Category Archives: media

Big Data Meets the Bards and the Profs

There is an interesting discussion going on right now on big data and how it is used in academia. I found Dave Feinleib’s of Forbers magazine visualization of landscape of Big Data an interesting point of reference from the technological side of the spectrum. Big data

In the other hand, John Sunyer’s lengthy review, “Big data meets the Bard”, in the Financial Times for 15 June, http://tinyurl.com/mzrjwll presents the  point of view of acadmics who are proponents of using digital data in humanities.  It is based on Sunyer’s interviews with Franco Moretti, Matt Jockers and Melissa Terras.  Franco Moretti is perhaps the most known for his push to digitize and use digital texts in humanities.  I hope some of it may be useful as an argument for Open Access at your universities.

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Reading McLuhan – food for thought

I am soaking Marsahall McLuhan once again….  This great visionary and humanist to the core discerned that the modern industrial world derives its unity from technological imperatives rather than from nature or human instincts.  He argued back in the sixties that in the approaching electronic world, media and methods will replace philosophical inquiry into both natural and mechanical worlds;  and that the media of communication will replace the means of production.  As a result, humans will move from the age of industry where the means dominated to the age of information where the media dominate to the point that humans may loose control over them.  Here is how he puts it incisively:

The medium, or process, of our time – electric technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life.  It is forcing us to reconsider and re-evaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted.  Everything is changing – you, your family, your neighbourhood, your education, your job, your government, your relation to “the others”.  And they are changing dramatically. […] Radical changes in identity, happening suddenly and in very brief intervals of time, have proved more deadly and destructive to human values than wars fought with hardware weapons.”

-Marshall McLuchan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium Is the Message (1967)

…. and here is the Master lecturing….

Enjoy…

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Social Media as Teaching and Learning Tools

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An interesting comment by Eric Stroller from “Inside Higher Ed

by: Eric Stroller

Social media increases student engagement. How do I know this? Well, let’s try an analogy. Let’s say that you are a carpenter in the early 1900s. You have a certain toolkit that you use to go about your work. You build houses with said toolkit. Now, let’s hop in a DeLorean to 2012. Carpentry is a totally different gig. The tools have changed…a lot. Big box stores provide ample selections of tools and all sorts of gadgets. Carpentry has evolved, in part, because the tools have made increases in efficiencies possible. In the sense that Student Affairs practitioners are like carpenters – instead of building houses – we build community, increase student engagement, and foster opportunities for student development. The work has evolved over time and so have our tools. Social media provide a great set of channels for communications and engagement. However, here’s the caveat: Social Media are only as good as we make them. The tools themselves do not build houses nor do they increase student engagement. We do. Practitioners actively create structures that enhance engagement.

If there is a “secret sauce” for using social media to increase student engagement, it’s staring back at us in the mirror. Student Affairs professionals have worked earnestly for decades to increase, foster, and contribute to student engagement. Having access to the latest (and greatest) communications tools gives us the capability to further the reach of our endeavors. Social media add to our toolkits in educationally relevant ways as long as we are purposeful and strategic about its use. People are not carpenters simply because of access to tools. Carpentry is a profession, and similarly, so is Student Affairs. It’s an exciting time to be in Student Affairs. We have communications channels like social media and mobile devices that enable us to connect with our students.

Can social media increase and/or contribute to student engagement? Absolutely. However, this only occurs if you are at the helm and actively using the tools in ways that contribute to educationally purposeful activities.

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Library Services on the Go

With the arrival of smart phones, phone became an integral part of our lives. Not only do we carry our phones with us wherever we go, but  we are also using them for almost everything.   We started using phone for voice communication exclusively, and now  we are  using it for playing games, watching movies, browsing the Internet, hanging out with friends on social networks, getting updated with the news, banking needs, and increasingly, as the first (and often only) step for looking up any information we need.

For the first time in history, libraries are serving people who have access to all the information they could ever want in the palm of their hand.  Unlike the previous generation, which didn’t mind waiting to get their information when they got home, or the generations before that were patient enough to wait until they made it to the library, the mobile generation wants their information on the go.

There are hundreds of thousands of mobile applications for the iPhone and Android is not far behind.  Xcube Labs Mobile App Development Firm came up with a very informative infographic to explain usage patterns of smart phone apps.

It is alarming however, that there are very few apps build for libraries and very few libraries that have mobile websites.  Yet, it is obvious that if we are to remain in the information business, we have to be present in the media through which people are looking for information.

While fully mobile websites are complicated to build, some libraries we are using QR codes to bridge their physical and online collections.   I am currently working on a project at my library where we use QR codes to point our patrons to online resources that replaced or duplicate our physical holdings.  This is much less than building a mobile website, but by doing so we are helping our patrons to locate relevant online information quickly and are introducing QR technology to some of them.  More about it in my next post…

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Library Services on a Shoestring with Yahoo!Pipes

I have been silent for the last few weeks preparing for the 2012 TRY (Toronto Ryerson York) staff conference that takes place tomorrow, May 8th, 2012.   One of my  presentations is a poster session on using Yahoo!Pipes as a cheap (free!) way to enhance library services.  Some of  you may be interested in this   innovative cloud-hosted new service which allows librarians to produce, publish and share web services for free and without ever having to write a line of code.  Please see attached the pages that combined make the poster session.

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The theme of this year’s conference is: Re-defining Library Services in the Digital Age.   There are many interesting sessions at the conference – please see the conference website for more details: –  http://www.library.utoronto.ca/event/staffconference/2012/conferenceSchedule.html.  I  will be delivering one  of the sessions as well and will report on that tomorrow …. For now, I only have the Yahoo!Pipes poster ready. ….

Also, my apologies for not responding to comments & e-mails – will catch up on that after the presentation tomorrow…

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Virtual Tour of Bora Laskin Law Library on Youtube

The layout of the library I work at is quite confusing for people who use it for the first time and, as such, perhaps it discourages them from coming back again.

With the help of part-time library assistants,  I created a virtual library tour to address the problem.  I hope we may play in on the plasma screen in the library close to the main entrance. This would alleviate some of the problems that first time library users encounter trying to  locate a book by call number in the evenings or the weekends when the one staff member who is working at that time cannot leave the circulation desk to assist these users.

I am still working on it, but here is the first draft posted on youtube as it is:

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Thomas Frey on the future of libraries and 17 forms of information replacing books

 Thomas Frey, the renowned futuristic speaker and Senior Futurist at DaVinci Institute,  a non-profit futurist think tank in Colorado, writes again about the future of libraries.  Click here to check it out!  And here is the link to his other thought provoking library related opinions and speeches expressed on behalf of the DaVinci Institute.

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