My Top Five Non-Library Blogs

Photo by Laura & Chris Pawluk on Flickr

Photo by Laura & Chris Pawluk on Flickr

There are a lot of great library blogs out there, but only reading library blogs leads to narrow mindedness  and circular thinking. To truly innovate we need to look at disciplines outside our profession and bring their ideas into the library world. So in that spirit I’ve compiled a list of five of my favorite blogs outside the library world that are still relevant to what we do:

  • Mashable - This blog provides social media news and web tips. They have a lot of great posts about Twitter or Facebook, or new web technologies that are coming to the forefront. This blog is a great way to stay current on what’s going on in the social web.
  • Chris BroganChris Brogan blogs about all kinds of stuff, but he primarily focuses on marketing, building relationships and communicating using emerging web tools. He always has a lot of great content and really cares about his audience. A must read for anyone interested in marketing and PR in relation to your patrons.
  • Read Write Web – “ReadWriteWeb is a blog that provides analysis of web products and trends.” This blog is a good one to stay up to date on new technologies. I’d call it the “thinking man’s Mashable.”
  • Harvard Business Blog – This blog offers a lot of great info. Libraries could learn a lot from the business world. There are posts on innovation, leadership, marketing, and effective communication. These are all things libraries should be thinking about and doing.
  • Seth Godin – Marketing guru, author, speaker, and generally dynamic individual, Seth Godin’s writing is inspiring. His blog posts are almost always thought provoking and his latest book Tribes really got me energized.

My favorite blogs have a lot to do with web technologies and business/marketing, but library and information science could benefit from a lot of disciplines. What about psychology blogs or anthropology blogs? What about history or media/communication blogs?

Often new ideas aren’t new, they’re just transplanted from somewhere else. More interdisciplinary thinking in libraries is what will drive innovation. What are your favorite blogs outside of the library world?


Amazon has an Orwellian moment

photo from pcorreia on flickr

photo from pcorreia on flickr

When you buy a physical book you own it. You can read it, dog ear the pages, and even resell it. It’s called the doctrine of first sale. This is not the case when you buy books on the Amazon Kindle. Yesterday they deleted copies of Orwell’s works 1984 and Animal Farm from customers who purchased them on a Kindle, while crediting a refund to their accounts. You can read about it in the Wall Street Journal.

This raises some serious questions about ownership, privacy, and the future of books and reading. People, especially librarians, have been questioning ebooks and their implications since they have come out. Something electronic is much easier to quickly change.  Much like in the deleted Orwell book 1984:

“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.”  Book 1 Chapter 3 (Also on diveintomark.org)

Ebooks, as evidenced yesterday, are also much easier to be destroyed. It reminds me of another dystopia: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In that novel the firemen had to come into your house, remove the books and burn them (or just burn the house down). Now books can simply be deleted via wireless internet. Poof. It’s gone. Like you never owned it.

Amazon has now said publicly that they will not do this again. But this makes me question the Kindle and the impermanence of ebooks. Big fail on Amazon’s part.


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.