Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quick testdrive and review of Sprixi.com

I learned via Lisnews.org, of this dedicated image search service called Sprixi - www.sprixi.com
Sprixi - Free images to choose and use!

"The inspiration for the name "Sprixi" came from the words "picture" and "wiki". We can't remember how it evolved from there but it had a lot to do with what domain names were available! We think Sprixi sounds fun and a little magical :) "
source: www.sprixi.com/faq

I was curious. And I had time. I decided to do a quick testdrive and review of the service.

First impressions
What's immediately apparent is that the search interface is simple and intuitive (Google's influence is clearly there, I thought).

The results display page is also intuitive and easy to navigate. You can "teach" the Sprixi, on the degree of relevance of the image to the "topic", by rating the image:
Singapore images - Sprixi - Free images to choose and use!

At the bottom of the image, you see information like its title, the owner's URL via their Flickr profile (I wonder what's the treatment for images from non-Flickr accounts), and the license.
Singapore images - Sprixi - Credits display

Downloading images
To download the images, click on the green "Use" button (not shown in screenshot, but you're not likely to miss it on your browser).

It's smart of Sprixi's developers to make it as hassle-free for the user to credit the content owner. You can download images with or without credits appearing on their downloaded image (i.e. "image without credit"). There's an option for users to copy the pre-formatted acknowledgment text.
Singapore images - Sprixi - download/ credits options

If you click on the Download "image with credits" button, Sprixi would automatically include the credits at the bottom of the downloaded image:
Downloaded image - credited

I've a question though: the "link to image" -- and this is an image hosted on Flickr -- brings the user back to the Sprixi page (i.e. link says "http://www.sprixi.com/i/0191351928?link=direct&size=4").

According to Flickr Community Guidelines, it says if we post a Flickr image on an external website (like Sprixi.com is an external site), the photo must link back to its image page. Either Sprixi has an agreement with Flickr, or its developers have overlooked this.

Personally as a user, I think the issue can be easily resolved with Sprixi just linking back and displaying the Flickr page.

Contributing to Sprixi
Sprixi allows users (you have to be registered) to either upload their images to Sprixi or link to a Flickr image.

If you're uploading your own image, you're required to choose a Creative Commons license. Question: why not provide a CC Zero option?
Sprixi - upload your own image

To let Sprixi know of a Flickr image, just submit the URL of the Flickr page.
Sprixi - contribute via Flickr

More on contributing images to Sprixi - submit Flickr image
I was curious on how the submission process worked.

To test it out the "Submit a Flickr Image" option, I tried:

Here's how my Flickr image appeared upon submission:
Wetland Egrets Drawing Sketch Art images - Sprixi - Free images to choose and use!

The accompanying image information was automatically retrieved from Flickr, so I didn't have to provide any details.
Wetland Egrets Drawing Sketch Art images - Sprixi - Free images to choose and use!

I might have been over-zealous in inputting the "topic". Actually I didn't have any reference on how many keywords were considered appropriate.

Another observation was that there wasn't a way for me to edit a submission. For instance, I'd mistakenly included "Egrets" for the above image, which clearly didn't have any birds.

Question: Does the number of submitted keywords/ topic-words improve the image's chances of being retrieved, or would it make the image less findable? And how much that would be off-set by user ratings?

I think it depends on how fast the system learns. At first, there were no results for "wetland mangrove". But as I tried different combinations of the topics I submitted, the system was able to offer my earlier submission as a suggestion:
Sprixi - Free images to choose and use!

I discovered I could rate my own Flickr image (hmm... would this lead to some contributors trying to game the system and make their image appear higher in terms of relevance? Or maybe other raters would ensure a proper check and balance -- would be interested to learn how this feature pans out).
Wetland Egrets Drawing Sketch Art images - Sprixi - Free images to choose and use!

As for Flickr images that belonged to other people, Preetam's image appeared right away:
Japan City Lights Night Street images - Sprixi submission

But not Kenneth's image though (a bug?):
Sprixi - Free images to choose and use!

What if I submitted the URL for Flickr images that weren't licensed under CC?
It's a good thing I'm not a cat (nevermind...) so I found another friend's non-CC licensed Flickr image which anyone can view.

Result: "Image was not added".

I immediately submitted a CC-licensed image (also for public view) and got the same "image not added" message. Maybe the Flickr CC license verification process was buggy. The Flickr image submission process wasn't consistent.

Uploading my own images
I seem to have encountered some bugs when I submitted images from my computer (they were the acceptable file formats JPEG and PNG). The submitted image didn't appear, and I don't recall seeing any messages indicating problems with the submission:
Music Album Cover images - Sprixi - Free images to choose and use!

I tried again, using another image, and this time it appeared to work. Though the image didn't appear right away (what's happening backend -- moderation?):
Musicians Singapore images - Sprixi - Free images to choose and use!

Sprixi is Learning
I think Sprixi will need some more time to populate certain topics/ keywords.
Sprixi - "No results" message

Album Cover images - Sprixi - Free images to choose and use!

Suggestion: maybe the system could provide a way for users to browse through topics that have no results, and/ or areas that Sprixi needs to "learn" more. Actively crowd-source. Especially when half of the Sprixi idea was based on a Wiki idea. Hmm... the Wikipedia equivalent of a image-repository/ search engine.

Based on what I could briefly cover, overall I'd think Sprixi has potential to be a resource for royalty-free, public domain and CC-licensed images.

It's not the first image search engine, for CC-licensed images, that I know. For instance, there's www.behold.cc
Behold | Search High Quality Flickr Images

But Sprixi is the first I've come across (not that I actively looked for such purpose-built search engines) that allows for contributors to build up it's database.

Seems to me Sprixi was designed for people searching for images to use, more than for people to contribute. At least, the contribution feature performed inconsistently, at least the way I saw it.

