Top Tech Trends from Karen Coombs

Its Top Tech Trend time again. Every time I’m asked to come up with trends I sort of get a pit in the bottom of my stomach. How to choose trends?

  • Should I choose tech things that have changed they way I think about technology this year?
  • How specific or narrow should my trends me?
  • How accessible to non-techies

Also, I worry about getting a diversity of opinions and people feeling they the trends the trendsters put forward are too general or obvious. Picking trend is hard for all these reasons, plus you don’t want to pick something that turns out to not really be a trend.

So, this time I’m categorizing my trends a bit.

My personal A-HA trend

Web applications which are extremely flexible, versatile and extendable. For me the app that has typified this in my work this year is Drupal. Drupal is a veritable swiss army knife which can be used in a variety of ways. I’m been playing with it for our library’s intranet, writing about using it as a library website CMS, and experimenting with using it for digital library collections. I’ve been nothing but impressed. And while this particular app my come and go, the idea that software should be built in this way is one which has made a distinct impression on me. It is influencing the way in which I’m asking my developers to build and what new software I’m choosing substantially.

The everyone’s going to say it but it needs to be said trend

Mobile technologies are changing society. They are here to stay, they are only going to get better with time, and we need to expect mobile devices to be a significant portions of our usage. Enough said.

The one which scares the sh!t out of me

The waking digital preservation nightmare Whether it is books digitized by Google, videos posted on the web, or Flickr photos the explosion of digital content for which there isn’t a clear curation plan has create a void which few libraries seem to be willing to step up and fill. Getting to know more about about digital libraries in the last year has given me a greater appreciate for just how difficult the job of preservation is. It goes beyond backing stuff up. You have to make sure the bits you started out with are the bits you currently have. You have to migrate file formats and technologies become obsolete and you have to make sure you have the right to migrate formats. There seems to be a serious lack of this taking place in commercial content sharing ventures.

The trend which I think may empower smaller libraries the most

Hosted supported open source software There is an increasing number of companies both in the library and non-library world providing hosting and support for open source software. LibLime and Equinox should be familar to folks now. But companies like CraftySpace (which provides Drupal-based website design and implementation), The Cherry Hill Company (Drupal – demo site), and incsub (which provides support and development for WordPressMU) as well as library consortia are getting in the game. This could change the game for smaller libraires causing a rise in the adoption of open source. Some consortia efforts worth noting in this arena?

Virtual Karen’s Top Tech Trends

Sarah Houghton-Jan (see her summary and trends) and I participated in Top Tech Trends virtually this past Sunday. It was a blast. I had a little easier time hearing than Sarah, although hearing myself speak was slightly disconcerting. I really enjoyed talking with people in the back channel Meebo chat room. Though some people pointed out that that was distracting from the panelist present in person.

APIs Galore

Let’s be realistic APIs have hit their stride on the web at large. In libraries they are starting to come into their own as well. However, our focus in libraries has thus far been on bibliographic data. This isn’t the only data of value out there. Libraries need to think about how to use APIs to get digital objects like photos and videos in and out of web-based media service providers like Flickr and . If we do this we will not only be making our users lives easier, we will be increasing the likelihood that we are able to capture relevant born-digital collections. Library vendors wake up, libraries want and need APIs and we don’t want to have to retrofit them ourselves!! Some vendors have realized this and that is great. But PLEASE we need standards for how APIs work. If my catalog API and the WorldCat API work differently I’m going to have to  write two sets of code. Not efficient. Let’s work smarter instead of harder that way we can all share! Below are a few APIs relevant to libraries worth checking out

Virtual Participation in Classes and Conferences hits its Stride (Maybe)

My own participation (via SightSpeed) the Top Tech Trends this year is evidence that virtual participation may have hit its stride. What is really interesting about this phenomenon though is the multitude of forms it can take. There are virtual worlds like Second Life, but there are also more traditional virtual classrooms and applications sharing software like Wimba and WebEx. This years Social Software Showcase demonstrated that a live video stream (via uStream) can be a form of virtual participation as well. I watched the stream and had 3 different conversations with people in the stream’s chat window. Web video conferencing is allowing team work and participation across geographically disparate locations. I regularly video chat using Skype or iChat with colleagues who I am working with at other institutions. Lastly, the nature of the conference call has changed. Greg Schwartz uses TalkShoe on a weekly basis to host his show “Uncontrolled Vocabulary” and allow librarians from across the country to participate and others are following suit.

