Archive for: January, 2010

Library people at Science Online 2010

Following along in the tradition of Bora's introductions of the various attendees for the upcoming Science Online 2010 conference, I thought I'd list all the library people that are attended. I'm not going to try and introduce each of the library people, I'll leave that to Bora, but I thought it might be nice to have us all listed in one place.

I did a quick list in my post a while back, but I revisited the attendee list after it closed and noticed a couple of people that weren't in the first list.

As I said in the earlier post, there's been a good tradition of librarians and library people attending Science Online and this year looks to be no exception. So, here's the updated list. Of course, it's only the people whose names I recognize or who I was able to figure out had a library connection so I may be missing a couple. If I've missed you, let me know and I'll add you.

I'm lucky enough to have met a good number of the above librarians and I'm really looking forward to meeting Stephanie and Dorothea who I've know online for a while but haven't had a chance to mean in person yet.

There are also a few library-themed sessions at the conference. It's worth following the links to the wiki description pages as those have a lot more information on what the session will be about and when kinds of questions/issues will be discussed:

Repositories for Fun and Profit - Dorothea Salo (Friday workshop)

Description: Why are my librarians bothering me with all this repository nonsense? What's a repository, and how is it different from a website? What can a repository do for me? Why should I bother with them? Does anybody use them? What's all this about metadata, anyway? Find out from a real live repository librarian!

Online Reference Managers - John Dupuis and Christina Pikas moderating, with Kevin Emamy, Jason Hoyt, Trevor Owens and Michael Habib (Scopus) in the 'hot seats'.

Description: Reference managers, sometimes called citation managers or bibliography managers, help you keep, organize, and re-use citation information. A few years ago, the options were limited to expensive proprietary desktop clients or BibTeX for people writing in LaTeX. Now we've got lots of choices, many that are online, support collaboration and information sharing, and that work with the authoring tools you use to write papers. In this session we'll hear from representatives of some of these tools and we'll talk about the features that make them useful. Together we will discuss some tips and tricks, best practices and maybe even get into upcoming features, wish lists and the future of citation management software.

Scientists! What can your librarian do for you? - Stephanie Willen Brown and Dorothea Salo

Description: Find free, scholarly, science stuff on the Internet, via your public or state library, or on the "free Web." Learn tips & tricks for getting full-text science research at all levels, through resources like DOAJ and NC Live (for those with a North Carolina library card; other states often offer free resources to library card holders). Find out about some options for storing science material at your academic institution's Institutional Repository. We will also talk about the broader access to material stored in institutional repositories and elsewhere on the Web.

Demo: Scangrants by Hope Leman

Description: ScanGrants is a free, subscribable (via email or RSS) online listing of grant opportunities, prizes and scholarships in the health and life sciences and community service fields.

I can't wait to get to the conference. I'll be arriving fairly late on Friday night, mostly because my son is coming with me and it just wasn't convenient for us to leave any earlier. I'll be posting summaries and impressions here at cross-posting at the ScienceOnline blog.

Update 2009.11.04: Gary Pattillo added.

Update 2010.01.14: List & sessions descriptions updated. Kevin Smith added to list. I'll be cross-posting to the ScienceOnline blog.

6 responses so far

Joel, Mitch. Six pixels of separation: Everyone is connected. Connect your business to everyone. New York: Business Plus, 2009. 288pp.

I was chatting with a colleague during the long commute home the other day and he noticed I was reading this book. "What's it like?" he asked.

"Clay Shirky lite," I replied.

And that's about right. In Six Pixels of Separation, Mitch Joel comes to grips with the effects of social media on marketing, media, sales and promotions, he covers a lot of the same ground as in Clay Shirky's classic Here Comes Everybody (review). Glib, conversational, fast-paced bite-sized -- an easy read for sure -- Joel does a solid job of translating Shirky's more scholarly approach to a business audience.

Which is more or less the message I tried to convey to my commuting colleague above -- that Joel really doesn't cover much new ground for anybody that's more than passing familiar with the highways and byways of social media. If you even have a couple of vaguely similar books under your belt, most of the material in this one will be familiar.

But, that's not entirely the point here. While mostly not original, this book does a terrific job of bringing it all together in a readable, fun package, a package that really focused on concrete strategies and shorter-term tactics that can really make a difference in an entrepreneur's or organization's efforts to promote itself and it's message in the modern marketing context. And by organization or entrepreneur, I mean libraries and librarians too. While you have to be careful in translating strategies for the commercial world into the non-commercial, there's a lot here that's interesting and relevant.

