30 October 2009

Visit to Thinkspace (Powerhouse Museum)

These are some images of a recent visit that I made with some colleagues from the UTS Library to the Powerhouse Museum's Thinkspace. The super staff there, Joy Suliman and Peter Mahony, gave us a great workshop to introduce us to some of the possibilities for collaborative digital learning and creativity in such a space. We played around with Garage Band, Google Earth, Inspiration (a mind-mapping tool, see below) and some other programs.

Peter and a blurry Joy answering some of our questions.

The two shots above show the results of some quick mind-mapping about technology and social spaces in libraries.

I'd been to this space for a quick tour once before but I wanted to go back and take our entire management team along with a few younger colleagues to help us out. We're probably going to experiment with a similar space in our library very soon.
Peter and Joy said their space had three key features: it could be personalized (made relevant to me); it was connected (to the web and therefore elsewhere); and it could be situated (made even more relevant with maps, GPS, etc.). It also had durable and flexible furnishings as you can see above. Their room contained four workstations and it works well that way. I think at one stage Peter said something like collaboration in such a space is "augmented by technology that is configurable to different levels". The whole environment seems very conducive to creativity.
For us I think it could assist in facilitating collaboration and even cross faculty interaction. The technology does has a shelf life, but as it is already in many NSW schools our future students will be expecting access to it when they get to university too.
Thanks again to Joy and Peter for a great workshop!
Watch this space . . .

20 October 2009

Peter Murray-Rust's 12 point action plan for libraries

Peter Murray-Rust Keynote at ILI 2009 from Jaap van de Geer on Vimeo.

Peter is seeing no fire in our collective bellies and not enough passion coming from librarians about our own future. He puts forward an interesting action plan calling for librarians to be less passive and far more proactive on issues such as Copyright in academic publishing, open everything (publishing & data), community collaboration and action, and taking more steps to make the library a growing and addictive organism.

In this talk he delivers a pretty good 12 point action plan that most of us working in academic libraries should at least consider very seriously. The whole video is well worth watching, but I know most people won't bother so here again is my summary of the key points along with a few of my own comments thrown in for good measure.

Before introducing his action plan he mentions a few other interesting ideas:

  • He grounds his presentation by referring to Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science, although he dislikes the term "user" preferring "reader".
  • Copyright as we know it must be destroyed for the sake of academic publishing and in order to facilitate the sharing of knowledge (as distinct from the business of making money from restricting the sharing of knowledge). He claims by example that Copyright is currently preventing the sharing of knowledge that could help to save the planet and that we as librarians should be agitating, displaying our "raw anger" and protesting for legislative change.
  • He laments the situation in academic publishing where academics create works for free, but are expected to pay in order to see the work of their colleagues. It is a situation that must be changed.
The 12 Point Plan (in no particular order):
1. We should act as citizen librarians towards a common or shared goal. (See some examples below of communities collaborating towards shared goals.)
2. Post all academic output publicly: ignore Copyright. For this, we need to display our passion and one of probably has to volunteer to go to gaol. I like this one, but I can't be the one going to gaol. Sorry. (Beth & Belinda: step forward please. Don't worry, I'll look after the shop.)
3. Text mine everything. Currently this isn't allowed by the publishers who own nearly everything. It stops researchers trying to find stuff. As he says: "when violating a publisher's terms of use, you are guilty until proven innocent".
4. Put 2nd year students in charge of developing educational technology resources. They use it all the time and will know whether to go mobile or to use Xbox or Play Station. There is some truth in this.
5. Actively participate in obtaining science grants. Because scientists find it all too repetitious and cumbersome. They need our help.
6. Actively participate in the scientific publishing process. Again, they need our help. Maybe we can help them to publish their work more openly and also to facilitate better management of their IP.
7. Close the science library and move it all to the departments. He says this is a no-brainer. (We don't have a science library at UTS.)
8. Handover all purchasing to national Rottweiler publishing officers. Apparently they deal with the publishers centrally in Brazil. We could not do it in Australia. Getting any form of agreement with so many egos and so much self-interest in the room would prove far too complicated. Besides, we have less important issues to worry about. It is actually something we should at least try to do, very seriously. It may well be one of the big issues on this list, along with taking action on Copyright and open access publishing where we really could have a very beneficial effect and demonstrate our worth.
9. Set up a new type of university press. The traditional presses have all been failures. We have been handed an opportunity with the Internet, but our presses have been less innovative than other publishers. I think we are taking steps in this direction now and UTSePress is a good example, publishing journals, books and conference proceedings online.
10. We should develop our own metrics system. Publishers manipulate the metrics system in order to get us to buy what they think we want.
11. We should publicly campaign for openness. He gave a few examples like the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Open Rights Group. We should be actively involved.
12. We should make the library an addictive "game". He used the example of building "reputation points" through involvement and participation in something like stackoverflow.com After a while it becomes a bit addictive, like ebay.
We should be asking ourselves "what can we do to change the world and keep the library a growing organism"? His list seems like a decent start, even if it is a tad biased towards science.
He wound up his presentation with a few examples of the contributions made by online communities, including: Galaxy Zoo where 150,000 members world-wide have assisted professional astronomers to classify over one million galaxies; and OpenStreetMap, a free editable map of the world that is up-to-date within minutes thanks to the contributions made by over 250,000 members.
One of the most important pleas he makes is for the democratisation of knowledge. This should be possible on the web. For it to happen, democratisation must win over commoditisation for commercial purposes (i.e. the protection of business empires).
I am surprised that there has not been more debate about his address.

