Archive for January, 2009

Shiny toys, current tools, tech trends

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Hmm. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to promote the two sessions I’ll be part of during OLA SuperConference, for Canadian readers I may have who’ll be there…

Shiny Toys or Useful Tools?

Friday, January 30, 3:45 p.m.
Session 1320

Blogs and wikis aren’t shiny new toys for libraries and librarians any more.  They’ve moved from toys to tools.  As with most tools, they’re not magic, they’re not right for everything or everybody, but they can be powerfully effective in many situations.  This talk will include a very brief introduction to the tools, some notes on when one or the other might make more sense and some cautionary  notes.  Then we’ll look at how they’re working our for libraries and librarians — some examples, but also the results of some informal study of library-related wikis and the largest studies of library blogs and blogs by library people.

Best guess at this point: That very brief introduction will take about two minutes, if that, and I’ll spend almost no time talking about wikis–there are articles at PLN on blogs, wikis and when to use which that are better than anything I’d say on the spur of the moment. I’ll devote some attention to updates on currency (and visibility) for library blogs and liblogs, based on a snapshot study done December 16-17. There are graphs–but since I travel without notebook, the graphs will appear in an article related to the talk, which will appear in the February 2009 Cites & Insights (when it appears). Lots of time for discussion.

Top Technology Trends–Balanced Libraries: Books, Bytes and Web 2.0

Saturday, January 31, 9:05 a.m.
Session #1700

What technologies and trends should you be watching? What’s the next big idea for libraries as we begin 2009? Join the experts as they discuss technologies to be aware of now and beyond. They will touch on planning, people and participation. Always one of Super Conference’s most anticipated sessions.

“The experts” in this case are Paul Takala of Hamilton PL, Anita Brooks-Kirkland of Waterloo Region DSB, and me. I’ve never met the others. We each get 20 minutes. Those of you who use PLN may already know my current “top half-dozen trends,” although the order of them has already changed slightly…and, of course, I’ll be making notes right up to the start of the session (and beyond!). Should be fun.


I’ll be at nearly all of the conference, although I may head out before Saturday’s luncheon so I have plenty of time to get to the airport and have a substantial late lunch/early dinner before the long journey home. My tentative schedule’s still here. Known changes:

  • I plan to attend John Dupuis’ session on Thursday morning.
  • I’d guess attendance at any plenary session is at most half-likely.
  • I do have dinner plans Thursday after the early reception, but no other social plans beyond the receptions noted. (I’m an early bird, which also means I’m not a night owl… And I’m guessing I won’t have a workable cell phone in Toronto.)
  • Otherwise, pretty much as it says.

This all, to be sure, assumes that the path of the big storm stays as currently anticipated. (I do have a nonstop flight from SFO to Toronto, to be sure.)

From Denver to Toronto via sunny California

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I got back from ALA Midwinter yesterday around 3–with about an hour delay so the plane could be de-iced. (I also discovered Frontier’s, um, interesting policies regarding standby for earlier, not-full flights…amusing.)

I think it was around 12F when I left, and snowing fairly heavily (from my perspective, at least).

It’s currently 57F, clear skies (boo! we need rain!).

I’m finishing a load of laundry, getting ready to print double-spaced versions of speaking notes for the two upcoming presentations, and then getting ready to pack…

To go off to Toronto tomorrow for the Ontario Library Association SuperConference, Canada’s largest library conference. And the Weather Underground suggests it will be, well, about the same in Toronto as it was in Denver, maybe a little warmer but with possible snow every day. I can handle that (assuming safe flying conditions). I really am looking forward to the conference itself.

