I've used a number of different photo sharing systems over time including Flickr, Picasa and Gallery. I'm just not a big fan of them because I really don't want my family photos posted for the whole world to see. Sure, Flickr allows me to limit who sees my photos, but do I really want members of my family to have to create a whole new account with some unknown (to them) service?

Gallery is not really a photo sharing service, but photo sharing software that can be installed on a web server. I use it to share photos of my family with my family in a private manner. Anyone who wants to view the photos must log in. It can be limiting at times when I want to show friends or coworkers, but my privacy is important.

With Flickr I see 2 things that set them apart (or at least used to). The first is user tagging. Tagging is a popular movement with many where anyone can assign any word or phrase to an object. Personally I don't have time to think about tags, but I have found other people's tags useful. The second innovative thing about Flickr is the notes feature. Notes allow you to draw lines around objects in a photo and make notes about that area to help the viewer understand what they're looking at. The feature is well used in the Clemens Reads photo series.

I'm glad for online photo sharing services, but they're not for me. I have the experience and tools I need to share photos my own way. As for our library, I don't believe we have a need to use such a service. As long as we have our own web servers, we'll always be able to post photos there.

Thing 3: RSS

I have been using RSS for awhile. In fact I used a similar technology way back in 1996 called PointCast. PointCast was one of the first 'push technologies'. Push technology was a way for an information provider to send you information without an explicit request. You'd just tell the provider what types of information and they would push it out to you.

While RSS is not a push technology because the RSS reader still pulls the information, it still has much of the same effect. You don't have to go around gathering data because you tell the feed reader what you want and where to get it. Then Google Reader, Bloglines or whatever program will happily collect it all in one place for you to read.

I checked my Google Reader account and I currently have 35+ feeds that I read daily, not including new feeds I found through 23 Things.

One little known, but highly effective use for RSS is to monitor a page for changes. On Wikipedia, if you subscribe to the RSS feed for a given page, you will receive updates in your reader whenever the page is updated. This has proven to be an effective way to combat spammers and other attempts to dilute or tilt the information on that site.

I've been stewing a bit since I watched the video with Stephen Abram. What have you done for us lately, Stephen? What good does it do libraries for you to talk about this stuff? What has YOUR company done to help libraries come into this poorly named Library 2.0 age?

Right now we're running Horizon. We once had the promise of an innovative Horizon 8.0 to look forward to. Although it now looks like it was all just smoke an mirrors anyway. What is our choice? How does a library take the catalog into the 2.0 era?

If we should decide to remain loyal SirsiDynix customers, then we'll be moving to Unicorn Symphony. However, there's nothing 2.0 about Unicorn Symphony that I've been made aware of.

Smaller, rural, less well funded libraries rely on their ILS vendor to provide up to date features and capabilities. However, I don't think that's something that the ILS vendor will ever provide. They are hopelessly out of date. They are not exactly serving a lucrative market. So instead of innovating they put out products that are just good enough and milk their customers of all the 'maintenance fees' they can afford.

So what's a library to do? Well at this point in time, if you don't have a staff of developers, you have to go out and pay ANOTHER vendor for a bolt-on product. It just doesn't seem right when the company you pay tens or hundreds of thousands a year to should already be keeping up with things. Sure Aquabrowser is nice, but Horizon Information Portal should already do that.

This is where my hope for the open source ILS products comes in. For whatever reason a lot of people are scared of open source. Perhaps some early open source zealot tried to convert them to some not yet ready for prime time version of linux several years back. Or maybe they tried to get the whole organization to switch to Open Office before it was ready.

There's nothing to be scared of anymore. Get this, you can even buy support for open source software, but you don't HAVE to.

I'm optimistic about the open source offerings on the horizon. While I don't believe they're ready for my library. I know there will come a day when we'll take a good hard look at them and decide whether or not it's time to say farewell to under-performing closed source vendors.

The really exciting thing about open source is that poorer libraries don't need to have a development staff. The larger, well funded organizations can take care of it for us. The beauty of open source is that you can take it and improve it and then give your improvements back to the project. Right now, if Hennepin County Library creates some new whirly-gig they have no good way to share. With open source, they could contribute their innovation back to the project to be released with the next update.

Libraries of the world unite!

Why oh why Library 2.0? I didn't even like Web 2.0. Some hipster librarian just took the pretentious Web 2.0 and made it worse by applying it to libraries. I cringe every time I hear either one.

While I am not a software developer by trade, I understand that version numbers serve an important purpose, each version number identifies a very particular thing with a very specific functionality and feature set. Neither Web 2.0 nor Library 2.0 define anything in particular, both simply attempt to place a label on new ideas.

I do agree that it's time for librarians to start using technology in new and creative ways. However, I believe that many of these efforts will show only marginal returns. Are we really going to see a revolution in Millennial library usage because we open a Facebook account and start a MySpace page? I don't think so. For the most part, these endeavors are undertaken, I believe, by libraries who have no shortage of staff time to throw at such follly.

In the reality of our particular library system, we just don't have the time to instruct staff to maintain blogs or keep up a social networking presence. By most accounts, we don't even have the staff to check books in and out and handle reference questions. As a colleague of mine often says about marketing and promoting our library, why are we seeking to bring more people into the library, when we can't handle the existing load?

I suspect we'll have IM reference in the near future. Services like Meebo make it so easy that we've already done most of the technological work. Unfortunately, the problem always comes down to staffing. The technology has been in place and ready to go for weeks, now we just have to staff it.

I see we've been instructed to use the Yahoo avatar engine. I much prefer the Simpsons avatar engine that I learned about back when the Simpsons Movie came out. Unfortunately the whole site is Flash (a big no no), so I can't provide a direct link.

Blog - it's supposed to be short for Web Log which is supposedly what you'd call an electronic journal. However, I don't journal, not even for myself so why would I blog?

I've tried a couple of times, but how valuable are my random thoughts to the world, really?