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Evaluating Emerging Technologies Featuring Aaron Swart

Info from flyer:
As librarians, we have to keep up with the latest innovations.
But with so many competing technologies, what’s to keep us from wasting our time and money on fads and faulty solutions?
Aaron Swartz, will be sharing his strategies for analyzing emerging technologies. As the co-creator of the Open Library project, co-founder of Reddit, former adviser to Creative Commons, and co-developer of RSS, he has been one of the web’s most insightful pioneers.
His presentation will provide a framework for guiding you toward the resources that can best help you serve your customers.
This is an opportunity to listen to a leader in the information field and to engage in a dialog with him.

How to Pick Winners
“some technology is best left alone”
but which?
Maybe better to say how to pick losers

Story #1
9/11 truth people – have a movie to tell you what they think – Dick Cheney knew about 9/11 before it happened, other suspicious thoughts, conspiracy theories – going down technical raffles quibbling over details.
Need to step back and look at bigger picture. The conspiracy theory that Bush and Cheney were in on it. Doesn’t make sense. Want to go to war so make elaborate plan.

Story #2
Second life. There’s all these great things about it like distributed metaverse. Why do we need this? What this or that. Step back and look at bigger picture. Showing example of “The Office” and characters on the show using Second Life.

Rules are a substitute for thought

“Should we use Second Life?” then go off on tangent on how Aaron thinks Second Life is for losers.

Think for yourself

Not going to give us a series of rules today but things to think about that may be useful
Start out with ideas
Most of you probably already have an idea out there to evaluate
Give us tools to evaluate
People think in categories – once people have a category for a product they won’t think of it in other terms
Reddit similar to Digg, trying to explain the differences but couldn’t get through to others
Google, yahoo, a lot of internet tools are locked into their own silos – can’t add or edit to your liking

DRM – digital rights management – perfect example of making something people don’t want – “Wow, I really wish I could do less with my ebook today!”

Reddit – they got a lot of people who found out about it, have core base, but hard to find new people
You can’t google for unknown unknowns – lot’s of similar products like that out there

You have to make something that people can want, find, and do

Million of ants strategy
-everyone knows something about something – put these people together – wikipedia

it has to fit into reality

censorship – everything in computers is read in 0’s and 1’s – the internet can’t figure out what’s going on in the middle, only end to end, if no one can see what’s going on in the middle, can’t see your credit card numbers, porn, whatever, you can’t censorship

DRM also uses encryption – DRM wants you at the end from reading it, but only sometimes, have to give someone the key to unlock it so they can read it, music industry hasn’t figured this out yet

Data availability – thought that everything is available on the internet – not necessarily true

Need an idea, unique, people will want, find, use and has to be openly available

Aaron’s test case – Open Library
Currently have 6 employees working on the project
What does it look like? – one page per book
One site, has to be editable, like wikipedia but more complicated, has fields instead of open text
Has to be a hub, buy borrow, or download a book
Currently @ ½ mill. Books digitized so far
Also has reviews
Goal – make all the books more interesting
Libraries (catalogs) don’t have much of a presence on the web – yet
Want to use FRBR but much more – this book rebuts this book, is a response to that book and so on
Scan ondemand, pay 10 cents per page to scan the book if it isn’t up yet
Print on demand is the other part of that
Author bibliographis

The Test
It has a lot of competitors – like Amazon
Amazon doesn’t go back that far
OL’s goal is to make more books available
OCLC WorldCat – not very open, their trying to work with them on that
Google – doesn’t have much of a community around their book search, their bad at building community
OL wants to be the wikipedia of books, make it open and have many people working with them

LibraryThing – place where you can go to keep track of your books in your library, people have uploaded 22 mil. + books

Research – a lot of people think this means “search” or google
OL wants to integrate in where to find info like “this book you’re looking for is at this library which is 1.2 miles from your house”

Reality of OL
Structured wiki
Infogami – built to load all the books into and it holds pretty well
Need data availability – been a bit trickier – it’s been difficult to have libraries collaborate and give them copies of their catalogs, other companies are being more helpful but libraries are sticky
Plea to get libraries to be more flexible – go to your library and talk about this project

