Monday 29 October 2007

Web 2.0 to Library 2.0 - A Beginner's Guide

Excuse the advertising but I promised to help get the word out on this double act I am doing with the inimitable Paul Sutherland from Christchurch City Library.

We have already done the first session down in Christchurch. It had a couple of rough edges, but I think we managed to kick the series off. The plan is to have two more sessions before Christmas. One in Auckland, the other in Hamilton. Hamilton is already full.

However, the Auckland one is still open. And big thanks to Auckland University for their help in sourcing the venue!

A one day seminar brought to you in association with LIANZA, in it's commitment to foster professional development.

Date: Saturday 17 November, 2007
Time: 8:45 am to 4 pm
Cost: $320 for
LIANZA members & $410 for non members
Location: Level 2, Room 231, Kate
Edger Information Commons, Auckland University Number of Participants: 16
minimum to 20 maximum Event Leaders: Paul Reynolds & Paul Sutherland
Register here:
Enquiries: email

A one day learning event for library staff which focuses on the frameworks and tools of the participatory web - the Web 2.0 environment.

Participants will be offered some thoughts and ideas and will be encouraged to explore and use some the tools which Web 2.0 offers and to look at the possibilities for their own Library 2.0. The event is practically based and will be constructed to ensure that participants are engaged and have fun.

The day is aimed at people who have reasonable IT user skills i.e. they are familiar with the Internet, email and use of applications such as word processing. It is not designed for IT experts or those fluent in the use of Web 2.0 tools

The cost of attendance at the event covers morning and afternoon teas and lunch. Participants will receive resource material to take away. Travel costs etc are the responsibility of participants or their employers.

No preparation is necessary

Participants are expected to use some of the tools they have been exposed to and to contribute to an ongoing forum. These tasks will not be onerous.

Participants will:
- understand the nature of web 2.0 tools and services as a framework of web based activity
- understand the potential of web 2.0 tools for library activity
- understand the potential of web 2.0 tools as devices to enhance personalisation, participation and collaboration
- be able to demonstrate knowledge of a number of web 2.0 tools
- be able to use a blog, find, access and use an RSS feed or live bookmark, and able to identify, evaluate and use other APIs
- have set up a personal/professional blog
- have an ongoing commitment to continue to use a number of the
tools in collaborative ways with other participants - have identified potential uses of web 2.0 tools for their employing institutions

If you are a registered professional attending this seminar don't forget to record it in your Re validation Journal under Body of Knowledge # 7.

For more information and to register please follow this link:

EPIC - aka Googlezone

I'm back in Auckland. It's Monday. Lot's to catch up with - lots to absorb, and then report. I just loved the Australian election campaign. These guys can be seriously funny, especially when they are out to draw blood. And that's just the press! Still the 4th estate. On steroids.

Which makes the re arrival of this source all the more telling. I was sent it by a fellow traveller who works in the Ministry of Education. You may have seen it already - but it's always worth a re look, and for those who are new to it, click on. It's worth the wait. Trust me.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Postcard from Australia

I am in Australia this week, so the big blog post will have to wait. I'm here at the invitation of the National and State Libraries, of Australasia. These include all the main Australian states and the NZ National Library. They are a really interesting bunch, and their web site is here.

I'm on a speaking tour on 'the role of the public library in the 21st century'. I know. Very posh title! Joking aside, it has been a brilliant opportunity to do some thinking and to share that with some really interesting people. and yes, I will blog about it when I get back. Or whenever I catch my breath.

I was in Perth on Monday, which apparently I pronounce funny? Tuesday night and Wednesday, Adelaide. Brilliant place. Now I've just arrived in Brisbane. I fly to Sydney Thursday night, am speaking at the State Library, New South Wales, Friday, and then I get to have a weekend. Really looking forward to swanning around Darlinghurst and up into Paddington looking for second hand books.

More on the thinking stuff later. Got to go. There is a large plate of totally illegal french fries on the hotel table, courtesy of room service. They look and smell great!
Had a lovely moment on the way to Perth with Air New Zealand. When I got on , one of the cabin staff says to me, oh hallo Mr Reynolds, we weren't sure which one we had, the new Telcom one, or the one with the really nice voice. Fame, and I don't even have to try!

