CrowdAsk

A Gamified Crowdsourcing Reference System for Libraries Developed by Purdue Libraries. Ilana Stonebraker, Tao Zhang

  • FAQ system where users can vote and contribute.
  • Points, badges, and leaderboards
  • 122 questions, 232 answers since spring 2014
  • Open source and openly available
  • Helping users learn together and from each other
  • Website

Had a FAQ help system that wasn’t working well. How to know which users want what in help? Started a research project and surveyed students to see what they’re looking for in help.

In traditional library reference, all questions are treated equal. Majority of reference questions are lower level. Reference service model is flawed; students getting answers from librarians, professors, other students, and friends. We only know about the answers from the librarians, not from the other sources.

Solutions in crowd sourcing is the utilization of content experts, like graduate students. Novices learning together better reflect a participatory culture, metaliteracy. Benefit is that it’s a single channel, and focus is on librarians as community builders versus information sources.

Types of questions asked were course-related, CrowdAsk related, library services or resources, how-to, and conceptual. Motivated by reciprocity, not by the points.  It’s about cultivating community, rather than gamification.

Offered as a secondary choice, after the Ask the Librarian choice on the website. Staff ensures that questions are answered in one day. Goal: develop sustainable user engagement and community involvement as part of the Purdue University Libraries website.

Looking for partners and test cases; GNU General Public License Version 2 on GitHub.

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Filed under internetlibrarian

Search: social, personal, & everywhere

Greg Notess, Montana State University @notess

Personalization

  • Pros:
    • customize results ranking
    • increased relevance
    • targeted ads
  • Cons
    • librarian searching
    • privacy
    • not always relevant

The Filter Bubble: concerns based on results personalization. People will only see material that they agree with; if searching for liberal (or conservative) information that match that point of view.

You get personalized results whether you’re logged in or not – Google will remember for you. Will see previous searches, GeoLocation, YouTube viewing history, all pages visited (if toolbar enabled.)

Google behavioral ad targeting: google.com/settings/ads. Logged in or not. Check and see how accurate it is on targeting you. You can disable it by logging out. Easiest way is to use the private or incognito mode. Even in private mode, there is some personalization, like GeoLocation.

Rapleaf: information based on your email address. BlueCava: device tracking.

Alternative search engines: duckduckgo.com, dontbubble.us, ixquick.com

Social searching: Facebook – private to a point. Makes it harder to search. Twitter – can have private tweets. LinkedIn – default shares who searches for you; alternative search approaches: cached search options, Bing search results.

Facebook graph search: combine odd combinations of factors (republicans who love sailing and live in Minneapolis.) Can narrow search by sex, age, employer, etc. Dependent on what information people share.

Twitter searching: follow hashtags. Topsy: will search full Twitter feed. Hshtags.com – app to search hashtags. Twitter: #{name} filter:links.

Unshorten – unshorten the link, to determine what it is. wheredoesthislinkgo.com, knowurl.com, clybs.com/urlexpander

Map/Geographic search: Google and Bing maps both have street view, different data sources, different imagery dates. Google Earth has the ability to browse back in time.

World.time.com/timelapse – time-lapse imagery. Earthengine.google.com – environmental data and analysis.

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Super Searcher Tools & Tips

Mary Ellen Bates, Principal, Bates Information Services, Inc.

@mebs

Google dictionary now has word origin, translate, and usage over time.

Google autocomplete can be used to find alternatives to a product or service. Ex: evernote vs. – and then wait, and Google will list alternatives.

snipr.com/gdork14 – links to Google dorking.

Test your org’s vulnerabilities: filetype:csv OR filetype:xls OR filetype:log site:your.org intext:username OR email OR confidential OR…

Change order of search words: ocean fishing acidification VS. acidification fishing ocean. Got different number of search results with the same words in the query, just a different order. Used Bing, and got different results. Each query resulted in some results that didn’t appear in the other two.

Millionshort.com: longtail research. Eliminates top 100 to 1 million sites. Catches less SEO’d sites. Essential for more complete research! See also MillionTall.com: only top sites.

Impact of spoken search: we’re now used to typing in a query. New software like Siri has changed that dynamic, along with the wording of the query. Google is having to deal more with natural language queries; people will word a query like a question. Compare the results of these queries: What is the meaning of life? The meaning of life? Meaning of life? Significantly different results for each query.

Are we as relationship focused as Google Now? It’s an app on your phone, which looks at calendar, gmail, search history, etc. Automatically populates your phone with what it considers to be pertinent information. Library users will get used to this – how can we make sure we’re as client-focused?

