I get asked a lot about how I stay caught up with what’s going on with the world.  It takes a lot of time, maybe three hours a day, 90% of which is on my own time.  I have a six-pronged approach:

  1. 200 Twitter feeds (increasing)
  2. 60 blog & other RSS feeds (cut down from 400+)
  3. 20 email newsletters and listservs (ever-decreasing)
  4. 10 “old school” periodicals online (also down)
  5. 10 open access journals (increasing slowly)
  6. and 31 podcasts (increasing quickly)

Yes, I am insane.  And no, I do not suggest this many different sources for normal people wanting to stay current on technology and library stuff.  Kate Sheehan wrote a really good post today on the ALA TechSource blog, about the high stress of staying current: “Keeping Up with Keeping Up.”

About those podcasts… About two years ago I got my job at San Jose Public Library, adding a 90-120 minute commute in each direction.  As such, I started looking for good ways to use that commute time.  I started listening to some fun podcasts (NPR shows & whatnot) at home on my computer.  Then I got an Android HTC Eris smartphone, which has Google Listen on it–which automatically downloads all of the new podcasts for my subscriptions right onto my phone, which I plug into my Prius via the MP3 port, and listen away as I drive!  It’s the best.  Not only because it’s super-easy & requires no intermediary step, but because I learn a lot this way.  It’s a better use of my time than listening to NPR news and radio station music that I am only vaguely interested in.

Below is my list of audio podcast subscriptions.  Some of these come in video variations, and there are other video-only “podcasts” that I still subscribe to in Google Reader (like This Week in Libraries).  But podcasts are now my #2 method of keeping up, right after Twitter.

Any podcast with a * after it is from the TWIT network (a 24/7 all-online television and radio network with a ton of other shows that is run out of Petaluma, CA by the always-awesome Leo Laporte–Leo, hire me!), and any podcast with a # after it is from the This Week In network, a TWIT clone of good quality.

Technology Podcasts

  1. FORA.tv Technology Today
  2. FutureTense
  3. MacBreak Weekly *
  4. NPR: Technology Podcast
  5. [email protected] *
  6. Nodalities
  7. The Tech Guy *
  8. Tech News Today *
  9. This Week in Cloud Computing #
  10. This Week in Google *
  11. This Week in Mobile #
  12. This Week in Social Media #
  13. This Week in Tech *
  14. Windows Weekly *
  15. Wired’s Gadget Lab

Library Podcasts

  1. Adventures in Library Instruction
  3. The Library 2.0 Gang
  4. T is for Training

Web Design and Usability Podcasts

  1. User Experience Podcast
  2. User Interface Engineering: Brain Sparks
  3. WebAxe

Music Podcasts

  1. Idyllic Music Podcast
  2. Magnatune Electronica
  3. Magnatune Hard Electronica
  4. Magnatune Space Music
  5. NPR: All Songs Considered

Other Random “Sarah Interests” Podcasts She Listens to When She’s Tired of Learning in the Car

  1. KQED’s Forum
  2. NPR: Fresh Air
  3. This American Life
  4. VegCast

So why these podcasts and not others?  They have the three winning factors:

  1. Good, quality content of interest to me
  2. Quality audio content
  3. Good production quality (show-pacing, musical interludes, regular show segments, interesting guests, etc.)

I’ve probably tried out two dozen other podcasts, and unsubscribed because they ended (Boagworld, AdaptivePath), the content was uninteresting, the audio quality was so bad and uneven that my head hurt from listening, or the show production quality was laughable.  There was a show that overall had good content called AndroidGuys, but the show had seriously uneven volume levels and sometimes wasted 15 minutes at the start of the show with stupid unrelated topics, har-har-har riffing, and general idiocy.  After blasting my eardrums out three times in a row for hour long shows with 15 minutes of hidden awesome content, I just gave up.  I was sad too–they have a good blog.  Another show, The Hopkinson Report (from Wired‘s marketing guy), has good content but he speaks sooooo fast that I cannot both absorb what he is saying and concentrate on the semis cutting me off in 800-N rush hour traffic.

