Category Archives: Participatory Culture

Web 2.0 & Libraries Parts 1 & 2 Available Free on Hyperlinked Library Site

I am happy to announce the full text of both of my ALA Library Technology Reports are available now at the new TTW companion site The Hyperlinked Library.

The rest of the site is currently under construction, but for now you’ll find:

Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software (2006) –

Web 2.0 & Libraries: Trends & Technologies (2007) –

Special thanks to my SJSU SLIS grad assistant Patrick Siebold who worked very hard the past few weeks inputting the content. I know the examples from ’06 and ’07 may seem out of date and quaint in some ways, but I’m very proud of the framework we used for the works back then. Conversations, Community, Connections, Collaborations – all those great C words Jenny Levine and I used throughout our early social software roadshows in 2005 & 2006 provide a useful context for looking at Web 2.0. I hope these works are still useful to some of you. Comments are open for adding more to the chapters and I plan on doing some types of updating as time permits.

The site will also serve my course Web sites and other items related to my teaching. 

Participatory Culture and Teens

Teen Librarianship has a unique place within libraries.  It’s not quite a new idea for libraries to provide dedicated services to teens, yet it doesn’t still have the same kind of rich history we have with other populations.  This gives teen librarianship a unique place within libraries today; it allows the librarians that serve these groups the chance to experiment in regards to how we approach library services.  Teen librarians are not exactly bound by the same rules and programs which have held public libraries together for many years.  Librarians working with teens have the chance to fully embrace participatory culture and help build a community of patrons who participate just as much as they consume.
Librarians can act as the teachers for guiding their community towards being more active in sharing.  This is one of the ways libraries in the 21st century can show their public value to their communities.  The role of the librarian is transformed when librarians help their communities create content instead of merely just consuming it.  We become teachers for our community, guides who help patrons learn and experience in new ways.  This also adds value to the library staff.  No longer are library staff just “there to help”, but they are there to help you experience.  This added value re purposes libraries; the staff has become as important as the collection.  Much like the reference book that helps you repair your car, the staff and their unique skills can help patrons navigate the 21st century.

The use of technology has changed the way our community members can communicate with other.  Patrons are no longer restricted by geography, forms of communication, or channels to publish their communication.  Libraries now have a vast array of tools in our utility belt that we can call upon to engage patrons, build unique collections, and more.  For example, take Historypin, which allows users to upload photos and pin them to a Google Map.  With photos added, the true power of Historypin becomes clearer, as it creates a visual map of your community.  The best part about it?  It’s free to anyone that wants to contribute and share.  Our communities now assist in building collections, and librarians become the curators of those collections.  Better yet?  Teen are learning new ways of communication which will no doubt aid them in their own search for identity but also give back to the complex fabric of the community in which they live.

(check out this and this for examples on teens creating unique content for their local public libraries)
This post is a reflection/response to questions posed at the Salzburg Global Seminar program Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture, exploring the challenges, solutions and potential for participatory services within libraries and museums.

Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar  and IMLS for the invitation to participate in this event.


-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Next Week: Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture – Salzburg Global Institute

Next week I’ll be taking part in the Salzburg Global Institute program Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture:

As key stewards of our culture and heritage, libraries and museums have traditionally enjoyed, and to a great extent still do enjoy, a unique role and special responsibility within societies around the world. But as economic disruptions and rapid technological innovation have brought about dramatic societal changes, libraries and museums, too, are being forced to revisit and rethink their own roles and responsibilities within these changing societies. The 21st century indeed poses perplexing challenges, but at the same time offers intriguing new opportunities for libraries and museums. It is a critical moment for leaders within libraries and museums to reflect creatively and strategically about the role and place of their institutions in an era of participatory culture and to recognize and seize the opportunity for reorientation and reinvention.

One of my roles will be that of blogger for the sessions and discussions. I will be posting here at TTW often throughout the four day institute. I’ll also be taking part in a panel discussion on emerging technologies and participatory culture.

I’ve been teaching Participatory Service in Libraries for a few years now – utilizing Michael Casey & Laura Savastinuk’s Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service  as well as other excellent resources and it amazes me to see how many of the ideas and philosophies of participatory service are integrated into libraries. To prepare for next week,  I thought I’d ask TTW readers to share their thoughts about participatory culture and libraries in 2011. Please comment below – or consider submitting a guest post to TTW – I’ll review any submission folks might send for possible publication at TTW  (excluding those weird spammy emails I get from time to time from 100 great online whatevers). Email me at mstephens7 (at)

Thanks to the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington, D.C. and the Salzburg Global Seminar for inviting me to participate in this event.

