Category Archives: Content (is Conversation)

Failing at Social Marketing

1. You Chose the Wrong Channels
2. You Used the Wrong People
3. Your Content Sucked
4. Your Team Didn’t Believe in the Project
5. You Didn’t Execute
6. No one Trusted You
7. You Forgot about Search

Great insights for library folk who might be working at marketing their libraries in new channels. Really speaks to buy in, putting the right people on the job and trust. Check it out.

(Corrected link! Thanks Raylynn)

Trader Joe’s & Libraries

Great post from David Armano who looks at a customer-created video “commercial” for Trader Joe’s and urges the most cool grocery store not to crush the initiative. Instead, he offers sage advice that librarians should take to heart as well for content created by the public about their institutions:

There are close to 100 comments on the video and over 33,000 views of the video. Track all mentions and embeds of the video and listen to how people are responding to it. If Trader Joe’s isn’t using a conversation monitering service, go with the the tools available out there such as 
social mention.

The video is mostly complimentary but shows Trader Joe’s warts and all. Once input has been gathered from across the Web, put together a report with some qualitative findings that can be discussed internally within the organization. Remember, a brand isn’t what you say it is—it’s what they say it is. What can Trader Joe’s Learn if anything?

Use the video as fodder to figure out how your orginzation will respond to these types of inevitable situations (similar to the volume content generated by 
scores unofficial Trader Joe blogs). Maybe it’s time for to embrace some of these fan blogs/videos? There’s some great stuff out there.

Engage your customers in the comments. Talk to them—but only after you’ve taken the other steps. Use it as an opportunity to get into why they love your brand and what could be better about it. Then go back to listening—lather, rinse and repeat.

Did Video Kill the Blogging Star?

…there’s definitely lots going on with video, but I firmly believe most people spend so much time in their pyjamas they won’t want to be on video most of the time they spend online. It’s hard enough to get people to use their own names in discussion forms, blog and article comments.Someone sent us a link to this WordPress plugin the other day that allows people to make comments in blogs with videos. It’s kind of neat and perhaps the kind of thing we’ll be seeing more of soon. It’s complimentary to the Web 2.0 activity that already exists rather than something that replaces it. Personally, I think we’re more likely to see video, still photos, and text mingling more effortlessly on the web, rather than a situation where moving images dominate. The multi-media experience is much more effective for interactive story-telling. Text is just too effective and easy to lose the battle.

Centers of Production

The text of a speech by Jon Udell fires me up this morning:

In an online world of small pieces loosely joined, librarians are among the most well qualified and highly motivated joiners of those pieces. Library patrons, meanwhile, are in transition. Once mainly consumers of information, they are now, on the two-way web, becoming producers too. Can libraries function not only as centers of consumption, but also as centers of production?

Jon’s answer is yes – the library should be a center of production as well, and you, dear readers, know I certainly agree! Don’t miss this excellent post of his talk “Remixing the Library.”

KooKoo for Amazon MP3 & iTunes (Updated)

KooKoo at Amazon MP3

I was tickled to find the long out of print album from Debbie Harry KOOKOO at Amazon’s new MP3 service. What a perfect test. For $8.99 I downloaded the whole album at 256bps quality non-DRM MP3 and it automatically added to my iTunes library, with cover art and tags. Nice!

Now, I’ll be shopping iTunes (and the newly price-dropped iTunes Plus) as well as Amazon. Competition is good. :-)

My questions then for library folk: Can we tap into Amazon’s MP3 store and put a purchased and burned copy of KOOKOO on the shelf for other fans? Can we load up devices with library purchased content and circulate them?

It will be very interesting to see where this non-DRM’ed trend takes us.


Caroline comments: It’s exciting to see more DRM-free music being offered, but I wonder if we’ll start to see more restrictive user terms creep in. There’s an interesting article on Amazon’s wording at
Amazon’s contract says you “may copy, store, transfer and burn the Digital Content” for personal use. But then it goes further and specifies restrictions, saying you “agree that you will not redistribute, transmit, assign, sell, broadcast, rent, share, lend, modify, adapt, edit, sub-license or otherwise transfer or use the Digital Content.”

Joshua comments: Borders has started offering a service where you can download MP3s (DRM-free, according to the clerk I talked to) to your MP3 player or burn them to a CD, right there in the store. I think it’s pretty interesting and blogged about it:

What Students Think About the library – Movies at Jönköping University

What a great way to welcome students back to the university library!

Ulf-G Nilsson from the library at Jönköping University writes to TTW via Facebook:

We have taken our first steps on the way to make our university library web site more attractive when it comes to using movies… We have released four movies today (see Movies about the libray on the left at and we’ll see what our users will say about this!

Take a look at the welcome movie:

Movies at Jönköping University

Down With DRM

I can no longer recall the exact date, but at some point in the recent past I stepped over the line and became a criminal. I didn’t steal from anyone’s home. I certainly didn’t cause anyone physical harm. In fact, I didn’t even leave my office chair. Nevertheless, my dastardly deed landed me squarely on the wrong side of the law.

So what had I done? Well, I had removed the embedded DRM from a digital music file. A music file I purchased. Legally. Confused? Yeah, me too.

Let me start with a short primer for the unfamiliar. DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is the technology employed by providers of digital content to “protect” their products from copying. Perhaps the most widely known DRM in use today is at the Apple iTunes store. Any content purchased through the store contains embedded DRM limiting its use to your iPod devices and up to five authorized computers running iTunes software. Want to listen on your snazzy new non-iPod music player? Sorry. What about your Ubuntu system without iTunes software? No dice. Well, you could burn a playlist to CD, but isn’t the iTunes store supposedly all about convenience? Now, I’ve singled out Apple here simply as an illustrative example. They certainly aren’t the worst DRM offender. In fact, they may actually lead us out of the long, scary DRM tunnel – but more on that later.

