July 9, 2013, 3:50 pm

MUSIC AND WRITING & MY HIP HOP IMAGINATION or: if my next paper is bad blame Jay Z

I’ve been reflecting on my writing process lately. I’ve noticed that when I’m working on an article or a conference talk that I seem to gravitate toward a particular artist or album to stimulate my thinking. It’s not intentional but there always seems to be a unique soundtrack for each piece.

 

When I was writing my book I listened to a lot of Thursday and Three 6 Mafia. When I was writing startup it was a blend of Postal Service and Lil Wayne. The R&D paper was pretty much all Amanda Palmer and Dresden Dolls. ACRL’s discovery paper was classic grunge like old Soundgarden and AIC. Yet while preparing for that presentation it was early Metallica with a shot of Kanye and ASAP

 

Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t limit myself to just these artists. On any given day it could be back-to-back Danzig and Dr Dre in order to spark ideas or new emotions that I want to capture…

Read More

July 1, 2013, 8:50 pm

Glass: my first encounter (and applying it to higher ed)

glass_Gardner_me

Gardner is in shock by Glass awesomeness. I’m looking mad that I have to wait twelve months for my own device.

Wow. I just experienced something special. This afternoon Gardner and I sat down with a Glass Explorer. It was a 60-minute meeting that turned into 160 minutes of mind bendiness.

Flashback I was in high school when the transition from cassette tapes to CDs happened. I was in college when my roommates and I dialed into the Internet to figure out “what’s the web for?” I was in Atlanta when I first held an iPhone and then bought one the very next day. Flash Forward Those were all critical technology experiences for me. Today, in Blacksburg, I had another one… it was Glass.

I should just end this post right now because I’m still trying to process what I saw. You may think I’m feeling…

Read More

June 26, 2013, 7:53 pm

Aspirations: 100 elements

We’re revisiting our mission, vision, and values. It feels like we are in the early stages of a transformation—physical, virtual, philosophical, etc. This is very apparent in the types of positions that we’re hiring: Research Environments Librarian, Visual Literacy Instructor, Web Developer, and so forth. The whole concept of what we do (or what we can do) as an organization is greatly expanding as new capabilities are being added.

 

This summer we are exploring a big concept that I’m calling our aspirational identity. What words and images do we use internally to articulate why our library exists? What moods, feelings, and energy do we want to project outward? How can we support and amplify that Virginia Tech brand? It’s really about reframing the identity of the library and making a statement: this is who we are now. I’m drawing inspiration from The Container Store and …

Read More

June 25, 2013, 2:56 pm

Haystacks vs. Algorithms: Is Scanning the Stacks for [Pretty] Books Really the Best Research Strategy?

One of my favorite courses during undergrad was Shakespeare. My professor had a performance-oriented approach but I recall writing a few essays and being amazed by the range of material in my library. Shelf after shelf held books about Shakespeare and other Elizabethan playwrights.

It was fun to flip through the pages and see what was contained. This was the mid-1990’s — the web was still emerging.

When I see faculty write about serendipity and the value of wandering the stacks I think back with nostalgia to that period in my life. It’s a very romantic idea—being surrounded by immense physical collections of knowledge.

Little did I know the university up the road had an even larger Shakespeare collection. Or that Folger even existed. My library contained just a thimble of information on this topic. If all I used were the materials in my library I could get a good grade…

Read More

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 29, 2013, 7:02 pm

How Embedded Are You?

What does it mean to be embedded? We have workshops, blogs, and books, but I’m not sure that we have a common definition. Perhaps it circles around the act of taking content or services outside of our traditional framework (spaces, websites) and integrating them into the natural habitat of our users?

 

But that feels too vague. If I provide office hours in a classroom building or if I interact with a class via the course management system— am I embedded? Technically, yes, but this is a gray area to me. There are different degrees of experiences.

 

roleThe more I think about embedded librarianship, and I will confess I have not read much of the emerging conversation, the question I’m having is with depth. How engaged are we? Are we simply serving a traditional librarian role in an nontraditional environment or is there something else to it? Are we changing our context or are…

Read More

May 22, 2013, 7:55 pm

When in doubt… watch SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

It has been an exhaustive academic year. This summer I am applying “energy management” techniques in order to be more effective. I’ve been way off balance this year. Some people make New Year’s Resolutions– for me it is Summer Resolutions.

I’ve been watching a string of dark movies lately (Argo, Django, Zero Dark) and a friend recommended I change it up with Singin’ In The Rain. I’ll admit that this movie was nowhere near my watch list: I don’t do musicals! But I watched and enjoyed it.

There is a pivotal moment in the film when a group of actors, producers, and others from the silent film era first encounter a talking picture.

 

  • First there is doubt:  “that’s not possible”
  • Then skepticism: “it’s a toy”
  • Then anger: “it’s vulgar”
  • Then fear: “aww, but will they ever use it?”
  • And…

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

April 27, 2013, 5:55 pm

Are online public universities the new land-grant institution?

I see that Florida approved an online-only public university and that California is exploring faculty-free colleges that would award exam-based degrees. Combine this with the fact that the federal government is exploring different models for financial aid based on competency rather than the quantity of credit hours. And add in that accreditation bodies are warming up to more open learning models.

Question: Is this the new “land-grant” university?

If the federal government  will fund online universities (via financial aid for tuition and fees) and accreditation organizations recognize these degrees as equivalent to other state-operated higher ed schools—is this the land-grant for the 21st century? Is this the new environment that opens up affordable and diverse education to a larger audience? Is this a contemporary approach to acquiring and developing skills, insights, and…

Read More