The Shifted Librarian : Shifting libraries at the speed of byte!
My name is Jenny, and I'll be your information maven today.
Updated: 2/16/2002; 9:44:26 PM.



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Saturday, February 16, 2002

To do list:
Move blog to domain

Today I'm officially moving my blog to my domain name at Hopefully this will be easier for everyone to remember, but please make sure you change your bookmarks anyway because the old site will no longer be updated. There may be a couple of minor kinks still hiding, so if you come across anything unusual, please let me know. For those of you subscribing to my RSS feed, please note that you should unsubscribe from the old one and subscribe to instead. And for those of you having problems subscribing to the feed, that's on my to do list, too.

Next major item on the to do list:
Create my own template for the site, ideally using a CSS-based layout (wish me luck!)

6:30:35 PM      

Today we took the kids to see Big Fat Liar. It was totally excellent and everyone loved it, including us adults. If you have kids of any age, two thumbs up. At the beginning of the movie, Frankie Muniz's 14-year old character is late for school, so he has to climb in through a window. He needs someone to distract the teacher though, so he uses his Cybiko to contact his friend Kaylee on her Cybiko and asks her to do it. I nearly did a Danny Thomas spit take.

In visiting the Cybiko site for the first time in a while (I still need to get to the store and look at the new "Xtreme" version), I noticed that it now comes with a WAP browser and they've got the MP3 player live.

5:32:07 PM      

This morning we were watching Saturday morning cartoons when we saw a commercial for Parkay's new blue- and red-colored, squeezable margarine. Icky. Of course, the kids loved it and they both want the blue one. And now we have a new phrase in our house - the "parent gross-out factor."

Here's the kicker, though. I wanted to find out more about this stuff, so I went to, which doesn't exist. I tried, but that doesn't exist either. so I went to Google and typed in "parkay margarine." The first hit found the right company, but the URL went deep inside the site and 404-ed. I backed up on the URL like a good surfer and eventually found the pitiful, pathetic page for Parkay products, with no mention at all of the new product. That is just so sad. At least there's a company out there doing a worse job of advertising than libraries.

10:42:09 AM      

Link to

8:45:37 AM      

Friday, February 15, 2002

A round up of interesting links from other librarian sites:

The USA PATRIOT Act and Patron Privacy on Library Internet Terminals

"The upshot is that there will be a great many more surveillance orders, everywhere in the country, and in turn there will be more requests for library records, including Internet use records. Think of law enforcement as needing to enter two doors to apprehend a suspect." [at LLRX, via LIS News]

11:13:17 PM - copyright law, trustees, FOTL, FOIA, privacy, referenda, and more [via]
11:09:22 PM      

Better Living through XHTML - a new article from Zeldman at A List Apart, now on my reading list [via The Rogue Librarian]

11:05:15 PM      

DoCoMo to Test Streaming Ads

"Participants will use wireless-enabled Sharp Zaurus handhelds that incorporate technologies from the three companies. Testers, which the vendors call "monitors," will receive 15-second streamed ads and can request further streamed content. The ads will adhere to individual profiles for each of the users and the testers will be polled afterward to test the effectiveness of the ads." [allNetDevices Wireless News]

Well, my first thought here was jeez, advertising on my phone... no way.

"In addition, the companies will test a system that links the wireless devices to special terminals installed in convenience stores. The terminals will respond to streamed promotions, will provide sales information and will support a frequent buyer's program."

But after reading this part, I'm thinking yeah, if I can control who's sending me ads, this might be okay. After all, I want to be enable micropayments and get location-based information via GPS services. It's a trade-off that I'm willing to make, and Net Gens will expect it as a service.

10:42:06 PM      

Sprint Gives Phones Ability to Synch

"The Contact Synchronization Software, created by FutureDial Inc., will go on sale at Sprint Stores next week for $29.99. The software reads contact information from both the Sprint phone and Microsoft Outlook, and offers two options for address book editing. The phone list view displays existing entries for the phonebook for editing and updating, while the Microsoft Outlook view displays a dual screen with both the phonebook list and the Microsoft Outlook contact list. Users can "drag and drop" entries from Outlook to the phone list." [allNetDevices Wireless News]

Score! It supports my phone! Elation! Wait... the fine print:

"The company also said that the Contact Synchronization Software requires a cable that comes with Sprint's Wireless Web Connection Kit, available online or at Sprint Stores for $59.99."

Dejection. Grrrrrr. It's not worth $60, let alone $90, to get all of my Outlook contacts on my phone, especially since I've already programmed in the important ones. Et tu, Sprint?

10:29:31 PM      

I'm so proud of myself - I'm blogging while messaging with Kate and watching the Olympics. See, 15-year olds have nothing on me!
10:19:43 PM      

The Death of Digital Rights Management?

“ 'It’s very difficult to sell [digital-rights] technology to companies that are no longer trying to sell content,' observes Schreiber. In a way, it’s a classic chicken-and-egg question: is the digital rights management industry hampered by a failing market, or are e-books floundering for want of better digital-rights technology?" [at Technology Review, via Tomalak's Realm]

How about both are hindered by usability problems and a focus that is decidedly not on the consumer?

"Analysts say the content protection companies left standing, including Alchemedia and SealedMedia, have technologies that may break the usability barrier, finally enabling the serious online sales providers envision. “There are some extremely bright people working in this space who will be able to figure out what the consumer is willing to put up with,” says Letts. Alchemedia’s “Mirage” system, for example, does away with the requirement for special viewer software by making sure the decrypted form of a protected file appears only on-screen, never in random-access memory, where a computer looks for any data it’s trying to print or copy. That way, publishers can put content out in a format compatible with a regular Web browser, and “the fear about the save and copy buttons is neutralized. We don’t have to block those doors because the data in [memory] is still encrypted,” says Schreiber."

"SealedMedia’s system, on the other hand, does require a special two-megabyte browser plug-in, but it stores decryption keys on a central Internet-accessible server, meaning that if you have the right password, you can access content from whatever machine you happen to be using. SealedMedia’s viewer can also handle audio and video content. 'SealedMedia is providing us for the first time with a robust, convenient way to deliver multimedia e-books,' says ipicturebooks’ Preiss."

Here again, I hope they're thinking of more than just B2C sales (business-to-consumer) and that these technologies will work with items circulated by libraries. See why we need to be in on the debate and the development cycle?

10:18:33 PM      

That's What I Want

"No single service has a catalog of music from all of the major record labels. Until there is DRM standardization and a sea change in industry attitudes, users will have to patronize more than one service to get an unabridged selection of artists. That means consumers are asked to pay for a service that might carry only half of their favorite artists, or to pay several monthly bills just to have access to the musicians they like. Not surprisingly, many users are unwilling." [at New Architect, via Tomalak's Realm]

This article is an excellent primer explaining why the online music services are failing, covering everything from Digital Rights Management (DRM) to usability issues.

"According to Pew, in the last year, of the users who were asked to pay for something that used to be free online, 50 percent found free online alternatives. Thirty six percent stopped getting the service online, and only 12 percent paid for it. Subscription service providers need more. They must offer a unique value proposition to keep their audiences from walking out."

What amazes me is how many people take advantage of free online services but then forget about libraries. Granted we're not loaning out digital music yet, but I don't think we do a good enough job of marketing our computers, our video & DVD collections, our audiobooks, our CDs, and everything else you can get for free at your local library. Not to mention the free expertise.

Of course, that's nothing new and we say that every year, but now we have to figure out that digital service and delivery part, otherwise known as "shifting." Similar to the concerns raised in this article, we need to work closely with our vendors to make sure our services based on their products don't have that usability barrier that so many of our online catalogs currently have.

9:36:01 PM      

As I continue investigating portal/CMS/KM software for SLS, I'm intrigued by Conversant, but it appears that I can't put it on my own server, which takes it out of the running. Darn.
8:42:39 PM      

Design Criteria for Children's Web Portals: The Users Speak Out
Andrew Large; Jamshid Beheshti; Tarjin Rahman. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology V53, 2, JAN 15, 2002, p79-94.

