Photos and videos from the China trip

I finally put some of my photos on Flickr and my videos on YouTube. Here are the links:
China food set of photos, photos of markets in China, video of the street food, video of morning exercise in Shanghai, and video of eating hot pot in Shanghai.

I hope you enjoy them!


Shopping in Shanghai

Who knew shopping was so great in Shanghai? Certainly not me! We have been on the power shopping tour since we got back from Jingdezhen. We went to the fabric market where they sell yard goods plus all kinds of clothes imaginable. They can also make anything you want. The silk and the silk things are especially nice, but they also have cashmere anything. It is absolutely luscious. I found a winter coat I liked, but of course the model that they had in the booth was a size six or so. Lola the sales girl said they could make one to fit me in 5 hours. It is modeled after a Chanel design and is great. I decided to think about it since I have no more space in my luggage and will need to carry it on the plane. I got to thinking - a great coat, tailor made to fit me, for far less than I could buy a coat at Target. What's to think about!??? I went back today and they will bring it to my hotel tomorrow.

We also went to look for eye glasses. The glasses mall was four floors of glasses shops. If you can't find glasses there you aren't going to be finding glasses! Joe found two pairs and I settled on one. Mine were $109. and his were two for $150. They are fantastic frames that are totally unique. One of his looks like it is carved out of wood - they are designed by a Japanese designer. Mine look Italian, but I don't really know for sure what they are.

Add to this the silk, cashmere, lotus shoes, antiques, tea, pottery and other assorted things we have purchased, I think we have done enough shopping to keep my shopping black belt. Yikes.

Great bargains can be had - you just have to also buy the airline ticket.


Noodle Man

One of the best places to eat in Food Alley in Jindezhen is at the Noodle Man's place. This gentle noodle maker, his wife and two beautiful little girls run this little restaurant. He makes the BEST noodles. He makes them all from scratch. You can have them as soup or stir fried. They are spicy and tasty. Here is a video of the noodle making. You can catch glimpses of his wife and girls, too.

Traditional pot trimming, China

Jingdezhen is all about ceramics.  There is a wonderful ceramics museum with kilns, pottery makers of all kinds, shops, and on and on.  I managed to get some video of one of the artists trimming a pot.  For those who don't know about ceramic process, the wet clay is formed into a shape by throwing it on a potters wheel.  The pot is then dried and then it is trimmed to make it's final form  - thinning the walls and making the foot of the pot the right shape.  In the states the trimming is generally done when the clay is "leather hard" - firm but not completely dry.  Here, the pot is trimmed when the clay is "bone dry."  This man in this video is using the traditional methods all around.  Notice how he makes the wheel spin at the beginning.  No power except his own.  My potter friends can probably find all kinds of things to correct in my description of this process, but watch the video and you will get the idea.


The Holiday Hotel

Our hotel here in  Jingdezhen is called the Holiday Hotel....not to be mistaken with the Holiday Inn.  It is brand new.  In fact last June when Joe was here it wasn't even started.  I would not exactly call it finished.  The room where we are staying is more or less finished, but there are big parts of the hotel that are still under construction.  Certificate of Occupancy?   We don't need no stinkin' C.O.!  

We are on the top floor with a great view.  That part is great.  The weird thing is that the wall that separates our room from the adjoining room doesn't quite reach the front wall so there is a 4 inch (or so) gap.  You can't see through to the adjoining room, but you can sure hear!  When the guy staying next door turned on his TV late at night it was like it was in our room.  He also smokes and I was convinced he was blowing smoke through the gap.  I woke up on the night smelling smoke and then was worried that this guy (dubbed Smelly Greasy Guy) was smoking in bed.  It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to believe this as people smoke everywhere here.  

SGG checked out today so perhaps no one will be in there tonight.  


