Sunday, October 24, 2010

The (possible) closure of Cornish Libraries

I am presently in cornwall visiting family for the week, and it was with some sadness I read about the closures of a majority of cornish libraries here. One's such as the photo above could be closing. In the article talks about the possible closure of 23 t0 32 of cornwall libraries closing. My aunt, who lives in Mylor, near Falmouth has heard there maybe a closure of 20 in the local press. This is pretty worrying for a count that is large but sparsely populated. As yet, nothing has happened. I hope it doesn't but I will keep you informed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm on Holiday

To my readers. I'm off for a week in cornwall. The likelihood of wi-fi or connectivity is unlikely. So see you all a week on sunday.

British Library event

(Found via here) The British Library has an event on Tue 26 Oct 2010, 18.30 - 20.00 entitled Growing Knowledge:
Is the physical library a redundant resource for 21st century academics?. Priced at £6 and £4. Unfortunately I am away, but sounds interesting.

Nesta event on Collaborative consumption review part.4 Conclusion

In conclusion, Well, as ever with Nesta, the event was well attended, very well looked after and very good presentations by all. My problem, is it seemed that its a credo I just can't see that works. It seemed to be this idea of big society the tories have fostered as an ideology. The whole idea that we improve our 'community' by investing our time and money within the community.

First off, due to my political bias I disagree with this. I'm an old lefty, so sue me.

Secondly, i'm not the only one*. I think that there are five main reasons -
• The main problem facing Britain is the state of the economy - and the Big Society idea seems distant from it. The country faces its biggest spending scaleback in modern times. The speech was a chance to level with voters about why it's necessary - and make them an offer about better times to come after it's over. It didn't grasp the opportunity.
•To some, it's a bit paternalistic. I don't agree with this view, but I know people who do - who think that the Big Society conjures up an image of comfortable types in rural settings helping to run the village fete, and risks sketching a caricature of the Cameron leadership as a bunch of out-of-touch toffs.
•To some, it risks irritating voters. "So you're cutting my services, raising my taxes - and now you want me to run the local school. Get lost - that's the Government's job." This is the response that some Tories I know fear the electorate will give to the Big Society concept. I think the problem's managable, but I see the point.
•It's a bit vague. I suspect that this is intrinsic to the Big Society concept. Lots of good and often little things happening locally are hard for voters to grasp, and for government to package in a big way - unlike, say, selling council houses to their tenants or shares to individuals. Those policies gave people concrete, personal gains - and government clear, hard numbers of winners. The Big Society isn't a retail offer.
•It's not clear what the Government's plan is for helping to make the Big Society happen. I think this is the biggest difficulty. Activists would wear the Big Society more easily if they could see how the Coalition's going to help deliver it. They want to know answers to such questions as: which Department's in charge? How many are involved? What's their collective plan? Will there be a Big Society bill and, if so, why? How much will it cost? How much will it save? How will progress be measured? How will it be presented and sold to voters?*(via above link).

I feel that the panel felt the altruistic nature of there idea's would appeal to others. That trust would become our currency. But do I trust something that is unregulated by offical bodies? (well, if your a tory I suppose you do).
The panel seemed to see this 'big society' idea helping the earth, creating neighbourliness and allowing earning a bit of money.

Well, as far as the earth is concerned lets look at landshare as an example. First off, I assume many people in London would like to garden, but how many Londoners have a garden? Usually (but not always) fairly well off one's. Would a wealthy landowner allow anyone on there land? How do I know there not going to do anything? Fall out with them? How do I gauge I can trust them? I DON'T. If you use a feedback loop like ebay does for positive reviews, we all know you can mark people up (or down) out of spite or because someone asked you. Therefore the feedback loop can be rigged.

Point two, creating neighbourliness. Sorry, I lived in a very small community for years, and peoples 'neighbourliness' is really just gossip. But would it be any different on the internet? Well, I don't think so. Imagine for example the spice example of a town in Wales which is virtually using the time share model. What if you are not part of the timeshare model? Do you think people will see you as part of the community or a pariah? I know my answer.

