Category Archives: Web&Tech

June 14, 2013, 12:58 pm

Are remote presence mobile systems the future of reference?

It’s been a little too serious around this blog lately, so here is something fun to stimulate your lateral thinking.

 

A good friend of mine is at InfoComm13—a tradeshow I wish I were attending. He texted me this photo:


beamApparently this woman was in California and interacting with folks in Orlando. She could hear him standing/walking nearby and engaged him in conversation.

This is BEAM. It’s a mobile, WiFi powered, video-conferencing, remote presence system. The features are listed on the website, and it is an interesting concept. The fact that it has wheels and can move at 3 mph following someone around is different;  I have not seen this full package  before.

At first I thought—could this work as a reference tool? Could it push us beyond the desk as a new twist on roving reference? Or what about tours? What about meetings? Could students or faculty use it for…

Read More

June 11, 2013, 3:36 pm

Tools vs. Emotions: what’s your relationship with technology?

This is going to be a rare personal post. If you’re looking for your fill on libraries check the Bell Tower because I’m going somewhere else today.

Context is an interesting phenomenon. When conversations or attitudes from one space merge or are invaded from the outside, there is a good chance for misunderstanding to occur. This happened to me last night.

People who know me– people who really know me– know that I love Apple. I came into their products later in life via my wife, but I’ve never looked back. I am firmly and admittedly in the Cult of Mac.

Much of it has to do with brand and mythology. Steve Jobs was an amazing persona, but the early connection with IDEO is also special for me. Apple’s priority on design resonates with my user experience side and they talk about technology differently than everyone else… although yesterday’s WWDC was a little…

Read More

May 8, 2013, 4:31 pm

Adobe and the end of the world… of local software?

I’m still pondering the news that Adobe is dropping Creative Suite and betting it all on Creative Cloud. They are turning away from locally installed client software and moving fully to an online platform. It feels like a radical departure and I’m still trying to understand the business model. I’m also bummed that they are killing Fireworks, but maybe I’m showing my age?

 

We are working on a library renovation and a topic that comes up is desktops. A number of these are necessary for specialized software, but what if all software applications flow to the cloud? Maybe what we really need to plan is for really nice monitors and a fast data connection?

 

Thinking beyond hardware… does software become similar to journal subscriptions in which users authenticate and proxy in? Will we provide campus-wide subscriptions to everyone or perhaps on-demand (use as you go)…

Read More

February 6, 2013, 1:12 am

Catching up with Paul Stamatiou: designing growth at Twitter

When people ask me what inspired my startup thinking I point to Paul Stamatiou. He was an undergrad at Georgia Tech when I was there and I started following his blog as part of my preemptive reference experiment. Wow, 2005 was so long ago!

 

Paul currently works at Twitter but before that he was involved with a handful of startups. Along the way Ford gave him a car, Nike put him in a commercial, and he was part of the Y Combinator program. He’s blogged quite a bit about startups. If you’re interested that topic I recommend reading his advice via a TechCrunch post.

 

I dug up this old post of mine from 2008 chronicling Paul’s all-nighter in the library. What was the paper topic? Twitter. Maybe he was destined to work there…

 

Here is a quick interview on growth, startups, and the Web. Follow him @stammy

 

What have you been up to? Tell me about your career…

Read More

January 4, 2013, 3:53 pm

SEARCH MORE, PLAN LESS: in defense of 3D printing

Happy 2013. I’ve been intrigued by William Easterly’s searchers/planners philosophy. Here is a good summary:

 

The searcher admits that he or she doesn’t have the answer in advance and he or she takes responsibility for decisions that are made. The searcher conforms to local conditions and searches for local solutions. (UUB)

 

The planner tends to overgeneralize and makes assumptions about how things should be before taking unique conditions into account.

