Saturday, April 19, 2014

Relationship between science fiction and user interfaces

A fascinating presentation (15 minutes) on the relationship between science fiction and user interfaces by Chris Noessel.
When I started to use computers, there was no mouse and everything was keyboard controlled. The Control Key was the most important one on the keyboard. Our user interfaces have evolved so intuitively at the moment that a 3 year old can use it! We connect user interfaces with operating systems; Windows, MacOX.
The history of operating systems is interesting, with the first graphical user interface being the Macintosh operating system that Apple released in 1984.
The start of the presentation shows the natural use of data visualisation tools to make decisions; word/tag cloudcharts.
How many of the sci-fi movies have you seen that he identifies? 

Let us make a few observations about this blog post for a minute ....
This blog post
  • asks questions (encourages feedback) from the reader
  • Links to other web sites that will add depth to the topic that is being discussed
  • Has an image or an embedded video to engage the reader in the topic that is being discussed.
What this blog post (SchoL) does not have is:
  • Meta tags
  • Prompts to connect the user to other posts in your blog using algorithms which call up posts that are similar.
  • Encourages the users to connect via social media (Twitter, Pinterest)
If you have found this blog entry useful, please comment below!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

21st Century School Library Staffing Model

At my school, and I am sure around the world, there is much discussion about how the traditional library might transform itself into a "learning commons"or "resource centre". But what about the staffing model? You can't just plonk the old staff with old habits into a new area and expect them to be progressive!

Isn't the Vennesla Library and Culture House gorgeous!

It was with this conundrum in mind that I came across an interesting article by David Weinberger about using the "Library" (commons/resource centre/hub) as a platform for incubating knowledge, ideas and passions.

The thing that struck me about this article was the inference that the space should be about engaging rather than disengaging students from the collection. Often resource spaces are organised in such a way to protect the collection. Special collections behind lock and key, restricted material behind the circulation desk.

The model of engaging students and giving them multiple avenues to access librarians or knowledge professionals, should clearly influence the staffing model.

For example:

  • Front of house Teacher Librarians (Knowledge Engineers) might be required at the circulation desk (or "genius bar" as Weinburger states) to answer questions. Most students will be able to "self check out", so they shouldn't be standing processing borrowings and returns. RFID technology will free up the TL to focus on building the capacity of the students to engage with the space.
  • There might also be Knowledge Engineers working in the back rooms processing resources, but perhaps they are available to answer "online" queries from students that might come in from around the campus. These specialists might not have the effervescence that the front of house librarians might have, but still their skill set is valuable.
  • With the acknowledgement that some of the work of a Teacher Librarian can be done remotely, the flexibility of the "work at home" arrangement becomes possible. 
Weinburger also talks about the Library as a social network:

"An online public access catalog (OPAC) for end-user search and navigation. Various ways of communicating with librarians and users by posting questions, chatting online, phoning, going to the physical library’s “genius bar,” etc. The ability of a computer program to pose a query through an open, well-documented Application Programming Interface (API) to find items based on subject classification, standard metadata (subject, author, year, etc.), popularity or other usage indicators, etc. This will spur the development of innovative applications. Clustering of works by semantic relationships, by recommendations (“people who like this…”), etc."

At the moment the Library structure focuses on reacting to the clients, the users; the students and staff. This concept of the Library as a social network or platform, allows clients/students to define how they want to interact with their Library. Allowing them to get in contact with like minds, share knowledge and use the resources that the library has on hand. But both the virtual and physical infrastructure needs to be flexible and organic enough to allow this to happen. Rather than decide for the users how they might interact with the library, the new library might provide information in a variety of forms and then perhaps use metrics to decide which one to concentrate on. Allowing the users to vote with their clicks or feet and then responding to it.

"A library platform should be measured less on the circulation of its works than in the circulation of the ideas and passions these works spark"

I hope that you have found this article of interest.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Why am I doing INF506?

I am enrolled in INF506, my third last uni subject.

I consider myself to be quite experienced in terms of social networking use, integration and knowledge. So why have I enrolled in this subject? For me, to be formally acknowledged as being knowledgable in this area is important.

In 5 years time, I would like to be moving and shaking in terms of creating a modern library or learning commons for a school. The role of social media for the modern library is important, to connect to our students and teachers. But I would like to understand the impact on teaching and learning and back it up with research.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How do I use social networking?

I have a big digital footprint personally and professionally.  At the moment I have a number of social media accounts. I have noticed that if they are not hooked up to my smartphone, then I tend not to use them as much.

Social Networking Tool Personal Work
Facebook I have a personal account that I use to communicate with friends. Of which I am not going to link to here! I have a business page in Facebook but not an account associated with my role as a Teacher Librarian.

Konstant Kaos business images

Instagram Record my adventures Images that are pertinent to work or school

Professional presence and record of my work experience


A microblogging tool which limits your posts to 140 characters. Use the hashtag to indicate the topic of your tweet.

Konstantkaos twitter pushes out links to my crafty business blog.
Infowhelm twitter pushes out links from my Infowhelm blog or links to do with library and information systems.

