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.

What features make it easier?

Do you notice the seams in your socks?

Are there any to notice? Your coffee mug handle, fit nicely in your hand? Clearing that paper jam without saying, “What do you mean paper still stuck?” Does your RSS reader make it easy to forward cool stuff? How about a planner? Paper or electrons? What’s easier for you? Just how hard is it to design a handle for a door? Product designers are ever more interested in understanding psychology, why? What do you bookmark with? Yes, your actual bookmarks for actual physical books. Love how you don’t have to think about <what>?

(**I dog-ear-highlight crease-underline-note in my mostly hardcover book collection -gasp? Make the jump to the bottom of the post for the answer to why I do this.)

Sure. Simple things work simply, right? But complicated things like collecting and sharing research? That’s not easy. So we can’t bother with making it easy -that’s dumbing things down? Hold on. Making users work to organize their research -bad, bad practice. I see so many brilliant students, professors and independent researchers struggle in organizing information. Why is it so hard to manage the information they find? What system of collecting research makes it easy? Sure, we’re taught to write papers, analyze results, and prepare presentations. Are we taught to manage the information we collect?

That’s not an important step? Why do we assume (or not because we haven’t really thought about it) our users can manage the information they find after they find it? Should they have too? Why don’t we teach this from within libraries? Are we? Are we really? We recognize information overload, information mismanagement, information asphyxiation. We recognize ourselves as experts in organizing information. We tame this stuff right? So where’s the piece where we teach our users how to do this? (I know some of you are doing this; feel free to chime in about how you teach your users’ some info-wranglin’ skills.)

What about you? Do you feel the “seams” when you’re participating in a project? How many times have you had to re-find an article, a document, a fact, an email, or a website? Was it ever frustrating to have to re-find something you knew you had? It’s not a really big secret that I like to share knowledge. In fact, I believe a fundamental definition for knowledge must include sharing. Without sharing, why pick-up anything along the way? We might as well not be picking anything up. This leads us to a new role. In this changing, helter-skelter techno-infused environment, will our users need help organizing their information? Yes. Helping our users share and organize research must become a prime role. I’d like to see one more emerging role. A professional who can organize knowledge for an organization and this same professional who can organize knowledge for an individual.

Here’s an example. I keep every citation and article I find. I like porting my research with me. Why? Because when I talk to someone I can actually send them the article. Yup, I’m that dork. Also, because I’m in school. Collected research comes in handy time and again. You never know when you’re going to have to cite a fundamental paper in the field. Used to be you could only have one or the other: citations or articles handy. I used to carry 120 gig hard drive with me. Then I lost it. Not the hard drive but my mind -just joking- I lost a portion of my hard drive because it felt the need to take a vacation. Now, I want the citations handy. I want the articles handy. And I want protection from technology vacations. This means I need to distribute my collection. Here’s three on the cusp of letting you do just that. (This is just one example of thinking about how to help researchers: organize, protect, share and recollect information from their personal collections for knowledge-sharing.)

Citeulike allows you to upload research you find. Lacks integration into many subscriber databases. Not a bad thing. Just an observation.

And citeulike allows attachments too

Refworks allows you up to 200 mb of storage space. Yet, you’ve got to pay for it individually. And you only get 200 mb of space. There are researchers who would max this out just uploading one year’s worth of collected research articles.

whoa Refworks allows attachments now

Zotero may offer the most promise here. It’s not a feature that’s been rolled out yet. Look for it June 2008.

does zotero allow attachments and multiple locations

**this is the bottom of the post:

Once upon a time…Just before it closed one day, I went to a very special place with very special books. I stood -quietly but not too quietly. I said, “Library, I am conflicted. I feel my books are precious. Yet, I want to mark in them. I make notes too. Sometimes in the books; sometimes in notebooks. I don’t always feel the need -but for quite a few I do.” The Library nodded, in a slow Tai Chi like nod. The Library said, “Tell me more.” So I did. (I mean…it’s a freaking talking Library -what would you have done?)

I say, “I’ve mostly stopped marking up my books. Well, I feel guilty; I’ve bought them; I think of those books as precious friends. As the containers of awesome ideas I have to protect to make them last. Yet, I mark and scrawl and highlight and dog-ear. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I hold back. But, then I can’t find what I need because I didn’t highlight it or note it: I’m exasperated! What should I do?”

The Library sat quietly as they do; but had really furrowed its brow. I could hear movement in the stacks; the books slowly climbing into their spots, settling in for the night.

