My year in first lines.


I liked this meme over at Ruminations, The year in sentences. The first line of the first post for each month of the last year.

December We know that the nature of the web is changing from read only to read/write.

November If you have a couple of minutes, please swing by this blog and leave a comment.

October Still on holidays and back from a few days at the seashore where I saw baby seagulls nesting and baby penguins and sealions lazing on the sand and dolphins playing by the boat.

September So, call me a twopointopian for loving my workday today.

August We’re a nosy bunch in the biblioblabbersphere.

July Here’s my answer to anyone who asks “so – what do you do at an unconference or barcamp ?”….

June Random thing 2 from the list I made on Thursday: 2. Five blogs that make me think are:

May Yesterday I outlined Ten very good reasons why your librarians should be in Second Life.

April Google paper – helping the environment get incrementally healthier.

March Circuses? They’re all about performing animals and clowns that do slapstick and must have a ringmaster with a big black moustache, right?

February Back in 1993, after Peter Steiner’s “on the internet no-one knows you’re a dog” cartoon was published in The New Yorker (pg 61 of July 5, 1993), everyone seemed to have it up on their wall.

January ‘Tis the season for blog migrations.

Should libraries host user generated content?


We know that the nature of the web is changing from read only to read/write. Traditionally libraries have been concerned about access to reading material. Is it time to look toward access to read / write material too – not just by cataloguing or linking to it, but by creating a platform for our users ?

It’s disruptive

The novel – mainstay of many public library collections – only came into existence in English in 1740 with Richardson’s Pamela. A sustained fictional narrative was a new thing. I presume its success was partly due to rising literacy among those likely to consume it, but also a new mindset where fiction was accepted as content matter worth reading.

Over 150 years after the first novel – it was still a disruptive technology. American librarians were discussing what they called the “fiction problem” – which was that

people liked fiction, while many librarians regarded fiction-reading as little better than pool-playing.

Readers’ Advisory Service: New Directions. Ross, Catherine Sheldrick, RQ v30 n4 p503 – 18 Sum 19

The read/write web is similarly disruptive. Just like the librarians of the 1900s didn’t want to become custodians and enablers of something they considered trivial and contrary to their “real purpose”, social networking software is viewed by many contemporary librarians in a similar way.

Our skills can be easily adapted

Librarians actually have skills that would make us very good at providing social networking platforms for our users. We have skills at evaluating information resources. Many libraries have built complex matrices to assess potential online journal subscriptions – which include technical IT factors like platform independence, compatibility with existing systems – as well as user interface, ease of access, ease of use. We often liaise with technical services or IT to get our databases working well. We have a lot of expertise as the “middle layer” between databases and users – setting it up, integrating it into existing systems, writing and giving training.

Is using other social platforms “privatisating information by stealth” ?

A participant in the Victoria Public Libraries Learning 2.0 programme expressed in their final post (on the deliciously named blog “It’s the Queen of Darkness, Pal” ) concerns about libraries using private internet conglomerates to store their data. I guess this covers services like Picture Australia using Flickr or subject guides created using a tag cloud:

Personally, my take on web 2.0 is that libraries need to get much more actively involved “from the inside” rather than whooping from the sidelines (if I can go back to my Oprah analogy, in case you missed it).
I think that using all the technologies in the learning 2.0 program is a great idea, but really I think we need to move far beyond just using other companies gadgets and gizmos to and going “wow that’s pretty cool, what a nifty idea” to being the ones that are coming up with the ideas and actually inventing the gizmos.

I have said this before, but, for example, rather than encouraging everyone to use blogger, I think libraries, especially state and national libraries should be setting up their own blogging sites for their users. Where will Blogger be in 100 years? Who will be looking great grandmother Ethel’s blog from when she was a teenager? Rather than entrusting all our cultural data to corporate conglomerates, why not put it in the hands of our oldest, and most esteemed public institutions, our libraries?

Frankly, I think we need to start doing these things or we will become irrelevant and then disappear (yikes).

last post: privatising information by stealth

When would it make sense ?

Obviously libraries aren’t going to try out-wiki Wikipedia or out-blog blogger, but there are times when it makes sense for someone in an organisation to provide social networking platforms on behalf of the organisation – and I’d argue that our skills perfectly place us to be that someone. Lets take providing blogging software for an institution for example. Here’s some instances where it makes sense for an organisation to self-host.:

  1. If the DNS is important. If you want your users to be able to find you using the URL associated with your institution. Yes, you can associate a hosted site with your own URL, but often the network security department isn’t going to let you do that.
  2. If your clients are not charged for traffic inside a local network. At my uni, students are not charged for traffic on sites within the Western Australian university network – but are for those outside. Independent hosting would force students to pay to access those sites.
  3. If it belongs on an intranet.
  4. If the organisation has an ethical or statutory duty to ensure data is 100% secure and archivable.
  5. Staff are required to use a blog as part of their job – eg. instead of a departmental newsletter. They should be able to use their existing staff authentication to author the blog and not be forced off-site.