Not to say the contribution feature isn't well designed -- it generally is. I think most contributors would find the features adequate. But personally I'd like to be able to:
  • Edit the topics for images I've contributed
  • Delete/ remove a Flickr image whose URL I've submitted
  • Be able to provide more item details, e.g. a text box so that I can input more details as part of the credits. For instance, I've an image that incorporated other CC-BY images. According the the CC terms, I'm required to credit the sources. At this point, Sprixi doesn't have a way for me to do that. Which means I cannot upload my original content that contains other people's CC images. I probably have to use Flickr instead.
So Sprixi isn't a CC-sharing platform in that sense.

I suspect that Sprixi would have to introduce a "Community Flagging" feature. I saw some images whose copyrights might be questionable.

Still, I'm not complaining.

My feeling remains that there will be more purpose-built search engines for CC-licensed materials.

It's all good.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My 2009 'Social Media' related publications in IFLA and Emerald

Two of my professional publications, relating to social media, that were accepted and published in 2009.

1) Title: Librarians 2.0: sowing padi in (the) SEA.
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited - LINK.

This came about from my speaking at the Bridging Worlds conference organised by NLB in 2008. After the conference, my paper was selected by Emerald for consideration. It was accepted and published in their special conference issue.

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present an exploratory survey as part of a presentation for the Bridging Worlds 2008 conference. It seeks to understand how library institutions in the South East Asia (SEA) region have implemented Web 2.0 technologies – blogs, RSS feeds, wikis, or the use of services like Flickr, YouTube, de.lici.ous.

Design/methodology/approach – Libraries surveyed were in: Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, People's Republic of China, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan. The survey relied on references in published papers, internet searches and personal contacts.

Findings – The survey found that more academic libraries than public libraries were using Web 2.0. technologies. Blogs and RSS feeds were the most common. Blogs were used mainly as web publishing tools rather than as a means to engage library users.

Research limitations/implications – The survey is not comprehensive. The search relied mainly on English publications and keywords, while the native language of most countries surveyed was non-English. Future research could comprehensively cover each country, by the type of library or language.

Practical implications – The paper contends that Web 2.0 does not rely on technology, but more on practice and participation. The emphasis should be on relationships rather than transactions. Suggestions are offered on how libraries can adopt a Library 2.0 mindset without focusing on technology. A call is made to establish an East Asian Librarians 2.0 directory.

Originality/value – The paper offers a non-technological perspective to institutions and practising professionals who are reviewing their Web 2.0 implementation.

2) Title: Web 2.0 and Library Services for Young Adults: An Introduction for librarians.
Publisher: IFLA, Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section.
78 pages, PDF - LINK

As explained here, this came about because on the last day of my 2008 speaking trip in Croatia, Dr. Ivanka Stricevic asked if I could write -- at least 22-pages (double-spaced, Times Roman 12) -- on how librarians can use social media in serving Young Adults. It was to be written in English, for translation into Croatian.

My final draft was a whopping 78 pages. Thankfully, Ivanka didn't ask for it to be edited down after she read it.

BTW, the copy published at the IFLA Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section page is under a CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0. license.
[Excerpt from the Introduction]
"The document is an introduction for librarians new to Web 2.0 and Social Media, and who are interested in using publicly accessible social media tools to serve Young Adults in any types of libraries: public, school, special or academic.

The aim is for you—the practicing librarian--to understand and ultimately decide for yourself what is the best approach in using social media as part of your Young Adult service. This document does not dictate the best way to attract teens to your library (there is none!)

For each section, we will cover the "What is it" and "How to use it" so that you know "Why use it" and "What to look out for in using it". With the focus for practitioners, specific services are also elaborated."


P2. Introduction
  • Why Web 2.0 and Services to Young Adults?
  • Managing risks
  • Web 2.0 + you and your library
  • More about this document
  • Terminologies used in this document
  • Disclaimer
P7. Acknowledgments
P8. Blogs and Blogging
P14. Online Chat, Instant Messaging and Video-conferencing
P18. Creative Commons
P24. FaceBook
P28. Flickr
P32. Google Docs
P37. Music & Audio
P40. MySpace
P43. Podcasts & Podcasting
P47. RSS & RSS Readers
P53. Slideshare
P56. Social Bookmarking
P61. Twitter
P65. Video
P68. Virtual Worlds & Machinima
P73. Wikis
P76. Conclusion
  • Which tool is most suitable, and how much time would it take to learn?
  • The “Art of Social Networking”
P77. Appendix
  • Web 2.0 and Library 2.0, in brief
  • A suggested approach when adopting Web 2.0 tools

Monday, December 21, 2009

Book: Blogging Heroes

“Blog for readers, not to get readers”. (p.200)

If you're hoping for tips to make your blog into an overnight success, forget about this book.

ISBN: 0470197390

This book certainly has a catchy title. Though it wasn't what I initially expected. It's not about bloggers who overcame adversity and controversy to emerge triumphant over Evil (my imagination tends to be a bit wild).

If this were a graphic novel, it would be an "Origins" story, where each superhero share his/ her tale of "how they came to be".

In a way, you might see this as a book on "Who's Who in Blogs", from the author's view. BTW, in the Preface, author Michael A. Banks explains more on how he decided to write about the selected 30 bloggers who "stand out as influential, ground-breaking, and singularly successful".

There is no hero-worship though. The book is a very readable, insightful and honest report of the bloggers -- how their blogs got started, their motivations, thinking, and even problems with regards to their blogs.

The recurring themes, to me, were:
  • To blog well, you have to write what you care about. Or, care about what you write.
  • It’s about consistency in what you feature in your blog. Your blog should have a focus or mission, purpose, theme -- but not necessarily a narrow focus or to limit your blog to certain topics per se.

One of the best quotes for me is on P.197, where Scott McNulty (TUAW) has this to say to bloggers who wonder why no one comments on their blogs:

“… It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s the same as everything else: If you work hard and stick to It,s eventually you’ll grow your audience. People will start commenting, a little community will grow, and from there, (you) just keep it going.”
He also adds:

“Blogging is a public discourse… don’t write anything that you wouldn’t say to someone face-to-face. So take accountability for your actions and never be ashamed of anything you write. The best way to accomplish that is to think about it before you write.”

