Archive for: August, 2009

Lessig, Lawrence. Remix: Making art and commerce thrive in a hybrid economy. New York: Penguin, 2008. 327pp.

"The past can survive only if it can beat out the future" (p. 142)

Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy by Laurence Lessig is a great and important book, one that should be read by anyone interested in the future of the Internet, culture and expression.

This book is a plea and an argument for a business model for culture and creativity, one in which supporters of the arts are willing to pay creators directly for their output. I'm not convinced. I'm also not not convinced.

Like the best non-fiction, this book engages you in an argument. I literally found myself periodically putting it down to have an imaginary conversation with Lessig, discussing and debating many of his points.

And he does make make a lot of very good points but a lot of his argument seems to rely on the good will of consumers of culture, their feeling of obligation towards creative people to support them directly in their efforts. On the other hand, it seems that it's getting harder and harder to convince people to pay for cultural outputs. The recorded music industry is collapsing with newspapers and possibly journalism itself next. Magazine and book publishing are still relatively healthy as is Hollywood, but the same forces that affect those other industries will ultimatelyl transform them as well. It seems that people will still pay for unique artifacts and experiences, but the commodity culture industries (ie. those whose products are easily or potentially easily copied digitally) could have a challenge ahead of them.

There seems to be two problems: one, how to get consumers of culture to infuse money into the cultural economy and, two, how do creative people capture their fair share of that cash. Ok, there are three problems: how do intermediaries like publishers, editors and distributors, who can potentially add value to the process, also capture enough of the cash to continue in their roles.

Of course, any or all of the above constituencies could just be screwed. Change is happening. It can't be ignored or avoided. The future will be different from the past and the present and not everyone who had a role in the past is guaranteed one in the future. What was once a valuable role or lucrative career can really just disappear from the landscape.

So, as a consumer of culture, I see very few scarcities around. I can find all the text, music and video I want without paying anything for any of it. What's my incentive to infuse money into the cultural economy to pay for that intellectual property? Is quality worth paying for? Or is what's available for free already of sufficiently high quality to make it "good enough" for my needs? (I'm playing devil's advocate here...)

If consumers of culture refuse to spend money on it directly, there doesn't seem to be a lot of opportunity for creators and intermediaries to capture much income.

Can providing unique artifacts (ie. Concert tshirts) and experiences (ie. Concerts) actually replace all the income that selling intellectual property once produced? After all, how many concert tshirts can one person buy?

And how can Laurence Lessig help us figure it all out?

The secret lies in something that he calls the hybrid economy. I've gone on long enough so I'm not going to try and summarize all of Lessig's points. In the end, however, he imagines a copyright system that encourages and enables consumers of culture to support that culture easily and conveniently. Not out of a sense of coercion but out of a sense of fairness and equity, out of an understanding that creators need incentives to create not out of fear of the consequences of what would previously be thought of as piracy. This hybrid economy embraces the best of the commercial economy (ie. copyright) and the sharing economy (ie. the Internet).

Is Lessig too much of an idealist? Does he overestimate the generosity and fairness of human nature? Or is Chris Anderson right and free content will drive out anything that isn't free, ultimately driving down the price of creative works to the lowest common denominator? The sharing economy completely supplanting the commercial economy. Is there a hybrid in the middle, a better view of human nature?

As you can tell from these confused and disjointed ramblings, with more questions than answers, I'm still grasping at the shape of these forces, trying to understand what the future may bring. I'm not convinced Lessig is right, although I hope he is.

Buy this book, it's an extremely important contribution to the conversation about the future of creative expression. Send a little money Lessig's way, it's only fair. He deserves it. Also, read the book, think about the issues, argue every page and every point in your head with virtual versions of Lessig and Chris Anderson. I know that's how I read the book -- a very slow and deliberate reading experience with a lot of reflection and internal debate. This book is a true professional development growth experience.

This is a doubly important book for librarians concerned about the future of our collections -- it's continuing a conversation we need to have about what means to have a collection of content in the digital age. Needless to say, I can't think of too many libraries that wouldn't benefit from having a print copy of this book on their shelves. And a catalogue record that points to the CC-BY-NC licensed version too!

(What would I really like to see? Let's lock Lessig and Anderson in a steel cage together and see who comes out the winner. Free or Fee or Hybrid. Andrew Keen can be the special guest referee.)

