Dangerous literature for Library staff

Posted on June 29, 2008. Filed under: collaboration, Everything is Miscellaneous, libraries, library 2.0, sharing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Having read various blog postings, including one by Martin Weller about “Everything is Miscellaneous: The power of the new digital disorder” (EiM for short), I asked for a copy for my birthday. I am currently 1/2 way through it and think that it is set to become a classic, a must read for anyone with an interest in information. It is easy to read and thought-provoking: Is everything miscellaneous? Should we aim to make everything miscellaneous? Should we be allowing our users to categorise everything? How should we do this?

The book is quite challenging. A few years ago I managed the implementation of document management policies and procedures supported by a document management system in the Library that I work in. We produced a folder structure and a set of file and folder naming guidelines. These aim to help us to organise our information effectively, retrieve documents more easily and reduce document duplication. One of the things that we said was that staff must not label folders “miscellaneous” or documents “Joe Blogg’s report”. Weinberger asserts that organising information in folders is not efficient in the digital world. Every person has a different view of the world. Assigning multiple (unlimited) tags is more efficient; file names become less important.

I am so enthusiastic about “Everything is Miscellaneous” that I want everyone in the Library where I work to read it so that we can discuss it and work together to decide how to shape our strategies for both our online and physical information resources. I would like staff to look at the challenges that we are facing and think about how we should move forward. I have enlisted the help of a couple of colleagues to spread the word and help to enthuse other people. So far we have managed to persuade 17 to buy the book (currently we are eagerly awaiting a bulk Amazon order); at least 4 more are going to read the Library’s copies. So almost a quarter of Library staff will be reading the book and hopefully more will join us.

For fun we plan to ask people to take pictures of themselves with the book in interesting places (whilst on holiday, or away at conferences for example) and we will put these into a flickr group. We will be asking staff to share their favourite quotes from it.

Karen G. Schneider’s post at ALA TechSource: “This is, I repeat, a dangerous book. Ban it, burn it, or take it to heart. The most dangerous part of this book is not that Weinberger says these things, and so much more: the danger comes if we don’t listen.” sparked off an idea. With the help of a few colleagues, I am going to set up a “dangerous” literature group for Library staff. The group will read and discuss things that it’s dangerous for people working in libraries not to read. EiM will be the first book.

We will also be doing a “dangerous” literature display for the Library staff room, to include EiM and other literature relevant to libraries, the information profession & the digital revolution (e.g. “Wikinomics” by Don Tapscott and “Ambient Findability” by Peter Morville). We will summarise each text and our thoughts on it and will include our favourite quotes from it.

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More on Journal Articles: Ratings and Comments

Posted on November 22, 2007. Filed under: collaboration,, education, indexing, information, library 2.0, sharing, technology, universities, web 2.0 |

This post is further to my earlier post on Journal articles: ratings and comments (7th November, 2007).

Yesterday I attended the JIBS workshop: “Is Library 2.0 a trivial pursuit”. The presentations were all excellent. They included one by Dave Pattern, Library Systems Manager at the University of Huddersfield: “Making the catalogue a good place to be: Lipstick, cowbells and serendipity.” I asked the question:

“How long will it be before people can rate and comment on articles aswell as books; and how long will it be before we can find out ‘people who read/downloaded this article have also read/downloaded these articles’ ” and “Are fed search providers e.g. Exlibris looking at doing this sort of thing?” No-one was aware of anyone doing anything in this area.

However, Ale de Vries, Product Manager, Elsevier, in his presentation: “A publisher’s view of Library 2.0” mentioned 2collab, a beta system that will enable sharing and collaboration between researchers in particular fields. Ale’s presentation also included a last-minute slide (following my question earlier in the day) on how they are going to provide article download/useage information and rankings based on this. So perhaps the rating, recommendation and review of journal articles and papers is not far off.

Personally I think that this would work best as a mash-up of a type-system with a LibraryThing/Zotero type system so that you can save the references to the articles (and add your own tags and comments/reviews to them) wherever you have found them (e.g. within a web-based bib database to which your library subscribes or in a web-journal, e.g. Ariadne) and share them with your colleagues wherever they are based.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this? Anyone else blogging/writing elsewhere about this? Should I patent the idea?

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Journal Articles: Ratings and Comments

Posted on November 7, 2007. Filed under: education, indexing, library 2.0, sharing, technology, web 2.0 |

How long will it be before it is possible to rate and comment on articles and papers and see that people who read this also read…  these papers and these books and want to read these ones?

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Virtual Edutainment Worlds for Children

Posted on October 26, 2007. Filed under: accessibility, barbiegirls, children, club penguin, education, edutainment, funkeys, future, gaming, kids, play, sharing, technology, tygirlz, webkinz |

When speaking at the Virtual Worlds Forum in London this week about the game-related worlds targetted at children (primarily those that link membership of the world to ownership of a toy) Lord Puttnam (who is incidentally the new Chancellor of The Open University) presented the following challenge:

“The challenge ahead is this – to ensure that virtual worlds are increasingly places that offer real meaning to their lives and in the real world to learn from the sense of community and collaboration that’s been experienced in virtual worlds” (BBC News, “Virtual worlds threaten ‘values'”, 2007-10-15.

I think that the challenge should be wider than this. Children-centred virtual worlds should be more educational. The developers should be challenged to produce children-centred virtual worlds that include educational games and activities that link with and enable them to build on the educational experiences that are available in the real world.

Children-centred virtual worlds should provide opportunities for children to learn through interacting and networking and through sharing experiences and collaborating on projects with other children from all over the world. The challenge is to ensure that the worlds remain safe, fun and engaging; that there are a variety of educational experiences available to all levels from pre-school up-wards; and that the worlds are accessible to all, including those with disabilities.

The Club Penguin virtual world provides free access to a subset of the functionality available to paid-up members and although CP merchandise (t-shirts, key-rings etc) is available from the site it does not tie membership of the world to the ownership of a toy (unlike webkinz, Funkeys, BarbieGirls, TyGirlz and others).

Club Penguin offers non-members simple strategy games like 4 in a row that can be played by two friends. It would be good to see more educational games that 1, 2 or more friends can participate in. Club Penguin offers a safe mode in which children can only chat using ‘safe’ phrases provided by the site. It provides a forum in which children can learn and practice social and networking skills – e.g. to wait for their turn to speak; to keep a conversation going and the engagement of their friend; practice how to respond to people who are annoying them (throwing snowballs at them perhaps); how to get to know and make friends with other people.

It also enables them to explore and navigate within an online environment and learn how to play games to win (coins). Penguins (children) are able to purchase items (clothes, pets, pet food, backgrounds for their profiles, furnishings for their igloos etc) and so they learn something about the value of money (all be it a virtual currency) and that hard work (winning a game) pays off. If they buy a pet then they have to learn how to look after it (feed, play, exercise it and bath it – all of which cost coins) and in doing so they learn from their decisions – e.g. that too many treats and not enough exercise reduce your level of health. They also see their number of coins going up and down and so learn about addition and subtraction during the various games available. The children can reflect and develop their personalities in the clothes, accessories and igloo furnishings that they choose for themselves, in the same way that many of them do in real life. They can develop their reading, spelling and keyboard skills through chatting and reading the club magazines and story books.

I’m on the look out for more ‘safe’ worlds like Club Penguin, especially any that provide educational content, collaborative educational experiences and opportunities to use and develop imagination and storytelling. I would also like to see edutainment worlds linked to classic children’s books to enable them to explore ideas in the books further, act out scenes as the characters and make up their own storylines.

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