Friday, October 31, 2008

SAM 8Q: Latest NHB museum on the block

Just came back from the latest Friends Of (FOYers) gathering.


The gathering was held at the latest NHB museum, SAM 8Q ( Well, it's not really a "new" museum in that it's a branch of the Singapore Art Museum (or popularly called SAM).
8Q sam

8Q sam

Nice to meet the familiar faces. And new ones.

Caught up with Preetam, who provided me with a fascinating update on his observations about the various barcamps he's been attending in Asia. PY gave me a refresher on interpreting the Myers-Briggs Personality Type indicators (I think I'm INTJ or something like that).

Met face-to-face for the first time: Budak and Kimberly.

[Once again, gatherings like tonight's show that Social Media tend to facilitate, rather than hinder, face-to-face interactions].

Walter gave us the low-down on how has been faring. And some ideas and upcoming plans for enhancements to the site.

The FOYers threw some ideas to Walter and team. My suggestion was for NHB to do something like what the Library Of Congress has done. But I can sense there are probably lots of institutional hurdles (or should I say it's more of people-barriers?) that needs to be overcome by our heritage and archive agencies before we'd see something like that.

Anyway, the plans for "version 2.0" include more episodes of Heritage TV, or HTV. Like this one on the Singapore Stone (I shall see if Walter will take up my suggestion to call the show "Kimberly's HTV" rather than an impersonal "Heritage TV"):

Which reminded me... I have some personal "HTV" episodes to air too. A few months ago, I interviewed my father about his basketball days. Recorded it on video. Will need to tidy it up and think of how to post it as a series.

[Related: "Heritage Blog (or "Museum Roundtable Blog"), 1 Feb 2006]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference, Part 9: Andrew McGlinchey - Search Engine 101: Crawling, Ranking, Coverage and Freshness

[From Part 8]

Andrew McGlinchey. Product manager for Southeast Asia Google.
Andrew McGlinchey

Evolution of Google

His talk was essentially a primer on how Google works.
Google search - Life of a search query

Google page rank

Here's what I Twittered:

  • 2:14 PM Oct 17th - Andrew McGlinchey (Google) explains Google behind the scenes. Moved to non-HTML content, Deep Web content, let webmasters control crawl freq

  • 2:24 PM Oct 17th - Google uses 200+ "signals" to guess Relevance (frequency of keywords etc.) and Importance of pages (popularity, no. of links).

And at 2:26 PM Oct 17th, Ben read my Twitter updates and he Twittered: @ramblinglib Where are you getting these facts? very interesting.

LOL. I replied via Twitter that I was at the Bridging Worlds conference.

This reminds me -- you might want to check out this book from the library, if you're keen to know to get more out of using Google. I highly recommend the book. Plenty of good stuff, e.g. using Google operators, google web alerts, how to search for people. And lots more. I've posted highlights from the book, over at RoughNotes.
Google power: Unleash the full potential of Google/ Chris Sherman
NLB Call No.: 025.04 SHE - [COM]
Check the NLB library catalogue for item availability.

[Next: Part 10]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference, Part 8: Brian Kelly - Library 2.0: Balancing the risks and benefits to maximise the dividends

[From Part 7]

Brian Kelly. National Web Adviser to UK universities and cultural heritage organisations.

Brian Kelly - Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference

Brian started by saying it's OK to record his talk. Then explained why he chose to allow that in spite of some risks. There's a risk he might say or do something embarrassing and it gets amplified (through blog posts/ videos). But he has weighed that risk against the benefit of his ideas being shared.

Excellent way of illustrating his main point!

