May 27

Wired on the iPad, My Experience

As you may know, the June 2010 issue of Wired magazine is available as an iPad version. It will cost you $4.99 to try it out. I’ve been a subscriber and reader of Wired since its founding in the mid-90s, and continue to be a subscriber. I had already read the print version of the June issue before the release of the iPad version, so in reviewing the new product I primarily looked for added features. Here are my thoughts.

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May 13

To Check-In or Not to Check-In at ALA

I’ve been pondering the use of location-based social networking tools. For ALA Midwinter, there were a handful of people using these types of services. But, with the huge media coverage after SXSW Interactive this year, I’m expecting more adopters in Washington D.C. for ALA Annual. In fact, we may see some contests organized by ALA staff using one of these services. ALA Staff will be doing some things with Gowalla because that company has been responsive and interested in doing things with the Association. If you haven’t grabbed Gowalla yet, give it a try. Here’s something small to consider before you go…Washington DC Trips.

I’m giving my heavy use of Foursquare and Gowalla until the end of June. Part of my decision to continue using the service will depend on the ALA experience. Though I’m somewhat impartial to Gowalla, I’d like to use the service most widely used by ALA attendees. Please help me out and share, retweet, post of Facebook, etc.

Which service will you use, if any, in Washington DC for ALA Annual?

For the record, my user name on all the above services is kenleyneufeld.

Apr 29

Lifestream Experiment Ends, Back to Blogging

During the months of March and April, I used the Lifestream plugin for WordPress to push my social media activities to my blog as a Daily Digest. The experiment is now complete and I am intending to return to my regular blog practices. Ironically, in the two months the number of regular blog posts did not change from prior practice (I usually post about 3 times per month). I hope to up the number a bit.

Why the end? First, it didn’t really generate any interaction with my readers. Without an interaction, it seems kind of pointless. Secondly, I couldn’t ever figure out to automatically do a “read more” option when the Digests got too long. Finally, it’s kind of weird to see all the media activity so tightly gathered into one place. Obviously, I can control what appears in the digest but my thought was to include everything. Maybe it’s FourSquare making it kind of weird?

I’m going to keep the plugin running in the background and possibly add a widget feed instead of the Daily Digest. This way it can stream by like Friendfeed or Facebook but the interactions can occur on the actual media site.

Apr 09

Revisiting Books

On my 1-hour flight home yesterday, I used Instapaper Pro to go back and read a web essay from last month by Craig Mod (and type this post in the WordPress app). The essay is called Books in the Age of the iPad.

It seemed important to revisit the article now that I have an iPad and to see if I read the ideas any differently. Two quotes stand out:

When people lament the loss of the printed book [what are] they talking about. My eyes tire more easily, they say. The batteries run out, the screen is tough to read in sunlight. It doesn’t like bath tubs.


In printed books, the two-page spread was our canvas. It’s easy to think similarly about the iPad. Let’s not.

This raises two concepts. The reading of print material in the digital format and how the digital for at could look in the future. I read a lot of digital material, but have not ever read an entire novel or book digitally. Portions yes, but not the whole thing. I have loaded on my iPad, You Are Not as Gadget, that I hope to read soon. I’m intrigued and not fearful of digital novels and non-fiction.

I’ve had the iPad almost a week. I’ve done some reading of long pieces. Most of it is fairly traditional in nature. Read, “turn” the page, read some more. Much like the book reading experience. That’s all good.

I like the second concept that Mod presents in his essay. The idea to repurpose and reconceptualize the medium, and even to allow and build value for the print medium too. The ipad does not change anything yet, at least not with its ibook app. It is a nice interface, but it does take what we know and simply make it digital (with some minor tweaks). I look forward to what other producers and artists can create.

I encourage you to read Mod’s piece and reflect. What kind of reading experience do you value? I always thought we’d keep the paperback because it’s cheap and disposable but maybe that content is better suited for the digital environment? For librarians, we’ve already seen this transition for magazine content. Does the iPad pushes further into the digital?

Mar 24

SXSW Interactive: Sessions & Panels

This is Part 2 of my SXSW reports.

It’s true, many people value the hallway and party conversations more than the sessions and panels. For me, as someone outside the industry and not knowing anyone, heading into the sessions and panels was very valuable. Here’s a short rundown.

Chris Messina took us down his vision for dealing with the stream. Is It Getting Streamy In Here? ActivityStreams. Take basic construct of RSS (1999) and ATOM  (2005) and we weave in some additional data. Verb. Object. Target. Make it richer. ActivityStreams can be a universal format for social objects. What you end up with is code for title+link+summary+author+id+date+verb+object+target. This will better allow us to syndicate this information and mix and mash. It’s simple.

From this talk, I want to read The Second Coming: A Manifesto by David Gelernter, Designing Social Interfaces by Crumlish & Malone, and definitely have to check out the Fetron Annual Reports.

