The World (and Jason Griffey) Interviews Vernor Vinge

Jason Griffey kicked off the session by introducing Dr. Vernor Vinge and talking about his many accolades as a science fiction writer and futurist. Dr. Vinge then talked about how humans are the best tool-creating animal and the only animal that has figured out how to outsource their cognition — how to spread their cognitive abilities into the outside world.  As an example, he talked about how  writing and speaking are an outsourcing of our thinking and money represents an outsourcing of our perceived value for things. As humans continue to outsource cognition more effectively by harnessing powerful machines and complex networks, we move closer to a point of technological singularity.  At this point, where a superhuman intelligence can be achieved by machines or some combination of humans and machines, it will become too difficult for humans to fully grasp the present or to predict the future.  As an example, he talked about how someone might be able to explain the…


Getting Started with Drupal

Getting Started with Drupal (a.k.a. Drupal4LITA Bootcamp) Preconference, June 27th, 2008 Anaheim Public Library Cary Gordon of the Cherry Hill Company, a vendor specializing in support of open source software, gave an extremely detailed introduction to Drupal 6.2, the latest version of the open source content management system. The attendees came from a variety of library types, including academic, public, and special, and with a variety of experience levels with the system. Flash drives with the XAMPP server/database combination pre-installed were distributed along with the components for a Drupal installation. The morning focused on setting up Apache, the MySQL database, some PHP settings, and a basic install of Drupal. The afternoon covered modules (the building blocks of a Drupal site), user permissions, basic content creation, and an introduction to Drupal’s specialized vocabulary: nodes, taxonomies, menus, blocks. The program concluded with an excellent list of Drupal-related resources available on the web….

General information

Keeping Your Computers Running Session

In the one of the last session slots of the ALA Conference was a gem of a program geared toward smallish public libraries who have either no IT Department or a very small one. Diane Neal, North Carolina Central University, Brenda Hough, MaintainIT Project and Jennifer Lee Peterson, WebJunction were the panelists for the presentation. The session went from specific things that librarians can do to keep their technology running to a broader look at what resources are out there for troubleshooting specific issues, finding “best practices” and using free tools to plan and maintain your technology at a higher (library-wide, as opposed to a single machine) level. It started off with Diane giving a very nuts-and-bolts presentation about basic PC, printer and network troubleshooting. She went through the basic troubleshooting steps for your PC (reboot, check cables, discover “where it hurts” on the machine…) and then did the same…

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 Blip.tv . If we do this we will…


Top Technology Trends from Sarah Houghton-Jan, ALA 2008

I had a lovely time presenting virtually, despite the sound issues on all ends. It still was a rather successful demonstration of virtual participation, and I think that was wonderful. Big thanks to Maurice York for organizing this for myself and Karen. I have 5 Trends I’d like to throw out there. I was able to cover three of them (#s 1-3) in the live presentation, but apparently the echo in the room made parts of what I said difficult to hear. So, here’s what I said verbatim, near as I can remember (plus the bonuses of #s 4 and 5). Let’s hit it. #1: Bandwidth Every library complains about bandwidth. Many people have faster access at home than at the library, which is a reversal of what we used to see when people came into the library to use our connections. The problem is multimedia, which is wonderful, but…


Some Thumbs Up

ALA RUSA MARS–Hot Topics Libraries2Go: Library Services for Handhelds Sat., 6/23 10:30 am-12:00 pm J W Marriott Salon IV Moderator, Mark Dehmlow of Notre Dame University joined via Skype. Home (Indiana?) awaiting birth of child. GRE word for the day is ubiquity. 95% of students have cell phones. Libraries need to portal their services to where the users are (except when driving :D). Services for handhelds are user-centered. First panelist, Bradley Faust from Ball State University. http://www.bsu.edu/libraries/lits/mobileproject/project_summary.html The Mobile Computing Project at Ball State began in 2004 with LSTA/IMLS grant. Better, faster higher capacity networks & handheld devices, now integrating with course management systems. Users want: Audio, ebooks, podcasts Mobile search Quick facts Directional tours of facilities, services Video tutorials, instructional videos Texting Regular web sites are unfriendly to small screens. Need short pages, easy to navigate, minimal images, anywhere access. BSU developed a new gateway to their catalog using…


Introduction and Welcome to Chicago (Pt. 1 Entertainment)

So much is happening in Chicago during ALA that you’d think it was a conspiracy to befuddle the out-of-towners. Do not despair! In my role as social butterfly, I have taken it upon myself (and the LITA Blog authorities have given me access!) to try and help you make sense of this embarrassment of riches. Of course, you’ll be spending most of your time at the conference. Nevertheless, you’ll hopefully still have opportunities to step out and sample life in the Windy City. The first thing you should do is pick up a copy of the Chicago Reader. This is our alternative weekly and it lists within seven days more things than a normal person could do in a whole year. If you dip into it, you’ll find that the “Big” event during ALA is Taste of Chicago. The “Taste” as they call it in these parts, takes place in…