Burritos for Posterity April 15, 2010Posted by dataduchess in InformationIssues, Uncategorized.
Tags: burritos, digital archives, Library of Congress, LOC, posterity, twitter
That headline would make a good band name or maybe a charitable organization. It’s only tangentially related to this post, but too fun to change. Onward.
Here’s some scary news: The Library of Congress is archiving ALL public Tweets. Yikes!
I’d advise Tweeters to heed the warning of the article linked above:
So if you don’t want history to remember that burrito you had for dinner last night (and its aftermath), tweet carefully—now it’s for posterity.
UPDATE: Here is the Twitter Blog post about the LOC archiving project. Not too much more detail (nor answers to any of the questions in the comments) but there is an additional announcement of another new Twitter feature. “Google Replay” will allow users to search for old tweets on topics from the past and view them as if being tweeted in real time. They include charts showing the volume of tweets on a topic at any time… reminiscent of a conversation we have had in the past about viewing peaks in internet searches or newspaper website visits in the aftermath of major events.
The Myopia of Techy Librarians February 18, 2010Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
Tags: Facebook, Foursquare, Handheld Librarian Conference, librarians, libraries, mobile, mobile technology, smartphones, twitter
1 comment so far
Today I (virtually) attended the second Handheld Librarian Conference. I had the opportunity of watching three sessions:
1. “This is Now: The Mobile Library” by Joe Murphy from New Haven, CT.
2. “Developing Library Websites Optimized for Mobile Devices” by Brendan Ryan of Providence College.
3. “Mobile Trends and Social Reference” by Alison Miller a Doctorate student of Professional Studies in Information Management at Syracuse University, School of Information Studies.
Overall, the conference did exactly as advertised–the sessions explained the current trends in mobile technologies and how to apply them to library services. The second session, “Developing Library Websites Optimized for Mobile Devices”, was the most straightforward, giving detailed instructions on how to build a mobile web site, including lists of resources and web sites, barriers, challenges, lessons learned, examples, etc. The other two were highly informative as well but I have a problem with this subject matter that I think needs to be discussed in greater detail.
My first problem with libraries embracing social media is Twitter. I love Twitter; I use it for this blog and also have my own personal account. But report after report says that young people don’t use Twitter. As an academic librarian, Twitter is not going to do much for my patrons. Is it going to do anything for my fellow librarians? Joe Murphy suggested we use it to facilitate committee chatter. I heartily agree with Joe that, harnessed correctly, Twitter can boost professional development and sharing. But the learning curve is extreme, especially for those not born into the digital revolution. I can’t blame Joe for his enthusiasm over augmented reality, QR codes, and location-based gaming because I think they’re great as well, but I do blame him for falling into the trap of “techy librarian myopia.”
Those who are addicted to technology and use it throughout the day, every day, often forget that most of the world does not use technology in the same way. One of the statistics Alison shared was that 63.1% of mobile users sent a text as of December 2009. She, and many others, acted as if this number was astoundingly high. I though it was low. If only 63.1% of mobile users in America have texted, how many have Tweeted? How many have gone on Facebook? How many are going to text a reference question? It’s easy to forget that we, especially as librarians, are not the general public and don’t use technology the same way they do. We are constantly in danger of being too cutting edge. I think this conference teetered on the edge of that precipice. I remember when I first discovered Mashable and threw around Peter Cashmore’s name like he was my BFF. Turns out 95% of my friends still have no idea who he is. Just because we have become a profession of netizens and social media junkies, doesn’t mean our clientele has the same needs as us.
The second problem I had is what the presenters referred (fleetingly) to as the “mobile divide.” For years we have been hearing about the digital divide, and trying to decrease it. That is the library’s job–providing equal access to information and media for everyone in a community. One of the commenters in the chat room mentioned that the mobile divide will be smaller than the digital divide because cell phones are cheaper than computers. This is greatly simplifying a multifaceted problem. Cell phones may be cheaper but smartphones are not that much cheaper than netbooks. And both “divides” are about so much more than owning technology. They are about being raised in a culture that embraces technology, research, and learning. Two people may both have iPhones, but depending on their socioeconomic background, education, and the way they were raised, they may use the iPhones in completely different ways. The challenge for us as librarians is the same–teach people how to find reliable and current information. Mobile technologies do not bridge the divide. Using Twitter, Facebook, various augmented reality apps, Foursquare, QR codes, etc. require learning and support.
My final issue, and one the conference understandably ignored, is cost. The point of the conference was to explore and share technologies, not to discuss whether they were feasible. While Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, and many programs that turn sites into mobile sites are free, the time dedicated to embracing such technologies is not. And time is one of our greatest resources.
I think that it is important that we discuss these trends and I think the presenters did a great job of doing just that. It is my hope that participants will closely examine their user population before jumping into any kind of relationship with these trends. If there is someone techy on staff who can set up a Facebook page in ten minutes and show colleagues how to use it in a 20 minute powerpoint presentation, then go ahead–nothing is lost. But if you have to spend hours upon hours creating a mobile site when half of your patrons don’t even know what an “app” is, then focus on something else, like building your collection. It is and has always been the librarians’ job to meet the needs of their user population.
