What's your online DNA?

Want to know what your online DNA looks like? Well check out this online project from MIT Media Lab, Personas.

"Personas is a component of the Metropath(ologies) exhibit, currently on display at the MIT Museum by the Sociable Media Group from the MIT Media Lab. It uses sophisticated natural language processing and the Internet to create a data portrait of one's aggregated online identity. In short, Personas shows you how the Internet sees you."

In reality Personas doesn't really show you how the Internet sees you. More accurately put, it actually shows you how the Internet views your name (or any two word combination you want to run through it). If you have a unique name, it's an interesting experiment.

Here's a look at my results:

And a composite of the data that it scrubbed to create it.

Find out what the online DNA for your name looks like here.

Related post: What's your digital footprint?


Welome to the "world of mouth"

Another in a stream of thought-producing videos on the shift. This one asking the question, is social media a fad?


It's about the "thinking", not "designing"

Ever since I attended IDEA08 in Chicago last year (btw: best conference I attended last year), I’ve been wishing someone would put together a library conference center around “design thinking.”

Anyway, enter this recent post from Garr Reynold’s over at Presentation Zen outlining 10 tips to help you think like a designer. In reading these tips, I think it’s important to recognize that these tips aren’t really related to the craft of “designing” stuff. Instead they’re related to the craft of “thinking about design” and as Garr also notes most can be applied to any profession.

1) Embrace constrains
. Constraints and limitations are wonderful allies and lead to enhanced creativity and ingenious solutions that without constrains never would have been discovered or created.

2) Practice restraint. Any fool can be complicated and add more, it takes discipline of mind and strength of will to make the hard choices about what to include and what to exclude.

3) Adopt the beginner's mind.
As the old saying goes, in the expert's mind there are few possibilities, but for one with the beginner's mind, the world is wide open.

4) Check your ego at the door. This is not about you, it's about them (your audience, customer, patient, student, etc.). Look at the problem from their point of view -- put yourself in their shoes.

5) Focus on the experience of the design.
It's not the thing, it's the experience of the thing.

6) Become a master storyteller.
Often it's not only the design — i.e., the solution to a problem — that is important, but the story of it.

7) Think communication not decoration.
Design — even graphic design — is not about beautification. Design is not just about aesthetics, though aesthetics are important. More than anything, design is about solving problems or making the current situation a little better than before.

8) Obsess about ideas not tools. Tools are important and necessary, but they come and go as better tools come along. Obsess instead about ideas. Good advice is to go analog in the beginning with the simplest tools possible.

9) Clarify your intention.
Design is about choices and intentions, it is not accidental.

10) Sharpen your vision & curiosity and learn from the lessons around you.
Good designers are skilled at noticing and observing. They are able to see both the big picture and the details of the world around them.

(11) Learn all the "rules" and know when and why to break them.

Read the full post to get more of Garr’s insights to each of the tips above. There’s some great thoughts that I think can be applied to many areas of library services. You don’t have to be a designer to think like one. You just have to be willing to embrace some new approaches.


Insights from The Economy of Ideas

My weekend reading over the last two weeks included an essay written by John Perry Barlow that was published in Wired over 15 years ago, titled The Economy of Ideas.

What struck me about this great essay that explored issues around copyright in the digital age, is that
a) it was written at time when internet was practically a newborn - 1994. Figure Mosiac, the first web browser, wasn't even a year old,

how the issues that John raised we haven’t even really begun to scratch the surface yet. We’re still reeling with issues that attach “ the rights of invention and authorship…to activities in the physical world.”

Anyway, I found the essay, and especially the pages on the Taxonomy of Information, very thought provoking where John examines “information” as an activity, a life form and a relationship. Here are few insights that I found interesting.
(Note: Emphasis is all mine)

Information as an activity:

“Information is an action which occupies time rather than a state of being which occupies a physical space, as in the case with hard goods. It is the pitch, not the ball, the dance, not the dancer.”

“Sharks are said to die of suffocation if they stop swimming, and the same is nearly true of information. Information that isn’t moving ceases to exist as anything but potential … at least until it is allowed to move again.”

“The central economic distinction between information and physical property is that information can be transferred without leaving the possession of the original owner. If I sell you my horse, I can’t ride him after that. If I sell you what I know, we both know it.”

Information is a life form:

“…the idea of “memes,” self-replicating patterns of information that propagate themselves across the ecologies of mind, a pattern of reproduction much like life forms.”

The more universally resonant an idea or image or song, the more minds it will enter and remain within. Trying to stop the spread of a really robust piece of information is about as easy as keeping killers bees south of the border.”

“Digital information, unconstrained by packaging, is a continuing process more like the metamorphosing tales of prehistory than anything that will fit in shrink-wrap. From the Neolithic to Gutenberg (monks aside), information was passed on, mouth to ear, changing with every retelling (or resinging). The stories which once shaped our sense of the world didn't have authoritative versions. They adapted to each culture in which they found themselves being told.

