Top Technology Trends

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.


  1. Owen Stephens

    APIs – I’m not entirely convinced we need standards – I understand you don’t want to have to cope with lots of APIs, but if you look at other web communities, they haven’t standardised, and this hasn’t unduely hindered development. I think as an organised profession we have a tendency to see the benefits of standardization – but this sometimes (often?) stops us in our tracks while we don’t do anything until we have all agreed on how something should work – the rest of the world moves on while we debate.

    All this said, the DLF’s ILS Discovery Interface Task Force’s recommendation went out recently, it is posted on the DLF website

    There is also a Google group for this at

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