Tag Archives: technology

Conference support from afar

On Monday this week, I had the opportunity to be involved in a presentation to NLS6 in Brisbane. While staying in Sydney.

Using twitter, @alysondalby and I sat in a room in Sydney providing links and information while our colleague @katecbyrne did the standing-up-in-front-of-a-crowd-thing in Brisbane to present on the benefits of international librarianship and launch the International Librarians Network pilot project. How did we know where she was up to? A muted telephone call (that was declared up front) and lasted through the presentation so that we could hear what Kate was saying and follow along on our own copy of the powerpoint presentation. Keep it simple!

I have captured the whole thing on Storify – both our tweets from a room in Sydney and the participation of the audience in Brisbane. There’s even a few hellos from the international librarians who kindly agreed to take part in our presentation via video.

It was a great example of the collaboration and participation from afar that social media – and twitter in particular- makes possible at conferences. We felt part of it here in Sydney even though we were unable to make the trip to Brisbane and I hope our participation helped to spread the message about the pilot far and wide as our tweeting was designed to include links and shout-outs to our international connections.

The pilot is about to close but there will be another round later in the year that will also incorporate any feedback we get from the pilot.

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Essential work tools

I tweeted today that IT at MPOW are having some trouble figuring out why dropbox won’t install on my work PC. Some background is needed. As I’ve recently changed teams I have been the lucky recipient of a long overdue new computer and I’m one of a handful of staff testing the Windows 7 environment that is to be rolled out as standard… er, soonish.

Dropbox installed fine on the old machine but something in the new configuration is stopping it. IT were able to get endnote to load and to get the system to allow me to designate Chrome as my default browser but dropbox is being problematic.

This led me to think about the tools I take for granted in my workday – dropbox definitely being one of them. Some are tech based, others not.

I use my (personal) iPad nearly every day at work, to take notes, monitor twitter via hootsuite, draw mindmaps using popplet, refer to annotated PDF documents, write meeting minutes or quickly look something up on the fly. From being initially very sceptical about the uses for the iPad I’ve become quite a convert!

image

I’ve just acquired the document holder you can see between keyboard & monitor in the photo & after a week I already cannot imagine how I got on without it.

I can’t imagine not having a couple of notebooks on the go at any one time. I love the iPad but sometimes I find there’s no substitute for physically writing it down. That said, I can never find a pen & have taken to haunting the stationery cupboard this week in anticipation of the monthly order delivery in case there’s new pens….

The new PC has come with OneNote loaded and I’m currently exploring its usefulness & capabilities – I’ll let you know if it becomes indispensable!

What tools do you rely on at work?

So you want to be a librarian?

Books from dr_tr via flickr CC

I’ve been involved in a review of some material in our Library & Information Science collection and in the process have come across some gems from the past. I’ve already highlighted one book that devoted a (short) chapter to the role of women in libraries. Today I bring you a short quote about the future of libraries from 1964.  The book is called Teach yourself librarianship and is from a series that includes titles such as The teach yourself guidebook to Western thought, Teach yourself journalism and Teach yourself to teach.

It is unlikely that the book will soon be superseded as the medium for escape, entertainment and intellectual stimulus. Television is thought to have encouraged quite as much as it has discouraged reading for pleasure. But if machines can be taught to read, summarize and, at man’s will, regurgitate technical information (and this now seems to be within the realm of practical possibility), then the information services of libraries may well be revolutionized…The profession today thinks less in terms of books in chains and documents in custody than of the active liberation and circulation of information as the intellectual life-blood of the community.

In some ways, not much has changed, has it?

Kyle, B.R.F. 1964, Teach yourself librarianship. The English Universities Press, London

Presenting the Digital Humanities

Yesterday I finally presented back to MPOW on the Digital Humanities conference I went to in March.

Because it’s mostly pictures, to make any sense of this presentation you’ll have to go look at it on Slideshare – I didn’t realise the embed code doesn’t bring across the notes.  I’d like to thank my colleagues for listening so attentively – I find presenting to people I know the most difficult thing to do. I’d rather talk to 1000 incoming undergraduates than 20 of my workmates…..

