The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Sunday, November 17, 2002

More Great Postings than You Can Shake a Stick at

You should go read through the last few days of postings at both Library Techlog and Mobile Burn because each has several interesting posts tto which I can adequately link to and do justice.

At LT, Matt has this great observation among many others:

"I'm always a bit undecided about which term truly deserves the capital letter: Information? Knowledge? Truth? Why is it that there is a Science of Information, but Knowledge only needs Management? Weinberger seems to think that there are two things we mean when we talk about information. One sounds like ready-reference information, like the kind of trivia that seems to be fairly easy to find from Google. The other, which I think is perhaps intended to be Information with the capital is, 'a reality-based picture of the world.' This is a lot like what I would call Knowledge, information that fits into the context, that maps with the other pieces of a world view. Really I think Information Science is about the process, how information becomes Knowledge. We're alchemists who really can turn base materials into gold. That's the analysis we provide, the organization, the value-add, placing the information we provide in context.

The flip side of this is that we can, and do, dole out information, no capital required. We can do this because we are experts in process and context. That's why we have reference interviews: so we can understand the context for the request. We can move between the context of the asker to the contexts of resources of all varieties. We can pull information from resources print and electronic, because we can understand the context the information resides in as well as how it might fit into the asker's world view.

Weinberger doesn't want to deal with information, but he does like context (and contact.) While I don't mind information much, I have to agree that it's the context/contact that really interests me."

Over at MB, Michael highlights a DoCoMo phone with a 3D display, a new Samsung PalmOS smartphone, Qualcomm's new MSM6300 chipset that allows GSM/CDMA roaming, Nokia's N-Gage (which looks like a Gameboy Advance!), and more.

Damn - online for less than six hours and I'm already back in gadget lust.

11:17:56 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

RFID Going Mainstream

Gillette Buys Half a Billion RFID Tags

"Slashdot is carrying a story this morning on Gillette's intent to purchase a huge batch of RFID tags from Alien Technology:

The company expects to introduce RFID tags into its pallets and cases, according to the article. Alien Technology was the first company to introduce an RFID tag with price lower than 10 cents, even though some people claimed it could not be done.

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, and is a means to place a unique, wireless, addressable tag on an item....

While it doesn't appear that Gillette is going to use these tags directly on consumer items just yet, but rather on shipping containers, this seems to me to pretty clearly be a first step in the direction of the Auto-ID Center's vision. Even this step has some staggering implications - consider the inventory and shipment tracking costs that can be eliminated if Gillette can tell, in real time, exactly what products and how many of them are in every warehouse and store in the world. Consider the manufacturing implications when you have real-time, constantly updating data on what products are being sold and at what rates.

The era of disposable, ubiquitous computing may well have taken a giant leap forward with this purchase. RFID has the potential to be a very disruptive technology, particularly when coupled with other technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth." [Erehwon Notebook]

I'm fascinated by the idea of RFIDs because of all of the implications, both good and bad. Of course, libraries and some of our trade's vendors have been working with RFID for some time now. For example, 3M does lots of stuff in this area and at the PLA conference in March I saw a demo of their system that tracks materials as a patron walks in and out of the library (the implication being that a patron can check out items just by walking out through the security gates).

I think I'd like to tackle this topic as part of my next "Product Pipeline" column, so please send me any info or links about specific projects, products, and technologies, especially as related to libraries.

10:57:50 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

Information Convergence

Phil Wolff has some interesting speculations about the future of blogging in his post titled From .blog to converged client." An excerpt:

"Blogging is a form in transition.

Personally, I think blogging as a form will merge with all the other forms of digital expression. With email and IM first. With voice/video conferencing, streaming videos, browsing, and PowerPointing later.

Watch it change:

  • as more people blog from their foto-mobiles
  • as devices start to blog ("My car's day")
  • as audiobloggers create radio shows and videobloggers create televsion programming
  • as Sims characters start to blog.

Moving forward, see a convergent software client emerge.

Source: evanwolf group, 2002....

We're on our way. Blogging tools are starting to interact with email and sounds. PIMs are managing contact information across multiple applications. Community and collaboration features are as critical to games as traditional gameplay.

I'm calling it: 2003-2005 will see many clients converge, weblogs among them. The challenges? Immense. The rewards? Many and rich. The fun? Deep and lasting." [a klog apart]

Lots of implications. Lots of opportunities, especially for people that specialize in organizing information. Like, say, I don't know... librarians.

10:45:12 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

Explaining Wireless

The Wireless Networking Starter Kit

" 'Glenn '802.11b Networking News' Fleishmann and Adam 'TidBITS' Engst have written a book on setting up a home wireless network, called 'The Wireless Networking Starter Kit.' The book runs down the cross-platform, step-by-step instructions for setting up and running a WiFi network from scratch.

Table of contents

1 Why Wireless?
2 Networking Basics
3 How Wireless Works
4 Connecting Your Computer
5 Building Your Wireless Network
6 Wireless Security
7 Taking It on the Road
8 Going the Distance
9 Things That Go Bump in the Net
10 The Future of Wireless"  [Boing Boing Blog]

I haven't seen this book myself since it won't ship for another month, but librarians should probably consider it for purchase since it's such a hot topic right now and Glenn is quite capable of writing a layman's tome. It may also help librarians who want to learn more about wireless for use within their own buildings, too.

