Alice Robison Keynote Address at CALC2008

On Friday, I attended the 3rd Colorado Academic Library Consortium Summit (CALC2008) in Denver. Our morning keynote speaker, Alice Robison, is a post-doctoral fellow at MIT, researching gaming and learning theory. Her talk was very engaging. What I most enjoyed about it was that it was not, strictly speaking, about libraries. It was interesting to hear an outside perspective. She talked about how various structural features of games contribute to learning. For example, games provide participants with lots of visual stimuli, the goals of the game are made clear from the beginning, instant feedback is provided, and gamers enjoy the ability to learn by doing (and failing). My two biggest light bulb reactions to her talk were:

1) It’s ok to fail and that we should expect students to fail the first time we give them a new task; they will learn by repeating the task until they get it right.

2) “Cheats” are not only fun in gaming but they are encouraged.

My colleagues and I talked about the idea that the library itself might be viewed as a “game” and that if we applied the above criteria, students might be more engaged in the research process. Imagine that you walk in to the library to work on a project. There are lots of visual signs to make it clear where you should start. Your instructor has made it clear what your goals are for research. The environment is non-threatening, so you don’t mind starting from scratch and learning as you go. The process is fun (or at least mentally challenging <gr>). Finally, you figure out that there is a “cheat” you can use. It’s the librarian. He or she will actually tell you where to look, so you can move to the next level!

Have fun!

Rhonda

Blogs as Websites – Commercial Solution

Here’s another site that is a “blog as website”. In fact, this is a company called ContentRobot that is offering to design your blog powered website for you and their own site is, in fact, a blog. They claim to be WordPress experts.

Here’s a quote from their site about the benefits of a blog powered website:

http://www.contentrobot.com/Blog-Powered-Web-Sites

What the Blog Platforms Adds

  • A blog, of course, provides reader interactivity and updated content.
  • Authorized users can add, edit, and delete content on EVERY page with minimal HTML knowledge.
  • Enhanced web site elements, which often can be cost-prohibitive, are easily and inexpensively added, including:
    • Blog template designs can be easily modified and branded with CSS knowledge.
    • Developing an Internet-based taxonomy, which categorizes site information, helps readers and administrators to manage and find information.
    • Contact forms allow visitors to easily reach you.
    • Adding web site forums and/or comments allow readers to get involved in the site.
    • Allows multiple-user access, including defining different roles and touch points for each (including banning particular users as well).
    • E-commerce can be added just as with any web site.
    • It’s simple to add imagery and visual interest to every page with minor HTML knowledge.
    • Adding advertising and banners to pages is fairly straightforward and easily managed.
    • Pushing content to readers and subscribers via RSS feeds keeps them informed without them having to visit the site or get their inboxes filled with unwanted emails.
    • Adding news aggregators allows you to include industry news to your site, keeping it fresh and interesting.
    • Easy to establish and track web site statistics and success metrics.
    • Can add fun elements like contests and forms without design constraints.
    • Multiple writers can be responsible for developing and managing content.

They include links to other blog powered websites; however, they are all commercial sites and I had varying levels of success connecting to them. So I don’t have any other examples to point to. I’ll keep looking! Still, I think the points above are fairly compelling and I think using WordPress.com would be an easy and effective way for small libraries or other libraries with limited IT resources to put up an interactive library2.0 rich website.

More About Scriblio and Casey Bisson

Ok, so everyone else already knows about WPopac (now called Scriblio) but me. Nevertheless, I am excited to have discovered it today. Here is what ALA Techsource says by way of explanation. Casey, you the man!

ALA TechSource | Unsucking the OPAC: One Man’s Noble Efforts
“WPOPAC doesn’t attempt to replace the integrated library system (ILS)—just complement and extend it. The WPOPAC goes over the ILS the way a tea cozy might slide over an ugly teapot. I’ve said for some time that a good interface to our richly structured bibliographic data is the “missing module” of the ILS; the front-end user interface ILS vendors provide—what we think of as the OPAC—doesn’t feel or function like a positive user experience. WPOPAC provides that missing module so that a search in WPOPAC feels, and is, satisfying.