At this point, I should have clever comments about Midwinter. But I don’t really. A few random notes:

  • It felt like a relatively light Midwinter, so it wasn’t a surprise to see it had slightly fewer than 10,000 people, down significantly from last year. It wasn’t “empty” (if you tried to get a table in the Hyatt’s lobby bar in late afternoon, you could never say that)–but it was light (and, in fact, the Bloggers Salon had less than half the attendance I would have expected). The strongest indication that it was lighter than usual: Each day, I was able to check email and bloglines (at the Internet Cafe or exhibits Internet Room) without waiting in line. That hasn’t happened in years.
  • The first time I’ve sat in on LITA TopTechTrends in a couple of years. Reminded me how happy I am that I dropped off the group (years ago). I was there to get some notes that might add to my OLA SuperConference TopTechTrends presentation. Not so much, actually. I think I won’t offer comments on TTT itself. There’s certainly no shortage of such comments.
  • It was odd being “sidegraded” at the Hyatt Regency: They said I could have the two-bed regular room I’d reserved, but would I take an Aspen Suite at no extra cost? Which meant full wet bar, full-size refrigerator, full-size conference table, seating for at least 11 people (full-size sofa, two easy chairs, six conference-table chairs), around 1000sqft in all… oh, and what made it a sidegrade: A Murphy bed folding down out of the wall, once I moved a couple of coffee tables out of the way. And, as a result, the alarm clock about 10 feet from the bed. (It worked out fine: A PALINET colleague needed a space for a small meeting, so the conference table actually got a little use while I was strolling the exhibits.)
  • Other than the loss of a wool muffler while walking to the LITA Happy Hour Friday evening, I managed: No cold or flu, reasonable sleep, some interesting discussions. Some pretty fair simple meals, some not so great.
  • LITA Publications Committee…well, I’ll deal with that when I get back from Toronto.

Back offline again for another three days…

Off to Denver, offline

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Tomorrow morning (way too early, but I like the first flight out), off to Denver for ALA Midwinter Meeting. (My schedule, such as it is, is still here.)

Back next Monday afternoon, for a whole 38 hours before I go off to the airport to go to Toronto.

While I’m at Midwinter, I’ll be offline. (I don’t travel enough to justify a netbook, and there’s no way I’m taking the notebook that has all my stuff with me…it’s really a “notebook as desktop,” too heavy, and that’s too risky for my taste.) There’s a possibility I can check email or comments once or twice, but if the Internet cafe is anything like it usually is, I won’t–lacking the patience.

If you’re at Midwinter and want to chat:

  • I’m at the Hyatt Regency Denver Convention Center
  • I should be at part of the LITA Happy Hour on Friday night (but probably not until 5:45 or 6)
  • I might be in the Hyatt’s lobby bar Friday evening and/or Saturday evening, but on the early side–I’m not one for late nights. (Which is one reason I’m not going to a Saturday evening dinner starting at 8: That’s at least two hours too late for my taste.)
  • Pretty good chance I’ll be at exhibits for a chunk of Sunday late morning and early afternoon.
  • And, to be sure, there’s the Bloggers Salon; I should be there by 6:30 and will stick around for a while unless it’s too noisy…

No posts for the next few days, unless something startling happens as I pack!

50 Movie Comedy Classics, Disc 4

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Broadway Limited, 1941, b&w. Gordon Douglas (dir.), Victor McLaglen, Marjorie Woodworth, Dennis O’Keefe, Patsy Kelly, Zasu Pitts, Leonid Kinskey, George E. Stone. 1:15.

As a Hollywood starlet (Woodworth) and her producer [Kinskey] (and his secretary [Kelly]) get ready to go from a triumphant premiere in Chicago to one in New York—on the express train, the Broadway Limited—the producer gets the bright idea that the starlet would be more appealing with a baby. A railroad engineer [McLaglen] (who’s wooing the smart-mouth secretary) manages to come up with such a baby. The rest of the movie takes place on the train, in sleeping cars, dining car and lounge car (and, of course, the engineer—deadheading so he can take a vacation—has his very own sleeping room).

