Thursday, November 8, 2007

Library 2.0: Flickr resources

This week in the Library 2.0 class we are doing for staff at the OHSU Library we are exploring Flickr. We are all encouraged to contribute additional resources and ideas to this online class.

Janet Crum, one of the instructors and participants in the class, posted some additional Flickr/photo-sharing tools I thought were cool, so I am including them here.

List of Flickr mashups:

FD's Flickr Toys:
Allows you to make mosaics and posters from Flickr photos.

A web-based photo editor.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Report from EDUCAUSE 2007 - Part One

It was my great pleasure to last week attend this year's EDUCAUSE conference, held at the Washington State and Convention Trade Center in downtown Seattle, Washington.

The first keynote speaker, Doris Kearns Goodwin, spoke about leadership through examining the leadership qualities of Abraham Lincoln (whom she biographied in her 2005 work, Team of Rivals, the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

She described leadership qualities, as exemplified by Lincoln, as including the following:

  1. Capacity to listen to different points of view. People felt free to disagree without fearing consequences, but once a decision is made, the discussion is over.
  2. Ability to learn on the job through and from one's mistakes.
  3. A willingness to share credit for success.
  4. A willingness to shoulder blame for one's subordinates.
  5. Awareness of one's weaknesses so one can compensate.
  6. Ability to control emotions when angry or anxious.
  7. Strength to adhere to fundamental goals. Not reacting to short-term problems in ways that would undermine long-term goals.
  8. Knowing how to relax and replenish energies to reduce anxieties.
  9. "Managing by walking". Actually seeing what is going on on the ground with front-line workers. Apparently Lincoln would walk out amongst the soldiers on occasion to see what was going on.

I think these altogether, while challenging to achieve, are worth striving for.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Darn tootin'!

I don't do this very often, but I think it's time to toot my own horn! I presented today at the Northwest Innovative Users Group Conference, held as usual at the lovely University of Portland campus in Portland, Oregon.

I presented our process and findings of the web usability testing we did last fall, focusing on the issues surrounding the OPAC interface (since this was an Innovative conference and all!) My presentation (Usability Testing the OPAC: A Case Study from OHSU (PDF)) also is available off of my staff web site. If anyone is interested in the full write-up from our study, please contact me (zeigenl-at-ohsu-dot-edu) and I'll be happy to provide usability information ad nauseum! Just what you wanted, right?

I was somewhat nervous and probably spoke a bit too fast, but people seemed to be interested (and also laughed at what I hoped were funny comments - yay!), so I think they were engaged. It's been way too long since I was up in front of an audience and it's good to be back.

OHSU Library launches "Library 2.0"

This summer as a staff Tech Talk meeting (which we have once a month to just show up and chat about whatever new technology things we have found that we think are cool), several people raised the issue of not being able to keep up with learning new technologies.

Great discussion ensued and out of it we collectively decided to follow what many other libraries have done, which is to help guide our people through Web 2.0 technologies (for library purposes and otherwise) in the "15 minutes a day" concept: in other words, although none of us usually has a 3-4 hour chunk in any given day to dedicate to learning new stuff, we can take a little bit of time each day for this effort. That way at the end of a few months we will have learned a bunch of stuff.

We are using open source CMS Sakai (recently instituted by OHSU as its CMS) for this class as a way to test it out and familiarize ourselves with it, since we will have students using the system. We just launched the class, so we have yet to see how it will all pan out, but so far the discussion on the discussion forums have been very active and people seem to still be enthuasiastic about it, which is great.

Particular sites that we used to inform us about how to go about this were:

The grand experiment in putting our heads together for a collective learning experience continues!

TLTR rises again!

Friday, September 21, OHSU re-instituted one of what I have always thought was one of the coolest groups on campus: the TLTR, or Teaching, Learning and Technology Roundtable. These roundtables are encouraged by EDUCAUSE and other like organizations focused on technology in learning environments, particularly in higher education.

