Customer vs. container, content vs. service

Lots of interesting ideas floating around this week about the future of publishing, much applicable and relevant to libraries.

First up, the Scholarly Kitchen’s blogging of the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s IN conference keynotes, with an interesting comment about “diffintermediation” in between.

Keynote 1 by John Wilkins of Creative Commons

Keynote 2 by John Maeda of RISD

The tweet stream is worth a look, too: #SSPIN09

Next up, the write up at Personanondata of Seth Godin’s lunchtime talk to the Digital Publishing Group.  Excerpt of write up: “The major error being made by established publishers (and agents and authors I would add) using conventional business models, Godin says, is to see new technology and the internet as a way to make old business models work better instead of as an opportunity to destroy (no sentimentality here) and reinvent the old.”  Video excerpts here (see also tweets: #digpub)

Finally, the post “a clean well-lighted place for books” at if:book – the book as a place, the evolution of bookstores, and publishers’ brands.  Plus a response from a bookseller at Vroman’s Bookstore in Southern California, who also references Godin’s talk.

*Bonus: fantastic set of slides putting the use of social media in the larger context of being customer-focused from author Tara Hunt (via Lorcan Dempsey)

Twitter – what’s the fuss?

I set up a Twitter account almost two years ago and then promptly let it languish.  Until this week I had tweeted a grand total of maybe five times.  I wasn’t sure why I needed it, and since hardly anyone followed me, I felt like I was talking to myself when I posted.

But Twitter has been in the news quite a lot the last the couple months: on librar* blogs, in tech media, and even in the NY Times. Two articles in particular convinced me to give Twitter another try.

The first is Twitter: Why You Should Care by Randy Cassingham of This is True, whose hook is, “This is the secret to making Twitter really useful: No one cares what it is you’re doing.”  That got to the crux of the matter for me: while it’s interesting to see one update a day or so from friends on Facebook, getting dozens of what-i’m-doing-right-now postings per day just didn’t capture my imagination, and posting them seemed narcissistic to boot.

The second article is a recent column by David Pogue of the New York Times, Twitter Is What You Make It, in which he recounts his former ambivalence toward Twitter, his foray into the service, and the results of his “Twitter for beginners” Google search, and concludes – well, you can probably guess.

So I decided to start tweeting again, and it does feel more useful to me this time. For one thing, there are a lot more people – even libraries and organizations – using Twitter; it’s a source of interesting links, ideas, and tidbits of information. For another, I used to post more library-oriented Facebook updates.  Now that a much higher percentage of my Facebook friends are from other parts of my life, I’m using that service a little  differently. I’m experimenting with Twitter as a primarily professional tool for posting quick thoughts and links of interest.

To get started with Twitter you’ll want to set up an account on the site, but one of the notable facts about it is that a large percentage of users do not post or read tweets via Twitter’s website, but through third-party tools and browser extensions.  This could be because the site is kind of clunky and unintuitive (another reason I didn’t really get into it in the past), but it is also due to the real-time, always-in-the-background way that people use the service. At a recent NEASIST meetup about Twitter (aka “tweet up”), attendees shared tips and tools they are using, among a lot of other interesting discussion.  The following desktop tools and iPhone apps are the most popular among folks I’m following:

After you set up an account, with or without additional tools, you’ll probably want to follow other users.   Once you find a couple interesting people to follow, you can find more by checking out who they follow, and so on. You might find these directories of librar* Twitter users helpful:

Oh, and if you want to follow me, I’m acbtanya.

On joining the conversation again

I’m not much of a joiner.  I don’t like bandwagons and I am highly suspicious of fanaticism.  I was a late supporter of Obama – excuse me, President Obama! – for this reason: so many people were so into him.  For similar reasons, it took me a while to figure out that I really liked Ray LaMontagne’s music, and I felt very, very uncomfortable with the crowd when I saw him perform live.

When I was doing software implementation, my professional focus became rather more narrow than it had been previously.  I found myself with little time or inclination to read a lot of blogs, and because I was no longer in an academic library, I could no longer easily take advantage of free-to-me library lit, which I used to peruse occasionally.  I kept up with a few favorite blogs (T. Scott and Free Range Librarian, notably) and got my own subscription to Against the Grain, but that was about it.