Eating in Jingdezhen

We are here in Jingdezhen, China after having traveled from Lexington to Cincinnati to San Francisco to Hong Kong to Shanghai to Jingdezhen.  Whew, a long trip.  Thankfully it wasn't all at once!  This morning we went in search of breakfast and found a street near the food market with stalls selling all kinds of steamed dumplings.  We ate a few from this one and then a few from that one.  They were beyond wonderful.  Tender dough pockets filled with various fillings - some meat some vegetable.  Savory.  Spicy.  Mmmmmmm!    The bamboo steamer baskets are stacked high over woks of boiling water keeping them all piping hot.  

After stuffing ourselves on the dim sum we wandered through the food market.  It was bustling. They were selling anything imaginable that could be cooked.  Piles of incredible produce; tanks of fish, turtles, eels, and frogs; a huge variety of peppers and other spices; meat of all varieties; cages of ducks, chickens, pigeons; eggs of many colors and sizes.  

I guess the culinary tour of China has officially begun.  With a vengeance.


I voted with pride!

Because we will be returning from China on election day (we will be watching returns in a hotel in San Francisco) we went yesterday and voted absentee at the Clark County courthouse. We had to hurry because they were scheduled to close at 4:00. We made it in by the deadline, completed the paperwork and the very kind worker from the Clerk's office led us to a small room where the voting machines were set up.

She had to do some set up on the machine to make sure our vote was attributed to our precinct. While she was getting things set up I noticed that this was the same room that stored the marriage records for the county. The marriage records are recorded in books that are labeled with dates back to 1793. Standing there looking at these records we also noted that the older ones are also labeled "white" and "colored". This is a part of history that I obviously don't like, but it is what it is.

When I stepped into the voting booth I pushed the button to select a straight democratic ticket. Before I pushed the "Vote" button I stood there for a moment and checked to make sure that I was good with all of the choices. My eyes fell on Barack Obama's name and tears welled up in my eyes. The significance of voting for this man who I feel is (without any doubt whatsoever) America's best hope for the future while standing in a room where marriage records were divided into "white" and "colored" was overwhelming. I stood there savoring the moment, collected myself and pushed "Vote". A very proud moment in my life.


Books for Kids

I posted this video to the meta blog this morning, but it is worth posting here because it relates not just to transformation of content, but also to ubiquitous access to words and sounds for everyone. Say what you will about Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive (and I have heard criticisms leveled about some quality and preservation issues) anyone would have to admit that he is doing it! Go Brewster.

I don't really know the practicality of the book machine being taken to developing nations to make books for kids, but I know many kids (and librarians) in Ecuador who would be so excited by the concept. Many kids there simply do not have books. Kids in the small pueblos have no hope of getting access to books. There are some workbooks in the schools, but to peruse the shelf to actually select something you want to read...unheard of.

Next summer we are planning a trip to a small jungle village that is near and dear to our hearts to make the final connections of laptops/solar panels for the schoolkids. If these kids could have access to the International Children's Digital Library - now that will be huge.



Last weekend at the family feast day one of the relatives brought a big tray of some tiny cream horn like things called Ladylocks. They were so good and I thought they would be a good thing to make for parties or potlucks - whatever. I was surfing for recipes on the internet and thought I would look for the recipe for ladylocks. I founds numerous versions – some with a cooked filling and some with an uncooked filling. I found one recipe that made 500 (!!!!) of them. It turns out one of the primary ingredient for these delicacies is Crisco....that right, Crisco!!!!! This recipe for 500 of the little tidbits calls for 20 cups of Crisco! Once I got over the shock I looked at the whole page and the ad that came up at the bottom said “How I lost 90 pounds” I laughed out loud. I thought to myself - “you didn’t do it by eating ladylocks!” Maybe the message is that anyone that makes 500 ladylocks and eats them will have at least 90 pounds to lose. Yikes. I am including the link to the recipe (for fewer than 500) if you want to make them. Don't offer me any if you do.
Ladylocks recipe


John, John, John (shaking head)....

I try not to let this blog be a political blog (OK, I don't try very hard), but I can't let the appointment of Sarah Palin as John McCain's VP pick go by without a comment. Sheesh, John, what were you thinking???? I can't believe anyone would actually be sucked into this ploy...but I listen to the coverage of the Republican circus going on in Minneapolis and sure enough people are "energized" and "excited" by this choice. OMG, I can't believe it.

