Thursday, July 20, 2006

From a January posting at Presentation Zen:

'Contrasts in presentation style: Yoda vs. Darth Vader

Edward Tufte says: "PowerPoint is Evil." This got me thinking... What if Darth Vader — my favorite fictional bad guy — gave a formal presentation? How would it look? How would it compare to the presentation style of Yoda, the wise Jedi master?

In this horribly embellished image above, Darth tries to get Luke to capitulate and join forces by presenting in an "evil PowerPoint style." We know in this galaxy, though, that this approach never really works.

Size and age matter not. Might Yoda take a more "naked" analog approach?'


Hmmm. Trying to figure out if and/or how this might be applicable to my library instruction classes.

In the current instantiation, my class is more like Vader's .ppt. What might be the uses of Yodafying things? And how?

Lessee. Establishing the student/teacher ontological framework might be a start. Why did you come down to muddy old Dagobah from your lofty classrooms? (Take the quiz, man, and see the need you have for this.)

And, after all's done, let's leave early, get away from this smartboard, go out to touch some books, smell them, see that this is a 'real-time' and 'meatspace', Here & Now kind of situation-- not some murky future promise of glory to be had through the Dark Side of cut-n-paste, plagiarism, and shallow understanding. Not some airy-fairy ethereana that will let you slide through your classes without a deeper understanding of the material, nono.

Here and now. Do, or don't do.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

dirty books, gross keyboards, continued

Hey, it's worse than you thought. Many of you have surely already read David Rothman's post on "Library Keyboards and Public Health" -- if not, please go have a look! Time to get paranoid and reactionary about the creepy-crawlers cloying to our keyboards and clinging to our mice. The Krafty Librarian wrote about it too.

The bad news from the article David mentions is: "Potential pathogens cultured from more than 50% of the computers included coagulase-negative staphylococci (100% of keyboards), diphtheroids (80%), Micrococcus species (72%), and Bacillus species (64%). Other pathogens cultured included ORSA (4% of keyboards), OSSA (4%), vancomycin-susceptible Enterococcus species (12%), and nonfermentative gram-negative rods (36%)."

The good news was: "All disinfectants, as well as the sterile water control, were effective at removing or inactivating more than 95% of the test bacteria." So cleaning them works.


Thanks David!

dirty books

I love this post at Pegasus Librarian.

"...While shepherding them through exercises to give them practice with print and online resources, one of my coworkers overheard a student saying, 'I hate books. They're so dirty.'"

Ha! Meatspace, huh. A disgusted shudder as the student contemplates meeting a friend in "real-time", too.

It goes on to wonder at how dirty the dusty books really are versus the microbe-rich environment of computer keyboards. Anybody happen to know what the rate of infection for either or both is, by the way? Curious.

Rock on with your day now.

8 teaching

You get good teaching days and bad teaching days. On Monday, I had a good class and an ass class.

I'm prone to get hostile toward dullards. And, on reflection, the students can be the problem. So what I've come to is that my students need a stake in my class. A good reason to listen up, ask questions, take notes; ideally their instructor would provide such a reason before hand. I only get one hour with them during the semester -- just a quick bang and blame -- but I've got to establish roles and purpose in the first minute or so.

My wife, an ESL teacher (and a bloody good one), passed along an idea she picked up in a citizenship class -- hand out a tough quiz. Like, "Hi, I'm Woody Evans, a librarian here, and today I'll be showing you how to use the library to find the info you need to write a good research paper for your class. Now break up into groups of three and do this quiz. We'll go over the answers in about three minutes from now." And the quiz is, say, a dozen multiple-choice questions about which database does what, using multi-volume reference books, a touch of old Boolean logic, truncation. After running through the answers to it, the students ought to have an immediate, tangible, vested interest in being with-it for the duration of my class. Right?

So we'll see how that goes.

Another important vital part of this process is involving the instructors. I've got to start making sure that the students are clear on exactly what the hell the assignment is before they show up in my library to get a detailed explanation on how to use tools that they don't know why they'll need. That is, the instructors have to give them a good reason to be there, too.