The many questions and resources covered at this meeting include the following. I would like to the OHSU TLTR site, but it will likely be overwritten for future meetings.

Tom Boudrot, Instructional Technology Manager, led a discussion on web conferencing and touched on the following issues:

  • What does web conferencing look like?
  • What hardware and software is required to conduct a successful web lecture or meeting?
  • What software can be used to enhance the design and production of online events and training?
  • What are some best practices in designing, producing and facilitating online courses, meetings and events?
  • What are the current web conferencing pilots at OHSU?
  • How do I get involved with web conferencing?

Select resources mentioned in the session:

Of course, it was a bonus that I won as a door prize a copy of The Synchronous Trainer's Survival Guide by Jennifer Hofmann. I still haven't had time to look at it yet (between helping launch our library's first attempt at providing an online Library 2.0 class to library staff and various conferences), but I'm looking forward to reading it.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Reed College - ContentDM User Group Meeting

Site of the ContentDM User Group Meeting, held at Reed College in late July. This two-day meeting featured panel discussions from a variety of librarians and how they were using ContentDM for their digital collections, for everything from electronic theses and dissertation collections to highlighting historical collections and other community resources. For instance, some libraries are using more audio material (using embedded audio players) to play recordings of spoken languages, such as this transcribed Innu legend.

It was great exchanging ideas and seeing what everyone was doing.

More information from this conference can be found on the
ContentDM Wiki and the meeting blog.

Upside-down tree!

Upside-down tree!
Originally uploaded by zeigenland
Another photo for this experiment.

Sun, sky and tree

Sun, sky and tree
Originally uploaded by zeigenland
Just an experiment in bringing in photos from Flickr. Enjoy!

Random interesting sites

Interesting things being discussed on other sites/blogs:

Preservation and archiving of digital media, particular of film:
Library of Congress Preserving Digital Content

National Archives Partners with CreateSpace and Amazon to Digitize Movies

Reframe Project

Make a donation, save a film

Academic Film Archive of North America

Narrative and storytelling
Ira Glass on storytelling

Other kinds of storytelling
What happens when they come for us?: Murdoch buys the Dow Jones

From ResourceShelf
New program color-codes text in Wikipedia entries to indicate trustworthiness

The Cyberchondriacs: How Often Do U.S. Adults Search for Health Care Information Online?

Culture Code

It happened AGAIN. I keep meaning and meaning to post, and then I don't, feeling like I need to get the post completely together in my head (and "on paper" with full references) before I post. I am still learning to think of the blog as a posted email versus a formal written document.

In any case, I have been meaning to write about a very interesting book I read lately: The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do, by Clotaire Rapaille. Although focused on marketing (which I have generally viewed as something only undertaken by those in the darkest corners of the business world), it has much to inform those of us working with usability issues. Why DO people do what they do?

Rapaille was born and raised in France, but immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. This background allows him to be immersed in, and also removed from, two cultures, informing his work. He has primarily been hired by companies (like GM, etc.) interested in understanding how their branding is or is not working.

What is fascinating about Rapaille's work (and how he justified his ROI to the companies hiring him) is that he just doesn't ask people what they like or do not like about a product. As the fictional Gregory House might say, "Everybody lies". Rapaille doesn't think people will lie deliberately to focus groups, but there is an overwhelming skew on the part of participants trying to supply (unconsciously most of the time) with the answers they THINK the researchers want to hear.

Rapaille's approach is quite different. His sessions are broken into three sessions. In the first hour he asks people to consider that he is an alien from another planet and he has never seen of or used coffee/car/insert other product here, then asks them to explain to him what that thing is for. Doing this, he posits, helps understand all the ways in which that thing is or is not useful/meaningful in people's lives.

The second part of his testing has people doing collage, starting to access the right-side of their brain. Rapaille does this and the next step because he feels that the way people perceive things (i.e. the way a particular product or action of a culture is "coded") depends very much on the emotional imprint associated with that product or action. Things with positive emotional imprints will have positive cultural codes and vice versa.

