Archive for January, 2010

Midwinter miscellany

Posted in ALA on January 8th, 2010

The ALA 2010 Midwinter Meeting is almost upon us. If weather doesn’t preclude it, I’ll be in Boston a bit less than a week from now (that is, next Friday, but several hours earlier than this post).

Sometimes people forget that, at its heart, the Midwinter Meeting is a meeting–or, rather, about 3,000 of them, all in one spot. It’s explicitly not a conference: There are very few exceptions to the “No Formal Programs” rule.

Some of us who’ve been around ALA too long remember when Midwinter really was little more than a set of meetings, with a relatively small cast (on the order of 2,000-3,000 people). I have early memories of Midwinter in Washington, DC, when it was held in two hotels near the zoo and when you quite literally could spend a few hours in the Sheraton’s lobby bar–at the time, a big, circular, “lobby bar” right in the middle of the lobby–and you’d see almost everybody you knew in the field. (OK, at the time, I didn’t know that many people–but then as now, Midwinter was a great place to meet new ones.)

Even then, topical discussions without planned speakers were a large part of what made Midwinter different. They still are, for all the discussion groups and for those interest groups who don’t just spend Midwinter planning Annual programs. Those discussions were and are a great way to share information and ideas (I won’t say “like an unconference,” but with much of a good unconference’s equality, participation and spontaneity).

If you’re relatively new to Midwinter, don’t be taken aback by the lack of a large formal program. That’s for summer. Midwinter’s a time to get the association’s business done (and, admittedly, a lot more of that really should take place virtually, with due respect to ALA’s sunshine laws), a place to plan for summer, a place for a more focused approach to a slightly smaller set of exhibits–and a place to renew professional acquaintances, make new ones, and share insights and ideas both in groups and in the various lobbies. Let’s hope Boston’s weather is at least tolerable…and that those who need or want to be there are able to make it.

That said, there are a few items I should perhaps repeat prior to Midwinter:

Want to get together? Let me know!

My so-called schedule is still very loose, and will probably stay that way. If you want to get together for some reason, let me know–beforehand, since I won’t have internet access during Midwinter (unless the internet room happens to be less busy than usual!)

But Still They Blog early-bird prices

You can still buy But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009 for $20 PDF, $29.50 paper, from now through the end of ALA Midwinter. (If you’re wondering, the difference in my net proceeds for the two versions is enormous: $0.02–I get two cents more for the print version than for the download. So, y’know, buy whichever one suits your needs!)

By the way, I’d still need four people to indicate a possible willingness to buy an ePub version, before I go to the work of producing one. (I have no way of knowing who actually buys Lulu books, by the way.)

Cites ON a Plane 2010

This special non-issue, prepared for your traveling pleasure (or not), will be available from now until I return from ALA Midwinter. Or, better yet, buy the PDF version of But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009!

A truncated meme

Posted in Writing and blogging on January 6th, 2010

Some libloggers (and others, no doubt) have been posting their ten most popular posts for 2009.

Well, why not?

As it turns out, there’s a good reason why not: This blog has had several homes over the past year–not only the brief move to Scienceblogs, but a move to a different machine within the LISHost galaxy because of an odd situation.

As a result, Urchin (LISHost’s stats package, now owned by Google) only shows me data for 2009 in two clumps: January 1 through mid-March, and mid-November through the end of the year (and continuing).

So I’ll give you the recent Top 10–ignoring Feeds and other pages other than direct views of posts.

Top Direct-View Posts, November-December 2009

I’m not sure what to make of that list. So I won’t make any thing of it at all. Maybe next year I’ll have a full year’s worth of data. Maybe not.

Cites ON a Plane 2010: A Pre-Midwinter Non-Issue

Posted in Cites & Insights on January 5th, 2010

That’s right–here’s another non-issue for your reading pleasure to and from Midwinter, with (almost) no new material:

Cites ON a Plane 2010

Stuff That Originally Appeared in Cites & Insights – 50 pages

Perspectives ON…

Note: The links in the bullets are to the original essays, all of which appeared in 2007 and 2008. The essays in Cites ON a Plane 2010 (PDF as usual) have had URLs removed and in some cases been trimmed slightly to make them fit.