Mobile devices and technologies

One of the other panelist touched on this trend and I thought that Jason Griffey did a great job talking about this with someone at the Social Software Showcase (Showcase video available to watch!). With the iPhone 3G coming out and Google sticking its fingers in cell phones, mobile technologies and the mobile web have reached a new level. Also consider the fact that most of the world surfs the net on a phone or other mobile device, not a laptop or desktop computer. Libraries need to embrace this movement more. Not just in the way we design our virtual presence, but also in the way we provide virtual services and do our work. I’ve been talking to the subject librarians at UH about how mobile technologies could improve their interactions with faculty. Think about the things we want and need to do on the fly when we leave the library to interact with the campus? Libraries need to start leaveraging mobile technologies in more meaningful ways.

Comments and reponses to other panelists

Marshall talked about Open Data as being an important trend. I think that there are two facets to this, the technology to make data open and the non-technical issues: copyright, licensing, etc. APIs are really helping us to solve the first issue, but I see the second issue as being somewhat tougher. Particularly when it comes to question of “who ‘owns’ this data”.

Sarah talked in her trends about libraries having difficulties in innovating and that we are getting disparate levels of innovation between libraries. I think we are also seeing disparate levels of innovation within libraries, particularly in larger libraries. This isn’t a solely a result of some people wanting to innovate and some not but also organizational, and department structures and barriers. The fact that some departments/people are innovating and others who want to can’t can cause some serious friction within a library and it is something we need to be mindful of. Anyone who wants to try to innovate should be given the opportunity.

Minutes for the BIGWIG meeting at ALA Midwinter 2008 (1/13/2008)


1. Questions regarding podcasts for LITA office candidates
2. Discussion on BIGWIG & Transparency
3. Conference podcasting
4. Brainstorm potential topics for social software showcase
5. ideas for interactivity or innovation for LITA forum

1. Questions for podcasts for LITA elections (Karen Coombs)

Podcasts for LITA candidates contained these questions last year:
1. Briefly describe your professional experience as it relates to holding LITA office
2. What do you bring to this position?
3. How do you envision LITA being a technology leader in ALA?

These informal podcasts were about 5 minutes long. David Lee King did these last year and will continue in this role for the next set of Candidates. The BIGWIG members present agreed that the set of questions was good.

2 BIGWIG & Transparency (Michelle Boule)

The Leadership of this interest group believes in and wants to exercise radical transparency for all discussions and decisions for the IG. We would like to install Drupal and set up a collaborative space with which to conduct planning activities. This site would be open to the entire web, and all discussion and planning would be conducted or made available in this space. Last year, the planning was done via Google Docs, email and a private wiki, and the Social Software Showcase was delivered via MediaWiki. Tools available in Drupal that we could make use of include: virtual meetings in the chat room, IG news delivered via RSS, web posting capability. The chat room could also be used to communicate with Showcase presenters.

Commentary on Drupal by present members and by John Chrastka, ALA Staff:
Drupal was used for the “Five Weeks to a Social Library” site as well as being the basis of the AADL site. It will also be used for the ALA online communities environment, with threaded discussion, live chat, a white board, document version control, and a calendar. Jenny Levine is a good resource at ALA for information on ALA Online Communities.

BIGWIG members present agreed that it would be good for the IG to implement Drupal and experiment with it now, see what ALA rolls out, then compare. We will give Jenny Levine feedback on what does and doesn’t work for the IG.

Everyone around the table thought that the idea of radical transparency is a good one and that Drupal is a good place to start.

3 Conference podcasting guidelines, procedures and plans for annual

The IG began recording podcasts at Annual in DC in 2007. Audio recorded on a sound baord has the best quality. The IG needs to choose which LITA sessions to record and how to coordinate this. Do we want to record whole sessions? How much editing should be done?

It was suggested that we ask presenters to create 5 minute audio summaries, and make these available for download, with an option to download the entire session. Summary podcasts could also be used to market the sessions.

John Chrastka informed us that there are plans for making a podcasting booth available at ALA Annual 2008 in Anaheim.

It was suggested that the IG should make a mini-tutorial available for presenters on creating podcasts and that if recording all LITA sessions was to much of a hardship, that we should solicit input from the Division members on what to record.

There currently is no central place to store the mini-recorders used to create podcasts. Karen Coombs will ask Mary Taylor for assistance and suggestions. It was suggested that the IG secure a small locker to keep these in, and that this could be kept in the ALA office. Presenters will also be asked if they have equipment that they can bring.

Karen will ask David Lee King if he is willing to continue to serve as Podcast Coordinator and will put David in touch with John. It was suggested that the LITA Office could assist with getting information to conference center and hotel staff that we would like to connect to sound boards to record.

Karen has notes on podcasting that she’ll make available; we’ll keep developing this plan. We do not want podcasting to fall through the cracks for annual.

