Information technology, gadgets, social media, libraries, design, marketing, higher ed, data visualization, educational technology, mobility, innovation, strategy, trends and futures. . . 

Posts suspended for a bit while I settle into a new job. . . 


Library Leaders on Library Directions

The folks at ". . . ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways," through Ithaka S+R, its strategic consulting and research service, have published a report about what's on the minds of academic library directors. 

From the report's preface (emphasis mine): 

Today’s academic libraries are experiencing broad challenges and opportunities alike. Local print collections are losing primacy as remotely accessed online resources increase in importance, new discovery services have changed the library’s role as a gateway, and the introduction of computational research methods has yielded demand for innovative and customized services and relationships. Academic libraries’ parent organizations, the colleges and universities, are grappling with their roles and responsibilities as online and hybrid pedagogies continue to develop and cost-of-education sensitivity yields growing scrutiny about the outcomes of their educational offerings. Amid these environmental changes, library leaders are being called upon to assert the value of their organizations while developing services and strategies that will offer sustained value. Against this backdrop, Ithaka S+R’s US Library Survey tracks the strategic direction and leadership dynamics of academic library leaders. Our purposes are to understand the strategies they are pursuing and the opportunities and constraints that they face, and also to compare their attitudes on key services against those of other campus stakeholders such as faculty members. In the previous 2010 survey cycle, we examined strategy, collecting, and services. For the 2013 survey, we worked with an advisory board that included librarians, a consortial leader, and a university leader to further develop the questionnaire, retaining key issues from 2010 while introducing a new emphasis on organizational dynamics, leadership issues, and undergraduate services.

The report includes a three-page Executive Summary that captures findings around vision and strategy, organizational leadership and constraints, collections and formats, budget and staff, and undergraduates and information literacy. The full report (60 pages) is available here: Download Report.



The Web at 25

Particularly for those of us in the business, Pew's reports often fall into the well-everybody-knows-that category, but they're nonetheless important captures of key developments and usually full of good data

The birth of the "World Wide Web" -- now, just "the web" -- is conventionally dated to Tim Berners-Lee's March 1989 paper proposing a "distributed hypertext system."

The Pew Research Internet Project, accordingly, has just released the first of several reports commemorating the web's 25th anniversary. 

FEBRUARY 27, 2014

The Web at 25 in the U.S.

The overall verdict: The internet has been a plus for society and an especially good thing for individual users


About This Report

This report is the first part of a sustained effort through 2014 by the Pew Research Center to mark the 25th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Lee wrote a paper on March 12, 1989 proposing an “information management” system that became the conceptual and architectural structure for the Web.  He eventually released the code for his system—for free—to the world on Christmas Day in 1990. It became a milestone in easing the way for ordinary people to access documents and interact over a network of computers called the internet—a system that linked computers and that had been around for years. The Web became especially appealing after Web browsers were perfected in the early 1990s to facilitate graphical displays of pages on those linked computers.

It thus became a major layer of the internet. Indeed, for many, it became synonymous with the internet, even though that is not technically the case. The internet is rules (protocols) that enable computer networks to communicate with each other. The Web is a service that uses the network to allow computers to access files and pages that are hosted on other computers. Other applications that are different from the Web also exploit the internet’s architecture to facilitate such things as email, some kinds of instant messaging, and peer-to-peer activities like internet phone calling through services like Skype or file sharing through torrent services.

Using the Web—browsing it, searching it, sharing on it—has become the main activity for hundreds of millions of people around the globe. Its birthday offers an occasion to revisit the ways it has made the internet a part of Americans’ social lives.

This first report looks back at the rapid change in internet penetration over the last quarter century, and covers new survey findings about Americans’ generally positive evaluations of the internet’s impact on their lives and personal relationships. In the coming months, the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project in association with Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Project will further mark the 25th anniversary of the Web by releasing eight reports about emerging trends in digital technology that are based on surveys of experts about the future of such things as privacy, cybersecurity, the “internet of things,” and net neutrality. We will also explore some of the economic change driven by the spectacular progress that made digital tools faster and cheaper. And we will report on whether Americans feel that the explosion of digital information coursing through their lives has helped them be better informed and make better decisions.

Continues at link. 

Pew offers several forms of the report, including the complete report and this Summary of Findings

The World Wide Web turns 25 on March 12, 2014. It is one of the most important and heavily-used parts of the network of computer networks that make up the internet. Indeed, the invention of the Web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee was instrumental in turning the internet from a geeky data-transfer system embraced by specialists and a small number of enthusiasts into a mass-adopted technology easily used by hundreds of millions around the world.

Internet use 1995 - 2014The Web’s birthday provides an occasion to take stock of the impact of the rapid growth of the internet since its invention and the attendant rise of mobile connectivity. Since 1995, the Pew Research Center has documented this explosive adoption of the internet and its wide-ranging impacts on everything from: the way people get, share, and create news; the way they take care of their health; the way they perform their jobs; the way they learn; the nature of their political activity; their interactions with government; the style and scope of their communications with friends and family;  and the way they organize in communities.