Who's up for an hour of detailed chainsaw engine troubleshooting and repair? It's only boring if you don't need the firewood.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

happy birthday, whoever you are

If you need a lift, have some old school Vector Park. It helps.


Shushing: everybody in the world but my wife (that means you).
Reading: Majestic Journey: Coronado's Inland Empire by Udall.
Linking: Non Agnostic.

good google mashup: fiction and places

web 2.0, library 2.0, and user-oriented (patron-centered) learning experiences in libraries

Alright. Been reading HobbyPrincess (the blog by Ms. Mutanen, one of the creators of ThingLink, a design student at the U of Helsinki). There's a very good bit there about the kinds of experiences we have in museums. What kinds of experiences are preferable for the audience, artists, curators? We can "consume" the exhibitions in a simple, reactive way, or we can consume in a proactive way. Reactive consumption, as she puts it, consists of just showing up, buying a ticket, maybe reading the blurbs beside the art, moving on. Proactive consumption, on the other hand, can lead to productions of our own -- metabolizing the art, and creating text or images or conversations of our own about what we've experienced. We can share these creations privately, or make them public (and we can make them public in a very, very wide variety of ways now).

I love it when I come across a library that encourages proactive consumption of materials and exhibits. Seems like this rarely happens outside the children's collection, unfortunately. Strictly business for the grownups, please.

Some of the notions floating around in the library world now about folksonomic tags in catalog records fit into a proactive consumption model. I'd like to push this further. I'd like to find ways to give patrons open fields (not just in the catalog, not just (or necessarily) literally) to play with the info-objects in their collections. We have to be stewards of the collection, but what new ways might we open up our own "exhibitions" and "collections" to allow patrons a way to play and participate? If such play lead to a proactive consumption of library materials, spurring conversation in other places, this would be taking the library into the coffee shops and bars and galleries across town -- this would be a sexing-up of the library, if you will. And that would be very, very good.

As I've written before, the info-techno-gizmo-junkie side of Web 2.0 doesn't excite me nearly as much as the attitudes it represents -- user-centered, customizable, participatory, response-oriented information spaces. Libraries don't even need computers to become 2.0 -- libraries need only start thinking of their collections and their patrons as part of a continuum of open participation. This is a self-reflexive, psyche-writ-large-within-four-walls-and-taking-it-to-the-streets library. This is a library in which the stakes are higher for everyone.

Encouraging collective, open participation, feedback, commentary and criticism about our policies and collections and administration -- this means that the stakes are higher because we have to answer to our critics and to proponents of new ideas that require more hard work from us. The stakes are higher for the patrons, too, because to participate means to have your name tied to an idea, a comment, a creative act. We up the ante for our users when we let them have louder voices; suddenly more people are listening and responding critically to what their peers have said.

Can we do this without sacrificing our inherent conservatism? Can we maintain the integrity of our records and collections if we open ourselves up to participatory, proactive consumption?

Monday, July 17, 2006

library elf

Liz B (of PopGoesTheLibrary) has an excellent article about the uses (and potential abuses) of Library Elf up at Library Journal -- see here:

"I have an article in the Summer 2006 Edition of Library Journal's NetConnect: An Elf In the Library?"

Go read it. It's good.


Listening: The Afghan Whigs, after all these years.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

these phones are everyware

Been thinking on cell phones and libraries for a while now, and I finally put together an article on the topic for Library Journal -- "Phones are Everyware" is in the 15 July issue.

Leave some feedback about it if you like. I've been pleased to see lots of librarians moving away from supporting the ban (Michael Stephens has a great post about it at Tame The Web). So many of us are still trying to crack down, trying to keep the new technology out -- maybe librarians of the old guard smell the doom of 20th Century models of librarianship. It doesn't have to hurt, though. And it's true that too many lessons of the 'old guard' are lost on 'young guard' librarians.

Libraries are only doomed if they fail to subvert the ubicomp and fail to put it in service for their own future. This thing is coming hard and fast.


Listening: Rykarda Parasol