All posts by Michael

Google: Free Web Mail? Hooray! (Google has become a Portal)

CNN reports this am the Google announced yesterday a new Web mail service.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/internet/03/31/google.email.ap/index.html

I have taught Yahoo Mail for years at my library and on other training/consulting jobs. I’m interested to see how Google stacks up. I can already tell, I may switch. Why? The Google name – be all end all for searching for most folks (I know…I know…) carries a lot of good connotations for me.

“But analysts said that Google — whose technology is behind nearly four out of every five Web searches — could shake up the free e-mail market.”

The public uses Google big time. In this day of one stop shopping (one of my favorite terms for Web portals), folks may get a big kick out of having their e-mail at the search site. OH MY! The light just shines through — Google has become a portal! Search, directory, discussions, catalogs, proiducts, local info and now MAIL… Was this discussed in a Google session I didn’t make it to at CIL?

“Yahoo dominates the niche, with 52.6 million unique users per month in the United States, according to a February survey by online research firm comScore Media Metrix. Hotmail is next, with 45.4 million users. AOL has 40.2 million paying users.

To finance the service, Google will display advertising links tied to the topics discussed within the e-mails. For instance, an e-mail inquiring about an upcoming concert might include an ad from a ticket agency.”

Sounds good – except my only concern is the perception that e-mail messages are read by someone to determine what ads get placed in what messages.

Trainers: be aware… and be ready to fold this new option into your e-mail classes.

UPDATE: I picked up on some of the commentary about GMail and the whole thing about the Google bots reading mail to determine what ad goes where — especially Karen’s post at FRL and I agree — we have a ways to go with this sort of system. And Karen, I’m all for a big ole letstalkcommonsenseinthedigitalenvironmentfest… let me know where the gathering is and I’m there with the proverbial bells on. I love the idea of Google offering mail…just not this way!

Communicating with Technology in Libraries

I haven’t got to post about this yet but on March 17th I was a guest speaker at Professor Bill Cowley’s class on Organizational Communication in Libraries at Dominican University GSLIS in River Forest, Ill.

(In my opinion, Dominican ROCKS! The staff I met, students, everyone was were friendly and energetic. The campus is beautiful. And I know some GSLIS grads who are pretty excellent librarians!)

My topic was using to technology to communicate in libraries. I covered e-mail, delivering a library’s message vis Web sites, the internal Web presence (Intranets), Instant Messaging, chat-based services, blogging, RSS and future innovations. What fun it was to discuss this stuff with students deep in their Masters studies.

Here’s my PowerPoint presentation. Thanks to Jenny and Steven for the use of a bit of their RSS talk from CIL 2003!

This day came two days after the phone call from Texas about the PhD program so I got to tell Professor Crowley about it and over dinner we had a wonderful discussion about library education.

I’ll be back at Dominican on April 12 to speak to another of Prof. Crowley’s classes. This time it’s Technology in Public Libraries.

Instant Messaging & Video Chat between the Branches


Joe and I IM after class. Dale, our Web Developer, made his custom icon!

This is cool. I just spent an hour with our branch heads teaching them how to use AIM on their Mac PowerBooks to communicate with each other from wherever they find themselves. With all the talk about IM: at CIL, in blogs and in SLIS classes (a recent email from a student/SJCPL colleague reported that an IU SLIS professor stated that IM will be the way to communicate by 2007!) — it is good for the branch librarians to be aware of what IM is, how it works and how they can participate. This is info/tech literacy for sure! Our next step, conceived by the Coordinator of branches, is to try video chats with iSights!

I gave them an assignment: to login in the next 2 days and IM me a greeting. Simple? Yes. Pointing toward the future? Yes.

IM me at mstephens7mac if you are so inclined…

Computers in Libraries 2004 Quick Takes

CIL Highlights included all I’ve written in this category before and the following:

Meeting Rachel Singer Gordon before Friday?s keynote. Her book came out the same time as mine and we were reviewed together a few times. Her writing has inspired me ever since, especially her well-thought views on where our profession is heading.