19 October 2009

Miscellaneous connections

I gave this presentation late last week to the ANZ Society of Indexers for their annual conference. It was meant to stimulate some thought about recent developments on the web and also within institutions. Maybe the following guide will help to interpret some of these slides.

SLIDES 2 & 3 (Connection)

I used these slides to draw a connection between myself and Hazel Bell, the other plenary speaker (by video from the UK). She indexed the first publication of T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1992 text) when it was first published by Jeremy Wilson in 1997. That text is over 80,000 words longer than the 1926 text that most people would be more familiar with and the index was invaluable to me when I curated a museum exhibition on Lawrence in 2006-08.

SLIDE 4 (Collaborators)

I am really grateful to those named on that slide as they raised my awareness and gave me new perspectives on a number of issues. We mostly used Google Docs to share comments and observations.

SLIDES 6-8 ("Indexing" the web)

Here you can see the influence of David Weinberger (Everything is Miscellaneous) and Cory Doctorow regarding the application of non-web protocols, classifications and restrictions to the web. We cannot attempt to index or classify the web in the same way we would for a book or a collection of physical objects. It isn't going to work and it isn't necessary.

SLIDES 9-11 (Connect, share & collaborate!)

Yes, connect and integrate our existing taxonomies and indexes with those available on the web. I'm not suggesting that we throw the baby out with the bath water. Folksonomies work best with taxonomies. We need to realise that what works best in web systems like iTunes, Flickr, LibraryThing and Delicious is their ease of use. You are not forced to spend days laboriously adding metadata to fields that you don't even understand. LibraryThing and iTunes draw or harvest open metadata for us from other sources. We can then add our own tags, and in some cases even comments, links and reviews.

SLIDES 12-15 (The power of sharing)

Social media allows us to share everything quickly and easily. Gary Hayes' Social Media Count brilliantly displays the amazing dynamics of social media as you watch. In 2008 I was able to share images from a world championships being run in Hawaii to the world while the race was still being conducted. Our collection management systems in cultural institutions are not that adept. So maybe we use them in conjunction with image sharing platforms like Flickr or Picasa, or maybe we just chuck out these cottage industry systems and start again, realising the importance and scope of digital media, and going with systems that are intuitive, easy to use and much less cumbersome? Even software is now being shared and users are collaborating with each other to improve it. People are also still busy having their say in blogs and using clever RSS readers to help them to read what they choose to read and not what newspaper editors think they should read or what TV news rooms want to sell them.