I read a post on another blog entitled Barefoot and Pregnant in the West Wing that sums up my sentiments. This whole fiasco of a choice has allowed my favorite candidate, Senator Obama, to take the high road. Yay for him. At the same time his staffers and campaign workers must have been high fiving it when the choice was announced.

I think that we can't afford to make many assumptions though about the American electorate. Remember, dear readers, who got elected to the highest office....twice.


Killer apps for scientists - or anyone

Chris Rusbridge is a great mind always thinking about implications for scholarly communication and how best to capture information into repositories. That summations doesn't really do justice to the thrust of Chris' work, so let's just say I admire his work immensely and have great respect for his observations. One of his lastest posts on the Digital Curation Blog is an adaptation from a posting on Science in the Open about how Nature could make Connotea a killer app for scientists. Chris' point is that the same concepts could be applicable to making repositories killer apps for scientists.

I think the same concepts could be extended to much of what libraries offer. Please read the original posts but essentiall the take-aways for me in these posts are that
  1. Tools (and services) we offer must integrate seamlessly in what people already do
  2. Tools (and services) we develop must outperform what is already available
  3. Tools (and services) must function perfectly 100% of the time
  4. Tools (and services) must include at least one feature to make things that make things measureably better
We have a bad habit in the library world of bringing on new tools and services that require users to change what they do with no value added. Additionally we make things so hard that they require instruction to make them work. Is there any mystery that less than 60% of faculty in sciences and less than 70% in social sciences rate the role of the library as "gatekeeper" as "very important". I have perceived this from my conversations with faculty colleagues over the last several years, but now this has been substantiated through research. A new report from Ithaka studying key stakeholders in the digital transformation of higher education has documented this phenomenon. Not surprising this has received a good deal of press. The report was a cover article in the August 26 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education (at least it was in the digital version - I don't read the paper edition). Educause did a webcast with Roger Shonfeld, one of the report's primary authors that was also very interesting.

From the Chronicle article:

Since 2003, faculty members across the disciplines have shown a marked decline in how devoted they are to libraries as information portals. Eighty percent of humanities scholars are still devoted to library research—although that may be not because they're traditionalists but because they can't yet get what they need in digital form. But only 48 percent of economists and 50 percent of scientists value libraries as gateways.

That should worry librarians whose budgets are eaten up by high-priced science journals. What if the designated users of those materials are sidestepping the library altogether?

Meanwhile, more than 90 percent of librarians still consider the gateway function of libraries as essential. "Obviously there is a mismatch in perception here"—one that librarians need to confront if they want to stay relevant to campus intellectual life, Mr. Schonfeld and Mr. Housewright caution.

My assessment - the handwriting is on the wall. Can we as librarians read it?


addicted to apps

I am just crazy about my iPhone and even crazier about the appstore. I find myself looking at the apps...starting with the free ones...then the 99 cent ones...then what the heck it is only $8.99. Here are my favorites (both paid and free)...
  1. Koi Pond - a little zen fish pond in my hand
  2. Facebook - easy to use access to another addiction
  3. Shazam - listens to any recorded song and tells me what it is (how does that work?)
  4. reMovem - easy game of strategy
  5. IQ Boost - a game based on dual n-back exercise - read the article in Wired!
  6. INeedStuff - a georeferenced shopping list
If these things aren't enough reason to love an iPhone then I don't know what to tell you.


can librarians re-envision themselves?

I am starting to wonder if it is indeed possible to re-invent our profession to meet the information needs of a changing world. We can organize discussions until the cows come home, but until we as a profession start to think differently about the nature of information provision I think we are dead in the water. Oh sure, there are pockets of librarians who have actually shifted their weight to the other foot, but as a whole I think our profession is doing a terrible job of changing with the times.

I reflect back on the last meeting of the American Library Association in Anaheim and I was repeatedly struck by the old school nature of the meeting. There were precious few sessions where the conversation wasn't about a slightly different version of the same old thing.