It’s already happening

UThink: blogs at the University of Minnesota is a project where the University Libraries are using Movable Type to host and maintain blogs for their university community. I have heard on the grapevine that there are another couple of university libraries in North America planning to do the same thing.

The statistics for UThink are impressive:

Blogs: 5366
Entries: 78202
Comments: 104272
Authors: 12653

I applaud the reasons the librarians give in their answer to the FAQ Why are university libraries hosting blogs ?

…the Libraries have numerous goals with this project: to promote intellectual freedom, to help build communities of interest on campus, to investigate the connections between blogging and the traditional academic enterprise, and to retain the cultural memory of the institution.

Lego trainset 111 – Happy Halloween


Ever have a brain fry in the middle of a presentation and start raving on about things you didn’t expect? All the while you are listening to yourself thinking “Girl! WTF are you TALKING about?”. Happened to me at Podcamp during my Blog Fodder presentation where I talked for about 3 minutes about “Lego Trainset 111″ to illustrate Ellysa Kroski’s 18 Different Types of Blog posts.

Here’s the video, Podcamp Perth 2007: The blog session, that the Co-Pilot put up at Viddler. If you push play on my blog, the video magically jumps to the start of “Trainset 111″. If you view it on Viddler, then mover the slider to the white dots marking start and finish.

Disembodied voices who made it all unconferency are Gary Barber, Sue Waters and Frances McClean. Plus Maeve and Trevor and Julia and Con chiming in too.
Other Podcamp videos now at Viddler include:

During my brain fry, I made the comment that a lego blog where someone took a step-by-step photo of the construction process would probably get many, many more readers than my blog ever would. For those uninitiated in this genre…I present…17 photos in a step-by-step guide to How to make a Lego minifig costume for Halloween

UPDATE 12 Nov 2007: Viddler removed the streaming feature last week, so the clip now starts at the beginning.

(And after upgrading this blog to v2.3.1, this post is stuffing up my template, so I had to remove the embedded video – ick)

Blog fodder – what do I put in?


Notes from my presentation at Podcamp Perth on October 27th 2007, which is here Blog Fodder : what do I put in ?

1. Look at your blog

  • What type of blog is it?
  • Tagline
  • “About” page

2. Look at your audience

  • What audience?
    • Sitemeter
    • Google analytics
    • Google webmaster tools
    • Statistics on your hosting service
  • What are they searching for when they get to you ?
    • Squeaky bras
    • Fear of beetroot
    • What time is the Australian Idol replay ?
    • Geek t-shirts Perth

    Where are they coming from? Domain? Location?

  • Who do you want in your audience?

3. Who are you?

  • What do you want to write about?
  • Would you read your own blog?
  • Is the voice of your blog human?
  • How much of yourself do you want to show ?
  • Your privacy. Others’ privacy.
  • Findability – forever
  • What other online conversations are you part of?

4. Some types of blog posts – from ilibrarian 18 Different kinds of blog posts

5. If you have bloggers’ block

  • Leave it
  • Get a Life
  • Really…leave it
  • Prewrite posts
  • Read other blogs
  • Tell a story
  • Make a list
  • Find a meme
  • Set a public challenge
  • Set a posting schedule
  • Go off topic…and bring it back
  • Write a post for the searchbots
  • Ask questions andsummarize (twitter and Facebook)
  • Invite a guest blogger
  • Work in another medium and embed it in your blog:
    • Take a photo
    • Draw a picture
    • Do a slidecast
    • Create an audio file
    • Make a video

SO … If you want stuff for your blog…Find your VOICE…Know the TYPES OF BLOG POSTS….Know how to deal with BLOGGERS BLOCK….PLAY

Voki, year ones and blogging in education


I fiddled with Voki, which is an online tool to create a cartoon character that appears to speak an audio track that you record. I discovered it at the 1M Little Gems Blog which I discovered in turn via Tama Leaver’s excellent post about blogging in education: Reflections on the Australian Blogging Conference and Blogging in Education . If myVoki doesn’t show in your aggregator, you can go here .

Get a Voki now!

