Highlights from Computers in Libraries 2007

I might still post some more raw notes, but these are the things that stood out as high points of the conference for me..

Possible projects inspired by the conference:

Make library widgets/badges like librarything/flickr/etc. Bloggers, MySpace users, etc. want to share what they’re doing/thinking/reading with other people; make it easy for them to share the way they use the library.

Make Google My Maps for Academic Libraries of Brooklyn and for Metro. UPDATE: I’m making one for ALB. Next step: annotate and add photos, then see if I can mash it up with onNYTurf.

Look at relevant Greasemonkey scripts and maybe make some.

One possible useful way for libraries to use Twitter: library account that im’s twitters to public workstations for quick, spur of the moment instruction sessions (e.g. maybe assignment based when you get a bunch of students in a row asking the same question)

Presentations that were particularly inspiring:

Jesse Andrews gave an awesome talk: The Social Web (on the importance of happy robots). This was the highlight of the conference for me.

Chad Boeninger had some very cool suggestions for using web2.0 technologies to increase active learning: meebome widgets instead of clickers for in-class feedback, del.icio.us feeds for reference, using wikis for instruction instead of handouts.

Tim Spalding reminded us: “The library is the most fun you can have with your pants on,” and encouraged us to link around, both within and without our OPACs to foster serendipity and increase traffic. In another talk he suggested that Books aren’t just items of commerce—they’re conversations, identity, exhibitionism, integral to our perception of ourselves (if we’re book lovers). They create a network of shared mental space (think of the one book one city programs), so why not let people find them and use them in a way that reflects that?

Derek Willis gave a great presentation on implementation of Django at washingtonpost.com. He talked about “bringing beauty out of the data” and creating emotional investment in data, particularly by supporting browsability, not just search.

Marshall Breeding posed some good questions to keep in mind when looking at ILS’s: What’s the impact of who owns the company? Is it operated for long-term or short-term profits? Who’s making decisions? A board interested purely in profit, or people who know the library world? Can they understand libraries as business customers? Organic growth or growth via mergers and acquisitions?

Cool stuff I hadn’t heard of before (or had forgotten about):

From Jeff Wisniewski:
Yahoo Design Pattern Library
Rasterbator— turn any image huge and print it out on multiple sheets of paper for a giant poster.

From Darlene Fichter:
Many Eyes— data visualization and sharing

From Frank Cervone:
dbWiz— database selection wizard

From Steven Cohen:

From Mary Ellen Bates:
Kosmix—very beta, specific search areas are strongest (politics, health, video games—weird selection), can screen politics by leaning (left, conservative, etc.), satire, blogs, etc.

Exalead—lists search tools on advanced search screen, phonetic search, approximate spelling, adjacent words (near operator up to 16—only search engine that allows this?!) database not as large as google

Srchr—results on one page, creates rss feeds of searches, stores buttons, so you can revisit searches easily. Good for remembering complex searches.

Scandoo—metasearch, screens for hate sites, malware, etc.

Yahoo Search Builder—Search box builder. can limit results to specific sites, append keywords behind the scenes, creates search cloud to show what words have been used to search your engine,

Swicki—builds custom search engine, but then as people use it, swiki remembers what people click through to. As more people use it, sites gain weight.


Morgan & Gao: Using a CMS to Build Community– Joomla

Notes from the session…

South Carolina State LibraryCatherine Buck Morgan, Tao Gao

Joomla in libraries website—http://www.joomlainlibrary.com/home/

Reasons SCSU chose Joomla: Reliable, Easier than drupal, Used internationally, multilingual strong support community, continuous improvement (open source community development),

Drawbacks– doesn’t integrate w/ opac yet, but can use wrappers to embed, or link directly into new window

Use cmsmatrix.org to compare systems

Google search trends—mambo peaked in 2005 (rebranded to joomla), joomla’s increasing, drupal and plone staying at same level

SCSU went from static html, table-based layout, dead pages, basic perl scripts, no persistent nav, inconsistent style, not interactive, growing fast without oversight