10:33:35 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

Googleshare Gaining

Steven Johnson has introduced the idea of Googleshare to the blogosphere.

"Okay, this will soon become one of the site's recurring themes. Like many of you, I'm obsessed with Google, and particularly obsessed with what Google can tell me about me. I'm sure someone has done this before, but it occured to me today that you could use Google as an interesting yardstick for measuring how much a given word had come to be associated with a specific person, as in the tired saying, 'You look up 'selfish' in the dictionary, and there's a picture of you.' "

Check out the comments on Steven's two posts for some fun comparisons. I'll have to dig out my Google API key to have some fun with comparisons like "Jenny and gadgets" and "librarians and information."

Update: I took advantage of Edward George's code and key and became depressed when I found out librarians have .33% of the Googleshare of "informationl." Sigh. Rael Dornfest is also working on this idea.

9:57:23 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

I'm not sure where I got this in my web catchups today, but The Geek Hierarchy made me squint my eyes and laugh.

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Some blogs I'm going to try to catch up on, all of which I found by starting at PeterMe and working my way through links from one to the next.

BTW, I had planned to attend the digital rights management panel at the Internet Librarian conference (scroll down), but the pull of The Dueling Peters (session B102) was too great and I succumbed to the draw of seeing Peter Merholz and Peter Morville duke it out. There wasn't really any duking, but it was one of the best sessions I attended because they spent the entire time answering questions from the audience.

9:22:35 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

Blogging and RSS Comes to Illinois Libraries!

The big news I've come back to is that the LSTA grant awards in Illinois have been announced, and there's lots of good news in the press release. First and foremost, SLS got our grant to create a collaborative blogging and syndication news service for ourselves, Chicago Library System, Heritage Trail Library System, and River Bend Library System. Hooray!

It's actually a lot more than that, but this will be the most visible outcome for librarians across the State. I'll finally get the chance to test my theories about the potential for blogging and RSS within the library community (and for libraries within their own communities)!

The software package we're having written is a full content management system that includes all of the following:

  • Individual and group blogging (with automatic RSS feeds),
  • Individual and group news aggregation,
  • WYSIWYG, browser-based editing to help distribute the workload of entering news and content,
  • workflow with approval,
  • multi-level authentication (public, SLS members, Illinois librarians, SLS staff, etc.),
  • a robust search engine,
  • shared link directories (even between the Systems),
  • and more!

I am so totally excited about this! We hope to have something live early next year, so I'll keep you updated on our progress. The grant will provide us with servers for each System and installation of the software. This will really boost communication between Library Systems, their members, the State Library, the public, legislators... pretty much everyone interested or involved in libraries. And the big kicker - a site license for all Illinois libraries. Yes, once we get the kinks worked out, the software will be available to any library in the State!

The other grant awards (PDF) make interesting reading, too. I haven't added up the numbers, but quite a few SLS libraries received funding for their proposals, so kudos to all of them! And kudos to all of the libraries that received grant awards! Lots of customer service and marketing projects, both of which are (unfortunately) badly needed, as well as some interesting English as a Second Language (ESL) proposals.

Back home, I was shocked and saddened to find that voters rejected my home library's referendum request for an expansion project. They've got 100,000 titles crammed into 14,000 square feet, which is just insane. In a few short months, they'll have to start removing a book for every one that they add. That's called a "zero growth library," and it's a bad thing. I was going to rant here, but instead I'll just wish my local librarians better luck next spring, because they're doing good things and they deserve better than their residents are giving them.

And still there is good news at the Homer Library. All three grants Sheree submitted were funded, including the one to create a community web site and an information kiosk. It also includes a component for programming to help residents become "informed citizens" by educating them about local government, local media, and information literacy. I'm hoping they'll be able to use the software from my grant to create a collaborate site that will let the Village, Township, Chamber, schools, and others contribute current news and content. I'll keep you apprised of developments in this area, too, since it could be a good model for introducing blogging and RSS to maintain a current community site.

9:01:01 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!

I'm back online, trying to catch up after two weeks away from everything. Vacation was wonderful, although not particularly relaxing since we ran ourselves and the kids ragged. We went to Universal Studios, Knotts Berry Farm, Disneyland (our least favorite), and LegoLand, among other places.

We always say we need a vacation after a vacation, so this time we took a few extra days to fully recuperate, and I feel truly relaxed for the first time in a while. Of course, I also feel very behind in all things worldly and online, but it was worth it.

If I have time to go through my notes from the Internet Librarian conference, I'll post some thoughts about the sessions I attended. I had a great time hanging out with Marylaine, Aaron, and Blake. Unfortunately, I kept missing Gary, and I never did catch up with Mary Lu thanks to the lack of internet connectivity. My presentation with Barbara went well, and it turns out that we actually have a lot in common besides gadget lust. The weather was (as promised) great, as opposed to home where it's now just plain cold.

8:27:06 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |