Monday, January 31, 2011

Read in Jan 2011

Start of 2011 and I read:

Between Water and Song: New Poets for the Twenty-First Century
[RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus]

Brevity 2: Another Collection of Comics by Guy and Rodd
[RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus]

[RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus]

Futurama: The Time Bender Trilogy
[RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus]

Lost Squad
[RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus]

StarCraft: Frontline Volume 1 (Starcaft) (v. 1)
[RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus]

Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations and Compelling Characters
[RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus]

The Crown and Other Stories
[RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus]

The Question: Five Books of Blood
[RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus]

The Unwritten Vol. 2: Inside Man
[RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus]

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rambling with Silver: 30 Jan/ 29 Jan 2011

[Explanation: An archive for my own personal reference and reflection, of memorable bits from my Skype conversation with David Silver, Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of San Francisco. Feel free to join the conversation.]

Previous ramble - 30 Sept/ 1 Oct 2010

David's Dream Exhibit:
  • In the library; Circle/ panels; 360-degree view
  • Displaying foods by seasons; "Fill in the exhibit as we go along the seasons"; Showcase seasonal recipes; Feature cookbooks, poetry books (winter, spring etc.)
  • "get viewers mindful of seasons"
  • What about Singapore, which has no seasons? David suggests holiday food traditions, which tends to be seasonal (true!)
  • Information could be based both librarians and patrons own research
  • "nowadays we don't care about the seasons: chickens are available year-round in the grocery stores"
  • "imagine a huge world map; figure out where our food come from".
  • Perhaps extend the idea to a cross-country chat (among teens?)

Future of libraries
  • "Libraries are beholden to books", and notion of literacy is significantly "print-based literacy"
  • David observes that (in the US) librarians used to complain that users come in to use computers only and leave without borrowing. Now some librarians are glad libraries have computers, so that people are visiting libraries.
  • We talked about fearing the Internet in the 90s, and whether there are similarities with the fears of digitisation and rise of eBooks today.
  • David suggests a possible research area about "librarians' fears from 1994 - 2010"; suggests this could go back to the '80s with the onset of computer databases.
  • Possible source of research: editorials of library journals of last 15 years; library magazines; forecast articles; "fears"; initial reactions to microfiche
  • Suggested reading: Joseph Corn's "Imagining Tomorrow"; popular stories/ narratives on what the future is going to look like.
Imagining Tomorrow: History, Technology, and the American Future

The September Project (TSP)
  • Problems of being bogged down with immediate needs of posting updates (not hard to do in itself but the volume overwhelms)
  • Suggestion that TSP could develop the following framework: 
    • David & Sarah (funding, figurehead roles, interview students)
    • Gleeson Library (learning & training partner)
    • Student Volunteers (content work)
  • Value to the library - a way to position the library as a focal point; to engage students in a global volunteer activity
  • Value to students - learn a skill (blogging, google maps), apply the learning, learn about libraries both nationally and globally; count as academic work
  • Once this "operational" foundation is established, then there's more time to work on innovative aspects to TSP

BTW, check out Librarians and Social Change, a research project by Teresa Garcia, with a case study on TSP.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Engagement: More than just Feedback (Part 1)

This article led me to explore the Give A Minute website:
Give a Minute is a new kind of public dialogue. It only takes a minute to think about improving your city, but your ideas can make a world of difference. "Give a Minute" is an opportunity for you to think out loud; address old problems with fresh thinking; and to enter into dialogue with change-making community leaders. Soon, you’ll also be able to link up with others who have similar ideas and work on making your city an even better place.
Give a Minute!

Very cool site, in terms of design and presentation. The submissions appear as Post-It notes. To view them, you use the Zoom-in feature (at the top left of the website). The individual notes can be shared via Facebook.

Give a Minute! Give a Minute!

I didn't try to submit a suggestion, so I'm not sure if there's any filtering or authentication (by IP address) on what appears on the page.

Give a Minute!

Like any feedback site, the suggestions are of varying "quality". What is "quality" is subjective but you can tell that some are better conceived than others. And some posts are self-promotional than genuine submission of ideas:
Give a Minute!

