Sunday, March 25, 2007

Let's Build a Mashup (Or at least see how one works)

Let's take a look at how a mashup works. Take a look at this one. This Proto mashup brings Craigslist, Yahoo! Pipes, Yahoo! Maps, and Microsoft Outlook together into an effective apartment hunting and tracking mashup application.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Introducing Web 10.0?

Are you still confused about Web 2.0? Well, it's time to move on to the next stage, according to some. How about Web 10.0? Can you imagine? Ray Kurzeil, DeWitt Clinton, and Nova Spivak have, and they see a very different Web than the one we're using right now.

To date, next to Tim O'Reilly's seminal article, DeWitt Clinton's "Web 2.0" offers the best and most concise definition of Web 2.0. (It's really well worth a read). But he also offers an intriguing glimpse at the Web many years into the future. What will the world and the Web will look like in 2046? Imagine this:

All data . . . can be instantaneously streamed anywhere at anytime. Your very experiences, your senses, perhaps even your thoughts, will be broadcast and archived for anyone to download and view. All human knowledge will be publicly accessible — all music, all art, all media, all things. The distinction between human thought and computer thought will be blurred. We will be part of the network, the network will be part of us. We will be the hive mind, and we collectively will have evolved into something quite unlike anything the world has ever seen.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mashups for Libraries

I recently published an article on mashups, "An introduction to mashups for health librarians" in the Volume 28, Number 1, Winter 2007 Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association. This paper is based on a presentation I made in December.

So what has changed since then? Certainly not my amazement, if you ask me for my opinion. In terms of technology, mashups are getting more sophisticated by the day. As users are increasingly getting a stronger grasp of the power that mashups provide, the world of mashups is inevitably evolving into more sophisticated ventures. Take the following, for example: Translation Services Via SMS.
Using this service, you can send an SMS to translate using BabelFish between English and Spanish and receive a call or SMS with the translation.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The New Health Librarian

At SLAIS' 2nd Annual Job Fair, I had a wonderful chat with health librarian, Karen MacDonell, Co-Manager of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC Library. She gave me some fascinating insight this area of librarianship. Here are the highlights:
(1) Personality - Dreamweaver will come and go, but a person's ability to go out for coffee and talk about vacation planning doesn't. In other words, the most important trait for finding the right job candidate comes down to interpersonal skills. What great advice; very practical and makes common sense. Inner traits can't be taught, but everything else can.
(2) Marketing - Librarians need to know how to market their libraries in order to continue funding. Particularly for smaller, special libraries, fundraising is ever so important. Because libraries are forever in danger of being closed down due to budget cuts, librarians need the skills to continue promoting and reminding everyone why their library is important.
(3) Workload - Longer hours, more librarians, less clerical staff. There's increasingly a hierarchical flattening of library organizations. Because librarians are doing more and more, more librarians are getting hired. The flipside of this is that less library assistants are hired to offset these costs unfortunately.
(4) Outreach - Less people are coming to the library, meaning librarians are increasingly required to take the information to the user. This also means that there is increasingly less need of paper (books and journals); rather, users are increasingly asking for PDF's and other electronic documents that can be accessed anywhere and anytime. Hence, wireless technology is increasingly being relied on by users, particularly to facilitate the need for up-to-the-minute information, usually on PDA's. The "wireless" librarian? That's right: it's just around the corner. . .

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

E-Learning 2.0

I'm having an absolute blast learning about social software through the Five Weeks to a Social Library course. Although I'm not one of the participants, it really doesn't matter, because all of the materials are archived. It "feels" real-time, with Power Point presentations simultaneously running with audio discussions and online chatting.

As Stephen Downes puts it, this is "E-Learning 2.0." And what is most fascinating is that it is deeply intertwined with Web 2.0 technologies. Moreover, in the world of e-learning, the closest thing to a social network is a community of practice, where it is characterized by "a shared domain of interest" where "members interact and learn together" and "develop a shared repertoire of resources." But not only is it user-centred and based on collective intelligence, it's also convenient. What better way to learn than in the comfort of my desk, mug of coffee in hand, sitting back, and relaxing to the rhythm of expert opinion?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Library Two Point Oh?

Wendy Schultz, a Futures Studies scholar and Political Scientist, has written a fascinating article about Library 2.0 and the future of libaries. "To a Temporary Place in Time . . ." proposes four stages of libraries: (1) Library 1.0 being commodity; (2) Library 2.0 is product; (3) Library 3.0 being service; and (4) Library 4.0 as service.