On the down side, Joel doesn't quite manage to avoid the worst pitfalls of most business books -- relentless self-promotion, over-hyping or over-selling ideas and constant repetition of ideas in every chapter as if the author expects readers to only catch the occasional paragraph in between Tweets. Even though Joel emphasizes authenticity so much, there are a few places where he gets kind of carried away with congratulating himself and his friends for doing such a good job that he sounds a bit fake at times. These points are largely quibbles.

However, If you've read more than a couple social media books or if you follow a lot of blogs on the topic, this book might not be for you. As I said, it covers a lot of ground well and does a good job of bringing a lot of ideas together, but you might not find it original enough. For those that haven't dipped more than a toe or two into the social media world, this would be a good place to start.

As for library collections, this would fit well in any collection supporting a business or entrepreneurial community, be it an academic or public library. There's not enough technology content per se to make it that appropriate for scitech libraries, although it wouldn't be too out of place and may be interesting reading for the more IT oriented.

Joel, Mitch. Six pixels of separation: Everyone is connected. Connect your business to everyone. New York: Business Plus, 2009. 288pp.


Ok, now that the main part of the review is done, for those that are interested I'm going to list in point form a lot of the main ideas in the book. Think of this as notes for the My Job in 10 Years book that I'm sharing with you. And apologies for the great length.

  • In terms of using social media channels for self-promotion: "if I can do this, so can you" p11
  • Online channels focus most on self-actualization. p19
  • "how you build trust in your brand, your business, and yourself is going to be an important part of how your [organization] is going to adapt and evolve"
  • Participate to build your brand. p23 Patience is a virtue when building trust. p32
  • Add value to the conversation with an authentic voice. p39, 43
  • Ask why you really want to participate in the global, social conversation, what do you want to get out of it p50
  • 5 C's of online engagement: connecting/creating/conversations/community/commerce (er, ok, not so relevant)
  • Blogging (and being involved in a blogging community or community of bloggers, commenters and readers) is a great way to connect to customers, connect customers to each other (p77, 80, 84)
  • You don't control your brand. (p93)
  • Our job as organizers of online communities can be to facililtate real-world meet-ups (ch. 6)
  • Create your personal brand, your organization's brand (the library brand), create reputation both within the profession and within your organization. Building our personal brands as professionals within the library organization also builds the brand of the library organization. (p126, 132)
  • build a brand: give abundantly, help others, build relationships. (p135)
  • Online presense needs to evolve and add more aspects, evolution favours the content creator. Offer a holistic brand experience (p163-64)
  • Build community: be sincere, be helpful, be credible (p168-72)
  • Take advantage of the wisdom of the crowds of your patrons (p190-91)
  • We are going from mass media to "me" media. (ch 10)
  • Find your niche -- what do you do best. p194
  • Embrace the digital, there's no going back. (p200)
  • Strategies to embrace the digital (p208-): centralize all your information, there are multiple sides to every story, connecting in not engaging, be responsive and fast, let people steal your ideas, go out on the fringe
  • Engagement is almost as tough to create and nurture online as trust. (p210)
  • What works? Not advertising, but content. Content is everything. (p216-218, 232)
  • Everything is mobile now, we are digital nomads. The key thing is to deliver content and engagement, targeted, to mobile devices. Think how we need to be less intrusive in mobile marketing, not more so. New device = new rules. (p236-8, 249-52)
  • The only thing that we really know about the value of digital content is that it's not the same as traditional. Can't charge the same. (p256, 259)
  • "the problem is that all new business models look weird and act weird because they are weird" (p.260)
  • Pushing out the horizons, ten trends: personal brands rise, attention crash, micro social networks, levels of connections, analytics and research, content as media, consumer generated brands, virtual worlds, web and mobile connect, openness ...will make us very private. (p264-272)
  • "Six Pixels of Separation is not about how you can connect your [organization] more efficiently in these online channels to be successful. It's too late for that. In this world of interconnectedness, the bigger question is, how are you going to spread your story, connect, and add value to your life and the people whose lives you touch" (p273)

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Say "Hi" to @SteacieLibrary

Jan 12 2010 Published by under acad lib future, faculty liaison, library web, web 2.0

Or not. You can also feel free to subscribe. Or not.

Yes, my library has entered the Twitter age. I'll probably be the main tweeter but hopefully a couple of the other reference staff here will chip (chirp?) in from time to time.