In putting the book together, Michael Banks personally interviewed each of the 30 bloggers by phone -- not email, as that would have been lazy, in his opinion.
  1. Dave Taylor - The Intuitive Life Business Blog
  2. Chris Anderson - The Long Tail
  3. Gina Trapani - Lifehacker
  4. Ina Steiner - AuctionBytes
  5. Mary Jo Foley - All About Microsoft
  6. Dave Rothman - TeleRead
  7. Frank Warren - PostSecret
  8. Mike Masnick - Techdirt
  9. Mark Frauenfelder - BoingBoing.net
  10. Robert Scoble - Scobleizer
  11. Peter Rojas - Engadget
  12. John Neff - Autoblog
  13. Ken Fisher - Ars Technica
  14. Deborah Petersen - Life in the Fast Lane
  15. Joel Comm - JoelComm.com
  16. Brian Lam - Gizmodo
  17. Kristin Darguzas - ParentDish
  18. Christ Grant - Joystiq
  19. Scott McNulty - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)
  20. Philipp Lebsseb - Google Blogoscoped
  21. Brad Hill - Weblogs, Inc.
  22. Steve Rubel - Micro Persuasion
  23. Rebecca Lieb - ClickZ
  24. Deidre Woollard - Luxist
  25. Gary Lee - An Internet Marketing Website
  26. Richard MacManus - Read/WriteWeb
  27. Eric T. - Internet Duct Tape
  28. Victor Agreda - DIY Life
  29. Steve Garfield - Steve Garfield's Video blog
  30. Grant Robertson - Download Squad
Whether you're new to blogging or you've been blogging for years, I'm sure one you'll be able to gain some insights from what these Blogging Heroes have to say.

The 30 featured bloggers are smart but ordinary persons, as I found out.

Heroes, by definition, achieve great things or have noble qualities.

But heroes are not made overnight. Even if they gain their powers instantly (I can think of Spider-man and Captain America), they perfect their craft through consistent efforts.

That, I think, is the point of the book.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Post workshop reflections: Using Wikis for communication (Round 2)

Completed the second run of the "Using Wikis for Communications" workshop at the Civil Service College last Friday. As before, my segment was a 1.5 hr segment during the 2-day course organised by CSC.

Learning from my earlier round, this time in addition to revising the handouts (with a more detailed step-by-step guides), I prepared more scenarios for participants' to work on. For instance:
  1. Share your favourite recipe (e.g. Ingredients, Preparation)
  2. Provide directions to your favourite eating places in Singapore
  3. Create a website to publicise your seminar/ talk at Civil Service College. The site should allow participants to RSVP their attendance, and also directions to the venue.
  4. Construct an Educational website (please decide on a topic/ theme, e.g. Learning to Play the Guitar). Each page should have links to text and multimedia content. Include a Discussion section.
  5. Your boss has asked you to plan a trip to a deserted island, where you have to stay for at least TWO weeks. Create a site to help plan your adventure.
Item 1 and 5 was a result of bouncing off some ideas with Kevin and Julian. They happened to be online and obliged me with a quick discussion on possible hands-on activities for the workshop.

Interestingly, no one took up #5. The most popular activity was the one on sharing one's favourite recipe. I wonder if this would be the same in the next run.

Before that, I wanted to manage the participants' expectations. I drew this on the while board:
CSC wiki workshop, 10 Dec 2009

My explanation was this:
  • 50% of the workshop will be on "How to create a Wiki/ edit pages/ How a Wiki works".
  • The other 50% has nothing to do with Wikis, or any social media platform; it's really about planning/ creating what you'd like to communicate to your audience.
  • 80% of you would probably never edit/ create a wiki after the workshop.
  • Finally, the Bicycle Analogy: Some one may show you how to built a bicycle and how to ride it. But ultimately, only you can decide where you want to go.

p.s. shared this at Facebook, if you can see it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Guitarist Marc Playle: "I really enjoyed playing, so I kept on going"

I'm sure you'll be as impressed as I am, after you watch this guy play.

Simply inspirational.

Before you read on, let me point out that Marc was born with his condition (as pointed out in this 2008 TV interview). There's a point I'd like to make, later.

First, about the young man.

About Marc Playle
Marc's playing skills are easily on par with the pros. His musical compositions are also very nicely done. I know this as a guitarist, though my skills are nowhere near Marc's.

From Marc's MySpace page:
Marc Playle was born in South Shields, England, UK on September 26th 1985. He first took an interest in playing guitar at the age of 14 when he and his friend Daniel were bored in the long summer holidays.

He converted half of his garage into a “studio” where he used to jam with his friends. Having a missing left forearm meant he had to experiment to figure out the best way he could be able to play guitar. After many ideas such as taping guitar picks to his arm and using socks and things he came up with the idea for a “player” which is a cast of his arm that was then made from acrylic resin. It has lots of features that enable him to do most techniques on the electric guitar such as: a cut out for palm muting and pinch harmonics, a part of a guitar pick for picking and a cut out of a leather belt used for tapping.

Once he had a winning way of playing guitar, he then played in a few local bands he started with friends from school.

Customised Equipment
You'd probably instantly notice Marc's prosthetic. What's less obvious, perhaps to non-guitarists, is that he's picking with his left (prosthetic) and fretting with his right hand. The conventional way is to fret with the left, i.e. pressing down notes on the guitar neck/ fret board, and pick with the right.

Anything non-conventional means there are more obstacles. For instance, the mass-market books and publications on guitar Chords, tablatures, and fretboard techniques are mostly written for the conventional 'right-handed' player.

I noticed Marc's guitar has been customised too. Apart from it being a 'left-handed guitar', the pickup selector switch has been moved to the top of the guitar body to allow him to manipate it with use his upper-arm. Normally it's placed along side the volume and tone knobs at the bottom of the body.

Those are interesting adjustments, I thought.

And there's more.

Adjustments: Mind and Body
It's not just modifications to the equipment but also creative ways to get things done.