At our faculty retreat we had a really good example of a new way of doing business when we heard from a clinical reference librarian about how they now accompany doctors and residents when they go on their rounds. This serves as the reference interview as they then follow-up and provide information that is needed to answer the questions that come up in interactions with the patients.

They have moved out from behind the reference desk and into a new information space. What strikes me as I try to generalize this to other parts of our profession is that we don't seem to be able to adequately identify where that new information space for faculty and students. One of the readings from our retreat pointed out that we are a profession in need of taking risks but generally speaking we are a profession of people who are risk averse.

Librarians clearly need to move out from behind the reference desk and stop waiting to be approached with questions, but the part that we do not seem to be able to grasp is where that new information space is. It is not sitting with faculty in their offices, it is not in residence halls, it is not in the lobby of the library, but rather it is in the new information space - Google searches, Facebook, My Space, etc. I am not discounting the need for the short term to have some way to answer questions for people that make their way to the library, but I think this is a dying proposition.

Developing systems that require instruction for the user is an activity with diminishing returns.

In a time of diminishing resources, we need to (and as quickly as possible) get the things that are unique to us - generally called Special Collections - processed, cataloged in a way that this metadata can be moved into the new information space. Items from our collections need to be digitized in mass and exposed to the world. We need to forge new relationships and strengthen ongoing relationships with IT professionals to develop new tools to expose our content into that new information space.

We have the ability to do this - do we have the will?



This is a post about a post I read that was referring to another post (ahhh, the infectious nature of the internet!) The post was by Chris Rusbridge, Director of the Digital Curation Centre about the terms we use in trying to "sell" digital preservation. His contention is that we have tainted the term "digital preservation" because it describes a process and not an outcome. We have also sold the idea that it is very complicated and very expensive. Both are true, but there are degrees to everything.

I think the point is well taken and perhaps we should consider what Chris suggests in talking about "long-term accessibility" and "usability over time" to describe what we really want. That actually is the goal, right?

I am reminded of the Seinfeld episode when Jerry was standing at the rental car counter bemoaning the fact that the company did in fact "take" his reservation, but "keeping" his reservation was a problem.

This analogy applies to all of our digital stuff. We don't want to simply "take" it (with all of the expectations that implies) but we want to "keep" it and make it usable.


On the radio....

I am going to be on the Gayle King Show today at 8, 2, and 8 EST on Oprah and Friends Radio on XM Channel 156. I listen to this show everyday on the way into work. Gayle is Oprah's best friend and I can see why. She is funny, smart, and articulate. Anyway, a couple of days ago she was talking about getting a free agenda book from American Express. I called and left a message that I think she should read the fine print because I think she is getting charged for that "free" book. The producers called me and asked if I could talk to Gayle on air about this.

Yesterday they called ma and had me listen to Gayle's monologue before making my comments. In her monologue she was talking about Barack Obama's trip abroad. After the monologue the producer came on and asked if I had any comment about Gayle's monologue before making my comment about the agenda book. What a bonus! I love all things Barack.

My comments about Barack and his speech in Germany was that it is about time when we can be really proud of the person representing Americans abroad. He appears presidential on the world stage. The citizens of Berlin can see it - I hope the electorate of the US can as well. It's about time.


Name that tune

OK I am in full agreement with many who have observed that I am a gadget freak. Technology gadgets and applications are completely up my alley. So it won't be a surprise to my friends that I love love love my new iPhone. It is absolutely delicious with the 3G network. Joe turned me on to a new application from the iTunes app store that is free and amazing. This is in the category complete and utterly amazing.

Shazam is a music exploration tool that has many aspects, but the one I fell in love with is the iPhone app. When listening to music fire up the app on the phone and press "Tag Now" then hold your phone toward the music source. The app will listen for 10 seconds or so then send the info to the server. Within a few seconds you have displayed the artist, song, and album plus links to iTunes and to YouTube. Simply awesome.


33 years and counting

Today is my wedding anniversary. Thirty three years ago today I married Joe Molinaro in a small intimate ceremony at the Newman Center at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. We had a reception at my parents house and received gifts of sheets, towels, and banana bread from family and friends. Our honeymoon consisted of a trip that took us to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Connellsville where we visited family and art museums and attended baseball games.

