Just Sayin’ : Books by Librarians/Information Professionals are Quinntessential Examples of User-Generated Content

While the headline isn’t true for all titles authored by librarians (and info pros), I believe it holds true when the topics involved are those that need to be experimented with, and then reported on. For example, Terry Ballard, systems librarian at the Mendik Law Library (NYC) has a new book about his experiences with all things Google. Terry’s recently published Google This! includes his (and other librarians’) use of Google to enhance social media. But, as you can readily see, Terry had to use the tools before he could generate the content. The same is true of my book UContent — Iit was necessary for me to experiment with each form of user-generated content before I could record my results. Certainly, books such as Peter Jacso’s Build Your Own Database and Ran Hock’s Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook (in its 3rd edition) possibly only come about because the authors have worked extensively in the subject areas before they “generated” the books.


the trouble with…

In the midst of creating companion web pages to the UContent book, I encountered another sleight of hand by a major social media website. Like Google Maps, which pulled the rug out from under users who wanted to search for “User Created Maps” by eliminating that search option, Facebook summarily deleted the tabs on Facebook pages that users had worked so hard at creating and which were praised by users. For example, on a library’s Facebook page you may have formerly encountered several tabs — one for “Catalog Search,” perhaps another for “Ask a Librarian,” and another for WorldCat and so on. In October 2010 Facebook made that app disappear to the dismay of its subscribers.

Of course, this means writers who had written up documentation and information concerning Facebook tabs need to revise. These changes (another was Facebook’s dropping of the “fan” designation supposedly to make the site MORE SOCIAL) amounts to unnecessary meddling with end users.

i wanted to, but i could not pan the pipes

The Yahoo! Pipes EditorAfter taking a look at several introductory articles on Yahoo! Pipes (and reading some of the documentation), I created several mashups with them. The first is a search of twelve librarians’ blogs using various keywords focusing on technology. I’ve also done one I call the “Searchable Library Technology RSS Feed Combiner,” which has a User Input Module (you enter your desired keywords). Yes, I realize that’s a pretty ungainly title. (If you do end up checking out the RSS Feed Combiner, be sue to supply it with some keywords to search, or it will simply show that nothing was retrieved.) The third pipe is called Computing News and searches 13 sources for technology stories — it found this one today. They all work pretty well — if you visit any of the Pipes, please take a look at how it was built by clicking “View Source.”

I was looking at this auto mashup creation engine for background information for the MashUp chapter in UContent. I think I’m going to call the chapter Manna for Mashup Creators — if you have a suggestion, let me know!

why keep a blog?

A blogger has provided a list of reasons for writing a blog over at Informed Opinions. To the list I’d like to add one of my own: to chronicle progress on a specific project.

a tip of the hat to derik a. badman

In my last post I remarked that it would be great if a colleague would take a few moments to help me understand the contrasts between Google My Maps and the Google Maps API. Mick Jacobsen and I exchanged a couple of emails, but ultimately it was Derik Badman, author of “Where’s the Nearest Computer Lab? Mapping Up Campus” (chapter 16 of Library Mashups). A sincere thank you to Derik, and best wishes to him on his new gig at Springshare (originators of LibGuides).

The map chapter is complete. For pages of maps I created (using several free mapping tools on the web), check here, and here, and here!

the history of “user generated content”

I recently completed a 20 page essay on the history of UContent; it will tentatively be chapter one in the Information Today book. Although bloggers and others say that user-generated content goes back to cave paintings, as far as the Internet is concerned I’ve fixed the date at 1971 when Michael Hart entered the Declaration of Independence. Prof. Hart actually sent me his first person account via email, but there is also a similar account in the Statemaster Encyclopedia.

My timeline takes you through the early days of blogging, to JenniCam, to the Public Library of Science to Google Knol.

Mashups — a cause for excitement

One of the topics for the UContent book began to come into sharper focus today. Using a book called Library Mashups I learned that a good place to find mashups is WebMashUp — a directory of mashups and apis. I went there and began to explore and I found quite a few exciting examples that you can see on this page.

I’ve got two additional ideas for mashups that I would personally want to execute. One is a walking tour of England complete with links to photos, videos, and full text in certain places. Another is a mashup of a map of the United States and markers where historic events occurred or where classic pieces of American Literature were written. Again, there would be links to appropriate external content or media.