In the “very meta” category, this morning I gave a lightning talk about lightning talks to a crowd of about 150 at the LITA Lightning Talks session. More specifically, it was a brief presentation on how Code4Lib uses Google Hangouts-on-Air for its Virtual Lightning Talks. The slides and links from the slides are included below.
URLs from the presentation
As promised, here are the URLs from the presentation.
Issue #20 of the Code4Lib Journal was just published, and I had the honor of being the coordinating editor for the issue. Being on the editorial committee of the Journal has been a heck of an experience, and I think I’ve had just a taste of what journal editors and publishers must go through to produce quality content.
My editorial focused on an issue that has banged around in my head for a while and has come up in multiple venues in recent years — how do we grow as a community while remaining responsive to the community and true to its roots. I suggest that there is a merit-based way to approach this, and I lay out my thoughts in that article.
In addition, the issue has seven great contributions from the community. The first set of articles show ways to manipulate metadata records. In Workflow Tools for Digital Curation Andrew James Weidner and Daniel Gelaw Alemneh describe how they use AutoHotkey and Selenium IDE at the University of North Texas to automate various aspects of manipulating digital objects. Heidi Frank show how to process MARC records from Archivists Toolkit in Augmenting the Cataloger’s Bag of Tricks; the techniques – using MarcEdit, Python, and PyMARC – are transferrable to other sources of records as well. In Keeping up with Ebooks Kathryn Lybarger introduces a tool for updating batches of vendor-supplied records through a set of normalization routines.
Last week I emcee’d the second Code4Lib Virtual Lightning talk session and I wanted to record some notes and pointers here in case me (or anyone else) wants to do the same thing again. First, though, here is a list of those that presented with links to the talks archived on Internet Archive.
The beep track and my voice were combined in realtime my Mac using the two-channel Soundflower mixer. I was using a Blue USB external microphone, and needed the LineIn application to route the Blue microphone’s input into one of the Soundflower channels. (I couldn’t figure out how to route the USB mic input natively.)
When you create a Google+ Event, you have the option of saying it will be via Google+ Hangout. I had set the start time of the event to 1:30 Eastern U.S. time, but wanted to open up the Hangout 30 minutes early so the presenters could come in and test the environment. I started an ad hoc hangout 30 minutes early, but right at the start time another Hangout was created and some viewers went there instead. I don’t think there is an elegant way around this, but next time I’ll set the start time of the event to include that 30 minute window and mention in the event description that it won’t really start until 30 minutes later.
Warn the presenters about the start tones on the beep track. The start tones will cause the Hangout to focus on the em cee screen, which will have the title slide. Some presenters got eager, though, and talked before or through the beep track. Add 10 seconds to the first minute’s beep track time, then tell the presenters that leeway is built in.
Download the MP4 recording from YouTube and split it using the QuickTime Player “Trim” feature. It helps to have QuickTime Player go fullscreen so you have a finer granularity on the editing times.
Presentations in Prezi format did seem to work out fine.
Remind other speakers to mute their mics when they are not presenting so they don’t steal Hangout video focus from the presenter. Hangouts-on-Air has a Cameraman app that might be useful in limiting who is seen/heard at any one time during the session. Explore this before the next session…
On December 6, 2012, the Audience and Participation workstream met at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. About two dozen colleagues participated in person and remotely via Google+ Hangout to talk about processes and strategies for getting content into the DPLA (the content hubs and service hubs strategy), brainstormed on the types of users and the types of uses for the DPLA, and outlined marketing and branding messages that aligned with the goals and technology of the DPLA while getting content contributors and application developers excited about what the DPLA represents. I’m happy to have been invited to take part in the meeting, am grateful to DPLA for funding my travel to attend in person, and came away excited and energized about the DPLA plans — if also with a few commitments to help move the project along.
Emily Gore, DPLA’s Director of Content, started the first topic by describing the mechanisms being set up to feed metadata to the DPLA database. The first version of DPLA will be an aggregation of metadata about objects various services and cultural heritage organizations around the country. The DPLA will leverage and promoting metadata coming through hubs, where a hub can be an existing large gathering of stuff (“content hubs” — think Harvard University, Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and Records Administration) or a hub can be a meeting point for state or regional content (“service hubs”). From the perspective of the Audience and Participation workstream, the service hubs are probably the most interesting because that will be how information about an institution’s content gets into the DPLA.