4 Brainstorming for social software showcase: topics, virtual participation ideas, etc….

Suggested topics:
Wikia search
Facebook apps: how effective, how viable
open social: facebook supposedly signing on – how to take social contexts across platforms
Google knowl
pan-google social attempts
microcelebrity (see wired article on same)
ethics of the new web; what is privacy; what is “nice” and “not nice”?
activism in social networking
overcoming resistance to social networks
stovepiping – siloing of groups in social networks results in inbred opinions and no cross talk of groups

Suggestions to enhance virtual participation:

* use drupal discussion groups, chat room, etc?
* skype video conferencing? (subject to connectivity problems)
* virtual participation by conference call?

Karen will talk to PPC tomorrow about our technical needs for the Social Software Showcase. They might not be able to help with equipment needs but can try to help with space placement–so that we will get a room that meets our needs (wifi!).

5 LITA Forum 09 interactivity (Zoe Stewart Marshall Forum 2009 Planning Committee Chair)

history: Plannnig for 09 forum begins February 08. Planning committee has its first meeting at annual 08. They are looking for suggestions now for changes to the structure of the conference. It was commented that connectivity at the Salt Lake City forum location should be pretty good.

Would be great to create podcasts of keynotes; we should ensure that hotel is aware of our needs. Planning committee aware that some of the content becomes stale due to long process. They are also looking for suggestions for different types of sessions or ways to deliver content that will engage more users, and came to BIGWIG for ideas.

The committee is considering a “Bar Camp” approach, or the “lightning talks” that occurred at last year’s Forum. The committee wants to schedule these new sessions so that attendees don’t have to make a choice between traditional presentations and new stuff. It was suggested that posters and lightning talks at the same time so that people can ebb and flow among them (lightning talk is a poster session without the poster). It was also suggested that they use a twitter feed to broadcast who’s talking next. Notifications via SMS would be good too. opt-in for SMS notifications could be part of registration form.

Other feedback: the USB key was nice at last forum, but if there is no handout, would be nice not to have a blank pdf.

How to facilitate networking at the forum? Dinner doesn’t necessarily facilitate bar-camp-like discussion environment. “Birds of a Feather” was suggested–people would gather at an appointed BOF time to discuss topics important to them.

Members suggested posting an entry or link on the LITA blog soliciting additional ideas for Forum 09. IG members are also welcome to email Zoe with other ideas.

Space for Blogging at ALA Midwinter 2008

For those blogging at Midwinter a blogging table and 4 chairs will be set up in the ALA office area in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Additionally, free wireless internet service will be available in the Pennsylvania Convention Center in meeting rooms and corridors, (but not the exhibit hall) for use of ALA attendees during the ALA Midwinter Meeting.

BIGWIG Business Meeting at Midwinter

The business meeting for BIGWIG (Blogs, Interactive Groupware, Wiki Interest Group) will take place on Sunday 1/13/2008 from 10:30 am to noon in Room 307B of the Philadelphia Conference Center. We currently have the following agenda items for the meeting.

1. Questions for LITA election podcasts
2. BIGWIG and Transparency
3. Conference podcasting: Guidelines, Procedures, Plans for Annual.
4. Social Software Showcase topic brainstorming

For further information about the Interest Group contact Karen A. Coombs or Jason Griffey

Karen Coombs’ Top Technology Trends

This year at ALA will be my first appearance as part of the LITA Top Tech Trends panel. Since I was asked to be part of TTT 2 months ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about the possible trends I want to talk about. Many possible trend topics have gone through my head. However, I realize with ALA fast approaching that I’m only really going to get 5 minutes to talk about my trends. So if I want to do them justice, really I can only talk about 3 things.

That being said, I thought it might be worthwhile if I posted here trends that have caught my eye / crossed my mind. KGS has done something similar to this with her trends in the past and I like the discussion it sparks. Below are a few trends that have been kicking about in my head.