Most people are probably rolling their eyes at the "point oh" phenomenon. But I say, good, let's start visualizing and get creative. This is a perfect way to propel the library and information professions to that next level. How to build on the current library model and make it even better. Let's stop worrying about semantics, and start focusing on possibilities.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Take a look

Web 2.0 in action. What is Brooklyn College Library doing differently? Take a look at its impressive entry into the social software wave. Some might argue that the library is doing nothing more than riding 'fad' in technology. But is it? Or is it merely extending its reach into the sphere of its young users, connecting them through an online social space, and encouraging participation and communication through Myspace? Should we see this as outreach into cyberspace? Is it Library 2.0? The clues appear to say so...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Move Over Google

With Web 2.0 comes social searching, a type of search engine that determines the relevance of search results by considering the interactions or contributions of users. Social searching takes many forms, ranging from simple shared bookmarks or tagging of content with descriptive labels to more sophisticated approaches that combine human intelligence with computer algorithms. One search engine that has impressed me to no ends is ChaCha. Why?

Using ChaCha's Search with a Guide feature, your query is sent to a real person who is skilled at finding information on the internet and knowledgable on the subject at hand so that you get the few exact results you want, not the millions of results you don't. The more ChaCha is used, the "smarter" and "faster" ChaCha becomes. Indexing all the questions that are asked and associating them with the search engines and resources used by Guides, and the links visited by the users, ChaCha knows where to look and what the best human-approved resources are for each question or topic. Indeed, this kind of searching and type of search engine poses an interesting challenge to our friends at Google. How reliable are the guides? Here's where ChaCha is creative:
The primary reason is that we pay them and their pay is directly related to their performance. At the end of every session, you can select between one and five stars to rate their performance. While we expect you to be honest when rating a Guide, ChaCha can also detect any needlessly malicious ratings.
Welcome to Search 2.0, which uses third-generation search technologies designed to combine the scalability of existing internet search engines with new and improved relevancy models. User preferences + collaboration + collective intelligence + a rich user experience = Search 2.0.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mashups for '07

Doug Steiner's "Party Everday" in the Report on Business laments that teenagers use newfangled technology to gather in groups fast, so why don't businesses? Here is what he proposes:

I dream of a Lavalife-like site to help me find a doctor. Provisioning of actual physician visits would be done through optimal distance and availability computation: The site would give me a list of doctors in my neighbourhood and key information like their areas of expertise and hours preferences. And a picture and astrological sign for each one, of course.

Doug, you spoke too soon. Here is what one prototype looks like: Berkeley Area Doctors by Chad Dickerson. It's a mashup.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Creative Librarian?

Shelley Hourston's "Creativity and the resilient health librarian" offers a fascinating look into one aspect of librarianship which is underappreciated: creativity. Librarians do a lot, especially with limited resources in health libraries, including cataloguing (descriptive and subject analysis); reference interviews; collection development; database searching; justifying the existence of the library, just to name a few.

Librarians are professional creative thinkers, from finding better ways to display new books on the shelves to adjusting to budget cuts. Well, then, how do you nurture creativity? It can be done, according to Hourston, as her interviews with working information professionals revealed that most creativity stems from recreational activities as writing, painting, drawing, sculpture, crafts, and knitting. It's worth a read!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Key to a Librarian's Success in the 21st Century

Intriguingly, I discovered that an article, "The Key to a Librarian's Success" in Information Outlook eerily resembles the posting that I had made earlier about the definition of a great librarian. Is this coincidence? Or did I just happen to luck out in finding such a superior teacher? Regardless, this is worth a definite read. Here are the main traits of the 21st century librarian:
(12) Humility
(11) Salesmanship
(10) Communication
(9) Perceptiveness
(8) Self-confidence
(7) Flexibility
(6) Responsibility
(5) Persistence
(4) Creativity
(3) Trustworthiness
(2) Enthusiasm
(1) Passion

Friday, December 29, 2006


Library 2.0 has an interesting posting about using students as "greeters" for academic libraries in order to make patrons not only feel more comfortable in entering the library, but also to field and direct inquiries as a front-line staff. What a marvellous idea, and very much part of the Library 2.0 mantra, which is about innovation and user-centred creativity. What greeters can do is simply build on this, starting from the floor up.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Health Librarianship Internationale

Drawing from their combined experience in international activities and the published information available from selected library associations and related organizations, Bruce Madge and T. Scott Plutchak’s “The increasing globalization of health librarianship: a brief survey of international trends and activities” offers fascinating insights into the current developments in international health librarianship and describe some current themes. It’s worth a read. Here are the major points.

