Thursday, 28 June 2007

Welcome Paul Reynolds to Aotearoa

The pre installed Paul Reynolds would like to welcome the new instance of Paul Reynolds New Zealand/ Aotearoa to his new role in Telecom, NZ.

If you like, consider this a chap on the door with a piping hot bowl of Scots broth and maybe a wee dram to keep out the cold.
Once you are unpacked, and sorted, it would be great to have you over for a bite to eat and maybe a chat.

When you get settled, no doubt you will be unpacking the books, and putting them up on the shelves. I take it you are going to be based in Wellington? If so, have a look in Unity Books - great selection of titles on innovation, history, cultural change - the lot.

The even have a copy of The Scottish Enlightenment, by Arthur Herman. You probably already have it, and have read it from cover to cover. [UK Guardian review]

I hope so - despite the views of some critics, it's still a brilliant analysis of how a small but smart country seized the chance to build a new optimism by thinking the future into existence - courtesy of a plethora of heroes - from Hutcheson, Kames, Hume, and of course, Adam Smith.

Speaking of Adam Smith, and his classic title The Wealth of Nations, like loads of others I have had him quoted left right and centre as being the father of small government and modern shareholder capitalism.

Funny old world - you and I know this is simplistic twaddle; that, in contrast, he was really clear that the purpose of the modern enterprise is to give the consumer [as opposed to the shareholder] the best deal possible.

Also, he was equally clear that there was vital role for government around education, and building civic space.

Enough of the lecture - as another Scot who came to New Zealand nearly 20 years ago I can tell you it is the most brilliant place - wonderful people, an environment to die for, and a strong and dynamic future ahead of it, provided it can get its head round some really substantial issues like, poor infrastructure investment, low savings, and, notwithstanding some standout innovators, a tendency to economic complacency.

Maybe you can help!

##
p.s. loved these presentations, Building the 21st Century Network -

Can we have one?





Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Power of Information

This is by way of a catch up - a quick jump back onto the board. It's amazing this blogging thing - you end up having this wonderful commitment to the idea of audience and continuity. It doesn't really matter if the stats are terrible [which they can be on occasion , or whether there are big spikes of interest [which has happened] it's the notion that, if the interval between posts get too long, the 'net as a cultural revolution' will have taken a few steps forward, without being marked, noted, and celebrated.


Ed Mayo and Tom Steinberg
For example, take this report from the august UK Cabinet Office - The Power of Information, by Ed Mayo and Tom Steinberg. Not only did it rate a UK Guardian article as well as on the BBC web site, it also rated a mention on three mailing lists I subscribe to, and at least four Wellington conversations, one of which was with the State Services people, who, I'm told have circulated around their intranet.

So what's the fuss?
The keynote is easy enough - that the UK Cabinet Office endorses the notion that government information, and government agencies should partner with social networking sites which are talking about, or advocating around the policy areas of government departments.
Or in plainer English, all Government departments, as a matter of strategic priority, should be instructed to engage directly with the online spaces of the people who use their services.

Among other examples the report cites three sites which they reckon are perfect examples of the kinds of places government departments should be sending information , and connection points into -

NetMums – 275,000 registered users – offers advice to new parents -
Mumsnet – another similar site 10,000 posts on an average day.
Student Room 8 million posts -

There are other examples, as well as as a wealth of thinking on how these kinds of social networking partnerships might develop.

But that's just the first part - after drawing breath, it then goes on to tackle the thorny question of the economics of information, and concludes that not only is it worth exploring new rules about making information a cost recovery, or zero cost to the user, it was time government agencies completely rethought their responsibilities to the emerging web 2.0 eco-system.

To explore what this might mean in practice, they cite the innovative collaboration space BBC Backstage , where software programmers take the BBC content and then make it appear inside other online spaces and/or applications.

By doing so, not only do you open the doors to innovation, you start making the online building blocks which will will give us the tools to run a genuine e-democracy of informed participation.

Believe me gentle reader, this is heady stuff for people like me who believe that the web has the capacity to become a vibrant new space for civil society.

