Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Posts Tagged ‘technology

Keeping Track of Ideas

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notebook

Last March I blogged about a Computers in Libraries session on capturing, sharing, and acting on ideas (presented by Adam Shambaugh and Jill Luedke from Temple University). Since then, I’ve been thinking about the different tools I use to record my ideas:

On my phone:

  • Voice Recorder App – Mostly I use this to capture ideas while driving. Six-hour trips between Pennsylvania and New York equal lots of time for creative reflection. I try to be as safe as possible (open the app before I leave, keep the phone on my lap, one tap to record and pause, etc). On my last drive I recorded all the billboard messages I saw, transcribed them and am now working on a hybrid found/erasure poem using the messages as my text.
  • Notes App – I’ve been known to jot a line or two down in my iPhone notes. I usually do this when it’s the only available option—if I’m in the middle of attending a lecture or something. Eventually I transcribe these into one of my writing notebooks.
  • Camera – I like to take pictures of things like really great or really awful signage or businesses practices that I think might translate well to libraries.

On my computer:

  • Bookmarks – Yup, I still bookmark a TON of stuff in Firefox. And they’re not synced between my work and personal computers. I know there are more robust bookmarking tools out there, but bookmarking usually comes into play when I see something random (after clicking along from five different blogs/websites) that I’m not sure I’ll be able to find again. This results in a huge mess of unsorted bookmarks on both my work and personal machines. About once every month or two I go through them all and either organize them (if it’s a place I’ll want to visit multiple times), read the article/post and delete the bookmark, move the information somewhere else, or buy the item.

In the cloud:

  • TeuxDeux – I’ve blogged about this tool before, but can’t resist sharing it again. TeuxDeux is browser based which allows me to add “home” do-to items while at work and vice versa without syncing headaches. I also purchased the iPhone app, so my lists are available there as well. Yes, this is more of a to-do list tool than a place to capture ideas. However, in addition to a weekly calendar, there is a “someday bucket” which I use to record opportunities I want to look into at a later date. It helps me keep those opportunities fresh in my mind because I see them whenever I look at my daily to-do lists.
  • Google Docs – I recently received an email from Google notifying me that my 894 files stored in Google Docs are now in Google Drive. Eight hundred and ninety four files! I have Google Docs for everything—work projects, creative writing, papers, research projects, presentations, conference notes, lists of things to do, and more. I have a shared doc called “Fishbowl of Awesomeness” where my colleague Melissa and I put snippets of ideas we have for research and publication projects. Google Docs is also where I collect my blog ideas and outline them before drafting them in WordPress.

Tangibly:

  • Notebooks – While I do a lot of my work and writing digitally, I still love paper notebooks. I usually have a few going at once—right now there are three: a Moleskine in my purse/work bag at all times (for anything); a hand-bound journal next to my bed (mostly journaling and book notes); and a spiral bound notebook (reserved for poem crafting).

In the past I’ve collected ideas on sicky notes, large pieces of paper (mind mapping kinda stuff), Evernote on my iPad, and whiteboards. Having a great idea—the perfect line for a poem or topic for a post—and not having a way to record it is a terrible feeling. This usually seems to happen to me when I’m in the shower, just about to fall asleep, or somewhere in public where it would be awkward to pull my notebook out. I repeat the idea over and over in my head, convinced that there’s no way I could forget such a beautiful phrase or thought, but inevitably, the idea is lost if I don’t record it.

How do you keep track of your ideas? Any tips or tricks? Do you keep work ideas and personal ideas separate?

Image CC BY 2.0 courtesy of seanmcgrath on Flickr

Written by Erin Dorney

November 12, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Facebook Messages: Where Things Go To Die

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I have a co-authored article up over at In the Library with the Lead Pipe about email management. We would love to hear more about your experience with email and your strategies for dealing with messages in your inbox!