Like this video where he's picking with his fretting finger (pressing the strings and also picking with his last finger), in sync with his prosthetic pick, to get that (I think) arpeggio-like effect. Normally you'd use the thumb and fingers on the picking hand to get that sound, not with the fretting hand.

But what about those who lose their ability, rather than learn a new one?
Here's where the earlier point I made, about Marc being born with his condition, comes in.

Confession: for what my musical and artistic abilities are worth, I have ever wondered how I would react if I lose the use of my fingers or arm. Or my hearing or sight. Anything that would drastically hamper my current ability to write, paint and make music.

"Just re-learn", one might say. But it's one thing to say "re-learn". Putting that into practice may be harder. Perhaps the frustration would be more for someone who have experienced what it was like before.

As I learned from this video that Marc was born with his condition. Unlike those who lost their ability to do things, Marc may have an advantage in that regards.

Or so I thought.

But I think Marc might have shared an insight to what really matters.

The Real Secret?
When the TV host wanted to know if Marc had doubts or some deep-seated determination. Marc's reply was simply, "I really enjoyed playing, so I kept on going.":

My earlier post was about abilities before disabilities.

Looking through Marc Playle's MySpace, website, videos, it's apparent to me he's not (pun unintended) playing up sympathies for his lack of a left forearm. He's letting his abilities do the talking instead.

Or in his case, the playing.

"I really enjoyed playing, so I kept on going."

Thanks, Marc. You've taught me something.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

'A' before 'D': Abilities before Disabilities - applies to Everyone.

Was updating the sgLEAD blog when I came across this blog post by Mathia Lee. She wrote how she was impressed by the efficiency and abilities of two persons with disabilities, and also with the people who hired them:

When I went to the Vatican a few months ago I was super impressed. The guy who sold us tickets at the counter had 2 fingers only, and he was just handling all the transactions amazingly fast, no different from othr counters, and the queue was miles long but it cleared really fast.

The cloak room was run by just one guy and he had Downs’ syndrome (or some sort of other social disability) and everything was in perfect order, and so efficiently managed.

Made me think:

It’s inevitable that some people, if not most, will see the disability before the person or their abilities.

Whether or not they are prejudiced, or whatever reactions thereafter, is besides the point. Just saying it's inevitable that most of us will see the disability first.

I suspect it's because obvious displays of disabilities mean being apart from the norm. Anything outside of the norm tends to get noticed first.

So, a person with disability should try even harder to demonstrate their abilities, as a way to counter (unconscious) prejudice. I would think this principle of showing one’s abilities (not “showing off” per se) applies to everyone, regardless of physical or mental abilities. Just that a person with disabilities has to try harder.

Equally inevitable is that some people with physical disabilities deliberately present their disabilities first. Perhaps to appeal to other people’s emotions and sense of pity. Maybe these people think doing so is the only option for them. I’m not saying if this is right or wrong. Just saying this seems to be another observable fact.

Yet, for those 'within the norm', we need to be reminded that we all have some disability to some extent. It’s only a matter of degree.

Some time ago, a colleague pointed out to me that if you wear glasses or contact lenses, you have a sight-disability.

Except there's so many people who need their vision corrected, so we're within the norm. But it's still, by definition, a physical disability nonetheless.

I'd like to think that most decent people would not choose to focus on a person's disability. And most people are decent. Just that in the absence of any demonstration of abilities, they'd only see the disability.

So in the end, it’s about how we consciously choose to demonstrate our abilities.

Some people have it easier, while others have to try harder.

But we all have to.

[First blogged at sgLEAD]

Monday, November 23, 2009

2009 TST research proposal: "Librarians 2.0: An investigation of Southeast Asian librarian's social media practices and attitudes"

Back from the Taiwan-Singapore-Thailand (TST) research workshop in Khon Kaen, Thailand (19 to 20 Nov '09).

Presented my proposal and was glad that a Taiwan counterpart, Dr. Joyce Chen, expressed interest in it. She will try to match one of her Masters student to work with me on the project (my colleague, Aaron, would be the 3rd collaborator).

Here's the presentation slides (the full proposal paper follows after the slides):


Title: Librarians 2.0: An investigation of Southeast Asian librarian's social media practices and attitudes

The term Social Network is synonymous with “Web 2.0”. Its adoption and growth is one of the fastest growing phenomenon in recent years. For instance, one of the fastest growing social media platforms is Facebook, who reported more than 200 million active users worldwide, with more than 100 million users logging on at least once each day. What is more, about 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States (Facebook, 2009). By June 2008, the number of active Facebook users in Asia grew to 21.7 million (Lorica, 2009).

Libraries and librarians have made their Web 2.0 footprints (Wikis – LISWiki, Open Directory - Reference: Libraries: Library and Information Science; Yahoo! Singapore Directory - Librarian Weblogs; MySpace & Teens - Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki; Lin 2007). However, what is less clear is the Web 2.0 presence of library professionals, in Southeast Asia, who do not publish in English. One would suspect many are not identifiable because they are blogging in languages other than English (e.g. Taiwanese librarians who blog in Mandarin, and similarly the counterparts in Thailand who blog in Thai).

With social media being a current reality, the logical step is for libraries to examine the relevance of social media tools in the pursuit of the library’s objectives. But even before that, we need to understand how libraries and librarians are using social media, if at all. That is the crux of this research proposal.

Purpose/ rationale of study
The proposed study will focus on librarians, as opposed to library institutions. It aims to document and understand the attitudes, perceptions and practices towards Social Media among librarians in the countries involved in this collaborative research project, i.e. Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore.

There are three main reasons for this research topic:

One, Social Networks and Social Media, along with the explosion of on-demand media, are among what are considered important social trends that will unfold over the next 20 years. It has been suggested that Social Networks will be a major driving factor in the success or failure of certain consumer brands on a global basis (Richarme, 2009).

Two, it is unclear how extensive, or perhaps how uninvolved, are librarians in this region participating in social media. There is a significant difference in the amount of research relating to library professionals, as opposed to Library institutions, where Web 2.0 is concerned. Based on the literature review conducted for this proposal, it appears there is none for the former.