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Friday Fun: Crappy design in Star Trek & Star Wars

Aug 28 2009 Published by under friday fun, science fiction

John Scalzi has a couple of very amusing posts at the AMC TV website, John Scalzi's Guide to the Most Epic FAILs in Star Wars Design:

Stormtrooper Uniforms
They stand out like a sore thumb in every environment but snow, the helmets restrict view ("I can't see a thing in this helmet!" -- Luke Skywalker), and the armor is penetrable by single shots from blasters. Add it all up and you have to wonder why stormtroopers don't just walk around naked, save for blinders and flip-flops.

And John Scalzi's Guide to Epic SciFi Design FAILs - Star Trek Edition:

V'Ger
In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a Voyager space probe gets sucked into a black hole and survives (GAAAAH), and is discovered by denizens of a machine planet who think the logical thing to do is to take a bus-size machine with the processing power of a couple of Speak and Spells and upgrade it to a spaceship the size of small moon, wrap that in an energy field the size of a solar system, and then send it merrily on its way. This is like you assisting a brain-damaged raccoon trapped on a suburban traffic island by giving him Ecuador.

As you can see from the excerpts, both are hilarious. The fan commentary isn't as outraged as I imagined it would be -- I'm quite pleased to note that there's a lot of balance in there too, with a lot of comments equally or even more scathing than Scalzi's points.

(And yes, I have been easing back into blogging quite gradually. I plan to have at least a couple of vaguely serious and relevant posts starting next week.)

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Five Perfect Rock Songs

Aug 27 2009 Published by under music, personal

Apparently inspired by the occasional Five Songs I Love posts I've been doing (here, here and here), Ava at Jemsite asked me if I wouldn't mind coming up with one for their blog.

Well, it sounded like a cool idea -- so here's what I came up with.

It was a fun experience so I hope to do more guest posts as time and inspiration allow.

Thanks, Ava!

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Worldcon wrapup

Aug 27 2009 Published by under admin, personal, science fiction

And speaking of reading, a couple of the books on the summer reading list I posted yesterday were actually purchased at the World Science Fiction Convention dealers' room! We were lucky that this year the con was in Montreal, my home town and very near Ste-Agathe, where we spent most of our vacation time. The whole family came down to Montreal for the Friday of the con, while I stayed for Saturday and Sunday as well.

Overall, the con was a blast. I had a fantastic time! Of course, since I lived in Montreal for 38 years and was quite involved in Montreal sf fandom for a few years (I was on the first four organizing committees of Concept, for example), I knew a lot of people who were there and was able to see a lot of good friends from the old days, many of whom I hadn't seen in a while, Keith and Berny amongst them. (Hi guys!) Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see Rene Walling, one of the co-chairs who I know from the old days and congratulate him on a job well done. Now's the chance, of course -- great job, Rene! (And congrats to all the organizers, too!)

The programming was decent, if a little sparsely attended at times. In my programming choices, I was lucky enough not to be affected by any of the timing/scheduling snafus that Worldcon's seem prone to. I enjoyed the art show and other displays, particularly the David G. Hartwell Necktie Display (pic). The dealers' room was very small by Worldcon standards with almost no used book dealers to speak of. Most small local cons are better served in that department, at least here in Toronto. Only a few small press publishers managed to make the trip. It's too bad that so many potential dealers were scared off by the usually fairly minor border crossing requirements for dealers, not to mention that the difficult economy probably influenced a bunch of them as well. Many of the dealers that did make the trip seemed to make a killing, selling all or nearly all of what they brought. Of course, I managed to spend my allotted funds.

From a blogging perspective, I did run into SciBling Chad Orzel as well as friend Mark Tovey. I also dropped by the Tor.com party to thank them for my book deal. The con was probably also the cheapest way to ever get to see Paul Krugman speak.

And speaking of parties, it was a complete joy to attend the book launch party for my old friend Claude Lalumière's first collection, Objects of Worship. And speaking of Claude, if you want to get a sense of what Worldcon was like, you should check out the blogging he and Matthew Surridge did for the Montreal Gazette.

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Blogging break over & summer reading wrapup

Aug 26 2009 Published by under admin, personal

My annual summer blogging break has officially come to a close. I returned to work Monday after a very nice four week vacation. Yes, I use my whole annual vacation allotment all at once and go the rest of the year without any significant break except for Christmas.