It's like Helen Clark starting to sing your favourite song in the middle of the Beehive.

The report is here - the UK Government's response is here.

There is also an external site for comment and annotation, here

Friday, 15 June 2007

Three small ships

It's Friday here in the McGovern Online studio. Nearly time for that New Zealand institution, Friday drinks. I'm looking back on a busy week. We even have three new ships sliding into the web sea.

IATUL
The International Association of Techolological Universities.
Founded in Düsseldorf, Germany in May 1955, IATUL is the international forum for the exchange of ideas relevant to librarianship in technological universities throughout the world.

We worked with Ainsle Dewe from AUT, and enjoyed it immensely. Apart from the content management tools, we also built in an RSS feed for IATUL News. Worth checking out.

Telework Australia
This is a lovely little site - packed full of information aimed at the SME world of Australia, but it travels, both to here in New Zealand, and to other like minded economies - Europe, etc.

The editorial content and site management is under the able direction of Bevis England, who some readers will recognise as Mr Telework here in New Zealand.

EEAA : The Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia
This the New Zealand chapter of the professional association for the exhibition and event industry in Australia and New Zealand. Our client was Donna White of Northport Events.

We had lots of fun with this, especially getting the image library tool on the front page. The EEAA represents all three sectors of their industry - organisers, venues and suppliers.

I love the design on all three! Got to love your children!

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Iran Graffiti and Urban Art Report

This blog is worth a look - and then a dozen more. It is all photographs - there seems to be a whole bunch of contributors. Some of them are awesome - some pure art - all of them an inspiring testament to how people interpret and make sense of the chaos around them. Very inspirational.


Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Fun and games in your library

This video is, as it is said, seriously cool - and a nice example of the viral thing - i.e. saw it on Michael Stephens, Tame the Web library blog.

Also note - it uses the new tool from YouTube which lets you see an array of videos - so after the first one, look for the panel along the bottom of the YouTube screen.

I havn't seen them all yet - but I love the pool meets checker



Note: on Michael's blog there is a commnet from the librarian from the first video:
".....That's my library (Funk ACES Library, UIUC) and if I had known about this I would have spoken sternly to the student(s) who made the video and kicked the Grad Assistant who let them do in in the behind. We got in trouble when the Power that Be in the Main Library found out about this"

Monday, 11 June 2007

NZ Aid - Two voices

Tucked away in the recent New Zealand budget was the welcome news that New Zealand had increased its aid and development contribution by $70 million.

The 20.2 per cent increase over the 2007/08 financial year was reported as being the biggest increase to Official Development Assistance (ODA) in decades, Over half the new funding will be spent in the Pacific, particularly in Melanesia, and Asia would also benefit.

The increase takes the New Zealand ODA to $429 million in 2007/08 or 0.30 per cent of gross national income (GNI). Further funding over the three following years would achieve 0.35 per cent by 2010/2011 and aid would have reached $601m.

This is in contrast with previous OECD figures which had NZ's as one of the least generous of international donors, at US $257 million (NZ $361m) in 2006 - 0.27 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI). This in turn was reported as being far below the 0.46 per cent average effort by OECD countries and the no better than New Zealand achieved in 2005.

So very good news all round, especially in the emphasis on the Pacific. But how do you get a handle on what is being spent?

NZ Aid web site
One place to start is the NZ Aid web site. There you will find a good deal of policy information, and a welcome set of reports on who what and where the aid is being spent. I especially liked the map which takes me quickly and easily to the major sites where New Zealand has an aid programme.

In the Pacific, as you might expect, there is a good deal of emphasis on encouraging some joined up thinking around education.

However, although clearly necessary to achieve the 'international policy linkages' required in the region, you can't help but long for some plain speaking - for example have a quick look at this beauty on New Zea land's regional education programme.



  • The Pacific regional education programme is guided by NZAID's Education Strategy, and works within the approach of relationships being partner driven, results-oriented, comprehensive (programme-based), prioritised (sustainable), partnership oriented (alignment and harmonisation), and taking a long-term perspective.

