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So, I finally get to write a blog post about my Kindle. I’ve managed to restrain myself pretty well, I think – there was the temptation on the very first day of ownership to sit down and immediately dash off an ‘I LOVE IT!!!!1!!11!!!!1’ post. But I resisted. I’ve made it all the way to nearly 3 weeks of ownership and tried out a variety of features before sitting down to write a sensible, measured evaluation. So here we go:

I LOVE IT!!!!1!!11!!!!1

*ahem*

Ok, excitement over. Let’s try again:

The Kindle is magic.

Really magic, I mean. In a way that my smartphone isn’t. Now, don’t get me wrong – I love my smartphone too. Very much. I don’t think I’ve been more than 20 feet from it for the past two years. And yes, it does things that I could never imagine. But it’s not magic – it’s science-fiction.

The Kindle, however, is magic. The enchanted book which is a different story every time you read it; the magic box filled with 1001 stories: these are primal, fairy-tale magic. It’s the sort of thing you can understand at a gut, rather than intellectual, level.

Someone on twitter today (and apologies for forgetting who) linked to this flowchart: Explain the internet, to a 19th century British street urchin. You might have a hard time (and your boots nicked) explaining the internet, but I’ll bet you could explain an ereader…

Part of this magic is the ease with which you can download new books onto the Kindle. I have a hundred books or so on my phone, and thought that was pretty awesome. But that required hooking your reading device up to your computer, transferring files, and then being limited to just reading those until the next time you hook back up, and it really can’t compare to the amazing feeling of having all these books at your fingertips. I can read (just about) anything I want, (just about) anywhere, and (just about) instantly. Until you’ve experienced it, it’s very difficult to comprehend what an amazing sensation this actually is.

This is helped by how extremely easy it is to buy things from the Kindle store. Just as easy – and even more magical! – is this: the magic catalogue of Project Gutenberg ebooks. It’s just about the greatest thing ever!

Step 1: download the document onto your Kindle (use the shortcut http://bit.ly/gutmagic to save typing in the whole url)
Step 2: open it up as a book
Step 3: search it for the author/title/keyword you’re looking for
Step 4: chose search result. Click on desired title. Book will download

According to this article (HT @inthesoup) this doc covers over 30,000 books. 30,000! free! instant! books! (yes, it is more exciting on a Kindle than a computer. I don’t know why. It just is.)

The document isn’t totally up-to-date – I don’t know what the cut-off is, but I’ve already found a book posted to PG on May 8th, 2009 that isn’t in this catalogue. So, not perfect, but still an enormously wonderful thing! As the above article points out, you can also go to http://m.gutenberg.org/ to download Kindle-format PG books that didn’t make it into the magic catalogue.

Another fantastic application (thanks to @MancLibraries) is http://sendtoreader.com/, which will send a webpage to your Kindle. Much easier than relying on the Kindle’s own browser (I have the 3G Kindle, and loading times can sometimes feel like I’m back with a 56k modem), or copying/pasting the content you want into a doc and sending it to your Kindle yourself. I successfully sent myself an Ariadne article and the front page of http://awfullibrarybooks.net/ (complete with images!). The only slight fail was when I tried for Go To Hellman – both attempts sent me only the oldest post from the page. Again. not perfect, but still something I can see myself using often.

I bought my Kindle on a whim, when I realised that I had enough points to get Β£110 in Amazon vouchers – leaving me able to buy a wifi Kindle for Β£1. I’ve been waiting and waiting for a decent and affordable Android tablet, and when it didn’t look like the current crop were going to meet my needs, I started looking for alternatives. I decided that I could probably do enough with a 3G Kindle (combined with my phone) to justify this instead of a tablet.

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to create new documents on the Kindle, but I thought that – especially with web access – there must be some way around that. Well, I’ve found a few ways I can use my Kindle to take notes on the move:

Online:
Evernote: I can connect to the Evernote website, create and edit notes. The Evernote website doesn’t get on brilliantly with the Kindle browser (the first time I tried, the pointer wouldn’t snap to button, so I had a *very* frustrating few minutes trying to login), but it does work.