We were so young and had no clue where our lives were headed. We were best friends then and are best friends now. Every marriage has it's ups and downs but we have had more ups than downs. I really believe persistence is half the battle in a long marriage.

My life with Joe has been infinitely more interesting than it would have been without him. We have grown together and I think bring out the best in each other. He definitely pushes me to be the best I can be. He calls me out when I do boneheaded things and I can count on him to be brutally honest with me. No one knows me like he does. No one is more supportive. He knows all my faults and still loves me.

I would marry him again in a heartbeat. He is my soul mate and I adore him.

Happy anniversary!


Sikh and Ye Shall Find

Our first day in Delhi…the day started at 6 a.m. being awakened by a flock of parrots in a tree outside my room. At 7:30 the doorbell rang with a cup of chai delivered to the room. We met up with Evelyn and decided to hire a driver for the day (Jag Jeet). He made a point for us to start our day at “his temple” – one of 16 Sikh temples in Delhi. It was a fascinating glimpse into a religion that I knew little about. We started in a visitor center where we were instructed to take off our shoes and the lady in charge then tied scarves around our heads to cover our hair.

The tour began in the museum with the history of Sikhism told in a series of paintings that showed significant events in gruesome detail. The Sikh faith was founded in 1469 near Lahore Pakistan. They believe in one God and the teachings of ten gurus combined into the Sikh Holy Book. Sikhs are represented by 5 symbols being: long and unshorn hair, a special comb, a steel bracelet, a sword, and a holy undergarment.

We followed our guide down a long tent covered corridor that was full of people coming and going. On one side there were men handing out glasses of water that people were standing and drinking. We continued on past a place where people were being served some food that looked like semolina that was scooped out onto a few leaves that would cover one hand. People were also buying marigolds to take in the temple to get blessed.

We approached the temple and went up about 5 or 6 steps. People were reaching down and touching the steps and then touching their forehead. As we entered the temple people were milling about. Some families were sitting in small groups. There were three men playing music and chanting facing an altar that was covered in a gold canopy. There was a large pillow on the alter holding the Holy Book. A priest was waving what looked like a feather duster over the book. He was also laying many silk cloths on top of the book. Our guide said that these cloths would later be sold as they were then purified because of the proximity to the book.

We circled around behind all of this and then passed a glass room with what looked like a canopy bed where our guide said the book was put away every night.

Our guide then took us outside and downstairs to look at the kitchen where they prepare and serve meals for 15,000 to 20,000 every day! The faithful come in to do the cooking and put in two-hour shifts. Our guide said that anyone can eat there and there is no charge. It was truly amazing to see.


Pushing a taxi

We arrived here in Delhi at about 9:30 last night after a 14.5 hour flight from Newark. The flight was long – really, really long - but uneventful. The airport is under construction so not the best welcome. Getting processed through immigration was surprisingly efficient. My bag came right away, but we had to wait for Becky’s for a while.

We looked for an ATM upon arrival, but found none. There was a station that resembled an ATM, but it turned out to be a suggestion box – labeled “Touch and Opine”. We did neither. We decided to change some money to have enough cash to get us to the Guest House. We each changed 60 dollars and received 2400 rupees.

After exiting the arrivals hall, we looked for the prepaid taxi stand. We were told to insist on using the one run by the police. Sure enough there was a counter labeled “Police Prepaid Taxi”. There were two guys sitting on the floor eating behind the desk. They popped up as we approached the counter. We told them where we were going – Chanakyapuri near the Chanakya Cinema” and we were issued a ticket for 248 rupees – about $6.30.

As we exited the airport it was CRAZY with cars and people everywhere. We had the number of the taxi to look for and there was a guy in an orange vest that helped us find the right car. We loaded up and were on our way. It was about 11:00 p.m. by this time but traffic was still very heavy. The overwhelming smells seem to be diesel and smoke.