The summary continues at the link above; here are the key figures. 



The Search Box

I am more and more impressed with Design Shack; it is a complete, accessible resource for web design. I encourage you to subscribe to one of the feeds, at least.

Carrie Cousins, in Design Shack, posts a great introduction to the considerations for designers in implementing the all-important search box within a website. She covers the need for a search box, its functionality, placement in the site and on the page, signals the box should provide to guide its use, and tips and resources for search box. 

What Makes a Great Search Interface?

by Carrie Cousins on 26th February 2014

A search box is one of the essential pieces that is included in almost every website design. While sometimes the creation of this small element turns into an afterthought, there is no reason why the search box should not be designed as beautifully as the rest of a website.

The design of a search box should mirror that of the rest of the site, be functional and easy to use and be placed in a location that is obvious to users. Today, we are going to take a look at some great search boxes and a few tools to help you through your own design.

Post continues at link. 


Libraries and EdTech

Sorry for the recent brief absence; it's been a busy few days. On Tuesday, it was announced that I've been appointed the inaugural Deputy University Librarian and Chief of Staff at the University of California, Davis. More here and here

My former Penn colleague, Steve Bell, argues in a recent post in his Library Journal column that academic librarians aren't tracking the current emphasis on educational technology at our universities and colleges. His observations strike a cord with me. Academic librarians, it seems to me, used to be among the campus's trend-setters in using information technologies and services to bolster their missions (the library's and the school's). Now, that torch may have passed to the domain of EdTech, and we have an opportunity to stay more current with developments (if not necessarily lead in their use at our schools). 

Left Behind by the EdTech Surge | From The Bell Tower

By Steven Bell on February 19, 2014Library Journal

There’s loads of activity happening in the world of educational technology. New startups. Dozens of websites for managing learning activities. Apps by the dozens. Academic librarians seem out of the loop. A few months ago I subscribed to the weekly email newsletter from an organization called EdSurge. It’s subtitled “a weekly newsletter for innovators in education.” Depending on you how you feel about the phrase “innovators in education,” you may be thinking that’s exactly who you are—or maybe you’ve had your fill of innovation talk. While EdSurge does dedicate about half of each issue to the K-12 startup scene, there’s also reporting on the latest educational technology resources and utilities. Some of these are startup websites that may or may not be here for long. What it reveals is a veritable flood of new educational technologies. It leads me to question if academic librarian educators are managing to keep up with all these new resources. Are we taking time to investigate and explore these new tools or are we falling back on our old familiar standbys? Based on some time I spent listening to an instructional technology discussion at ALA Midwinter, I think it might be the latter rather than the former.



Academic librarian educators can’t underestimate the importance of staying current with what is obviously an explosion of educational technology tools. They add value to what we may accomplish in our interactions with students, particularly when we need to leverage technology for out-of-the-classroom learning and interaction. They are also essential as a bridge to building relationships with faculty colleagues. Faculty have even less time than we do for exploring good educational technology tools. That creates an opportunity for academic librarians to connect with faculty on a level beyond providing help with library resources. We can, along with our educational technology colleagues, introduce faculty to tools that will help them save time, improve student learning, allow them to introduce gaming, or reach whatever goals they’ve established for themselves as educators. The information is out there. We need to grasp it, and then run with it—and share what we learn. That’s where our community really excels. Let’s just push ourselves a little harder. We’ll get there.

Full article at link. 



What Contributes to Wearables Success? 

 This post in Gigaom posits three factors --

  1. habit formation -- helps the wearer develop and persist wit new habits,
  2. social motivation -- the rationale behind the popularity of social media, and 
  3. goal reinforcement -- helps the wearer achieve defined goals -- 

underlying the ultimate success of a wearable. This categorization, of course, ignores the seeming success of a prominent category of wearable: smartwatches. I don't lean on my Pebble because it trucks with the three factors. Rather (apart from telling the time), it frees me from having to look at my smartphone to see who's calling or texting or what email is coming in. 

The three critical factors wearable devices need to succeed

by Michael Davies, Endeavour Partners  

SUMMARY: Wearables may be the tech du jour, but the next generation of devices and services needs to focus more on keeping users engaged in the long-term. These three factors, based on behavioral science, can help them do just that.

At least 10 new wearable devices were introduced at CES in January, from makers such as Sony, Pebble, Meta, LG, Garmin, Razer and more. Yet despite the enthusiasm in the market, the dirty secret of wearables remains: almost all of the current generation of products fail to drive long-term, sustained engagement and behavior change.

Endeavour Partners’ research recently found that while one in 10 US consumers over the age of 18 now owns a modern activity tracker, one-third of US consumers who have owned a wearable product stopped using it within six months, and more than half of US consumers who owned an activity tracker no longer use it. Consumers are buying them and trying them, but rarely end up relying on them.

Post continues at link.