Christina's LIS Rant
Thursday, July 27, 2006
  New Talis Library 2.0 Gang Podcast Available
This was my first as a participant -- it was a real pleasure with lots of interesting discussion. The topic was tagging and folksonomies. The next should be in about 2 weeks.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
  Democratizing Innovation by Eric von Hippel
Is available full text online under a Creative Commons License at: http://web.mit.edu/evhippel/www/democ.htm. I found this out from the review (to appear) in JASIST (subscription required) by John Cullen.

So why here, why am I posting? A neat little quote from the review in JASIST:
"It is perhaps no accident that one of the first case examples used is that of innovation in libraries."
Cool... then later in the review:
"His discussion of products where manufacturers increasingly offer toolkits for user innovation and customization is central, and demonstrates how understanding customer/user heterogeneity leads to increased profits and client loyalty, etc. Manufacturing companies generally will not have a choice to deny customers customization toolkits for practical reasons going forward. If the products of competing firms come with toolkits to enable customization in the future, firms that do not offer these will see a migration away from their one size fits all solution to those that recognize the existence of customer need diversity. The toothpaste is out of the tube so to speak, and getting it back in will not be an option. "
Incidentally, I know vonHippel's name from some of his work on Open Source Software communities (see more complete paper listing on his cv).

Doesn't this just speak of library 2.0/surfacing data/outreach/catalog apis...
  Library School Curricula... IMHO
Based on Meredith's posts and some thoughts I've been mulling over. You know, Marine officers are required to successfully complete The Basic School - it teaches infantry skills, basically - regardless of whether they are to become lawyers, supply officers, Naval aviators, or in fact infantry officers. All of the officers have to have undergraduate degrees with certain history, government, language, and other courses. They also have to go through follow on school for whatever their actual work will be. Granted, their life is much harder and it costs lives if officers can't lead -- but my point in mentioning this is that the Marines have a brand and a world-recognized image. If you meet a former Marine officer, you know that she can shoot, she can navigate, and she can lead -- regardless of whether she graduated TBS last year or a decade ago. They are -- across the board -- competent.

If you meet a librarian -- what can you say about her? You should be able to assume that she knows:
(see also SLA's Core Competencies)

There are many librarians who spend their entire careers happy as a Librarian I. They have no intention of moving up. In fact, many libraries are very flat in structure so this may be a good thing (as there's no where to go).

I disagree with a couple of Meredith's points:
1) ability to troubleshoot new technologies -- well this would be nice, but I've known some very effective librarians who tried really hard and just couldn't get the mindset for this. As long as at least one person each shift can do it... Troubleshooting really is a way of going about things -- it's not something you really learn in school but you can learn to follow a protocol (check to see if it's plugged in, try to reboot, try to get to an external web page...).
2) ability to easily learn new technologies (emphasis mine) -- this is so not fair. I'm really fearless as anyone who knows me is aware -- I'll flip switches to see what they do, try all the links to see where they go -- but there are librarians who struggle every step of the way. They do it and they continue to fight the good fight, and they get there ... with lots of handwritten notes on crumpled pieces of paper that they carry with them everywhere... but they do get there. Saying someone should learn "easily" -- it's more a willingness to learn that's important. For some, each new thing fits into a pattern and a little experimentation will get the basics. For others, each new thing is an entirely new thing.

All librarians have to understand customer service. That should be beat into them every step of the way. It doesn't matter if you're a cataloger or keep up the systems, or what -- it's all about the customer/user/patron (whatever you're calling those people for whom you exist). Librarians need to talk to and with the community they serve whether that community is elementary school children, undergraduates, or research scientists. Even if they are in some of the behind the scenes positions they should demand user feedback and do usability testing.

Library managers must have follow on training (even at the Librarian II level or even if you're a solo librarian fresh out of school) on how to foster creativity, innovation, and how to lead. Technical report writing and proposal writing should be prerequisites for library school (what did you learn in junior English if not that?)

I hope to add to this later ... time to go exercise my customer service skills :)
Monday, July 24, 2006
  Web of Science Updates...
Via Terry, then I actually looked for myself at our sub.

What a convoluted process to get an XML feed. Holy cow! Terry points out that it's as difficult as EbscoHost, but it seems even harder to me. On a positive note, the feed does work in RefWorks.