Brian elaborated on the perceived barriers of Web 2.0 adoption. He cited his experiences of using 3rd party services. Faced issues like reliability and sustainability. Other possible issues include data privacy of our users, inappropriate content co-hosted at the 3rd party site. Of particular concerns for public sector services are content that carry political statements, or porn (that could be accessed by minors).
Brian Kelly - Barriers to Web 2.0

Broad ways to address the problems:
  • Assess and manage
  • New media literacy
  • Evidence based policy making
  • Reinterpret policies
  • Understand the limitations of 3rd party services (e.g. is there an export-data feature, does it work? data backups) and develop work-arounds
[I think basically one has to assume a worse-case scenario, then ask how badly it would affects you, and the severity of it, e.g. broken links vs. Loss of entire blog/ photos]

Brian talked about sustainability, i.e. what if the free service goes bust and is no longer available. The companies become bankrupt (imagine... Google goes belly up and millions of Gmail user accounts become lost... shudder).

But Brian quickly made the point that banks also go bankrupt, but people continue to use them. Good point!

Brian Kelly - Benefits of Library 2.0

He also raised the question of whether economic downturns would affect the provision of those free-to-use services. And what happens if libraries find that their service delivery (though those platforms) are affected.

[Well, I think one approach is to decide what we would consider as Core and Non-core services. Make sure we own and host the former, and the latter can be hosted on free 3rd party services. Communicate this to users, so that they understand the big picture].

Brian's paper can be downloaded, here.

Thinking Aloud
I thought the point of Brian's talk, in the context of Social Media, was to be conscious of risks and benefits.

And not be paralysed by one aspect while being too enamoured with the other.

From what I've heard from the speakers (Nyla, Jenny Levine, John Blyberg) social media has a tendency to result in unintended consequences.

It was fitting that Brian chose to talk about managing risks. Because social media will change the "power-control relationship" between customers and service providers. The speed of change is also fast in social networks.

(This reminds me -- sometime soon, I'll talk about the Just Share service at the website, which involved some risk management).

BTW, also check out Brian's YouTube clips he made, to answer FAQs about blogging. Here's part 6 (you can work your way to part 1 from there).

[Next: Part 9]

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference, Part 7: Peter Godwin - Information literacy and Web 2.0: Is it just hype?

[From Part 6]

Peter Godwin. Academic Liaison Librarian, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK.

He was like a Shakespearean actor, full of stage presence (I'm sure his Information Literacy classes must be interesting!)

Peter Godwin

I managed to ask him if he had acting background.

He laughed.

"No, but I had wanted to be an actor as a child."

In gist, Peter made the point that Web 2.0 wasn't hype. It was up to librarians to choose the appropriate Web 2.0 tools to make information literacy lessons more interesting. To create a more engaged audience.

Thinking aloud
A simple point, but an important one, I thought.

Merely using Web 2.0 tools won't make your information lessons interesting for your participants.

Not if your fundamental problems are not solved.

Example #1: If our speaking style in front of a class puts people to sleep, recording yourself on video and posting it to YouTube won't win you fans. But if you look for interesting videos to supplement or replace parts of your talk, it would make for an interesting session. And you don't even have to be the star of any YouTube video.

Example #2: Let's say you start a blog allowing users to submit comments. But you don't respond to comments because it's not your department's policy to respond. You're better not starting the blog in the first place. But if you change your mindset and process, then the new media platform is likely to add value to your current process.

It's really how we choose to modify our content, the way we respond, our process.

After all, it was Albert Einstein who defined Insanity as "doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results".

[Next: Part 8]

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference, Part 6: Sidsel Bech-Peterson - The Mashup Library

[From Part 5]

Sidsel Bech-Peterson, from The Main Library, Aarhus, Denmark.
Sidsel Bech-Peterson

Sidsel spoke about Aarhus Public Library's efforts in mashing up digital and physical spaces, and people.


Yeah, I heard her right.

They have conceived the term "mash-up"to be about "Co-creation", and user involvement in service prototyping.

Sidsel showed several videos. Check them out:

I was impressed with this service called the "Info-Column" (see Transformation Lab video at the 4:10 min mark), where item information can be bluetoothed to the patron's mobile device.
Bluetooth transmit lib

Another cool idea --an "User Suggestion" website (like Dell's Idea Storm)-- where library users can submit suggestions, comment and vote on what others have suggested.
Library "Idea Storm" website

You might think "Oh, nothing special... just a site for users to submit ideas". But it's more complicated than that and I'm sure it took some amount of institutional courage to implement it.

