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Amazon Kindle: The Bookthief? July 25, 2009

Posted by cmvlibrarian in Mobile Devices, Reading.
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Chances are you’ve never had a book retailer break into your home and remove books from your own bookshelf. But something all too similar happened last week to Amazon Kindle users.

The New York Time’s reports that Amazon made use of the Kindle’s wireless capabilities to delete questionable content from users’ devices. Apparently a non-rights holder to George Orwell’s 1984 added the novel as an unauthorized ebook to Amazon’s catalog, which several customers purchased. Amazon suggested the publisher requested the deletions and Amazon simply complied. Amazon said it was sorry and promised never to do it again.

But according to the Associated Press, Amazon changed its story this week, saying it deleted the books after it realized on its own that the books weren’t authorized. Apparently Amazon didn’t need any outside prodding before it took a page out of the Bookthief and yanked the customers’ books from their Kindles (to be fair Amazon did issue refunds for the deleted ebooks). After all the public outcry Amazon’s CEO apologized personally and promised never to do it again.

At this point why should we believe Amazon though? Amazon’s spent a lot of effort and money to convince the public that ebooks were just like physical books only better and less expensive. That was one of the hooks Amazon used to market a pricey device (originally it sold for $400) , but with it’s recent actions Amazon’s proven that’s not the case.

With a physical book, after you’ve paid for it, it’s yours. You could sell it or give it to a friend. But when you buy an ebook you don’t have that right because you’re only buying a license to read the ebook. Now Amazon had promised that the license would be yours indefinitely, but with the ebook deletions Amazon has demonstrated it can revoke the license at anytime.

So what are your options? Chris Walters from the Consumerist has several suggestions. His ideas range from backing up your ebooks off your Kindle to converting file formats.

His best suggestion however, was using a site called Feedbooks. You can download the Feedbooks catalog to your Kindle from their website. Then you can flip through their catalog like an ebook, except you can select books from their catalog to download wirelessly for free. The books are yours to keep. The downside is that even though there’s some recent books available under a Creative Commons license, the vast majority of the books in their catalog are public domain works. In other words you’ll be able to download Huckfin for free but not more recent popular works like Harry Potter.

Seem like your choices are kind of limited? Unfortunately with the way copyright works, they are. Legally speaking Amazon is in the clear. To learn more about copyright law (and some proposed revisions), I recommend the American Library Association’s Copyright section on their website.


The DRM Kindle Lockdown June 28, 2009

Posted by cmvlibrarian in Information Sharing, Reading.
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I can honestly say that I’ve never had a negative experience with my Amazon Kindle. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I blogged about it in a previous post.  But I’ve just heard of something that could be a problem to many users in the near future.

Dan Cohen, author of the Gear Diary Blog encountered a series of problems when he tried to sych his Kindle books to his new iPhone. He was basically unable to add several of his books to his new device. When he called Amazon’s customer service center he received a series of conflicting reports. For the full story read Part 1 and Part 2 at his blog.

The final answer the Cohen ended up getting was that publishers limit the number of devices that you can have your Kindle Books on at any give time. When you buy a Kindle book there is currently no information regarding the number of devices you can have it on. While most publishers allow for several devices (which makes sense given you can read the books on the Kindle, iPod touch, and the iPhone) some only allow you to have it on one device.

Every time you upgrade one of those devices the system considers that an extra device, even if you don’t use the former device anymore. So eventually (and with the frequency upgrades these days it may not take too long) you’ll reach a point where you won’t be able to add the books you’ve already PAID for to your device.

Cohen was finally able to have Amazon allow him to download his books for no additional charge but it took talking with several different people, giving him conflicting information before they correctly followed Amazon’s procedure.

Who’s to say that someone else will be able to get a hold of customer service rep that’s familiar with this specific policy or that Amazon won’t at some point change this policy. While I still love the Kindle this is really going to make me leery of upgrading my version 1.0 device anytime soon-no matter how cool future models may be.

Librarian Negotiation 101 June 28, 2009

Posted by cmvlibrarian in Conferences, Professional Development.
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High stakes international diplomacy or corporate takeovers are images most people associate with negotiation. But negotiation can be integral to an information professional’s career as well.

Need some convincing? According to Mary Ellen Bates, president and founder of Bates Information Services, 70% of men make more money than their female colleagues for the same job just because they push back on the first salary offer when taking a new job.