Wednesday 17 October 2007

The Kiwi Research Information Service

Have a look to the right, and scroll down. There is a new RSS feed. It's from The Kiwi Research Information Service. The makers are a little shy, describing their efforts as a 'soft launch' Well fair, enough. Sometimes you just want to slip into the party and have a seat in the corner and catch your breath.

NZ Research NZ
A gateway to the open-access research documents produced at universities, polytechnics, and other research institutions throughout New Zealand.

Open Access
Open access is a growing part of the online revolution. It is designed to solve a problem. How do you make the fruits of publicly funded research freely available?

Doesn't that happen already? Nope. On the contrary, all too often publicly funded research papers end up in fee paying online repositories, or worse, become locked inside commercial non- disclosure agreements, some of which hang around doing nothing for either party for years.

Nothing in the open access world is designed to change that - i.e. the paper will still end up in the erudite academic journal the author hungers to be in. However, if he or she so chooses, they can also deposit a copy of their research in the open access repository of their choice.

Hitherto there hasn't been a gateway to surface the combined efforts of some of our key institutions here in New Zealand. Now there is - and the RSS feed on the right is the first fruits of this endeavour. In short - job done! Well done all! Now it's over to the researchers to make those vital deposits.
The participating institutions are:
Auckland University of Technology (258 Records)
Lincoln University (118 Records)
Massey University (165 Records)
The University of Auckland (1757 Records)
University of Canterbury (463 Records)
University of Otago (679 Records)
University of Waikato (183 Records)
Victoria University of Wellington (135 Records) Polytechnics
Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (2 Records)
Manukau Institute of Technology (12 Records)
NorthTec (2 Records)
Unitec New Zealand (31 Records)
Universal College of Learning (8 Records)
Whitireia Community Polytechnic (43 Records)

Open Access Repositories.
If this topic interests - have a look at these sources:
Registry of Open Access Repositories
AuseAccess is a wiki devoted to open access repositories in the Australasian region.
Open Access - Wikipedia - great bibliography
More links courtesy of comments:
Auckland University - page on open access resources - nice one - thanks
See also the National Library Tech Blog post: they are keen to make sure people see it as a beta for the moment. It's an interesting distinction - technically it seems to work fine? So perhaps the hesitation is all around stakeholder buy in? New Zealand researchers could solve that in a flash by piling in and using it? Or am I missing something here?

Monday 15 October 2007

The Archers now a podcast

It is not exactly one of the greatest developments in the history of the net, but it does it for me. The original BBC radio soap, The Archers, which legend has it started over 50 years as a way of educating the townies on the realities of country life is now a podcast. And I have been a fan for thirty years.

There you go. I've outed myself. The relief - it is so good to come clean. Say it loud - say it proud. I am an Ambridge fan! There was a major interruption when I first came to Auckland 17 years ago, but I have been happily back in the Archers club for yonks courtesy of the streaming [real audio] feed on the totally excellent Radio 4 web site.

Because it was a streaming option, I had developed my own way of doing this - listening at 1pm in the afternoon here in the office, if and when I could, and then indulging in big catch ups if and when I was away from the office. But it was always the streaming version.
Now, in a recent swathe of other new podcasts, the BBC have finally taken pity on me. I can now get each episode ow listen as a proper download, and if needs be as a podcast. Brilliant.

As for Ed and poor Fallon, get with it mate, you are made for each other!

Tuesday 9 October 2007

Creative Commons NZ

Creative Commons NZ
Forgive me - but I have been waiting quite a while to be able to post that New Zealand now has its very own Creative Commons framework. The formal launch is on the 27th October. On that date, you can go to the local Creative Commons web site, click on 'get a licence', then head of to the page which lists the different country jurisdictions - one of which will be New Zealand. After two clicks you are sorted. Sounds easy - and it is - but getting there has taken nearly two years!

What's the fuss?
As some people know, and hopefully many others will soon find out, the Creative Commons framework is a web based tool to give your digital online intellectual property [photo - music, video, image, art work et al] a protection beyond the normal analogue version of copyright, which essentially restricts itself to - yes you can use my stuff - no you can't.