Find info from trusted sources: Bing only – ID outgoing links from a site or domain: LinkFromDomain. LinkFromDomain:msf.org ebola retrieves pages linked-to from Doctors Without Borders that mention ebola.

Data-mine Academic Search: search result frequency counts – ID the key authors, conferences, journals, orgs, keywords. academic.research.microsoft.com (Bing academic search)

Digging deeper in Google, Bing: getting into the deep web. Look for databases: {topic} database. Bing only: find pages that link to a filetype: contains:mp3, contains:xls

Find LinkedIn “hidden” updates: mouse over the “send a message” button, and it will give you options, including ‘view recent activity.’

Tineye.com: looks for similar images. Is anyone using your photos? Did they pick up on your press release?

Bing’s Image Match: ID an infographic from a report – look for other pages that have the same image.

Zanran: “google for data.” Web crawler looks for images on web pages, including charts and graphs.

Shothotspot.com: search Flickr and Panoramio for images on a location. Shows pictures people have taken that were geotagged.

Search the Internet of Things: thingful.net. Identifies places where people have tagged things in the Internet of Things.

Gwittr.com: learn about influencers and their influencers. Who they retweet, what links they share, what they hashtag, how much they share.

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California Dreaming

I’m at Internet Librarian in beautiful Monterey, California. It’s heady to be surrounded by librarians who are techie and talking about cutting edge topics: website security, digitizing local content, repositories, mobile tech….you get the idea. I’m actually presenting this year, which should be fun. I don’t present until Wednesday afternoon, so I have a few days to soak up the wisdom around me.

I’m presenting on UMR and our virtual library and the importance of information literacy. I’m co-presenting with librarians from the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library at the University of Nevada-Reno; they’re talking about having created a hacking mentality at their campus. Should be interesting!

Meanwhile, I managed to seriously tweak my knee the day before I left, to the point where I swallowed my pride and asked for a wheelchair to help me through the airports. Yikes. Luckily, it seems to have calmed down a bit, and I just keep reminding myself to take it slow.

I’ll be blogging about some of the presentations I attend, so you can virtually attend the conference with me. The sea may call me, however, and if my knee will allow, I may take a stroll on the wharf and listen to the sea lions.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship

Make a Scene

There is a problem lurking in the library world, as anyone who reads library blogs no doubt already knows.  A pair of librarians had, in tweets, called out a librarian that had been sexually harassing librarians at conferences, and was apparently well-known for his advances, to the point that women would be specifically told to watch out for this guy. The problem? They named him by name.

His reaction was to sue them. (Really, dude?)

The library world is aghast that these women are being punished for naming their abuser and his behavior. A number of librarians have written about this, notably the Librarian in Black.

Another young librarian has now written on the subject, and brings up the chilling result of all this mess: she has been harassed, and is now afraid to name her aggressor.  This is a bad, bad thing, people.

As I commented to her, it’s awful that she had to deal with his behavior:

How awful. And creepy. I’m sorry this happened to you, and even sorrier that we have come to a place where we feel unsafe naming the culprits.

I must admit, I think I’m old enough now that I feel empowered to stop behavior like this, whereas when I was younger, I would have most likely reacted exactly like you did. You shouldn’t have to deal with this nonsense.

I would advocate for those of us who witness this behavior to step in and say something. We’re programmed to be nice, not make waves, not hurt people’s feelings. As a result, we tend to let behavior like this slide because we’re afraid of making a scene.

Let’s make scenes, people. I, for one, would be glad to assist in telling one of these idiots their behavior is NOT. OKAY.

Let’s do make scenes. If you see this, say something. Publicly. Pulling them aside may be more polite, but it also keeps the behavior private. These guys are counting on that privacy, that politeness. Call it out. Make a scene. And let’s stop this crap right damn now.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship

Spell it out

There have been website updates recently for a couple of organizations with which I am associated. In one case, the web person forgot to put the name of the organization on the main page. (Oops.)  It’s too soon to tell with the other as it has yet to launch, but I’m sure there will be something.

Why?  Certainly not because the person in charge of the site is slipping. It’s simply that these sites are so big, it’s hard to see the details when you’ve been slogging through them for weeks and months.

It is imperative, therefore, to have someone that isn’t you or your staff or your web person take a look at your site to see where you might have missed something. Case in point, I’m doing some research for MPOW involving higher education conferences. In my research I’ve come across a number of sites that are Exceedingly Acronym Happy. One of these EAH sites has an acronym for its name….and never says what the thing means. I have no idea, even after looking in the “About us” section and the “FAQ” section and the “Contact us” section.

