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Spacemen and Play

spaceman

Yesterday I went to the Vermont 3.0 Tech Career Jam.  I did not go into the actual gym with the tables set up since I am not actively looking for a job, but I did attend two panel sessions that sounded interesting.

The first one was called “So you wanna build websites.” It was interesting to get a perspective on the field of web design today and where it will be going in the future.  The future clearly is mobile computing and handheld devices (cell phones, etc.). and the future is here. They gave excellent advice to students and career seekers.  First they told them to concentrate on designing to standards not browsers.  “The browsers will come around,” they said.  They also said that it was necessary to have a concentration.  You cannot be a Jack of all trades in the web-design world doing graphic design, web app programming, and actually designing the site. You need to find your place and hook up with a few other people who have complementary skills.  Web design is far to specialized now.

The second session I attended was “So You Wanna be an Internet Marketer.”  This session was mainly about Google Analytics making conversions.  It made me want to do some more reading about making sense of web traffic numbers.  The most important thing that was said in the session, in my opinion was to be open to play with technology.  Champlain professor Elaine Young and others noted how important it was to try out technologies instead of instantly deciding, “that’s not for me.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this philosophy.  I need to constantly do this for my career as an Emerging Technologies Librarian.  Playing with technology is the only way you will stay current with what is out there and what your users are doing.  I hope to foster this environment and idea of play at Champlain College, along with other colleagues who are already playing and enjoying it.

Overall this Vermont 3.0 Tech Career Jam seemed like a great event bring businesses and students from around the area together to fill mutual needs.  I look forward to it next year.

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The Magic of Writing

TC & Me

TC & Me

The author T.C. Boyle was on campus this week, and I was able to meet him. He stopped by the library to view cover art that students had created for his novel The Tortilla Curtain. Some of the art was pretty amazing and very creative. I know we are told to never judge a book by its cover, but everyone does it anyway.

He also spoke Tuesday evening, which I live-twittered. There was something that he said that really resonated with me. He said something to the effect that he doesn’t know what he thinks until he writes about it. In describing his writing process for The Tortilla Curtain he said that around the time he was writing the book (as always) there was a big debate about immigration with people staunchly on one side or the other. It sounded like Boyle wanted to learn more about how he felt about the controversy, so he wrote a story about it.

His way of writing seems pretty amazing. He simply goes through and writes slowly and thoughtfully without really changing things after he decides on them. He never plans out endings. He lets the story go where it takes him.

This hit home with me because I think I am the same way. I often am not sure what I think about things. Writing things down, and blogging makes my thoughts more concrete. I may not always agree with myself later, but I can see my own thinking process and even have a discussion with myself later. That is one of the great beauties of writing: it is a way of freezing time, taking a picture not of physical things but of thoughts and feelings.

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User-Evaluation Librarian?

I finished reading a study this week titled “Information Behavior of the Reasearcher of the Future.“  It was put out early this year and some of the findings were fascinating.  It once again reminded me of all the barriers that our users face as opposed to getting information from the free web.  These are things like waiting for an interlibrary loan, confusing search interfaces, poorly presented search results, etc.

I see this in my work as well. Yesterday I was helping a student who had found two e-books but she was having problems accessing them.  I was surprised that the student continued trying to access them.  I am sure that many just give it up and go to Google.  Speed seems to be the most important criteria for information these days.

One quote, though, really stood out as interesting and something that I had never thought of.

No private sector corporation would survive on the basis of failing to invest in consumer profiling, market research and loyalty programmes. No library we are aware of has a department devoted to the evaluation of the user, how can that be?

This seems like a very innovative idea.  Innovation can often be just taking something that is commonplace in one arena and applying it in another.  Why aren’t there any user-evaluation librarians?  Or why aren’t there more consultants that evaluate library user groups and make reccomendations for action?

I strongly urge librarians who are charged with the task of education to read this study.  Students are finding information faster, but they are questioning it less and not thinking in depth about it.