It took me a while to decide whether or not it's worth it to join Twitter. When I do IL classes, I often poll the class informally to see who uses which of the various social networking software sites. Facebook is around 90%. Twitter is around 5-10%, although somewhat more than 50% seem to have at least heard of it. So, it's a fairly small percentage of students here that I could possibly reach -- although York is a very large school so 10% is 5,000 people. And that's why it's taken me a while to decide.

The thing is, quite a few internal York organizations and people are on Twitter and I think it's probably at least as interesting to reach out and connect to them, hopefully raising Steacie's profile on campus a bit.

Twitter also provides a very lightweight way to create an RSS news feed about the library which we could reuse on our web page, for example. A Twitter presence also makes a pretty good complement to our fairly active Facebook page. The two can feed into each other, which is nice. The Fb page has taken quite a while to gain interest, at least a year, so I expect Twitter to take as long or longer to grow into a comparable community.

What do we hope to tweet about?

In terms of promotion on campus, we'll probably put some signs around the library (it worked for Facebook!), RT stuff from other York twitter accounts, announce in my IL classes and just talk about it on campus. If we can work up to a few hundred followers, that would be great.

Like I said, I'm thinking that it'll take six months to a year to see how this turns out.

If you're a scitech library out there and you're on twitter, I'd love to follow you. I'd also love to hear how the twitter thing is going for you. In general, we'll be following back anyone with a York affiliation or any libraries, librarians, scientists, engineers and scientific institutions and publishers. We'll be blocking any obvious spam accounts.

2 responses so far

Best Science Books 2009: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jan 11 2010 Published by under best science books 2009, science books

Two items in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's list.

  • The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care by T.R. Reid
  • The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution And The Birth Of America by Steven Johnson

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Music Mondays: top 30 hard rock & heavy metal albums of 2009

Jan 11 2010 Published by under music mondays is featuring their annual top 30 hard rock & heavy metal albums of the year. It's a pretty good list from a very good year. I like their list because it mixes mainstream and extreme very nicely, with Cheap Trick & Kiss on the same list as Immortal and Napalm Death. It was a pretty good year for me as I have 5 of the 30 albums listed (Chickenfoot, Mastodon, Heaven and Hell, Slayer and #1 Megadeth with Heaven and Hell as my favourite of the bunch) and I'll probably end up getting a few more as well.

Let's take a look at the top 10, in descending order to #1:

  • VOIVOD - Infini (Sonic Unyon/Relapse)
  • HEAVEN & HELL - The Devil You Know (Rhino)
  • ALICE IN CHAINS - Black Gives Way To Blue (Virgin)
  • NILE - Those Whom The Gods Detest (Nuclear Blast)
  • HYPOCRISY - A Taste Of Extreme Divinity (Nuclear Blast)
  • BEHEMOTH - Evangelion (Metal Blade)
  • SLAYER - World Painted Blood (Sony)
  • NAPALM DEATH - Time Waits For No Slave (Century Media)
  • IMMORTAL - All Shall Fall (Nuclear Blast)
  • MEGADETH - Endgame (Roadrunner)

I have to say I was a bit surprised not to see Them Crooked Vultures on the list as I thought it was a pretty strong debut.

8 responses so far

Christensen, Clayton M. The innovator's dilemma. New York: Collins Business Essentials, 2006. 286pp.

This book is about the failure of companies to stay atop their industries when the confront certain tyupes of market and technological change. It's not about the failure of simply any company, but of good companies -- the kinds that many managers have admired and tried to emulate, the companies known for their abilities to innovate and execute....It is about well-manged companies that have their competitive antennae up, listen astutely to their customers, invest aggressively in new technologies, and yet still lose market dominance. (p. xi)

Clayton M. Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma isn't even a book about libraries, science or even social media. It's not directly about the future of libraries, the future of science or the future of media. In fact, it's not about any of the things I usually write book reviews on. So why did I read it and why am I reviewing it here?

Simple -- it's a book about dealing with change on an organizational level. Adapting, evolving, anticipating, reacting; good strategies, bad strategies. It's about staying ahead of the technological curve, it's about doing what your customers really need, rather than what they think they need.

In other words, it's about the future. Oh yeah, I guess it is a topic I'm interested in.

First the short version: Read this book. I don't care what industry you work in or what your job is, in 2010 and beyond, how you and your organization react to technological change and channel that change into innovative products and services is vital to your survival. Libraries, newspapers, universities, everybody.

What I liked most about Christensen's book is that it made me think. Every chapter has at least a few good ideas or even a case study. While some of the book may be too business/industry-oriented to be completely relevant to an academic library context, most of it worked quite well, sometimes with a bit of a stretch. Also, I found the book to be largely free of the hype and pointless repetition that so often plagues business books. It comes in at a fairly densely packed 270 pages of text so it's neither too long to absorb nor too short to meaningfully grapple with important issues.