Google docs: I’m still slightly undecided whether google docs actually works with the Kindle. One thing I know you can’t do is to go to your google docs homepage and open up docs from there: they open in a new tab/window, and the Kindle doesn’t support multiple browser windows. What you can do is get the link to the individual document, and load it directly. I’ve been able to view (but not edit) a spreadsheet, and edit (but clumsily) a text document. I haven’t done too much experimenting, but for just plain typing it does seem to work – and it autosaves, too.

Offline:
While you can’t create a new document on your Kindle, you can annotate existing documents. I’ve done this with a few case studies for my book – put them on Kindle, read through and annotated on train journey. These notes end up in your ‘my clippings’ document, and once back at your computer you can hook up your Kindle, copy this doc off, and voila! Your notes πŸ™‚ I decided to try this for the CILIP course I went on last week (which I’ve written about here), and while I ended up taking notes with pen and paper and didn’t actually get to try it, I’m fairly sure my reasoning is sound:

Step 1) Create text/word document containing the programme for the day/headings of things you might want to write about (you could, of course, just annotate any existing document, but creating one will help you manage your notes)
Step 2) Transfer/send to your Kindle
Step 3) Navigate within the doc to the bit you want to make notes about. Start annotating. Repeat as required.

Very blurry shot of my Kindle, showing case study with notes

Very blurry shot of my Kindle, showing case study with notes

I’ve written some fairly long notes, and haven’t hit a word limit yet, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one! If you do hit a limit, just move onto the next word or line, and start another note. Again, I know this isn’t ideal, but this really makes the difference for me: it turns the Kindle from a passive-consumption device (which I couldn’t really justify buying) into a really useful tool, that could potentially save me having to lug a laptop around…

Oh, and it’s not too shabby for reading on, either πŸ˜‰

**edit**
A couple of resources people have linked to in the comments:
Instapaper allows you to send articles/webpages marked as ‘read later’ to your Kindle
Calibre ebook management – allows you to convert to various formats, including Kindle.

Thanks Rob and Alison!

(yes, I apologise for the title. But at least it’s not a pun on ‘Kindle’ eh?)

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I realised today that although I’ve spent months helping other people to tell their library stories over at Voices for the Library, I’ve never told mine. It’s nothing special – just one more life made a little less ordinary by libraries.

I can’t remember ever not being a member of the library. As a child, Saturday afternoons bounded by mini kickstools and the printed page. As a young adult, away at uni and bereft of my books for the first time, going to Manchester Central Library, and sitting up all night to devour all 8 books in one mammoth gorge.

I met a Childline councillor at a literary event a few years ago, and admitted to her that I was addicted to books. She thought for a moment, and then said that it was the only healthy addiction she’d ever heard of.

She was wrong.

It’s not healthy. Unmanaged, it has all the symptoms of any other addiction. The hunger for the next fix that draws you mind away from everything else. Retreating from friends and family to sequester yourself with the object of your obsession. Staying up late, indulging, and being late and groggy in the morning. Missing school/uni/work altogether for just one more book, one more hit, I have to know what happens…

The one thing that set me apart from other junkies? I never had to steal to feed my habit. I didn’t need to – all the books I could ever want, ever need, were in the library. A whole building full of books, for you to touch and read and take home – do you have any idea how incredible that is? An everyday wonder that, because it is everyday, we have ceased to call wonderful.

Older, my habit under control, but never quite kicked (once a book junkie always a book junkie), I start to cast around for a career. I have a vague feeling that there is more to libraries than just the books, and that – whatever it is – if it’s associated with libraries, it must be pretty darn awesome. I was right.

I looked for a career, and I found a vocation. And I found the very very best thing about libraries. It’s not the books, or the computers, or the community events or the bookclubs or the bounce and rhyme or the safe space or the information on anything you could ever possibly need to know. It’s the librarians. The most competent, dedicated and passionate group of people I’ve ever met. The people who will give all they have defending the right to free, open, impartial access to information to all. The people who make everything else that libraries do possible.

And today, on Save Libraries day, I’m especially proud of them. I’m proud of all the battles they’re fighting for the good of society, and I’m proud of them for the challenges they’re overcoming to do so: the threats from employers, the hostility of councillors, the accusations of selfishness, the hideousness that is online comment forums. And I am immensely proud and privileged to call these people my colleagues, my friends. I usually call myself an information professional, but not today.

Today, I am a librarian.

Managed to lose track, so this is a two-days-for-the-price of one library day in the life

Thurs
Back in the office today, after the excitement of a trip to London yesterday. While I was away from a computer, we received 5 more applications for the SLA Europe ECCAs. This is great news, but I wish they hadn’t all waited until I was unavailable! I checked that the applications had come through, and then emailed each of the applicants to say thanks for applying, and that we’d got their documents safely. We’re trialling an online submission form for applications this year, which worked fine in testing, but suddenly decided to start throwing errors once real applications came in… This means I have to reply manually to applicants, rather than the nice automated systems doing all the work!

I also booked some leave (woohoo!) and answered some Copac and Archives Hub queries.

Then checking more library data for Copac, and the gym at lunch time again.

More data checking in the afternoon. I’ve now had a look at the basics of the files. Next week I’ll look for things that we recognise as potential issues for all imports – eg are notes about theses in a 502 field? If not, are they consistent enough that we can move them to one? I’ll also make sure that there is holdings information for all records – or that we know how to handle it if not!

Then draft a quick post for the Archives Hub blog about VftL and our board meeting, which should go live on Monday.

Friday
A work from home day today! I don’t work from home very often, but today I needed to record some tutorials for the Archives Hub on how to use the EAD Editor, and it seemed easier and more sensible to do it from home, where I’ve got the right equipment, and shouldn’t be disturbed.

Possibly because I don’t work from home very often, I’ve found it quite difficult to be productive today. This could be because I don’t have a special workspace at home – I’m sat on my sofa, at my computer, same as during normal ‘me time’. I think if I was working from home more often, I’d need to put some kind of differentiation in place. maybe just wearing proper clothes rather than slopping around in my at home clothes!

Of course, I have been doing a lot of work from home recently, at evenings and weekends, mainly for VftL, but also for SLA and my book! (I’m editing a New Professionals Handbook for Facet, and if you haven’t already had one, watch out for emails begging for case studies!) But while that has to be done, it doesn’t have the same ‘must sit down and be at the computer between 10 and 5:30’ vibe that actually working from home does.

So rather a bitty day today. Got some adminy stuff cleared up, dabbled at a bit of light writing. I’ve also practised my UKOLN social web day talk, and am pleased to say it comes in at 25 mins 30 πŸ™‚ Slides will be done on Monday, when I’m back in work with my two monitors! I do find it much harder to go back to working with only one – perhaps another reason that working from home’s not been so successful for me today.

Finally as an end-of-day treat, I watched Ned Potter’s day in the life video, which you should totally watch if you haven’t already. It’s ace, and making me wish I’d been rather more creative in my own libday6 stuff… Ned’s an inspiration as always!

Day three of the Library Day in the Life round 6

This was a day full of adventure and excitement, as I headed down to London to meet the Voices for the Library team! Most of us had never met each other before yesterday, despite having worked very closely together over the past 5 months, so we were extremely pleased to finally have a face-to-face meeting!

It was also my first experience of chairing an in-person meeting, and I’m delighted to say we covered everything on the agenda, and only over-ran by an hour πŸ™‚ I never thought there would be any problems, and the team proved to be as lovely ands easy to work with in person as they are virtually. We’ll be releasing the minutes on the VftL website soon (thanks to some sterling work from secretary Simon), but for now I’ll just say watch out for some exciting developments next week!

I took advantage of the train journey down to London to read Ruth Kneale’s book ‘You don’t look like a librarian‘. I’d been given a copy to review for SLA Europe, so I’ll save most of what I have to say for the review. One thing though – I wish I hadn’t been reading it on the train with no laptop, as there were loads of links and resources I wanted to follow up on!

Day two of the Library Day in the Life round 6

I’m on helpdesk duty for Copac and the Archives Hub today, so today starts (even before my first cup of tea!) with a check through of the emails that have come in since yesterday. Most of them are spam, but there’s one real query for Copac – someone wanting a copy of a paper. This happens fairly often with Copac – we explain what Copac is ‘a merged catalogue of the holdings of over 50 UK national, academic, and specialist libraries’, and that we don’t hold any items ourselves. Then we point them to a source for the item they want, telling them who holds it and/or suggesting they ask their local library for an inter-library loan.