Lindsay and I didn’t really delve into other types of message management—the article is about standard email inboxes. But there are messaging/inbox capabilities built into many social media tools these days. On Twitter you can send someone a Direct Message (DM), a private tweet that acts like a limited character email message. DMs aren’t a problem for me because I really only check them when I specifically ask someone to DM me. Otherwise it’s not even on my radar and I don’t forward these messages to any other account or device. The limited scope has helped me handle my DM inbox.

facebook notifications

Facebook messages are a different story. Facebook messages, for me, are where things go to die. True story. I don’t mind Facebook chat… if I am online, definitely message me in real-time. But for some reason, I have not been able to incorporate the Facebook inbox into my normal flow of checking and responding. For fun stuff with my friends it’s fine because there is no real pressure to reply right away. But I do get a number of Facebook messages related to library/work stuff. Those are the messages that always seem to fall through the cracks. I’m not really sure why this is but I have some ideas:

  • I have a gut reaction to the little red numbers that pop up for notifications, messages, and friend requests, so I click on my messages (but often don’t read them right away) just to get that alert to go away. Seeing it there makes me kind of anxious. Am I the only one or do other people feel this way? Then, I forget that there are new messages and it could be days (weeks?) before I get around to reading them.
  • To a certain extent, I see Facebook as more of a social/fun site than a tool I conduct work within. It’s great for some aspects of work—networking with other librarians, building your online identity, promoting different events, engaging through your institutional page, etc. I go to Facebook to learn things and to connect but it’s pretty casual.

I just always seem to forget about messages that are living in Facebook. I see them and then I forget about them. Maybe this is because I really do use my email inbox as a to-do list (although I’m trying to break that habit) and Facebook just seems more… fleeting? It might come down to having too many places to check for messages. Perhaps it’s not email that is overwhelming me, but multiple inboxes? There are so many different places where my response is required:

  1. Personal email
  2. Work email (including accounts associated with research help, outreach, and the renovation)
  3. Twitter (personal feed + DMs; library feed + DMs)
  4. Facebook (personal wall + messages; library wall + messages)
  5. Blog comments (personal + Lead Pipe)
  6. Voice mail (work + personal)
  7. Text messages
  8. Chat (Facebook + GChat)

I’m probably forgetting some. It’s helpful for me to list these out so that I can think about making a plan for managing my communication. When I don’t reply, people typically reach out to me through another channel but I’m sure I miss people (and opportunities). I want to apologize to anyone whose Facebook message I have missed—it’s nothing personal! And despite this angst, I have contacted people via Facebook message regarding library/work stuff. So, I have not been good at setting expectations for where different type of communication should take place.

This is something I want to reflect more on and potentially share my communication preferences with everyone. I think this would lower my stress and alleviate frustration for people who might not be receiving a timely response. How do you cope with multiple message streams? Any suggestions for me? Feel free to share here or over at Lead Pipe!

Written by Erin Dorney

November 5, 2012 at 9:43 AM

On Library Websites

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Quick evals from two different upperclassmen (in the same class) following a library instruction session I did a few weeks ago. Please discuss:

2 student evaluations side by side

  1. “What confuses me is how the university thinks we don’t understand the website – we know how to find everything online, it’s what our generation does.”
  2. “I think the whole library page setup is confusing and difficult to navigate.”
If you really love library websites (gag), the Journal of Web Librarianship is offering free access to my summer 2011 article “A Use of Space: The Unintended Messages of Academic Library Web Sites” as part of their Back to School Reading List.

Written by Erin Dorney

September 20, 2012 at 7:39 AM

How to attend a virtual conference

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computer on a desk

With the 2012 ALA Virtual Conference right around the corner, I’m sharing some tips for attending online conferences and webinars. Below are things I’ve learned while completing an online master’s degree, presenting content virtually, and organizing/attending the ACRL virtual conference back in 2011:

1. Clear your schedule.

Multitasking is a fabulous thing, but it’s easy to slip into mindlessness during a virtual conference, particularly if the slide deck is less than scintillating. Don’t double book yourself to be on-call or monitoring emails during the time you’ve set aside to learn a new skill. Chances are you or your institution paid quite a bit of money for this opportunity and it’s important that you engage actively with the presenters, audience, and content. Lock your office door, block out time on your calendar, and force quit Outlook. It’s time to learn.