    The key elements of the Education Strategy for the Pacific are:

    - Increase support for basic education, with priority on the Education For All (
    EFA) Goals and the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for universal primary education and the elimination of gender disparities.

    - Support strengthened leadership in Pacific education to improve quality and relevance

I know, its enough to provoke a long lie down. However, there is another web platform which explains what is happening and what the issues are. I was entranced by it .

NZ Aid Blog
It's a blog from NZ Aid - its full of human voices [NZ Aid staff] talking about real projects in the real world - take for example , this extract on a visit to a school in Tonga.


As part of the week long education review, we had the opportunity to visit two schools. The first was a government primary school and the second, a non-government secondary school for girls.
The primary school has just over 300 students, 10 teachers and 12 classes. It's a school sports day so the children are outside having sack races. Smiling and laughing, it definitely looks like a lot of fun. The class rooms appear very basic and students are taught in both Tongan and English.

Children attend primary school until year six when they complete the national examination to enter high school. It's a hard exam and students cannot continue their education unless they pass.

The top students in the country will go to Tonga College while others might go to a non-government school or leave school altogether, depending on their results. In this school there are 15 students (out of 72 in year six) that are repeating year six.

The principal of the school shows us the key issue facing the school at the moment - the toilets.

There is only one toilet working at the moment and they do not have the funds to repair them. For a school of this size, it really does cause major problems for the health and well-being of the children.

There is a lot more - it deserves attention - and a wider audience, especially as your attention might help the Field staff writing the blog see how their comments are a crucial part of the education process they are supporting - i.e. educating you and me!

Other examples of real voices in the aid and development world, especially from NGO's would be gratefully received?

More media


While I am at it - I might as well report on two other pieces of media I have been doing in the last week or so.


Spot 1. Google Vertical Search
First, a week ago, when I guested on TVNZ Breakfast, talking about the new Google vertical search beta at www.google.com/experimental

I spoke to Paul Henry. He is quite good on this kind of topic especially when there is a flavour of big brother watching - which I might add there definitely is. As I say in the interview when people like Google want to help it normally means they are looking to build a profile to help them offer more targeted adverts.

On that topic, a recent UK report has the value of the UK online advertising market as worth a staggering 2.016 million sterling - with 1.2. million sterling of that being for paid for search.

In contrast, the same report has half that number for mainstream tv advertising, which in turn has experienced a fall of 4.7% to 3.9 billion sterling.

Globally, the IAB reports Internet ad revenue at US$4.9 billion for the first quarter of 2007
That's a lot of opportunity for all this helping .

The video of the spot is here.

Spot 2. Planning Holidays.

The other spot was this morning when Paul Henry and I chatted about how to use the net to plan a holiday using user web 2.0 feedback loops. I have two examples, both featured in the recent Webby Awards on Travel
- http://www.wikitravel.org/


The video of this spot is here.

TVNZ OnDemand
Finally, while I am on the topic of TVNZ - people really should keep checking in on TVNZ OnDemand. Apart from being a usability treasure, they have come through on their launch promise to keep putting up some of the archival docos which have been mouldering away in the archive.


Ponsonby gem.
The latest is a gem on Ponsonby in Auckland in 1988.
For non Aucklanders , Ponsonby is now the hip inner city suburb, with house prices through the roof, and the chattering classes in full control of the sidewalks.

In 1988 it was a very different place. Plus, did you know that the first fingerprint evidence ever accepted in the British Empire was from the murder of the Ponsonby postmaster!



Sunday, 10 June 2007

Sunday Morning

Had a busy morning - up like a lintie getting the coffee and the papers in early to make room for a walk up the hill to Radio New Zealand in Auckland, where I was talking to a New Zealand radio legend, Chris Laidlaw on his Sunday morning show. Chris had just finished interviewing Noam Chomsky - there he was in his element - urbane , engaged, and totally focused on both the issues, and the bigger picture.

He was then billed to talk to me, Jo Tindal, Digital tv Strategy, from the MCH, [nice new site by the by] Ernie Newman of TUANZ, and Tom Chignell from local Vodafone about our technology future. As is sometimes the case with more mainstream commentators, he struggled to see the framework around which his questions might settle and thrive.