There’s something about this that makes me suspicious.  Perhaps you’re trying to sell me something and you’re hiding your real identity for unknown reasons. (Perhaps I’ve been reading too many mysteries and thrillers.) In any case, if you have an acronym on your site, at some point early on you need to spell it out.  This is one of those times when having an outsider take a look at your website would be helpful, especially if they’re not in on the acronym game. The first time someone says, “What’s that?” you have a clue to something that needs to be clarified.

Rant over. Back to searching for swell higher ed conferences. And, by the way, if there’s a conference you’ve attended that you recommend, please let me know!

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Filed under Academia, Miscellaneous

Bereft

It has been a difficult summer in our household.

As you may remember, my mom passed away two years ago, in June 2012. My dad passed away in November of 2013.

My father-in-law has now passed away, the day after Father’s Day. That’s three parents in three years.

The DAY of my father-in-law’s funeral, DBF’s mom fell….and then she passed away a week later. Her funeral was a week ago today. Given that I’ve known DBF for many, many years, I feel the loss of her mom acutely. She was one of those people I just called “Mom.”

DBF and her husband, along with DH and I, are now in the unenviable position of being orphans. Granted, we’re at the age when this is not unusual. But there is a hollow place in my heart where my parents used to live.

The loss of so many so quickly has left me a bit bereft.

If your parents are still with you, call them. Better yet, visit them. Give them a kiss and a hug. Trust me, you won’t be sorry you did.

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Search and destroy

Ah, the perils of modern technology.

DBF, as I’ve shared, has written a wonderful novel. It’s in the final editing phase, where the manuscript is checked for printing errors, misspellings, dropped quotation marks, etc.

Jan has been unusually busy, and so I offered to help with a look at the manuscript. (Gave me a chance to read it again, too. It’s as good as I thought it was.)  I caught the usual stuff, but came across a word that I didn’t recognize: hapcedars.

I’ll let Jan tell you the rest. May everyone’s day be filled with hapcedars.

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Character rant

I have a weird name.

I have two first names, which is not unusual for a woman of an age with Catholic roots. “Mary” variations were very popular, and it wasn’t unusual for people with the first name of “Mary” to also be called by their first and middle names. (Mary Jo, Mary Ann, Mary Sue, etc.) I’m called by my first name and a variation of my middle name, Elizabeth. So, Mary Beth.

I married later in life and it felt odd to lose my maiden name altogether, so I chose to hyphenate. (Luckily, I didn’t marry someone with a long, unwieldy surname.) My last name is Sancomb-Moran.

I can not tell you how annoying it is to be told by various and sundry online forms that my name is wrong. Can’t have a space in the first name. Can’t have a hyphen in the last name. Grrr.

Now, I understand that the two-name-first-name thing is a bit passé, but it’s not that unusual. And more and more women (and, occasionally, their spouses) are choosing to hyphenate.

For the love of all that’s holy, online retailers and all those with forms, get with the program! Do not create your forms so that it kicks out characters other than letters.  It can be done; I’ve seen it.

I’ve chosen to register/sign up/ join your organization. Don’t make me regret having done so because you’ve decided my name isn’t valid.

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Filed under Customer Service, Me and mine

Books, books, everywhere

I am back from a magical weekend in New York.

I attended, for the first time, the Book Expo America at the absolutely enormous Javits Center. For those who haven’t attended this behemoth of a book conference, it’s All Things Book – publishers, sellers, and over 700 authors. Those authors were giving away copies of their books, and were signing copies for those interested.

There were a lot of people interested.

The conference is for book professionals, including librarians. The last day of the conference they open the doors to the general public, who can get tickets to come and see their favorite authors and get signed copies of books. (One of the “authors” was Grumpy Cat.  There was a huge line of people waiting for books and a chance to see the cat. Who knew.)

This thing is absolute book crack for people who love books; the day the conference opened to the general public 7,000 people bought tickets. It was crazy and exhilarating and great fun.

While I am a book lover and librarian, of course, I was not there in either of those roles. DBF has written a wonderful novel that’s being published and it was introduced at BEA. I was there as her entourage. It was wonderful to be there as my dear friend first saw piles of her books, saw the posters announcing her book, and signed her first autograph. We both shed a few tears of absolute joy.

I encourage you to check out her book and order a copy. Or five. You can find it on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

In any case, I was thinking about the weekend on the way home. In the last few years there have been a number of articles mourning the death of the book, of readers, of reading in general. Given what I saw this past weekend, I would beg to differ. The people who were there were from all walks of life (judging on appearances, granted) and were of all ages. They were giddy at the prospect of meeting and interacting with authors, and in discovering new books to read and cherish. The book, for them, is very much alive and well. To paraphrase Twain, the reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

I don’t think we’ll see the death of the book anytime soon. And I’m glad.

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Filed under Me and mine, Miscellaneous