The first three weeks we spent most of our time at a cottage we rent every year near Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, about 90 minutes north of Montreal. The weather was mostly pretty good, so a great time was had by all -- swimming, canoing and just lounging around reading books. For my part, let's just say a lot of BBQing and drinking local beer was involved!

And speaking of reading, here's the list of books I actually got around to reading while on vacation:

As is usually the case, the four of us passed the same books back and forth quite a bit. I'll indicate who read each book with the appropriate initial: w/j/s/d. What can I say, we're a family of big readers! We were also a DVD watching family, with my wife and I getting through all of Buffy season 7 as well as a good chunk of Angel season 2 and Homicide season 1, not to mention some miscellaneous movies.

I've posted reviews of most of the books on my other blog.

The more observant amongst you will notice that I don't list either of the two winners from my Summer Reading Poll. That's because the spirit was a lot more willing than the eyeballs to read anything even vaguely good-for-me. I'm about 60% done the Feynman bio and I haven't started The Pirate's Dilemma at all yet. Oh well.

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Friday Fun: The Sunday Times 100 best holiday reads

Aug 21 2009 Published by under friday fun

Oooh. I love lists of books!

And, hey, I'm on a blogcation, you're probably on vacation too. So here's some reading material for the beach, backyard or cottage!

SCIENCE
Darwin's Island: The Galapagos in the Garden of England by Steve Jones (Little, Brown £20) Enthralling life leads us through Darwin's entire 40-year career after the Beagle's return from the Galapagos islands.

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre (HarperPerennial £8.99) Brilliantly debunks faddy scientific "breakthroughs" and exposes the barefaced fraudulence of fringe medicine; read this book and you won't get fooled again.

13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Intriguing Scientific Mysteries of Our Times by Michael Brooks (Profile £12.99) From alien signals to sex and death, a fascinating and accessible look at the puzzles that science can't explain.

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From the Archives: E-Science, Science 2.0, Open Science

During my summer blogging break, I thought I'd repost of few of my "greatest hits" from my old blog, just so you all wouldn't miss me so much. This one is from September 3, 2008. There was some nice discussion on Friendfeed that's worth checking out.

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Some recent posts that got me thinking about various escience/science 2.0/open science issues:

First, Christina gets us rolling with some definitions:

So I'm asking and proposing that e-science is

  • grid computing - using distributed computing power to do new computational methods in other areas of science (not in CS but in Astro, in bio, etc.)
  • data curation - using computing power and information science to store, discribe, and provide access to scientific information for reuse while taking security and policy issues into account
  • supporting scientists work using social computing technologies (SCTs) to support collaboration around data and equipment (as in collaboratories) as well as collaboration to find new research partners and to discuss science
  • maybe some sort of support for benchtop computational methods or support for workflow or electronic lab notebooks?

What do you think? Is it just one of these or all or some subset?

More or less, as I said on FriendFeed, I see the terms e-science, science 2.0 and open science bandied about quite a bit these days. I tend to thing of e-science as comprising grid computing and data curation issues. Science 2.0 I think of more as social software applications in science, including lab notebooks and the like.

Open science is a newer term, I think, and a little more nebulous to me. It's more an overarching attitude and approach rather than a set of tools. Certainly, open science includes aspects of grid computing, data curation and web 2.0 tools but all of the above don't necessarily have to be "open." It's possible to curate large data sets that are private, for example, or for a wiki lab notebook to be for the lab members only; e-science and and science 2.0 don't have to be fully open although, of course, it's infinitely preferable that they are.

So, I'm a little uncomfortable with using open science as a catch-all term for all the four items that Christina mentions, just as I'm a little uncomfortable with e-science as the catch-all. If I had to choose, though, I'd probably go with Christina and pick e-science.

And speaking of getting more openness into science, check out this article, Era of Scientific Secrecy Near End by Robin Lloyd.

Beyond email, teleconferencing and search engines, there are many examples: blogs where scientists can correspond casually about their work long before it is published in a journal; social networks that are scientist friendly such as Laboratree and Ologeez; GoogleDocs and wikis which make it easy for people to collaborate via the Web on single documents; a site called Connotea that allows scientists to share bookmarks for research papers; sites like Arxiv, where physicists post their "pre-print" research papers before they are published in a print journal; OpenWetWare which allows scientists to post and share new innovations in lab techniques; the Journal of Visualized Experiments, an open-access site where you can see videos of how research teams do their work; GenBank, an online searchable database for DNA sequences; Science Commons, a non-profit project at MIT to make research more efficient via the Web, such as enabling easy online ordering of lab materials referenced in journal articles; virtual conferences; online open-access (and free) journals like Public Library of Science (PLoS); and open-source software that can often be downloaded free off Web sites.