You see, a child has been kidnapped in Chicago and the kid looks a lot like the “adopted” baby. Oh, did I mention that a handsome but poor young doctor [O’Keefe], who would like to be wooing the starlet, is also on board? I didn’t quite understand the relationship of Myra Prottle [Pitts] to the others, but she’s as funny as you’d expect Zasu Pitts to be. The plot moves forward with that vigor that lots of little compartments on a moving train can give a screwball romantic comedy, with people bouncing in and out of rooms and many misunderstandings—and it’s a pretty good comedy, well played by all involved. Thoroughly enjoyable; not laugh-a-minute stuff, but very good. A few flaws, but the print’s generally fine. (Filmed with the cooperation of the Pennsylvania Railroad using real equipment and trackside shots. Apparently, this flick is loved by railroad fans for its authenticity.) $1.50.

The Stork Club, 1945, b&w. Hal Walker (dir.), Betty Hutton, Barry Fitzgerald, Done DeFore, Robert Benchley, Bill Goodwin. 1:38.

A little old man (Fitzgerald) loses his hat in the wind, and it winds up in the drink—and so does he. A hatcheck girl (Hutton) at the Stork Club, swimming nearby, saves him from drowning. At that point, he looks like a down-on-his-luck type. She gets him a job at the Stork Club as a busboy, which doesn’t work out.

But he’s not all that down-and-out. He’s wealthy, and instructs his lawyer—the wonderful comic writer, Robert Benchley, in a small and relatively straight part—to see to it that the girl’s taken care of, without mentioning him. Next thing we know, she’s in a 12-room penthouse apartment and has purchased two mink coats and a variety of high-end dresses…and, oh yes, has invited the poor old guy to move in (he takes one of the many rooms).

Now, her boyfriend shows up—he’s a would-be bandleader just out of the service—and makes the natural assumption on seeing a hatcheck girl in an uptown 12-room penthouse with fancy clothes and an old man hanging about. Oh, did I mention that she’s also a would-be singer, and a very good one at that?

You can guess most of the rest of the plot. The band can’t get work for a couple of weeks, so she has them all move into the other 12-room flat on the penthouse level. The wife who the old man told to go away four years ago wants him back—and he wants her back, but won’t admit as much. The hatcheck girl begins to assume that the Stork Club’s boss is the mysterious benefactor. Everything, of course, gets straightened out by the end. Well done, well played, decent print, a little lightweight. No belly laughs, but an enjoyable comedy of errors with quite a few songs. $1.25.

The Amazing Adventure (aka The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss), 1936, b&w. Alfred Zeisler (dir.), Cary Grant, Mary Brian, Peter Gawthorne. 1:20/1:02 (1:02 here).

A charming little movie, one that’s a full-fledged feature despite its short length (apparently 19 minutes shorter than the original). Cary Grant plays Ernest Bliss, a wealthy young London socialite, inherited wealth, who feels lousy. A physician informs him that he feels lousy because he doesn’t do anything and is sort of worthless; this physician also runs a clinic for the less fortunate. The physician says Bliss could never last a year on his own devices, without being propped up by his fortune. Bliss makes a bet: 50,000 pounds to the clinic if he fails to do just that, an apology and handshake if he succeeds.

The rest of the movie is about the socialite’s quest to make it on his own, starting with nothing but one suitcase of clothes and a five-pound note. Along the way, he meets and courts a young woman who’s not wealthy either—and who almost rejects him at the last moment because she needs money to care for her sister, and that makes money worth more than love.

All well played, and, come on, it’s a romantic comedy: Of course it all works out in the end. The print is OK, but the sound is distorted whenever there’s music—which, given that portions of the film are set either in a high-class nightclub or in a charming little everyday-folks restaurant that has music, is a real problem. Given that, I’ll say $1.25.

My Love for Yours (aka Honeymoon in Bali), 1939, b&w. Edward H. Griffith (dir.), Fred MacMurray, Madeleine Carroll, Allan Jones, Akim Tamiroff, Helen Broderick, Osa Massen. 1:35 [1:40].

