Posts filed under ‘technology’

Analog Knowledge in a Digital World

Working in a public library for the last two years has given me an interesting perspective on the divide between printed and digital information.  The emergence of web tools like Google and Wikipedia have greatly reduced the amount of time and effort it takes to find information.  Even academic journals are offering their publications in PDF format, downloadable from sites like JSTOR and Google Scholar. 

Does this mean that libraries are becomming increasingly irrelevant?  Not immediately, I don’t believe, but there is a real possibility for their demise if they do not adapt and evolve into a place that can be the hub of information that they once were. 

If the growth and maturity of Web 2.0 has taught us anything, it’s that the collaboration and sharing of ideas is what really drives today’s innovation.  Ask a question on FriendFeed and you’ll get an almost instant response, sometimes many great ideas and thoughts can arise from a single stimulus post.  Libraries, while once the place where information and knowledge was stored, must now take on a new role, one that is a hub of communication and sharing.  Libraries should be embracing their communities with tools like Twitter and FriendFeed.  Information that cannot be acquired from a source in the stacks could be requested from the community, and as people join the knowledge network, the reliability of the service increases. 

The reverse is also true.  People should be able to @yourlibraryhere a question that the reference librarians would receive, research, and reply with an answer that the sender would know to be reliable, removing the uncertainty of information posted online. 

The idea here is that libraries should no longer just be a place to go get a book to read.  They need to reinvent themselves and places in the community where ideas are exchanged and knowledge is created.  Today’s digital world means information is needed faster, and by using Web 2.0 tools, libraries can provide that service and remain relevant.   

Do you use your library to aquire information?  How could it better serve you and your community?  Share your ideas below.

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July 28, 2008 at 7:48 pm 1 comment

A global trend as seen through my life.

When the writers strike happened in late 07/early 08 it was primarily a result of new media, the new phenomenon that caters to the mindset of “I want my media whenever, where ever.”  Being able to watch tv shows on demand, online, outside of their scheduled time slot was a hard thing for “old media” people to understand, and they paid the price with the strike.

That’s all old news, but it relates to a shift I’ve recently noticed in my own life.  With the exception of big sporting events (the US Open, NBA Finals), I’ve all but stopped watching TV.  Scripted TV is almost as bad as reality TV, and the few shows that are still good enough to watch (Lost, The Office), can be watched online now.

Another TV killer has been my addiction to podcasts and having my eyes opened to revision 3 shows.

My current top 4 podcasts are:

Between those and downloadable Lost and Office episodes, I really have no reason to turn on the TV, and it feels good.  I’ve got a lot more time to think, read, and golf and I’m having a great summer.  Moral of the story: try out some podcasts and back away from the TV, and use the extra free time for something productive.

June 16, 2008 at 8:57 pm Leave a comment

Wishful thinking?

I always love a good plan for a future city, especially one with pretty graphics like this one

The good news about the components of this plan is that it’s a good place to start thinking about how urban areas will be organized in the future.  While algae ponds and vertical farms might be a little far-fetched, the ideas of short-term-use cars and new high-tech forms of mass transit are things that leaders should start looking at and implementing yesterday.  I really love the idea of a pod car beacuse it allows people to maintain that feeling of being in control of their transportation, but it limits that use to a certain area, more specifically the area that we travel the most, which usually includes short trips to shopping, dining, nightlife, or work.

While a lot of these ideas are almost sci-fi in nature, there are many things here that are great for the urban area of today.  Car pods (lol, a boy can hope), rainwater collection, wide use of solar energy, and focused and efficient mass transit are all things all cities (large and small) should be looking at right now. 

June 15, 2008 at 9:33 pm 2 comments

Bureaucracy at its finest

This article from Business Week is surely one of the most disgusting displays of why governments from the local level to the federal level all need to get their act together. 

I have little doubt that the age-old bureaucracy problem is in play here, especially when I read this:

Clarkson, who works for the state Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, said she believes she was working the switchboard at the cabinet offices on April 1. She said the employee who works in the mailroom left early that day, and the FedEx agent required a signature for the package. She said 14 Reilly Road, the Frankfort address where the cabinet offices are located, is a five-building complex; the waste management division is located in another of the five buildings.

It’s actually kind of sad to hear that something as simple as signing for a package and getting it to where it needs to go can’t be successfully completed in our state government, especially in the year 2008.   

While it would be obvious to say that these people need to be fired for being so incompetent, it might also be good to say that there are some solutions to this problem.  FedEx could stand to make a little money on this type of situation by creating some sort of Twitter-like program that can alert the proper recipient of a package as well as the sender of a package upon delivery.  This could all easily be stored electronically on a package label and would word via the web and the established tracking system already in place.