The upshot: Science is no longer under lock and key, trickling out as it used to at the discretion of laconic professors and tense PR offices. For some scientists, secrets no longer serve them.

The article is basically about using web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, mashups, collaborative document creation) to create a more open scientific culture. In other words, what I've called science 2.0 above. It's a very well-written article, particularly for an audience that might not be that familiar with the topic.

Of course it's great to have all these sharing and collaborative tools available for scientists to use, but how to you actually get more than a handful of them to use them? What's the killer app for science 2.0, in other words. Eva Amsen has some ideas!

Many, if not most, scientists are not in the habit of putting things online. The ones that are might be tempted by the concept of sharing the papers they read, letting everyone look at their lab notebook, joining a forum or writing a blog. If you're reading this in your RSS feed or clicked through from FriendFeed , you're probably one of those people. But think about your friends and colleagues who only turn on their computer for work and e-mail. They're not going to tag their favourite papers or discuss the process of research with total strangers on the internet. It's an extra thing to do that's not already part of their lives, and no matter how appealing they might find the concept of open data or sharing information, they won't join these sites or movements because it's not something they are already doing.

*snip*

Imagine if there was a bibliography reference manager that keeps a record of papers read, and allows users to cite papers with one click of the mouse, but does all this in a simpler way than EndNote, and perhaps has one extra feature that people really need but that EndNote doesn't have. For example: if you're cowriting a paper with someone else, the EndNote library needs to be on two computers. You can export it, but it's kind of unwieldy. It would be easier to have a common shared library that both computers could use to cite in their word processing software....

Now imagine if this utopian tool they all switched to because it was so simple and fast and useful just happened to come with the default setting to share your entire collection of papers and prompted to quickly tag everything once you added it. People would leave the public setting on, and they would tag....

Please, read the whole post. It's wonderful. Eva's idea is that the killer app for science 2.0 is combining citation management with document preparation and making it social. A great idea, because it takes what scientists have to do already (ie. write papers) and blows it up into the miscellaneous universe.

But, are we there yet? First of all, take a look at these two conversations on FriendFeed about how to make Connotea the killer app: here and here. It's great to know that Nature is thinking deeply about transforming what is now Connotea into something that will truly help scientists. At the same time, you have to think that the Zotero project also has great potential to be that killer app with amazing improvements in v1.5 and a social version coming up.

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From the Archives: Tor.com & Globe and Mail Books: What can library websites learn

During my summer blogging break, I thought I'd repost of few of my "greatest hits" from my old blog, just so you all wouldn't miss me so much. This one is from January 13, 2009. It ended up being pretty popular and was the reason that ALA Editions initially contacted me about doing a book.

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This was a hard post to title, in that I wanted it to be reasonably short yet pack in a lot of information. The real post title should be: What can library web sites learn from commercial book-related web sites such as Tor.com and the brand new Globe and Mail Books site?

First of all, a brief note about where I'm coming from. This is a a thought experiment. It's a thought experiment about a very particular idea of what library websites could look like. There are lots of other possible thought experiments I could have engaged in about different ideas.

One thing about library web sites is that they tend to focus on concrete problem solving behaviours: find a book, find some data, find some articles. Some library web sites are good at facilitating those activities, some not so much. One thing we tend not to focus on is creating our own entertaining and engaging content or explicitly promoting specific content created or curated by some other organization. Again, some do do this, some well, some not so much.

As a result, library web presences can be a bit dry and static. How to spice things up a bit, content-wise? (Note for that the purposes of this thought experiment, I'm assuming that we do want to spice things up. In actual fact, I'm not entirely convinced of this but I think it's something that I explicitly want to explore.)

An interesting place to look is commercial web sites that are somewhat seriously intentioned but that are also engaging and entertaining. It would also be nice if the general topic of the site more-or-less maps to what we in libraries do. In other words, good old fashioned books. Now, a case can be made that we should follow the model of YouTube or Perez Hilton for creating our own engaging content, but this thought experiment is really driven by a couple of sites I've been following lately.

So, what can we learn from a couple of relatively new commercial sites that are about books.

