Saturday, March 31, 2007

ACRL Conference Blogging, Cartoon Style

Greetings from Baltimore. Best thing about this ACRL? Excellent wifi. It even works in many of the conference rooms. Some good sessions too.

There's blogger on the ACRL conference blog who is doing cartoons of sessions on a USB tablet device and posting them. They're very cool, take a look. Best conference blogging ever.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

ACRL Day 1

I arrived in Baltimore today and made it to the conference center in time to register and catch the opening session with Michael Eric Dyson. I was looking forward to his talk and he didn’t disappoint. He covered topics ranging from literacy to the state of the black community. It was a very politically charged talk but very entertaining and thought provoking. And he rapped selections from Nas, 2Pac, Snoop, and Rakim! Best line: “I may be preaching to the choir, but the choir needs to sing better”. I did notice several folks leaving during the talk, so maybe it wasn’t for everyone. But he did give mad props to librarians.

Afterwards, we hit the exhibits, and then heading to the Wharf Rat for dinner and drinks. And ending up sitting next to fellow ACRL conference blogger SaraRanger, although I didn’t know she was a fellow blogger at the time. It was cool enough that she works with Michelle.

I’ve got Flickr pics!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Five Non-Library Blogs

Cliff tagged me in the five non-library blogs meme that has been going around. Many that I read have already been listed by other folks more than once, but here are a few more.

1. The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog - Lots of interested info on techology issues in higher education.
2. Lessing Blog - Commentary by Creative Commons guru Lawrence Lessig.
3. Freaknomics Blog - You've read the book, now follow the blog. Almost always fascinating.
4. Podcast User Magazine - Not so much a blog, but a monthly online magazine with an RSS feed.
5. 7inchSlam - Food and punk rock together again. Not at all useful for work, but fun. Posts usually contain more than a smattering of profanity, so maybe not for everyone.

And there you have it.


Baltimore Bound

On Thursday morning I'm heading to Baltimore for the ACRL National Conference. I'm going to be blogging on the ACRL conference blog but I'll probably cross post a few things here as well. I'm doing a quickie talk on podcasting at 4pm on Saturday, March 31 in the Exhibit Hall, so stop by and say howdy if you're going to be there.

And I'm also going to try to do some short "person on the street" podcasts for the ACRL podcast blog as well. If you're interested in talking about your experiences at the conference drop me a line at dwfree(at)gmail(dot)com.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Brunswick Pro Bowling for WII

Wii Sports bowling is super fun but this game looks awesome. Please let TBA release date be soon. Make sure to check out the screen shots.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Digital Music Articles

I recently ran across a couple of interesting aricles/ blog posts on different aspects of digital music. First is "How I Became A Music Pirate" from the Consumerist blog. It talks about the frustration of DRM and incompatability of formats from the point of view of one person's experience buying online music. There's an interesting discussion going on in the comments as well. I think DRM is a fairly bad business model for purchased (as opposed to licensed or "rented" music) and competing player/ format issues do make buying or licensing digital music unnecessarily complicated and are generally not customer friendly. But I can also see the point that the writer should made sure that the music he was purchasing would work with his player. Mabe someday Steve Jobs will lead us from the DRM wilderness (not holding my breath) but until then it's the norm. Be an educated consumer while demanding change.

The second is "The Fate of Indie Music As We Know It" from Salon (watch the ad or give em some $$$) dealing with proposed changes in the royalty structure for streaming music and internet radio. The proposed guidelines would significantly raise the royalty percentage paid to license copyrighted materials for webcasting. The basic rate would rise from .07 cents per play to .19 cents by 2010. The article puts forth a good argument as to why this hurts both music fans and smaller artists. Ironically, the royalty rates are set by the Copyright Royalty Board of the Library of Congress. I have no idea if this means the downfall of cool sites like Pandora or not if the rates go through, but something to watch. Good comments/ blog reactions on this one too.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

i can fix twitterz

Originally uploaded by dwfree1967.
There is nothing better than one internet fun site making you think about another internet fun site when it is down!

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Forum on New Modes of Information Delivery Recap

As you might recall, a couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting called Forum On New Modes of Information Delivery that was hosted by ACRL, EDUCAUSE and the National Association of College Stores. There were 48 participants invited to represent various levels, interest and constituencies from libraries, IT and college stores. My best guess as to my participation is that I work at a 2-year or community college and have some knowledge of emerging technology issues. At any rate, I was glad to be invited and the event turned out to be very interesting. And I got to meet and talk with some great people.