After about a half hour drive we pulled up near the Cinema but since that was only an approximate address there was no guest house in sight. I had an old email with a more specific address on it and our driver left us in the car and went in search of directions. When he returned the taxi would not start! He started pushing the car to try and pop the clutch but with both Becky and I and our luggage aboard there was no way that was going to happen. So we both got out to help him push. What a sight. He finally got help from a passerby and could gain enough speed to get it started.

Evelyn had sent us some more specific instructions about finding the North East Council Guest House from the State Guest House (which our driver found) so we eventually got to the correct place.

There were 4 or 5 guys at the NEC Guest House with registration papers with our names attached to them. They handed Becky hers along with a key and then mine disappeared. None of the guys spoke English and did not seem to understand when we inquired about the other paper and key. Finally a guy came out that spoke a little English and one of they guys went and retrieved the other paper. Still no key. After lots of pantomime the guy with the security uniform on pulled my key out of his pocket!

We made it to our rooms finally at about 12:30. Becky pulled out two little bottles of Cabernet - yea for her! We lost a full day in getting here, but we are here.


What is a book?

There has been a lot of talk (for years) about the "death of the book". How does online content impact the availability of the physical object? What does a device like the Kindle mean to users and libraries? I heard a report yesterday (maybe on BBC America? I'll have to look for a reference) that a publisher was going to stop releasing it's books in hardcover format.

I think about kids and how different technology is making the world for them. I came Lookybooks yesterday - a site with a stated purpose to get more books in the hands of children. The site has links from every book so you can buy the books. Essentially this is a test drive for kid's books.

Then there is the International Children's Digital Library with a mission to encourage tolerance and respect for cultures and languages by making the best of children's literature available online. The team working on this project is devoted and committed. They made a great presentation at last year's JCDL meeting in Vancouver.

Here is an example from Lookybooks below. One I particularly like because of my affinity to animals in clothes. Getting more books in the hands or hearts of children can never be a bad thing.


No time to waste

I know it may be hard to swallow, but I think our current budget woes may, in fact, present an opportunity for us to actually do what we have been reluctant to do for a long time. Maybe this is just the push we need to become excellent. We need to seriously look at what users expect from us and how we can do it better. We have talked a user centered services for a really long time, but too often we are unwilling to make the changes that users want. How many times have we said things such as:

The users don’t fully understand the issues involved in what it would take to {insert user’s idea here}.

We are information professionals and we know best.

We provide a valuable service that we need to tell more people about.

While we as librarians have been collectively wringing our hands about bad searching, incomplete cataloging, the behemoth Google, declining reference statistics, lack of enough staff, lack of respect, etc. the way that people interact with information has fundamentally changed. In case you haven’t noticed the information environment has changed so much that if we don’t make some fundamental changes immediately we can very soon call the game over.

At the risk of offending, here are some thoughts to get a conversation started…

  • If it is not online it isn’t. People want access from their laptop, iPhone, other mobile device and they want it now. They do not want to wait or to walk.
  • We must fundamentally change the way that users interact with our online content. This is our front door and the interface should be intuitive and welcoming. We can’t try to replicate a physical library on a web page and think we have succeeded. Many users coming there will have no concept of physical library and it is a waste of time to try to make them conform.

  • Big effort should be put into designing tools to anticipate user needs and to make the user successful even if they have not attended a training session.
  • Our content must integrate into other content in a seamless way. People must be able to get to our content when they do a Google search.
  • We need to leverage the unique content we have and get it online as fast as possible. This is our competitive advantage and is what will set us aside from other institutions.

  • We need to find ways to be helpers and not hinderers. Lose the stupid rules that get in people’s way. We can’t afford to lose even one good library user.

So where does that leave us? As quickly as possible we need to identify things to stop doing in order to free up resources to do the things that we need to do. It will be painful, but we need to let go of some things that have been near and dear to our hearts for a long time. This is no time to be sentimental.

It wasn’t that long ago when we thought that users could not possible do a search in an online database as well as we could. OK, maybe we were better, but users believed that they were good enough and they were right. And they are right about wanting information presented to them in a seamless way.


Catching up...