Attractive, independent woman (Carroll) who’s executive VP of a department store, makes lots of money, has no room for marriage or kids—and whose somewhat older female friend (Broderick) notes the regret of being too independent too long. Opera-singer (Jones), dear friend of the VP who’s loved her from afar but knows she doesn’t love him. American man (MacMurray) who lives in Bali shows up, young girl in tow, and immediately falls for her—but he’s skeptical of the whole independent-woman theory. And there’s a young woman from Bali who’s wealthy and wants this guy for her very own. Oh, and there’s a wise middle-aged window washer (Tamiroff, in a good if small role).

Need I bother with the rest of the plot? No, I thought not. It’s a romantic comedy. The print’s fine. The sound’s fine. The acting’s OK (Fred MacMurray is a little too brash for his own good, but that’s in keeping.) And…well, it’s mildly amusing, no more than that. (There’s also a supposedly south-seas song with a one-line lyric repeated over and over, and it’s truly irritating.) A bit of a disappointment. $1.25.

Next up, five more Hitchcock movies (all movies this time, two of them silent, I probably won’t start on them until after OLA).

But then there’s a problem–and maybe I’ll need to deal with it alongside the Hitchcock movies. To wit, Disc 5 of the Comedy Classics set is All East Side Kids–all four movies (and, I think, two on Disc 6) as well.

I’ve been watching the movies on these sets in order…and plan to continue. But four East Side Kids movies in a row… Hmm. Maybe two Hitchcock, two East Side Kids, three Hitchcock, then two more East Side Kids…

How you blog and confidence levels

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Update: Please note the comment from Sarah Lovato. I do not, in fact, question that the sampling done yields “5% error margin and 95% confidence level” as defined by standard sampling statistical measures. I do question–and have questioned elsewhere–the congruence of such “error margins” and “confidence levels” when used for heterogeneous populations for which bell-curve distribution may not be meaningful.

“The bunless librarian” posted “How do you blog?” yesterday.

She “decided to determine which blogging platforms are the most popular among librarian bloggers”–and did so by taking a random selection of 275 of the 780 blogs listed in the LISZen wiki. She says that yields “results with a 5% error margin and a 95% confidence level.”

Her results? Blogger “is by far the platform of choice for the general population, followed distantly by WordPress and even more distantly by Typepad.” Specifically, she found 150 blogs using Blogger, 70 using WordPress, 16 using Typepad and 12 using Movable Type, 6 using LiveJournal and a few other numbers.

95% confident, 100% wrong…

The problem here is that this research has already been done (as of last summer)–but using 100% of a population of active liblogs with at least nominal visibility. And that 100% sample shows very different figures.

Here’s what I report in Chapter 1 of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008, based on the 511 of 607 blogs for which the blogging platform was clearly identifiable:

  • WordPress (platform and software): 230 blogs or 45%
  • Blogger: 222 blogs or 43%
  • TypePad: 35 or 7%
  • MovableType: 18 or 3.5%
  • LiveJournal: 6 or 1%

[Note: The percentages in the book are all lower because they’re stated as percentages of the full 607 blogs, including the 96 for which I wasn’t sure of the blogging software or it wasn’t one of the “majors.”]

Basically, it’s a tie between WordPress (not just, as many–probably most–WordPress users have their own domains) and Blogger. I’ve seen further migration toward WordPress software, as experienced bloggers tune up their blogs; I’ve never seen anyone migrate from WordPress to Blogger.

…or not

On the other hand, it’s doubtless true that Blogger is the platform of choice for “nonce blogs”–ones started to fulfill class requirements, 23-things programs, or other cases where continued blogging is unlikely.

Shifts from 2006

Of the 184 blogs in my 2006 study that are still around, 50% used Blogger, 24% used WordPress, 9% used MovableType, 6% used TypePad back in 2006. Among that group, 42% still use Blogger (and 32% use WordPress).

But the 2006 study deliberately chose “midrange” blogs. Of the 327 blogs in the 2008 study (with clearly evident blog platforms) that weren’t in the 2006 study, 170–52%–use WordPress and 143–44%–use Blogger.