The meeting took place in a little over 24 hours, so it was very intensive. At the start there was a group meeting of all participants where we watched a provocative video produced by Richard Katz of EDUCAUSE about the state of higher education in 2020.

(Note: The video isn't being widely distributed due to copyright clearance issues but there is a video of the video being shown at a conference in the Netherlands available online. It is worth watching. It is also a slow loader so maybe pause, let it load and come back to it.)

The group then split off into breakout session groups mostly along the lines of functional areas, with a few people from the other areas thrown in for a different perspective. The task of these sessions was to come up with a "script" of your own movie about the state of higher ed in 2020, putting forward both positive and negative events.

I was in the library group for this part and we discussed a lot of issues related to Open Access and copyright issues, preservation of all forms of digital materials (this kept coming up in other sessions), continuation of the digital/ information/ education divide, the economics of information production and digitization, and the potential impact and uses of emerging technologies. A couple of other items in our timeline included the impact of new conceptions of privacy, and the increasing pervasiveness of commercialism in higher education and digitization. The groups then got back together and presented our timelines and had discussion on some of the issues.

The next day featured a couple more small group discussions with the participants shifted around a little. The first revolved around how to implement some of the issues the functional areas noted the previous day. There was some very interesting discussion in my group, which ended up with three top opportunities including providing easier access to the world of digitized information outside of institutional silos of licensed databases and local collections, repositories and preservation of digital material, and scholarly discussion.

There were a couple of great items that hit my going back over my notes and the raw notes we were given from the meeting in this area. One was the idea of the library as host for real and virtual scholarly interaction outside of the tradition of the library as a place to find information. Providing virtual and physical spaces where scholars and students can meet and discuss ideas. Sort of based on the old faculty clubs in many institutions but in an expanded way. And another is the expansion of the current trend in some institutions of the library as scholarly publisher through hosting institutional repositories and Open Access journals. And creating scholarly materials themselves.

The final exercise involved combining the area groups for more cross pollination of ideas. I was in a combined library/ college stores group during this part and it was fascinating! We had a great discussion on possible collaborations between the areas including new ways to possibly use physical space for learning and gathering, potential commercial partnerships in the sale/ distribution of library produced information, and possibly becoming more cost effective and efficient by merging some functions of ordering and acquisitions between libraries and stores. Interestingly, most of the library and bookstore folks in attendance noted a lack of knowledge about each other's areas and seemed very interested in looking at concrete ways to work with each other in current, real world ways.

This whole issue of collaboration being essential as we move ahead was probably the biggest take away that most people got from the forum. The idea that there is a lot all three areas don't know about each other and there are many opportunities to learn and work together to make our institutions a more truly collaborative environment across functional areas.

And that's my personal run down of the experience. There seemed to be a commitment on the part of all three organizations involved to continue the conversations and work together on a larger scale. So expect to see more information and action. And go talk to the folks in your local college store to see how you can possibly work together for the benefit of your institutions.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

The Story of LITA Candidate Podcasts

The LITA blog currently features several podcast interviews with candidates for office in the current round of ALA related elections. I was asked by the folks on the LITA BIGWIG group to help out with the project and thought some out there might be interested in the gory details of how it got done. So here they are.

The questions for the interviews were developed at ALA Midwinter for consistency. I did ask a couple of related follow up questions in some cases to get folks talking a little more but tried to keep them to a minimum.

The interviews were conducted through Skype and recorded using a very cool program called PowerGrammo. PowerGrammo is a plug-in that allows you to easily record both sides of a Skype call. The free version works great of two person calls. I used a Logitech USB headset on my end for talking and listening.

The recordings were exported as .WAV files and run through another cool, free program called Levelator to even out the recording levels. If you're doing any sort of interviewing for podcasts, either over Skype or in person, I would highly recommend Levelator. It saves a ton of time evening things out and making the volume the same for different voices. All editing was done in Audacity and final product saved as MP3. Then the BIGWIG folks got them on the blog. I think they use a WordPress plug-in called PodPress to manage audio/ video content on the blog. It integrates content very nicely and gives lots of listening options.

