these people something that they will read, rather than a technical article or an online message about blogging written by a blogger.  Their eyes will glaze over unless it's on NPR, and even Wired is pushing it for them.

In fact, I was in a department meeting this morning where those of us who care about blogging at all were far outnumbered by those who don't.  This gives me something to prove to them that it's going beyond "techies" and yes, they should care. Now there are people where I work that will suddenly start listening when I advocate blogging. Yes, it's sad, but we've got 5,999,800,000 other people to convince, and I'll take all the help I can get because the last few holdouts will be found in my organization.

So be upset, but also realize that now you (and me) have an even greater platform from which to preach and set the record straight.

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I Stand Corrected: Reading 4,934 Pages of Franzen as an E-Book

Kids that grow up on GameBoys might have no problem reading books on a device that small, but the current generation of adults?  Naw. Well, hold up... wait a minute.

Tom Peters sent a link to this article to the eBooks mailing list, and it's definitely worth a read, especially for Walt.  ;-)  (Special note for Walt later tonight.)  It's an article from the January 31, 2002, Publishers Weekly in which Edward Nawotka recounts his experience reading eBooks on his Palm. It's an eye-opener even for me because I've never bought into the idea that folks will read whole books on a device that small. I believe mightily in eBooks in general, just not on small PDAs or for the current generation. Considering that the numbers for Palm Digital Media keep going up (not meteoric, but up), I guess I'll have to revise my thinking, too.

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There is currently a discussion on the WebAIM mailing list about getting an "approved" icon from Bobby's online tester for accessibility. Heads up that you should change the settings to test for Section 508 compliance rather than using the WCAG 1.0 setting if you want to get an "approved" icon.
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AvantGo all but kills custom channels

" 'Effective February 20, 2002, AvantGo Mobile Internet Service will be changing our custom channel policy. Our new Custom Channel policy is to limit access to a maximum of 8 users for most custom channels unless the content publisher has an agreement with AvantGo. Please attempt to re-subscribe to the custom channel through our website after February 20 to be one of 8 users who continues to receive the custom channel content. If you find that you can no longer subscribe to your favorite custom channel, please email the content publisher at their support email address and let them know you would like to access their content through AvantGo.' What AvantGo fails to mention in their suggestion to contact the publisher and ask for an official AvantGo channel is that such channels cost $5,000 once you hit 5,000 users with a per subscriber cost after the initial 5,000." []

ILA RTSF, here's the official word handed down. What if you don't have 5,000 subscribers and you don't have $5,000? I guess we'll have to investigate making PDA-compatible pages now, coded for legibility on screens of that size. I don't understand why Avantgo would take themselves out of the market like this. Any education or government discounts?

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The University of Wichita's Software Usability Research Laboratory has posted several eye-opening studies over the last few years in their Usability News newsletter, but I hadn't seen the one titled Examining User Expectations for the Location of Common E-Commerce Web Objects. Although it's aimed squarely at e-commerce sites, it does provide interesting insights into where library Web sites and online catalogs may want to place common objects such as the "help" link, the search box, and links back to the home page. I'll definitely be giving this the once-over (along with their other articles) when I start designing the interface for the SLS Portal.
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I'm getting a lot of extra hits today because Dave was nice enough to call this "one of the best of the new Radio 8 sites." Thanks, Dave! I even made it onto the Daypop Top 40!

Therefore, I am going to again take this opportunity to highlight Why You Should Fall to Your Knees and Worship a Librarian.  :-)

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Yet another Very Special Episode of BusinessWeek that examines AOL/Time Warner - One Year After. The lead article is titled An Unfinished Revolution and the blurb reads:

"Yes, it's only one year since the vaunted merger of AOL and Time Warner. Still, the obstacles are greater -- and the payoff further away -- than Case & Co. expected."

What a coincidence that my update of Trillian magically started working with AOL's AIM again today after several days of NOT working.  What timing....

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BusinessWeek has what looks to be a very interesting "Special Report" about the cellular industry titled Crisis Mode. It's got the standard hyperbolic headlines, many of which echo the NY Times articles from last week, but these are the articles that I plan to read tonight when I have more time:

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I'm finally starting to get a handle on the potential value of Web services. Not the technical side of it mind you, because that will come later, but this morning I was reading What the *&%*$@!! Are Web Services? (And Why You Should Care) in Business 2.0 when I had my first lightning bulb for how to apply this in libraryland (specifically, my libraryland).

Here's my thought: my Library System runs a shared online catalog for 77 libraries in Chicago's south suburbs. Each day, compiled reports are sent to the members listing interlibrary loan requests, overdue notices, etc. Some things aren't sent to them on a daily basis, like reciprocal borrowing statistics, daily cumulative circulation statistics, and the like. Now I believe the muscle behind the database is SQL with proprietary software on top of it, but SQL none-the-less.

Here's my theory: can I use Web services to show real-time statistics from the database instead of sending out the compiled reports? Can I use Web services to show cumulative, real-time statistics on a Web page my libraries could view when they are logged in to my extranet? I think so. But for those of you in the know, does this sound like a reasonable implementation of WS?

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Doh!  Wired beat me to it.  I was getting ready to write something about blogging in which I noted that "weblogs have now crossed a tipping point."  Instead, that there is a quote from a Wired article titled Blah, Blah, Blah and Blog. It also points to a site I hadn't seen before (excuse the language):

"Linabury is more blunt on the subject. He has created a site that keeps a log of dead weblogs -- it's called Fucked Weblog, in homage to Fucked Company -- and he thinks that people don't realize how hard it is to do good blog."

Which makes something like the h20boro lib blog all the more impressive.  :-)

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Record Labels' Answer to Napster Still Has Artists Feeling Bypassed

"This means that the artist gets on average less than 15 percent instead of 50 percent. But, out of that, 35 to 45 percent is deducted for standard CD expenses like packaging and promotional copies expenses that obviously don't exist in the online world.

As one rock manager computes it, if a consumer buys the standard Gold Plan on Pressplay, paying $19.95 for 75 songs downloaded to a hard drive and 750 streamed so that they can be heard only once, an artist, after these deductions, gets $.0023 per song downloaded. To earn a penny, more than four songs must be downloaded.... The arguments the labels are using, said Jill Berliner, a leading music lawyer, are exactly the ones Napster made. 'And, from our perspective, if the technology is going to be out there and the artist isn't really going to make money, we'd prefer that our fans just get it for free,' she said.

To try to avoid future protests, most major labels have added a clause to their standard recording contracts allowing the label to sell an act's songs on the Internet, including all subscription and pay-per-use services. It is very difficult, said Mr. Stiffelman, for a new band to have enough leverage to remove this clause from its contract." [The New York Times: Technology]

Nope, no monopolies here.... it's all about the artists.  Nothing to see here.... just move along....

I hope the record companies can't wiggle out of this one.

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