2. Get yourself a rocking headset.

There’s nothing more attractive than a earphone/microphone combo unit. I jest, but honestly, if there is any kind of audience/presenter interaction planned, you’re going to want something more than your built-ins. Most online conferences allow audience members to chat/IM with the presenters or moderators in order to ask questions. Only a few sessions I’ve attended have allowed people to actually speak to one another and usually these were smaller, more intimate events. I can only imagine what kind of nightmare would occur if hundreds of attendees tried to speak over one another. If you’re attending a virtual conference from work, wearing headphones sends a non-verbal message that you are busy. If attending a virtual conference from home, I’ve found that wearing headphones helps me concentrate on the session instead of wandering off to wash the dishes or organize my colored pencils.

3. Forage for noms.

Having some delicious snacks can help you stay focused on the task at hand: learning. Plus, carefully selected, healthy foods can give you a quick energy boost when staring at a screen just… becomes… too… boring… zzzz. I recommend coffee (it’s one of my main food groups), fruit or veggies like green peppers, apples, or carrots (just make sure your mic is muted!), and little bit of trail mix with raisins, nuts, and chocolate.

4. Cue up conference hashtag.

We all know and love tabs and multiple windows, right? Use them to open the webinar software and Twitter simultaneously so that you can monitor off-site mentions. Most events will have a designated #hashtag and this can be a great resource. You can connect with other attendees to build your network. Sometimes people will live-tweet the webinar and non-attendees will chime in with their own thoughts and questions. Presenters will often interact via the hashtag pre-event to drum up excitement and curiosity. And if you blog about the virtual conference, be sure to tag your post to maximize reach.

5. Take breaks.

It’s really, really tough to sit for an extended period of time and maintain focus while looking at a screen and hearing a disembodied voice. I recommend taking a few breaks throughout the day. Some virtual conferences have these built in as transition time. What I’d love to see is a virtual conference that incorporates some sitting/standing/stretching exercise techniques for attendees to go through during the down time (ALA, go!). This leads right into my last tip, which is…

6. Find out if the sessions will be recorded.

Attendees often have access to recorded sessions for a certain period of time after the event. This allows you to take breaks when you need them while still getting the most out of the virtual conference. Another thing you can do if you have access to recorded sessions for an extended period of time is pace them out. For example, if you had access to 9 recorded sessions, you could watch one session a week for 3 months. You could learn a new skill from a new presenter each week!

I also encourage you to check out Jo Alcock’s Ten Tips for Presenting a Webinar, if only to get a feel for what it’s like on the opposite side of the screen. So, what other advice do you have for attending a virtual conference? Feel free to share in the comments!

Image CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 courtesy of Pörrö

Written by Erin Dorney

July 9, 2012 at 7:14 AM

Women Who Tech TeleSummit 2012

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Women-who-Tech

I first heard about the Women Who Tech TeleSummit back in 2010, after reading a blog post by librarian Bobbi Newman. I have been trying to expand my professional development to areas outside of librarianship, so this affordable ($20!) and accessible virtual conference seemed like just the ticket. And I was not disappointment.

Mostly, I attended the sessions relating to startup culture. Half the time, I had no idea what was going on. Awesome! That almost never happens at library conferences. But it was really neat because I was so intrigued by the things I didn’t understand. I feel like I’ve been exposed to an entirely new vocabulary and I’m definitely going to be investigating some of the speakers’ recommended resources. As someone who dreams about owning her own business someday (there, I said it), it was inspiring to hear from this dynamic, creative, tech-focused group of women. It was also interesting to listen to the discussion with my ears bent library-wards… à la Brian Mathews’ recent “Think Like a Startup” whitepaper. Lots of possibilities for applying these principles within higher education and librarianship.