Bates actually gave an impressive presentation on “Painless Negotiation” at the 2009 SLA Annual Conference. Some highlights from Bate’s presentation:

  • Remembering you always have choices, even if you don’t like them.
  • Use I-statements and speak in terms of what you WANT-not what you think you DESERVE.
  • Remember that while negotiation can feel unpleasant, its bigger payoff makes it worth it.
  • Try to figure out and address the other party’s concerns before they can raise objections.

Keep in mind that negotiation isn’t limited to wage issues or even only conducted with your supervisor. Most info pros have had to manage a client/patron’s expectations at some point-this is just another form of negotiation. For more tips and strategies on being a successful negotiator, I highly recommend viewing the complete version of the presentation at Bates’s website.

Experience the SLA 2009 Conference via Twitter June 20, 2009

Posted by cmvlibrarian in Conferences, Professional Development.
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I recently attended the Special Libraries Association’s Centennial Conference. While there I made frequent use of the SLA 2009 twitter group (I was actually the top Twitter poster while there). For anyone that’s ever wondered what a conference is like in real time I’ve reproduced my Twitter feed for the conference below. I’ve added some navigational headers to make the feed easier to read. Enjoy!

Getting Ready for SLA

So what’s the most important thing you want to accomplish at the annual conference? #sla20093:50 PM Jun 11th from mobile web

Just told one of my friends I’m going to a library conference and they said, “Be safe.” Someone’s on to us! #sla20095:28 PM Jun 11th from mobile web

#sla2009 Wonder if they’ll play any Asher Roth at the IT Party?5:04 PM Jun 12th from mobile web

#sla2009 pick up books for parade, pick up jacket from mens wearhouse, last minute MACYS shopping, packing bags, then finally some sleep5:06 PM Jun 12th from mobile web

http://twitpic.com/78qz3 – Dig the new shades for SLA? #sla20098:30 PM Jun 12th from TwitPic

Arriving at SLA

on the metro heading to conference-might miss the 2010 planning session though #sla20091:12 PM Jun 13th from mobile web

#sla2009 made it to the hotel! and it’s nice!!2:10 PM Jun 13th from mobile web

#sla2009 finally found the convention center! whoo is it hot outside.

Capital Pride Parade

eating at the subway by the convention center-prepping for GLBTIC marching in the Pride Parade! #sla20093:20 PM Jun 13th from mobile web

Just checked GLBTIC into the Pride Parade! I’m at the school meet up point-come see me 😉 #sla20094:57 PM Jun 13th from mobile web

@yankeeincanada I saw your tweet the others are lining up but im still at the school for you #sla20095:28 PM Jun 13th from mobile web

http://twitpic.com/7bjc0 – Eric did a great job with our GLBTIC banner! #sla20095:33 PM Jun 13th from TwitPic

Manning the DC Chapter’s Hospitality Booth

Well marching in the Capital Pride Parade with GLBTIC was fun-now off to run the DC Chapter Hospitality booth #sla20099:08 AM Jun 14th from web

wow just heard about Gov 2.0 for the first time #sla20099:47 AM Jun 14th from mobile web

Govloop.com sounds like it has potential #sla20099:49 AM Jun 14th from mobile web

LOL the only question I’ve had to answer is how to get to Pentagon city mall #sla200910:31 AM Jun 14th from mobile web

Done with the hospitality booth-who wants lunch? #sla200911:36 AM Jun 14th from mobile web

Lunch and Opening Expo

http://twitpic.com/7dvzw – The hoovers robot rocks! #sla200912:29 PM Jun 14th from TwitPic

Eating at GordonBiersch right across from the Spy Museum #sla20091:18 PM Jun 14th from mobile web

lexis nexus giving away nice bags #sla20094:50 PM Jun 14th from mobile web

Opening Keynote and Awards

yay Janice Lachance!!! Rock on! #sla20095:32 PM Jun 14th from mobile web

special isn’t about being a special librarian but being a human being- steven abram #sla20095:35 PM Jun 14th from mobile web

done guzzeling champagne and heading to spy museum tour! come join me! #sla20098:17 PM Jun 14th from mobile web

just met the editor of Information outlook-he was super nice and wants our feedback! rock on!! #sla20098:33 PM Jun 14th from mobile web

Mary Ellen Bates presenting “Painless (no, really!) Negotiating”