For instance, I can think of these issues to be addressed:
  • Would setting up such a site lead to expectations that all ideas have to be implemented?
  • How do you handle a point where there's a "diminished returns" of ideas?
  • How much time/ opportunity costs are we prepared to spend, in responding to submissions? (because surely most responses deserve some acknowledgment, if not direct feedback)
But those issues are not insurmountable. When planned ahead, they can be managed in several different ways.

Example -- the library can explain what's their "response policy" -- whether you are able to respond to all comments? Or publish some broad guidelines on how the library would evaluate suggestions and choose those for implementation. Maybe even a cut-off for the life of the website, i.e. Migrate it to part of regular customer contact/ feedback process rather than a specific "Idea Storm" website.

Here are some off-the-cuff Twitter posts as I listened to Sidsel:
  • 12:08 PM Oct 16th - "impressed with tech tools in danish library presentation. I wonder if the digital tools drive users towards use/ borrowing of physical bk"

  • 12:11 PM Oct 16th - "wonder how much the danish library pays in electrical bills to power all those huge digital screens. CBA? Darn I sound like beancounter!"

  • 12:19 PM Oct 16th - "sidsel bech-peterson: focus on relations, more than transactions (uncanny - I wrote the same thing in my paper. Wow"

  • 12:27 PM Oct 16th - "@shifted - glad there r libraries like aarhus to show the rest of us abt possibilities being implemented."
Admittedly I have some doubts how much these technological devices would directly make users use library materials.

But upon hindsight, I guess I need to un-learn.

Traditional performance measures for libraries have to change. And librarians have to try to convince the powers-that-be why they should be changed.

As I mentioned in my response to Jenny's twitter, I'm glad there are libraries like Aarhus who play the advocacy role in transforming libraries.

And more important, by putting ideas to practice, they allow us to imagine and visualise possibilities.

[Next: Part 7]

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference, part 5: Jenny Levine - "Librarian 2.0: New breed or just another day at the office?"

[From Part 4]

Jenny Levine.

She started by citing D. W. Krummel's 1999 paper, "The seven ages of librarianship".

Jenny levine

Jenny suggests Library 2.0: is the Eighth stage.

Or Library 8.0.

And we have already successfully made the transition.

Eighth age - Jenny Levine

Says social media really is just another day in the office, but the office is not the traditional one.

"Libraries cannot contain ourselves to our website". (How would you interpret this?)

Suggests it's about planting many avenues for people to connect to our libraries.

Spoke of unintended consequences, when libraries move to social media.

Five practical things libraries could do, according to Jenny:
  • Learn about RSS
  • Build flexible spaces on and offline
  • Engage your most active users
  • Play
  • Find a community online

Most memorable takeaway from Jenny's presentation: she said libraries need to " put the librarian back in the catalogue".

It was a "Wow-why-didn't-I-see-that" moment for me.

Personal takes
Jenny's remarks made me realise that when libraries computerised the card catalogue, we essentially took the librarian out of the search equation.e

Not that it was wrong. The reasons for doing so was right (i.e. efficiency for the user).

In a larger context, I think what Jenny suggests is a reflection of the trend towards OPACS as a social space. Even seen as a shared space between librarians and library users.

Social OPAC initiatives, like SOPAC , is one (see also John Blyberg's post).

The other example that I know is SmartCAT by Hong Kong University Science & Technology Library (hat-tip to Yan Hong).

When I showed this to Hazman and John, Hazman said "They have put a OPAC on a blog".


I think it's more accurate to say that they've put a bulletin board on a OPAC. Makes it easy to Ask A Librarian.

In fact, it's a subtle reminder that the librarian is there. And questions are posted by users direct (rather than "cleaned up" by the library, which loses the authenticity).

Brilliant idea.

It is a re-think of the purpose of OPAC.

The social space becomes primary, while the search-function is more or less a given.

I agree with Jenny that social media is "just another day in the office". It's the current reality.

