Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large
ISSN 1534-0937
Libraries · Policy · Technology · Media

Selection from Cites & Insights 6, Number 7: May 2006

Bibs & Blather

Tweaking the Sections

Trends, Quick Takes and Good Stuff? Aren’t those two separate sections? Sure, just as Following Up and Feedback have been two separate sections. But as with the latter two, I found that “the good stuff”—articles that I wanted to comment on that neither fell into some other standing section nor deserved a full-scale Perspective—either yielded a very brief section or got held too long for comfort.

The purpose of ongoing sections is to provide focus, not to age source material: I can do that without any help. As foci shift, it’s only reasonable to shift section names and inclusions. (People with long memories will note that The Good Stuff was originally Press Watch I: Articles Worth Reading, back when I was “watch”ing things…and that Press Watch II: Commentary became Cheap Shots & Commentary, then disappeared altogether, since I never take cheap shots anymore. Except in My Back Pages, and Trends & Quick Takes, and on Walt at Random, and…)

Section names provide manila folder labels. Folders gather material. Sometimes, chunks of that material turn into separate Perspectives—or get big enough to deserve their own folders, or become special issues. Eventually, in certain cases, folders stay so slender that the section disappears. Other folders may arise or be separated into subfolders.

This essay contains another tweak: Two cases where I want to call attention to an ongoing phenomenon I believe readers should be paying attention to, but don’t quite see the discussion as suitable for either a full-scale Perspective or an existing section. See below, just past the next announcement.

Now Appearing in YBP Academia

I’m delighted to say that, as part of the YBP sponsorship of Cites & Insights, certain select C&I essays will also appear in the YBP electronic resource Academia ( I’ll forward an appropriate essay four to six times a year, sometimes modifying the essay slightly so it works better as a standalone piece. As with C&I itself, the YBP people have made it clear that they neither seek nor desire any editorial role in these essays. I may provide more than they use, but they won’t modify the ones that do appear.

As with YBP’s sponsorship in general, this should be a win:win:win situation.

InfoTangle: Blog as Formal Journal

I’ve mentioned InfoTangle ( before, commenting on two of Ellyssa Kroski’s article/posts in C&I 6:4 and 6:6. “Community 2.0” (posted April 7, 2006) is another good read and worthwhile addition to the literature, five pages followed by 40 references. Kroski considers varieties of online communities and the tools they use, and discusses possible meanings of all this. I may be skittish about “2.0” terms in general, but Kroski provides a solid, readable introduction.

Kroski is doing something unusual and interesting here: Using a blog as a lightweight publishing platform for fully formed articles replete with references. It’s not the way I would do it—and that’s a compliment. It’s not the way I’ve seen anyone do it, at least in the library field. No single model of “new publishing” suits everyone any more than one single medium suited everyone in the “old media.” I don’t anticipate commenting on every InfoTangle article. I do anticipate reading them, in both senses of “anticipate”: I expect to do so—and I look forward to it.


“The essence of technology for library decision-makers.” That’s an ambitious claim, and I’m not sure how you’d judge the ability of this site to live up to it, but is off to one heck of an interesting start. Want the URL? Look at the heading. Want the mission statement?

You're busy. You don't have time for a lot of jargon, techie posturing, or attitudes. You've come to the right place. We don't put you down, we don't talk down to you, we just give it to you straight. Come here for accurate, understandable explanations of important information technologies for libraries. Go elsewhere for the hype.

Roy Tennant started it on November 17, 2005. The first topical post was January 30, 2006. It didn’t pick up steam until late March or early April 2006.

In addition to Tennant, TechEssence features Andrew Pace, Dorothea Salo, Eric Lease Morgan, Jenn Riley, Jerry Kuntz, Lori Bowen Ayre, Marshall Breeding, Meredith Farkas, and Thomas Dowling. That’s quite a group, including a fair chunk of LITA’s Top Technology Trendies, several well-known bloggers in their own right, and just generally folks with varied experience, knowledge and style.

TechEssence has two parts, both using blog technology and allowing comments from registered users. One part, Technologies, provides “executive summaries” (typically no more than two print pages) for terms and technologies librarians need to know about. The other, Blog, consists of tight, focused entries on a variety of tech-related topics.

A sampling from April: Roy Tennant on “Making good technology decisions”; Eric Lease Morgan on “Mass digitization”; Dorothea Salo providing a “Digital preservation overview”; Meredith Farkas “On uses for wikis and gardening”; Dorothea Salo’s “A paean to the text editor”; Roy Tennant’s “A paean to the prototype”; Jenn Riley on “The trap of ‘fixing it later’”; Thomas Dowling’s “Communique from the front lines of citation linking”; Dorothea Salo on “Making a sandbox”; Meredith Farkas “On getting staff members to buy into a new technology.”

That’s in a span of 14 days—but it’s not a flood of stuff, too much to read or too vague to cope with. The first one mentioned is the longest at four pages, 1,400 words—but it’s chock-full of good suggestions. “Hold new technologies up to the light of your mission and priorities.” “Don’t bet the farm on things you can’t control.” “All things being equal, open is better than proprietary”—a sentiment I agree with 100% given the first clause. “Neither an early adopter nor a latecomer be.” “Technology with market share beats better technology.” And so on… Some candidates for Tennant’s Tenets, some not-so-obvious truisms, some that we tend to forget. Farkas’ “buy in” guide is also full of excellent brief points, from “do not decide things unilaterally” to “don’t rush it.”

I don’t mean to slight the others. Without becoming a fanboy, I’ll say the batting average is impressive, and that goes for the executive briefings as well. (RLG is probably the only nonprofit among the founding members of The Unicode Consortium, and Joan Aliprand, a longtime friend and RLG colleague, worked hard for quite a few years to see Unicode to completion; that wasn’t relevant for the executive summary.)

Most posts are too terse to mention here. Besides, you should read them directly—either as they emerge or when you check your TechEssence bookmark.

Here’s the Plan…

In one of a semi-related series of brouhahas and kerfuffles, I noted that maybe I need a break. I think that’s true. The summer’s coming, and based on past readership figures, it’s not just me who needs a break: Many of you lighten up on “serious” literature as well.

Here’s the plan:

Ø    The June issue should come out some time in late May, with “Copyright: Finding a Balance” as a major theme.

Ø    The July issue should, no surprise vacations or disasters and the creeks don’t rise, come out just before ALA—with “Finding a Balance 2: The Library Angle” as a major theme.

Ø    If all goes as planned, with lots of summer time spent reading, relaxing, going on short trips, organizing music, and all that, the August issue will be one most readers can skip: A special issue about C&I typography and design, probably yielding a fairly large PDF for a small issue. (“Compare and contrast” does that when you’re embedding typefaces.)

Ø    Things will get back to “normal” with the September issue, out in late August. If you remember last September’s C&I, you can predict the planned major theme for the September issue. Maybe.

Given that “plan” and “C&I” in the same sentence is somewhat oxymoronic, this may be a good opportunity to save this page and see just how bad I am at short-range planning.

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, Volume 6, Number 7, Whole Issue 77, ISSN 1534-0937, a journal of libraries, policy, technology and media, is written and produced by Walt Crawford, a senior analyst at RLG.

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