A late added session called iPad: New Opportunities for Content Creators was packed. Of course! The panel included voices from books, gaming, web, and newspaper industries. For the Village Voice, the focus is on design. Focus on reading. Leaned back reading in particular. Will we be able to read in the tub using an iPad? The gaming representative, Shervin Pishevar, got everyone excited when he said “the laptop will be the rotary phone of our generation.” He was very impressed with the iPad at the announcement event. The book industry expects $1 billion in revenue from this publishing model even though the reading experience still needs to be improved. Ultimately, this panel was very hopeful and excited about the upcoming shift in media delivery. Continue reading

Mar 23

SXSW Interactive: Authors & Keynotes

This is Part 1 of my SXSW reports. After an introduction, the focus is on authors and keynotes.

I’d heard of South By Southwest (SXSW) for many years; the music festival, that is. However, in 2009 I heard about Interactive Conference that precedes the Music Festival when a few librarians reported attending. I’ve always wanted to attend the music festival, but didn’t feel it was justified in mid-semester given the time and the cost. The Interactive Conference, with its focus on technology, was clearly work related and worthy of investigation. Despite no travel funds, I registered early (paying $395), bought a plane ticket with miles, and arranged to stay at a friends house. Low cost and worthy endeavor.

The trip and conference were well worth the time and I came away energized by the technology community. The conference was certainly different from a typical librarian conference, particularly given the primary demographic – young, hip, technologists in a party atmosphere. I wanted something different to shake my brain up a bit; to give me a new perspective. Also, I wanted an event where I didn’t know many people and didn’t have any committee meetings. SXSW paid me back well.

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Mar 18

Make Library Conferences Better

Kenley at SXSW InteractiveI’ve been attending library related conferences for the last 16 years – mostly ALA. I attend to connect with colleagues, contribute to the associations, or attend programatic activities. Recently I attended SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas and I came away with many ideas on how to improve the conference going experience. SXSW Interactive was five days long at The Austin Convention Center, the Hilton, and the Radisson – so relatively small if compared with the American Library Association events, but not if compared with ACRL National Conference, LITA National Forum, or Internet Librarian.

Let’s start with registration. I registered online about six months before the actual event. It was intuitive, easy, and clear. What was different? They integrated a social network tool. Every registrant became part of a community where you could add friends and share short Twitteresque messages. I could search for other conference goers based on geography, business, interests, etc. Totally awesome networking tool. Secondly, as part of registration we were encouraged to upload a photo that would then be included on our attendee badge (if we forgot or didn’t take this step, a photo was taken upon arrival). For the record, early registration was $395.

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Mar 13

Filled Head, Tired Body. SXSW Interactive.

Relaxed chaos. That’s how it felt when I arrived at the Austin Convention Center for SXSW Interactive 2010. It is completely different from most librarian conferences that I attend. In this case, rather than being in the middle to younger demographic, I am in the oldest 20% (and I’m only 42). Laptops and smart phones abound. Everyone is looking at a screen while walking, talking, and participating.

The other odd element is that I really don’t know anyone here except a handful of people. A few more I know virtually but haven’t met in person. This leaves a lot of space to explore and flow. Though I’m not always 100% confortable being social, I do reasonably well and did meet a few people on my first day out.

Registration was smooth. The swag bag was monstrous. The schedule manageable and easy. The tech omni-present. I’ve did a video of the scheduling tool from The Social Collective because I think it is awesome and the iPhone app makes it even better. I am loving the competition happening between Gowalla and FourSquare. Both have made tweaks and customizations just for SXSW which makes it even more fun.

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Feb 20

I Am Not A Gadget: A Buddhist’s iPad Dilemma

Apple iPadNext month the iPad will be unleashed on the world and I want one. First question, how can I justify the cost against a household with a fixed budget. Second, balancing the desire to reduce consumption and the need to stay current with technology. Third, the balance of ubiquitous computing and family harmony. Finally, the environmental cost of technology.

When is enough enough?

Though I definitely don’t own a great deal of gadget technology compared to many others, it still feels like quite a bit. Specifically, I own a 2004 iPod Click Wheel, a 2008 iPhone 3G, a 2009 Flip HD, and a 2009 MacBook Pro. What does adding an iPad to the mix create?

Each piece of technology comes with its own environmental impact in the production, ongoing use, and ultimate disposal. Aware that I am only one consumer, collectively we consume and waste a great deal. It seems that we often consume without thought or awareness and we easily succumb to desire through marketing and possibly an underlying unhappiness. Continue reading

Jan 19

Foursquare, Libraries, and Librarians

About a dozen attendees at the 2010 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston used a location based social network from foursquare (launched in March 2009). In some ways, it felt like the first time Twitter reached the ALA scene a couple of years ago. Pushing the boundaries and testing new technologies is one of the things I enjoy. More importantly, I enjoy discovering new ways to engage with my customers.

Foursquare is a combination of Twitter, gaming, and Yelp (in fact, Yelp launched it’s own similar product while in Boston). Users “checkin” at venues using text messaging, web site, FoursquareX desktop application, iPhone, or Droid app. Continue reading