Just about every state in the country is covered by a state or regional digital library program, so the infrastructure is already out there to help organizations. The DPLA itself is aiming to be a small organization of about five to ten people, and at that scale it would be impossible to have a one-on-one relationship between the DPLA and all the possible organizations in the country. So the DPLA Service Hubs will offer a number of services in a region: aggregation of metadata from local repositories, help with new digitization and creation of associated metadata, and engaging participants in the region around different uses of the content in the DPLA. By the April 2013 launch of the DPLA site, the goal is to have seven service hubs operating and a similar number of content hubs. Some of the state and regional collaboratives have already reached out to the DPLA to join, and DPLA is working on updating a list of collaboratives that was created a few years ago. One path of outreach is through the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) group. Talking to state library agencies makes sense because there are indications that IMLS — who grants money to state library agencies — is aligning its LSTA funding with the goals of participating in DPLA. State humanities councils and ALA can also be venues for getting the word out. The ALA Washington Office can be especially useful for getting word to legislators about the importants and value of collaboration with the DPLA.
We talked about how there are technical tasks involved with adding new hubs to the DPLA — it isn’t as easy as just ingesting and indexing new metadata. There will be iterations of mapping adjustments, tuning the weighting of fields in the index, and other tasks, so DPLA will need to set expectations about how fast it can add new hubs to the service. It was noted in the meeting that the service and content hubs will in one sense be customers of the DPLA and in another sense will be providers to the DPLA. This relationship will be akin to a business-to-business relationship, and it will be important that the DPLA can provide adequate “customer support” to the hubs to make the relationship work out best.
The focus at launch is on cultural heritage objects, books, and manuscripts. The common denominator is that the metadata must be sharable under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, allowing for the free reuse and remixing of the metadata. In this form, the DPLA will be an index of descriptive metadata that leads the searcher to where the item is stored at the contributing institution. That institution can specify other rights on the reuse of the digital object itself. Interestingly, the CC0 policy for metadata is a source of concern for some potential DPLA participants. Where libraries have less of a sense of ownership over the metadata describing their objects, the museum community has a higher sense of ownership because of the extra effort they put into creating and curating this metadata.
We talked for a bit about the impact that the visibility of DPLA will have on desires for organizations and even individuals to digitize, describe and electronically mount their content. (“If they have stuff like that, I have stuff like that, too, that I want to add.”) The DPLA can be helpful by providing clear pipelines for the processes for content to be added to places that will be harvested and integrated into the DPLA. Perhaps even bringing digitization “to the masses” by going through the local historical societies where there will be opportunities for conversation about what is good to keep and how to do it.
This discussion of what content will be in the DPLA lead into talks about the kinds of people using the DPLA and what they will want to use it for. The goal is to create “personas” of DPLA users — fictional representations that encompass research about the users, their motivations, and their desires. (As examples, we briefly looked at the HathiTrust personas and the earlier work on DPLA Use Cases.) The driving goal is to give these personas to the contracted developer (iFactory) for use in creating the initial front end website. As an aside at this point, the heart of the DPLA at this stage will be the aggregation, enhancement, and serving of descriptive metadata to software applications that remix and display results to users. One way, but not the only way, this will happen is via the http://dp.la/ website interface being created by iFactory.
We brainstormed the possible labels for personas: Casual Searchers, Genealogy, Hardcore Enthusiasts, Wikipedia / Open Source Folks; info nerds, Small business / startups, Writers / Journalism, Artists, Students, Public School Teachers, Home schoolers, Scholars, Other Digital Libraries, State Libraries, Public Libraries / Public Librarians, Museums, and Historical Societies. We also brainstormed a whole slew of behaviors that these personas could do (several hundred post-it notes worth), and then grouped them into broad categories:
Finding Specific Knowledge: school research, curricular-related; local/personal history; specific “laser-like” focus; open-ended, on-going activity; awareness of a body-of-knowledge problem
Learn: skill-acquisition (things that take longer, as a project)
Harvest and/or reuse: visualizations, build new collections
Contribution: contribute content; enhance metadata (DPLA needs to be able to answer the question “I want you to add X”)
Sharing/Connecting: outwardly-focused; using DPLA as a point to go out to other people, find partners, start a book group, sharing something cool with, friends; building community; connecting institutions, see what other libraries are doing, sharing content with other libraries
General, accessibility: featurish-type notes
After a little more refinement in sorting and labeling, these behaviors will then be used to create the characteristics of the personas.
The last activity was talking about branding and marketing — how to get organizations and individuals excited about using the DPLA. A backdrop of this discussion is making people — especially funders — aware of how DPLA is an enhancement to every library’s services and collections, not a replacement for them. That the DPLA will be seen as complimentary to the local library came out strongly in the October DPLA Plenary session. Among the discussion of “what’s in a name?” (‘dp.la’ or ‘library.us’ or something else) and what is it that DPLA wants to pitch to users (the metadata platform, a single-entry homepage at http://dp.la/, or an app store of DPLA-enabled application), was a fascinating discussion about getting developers interested in the DPLA platform and programming interface. We talked about getting library school, college, and high school classes interested in building DPLA apps as term projects. We also talked about the role of existing organizations like Code4Lib and LITA in introducing and supporting developers creating applications using the DPLA platform.
In the end what emerged is a possible thread of activities from the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association (ALA) through the Code4Lib conference into South-by-Southwest and the annual ALA meeting. The thread goes something like this:
Petition LITA to form an interest group for DPLA activities at the ALA Midwinter meeting, and possibly hold a forum there for interested librarians.
Hold a half-day preconference tutorial at the mid-February Code4Lib meeting in Chicago covering example uses of the DPLA API, effective ways to process and remix JSON-LD data (the computerized format of information returned by the DPLA platform), and discussions of the content available in DPLA.
Use the Code4Lib meeting to launch a four to five-week contest for teams of developers to create interesting applications around the DPLA platform.
Arrange for space at the ALA Annual meeting in June in Chicago for a more in-depth discussion and exploration of DPLA.
The hook for developers is showing them a new, vast store of liberated data that they can use to remix with other data, create absorbing visualizations of the data, and facilitate user engagement with the data. The DPLA is going to become a huge set of liberated data, and we think that can be attractive to not only library developers but also developers outside the traditional library and cultural heritage community.
And with that we ended the meeting at George Mason University. As I said in my previous post recounting the November Appfest meeting in Chattanooga, these are exciting times when the reality of the DPLA vision can start to be seen. I’m eager to see, and participate as much as I can, in the effort.
The text was modified to update a link from http://dp.la/get-involved/events/dplamidwest/ to http://dp.la/info/get-involved/events/dplamidwest/ on September 26th, 2013.
The text was modified to update a link from http://dp.la/workstreams/audience/ to http://dp.la/wiki/Audience_and_Participation on September 26th, 2013.
The text was modified to remove a link to http://dp.la/about/director-for-content/ on September 26th, 2013.
The text was modified to update a link from http://dp.la/about/digital-hubs-pilot-project/ to http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/dplaalpha/about/digital-hubs-pilot-project/ on September 26th, 2013.
The text was modified to remove a link to http://dp.la/get-involved/events/launch/ on September 26th, 2013.
The text was modified to remove a link to http://dp.la/use-cases/ on September 26th, 2013.
The text was modified to remove a link to http://dp.la/2012/10/25/digital-public-library-of-america-partners-with-ifactory-on-development-of-prototype-dpla-website/ on September 26th, 2013.
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An Inclusive Table
But here I am, with a constant background obsession, now, of how to get more librarians involved (and involved more deeply) in tech, how to foster collaboration on library technology projects, which is inseparable from the problem of how to get more women involved more deeply and collaboratively in technology. So I can’t not look at that room and see how the status lines fracture, along code mastery but coincidentally also gender, written in the physical geography of the room, where I’m the only one sitting at the table. I can’t not wonder, how can I create spaces which redraw those lines.
Andromeda attended the DPLA hackathon last Thursday and posted this very pointed view of the perceptions of women in library technology.
A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Facebook Release Engineering
I recently had a unique opportunity to visit Facebook headquarters and see that story in action. Facebook gave me an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the process it uses to deploy new functionality. I watched first-hand as the company’s release engineers rolled out the new “timeline” feature for brand pages.
That was where I met Chuck Rossi, the release engineering team’s leader. Rossi, whose workstation is conveniently located within arm’s reach of the hotfix bar’s plentiful supply of booze, is a software industry veteran who previously worked at Google and IBM. I spent a fascinating afternoon with Rossi and his team learning how they roll out Facebook updates—and why it’s important that they do so on a daily basis.
I’m pointing to this story for two reasons. First, it is a fascinating look at how one of the top internet operations manages its processes for rolling out new software. Second, how the wheels of the release process are greased feeds into the third story below.
Our Culture of Exclusion
Lately there have been a lot of great articles being written and discussion happening around sexism in the tech industry. And the flames are being fanned by highprofileincidents of people saying and doing just plain stupid things.
It reminded me of this draft post just sitting here, uncommitted. For quite a while I’ve been collecting links, tweets and other stuff to illustrate another problem that’s been affecting me (and other people, surely). I thought it was finally time to write the post and bring this up because, honestly, I feel excluded too.
The role of alcohol in technology events was a topic of discussion on Twitter and elsewhere at the end of last week. There is a term for this that I heard for the first time last week — brogrammer — and I don’t think it is a flattering persona for the technology profession. The way in which Facebook releases its code, described in the thread above, is one data point. Ryan’s message, quoted above, points to some high-profile conferences where alcohol seems to play a central part of the event. His article was the source of some introspection among the Code4Lib community as well.
The text was modified to update a link from http://dp.la/2012/04/06/dpla-hackathon-gives-developers-first-look-at-dpla-platform/ to http://dp.la/info/2012/04/06/dpla-hackathon-gives-developers-first-look-at-dpla-platform/ on September 26th, 2013.
Thanks to everyone for participating in the first Code4Lib Virtual Lightning Talks on Friday. In particular, my gratitude goes out to Ed Corrado, Luciano Ramalho, Michael Appleby, and Jay Luker being the first presenters to try this scheme for connecting library technologists. My apologies also to those who couldn’t connect, in particular to Elias Tzoc Caniz who had signed up but found himself locked out by a simultaneous user count in the presentation system. Recordings of the presentation audio and screen capture video are now up in the Internet Archive.
First, people were locked out when they shouldn’t have been. The most we saw online at any particular time as 25, but the room was supposed to be able to hold 60. I think the problem was how I entered e-mail addresses into the system to reserve slots for the presenters and the people who signed up in advance. (Which obviously didn’t work because one of the presenters and at least one of the attendees who signed up in advance didn’t get in.) Should we do this again (see below) I’ll try to debug the problem.
Second, some comments I got were about cranky Java applets and applications. LYRASIS has two conference tools at its disposal — Java-based Centra and Flash-based Acrobat Connect — and I chose Centra because running Flash on LINUX is an issue. Maybe this will need to be revisited (or maybe there is another Java-based conference system that can do better).
Third, since we were not limited by space and other timing constraints, can the five-minutes-per-presenter limit be relaxed? I have mixed feelings about this; I think defined time limits promote better presentations, but the four presentations this first go-around went to the end of the five minute time limit and there was no opportunity for questions or audience interaction.
On the whole, it seemed like a positive experience from my perspective and from that of the feedback I’ve received so far. I’m going to start a conversation thread in Code4LibCon (where all of the Code4Lib meeting planning discussion takes place) to see if it is worthwhile to do again and to identify what should be done differently. If you are interested, please consider joining and contributing to the discussion. Or e-mail me privately and I’ll reflect your comments into the group discussion.
One of the highlights of the Code4Libannual meeting is the “lightning talk” rounds. A lightning talk is a fast-paced 5 minute talk on a topic of the presenter’s choosing. They are usually scheduled on an ad-hoc, first-come-first-served basis on the day of the event. They are an opportunity to provide a platform for someone who is just getting started with public speaking, who wants to ask a question or invite people to help with a project, or for someone to boast about something he or she did or tell a short cautionary story. These things are all interesting and worth talking about, but there might not be enough to say about them to fill up a full session timeslot.
“Virtual Lightning Talks” replicates this conference activity online in a virtual meeting environment. Each one-hour block consists of 10 six-minute sessions (one minute for the presenter to take control of the virtual meeting environment and test audio followed by a five minute presentation). Presenters show their work by sharing their entire desktop; the presentation can consist of slides, web browser, command-line shell, or any other application that can be shown on the desktop.
I’m pleased to be able to report a successful running of a BarCamp here earlier this week. Billed as BarCampOhio/LibraryCampOhio — a mixture of .com and library technologists — we had a good turnout and a lively discussion on a variety of topics. Thanks and gratitude go out to OCLC for offering the space free-of-charge and to T-Mobile for sponsoring the event lunch.
We had about 35 people for the event, including out-of-state’rs from Pennsylvania and Maryland. Being a BarCamp, some of the most valuable conversations were the ones that weren’t organized, but among the organized topics the participants talked about Drupal, social media / marketing / community building, hardware and software management, virtualization and cloud computing, and SOLR.
At the end of the day, we did a wrap-up and came out with a good set of suggestions for the next BarCampOhio attempt. I thought I’d put them to permanence here for the benefit of others who try in the future.
One group of suggestions were around the structure of the ideas to be talked about. Someone suggested the use of 5-minute “lightning talks” at the start of the event to get some creative juices flowing about potential topics for the rest of the day. Another participant suggested posting potential topics online prior to the event, conducting a survey, then find presenters to give an informed overview of the highest ranked topics prior to launching into the discussion. Someone else thought that the organizers could frame expectations for the day better by suggesting that participants bring notions of topics that interest them rather thinking about bringing prepared presentations. One person suggested using the Pecha Kucha (20 slides, 20 seconds each) format.
Related ideas dealt with the “take away” aspects of the meeting. Some desired more capture and recording of the discussions of the meeting. (There was a pretty good recording of some of the conversation under the #barcampohio Twitter hash-tag.) There was even mention of an “Action Item Camp” format — I’m going to have to go look that one up.
Other suggestions fell into the category of event logistics. More t-shirt size were desired, and for the next go-around I think adding a question for requested t-shirt size to the registration form would be a good idea. Someone suggested breaking popular topics into the morning and afternoon to handle the desire to be in more than one conversation at a time. Another suggested planning and describing what was going to happen after lunch before we went to lunch so as not to loose too much momentum in the post-lunch energy drift. Organizers need to test technology and make sure there is prevalent wifi in the venue. (I thought OCLC did fine in this respect — particularly with the addition of several hardwired ethernet hubs around the room — but we didn’t ask folks until the weekend before to bring ethernet cables so they could use the hubs.)
For other ideas on the day, see Dan Rockwell’s great summary of the event and how to make it better.
Some financial details. My part in the planning was setting up registration and handling the money parts. Very early in discussing our ideas for BarCampOhio, Bob and I debated whether or not to charge a registration fee. It doesn’t seem common for BarCamps to do this, but we thought it important to get a sense of who was coming so we could make plans for room sizes, food needed, and so forth. We figured if someone paid a token amount $25, they are most likely going to come. We also weren’t sure if sponsors would come forward to underwrite the costs of the event. (Sponsors did.) After a bit of research, I found Eventbrite — they had just enough of a service for just the right fee for what we needed. For a $25/ticket event, Eventbrite charges 99-cents. PayPal was the payment service (Google Checkout was also an option); on a $25 ticket, PayPal took about $1.03 in fees (less if a person paid for more than one ticket). We had 36 people register, grossing $900 and netting $857.84. The t-shirts cost $460, and I’m not sure how much the food will cost. We should break just about even, though.
Update 20080905T1600 : An update on the financial picture. The catering cost for morning and afternoon breaks at the conference center was $384.30. With all income and expenses now recorded, the event was a net loss of $18.11. The details are in a Google Spreadsheet, should you want to take a look.
I had a very good time, made some new connections, and learned a bit as well. It was great working with Bob and Brandon and Laura to put BarCampOhio/LibraryCampOhio together. Think the event should be done again? Have other comments or suggestions? Post ’em here.
The text was modified to remove a link to http://www.floozyspeak.com/blog/archives/2008/08/barcampohio_tho.html on July 13th, 2011.
The text was modified to update a link from http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23barcampohio to https://twitter.com/search?q=barcampohio&src=typd on August 22nd, 2013.
First and foremost: This is NOT a conference. Do not expect to be talked at by an ‘expert’ behind a podium. This is an event similar to getting together with some friends at a bar to talk. That’s the “bar” part of BarCamp. The “camp” part is a little much for us to pull off so if you do read the BarCamp page, keep in mind that you do NOT need to bring a sleeping bag.
The procedural framework consists of sessions proposed and scheduled each day by attendees, mostly on-site, typically using white boards or paper taped to the wall. While loosely structured, there are rules at BarCamp. All attendees are encouraged to present or facilitate a session. Everyone is also asked to share information and experiences of the event, both live and after the fact, via public web channels including (but not limited to) blogging, photo sharing, social bookmarking, wiki-ing, and IRC. This open encouragement to share everything about the event is in deliberate contrast to the “off the record by default” and “no recordings” rules at many private invite-only participant driven conferences.