Mary Ellen bates likes using i-statement and says everything is negotiable #sla20099:11 AM Jun 15th from web

you always have choices-not always good ones but there are always alternatives #sla20099:12 AM Jun 15th from web

when you hear something it’s just the first offer #sla20099:13 AM Jun 15th from web

you just have to ask for it #sla20099:13 AM Jun 15th from web

it doesn’t hurt to ask #sla20099:13 AM Jun 15th from web

technical difficulties with power point in our sesssion #sla20099:14 AM Jun 15th from web

put onus for decisions back on the other person #sla20099:16 AM Jun 15th from web

Say I want not I deserve while negotiating to have stronger stance #sla20099:18 AM Jun 15th from web

negotiating is a moment of discomfort to get a larger payoff #sla20099:19 AM Jun 15th from web

70% of men have higher salary than women because they push back on the first salary offer #sla20099:21 AM Jun 15th from web

negotiating doesn’t = confrontation #sla20099:22 AM Jun 15th from web

negotiating is just another conversation where you’re both working towards the same goal #sla20099:23 AM Jun 15th from web

don’t negotiate for your minimum-first offer will be high #sla20099:24 AM Jun 15th from web

if you start at the minimum then you have no place to go down to #sla20099:25 AM Jun 15th from web

you don’t have to be dissatisfied in order to ask for more #sla20099:25 AM Jun 15th from web

the other party really doesn’t care about whether or not you are satisfied #sla20099:26 AM Jun 15th from web

remember this is business not personal-even if you do have a personal relationship with the other party #sla20099:27 AM Jun 15th from web

identify your best outcome #sla20099:27 AM Jun 15th from web

ask yourself tangibly what you want-something that can be measured #sla20099:28 AM Jun 15th from web

id your best alternative to negotiated agreement-this is what happens if the negotiation fails- can u walk away and feel ok? #sla20099:30 AM Jun 15th from web

become the other-identify what the other person wants at the end of the negotiation and what happens to them if talks fail #sla20099:31 AM Jun 15th from web

how can I move what I want forward while still advancing the other party’s interests #sla20099:31 AM Jun 15th from web

you take responsibility for the success of the negotiation #sla20099:33 AM Jun 15th from web

each party takes 100% of the responsibility for the negotiation #sla20099:34 AM Jun 15th from web

MEB has a cute little chart of competing pressures #sla20099:35 AM Jun 15th from web

We should view complimentary pressures instead of competing pressures while negotiating #sla20099:36 AM Jun 15th from web

sounds like shes saying try to find a win-win scenario and how you can get there #sla20099:37 AM Jun 15th from web

be sure to talk about what you WANT not what you NEED #sla20099:38 AM Jun 15th from web

at the end of the convo if you decide to keep the status quo you can at least agree to revisit in a specified amount of time #sla20099:42 AM Jun 15th from web

knowing that you have alternatives gives you a firm base in the negotiation #sla20099:44 AM Jun 15th from web

address each of the other parties goals- how can i get what i want and still meet their goals as well #sla20099:46 AM Jun 15th from web

do you’re homework and find as many options as you can-research and talk to other people to find out whats worked for them #sla20099:47 AM Jun 15th from web

answer their questions before they have a chance to raise their objections #sla20099:47 AM Jun 15th from web

MEB has a nice matrix of her needs and alternatives and goals as well as the other party’s for negotiating #sla20099:52 AM Jun 15th from web

listen to what the other person says #sla20099:52 AM Jun 15th from web

focus on our joint interests and don’t assume #sla20099:54 AM Jun 15th from web

its important to look at what your goal will look like not HOW you get there #sla20099:55 AM Jun 15th from web

aim for what’s possible not for what you’ll settle for #sla20099:55 AM Jun 15th from web

say what’s true for you #sla20099:56 AM Jun 15th from web

you have the right to decide how to live your life #sla20099:56 AM Jun 15th from web

assume any situation is negotiable #sla20099:57 AM Jun 15th from web

move beyond the fear-it’s just a feeling and it goes away #sla20099:58 AM Jun 15th from web

with fear-it’s like you can be hungry and still be doing something else#sla20099:58 AM Jun 15th from web

negotiate from an assumption of abundance #sla20099:59 AM Jun 15th from web

if you come from the assumption that this will work out ok it can shift the way it does come out. #sla200910:00 AM Jun 15th from web

