Paul Hagon on ALATechSource

Paul Hagon, the National Library’s senior web designer, has a lot of interesting ideas on the ways that libraries might be able to utilise emerging technologies. Paul recently spoke to Michael Stephens over at ALA TechSource and made an important point about the way that libraries provide their information to users, primarily through a search box interface. But how easily is information available and findable through such interfaces? Paul suggests that there are a multitide of other avenues to finding and gaining access to information and asks,

How can we easily provide this information to others to use? There are too many applications for us to be building them all. I think this is the important part. We should just be the ‘pipes’ that provide the information.

Michael asked Paul about what he thought libraries could do to start moving in that direction. Paul said:

I would love to see libraries opening up their information for others to use in an easier manner. Currently libraries are both the custodians of information, and also the custodians of how you access that information (eg: through a traditional catalogue/search interface). Libraries can still be the custodians of the information and retain that authoritative role that they should have, but they shouldn’t necessarily be deciding how people access that information. There are a lot of smart people out there building clever applications. Let them use the information how they want. Good ideas come from anywhere.

Read the full conversation here.

Ada Lovelace day

As is required a blog post about Ada Lovelace

What do I know of Ada Lovelace, nothing as yet. But a Trove search http://trove.nla.gov.au/result?q=ada+lovelace will no doubt help. Who needs Google when you have Trove.

UPDATE

Oh interesting, daughter of Byron, first computer programmer.

UPDATE 2

From Dunechaser at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dunechaser/160405716/

UPDATE 3

If you’re interested in finding out some more about Australian women involved in science and technology, you should check out the list of women in the Encyclopedia of Australian science (which incorporates Bright Sparcs and Australian Science at Work).

The future of the book in school libraries

A lot of things have changed since I was in school. The school library of my day was composed mostly of books, with open spaces with chairs for reading, tables for study and a limited number of computers for use by the librarian alone, with a rudimentary library management system. This gradually morphed into the incorporation of additional computers with a limited number of databases for student use (generally only availabe on CD) and, later, more computers were added and more databases, with the inclusion of electronic subscription services.

But what of the books in the school library? Changes are, inevitably, afoot in the school libraries of today as electronic information becomes more readily available. The Room for debate blog, over at the New York Times, has a series of interviews with some prominent library types discussing the future directions of the school libraries of today, including their use of print and electronic media.

When music and technology collide

Is there anything the new iPhone can’t do? Apparently not. It can even be used, in combination, to form an orchestra of sorts.

That’s right, an iPhone orchestra. And one at Stamford, no less! The orchestra perform by using their iPhones with the Ocarina, which is an electronic musical instrument “sensitive to your breath, touch and movements”, and which also has inbuilt GPS functionality to allow you to locate and play with other users.  The orchestra describe thier performance technique:

MoPhO’s interactive musical works take advantage of the unique technological capabilities of today’s hardware and software, transforming multi-touch screens, built-in accelerometers, built-in microphones, GPS, data networks, and computation into powerful and yet mobile chamber meta-instruments.

There are a few videos from their most recent performance available for viewing over at Mashable.

There is also another group of iPhone performers, the Zaboura Eichstaedt Experience, who have staged a number of performances and are currently touring Germany. Check out their performance (12 iPhone performers with 2 drummers) which utilises another iPhone app. called Bloom, developed by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers.

IT in the workplace

There’s a great article over at the Wall Street Journal which asks the question: why can’t IT departments keep pace with developments in the outisde world that their users regularly utilise from home?

Nick Wingfield offers the following scenario:

“At the office, you’ve got a sluggish computer running aging software, and the email system routinely badgers you to delete messages after you blow through the storage limits set by your IT department. Searching your company’s internal Web site feels like being teleported back to the pre-Google era of irrelevant search results.

At home, though, you zip into the 21st century. You’ve got a slick, late-model computer and an email account with seemingly inexhaustible storage space. And while Web search engines don’t always figure out exactly what you’re looking for, they’re practically clairvoyant compared with your company intranet.

This is the double life many people lead: yesterday’s technology for work, today’s technology for everything else.”

How can we address this divide? Food for thought.

Technologies in libraries

How are new technologies integrated in your library? Over at ALA Techsource, there’s an interesting blog post about the assumptions (or “sacred cows”) of technology in the library world.

I particularly liked the dicussion about technology being “the domain of the few”. In progressive workplaces, this seems to be on the way out, with the use of multiple technologies being used and experimented with by a number of work areas. “A library organization whose librarians and staff are empowered to experiment with technological solutions or who are given tools to create their own digital content will be more nimble and able to respond to the changing technology needs of users.  Ideas for meeting information or collection needs with a technological tool will be more widely accepted—and therefore more successful among staff—if those ideas originate in the departments that will use those tools.”

What is this blog if not an aspect of that very idea? A step in the right direction.