Questions from audience:
Q: Most catalogs are available on the web. Why don’t you want to use that?
A: Most OPACs you see on the web is end user view, they need the data, other end

Q: Open WorldCat can do that. How do you compare?
A: Open WC doesn’t really let you collaborate, it takes your info but doesn’t let others work with it. We do link to Open WC

Q: Do you think these traditional websites work anymore? What do you see that’;s on the horizon that’s more about library site just about clicking links to find info
A: You have to dig down, go to a special interface to find stuff, one thing libraries can do is create a community to allow people who are interested in the same kind of books come together. It would be really exciting if libraries started embracing that. We’ll see that kind of technology develop and become more and more poplular

Q: Are you hoping to extend OL to other formats than just books?
A: Yes, definitely, we have a plan to expand and take on other things such as journal articles, after journal articles move on to music and movies.

Q: How are you working with publishers?
A: They have been more willing to work with us than libraries. They have been giving us feeds to add to books. Rights issues, working on getting rights from publishers, working with public domain books, being careful not to step on the rights of publishers.

Q: The borrow option in OL – where does that go?
A: Right now it links to Open WC but we would love to open that up to libraries directly, we would like to work with libraries to do that.

Q: How do you deal with duplicate records?
A: We’re working on that right now. Merger algorithms, FRBRization, when you do a search you will be able to get a result and then from there to other editions and then to locations.

Q: Talk a little bit more about how the OL would be useful to libraries. Contributing to your project would help to know how will this impact students and libraries.
A: I think we need to start thinking of the bigger picture long term. We need to start thinking that libraries aren’t going to be existing on their own, look towards a shared catalog. One site to search shared catalog and then from there bring them back to their localized level. I don’t have a perfect solution but it’s time to start thinking about this and I think OL is good foundation to work from.

Q: What’s your long term goals?
A: Collaboration will be done by users, little money as oversight to contribute to the sight. Everything will be open in as many ways as possible. We want as many people will be able to integrate with it as possible.

Q: What is the usage so far?
A: Right now it’s still a demo site so it’s still early. We see dozens of people going in and making changes so it’s hopeful, want to work with wikipedia and that should open more doors to more people. Promising way of looking forward.

Q: What are your community building ideas?
A: Partly linking to LibraryThing, support what they’re doing, linking to other community building sites, intergration of other parts. What you’re reading right now and seek out others that are also reading those books and connect with them, get suggestions for other books, collaborate in other ways.

Q: Why did you come up with this?
A: I have an irrational love for libraries. Weird to say to this audience, I’m not pandering. I always wanted to bring this place I love online. Being able to build a reputation for obscure books to the web and share that with others.

Q: Library catalogs are authoritative – idea. How are you going to deal with other people going in and messing with the data? Like if someone doesn’t like a particular book.
A: There’s just not much you can do to add your political view. Also, it’s really obvious when people add errors. Ask reasons why people added or made changes. Maybe changes will have to be reviewed but start as open as possible and only start locking it down as needed.

Q: How do you see other digital library objects, special collections, how will they become part of OL?
A: OL can start making digital scans available to more people. Connecting more people to the resources. We want to include the rare and special collections in one place.

Q: What about primary source stuff?
A: Right now it’s kind of out of scope because we’re focusing on books but it’s a long term thing. The more data the better. If you’re reading a bibliography about an author or person it would be incredible to be able to link back to original letters and documents to have a better well-rounded view of the works.

Q: Is your project for profit or non?
A: We are totally a not for profit collaboration between as many groups as possible, in the open.

Q: Have you approached the IMLS people about your project?
A: We have but not much. We don’t hold out too much hope but maybe long term we’ll start to be able to use them to have the OPAC people to come to us.

Q: Are you hoping that libraries will eventually start using OL for their OPAC instead of what they already have?
A: No, but it will be an underlining thing, there will always be a difference between the actual OPACS and open OPACs.

Q: Open WC and social tagging.
A: I would love to see Open WC add social tagging to their catalog. But their moving slow. OL is not just social tagging, there’s more to it but we would still love to work with OCLC and seeing if there is a place/way for collaboration.

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