I definitely recommend attending the 2013 Women Who Tech TeleSummit if you can! Below are my notes. Do you have any thoughts on startup culture or how it might be applied in your field?

Funding Your Own Startup
Amy Errett (Maveron Capital), Amanda Steinberg (DailyWorth), Joanne Wilson (Investor) & moderated by Pemo Theodore (EZebis)

  • Can you have an idea funded? It’s difficult – you need proof of concept to gain traction. Business is 1% idea, 99% execution.
  • You usually have to give something for crowd-funding models (not equity, but a product) so it might not work for something like an online media company. Music, arts, consumer products have been successful there (i.e. Kickstarter).
  • CircleUp just launched 6 weeks ago. Depends on the amount of money you want to raise, but at least crowd-funding gives people options.
  • Understand the character, values of the people who are investing with you. You will live with them for a long time. Investments go through cycles of good and bad.
  • Entrepreneurs often don’t think they have the luxury of being picky about investors, particularly in the early stages when they are just excited to be funded.
  • Focus on revenue to have negotiating power. Quality of business model and financial model are very important. Investors have their own agendas.
  • (Steinberg recently got a $2 million investment) Now looking at ways to segment her audience at DailyWorth (daily email about money geared to women), launching CreateWorth, hiring more people. Bridge between financial services and women.
  • Required reading on start up culture/entrepreneurship?

Harnessing Your Power
Elisa Camahort Page (BlogHer), Lynne Johnson, Susan Mernit (Oakland Local) & moderated by Jill Foster (LiveYourTalk)

Professional purpose & one critical decision that has shaped you as a leader?

  • Journalism background, technologist, critical cultural thinker. Wants to bring those things together in her profession. Shape young people, is overjoyed to see them surpass her. Critical decision: To start blogging in 2000/2001, lead to her being seen as a leader on and offline (Johnson).
  • “hyperlocal site” Oakland Local. Critical decision: thinking about non-traditional career paths, what work would utilize her strengths and be rewarding to her? (Mernit)
  • Creating opportunities for women. Critical decision: took a job in an industry she knew nothing about, was confident about succeeding or failing, then moving on to something else (Page)
  • What does asserting your power mean within the industry you’re working in? Context/culture matters. Know what battles to pick. I will always pick the battle for the customer, for the user. Back down when it will truly demoralize your staff.
  • Learn to understand group dynamics and how to harness that power for the greater good. Confidence is very important for a leader. Taking risks enables self-confidence, absolutely.
  • Engage others, bring them in on the conversation, listen to their ideas.
  • Women competing with other women? You’re often competing to be the token woman, so it’s understandable. But that’s not a solution.
  • Be strategic & display assets that you have that the rest of the group doesn’t.
  • As a new manager, how would you form relationships with existing employees? It’s difficult in a corporate environment, people below you may have interviewed for the job. In a small company, things are flatter and it’s easier to assimilate into the culture.
  • Ask questions as often as you make statements.
  • Practice public speaking – presentation means a lot in leadership. Find mentors. Reach out and help others.
  • Make time for yourself, don’t make yourself the last person on the list. Be willing to go around obstacles instead of over them. Don’t stay in a place where you’re stalled.
  • “Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does allow freedom.”

Agile Development and Failing Fast
Sarah Allen (Blazing Cloud, Mightyverse, RailsBridge), Shaherose Charania (Women 2.0, Founder Labs), Tara Hunt (Buyosphere) & moderated by Jen Consalvo (Tech Cocktail, Thankfulfor)