In the end you just have to take the mike off him - which I guess is what I reluctantly did in this interview. At least for a moment - but then, how else do you get to start talking about cultural change as opposed to technology. Listen here.
[Note: As part of the discussion there was mention made of two key New Zealand government initiatives - The Broadband Challenge, and the Digital Content Strategy. Both of these are part of the work being done as part by the New Zealand Digital Strategy].

Friday, 8 June 2007

Blueprint - Growing Auckland's Creative Sector

This post might get a tad contentious - or if not that, then a trifle cranky. I get like that when I can't understand something that I feel I ought to. It's like an old client of ours who when faced with a particularly dense set of specifications, in reply to the question, 'is something wrong, Roger', said, 'I can't for the life of me see what I'm being asked to decide'. Note the verb he used - see - not understand.

Another image comes to mind - this time- the classic Hancock Half Hour episode, The Bedsitter: our local hero, Tony Hancock is spending the day reading and generally being the cultured gentleman he so aspires to. He's got Bertram Russell's History of Philosophy out of the Library, and is trying to read the first chapter - after three goes, each played to camera , he throws the volume down in exasperation, saying, 'Its ridiculous , I'm English, he's English, he's writing in English, I can read, but I don't understand a word of it'.

That's me - right now - Friday afternoon - the thin blue volume lying reproaching me from the desk, its little spine, hurt, resentful at my idiocy.

Blueprint - Growing Auckland's creative industries,
L0vingly prepared by the City Council, and presented last week to an audience comprising representatives of the creative sector, councillors, and officials, it represents the way forward for the great and the good of the creative sector to prosper as key contributors to the economic transformation of Auckland. It's a lovely thing - but the trouble is, like our Tone, I just don't get it.

I thought I did at the time - somewhere , after the speeches and the PowerPoint, and then the tea and the muffins - everything seemed really clear - that the creative sector at long last had a real civic champion, one which recognised that far from being supplicants to the real economy, they, the creative sector, head for head, contributed as much, if not more, to Auckland's economy than any other sector.

Moreover, not only did Auckland City get this in spades, when we all got home and opened the document, we would see the road map: would be able to count the initiatives, and the yellow brick road for the creative sector would be stretching for all to see, bright, clean and vibrant in the sun.

How?
Three goals - nine strategies - one vision.
First the vision - to grow the City's creative industries and enhance the city's economic performance on a sustainable basis.

Then the three goals: first, raise the profile, so that Auckland's creative industries are acknowledged both nationally and internationally to be world class.

Second, support Enterprise, which I think means helping creative industries to both see and contribute to the regions competitive advantage. Third, create the environment , by making Auckland a stimulating city to work and live in.

After that come the nine strategies - you can work through these for yourself, here, however, just like when Tony Hancock reached Logical Positivism, that's when it all starts to go horribly wrong for me, because try as I might, I just can't see how the detail on all this is different to what happens now.

Goal 1 Raise Profile
For sure some bits make sense, for example, as part of raising the profile the Council will continue to support cultural events from the Writers Festival, NZ Fashion Week, Art Fair,Pasifika, et al.

But isn't this stuff mothers milk? Don't all Councils in the entire history of the world do this kind of as par of their knitting. So how will continuing to do this make the big difference?

Perhaps I'm missing the detail? Perhaps, 'promoting Auckland's creative sector as a key economic driver', as well as 'promoting the creative sector, by showcasing the diversity of the creative industries, including people and places' has a meaning which others can see, and I'm missing.

Believe me, I'm not being weird - I just don't understand what this means - is it blue - green - an apple - or a tangerine - and once you sort that out, who does what with whom?

Goal 2 - Support Enterprise
I'm equally at sea here - I think it means picking some winners - creating a couple of incubators, running a Cube like competition, and/or telling ever one over and over again until they are made to understand , but properly this time, that artists are creative people in their own right who actually earn money - pay taxes, and even employ people.