Caveats and New Material

While 25 sheets (50 pages, printed duplex) is nothing compared to the paper you’ll cope with during Midwinter, this non-issue is primarily intended for ereading. It has bookmarks for the essays and subheadings (but no table of contents), and it does reflow (although how well it reflows…well, that’s up to your PDF reader). It supports Adobe Reader’s text-to-speech capabilities (strange as they are).

But then, 25 sheets isn’t all that much…

This non-issue will disappear on or about January 19, 2010. It might be included in the book version of Volume 10, but it might not (50 pages is a significant chunk of an already-thick volume).

The new material in the issue consists of an introduction and one, count it, one paragraph added as a postscript to the first essay. Here they are, for those of you who wonder but who really aren’t planning to download the whole issue:

Ceci N’est Pas Une Édition

Cue Magritte, not spinning in his grave. This is not an ejournal. More precisely, this is not an issue of Cites & Insights and doesn’t carry an ISSN, proper date, volume and issue number, or masthead.

Other than this introduction, footers citing the source of each essay and one very brief update, this is entirely selected reprints—on the theme of the second word of the issue’s non-title: ON.

No table of contents. No HTML separates (those are all readily available). Just a chunk of plane reading (and I’ll try to make sure the PDF is reflowable, although I don’t have a lot of control over that)—albeit in the new typography.

The non-issue will disappear as soon as I return from the 2010 ALA Midwinter Meeting. It may be included in the trade paperback Cites & Insights 10: 2010.

Why? Well, Cites on a Plane 2007 seemed to get a lot of downloads, so I thought I’d try it again. Total prep time was under three hours, so…

Postscript to the first essay (On Conferences in a Time of Limits):

“I’d be surprised if ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual don’t shrink somewhat, although ALA Annual attendance varies so widely that ‘shrink’ may be hard to measure.” Count me surprised by record attendance at the 2009 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. I believe we’ll continue to be in a time of limits, and it’s certainly true that some conferences have shrunk or disappeared. Otherwise, it’s too early to comment.


When will the next real issue emerge? Shortly after Midwinter. Probably very shortly after Midwinter.

Honors and reflections

Posted in Stuff on January 4th, 2010

I didn’t do a reflective “looking back 10 years” post (at least not yet), and I really don’t do Resolutions, but maybe a couple of notes are in order.

Honored

I’m delighted to be part of LISNews’ “10 Librarian Blogs To Read in 2010“–particularly since I demurred from self-nomination because (a) I’m technically not a librarian (“geez, Walt, that’s getting old”), (b) the blog really is random–and, I think, much less useful to the profession than Cites & Insights [see below], (c) although I’m always delighted to have more readers, the blog metrics don’t suggest that I’m shouting into an empty hall by any means.

Which makes it all the more improbable and delightful that I’m part of the list–along with four or five blogs I’m already using as sources for Library Leadership Network essays, and one I honesty hadn’t heard of and now subscribe to.

Cites & Insights

There will be a “Midwinter issue,” but it will be another all-repeat, only-there-for-two-weeks special. This time, the name is “Cites ON a Plane 2010,” and the orthography might give you a clue as to the contents. This time also, I’m hoping people will read the thing on “ereaders” (by which, in this case, I mean any device capable of reading and possibly reflowing a PDF–and yes, this one does have PDF bookmarks and will reflow), because it’s, well, not short (50 print pages, just over 39,500 words). There won’t be a set of HTML versions–but the post announcing it will provide links to the HTML originals for the various essays, and there are only six new paragraphs, one of them meaningful.

The dates of availability: January 6-19, 2010, after which it’s gone forever (unless I decide to incorporate it into the trade-paperback version of v. 10, and that’s unlikely given the sheer length). It may turn up sometime tomorrow afternoon…

And, of course, I’m still soliciting donations for C&I, either directly (via PayPal) or indirectly (via C&I books purchases, although I lowered the price of the annual volumes). Thanks to those who already donated. Thanks to all the others who read C&I!