A New Type of Storytelling February 4, 2010Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
Tags: audiobooks, BBC, Booklist, books, collaboration, twitter
add a comment
Remember when you were a girl scout/boy scout/camp counselor/kid, etc. and you would tell a story by each person adding on another line? Well now you have an opportunity to do that again, in a global and virtual fashion through the help of BBC Audiobooks America, Twitter and New York Times #1 bestselling author, Meg Cabot. Booklist Online’s Audiobooker blog reports that, beginning at noon (EST) on February 16th, would-be collaborators can tweet @BBCAA with the hashtag #bbcawdio to participate. The best tweet will be chosen and re-tweeted so that the story can continue. When the story is completed it will recorded into an audiobook and available for free download. (If it sounds like I am speaking a foreign language, check out the Twittonary here.)
I have never participated in a Twitter conversation because I am always afraid that it will be too messy or move too fast to keep up with, but I am excited to check out the unraveling of a story. It will be interesting to see which tweets make the cut and which fail. I think this would be a great event for literature classes to participate in. What do you think? Will you be participating in a collaborative audiobook?
Disappearing in the Digital Age January 6, 2010Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
Tags: disappearance, evan ratliff, Facebook, identity, internet, privacy, security, twitter, wired
add a comment
I recently reviewed the fictional work Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow, in which a teenager tries to evade the prying eyes of the Department of Homeland Security while still maintaining an electronic presence on the web. Then today, I stumbled across the real-life story of someone attempting to do the very same thing, albeit for fun and with a monetary reward. Writer Evan Ratliff decided, with the help of the magazine Wired, to disappear for a month, offering readers $5,000 to try to locate him. The impetus, Ratliff notes, was to answer “a series of questions, foremost among them: How hard is it to vanish in the digital age…People fret about privacy, but what are the consequences of giving it all up, I wondered. What can investigators glean from all the digital fingerprints we leave behind? You can be anybody you want online, sure, but can you reinvent yourself in real life?” (Wired.com).
Ratliff then embarks on a cross-country jaunt, setting up fake email, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, as well as a fake office, an alias, and investing in numerous untraceable credit-card like gift cards for larger purchases. He routinely changes his appearance and uses the web to follow those trying to locate him, many who have set up groups on Twitter and Facebook and who manage to unearth every detail about his former life including hobbies, dietary restrictions, former habitations, purchases, and the name and phone number of his cat sitter. One of Ratliff’s most useful modes of cyber anonymity is using The Onion Router (TOR), which hides his true IP address and is also frequently mentioned in Little Brother. When Ratliff is finally caught a week from the end of the contest, it is because he attends a book reading that could have been in held in two places and was embedded in a New York Times crossword puzzle. By that time, his alias, Facebook and Twitter accounts had been compromised and it is likely he would have been caught soon, regardless of the clue.
Is is possible to disappear in our age? Of course it is. One women explains her fascination with Ratliff’s attempted disappearance:
Why would a middle-aged woman with virtually no technical knowledge be interested in following the Evan’s Vanished story on Twitter? You see, my father walked out one morning in Sumter, South Carolina, kissed the wife and two young children good-bye as if he was going to work as always, and disappeared for 12 years. He was around Evan’s age. He sent the family a telegraph a few days later asking them not to look for him. To this day, no one knows anything about his personal life during those years. I guess I’m hoping to have some clues to some of my questions (Wired.com).
People disappear all the time. But Ratliff didn’t try to disappear. He just tried to change and to change his electronic identity. Could he have lived in the woods, cultivating his own food, and never using a computer again? Sure. But that wouldn’t have been half as interesting or draw attention to the amount of information that is easily hackable, traceable and public. Ratliff doesn’t argue about the dangers of the information age like Doctorow’s Little Brother does, but he certainly draws attention to the reality of a real Big Brother.
Mixed Feelings Over the Demise of Kirkus December 12, 2009Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
Tags: books, kirkus, libraries, NYTimes, publishing, reviews, twitter
Librarians, publishers, and booksellers have been crowding the Twitter feed with posts over the closing of Kirkus, a lesser-known book-reviewing periodical. The New York Times Book section ran a short article yesterday detailing what the company has meant to different publishers, emphasizing that reviews were often “reliably cantankerous”, but that the firm was important as a second source, complementing Publishers Weekly reviews, or (in the case of many librarians) Library Journal.
Here are some of the reactions that I found posted on Twitter:
Worst news in a long time: Kirkus shutting down. For me, they were the last reliable source of negative reviews.
Still stunned that KIRKUS REVIEWS and EDITOR AND PUBLISHER are being disbanded. An era in publishing is over. But hopefully future is brite
For those lamenting death of Kirkus, remember, it sold out a while back, when it accepted $$$ for reviews.
I hated Kirkus.
Oh geez the Kirkus Review is going under? That makes me sad.
I know, it’s awful! I was caught totally off-guard. Somehow it never occurred to me Kirkus could be vulnerable.
In a way I’m not surprised, but it filled a niche. Smaller niche now?
In N. Carolina, high pines, shallow sun, where I hear news my old employer Kirkus is shutting down. Paying for reviews nail in the coffin.
I’ll miss Kirkus, myself
What I found suspicious about Kirkus was that they always had opposite opinion of PW. And who do you believe? See? Exactly.
Heartbroken over losing Kirkus! Wrote for them for last year. Wasn’t the $ (ha!) so much as advance copies. I wish they’d stay on line!
What are your reactions?