Here’s the thing…

Sarah Lovato, the Bunless Librarian, didn’t know I’d done a much broader study already. That’s not surprising: To date, fewer than 50 copies of The Liblog Landscape have been purchased. (If you’re tracking, that means it’s now about 8% probable that I’ll continue with this ongoing study.) I have no particular reason to believe I’m on Lovato’s radar at all, or that I should be.

I didn’t feel that it was reasonable to just release the results of a couple hundred hours of work as a gimme, given the lack of sponsorship, a full-time job, independent wealth and unlimited time or energy. I still don’t. It’s not particularly a secret that this book is available (several other bloggers have commented on it, a pleasant change from the near-universal tree-falling-in-a-forest reception for the two library blogging books), but it’s not widely known or read.

Yes, I know, a 95% confidence level only means that, for 20 samples of the same size, 19 of them will have results within 5% of these results. And if the sample is taken with no regard for all of the long-abandoned blogs in LISZen (and every other blog directory), blogs that tend to stay around forever if they’re on Blogger, then I wouldn’t be surprised if the results were similar to those in the post.

So maybe I should revise what I’m claiming here. I’m claiming that library people who blog on an ongoing basis are at least as likely to use WordPress as Blogger. And I guess that’s a different claim.

[Sigh. I’m torn between the desire to promulgate the results of what I regard as very good research, and the desire to scratch together a decent living and see some rewards–monetary or otherwise–for that work or the other work I could be doing in the same time. Once the price for the book went up to a price that’s still as low as, or lower than, most trade paperbacks in the library field, total sales went from an average of two every three days to a total of one in five days.]

Non-readers and non-sense

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Just saw yet another mention of yet another NEA report on “reading”–this one with NEA saying American adults are half readers, half non-readers.

By which NEA apparently means that half of adults (as projected from whatever survey they did) read a book (in whatever period they chose) or, more narrowly, NEA’s definition of “literature.”

Here’s the direct quote from the study highlights:

  • The U.S. population now breaks into two almost equally sized groups – readers and non-readers.
  • A slight majority of American adults now read literature (113 million) or books (119 million) in any format.

So if you’re a scientist who read, say, 500-1,000 journal articles (and wrote four), a slew of reports, the daily newspaper and more… oops, sorry, you’re a non-reader. You’re aliterate.

In the past, I’ve done a little dissecting of NEA’s Chicken Little Reports on literacy in America; you can find some of that in Cites & Insights. With, of course, no effect or response. And it’s beginning to seem like a waste of time.

So maybe NEA’s reports are having an effect. Namely, whatever time I would otherwise spend reading, analyzing and commenting on this latest report will instead go into reading a book. Maybe even a “literary” book. Let’s see: I’m probably taking Terry Pratchett’s Feet of Clay to Midwinter, along with the usual SF magazines: Does that count?

(I knew it was getting to me when I failed to celebrate that NEA report’s conclusions that after the long disastrous fall in reading rates, there was finally a significant improvement. Since I thought most of the “fall” was nonsense and cooked data, I couldn’t bring myself to suddenly assume NEA was doing it right this time around.)

A nonce neologism

Friday, January 16th, 2009

This afternoon, a conversation on FriendFeed (see previous post also, and yes, I thought about it at the time) began with an asserted dichotomy–and one of those commenting noted that she doesn’t fit into that neat dichotomy.

Neither did I, and I casually commented that I must be another “dichotomyoddity.” Mark Lindner picked up on this, liked it, and wondered if it was new. To which I responded, why yes, I just made it up.

A little while later, closing down for the day, I realized: It’s the wrong neologism.

The right neologism:


That is to say, an anomaly within the dichotomy. A person, being or situation that simply doesn’t fit into either of the two halves.

Otherwise known as all those grey bits when you try to say something as black and white.

The nice thing about being a dichotanomaly: I suspect all of us are, one time or another, depending on the dichotomy.