Reflections

I read one 2000-2010 comparison of the technology a particular person was using. Since the person did not even suggest that his usage was typical or likely to become universal, I took the post for what it was: An interesting personal commentary.

That person is, I think, a technology enthusiast and an early adopter. I’m enthusiastic about following technology–but maybe not so much of an early adopter. And I don’t keep records good enough to know exactly how things have changed, technologically or otherwise, over the past decade.

But I do have a couple of notions and semi-faulty remembrances.

Technology

  • In January 2000, I was definitely using a Gateway desktop (mid-tower or full tower) PC, almost certainly running Windows 98, probably a Pentium-III at around 200MHz, probably with a 20GB hard disk and 64MB RAM, probably with a 15″ display. I’m not really sure, but it’s likely it was somewhere in that neighborhood. (It probably had a V.90 modem.) I’m sure I had an HP LaserJet, and I’m sure the computer cost upwards of $2,000 and the printer cost as much or more.
  • In January 2010, I’m using a Gateway notebook (that really never moves, so it’s basically a silent desktop), running Vista (for now), with a Core 2 duo CPU (two CPUs, each–I think–1.6GHz, but doing a lot more with each cycle than the Pentium-III ever did), with 3GB RAM and a 250GB hard disk–and with a 15″ display on the notebook, but my “primary display” is the 19″ Sony LCD I purchased halfway through the decade. It doesn’t have a modem; I do use broadband. (It has WiFi pre-N class, but since it’s only a few feet from the WiFi router, it’s hardwired Ethernet.) No LaserJet; instead, a Canon Pixma all-in-one inkjet scanner/copier/printer. The computer, now almost two years old, cost around $650; the printer, around $150. The combo is much quieter, probably uses a quarter as much power, and is many times as fast.
  • I don’t think my wife was using a computer at home much at all in 2000; now, she’s using a Toshiba that’s roughly comparable to my Gateway (but with 2GB RAM), attaching via Wi-Fi. Also Core 2 Duo 1.6GHz, also Vista. She’s more of a power user than I am in some ways–she does photo-editing and heavy-duty genealogical research.
  • Cameras? She’s the photographer, and in 2000 she was using a compact 35mm. camera. She finally moved to digital last year (a Nikon L18). When she upgrades (she’ll eventually need 10x zoom for some specific work), I’ll probably start playing with the little Nikon. Her percentage rate of great photos during travel was so high that the costs of film photography weren’t bad–but she’s learning to love the freedom of digital photography.
  • Portable electronics? You’ve come to the wrong place. In 2000, I might have had a portable CD player but didn’t use it very often; we probably had a nice Motorola flip phone, used only for emergencies, but paying AT&T way too much each month for minutes we never used. Now, we have a Samsung flip phone on Virgin Mobile, paying $90 a year to have an emergency phone (and I don’t think I’ll ever use up the minutes at $0.18 each)–and yes, we still have a landline. The portable CD player’s disappeared, replaced by a 2GB (4GB with flash card) Sansa Express MP3 player. At 1″x3″x0.5″ deep (0.6″ at the deepest point), it’s thicker than today’s little media players, but it’s done just fine for a couple of years, for $40 (well, plus another $40 for fabulous Sennheiser folding headphones). That’s about it. If I traveled more for work, I’d buy a netbook. For now, I continue to be offline when traveling.
  • TV? We’re watching the same 32″ Sony XBR that we were watching in 2000, but we’re paying less for cable (’cause we have true “basic basic,” 30 channels total). Just as I may upgrade the MP3 player shortly (probably to a Sansa Zune), we’ll replace the XBR one of these days (with a good LED-backlit LCD HDTV, probably). When we get around to it. Oh, and we’re still using an S-VHS recorder, although that too will be replaced with a DVR. Eventually.
  • I don’t remember whether we already had a DVD player in 2000. I think not, but maybe we did–probably a Sony 5-disc changer that was a mistake and eventually died. Right now, we’re using a freebie CyberHome that Safeway gave us as part of a store-remodeling celebration (they handed out dozens of these), something like two years ago…but, when we upgrade the TV, we’ll certainly buy a Blu-ray player. (Actually, I’m going out tomorrow to get a “fancier” DVD player, but that’s because of a situation involving our very nice integrated CD stereo system and its busted too-fancy CD handling; it turns out to be a lot cheaper to just add an external CD player than to get it fixed, and the easiest way to buy an appropriate inexpensive CD player is to buy a DVD player. The player may never be attached to a TV.)