Hierarchies of presence

Through the archway - the fabulous Shine Dome at ANU

Last week I attended the inaugural conference of the Australasian Association of the Digital Humanities, held at the Academy of Science’s Shine Dome at ANU in Canberra. I was there because of the interest at MPOW in our library supporting academic research and e-research in particular is becoming increasingly important to our role as Outreach librarians as we start to have conversations with academics about data management and access.

In an attempt to make some sense of the sometimes highly technical papers I went to over the three days, I will be blogging about a few recurring themes and also a number of individual papers, such as the one I’m talking about here.

On Day 3 I attended a paper by Dr Alice Gorman of Flinders University called ‘The personal is political: communicating archaeology and heritage through online platforms‘.  Dr Gorman is also known as @DrSpaceJunk and blogs about space archaeology at Space Age Archaeology.

There was a really good twitter back channel running throughout the conference, so while I was tweeting madly (my personal form of notetaking), I was also able to follow the comments of others – this was particularly helpful during some of the more technical sessions that were hard to follow. This from some of the twitter stream during the space archaeology presentation:
Now hearing from @drspacejunk about misperception of what archaeology and getting people interested in what it really is #DHA2012 (from @ellenforsyth)
Space archeology – who knew?! #dha2012 (from @LizzieM79)
@drspacejunk has divided audience – is space archeologist, crosses archaeology & space scientists, talking about bridging links #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)
Really interesting discussion from @drspacejunk about the importance of identity to help explain her field of interest #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)
Alice talked about the different roles her different public identities can take to help her reach a wider audience. As she said, @DrSpaceJunk can say and do things that Dr Alice Gorman can’t. Using what Alice called ‘heirarchies of presence’ her audience can be filtered up and down depending on their entry point to her work and their level of interest.

Hierarchies of presence: SM both passive & active backed up byacademia.edu & inst presence, supporting cred & authenticity #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)

I spoke with Alice after her presentation and a concrete example she gave me was an invitation she received (seemingly out of the blue) to speak to a group involved with something fairly obscure to do with plastic. It turned out, the event organisers found her because of a blog post she had written on cable ties. Because her various profiles and identities are linked back to her serious researcher profile, she was contacted as someone who had a valuable and serious contribution to make.

I have a strong personal interest in the area of social media and professional networks so this session was particularly appealing to me. I think it provided a useful take home message to start some discussions at MPOW about how we talk about some of this to our academics, particularly early career researchers (ECR’s) who do not have long and established publishing profiles and need to use a variety of ways to promote themselves and their work.

Value added information – in the beginning

Carcassonne cite by lorentey via flickr CC

This semester, in my quest for a postgraduate qualification, I’m doing a subject called Value Added Information Services. Turns out this more or less covers what we do all day every day as LIS professionals, but with a slight twist towards a kind of business advisory service.

Anyway, I’ve chosen to look at the feasibility of setting up a particular kind of holiday business in the south of France. This may be because I constantly have plans to actually visit the south of France – but the lecturer did suggest we choose a topic we are actually interested in as we’re more likely to remain focussed. I am pretty sure there’s enough angles to come up with plenty of information from different sources to turn into a report with some recommendations backed by decent data. I hope so anyway.

One of the things I’ve done as part of looking at marketing and gathering information is set up a Scoopit for the topic – making use of one of the countless information gathering and/or curation tools that are out there.

Watch this space for plenty of pretty pictures of stuff in the south of France. Oh, and maybe some observations about value adding.

Coding. Or not.

All the pieces fit together

OK. So the ‘thing’ for 2012 seems to be coding. Everybody is either doing it, or urging others to do it, or writing, blogging or tweeting about doing it.

Roy Tennant over at Digital Shift says all library professionals need to at least understand coding & urges us to try out Codeacademy’s Code Year initiative. I happen to agree – I find even my very basic understanding of HTML to be practical and useful (although at this point largely just for maintaining my blog), so I signed up and have been receiving my lessons weekly by email. I should point out here that I know absolutely nothing about coding. I am a complete novice with no experience with or exposure to coding before now (except that tiny bit of HTML I mostly learned mucking about in WordPress).

