New Way to Think about Technology and Tools, Part 1 – Scene at the Airport

I’ve seen this scene a lot at the airport lately – a person on a cell phone, Blackberry, or laptop, sometimes plugged into the wall… talking or typing away. And it’s made me realize there’s a shift going on here – but not the one you’re thinking of.

Tell me – what do you think this person is doing? Is he:

  • chained to a device?
  • using a gadget?
  • doing email?

Or is this person:

  • connecting with others?
  • keeping up with friends?
  • checking in with his kids?

(ok, ok, I know… we obviously don’t really know what he’s doing. But let me make my point anyway :-)

See the shift? People used to think of computers and “gadgets” as primarily devices that you used – like using a typewriter. The activity was operating the machine.

But now, for some of us … when I turn on my computer, it’s more of a connector, like a telephone. With my laptop, I’m not “using the computer.” I’m writing. I’m editing video. I’m playing with photos. I’m writing music. I’m doing non-techie activities.

I don’t “use the phone” – I’m talking to someone. When I’m txting on my phone at the mall, I’m not “chained to my device” – I’m connecting with someone.

When I’m answering email, doing email” is not the activity – I’m answering questions, offering my input, or throwing out ideas to others. I am connecting with others.

See the shift? I’m not operating a machine anymore. I’m connecting with people. HUGE SHIFT!

Librarians – in order to connect with your younger and wired users, you need to adapt this same mind-set.


The Social Web and Libraries: Twitter Alerts

Twitter Search (name recently changed from Summize) is a great tool for listening to your community. Here’s what Twitter says about Twitter Search: “Keeping up with interesting news and people you care about is one dimension of Twitter, but what if you need to find out what’s happening in the world beyond your personal timeline? There is an undeniable need to search, filter, and otherwise interact with the volumes of news and information being transmitted to Twitter every second. Twitter Search helps you filter all the real-time information coursing through our service.”

How do you use alerts to listen to your community?

OK… but how do you listen using Twitter Search? That’s easy. Do a search in Twitter Search… and along with the results page, you get an RSS feed of the search. Voila! You have just created a Twitter Alert for that search.

Here’s what I do, for both my personal blog and for my library, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. For both, I have a number of alerts set up:

David Lee King:

  • David King
  • David Lee King
  • davidleeking
  • dlk (because some of you call me DLK)

Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library:

  • topeka library
  • topeka

The library alerts were much harder to set up – not too many people want to type in “Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library” – that uses up most of the 140 characters allowed by twitter! But Topeka Library captures some library-related conversation. Other libraries won’t have the same problem – for example, here’s what people are saying about the Seattle Public Library.

My Topeka alert is much more interesting, because it captures a variety of conversation – what’s happening in Topeka, what people are doing, what they like and don’t like. It’s capturing the general “feel” of the community, which can be useful. I’ve picked up on some pretty interesting thoughts from people this way:

  • (my library in the local news): “local headlines New Phone Book Honors Topeka Library: AT&T unveiled its new phone book cover …”
  • (people sharing their likes/dislikes about Topeka): “dude, what did you expect? it’s Kansas. I have to goto Topeka for biz sometimes. that town creeps me out.”
  • local news can be interesting (quite a few local broadcasters use Twitter): “Melissa_Brunner: topeka police bomb robot is now approaching the suspicious package”
  • This was cool – apparently, local realtors are discussing uses of web 2.0 for their business: “I’m looking forward to lunch with @rebr and @76cad to discuss WEB 2.0 uses in real estate in Topeka, KS”

So… what can you DO with this knowledge?

For some libraries and organizations, you’ll be eavesdropping on conversations about YOU. Respond accordingly. For example, someone had this to say about Kansas City Public Library: “Kansas City Public Library is awesome, and totally right by my house. appears to block im, though. strange.” Easy enough to respond to, right? It’s either a yes/no answer with a bit of explanation. Here’s another one: “Carrying my super-cool Wichita public library tote onto a plane to denver then to seattle.” Thank the person for loving your bag!

For other libraries (like my own), there won’t be too many direct conversations about the library… but you can still use Twitter alerts to:

  • get a general feel for what’s going on in your community
  • to connect with people using twitter (I’m connected to some local media types – those can be valuable connections)
  • use it to push the library’s tech (I could contact those realtors interested in web 2.0 and  discuss 2.0 and topeka with them, for example)

So – lots of value for your organization using Twitter Search!


Vote for my SXSWi2009 Panel Idea!

I had a great time at last year’s South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference – there were some great presentations focused exclusively on the social web, and I brought some cool ideas back.

The one problem? I also had to do some “translation work,” as most sessions were led by corporate or start-up types, and the conversations usually drifted to monetization, ad networks, and selling products. So, I did what I usually do when I don’t like something but see the value of it – I submitted my own panel ideas!

And this is where YOU can help … because people have to VOTE on these panel ideas (very cool). GO VOTE FOR MY PANEL! Go here – – set up an account, then find my two panel ideas. My two submissions are:

1. Experiencing Digital Community: Conversation Economy and Non-Profits
The conversation economy is all about experiencing real conversations in your organization’s digital space. This panel discusses online conversations in the digital spaces of non-profits. We’ll touch on: * Conversation as experience (conversation economy) * how to start conversations online * examples galore from non-profits, what works and what doesn’t

2. Non-Profit Rockstars: Using Video to Share Your Message
Video is a great way to share your organization’s message, start conversations, and move people to action. How do online videos fit into your non-profit’s digital space? This panel discusses ways to incorporate online, interactive video into your organization’s digital space.

To vote, simply click on the “Your Vote” star rating thing.

So – go vote (voting ends on August 29), and if you can (whether or not I get to speak) go to the conference. It’s a great one for anyone interested in new media and web 2.0.

Update: also check out the list of potential non-profit-related sessions that Beth Kanter (of Beth’s Blog) put together. Lots of good stuff this time around (hopefully!).

Playing with New WordPress Theme

I should warn you – if you visit my actual site and it looks kinda funky, there’s a reason! I’m switching over to a new theme. Everything is working like normal – it just looks different. Catch ya’ later!

YOUR Chance to Star in a Libraryland Music Video!!!

From Michael’s last post you can see that Michael and I recorded a snappy little library song last week. We are really proud of the work we’ve produced and now YOU get a chance to be in the video!! It’s a jumpy little ditty about library futures, technology and how we will succeed as libraries.

Please listen to this short snippet of the song and then … shoot a brief video of you singing along! That’s all it takes! You can use a web cam or any other camera you like and send it to the email below. It should only take a few minutes on your end, and after we get the videos, we’ll take the best and put them in the video we are hard at work on! Of course, also feel free to send other videos that might go along with the title/theme of the song “hi-fi sci-fi library,” too (costumes are very welcome by the way!:)

So join in the fun and star in a video with us! This is your official invite! We are looking forward to seeing YOU in our upcoming video!

Here is a link to the very short snippet to sing along with (you can download it even if you want). The “hi-fi sci-fi library” part is what we really need to see you singing.

If you have you have a webcam, you really should be emailing your video to:
michael.libraryman *At Sign**

Please send your clips in to the above address no later than August 24th, 2008. We are really looking forward to seeing you in the video with us!!!!!!!!!

-Michael Porter and David Lee King