Wanted Section 508 standards compliant, intuitive, interactive, collaborative, searchable, community-oriented, pushable, dynamic site

Used survey monkey for survey, best feedback from open-ended questions, used people from outside subject areas (fresh eyes) to review pages

Needed designer that understood libraries

People flipped out at first, but were happy in the end—CBM took the day off, monitored email, im

Streamlined admin, but opened up content creation (more authors)

Server specs, tutorials in powerpoint presentation (at joomla in libraries)

Wsiwyg editor, predefined styles for headings, etc., file handling, image management

Wisniewski, Fichter, & Cervone: Cool Tools & Toolkits for Webmasters

Notes from the session…

Jeff Wisniewski from U of Pittsburgh:

Yahoo Pipes—apply logic to feeds as you aggregate them, drag and drop, (e.g. scopusandwos pipe)

Google My Maps—MAKE ONE FOR ACADEMIC LIBRARIES OF BROOKLYN, METRO—mashup w/ onnyturf or hopstop?

Yahoo Design Pattern Library—like A Pattern Language! For web pages and interfaces! CSS examples, breadcrumbs, menus, etc.

What is my IP? whatismyipaddress.com

Rasterbator—upload an image and blow it up to about 20×30 sheets of paper to make enormous posters

Darlene Fichter:

Firefox Linkify—auto search for url on highlighted word
Pixer.us online photo editor
Trailfire web tours—don’t need the extension to see the tour (works in IE) private, public
Myxter tones—ringtones
Mybloglog—site stats
Swivel—data visualization
Many Eyes (alphaworks IBM)— can upload data (e.g. tag cloud analysis from Gutenberg, comparison btwn multiple works)

Frank Cervone:

Google Webmaster Tools—help view website from outside (e.g. are some things protected that shouldn’t be?), links in from other sites

Google sitemap—xml file that tells google what it should be looking for
Sitemapbuilder.net—builds site map for you via spider, linkchecker


Gvisit—map visitor log


Open source federated searching—
Dbwiz—simon fraser univ
Keystone ils—index data—portal, fed search, link resolver services

Huffman & Willis: Mashups, Remixing Info, & Making Data Browsable

My notes from the session (yes! more typos!)…

Cil2007—Monday—mashups, remixing info and making data browsable

National geographic soc.—magpie rss, php to aggregate feeds on home page, library podcasting led to society podcasting, series on itunes now. Including external info on intranet, rss feeds from public area to staff. News items—mobile access via newsgator, using google gadgets to paste in feeds from useful sources. Corporate intranet mirrored for distant partners/affiliates. Photos of partners for avatars for internal communication blog—builds team across org. easy input box for wiki (gets rid of “add a new page” need) online mindmap collab software (gliffy?) to map website plan. Extension allows rss feeds to wiki pages (using mediawiki)


List of tools on presentation slides

Willis—Creating Browsable data w/ django (“bringing beauty out of the data” creating emotional investment in data—washingtonpost.com—thescoop.org

Way more information thrown away than actually gets put out to the public… what info do you have that’s not getting out? Search isn’t enough.

Django—opensource, python-based, “puts stuff on the web” powers chicagocrime.org, Washingtonpost.com database of congressional votes, faces of the fallen, recipefinder… emphasis on browse rather than search… can include metadata

Django lets you pick url (instead of .php, etc.)

Dreamhost, webfaction—any host that can support python

Jessamyn West: Heat Up Your Browsing with Firefox

My notes from the session (in all their typo-riffic glory)…

CIL2007—Monday—Jessamyn WestHeat Up Your Browsing with Firefox (Pimp my Firefox)

Ideal is to have a choice of browsers, Firefox makes good primary

Open Source

Multilingual dictionaries, spellcheck

Google icon extension—displays favicons next to google results—good cue for visual folks

Smart keywords—ctrl click any (?) search box, give it keyword, use keyword to leap straight to searchbox from address bar (e.g. make imdb search box keyword, then just type “imdb whatever” in address bar)

Greasemonkey— can use to change displays—db’s? campus sites? What are adblocker implications? Facebook scripts—anything esp. useful for us? Gmail signature float moves signature to bottom of your typing, rather than bottom of whole message.

