Timelapse Video of the Library

We recently purchased a GoPro camera, and have been experimenting with it. One of my clever colleagues put the camera on the roof of our library, and created a pretty cool time lapse video.

Enjoy!

Podcamp Topeka 2011 – You are Invited!

Have you heard about Podcamp Topeka 2011? If not, go visit the website, read about it … and register! Podcamp Topeka is an unconference that my library helps organize and run. This will be the third year we’ve had it – it’s gotten better every year! This year, it’s on October 22 … and only costs $10 to register.

It’s not a library event … but librarians are certainly welcome to attend, and will definitely learn something and be able to contribute as well. What exactly is Podcamp Topeka? Here’s the blurb from the website:

PodCamp Topeka is a low cost unconference dedicated to emerging web media – social networks, podcasting & videoblogging, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, photography, and web design, for starters. Our goal? To learn about social media from social media experts, to network with fellow bloggers, podcasters & social media creators … and to have a blast!

And the video embedded in this post is me, giving some brief thoughts on why I like Podcamp Topeka. We’d love to see you there!

Topeka, KS doesn’t like Social Media

screenshot of City of Topeka website
Topeka uses social media, right?

Wouldn’t it be weird if Google, KS blocked Google from their own computers?

Unfortunately, that just happened.

OK – it’s really Topeka, KS (Topeka renamed the city for that Google Fiber project). And they didn’t really block Google – they blocked Youtube (which Google owns).

But still – there’s some irony there, is there not?

Go read this newspaper article, City tightens control of employee Internet use. Then come back here, and let’s discuss.

Here’s what I find odd about the city’s recent decision to block staff access to social media sites:

Oddity #1:
“City spokesman David Bevens said the city prohibits employees from using their work computers to access YouTube, as well as the Facebook and Twitter social media sites, but some employees have nevertheless accessed YouTube on those computers … “

That’s got nothing to do with social media, and everything to do with employee performance. That’s sorta like saying “obesity has become a health issue at our organization, so we blocked employee lunches.” In other words, the city is dealing with the symptom, rather than with the real problem – in this case, employee performance. Blocking Youtube won’t fix that problem, I’m afraid.

Oddity #2:
“Stanley [interim city manager] said he was disappointed to learn the problem was directly related to the perceived need by some employees to access popular social media websites, such as YouTube and Facebook.”

It’s more than a “perceived need” – the city actually has official Youtube, Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook accounts. So yeah – “some staff” definitely DO need access to those sites, to do actual work.

And since those social media sites are essentially official city channels, I’d go so far as to say all city employees need access to them. At work. Otherwise, the city is blocking official city communications … from city employees. Nicely done, Google, KS!

Oddity #3:
IT manager Mark Biswell is quoted as saying this: “While these websites have value in terms of information transfer and marketing, they also pose an organizational risk in terms of lost productivity and through the potential introduction of viruses and worms … “

First off, let’s deal with that perceived “lost productivity” thing. Recent studies actually show that employees have increased productivity if they have access to social media. Want more productive employees? Give em access to Facebook and Youtube.

Second, that virus and worms thing. Social media sites like Facebook and Youtube don’t become popular if they’re sending out tons of viruses – instead, they get sued (thanks for that thought, @billludwig!). I sincerely hope that most IT managers know that “viruses and worms” generally don’t come from social media sites like Youtube or Facebook. They come from spoofed sites, rogue links in forwarded emails … and from uneducated staff. A better way to approach computer security would be to 1. unblock Facebook and Youtube, and 2. Train staff on appropriate use of web technology, and how to NOT click on those weird links or ads.

Oddity #4:
One last thing. The IT manager is also quoted as saying this: “Biswell said that to balance risks with the informational value of using such sites, the city was taking a proactive approach by cataloguing and safely providing employees access to YouTube videos that have business value related to training and education … The approach is the same one used by educational institutions, he said.”

That’s because the people at “educational institutions” are, for the most part, kids. Don’t treat your adult employees like kids. ‘Nuff said.

So why write this?
Thankfully, I don’t work at a city library, so I haven’t had to deal with this. But some of you librarians have dealt with this, head on. Library Directors – don’t let this happen to you! At least be informed, so you can intelligently argue your points to city administrators, city IT managers, or a city attorney. I’d love to hear from some libraries who successfully argued their points, and were able to keep or get library access to social media sites.

In other news, on Friday I tweeted a question to the City via their official Twitter channel, asking them how they were going to respond to my question, since they are now blocked from using Twitter.

Still no Twitter reply. I wonder why?

Organizing a Podcamp

This past Saturday, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library co-hosted (with WIBW Studios) our first Podcamp  – Podcamp Topeka. Don’t know what a podcamp is? It’s an unconference dedicated to web 2.0 tools and social media (read more about them here). It was a blast! You can some of my notes from the day here, watch my video about it above, and you can read Brandon Sheley’s notes here (he attended and lead a session or two), and even watch a quick video from channel 49 news.