In the final step of his testing he dims the lights and lays people down on the floor and has them talk about their first, best, or strongest memory associated with that particular thing he is testing. Then he analyzes the essence of what this is about and comes up with a one word "code" that embodies what that thing represents to people in that culture.

He does caution that these codes are cultural generalizations and do not apply across the board to every single individual, but the results are interesting. For instance, in America, a Jeep is coded as "HORSE": something that helps people get out in the wild and feel free. In France and Germany, however, Jeep is coded by those cultures as "LIBERATOR", Rapaille feels because of the association of the Jeep with liberating American forces in WWII.

He covers things like coffee and make-up, but also more non-product things, like how a culture views shopping, food, alcohol, and even the American presidency (apparently we don't just want a father figure - we want Moses!)

While at first glance this may have nothing to do with usability, Web sites, or instructional design, I think it has a lot to inform us about how things become imprinted in people's associations and how far we may have to dig to get the information we really need to create the interfaces that will work the best for the majority of the patrons in our particular "culture". What "CODE" do they have? How can we make these embedded codes work for us? Are we doing things inadvertently to work against them in an unknowingly negative way? These are the questions this book made me think about.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Confessions of a podcast junkie

Yesterday I attended an ALA/ACRL webinar called "Podcasting for the Classroom", led by David Free. One of the many resources he referenced was an Educause article
"Confessions of a Podcast Junkie", by Carie Windham.

While I am not (yet) a podcasting junkie, the possibilities for using it as a design tool for the learning process are tantalizing. Windham describes how in some classrooms they use podcasts as a way to bring in the voices of different speakers or theorists who students would not normally have the opportunity to hear. I am thinking this would be particularly useful for learners who tend towards an auditory style of learning.

The possibilities for having students really work with the ideas they are grappling with in class appear to be enhanced by the opportunity to create a podcast to put together a class presentation, thereby contributing to students' motivation in the learning process. Likewise, podcasting (with it's prevalence of interviewing as a format) would appear to contribute towards greater classroom collaboration.

Again, however, just using a new technology is not a panacea that will instantly enhance all learning situations. As one student said, "If you're going to use [podcasting], make sure it's practical. Don't just give us busy work."

So, one more tool to put in the toolbox for teaching and learning to keep in mind for the future.

Full notes from Free's session will be available on his blog (

Monday, July 9, 2007

EVERYTHING is miscellaneous

I recently read David Weinberger's new book Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. Weinberger is the one who also (with others) recently brought us The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual.

A video of Weinberger providing an overview of the ideas presented in Everything is Miscellaneous as part of the Authors@Google series is available at

This was a profound book, one that I have underlined and dog-eared within an inch of itself because of the copious amount of cool and interesting ideas I saw running through it. I will have to do several postings on the ideas in this book since there is so much there.

Essentially, Weinberger points out the fact that Mr. Dewey was just one person and the organization of knowledge Dewey presented is just one of the numerous ways one can organize and present information. Current technologies are finally making possible the infinite organizations of information in the multitude of ways that make sense to different individuals (something about which Dewey would have, perhaps, been horrified). Weinberger, however, points out the incredible value when all this information is "thrown into a big digital 'pile' to be filtered and organized by users themselves."

Information is not an asset to be guarded, but to be "let loose" so it can be mashed up by people in the ways that work for them.

More to come!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Musings on OPAC interface

In May I went to Oregon State University to be part of a panel presenting an overview of options for the OPAC. One of the other presenters, Michael Boock, had an interesting overview of "The Future of the Catalog". ( Some of his discussion echoes the study done by UC Berkeley on Rethinking How We Provide Bibliographic Services for the University (PDF).

Both Boock and UC call for OPACs that offer greater flexibility and control in terms of how librarians can set up these resources for their users, as well as more flexibility in the options users have for finding their information (through faceted searching and other things). Both point to the ability to support recommender features and support customization, as well as providing bibliographic services where users are, as important and necessary changes to how libraries provide service.