If that is the case, then fine, I'm in: I'm part of a digital media company that has been employing people for 10 years, and yes, it's hard work, especially. But that's true of any industry, and I suspect, as the Better by Design people have been saying for a couple of years now, every industry needs to feel 'creative'

Goal 3 - Create Environment
Now here I can feel glimmers of understanding - mostly because I can see objects, and places arising from the page - e.g. develop "creative quarters" like Aotea Quarter, Learning Quarter, Victoria Quarter. But plenty of other cites have done this - e.g. Wellington - and , for sure, if there are rate incentives, and some decent buildings made over into cute cheap studio spaces, it might just be a winner.

Throw in lots of street makeovers - and keep planting lots of trees and palms, then definitely, I'm back on the page going ra ra ra to that one.

But is that it? Is this all it takes? Somehow I have a feeling there is a whole lot missing, becuase, surely, it cant be that simple?

Soft Infrastructure
Surely it isn't all about the environment, whether environmental/ physical/ economic - isn't there some soft infrastructure to think about as well?

For example, isn't the creative sector, especially the next generation, embedded in communities, especially around the edges where the next wave lives.

And aren't these where the next Peter Jackson will come from -among the edgy guys who clutter up the streets, use the City Libraries, hang out in City community centres, run around City public parks with digital cameras , trawling the City council supported local festivals, posting photos on You Tube , playing games in Library Thing, raiding flickr, , swapping clothes in the Salvation Army op shops, buying toot on Trade Me, and then going home on public transport.. . blah blah blah.

In other words, creativity, and the creative sector grows inside the heart and soul of a city, with the best of them having their own personality and unique purpose; which in turn is made from a million incidents and accidents, many of which are caused, supported, or endorsed by a City Council going about its daily business with confidence , and dare I say a bit of pride of purpose.

In other words isn't the best thing that a City Council can do for the creative sector is to be brilliant - i.e. really really good - at everything it does? Including making sure its digital infrasture [web sites, ,community, learning, library facilities, customer relationships] are the best they can possibly make them. And isn't that just more than enough to be getting on with right there?

Public /Civic Space
And while I am finally making some sense, if only to myself here, isn't it a bigger worry that in all this fascination with the power and purpose of the "creative sector" and the Council's role in promoting the same, there is a huge danger the Council starts ignoring it's older but far more unique role of creating and maintaining public space.

Again, I'm not just talking physical space here - but that crucial intersection between government and business which in the good old days we used to call 'civic space' - a place where conversations about the city, what it is trying to be - and how we are going to get there was something worth having?

As the lawyers would have it, on these matters the document is silent.

Which to me is a great pity - cities for me, are not just places that a few lucky people get to be inspired in, they are, by definition, places for citizens - i.e. a place where people build communities with a common sense of purpose through a rich and active civic conversation.

The Vision Thing revisited - orchestrate compelling civic conversations
Increasingly, for sure, many of these conversations will be digital - and some of them will involve and be inspired by the creative sector, and if sucessful, there will be no shortage of opportunity for innovation and enterprise.

But carts and horses come to mind here - and if the City Council can help start these conversations, and support them by being responsive and accountable, then wouldn't they be provided us with the best vision of all?

Thursday, 7 June 2007

LabCulture.org

Funny old world - when you start looking for frogs, the whole world starts to croak -or have I been reading too much Steinbeck. And for the record, I still think Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat are two of the greatest books ever. But there again, I am currently sounding my way through Sacred Games, by Vikram Chandra and that too is already heading into my own top 100, at least.

But back to frogs - the last post was all about a local mashup using New Zealand poets in performance as the raw material.

Well here is another take, not so much a mash-up, as an audition opportunity for those who see themselves as online curators. It cmes from the rather interesting [said in that peculiar English accent reserved for 'the arts'] LabCulture.org, which , according to itself, is "an online information and knowledge platform dedicated to European cultural cooperation, complemented by a range of offline services and programmed activities".

The site offers an interesting set of information on cultural cooperation across the broader Europe. They also want to build transnational cultural exchange, cultural debate, news and research. So there you go, might well be worth a visit in its own right.