shift from worst case thinking to best case thinking #sla200910:01 AM Jun 15th from web

interest based rather than position bases discussion is a better negotiating method #sla200910:02 AM Jun 15th from web

positions are difficult to move-interests are something you can move towards #sla200910:03 AM Jun 15th from web

go at the problem not each other #sla200910:03 AM Jun 15th from web

in the next week negotiate something you haven’t negotiated before- the Mary Ellen Bates challenge #sla200910:04 AM Jun 15th from web

batesinfo.com/sla2009 has all MEB presentations #sla200910:06 AM Jun 15th from web

a photographer was snapping pictures of me twittering during MEB’s presentation-i wonder how it’ll be used. #sla200910:07 AM Jun 15th from web

so glad I dressed up now 😉 #sla200910:08 AM Jun 15th from web

Networking Lunch and Expo

at the networking lunch eating with uber awesome GLBTIC members. Come join us #sla200911:42 AM Jun 15th from mobile web

getting a massage from the inspec station-our vendors rock! #sla20091:17 PM Jun 15th from mobile web

I think the international reception sounds like the place to be tonight #sla20091:18 PM Jun 15th from mobile web

SLA Hot Topic: “Wikis, Tweets, and Blogs, Oh My!”

at the sla hot topic-blogs,wikis and oh my session#sla20091:44 PM Jun 15th from web

so far it sounds like this is about copyright on the web #sla20091:45 PM Jun 15th from web

talking about reforming copyright law concerning orphan works to reduce risk to libraries/users1:46 PM Jun 15th from web

this session isn’t quite what I was expecting. What other sessions are going on right now? #sla20091:47 PM Jun 15th from web

Now their talking about a college student that paid tuition by writing an application for sale on iTunes #sla20091:51 PM Jun 15th from web

Laura Malone Associate General Council for the Associate Press is talking now #sla20091:52 PM Jun 15th from web

“back in the day” it was harder to make a copy of something #sla20091:53 PM Jun 15th from web

“if it’s cool you should let me do it” #sla20091:54 PM Jun 15th from web

“we want to be responsive to the people out there tweeting or twittering-whatever you call it” #1:55 PM Jun 15th from web

Copyright is about encouraging people to create works-we pay them in one form or another so they don’t have to get another job #sla20091:56 PM Jun 15th from web

Sometimes people copy and paste an entire article to share the news-that’s a copyright violation #sla20091:57 PM Jun 15th from web

there’s a difference between a news aggregator and a blogger #sla20091:58 PM Jun 15th from web

the problem we have is when a blogger’s copy and paste news stories to the blog so people don’t go to legitimate news sources #sla20091:59 PM Jun 15th from web

copyright owners have a number of exclusive rights #sla20092:00 PM Jun 15th from web

most choose how their work will be presented and seen #sla20092:00 PM Jun 15th from web

It’s pretty easy to get an inexpensive license to reproduce something #sla20092:01 PM Jun 15th from web

Is video harder to catch copyright violations than text? #sla20092:02 PM Jun 15th from web

AP relies on some software for policing video but mostly rely on people to report violations #sla20092:03 PM Jun 15th from web

AP adds contact info to the cease and desist letters so people that might not know better can become legitimate customers #sla20092:05 PM Jun 15th from web

AP just got 3 new customers that used to violate their copyrights becasue they didn’t realize they were violating anything #sla20092:06 PM Jun 15th from web

Pirate Bay founders were sentenced to a year in Jail over copyright violations #sla20092:07 PM Jun 15th from web

A blogger Jill is speaking now-I missed her last name #sla20092:08 PM Jun 15th from web

Oh it’s the ITs division Jill Hurst-Wahl-I’m all the way in the back tethered to an outlet-my excuse for not recognizing her #sla20092:10 PM Jun 15th from web

Tolerated use is when the author obviously wants you to get the word out and you can recreate the entire post #sla20092:11 PM Jun 15th from web

Jill’s never had a problem with tolerated use #sla20092:11 PM Jun 15th from web

when people copy some of her work to be informative and gives her credit-not really sure whether to go after them #sla20092:13 PM Jun 15th from web

moderator-“information wants to be free, but it also wants to be expensive” #sla20092:13 PM Jun 15th from web