Tor.com

Tor.com is the home page for the sffh book publisher Tor; in other words, they are ultimately trying to sell books.

I find it very interesting that this page actually has very little directly about Tor's products -- you have to follow the link to a different Tor Books page. I also find it very interesting that the home page for the publisher is a blog and that very few of the blog posts are directly about Tor's books but rather about the world of sffh in general. I presume they do this with the idea that if people go to the site a lot to read and interact with all this content and they get tons of pageviews, this will generate a certain brand awareness and product awareness that will translate into sales. Or more specifically, they will create a community (there are forums too) around their site and their content that will create brand loyalty in a way that merely publishing good books never could.

My take-away on this: As it happens, what I really find interesting and provocative is the idea of using a blog as your home page, the idea that you can leverage the content you create and put on the blog and direct it towards the "stealth" purpose. In Tor's case, that would be buying books. In the case of a library that would use a blog as it's home page, the stealth purpose would be to funnel students to our catalogue, online resources and various services.

Would this work? The first problem is finding enough interesting and engaging content to post on the blog that is even remotely related to the library mission. The second problem is to actually do the posting in a regular enough fashion to make the library a destination blog for the community. The third problem is actually getting students who dropped by the blog to read a cultural critique of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to actually follow through and use books and articles about Buffy (or biology). Or, having enjoyed the Buffy post, come back at some later time for information about biology or history or whatever. I'm not convinced that any of those three problems are easy to solve.

Globe and Mail Books

The Globe and Mail Books site is the newly launched hub for the G&M's book coverage; in other words, they are ultimately trying to use coverage of books and book-related topics to sell advertising. This site is more-or-less replacing a radically slimmed down print books section, which used to be separate but is now merged with the Focus section. Books sections have been easy cost-cutting targets at newspapers for quite a while now so I'm happy to see that the Globe has seen the trend as more than just an opportunity to cut costs but as an opportunity to build something that responds to the rise of book review culture on the web. Books may be old media and the web new media, but an awful lot of the web seems to be about books.

As I said, this site is very new so I imagine that they'll be tweeking it a bit over the next little while to adjust to the early reception. However, I have to say that I like the site quite a bit. It has multimedia, feature stories, exclusive daily reviews, blogs, author interviews as well as linking to book stories elsewhere on the web. It includes all the content of the vestigial print edition as well as adding a fair bit of new stuff. I find that the site does definitely draw me in and get me exploring and clicking.

The blogs could be better integrated into the site as a whole and the external posts could be better positioned as well, but they do seem to be somewhat stuck with a common Globe look and feel. The stuff that's not in the print edition (ie the blogs) really needs to be featured and highlighted. Overall the site seems to lack a really exciting visual pop -- a bit too staid even for a book site. I hope they add more bloggers and begin to seriously highlight the work of the larger books blogosphere. I also hope they surface the interaction that happens in the comments sections of the articles and blogs better. User-generated content in the form of reviews and other stuff might be interesting too, as well as a way to recruit a new generation of reviewers.

Of course, I really hope they improve their coverage of science and technology books (as well as non-mystery genres like sf, fantasy and horror), but for that only time will tell.

My take-aways from this: Even if the site is lacking a bit of pizazz, the thing that I do find interesting is that they're assuming that coverage of old media like books will generate new media pageviews and result in advertising, advertising that I guess was disappearing from the print edition.

The interesting thing for library websites here I think revolves around the kind of content we could create for the kind of bloggy site that the Tor example could lead to. The stuff on the G&M Books site is seriously intentioned but also interesting. It's multimedia and interactive in a way that draws people in rather than away.

A lack of pizazz is not usually a good thing, design-wise, but I do thing the overall approach is something that a content-oriented library website could learn from.

Conclusion

The bottom line? Maybe cool and interesting content can be used to engage students and faculty and draw them to the library web site. And once they're there, maybe they'll stick around and make use of our other collections and services that are more directly related to their tasks as scholars. Or maybe not. I guess I'm still stuck on what actual problem that our users have that that they're going to want our websites to help them solve. Is their problem that they don't have enough YouTube videos to watch? I don't think so.

Is this whole thought experiment really a case of a solution in search of a problem? Is the problem we're solving by making our websites more interesting and interactive really about improving our own self-image?

So, what can library websites learn? As far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out on this one.