This post is a reflection/response to questions posed at the Salzburg Global Seminar program Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture, exploring the challenges, solutions and potential for participatory services within libraries and museums.

Special Thanks to the Salzburg Global Seminar for the invitation to participate in this event.

Embrace Your Tribe – A Discussion & Interview with Seth Godin

Note from Michael: This article & interview was originally published last year in Digitale Biblioteek.

Seth Godin has been writing and speaking about marketing, the new landscape of the Web paired with emerging social media and the increasing power of consumer “word of mouth.” His books include The Big Red Fez: How to make Any Web Site Better, Permission Marketing, The Purple Cow, Small is the New Big, The Dip and most recently Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.

I’ve been drawn to his ideas and insights for a long time, while working in public libraries to teaching library school. Librarians, library school students, information architects and anyone working to create online community around digital collections and digital library service will find useful strategies and paradigm shifting insights into what works and what doesn’t in a connected society.

Ideas have to Remarkable

In The Purple Cow, Godin argues that ideas have to be memorable and engaging to grow. Businesses have to stand out from the rest. This thinking is easily applied to libraries and the services they offer: what makes a library unique? What does the library have that no one else does?

One answer might be the strength of digital collections and the brains behind them. Localized or otherwise unique digital collections where the curious might explore and leave comments/interact certainly could make a library stand apart. Library staff professionals are also a unique feature of libraries – knowledge, insight and curiosity are traits of some of the best library workers. Sharing oneself online – via Facebook profiles, answering questions on Twitter, or the like is one way to promote and give presence to our jobs and profession.

What else is unique and remarkable about your library?

Be Authentic

In Godin’s work, I also find sage advice for how we present ourselves as information professionals in the networked world. In a time when snark is so easy, Godin urges readers throughout his works and blogging to be authentic – stressing quality over quantity. “There’s no limit now. No limit to how many clicks, readers, followers and friends you can acquire,” he wrote recently at his blog. “Instead of getting better, you focus obsessively on getting bigger.”

We’re representing our profession – and ourselves in everything we do: participating in social networks, building library presence online and in the physical world at events and meetings. Godin notes what happens to some in the quest to have more: “You’re at a conference, talking to someone who matters to you. Over their shoulder, you see a new, bigger, better networking possibility. So you scamper away. It’s about getting bigger.”

Instead, build a trusted network of colleagues and contacts in the digital library world. Share. Cite them when they inspire you. Pay it forward. The wonderful thing is now, these people can reside all over the world. It’s not unusual to have support from The Netherlands, Australia, the United Sates or England with the click clack of a few keys. Be real in these dealings. Be honest. Be yourself.

Leverage the Online World for Promotion

The online tools offer much opportunity and promise. In Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Godin notes that “Internet companies have taken the original idea behind blogs and amplified it into a set of tools that anyone can use to tighten a tribe.” Facebook, Twitter and others allow interaction and information sharing – with replies built in.

“The biggest shift is going to be that organizations that could never have afforded a national campaign will suddenly have one,” Godin writes in a recent blog post. “The same way that there’s very little correlation between popular websites and big companies, we’ll see that the most popular commercials get done by little shops that have nothing to lose.”

The same could be said about libraries – all shapes, sizes and types. We can take promotion online – make it viral. Recent online initiatives such as the New Jersey State Library’s campaign to share users’ video stories about the transformational qualities of libraries are ways to create low-cost, human, authentic marketing campaigns.

Gather Your Tribe

The most recent book takes a big picture view of the possibilities of social media and gathering people together. Godin argues that businesses fail because “they forgot to embrace their tribe”  and offers a roadmap for creating a tribe, which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

All it takes for a tribe to form, Godin writes, “is a shared interest and a way to communicate.” Social Web sites break down geographic  barriers. A tribe can be global or simply based in your community. Godin warns, however, that some organizations are stuck: bound by archaic rules or not only avoiding change but fighting against it.

Fear is also a driving factor: what will boss say? Will everyone get in trouble?

In this Facebooked, Twiiter-ized, RSS-fed world, Godin notes, individuals have more leverage than ever before to create change and build inter-connected groups of supporters around a common idea or cause. Godin offers principles and steps to create a movement – publish a manifesto, make it easy for followers to connect, track progress based on transparency, nurture the group along the way and be mindful not to tear others down in the process.

The promise of gathering your tribe – for your library, your community, your online collection presence? Godin notes that everyone in an organization can lead. The market rewards those organizations that change things.

Godin says: “People are waiting for you to connect them.”  How will you lead?