Information as a relationship:

“In most cases, we assign value to information based on its meaningfulness. The place where information dwells, the holy moment where transmission becomes reception, is a region which has many shifting characteristics and flavors depending on the relationship of sender and receiver, the depth of their interactivity.”

“In regard to my own soft product, rock 'n' roll songs, there is no question that the band I write them for, the Grateful Dead, has increased its popularity enormously by giving them away... True, I don't get any royalties on the millions of copies of my songs which have been extracted from concerts, but I see no reason to complain. The fact is, no one but the Grateful Dead can perform a Grateful Dead song, so if you want the experience and not its thin projection, you have to buy a ticket from us. In other words, our intellectual property protection derives from our being the only real-time source of it.

“In the physical world, value depends heavily on possession or proximity in space….In the virtual world, proximity in time is a value determinant. An informational product is generally more valuable the closer purchaser can place themselves to the moment of its expression, a limitation in time.”

Ok, that’s the end of my quoting. I put many of them here in this post just so I can reference them more easily in the future. If you found this post too lengthy or disjointed, I totally understand. But if you found some of the insights interesting, then I would totally recommend a full digestion of the eight page essay. It’s definitely a good read and can be found here.

The Economy of Ideas (originally published in Wired Mar 94)

BONUS: Reflecting on Internet Decade with John Perry Barlow (YouTube interview, 16 min)


Think outside the box

Confession: In my quick search on this blog, I found that I've actually used this term a total of 9 times.

Truth be told, I often hate using this phrase myself because it's well ... just so overused -- and YES, I'm kicking myself even as I type this. :)     But since this seems to be the popular expression for merely thinking differently, I actually feel "stuck inside the box" every time I use it. Anyone else?

Anyway ... enjoy this short video.

outside the box from joseph Pelling on Vimeo.

Bonus: Here's a related photo I capturea a few years ago on building a box to think outside of.

PS: Thanks Matt for sending this. You were right, it made me laugh.


GOLD/GALILEO conference

Friday I keynoted the GOLD/GALILEO conference in Athens, GA. Although the humidity seemed uncomfortably high (I swear I thought nimbus clouds were going to form in the lecture hall before my talk was over) it was great to be back in the south surrounded by so many soothing southern drawls. :)

Here's my slide deck for the talk:


Future of the book is not a "container question"

Last week I was asked via email to comment on the future of the book for an article and since it’s a topic that I’ve taken a lot of interest in lately, I thought I’d try and respond. Here’s my 2 cents on the subject…

The future of reading has been a hot topic these days. With the launch this year of the Kindle DX, Google’s partnership with Sony reader, Barnes & Nobles e-book development and the mounting rumors of the Apple tablet, there is a lot of conversation about how the book is changing.

When I hear folks talk about the future of the book and wonder how libraries will thrive in this new digital age, I can’t help but think that we’re being short sighted when we only talk about the digital book’s impact to reading and the miss the greater opportunity that this format can provide, which is the networked creation and sharing of new knowledge.

Reading at its core is actually a consumption activity that at it’s best is a solitary pursuit. When we read, we consume and amass someone else’s knowledge, ideas, and stories. For many of us it’s an escape from our own day-to-day by providing the ability to jump inside someone else’s head.

The jump from print to digital actually doesn’t change any of this. However, when I think about the book as digital format from a larger perspective, I see a much bigger picture unfolding. Not only is knowledge no longer bound to its physical format, it’s no longer bound as medium designed primarily for consumption. With digital formats offering the ability to connect with other readers (consumers you might even say) over networked platforms, the consumption of knowledge can actually become a participatory activity resulting in the creation and sharing of new knowledge. is one the first attempts I’ve seen at creating this new type of participatory ‘reading’ by providing users with the ability to insert comments and annotations anywhere (even at sentence and word level) within the book. And in addition to leaving your observations and comments behind for others to read, you can also connect with other readers real-time or create a private group to limit your conversations to a close circle of friends. When I think about the possibilities that this new networked format creates, I envision the ability to not overlay and compare fan fiction with the original, but to also participate in the creation of new genre’s like crowdsourced novels (see James Patterson’s newest venture AirBourne, for an example).

Indeed, the conversational quality of books takes on new meaning when the content is unbound and as the battles continue on in the race for the perfect ebook container, I can’t help but think we’ll be loosing the war if all we focus on is the impact of the digital book as it relates to consumption activities and don't take a look at where libraries can really add value in the bigger picture.

Libraries need to think about impact of the ebook not from the aspect of providing access to materials in digital format or as containers to merely support reading, but from the aspect of what it means to support the sharing and creation of new knowledge from published knowledge that in the digital format can be easily unbound. I know that supporting this type of shift is not only huge, it's also contains many unknowns and challenges. But if we're not thinking about how to support "the book" in its unbound state, you can bet with today's exploding information economy that someone else is.

What are your thoughts on the "unbound, networked book"?

Related posts: