Recent Events

The Popular Dead and Innovative Technologies Session


LYRASIS sponsored the session

The always popularDead & Innovative Technologies session returned on Tuesday evening, and Scott Brandt, who has been AWOL from CIL for several years, returned to chair it.  This is a difficult session to blog; you had to be there to experience it.  Here is the panel:  

The Panel (L-R): Scott Brandt, Steven Abram, Sarah Houghton-Jan, David Lee King, Amanda Etches-Johnson, Marshall Breeding, and (at podium) Bill Spence

Each speaker was asked to identify some dead technologies and some that are worth watching. Below are a few thoughts I gleaned–they are not comprehensive by any means.   

Bill Spence

Bill Spence, VP of Technology at Information Today: Keep looking at the big picture, and socialize, socialize, socialize.   

David Lee King

David Lee King:  Bombs and Blue Aliens    

Bombs:  cell phones, TVs (my family gathers around monitors,  not the TV), USB drives.   

Blue alien winners ( Things we don’t quite know what to do with):   

  • Tablets have many non-PC uses.  For example, you can use a tablet to follow a recipe being shown on a YouTube video.

Using a tablet PC to follow a recipe

      Or you can use it as a photo frame.


A tablet as a photo frame

  • Apps:  we put them on our phones and rarely make calls!
  • The web knows where we are.

Sarah Houghton-Jan

Sarah Houghton-Jan: 3 things that are dead   

  • Adobe formats:  closed, controlled, no “legal” remixing, a model of old publishing
  • Current state of all closed library vendor systems:  ILS software, databases, eBooks
  • The iPad:  closed technology, closed marketplace, content consumption not creation, constant upselling, is it sexy?  (See Will It Blend? for an application to the iPad.)

Things that are doing well:   

  • The Android OS:  it’s open, expanding, limitless, and in 2015 it will have an estimated 25% of the market share.
  • DRM-free media: music, video, library e-books.
  • Interactive community-built real world history:  augmented reality, digital  history, location-based technology, community-created.

Down with closed, up with open!   

Amanda Etches-Johnson

Amanda Etches-Johnson: Is it HOT or NOT in user experiences? (The audience was asked to vote.)   

  • Flash:  Not because it’s closed, proprietary, and not accessible.
  • HTML 5:  Hot–the next major version of HTML and will help us do away with our reliance on Flash.
  • Mobile Apps:  Not because this year we will see the death of the app–they’re device-specific.
  • The mobile Web:  Hot
  • Valid markup:  Hot–it’s good practice for your websites but it ensures your content performs the same across multiple browsers.  (see the W3C mobile web checker which gives you a detailed report and tells you what you need to change)
  • Thoughtful design:  Hot–take user needs into consideration.  It’s not just about tweaking a site nor about just putting up a text version of your site but a complete redesign. (The McDonald’s and the Oregon State University library mobile web sites are good examples.)  You need to think about your users in the environment of mobile browsing. Do they have casual, repeat, or urgent needs?
  • Watching users use your site:  Hot.   There is no better way to gauge your users’ needs and expectations.
  • Watching librarians use your site:  Not.  You are not designing for your librarians. 
  • Creating painful experiences for our users:  Not!


Marshall Breeding

Marshall is the CIL 25th anniversary attendee.  He noted that you can win some things just by showing up, but you have to show up for 25 years!  After that long,  you know all the secrets and where all the bodies are buried!    

We don’t know how easy things are today. Does anyone remember this device?  Its output device held 80 characters!

IBM 029 Keypunch

The Commodore 64 floppy drive held 360K!   

Marshall at his Commodore 64

We thought the card catalog would last for ever, so they were wired into the building!

Card catalog room at the library

 But look what happened! We have long stopped using card catalogs, so what can we do with the catalog rooms?

Recycling the card catalog

Now we have digitized materials, providing universal access.  We even need a machine to recreate printed books from electronic ones.

Espresso Book Machine

And don’t think the US has an exclusivity on technology–foreign countries are up to date.  (Marshall showed photos of libraries in such widely separated countries as Colombia and Korea.

Steve Abram

Steve Abram wrapped up with his usual provocative opinions.

What is dead?   

  • Dedicated ebook readers.  When we will get over our etch-a-sketch fixation?  Why do we tell ourselves that people don’t read any more–stop lying to yourself. 
  • We have gone to an article collection universe?  Stop trying to put mice on top of books. 
  • The book is an empty object.  What is the experience it contains?
  • The iPad is a closed system. What about censorship? freedom of expression? freedom in general?  One man (or his company) is deciding what we can download from his store.  Who makes a device that doesn’t take a USB?
  • We have been teaching Boolean for 30 years.  Doing anything for 30 years leads to insanity.
  • Being out of the loop. 
  • Shy librarians.

Focus on the real user.  The trouble is we’re not paying attention!   

The scariest scenario for libraries is directors who don’t believe things are changing.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and CIL 2010 Blog Coordinator

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