Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nylink Annual Meeting: Day 2

The Nylink Annual Meeting ended this afternoon. This morning the keynote was given by Jim Robertson, Director of University Web Services, New Jersey Institute of Technology. His speech was entitled "From the Amazon to the North Pole: Touring Library Services in the Web 2.0 Era." (The presentation will be available here.)

Robertson talked about and the functionality that is available when you look at a book on its site versus the functionality available in a normal library catalogue. Amazon has done a wonderful job of making their pages open for participation. Their pages are 'beginnings' not 'dead ends.' [His annotated screen shots do a nice job of demonstrating this.] They foster community, provide added value and give actionable choices. He mentioned quickly the six characteristics of Web 2.0 (see section 5 here), which are:

  • Participative
  • Modular
  • Sharing
  • Communication
  • Smart
  • Trust

Amazon takes advantage of all six characteristics. Most library catalogues do not. Robertson did re-do the NJIT catalogue so that it did some of the things that Amazon did. Unfortunately, server problems forced them to back out those wonderful additions. When the system is migrated to new servers over the summer, he hope to re-do those additions and add in new capabilities that are now possible.

Robertson ended his presentation by created a mythical scenario for the North Pole Community College and how they make their catalogue more responsive. (This presentation has the same slides in it about the NPCC Library.) The bottom line is that creating a better catalogue is not difficult or expensive.

During the Q&A, someone asked about libraries that have created new catalogues that contain Web 2.0 technologies. Two that come to my mind are:

[5/14/2007 : Check out Danbury Library,]

Roy Tennant often speaks on this topic. (BTW He is just moving from CDL to OCLC.)

Robertson said that what we want in a library catalogue is not a system, but a platform and not features, but capabilities.

His presentation included his "manifesto," which I cannot find on his web site. We didn't have a chance to really read it during his talk, so I'm looking forward to see it when his presentation is online.

Finally, I'll end talking about Jim Robertson by giving you one final piece of information from his speech and that is...many young people see Facebook as being the web. Facebook gives them the capabilities that they want for interacting with other people and "stuff." It is how they communicate.

The panel discussion partnered myself with Christine Dowd (Apple Inc.) and John Weber (Skidmore College). Dowd started by showing a Apple video about the future of computing. What was interesting is that the video was actually from 1987. A few things envisioned have been realized, but some are still farther out into the future (although they seem do-able). She noted that young people view technology as being part of their normal environment. Weber called this "digital air." Young people (tweens, teens and college students) view many technologies as being so normal that they are not considered technology. For example, to them, PowerPoint is not technology, nor is a cell phone, iPod, or computer. They are like the air -- expected to be there.

Both Dowd and Weber also talked about gaming and its developing role in education. Gaming engages people and helps them learn. Gaming teaches problem solving. And studies have shown that students who learn a topic through a game, learn the topic much better.

John Weber talked about the Horizon Report which is produced by the New Media Consortium (NMC). The 2007 Horizon Report is available here. The report "highlights six technologies that the underlying research suggests will become very important to higher education over the next one to five years." One of the key things he talked about was the difference between being comfortable with technology and being literate. People are increasingly comfortable, but are they literate? How do we teach them to be literate? Read the Horizon Report for information the technologies to watch (32 pages).

Both Dowd and Weber mentioned virtual worlds and Second Life, so it was appropriate that I spoke last. While they had focused on many different things, I only talked about Second Life. My slide are here.

I'll skip details about the presentation and get to the two questions I always get: (This are my wordings of the questions)

  1. Do bad things happen in SL? Could there be crime? Is there law and order in SL? -- Yes, there has been virtual crime in SL. Although there are no police in SL, anyone can report a problem to Linden Labs, who will investigate. Yes, people do get kicked out of SL for improper activities.
    • Linden Labs does keep a tight control on Teen Second Life, which is only for teens ages 14 - 17. Any adult that wants to work on the "teen grid" must go through a real background check, and then is only given access to specific areas on the teen grid. A few librarians are working on the teen grid and only can go to the Eye4U Alliance Island to meet and work with teens.
    • On the adult grid, the islands that are allied with Alliance Library System -- referred to as the Information Archipelago -- are located in an area where there are no "mature" adult activities nearby.
  2. How do you know if the person you're talking with can be trusted? How do you know who you are talking with? How do you know who the person is a real life? -- You can check the person's profile in SL and see what it says. You can also just ask the person who they really are (then use an Internet search engine to see if you can find out more about the person). Actually SL is no different from real life. In real life, we don't know who we can trust, but we figure it out. (And don't say, oh that person is a..., I know I can trust a person in that profession without knowing any more about the person. We know that's not true.)

    I describe SL as being like a major metropolitan city (e.g., Paris). When you go to Paris, you want to visit the museums, shops, parks, concert halls, etc. So too in SL -- You want to visit museums, educational areas, libraries, malls, parks, theaters, etc. In Paris, you will need to talk to someone for a moment or two in order to find out if it is someone who can help you (or someone you want to hang out with) and it is the same in SL.

    I told the group to keep in mind who is already in SL (which include campaign outposts for John Edwards and Hillary Clinton). If they are there, we should be there too, at least to understand what this thing called Second Life is.

    Finally, Second Life is one of the 10 web tools that is predicted to influence the 2008 U.S. elections. For a list of the 10 web tools go here. If you don't know what they all are, spend time experimenting with them.

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    ilenef said...

    Jill, I think your answers to the two questions - 1. Can there be crime? and 2. Whom can you trust? -are good ones. Actually... Second Life seems to be an excellent place to explore our concepts of crime, law and order, identity, and other kinds of social relations. Did you get a sense that those asking the questions were merely interested in the whether a full range of human experience could be expressed in Second Life? Or... were they fearful of Real Life consequences that might result from interacting with others in Second Life?

    Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

    I think people want to know about the possibility of crime in SL because some online sites are reputations of being "bad places." Is SL seedy? Can you trust the people there? Of course, the same questions get asked of MySpace. And we know that there are a lot of good people on MySpace (and, yes, a few shady characters); the same as in real life.