Now that I’ve written this post, I don’t know that I ever plan to use this nonce neologism again. But hey, it is Friday, right?

Ragged preliminary thoughts on conversations and unhermiting

Friday, January 16th, 2009

I’d like to say this is a thorough, carefully-considered treatise on a topic. That, however, would be a lie.

What this is, is a few notes on some ongoing experiments in “unhermiting”–trying to come out of my shell, a little bit at least, while retaining reasonable productivity. I’ve always been somewhat asocial and a serious social introvert–but after a year of working at home, that may be even more of a problem. I’d been thinking about doing something (mild) about that, and have been doing a few things. And I’m not quite sure how they’re going (and how they impact other things that matter), but I felt like saying something along the way.

Another title might be “How I feel about Facebook, FriendFeed, LSW Meebo and blogs–right now, that is.” And it’s important to say upfront that this is one of those “Waltz me around again, Willie” posts (that is, it’s full of “I, I, I, I”)–I don’t necessarily believe that what I’m finding applies to anybody else, and I certainly don’t claim to be typical of any group. (The one time I saw Robert Scoble in person, he heatedly denied-not to me, but to the group-being an “edge case.” I don’t deny being an edge case: Just ask for my advice about the desirability of starting something like Cites & Insights. The phrase I used recently was “Sharpen the stake and aim for the heart.” And yet, I can’t see stopping that, not now.)

Blame this post on Rachel Singer Gordon

Or, if you prefer, “Thaks to Rachel Singer Gordon for inspiring this post.” With her post, “Random thoughts on the attenuation of conversation,” January 10, 2009, The Liminal Librarian. Gordon begins:

I’ve been playing happily with FriendFeed for over a month now, and quite enjoy it — the ongoing stream of conversation and links there, combined with the pokery of Facebook, give me the feeling of coming home to the multiuser chat boards of the early 1990s. I also enjoy the serendipity; I keep a FriendFeed window open that I dip into from time to time during the day, and always see at least one or two links/comments worth further exploration (or simple amusement!).

At that point, I think I’d been on FriendFeed for two or three days. Unlike Gordon, there is just no way I can keep a window open all day; it would be too much of a distraction. I’ve been dropping in “twice a day,” although sometimes more often.

I love the serendipity. I’m trying to hide enough categories to keep the noise level reasonable, while still keeping things open enough to discover those “links/comments worth further exploration”–and sometimes worth adding a quick comment. I haven’t found the sweet spot yet (it would help a lot if you could hide “all Twitter updates beginning with @”–but that’s not an option).

Right now, I believe, I’m subscribed to 72 people (but hiding things like Netflix queues, tracks played, some friends-of-friends [hi John D., but I can’t cope with Scoble], etc.) and 61 people are subscribed to me. (No, the second group isn’t entirely a subset of the first.)

My hope has been that the network of social contrivances wouldn’t use more than an hour a day. If it does, it really starts to eat into my writing, and I’m not enough of a multitasker to do both at once. (I’ve tried leaving LSW Meebo open on the side screen while working on writing. More about that later. Let’s just say it doesn’t work very well…for me.)

If I stick with “twice a day,” I usually have 2 or 3 pages to scroll through, and I usually find 3 or 4 things I want to comment on and maybe four or five more I just want to check out. That’s not an unreasonable signal:noise ratio. And I’ve gotten involved in a few really interesting conversations–and gotten significant help in one case.

So far, so good. I’m not likely to drop FriendFeed any time soon. I also don’t “feed” it much: posts from this blog and maybe two or three direct notes a day, at most.

Back to Gordon’s post:

One thing that nags at me, though, is the way in which using multiple sites fragments conversation. Someone might comment on my Facebook status on FriendFeed, for instance, but my Facebook friends won’t see that comment or be able to join in the conversation. Someone might comment on a blog post on Facebook, but readers over here will miss that discussion entirely. (Let alone, I haven’t even made it to twitter yet — and probably won’t, since I can’t afford another time suck!)