Expanding the copyright conversation
In contrast, the Creative Commons framework is premised on the notion that on the web, life is rarely that simple. So it extends the conversation by asking a few sensible questions. Like do you want to share this work? If you do, what are the conditions you want to impose on it? Can other people use it? Do they need to attribute you as the creator? Can they use it in a mash up? Can they use it commercially?. Or do they need to come and talk to you about that?.

Formal Legal Protection
Once answered the site points to a series of different licences, each of which has a different logo or digital mark whose job is to capture your intentions and show them to the world at large.

Once you have chosen the one for you, you take the digital mark or image and put it on the web site which hosts your creative output. When people click on that they are sent to a formal legal licence which incorporates your intention in a legal instrument which is applicable to the new Zealand jurisdiction. In short, a real singing dancing legal protection.

Humanities Network / National Library
Clearly what kind of licence would work for you needs a bit more explaining, which is why the Humanities Network, in partnership with the New Zealand National Library , which has been leading the project to get a New Zealand Creative Commons framework, are organising a series of regional workshops to demonstrate and explain how it all works.

The Humanites network are looking for local regional organisations to host these regional seminars. If you fancy doing that, I'd be happy to pass it on.

But first of all - there is the big Wellington based national launch and seminar. I promised to put the details up on here - so here they are.

Expanding Copyright Horizons
Creative Commons Seminar 27 October 2007
The Creative Commons Seminar on Saturday 27 October (full day held at the National Library, Wellington) is your opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the Creative Commons approach to copyright licensing.

If you’re in the creative, cultural, scientific or educational space, are interested in securing a return on your creative investment and marking your work with the freedoms and access you want it to carry, then this seminar is for you.

It’s also for people who have an interest or involvement in copyright and the direction the new open content licensing is taking.

The free programme includes guest speaker Dr Anne Fitzgerald, Brisbane-based intellectual property and e-commerce lawyer and Adjunct Professor at the School of Law, Queensland University of Technology.

As well as initiating Australia’s Going Digital series of seminars and publications, Anne has written and presented extensively on legal aspects of e-commerce, multimedia and the Internet.

The event will also include industry & research sector workshops, led by New Zealand experts, to discuss specific issues, uses and concerns.

Register your interest now to and to assist with planning please provide details of your sector & area of interest e.g. creative, research, education, government, legal etc.

Thursday 4 October 2007

Te Ara 3: Pompous Jock here

Had the meeting yesterday with Jock Philips the Editor of Te Ara. It was very interesting. Lots of discussion on the merits of the authoritative versus the informal- but best of all, he readily agreed to my suggestion of a guest blog - so here it is!

"I have the privilege of heading up a wonderful team who are responsible for putting together Te Ara. I am really grateful to Paul Reynolds for kicking off the discussion about Te Ara and his generosity in asking me to respond.

It’s been hugely enlightening and a bit salutary to read the responses to Paul’s initial posting. Getting responses to websites is not that easy. Once upon a time in my dim distant elitist past I used to write books.
Not many people read them; but even so there were always people officially tasked by the print media with reviewing them. Even if a book was 50 pages long, you eventually found out what people thought. A website can get plenty of visitors, over 6,000 a day in our case, yet no-one is invited to tell us and the world how well it works.
Although we have been going for over two years and the site has about 1 million words, over 12,000 images and about a thousand film clips, no-one has really sat down to write a serious assessment. So it’s been a real tonic to get a lively debate going about Te Ara. Thank you.

Let me tackle a couple of issues. First, the charge that we are elitist, a bunch of experts who talk down rather than a wiki approach which allows the people to speak. We plead guilty to the charge that we spend a lot of time making sure that our material is as up-to-date and accurate as possible. We owe it to New Zealanders to make sure that they can find out the truth about this remarkable land. We use authors who are specialists on subjects.
For example, Paul Mahoney wrote a lovely piece on bush transport . He had spent years talking to old-timers about the kauri dams they built and the bush lokies they rode on. No-one without his experience could possibly have written that delightful entry.

Or take the moa entry – the study of the moa is a highly complicated matter, which is changing fast as the use of dna uncovers new evidence. We needed an author who was right up with this science. So the entry was written by a university scientist, Trevor Worthy. I make no apology for choosing such authors. The people of New Zealand – yes, the taxpayers – are entitled to get the latest information.

