in General, Libraries/Info Sci

Computers in Libraries 2005 – Day 4

When: Saturday, March 19 2005
Where: Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
My Role: Attendee
Michael Stephens on March Madness: “I don’t follow the volleyball.”

Last day done… sniff sniff.

Gonna be a bit more abbreviated tonight, since I’m getting started later and enjoying hanging out in the lobby at the same time. I’ll stick to the sessions I really enjoyed.

Keynote – Delighting the Real User: Personas in Action – Stephen Abram, Mary Lee Kennedy

I love Stephen Abram, by far the most entertaining speaker of the conference.

95% of U.S. public libraries have internet access. ONLY 95? That honestly surprised me. So pick 20 libraries at random and 1 will not have internet access. Not even dial up! Poor guys…

We need to understand people at a fundamentally different level: Why they need what they do, not just what they need. User-centered, but to a whole new level. Similarly, we should start adapting to the consumers rather than ask them to adapt to us.

For example, millenials tolerate zero delays in their information requests. We (yes, I am included in this generation, barely) have entirely different learning styles brought about from growing up with computers and more multimedia. So hire me! As a senior member of the millenials (circa 1982) I’ll be sure to provide valuable insights. 🙂

Abram also brought up, it looks like a fascinating set of data but I have yet to have time to explore it.

Search Engine Panel – Greg Notess, Ran Hock

Was a thrill to realize Notess was speaking, I’ve read a bunch of his stuff in classes. I’ve got new search engines to explore: Exalead, Gigablast, and Wisenut. Maybe not so much Wisenut, but the other two look interesting.

Try other search engines than Google – your users are using them, believe it or not.

Prediction: In 2 years, Google will look much more like Yahoo does now. I agree, its already happening. Gmail, Picasa, etc. Meanwhile Yahoo is becoming more like Google to survive.

Lots of interesting demonstrations on how Google Print and Google Scholar are not quite ready for prime time yet. I unfortunately can’t recall the details, but suffice it to say I wouldn’t rely on either for serious research yet. A9 is much more direct for searching full text of books.

Leading Edge Technologies & Libraries: Biometric Security Measures and Quantum Computing – Perry Bratcher, Roy Balleste

Bratcher’s section on biometrics was fascinating, chock full of real world examples. Apparently Buffalo already has fingerprint scanners for checking books out!

A couple of interesting motivational factors he brought up that might spur public acceptance of biometric measures. First: September 11th. Second: Recent examples of large scale identify theft.

30% of all calls to IT are lost password-related! Imagine the time savings if biometrics could cut those down to zero.

Another interesting tidbit, fingerprint scanners don’t directly compare images of fingerprints. The data goes through some sort of hashing process and these “fingerprint fingerprints” as I call them get compared.

Balleste’s section on quantum computing was met by lukewarm reception from the audience. Some even got up and left. A shame really, I think the spiel was just too technical and physics-related for most. Personally I find the topic really interesting, even if I don’t understand it all. Balleste did the best he could with very limited time on a very complex topic. And you can’t deny that the prospect of computers a billion times more powerful than our current ones is intriguing.

And that was the end of the official sessions. So sad! I crashed for about an hour and then attended the final dine-around. It was blogging-themed, so pretty much everybody I’ve gotten to know here was in attendance. Even if I’m still hazy on a bunch of names…

We ate at Thaiphoon, possibly the wittiest name for a Thai restaurant ever. Small place, we filled up a good portion of it. Hung out on Connecticut Ave on the way back, and then back here to the lobby for blogging and merriment.

That’s all folks! I’ve had a blast and will write a wrap-up entry either tomorrow in the airport or once I’m back in da Burgh.

Well the piano has been hacked, so that’s my key to go pay attention.