As many of you are certainly aware, copy protection has long been considered a necessity by the entertainment industry. DRM is essentially a digital upgrade to the same technology that made it damn near impossible to make a decent VHS copy in years past. Things just got dialed up a notch when the wrong people realized that Joe Consumer was living more and more of his life in the digital realm with his snazzy new digital toys. In order to sleep at night these folks needed a way to make sure Joe wouldn’t be pirating songs and movies left and right. Trusting Joe with the content he purchased was obviously insane, so DRM became the flawed security blanket under which the industry could hide.

As I mentioned previously, DRM is also what led me to my life of crime. Someone, somewhere was so terrified I might commit one crime that I was actually driven to commit another. Fear driving customer service policy – it doesn’t quite add up.

Now, in order to keep this reasonable, I’ll spare you a laundry list of the technical issues plaguing DRM. As an exercise, you may want to ferret out some of the lowlights or check out what the EFF has to say on the topic. But moving on, that possible light at the end of the tunnel I eluded to earlier.

It seems Steve Jobs has decided that the time may have come to put DRM out to pasture. After publishing his “Thoughts on Music” essay a few months back, Steve has now managed to forge a partnership with major-label EMI to sell their entire music catalog through the iTunes store sans DRM. Shortly after this agreement was made public, Amazon followed suit with the announcement of a DRM-free music store to debut later this year. I honestly think these events may signal the beginning of the end for DRM. Hopefully we’ve finally reached a point where the content providers realize that it pays (quite literally) to trust the consumer and treat them with respect. Let’s just hope Steve’s RDF is working overtime.

Finally, before I go, an example to show this DRM debacle doesn’t just concern Joe Consumer; it also impacts every user at your local library. Take a look at the audio book download section of the Chicago Public Library.

HOT – as someone we know might say. Or perhaps not. No iPod compatibility. Blame DRM. If the most widely used portable music player in the world can’t interoperate at the local library I think we definitively have a usability issue. But be warned, should you try to find a way around this problem on your own you might end up just like me – a fair use fugitive.


I guess a bit of background is in order. My name is Eric Whitfield and I was a student of Michael’s at Dominican this past year. I am currently working full-time as a software developer while I continue work on my LIS degree. It was an honor to guest post at TTW and I’m looking forward to joining the conversation with my own blog in the near future. Oh, and of course, I didn’t really do anything mentioned in this post. That would be wrong.

Teens Can Make Movies! (Updated!)

Video Contest

George from writes:

Michael, Just wanted to point you to the video editing contest that our Teen Corner is having for National Library Week. We just debuted a Teen area with furniture, shelving and 4 computers with video editing software and dvd burners.

Thanks George! I also see that the library had a “Make a Movie Night” presented by the teen advisory board. This is good on many levels:

Make a Movie!

The library has technologies the teens may want to use to create content (remember those Pew numbers?) and a space just for them.

The TAB is actively working to educate their library user peers about what the can create with the technologies.

The librarians have created a space – physical and online where creativity and collaboration can play out.

I’ll be using this example at my talk at ALA Annual “Using Technology to Market to Young Adults” with Kimberly Bolan. Hey George – tell us more? What kind of set up? What kind of financial investment?


Ross writes: There’s lots more about the Teen Corner project (including the live band made up of local high school students that we hosted on the kickoff day) starting here on our Flickr pages:

We combined funding from an LSTA marketing grant with funding and other support from our library foundation, the Friends of the Library, an endowment and the plain old library budget to pull this all together.

Then George responds: Ross is being a little modest. There was a lot of community involvement: a local Friend helped with all of the interior decorating and color choices, a comic book artist ( did our graphics and a local furniture company stepped in to help with furniture.

We designed a new Teen Library Card and started offering monthly programs with our TAB spearheading most everything.

We have been shocked and very pleasantly surprised that the Teens are raving over the space, the Teen Card and the new computers.

We took the attitude that we were doing this for the teens and let them dictate a lot of what we have done. Especially with the new pc’s. They asked for video editing software and we got it.

We can wait to see what happens next!

Emphasis in bold mine? Teen departments..YA librarians… what are your teens asking for? Are you listening?

Public Libraries & DRM at Wired

Some frank words about Overdrive and the mess that is DRM:

The point of libraries is to make content freely available for the common good, I thought, so these restrictions are a little weird. Physical library cards don’t require a certain type of wallet; why should the electronic ones only work on Windows? I asked Chris Pasco-Pranger, a “willfully unemployed librarian” (his words), to explain the system, and he had some choice words for the OverDrive system.

Here’s how he responded (edited for clarity and length):

“Any patron of a member library can download titles (eBooks, audio, etc.) available from Overdrive to a home PC for a specified loan period. Typically, one approaches the service through a Public Library’s website, for example at Brooklyn Public Library –> eBooks, eVideo & eAudio in the left navbar –> Search the Digital Media Catalog. You can add titles to a cart and then checkout using your library card number. A DRM scheme is applied, so you can only play a given title during the lending period, you can’t burn it to disc, etc.

“The biggest problem (by far) with Overdrive (‘Our strategic technology partners include Microsoft Corporation, Adobe Systems, Inc., and Mobipocket.’) is its lack of support for Macs/iPods. Read the FAQ and weep. Of course, Overdrive would say that it’s Apple that doesn’t support THEM, because, y’know, Overdrive is SO much bigger of a deal than the iPod. Oh, the DRM headaches…