Drupal is hard. It has its own vocabulary. Its potential is so wide open that it is literally possible to do nearly anything with it, and while this idea is greatly liberating, it is also sort of paralyzing: Where do I start? What modules do I need? What can I DO with this thing?
But the way I see it, the fact that Drupal has a steep learning curve is no excuse. There’s no question that Drupal has a steep learning curve, or that it can be messy and complex to implement, but its potential is too great for libraries to ignore. There is also no question that we can do it.
David did a wonderful job showing us how Topeka reaches out to their users and welcomes user content inside and outside the library website, and Rachel gave a great introduction to WebJunction. Both of them had beautiful slides! You can see David’s on Slideshare.
My part of the program was an introduction to LibX. We have just configured this browser extension at MPOW and will be testing it and making it available to users this spring. My slides show the very basic capabilities of LibX; for a more focussed look, see the presentation by Annette Bailey and Godmar Back at last year’s Access 2008 conference [pptx] [pdf]. Thanks to Kathryn Greenhill, whose own LibX screencast inspired me to just try it.
The TopTech Round Table has been written up very well by Library Journal bloggers Josh Hadro (Part 1 and Part 2) and Roy Tennant (also a TopTech Trendster) and at the AL inside scoop; I won’t recap here. During the weeks leading up to the conference, several TTT committee members tested the live blogging freely available from coveritlive, its twitter integration, media uploading, simple reader polls, and comment moderation. The session’s hashtag, #ttt09 was also aggregated into the LITA & BIGWIG Friendfeed room. We were nothing if not prepared. The final stroke of luck was the unwavering wireless connectivity in the room; without it, there is no way that we would have been able to upload photos and stream live video of the session.
So it all started yesterday while I was playing with CoverItLive…
The projected chatroom at the Top Technology Trends session during the ALA 2008 Annual Conference was met with mixed emotion–some people (including me) thought it was pretty neat; others found it distracting and thought it took something away from the session. The reason that I thought it was pretty neat is that those without laptops could see what we who had laptops might be up to–they could peek into our world and maybe get curious enough to want to check it out later. Not so much.
Anyway, I suppose there’s a reason it’s called a back channel, and I suppose that those in the room without laptops don’t particularly need or care to know what those in the room (and those not in the room) with laptops are saying in the chat room. Given the complaints, I’ve been trying to think of an engaging alternative–a projected equivalent to hold music, if you will, that the audience can gaze at while we get set up or whatever. The committee has talked about doing something with twitter (which also doesn’t make for a really good projected back channel, unless you’re willing to be upstaged by your audience), then I wondered: What if we could make use of TwitterVision 3D to illustrate appropriately-tagged tweets coming in from around the world? How hard could it be?
Alas, it turns out to be too hard for me. I am pretty effective when it comes to the beat-things-with-rocks approach, but (I’ve concluded that) this requires real programming that is just not within my reach at the moment. The best I could do, after a couple of hours of scouting around for Google Maps and Twitter mashups (with a brief and bewildering pitstop at GeoTwitter), was a visualization of my own personal twitterverse, which I created by using a the Twitter Friends Yahoo PipeGeoRSS feed output fed to FreshLogic’s Atlas:
Eli Neiburger, Assistant Director at Ann Arbor District Library, on gaming and libraries. This presentation concentrates on learning that happens in games (not on games designed for learning).
Require advanced literacy (words and interface)
Help users overcome achievement gaps
teach reading comprehension
teach skills useful in the workplace
teach search skills
teach that success requires risk
teach delayed gratification
teach perseverance with little risk of failure
Gaming events in libraries teach kids
that the community supports them
that the community values youth
constructive use of their time
Gaming events in libraries teach kids (in a world where athletic ability is valued in schools more than anything)
commitment to learning
positive values (caing equality social justice, integrity, honesty)
social competencies (planing & decision making, interpersonal competence, resistance skills, peaceful conflict resolution (peer pressure working for you: “shut up so we can play” rather than against you: “let’s see if we can get kicked out.”)
positive identity: personal power, self-esteem, sense of purpose, positive view of failure
They are gaming among you: 72% of Americans play video games.Â more adult women than kids.
Where are people spending their money: music $21B; DVDs $23B; $24B games; books highest. media almost exactly divided, percentage-wise.
What is at stake if we don’t do this? ask a travel agent. our collections will become irrelevant if we can get veryting ever printed with an ebook; all networked information with an implant
Libraries = conversations through content. we take content that is normally consumed individually and make a social event out of it. Library is adding value to content; it’s what we’re here to do. Games are only a new format.
Good games for libraries: Wii: rock band, big brain, wii sports, super smash bros, pokemon, DDR
GTsystem.org – online tournament scoring and management tools
includes blog, event registrations, brackes, generates leaderboards (local, regional, national)
GTsystem wiki for rules and history
synchronzed tournament days with online finals. winners play off each other online.
eli at eliworks dot com
Q&A: board games are really niche entertainment; video games have a larger draw
Description: What is all the LibGuides buzz about? Who can create a LibGuide? Can you? What sort of content can be put into a LibGuide? This presentation will cover the basics as well as give you a few tips and tricks to get your started or to whet your appetite.