Yet having specialists write these entries does not make them elitist. We make huge efforts to make the language clear and accessible; and we summarise the content in shorter, simpler language in a ‘Short story’ aimed at younger users.
Our goal is to empower people so that they can enjoy and use the information we give out. I particularly like Paul’s suggestion that the expert needs to be heard inside a conversation with others and I hope that we can find ways of ensuring that this happens more in the future.

Further, much of Te Ara is not just words, but also images and sounds. Almost half our team are collecting photographs or drawing maps, or building interactives or editing films. Just go to the ‘Don’t miss’ part of the home page and look at some of these marvellous resources. You won’t see anything like them on Wikipedia.

In Anne’s thoughtful and helpful comments, she questioned the thematic structure of Te Ara and its difficulties for navigation. We adopted a thematic approach as primarily an organisational device while we work on the project. If we were going to prepare a whole encyclopedia of New Zealand – a huge job – we had to do it in stages. It was more fun and practical for us, and more interesting for users, if we did it in large subjects like ‘The Bush’ rather than beginning with the letter A.
We display the themes on the home page to show users the subjects we have already covered. But users can also use the search engine to find what they want, and our new home page includes a browser by A-Z and by topic. As we do more, the themes will fade and eventually become invisible.

John wonders what Te Ara will be like in 15 years. I have no idea how it will be packaged. What I do know is that we are creating small blocks of clearly-written accurate information and a wonderful array of sounds and images.
We have created a mass of digital objects. In 15 years I suspect that these objects will be served up in a host of different ways – perhaps on a thematic website, perhaps on your cell-phone, more likely in different forms in Paul’s learning space.
The important thing at this point is to create these high quality objects in the expectation they can be repurposed in the future. This is what makes Te Ara so different from the old book encyclopedia. For now we are trying to deliver the content in as accessible and interesting way as we can.

I was interested in the comments about the lack of in-line links. We agonised on this issue, divided between wanting to exploit web technology, but disturbed by the cluttered effect of endless blue underlined words.
In retrospect I think we fell down here, and our next big task is to work on greatly improving the internal cross-linkages. I hope when Anne looks again next year, she will be able to flit from entry to entry much easier.

Finally on the issue of web 1.0 or web 2.0. I have always been a strong believer in user participation on the web. When we started planning Te Ara in 2002, Web 2.0 was a distant fantasy, yet we built in a place for community contributions. You will find scattered through Te Ara ‘your stories’, sent in by people from around New Zealand.
There are a couple of good ones in the Bush transport entry for example .
From next month users will be encouraged to send in stories from every page on the site. We are also about to begin a Te Ara blog, and to invite the contribution of photos to a Te Ara page on Flickr.
This will not make Te Ara a Web 2.0 or wiki encyclopedia; for our identity and value depends upon the fact that our content is highly checked and accurate. But Web 1.5 is certainly where we are headed.
I hope you enjoy the ride".


Thanks Jock - and of course - plenty of room for more comments - and then we might move on, at least for the moment.

Monday 1 October 2007

Te Ara - the conversation continues

The Te Ara conversation has turned into a rich seam, especially from the New Zealand Library community. Last Friday I posted to a couple of the library listservs - who in turn got busy. I offer a sample of their contribution below from Anne Ryan.

"Well, having a bit of time on my hands, I've had a good look at Te Ara today & at Paul's initial blog entry & response. Not working as a "front of house" librarian, I can't comment on how useful it may/may not be as a reference source for the general public. But here's what I found.

First the good points:
* It seems to provide some of the most comprehensive online information on a range of specifically NZ topics. This has to be a 'good thing'.

* The thematic approach appears to be attractive to many users (and there is a reasonable search interface to assist with finding specific topics which are not apparent within the thesaurus structure). This is likely to be attractive to users.