If you retweet me and it cites me I get credit and thats cool if the accreditation falls off at some point . . . that’s cool too #sla20092:16 PM Jun 15th from web

moderator just asked Jill how she decides what to do with tweet and blogs #sla20092:17 PM Jun 15th from web

Jill actually did a blog post of pasted tweets. #sla20092:17 PM Jun 15th from web

55% of twitterers have never twittered and never followed anyone-moderator #sla20092:18 PM Jun 15th from web

wow JIll has over 700 followers! Rock on!! #sla20092:20 PM Jun 15th from web

I follow Jill Hurst as well-her tweets are usually really good #sla20092:20 PM Jun 15th from web

Ok I’m leaving the session now to change clothes and then go the dialog champagne reception in the expo hall #sla20092:22 PM Jun 15th from web

Expo Hall

@hoovers still can’t get over Hoovy the robot! bonus points for the piggyback rides he gives #sla20092:31 PM Jun 15th from mobile web

If anyone has material from “Speak as if your career depended on it” can you direct message me please #sla20093:55 PM Jun 15th from web

For all the partiers out there I’ll be at the International Reception 5:30-7 then the Spy Museum Party from 8-11 #sla20093:57 PM Jun 15th from web

Then I’ll finish off the night at the IT Division’s Sci Fi Open house #sla20093:59 PM Jun 15th from web

Thank you Dow Jones and Elsevier for hosting the monday night parties!! You Rock!!! #sla20094:01 PM Jun 15th from web

International Reception hosted by Dow Jones

on my way to the international reception-come join me #sla20095:43 PM Jun 15th from mobile web

wow the line for the international reception to get on the shuttle is super long #sla20096:16 PM Jun 15th from mobile web

Someone just said they became a librarian because they “like books but that’s a pathetic reason” but that’s why I did #sla20096:17 PM Jun 15th from mobile web

yay we made it on the bus! on our way to the reception #sla20096:30 PM Jun 15th from mobile web

Spy Museum Party hosted by Elsevier

on the bus to the spy museum #sla20098:12 PM Jun 15th from mobile web

getting lost on the way to the spy museum #sla20098:33 PM Jun 15th from mobile web

omg thank you elsevier for the spy museum party!! #sla20099:35 PM Jun 15th from mobile web

“Food’s Future Luncheon” Joan Leake speaking

I missed my 7am session so I’m looking for something to do until the Food’s Future luncheon #sla200910:45 AM Jun 16th from web

at food’s future staring at a salad #sla200911:23 AM Jun 16th from mobile web

People buying less meat with the recession #sla200911:50 AM Jun 16th from mobile web

People like authentic ethnic food #sla200911:51 AM Jun 16th from mobile web

people are eating more salt than ever #sla200911:52 AM Jun 16th from mobile web

local foods are beginning to look like a better option over organic #sla200911:54 AM Jun 16th from mobile web

GLBTIC Business Meeting

Getting ready for the GLBTIC business meeting. This is my first one facilitating in SLA-should be fun #sla200912:34 PM Jun 16th from mobile web

Come to the GLBTIC business meeting to network and hear Charles Francis speak about the Kameny Papers Project #sla200912:36 PM Jun 16th from mobile web

Introducing ourselves at the GLBTIC meeting #sla20091:36 PM Jun 16th from web

FYI GLBTICer Mary Ellen Bates is running for election in SLA rock on! #sla20091:39 PM Jun 16th from web

Charles Francis’s presentation to GLBTIC “Archive Activism”

Charles Francis is speaking about the Kameny Papers Project #sla20092:13 PM Jun 16th from web

Frank Kamey is “sort of our Rosa Parks” #sla20092:14 PM Jun 16th from web

Saving documents is an act of activism #sla20092:15 PM Jun 16th from web

We think of history as text . . . rarely do we think of history something as we have to rescue #sla20092:16 PM Jun 16th from web

Thousands of LGBT books were burned in 1933 Nazi Germany, and it was the largest collection of its time #sla20092:18 PM Jun 16th from web

The story of the Kameny Papers is a miracle itself since the collection survived the years.2:19 PM Jun 16th from web

Kameny was fired from the federal government in 1956 because he was gay #sla20092:19 PM Jun 16th from web

Just pased out a document called “Blackmailer at the work in Dupont Circle Area” #sla20092:21 PM Jun 16th from web