"Four focus groups were held with young Web users (10 to 13 years of age) to explore design criteria for Web portals. The focus group participants commented upon four existing portals designed with young users in mind: Ask Jeeves for Kids, KidsClick, Lycos Zone, and Yahooligans! This article reports their first impressions on using these portals, their likes and dislikes, and their suggestions for improvements". [ia/]

Unfortunately, this article isn't available online, but it's a perfect example of why interlibrary loan was invented. Oh, Ka-a-a-te....

8:18:52 PM      

Whew! Today I finally finished my LibraryU module! It's only been on my to-do list for four freaking months. Actually, I feel bad that I haven't finished it before now because it's a guide to Researching the Events of September 11, 2001, and Terrorism. My original intent was to provide a webliography starting back in October so that public libraries in general could link to it rather than having to re-create the wheel. Unfortunately, various projects at work precluded this from happening. But it's up now, so if your library isn't already providing this type of information, please feel free to link to it. I'll be fleshing out some of the pages a bit more and adding annotations to all of the links, although it will take some time. Here's more about LibraryU, the project.

5:46:45 PM      

One Out of Four Americans Have Downloaded MP3s, Says New Study [at MusicDish]

"Fifty million people, or almost one-quarter (23%) of the American population aged 12 and over, have downloaded a music or mp3 file from of the Net, say findings from a new study examining the influence and effects of online music distribution around the world. By comparison, Napster claimed to have around 40 million users in its heyday, says research firm Ipsos-Reid which conducted the study last November and December. Similar proportions of Americans report having listened to Internet radio (27%) and streamed audio (21%), and over one-third (37%) indicate they have listened to a pre-recorded music CD that was playing in the CD-ROM drive of their PC, Ipsos-Reid found in Tempo: Keeping Pace with Online Music Distribution."

In other words, 50 million Americans realize how inane the record companies are, are tired of being screwed over, and are going elsewhere to get the services they want.

"The firm went on that young Americans continue to lead this Internet music phenomenon, as approximately two-fifths of 12-24-year-olds have downloaded music or MP3 files off of the Internet (44% of 12-17 year-olds, and 42% in the 18-24 age group)."

No surprise there. Think of all that disposable income the record companies are losing....

"Among adults aged 25-34, one-third (35%) have also downloaded music, demonstrating that older age groups are beginning to dabble in the new digital music arena as well. Not only are these individuals trying out music downloading capabilities, they are returning for more, says Ipsos-Reid. Three-fifths of (59%) of Americans who have downloaded a music or MP3 file in the past indicated that they are somewhat, very, or extremely likely to download again in the next 30 days."

Hello, Mr. Record Company, this is your wake-up call.

9:58:22 AM      

Oh come on now. This just isn't fair. I'm already going to miss the second Flash training session, and now I can't go to XML for Libraries: Potentials, Pleasures, and Pitfalls either. Bad timing, bad! Oh cruel fate. Oh Mr. Andy....
9:32:39 AM      

Your Phone as Your Wallet, Part 2

"At this time, welcome PayBox, a German company that is establishing itself slowly but surely. To use the system, you register with your bank account and PayBox then acts as a link between your mobile phone and your bank account. If I would like to pay for a cab then I give the driver my mobile phone number, or alias, and he enters it into his system. I then get a phone call and a nice voice tells me that this cab driver is requesting an amount of X EUR. I can then say yes and enter my password and the money is securely deducted from my bank account. For me, the entire system is free. The system is gaining acceptance on the web, at least in Germany, but for paying in stores it is moving along at a slower pace, partly because a POS (point-of-sale) terminal is needed there...."

"Paying for a coke with your VISA card is not really efficient but if you pay with your phone bill then it might work a lot easier. You can already get a coke out of a vending machine with your mobile phone in Finland, and I am sure this will be something that we will be accustomed too fairly soon. An example of this can be what Europolitan Vodafone and TietoEnator are launching a new payment method in Sweden. I also recently learned that you can pay for drinks and subway tokens with your mobile phone in Santiago (Chile)." [InfoSync]

Suh-weet! This is definitely the entry point for micropayments to become widespread. So when can I pay my library overdues using my cell phone?