This Friday, I’ll be leaving for Anaheim, California, to attend the Annual Conference of the American Library Association. I’m scheduled to the hilt and cannot wait to get going. It’s close enough to the event that I think I can share this with you:
Looking for a meeting location or a place to eat? Try this Google map:
When I started to think about how Next Generation Catalog Enhancements (NGCs) fit into this model, I quickly became overwhelmed, because, as with non-library websites, each product or enhancement exhibits a varying degree of each element. I had hoped that each product would fall easily and neatly into the petal shapes, most likely at the intersection of content and interactivity, but it was not that simple. Instead, I thought about what, to me, were the most important facets to each element, and devised a point system based on these:
Content lives natively in system = 3 points
Integrated search of articles* = 2 points
User-generated content = 2 points [1 if additional cost]
Integrated OpenURL* = 1 point [0 if additional cost]
Links to content only = 0 points
* These obviously bias library products, but I thought it important to consider this functionality in this context.
No dead ends (faceted navigation, tag clouds) = 2 points
Google-like effective search = 2 points
Effectiveness of results (relevance, ranked properly) = 2 points
Personalization, persistence of user preferences within site = 2 points
Contacts list = 2 points [3 if granular like flickr]
Communication among users (comments, messaging) = 2 points
Ability to add to others’ content (tags, wiki pages) = 2 points
Integrated licensing options, preferably Creative Commons = 1 point
Open API = 3 points
Open source or open development = 2 points
Uses open standards = 2 points [1 if proprietary technology is used where open technology is available]
Badges, feeds, or widgets available for use on other sites = 1 point
In doing this comparison, I think it important to look back as well as look forward. WebVoyage, the OPAC available for the ILS used at MPOW, scores a measly 2 points (not to mention negative points for the worst product name ever).
The catalog for so long has been an inventory of our assets. The command line public interface and its modern successor, the web-accessible OPAC, were not designed to aid patron discovery. Next Generation Catalog Enhancements are still largely “lipstick on the pig,” meant to address the problem of patron discovery but falling very much short of being “good” web services and search engines for our users, as I have defined them here.
As a library user commented on this blog in April, “The library is not the catalog; the catalog is not the library.” Librarians have long been down this rabbit-hole of thinking that the catalog is the library. Meanwhile, the outside web world has outpaced us so effectively that popular media questions our very existence. Instead of trying on shinier (and ever-more-costly) lipstick, we should look at what the “best” of the web offers our users and become the library version of that.
One of my Wow!PAC partners in crime, John Blyberg, followed on with an excellent presentation titled “The System Redressed: Containers :: Content.” We in libraries have drifted very far from the willingness to tear down and rebuild that is necessary to create discovery systems that our patrons find useful (a sentiment I somewhat poignantly think is true of library organizations and workflows as well), and this unwillingness manifests itself in our relationships with our vendors. Hence the current state of NGCs. John asserts, and I wholeheartedly agree, that we must think of our work flow in terms of the content (our bibliographic metadata) vs its container (the system patrons use to learn what we have).
My piece of the double session was titled, “Are we there yet? An assessment of next generation catalog enhancements” [Slides PDF]. In the presentation, I allude to an arbitrary grading system by which I scored some of today’s extant enhancement options against my self-selected “best of today’s web,” namely Amazon, flickr, Wikipedia, and Pandora.
Several people asked my about the scoring system I alluded to, and I will post that, but first, it’s necessary to understand the four criteria that I measure: Content, Interactivity, Community, and Interactivity. Content refers to the published content traditionally collected by libraries: books, journals, and the more contemporary (academic?) consumable unit, the book chapter or journal article. This image illustrates that as time has passed and content has become electronic, that content has become more complex to make and provide digitally. Computing power and capability have also increased and improved exponentially, which may or may not be causal to the increase in complexity.
Interactivity symbolizes activity between a single user and a site, including a site’s searchability: the more effective and user-friendly the search, the more interactive a site can be. A site with a high degree of interactivity engages users more effectively and for a longer period of time. A stale, text-only site would be low in interactivity; a site with an effective search and with continually changing links (navigation by facets, or that makes suggestions on where to go from here, for example) is higher in interactivity.
The third component is Community, which comes into play when users can see each other’s activity on a site. Note that community does not include personalization, which counts in the interactivity category. Power lies within community: consider a single blog post, a plain block of text constituting someone’s thoughts and opinions. Contrast this with a post that has comments, links to related posts and blogs, and tags that retrieve it among similar work, and we suddenly have a conversation. Another example is tagging: tagging by a user community is much more powerful when that community is large and varied.
The fourth property is Interoperability, or the degree to which sites work with one another, or the degree to which a site allows its content to be harvested and used on other sites or in other contexts. The barest form of interoperability began with the networking protocols–allowing interoperability of more than one computer–that made the internet possible. From library standards like MARC, Z39.50 and OpenURL that allow us to create data that can live in more than one system–think sharing bibliographic data via MARC records–to APIs that allow us to pull and remix data from many systems simultaneously, interoperability allows us to create something new. The first interoperable technologies allowed for connection; today’s interoperability allows for connection but also combination
Combining the four elements
The best sites on the web combine all four of these elements. Further, the more elements that a site has, the “better” it is–there are generally more features, more content, and one can use the content in different ways and contexts. As illustrated below, Project Muse is a combination of Content (journal articles) and Interactivity (search, browse). RSS feeds are a combination of the posts, comments or news stories that they contain and the interoperability that allows us to use the feeds in many different ways. Google Maps lies at the intersection of Content, Interactivity and Interoperability: it is possible to use the maps data to create various mashups like the Super Tuesday Google Maps/TwitterVision mashup or the DC Metro map mashup.
The Sweet Spot is where all four attributes intersect. For me, sites living in the sweet spot are flickr, Amazon, Wikipedia, and Pandora. Each has rich content, is highly interactive, enjoys a large community of users who interact with each other and allow their content to be used in other ways.