At the Ref Desk (3/18/17): Intersession -- all quiet on the research request front. [more...]

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The Joys of Content Management - In the Business of Dramatic Improvement

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 3/31/10 (12:28pm)

The best definition of a trade or skill that I can think of is being able, through your 'expertise', to make a significant improvement either in people's lives or in how they get things done. This applies to many things; it even applies to Content Management.

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Real-Time Web: It's More Than Just Twitter

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 8/30/09 (12:18pm)

I liked the article in BusinessWeek on the 'Real-Time Web'. It being BusinessWeek, they naturally devoted a significant portion to speculation on how to make money from this emerging trend and I had to laugh at the illusive precision of there being "at least $5 billion to be made on the real-time Web". What, just $5 billion?

Anyway, to give them their due, they correctly identify the trend:

History Repeats Itself as U of I's Global Campus Goes Belly Up

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 5/21/09 (10:19pm)

NYUonline (2001):

New York University is closing down its for-profit electronic learning operation, NYUonline, and moving some of its curriculum and staff into its School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

U of I Global Campus (2009):

[University of Illinois] trustees meeting in Chicago voted to follow a faculty task force plan to scrap much of the current version of Global Campus.

NYUonline (2002):

In two and a half years of operation, NYUonline received nearly $25 million from the university, but enrollment remained anemic at best: just 500 students at its peak.

U of I Global Campus (2009):

The $10 million program had only attracted about 360 students as of last month.

NYUOnline (2001):

The university blames last month's closure of the distance-learning company, called NYUonline, on the economy.

U of I Global Campus (2009):

...[Prof. Nick Burbules] said, a global recession has changed conditions under which the older initiative was established.

NYUonline (2001):

"I believe that the value of our work -- some of which will continue to be carried on by the university, and some non-academic portions of which may be acquired by third parties -- will become even clearer with time," [NYUonline CEO Gordon] Macomber said in the release.

U of I Global Campus (2009):

Burbules said the 2.0 model draws from the UI's experience with the initiative. "I think what is driving this process is the belief that the mission of expanding the online offerings is important," he said. "I give [U of I President White] full credit for inspiring this work, and I personally believe it is the future of higher education."

Note, there were significant differences between the programs, though stated goals tended to shift over time. Nevertheless, what the two shared was an inability by the people in charge to truly understand what the technology was capable of and what it wasn't. Decision-makers themselves had no strong background in online content development for higher education. This lack of background made it hard to evaluate alternative strategies. Instead of identifying successful initiatives already in place and extending those, they chose to concoct their schemes out of whole cloth.

The outcome should come as no surprise.

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When Design Kills

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 11/16/08 (10:07pm)

I had a very pleasurable time at the Garfield Park Conservatory on Chicago's West Side several weeks ago. Finding it however included a mishap due in part to this extremely poorly constructed map which I found while wandering around looking for directions.

You can see a larger version of the entire billboard here -- plus a close-up of the map itself.

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eBook Readers Suck as eBook Readers

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 8/8/08 (10:53am)

First people, please don't mention the Kindle and the future-of-print in the same breath. That would imply that one has something to do with the other and why do Amazon's marketing for them?

But ignoring that for a moment, I think the whole concept of a dedicated "ebook" reader is somewhat dodgy. I mean, if that's all they do, why bother?

You can't copy out bits and pieces of the text, import them into something you're working on, share them with friends, blog about them -- or do any of the million other things you're used to doing on electronic devices that are increasingly just as small and inexpensive.

In other words, an 'eBook' reader completely sucks as an 'eBook' reader because it treats what you're reading as a complete digital dead-end.

DRUPAL4LIB, a ListServ for Librarians Interested in Drupal

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 12/5/07 (12:56pm)

I just sent out the following announcement to various library-related email lists:

Hi All,

I'm pleased to announce a new ListServ for librarians called 'DRUPAL4LIB'.

As the name implies, 'DRUPAL4LIB' is for those interested in Drupal, a popular open-source CMS, as it relates to libraries and librarians.

The idea is to have a forum to exchange ideas and advice, share experiences, and maybe even collaborate on a couple of projects that highlight the use of Drupal in a library context.

TO SUBSCRIBE

Send the command 'SUBSCRIBE DRUPAL4LIB First_name Last_name' in the body of an email to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.UIC.EDU.

Alternatively you can subscribe by selecting 'Join or Leave the DRUPAL4LIB List' from the DRUPAL4LIB Archives Page:
http://listserv.uic.edu/archives/drupal4lib.html

Everyone is welcome, whether beginner or pro!

LEO

UPDATE: Six hours later and we already have over a hundred subscribers.

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Innovation Good and Bad

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 9/13/07 (11:11pm)

Aaron Schmidt rightfully quotes himself with pride from an article in the Chicago Tribune:

"There's a lot of dead wood in libraries, and I think there's a lot of administrations that are kind of just biding their time for retirement and don’t feel like putting forth a lot of effort," he said. "I think there’s a general culture of resistance to change. That needs to go away."

He's right of course but I think the problem is a bit more complicated.

(more after the jump...)

Second Life - Stick a Fork in It

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 8/12/07 (4:59pm)

This isn't a post trashing Second Life. (For that, go here...)

Rather it's about allocating resources in the face of constantly changing technology. It's about which pony to bet on in the race for relevance. We can't bet on all the ponies so what should we look for when choosing a favorite?

(more after the jump...)

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