He’s got the formal letter written to Kameny from the Civil Service collection about why gays couldn’t work in federal government #sla20092:23 PM Jun 16th from web

Kameny organized the first LGBT White House Picketting in the 1960s #sla20092:25 PM Jun 16th from web

Thanks to this collection there is now a comparison market for LGBT archival material #sla20092:26 PM Jun 16th from web

Letter from John Hanes Jr., about why the government wouldn’t rehire Kameny because he was gay #sla20092:28 PM Jun 16th from web

Letter says that homosexuals are “security risks” and are “disruptive in any organization” #sla20092:29 PM Jun 16th from web

This letter is now on display in the Library of Congress as part of the collection #sla20092:30 PM Jun 16th from web

In 2006 the Library of Congress had no openly LGBT collection but the LOC saw the value in the Kameny Archive. #sla20092:31 PM Jun 16th from web

All the papers are available to the public in the manuscript reading room #sla20092:32 PM Jun 16th from web

There are plans for a private LGBT Museum here in Washington DC!!!! #sla20092:34 PM Jun 16th from web

There are picket signs from the White House Picketing in the Smithsonian alongside Thomas Jefferson’s lap desk #sla20092:36 PM Jun 16th from web

The archive was paid for by raising money from the gay community to meet the appraised value #sla20092:39 PM Jun 16th from web

Very important to get the word out so people can view the collection because that’s how the library measures its success #sla20092:41 PM Jun 16th from web

http://www.kamenypapers.org is the official website for the project and has some samples of the collection #sla20092:42 PM Jun 16th from web

It took the LOC a year and a half to index the collection #sla20092:43 PM Jun 16th from web

How do you decide which materials are of historical value for an archive? #sla20092:44 PM Jun 16th from web

Frank Kamney is 84 lives in DC, he just rode in the lead car in the Capital Pride Parade. #sla20092:47 PM Jun 16th from web

He actually appealed his firing all the way to the Supreme Court! #sla20092:47 PM Jun 16th from web

He stormed a Psychiatry conference and told all the attendees that “they are the problem not us” #sla20092:49 PM Jun 16th from web

Kameny’s house is actually registered as an historical landmark. #sla20092:52 PM Jun 16th from web

The LOC paid for the curation of the archive 100% #sla20092:54 PM Jun 16th from web

The collection covers about 1957-1970s for the most part #sla20092:57 PM Jun 16th from web

http://twitpic.com/7k9a8 – One of the letters in the Kameny Papers #sla20093:21 PM Jun 16th from TwitPic

Expo and GLBTIC Annual Dinner and Stars Bistro and Bar

at the fastcase booth checking out a twitter feed #sla20094:08 PM Jun 16th from mobile web

At the GLBTIC Dinner in Stars Bistro and Bar-come join us! It’ll be a gay old time #sla20097:02 PM Jun 16th from mobile web

kind of sad no singing waiters tonight-but still having a lot of fun #sla20097:55 PM Jun 16th from mobile web

http://twitpic.com/7l585 – Another reason to be at the GLBTIC Dinner #sla20099:21 PM Jun 16th from TwitPic

IT Dance Party and after hours in Chinatown

IT Party!!! #sla20099:53 PM Jun 16th from mobile web

closing out the night in chinatown with a few librarians #sla200912:49 AM Jun 17th from mobile web

Bouncer has to throw librarians out of the bar because we love to party #sla20091:37 AM Jun 17th from mobile web

Leaving the Conference

Heading home thank you SLA leaders and staff for an amazing conference. See everyone in 2010! #sla200910:54 AM Jun 17th from mobile web

yay! I went to grab a drink right as the SLA tour group was going through my area #sla20093:31 PM Jun 18th from web

Yelp-ing with pleasure February 7, 2009

Posted by cmvlibrarian in Information Sharing, Web 2.0.
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from Yelp.com on Flickr-used with CC license http://tinyurl.com/2dbflr


Yelp has been around for awhile so I was hesitant to blog about until something happened to me, twice actually. For those of you, who haven’t used Yelp its own about page does a really good job of summing it up:

Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what’s great (and not so great) in your world. You already know that asking friends is the best way to find restaurants, dentists, hairstylists, and anything local. Yelp makes it fast and easy by collecting and organizing your friends’ recommendations in one convenient place.