The Library said, “Lee, I remember when you first came to me for story time. I know you respect books. More important, I know you respect what books can do. I will say this: Every book to the reader. Books are a perfect piece of technology. No one thinks of them as such. Books form and function to transmit the information they contain. They are your books. You derive benefit by extracting knowledge from them. Your way is but one. Your method is your own. Do with your books as you wish. The only request I ask is that you not burn them -unless you have a really really really good reason. Disagreeing with them is not a good reason. Got it?” I did get it. Sometimes I buy two copies. One to mark in. And one to donate. Articles aren’t the only thing I share. I’d like that to be said at my eulogy:

He shared books.

TTW Contributor: Lee LeBlanc

Rapidly disseminating information you find interesting?

you too could share

Note: we also get the results from the social media survey. Open all the links at once: -thanks

Sharing PDFs

At times, I want to share parts of an article (like with you.) So I tested an online tool to extract an abstract from the article I just read. Here’s that abstract:

…The main hypothesis we examine is whether heavier users of IT are more productive, and if heavier users of IT are indeed more productive, how does this increase in productivity manifest itself? Our results suggest that, controlling for other factors, the size of an individual’s internal email network is more highly correlated with revenues generated by that individual than age, experience or education. … Additionally, even after accounting for the individual’s number of unique contacts within the firm, the social network measure of “betweenness” is also highly correlated with revenues. We attribute the strength of these results to the fine grain detail of the data on this form of task-based white collar work.”

and rather than force you to load Adobe Acrobat Reader I can re-direct you to another tool. allows me to quickly let you load a presentation on the paper above. If you ever sent anyone a large PDF they will thank you for using this. Here’s that presentation.

Another way I collect information is to save the slides or pages I specifically want. In a 78-page PDF it’s doubtful I want all 78-pages. Sometimes I actually like to hand colleagues a hard copy of a specific section. Trolling through the PDF to print only the pages I want is time consuming. Nor do I want my colleagues to have to find the pages I want them to see if I email it. I just hack the PDF down. Using this app you can modify your PDF for sharing. Takes seconds. Saves time.

The folks over at infodoodads turn you on to some pretty cool stuff too. Laurie did this presentation. Then put it online. Pretty slick. Here’s the link to Issuu and the presentation:

A lot of my tricks I’ve picked up from other bloggers but most recently I’m thankful to (I would have called it friedveggies since I’m one of those veg-heads.)

I also bookmark like mad. Do you get regular links via your delicious account? “What’s that!?! Not another thing to check,” you say. Settle down now; it’s just links. If you’re in my network I can add you every time I bookmark something I think you would like. You can practice reciprocity by sharing with me. Here’s how to do it:

|links for you| –look for this up near the top of your delicious page.

then add me formally to your delicious network by searching for iblee or simply typing the tag:
(I chose Lauren as an example because she shared a cool article on Buddhism with me.)

Social Media
A few weeks back we looked at the question, “How many Social Media Sites do you use online?” Of course, right away I was asked to define it. I’m not big on giving definitive definitions for things I didn’t create. (Not that I’ve created anything worth talking about or defining!) So, yeah, I googled it. I liked Robert Scoble’s take: Social Media. A large part of this media revolves around participation. Yes, participation is in decline in some ways. Read Bowling Alone yet? Even if the author’s premise and research is sloppy (as some have called it) it’s still worth thinking about. When was the last time you got together for dinner with friends? How regularly is it? Do you schedule this time? How social are you offline?

“How many Social Media Sites do you use online?” results:
1-3 sites 40.0%
4-7 sites 51.0%
8+ sites 9.0%

Some responses:
Primary interplay revolves around my typepad blog (, facebook account, sites, and google reader feeds/sharing

Although I’m an Early Adopter (MOOS since 1995, LiveJournal since 2000, my offline life is too full for too much time spent online

I have my own blog, I blog for the library, I have a facebook account, a flickr account, i occasional login to, I belong to three wikis including the Peace Corps Wiki

LJ, diaryland, flickr, twitter, ravelry, librarything, facebook, myspace,

Don’t Forget

oh! and don’t forget to share your feeds :)
Feel free to share where you go for info and how you share it with your friends (those online ones too.) You will most likely expose someone to a tool, trick or source they didn’t know about.

Hmm, maybe I should have titled this post: “Sharing is caring?”

TTW Contributor: Lee LeBlanc

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?