Good, user-based interface design has never been more crucial if we are going to convince our users that we have the tools and the know-how to remain vital information resources in their lives. More and more parts of the library world, such as the ones mentioned here, are raising the call to attend, as quickly as possible, to this pressing and urgent need.

It was very frustrating in the usability testing I did last Fall to see users (all intelligent people!) struggling to find their desired information or function in the OPAC, just because the button for that function was not where they naturally tended to think it should be. And this frustrated me, because a lot of the simple changes I could see that they needed were not those I had control to make in the OPAC.

To my colleagues who might argue that I am trying to throw out MARC, nothing could be further from the truth! Give me MARC in all it's organized glory. Just let me have more control over how I can present all this MARC-y goodness to my users. That's all I'm saying. And I'm not the only one.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New uses for Webcasting

Just when you thought you had seen all the uses for webcasting that were already out there, something new and fun!

There have recently been various reports of universities using webcasting to provide "remote graduation" broadcasts for friends and family who could not attend their loved one's graduation. I think this is such an awesome use of this technology!

Check it out at

Monday, June 18, 2007

Thoughts on Libraries and Google: From Library Philosophy and Practice

Librarian Philosophy and Practice (ISSN: 1522-0222) has dedicated a special issue focusing on libraries and Google. This series of articles presents a great collection of ideas around this very hot topic.

Check out the listings at:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Info Doodads

Several Oregon librarians (Laurie Bridges, Margaret Mellinger, Hannah Rempel, Kate Gronemyer, Jane Nichols and Michael Baird) have started a blog dedicated to reviewing information tools on the Net.

In addition to links to some serious info technology tools, they include links to other sites (equally relevant as a reference tool if not as a reference tool that would be useful for something specific to work!) such as

You can check out this new and useful blog at

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cool digital collections using ContentDM

ContentDM (now owned by OCLC) regularly publishes "featured collections on ContentDM". Some of the recent ones I thought were kind of cool are:

Civil War Letters Collection - University of Washington

E-Archives of Purdue University

Historic Des Moines, Iowa Pictures - Drake University

The entire Collection of Collections is at

I just think it is so cool that all this history, previously unknown to any but the most avid devotees for that particular area of knowledge, are now being made so widely available. The historian and the digital designer in me are both happy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I'll see you on Facebook

Power dynamics in a classroom setting are nothing new. Students can sometimes have anxiety about their performance, particularly in relation to teachers they may perceive as intimidating.

A recent study on the possible effects of student-teacher interaction from teacher "self-disclosure" on Facebook supports the notion that more (and appropriate) self-disclosure by teachers in Facebook can help reduce student anxiety, thus leading to more positive classroom interactions. The idea here is that if students can see their teachers as human beings (as well as teachers), then the students feel more comfortable interacting with the teachers and are thus more likely to learn.

None of this should be surprising, but the utilization of Facebook to provide such disclosure (i.e. the fact that we have technologies now that encourage these kinds of social networking), as well as the fact that someone did a study on it, is kind of fascinating.

From the blog posting referencing the article:

The article itself:
"I'll See You On 'Facebook': The Effects of Computer-Mediated Teacher Self-Disclosure on Student Motivation, Affective Learning, and Classroom Climate," by Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy, and Cheri J. Simonds [Communication Education, Volume 56, Issue 1 January 2007 , pages 1 - 17].

From the conclusion of the article:
"Self-disclosure is one approach that teachers may take to develop relationships with their students. However, as communication technology develops at an increasing rate, it is important for teachers to recognize how certain technologies, even those used largely by students, can positively affect student-teacher relationships. Facebook is a contemporary technological tool that can offer teachers and students a unique method to nurture the student-teacher relationship, which can ultimately create a positive learning experience for both parties."

Monday, June 4, 2007

SecondLife and Information Island

I have so much mulling about in my brain that's its hard to know where to begin. I should probably start with the groovy SecondLife (3-D virtual world) demo I saw at a recent gathering of the Portland Area Information Literacy group.