A couple of quick SLA Europe emails sent, about the ECCAs (deadline soon!).

Then onto scripting my talk for the UKOLN social web workshop next week. I’m talking about VftL and social media. Have a plan of what I want to say in my 25 mins, but I have to script it! No good at talking without a script, so I have to write it all out and practice it… Fortunately I have my exceedingly handy words per minute list, which allows me to work out how many words I need to fill certain amounts of time, without repeated reading and timing. It can be quite daunting though! 25 minutes works out at 4000 words, which is rather hefty…

But there’s the libraries debate going on at Westminster this morning as well, and Haggis and Mash up in Edinburgh, so my twitterstream is even more distracting than usual! By 11 I’ve only got 350 words written – time to turn twitter off for a while…

Get distracted just in time to turn on the #haggisandmash stream to hear @juliancheal talking about linked data. He’s working on the LOCAH project, and I’m naturally keen to hear what he’s got to say (and not just because I want to steal his examples for my article, oh no!). Then lunch, and a quick check of helpdesk and personal emails.

Part of me wants to do something else this afternoon, but I’m 1500 words into my presentation, and should really plough on. Trust #libday6 to happen on a week where I’m mainly doing large chunks of writing! Tomorrow will be more exciting though πŸ™‚

2000 words! so a quick break and another Copac query. One I can’t answer this time, so have passed on to a colleague to look into. Then watched Gary Green’s ‘save libraries mashup challenge video’, before tea & cake!

Then back to the scripting. I get everything I want to say done in 3500 words. When I time it on Friday I’ll see how close that comes into the 25 minutes – I’m sure allowing an extra few minutes for questions will be fine!

I make sure I’ve got my train tickets for tomorrow (off to London for the VftL board meeting), and some stuff to read on the train. I’ve never chaired a real face-to-face meeting before, so I hope I’m not expected to do any special esoteric preparation… (‘You! Chair! You’re supposed to have memorised every word of every email from the past 6 months! And brought cake! What’s wrong with you?!?’) To be on the safe side, I think I might take cake πŸ˜‰

It’s Library Day in the Life time again! Here’s my day on Mon 24/1/11.

First thing of the day is to check emails while drinking tea. In between the spam, there’s some interesting stuff, and I’ll add it to my to-do-list. After years of hand-written to-do-lists, I’ve recently been converted (thanks @woodsiegirl!) to using Nirvana. Finding it very useful – it’s great to be able to brain-dump everything I need to do for a project.

First email action is to help an Archives Hub contributor – having an issue using the EAD Editor. Been doing some back-and forwards email diagnostics, then logged on as them to see if I could reproduce the problem. Seems to be fixed.

Decided to blog rather than tweet my libday6, as a) the blog’s been rather quiet recently and b) it means I don’t have an excuse to be on twitter all day, so I might be more productive… Still popping on to check out other people’s days though, so probably not.

Realise am putting off working on article. Am writing 5000 word article for Business Information Review about Linked Data and the LOCAH project. Not had to write a long, peer-reviewed article for quite some time! Finding it a bit daunting, especially as my knowledge of Linked Data is very limited and mainly practical. Understand enough to work on my bits of the LOCAH project, but do I understand enough to write about it so other people will understand? Regardless, my aim for today is to get 1000 words done, whether they make any sense or not!

Squeezed in a quick blog post over at Voices for the Library about the Library day in the life project – hopefully might lead to a bit of echo chamber escaping!

Got 500 word introduction to the article written before lunch. Then off to the gym, and back for a quick sandwich in front of the emails that have come in over lunch.

Quick check of personal emails to make sure there’s nothing I need to do for VftL, and no SLA Europe award submissions to acknowledge. The deadline for ECCA applications is a week today (31st Jan), so I’m expecting a lot in over the next few days!

I reach 1000 words at 3:30, and celebrate with coffee, chocolate, and a quick twitter break. Decide to carry on with the article for now, as it’s going quite well – though am bemused as to why EndNote isn’t displaying page numbers. Will have to check output style settings, but that can wait until the end! Letting myself get distracted by things like that is one of my worst productivity drains.