Also in this release
1) the end of automatic phrase searching in the topic box
2) the interface is now green (instead of purple-ish blue) at the top (why?)
3) author finder...

Author finder:
You do a 4 step process and then analyze on the results. (search for author by last name, add variants, select subject areas, select affiliations/addresses)

They're not quite keeping up with the joneses [Scopus from Elsevier], but it is much better than nothing.

Update 7/25 (and 7/26 for clarity):
To be fair, I should mention that in fact if your purpose is really to disambiguate authors and get the variants on the name, the WoS [ISI Web of Science Author Finder] implementation seems to work better. What I think is unfortunate, is the lack of a way to map citation activity over time -- WoS *has* the data to do it, but their interface does not enable it. The community of bibliometricians has coded several tools to look at networks and emergence in citation networks... why wouldn't WoS take a huge jump ahead and work with their founder to incorporate some of these tools? Bar charts are really not the most useful visualization, although much better than nothing. I *do* appreciate the easy ability to export to a spreadsheet -- I'd just like to see so much more.
Friday, July 21, 2006
  A poem on Open Access from Stevan Harnad for Friday Reading

Publish or Perish
Stevan Harnad

As Science is mere structured common sense,
her means but trial-and-error made intense,
the only virtue setting her apart,
and raising her above (some think) mere Art,
       is her convergence ever on consensus:
        collective, self-corrective her defenses.
A flagellant, she boldly does defy
Reality her schemes to falsify.

And yet this noble jousting were in vain,
and all this pain would yield no grain of gain
        if Science were content, a shrinking violet,
        her works from all the world 'ere to keep private.
        Instead, performance public and artistic,
        restraining all propensities autistic,
perhaps less out of error-making dread,
than banal need to earn her daily bread.

For showbiz being what it is today,
work's not enough, you've got to make it pay.
       What ratings, sweeps and polls count for our actors,
       no less than our elected benefactors,
        for Science the commensurate equation
        is not just publication but citation.
The more your work is accessed, read and used,
the higher then is reckoned its just dues.
        Sounds crass, but there may be some consolation,
        where there's still some residual motivation
to make a difference, not just make a fee:
the World Wide Web at last can make Science free.

With this further information:
The following poem, "Publish or Perish," has won the (English-language
category) prize in the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF2006) Poetry Competition, sponsored by the Adrian von Braun Stiftung.



The award of 300 euros has been donated by the author to the Alliance for Tax-Payer Access http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/ in support of their efforts to promote the adoption of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) in the US: With UK OA now well on its way, let Euroscience and euros now reach across the Atlantic to help spread OA to the entire planet...
Thursday, July 20, 2006
  Notes on Collaboration Expedition 52: Wikis
Collaborative Expedition Workshop #52, Open Collaboration: Networking Wiki Information Technology for Information Sharing and Knowledge Management
Held Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at NSF

I attended this intergovernmental workshop on wikis. This was a very large workshop with over 100 confirmed attendees. There were attendees all over the governmnet and from various vendors. Many of the government agencies already have significant experience with wikis.

Morning Keynote
The morning keynote was given by Dr. Calvin Andrus, Chief Technology Officer for the CIA Center for Mission Innovation. Dr Andrus has been a proponent of social software such as wikis and blogs to improve the end product at CIA. His 2005 article on complexity theory has been widely cited in the blogosphere (Andrus (2005) The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community. Studies in Intelligence 49 (3)). His main point is:
“. . . that from intelligence officers who are allowed to share information and act upon it within a simple tradecraft regime will emerge an intelligence community that continuously and dynamically reinvents itself in response to the needs of the national security environment.” (emphasis his)
In other words, intelligence officers need to collaborate to get the intelligence cycle short enough to fight modern enemies and move quickly in ways not predictable in the policy cycle. The enabling technologies are wikis and blogs linking to a repository of intelligence and findable through search and tagging. From his presentation, this “technology stack”:

The intent is to capture some of the tacit knowledge in the blogs and link it to the source data and reports which are stored in the repository. The wiki would be a place to take notes, float trial balloons, work on draft documents, and publish some complete documents. Since they started this effort about a year ago, they’ve created 1500 internal blogs of which several dozen are still active. The internal wiki has 12,000 pages after a year. It’s on JWIS – a top secret network. Intelink now also has blogs and Intellipedia wiki. Andrus feels that some of the work needs to be done at the SIPRNET level to get enough feedback to have real growth.
The major factor in getting this to work is trust. Managers have to trust analysts to publish before editing. An agency rule against collaborating with the larger intelligence community had to be rewritten to allow contributions to Intellipedia.