OMG, it has been almost a month since I last posted. I have been really busy with a lot of projects and ideas brewing, visiting friends, enjoying family, getting ready to go to India, etc., etc, etc. Almost all of it good but time consuming in a good way.

I have been thinking about and planning for the trip to Manipur. I am participating with a research team to go work with some very old manuscripts that are endangered both physically and intellectually. I will write more about this project here as it develops. I have a camera that I am learning to use so we can take some really good photographs of the manuscripts. At the same time I hope to document our trip with photos and post them here and on Flikr. OK, so now I need to figure out more features of the camera. It will take video, too so maybe I can experiment with that. It will be good subject matter - I hope I can do it justice.

A little about Manipur. It is in northeastern India bounded by 3 Indian states and the country of Myanmar. It is definitely not on the tourist circuit as special permission is required to go there. We are flying to New Delhi from Lexington via Newark. We will stop over in New Delhi and then will continue on to Imphal.

The team going includes Somi Roy, a flimmaker who is from Manipur; Evelyn Knight from the UK Appalachian Center, Becky Ryder, my colleague in Preservation and Digital Programs, Rachel Roberts from the British Library, Alex Gardner from the Rubin Foundation, and me. There are more people involved in the project, but they are not going on this initial visit. It will be interesting and hopefully these manuscripts can be documented and saved.

More soon...


meeting up with old friends

I never thought of myself as a Facebook kind of person. Well, think again...I am now a Facebook addict. I talked to my favorite daughter Gemma last night and when asked what she was up to she replied, "looking at Facebook, thank you very much!" I am now being blamed for getting her hooked on Facebook.

I have had an account for a few months and didn't really think much of it. I was procrastinating doing something else over the weekend (and we were snowed in) and I started fiddling with my Facebook page. I sent invites to people in my address book and OMG I had lots of people make me their friends. One thing leads to another and BAM! I am Facebook crazy.

OK, I know this is old news to lots of you, but for me this has been a great way to connect to old friends. Gemma said she is reconnecting with friends from high school and college. The whole experience has been warm and fuzzy (although time consuming) so far. And great for procrastination!


Work Like a Dog

OK, I really really like all things Oprah. I admit it. I like the Oprah show, Oprah and Friends on XM radio, Oprah the actress in The Color Purple, Oprah the Producer, Oprah the Activist Campaigner for my favorite candidate, and O Magazine.

My March issue of O came yesterday and there was a great article in it by life coach Martha Beck making the analogy of modeling your life after dogs' behaviors. Admittedly this may be a stretch, but I read on mostly because I had heard a great talk on leadership by Polley Ann McClure at Educause a couple of years ago (2003) (here is a link to the article that followed on to the talk) that compared leadership skills to skills needed for agility training with dogs.

This article in O said that dogs follow their instincts and succeed the most when they have jobs that play to their strengths. For instance, beagles live for their food dish. I know this in fact to be true because Murray, Gemma's dog, once ate an entire loaf of bread, a pound each of turkey and cheese, and the wrappers for all three foodstuffs. Martha Beck said that for this reason beagles make great dogs to sniff out illegal food in customs areas in airports. They don't do squat for drugs, but for food - stand back!

She had several other good examples - the point being find a job you are well suited for and you will do it with gusto. You will look forward to it and excel. In other words, you will work like a dog!


The smartest guy

A couple of years ago at Educause 2006 I had the pleasure of hearing Ray Kurzweil speak as a keynote speaker. Kurzweil is clearly the smartest guy I have ever heard speak. For an example of what he is involved in take a peek at his website. Yesterday morning on Morning Edition I heard a story about cell phones that read to the blind. This is one of the many technology advances that Kurzweil described in that Educause talk - ideas that he has had that will change people's lives. This particular device takes a photograph and then reads the text aloud. Amazing! The example the guy in the NPR story gives is the problem of distinguishing between regular and decaf coffee in a hotel room - the packets feel the same!

This makes me wonder about the other predictions Kurzweil made in that Educause talk:
  • The computer as a visible object starting to disappear by 2010
  • "Target" drugs fighting disease on a cellular level
  • Researchers will discover how to reverse engineer the brain
  • Holography being realized for virtual reality
  • Rate of change is accelerating exponentially
Kurzweil is the author of many books including The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Interesting stuff!


