Cronin complains about blogs … on a blog

Just found this sorta funny (via skagirlie).

Blaise Cronin (an MLS professor) posted a “Dean’s notes” article about blogs in his college’s SLIS News.

The funny part? You can subscribe to the RSS feed. So – when he asks “Why do they choose to they [sic] expose their unremarkable opinions”? … is he asking himself that question???

And of course, his last line – “Librarians, of course, know better.” My question – I wonder if he knows he’s just been Punk’d (translation – unintentionally complained about blogs via an RSS feed, a close cousin to blogs)?

RSS Ads are Starting to Appear

blog adGoogle has been testing out ads for RSS feeds. Take a peek at this image, taken in my bloglines account. If you go to the actual blog page, you don’t see the ad – it only appears in the RSS feed!

Honestly, I’m not sure what I think about that. On the one hand, some bloggers can probably make a few bucks… so that’s good – it’s something to show for all their hard work. But on the other hand, I like ad-free feeds. I really DON’T like USAToday or the Drudge Report’s pop-ups – thankfully, my pop-up blocker usually catches them. But they’re still nuisances (they aren’t caught all the time.

Or those pesky ads that pop-up on the page, right as I start to read something… and force me to waste my precious time looking for the “close this ad” X to click.

Either way, though – it should be an interesting development to watch.

Library staff sharing about conferences

Michael Stephens at Tame the Web just posted something extremely cool. His library goes to conferences, just like everyone else’s libraries. But then, they go one step further:

One step further
They met and shared “top trends/learning/issues/thoughts they picked up on during the conference. How cool is that? But wait – they weren’t done:

Two Steps Further
They then listed good stuff out, and whittled it down to the top 6 things… and made a list. But wait, there’s more:

Three Steps Further
Then they brainstormed on each of the six points, created a document with action items from those points, and shared those with library staff! How completely cool is that?

So the moral of the story? Don’t go to conferences and not share anything at the end of the day… Share what you learned! I really like how Michael’s library did this – they waited until there were 2-3 big conferences under their belts, and then shared, disseminated, and created action points…

Why can’t all libraries do this???

Help in Question Writing for Usability Tests

I just read this – DonnaM’s Writing memorable scenarios for usability testing. Good stuff!

To sum it up… when you do a usability test, you usually ask a bunch of scenario-type questions. Your test participant then tries to answer the question by finding an answer on your website. Easy enough, right?

The hard part is writing those questions! When doing a general test for the whole website, your questions have to cover lots of territory – you want at least one question for each “important thing” on your website, while at the same time realizing that no one’s going to sit through a grueling 200 question test (well, not unless you pay them actual money…)

And you want those questions to make sense to the participant. Librarian lingo should be removed (think monograph, reference, ILL, ILS, etc.), hints should be removed (no “go to this page, look in the upper left hand corner, and see if you can find such-and-such”), and
the question should be easy to read.

And DonnaM goes one more step – her post discusses giving the question a real-life scenario. That way, you make the question more vivid and emotional to the test participant. This helps the participant visualize the scenario, thus making it easier for the participant to remember. And ultimately helps the test participant add some realism to his/her answer (thus providing more useful information during the usability test).

Wow – lots to think about for those embarking on usability testing!

CSS and Handheld Versions of Websites

image of pda screenGo over to and take a peek at the website. Then look at this image of the website viewed with my iPaq. Nothing terribly noticeable
or cool, you say? Wrong!

The cool thing? The designer separated the style from the content using
CSS, and also has allowed my PDA to view the website in a friendly
format, also using CSS (from

Web designers take note – you no longer have to create a separate page
or version of your website only for mobile users sporting handhelds.
Now you can use “”CSS to format your content in such a way that any
computing device can consume the content.” How cool is that?