Very soon, people would be wondering what all the fuss about Web 2.0 was about.

Just like today, it's a given that Fiction works and Children's Services would be part of a public library's collection and services. Apparently, they were never the norm (see "The seven ages of librarianship").

(p.s. Woot! Finally met the famous Jenny Levine. Quiet and soft-spoken in person. She was one of the first information professional who established an online presence, way before all the talk of “Web 2.0”).

[Next: Part 6]

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference, Part 4: John Blyberg - Public Library 2.0: making it happen

[From Part 3]

John Blyberg (tall, lanky and soft-spoken) spoke about User Experience (UX).

"UX allows us to pursue X-treme User Experience".

His library carried through this conviction by setting up a team to look into user experiences on and offline.

"We must present it in a way to have consistency in communication".

What John suggests is, in my view, for librarians to be brand savvy. Starting by being brand conscious.

John explained the key values of UX:
  • Simplicity
  • Imagination - exploring the limits of technology, also possibilities for content
  • Openness
  • Coordination, within the org (says "this can be tricky", which I think is always an understatement!)
  • Feedback
  • Personal transformation

He also touched briefly about SOPAC (I'd hoped he'd share more about how they got buy-in and their thinking processes, but I guess I'll have to read his blog).

John Blyberg, at Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference

In his talk, John gave an example of a positive unintended consequence of introducing SOPAC.

A teacher asked for books on genealogy. Wanted it by that day. Librarian sent out an alert to other colleagues. "Use this tag to identify related books". Was able to get the list generated quickly with the help of colleagues.

Made a lot of sense. It's one possibility of social tagging that didn't occur to me until then.

Made me realise that even if customers didn't tag or comment (in the OPAC) as much as we would like them to, it was a tool that librarians could use it.

Let's say I want 10 books on Science Fiction. It would take far less time if 10 librarians each suggested and tagged one book, than for one librarian to come up with 10 books.

And instead of emailing me and compiling into a document, the "list" is now on the OPAC.

The tag is the "retrieval" tool for that subject. And I could update the list on the fly. And others can help.

Of course there's always possibilities that the one librarian may produce a better list than 10 librarians. But I feel Collective Knowledge tends to win out than one individual. Besides, the librarian can choose to use the tool or not. It's one more added tool to serve the customer better.

However, someone needs to point out its use. Like how John pointed it out to the audience.

'Cos some of us (myself included) can be stuck with the ways things have always been done.

Going back to John's talk about "User Experience", I think to really create X-treme (and delightful) customer service experience on and offline, we librarians have to unlearn and let loose.

[Next: Part 5]

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference, Part 3: Keynote speaker, Nayla Al Khaja

[From Part 2]

Nayla Al Khaja. Independent national woman filmmaker.

One wondered what a young woman, from prosperous Dubai, had to share in a conference of librarians.

About "Bridging Worlds".

But she did a wonderful job, as far as I was concerned.

Nayla Al Khaja

Nayla, who was small in stature, spoke with the confidence of someone who was much older. I was definitely never that confident at her age.

Or as open in sharing personal stories.

She started by sharing how she proposed to a guy she barely knew, in order get married just to get social approval in order to study overseas. Now they are divorced, amicably, and good friends.

Sounded callous?

I wouldn't pass judgment that fast, without understanding the context of Nyla's world.

For Nayla, the gap she had to cross, to fulfill her potential, was gender disparity in her part of the world.

In Dubai, dating is taboo. Not a law but social norm, said Nyla.

She added that applications like Facebook and Flickr revolutionized marriage and boy-girl relationships in Dubai.

How people dated without talking. Texting, Bluetooth, file exchanges. Young couples got to know the person, before marriage, via online chats, online images and various means of online communication.

Challenges - Skype is banned (but it's circumvented somehow). How rumours about shutting down Facebook created panic among users in Dubai.

Language also a barrier. But changing. How students memorized. Less problem solving and critical thinking (sounds familiar to Singaporeans?)

Education was a bridge. Women in Dubai are curious, explained Nyla. Thirsty for knowledge and education. Whereas men take those for granted.