(1) Co-operation and partnership

Co-operation and partnerships have been key to libraries for a number of years. As budgets shrink, cooperative collection development has been more readily accepted as a policy.

(2) Open access

Radical changes in scholarly communication comprises a major area affecting all library services and not just those in the health sector. Much of the discussion in recent years has dealt with open access. The importance of this theme is emphasized by the fact that the British Government has even been included in the debate.

(3) Technology

The rapid growth and uptake of technology has had a massive impact on libraries over the last 20 years. The Internet has changed the way libraries access information, and the move to electronic publishing has caused major concerns for libraries as to whether to continue to take print journals or to move to electronic materials.

(4) Keeping ahead of the curve

The idea of horizon scanning has only recently appeared in the health-library sector in the UK as a recommendation of the ‘Future Proofing the Profession’ report. It is essential that health librarians and information professionals keep up to date with developments in key areas such as information technology.

But this is in a British context; has North American health librarianship caught up yet? I guess we'll find out.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dent in the Web

Just when Web 2.0 was about to take off, a minor roadblock has been erected by Google when it announced recently that it has taken off its Google Search API off the market. Before, you could simply integrate the free coding with other content (and API's) to form a mashup in what is now popularly referred to the new Web 2.0, better searching, faster integration, larger social networks.

But with Google taking out this essential piece of software, as well as modifying its Google Maps API terms of use, is Google taking the horrendous mis-step of preventing the progress of the new web? Let's hope not. Without API's, we won't be able to use such applications such as this. And seeing that it's so near Christmas, it would be a shame, too. Ho ho ho.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Farewell to the Google Scholar

It is only proper that I make this posting on December 8th, which is the last day of the Google Scholar's blog before it goes on hiatus for a much deserved sabbatical. It has been my pleasure to have been the recipient of the Google Scholar's mentorship. Without any idea of what I was doing or where I was going, the Google Scholar showed me what it takes to be a librarian. Here is what I learned:

(10) Teaching - As he says so often, the profession has changed immensely over the last twenty years. Emphasis on teaching has never been as great as it is now, and that is one of the reasons why librarians must also be great teachers, which the Google Scholar is.

(9) Empathy - He treats his students and employees as he would a top-level administrator. He sees the profession not as a hierarchical ladder, but as a community where information flows as freely as emotions and thoughts. He stands up for his employees and colleagues, and puts his neck on the line for them. When he sees students in need, he doesn't think twice about phoning them and asking how they're doing during their late evening shifts.

(8) Networks - He believes in social networks, not for personal gain, but for collaboration and learning. The Scholar's reach in the library, academic, and medical community is far and wide. He reaches out, and connects people not only to information, but also to other people.

(7) Cooperation - He believes in librarians helping each other. He believes that equal opportunities exist for all, and hence, his support for such things as open-access, PubMed, and Google Scholar.

(6) Knowledge - The Google Scholar is one of the premiere information retrieval experts in the profession. More admirably, he believes in sharing his knowledge, which he does through his tireless writings on his blog and discussions with colleagues and students.

(5) Believing in oneself - As he tells all his students, self-confidence is the key to success. Although he offers opinions, when it really matters, he steps back and allows his mentees to think for themselves, for he knows they are ultimately the ones who control their own destinies. He creates pathways, and allows us to find our own destinations.

(4) Humour - The Google Scholar is also a performer and comedian. He can light up any audience with his lighthearted quips and creative improvisation, often at the most appropriate of times.

(3) Technology - If there is one thing that I learned from the Google Scholar, it is to keep up with technology. In the library profession, technology is important as ever, and is a key goal in helping maximize information resources for the users and patrons. Google, blogging, mashups, blikis, etc. They keep on coming, and the Google Scholar keeps on absorbing. Nothing gets by this man.

(2) Hard work - Paying your dues. That's what the Google Scholar's career is all about. As he so often tells us, he started out with no clear indication of where he was going. All he knew was that he wanted to be a health librarian in order to make a difference in people's lives. Through sheer determination and hard work, he has done just that. And much more.

(1) Passion - If there's one thing that defines the Google Scholar, it is passion, a pure love of librarianship. Regardless of how one performs and how knowledgeable one is, nothing can compensate for passion. He breathes and bleeds librarianship. His passion is contagious. He is not only a mentor and teacher, but also a true friend.