* The option for full or short articles is a good approach (clearly intended for junior users and those wanting a quick answer)

*Good instructions on how to cite articles (obviously targeted to the school researchers)

Now the not so good ones:
*Thematic search approaches also have weakness: Where users don't think of a specific topic as being associated with the larger one -- e.g. Takahe, appear under Large forest birds (these are better known in their habitat of alpine grassland -- and I, for one, didn't think of looking for them under this heading). Another weakness is that there is no cross reference structure under the A-Z search approach (searching for 'Greenstone', I find nothing; I must instead know to search under 'Pounamu'). While this is remedied by use of the keyword search facility, it is still a weakness.

* There appears to be no internal cross-linkages within the individual articles. One of the good features of Wikis. While these linkages are not always useful, they do facilitate a much wider information gathering approach & are more typical of mature internet sources. Basically this looks like a print encyclopedia online. A rather dated approach.

* While the articles are relatively comprehensive, they are not (and cannot be) the entirety of knowledge on a topic. There appears to be little or no linkage to online resources maintained by other organizations or to the 'real world' should the user want to track down 'live' information. For example, in the takahe article there are text references to Tiri Tiri Matangi island (a wildlife refuge where Takahe breed), but no links. The selection of print resources (under 'Further sources'), appears to be eclectic, and there is no indication of where the user might be able to track these down (link to Te Puna?)

*It is clearly a work in progress. It would be useful to have place-markers (once again a wiki concept) to indicate where articles will eventually be written/placed. It would give users an idea of the planned extent of the resource (i.e. whether a topic is in or out of scope)

*Dating online resource information is always a pain.
There is no indication as to what the "updated 21-Sep-2007" actually means. Is this a publication date? Or simply the last time a typo was corrected. While this is not of major importance at the moment (while everything is so new/current), it is likely to cause problems further down the track, with the inability to tell what is current or dated information. I'd like to see publication dates & revision dates indicating intellectual work/review, rather than minor tweaks.

*Finally (and getting back to the blog reaction), the articles are written from a definite perspective (as is all information...), and this has the potential to polarize readers & be perceived as elitist.

A stronger policy of online linking to alternative views, and toning down some of
the rhetoric might be more appropriate (e.g. the statement that "Greenstone is a common term, but increasingly it is being replaced by pounamu" -- is only true within a subset of NZ society -- regardless of whether or not we think it ought to be true).

On the other hand, this is an official, government, source, and perhaps will always demonstrate an official perspective. I'd like to see a much more wiki approach, but understand that this is not the vision of the Te Ara project. Perhaps Paul's vision of pages exported to a study space, may be the way to address the different Perspectives that can be brought to all information topics.
I, too, would be interested in other people's views - and perhaps an analysis of Te Ara as a reference source by an expert (challenge to you reference types out there) "

I also advise that John, who started the conversation with his spirited blast on his trumpet- has also responded to my post with a more mellow saxophone. It's an interesting, and thoughtful riposte to my comment, and well worth peoples attention. Inevitably, given my own acknowledged bias, I was especially taken by this part:

" I was arguing this is an old-fashioned approach to the web - it's one that I think Paul you have been sceptical of. Web 2.0 didn't rise because someone thought it was a good idea. It arrived as a better alternative to knowledge aggregation and creation.
Maybe that is all I was raving about: Te Ara is so Web 1.0. (I'm not geeky enough to use a statement like that, but you started it...). You get the feeling in another 15 years Te Ara will be the same as it is now - a high-spec brochure sitting on a shelf, waiting for someone to pick it up and browse. Maybe trying ever harder to be more inviting and logical when that user picks it up. But still a brochure written by people who think they know a lot for people who don't.

I am fully in favour of taxpayer funding for stuff that grows the total body of knowledge. But Te Ara doesn't do that.

That's because it is not a source of information unavailable elsewhere. If it added stuff you just can't get elsewhere, then it would be sensational. How would it do that? Maybe it would hand pick its way through links, and it would write original commentary about that material. Plus it would make available source documentation from NZ's archives, museums, libraries and other sources that are currently difficult to access ".

Given the amount of interest this topic has provoked, you should read his whole post. It's here.

Finally, can I report that I am having a session with the editor of Te Ara, Jock Phillips on Wednesday. I will be happy happy to report - he in turn has already said he has found the exchange "hugely interesting". I might even ask him to write a guest post!

In the meantime, I seem to have achieved what I've always hoped for in this blog - a conversation!