9:16:36 AM      

Mobile IM: It's a Revolution

"Wireless Village, the initiative sponsored by Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, and over 100 other Supporters, has issued version 1.0 of the Wireless Village specifications, which aim to enable interoperability of mobile instant messaging and presence services (IMPS). If sucessful, the initiative could force major present Instant Messaging giants such as Microsoft and AOL to open up their systems as the number of potential mobile IM users is likely to outgrow that of current and potential stationary IM users by far." [at InfoSync]

It takes a village to raise IM interoperability. (Sorry, I just couldn't resist.) Note though, how much faster this is moving towards a standard than eBooks are.

9:06:38 AM      

Inside joke: if only the sombreros were animated, they'd be dancing! Actually, the Flamenco Project sounds interesting, so you should check it out even if you're not spitting Coke through your nose right now. It "investigates how to effectively incorporate large category hierarchies into information access user interfaces" using categorical metadata. [via Peter on SIGIA-L]
8:55:36 AM      

I think Paul and Lori are starting to understand my rants now. Paul has started using Radio, which means he's on to RSS via a news aggregator, and Lori has added a NewsIsFree RSS feed in the sidebar at The Handheld Librarian. So now both can see how I want to share and exchange knowledge within Illinois libraries. As we say at SLS, baby steps.
8:25:38 AM      

DMCA Protection at U.S. Border

"U.S. Customs agents have halted shipments from an Asian video game retailer because of concerns over copyright infractions." [at Wired News]

Here's more on yesterday's Kuro5hin story about the Sega serial cable being stopped by U.S. customs agents. I'm still perturbed that no one is asking the bigger questions of how Customs knows what to block from entering the country, how they know (and track) which businesses are selling those items, how they come up with their lists of what is illegal under the DMCA, and who is creating those lists. Hello, bigger story here, folks!

8:19:41 AM      

"When we bought our house in Amsterdam it had many modern features that I would never think of installing myself, but was always happy to have a fully automatic urinal, bulletproof glass windows, full climate control and fm transmitter for audio, just to name a few of the gadgets. We were also impressed with the Swedish toilets: You sit and the 'odor-fan' kicks in immediately. A button on the side 'irrigates' with warm water, followed by warm air to dry you off. Go ahead and laugh all you want, but now you too can own your own Curry Commode at a fraction of the price! This model straps-on to your existing seat for hours of hygienic fun." [CurryDotCom]

I didn't think I could be jealous of somebody else's toilet, but I am.

8:12:20 AM      

Book Review: Hot Text: Web Writing That Works

"Every place you use text on the Web is thoroughly explored. From headlines to links to menu design you'll learn how to make your text stand out from the crowd. In addition to conventional writing wisdom like using the active voice and one idea per paragraph the authors urge readers to adopt an object-based approach to writing for the Web."  [WebReference News]

Andy King gives it a thumbs up and it sounds interesting, so I'll be ordering this one today.

8:10:29 AM      

Audible Books on MP3

"This almost has to be a e-Book killer for the masses. Don't get me wrong, e-content will still have it's place. I just see the mainstream grabbing hold of *this* digital techology much quicker and in greater numbers than e-books as imagined to date." [LibeTech Weblog]

Eric comments on my Audible post from yesterday, and he seems as enthusiastic about them as I am. I agree with him that MP3 audiobooks are a killer app and that they will be adopted by the mainstream faster than eBook devices will. I've always believed that most Americans will experience new technologies in their cars first, and that this will ease widespread adoption into other areas.

OnStar is a perfect example of this. It's GPS sold as a safety feature, and it introduces the concept of location-based services in a non-threatening, non-techie way. I think we'll see the same thing with satellite radio and MP3s. You can already buy both types of players for your car, but they haven't taken off yet because they don't come pre-installed the way OnStar does. Once they do, however, there will be no going back, and once someone has had the thrill and ease-of-use of listening to MP3 audiobooks in the car, they'll realize they can do this anywhere and the technologies will become ubiquitous and pervasive.

Which is one reason why I really want to see Audible succeed. They're the major player in the game right now, which means we don't have to muck about with a dozen different standards and formats. They also understand the user's desire to own what they purchase, and they're trying to work closely with libraries.

So Eric, "me too!"

8:05:19 AM      

Comments by: YACCS
© Copyright 2002 Jenny Levine.

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