Panel Discussion
The next session was a panel discussion of wikis. Most interesting in this group were Clarence Johnson of the Department of Commerce and Olga Brazhnik of NIH. Johnson uses a wiki to share information with an international team of government technology ministries from Switzerland, Korea and elsewhere. Brazhnik is working on an NIH-wide wiki – there are already many wikis internally and externally at NIH, but she’s looking at how to do a larger effort while taking into account both the role of NIH as a federal agency responsible for health policy, and the NIH role as an innovator in bioinformatics and biomedicine in general. A DOD contractor spoke of layers of security for the wiki they built, and how new pages were tagged and disambiguated using preferred terms from the taxonomy.

Afternoon Keynote
Niall Sinclair spoke about “stealth km” – basically helping people find, keep, share, re-use information without taking it away from them and storing it in a central repository. Avoid the top-down mandate – km isn’t just another enterprise project to manage. (Much of what he said we’ve known for years.

Featured Presentations
(nb: Shankey and Rehberg went way deep into detail... I understood it at the time, but took no readable notes!)

MindTouch, Aaron Fulkerson
Visual Knowledge Conor Shankey
Semantic Insights, Chuck Rehberg
Monday, July 17, 2006
  Oh for crying out loud...
Now the electrical engineers are "inventing" bibliographic managers? via Richard Akerman.

No mention of RIS format, or connecting via Z39.50 or SRU/W or whatever to research databases... She backpedals in the comments, and mentions that this really is aimed at high school and college students now... so why the talk of Shakespearean scholars (oh, yeah, I wrote some papers in high school on Shakespeare... but I didn't need a citation manager)?

They'll publish the kit, so that developers can make things that work with their software... but ignore the fact that there's thriving conversation on this topic and perfectly workable solutions (I'm into RefWorks now, btw, but still like ProCite). Oh, yeah, and libraries will have to do the coding, I guess....
"We've created a platform for any library to host a service that sends bibliographic data to Word."
And... you can share by ... tee-hee... e-mailing your citation master list....

It's too much, I'm going to have an apoplexy... Oh, and who will have to support this when it comes out?
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
  Playing with IE7, search block...
IE7 beta 3 is out and I've installed it and tested it. It's actually really like Firefox.

Note: tabs, very simple interface (you can glop it up with toolbars if you like), search block (includes find on page), "favorites center" w/ feed reader.

So the first things I set out to do were to try the feed reader, tabs, and to customize the search block.

Feed Reader
Pretty cool, but, as far as I can tell, the little icon needs to light up -- it needs to automatically detect a feed to be able to add it. It seems to be working for all of the blog softwares but internally generated feeds at MPOW don't seem to work.

The bit where you can preview all of the tabs and manage them at once is way cool.

Search Block
I was able to customize some searches for local universities using searchplugins.net. The catalog and some internal ones for MPOW will need to be done by hand using what I learned doing the firefox ones. My intention is to work with the IT folks to see if internal search thingies can be part of the standard build that is pushed to MPOW computers (once IE7 is out of beta). Are other special librarians doing this proactively?
Friday, July 07, 2006
  Why "visual search"
BTW most excellent issue of Online this time kudos to Marydee

I was browsing the new issue (July/Aug 06, v30 n4) and ran across "Information Strategist: The Time Has Come for Visual Search" by George R. Plosker. My first complaint is in calling it "visual search". Plosker defines visual search as I've seen it from EBSCO: "the ability to review results graphically." In fact, it's not really search at all but presentation of results, right? Isn't there a better name? Or maybe it's visual search of the search results? Maybe it's visually browsing the search results? Ack.

I disagree with Plosker, too, that this is really the way to go. In fact, my most commonly returned cluster in Inspec is "United States" -- wha? Now, how is that helpful if you're searching for solder or radar or flutter?
Thursday, July 06, 2006
  Social web & Informal Learning
Teemu Arina made his slides and audio from the EU eLearning 2006 conference in Espoo, Finland available as a screencast. Via. The presentation is another overview, but I think he does a good job explaining and presenting social software.
Monday, July 03, 2006
  There's handouts and then there are handouts...
Here's my thing. I, too, have noted that people stopped giving out handouts. In fact, I attended a heavy-duty molecular biology session that had no handouts -- this was a huge problem (can you say retention?)