Three, the premise of the research is that if Web 2.0 is about ‘being social’ online, then librarians need to be active participants. Understanding the librarians’ level of awareness and perceptions would be useful in advancing the practice of librarianship in a digitally connected world. How librarians view social media has a broader implication on how libraries can eventually adopt and implement social media.

The proposed study seeks to address these broad questions:

* How do librarians from these countries interpret “Web 2.0” implementation in their context as library and information professionals? What are some factors to account for the differences? E.g. economic, infrastructure, political and social.

* How do Southeast Asian librarians feel about the relevance of social media, with regards to meeting the library’s objectives? (This can be a range of questions posed to different grades of staff)

* Are there underlying factors facilitating or hindering their adoption of social media tools? E.g. Internet and IT infrastructure, knowledge, organisational policy, nature of work.

* What is their level of awareness and experience in the availability and use? E.g. are they aware of any pitfalls in using new media tools.

* Are they active participants or merely observers in social media networks?

* Are they identifying themselves as librarians in their social media networks? Why or why not?

Literature review
The term Web 2.0 is best explained by O'Reilly (2005), since the term came into popular use after a conference brainstorming session between O'Reilly and MediaLive International. It covers these seven principles:

1. The web as a platform
2. Harnessing Collective Intelligence
3. Data is the Next Intel Inside
4. End of the Software Release Cycle
5. Lightweight Programming Models
6. Software Above the Level of a Single Device
7. Rich User Experiences

It has been written that the appeal of social networks is obvious (Ojala, 2008) and that “at the centre of Web 2.0 is the burgeoning development of social network sites” (Todd, 2008, p. 25). By implication, librarians have “enormous potential to develop the creative social and knowledge based skills for effectively participating in these social network arenas.” (Todd, 2008, p. 31). In contrast, in an OCLC 2007 survey among U.S. library directors, most perceive that there is no role for social networking in libraries (OCLC, 2007; Secker, 2008).

In light of the above, there appears to be very little formal research undertaken in the area of documenting the perceptions of Southeast Asian librarians about social media and its use.

For instance, Stephens (2008) examined the motivations and experiences of librarians who author professionally-focused Weblogs (rather than a breath of social media tools). And an exploratory study by Lim (2008) included a survey of 38 public librarians for their opinions on the effectiveness of Web 2.0 tools on outreach. In her survey, most (89%) were respondents from the UK, Australia, the US.

Another case in point – at the 14th Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL) in 2009, of the papers that specifically discuss Web 2.0 implementation in libraries, the implication is that libraries should logically undertake Web 2.0 initiatives (Chatchuenyot, Somkiat and Missita, 2009; Koh, 2009). But none address questions relating to individual librarian motivations, concerns and level of preparedness when undertaking a participatory role in those social networking sites.

In this proposal, we are interested in more than blogs. Moreover, Web 2.0 participation goes beyond just authoring weblogs. Participation can include publishing content in video or photo-sharing sites, or sharing bookmarks on social bookmarking services.

While it is possible there could be studies published in languages other than English, what seems to be the norm is that related research and articles emphasise more on Web 2.0 technologies and implementations by libraries, rather than perceptions and attitudes by librarians.

Research methodology to be used
This exploratory study would use a combination of questionnaires and group interviews. Interviews may also be conducted via email or phone. The focus of the study is on qualitative data (i.e. opinions, perceptions, attitudes). Considering the scope and timeframe of the study (i.e. spanning across three countries), the study would adopt a non-representative sample.

Anticipated outcomes and significance of proposed research
This study seeks to provide a starting point for further research on Librarians 2.0 (as opposed to “Library 2.0”). While it does not seek to submit definitive conclusions, the study aims to make tacit information explicit, which can then be translated to practice and implementation or to spin off further research in this area.

How the results and findings will advance library & information research
One possible outcome from the study is to develop a Web 2.0 Core Competencies framework for libraries, similar to the Web 2.0 core competencies outlined by O’Reilly Media (2008). For instance, the O’Reilly report includes competencies such as “Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability”, “Trusting users as co-developers”, “Harnessing collective intelligence” and “Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service”.

These concepts are largely understood in the context of software and web service development. It would be useful to see if a similar framework can be developed for libraries selected in this study, as a contribution to body of theoretical and practical knowledge in the field of Librarianship.

Another outcome is to identify and share best Social Media practices by SEA librarians. This may encourage others to assess their social media practices or institutional initiatives that have been implemented.

What other people can learn and apply from the research findings
By revealing the motives, concerns or knowledge gaps among librarians, it should aid library administrators in planning and implementing Web 2.0 initiatives for their libraries. Even if there are no immediate plans to implement Web 2.0, the findings are expected to have implications on staff training, the design for the library's web presence, service delivery, user engagement and public communications.

The target reader and audience for the proposed research
The study will focused largely on practice than theory. The findings and recommendations will be primarily for practitioners in the field of library and information services. This study will be published in English, although the means of research may employ native languages (e.g. administering the survey in Thai, for librarians in Thailand).

State the number of researchers/ collaborators that will be involved and their roles
This study would involve at least TWO countries, i.e. two researchers from each respective country. Having at least two countries would serve as a means for contrast (not necessarily comparison). Researchers will be from the respective countries, who may be able to conduct the research in their native language. Alternatively, this study could be conducted within one country. The researchers will primarily communicate via email and/ or teleconferencing.

Timeline of the research [subject to discussion/ amendments]
The study should take between eight to 15 months, depending on the number of countries involved. The broad outline of the task includes:
* Scoping of the study/ further literature review (if necessary) – 3 months
* Design of data collection/ questions – 2 months
* Data collection (including sourcing for interviewees) – 3 months
* Transcription – 2.5 months
* Analysis – 2.5 months
* Writing the research – 2.5 months
* Final editing/ Presentation – 2 month

Key sources and references that will be used
Given the nature of this study, the critical success factor is obtaining an appropriate number of library professionals who are willing to be interviewed. The researchers would need some support from the respective library associations or institutions.