I don’t have the Facebook-vs.-FriendFeed issue (because I’m really not doing much at all on Facebook yet, and maybe not ever), but Facebook-vs.-blog really is an issue. Oddly enough, one that comes back to this blog:

Over at Walt at Random, Steve Lawson comments on the usefulness of FriendFeed, saying in part:

You will see that some blog posts that got very few comment have actually sparked a discussion on FF. Also helpful for blogs like Caveat Lector that don’t have comments enabled.

I pull blog posts into both FriendFeed and Facebook, and notice that posts (and Flickr photos, for that matter) that garner no comments at “home” may get comments elsewhere. This is neat, but again leaves no record here and doesn’t inspire blog readers to join in the conversation.

The post linked to yielded a range of excellent comments, all from people I’d consider friends (most of whom I haven’t met in real life), that guided me to FriendFeed. It also guided me to try Facebook, if at all, as a “Rolodex equivalent”–not an active network.

A Facebook aside

Since this post is mostly about conversations and unhermiting, I won’t spend a lot of time on my very recent Facebook account–because I also don’t expect to use it for a lot. It fell into the “why not?” category, as long as I didn’t accept every possible option…and I know enough people who’ve found it valuable as a way to make themselves visible to old acquaintances, to think it might serve a mild “unhermiting” role.

It hasn’t been long enough to judge whether that will be true for me, or whether my FB account will be one of those rarely-visited nearly-moribund accounts. I’ve been on for less than a week. I seem to have 113 “friends”–some of whom are library people who I otherwise don’t know at all. I just turned down my first big-name “friend” invitation, and that may (or may not) be a mistake.

Right now, I don’t have anything to say about FB one way or the other. I don’t “get” Pokes (so simply removed the one I got. I won’t take Apps, by and large. If that makes me a Bad FBer, so be it. (Nor am I using FB status as a kind of Twitter substitute. Two changes a day would be extraordinary.)

Another aside about LSW Meebo

My most sustained attempt at unhermiting had been dropping in on the LSW Meebo room almost every weekday, usually around 12:30 Pacific time–after my PLN work, after going for a lunchtime walk, after having lunch. The idea: see who’s around, chat for a while, see whether I can keep the screen up while I start afternoon stuff (that is, my writing) without losing focus.

There’s always been a tension between the sociability at LSW Meebo–which is very much real-time conversation, or rather, a group of overlapping conversations, with no history save a limited buffer–and my ability to focus.

Over the holidays, very few people were in the LSW Meebo room when I stopped by. Since the holidays, save for today, it’s been nearly vacant and largely idle (one easy test: The buffer covers 12-24 hours instead of the usual 30-60 minutes). I also got a lot more done while I wasn’t tempted to leave LSW Meebo open.

But this week–again, save today–it’s felt as though the room was fading away. And, I thought, maybe that’s OK, at least for me: Maybe asynchronous conversation suits my personality and needs better.

Making sense

My initial sense was that FriendFeed “conversations” were both livelier and more tempting than blog comment streams–but also more ephemeral and less suitable for long-term reflection. That may not be true; maybe it is plausible to go back to a FriendFeed discussion two months later and see what was said.

But is it true to the medium? Do those engaged in the back-and-forth of replies to a comment/note assume their discussion is ephemeral, and will they feel a bit betrayed if it turns up later as part of a commentary?

I’m not sure. For now, since I really don’t understand the mores (are there mores?), I’m inclined to treat FriendFeed conversations as like Vegas–whereas I’ve always assumed that comments on a blog post are as appropriate for citation within a later commentary (on a blog, in C&I, on PLN) as posts themselves. I don’t get quite that feeling with FriendFeed.

The problem I have here is that the conversation on a topic takes place in both arenas, and maybe more–and the links between them are, at best, poor. We saw that this week when the comments on a months-old blog post suddenly lit up again, possibly because of a related FriendFeed discussion–and that new blog comment stream resulted in another FriendFeed discussion. (Don’t try to follow that.)