Our Bloggers Dine Around (WE missed you Steven!) where 12 people fell in for great Thai food, some yummy cocktails and some darn fine chat: blogs in the library workplace, PDAs, the wireless world, evil PowerPoint presentations and of course a recap of the Dead and Emerging Technologies program the night before.

David King of Kansas City Public Library speaking about meeting users needs with the PL Web site and a local slant. GOOD STUFF! He and I have chatted since then and I look forward to chatting again about all this cool IT stuiff we get bto mess with at the public library. (and about MUSIC too!)

More laptops in the audience this year? a few PCs, tablets, and yes, some Macs!!! I was please to see Roy Tennant?s 17? PB and I told him so in the elevator.

Hanging with Jenny and Aaron between sessions in the WiFi Lounge in the lobby of the Hilton, watching CIL dignitaries pass by?

Jenny Levine on Dead Technologies

One of the highlighhts of this Conference was seeing Jenny Levine at the Wednesday night Dead and Emerging Technologies session. She made some great points. This stuff is spot on. She gratefully shared her notes with me, so here’s a bit that really hit home for me: (Jenny’s words are in bold!)

THINGS THAT SCARE ME

- Library web sites with email reference forms that say ?We will respond to your email within 48 hours? Uh Oh – SJCPL is guilty!

- Libraries that don?t provide wireless access for patrons, librarians that don?t understand why they will need to OH YES!!!

- Librarians who think patrons won?t bring their own mobile devices into the library and expect to use them there (laptops, PDAs, cell phones, smartphones, Tablet PCs, MP3 players, etc.)

- Librarians who sit behind a desk waiting for kids to walk into the building and up to the reference desk to ask them a question Case in point: Aaron the roving untethered librarian who was sitting next to me during this session!

DEAD TECHNOLOGY: any electronic device you can hold in your hand that does not have wireless capabilities

Life Changes…Pursuing the PhD

I have not mentioned the biggest thing happening in my life yet because I wanted to give a little time to thinking about new directions and life changes.

My big news though, which came to me the day I got back from CIL: I have applied to and been accepted into the first distance independent PhD program for Information Science out of the University of North Texas. The program will begin in June with a few days on campus and then will be Web-based with cohort meetings a couple of times a semester for 2 years. I thought long and hard about this, sought the advice of colleagues and friends and am very happy with the outcome! I will be studying technology and its impact on public libraries — probably a lot of the things I’ve written about here for the past year.

For the last year or so, as well, I have been pondering further education with the ultimate goal of a faculty position in a LIS School. With my current situation, it would be impossible to pull up stakes and move to one of the towns that have PhD programs in LIS. While working with the Staff Development Team at my public library to evaluate how we develop future library leaders, I did some research into the various ways library employees could get their MLS here in Indiana or beyond. Online classes offered at the University of Illinois were intriguing, but only for Masters students. I pondered the virtually impossible commute to Bloomington or Ann Arbor from South Bend. I was also fact-finding and soul-searching to make sure I was ready for such a big step if an opportunity appeared. IM and e-mail conversations with library colleagues helped me decide I was ready for the challenge of doctoral pursuits.

Special thanks to Rachel Singer Gordon, who originally sent me the info about th program on 2/6 (the application was due right before PLA!). Other folks were so helpful as well with advice, gentle nudges and “big picture” views while I made the decision to go for something I have wanted to do for a long time. I will not be a name dropper here — You dear souls know who you are and you ROCK.

I always want to stay connected to the library technology profession so I will continue to work at SJCPL, although I some of my duties and responsibilities may change.

Here’s the Web page about the program, as an FYI:

http://www.txmike.com/imls/index.htm

I plan on blogging extensively my experiences with the cohort: the group meetings in Texas, the online classes, the process itself… so stay tuned!

Open Book Festival at SJCPL

Yesterday was our annual Open Book Festival at SJCPL. There were activities, authors and fun! The coolest thing was the appearance of spooky author Jonathan Rand, who resides Up North. He even wrote a book set in Traverse City!

This is an excellent example of what libraries can do to promote reading of course but also to promote the library as meeting place and social center. Well done Open Book Committee!!

Here’s Dana and Lori with the Man himself!