Ok, managed another 20 mins and 200 words, before starting miring myself in a description of URIs and RDF. Will leave it for today, and hope it become slightly clearer tomorrow.

On to some data checking for Copac. We’ve got some new contributors lined up for 2011, and I’m looking over the data of the Bishopsgate Library. This came to us in XML. I produced a mapping for our programmer to apply, to turn XML into MARC, and it’s this MARC output that I’m going to be checking now, to make sure that the data has been transformed correctly, and makes sense as MARC. Once processed, the data will go through anothet transformation to trun it from MARC to the MODS XML format used on Copac. That’s a little while away yet though!

Got the first tranche of data done by 5, and have scheduled myself in to look at the second set tomorrow. For now it’s writing up this blog post, then check over emails (work and personal) for any more actions for tonight or tomorrow. We’re having the first VftL board meeting in London on Weds, and tonight I’ll be looking over what people want to discuss, and finalising the agenda.

Wow! Nearly a month between blog posts! And this one’s going to be a bit of a cop-out… An update on the things I’ve been doing that have kept me from blogging πŸ™‚

Voices for the Library
The VftL campaign has been steadily gaining momentum! As we’re losing two of our members to CILIP council in the new year (congrats Katy and Phil!), we’ve been having a think about how we can sustainably take the campaign forward, without losing our agility, or burning-out any of the team… With this in mind, we’re having our first in-person board meeting in Jan. While we failed abjectly to find a date that everyone could make, we are going to have most of the team there, and I can’t emphasise enough how utterly fab it’s going to be to have people together! While we’ve done fantastic jobs (yes, I’m biased!) working together online, a face-to-face sit-down-and-have-a-good-chat-then-go-to-the-pub is going to be really constructive and energising – and, knowing the VftL crowd, an awful lot of fun too πŸ™‚

SLA Europe
We’ve recently announced the calls for two SLA Europe awards: the Early Career Conference Awards (ECCAs), and the European Information Professional award (IP). There’s still pots of time to get your applications/nominations in for these, and I’d really recommend you do so! Having won an ECCA in 2009, I can wax lyrical about the brilliant opportunities it gave me – if it wasn’t for the ECCA, my career would have been very different! (and probably a lot more boring).

A book!
I’ve been talking to Facet publishing recently about the possibility of producing something for them for their 2012 catalogue. It’s all a bit at the ‘eek!’ stage at the moment, but watch this space for updates πŸ˜€

Mimas
Yes, I do have a day job as well ;p It’s so easy to get caught up in all the other professional stuff I’m doing outside work, and to forget that I have a fantastic job, which I love doing! Some really exciting stuff going on at the moment, too. I’m learning all about linked data for the LOCAH project, and am just about to start converting the diagram of the proposed Copac linked data structure into a proper specification. This makes my head hurt a lot of the time, but fortunately we’ve got a good team on the project, who are helping me through. Discussion appears to be one of the key things in working this stuff out – I can sit and stare at it for hours without getting anywhere (except tied up in knots), and then make loads of progress on the basis of a short discussion. I’m really pleased to be involved in the project, and hopefully at some points the moments of revelation will come to equal the moments of *headdesk*.

We’re also finalising the new libraries load list for Copac for 2011, and there are some corkers on there. We try to have libraries at all stages of the loading process, so we can keep the work flowing nicely, which means I’m always talking to libraries to arrange loads, processing data, and preparing information pages. I do content development for the Archives Hub as well as Copac, so at any given point I’m likely to be elbow-deep in MARC, EAD – or both!

When I’m not wading through data, they occasionally let me leave the office. I was down in London for the Online conference, working on the Mimas stand, trying to attend some floor sessions, handing out VftL flyers (thanks Credo!), doing fun things with SLA colleagues, networking, smiling, and drinking wine. The conference was a bit quieter than last year, but I’m still very glad I took a long weekend to recover.

ooh, and although I haven’t been blogging here, I did do a guest post for the utterly-fab Librarians with lives blog. I’m finding all of the tips for fitting CPD into an overstretched time-budget really useful πŸ™‚ Now I just need to figure out how to fit more blogging in too!

