Showing posts from 2008

Cool Presentation Product

Here's something that could come in handy for a small scale presentation:

Libraries and the Infrastructure

In today's New York Times article, "I.B.M. Has Tech Answer for Woes of Economy," I.B.M.'s CEO calls for technological investment in overhauling the country's infrastructure. Samuel Palmisano calls for public and private investment in addressing problems with traffic, energy grid efficiency, food distribution and a host of other challenges faced by society today.

I agree with this approach and I think that libraries have a part to play in this, as well. Technology is a powerful tool for problem solving, but not as powerful as technology partnered with efficient information sources--like libraries. This dovetails rather well with what I was trying to say last year about libraries as information producers. We have the information, we just need to do a better job of pushing it.

Libraries are strategically positioned throughout the country to serve as information hubs for large scale information intensive projects. Some may argue that the Internet as it stands right now…

Google's Product Development Strategy

I ran across an article this morning on Google'sAndroid project. Android is Google's attempt to create an open source operating system for mobile phone technology. The idea is that Android would serve as an open source operating system and companies would develop hardware around it. Recently, T-Mobile announced that they would be releasing the G1--the first handset designed to operate with Android.
In his article, Chris O'Brien points to a number of Google's recent projects, including OpenSocial, which is designed to create an open API standard for social networking sites. O'Brien points to a lack of promotion and development for past initiatives and emphasizes their failure to gain significant market share.
If you are just evaluating these initiatives on their individual merit, O'Brien has a point. I'm not certain that I would buy shares in T-Mobile based on the G1, and I wouldn't purchase one of the phones at the moment, either.
I think, however, that ma…

What To Do When You Know You Should Know Something But You Don't

As reference librarians, we are expected by the public to be know it alls. Many patrons ask me questions and they seem surprised when I consult a resource to answer their question. I have also fielded questions over the phone where the patron has said, "If you don't know it off the top of your head, don't bother looking it up--I'm in a hurry." Sometimes this confidence can be a refreshing moment in a day of lost books, damaged books, disputed fines, rowdy patrons, and long lines. At other times, however, it can be a tad disconcerting because sometimes, we haven't got a clue.

Now, the problem isn't always that we don't know anything. Sometimes, the patron is mumbling (or we're hard of hearing.) Sometimes, the patron was sleeping:
"Do you have Raven in the World, by Aldiss Hussey?"
"Do you mean Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley?"

Sometimes, we're wrestling with inadequate technology, like a million dollar …

Portable Apps Experiment in Limbo

My little experiment with the portable apps on a stick didn't work so well in the end. Not only does the network interfere with my ScribeFire application, it also resets the bookmarks, toolbars, and extensions in Firefox when I switch computers. I will need to use a laptop if I want access to my favorite applications, and I want to keep my data with me.

ScribeFire Update

I think that I have ScribeFire working-but it only works at home. Apparently, I can't get it through the network at work. Bummer.

Dealing With Network Lockdown Issues

As many of you know, MPOW has a very active filtering system. They haven't blocked sites totally, but trying to use services like IM, Google services and anything else that's AJAXy can be a real pain in the butt. I find myself instructing patrons and saying things like, "on a regular computer this would work," or, "what you should have seen at this point is...." Needless to say, that gets old. I cannot teach classes where I just show the patrons how to do something--they have to use their imaginations.

Anyway, I'm trying to build a collection of portable apps on a thumb drive that will allow me to show our patrons how to do things without some of the network restrictions on downloads. So far, I have Portable Firefox with The following add-ons: ScribeFire, Zotero, Meebo,, FireShot, a MindMeister shortcut, and the Google Toolbar. I have made my iGoogle page the homepage for this experiment and added gadgets for todo lists, Gmail, Google Reader,…

Google Sites

Google has finally re-released JotSpot as Google Sites. I've given it a quick look over the last couple of days, and I'm still not sure what to think. It seems slanted toward organizational use, so I don't believe that I, as an individual, can give it a complete test.

It is being rolled out as a feature in the Google Apps category, but I think that they would be better off billing it as the feature-not that it's so great, mind you. When you tie a domain name to Google Apps, it starts you off at that stupid Google 'Start' page, which is basically just an iGoogle page with your logo at the top (if you add it). I haven't figured out how to change the default to my Sites page, which would be much more functional.

My biggest gripe with Google, to this point, is their inability to really connect all of their features. Google's suite of applications still has the feel of a Frankenstein's monster assembly of parts which sometimes give an appearance of l…

The Enquirer - With so much info on phone, why huge library?

I came across letter to the editor in the Cincinnati Enquirer (The Enquirer - With so much info on phone, why huge library?) a little over a week ago, and I felt I needed to comment on it, but not without thinking about it a bit more.

At first, I was a bit miffed at Aaron Gillum. I thought, "Hey, you have no idea what you're talking about. Data isn't the beginning and the end of information. There's also interpretation, and people want money for that. Who's going to provide that for the people who have no internet skills or access? You? 'Hey, everyone who can't afford a Blackberry with a data service plan go see Aaron--he'll let you use his!'"

But then I looked a bit more closely at his argument, and at the library in question, and I did begin to wonder, "Do libraries have an edifice complex?"

Now, before you judge me, I do believe that Mr. Gillum is missing part of the point--unless you are ready to digest all of the data required to u…

Cancer Data? Sorry, Can’t Have It - New York Times

There was an interesting article in the New York Times today about health research and data sharing in the cancer research field (Cancer Data? Sorry, Can’t Have It - New York Times). The article discusses the reluctance of many researchers to share valuable data with other researchers. It seems to me that in an age where people collaborate to crack the genetic code, it is irresponsible to withhold data that could be used to help people suffering from cancer. It's this kind of selfish thinking that can contribute to our early extinction.