 

I was struck by a dissenting view on the value of 3D printers in libraries. Anytime someone use phrases like mission creep or mission critical to try and squash new ideas then I know they are stuck in functional fixedness. In this view, the role and operation of libraries fits into a nicely defined box and trying to rearrange (or introduce new) components in the box is a challenge because it doesn’t match…

Read More

June 27, 2012, 3:19 pm

MOOC Fluency – some advice for future librarians

I’m glad that UVa reinstated their president. Seems like the only logical action after the backlash. I keep waiting for “the real reason” to surface because it’s hard for me to believe that the whole thing can be boiled down to MOOCs. Really? I guess it comes down to inventing the future vs. sustaining (current) excellence. But I do want to point out that this is exactly the type of thing I was referring to in my startup paper. There is growing pressure on higher education to change—and we, as librarians, will have to adapt to that.

 

Regardless of how you feel about UVa’s Board of Visitors – that type of thinking (ie: working with less funding) will continue around the country. Facing an uncertain future, we need to be ready for such seismic disruptions.

 

I do want to take a minute though to comment on MOOCs because I haven’t done so yet. I mentioned…

Read More

May 30, 2012, 9:10 pm

The Launch of Scholrly: new search engine seeks to change the way people find research

I spent time in California interviewing graduate students about their work processes. Something that stood out to me was how science and engineering students typically looked for people (rather than subject headings) during the information gathering stage. The objective was to find researchers working in particular areas and then mine their websites for additional papers. That’s exactly the approach that Scholrly hopes to improve upon.

 

I first came across Scholrly about a year ago when a friend of a friend liked them on Facebook. I explored and this is what I found:

 

“Scholrly aims to give its users, from the garage inventor to the tenured professor, a single stop for finding research connections and insights faster than ever before.”

 

I spoke with co-founder Corbin Pon last August and followed their development. Over the past year they’ve worked with faculty at…

Read More

March 12, 2012, 3:46 pm

Google Docs Will Free Librarians (to Engage Students More Directly in the Natural Writing Environment)

I had a vivid dream last night. I typically forget all my dreams, but this one stood out. In this world no one spoke directly to each other. Everyone was a ventriloquist and used dummies or puppets to communicate. I walked through restaurants, grocery stores, malls and a few other common locations– and everyone had their avatar on their hand. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for iPhones and digital devices and social media and how they are disconnecting traditional social interactions  – but that seems too obvious. I think the larger message is centered on the need to evolve with mainstream communication preferences and practices.

 

In the dream I didn’t have a dummy/puppet/avatar and hence everyone I tried to interact with just ignored me. This is likely a confluence of several things. I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of libraries, the future of information, the future of…

Read More

February 10, 2012, 6:59 pm

Someday [soon] you’ll help patrons with tactile scholarship: Visualization & 3D Printing

Software. I’ve been hearing a lot about visualization lately. Obviously it’s been around a awhile, but it’s gathering new interest from more popular audiences. As these tools/techniques become more readily available and easier to use, visualization will likely become a prominent communications outlet. I will not only read an article but also be able to manipulate the adjoining data. Aspiring librarians should invest in developing visualization and visual literacy skills. This is a logical extension of multimedia and new media and it applies to both scholarly and popular contexts. Here’s an app to get you started.

Research libraries have long been building infrastructure to support data management and the UC has even recently launched a data plan generation tool. It seems to next step is the development of an open-source, user-friendly, discipline scalable visualization tool. …

Read More

October 13, 2011, 5:20 pm

Are We In The DIY Era? Helping patrons help themselves

UCSB's Ole checking out some books

A core theme I see in LibQUAL+ data is that most libraries do pretty well in the service dimension, but when it comes to enabling users to help themselves their perceptions are typically much lower.

When you put all the numbers together the narrative goes something like this:

You’re pretty good at helping me, thanks, but I’d really prefer to do more things by  myself—and by the way, you don’t make that very easy for me.

But is this changing? Over the past several months (years?) a common theme seems to popping up everywhere: self-service. A few examples:

Read More