I’ve only been Yelping since the 2008 SLA Annual Conference, where a number of professionals that travel often recommended it when in an unfamiliar area. Since then I’ve added about 14 reviews to it; I’ve even been the first to review a few businesses. 

A few months ago I went to my local barber to get my regular hair cut. The owner surprised me by telling me she’d seen my Yelp review. They normally do an outstanding job at this barber shop but to my surprise the owner went all out and gave me even better treatment than I normally get. This is turn prompted me to return to Yelp and give the barbershop and even higher rating. I didn’t really think about it again (except for on hair cut days), until today when I went to FaceLogic. I’d was the first to rate them on Yelp a few months prior and left a glowing review. Sometime in the last month they’d come across my review, so today not only did they go the extra mile during my visit but they gave me bonus loyalty points (which can be cashed in for discounts). Again I went to Yelp and raised my rating for them.

That’s when it struck me that Yelp has worked out a uniquely empowering system. All this time I thought I’d just been sharing information about local resources with other people (what information professional wouldn’t love that?), but the truth is Yelp goes far beyond that. What I was really doing was expressing myself around a brand, and forming and even deeper recipracol relationship with the businesses. There’s the potential for a Yelp user to form the kind of relationship with businesses that a professional critic for a newspaper or magazine might achieve.

Is Chrome the New Color of the Web? September 3, 2008

Posted by cmvlibrarian in Social networking, Web browsers, Web productivity.
Tags: , ,
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Photo by Randy Zhang on Flickr. License information at http://tinyurl.com/2mawah

Google recently unveiled its new web browser, Chrome. While Chrome does show promise, it isn’t enough to for me to make it my default web browser instead of Flock.

I will say that it is clearly more advanced and intuitive than the Internet Explorer and that’s just in Chrome’s beta version. According to Cnet, Chrome’s apparently giving FireFox a run for its money as well in terms of speed and robustness.

Chrome does have a few features I really like. The independent tabs not causing the whole browser to crash if one of them experiences an error and the superior recovery support Chrome boasts are long overdue. Being able to create desktop or task bar shortcuts to my favorite web apps like Google Calendar, Twitter and Librarything is also a plus since I can go instantly to my account without having to open a traditional browser.

But in its current beta version I still don’t think Chrome beats Flock in terms of user experience and web productivity. Web 2.0 has blown away the expectations of being spoon fed content and Flock excels at allowing users to create and share dynamic content easily. With Flock I instantly know if one of my friends has sent me a direct Tweet on Twitter or message on Facebook. I can click one button and instantly email a webpage to any of my contacts or I can drag a photo from Flickr to a friend’s icon on Facebook to share my image.

For users like me the social interaction Flock enables can’t be beat; this doesn’t mean Chrome’s doomed to failure though. Streamlining these social networking accounts into the browser would likely encourage more people to use Chrome. Another thing to keep in mind is not all users are for lack of a better term “power Web 2.0 users” or may have access to the sites that give Flock its edge blocked in certain situations (like work or school). In those cases Chrome could become the web browser of choice. However, I’m sure with Chrome in its beta version we haven’t seen Google break out all the bling on its shiny new web warrior just yet.

Social Networking for Your Gas Tank August 28, 2008

Posted by cmvlibrarian in Information Sharing, Social networking, Web 2.0.
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Track your fuel economy with Fuelly. Photo by Pal Berge on Flickr. License info at http://tinyurl.com/24xvum

Fuelly is a promising social networking site dedicated to tracking your fuel economy. The site allows you to create a profile and attach your vehicles to it. Each time you refuel your vehicle you can input the amount of gas you bought at what price and your odometer reading to Fuelly via your phone to its mobile web site. Fuelly then tracks your miles per gallons and allows comparison between your actual mileage and the EPA’s estimated mileage for your vehicle. You can also add friends and view the fuel economy for their vehicles.

I just added my second fuel up for my car and with it got my first in depth statistics. In addition to the miles per gallon statistics Fuelly also tracked how much I’ve spent in gas this year and how much money I’d save by getting my miles per gallon closer to the EPA estimates. It might not be Facebook but anything that makes me a more efficient gas consumer is a definite jewel!

Wikipedia vs Google grudge match July 31, 2008

Posted by cmvlibrarian in Information Sharing, Web 2.0.
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Google takes aim at Wikipedia. Photo by Djclear904 on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license http://tinyurl.com/y25aak

In a blow aimed squarely at Wikipedia Google recently announced its knowledge sharing service dubbed Google Knol.

