Tag Archives: information

Libraries of the future

The following visualization was adapted from PewInternet.com, of a keynote address for the 2013 State University of New York Librarians Association Annual Conference.

librarians of the future

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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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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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Wikipedia is….

Someone just made me aware of the following infographic on wikipedia and I thought I would share it here. I found it quite interesting. Especially the part that compares wikipediawith college textbooks and other learning materials. In the past librarians have really been against wikipedia. However, it seems that maybe it’s not so bad after all?

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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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WWW & innate fears

Here is one of the most interesting pieces on knowledge and computers I’ve recently read. It is written by Jascha Kessler, Professor Emeritus of Modern English & American Literature, UCLA, and copied here in its entity from: Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 578.  Enjoy!

I wonder whether the World Wide Web, the knowledge stored and accessed using the Internet, is the fulfillment of some basic instinct comparable to those that led to the creation of language and the recording of knowledge in text itself. Once words and then language had been invented, the idea of written language must have been a major breakthrough, allowing ideas to be preserved and read back as if from the voices of their originators. Then the invention of forms of written text evolved into the numerous varieties we see today.  The Web appears to be the latest evolutionary step in that progression, with a mechanism for recording content in ‘web pages’ collected into ‘web sites’; and with an overall indexing strategy yet evolving–somewhat comparable to the creation of the mechanisms of titles, tables of contents, indexes, etc. created to handle access to  the growth of written text.

What presumably is most frightening about the World Wide Web is that it shows signs of automation that printed text did not. The Web is harvested by ‘web crawlers’ that automatically collect and index web sites for other people to then retrieve. A development that seems almost like there is a robotic army that sneaks about reading everything and keeping a record of it while we’re sleeping. The very idea that text and the content that it contains now flows without our intervention, without the elaborate methods of print distribution that were created to handle the movement of paper-based text, is startling if not outright frightening.

It also is intimidating to the professionals who made their living operating the paper-based system. Everyone from the manufacturers of the implements for recording language through those whose professions involved assembling and proofing it, manufacturing its print products en masse, marketing those products, distributing them, receiving them and storing them in places such as bookstores and libraries, recycling  those products through used bookstores. All these professions are threatened by the web.  Even those who made their living reading and reviewing print text are threatened, since distribution of web pages and web sites doesn’t require human intervention–everyone can read the web without reviewers. That does seem odd, i.e., that we haven’t taken up the challenge to ‘review’ web sites as actively as we reviewed print publications.

Perhaps it is because the text itself is no longer fixed into units with permanence that can be bounded. Whereas publications involved ‘editions’, the web doesn’t have ‘editions’ of web pages or web sites.  They can and do change their content continuously. This is threatening as well. For if we cannot depend upon the text to be permanent, how can we add value to its statements, produce the important summation and analyses of its significance. It’s like trying to review the beauty of cloud-filled skies or sunsets. They are not only each seen from a different perspective, but are ever changing such that the subsequent potential viewers cannot precisely see the same thing the reviewer described. That’s potentially dangerous as well. The web has responded with an effort at ‘permanent’ links; but how much permanence can there be when the method of preserving permanent references is itself dependent upon the same technology that creates total impermanence.

So, apart from the threat from computers and software, the agents of these changes, whose capacity to reorganize and rewrite the knowledge itself we’re still discovering; we’re now threatened by the changes to all of stored world knowledge that could come about. How will we authenticate it in the future such that we know it’s the same text our  ancestors read? You say this eBook is the text of a 20th century work that is no longer available in print and all of whose copies are now stored in the ‘cloud’.   Oh, there can be new glorious new work done by scholars everywhere at anytime. Never have so many been able to access so much with so little effort. But it just seems to depend on such a lot of intangible and ephemeral resources. We seem to be discarding the proven survivability of mass produced and widely dispersed recorded knowledge for the admitted impermanence of electronic and optical recordings requiring special hardware to access. Take away the electricity and the knowledge becomes inaccessible. Surge the electricity and the stored knowledge itself and the hardware to access it could be destroyed.

So, there you have it… The fear is creeping in when we see clearly the need to change every job that has to do with creating, distributing, retrieving and reviewing knowledge and the threat of the complete loss of world knowledge due to technical glitches or its selective revision at the hands of powerful groups.

What I find somewhat amusing here is that the perceived threat from ‘computers’ themselves doesn’t seem as potentially dangerous, apart from them being the agents of change. I.e., hardware and software may well be our best allies in the effort to combat the threats. It reminds me of something I heard about the insects of the world as a  threat to humans. If it wasn’t for insects acting as predators on other insects, we’d never survive. So, computers are just the agents of change—whether change is safe of not is up to how we use computers to combat the changes brought about by computers.

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Welcome to Infomazed!

This blog is about information, the the profusion of it and the labyrinthine way through its maze often needed to find the relevant bit, or  a glimpse of knowledge buried in this abundance.   You will find here musings of an infomazed librarian, who is simultaneously amazed at the amount and easy accessibility of information and who also finds herself sometimes lost in a search maze looking for the one meaningful and elusive fact….

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