Enough preliminaries, let's get to what the book is actually about.

First of all, the core idea is that there are actually two kinds of technological innovations that affect organizations -- sustaining and disruptive.

Sustaining technological innovation is related to improving a particular product or service. Disruptive technological change causes a more fundamental change in the product or service, often opening up completely new markets for a product line or creating whole new applications. Disruptive technologies can temporarily leap ahead of what customers actually want, so initial investments in them will be problematic. Find a way to identify and stick with these disruptive technologies will pay dividends in the longer term. (p. xviii)

I think it's safe to say that libraries are facing disruptive change on many fronts and this book provides food for thought and strategies for coming to grips and exploiting those changes.

It's a fairly dense book, so I'll hit the high points of some of the things that really struck me:

  • One interesting concept is that organizations can be held captive by their best customers. By focusing on exploiting and serving those customers, organizations can miss opportunities to jump into the next big thing. The customer is not always right -- the trick is to know when to stick close to their needs and when to jump ahead of them. (p. 3-4, 19)
  • Successful organizations operate within "value networks" -- the larger market context within which they operate and use their internal resources to provide value to their customers. It's often new entrants to a market that are best able to transform those value networks with disruptive technologies. (p. 36, 61-63.)
  • Managers have the most incentive to back projects within the existing value network. Sound, tactical managerial decisions can be at the root of failure. (p. 94-5, 108)
  • "Good management" often leads to the rejections of disruptive technology. (p. 112)
  • Established organizations can take advantage of disruptive technologies, but initially the cost structures and revenue streams mean it'll be best to spin off those units into independent organizations. (p. 127, 132)
  • You have to match the size of the organization to the size of the market. Leadership in disruptive technologies is what creates value & opportunities. (p. 138, 142, 158)
  • "Markets that do not exist cannot be analysed." In other words, the potential for disruptive technologies cannot be evaluated and assessed in the same way as for sustaining technologies in already established markets. (p. 165)
  • Exploiting potentially disruptive technologies is more likely to lead to failure and miscalculation than sustaining technologies. It is usually necessary to act before careful plans are made to be able to seize the opportunity. There is a huge first-mover advantage. (p. 180, 182)
  • The "killer app" of a disruptive technologies is not always immediately obvious -- either to the organization developing or to the early adopter customers who start using it. (p. 182)
  • Disruptive technologies don't come along often enough for organizations to have defined ways of dealing with them. (p. 191)
  • Internal processes that favour sustaining technologies are hard to change, both because the organization is structured to favour the existing and because there will be resistance to changing what is perceived as not being broken. (p. 201)
  • Taking advantage of a disruptive technology isn't so much about the technology itself as how the market for it is developed, built and exploited. It's about where the customers' needs intersect what the technology can do. (p. 220-21, 230)
  • The big question is, of course, how do you tell if a technology is disruptive rather than just interesting but not very useful? First, it can be useful to watch how customers actually use a product rather than how they say they might use it or rely on how you think they should use it. You also need to judge whether or not the product will one day move from a niche market to a mass market. This often means finding the market where the product really belongs, learning from how the customers use the product. (p. 236-42)

Christensen also provides a handy seven point summary of the book in Chapter 11 (p. 258-261):

  • The pace of progress that markets demand or can absorb may be different from the progress offered by technology...
  • Managing innovation mirrors the resource allocation process: Innovation proposals that get the funding and manpower they require may succeed; those given lower priority...will starve for lack of resources and have little chance of success...
  • Just as there is a resource allocation side to every innovation problem, matching the market to the technology is another...
  • The capabilities of most are far more specialized and context specific than most managers are inclined to believe...
  • In many instances, the information required to make large and decisive investments in the face of disruptive technology simply does not exist...
  • It is not wise to adopt a blanket technology strategy to be always a leader or always a follower....
  • There are powerful barriers to entry and mobility that differ significantly from the types defined and historically focused on by economists...because disruptive technologies rarely make sense during the years when investing in them is most important, conventional managerial wisdom...constitutes and entry and mobility barrier...

Sorry for going on so long, but I found this book to be pretty good at encapsulating the kind of thinking that I need to do for the My Job in 10 Years book project and it's helped me to get a lot of Christensen's main points down here.

I would recommend this book without hesitation to all librarians and information professionals. Collection-wise, this would fit in any business, technology or information profession collection -- anywhere where the patron community is dealing with rapid technological change.