Chatchuenyot, Somkiat and Missita, S. (2009). The journey to the Next Generation Library. XIV General Conference Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL XIV), Hanoi, Vietnam. 222–229.

Facebook | Statistics. (n.d.). . Retrieved July 7, 2009, from http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics.

Koh, S. (2009). The Internet – challenges and opportunities for Southeast Asian libraries.
XIV General Conference Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL XIV), Hanoi, Vietnam. 230-239.

Lim, YH. (2008). Web 2.0 in public library outreach: An exploratory study. Unpublished Master’s dissertation, Loughborough University.

Lin, TH. (2007). A Research on the Application of Web2.0 in University Libraries in Taiwan.
Digital Library Forum. 35(4), 8-14.

Lorica, B. (2009). Facebook Adds Million of Users in Asia. Retrieved July 7, 2009, from O'Reilly Radar Web site: http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/06/active-facebook-users-by-county-200906.html

Mohd Yusop, Z. and Abdullah, F. (2009). Web 2.0 applications towards enhancing academic libraries and reference services.
XIV General Conference Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL XIV), Hanoi, Vietnam. 273-283.

MySpace & Teens - Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://www.libsuccess.org/index.php?title=MySpace_%26_Teens.

O’Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0? Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software. Retrieved September 14, 2008, from Oreilly Web site: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html

OCLC (2007). Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from OCLC Web site: http://www.oclc.org/reports/sharing/default.htm

Ojala, M. (2008). Social Media, Information Seeking, and Generational Differences. ONLINE. 32(2). Retrieved July 10, 2009, from Information Today, Inc. Web site: http://www.infotoday.com/Online/mar08/HomePage.shtml

Open Directory - Reference: Libraries: Library and Information Science: Weblogs. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://www.dmoz.org/Reference/Libraries/Library_and_Information_Science/Weblogs/

Richarme, M. (2009). Ten forces driving business futures. The Futurist. 43(4). 40-44. Retrieved July 7, 2009, from: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1749360891&sid=12&Fmt=3&clientId=13402&RQT=309&VName=PQD

Secker, J. (2008). Social software and libraries: a literature review from the LASSIE project. 42(3). 215-231. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/ViewContentServlet?Filename=Published/EmeraldFullTextArticle/Articles/2800420301.html

Stephens, M. (2008). The Pragmatic Biblioblogger: Examining the Motivations and Observations of Early Adopter Librarian Bloggers.
Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 13(4), 311-345.

Todd, R. (2008). Youth and their Virtual Networked Words: Research Findings and Implications for School Libraries.
School Libraries Worldwide. 14(2), 19-34. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from ProQuest Education Journals. (Document ID: 1567446571).

Wikis - LISWiki. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://liswiki.org/wiki/Wikis

Yahoo! Singapore Directory > Librarian Weblogs. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://sg.dir.yahoo.com/Reference/Libraries/Librarians/Weblogs

Submitted by:
Ivan Chew, Senior Manager, Public Library Services


My first time to Thailand. The food fitted my taste and our hosts (many of whom were LIS PhD candidates) were just so thoughtful and considerate. I regret not bringing anything from Singapore to present to them as parting gifts.

View Larger Map

I'll make up for it next year, when Singapore hosts the 3rd TST workshop.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Asian Children's Festival (ACF) 2009

It's back!

Asian Children's Festival (ACF) 2009

I wanted to help publicise this event. So I got my colleague, Haryani (we affectionately call her Hani), to share more about the ACF 2009. Hani's one of the key members in the organising committee. The ACF is organised by the Public Libraries Singapore.

My name is Haryani and I am the Programmes Executive with the National Library Board.

The much-awaited school holidays are coming and I am ├╝ber excited!

For the past ten years, the library has been celebrating the school holidays with Asian Children's Festival (ACF). This year, the Festival runs from 21 - 29 November and the main event, KidsASIA! will take place from 21-22 November (10.30 am to 6.00 pm) at the Plaza, National Library Building.

2009 marks the tenth anniversary of ACF and we are BIGGER, BOLDER and BETTER this year!

Kids can expect lots of exciting activities from ACF this year. For a start, we have designated four exciting zones, namely, "Kids Play", "Kids Create", "Kids Groove" and "Kids Chill and Read".

In "Kids Play", there are Wii games, sports games like archery, kangoo jump and sports chanbara.

In "Kids Create", children can sign up to make a sushi, decorate a cookie, paint and many more!

All these programmes and workshops are free of charge too! There will also be a showcase of talented children singing, dancing or performing tricks at our "Kids Groove" zone.

Last but not least, we have got storytellers at our "Kids Chill & Read" zone to regale children with stories and more stories.

I plan to bring my nephew and nieces over to enjoy all these activities.

Plus, what’s totally new this year is that we have got segments for parents too. There will be advisories and clinics for parents to sample and on 22 November (Sunday), there are also two educational workshops for parents.

What are you waiting for? Come on down with your families and join us at our biggest ACF ever!

For more information, log on to asianchildrenfest.com or pick up our Go Kids from our public libraries.


Haryani Othman

So did you realise the ACF started 10 years ago in 1999?

May there be 10 more good solid years to the ACF.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Gaming preview session at Jurong Regional Library, Saturday 24 Oct, 2009.

About 20 people responded to the public library's call for participants last Saturday. We had a very good mix of the young to older people.

Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

With their help, my colleagues now know what will really work and what other refinements we need to make for the "live" sessions that will be held in the next two months.

Big thanks to the participants, volunteers (Nicholas, Hero, Alyosius, Cheryl, Sebastian) and staff for enabling the library test out the flow of the session. And a special mention to those who helped spread the word by re-tweeting, forwarding emails, blogging about it.

