[The OLD] Attempting Elegance

Pecha Kucha: The Unpronounceable

Posted in cil2008, conferences, I amuse myself, Libraries, Technology by Jenica Rogers on April 8, 2008

I suspect this will be unbloggable — 6 presenters, 6 minutes 40 seconds each, 20 slides showing for 20 seconds each, but oh am I going to try.

Amanda Etches-Johnson: IM.

It’s nifty. it allows chat between people who aren’t in the library. We wanted virtual reference, but it didn’t really succeed, so why not use IM instead, which is what more than 75% of online teens use to communicate? Studies say that this is how youth communicates — “email is for old people,” email is dead” (And here comes a slide from the Brickskellar last night. All of us with a) beer and b) cell phones, twittering away.) So what about using it for staff? With some practice, coaching, and backup, everyone can learn to use IM. Also, include your IT staff so you get a big group hug instead of angry helpers. Also, lots of protocols — use the one your users use, or get happy with a multi-protocol client. And get happy with Meebo widgets for point-of-need help.

Greg Schwartz: Podcasting

Greg was a lucky man. Greg got an ipod. Greg found that the ipod was, sadly, empty. Greg said, “What shall I put on it?” Lo, I shall put podcasts on it, because podcasting puts the power of content creation in the hands of the consumer. But where were the librarians? Where were the libraries? There are no librarianly podcasts? HORRORS! So Greg made podcasts. “Sounds like a smart guy, that Greg.” (Now Greg shows lots of examples, which, while probably great podcasts, are making us laugh hysterically, because out of context, they’re super-amusing.) Next podcasting step: Turn consumers to content consumers to content producers. “And he even saw librarians shamelessly promote their own podcasts on a public stage.” (Go listen to Uncontrolled Vocabulary.) There is no size limit on podcasts — creativity and resourcefulness are all you need. Podcast audience is growing!

Meredith Farkas: Wikis

Wikis are like barnraising! Wikis can collect the unique knowledge that each and every person in the world has, to the benefit of everyone. Gather your town’s knowledge, you library’s knowledge, your community’s knowledge together on a wiki. Wikis allow you to distribute the responsibility for maintenance and content creation, rather than having webmasters be your bottleneck to progress. You can even power a website with a wiki — the whole thing — like a content management system, again without badgering the “poor unfortunate webmaster”. Like Meredith. Wikis are about more than collaboration, though — search is a fantastic thing. How many of you have subject guides you can search? Yeah, like, three. They’re probably three that are on wikis. You can also use wiki categories and hierarchy to organize your information in a quick and easy way. Wikis also have a low barrier to entry — WYSIWYG editors, so anyone can do it.

Dave Free: Videocasting.

He started with a freakin’ kitten. “but there are lots of other things in online video.” Like Rick Astley. “And in the immortal words of the Librarian in Black, who’s taking my picture right now…” Who hasn’t watched a video online? Everyone in this room has, “except that one woman back there.” Videos can humanize your library, like the L Team from Williams College, but be careful with your references — Meredith’s students don’t know who the ATeam are. You can publicize your services and your facilities with tours and promotional videos, and images of “the cool Mies Van Der Oh chairs in your reading room”, and use your users to staff your videos, because “they have pinker hair and better writing skills”, and can speak to their peers more effectively than you can. But Dave, don’t I need a big cast and crew like a Key Grip and a Gaffer that I didn’t even know about until NPR told me about them during Oscars week? NO. You just need a (digital) camera. And a computer. “You’re not the Coen brothers. You’re not going to win an Oscar.” Make it cheap. Make it easy. Get an idea. “Videocasting; it’s not just for sleepy kitties anymore.”

Aaron Schmidt: Facebook

Facebook: It won’t kill you. Myspace might kill you, but Facebook won’t. Social Networking is an intellectual freedom issue, because users who contribute information online are contributing the democratization of information. “I went to the same high school as David Hasselhoff, and I’m damn proud of it”, and you can join groups centered around issues you care about, like David Hasselhoff. You can put library content out on Facebook, and create warm fuzzy feelings when people fan and friend you. How does Facebook show us the difficulty with our own resources? Facebook highlights the user. The first thing you see in Facebook is your friends. Users have a voice in Facebook, sharing your likes and dislikes, opinions, and relationships. Our websites? Not so much. “Let me just ask, are any of your websites more popular than Facebook? I thought not.” I mean, just look at our URLs. Also, Privacy? Out the window. We think about intellectual freedom as being about privacy, but we need to acknowledge that users want to act in certain ways and we need to let them, no matter what we think about privacy. This is not about the technology — this is about story telling, about community, and about being social online.

Greg Notess: A response.

Oldest panel member, chosen to be the skeptic. Be skeptical of skeptics: My audience is not going to be like your audience, so why do you trust me? If 2.0 is the solution, what was the problem? Is 2.0 just a distraction? Do we let users create all our content, tag everything so we don’t have to, or create a wiki so we can ditch the website? So what about podcasts? What percent of users come to library sessions now? What percent listen to podcasts? And how many of us have a Greg Schwartz? Are we experts in creating content, or finding content? CAN we do this stuff? SHOULD we? What kind of information can we offer in these social, communal spaces? Who will look at it if we put it there? “Let’s invite a librarian to our kegger!” Cost/Benefit analysis: Maybe we should be putting money and time into developing our core tools to make them more useful and relevant and modern and generally effective. Like WorldCat, for an example.

Question: “What would the Annoyed Library think of all of this?”
Question: “I want to hear any of you respond to Greg Notess’ criticisms.” Dave Free: “What-ever.” Meredith: “I actually agree with him on patrons and wikis.”
Question: “Talk about your experience with this session” The hardest thing they’ve ever done, awesome to do, looking forward to a drink.

The questions went much farther afield, and gave me the sense that the crowd really liked having all these different people in one place at one time…

Funniest useful CiL session EVER.

3 Responses

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  1. amanda said, on April 10, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Whoa, nice job blogging this, Jenica! I vote you the best conblogger EVER.

  2. […] You can see good write-ups (a challenge in itself!) of the challenge at the Librarian in Black and Jenica Rogers-Urbanek. Greg Schwartz definitely had the most entertaining presentation (a library podcasting fable) and […]

  3. […] Pechu Kucha panel was very fun and […]

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