So – how did I organize this thing?

OK – first things first. It’s a podcamp – there’s really not much conference planning to do. The details revolve around meeting rooms, food, and potential schwag – not the actual conference schedule. The important planning revolves around how many people you hope to attract – you have to have enough space to accomodate them. Also how long each session should be – and be able to accomodate that. Then, it runs itself (more on that in a minute).

Use your contacts for help. I poked around a bit on the interwebs, and found out Ryan Deschamps, cool librarian and blogger at The Other Librarian,  had organized some very successful podcamps. So I asked him for tips, and he emailed me some great advice on how to run a podcamp.

Sponsorships – the library provided meeting rooms and our other sponsor, WIBW, paid for food and t-shirts. How’d that happen? In this case, I know Jim Ogle, the general manager of WIBW, and also know he’s excited as I am about social media and 2.0 stuff. So I asked him if he wanted to help plan the podcamp, and he did … and he ended up being a sponsor, too. For future events, I’m told that some local organizations might potentially be interested in sponsoring the event.

Ask for Specifics. Know how much money you need up-front, then ask specifically for your needs! Much better to have a plan for what you need (and what they’ll get out of a sponsorship) than to vaguely ask for “a sponsorship” hoping someone will provide what you need.

Registration: it was a free event, but I asked everyone to register, since a head-count was involved for t-shirts and food. Eventbrite worked GREAT for this! Free and easy to use – we had over 100 registrations. I was able to email a reminder to all attendees 3-4 days before the event through Eventbrite’s admin side. They actually sent me a couple of pre-event emails making suggestions on how to run an event (ie., do you have nametags?), too.

What actually happened?

People goal: our goal was up to 150. We had over 100 people register, and approx 50-75 people actually attend. Not bad for a first time.

Interestingly, we had an odd but fun mix of people. We had a variety of skill levels from experienced user of 2.0 tools to extreme novices and an age spread from probably age 20 -85 (someone actually came up afterwards and told me how old she and her friend were). So we improvised a “Basics of Social media” session that turned into one of our larger sessions.

Food and t-shirts: I went ahead and ordered t-shirts and food for 150, not knowing how many would really show up. So we had … a LOT of food. And I have a box of Podcamp Topeka T-Shirts in my office…

Schedule: You can see it here – we ended up with quite a few great topics and sessions!

Planning details: PBWorks (used to be PBWiki) worked great. Here’s our Podcamp Topeka Wiki.

Advertising: This is interesting. We advertised in our library newsletter, in 2.0 tools (twitter, facebook), on our website, at a social media group’s Ning site, and were lucky enough to get a TV spot or two (since WIBW was a co-sponsor). We asked attendees to fill out a “how you heard about this” flyer – only 22 people filled it out. But look at their responses to where they heard about our podcamp:

TV – 4
friends – 2
twitter – 2
facebook – 2
our website – 2
didn’t say – 2
social media KC Ning group – 2
online – 2
invite – 2
Google – 1
tscpl email – 1 (guessing it was our enewsletter)

That’s a pretty large spread of responses!

And finally, Feedback. What did attendees think of the day? Honestly, most of the feedback I received was some form of this – “What a GREAT day! When’s the next one?”

So – we’ll have to start planning the next Podcamp Topeka, I guess!

Topeka Tweetups

Topeka tweetup @ wibw studiosAnyone ever attended a Tweetup? I attended my first, last night. What’s a Tweetup? Simple – a Tweetup is a get-together of people who use Twitter. The tweetup I attended was for Topeka-area people using Twitter, hence it’s called a Topeka Tweetup.

It was fun! This tweetup was hosted by WIBW Studios, a local television station. About 50 or so people attended. And I met some people that I have chatting with on Twitter, but never met in person, so that was cool. And it was fun hanging out at the studio, and seeing what “the other side” of the news cast looks like.

OK – Digital Branch Managers, Digital Initiative Managers, webdudes, marketers… you should be attending this type of gathering. Why?

  • If your library has a Twitter account, these are the people following you. Go meet them!
  • This group tends to be highly active, they get stuff done … you want to hear from them about library initiatives.
  • In Topeka, many of them work in highly connected jobs, i.e., tv stations, newspapers, marketing and advertising firms, political campaigns, etc. It’s always good to make those connections.
  • They all use the web, probably in an advanced way. They are your digital branch users (or at least potential users).
  • They’re just really cool people!

Want to find out more about last night’s Tweetup? We made a couple of news sites:

Question – How are you connecting with your social media users?

ps – I’m @davidleeking on twitter – feel free to follow me!