  • Proliferation of Open Source Software
    Open Source Software is growing in importance and presence in people’s lives. Firefox now claims about 16% of the browser market. Dell now allows users to choose Ubuntu as the operating system on their PC. A greater number of libraries are considering open source ILSs such as Evergreen and Koha. The really startling fact though is the number of universities and colleges that are investing in open source solutions for their enterprise systems. Sakai, Kuali, JASIG are all examples of open source systems being developed and used by universities. According to a 2007 article in Educause Review, open source system have a number of advantages including the fact that they unbundle software and support, and put developers closer to user in the development process. In addition to the growth of open source systems in higher education, there has also been a growth of organization providing support for open source systems. In the library world this includes Equinox, and Liblime who both provide support for open source ILSs.
  • Dominance of XML for data transmission
    MARC XML, METS, MODS, and SOAP; XML has become THE solution for moving data around. Most web services available from commercial sites use XML. Additionally, web services for library systems also use XML. The bottom line is if you are a librarian who works with the web or in technical services you had better get fluent in XML.
  • End User as Content Producer
    Currently more than 62% of all US households own digital cameras. Ownership of digital video cameras has also steadily grown. Flickr,, YouTube and other web-based services offer a place for users to store and share their content. However, what happens if these services disappear? Who is taking responsibility for preserving the cultural memory of our society in digital format? The Internet Archive and Our Media hopes to do some of this but if users experiences are anything like those of librarian David Free, then they are likely to go elsewhere. What can libraries do to collect digital objects of value to local history and cultural memory? One possibility is what is being done by the National Library of Australia as part of the Picture Australia Project.
  • Web is more interactive and collaborative
    Even if you set Flickr, YouTube, aside the web is STILL changing the way we consume media in dramatic ways. According to a survey done study from Motorola 45% of Europeans watch TV online. More an more network television shows are hitting the web. The major networks are streaming shows (albeit only the previous week’s episode) and making episodes (or the entire season) available for purchase on iTunes. The BBC signed a deal with BitTorrent client producer Azereus to distribute content. Amazon is in the game with the Unbox and Netflix allows you to view movies over the web as well now. There are streaming services for music and movies and VoIP services have cropped up everywhere. Virtual programming for librarian is abound with regular free Sirsi Dynix institutes and OPAL events. Let’s not forget the virtual worlds of Second Life, and World of Warcraft. What does all this mean for how we as librarians interact with library users? Better yet what does it mean for how we interact with each other, provide programming, and learning opportunities?
  • Bye Bye Privacy (ubiquitous personal data)
    Websites are collecting more and more data on users in order to provided personalized reccomendations and customized services. keeps track of users reading preferences. Netflix keeps track of what subscribers rent. In addition to data collected for personalizing services, more and more people are putting personal information about their lives on the internet via Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube and other social software. In an era where personalization is expected libraries cannot provide users with meaningful services if we are hamstrung by the current professional policies and ethics regarding privacy. Also users need serious education when it comes to making informed choices about their personal privacy.
  • Digital as the format of choice
    Whether it is full-text articles, E-reserves, audio, or video, more and more users prefer and expect to get their content in digital format. The popularity of iTunes and music subscription services like Pandora have demonstrated that users are willing to deal with the problems of DRM or pay a monthly subscription fee to get instant access to content. In addition to music, other types of media are now being made available in digital format, via either a purchase or pay-per-view model. iTunes now includes TV shows and movies. There are also services such as Joost, and Babelgum, which leverage an on-demand model that allows users to have access to content for a limited amount of time.
    One area where the digital format hasn’t caught on particularly well is ebooks. However, we should be careful not to mistake this as a love for traditional books but rather an intense dislike for the current klunky options for reading ebooks. Digital formats have many distinct advantages for users. They allow on-demand, instant gratification. Additionally, digital content doesn’t consume physical space, which allows users to have a virtually limitless collection of content. Libraries have to find ways to adapt their services to this new paradigm. This means providing digital content on demand to users instead of lending movies and CDs.
  • Converged Mobile Devices
    It isn’t a new thing that mobile devices aren’t just phones anymore. Apple’s iPhone has many competitors including the Samsung Upstage. All of these phone feature a touch screen, MP3 player, and a host of other applications. While the rant about small screen size still is circulating, more and more web applications are making themselves friendly to the small screen. How do libraries to the same for their tools and resources so we can effectively deliver information to users on these devices?
  • Line between desktop and web applications obliterated
    Desktop applications have hit the web. Google Docs and Spreadsheets, Zoho, Peepel, Zimbra, and ShareMethods all provide Office like functionality. In addition, applications for editing multimedia for cropped up as well. Snipshot, Picnik, Jumpcut, and YouTube remixer, provide the basic functionality available in parts of Adobe’s suite. GoogleGears blurs the line between web-based and desktop based news aggregators. Additionally, who needs an external hard drive or thumb drive you can get 4GB of storage on the web at Box. Need more space? Check out Amazon’s S3. Another interesting phenomenon is Webtops and WebOSs such as EyeOS, Desktoptwo, Craythur, Goowy.

As I said I won’t be talking about all these trends as part of the panel, but I think all are worth readers thinking about for a few minutes. I have a pretty good idea which trends I’m going to highlight at the panel itself, but feel free to ask me about the ones I don’t discuss in detail at the panel by posting a comment here or asking at the Top Tech Trends panel Sunday.