For all its coolness, the Give A Minute site functions more like a feedback portal rather than a real crowdsourcing site as suggested by the Co.Design article headline. Though in fairness, the Give A Minute site itself didn't suggest that it was crowdsourcing in any way.

I understand Crowdsourcing to be more than just "ideas from the crowd". There has to be some activity or actions from participants too. Merely soliciting ideas and views doesn't seem like crowdsourcing to me.

The Singapore government's equivalent of Give A Minute would be the REACH portal, and probably the eCitizen portal (i.e. the Feedback page, where submitters don't have to worry about which government agency to direct their views).

As both a library employee (we receive loads of suggestions) and also a private citizen who has submitted feedback to private companies and government-related organisations, I think ideas are cheap.

The devil is in the implementation.

I'm not demeaning the ideas from customers (or myself). It's good when the citizenry/ public is increasingly forthcoming with views and suggestions, for the opposite would be apathy.

Social media is increasingly the tool of choice for engaging the citizenry. But it's become so easy to give ideas and suggestions that the concept of engagement has to be more than that.

The article made me wonder how government agencies could adopt crowdsourcing as a means of engagement. Or more important, what would make it work?

I'll have to think about it.

Meantime, if you happen to stumble onto this post, feel free to leave your comments.

[Next: Part 2]

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Writing as an individual, rather than "For the Institution"

It's the reminder remainder of my lunch time as I write this. Taking a break before the workshop resumes.

I'm conducting a "Writing for Social Media"* workshop today. Have been conducting this for maybe three years or so. About eight runs so far.

The course covers aspects of writing for the Internet and social media -- blogs, a little bit of Facebook/ Twitter, an overview of planning vodcasts and podcasts. There's some technical information and techniques (e.g. what does it mean to "write concisely", "in a personal tone", "passive Vs active voice", differences in writing instructional posts Vs feature articles).

Participants go through writing activities, group discussions and class critiques (I always warn them to leave their egos at the door -- but it's not as hard horrible as it sounds).
NLBA Writing for Social Media workshop

I also try to get the class to discuss and think about what it means to be "social", as opposed to only "writing".

The hardest bit, from my perspective as a trainer, is in explaining what it means to "write from the heart". Or rather, convince the participants why it's important to do do.

In explaining about "writing from the heart", I still quote Shel's book: write with "Passion" and "Authority".

Participants also shared that it's about giving readers a glimpse into our personal viewpoints or work. E.g. how did we plan for this programme? What did participants tell us?

And about our feelings, e.g. what's my personal thoughts after facilitating a book discussion session? What new insights did I learn?

Technical skills are easier to master. But the ability to evoke emotions from the reader -- that's an art in itself.

Also, what one reader feels is emotive writing may come across as bland to another.

And I think in a work setting, few jobs require the employee to write with emotions. Couple that with the culture of librarianship being more of "behind the scenes" rather than being "front and centre", it's harder to get a library institution to share it's institutional knowledge, through its people-assets.

* The workshop details are not posted at the NLB Academy site, but you can email them to enquire.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Read in 2010

If you're interested in what I read in 2010, here's the link.

Total of 93 items listed there. About 42 items (or 45%) were graphic novels. Which meant 51 items were books.

About 4 books a month. Almost all were items borrowed from the public libraries.

Was a bit surprised at that, 'cos I expected to have read even less books in 2010. Apparently I reversed my own decline in reading books and graphic novels. I definitely blogged a lot less in 2010 compared to 2009 (and even less than 2008). It all has to do with how I used my discretionary time.

I was able to keep up my reading because I commute to work on the MRT. I tend to have a book on hand when I travel by train.

Don't have an iPad or Kindle, so it's still largely books for me. A related point was made here.

My choice of graphic novels arose from a need to just chill and read something less heavy-going.

My rate of reading/ borrowing was maintained because I visit a public library almost every day, as part of my work.

Yet another reminder that for libraries, whose main products offered as still in physical formats, if we're out of reach, then we'll soon be out of touch.

Singaporeans working adults are just so pressed for time today, and offered so many other reading alternatives. It's no surprise that they won't use public libraries if we don't offer them something that they can't obtain elsewhere (or would find it too expensive to do so, on a regular basis).