How she avoided rote learning. Credits her father for giving her a world view. Opened her eyes to the world by bringing home English language books.

She says she discovered libraries in her 20s, while studying in Canada. Impressed by how library was organised.

Said there was a sense of connection in Toronto, where she also learned how to be independent and picked up information skills.

She also tries to connect East and West filmmakers and viewers by setting up this website:


Nyla does Dubai proud. She is the first woman producer back home.

She's given Dubai a personal face for me. Dubai used to just mean money and facade and business and tourism. It still is, but it's image is a tad softer now.

For me, her story was a reminder that that are many worlds to be bridged. And that gaps in society has to be bridged by individuals and institutions, combined. And not necessarily planned.

From what I hear about the impact of social media in Dubai, we seem to show a common tool - facebook, youtube etc.

These companies and services didn't set out to change the world.

But they do.

Unintended consequences (something that Jenny Levine would pick up for her talk).

Nayla is a natural storyteller. Personal. She may not be representative of all young people in Dubai, but one is hopeful.

[Next: Part 4]

Friday, October 17, 2008

(Part 2) If you want my updates from Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference

[From Part 1]

Zonked out from post-speaking adrenalin/ lack of sleep. Too tired to blog properly about Day-one.

If you're interested in conference updates, I've been "Live Twittering", here.

It might make more sense (contextually) if you also check out these Twitter posts from the following conference attendees:

BTW, all the conference slides are at SlideShare, here (note: I used a different set of slides for my presentation; the slides I submitted for the conference was more of a summary of the paper).

[Next: Part 3]

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference

[This is Part 1]

:: Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference:: knowing • learning • sharing

If you're attending the Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference, 16-17 Oct (which is this Thursday and Friday), I hope to see you there.

I'll be speaking on Day-One, 3.10pm to 3.50pm, at "Track 1" as Speaker #5 :"Librarians 2.0: Sowing Padi in (the) SEA.
:: Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference:: Track 01: The World Beyond 2.0

I'll share what I've found from my scan of Library 2.0 examples in East Asia. The "East Asia" region is loosely defined, to include China, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore.

Outline of my talk:
  • Some examples that I've found, of Web 2.0 applications by libraries to promote their services (I also intend to talk about what I'd expected to find, but did not).
  • Then I'll talk about what "Library 2.0" might really mean in the East Asia context. Some particular challenges are a lack of a common language (English is not necessarily the defacto working language in this region), varying levels of Internet infrastructure between countries, and even regions within the same country.
  • I'll end my talk by suggesting that the key might be the idea of "Librarians 2.0" rather than "Library". I'll also suggest ways how a "Librarian 2.0" mindset can be implemented, independent of technology.

BTW, instead of a 40-minute talk as stated on the website, the panel chair request that we speak for 25mins, so that there's more time for Q&A.

Here's a breakdown of the attendees, from the conference blog (13 Oct):
We have 231 attendees! | Bridging Worlds 2008 Conference

The conference organisers (NLB and NLBA) have also created a Twitter page.

Maybe they could set up an page that aggregates all the posts/ feeds from attendees who would be blogging/ posting stuff about the conference. Here's one good example using Netvibes (by Kevin Lim -- but he's not attending the conference though!)

Running through the list of speakers, two names rang a bell (not that I know them personally, but maybe that will soon change!) -- Jenny Levine (The Shifted Librarian) and John Blyberg (

Also Bernadette Daly Swanson, who recently posted a message at the Librarians-In-Singapore mailing list. She'll be talking about Libraries in SecondLife. She's posted several videos here as well.

OK, if you're attending the conference and intend to blog/ Twitter (list your "New Media publishing tool of choice" here) about it, feel free to leave your URL, as a comment in this post.

If there's WIFI access at the conference, I'll be Twittering "live" at, and posting longer updates in this blog after the actual conference.

[Next: Part 2]

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Data Consciousness

Got myself a new phone.

A Nokia e71 to replace my Nokia e61.