This has been a really smart initiative by Codeacademy, for lots of reasons, many of which you can read about here. There’s been an amazing takeup of the course, with tens of thousands signing up in the first few days of 2012.

Matthew Murray at ExtremeTech questions whether anyone can learn serious coding in this way and that it promotes a shallow view of the programming industry. Head on over there to read more of his opinion.  A couple of sentences in Murray’s piece rang true for me because you see, I haven’t enjoyed the CodeYear experience at all so far. Murray says

Just for kicks, I sat down with the opening lesson of Codecademy, just to see what it was like. It asked me to type in my name, then append it with “.length,” then type in a simple math equation. All of it was basic JavaScript, with no indication of what was happening or why.

I have just finished week 1 of the Code Year course. I struggled through it, partly because it’s so foreign to me and way outside my comfort zone. However, at least part of the problem lies in the way the course has been written (at least week 1). There’s no context, no goal setting, no outcomes, no sense at all of what comes next or where the piece you are copying and pasting fits into a bigger picture.

It’s early days yet. Much of what is written on the web about this so far is praising the initiative but there seems to be very little of substance about the content or the delivery. Over at Palely Loitering, Laura comments that she has managed to finish lesson 1, but she’s not really sure how much she learned about applying it in the real world. I hear her!

I have found the user forums that come as part of CodeAcademy to be both useful and frustrating. Useful because there are folks in there trying to help others and frustrating because everyone asking questions seems to have the same problems – lack of guidance in the ‘lessons’ and very little understanding of what is being asked of the ‘student’.

Checking the #codeyear hashtag on twitter brings up a lot of results, but scrolling through I think many of them are auto created by the program itself (for example, when you sign up you get the opportunity to send a pre written tweet that says

I’m learning to code with @Codecademy in 2012. Join me!http://codeyear.com/ #codeyear

Not helpful. I’m looking for critical comment, not more marketing.

I’ll go on to lesson 2 – I’m working on the theory that it may just all suddenly make sense or appear to be in context. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

New shiny in the workplace

iCat not included with purchase of iPad from icanhazcheezeburger.com

We haz an iPad in our team and we are downloading your apps…

The Outreach teams at MPOW have been given an iPad to use in our work.  We have to share it, but it’s a pretty damn exciting piece of equipment to be allowed to play with, particularly as buying my own is not about to happen anytime soon.  It’s early days, no one has taken it out of the cupboard (except I suspect the team leaders have possibly been playing with it – just a bit) and while I’d love to make full use of it, I want my time with it to be productive and useful.

I can think of a dozen things straight away that I could use an iPad for in the workplace – but they mostly relate to the way I organise my day, do my job and communicate with people rather than the way the team might use it. The thing with an iPad or other mobile device is that they are designed to be personal – to provide you with access to the functionality you need to get on with the things you do. Figuring out how to share it and still have it be a productive and useful tool is important.

So, library peeps, I am crowdsourcing. Are you in an outreach/liaison position? It could be any type of library – doesn’t have to be an academic focus. Do you use an iPad as part of your work day? What apps do you find useful, what functionality is important, HOW do you use it in your work day?  Remembering that we can’t use it to keep track of email, tweet on the run or check the time of the next bus because we’re sharing it, what CAN we use it for?

Some of my ideas so far:

  • I do library tours with groups of international students – would be handy to have the iPad with me so I can also follow along with the virtual tour at the same time – point out that they can book rooms then show them immediately on the library website where they can book rooms
  • Collaborative work with another team member creating a document on the run in a meeting room or other space that is not our desktop
  • Note taking in a meeting with a School or academic
  • Access to cloud services such as dropbox when away from my desk
I’m sure there are lots of other things we could be doing with it – so far my list isn’t really anything I couldn’t do with a laptop – although taking a laptop on a library tour would be a bit tricky.
Any ideas shared in the comments would be gratefully accepted 🙂