There is no academic library 2.0, and this is a pre-conference about it. It’s not about definitions, bit’s about what we do.
The www experience: A street market. Some people got there first, some people got better spots, some people might be dangerous, and it’s lively. The academic library web experience: A farm on the horizon. It’s distant. It’s pretty. Can we get anything from them?
Images, like books, are for use. We’re not yet smart about making it obvious that digital objects are for use; Flickr IS good at this. Flickr is also good at tags, comments, notes, feeds, and API.
Tags are broad, deep, narrow, odd, useful, and deeply localized. The “Delicious lesson” from Joshua Porter is that personal value precedes network value, in tagging. “No one is going to tag your junk for you unless that tagging has value to them personally. (Interestingly, I think librarians think about network value first. If our users are thinking personal value, and we’re thinking network value, what disconnects or synergies are we creating?) Clay Shirky: Social software is stuff that gets spammed. So if we add social features to library sites, what do we do when it inevitably gets spammed?
We don’t often think about URLs. But we should! We don’t, and Flickr does. URLs on Flickr can be read over the phone, they are short enough to cut and paste, and we can generalize from Flickr URLs, and figure out the site structure from how the URL is structured. “Now let’s go to the American Memory Project. (Iris starts laughing) Iris knows where this is going.” Flickr URLs: 57 characters max, permanent. American Memory URL: 852 characters, not permanent. FAIL. “I thought, maybe I was not fair to American Memory, so I went back and looked.” And could not find a way to link to a permanent URL to individual pages. ContentDM example: 79 character URL contains a reference to version 4. If they upgrade, does the URL break? Maybe it does. This impedes sharing and redistribution of information in a major way. Flickr wins.
Comments and Notes
USSR poster collection, digitized. Debate began about “is it propaganda”, “Is that translation correct”, “are those posters copyright legal?”, “The Orb used that as an album cover”, etc, that makes the whole thing far more interesting for the user. Experimentation is underway with these technologies in academic classrooms; pedagogically, it’s still a gray area. How to use it effectively isn’t yet clear.
Quoting Griffey, RSS feeds “surround and penetrate social software and bind the World wide web together.” On Flickr, every page has a feed. EVERY PAGE. Practical uses in academia? Using search feeds from Flickr, Steve tracks Flickr photos of his library from other users, and can watch perceptions, do outreach to people who visit campus, and stay connected to how users are interacting with the library.
Roy Tennant says, “If it doesn’t have an API, it’s not worth having.” APIs let programmers take information out of systems and do other things with the data.
Lots of cool examples (check the slides), then “So why don’t we do this stuff?”
- Because it’s hard. Because Flickr, for example, has 2 main goals. They have single-minded devotion. We do not, and cannot, match that.
- We lack programmers. We have interest and energy, but not necessarily skills or resources.
- We don’t understand our users. Flickr has the ability to pilot features to small groups, and then analyze results data. We don’t/can’t do that enough.
(my notes make this sound like a really grim ending, but it wasn’t! Steve’s so upbeat and clear and thoughtful that it was an interesting place to end, with a sense of “we want this stuff, right? and we have real barriers. but we can’t stop thinking” as we reached Q&A.)