So let that be a lesson to future podcasters: you need good audio and content both!  It’s not all about a cute name, or getting first-time subscribers.  You have to keep them too.

If you have podcasts you like on any library/tech/web/education-related topic others might be interested, list them in the comments!  We’d love to see what you like, too!  Maybe I’ll find another half dozen to add to my ever-growing list!

LiB Sites and Sources – 2010-08-04

August 3, 2010 | Comments Off on LiB Sites and Sources – 2010-08-04
  • 25 HTML5 features to know. Good stuff if you’re just starting with #HTML5 (via @librarianbyday & @UIE)http://bit.ly/bydYj6
  • Get a taste of what working at Twitter is like – fun video! via @TheDailyShowFan: http://bit.ly/c3YlwN
  • Facebook Unveils Safety Page for Educators, Parents, Teens (via @natenatenate): http://is.gd/e0L3l
  • A great presentation from David Lee King, “Getting Permission,” on how to move your ideas forward in your library.  Basically, it’s your responsibility to advocate for what you believe is right!  Push hard, and don’t let barriers (often false ones) stand in your way.
  • Are you overwhelmed? Do you have trouble saying no? Read “7 Simple Ways to Say No.”
  • We all know that design is super subjective, and the worst part of a design process since it’s impossible to get complete agreement on anything design-related.  Design by committee is evil!  If that sounds familiar to you, or you’re facing a design challenge now, check out “Beyond ‘I hate green’: Managing Productive Visual Design Reviews” by Kim Cullen on adaptive path.
  • Library of Congress Launches Their 1st Mobile App a virtual tour of the actual Library of Congress.  Time to geek out! (via @resourceshelf) – http://bit.ly/doMPIH
  • Need to explain the various ways to follow you or your library online? A good example is what Mashable just did for its readers: “Follow @Mashable Staff Online” – http://bit.ly/d1SKJZ
  • One of the cooler pop-up books I’ve seen in recent memory (showing the evolution of a town), found via Boing Boing.
  • Two awesome “history of web search” infographics: http://bit.ly/9nyxY1
  • Rdio offers a totally subscription-worthy streaming music service that not only gives you access to their music like Pandora or last.fm do, but it also gives you access from anywhere to your home collection of music.  All for only $4.99-$9.99/month.  I was looking at similar services, but now I’m all over Rdio. Whoo hoo music!  Ars Technica has a good review of the service.

This is a fun presentation.  I gave this keynote at the SEFLIN Conference a week or so ago in Miami.  The intention is to look realistically at where our libraries are at, where our customers are at, where we’re likely to go if we stay on the same path, and where our customers will go based on their paths.  Hint: the paths do not magically merge.

We have a real opportunity right now with funding challenges to focus on the service area with the highest return on investment of any unit, branch, or service.  That’s right–digital and web services.  This means eBooks, eAudio, eMagazines, eNewspapers, online services that tutor kids or help you learn a new language.  We have all this stuff…have had it for a long time.  But now that our doors are closing it’s a nice time to say cheerfully “We’re open online, and here’s what you can get!”

I also think we’re in a time where people with ideas they feel passionately about will have the chance to be heard.  If it saves money, increases efficiency, provides a new service cheaply, then management will be all over it.  Because ultimately, management’s biggest problem is $$$.  Oh yeah, that and politics.  But if you can help with the money part with ideas you’ve been holding onto for ages, now is the time to let those ideas blossom.  We are not powerless.  Our libraries can be what we want them to be–they do not need to remain, as they have, for the last few centuries.  It’s time to make a big, bold move people.  So, what’s yours going to be?

Augmented Reality

August 2, 2010 | Comments (10)

I love Augmented Reality (AR).  It is HOT HOT HOT.  But most people don’t know what it is yet ,or if they do, they’re kind of scared of it.  I encourage you to take a try with AR once more.  We at SJPL have a $50,000 grant to develop historical walking tours using augmented reality and original items in our history collection.  So exciting!  Below is a presentation I did for Handheld Librarian 3 Conference.  It walks you through some of what’s out there, the differences in the equipment and data, and what that means potentially for library services.  Be ready to be amazed!