SLIDE 16 (Authenticity)

The web is often criticised for being unreliable. But just because something is published in a magazine, a newspaper or in a book does not make it always reliable or authentic. Even peer review is not completely reliable. So we've come up with new ways to measure how much to trust each other and judge authenticity online. eBay and craigslist are great examples of this and they've been so popular that they've effectively robbed newspapers of much of their classifieds revenue.

SLIDES 17-25 (Institutions & sharing)

Cultural institutions are realising that they need to get out there and connect with their users on the web. They cannot wait for people to come to them. The clever institutions are making their web data easily findable and easily used. Mashups are growing. These are just a few examples.

SLIDES 26-27 (UTS Library - now)

Open everything seems to be the way of the future, so with UTSeScholarship we are heading in that direction. We are also using social media to connect with our clients where they might begin their searches and to engage with them.

SLIDES 28-35 (UTS Library of the Future)

These slides present a quick tour of some of the plans we have for our future Library. We are going to put approximately 66% of our physical collection in an underground Automated Storage & Retrieval System adjacent to our new Library building and that will allow us to do much more with our physical spaces in the Library itself. (The rough dates are only indicative.) Some of the elements we are looking at will be stimulated by developments well outside traditional library and academic environments.


@shitmydadsays is one of the most followed twitters and not just because most of his tweets are profane. Oddly enough, there is some wisdom in many of his sayings. This one relates rather nicely to the issue of library fines.

07 October 2009

A quick presentation on using Twitter

I gave this quick presentation on using Twitter to my university's Teach & Learning Committee yesterday. Our Deputy Vice Chancellor (for Teaching, Learning and Equity), Shirley Alexander thought it was worth giving Twitter a try as a way of extending our reach and exposing the work of the committee. So here it is on SlideShare, below.
Oh, and one tool I used yesterday that isn't linked in the presentation is TwitBlock - a great help in ridding your followers of spammers.

Of course hyperlinks still don't upload that well on SlideShare, so here they are, slide-by-slide:

SLIDE #1 https://twitter.com/signup http://delicious.com/malbooth/twitter www.slideshare.net/malbooth

SLIDE #3 http://twitter.com/ http://twitter.com/stephenfry http://search.twitter.com/

SLIDE #4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar’s_number

SLIDE #5 http://tweetdeck.com/beta/download/ http://echofon.com/ http://www.atebits.com/tweetie-iphone/ http://bit.ly/ http://cotweet.com/

SLIDE #7 http://twitter.com/KevinRuddPM http://twitter.com/BarackObama http://twitter.com/SAlexander_UTS http://twitter.com/AnneBB http://twitter.com/search/users?q=UTS&category=people&source=find_on_twitter http://twitter.com/Twitter_Tips http://twitter.com/timoreilly

Cory Doctorow on Copyright & Open Access

I just watched a great presentation by Cory Doctorow from Access 2009 (Canada's Premier Library Technology Conference). Cory gives a bit of a history of the web to date as a massive copying machine and then criticises various attempts to regulate it. Towards the end there are some really important statements and answers to questions about Copyright and open access publication. These ideas struck a chord with me:
  • allowing free trade of electronic editions sells more print editions
  • librarians under-appreciate the extent to which they are unimpeachable sources of moral authority on liberal info access
  • creative people, such as authors and artists, are not the most astute people on (rights) policy questions (he doesn't agree that we librarians are the moral equivalent of car thieves!)
  • authors who give up copyright to publishers lose negotiating power
  • authors' relationships with publishers are best described as Stockholm Syndrome
  • the difference between purchasing a book and buying the right to read one on Amazon's Kindle
  • libraries should spend [part of their] research subscriptions budgets on peer review fees for an open access journal
  • citation is a function of access and you get cited more in open access journals
  • there is a duty to release publicly funded research to the public

You can watch all 57 mins of his address below. More slides and videos of other presentations are available on the UPEI presentation portal.