Point three, allowing earning a bit of money. This whole 'micro-payments' economy is flawed. Whipcar pointed out one young lady who has made £1000 in a year from her. She lives in Notting Hill. Ummm, in London, £1000 is a monthly rent in that area. Also, the collaborative consumption of we 'make a bit' from our spare resources. It feel's our new economic plan in a post-industrialist world, is to become a large car boot sale.

Another problem is the panel felt we all had 'spare capacity' to lend, loan and assist. Ummmmm, I DO THAT IN MY JOB. I put unpaid hours in, I sell where I work what we do and use all capacity there. Those with spare capacity are usually those that can afford to give time, give their drill to a neighbour etc. Most of us don't though.

Finally, not everyone can give to this idea of a collaborative community. Because there disabled. Because they have no access to computers. Because they have no skills. What about them?

Sorry if this sounds a rant (well, it is), but this dressed up, tree hugging torism just doesn't wash. Its too niche, it looks to amateurs to do a professionals job, its unregulated. Heaven help us.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nesta event on Collaborative consumption review part.3 (Q & A)

The next part of the event was a Q & A session to the panel. It was quite a lively debate. One person asked whether it was a question of altruism or self interest in this new community? Someone else asked do people want to be part of a community? Rachel said that you can be anonymous if you wish. All the panel seemed to thing community was a good thing. Um, well its actually not always. Some communities are intrusive and negative.

Someone asked about the power of the brands in collaborative comsumption. The panel felt that perhaps the brand could be improved.

Anyhow, again this is a rough approximation of the Q & A.

Nesta event on Collaborative consumption review part.2 (a.n.other)

Following on from the previous blog post, I'll discuss the other speakers talks all together. These speakers are:-

*Ben Dineen, Spice time bank founder
*Giles Andrews, founder of social lending site Zopa
*Vinay Gupta, founder of WhipCar

This is not to belittle there role, but Rachel's talk was longer than the others, therefore more could be written. By the way there a great interview here with Rachel after the talk here.

Giles Andrews opened proceedings and discussed Zopa and the importance of trust as a commodity within his company. He also discussed how Ebay was an obvious role model for there company.

Vinay then gave a very brief and very good slide show of his company an how it worked. He described how most cars only get an hour a day use and the average yearly cost is £5000 per year for a car. Therefore, he wants it so cars are being fully utilised by the community.

Ben Dineen from spice then spoke of his company. He described how his site worked by rewarding people for there time invested. Therefore dig a garden over somewhere for two hours and u get two hours ironing (this is my own example, but you get the idea). Its mainly a welsh company, but he described one town in Wales in which all the people have invested there time. He discuused the positive feedback loop in that this can cut down anti-social behaviour and creates a sense of community. In Ben's world, kinship is enhanced.

As I said previously, Rachel spoke mostly, therefore the coverage of the other's was reduced. Obviously this is just a brief overview.

Nesta event on Collaborative consumption review part.1 (Rachel Botsman)

I was up rather too early this morning to go to a Nesta event entitled Collaborative Consumption: Re-imagining public services. It started for breakfast at 8am (four coffee's in I was buzzing like Hunter S Thompson). The speakers were:-

*Rachel Botsman, author of "What's mine is yours"
*Philip Colligan, Executive Director of NESTA's Public Services Lab
*Ben Dineen, Spice time bank founder
*Giles Andrews, founder of social lending site Zopa
*Vinay Gupta, founder of WhipCar

I tweeted the event and here is the community hashtag (if interested).