The Interview

Michael Stephens: I read Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us with great interest and with a focus on libraries, the people they serve, and what librarians might learn about shaping future services to involve users online and in physical spaces. What would you want library people to take away from Tribes?

Seth Godin: Libraries are no longer places for obscure books. The web is that. Libraries are places to organize the community.

MS: Your recent works have addressed marketing, message, and media.  You also write about true fans and the “depth of commitment and interconnection that true fans deliver.” As libraries go forward with broadening the library brand – “Books” to most folks – how should we be crafting the message about libraries? How can we reach our true fans?

SG: Your true fans, I think, are the curious. The library is the house for the curious. And I want to meet other curious people.

MS: You write about curiosity. I’ve used your quote in my talks for some time: “To be curious means to explore first.” What’s to be gained from exploring? Have you known librarians to be explorers?

SG: A few, but not many. Not that librarians aren’t good at seeking things out… they are. They’re great at it. I am talking about finding things you weren’t look for in the first place. What a skill that is. Teaching it to kids is essential.

MS: You write that “the timid leave a vacuum” in Tribes. I worry that our profession has been too timid for too long. How can we overcome timidity and be more visible?

SG: Once you become a leader, you will cease to be invisible, I promise.

MS: I asked my followers on Twitter if they had any questions for you as well. One person asked: What’s the best way to market change to those who are resistant to it or too comfortable in what they do?

SG: By leading. By doing. Start making waves and watch what happens!

Article Sidebar: Michael’s Ten Ways to Encourage the Tribe

  • Connect around a cause, a community or a concept.
  • Use Stories
  • Be Transparent
  • Leverage the Social Tools
  • Remember the Mission
  • The Little Things count…a lot
  • Listen & Talk (like a human)
  • Create a Culture of Caring
  • Trust them
  • Value EVERY Member

See the full post at


Infinity, They Keep Making More of It:

Making Commercials for the Web:

New Jersey Transforming Lives Site:


Set’s Blog:

Seth Godin’s Books:

Seth Godin at Wikipedia:

Photo of Seth Godin: (Creative Commons)

Is the Customer the Enemy?

Christopher Carfi writes about Oracle and Oracle’s Social CRM (I had to look it up: stands for Customer Relationship Management.)

First, the pragmatic bits.  Oracle still has a long way to go to truly embrace the notion that the customer can be in control, or at least be a mutually beneficial party, in the business relationship.  Exhibit A, the cringeworthy tag line and subhead on the page shown above.  What does it say?

“Oracle Social CRM Applications leverage Web 2.0 technologies to help sales people identify qualified leads, develop effective sales campaigns and presentations, and collaborate with colleagues to close more deals quickly.”

I don’t even know where to start with that messaging and the general wrong-way-rubbing that it induces.  Perhaps the easiest thing to point out is that it’s still 100% focused on the sales team, and implicitly views the customer as the enemy, or at least simply the next transaction.

I worry that sometimes in some libraries – and just a few- we regard our users as enemies to be corralled by policies and rules that prevent a true relationship. We can learn from what Carfi describes about Oracle. There are some high points:

The other bright spot was a proof-of-concept demo that was shown for customer The Body Shop.  This was an iPhone application that started to inch down the path to giving more power to the customer, or at least include her in the relationship at some level.  

Nice! How are we giving more power to the user? I see excellent examples by some of our library innovators, but this post, and many others like it calling for a more human relationship with customers, clients, etc, signals to me the tide is truly turning. What can you do to shift the balance?

Do I need Chrome when I’m happy with Firefox?

he he
or “Do I Dare Blog About My Classwork, Re-mix the Content for Blog Posts, or Share Syllabus with Fellow Classmates?” That’s the question I have too. Kyle beat me to it -but I still may follow up in another post. My points below touch on this through the Browser choice question I framed. (Thanks Kyle).

Chrome is impressive. The browser loads fast; this, I like. Tab-browsing, now a ubiquitous, expected feature, receives a new twist with Chrome. Chrome gives each tab its own process. Think about it this way: each tab is a different person, each person can be given a task. They do it completely on their own and then give you back the completed work. You don’t have to nag them or wait on them to finish. If you’re a power user, then you may truly appreciate how responsive this makes your browser. It frees the latency, stall, hang, and frustrating crashes that cripple other browsers. Browser-based apps seem faster too.

Chrome’s security issues -er, security flap aside. I see no point to the security issues.  Any browsing you do can be hacked unless you are taking some seriously robust steps like IP-address masking, anonymous proxy, disposable virtual machine environments, random search requesting, and/or tunneling through a VPN that securely passes all your traffic. You would be surprised how transparent the information you pass really is.  If a hacker really targets you with a man-in-the-middle attack, bummer. Fortunately, most of us are very very very small fish in very very very very big pond.