It’s no secret that a lot of librarians and information professionals are keen on getting things done right. As a profession, we tend towards perfectionism. I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing – a lot of what we do is detail-orientated, and needs to be precise. Perfection can be a laudable state to aim for – but not when it interferes with Getting Things Done.

I started thinking about this after reading Lauren’s guest post on Ned’s blog, about how to escape the echo chamber. The theme that runs through everything Lauren says, unstated but hovering just below the surface, is the admonishment to Just Do It. Got a chance to speak to a reporter? Someone in authority? Don’t worry so much about what you’re going to say that you miss the opportunity. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It does need to be done.

This doesn’t just apply to campaigning and advocacy. A RIN report ‘Discovering physical objects: Meeting researchers’ needs‘ had the telling conclusion that:

their most important wish is that online access to museum databases to be provided as quickly as possible, even if the records are imperfect or incomplete

Imperfect or incomplete catalogue records! Did that just send a shudder through you? Get over it. Our job isn’t to pander to our own desire for elegantly and meticulously constructed records. Our job is to provide access to information – and that includes letting people know that it exists.

Remember, incomplete is not the same as inaccurate! There is nothing wrong with making your ‘works in progress’ available – mark them as such, and let people do what they can with the information. Whatever they can do, it’s bound to be more than they could do with no information at all.

So, let go of your librarianly need to control everything. Stop seeing half a job as worse than no job. Start celebrating what we actually can achieve, and stop waiting for the mythical ‘someday’ when you’ll have a chance to get things done right.

Do what you can; improve and build on it when you have chance. And if you don’t have chance? Don’t worry about it. You’ve done something, made a difference to someone. Nothing sitting in a draft folder ever changed even a tiny corner of the world.

Distract your inner perfectionist with some apostrophe abuse, and embrace the perpetual beta.

Back in 2008, Tara Brabazon visited CERLIM to give a talk. If you’ve never seen Tara speak, I’d recommend it! I found her an intelligent, engaging, and entertaining speaker. I didn’t take notes – I just sat there and listened, absorbed in the talk. At the end of the talk, she told me that I was such a good listener, she wanted to take me back to Brighton.

Alas, I’m unlikely to gain any such approbation now. Despite knowing that speakers value attentive, smiling faces, you’re more likely to find me hunched over my keypad, frantically tweeting. This might be good for me, but…

Hang on – is this actually good for me? I’m generally a big fan of tweeting at conferences. I say it helps me to engage; gives me an online, searchable note archive; and helps others to experience the conference. It can also help the speaker to see what people have taken away from their talk. While I’m not doubting the value of these things, I’m starting to wonder if I’m really engaging in such a way as to give and others maximum value.

When I was in college, we were given a listening lesson. We all sat round in a circle, and closed our eyes while listening to Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood. The idea was that closing our eyes would help us to focus, help us to forget that we were in a grubby portacabin instead of Llareggub. Being one of those annoyingly ‘good’ people, I kept my eyes faithfully shut the whole time, and it did work. Not surprising, really – deny your primary sense, and others come bounding into play.

But it’s not really practical in everyday life. It may be all well and good to recline, yeux firmly fermΓ©, and enjoy some Wagner, or a jolly good play on Radio 4, but it’s not quite so practical in a large conference hall. And besides, people are bound to think you’ve fallen asleep, and snigger at you during networking.

Nor would either of these methods go down very well at work. You may have noticed that in the opening sentence of this post I’ve very carefully not mentioned exactly what Tara Brabazon came to talk about. Why? Because I’ve forgotten. Oh, I’ve got a vague idea (something to do with undergrads and research), but I don’t know exactly – and I have no notes to refer to, to find out. And while speakers do value attentive faces, I’m sure they value what they say being taken away, remembered and used more.

So, note-taking wins out here. And using those notes to spread the learning, to enlighten and inform others, is an absolute must. But is twittering as I go along really the best way to do it?

I tend to choose tweeting events over blogging for a fairly simple reason: I don’t have time to go back after each event, revisit my notes, and write them up as a blog post. I wish I did! In an ideal world, of course, that’s what I’d do – read and digest my notes, to produce a blog post about each session that not only reports session content, but contains reflections and links, ideas and questions. But if I did that, I’d never have time to go to any other events…

Some talented people can live-blog events. I like to blame my inability to do this on my inability to touch-type, but I know it’s more than that – it’s the pace of my thoughts, as well as my typing, that’s holding me back. Something to aspire to, but for now? Out of the question.