This is a presentation I gave as part of the Trendy Topics webinar series (which is still going on, y’all — get in on it!)  The idea of having an instruction booklet for staff about social media worked…here’s how!

I’ve been digitally tidying up my to-do list, and have several presentations to upload to share with you all, as usual.  This one is an interesting topic–mobile services with little or no money to fund them, and little or no staff to coordinate them.  Oh, you mean all public & school libraries RIGHT NOW? :}

This presentation about mobile services for libraries was originally given to the Bay Area SLA group, then modified for a presentation at the Handheld Librarian 3 Conference.  That is the version you see here.

Here is an example of freaking brilliant marketing: Give away an iPad for customer stories denigrating your competition!

Azaleos, a company that builds server side products competing with Microsoft,  is giving away an iPad for the best horror story about using Microsoft’s junky products, like Microsoft Exchange, Active Directory, SharePoint (*gag*), or Office Communications Server.

And in a move of marketing brilliance, they’re connecting the contest to National Systems Administrator Appreciation Day on July 30…so the IT managers and Sys Admins who are Azaleos’s customers not only connect winning something from Azaleos with slamming Microsoft’s piece of crap products, but they connect it with a day meant to honor them and their work.  Brilliant!

I certainly have stories of my own (which will be featured in the #FAIL track I’m moderating at Internet Librarian 2010).  The temptation to tattle on this software is too strong to resist!  And hey, our library needs some iPads anyway.

The contest ends July 29th, so get your own horror story in now!

I’ve been struggling of late to simplify my life — to remove distractions, refocus my time on what is most important, reevaluate my environment to make it calming and relaxing, and in general weed out what isn’t crucial to me or my life.  There is simply too much of everything, too many distractions, and I need peace.  The problem of simplification is a common struggle among my friends and family.

In pursuit of my goal, I ran across a frelling awesome website, Zen Habits,that offered a number of useful resources for people trying to overcome overload in all areas of life.  A blog that started in 2007, the site has an extensive back-file of useful simplifying and organizing information. As I know many of my library colleagues struggle with information overload and work overload, I would like to suggest this site as an ongoing resource (email & RSS updates available).

A sample post from the site is The Zen Mind: How to Declutter, which I found to be a short, helpful approach to sorting through physical clutter (and the principles translate pretty well to digital clutter too).

The author also has written a DRM-free and copyright-free eBook entitled The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life.  The first $5,000 in proceeds benefit the non-profit Guampedia.  I have read through the first half of the book and am very impressed with the quality of content and simplicity of approach.

So go forth, declutter your life in all ways, and be free.

Yahoo has released a style guide, The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and
Creating Content for the Digital World
, in direct competition with the AP Styleguide.  It will be in stores (yes, in digital & physical formats) on July 6th.  In reviewing the Yahoo guide, it’s clear that it is more progressive, modern, and mindful of the internet technologies and web terms and their usage, for example website instead of Web site and email instead of e-mail.   I definitely agree with Yahoo more than AP, and I never thought I’d write that sentence!

The website for the book is a great web content resource in itself, including:

Peter Hirtle wrote a thoughtful post on the LibraryLaw Blog about whether or not libraries can legally lend out eBook readers.  While there’s no problem with the hardware, there are legal problems with the eBook software licenses as well as the individual eBook title licenses as well.  Those use licenses are not library-friendly and in fact preclude any kind of lending, sharing, or mass use such as you would find in a library.  If your library is lending out eBook readers, Hirtle suggests consulting with an attorney in detailed analysis of all three components: hardware, software, and eBook title.  The same goes for any other eMedia, such as eMusic, eMovies, or eAudioBooks.

Please be careful, libraries.  And please take this as a lesson why we need organized lobbying to eMedia companies and publishers to create library-friendly licenses, use policies, digital rights management, and formats so that libraries can continue to act as the great sharers and equalizers in their communities.