Christensen, Clayton M. The innovator's dilemma: The revolutionary book that will change the way you do business. New York: Collins Business Essentials, 2006. 286pp.

5 responses so far

Friday Fun: New Device Desirable, Old Device Undesirable

Jan 08 2010 Published by under friday fun

This amusing little gem from The Onion, published December 3rd, seems particularly relevant in the post-Christmas consumer orgy period.

With the holiday shopping season officially under way, millions of consumers proceeded to their nearest commercial centers this week in hopes of acquiring the latest, and therefore most desirable, personal device.

"The new device is an improvement over the old device, making it more attractive for purchase by all Americans," said Thomas Wakefield, a spokesperson for the large conglomerate that manufactures the new device. "The old device is no longer sufficient. Consumers should no longer have any use or longing for the old device."


"True, it appeals to my most basic insecurities, but this new device will ultimately be replaced by a newer device, rendering it completely undesirable and utterly repellent to my personal tastes," device-enthusiast Ryan Janosch said. "Also, I should start saving my money for the next latest device, which will replace the newer new device a couple months after that."

I guess I can wait a little longer to get a new ebook reader....

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Best Science Books 2009: Scientific American

Jan 07 2010 Published by under best science books 2009, science books

Nice list of coffee table books, biographies and other books from Scientific American.

  • Galápagos: Preserving Darwin's Legacy edited by Tui de Roy
  • Far Out: A Space-Time Chronicle by Michael Benson
  • The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton, and Antarctic Photography
    by David Hempleman-Adams, Emma Stuart and Sophie Gordon

  • No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale by Felice C. Frankel and George M. Whitesides
  • Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century by Masha Gessen. (A biography of Grigory Perelman)
  • The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America by Laura Dassow Walls
  • Jacques Cousteau: The Sea King by Brad Matsen
  • Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age by Kurt W. Beyer
  • The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures by Nicholas Wade
  • Green Intelligence: Creating Environments That Protect Human Health by John Wargo
  • Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life by Scott D. Sampson
  • Mathletics: How Gamblers, Managers, and Sports Enthusiasts Use Mathematics in Baseball, Basketball, and Football by Wayne L. Winston
  • Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity by G. A. Bradshaw

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Best Science Books 2009: San Francisco Chronicle

Jan 06 2010 Published by under best science books 2009, science books

A nice list from the SF Chronicle:

  • Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter
  • A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon by Neil Sheehan
  • Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City, by Greg Grandin
  • Googled: The End of the World As We Know It by Ken Auletta
  • The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
  • Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou
  • Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
  • Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City by Eric W. Sanderson

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Best Science Books 2009: New Scientist

Jan 05 2010 Published by under best science books 2009, science books

The New Scientist's CultureLab blog asked a whole slew of editors and contributors to name a notable 2009 book. It's quite an extensive list.

  • Catching Fire: How cooking made us human by Richard Wrangham
  • Codes of the Underworld: How criminals communicate by Diego Gambetta
  • The Natural History of Unicorns by Chris Lavers
  • Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins by Adrian Desmond and James Moore
  • Confabulation: Views from neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology and philosophy edited by William Hirstein
  • Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
  • Reading in the Brain: The science and evolution of a human invention by Stanislas Dehaene
  • Storms of My Grandchildren: The truth about the coming climate catastrophe and our last chance to save humanity by James Hansen
  • The Strangest Man: The hidden life of Paul Dirac, quantum genius by Graham Farmelo
  • The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels and the Business of AIDS by Elizabeth Pisani
  • Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock that Shaped the World by Tom Zoellner
  • Cracking the Einstein Code: Relativity and the Birth of Black Hole Physics by Fulvio Melia
  • Not A Chimp: The hunt to find the genes that make us human by Jeremy Taylor
  • An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome collected the world by Frances Larson
  • Plastic Fantastic: How the biggest fraud in physics shook the scientific world by Eugenie Samuel Reich
  • Outliers: The story of success by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Sum: Forty tales from the afterlives by David Eagleman
  • Naming Nature: The clash between instinct and science by Carol Kaesuk Yoon
  • Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon by Buzz Aldrin
  • Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and the world he made up by K.C. Cole
  • What on Earth Evolved?: 100 species that changed the world by Christopher Lloyd
  • Logicomix: An epic search for truth by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H Papadimitriou, art by Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna
  • An Orchard Invisible: A natural history of seeds by Jonathan Silvertown
  • The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals died out and we survived by Clive Finlayson

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