Alas, Chrome doesn’t have nearly features that I’ve come to rely upon in Firefox. I do significant portions of my work, school, and personal life online. (I know you’re probably not fretting over my social life. Just to let you know: I do get out into the real world. It’s tough out there. Often I just stay in when I’m not at Iaido or Aikido and watch Heroes).

  • I use an add-on in Firefox that makes working with google docs really easy. I write nearly all my school discussion board posts in Google Docs -it auto saves. Blackboard does not. I actually made that noob mistake in the fall of 2006. Imagine this: you’re forced to use a system that does not save your work.  And you get no warning to that fact.  Not fun.  And, if Firefox crashes I’ve actually been able to recover work.
  • All my contacts go into Have you ever lost your contact data? Lost your cellphone? Ever not been able to get it into your desktop contact manager? Yes, I know I have to have internet access to get at my contacts.  Paper is not perfect either.  Highrise loads fast and I’ve made some hacks and tweaks for it in Firefox.
  • I gain the “community of users” benefits because of the tweaks developed for gmail by Firefox users. So.many.good.ones. For tasks, they get pushed into -I admit to forgetting my 2-3 discussion board postings a week.  I set reminders now.  None of my assignments are due on exactly the same day.  I am often in gmail processing my tasks and I forward stuff about school all the time. Fast shortcuts when you have a lot to do coupled with extensions can save a lot.
  • I have Firefox personalized for the work I do online. I share work I produce through,,, and We produce all this content in online classes. We lock it up in this system called Blackboard. Everything we do in my program is online: why are we not sharing our work with other emerging professionals in the field?  Why not be networking with other library students at other schools? (I’d be happy to network with any of you. I’m a big believer in the power of our physical and electronic social networks). Or why not capitalize on massively distributed collaboration? What about the new forms of scholarship and honing our abilities to work online with our colleagues, all remotely. I’ve made some good friends at other library schools. I’ve become good friends with other emerging professionals in the field through social network contacts. They’ve taught me as much as I learned in my classes. In sharing ideas with them, I’m challenged to explain things more clearly. We have a vested interest in helping each other succeed. We take the time to truly give insightful feedback and commentary on each others’ work. Sometimes, we just share what we face in life.  Often, I find receiving critical assessment from someone you have some degree of familiarity with removes the reflexive barriers we use to respond. It’s hard not to infer missing information sometime. Because of having personalized Firefox, I speed up all this work. It’s not just speed, the tasks are easier too.
  • Little add-ons mean a lot. My immediate family members prefer e-mail to stay in touch. We live in 3 different states. To stay in touch with my friends and family members who live across the country, we make use of online tools to communicate. While I poked fun at the thought of being secure online, Firefox can be set-up in way that creates a higher level of personal security. This is important for a lot of people.  Other browsers tend to lack add-on abilities to create a more secure browsing experience.
  • Add to this all the other benefits I get with Firefox. I find library school to be an excellent prompt for blogging. From the ideas in class, I break down the writing I did. I look for pieces to connect to what other bloggers talk about. I’ve found other (library student) bloggers thinking about similar items in unique ways. If you’re not thinking on ways of how to get more out of your schooling, by using all these online tools, why not? It’s a great way to increase the plasticity of your mind while in school. (It may also help you prove what you put down on your resume too; listing off software you’re expert at isn’t going to cut it anymore).  The extensions I run in Firefox make it easier to share when I’m tired and a bit behind at the end of the day.

Could I really do some of this in Chrome? Sure.

What do all these have to do with Firefox then? Personalization for the end user. For these tasks Firefox stands strong as a relatively stable browser with extensibility and personalization at the core. Firefox saves me that much time.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” -George Bernard Shaw

When I add up all the time that it takes me to do each of these discrete activities. It doesn’t seem like much at first.

  • Copy and paste here. Find link there.
  • Chase down that piece of (mis)information.
  • Strip the text of its formatting so it can be read.
  • Pass along other relevant links to my friend who asked about “information drift”.
  • Access the article. But strip the link of the proxy address and make it a tiny url so it does not break.
  • open and convert that pdf without launching resource hogging Adobe Reader.
  • Find that physical address. Map it.  Send the directions.
  • Track that package for my boss because it said it was delivered.
  • Finish that Pecha Kucha PowerPoint and share the notes out.
  • All while taking few phone calls and transferring a few files.
  • And editing a group document.
  • And recovering from a Windows crash.
  • And giving some distant tech-support.