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Friday Fun: Awful Library Books

Aug 14 2009 Published by under friday fun

One of the most important things librarians do to manage their book collections is weed. That involves removing the really old, useless stuff to make way for the shiny, new, useful stuff. Shelf space is limited, of course, but you also don't want to clutter your shelves with items that are too outdated to be useful to your patrons.

Academic libraries have a slightly different mandate in this area than public libraries -- we often serve patron communities that study the history of various disciplines so for them the old stuff can also provide valuable insight into the history and culture of those disciplines.

All this to say, it's pretty amazing what you can find sitting on some dusty old library shelves.

The Awful Library Books blogs is unearthing some books that are overdue for weeding.

Hilarious.

Don't forget to read some user-generated comments on Why We Weed.

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From the Archives: Getting a job 2.0

Aug 12 2009 Published by under academia, blogging, librarianship, social media, web 2.0

During my summer blogging break, I thought I'd repost of few of my "greatest hits" from my old blog, just so you all wouldn't miss me so much. This one is from October 10, 2008. It provoked a bit of angst out in the library student blogosphere, which is kinda what I was hoping.

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It's interesting times in the world out there.

And not surprisingly, the world of the internet is thinking about the implications. One of the big implications is that it's going to be harder to get a job, and that's going to be true librarians as much as anyone else.

As it happens, I've been collecting some links on my FriendFeed lately that talk about getting yourself ready to find a job. (Not that I'm looking for a job myself, more from the point of view of someone who is occasionally on search committees.) How to prepare a CV, how to improve your online repuation, etc.

Robert Scoble's So, you need a job? Man, do resumes suck which has a lot of pointers for how to make your resume and job application stick out. The comments are great too. I'm including some of the main points, please read the whole very fine post for the details:

So, now how do you get into the final two or three pile which is what will earn you an interview? You need to stand out from the crowd somehow. Here's some ways to do that.

1. Blog. ... Make sure your blog's content matches the job you are applying for, though. If someone had a blog showing how to be a better administrative assistant you can bet that I'd read every word.

2. Include a customized video that demonstrates your skills and personality.

3. Demonstrate you did some research on us.

4. Make sure you write for a human, but include tags and things for electronic scanners too.

5. Don't just apply for the job, apply for the career.

6. Demonstrate that you'd be fun to have around.

7. Make sure your email[/cover letter] is perfect in every way.

Next up is Shannon Paul's Six Steps to Resume 2.0, which are also great suggestions. Here's his conclusion -- and since most libraries are at least trying to integrate social media into our offerings I think it's very relevant for looking for a library job:

My thinking is that if you want to work with social media for a living, showing and teaching others about your involvement will mean a lot more than another bullet point outlining your accomplishments. Waiting for everyone else to "get it" won't work.

What are some other ways we can build bridges for the uninitiated? Can you think of other ways to start tweaking your resume for Web 2.0?

Finally, Dave McClure's The 4 Things You Really Need: LinkedIn, Blog, Keywords, Social Media. These are great ideas, perhaps a bit too out there for the staid world of academia, but I assure you any one or two of these would make you absolutely stand out from most of the other applicants. The main ideas, with details in the post:

1) get a LinkedIn profile, and pimp it out -- HARD.

2) write a regular blog

and...

3) ABSOLUTELY DOMINATE selected keywords (the ones that matter to you or others).

4) create notable online social media ( video, pictures, presentations, etc) relevant to your line of work and link [to] them / embed them on your blog, your LinkedIn profile, and other online sites.

Just today I got an email from someone who was asking about career opportunities in science librarianship. One of the great things about having a blog is that you do get these "out of the blue" questions, where people ask your advice and I think it's a privilege to be able to reach out and hopefully help someone. This is what I told her:

Also, in terms of making yourself more marketable, I would really try and get a solid online professional presence for yourself. It doesn't have to be a blog, but you really need to show that you're aware and interested in the new stuff that's happening. Nature Network, FriendFeed, LinkedIn and others are really valuable places to build your reputation.

And that's essentially the same advice I would give to anyone, particularly new graduates who might not have a lot on their resume yet. Any advantage you can give yourself is an edge. I've been on numerous search committees at my institution and it's always odd to see someone applying for a job in the 21st century for a technology focused job in a technologically focused profession who has no structured, consistent online presence. I want to know who you are, what you've done and what you think and even what other people think about you -- make it easier for me. Blow me away.

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