I was offered an affordable trade-in/ upgrade. The e71 received really good reviews. And I figured I could use a phone with a camera and video feature, finally.

Backed-up all data from the old phone--contacts, documents (Word, Excel, Notes), Calendar entries, SMS messages, videos, photos. Then deleted them individually from the older phone.

Until I realised there was an easier way to do a hard-reset (thanks to Kevin).

Not that I'm in danger of doing an Edison-Chen. Just that I won't want anyone to look through my SMS messages or documents.

Before my e61, I had a much less sophisticated phone. The only sensitive information it could store was phone contacts.

Then I moved to a Palm handheld and then the Nokia e61. The technical sophistication increased. I could do Word documents and Spreadsheets. But still no photos or video capabilities.

Without being conscious about it, we now own highly scaled-down and portable computers -- more than phones per se.

Yet mindsets and habits, in the way most people dispose of data, have not really caught up with technological advances.

In those pen and paper days, we didn't need to erase all your handwritten notes before shredding the paper. We got rid of data by destroying the entire "storage device".

So I think some people tend to unconsciously adopt that sort of attitude.

I feel user manuals should be revised.

They usually start with getting you to use the device -- the physical thing.

The part on data protection (e.g. Auto-lock feature, setting passwords) tends to be buried somewhere in the manual.

Computing devices will only increase in sophistication. Users have to be equally sophisticated as well. It's not that difficult.

Just think in terms of "data" rather than physical devices, and I think habits will change accordingly.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

ONE WORLD (2008) music video

I would like to share this with the world.

Creative Commons LicenseMusic Video: One World (2008) by Ivan Chew is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Completed this music video over five evenings and one whole weekend.

A big solid Thank You to the people who chose to share their works under the Creative Commons Attribution license. Their generosity made this music video possible.

Details and full credits, here.

Enjoy! If you like what you hear/ see, please leave a comment.

p.s. Thanks to for their plug!

Related posts:

Sunday, October 05, 2008

UK Royal Navy soft-launches a blog

Discovered this from the Wordpress publisher's blog:
The UK Royal Navy recently soft launched their blog using WordPress. The new blog, called Jack Speak (a term for UK Navy slang), provides Royal Navy personnel with the opportunity to share their experiences with a wide audience.
Jack Speak | Royal Navy blog

At the blog, it says:
This blog offers an unlimited view of the Royal Navy, because it’s written by the people who truly understand what it means to be a part of this exceptional service – the Royal Navy personnel themselves. We are delighted to be the only one of the Armed Forces to have created a blog and hope you’ll enjoy sharing our Life Without Limits.

Hmm... unlimited view?

Their first post was on 2 Sept 2008. Looking at the initial posts, it's clear the blog started off as an online publicity tool for the few UK Navy personnel who were taking part in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

It's a group blog (i.e. one blog with multiple authors).

Two things impressed me.

#1 - The fact that a military service has a blog!
It sure kills some sacred cows where organisational blogging is concerned :)

#2 - The blog is endorsed by a high ranking UK Navy personnel
Their About Page has an introduction by Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB ADC, the First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff. Woot. The title of the office holder is solid enough already (btw, is the title the highest ranking naval officer in the UK Navy?)
About Jack Speak | Jack Speak
Admiral Sir Jonathon Band is listed as an author for the blog. I won't be surprised if someone does the writing for him, but to be fair, it might be him posting stuff. Anyway, it impressed the heck out of me that the UK Royal Navy has their chief as part of the blog.

#3 - "Unconstrained views"
Again, from the About Page, it says the blog offers "an unconstrained view of the Royal Navy". Does this mean the posts are not censored, or rather, they rely on self-censorship and for the contributing staff to exercise common sense?

I wonder what are their blogging guidelines etc.

Anyway, we shall see but right their approach impresses the heck out of me!


There's a consistent look-and-feel between the blog (on the left) and the official UK Navy website (on the right).
Jack Speak | Royal Navy blog UK Royal Navy website
The blog design looks professional, I think with consideration for the overall organisation image and brand.

Would be interesting to follow the subsequent posts.