Some of the satisfaction from using WPOPAC comes from the capabilities of WordPress, such as comments, feeds, and trackbacks. But the real significance of WPOPAC isn’t the functionality it displays. It’s that WPOPAC leverages “access to a [huge] community of knowledge, programmers, and designers outside libraries.” As Casey puts it, “it already has more users, designers, developers, and administrators than all the ILS vendors combined.”

Blogs as Websites

I have started a de.licio.us page where I’m bookmarking more innovative library sites that are using blogs (or mashups of blogs and other software applications) as the platform for their websites. I’ll bookmark them at http://del.icio.us/RhondaGonzales/blogsaswebsites if you want to check back for more examples.

One of the most impressive is Plymouth State University’s Lamson Library. Take a look at their beta site: http://lamson.wpopac.com/library. If you do a catalog search, the results are posted to the site like blog postings complete with comments. You can also browse the catalog or the whole site by drilling down through categories, etc. Here’s a screenshot.

Lamson Library Beta Catalog Record

This site is built on a product called Scriblio (formerly WPopac) which describes itself as “Scriblio (formerly WPopac) is an award winning, free, open source CMS and OPAC with faceted searching and browsing features based on WordPress“. Scriblio is not available for general use at the present, but learn more about it at About Scriblio.

More to come.

Library Uses Blog as Website

Here’s another example of a library that has made its blog its website. The only thing I don’t like about this site is that you really have to hunt to find the links to the card catalog. Then when you click on the link, you leave the blog. They might consider making the link to the catalog and databases each their own page so that they would have a prominent tab across the top. Then have the link open in a new window. My two cents. However, I am impressed with the rest of the site!

Stillwater Free Library » Welcome Home!

Design for the New Web

I ran across this posting by Ellyssa Kroski today: InfoTangle :: Information Design for the New Web :: April :: 2007

It is basically a summary of her presentation on Web Design at Computers in Libraries. Since I wasn’t able to attend that, I thought this posting was really great! She gives a really nice overview of current trends in web design and it was informative on a level that I could easily follow.

Thanks Ellyssa!

Incidentally, I stumbled upon it in the Library2.0 ning that libnetters have been talking about today! I just joined and I think it’s going to be really fun!

Facebook & Privacy?

Sarah Steiner, Learning Commons Librarian at Georgia State University, posted a link to the following video Does what happens in the Facebook stay in the Facebook?. The video makes interesting and disturbing claims about privacy concerns regarding the site Facebook. It quotes from the terms of service posted on Facebook, which I have to admit, I’ve never read. Here’s a quote.

“When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.” Facebook. 25.May.2007 http://colostatepueblo.facebook.com/terms.php

Naturally, I wanted to find out more about the validity of the claims presented in the video, so of course I googled the author. The video was created by Georgia web designer Vishal Agarwala (http://www.vishalagarwala.com/index.html). When I searched for his name, I ran across another post by Fred Stutzman on his blog, Unit Structures (here) that references this video. Stutzman points out seemingly contradictory statements in the Facebook Developer section of the site (which I couldn’t actually find myself). Some of the comments to Stutzman’s post include good counter arguments, especially refuting the allegations in the video about Facebook ties to the CIA and Department of Defense, which were provocative, but not well grounded in fact.

So what’s the bottom line? Well, it sounds like Facebook users grant Facebook the right to redistribute their user generated content, and Facebook promises to be ethical in its use of this content. Also, it requests that Facebook developers likewise respect user privacy. It sounds like Google’s “Do no harm” mantra. I suspect that most users, who like myself haven’t even read the terms of service, will only really become concerned about the possible privacy violations that could occur when they do occur. Until then, we’ll just keep posting with a refreshingly naive and trusting attitude. Be gentle with us Google and Facebook!

If you want to talk about this, sit with Ivan Gaetz (Dean of Libraries at Regis University) at lunch at the CALC Summit on June 1st. He will be facilitating a table talk regarding Privacy!