Should Libraries Get Out of the eBook Business?

Librarian by Day • March 7, 2012

Contrarian librarian. Librarian Bobbi Newman says until publishers get their eBook act together, our efforts to serve the 29% or so e-reader owners are distracting our attention to the rest of our constituency. She also quotes Guy LeCharles Gonzales: "Surely every library has a service gap or three to fill that's more valuable than overpaying for temporary licenses to files and platforms they don't own, that may or may not work on their patrons' devices of choice, and whose pricing can fluctuate more wildly than that of crude oil and Netflix stock."

Public libraries need to serve their local communities and doing so in the midst of massive budget cuts is increasingly challenging, forcing them to make tough decisions. I don't, however, think that holding out on eBooks until the dust settles is appropriate. If libraries aren't actively involved in establishing eBook policies (that ideally allow libraries to BUY and LEND eBooks in the same manner as other books), the publishers and distributors will make that policy to their liking. And, if libraries are not lending eBooks (using whatever means possible), users will turn elsewhere, increasingly thinking of the library as a resting place for relics of the past. ( Erway)
 
 

Introducing the Curator's Code: A Standard for Honoring Attribution of Discovery Across the Web

Brainpickings • March 9, 2012

Down the rabbit hole. Check out Maria Popova's scheme for discovery attribution—the concept would provide a sort of "trusted guide" approach to serendipity.

The blurb promised something about trust and that’s always a good thing. I didn't find anything about that in the article. The proposal is much more about culture and doesn't rise anywhere near to being a protocol that search engines could count on. The links for the attributions aren't anywhere near accurate enough to carry much more information than you "liked" something and don't even really tell if you liked the thing you're fuzzily pointing at. I think the site would rather you poked the thumbs up/down button and let them expose that count as microdata in their HTML. The search engines will be much more grateful for that. ( LeVan)
 
 

Hacking for Truth, Whatever That Is: Ideas to Fight Misinformation

Nieman Journalism Lab • March 8, 2012

The Truthiness Game. Check out this report on the recent Truthiness in Digital Media symposium—as speed-of-light media make it ever easier to spread misinformation, the fact-checkers are struggling to fight back. Read on for insight into why it is that once people make up their minds something is true, it's almost impossible to change their opinions.

The article focuses on an unresolved effort to create an online game called "Lies With Friends." In short order the planners decided that persuasiveness was to be valued more than veracity, since persuasiveness is what wins arguments. A second valuable quality in the game would be the ability to separate true trivia from the merely "truthy," i.e., something that sounds plausible and also happens to be what you want to believe. The planners never got the chance to finish designing their game, but their brief attempt gave the article's author a platform for making two valuable points—one about human nature: we hold on most passionately to those facts and ideas that we want to believe are true;  and the other about the nature of truth in today's hyper-connected world, via the founder of FactCheck.org: "What is truth? That is an irrelevant question. We're trying to ensure fidelity to the knowable." Seriously. Fidelity to the knowable. Would I lie to you? ( Massie)
 
 

Tweeting From a Broadway Show

IEEE Spectrum • March 9, 2012

Embracing the madness. Ken Davenport, producer of the current Broadway version of Godspell, talks about his experiment with "Tweet Seats"—a seating section where people are encouraged to use their phones during the show. Davenport admits the approach works better in a musical setting than, say, Hamlet—but his efforts to bring a 19th century format into the 21st echoes many of the changes that have occurred in libraries and museums over the past 20 years. When was the last time someone shushed you?

I'm all for Twitter (you can follow me @merrileeiam) but I have my doubts as to how well this will play with those in the house (like with the folks who have paid for their seats). For an alternative perspective, just skim the (mostly negative) comments that our former colleague Dylan Tweney received when he wrote about his experience tweeting the opera on Wired.com ( Dylan now works for Venture Beat and is worthy of your attention). Additionally, a recent posting from PandoDaily is a good reminder of how bad conference tweets can be. As with all things Twitter, it's important to keep your audience in the foreground. And please don't Tweet about what you ate at intermission. ( Proffitt)
 
 

Designing Engaging and Enjoyable Long-Form Reading Experiences

UX Design • March 7, 2012

Sizing up the space. Check out digital design expert Martha Rotter's suggestions for making online reading more enjoyable. Her comments about intrusive advertising and the need for "quiet rooms" are thoughtful and could apply to any organization.

There is generally-applicable good web design advice here, though the take-away for me was that your readers are already managing their own experience, apart from your attempts to manage it for them. I'm unlikely to read PandoDaily through anything other than Feedly on my tablet, for example. And I'm not sure I want a custom app to improve a particular channel (Ochs for reading The New York Times was mentioned) when I've already taken the advice previously offered in Above the Fold to use Instapaper or one of its alternatives. ( Washburn)
 
 

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, when and where will the Ticer Summer School on Digital Libraries be held?

Get the answer.

 

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