I love the Year One’s blog. As a parent, I would really appreciate a web page for the class that lists what is happening each day, what the kids need and significant dates – as they have icluded on the sidebar of the blog. I can see that they have used online graphing software to embed the kids’ graphs in the blog. The Voices of the World project in which they are participating is very cool too – kids around the world are using the same software (in September it was Voki) to record the same information. I love the voices of the Scottish kids featured on the blog.

Tama’s post outlines the pros and cons of blogging in education and is really worth a read.

Group blogging survey


Are you a librarian contributing to a group blog? Can you tell us about your experience with group blogging?

Yes, I am looking at you board members of ALIA, and at you too Library Garden folk, and ALA Techsource people. And don’t think you can duck staff at Yarra Plenty or Mosman Library.

The Thali, who administer, would be grateful if you could fill in a short survey to collect data for a paper to be given at the VALA conference in February.

Please click here to go to the survey about Librarian group blogs: experiences and motivations. Thank you.

Happy Blog Day


I’ve made my detailed post over at lint, Happy Blog Day from Kathryn.

Last year I mentioned five blogs that had under 200 bloglines subscribers as my favourite new blogs. Interesting to see how they have grown:

  1. Temporal Island. De walks around Perth recording her observations and seeing more than the average person does.
  2. Stephen’s Lighthouse . By SirsiDynix’s Vice President of Innovation, Stephen Abram
  3. Walt at Random Where Walt Crawford blogs about things not quite ready for his other sites.
  4. WebDiary-Independent, Ethical, Accountable and Transparent Highty respected Australian journalist, Margo Kingston, Margo founded Webdiary for the Sydney Morning Herald in July 2000 and took it independent on August 22, 2005.
  5. I am Matthew Williams and You are Not |
    Notes from the Writing Instruction Underground. Matthew writes about using new social technologies to engage students in his university.

This year my picks are:

  1. Mobile Technology in TAFE
  2. Uncontrolled Vocabulary
  3. When Convention Fails – New Worlds can be Found
  4. Al Upton and the Minilegends
  5. Virtually a Librarian

Head over to lint to see why.

Archiving our online life


Are you backing up your blog? Do you think you should? Do you think libraries have any role in archiving them?

The UNC Chapel Hill School of Info and Library Science are after 300 bloggers to take a survey answering these questions. Blogger perceptions on digital preservation. I took it and it reminded me to download the blog backup I keep on the very same server my blog is stored on.

In Australia, the Pandora project, run from the National Library of Australia archives significant Australian web documents and sites. LINT was archived there a few months ago, leading us to reconsider our copyright statement. We updated our instructions for contributers so that they understood everything published there was under a Creative Commons attribution license. If you want to know about other impacts on sites that were archived by Pandora, check out Edgar Crooks’ For the Record: Assessing the Impact of Archiving on the Archived in RLG Diginews, 15 August 2006.

Edgar asked me, after my Second Life talk at the National Library, how we could archive the Australian Libraries Building in Second Life. I suggested that we could create a machinima (movie created using the tools within the virtual environment). He liked the suggestion, so a couple of months ago Emerald Dumont gave a guided tour of the library which was filmed by another Second Life librarian, who is still editing it. Interestingly, the Pandora people didn’t want to do this themselves as to enter Second Life you need to create an avatar, which means they are “imposing themselves on the archive” and creating content rather than just recording it.

Lazy Easter patchwork post


I’m taking Easter off from PCs ‘n’ stuff, I think. I don’t even have a suitably thoughtful post to keep at the top of the aggregator for the next four disjointed, lazy woman bitties…..


The biblioblogosphere has seemed a bit quiet in the last couple of months. Is it because many of our libraries are implementing the projects we’ve been jumping up and down about in the last year?

Last year there was a lot of “Wow..this stuff is so COOOOL and I think we could use it in our libraries, maybe..why doesn’t my workplace GET IT”. Now it seems to be more often “I’ve been asked to talk to a roomful of my colleagues about this Cool Stuff”.

I think there’s a glimmer of “I’m setting up this really great project using the tools I was speculating about last year”..and even “one of my colleagues had this great idea how we could use this stuff”. Maybe I’m just projecting….


Ever find yourself nodding and saying “aha, aha, yep, aha” all through a post?. Here’s three from the last 24 hours, where the only thing I have to say more on the topic is “what they said”.




Emerald Dumont talks to BrianA Corleone atop his treasure trove and hopes the dragon’s egg will hatch.


Via HeyJude

David Berlind, Managing Editor of ZDNet describes mashups in a way that makes me understand where APIs fit in the mashup food chain.
[kml_flashembed movie=”” width=”425″ height=”350″ wmode=”transparent” /]

Embedded video: What’s a mashup