Now that I’m back in an academic setting, I am trying to broaden my horizons once more, and the tenor of librar* blogging seems to have changed over the past two years. I’ve resubscribed to a number of blogs I had dropped and added some new favorites (Pegasus Librarian), but the overall pace of blogging seems to have slowed quite a bit and given way to new media such as Twitter, tools like FriendFeed, which aggregates a person’s online presence and provides for conversation on the site itself, and other forums.

The possible level of participation is much higher, the time delay sometimes nil.  To participate, though, in many cases means joining: making a declaration that you are part of the group.  It’s much different from subscribing to a blog feed and making a comment once in a while.  I’ve dipped my toe in the water by joining the Library Society of the World FriendFeed room, but not the LinkedIn group. I’m not sure why this should be an issue for me, but it is.*  By the same token, I’m sure I’ll join in more, because I’m too interested in what’s happening, in the things being said and the ideas being discussed, not to be there in some capacity.

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*Facebook doesn’t present this problem – at all, even Groups. I could write a separate post about why that is.

Twittering

I think I first read about Twitter on Creating Passionate Users, but soon thereafter it started popping up on a lot of library blogs I read.  I didn’t want to get crushed in the stampede, so I waited out the buzz until this weekend when I got talking about it with a friend and decided to set up an account.  If you’re interested, you can find me at acbtanya, but be forewarned: I have no idea how or how often I’ll use it.

Site Updates

To cope with some serious anxiety while waiting for my spouse to come back from an interview and waiting to find out whether we’re getting the apartment we want, I added some stuff to this site. There’s a del.icio.us feed in the blog sidebar, and on my main page I’ve added my promised pre-print (come on, you know you want to read about e-journal cataloging), plus a del.icio.us link and a LibraryThing link.

Passing Time with the AADL Catalog

I’m in the Atlanta airport for a good while, waiting for my flight to San Antonio for Open Repositories, so I shelled out for wifi access. And now that I have, I’m going to find things to do online until the last possible minute or until my battery dies!

One good way to pass time online today is to head over to the Ann Arbor District Library’s fabulous catalog, which is newly enhanced with the ability to tag, review, and more. John Blyberg describes his work on the development here. Be sure to look at the catalog cards, too, if you haven’t yet, and at their website in general, which won LAMA’s 2006 Best in Show award for library websites in its budget category.

Traditional Publishing and the Web

Two interesting pieces recently came across my aggregator on the topic of the web’s impact on traditional publishing.

The first is an article in the Chronicle, “Book 2.0,” about an experimental book format that allows readers to comment on the original text and the author to respond. The book under discussion, GAM3R 7H30RY by McKenzie Wark, is hosted by the Institute for the Future of the Book. The project description indicates that the book will eventually be published “in print by a conventional press” and that “Our hunch is that a good conversation generated here will result in a better book.” Wark has gotten many comments on his text, ranging from simple copy editing to close examinations of the book’s arguments.

The second piece is a blog post by Malcolm Gladwell called “The Derivative Myth.” The key questions of the post are whether or not blogging is inherently derivative and whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Gladwell’s comments follow his participation in a Slate panel on print journalism and resulting conversation (partially via blogs) with Chris Anderson, editor of Wired Magazine and author of the recently-published The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, who took issue with some of Gladwell’s comments at the panel discussion. The whole thing is worth reading partly for its very meta feel.

Facebook

Last week I decided to register with Facebook and see what all the fuss is about.

Wow-ee, is it eye-opening! In addition to my Binghamton e-mail address I have an alumna e-mail address for my alma mater, so I registered for both networks.

For those of you who don’t know, Facebook is a social networking site for colleges, universities, schools, and workplaces. In contrast to MySpace.com, which anyone can join, you need to have an e-mail address with your organization in order to register with the site. There has been a lot of talk about social networking sites among librarians recently (should libraries have profiles? should the sites be banned from libraries because they’re too popular and using up bandwidth? etc.) and Meredith Farkas recently wrote up an interesting post on the topic, complete with all the links you could ever want down at the bottom.

My observation for libraries: one size definitely does not fit all, and the culture on Facebook may vary wildly from one network to another, reflecting the culture of the campus and the student body. If you think there are significant cultural differences between a small women’s college and a large co-ed university, you’re right (guess which has a group called “I Dress Like a Librarian”).

If you are considering a library or librarian profile, my advice is to log on as an individual and get to know the community first, before you fill out an extensive profile. I think both sites I logged onto might be equally welcoming to a library account, but the content and presence for each would surely differ according to local customs and how people use the site.