The session, in a nutshell:
  • Participants were assigned into groups (one objective of the Gaming session was to have participants interact with new people; it's structured to infuse elements of social interaction, conversations/ discussions, learning. Definitely not the arcade-style play-and-scoot event).
  • Each group moved around to try out various game stations (a mix of electronic console games and board games).
  • At each station, participants were briefed on how to play. Where relevant, some learning-related information was thrown-in.
  • After each play, they moved to the next station as a group (at least that was our intent).
  • Wrap-up.

Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

Registration and assignment to teams
Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

Each participant was given a checklist of stations to cover, and also a resource list of related books and web resources that they would encounter during the session.
Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

Learning point: About half did not turn up on time. This posed a problem since our structured session required participants to be assigned to complete groups. My colleagues and I will have to plan for this.

Exhibition-style session
We held the session at the Verging All Teens section at JRL because it was the few venues in the public library system that had an open-concept programme zone and was adequately soundproof.
Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

Here's Mr. Yip and his grandkids, trying out Dance Dance Revolution. Well, Mr. Yip didn't try. I think this station got the fewest play. Understandably, participants -- even teens -- tended to be self-conscious when it comes to dancing.
Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

The Wii Mario Cart Racing station was quite popular among children and adults.
Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

My librarian colleague, Hakim, explaining how the game console works to these four boys. The two Chinese boys were Mr Yip's grandkids while the two older Malay boys were walk-in participants, who'd visited the library to borrow books. They stood there looking interested, so they were invited to play.
Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

This was sort of like a rest-and-converse station. My colleague, Aaron (left) asked what the participants thought of the session so far, and also took the chance to explain why the gaming session was planned this way.
Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library
Mrs Daisy Yip (second from left), a grandmother and educator, mentioned something quite interesting. She shared that at the board game stations, total strangers felt comfortable enough to engage in discussions and conversations.

Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

Inter-generation activity
This photo (which wasn't posed, btw) summed up one objective of the gaming session idea: a shared activity that encouraged natural interactions among participants, regardless ages, gender, race, and gender.
Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

Bonus: Impromptu interview
My friend and gaming-in-library advocate, Kevin Lim, dropped by and interviewed Aaron on why the library organised the event. On the right was Nicholas Khoo, from the Cybersports & Online Gaming Association.
Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

Packing up
The session ended about two and a half hours later. It overran by 30minutes, partly because we started late. All in all, two hours was a good duration for a total of four gaming stations (console and board games) for 15 to 20 participants.
Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

Just for the gaming preview, the volunteers adjourned to the library's meeting room to have lunch. They filled out the survey form, gave us an overall thumbs-up.
Preview session: Gaming at the Public Library

One or two honestly told us about their skepticism of the use of a gaming session, and that was fine. Many libraries, particularly in North America, have already implemented Gaming. The concept is not new and I don't know of any librarians who oppose the concept. What I think we have to do is to make our learning intents clearer before/ during the sessions.

My own assessment was that the event clearly met several objectives:
  • Encouraging social interaction among participants
  • Creating awareness among participants of related library and Internet resources (this was indicated in their feedback forms)
  • Giving some people a good reason to visit the library (one participant said that under normal circumstances, she would not have visited the library because of work commitment, but she could see herself attending a gaming session with her peers)
What needed to be refined was the learning facilitation aspect. On the part of the librarians facilitating the session, the emphasis seemed to be on giving instructions on how to play the game. What I think we should create are stronger links of the learning relevance of the games. The book displays and gaming-related resource lists, by themselves, were not adequate.

For the "live" sessions, we're considering pre/ post-game quizzes, scripts for facilitators on information about the context of the games from relevant information sources. Also, a quick round-up of thoughts/ comments before participants move to next station.

What we certainly do not want is to turn the library into a games arcade.

I believe the difference between a games arcade and a Gaming Learning Community, facilitated by the library, would depend on the librarians as facilitators: how information and structure of activity is contexualised for participants.

Like in a tour group, a great tour guide doesn't just tell the group where to walk (tourists can do this by themselves with basic instructions). The tour guide would also explain the significance of the walk.

Upcoming sessions
The public library will hold 10 sessions, open to public, in Nov and Dec '09. Interested participants can register at golibrary.nlb.gov.sg (search for "gaming" here).

As for whether this will become a regular event after Dec '09, we'll do an evaluation before deciding. And as always, public feedback would help in our evaluation.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Some high-profile musicians who use CC licenses (or "Digital Civics and Intellectual Respect")

Creative Commons Creative Director, Eric Steuer, was quoted at this eMusician.com article:
Can you name some of the other high-profile musicians who use CC licenses?
We've worked with all kinds of artists. Beastie Boys, Deerhoof, Dangermouse, Pearl Jam, Girl Talk and T-Pain are just a few that use CC licenses.

How do you think Creative Commons and copyright fits into this new music industry?
We're in a transition period. And I think that an approach like a CC license can be a critical part of the new music industry because it puts the artist in control to permit which rights they want to grant and which rights they want to keep. I think you'll have more luck getting people involved with your music if you're clear about what you want them to be able to do and tell them how you want to be attributed. This clarity will be integral to the relationship between people who consume and listen to music and people who create and publish it.

I like what ccMixter.org creator, Victor Stone, (cited in this interview) said about the Internet being a "copy machine":
The Internet is a copy machine - it's a natural state of the thing. Denying that, is akin to feeling oppressed because, as a blacksmith, your business is being trampled by these new fangled auto-mobiles. Get over the fact that horseshoes are yesterday's technology and start figuring out how to leverage the natural 'copy state' of the new machine.

Digital Civics and Intellectual Respect
Publicity, marketing, monetisation, commercialisation, copying... I'm not sure why or how, but suddenly I'm thinking about students and our education system.

I'm thinking, kids shouldn't grow up merely being taught about protecting/ respecting Intellectual Property rights only. There ought to be another way of looking at all that. Something more fundamental that "protecting one's rights".

I remember when I was in Primary School, we had "Civics and Moral" classes. I'd like to think schools ought to start introducing "Digital Civics" classes.

How they can go about making conscious choices when (not if) they publish, as well as use, content on the Internet.

