Tour of Kansas City Makerspaces & Co-working Spaces

I recently went on a whirlwind tour of Kansas City area makerspaces and co-working spaces, as part of a group of local community leaders interested in creating a really cool co-working/maker/hacker/media space in the Topeka area.

My library’s definitely interested – we are creating a digital media lab this year. So touring these spaces was pretty useful!

Here’s where I visited – read the post, and follow along in the video!

  1. Johnson County Library’s Makerspace – this small makerspace has two iMac computers, a 3D printer, a sewing machine, and a scanner, among other things. The space is set up for a variety of creative pursuits.
  2. Homes for Hackers – Not much about this place in my video, but it’s a pretty cool idea. If you have a start-up business, you can move to Kansas City, stay at Homes for Hackers for three months for free, and focus full-time on your idea. And use Google Fiber, too.
  3. Think Big Partners – A co-working space that also offers 6-9 month mentoring programs for early-stage technology-focused startups. All of the co-working spaces offered some form of a desk and chair, a mailing address, wifi, coffee, event space, meeting rooms, and flexible, month-to-month payment plans.
  4. OfficePort KC – A co-working space about 2-3 blocks away from Think Big Partners. They also offer a nice-looking sound stage for video work.
  5. Innovation Cafe – Another co-working space. This space was the most affordable for people just needing a place to sit – $39 a month. And it’s across the street from Kansas City Public Library’s main building – can’t beat that!
  6. Union Station’s Maker Studio – a nice makerspace focused on kids and teens. It’s in Science City, a hands-on children’s science museum. They aren’t open yet – I think their plan is to open sometime in January (so really soon). They have 3D printers, Arduino kits, soldering irons, a HUGE CNC router, etc. Lots to learn and experience here.
  7. Hammerspace – A really cool makerspace with a lot to offer. Check out the video – when I was there, there were a LOT of grown dudes making things. Thinks involving Arduinos, 3D printers, soldering irons, coding, etc. There was also an artist working on some sort of screenprint thing. And lots of visiting and sharing, too!

There’s a LOT happening in Kansas City right now, which is pretty neat! Hopefully I can help stretch that an hour west to Topeka :-)

What are your plans for a makerspace in 2014? Have you started thinking about it? I’d love to hear more!

Four Tips to Make Mobile Video ROCK

In my recent post Online Video for 2013, I mentioned that 91% of American adults owned some kind of cell phone, and 41% of cell phone owners watch video on their phones.

What’s that mean? If you are making videos, they need to look and sound awesome on a smartphone! Here are four tips to make mobile video ROCK:

  1. Keep it short. With online video, the shorter the better. Especially if you’re watching it on your smartphone. A short video will load faster, and fits well with the “short snack” usage of smartphones (that “I’ve got a minute – let’s play with my smartphone” attitude).
  2. Make it loud. Audio is arguably the most important part of a video. Especially for libraries, since we’re most likely sharing some tidbit of information. So crank that volume up! There are a couple of great ways to do that. For starters, definitely get a better microphone for your camera, preferably one with a volume boost. Also, when editing, look for a volume boost setting, and turn it up (but not so far that you start distorting the sound – that’s bad).
  3. Get close. When making your video, get close to your subject. If it’s an interview, make sure the person being interviewed can be clearly seen on your camera’s window. So no “far away, full body” shots. Same with scenery shots – get as close as possible when it makes sense.
  4. Edit that script. For starters, actually HAVE a script of some sort. Not a “memorize these lines, say it exactly this way” type of script. Most of us librarians aren’t actors, after all. But do have an outline of points you want to cover or facts you need to share. Also, make sure to share one idea or thought, rather than 2-4 ideas or thoughts. Instead of one longer 5-6 minute video with ALL the facts, break that video up into a 3-part series of 1-2 minute videos.

Who is successfully making videos out there? Do you have some tips on mobile video that I haven’t mentioned? Please share them in the comments!

Using Visual Tools as Reminder Helpers

Do you use your smartphone’s camera as a reminder helper? I sure do! Check this video out – in it, I offer two simple tips (one involving my iPhone camera) to remember where you parked your car at the airport.

I also use my iPhone camera to help me remember things like this:

  • Books I want to read. I take photos of books I want to read (yes, I take photos of book covers at Barnes & Noble, then check them out at the library).
  • Errands at a store. If I need to buy something that I have at home, like a certain cleaner, I will take a photo of the bottle, then use that to find the right one at the store.
  • Storing a reminder image for later. I actually have a photo of my vacuum cleaner bag package stored in Evernote. This way, when I’m out and about and remember “oh yeah, I need to buy vacuum cleaner bags,” I’ll be able to get the right one.

How about you? Do you use your camera to help you remember stuff? Let me know!

How to be Awesome on Instagram

A few weeks ago, I posted about Vine and making videos. So I thought I should also post something about Instagram!

Instagram is a fun photo/video/social network/app that is now owned by Facebook. And it’s on 180 million people’s smartphones. That’s a lot of pics!

Some organizations and brands are using Instagram to connect with their customers, and libraries should think about using it, too. So here are some tips to get you started using Instagram for a business or organization:

  1. Master the tool. If you haven’t used Instagram, dive in and figure out what all the buttons, settings, and filters do. Which means you should start taking photos!
  2. Mix fun and business. The fun keeps people coming back, the business keeps them interested in your business
  3. Use your Instagram images in other places. Like on Facebook, Twitter, and on your website.
  4. Follow your followers! If someone follows you in Instagram, follow them back (well, unless they are an obvious spammer – they DO exist in Instagram).
  5. Follow people first. You don’t have to wait for people to follow you. Think about finding your customers and following them.
  6. Post consistently. Create a posting plan, make a schedule, and stick with it
  7. Show off your library. Take photos and videos of your stuff and your staff.
  8. Use #hashtags. Don’t go overboard, but do use relevant hashtags. Does your community have some local hashtags that are used? Find ways to use those.
  9. Run a contest or a game! Use a hashtag for people to participate. If you don’t want to do a contest, then create a game. For example, ask followers to take photos of the book they’re currently reading, and give them a hashtag to use for the posting (i.e., #fridayreads).
  10. Interact with your followers. Leave comments on their pictures, and respond to people who leave a comment on your posts.

And for some actual photo tips: I have four Instagram photo tips for you:

  1. Get close. Make sure to get as close as possible to your subject … then get a little closer still.
  2. Find quirky angles. Don’t center everything, or even necessarily follow the “rule of thirds” composition rules. Try something different.
  3. Make those colors Pop. Make them bold and bright. Remember – people are seeing tiny versions of your pics, and you want them to click on it.. So make them really vibrant, and even slightly saturated.
  4. Minimize shake by using your finger. When taking a photo in pretty much any smartphone app, an easy way to minimize shake is to touch and keep your finger on the shutter button. Then, when you’re ready to take the picture, simply take your finger off the button, and the photo is taken. This works much better than tapping the screen and potentially causing movement (which might cause blurs in the photo).

Are you using Instagram at your library? I’d love to know how – leave a comment and share!