The State of the Union

Those of you who know me know that I am a Barack Obama supporter. I have had my Obama 08 bumper sticker on my car for a year and a half. I believe in this man and hold out every hope that he will be elected president this year. Here is why:


My Kindle - I love it

Well there has been a lot of dissing of the Kindle out there, but let me just say - I LOVE my Kindle! OK, I admit it - I am a gadget freak. I was one of the few people who had a Newton and saw the potential for a real PDA. Yes, there is room for improvement - and I am confident there will be improved versions soon - BUT for me it is one of the best devices I have owned. It IS proprietary, the forward and back buttons could be smaller so you don't accidentally turn pages when you grab it, etc. BUT it is the greatest thing for someone who travels (and reads) a lot.

How many times have you packed several books and weighted down your bag so you won't run through all reading material you have with you? This is especially true for traveling abroad to non-English speaking countries.

How many times have you brought a new book with you only to discover that you don't really engage with it? Do you just throw it away??? Buy something new? Just hope this doesn't happen on a 7 hour plane flight.

What I particularly love about my Kindle include:
  • I can enlarge the size of the type when my eyes are tired.
  • I can try out books for free - if I like the first chapter then I will buy the rest of the book
  • I can carry LOTS of books with me
  • I can have searchable access to documents I create or that others send to me (again great for travel)
  • I love having ready access to a dictionary to look up words as I read
  • I really like access to Wikipedia while I am reading
  • It fits in my purse easily and doesn't weigh me down

In short there are enough good things about this device that make me love it now and look forward to improvements to come.

I think a device like this has the potential to fundamentally change the way people interact with text and thus have a HUGE impact on Libraries.


Future researchers

The British Library/JISC sponsored report entitled "information behaviour of the researcher of the future" (maybe not so distant future?) is a worthy read for any librarian. I have long contended that we are in a transitional time and one wonders what the tipping point will be. The report states (on page 16):
Although research libraries spend
millions of pounds providing seamless desktop access to
expensive copyrighted electronic content: journals,
books and monographs, much of this is news to their
users. Either they do not know that the library provides
this material, or they get to it, possibly via Google, and
assume it’s `free’. Libraries are increasingly between a
rock and a hard place: the publisher or search engine
gets the credit, they just pick up the tab.

There is plenty of fodder in this report for those looking at information literacy/information seeking behavior and how academic libraries can play a role. The report describes a horizontal searching - flicking from page to page - skimming off information and using library sites as jumping off points - never to return (during the search). One of the recommendations in this report is to "make simplicity [our] core mission".

We need to open up our digital content to search engines and thus become a destination not simply a pass through.


Digital Preservation Challenge

DigitalPreservationEurope has once again proposed a digital preservation challenge with prize money attached. This Challenge was created to support innovation as applied to preserving digital content (of all kinds) and to provide valuable information on the nature of the challenges ahead in preserving digital content. Good going!

I was interested in the scenarios and the content to be preserved - a legacy application file, images from a legacy gaming platform, an obsolete database, electronic art, and web archiving. All will present substantial challenges. I am particularly interested in the electronic art scenario. The challenge is based on preserving the work of Prix Ars Electronica. One glance at the winners of last year's prize can give an inkling of the intensity of the challenge. I guess it's not called challenge for nothing!

Hats off to the Europeans and the way they are generating innovation...


reading comprehension

TurnipFish from Conor on Vimeo.

A fresh start

Well, this is my new improved blog. Not just about bees, gardening, digital libraries, reading, weight loss, travel, blah blah blah, but rather about anything and everything that is on my mind. Ostensibly I started this for our Blue 2.0 program. But while that is the impetus, this can serve as a fresh start.

I love technology tools and all things related to them. I love the potential of technology and what that can mean for access to information. Easier, faster, better. Who would have thought that an art major with a minor in philosophy would love such science based things? I like the design of good tech tools and bemoan the waste of bad ones.

Stay tuned....