  • Agile Manifesto – 2001. Emphasis on working together nimbly. Refined & primarily adopted by the engineering side of software. Promoted on business side through lean startup movement.
  • Idea generation, validation, prototype. Cutting out the fat – what can I build today, quickly, at a low cost to test my assumptions? Lean startup – getting data from customer, making iterative changes (small changes each day), designing your product in real time with your customers (early adopters who are OK with a fuzzy product and will give you feedback).
  • Minimum viable product (MVP)? When should a product be pushed out? Different viable products for a beta customer vs general population.
  • Do you want press or do you want polished product? Get feedback from more than just your friends & supporters. Test with your target audience. How will you define your market? Early MVP can be the smallest unit of work that you can use to test your key assumptions. Doesn’t promise more than you can deliver. Release a tiny product with A feature, not the all the features.
  • Failing fast? Take customer data and your vision and merge them. No one is 100% right (you or the customer).
  • It’s a challenge to not be afraid of failure. Things we can prove vs things we believe. Assumption might not be completely wrong, but we need to know more about it.
  • Is this failing fast culture killing creativity? What are we measuring as failure? What are the metrics? “pitch deck” Failing fast versus succeeding slowly.
  • Agile practices – balancing art vs science? Unique to your team, the vision for your startup & their appetite for risk. Startups are creating something from nothing, isn’t that what artists do?
  • The Starfish and the Spider, by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom
  • Find tools that work for your team. It’s about communication and collaboration.
  • Don’t take funding for as long as possible. Be independent. Allows you to tweak, think about things differently.
  • ⅔ of new startup ideas right now are not new, they are mashups, derivatives. Not that those aren’t important.
  • “Creative Fridays” – stretch your mind in a different way for a few hours.
  • Intellectually give yourself permission to do stuff that seems completely unrelated on a regular basis. Something that seems fruitless to keep your mind alive.
  • Have a personal board of advisors during this time. A startup can be chaotic and lonely.
  • Write down what you think the vision of your product is, what your key assumptions are and how you intend to test those assumptions.

Written by Erin Dorney

May 31, 2012 at 2:27 PM

C&RL News – Job of a Lifetime – Jason Casden

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My third interview for the Job of a Lifetime (JOAL) column in College & Research Libraries News is now available online! I spoke with Jason Casden, digital technologies development librarian at North Carolina State University. We talked about some of the projects he has worked on including NCSU Library (Course) Tools, the WolfWalk mobile historical campus tour and NCSU Libraries mobile. No podcast this time, but check out the interview:

Job of a Lifetime – Jason Casden: Digital technologies development librarian

A big thanks to Jason who was excellent to work with and waited patiently as this piece got bumped in the publication production schedule. I think the projects at NCSU are inspirational for libraries who might be wondering how to utilize mobile technology for their users.

Do you have the job of a lifetime? I’ll be starting the next interview shortly, so if you think so, contact me. Enjoy & feel free to leave comments!

Related posts:

Written by Erin Dorney

July 8, 2010 at 11:14 PM

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C&RL News – Job of a Lifetime – Emerging Technologies Librarianship

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My second piece as the editor of the Job of a Lifetime (JOAL) column in College & Research Libraries News became available online yesterday! For my first column back in June, I interviewed Brian Mathews about his job as the User Experience Librarian at Georgia Tech.

This time, I had the chance to interview not one, not two, but three very talented Emerging Technologies Librarians from Towson University. Carrie Bertling Disclafani, David Dahl, and Carissa Tomlinson were all hired at the same time and have been working on some interesting projects, including some new mobile services. Check it out!

Job of a Lifetime – Emerging technologies at Towson University: The hat trick

ACRL Podcast – Job of a Lifetime – Emerging Technologies

Once again, C&RL News Editor David Free kindly edited the podcast for us. A huge thank you goes out to Carrie, David and Carissa for their flexibility and quick turnaround time for the column and podcast! Emerging technologies librarianship is a field/position that varies widely from institution to institution, so it was nice to hear what exactly it means at Towson. I’m adding a link to LibraryTechTalk (the blog that Carrie, David & Carissa coauthor on the use of new technologies in academic librarianship) to my blogroll and you should too!

Do you have the job of a lifetime? I’ll be starting the next interview shortly, so if you think so, contact me. Enjoy & feel free to leave comments!

Written by Erin Dorney

October 6, 2009 at 8:55 AM