Well, the first to start the ball rolling was Rachel Botsman after the formal introductions by Phil. Rachel started with a little excercise were we exchanged objects of value on our possession. Exchanging my ibook for an iphone made me feel very inhibited. The excercise was to show the object of trust need in the 'new' collaborative markets. She then discussed farmville and how this created a community in a virtual space for 1% of the world. She then pointed out this maybe due to people's wish to return to the land. She pointed out, that at present there is a waiting list for allotments of 10-14 years. Therefore, collaborative communities where land have been created. She said her parents had recent joined one called landshare. In which a community without land will 'hire' the garden space of a house, and the person using it repays in vegetable, flowers or whatever (so a barter economy really). She mentioned her father found the payback was not the food but nowing their neighbours. Nice story, but I live in London so as NOT to know my neighbours.
Rachel then went on to discuss what was termed 'internet enables effiecency and trust' [note, these notes are via my tweets, so their not her EXACT quotes]. In this statement I believe she was regurgatating other authors such as Charles Leadbeater, Chris Brogan and Don Tapscott. These authors cover similar areas, like collaborating, making trust a new form of currency and how working together will assist economic growth (sweeping generalisation, but you get the idea?) This in no way belittles the message, but the utopic view that a network works for a great future of free exchange does grate my political slant on things. I can see that what Rachel is saying, but I can't agree that it works. But, to her defence, she did say we are in the early stages of Collaborative consumption, and there will be problems.
Anyhow, she then discussed how Collaborative consumption is working around the world and spoke Weldon Irby, 97 year old former welding, who wanted to create a community even though he was old but had a skill. This skill was accepting old bikes to repair and give to the poor in his area. Therefore, he gains. In using his skills and making peoples live's better. He is now called santa bicycle.
Rachel then discussed hand drills. Don't switch off. Many of us own one, but its used 12 minutes in our life time. She pointed out that consumption made us want the product even though we don't need it. She then quoted Kevin Kelly on consumption, when he said we want 'access over ownership'. That resonates. Perhaps an exchange of products is a good idea (though I doubt advertisers would agree on this point).
She then discussed the problems with collaborating. The packaging sounds anarcho-communist. Sharing? In a capitalist world? But she felt in many ways it would improve our lives, in we give something back, feel better about ourselves and use less of the worlds resources. Fair comment I feel.
I liked some of it, but I still have problems with it, but I'll discuss them later in the series here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is there a library community in the blogosphere? Or has it moved to twitter?

I have blogged for nearly five years. And in that time it seems (to me) much has changed. I love blogging (mostly) and even did my masters dissertation on the subject. I might sound like an old man (wait, I AM AN OLD MAN), but I feel that the library blogosphere has changed. I enjoy blogging because it creates a conversation, especially when you get comments.
I blog, but also comment on blogs in the library blogosphere. What really annoys me though is I may comment on a blog and I get no response. Many bloggers do responds to my blog and comments and thats good, because it creates a readership, a relationship and a community. But when people don't respond it creates. Nothing.
The thing is, within the UK we have some really socialable librarians and bloggers. have created new Professionals Information Day. Not only was their blog used to advertise this event, but to have a social event after but a social meet up after the event.
Other bloggers Like Owen Stephens, Phil Bradley, Dave Pattern and Brian Kelly amongst others have created library mash-ups in an inexpensive manner.
This has created a conversation and a social gathering point (whether it maybe if you were at the events or read about it). This creates community.
So what is my point? I feel within my period as a blogger, people don't communicate so much via the comments section (or do I mean MY comments section?). In many ways this is due to the loss of some great library blogs like library crunch and shifted librarian has reduced her blogging. But my biggest thing that now the comments section seems to be found at twitter. I mean i'm a user of twitter (but not a regular user), but most of my comments and conversations seem to come via twitter. Twitter users answer my questions. It seems that the conversation has moved to twitter.

Contract extended....its beer o'clock

As mentioned previously it looked liked my contract had been extended until 31.03.11. So time for a beer I believe.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ICA talk on the death of print

The ICA for those in London has a talk called ICA Debate: Paywalls, E-books and the Death of Print on October 21st, 2010. Cost between £10 to £12.

Described thus:-

Is print media obsolete in the age of the internet and the iPad? Join publisher Andre Schiffrin, Guardian columnist Roy Greenslade, Harper Collins’ Digital Director David Roth-Ey and Kit Hammonds, co-founder of Publish and Be Damned.

I'm working, so I'm certainly not going.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All quite on the library front

I've not been blogging lately, as work is hectic with new undergraduates and post graduates (which I prefer). It did look like I might only be at work till christmas, but it seems I may have a few more months in the new year to. So thats good.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Untangling web 2.0 event in November

An Untangling web 2.0 event at Wolfson College, on November 24th. Peter Godwin and Shelia Webber are talking at the event. Its £75.00 for those that can afford it.