Otherwise

  • Personally: I was married to a wonderful woman (and professional librarian) and had been for 22 years, with plans for many more. Now? Same woman, 32 years, same plans.
  • Professionally: In early 2000, I’d been a LITA Top Tech Trends “Trendspotter” for a year and was on the ITAL editorial board (and that year’s LITA nominations committee). I was writing articles for American Libraries (my column, only running three years, didn’t start until 2002), columns in EContent and Online (CD reviews in EContent, PC Monitor in Online), “Crawford’s Corner” in Library Hi Tech News and the occasional book–and I was speaking six to eight times a year. Now? No official LITA duties, my EContent column (“disContent”–which began in 2001) ended with December 2009, my Online column (a new one) is going fine–and “Crawford’s Corner” morphed into Cites & Insights. Speaking seems to be stuck at around one speech per year. I still write the occasional book. This blog didn’t exist in 2000. Neither did my FriendFeed account (or FriendFeed, for that matter).
  • Oh yes: And I worked full-time for RLG as a systems analyst and designer, with my wife also working full-time there, and we’d moved to Mountain View (where RLG was located) a couple of years previously. Now, she’s “retired” (and working on genealogy), I’m semi-retired (and believe I’m doing worthwhile work on the Library Leadership Network), and we’ve moved to Livermore (not all that big a move).

Hmm. Those aren’t really reflections, are they? I don’t see much momentous there. So I guess I’ll keep on keeping on, a practice I can heartily recommend.

But Still They Blog: First review (that I’ve seen)

Posted in C&I Books, Liblogs on January 1st, 2010

I’d like to call your attention to this post by Jennifer Macaulay on Just Another Day (you may know Macaulay from her previous blog, Life as I Know It).

I would quote excerpts, but it’s a nicely compact post (unlike certain blabbermouths like Walt Crawford, Jennifer Macaulay knows how to write tersely and well), so here’s the whole thing:

I find the topic of library blogs and blogging fascinating. As such, I always look forward to Walt Crawford’s commentaries about the topic. In this vein, I did buy a copy (pdf version) of his latest book, But Still They Blog. I admit that the statistical analysis made my head spin a bit (I get lost whenever quintiles come up), but the book was certainly worth a read for anyone who is interested in the seeming decline in blogging intensity within the library sphere.

After reading But Still They Blog, it is clear that people blog – and stop blogging – for a variety of reasons. People have wildly different ideas about the impact of tools like Twitter, FriendFeed, etc. on blogging – and on the worth of blogging. Ultimately, blogging isn’t dead, but it isn’t the same as it was several years ago. Crawford tells us all this through statistical analysis and through quotes from the blogs that he profiles. It is the story told through these glimpses at the various blogs which is my favorite part of the book (and is often my favorite part of many of his articles in Cites and Insights).

I am, of course, delighted by this review. (I think quintiles are the best way to model certain data, but I admit they can be daunting. Sorry about that.) Thanks, Jennifer!

Reminder

But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009 is still on sale for a special early-bird price until the end of ALA Midwinter–that is, about 18 days from now.

And a word about formats: Lulu will handle ePub now, but it’s up to me to do the conversion. If I have indications from, say, three people that they would buy an ePub version (and won’t buy the PDF or print version), that might make it worth the trouble…assuming that freely-available software does the job properly.


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