However, I'm more interested in pointing you to the much more specific project which they are running as part of their first birthday celebrations. Its a mashup of their own and involves:



"... a call for an experienced media art curator or curatorial collaboration to conceptualise and manage an online presentation of specially commissioned artworks, for presentation in early 2008. ..."


They have Annet Dekker (Head of Exhibitions and Artlab, Netherlands Media Art Institute,Amsterdam, NL) and Kelli Dipple (Webcasting Curator, Tate, London, UK) as judges, and the guidleines are here , Proposals by July 1, 2007!

So there you go - worth a look on a cold and wet Thursday.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

The Great NZ Digi-Poem Competition


We are all increasingly familiar with the notion of web 2.0 mash ups – i.e. combining other peoples source material and making something new and exciting out of it.

Well here’s one with a difference – as part of Montana Poetry Day, Friday, 27th July, 2007, the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre and Auckland University Press want people to take poetry and transform, or add to its intrinsic impact by making a digital transformations of poems by six well-known New Zealand poets.

Called the Great NZ Digi-Poem Competition, it runs from 1st June to 4th July, and gives people the chance to put their imagination and design skills to work and be part of New Zealand's first-ever digi-poem competition.

The six competition poems are drawn from AUP's Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance, edited by Jack Ross and Jan Kemp, the second of AUP's popular CD-with-book anthologies of poets in performance, which will launch on Poetry Day this year.

AUP's anthologies already have a reputation for getting people listening to poets as well as reading their texts.

Now nzepc wants to extend the experience by asking what they call innovative digitisers around the country and around the world to transform poems for presentation on the web using audio, visuals and/or animation.

Shortlisted entries will be posted on nzepc digital on 20 July and the winner will be announced Friday 27 July as part of the nzepc/AUP Montana Poetry Day event Poetry Central, to be held at Auckland Central City Library.

Prizes
The winning designer will receive a prize of an iPod Nano, donated by The University of Auckland Library, a copy of Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance and its companion Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance. Shortlisted entries will become part of a permanent exhibit on nzepc digital.

Judges
Entries will be judged by a panel of editors, poetry publishers and electronic poetry enthusiasts.

Source poems.
The source poems are available for download now. You can view examples of NZ digital poetry here

For the detail - see below:


* Instructions for the Consumption of your Humanitarian Food
Package by Fiona Farrell
text |
mp3 3.3MB

* On Originality by Bill Manhire
text mp3 [1.3MB]

* Eternity by Bob Orr text | mp3 [1.6MB]

* A Letter from my Daughter by Vivienne Plumb

text |
mp3 [2.1MB]

* Hinemoa's daughter by Apirana Taylor
text |
mp3 [1.6MB]

* Barbary Coast by Ian Wedde text |
mp3 [4.6MB]


Conditions of entry
Herewith the small print:
*Each entry must incorporate at least part of the relevant text and audio track of your source poem from Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance.

* Entries must include as part of the digital interpretation
the poet's name and the title of the poem being digitally transformed.

* Specifications: entries must be displayable on the Web in
standard browsers. The digi-poems will be hosted on a Windows server.
Digi-poems may include hypertext, video, Flash, animated text, graphics, codeworks, music, etc. Please respect the copyright of others in creating your digi-poem.

* Entries should be posted to nzepc on a DVD or CD to arrive
no later than 4 July 2007.
Include your name and contact details in a covering letter and send to:

Thats it!

Monday, 4 June 2007

Motion Browsing - BBC report

This story really interests me. Firstly,the subject: a BBC reporter talking about a piece of research from the BT labs in the UK about a motion browser - i.e. a device, a bit like a big PDA, which you tilt around in your hand to navigate the page. Might just be the e-book reader we have all been looking for?

Second, this is the first time I have seen a BBC video story which allows you to embed the video onto your own page - as in this blog post. I did it in the usual way - i.e. took the embed code and cut and pasted it into the page.

Feels like there is a lot going on in this story. Also of note is that I am posting this from a nice little cafe in High Street Auckland on a Queens Birthday holiday. Either this is a great example of the world becomming more and more connected, or I need to get a life. You choose.

