Enterprise Blogging article in InfoWorld

The current edition of InfoWorld has an article about enterprise blogging, or blogging within or for a company. The article has some great quotes and ideas:


  • “Blogs and wikis play opposite roles… blogs are based on an individual voice; a blog is sort of a personal broadcasting system. Wikis, because they give people the chance to edit each other’s words, are designed to blend many voices.”
  • “Reading a blog is like listening to a diva sing, reading a wiki is like listening to a symphony.”
  • “A blog is like a presentation. It’s a one-to-many form of communication: a single person speaking to an audience who can comment on, but not change, the content.”
  • On wikis: “Think of it as a huge whiteboard, one where everyone has a marker and is welcome to scribble.”

Also discussed is what a blog meant for the public does for a company: it gives the company direct interaction with readers. Is that cool, or what? Switch that wording around just a tad, and you get this: A blog meant for library customers gives the library direct interaction with readers. How’s that for reaching out?

Moving on – the corporate blogger needs to walk a fine line between sharing the good stuff while not sharing too much (i.e., company secrets). Here’s an interesting quote: “I believe that companies will soon start assigning specific people with good communication skills to public blogs intended for specific audiences.” That makes sense in a library setting, too. You want someone who falls between sounding like a press release and sounding incoherant. Someone who sounds like a real, yet intelligent, person.

On using internal, company-only blogs. These are meant to share company information and projects among employees. Listen to this: “we’ve seen people using blogs to diary their daily experiences using a new technology or building a new kind of system, monitored by others as a sort of real-time virtual apprenticeship, which lets them observe events as they unfold and see the issues that arise and how they are addressed.”

Also mentioned in a few sidebars: JotSpot, Movable Type, TWiki, and SocialText. Very good article – check it out!

Filtering Day at my Library


Wow – it’s been quite the filtering day here at the library. I had a question directed to me about filtering… I ended up talking to a Missouri Probation and Parole Officer about what we filter and how websites that are filtered behave.
We discussed risque images, pop-up windows, and just what happens when a library customer clicks on a link. Sometimes, pop-up windows galore start appearing. If our filter is working, the webpages featured in the pop-up windows are filtered, too. Each website that pops up has to be included in our filter’s database. If it is in our “bad websites” database, then the customer would see our “access denied” page instead of the actual webpage. But what happens if one of the pages that appears isn’t filtered? Then you get some “access denied” pop-up pages, and some actual pop-up pages. That could look confusing. And if our filtering server crashes (it does that sometimes), everything appears.
So now library staff are discussing things like: should we train our security officers and our public services staff on what should be filtered and what should not be filtered? More specifically – we’re following Missouri’s definition of “Explicit sexual material” – for all practical purposes, it’s pretty specific. But there are LOTS of images that would A. fall outside of that definition; and would B. still pull the triggers of some library and security staff. How do you train for that? I’m seeing a sitcom situation: someone standing in front of a training room, displaying large images on a screen… “is porn” <click> “is not porn” <click> “is porn” <click> “is not porn” <click> etc.
Then there’s the whole “checking to see if this site should be filtered or not is part of my job” thing. Is that harrassment? Do you ask for volunteers? Do you warn others when you start a “check the unfiltering requests” session so as to not offend passers-by to your cubicle? And on and on and on…
And the CIPA people said this would be easy.

Remixed Information Rap

There’s always a highly entertaining (and useful) Dead and Emerging Technologies forum at the Computers in Libraries conference. This year, D. Scott Brandt (who usually moderates these forums) started us off with a fun spoof of the “I’m too sexy” song – but he turned it into a rap about technology. It was pretty funny.

So, I had forgotten about that, and I was thinking about the topic of re-using content for web purposes. While thinking about this, an mp3 of Brandt’s “I’m too sexy for my disk” rap was pointed to on Jane Dysart’s blog. And I had some time on my hands…

So for your listening enjoyment, here’s a streaming version of an edited, remixed version of Mr. Brandt’s rap. And here’s a link to the mp3 version to download (free registration is required). For those curious souls – I used a free version of ACID (ACID XPress) for the music (I also had a CD of free music loops), and then moved the music over to Audacity, added the rap, and edited it to fit with the song.

Useful to libraries? Probably not. Fun to do? Yep.

Computers in Libraries 2005 Presentations are Online

For anyone who missed out on Computers in Libraries 2005, go to Information Today’s Presentations page, and enjoy! Many presentations are up now, and more are being added. Here are links to my two presentations:
Rather than providing the Powerpoint files, this time around I decided to provide PDF versions of my Powerpoint Notes. This format seems pretty useful to me – it includes each slide, but also includes my notes (basically what I said during the presentation). Hopefully, this version will provide more information to people who are reading the presentation notes after-the-fact.

Interesting Questions Heard at Computers in Libraries

At the end of sessions, there’s usually time for a question and answer time. Some of the questions I heard made me wonder… but first, a disclaimer: questions and people who ask them rock. I’m glad people ask them. Things that seem basic to me are new to others (and vice-versa, depending on the topic). So questions are great – they’re part of the learning process.

But, I’m thinking that sometimes, a question can show the bias of a librarian, and the personality of a library… and show how well they’ll be able to ride the current and ongoing wave of information change.

So here are those questions that made me go “huh”:

1. “How do you filter out all the dot com websites so you can get just the pure information” (when doing a search on Google). What???!!!??? How is information that happens to be on a dot com site not “pure,” but information on a, say, dot edu or dot gov site, somehow more valid information? Just one person’s question – but from a librarian. And it means that more than one probably think this way… shows that more training is needed on how to evaluate information found on the web.

2. “Is SEO [Search Engine Optimization] contrary to a library’s role of properly categorizing text-based information?” No, it’s not. If libraries worked on optimizing their websites, more of our great but hidden information would show it’s face on websites. And that’s a way to reach out to people who don’t normally come to your library.

3. “Search engines are pushing lots of image-based search products lately. How do libraries deal with this information shift, since we mainly deal with text?” Two ways to comment here:

  • Libraries have all types of images. Lots of them. And a lot of other media… think maps, pictures in books and magazines, CDs, video, etc. We just put descriptive text around each item.
  • The web IS changing how we operate. Or actually, I should say that our users are finding that the web can be adapted to their various learning and entertainment styles. So people are creating their own tagging systems that work for them, and they’re discovering more visual and aural types of resources.

Librarians need to embrace this, since we tote ourselves as learning facilitators and our libraries as learning facilities.

4. A comment during a presentation – “a large number of students aren’t reading print books, except for class assignments.” I swear, I could almost feel a moment of silence for the print book when this was mentioned (the room got very quiet). What wasn’t mentioned was this: those students are most likely still reading – just not print books. They’re reading ebooks, email, IM messages, etc. Librarians have to get over this content vs. container thing. What’s more imprtant – a book’s physical pages and cover, or a book’s content?

5. Complaints about poor grammar in IM messages. This sorta relates to #4 above. Hang with me here a sec – when I talk to someone in person or on the phone, no one knows if I can spell the words I use, and don’t tend to complain if I stumble around a bit while trying to get something out. When talking, it’s the immediate communication that is important.

IM is also an immediate form of communication – it happens in real time. So the actual, immediate communication taking place is the important part of an IM message – not the grammar. We need to get over our grammar quirk, and adapt the communication that our customers use.

So – all things that made me go “huh.” And all very valid questions. My guess? As long as questions like the ones above are being asked, there will be a need for a conference like Computers in Libraries. Huh.