The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Video to Go on the Treo 600??

USER THOUGHT: Watching a TV program on a Palm device is fun.

"Watching a TV program on a Palm device is fun! I record a program up to 1 hour long on my Mac using EyeTV, I edit out the commercials with the same program. I then use Kinoma producer to convert the MPEG file to a .PDB file, and finally I transfer the file to a 256MB SD card using a card reader. The show can be viewed entirely with Kinoma player. This is great when Im on the go, and want to see a show or show someone else a show - while away from a TV. For me, this is the next best thing until an SD card/TV tuner is made. :-) " [Daily Palm]

Oh, suh-weet! I hadn't even thought of this! I could take shows I've recorded on my ReplayTV, download them to my PC, convert them to MPEG and then PDB, and watch them on my Treo 600! Is there anything this puppy can't do?? And the screen on it is bigger than the one on my Archos Jukebox, while negating the need to mess with multiple programs and formats just to get the video onto the device!

I feel a test case coming on this weekend....

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Next Up: Colonial House

Colonial House Will Debut in May

"PBS and Thirteen/WNET's next US-produced time capsule reality series will debut in May. Colonial House will air over four nights, May 10 to 14, from 8 to 10 p.m. The colonists are separated into four houses, two of which contain 'indentured servants,' and one of which is designated for three 'Freemen.' They lived as if it was 1628, facing 'the rigid class and gender roles, mandatory religious observance, and the puritanical civil laws of the era, particularly those pertaining to profanity....' " [reality blurred: the reality TV weblog]

I wish I could set my ReplayTV for it now!

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Change Is Good - You Go First. Okay, I Will

You remind me of those people who said they'd never get cell phones.

"I remember when everyone shouted into their cell phones and thought that their batteries drained faster when they made long distance phones. I remember when people (who now have cell phones) swore to me that they'd never have a cell phone. I remember when cell phones looked more like military radios. I think it's fine to gripe about technology, but I would warn those people who swear they'll never use a technology. Technology evolves and so do social norms.

We've been having a dialog recently about the relationship between social norms and technology. I think this is part of the same dialog. New technologies disrupt our habits and our norms and what we feel comfortable with. I am an early adopter type who uses every technology possible and I try to wrap my life around it all. Some people try the technology and point out the tensions. Some people ignore the technology. Technology evolves along with the social norms. When it works well, we end up with a technology that contributes to society in some way and becomes a seamless part of our social norms. When it doesn't work well it either damages society or does not integrate and is discarded." [Joi Ito's Web, emphasis above is mine]

Joi could have been talking about libraries and librarians. Think you'll never use IM for reference? Think ebooks will never go mainstream? Think you'll never need a wireless network at home or work?

Do you have a cellphone?

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Upcoming Blogging and RSS Presentations

If you're in the Chicagoland area, here are two events at which I'll be speaking during the next two months. If you've heard me talk about blogging and/or RSS, there won't be much new here, but if you want to make a New Year's resolution for your library or for yourself (as in, find out why news aggregators are so great), come on by because they're both free!

  1. A Blogging Overview with Jenny Levine
    A Reference Librarian (RLA) Program
    Tuesday, January 20
    9:30 AM - 12:00 PM

    "Exactly what is a blog? Why are blogs rapidly growing? How can blogs be used to promote library communications and services?

    Come hear Jenny Levine, Internet Development Specialist at the Suburban Library System and creator of the very popular Shifted Librarian blog give a comprehensive overview and update on blogs. Information maven and innovator Levine will talk about the advantages and practical applications of blogs in the library."

  2. How to Use RSS to Know More and Do Less
    SLS Tech Summit
    Thursday, February 19
    1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

    "RSS, also known as Rich Site Summary, is an XML format that allows syndication of Web content. But what does that really mean? Learn how to use a news aggregator to read multiple sites to keep current while reducing the strain of your workload. Learn how news aggregators help you beat information overload and keep you more informed at the same time! In addition, you can start providing RSS syndication of your own news for your library's patrons."

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New Year's Technology Resolutions for Public Libraries

For 2004:

  1. Start a blog for your web site, and concentrate most of your news there. If possible, put the blog posts on your home page (either make it a blog or display headlines using RSS) so that your new information gets maximum exposure. I'm not just hyping blogs - it truly will make it easier for you to keep your site more current and dynamic, and there are ways to do this at no additional cost.
  2. Provide remote access to as many of your databases as possible, preferably using the patron's library barcode number as the autho key rather than some inane autho/password combination required by the vendor. A standing offer for SLS libraries: we'll implement scripts to help you with this - just email me.
  3. Start investigating wireless networks because you need to offer wireless access for the public to use with their own devices. Even if you don't think you will implement it this year, you need to understand what's involved because you will offer it at some point in the future and it's best to be prepared when that time comes. I know some people will argue that not all public libraries need to offer this service, or at least not any time soon, but you can only make an informed decision if you understand what's involved.

    Example: a couple of weeks ago I was interviewed for a forthcoming article in the Chicago Sun-Times about technology in libraries. The paper sent a photographer to get a picture of me for the article, and we met at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library to do this. The photographer was a gadget guy, so he was particularly interested in hearing about ListenIllinois and wireless access. He was thrilled to learn that the TFML offered free WiFi, and he was even knowledgeable enough to ask why there were no signs highlighting the service, specifically any warchalking symbols. In fact, he said he was willing to sit in his car in the parking lot when the Library is closed to use it because it would save him a trip downtown. TFML isn't his home library, but it hadn't occurred to him to go to public libraries for this service instead of Starbucks. Now, he'll try us first and Starbucks second. Which is a good thing, because we'll have definite image problems (okay, worse image problems) and major credibility issues if people can get wireless access all around town, except at the library.

    Is this guy on the leading edge of the bell curve? Sure. But that just means that the larger number of people that make up the camel's hump of the bell curve are on the horizon. You don't have to provide wireless access today (although you really will have patrons that use it, just like TFML does, even without any marketing), but you do need to start thinking about it.

  4. In the same vein, you need to start thinking about online, real-time reference. In Illinois, there are consortia you can join to make the strain on your resources easier, and this is increasingly true in other states as well. Instant messaging and chatting are moving beyond Generation Y and are becoming a norm, making this a valid channel for library reference here and now. To again use the Thomas Ford Library as an example (I like using them because they are a relatively small library surrounded by larger libraries), while I was waiting for the photographer to show up, Rick was "on" the virtual reference desk for MyWebLibrarian, and he received two help requests within about a half hour. This was a little before lunchtime on a weekday when school was out of session.

    Again, think bell curve. You don't have to implement it tomorrow, but you do have to understand what your options are, even if you just throw up an AOL Instant Messenger link for specific hours each week, just to get your feet wet. (In fact, this is exactly what TFML did before they joined MWL.)

If your library is already doing all of these things, congratulations! Of course, you can't rest on your laurels (and hey, if you're doing all of those things are you marketing them in appropriate ways?), but those would be resolutions for another day....

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