The Twitter hashtag #FailShare is accumulating instances of failed library projects, so that we can learn from them, and also, I imagine, to take the sting out of failure (on the grounds that sting-y failure makes for stingy ideas).

And, a brand new wiki page has gone up on the same topic.

From an email, for those who are going to be around Boston on October 29:
Boston University Libraries are pleased to announce the 2010 Fall Lecture on
Open Access.

WHO: Kathleen Fitzpatrick
Professor, Department of Media Studies, Pomona College

WHAT: Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the

WHEN: Friday, October 29, 2010, 3-5pm

WHERE: Photonics 206, 8 St. Mary Street, Boston, MA


In addition to her many fellowships, awards, articles and media projects,
Fitzpatrick is Co-coordinating Editor and Press Director of MediaCommons.
She is the author of The Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the
Age of Television (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2006).

The book was named an łOutstanding Academic Title˛ by Choice by the
Association of College and Research Libraries, and selected as a łbook of
the month˛ by the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies.

Fitzpatrick is currently working on a book-length project focusing on the
social and institutional changes necessary to developing the digital future
of scholarly publishing, under contract to New York University Press.
Manuscript completed; undergoing second-round review. Available for open
peer review online at

For more information, please see:

Apps are everywhere. E-books are shifting from e-readers to apps as the platform of choice. Google’s Android Market has surpassed 100,000 apps despite a problematic payment structure. And Apple, with its upcoming release of Mac OS X Lion, is moving apps from the device to the desktop.

Here in the lab, we’ve talked app development, but with little traction. Why no squealing tires, no fire? Why does spending even a little of our resources on app development feel so wrong? I don’t know. But, it takes only a mention of HTML5 to uncover bubbling excitement at the possibilities and to discover we’ve already begun expending resources.

Apps are not here. I wonder what we’re missing? Are apps a dead-end? of limited utility to academia? Is HTML the better technology for delivery to devices?


Android Market tops 100,000 applications, CNET, October 25, 2010.
App Makers Take Interest in Android, NY Times, October 24, 2010.
Apple Gives Sneak Peek of Mac OS X Lion,, October 20, 2010.
Blurring the Line Between Apps and Books, NY Times, October 24, 2010.

Hacker News

Folks at the Lab have heard me talk about Hacker News.  I love it.  You may already know about it.  If not, it’s a social news bulletin board:

The news is start-up, tech, or internet related (or otherwise compelling).  Good stories get voted up, and over time, gradually fade to the background. The ranking algorithm is explained here:

In practice, what HN is is a large group (thousands) of really smart people, that become your extended curators/editors of all things web.  They crawl all the corners of its corners and post what they think the community would find interesting.  The thing that really sets it apart though is the quality – this is a really smart crowd.  What gets voted up, is worthy.  The comments are very good too.

Simple, information rich presentation

Hacker Monthly

Okay, so one thing that HN spawned/inspired was Hacker Monthly. Their model is super simple:  “Every month, we select the top voted articles from Hacker News and put them in the magazine format.” And printing is handled on-demand by Mag Cloud.

Don’t know if it’s a business or what, but it’s kinda profound:

  1. A compelling magazine
  2. crowd-edited
  3. printed on-demand
  4. designed, “edited”, put together by 1 person, the hatcher of the idea

Hacker Books

Now somebody’s (Daniel B Markham)  just come out with Hacker Books.

It’s a list of all the books recommended by hackers to other hackers on Hacker News.  But also with the caveat that those recommended texts had to themselves get voted up by other readers.  So again, it is the community providing the editorial intelligence.  And its a compelling list of books.


Both Hacker Monthly and Hacker Books are pure fallout of the vibrant Hacker News community.  They are also really interesting examples of how communities and publishing (and published) can interact.

Should we start a Hacker News for reference librarians/tech folk/book enthusiasts — start mining library intelligence?

Barnes & Noble has launched PubIt, a service for authors who want to publish directly to readers — well, directly through B&N. Create a B&N user account and upload some files, and PubIt will convert them to ePub, list your book on its site, collect money from sales, and about 60 days later will send you your money.

Some miscellaneous points about PubIt: You can optionally add DRM to your books, but you don’t have to. You don’t need an ISBN number. You set the list price, but B&N can set the sale price. You have to charge at least $0.99. You have to guarantee that you won’t list it for less elsewhere.

How much does an author make per copy? B&N says: 65% of the list price for books priced at $2.99-$9.99, and 40% for books outside of that range. But a warning: I think I got that right, but B&N refers to the money paid to “the Publisher,” leaving us to figure out whether the publisher is the author or B&N. It’s getting so hard to tell!

(BTW, you can still buy books published at at B&N.)

I feel waves of evilness from big tech companies.

I’ve never felt evilness from a library.   Never even occurred to me.  They’ve been nothing but good to me.  Welcoming, safe – yes.  Evil?  No.

I trust libraries and it’s well earned — they’ve spent decades defending privacy (primarily, I think, by not keeping records).  But could libraries begin to keep records, applying that same diligence and upholding of values?

I’d much sooner entrust a library with my social graph than I would Facebook.

On our home page and on the main blog page we run a list on the right of “Stuff we’re looking at.” These are various postings on the Web that one of us has founding interesting enough to share. We tag ‘em and run the feed.

At some point, we’ll start tweeting as well, and will probably automatically tweet what we’re tagging. Unless you think that’s a bad idea, in which case just forget we ever brought it up. So, WDYT?