A couple of things I learned from the project: I did some preliminary chat with the interviewees to get them feeling comfy talking before starting (which is a very good idea) but should have paid a little more attention to background noice and things in that process. I noticed some rattling, breathing and such on a couple of the recordings that I think could have been eliminated with a couple of easy suggestions about mic placement etc. Nobody's fault but mine on that.

Give very, very explicit instructions about the tech side of how it is going to work to the subjects. I think I could have eliminated a few questions and uncertainty by giving a little more technical info in my initial emails. I think this would have helped and saved a little bit of everyone's time. Also, recommend up front that subjects use a headset instead of a desktop mic. It gives a lot better sound and consistency.

Make sure to encode projects like this at 41000 Hz or some multiple there of. Since the LITA blog uses a nifty Flash player to stream content, I had to make sure to change the rate in Audacity to avoid the Alvin and the Chipmunks effect that happens when most Flash players like PodPress or the Odeo player try to play a file encoded at a rate like 48000 Hz. Fortunately we knew about this ahead of time so no time was wasted re-encoding. As far as I know.

That's all I can think of right now. I actually had a great time working on this project and got to talk to some interesting people in the process. So thanks Karen, Michelle and Jason for getting me involved.

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Movers & Shakers

The LJ Movers & Shakers list for 2007 is out now and looks very impressive. There are tons of great people doing great stuff in libraries right now. I'd like to especially give a big shout out to my friends Amanda Etches-Johnson, Nicole Engard and Brian Mathews for making the list. Keep up the great work!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Originally uploaded by dwfree1967.
Been so busy with stuff that I forgot to mention that we got a Wii a couple of weeks ago! Wii totally rocks. Everyone loves Wii. I'm very addicted to Wii bowling. We finally got it to work with the wifi too, so let me know if you want to be my Wii friend. Our Miis could hang out and get in trouble.

3/21/07 Update: Wii is now sick. Hopefully it's just the remote and not the console. Poor Wii.


Library Meets Politician in Podcast

The latest Library Journal has this article about a podcast interview the Central Massachusetts Regional Library System produced with Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray. This is a very cool example of a library using a podcast for outreach and calling attention to the importance of libraries in the community. Hopefully this will be the first of many!



In a nice piece of irony, LibrarianInBlack noted that the BBC reached a deal with YouTube to offer a few channels of clips of programming on the same day I saw another article on about Viacom suing YouTube/ Google for {dr. evil}one billion dollars {/dr. evil} for copyright infringement.

While I generally think references to the cluetrain are getting kind of predictable and tired, which of these media giants is relaxing with a Pimms cup in the dining car and which is still trying to find its way to the station? Even though Viacom has commercial interests in other online media companies, I can't see where it would hurt to work with the one site that your net-phobic friends and relatives have actually heard of. Hopefully everyone can make nice out of court and watch some cute kitty videos together.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Things To Do In Denver

Originally uploaded by dwfree1967.
I'm currently in Denver for the ACRL/ EDUCAUSE/ Association of College Stores forum I mentioned last week. Thanks to everyone who gave me input by the way. Due to the flight schedule out of Atlanta I arrived yesterday and got to check out a few things.

The Denver Art Museum is very cool. They had a couple of good temp exhibits and interesting regular collection. Did a little record shopping and happened upon the Best Burger in Denver. And had a couple of good beers at a local brew pub. So all in all a good day.

More on the forum later, although I'm not sure what the internet access will be like at the hotel.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Second Life & Politics

Apparently Presidential candidate John Edwards has a campaign headquaters in Second Life. And there's a story going around the Internets that it was vandalized on Monday night. From the comments on the post on Edwards official blog it seems pretty easy to revert back to a previous version of the HQ but the fact that he actually has a Second Life presence is interesting. Despite a few glitches like the controversy over a couple of his campaign bloggers a few weeks ago, Edwards (or his advisors) seem to be interested embracing Web 2.0 stuff in his run and reaching out to voters who are active online. Throw in candidate videos on YouTube and the 2008 election cycle is shaping up to be pretty interesting in terms of politics 2.0.

Disclaimers: 1. This post isn't an endorsement of John Edwards. 2. I'm not really interested in Second Life (or virtual worlds in general) at all other than as a curiosity. But anything influenced by Snow Crash can't be all bad.