Michael Brown (Portland State University) and Donna Cohen (Information Management Consultant) led the group through a tour of SecondLife, particularly focusing on an area called Information Island. Information Island is an "archipelago" of dozens of "islands" (aka interest areas). Some of the resources they pointed us to for learning more about SecondLife were:

I can see a lot of applications for SecondLife and InfoIsland in the K-12 realm - can you just imagine a teacher guiding students through a unit where they all have their avatars work together to build an Egyptian pyramid or the Great Wall of China? In this way, I can see this environment greatly enhancing the learning process. Similar projects, such as University of Virginia's virtual recreation of ancient Rome, officially titled Rome Reborn 1.0, show the possibilities when technology embraces the rich content in the humanities.

So, clearly virtual worlds have a strong educational benefit (not to mention total coolness factor!), but what about how virtual worlds could be applied to non-K-12 or liberal arts environments? Aside from being able to serve as a more multi-dimensional "webinar" (i.e. where everyone's avatars gather in a central place for a lecture and through SecondLife have a more interactive experience) what purpose could such an environment serve for an academic health sciences library? One of the islands in the "Info Island" archipelago, Health Info Island, may have some answers. Health Info Island, states as one of its goals to "Experiment and develop new ways of interaction between users and libraries" and to do more outreach in consumer health. It will be interesting to see how such a virtual environment could be used as a reference and learning tool for health information as this "Info Island" develops.

I'm back!

Between a library systems conference and being sick, I have not posted in a while and stories have piled up. To start back up, a few recent news stories of interest:

Google has purchased FeedBurner, through which "bloggers and podcasters syndicate and make money from their online content". Will this make FeedBurner the tool of choice for this function? Will it propel bloggers and podcasters to choose other alternatives if Google's business model becomes problematic? Only time will tell, but it's interesting to see how Googlezon continues to consolidate tools and grow.

In health care information news, the Librarian Activist reports the launch of an online medical journal Open Medicine. The editor, James Maskalyk, in his opening issue article asks Why Open Medicine? What is the reason to provide a free, online, but peer-reviewed medical journal?

Maskalyk points to the existing disparity in information access to medical literature ("It seems an anathema to the spirit of medical research that, largely for economic reasons, the information it produces remains hidden from many potential users.") as well as the undue influence pharmaceutical companies ("too much of the revenue that sustains medical journals comes from pharmaceutical advertising that attempts to influence physicians into making decisions based on brand recognition rather than on discerning scholarship.") He also points to the fact that the cost of print and mailing, in addition to the slower turnaround time for traditional print-based peer review, takes unduly long and with current technology are no longer absolutely necessary.

Open Medicine will be supported by volunteers, donations and what they call "ethical advertising" and has a blog to encourage discussion amongst its members, all those who "read and contribute to it." Although medical literature is still a long way from being 100% online (and I doubt it will ever be 100% open access), Open Medicine has made an early contribution to a trend I think we will see continue in the near to mid term.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Are you a "technology omnivore"?

The Pew Research Center recently released results of study on people's attitudes towards technology (Internet, cell phones, Web 2.0, etc.).

In addition to finding that there is a range between people who embrace and use technology for communication ("elite users") and those who don't use and/or avoid it (and also "middle of the roaders" in between), the study found that even within the "elite users" group were subdivisions, including people who use the technology as a productivity device or because they otherwise have to, but not because they are just embracing technology for technology's sake.

To see the full breakdown of types, go to the Pew Research page on
A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users . There are links from here to the full report and to a "Technology Typology" quiz that allows you to see how you would place in this system.

The subtle breakdown of "technology types", particularly those who might use the Internet, Web 2.0 and cell phones a lot, but just not be enjoying it, should be another reminder that there can never be a "one size fits all" approach to use of technology in the classroom, or in general.