Livejournal Totally private and personal journalling site.

Professional, but I don’t necessarily like using it. The scattergun approach to tagging bookmarked sites is not something that I enjoy doing!

I would probably much prefer to do a blog post on an article that I have found interest in.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What is Social Networking?

From my perspective and experience, social networking is all about connections and relationships using a variety of mediums.

In Himanen's book "The hacker ethic and the spirit of the information age", he talks about the work culture of the programmer who lives and breathes their passion. To me, social networking is very similar to the connections and relationships within the programming community. When a programmer is "in the flow" they can't stop thinking about their project.

People that are active in various social networking environments are the same. They are always thinking "what can I share", "who can I connect with". With the development of smart phones, the ease of use, intractability and ease of connection has made the environment addictive for many people. For the school librarian, the use of these tools enables us to reach out and connect with our clientele. The electronic environment, allows us to gather metrics and respond in a timely manner.

My first experience with social networking was in the early 90's with my exposure to bulletin board systems (BBS) when I was doing computer science at Melbourne Uni.

Whilst there is no hard evidence on how this phrase embedded itself into our vernacular, there is no doubt that it's infiltration is aided by what Himanen has coined as the "hacker work ethic".

My history of engaging socially online, a trip down memory lane.

I have started the INF506 elective at Charles Sturt University this semester.

If you know me online, you will know that I have a huge digital presence. My history of engaging socially online started back in 1990. This is from the perspective of someone in Melbourne Australia. If you were in American at this time AOL had a greater presence.

Much to my parents dismay, I used to run a telephone line from my bedroom into my parents kitchen and then dial-up using a modem to chat with people via a Melbourne based BBS - Fidonet. If you were lucky you could connect with a BBS that allowed you to bounce out and find other BBS’s around the world without having to dial overseas.

When I got dial up access to Melbourne Uni, I connected and then chatted via IRC and also overseas BBS’s such as ISCA BBS. When the graphical user interface (Windows) became more main stream ICQ appeared on the scene. The familiar “ah ooh” when someone sent you a message was evidence of social chat becoming more interactive. We started to use ICQ as a precursor to meeting up socially in real life.

I used this program via ozemail to connect with others on a Friday after work to organise a night out. ICQ slowly slipped away as the dominant MSN made an appearance. MSN was connected with Hotmail so you didn’t need a separate account to maintain your social relationships. You could see who was online and list yourself as busy (or not). With ICQ and IRC you could connect with random users, but MSN was a bit more restrictive.

As Facebook became a more dominant force, MSN slowly slipped away. Now you could connect with many users at once rather than small groups at a time. The Facebook Groups feature overtook BBS’s or Forums as the main way of searching and gaining information on a topic.

Now, many people connect using a variety of different tools. The connectability of the mediums allows you to push out information and connect in a variety of programs all at once.

I love this infographic, originally by creative ramblings, but luckily re-posted on mediabistro about the history of connecting online.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Wisdom Network

I stumbled across this book as part of the research for the subject that I am doing - INF506: Social Networking for Information Professionals
Benton, Giovagnoli. (2006). The Wisdom Network: An 8-step process for identifying, sharing and leveraging individual expertise. 

A few ideas jumped out at me, as I scanned through the book in regards to Teacher Librarians

Experts in Hiding

Within our school libraries we need energetic and passionate staff if we are going to survive. Gone are the quiet environments where the only focus of the Librarian is the books that they can provide you with. Staff have varied interests, hobbies and passions but are we capitalising on these? Should we? How can we do this without exploiting them? Can we take the mundane tasks away from them and allow them the space to do be able to nurture their passions? Will this make a difference to the way that Teacher Librarians interact with the school community?

Magnet Topics

The idea of "magnet topics" and how they draw people together and get them discussing. At one point there was an informal gathering of people in the staff room at my school on a Friday afternoon. We would crack open a bottle of red and we would generally talk about work and those "magnet topics". I am not sure when this stopped or why. But those informal networks go offsite now as little cliques, and so do the discussions. Where as before, anyone could join in "pull up a chair and join us", now the topics are being discussed offsite. I have fond memories of the first few years at the school when I could share a glass of red with some of the management team in these informal gatherings and gain a greater understanding of how and why decisions are being made.

I would claim that this has had an impact on how staff network and get to know each other. Magnet topics are also found in social networking sites (this is my area of research at the moment) and ideally a school intranet forum would be used to engage staff in discussion, but then comments from staff will be "on record". Corporate Social Networking tools such as Yammer provide organizations with the interactivity to leverage this new way of communicating without adding unneeded infrastructure.

Sometimes when teachers are fleshing through ideas a formal and structured environment is not the one to do it in. What are your school's "magnet topics" and how can the School Library create this environment to "chew the fat"? 

Performance Management

Encouraging leaders within the organisation to initiate their own performance management criterion. How of the middle managers regularly seek feedback from their team? Whist we are talking about professional learning standards for teachers, do our managers have the skills to manage their own performance.

Leading with Evidence is a philosophy that I respect, "give me the data" is a common expression for me. With data we can make informed decisions, we can measure, we can improve.