I agree that receiving a printout of ppt slides is almost never a good thing. Either 1) the slides can stand on their own (so why are you bothering to give a presentation) or 2) the slides can't stand on their own (so why give people copies of them?). However, if the topic is at all complicated, or if you're giving detailed instructions, or if you're showing web pages -- you should hand people a summary with things spelled out, a list of instructions, a few annotated screenshots, or a list of URLs. It's fate worse than death when someone reads a URL during a presentation.

Some people (like me) need to take notes to remember. If I can take these notes on a sheet that has related information already, I'll be more likely to keep both. Also, I'll be less worried about jotting down enough to re-find pages and resources if I know that I've got the url down already -- that means more time listening.

So, IMHO, best practices are
See, for example, my presentation last year for JHMI -- my slides are different from my handout.
  LISNews.org | Statement from W. David Penniman Dean, School of Informatics UB
LISNews.org | Statement from W. David Penniman Dean, School of Informatics UB: "'What appears above are the facts as I have documented them during their occurrence. As to my opinion, any dean serves at the pleasure of a provost, but serves first the faculty. I believe I have done that. A provost may fire a dean for reason or not, but he must not be allowed to fire a school. I will continue to object publicly to this administration’s motives and means regarding the School as well as their end objectives. This administration has failed to act in the collegial manner expected by the faculty and has taken dramatic action when most university faculty are away for the summer. They have misused their power and have discredited an innovative school, the university, and me. This entire debacle brings real doubt as to the credibility of the collegial process supposedly underlying their administration, including the UB2020 process. Shame on them.'"

So he *is* fighting back. Good for him!
  No wonder IT doesn't want to support blogging...
In general (not related to MPOW!). I get alerts for new books added to Books 24x7 and this one came up this week:
Blog Rules: A Business Guide to Managing Policy, Public Relations, and Legal Issues
by Nancy Flynn
AMACOM © 2006 (240 pages)

Hm. Sounds interesting. Look at some selections from the table of contents:

Part 1 - The Case For Strategic Blog Management
Chapter 2 - Blogs Pose Unprecedented Risks To Business
Part 2 - Legal Risks and Regulatory Rules in the Blogosphere—Why Every Employer Must Establish Blog Policies and Procedures
Chapter 5 - Treat Blog Posts as Business Records
Chapter 6 - Blogs Create Million-Dollar (Sometimes Billion-Dollar) Legal Headaches for Employers
Chapter 7 - Shhh! Blogs Put Trade Secrets and Confidential Information at Risk
Part 5 - Blog Backlash—Employers Fight Back With Lawsuits and Pink Slips
Chapter 15 - Employee-Bloggers Beware 1—Blogging Can Get You Fired!
Chapter 16 - Employee-Bloggers Beware 2— Blogging Can Get You Sued!
Part 7 - Managing Your Reputation In The Blogosphere
Chapter 21 - You’ve Been Blogged—How to Prepare for—and Respond to— An Attack in the Blogosphere
Chapter 22 - Best Practices Help Keep Blogstorms at Bay

Am I overly sensitive (yes) or do these look like the author is trying to whip up a frenzy with her choice of chapter titles? I'm not sure I disagree with the content, but the way these chapters are titled will surely cause immediate fear and loathing in the corporate governance folks.

Funny thing, my alert from Academic Search Premier on the magazine Information Week brought me this article:

A Culture Of 'No'. By: Claburn, Thomas; Whiting, Rick; Malykhina, Elena; Chabrow, Eric. InformationWeek, 6/26/2006 Issue 1095, p23-28, 4p, 3c;
Abstract: The article reports that free consumer-oriented Web tools have increased the security and management problems of information technology (IT) professionals in the U.S. The widespread use of these tools in offices confused IT professionals on how to balance permissiveness and paternalism. Web tools such as instant messaging, e-mail or information sharing sites are often better than the tools prescribed by companies.; (AN 21383493)

The full text hasn't been uploaded here yet (or in Wilson OmniFile or in ABI/Inform but it has been in L-N).

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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

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