Which brings us back to tweeting. I’ve got my conference tweeting method down: start off with the name of the presenter and title of talk. For all subsequent tweets, get the presenters initials and the hashtag ready written, then wait for a snippet. Tweet and repeat. This has worked for me quite well so far, but I’m not sure if it’s giving maximum value. While I tweet, I’m missing things. While I’m tweeting one point, another, more important one might come along. There might be important things that don’t – shock horror! – fit into 140 characters. What to do about this?

Well, here’s an interesting question: does tweeting from an event need to be live-tweeting? Would it be better to take notes, and then tweet selected highlights? This could be done during breaks and changeovers, or on the train home. It would give me a chance to go back through my notes, but in a less time-consuming way than reworking for a blog post. It would give those following on twitter a chance to read my selected highlights – what I think, after consideration, are the main points of the talk – not just what I manage to type.

Obviously, there are drawbacks: where there are other people tweeting from the event, my out-of-synch tweets might be confusing for followers. Fine in a digest-format, not so fine in a timeline. The less the difference in synchronisation, the better.

There’s also the issue of my time. I optimistically say ‘during breaks and changeovers’. Well, there’s other stuff I want to do during that time too. You know, like have a break. Drink some coffee. Chat to some people. Conferences don’t (currently) have tweeting/blogging breaks – maybe they should?

So what I’d need is a tool that makes tweeting from notes as quick and easy as possible. My ideal? A cloud-based word processor that allows you to tweet selected text. with the addition of a pre-defined hashtag. So, if my blog is #blog, and I wanted to tweet that previous sentence, I could highlight it, select the ‘tweet with #’ option, and bam! my followers see ‘@bethanar: #blog A cloud-based word processor that allows you to tweet selected text’.

I really hoped Evernote would do this (it seems to do everything else!) but, alas, its twitter integration seems to be purely in the other direction. Anyone know of anything that might do the job?

I’ve not blogged for a while, having been far too busy with the wonderful Voices for the Library project. If you haven’t seen it, go look! If you have seen it, go look again! We’re adding new content all the time – stories, blog posts, events, and forums.

A combination of thinking about forums and libraries and debating, and the recent slew of blog posts discussing the value of a professional post-grad qualification gave me a seed of an idea: wouldn’t it be great if there was somewhere we could go to thrash these things out in an ordered manner?

Now, I don’t just mean discussion forums – we have those – but something more like a formal debating society. This is where I have to admit that I’ve never done any debating, and only have the vaguest idea of how it works, but my current thinking is thus:

  • Get togther some people as volunteer debators. Make a list of proposed topics, and allow people to sign up to choose a topic and a side. Teams of one.
  • Have a specific place for the debates. My first thought was to have each person argue their side on thier own blog, but this a) excludes non-bloggers and b) makes it more difficult to follow the argument in one place.
  • Each debator argues their side – I think simultaneous post writing, rather than advance and riposte. The post is open for comments for a set period (comments from debators as well as observers? I don’t know).
  • Winner is chosen by a poll on the blog.
  • Next pair step up, and the next debate begins!

Frequency would depend on how many people were interested – I think twice a month might be a good frequency, with no one person debating more than once every couple of months.

So, down to the key thing: topics! I’d love a wide range of topics, ranging from the worthy to the frivolous, from never-before-discussed to new takes on old ideas. A few suggestions plucked from the depths of my brain:

  • What the library profession needs for pop culture acceptance is a librarian at the centre of a great novel vs What the library profession needs for pop culture acceptance is a reality tv show
  • Within a generation, paper books will only be kept for historical research value vs Within a generation, ebooks will only be kept for curiosity value
  • Ranganathan’s 5 laws have no relevance in the digital society vs Ranganathan’s 5 laws have more relevance than ever in the digital society

So, what do you think? Is this a goer? Do you want to lock minds with the finest information professionals from across the globe, and do battle on the glorious field of the Library Debating Forum? Also, anyone fancy thinking up a snappier name? πŸ˜‰

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