According to Google a Knol “is an an authoritative article about a specific topic”. This sounds surprisingly similar to a Wikipedia article, however there are some major differences:

  • Most Knols only have one author
  • Google registration is required and author’s name as well as any credentials are prominently displayed
  • Users can rate Knols and the aggregate rating is prominently displayed

So Google’s set up a system where some topics are likely to have several different articles that can be screened by users easily via the author’s credentials and the article’s rating. This kind of system is likely to attract people who were turned off to Wikipedia due to disputes over content, as well as people looking to increase their name recognition in a particular field.

While Wikipedia currently trumps Google Knol in sheer number of articles (particularly those relating to pop culture) having to create a Google account seems a small constraint given the Web giant’s ubiquity. Still the critical factor in Google Knol’s success is going to be the quality of articles.

To compare article quality I examined the general HIV article from Wikipedia and the highest rated HIV article from Google Knol by Rick Hecht, a doctor in San Francisco (a search for HIV resulted in 10 Knols of varying quality). Both articles were of decent length, included a number of authoritative references, were organized according to a hyperlinked table of contents, discussed clinical and historical information about HIV, and linked to statistical information from UNAIDS. However some notable differences included:

  • The Knol was written more informally and was easier for a laymen to understand
  • The images in the Knol were incorporated into the article more efficiently to enhance clarity
  • Wikipedia’s article linked to a variety of related material and topics to encourage exploration
  • The references in the Wikipedia article were hyperlinked making their quality faster to evaluate

Despite the hype I’d say Google Knol is a promising complimentary platform to Wikipedia rather than a knock out blow to it. With Google Knol researchers new to a topic can quickly filter for higher quality material and evaluate controversial topics by reading multiple articles on the same topic from different points of view. Wikipedia’s more likely to have material of interest because of sheer number of articles and researchers are more likely to discover new information through serendipity. In short don’t count Wikipedia out yet but definitely add Google Knol to your research utility belt.

The New Facebook July 22, 2008

Posted by cmvlibrarian in Social networking, Web 2.0.
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Photo by jurvetson on Flickr. Used with permission. License information at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Facebook recently unveiled its new look after months of planning. Users can volunteer to try the new interface and offer feedback via a link at the top of the page or return to the old interface. It looks like Facebook’s really encouraging users to transition into the new interface, since according to their update they’ll be transitioning everyone to the new interface.

I’ve scanned the new interface and it looks like it has a number of good features. The homepage boasts a better information architecture that makes it easier to see content of interest. The profile pages have a tabbed design with the option for users to create tabs for their favorite applications. Profile privacy is further enhanced by users’ ability to select one of their friends and view their own profile the way the friend would see it. This makes it much easier for people who want to use their profiles for both professional and social networking to customize their profile’s appropriatly.

The only downsides that I found so far is that the “box” tab (the default location for most applications) seems a little cluttered, but is pretty easy to clean up. A more serious flaw is the merging of the activity feed with the wall. On its default setting what was once an easy place for your friends to write a quick message can become overwhelming cluttered. Hopefully Facebook has the sense to break this into separate tabs or at least distinct areas of the same tab before they finalize their design and move all users to this format.

Creating A-Z Indexes for Websites or Intranets July 18, 2008

Posted by cmvlibrarian in Cataloging, Web productivity.
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Heather Hedden of Viziant Corporation Principal facilitated an informative Click U session on how websites and intranets can benefit from A-Z indexes.

First Hedden differentiated indexes from sitemaps. Though somewhat related sitemaps show users how a website is structured like a book’s table of contents while indexes guide users to key content/concepts. So while sitemaps might aid navigation it’s site indexes that can enhance site searching.

Given the effort and complexities that go into making A-Z indexes Hedden recommended that they be used for content not likely to be changed often and for small to medium size websites (about up to a few hundred pages). She also recommended double posting multiple synonyms unless it was important to educate users about a certain terminology in which case “See” notations are justified.

Hedden also described some of the strengths and weaknesses of two automated web indexing tools. XRefHT might benefit organizations with smaller budgets since it’s freeware. An alternative with stronger term editing features available for purchase is HTML Indexer. Using either of these tools can help librarians create fairly complex indexes without having to know any actual HTML or CSS.