I've not thought much about this idea so at this point, I can only say this Digital Civics class should first introduce the idea of "Intellectual Respect". Then "Intellectual Property", "Copyright" and "Creative Commons" can follow.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Trying out Google Wave: Some thoughts

Received my Google Wave preview account a few days ago.
Ivan's Google Wave pane

As I used Google Wave and also revisited my earlier post, here are some thoughts:
  • First reaction was to treat Google Wave like email. But that would be limiting its potential for use.
  • I think of Google Wave as an online document (wiki/ email/ google docs) that allows conversations (add/ remove participants/ follow discussion threads).
  • With Email, we tend to think of recipients primarily as readers. Google Wave recipients are more like potential participants and document collaborators/ contributors. They can edit directly onto your original document (i.e. email in that traditional sense) and/ or reply as sequential threads.
  • I understand Google Wave to be mainly a communication tool, with features more inline with what the hyperlinked, collaboration (edit-anytime), social (join in anytime) conversational aspects of the Internet.
  • A wave can get pretty very long. Akin to reading a discussion forum thread. This is where the Playback feature comes in really useful. You can replay, like a video, the thread of the document from start to current status, showing who added what and so on. You can also skip and forward. Nice.

Interestingly, and gratifyingly, librarians have started something going on Google Wave.

Colleen Greene (@colleengreene), Systems Librarian from Pollak Library, California State University, Fullerton, started a Librarians Wave Directory. By the time it got to me (I think it was Aaron Tay who added me), there were 117 people in the wave:
Google Wave: Librarians Wave Directory

I was going to add an entry to that wave but couldn't make up my mind to try an alphabetical listing from the top or bottom. Along the way, some librarians forgot to adhere to the alphabetical listing request.

Instead of adding to the 'directory' in Colleen's initial document, I posted a reply instead:
I found that clicking the "117 more" link at the top was a nice way of seeing the directory in a graphical view. One enhancement that would be nice was if the mouse-overs had some consistent display, like name/ blog URL of the person. And would be nice to be able to embed an Excel spreadsheet in a wave.

It didn't surprise me Google Wave just became a trending topic on Twitter (though about an hour later it seemed to have dropped off the chart).
Twitter trending topic - Google Wave

It also didn't surprise me to read some tweets that went along these lines: "Woohoo, I've got my Google Wave account! But I've got nobody to Google Wave with :(".

Google Wave is a cool tool but ultimately you ought to have something to say or friends to connect.

I'm at ramblinglibrarian@googlewave.com, btw.

Right... and I wonder when I'll receive the first Google Wave spam.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Open call for participants for a Gaming preview session at Jurong Regional Library, Saturday 24 Oct.

This is published with my employer's permission.

The Public Libraries (Singapore) would like to invite participants to a Gaming preview session on SAT October 24, 2009, 10am to 1pm at Jurong Regional Library's Verging All Teens space (Level 4). Lunch will be provided.

The Public Libraries intends to run a series of gaming events for the public. But before that, we hope to try out the session with a small group, to get your feedback and refine the programme format.

We plan to have about 20 participants for this preview session. If you're interested in helping the library test the programme format, please email me at RamblingLibrarian@gmail.com not later than 15 Oct '09.

Also, please let me know if you have special dietary needs (e.g. Halal food, Vegetarian). We will need to confirm the number of participants by 15th Oct (first come first serve).

More information below:
Why is the Public Libraries organising this preview session?
We hope you can try the games and let us know what you think of the programme. The library would like your inputs on how to refine the activity before we open it to the public at large.

What do I have to do at this preview session?
  • The entire event is about 3 hours (including lunch) on Saturday 10am - 1pm, at Jurong Regional Library (Level 4, VAT space).
  • You will get to play a mix of console games (Wii Tennis, Bowling, Mario Kart Wii, and Dance Dance Revolution) and also board games (Carcassone, Rat-a-Tat-Cat, and Blokus.). The session will be facilitated by our librarians and volunteers. Depending on the games, players will be grouped into teams (which we think is a nice way of getting others to meet and make new friends).
  • Lunch will be served, and the librarians will have a short chat with all participants. We hope to get your views on the games and the programme format -- basically your opinions on how you feel about the proposed gaming programme. You may also have questions like "why is the public library offering gaming?". We will answer any questions you have on that day.

Is this session open to bloggers only?
Nope. The main aim of this preview session is to have participants test out the games and format. We hope to get your views on how to improve the session before it is open to public. Of course the library would like to have as many people publicise the event (on your blog, or to your friends on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter etc.)). But only if you choose to do so. In any case, you're welcome to take photos and videos during the preview session.

Can I invite other friends to come along?
Sure! Feel free to pass this message. But we need everyone to register with us, so that we know how much food we need to prepare for lunch. We plan to have around 20 people for this session but if more people are interested, we'll see what we can do with this happy problem.

I'll just add that in offering a Gaming activity, the last thing we wanted was for people to adopt a "play and scoot" mentality (they can go to the games arcade for that). The gaming session is designed such that it would encourage personal exploration, and participant discussion and interactions. As well as introducing related library materials and resources through those games.

Well, you'll have to find out more about what all that is about. If you can attend the preview session.

Here are some pictures from our testing session. BTW, thanks to the guys from the NTU Board Games Society: Pratheepan, Aloysius, Ben. They lent us some board games and also took time off their school schedule to show us how the board games work. During our planning session, they gave us ideas on how to facilitate the board games. Their members will also act as volunteer faciltators during the "live" sessions.

Wii bowling

Gaming is not just console games

At first I thought this was "Risk" but it's called "Carcassone". It involves luck and intellect as well.
Carcassone - board game

My colleague, Aaron Tan (btw he's also the initiator for this Gaming event), showing us how to Dance his way to a Revolution. Or was it Dance in a Revoluntary way? Why is it called Dance Dance Revolution anyway?
Dance Dance Revolution

Unfortunately, you won't be a Guitar Hero. At least not for this round. We're not having this game for the time being (but maybe our preview session participants may think otherwise).
Wanna be a (Guitar) Hero?

Console game titles