Presentation slides have links to librarians’ lists of firefox extensions they use.

Pretty user styles and gmail skins, facebook colorizer, link evaluator—checks for live links, firebug—lists how long it takes to load individual items on page, css, etc. (alt. to web developer toolbar), large type themes, accessibar (color, text change, etc), multiple home pages open in tabs, library lookup

Lots of useful looking links from Jessamyn’s page

dive into greasemonkey—recommended resource for learning to write for greasemonkey

Mary Ellen Bates: Alternative & Customized Search Engines (SEs)

My notes from the session…

Exalead—personalized homepage with links to frequent visits, advanced search features with search tools listed, phonetic search, approximate spelling, adjacent words (near operator up to 16—only search engine that allows this?!) database not as large as google

Quintura—visual, split screen w/ regular results on right, taggy looking cloud on the left, clicking on terms reorders results on right with weight—no typing to narrow search or reweight—can mouse around

Kosmix—very beta, specific search areas are stringest (politics, health, video games—weird selection), can screen politics by leaning (left, conservative, etc.), satire, blogs, etc. cool! Computer generated?

Clusty—clustering on the fly, sources (search engines—numbered results from each source), sites (.org, .edu, etc.) “almost data mining” good for brainstorming, helping to find out “who cares about this topic?”—something librarians do almost unconsciously, but patrons don’t necessarily address. Build keyword clusters for your site.

Specialized Search Tools:

Compare results from different search tools—figure out which engine is best for a topic—good for example “see what you would have found if you’d just searched google”

Srchr—results on one page, created rss feeds of searches, stores buttons, so you can revisit searches easily. Good for complex searches, ongoing, current awareness

Scandoo—metasearch, [aside—link voting, google rank based on incoming links. Demonstrate critical analysis of sites like martinlutherking dot org, but don’t create links]. Reviews sites for hate sites, malware, etc.

DIY Search Engines:

Insert filter on top of search results from engines—create a search box to put on your site that applies your filters. Yahoo and google bothe offer. Benefit of looking familiar, but lets you apply appropriate limits. Can tweak ranking? “out google google” good marketing tool

Yahoo Search Builder—can limit results by domain or site (e.g. .gov, epa.gov). can say only give me results from these specific sites, append keywords behind the scenes, creates search cloud to show what words have been used to search your engine,

Google Co-op—inputs affect ranking, rather than “not”-ing, must include a search term, so use a noise word like “and” or “is” or something

Swicki—build custom search engine, but then as people use it, swiki remembers what people click through to. As more people use it, sites gain weight

Rollyo—can only specify 25 websites. Can see sites that someone has created an engine link to.

Gigablast—rudimentary, one of the earliest custom se’s, performance not very good

Back from the Dead

It’s been a (very long) while since I’ve posted, partly because I’ve been getting a little overwhelmed lately. There’s so much I want to do and learn, so I think I’m going to go back to using this blog as a sort of personal learning journal. Or a thinking journal. Or something.

The past week was really freaking good.

I walked over and met Tim and Rob at Pratt’s Digital Arts Research Lab. We had a really exciting conversation, and they made me feel like maybe it’s possible to tease out some of my ideas regarding the future of libraries and the way we interact with information, like maybe these huge, messy ideas I have could take some sort of substantial form.

And then I went to see the guys from Graffiti Research Lab talk, and it was so good to see art that’s engaging and beautiful and hopeful all at once.

And then I stayed up until 4 in the morning, talking with Angelica about people and information and interfaces and architecture, and I felt like my head was on fire.

Now I’m at Computers in Libraries, where I’m listening to and talking with all sorts of amazing people, but my internet connection at my hotel is so slow tonight that I can get up and get a glass of water while I wait for a page to load, so I’m going to post session notes later.