Friday, 1 June 2007

ebooks - audio books - chapter 2.

Well - seems like I started something with that last post, or more precisely, when I posted a comment on it to the NZ Libs [New Zealand’s Librarians list serve] - and asked if anyone else in New Zealand was working on something similar - or was this really such a big deal , as the "European first" quote below seemed to imply.

Well it turns out my librarian colleagues/sources in New Zealand had very little sympathy with this idea: moreover, it transpires that not only do Auckland University and Victoria University have substantial collections, both Wellington and Auckland Public Library are well advanced in their plans to offer this kind of service.

Both of these are opting for Overdrive. It reckons it has 50,000 eBook titles, and 10,000 audio books. These in turn, again according to the site, can be integrated into the ILS, and the library web site.

Leaving aside the University end of the discussion for the moment, and while applauding the innovation of the vendor, and the keenness of Auckland and Wellington to follow their customers to the platform , I do think there are a few points worth pausing over.

First, by definition, the Overdrive offer is a discrete collection - i.e. the vendor chooses what is in it, and presumable negotiates the rights. So, presumable this collection is very USA centric?

In other words, are there any New Zealand , or Australian /Pacific titles in there - or are we once again bound on the post colonial wheel of mega-publishing trends.

So, where are the New Zealand stories? And how can we get these into these kinds of collections? One place to start is to ask what already exists, either commercially, or in heritage collections.

For example, way back when Adam was a toasted teapot, an Auckland company, Word Pictures, spent blood trying to sell New Zealand audio books out through the then traditional distribution channels, which, in the end, defeated them. That archive must still be around - and it included dozens of New Zealand titles.

On a different front, I also had a note from the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind. They have recently run a trial of a new digital talking book player that downloaded books directly from their server via a broadband internet connection into the player in the home of the library client.

This is an amazing piece of innovation - yet again, because they have a very different rights framework, it is unlikely that this material will end up in the ipods of the next generation reader/listener, whose attention we are all keen to attract.

And speaking of iPods, from what I can gather, the Overdrive offer uses Microsoft media player, and the DRM is also tied to this platform. Apparently there is an option to format shift, but I'm struggling to see how that works without endangering the license?

Then we have the collection of New Zeland radio material that has been built up over the years - as well as the extraordinary amount of audio material held in the likes of the Turnbull and the Hocken libraries.

So many questions, and it's a Friday! But let's go for the burn and ask one more.

First, by the look of it, the Overdrive offer isn’t cheap. According to a brilliant ACT presentation, [note the link- here - launches a Word document] , they paid a $40,000 establishment fee plus a $17,150 per annum hosting fee.

As Geoffrey Palmer used to say to Kim Hill when they met on National Radio, "these are not trivial matters Kim!" In fact, these kinds of numbers would bring tears to the eyes of some of the smaller library authorities both here in New Zealand, and elsewhere?

But wait, isn’t help at hand here? Isn't this what EPIC, the New Zealand nation wide consortium is in the business of making happen? From yet another response to the NZ Libs list serve, it would appear that while they are sympathetic, there is precious little enthusiasm to pick up and run with this challenge, at least in the short term.

But can we wait for the mid and long term? The reason I posted the German story in the first place was, inter alia, because I was entranced by the line in the story, "Young users use Web 2.0," said Hannelore Vogt, manager of the Würzburg city library, referring to the popular term which describes an ecosystem of user-centered online communities. "And they rightly expect from us Library 2.0," she said.

The fact that Hannelore Vogt might well be talking well encrusted Bavarian toffee is of no account [ i.e. downloading an audio book isn’t web 2.0 ] but if the concept of Library 2.0 is about moving with customers and patrons in and around the rich eco system of new digital opportunities, then, not only am I on this bus, I'll carry the lunch boxes down to the lake when we stop for tea!

But is Overdrive the only lake with a picnic spot? Seems to me, after 17 years in Aotearoa that we have no shortage of picnic spots of our own - i.e. if the will and the way is present, why can’t we build our own ebook and audio repositories?