So imagine if this document containing the proposal for grant money had been delivered to the Department of Waste Management instead of the proper Department of Environmental Safety (I know, not so hard to imagine) and FedEx had this program.  Ms. Clarkson would have been sent a “tweet” either on her desktop or on her mobile phone/pda/pager, and would have known what it was and who it was intended for (her).  Problem solved, they can thank me when they make millions.

June 14, 2008 at 9:47 pm 1 comment

I love good inspiration.

This summer has been a strange one for me, since instead of spending all of my money on going out to eat and buying DVDs I’ve been saving it, mostly because I want the feeling of having lots of money.  More than that, my goal is to have enough money to turn it into more.

One of the things I have been doing in my free time this summer is brainstorming business ideas, writing down problems I have that I could solve for other people, and generally coming up with money-making ideas.  So far I have a depressingly short list, but its really because I’m not trying hard enough, and I needed some inspiration.

Following a series of links, I found myself listening to a lecture entitled “Things I wish I knew when I was 20”.    The audio of which can be found here. Listen to this podcast if you need your eyes opened to some great ideas for entrepreneurs, and great advice for life itself.

June 2, 2008 at 9:27 pm Leave a comment

A problem or a solution?

Yesterday, The Daily Galaxy had this article about the apparent trash continent forming in the Pacific Ocean. After reading some of the things mentioned in this article, I have a hard time believing this isn’t getting the same level of attention as greenhouse gasses.

For example, this quote from Clean Up The World founder Ian Kiernan is especially disturbing:

“It was just filled with things like furniture, fridges, plastic containers,
cigarette lighters, plastic bottles, light globes, televisions and fishing
nets,” Kiernan says. “It’s all so durable it floats. It’s just a major
problem.”

Now, greenhouse gasses and global warming might be problems, but large appliances floating in our oceans is definitely a problem, and one that needs immediate attention.

The article also mentions the amazing quantity of plastic bags located in the plastic continent, which release toxins when they break down, especially scary because these toxins are finding their way into the food that humans eat. My parents always told us not to throw plastics onto bonfires, but apparently throwing them into the ocean to poison fish is OK.

This may not be totally a problem though. If the continent gets large enough and solid enough, we might just be able to move people onto it. Since the ice caps are going to melt and flood our major cities (or so Al Gore wants us to think), a continent that floats and changes with the tides may be just the solution we need.

In all seriousness, this is a problem that could have some very good benefits. A whole industry could come to life to fix it, and frankly, it would take an entire industry to fix it. Much money could be made recycling that plastic and selling that old furniture, and there’s probably enough out there to ensure we wouldn’t have to make any new plastics for many years.

May 31, 2008 at 7:03 pm Leave a comment

Why I tweet

The road to Twitter for me was a strange one, one that started in middle school when I started watching “The Screen Savers” on what was then ZDTV (then TechTV, the G4 TechTV, then G4 which then cancelled the show). Feeling nostalgic I looked up some of the people I remembered as hosts from that show to see what they were up to, and found the amazing site of internet-basesd TV, revision3.com. Many of the people I remember from TechTV were hosting shows on that site, and after watching a few episodes of “Diggnation”, I kept hearing “Twitter” this and “Twitter” that.

The one story that sparked my interest was probably the same one that really put the service on the map…you know, the one about the student that sent the tweet “Arrested” to Twitter, and subsequently was released from the Egyptian jail in which he was being held..

Well anyway, I joined, and added those hosts I was watching on revision3, and convinced a couple friends to try it out, and suddenly it became something I needed to check frequently. While I’ve never met a lot of the people I follow, I suspect a lot of people on the site fit that same mold…people who want to know more about people. That’s where I find Twitter to be so much more interesting than other social sites like Facebook.

Getting to know what goes on in other parts of the country, and how other people spend their time, and the sites and things that people are finding on the internet is a fascinating new aspect of this “Web 2.0” philosophy of sharing what you do on the internet. As someone interested in geography, getting to understand people in other places and how they interact with those places through their eyes is a great way to learn.

It’s also simple, since tweets are limited to 140 characters and nothing more, which means you don’t get the fluff of Facebook, where you have hundreds of applications each with notifications and begging for your information to “make them better”. It’s simply for sharing the answers to “What are you doing now?” That’s why I tweet.

Also Read:
Why Twitter Matters
AJ Vaynerchuk’s Response

May 15, 2008 at 11:34 pm Leave a comment

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