My days are not always that busy; yet some are.  We wonder why we’re tired- yeesh.

“That’s all anecdotal Lee!”  I hear that.  How did I really figure out that customizing Firefox saves me a lot of time?  It was easy.  I counted minutes.

Often I work on multiple computers.  I would be forced to use Internet Explorer.  I could quickly see how much longer it was to complete tasks. With my FF mods, I could complete routine tasks in seconds. Minutes would pass with those same tasks on an unpersonalized browser.  Add this up over a day and: 20 minutes of an hour I could save. Time saved equals less stress, more work output, and a general feeling of somehow managing an ever-increasing set of responsibilities in an ever-decreasing amount of minutes. Who isn’t being asked to do more, with less?

A large community of users that have adopted Firefox and developed add-ons or extensions for Firefox enables me to shave seconds.  Seconds matter. While that doesn’t sound like a big deal at the end of the day, this can often add up to two hours straight. (It’s good I do things like Tai Chi and yoga I suppose).

Chrome has a lot of potential. No doubt about it. Yet, until it meets the level of usability Firefox achieves, I enjoyed the swift experience of testing it over the few weeks it’s been out.

Below is an extensive array, at least to me, of add-ons to make Firefox function in a way that increases my online productivity. Some of the deeper hacks and tweaks I made are a discussion for another day. But, I’d love to hear who else uses (x)-browser and how you’ve tweaked it. I’m always open to switching browsers.

Here’s my list of Firefox add-ons.
* Adblock Filterset.G Updater
* Adblock Plus
* Adblock Plus: Element Hiding Helper 1.0.5
* All-in-One Sidebar 0.7.6

* Better GCal 0.3
* Better GReader 0.4
* Better YouTube 0.4.3
* BetterCache 1.21
* BugMeNot 2.0

* Copy Plain Text 0.3.3
* Delicious Bookmarks 2.0.104
* DownloadHelper 3.2.2
* dragdropupload 1.6.8

* Flashblock 1.5.6
* Greasemonkey 0.8.20080609.0

* Mouse Gestures Redox 2.0.2
* MR Tech Toolkit (formerly Local Install) 6.0.1
* NoScript 1.8
* PDF Download
* PopupMaster 1.2.2

* Skype extension for Firefox
* Tab Mix Plus 0.3.7pre.080830
* Tiny Menu 1.4.9
* TinyUrl Creator 1.0.5

~Lee LeBlanc~
TTW Contributor

Please help Abby with her Homework

Karl Fisch, whose blog I really enjoy, posts about an assignment his daughter has: to create a travel journal and write to friends to ask for postcards. Karl thinks like I do. What about the online component?

I think this assignment is fine as far as it goes, and we mailed it off to a friend in Kentucky on Friday. But, and you’ve got to know what’s coming, I thought this assignment was ripe to have a “virtual companion” to it. So, I haven’t asked for much on this blog (well, other than changing the world), but I’d like to ask those of you who are still reading this blog to consider contributing to Abby’s travelogue wiki. There’s an explanation on the wiki itself, but here’s the basic idea:

  1. Add your information to the wiki (first name, last initial, city, state/province, country).

  2. Upload or link to a picture (a “digital postcard” if you will) that’s representative of your city.

  3. Write a short description of your city.

  4. Then, if you want, send the link to the wiki on to friends or family that you think might be willing to participate. (Note – please not “send this to everyone in your address book!” – I don’t want this to be Fischbowl-generated spam.)

  5. Then, if you really want to go the extra mile, actually send a postcard to Abby at her school (pdf).

Now, I really have no idea if we’ll get five or five hundred responses, but I figured it was worth a shot (and it takes a lot less postage). Not only would you be helping Abby and her classmates learn more about the world, but also helping other students (and adults) that visit the wiki learn about the world. I think it would be especially nice if other students added to the wiki, in addition to adults, but we’ll see what happens.

I hope other educators are thinking this way. What online extension of current assignments could be useful and instructional. Libraries could play a role as well: offering guidance, access and educational opportunities for teachers and students to make the most of the virtual companion.
If you have time, swing by Abby’s wiki. :-)

Do you utipu?

Here’s a 1:00 screencast for; it’s that easy to download and fire up.

1. Goto

2. After download, run executable.

3. Launch and press record.

4. Goto and upload your video

All together took about 8 minutes from download to upload. This is an easier way, perhaps, than saying:

Okayyyy….first click on…

Sorry. No Mac version -but you probably don’t need one. I imagine this killer app already exists in iMovie? in something else?

TTW: Lee LeBlanc