My guess: (Some) blog posts are getting (some) fewer comments because (some) commenters find it easier to comment on FriendFeed instead. (For blogs that don’t accept comments or place high barriers to them, e.g. registration, I’m sure that’s true.)

My nervousness: This may lower the quality of discussion and controversy on the posts.

The alternative: That this is silly, and that it increases the quality of discussion overall.

Closing, for now

I was going to do a nice little set of bullet points summarizing all this–but no, it’s not that simple.

Maybe I’m overthinking the situation.

  • I know that the movement of pure links from blog posts to Twitter and/or FriendFeed doesn’t bother me a bit.
  • I know that I’m starting to winnow my Bloglines roll–but that I still get more out of blog posts than FF and FB put together.
  • And I know I’ve just shot the better part of an afternoon on a post that really just does boil down to some ragged preliminary thoughts.

But then, it is Friday, isn’t it?

NOTE, 1/17/08: Yes, I reversed Rachel Singer Gordon’s middle and last names two places above, both fixed without the usual strikethrough. (Thus her comment below.) Apologies.

Mystery problem–any help out there?

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Problem solved: see below (under the rule).

Yesterday, at my request, this blog was upgraded to WP2.7.

And I lost access.

After various experimentation (with Blake’s usual expert help), I’ve discovered that I can login via Google Chrome–but not via either Firefox or IE7, using the same username and password.

(Running Vista Premium, fully updated, if that makes any difference.)

Any guesses as to how this is possible–and how to fix it? (Until Chrome lets me override typefaces on websites, I’m not thrilled with it…)

Bad enough I have to use IE for one (and only one) site that’s retirement-related. Having to keep Chrome around for one very important site, namely writing to/maintaining this blog: That’s just too bizarre

Update: Thanks to Dorothea Salo’s suggestion, this problem has been solved.

She wondered whether I was accepting cookies. Which I was/am.

But then, a little semi-burnt-out light went on in this thick skull. And I went to FF’s cookie manager and deleted all cookies associated with this blog.

Shazam! I can now log in.

FB+FF: Putting in one big toe…

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Yes, I’m on FaceBook–at least for the moment.

I clicked on 90 people (who I’m reasonably well acquainted with, and a few of them are actual friends) from my Gmail contacts (out of 250 prompted…). I skipped other sets of “friending” suggestions. I put together a fairly nominal profile. (Within five minutes, I had 11 friend confirmations…)

And, well, we shall see. I may be too much offline for FB to work better than Ning did (for me, not necessarily in general), or maybe not. So far–with 9 days on–FriendFeed seems to be working OK, now that I’m learning to hide whole categories of stuff. (Am I supposed to add something for an FB-FF link? Do I want to? If I update my status on FB more than twice a day, it will be one big surprise.)

LSW Meebo…well, it was great for a while, but with lower participation it may be too much of a distraction. It really only works on a synchronous basis, and if I’m writing–either for PLN or for my own stuff–I’ve found that any synchronous window is just too much distraction.

So far, I’m finding that 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times a day, works fine for FF. If I can get by with similar focus on FB, and if it proves enriching, so much the better. (Who knows? Maybe long-lost “friends” will get in touch.) If not–I do see that FB actually has clear, up-front mechanisms for leaving.

Twitter? I don’t think I’m going back, just as a certain level of twittering in FF will push me to unsubscribing from someone. I’m not much of a <140chars. kind of guy.

Four more early bird shopping days

Remember: On January 16, the prices for the print and download versions of The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008: A Lateral Look go up to $35 and $25 (from the current Lulu-only introductory specials of $22.50 and $20).


Wow. From #2 to #8 to #355, all in a matter of a week or less. And here I thought Wall Street was volatile! (If you don’t get the reference, browse through some recent posts…let’s just say “icy cold” is my current blog temperature.)

Now, on to prepare my “Shiny New Toy or Useful Tool?” presentation for OLA. (A version of which will probably appear in the February C&I, whenever that emerges…)