It is also a good reminder that when the "latest and greatest" technology comes out, it will not necessarily be the solve-all panacea for whatever particular processes it is designed to address. Per my earlier post on why technology is not always the key to learning, humans (or at least the ones in my culture with whom I am most familiar) love to have an "either-or" approach to new things. "New" for whatever reason tends to be equated with "better" ("new and improved way to do XYZ!"), but, to borrow an analogy one of my colleagues uses in teaching, saying that the only way to build a house is with the "new and improved" hammer would be leaving out a lot of vital tools in this process.

OK, I'm off my soapbox now, at least for the moment. Isn't that what blogs are for, to be soapboxes?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Cool tool: Carmun

Cool tool I just heard about on the ILI (ALA Instruction Section) listserv is something called Carmun, which appears to be a tool that enables one to create bibliographies in short order (they claim "half the time") and organize bookmarks and online citations, including being able to make notations on them. I'll be interested to see how this stacks up to EndNote and RefWorks.

5-minute usability testing

I recently came across an article on 5-minute usability testing that also had a number of interesting links to other usability articles of interest. The idea behind the "5-minute usability test" (as I understood it) is to gather initial impressions that users have of your site - essentially a "gut reaction".

While not formal usability testing (and the authors of the article are the first to admit this), this kind of testing can provide valuable feedback in terms of the emotional connection your site may, or may not, be making with users. Since Web sites are essentially pieces of any organization's marketing, and lots about marketing (I am learning!) involves the emotional connection between the user and your "brand", this simple testing technique should perhaps be kept as one of the regularly used tools in the usability testing toolbox.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Teaching, communication and technology

Interesting notes from "Confessions of a Science Librarian" (John Dupuis) on the opening day of the TEL@York Conference, a conference on Technology Enhanced Learning. In his post , he discusses the keynote speaker's (John Mitterer of Brock University) presentation of Teaching, Communication, and the Effective Use of Technology to Enhance Student Engagement. I thought a variety of his points were of interest, particularly the "chalk as technology" idea and also keeping in mind that just because "technologies" are older does not mean they are not useful in certain instances. PowerPoint can still be useful as a teaching tool when properly applied, for example. Many thanks to Dupuis for his blogging of this event!

Technology is not always the key to learning

I am constantly gathering and filtering through books on issues of interest to me. One book I have just started perusing again (I ILL'd it before I remembered I had a copy at home already! Time to start using LibraryThing...) that appears to have some interesting things to say about the teaching and learning process, particularly as it applies to distance education is Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education, by Simonson, Smaldino, Albright and Zvacek.

In their first chapter they analyze Richard Clark's assessment on the limited role of technology, describing how his article claimed "...that instructional media were excellent for storing educational messages and for delivering them almost anywhere", but that media itself could not be responsible for any "learning effect", in other words, those aspects in the instructional process that together aid the process of learning. The authors go on to say, "Learning was not enhanced because instruction was media-based. Rather, the content of the instruction, the method used to promote learning, and the involvement of the learner in the instructional experience were what, in part, influenced learning."

I don't consider myself a Luddite, but I think that sometimes enthusiasm for the "latest and greatest" technology is incorrectly considered a panacea, all-in-one solution for all that ails the learning process (or anything else in the world for that matter).
Why humans tend to do this (ascribe total solution to some new thing) is the topic for another post!

Another analogy that comes to my mind are the movies that Hollywood churns out that, while full of the latest special effects, are devoid of any real storyline or character development. The foundations and the structure have to exist first before the layers of "technological solutions" are introduced. Just introducing a distance component to an existing successful academic program will not necessarily enhance the students' experience of learning unless careful consideration is given to the learning process on its own (aka "instructional design"!).

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Welcome to Zeigenland!

Greetings! This blog is designed to share my ideas about learning and motivation, instructional design, information searching behavior and mental models, information access, usability, user interface, narrative, storytelling, women's history, sustainable and equitable economic systems, sociology, social psychology, and whatever else strikes my fancy. Hopefully it will generate some conversation about these and other issues as well.