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Due to illness, there will not be a Halloween special of LISTen: The LISNews.org Podcast.
After getting all the Obama-Biden campaign e-mails clogging my inbox prodding me to go participate in "early voting", I figure I should write something. It is only fair that I should speak from news reporting experience. Some of my best memories as a print reporter were the camaraderie among reporters on election night regardless of who competed against who in what format.
Election night reporting is misleading. The results reported are merely unofficial. Election races are never decided on election night. In the wake of the Help America Vote Act, there is no way any election in the United States could be decided that way.
Absentee ballots are not counted on election night. "Provisional ballots" are not counted on election night. Ballots cast during early voting, such as in the period that kicked off today in Nevada, are not counted on election night. The totals we see on Election Night frankly aren't real as they reflect regular ballots cast only that day.
As someone with interest in politics, I do occasionally watch C-SPAN. A panel discussion was presented a couple nights ago in which there were guesses made. The guesses focused on the potential percentage of ballots in play that won't be reflected in Election Night totals. Ten years ago such votes would only make a difference in very close elections. Current guesses are that perhaps fifty percent of the nation's ballots are already cast.
What might this mean? If almost fifty percent of the ballots are not counted in the totals reported on Election Night, any frustration coming out of such is likely quite pointless. Depending upon the state, the count of absentee ballots as well as provisional ballots and early ballots could stretch onward to Thanksgiving.
Why bring this up on a library-related blog? One thing in the public library setting that it may be prudent to prepare for is questions about how we elect Presidents. US citizens do not vote directly for a President or Vice President. That is the job of the Electoral College on December 15th. While electors are normally pledged to their respective candidate there does exist the chance for them to make their own decisions. An example of this is the 2004 election when John Edwards, then only a candidate for Vice President, somehow got a single electoral vote for the office of President.
I remain skeptical that this will be conclusively wrapped up in two weeks. With as much as the Obama-Biden campaign has recently blanketed the airwaves of Las Vegas about early voting, I wouldn't be surprised if the country gets pretty close to that 50% mark of ballots not counted until after Election Night. Proceedings similar to the circus atmosphere of 2000 may well arise.
In a potential situation like this, there may well be a need to be nimble in creating displays and preparing for potential information needs of patrons.
A word of electoral caution by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
My learned colleague Liana Lehua serves at the studios of Podango Productions in San Francisco. On October 4th she went radio silent on Twitter. As I feared something to be wrong I recently attempted to make contact.
From what I can gather, Liana is at UCLA Medical dealing with an unknown illness. I fear this may be related to her being admitted to UMC during BlogWorldExpo after fainting at a party. When we had the chance to talk to Liana off the record I did state at BlogWorldExpo that the crew here would be available to help her if she wished such. We still are quite willing to relocate to help keep Podango running.
Podango Productions appears set to liquidate its entire studio in the coming week. If this is the same physical problem that plagued Liana at BlogWorldExpo, then it has been quite a few weeks in which nobody has been able to figure out what is wrong. All in all, this is not a good situation.
The whole New Media landscape in the US would be taking a significant blow if Podango vanished. Key things they provided for various content producers were guidance as well as aid in professionally producing content. Right now they're one of the few vendors out there that provides this sort of service to those who need it. While my crew is able to do some of this on a contract basis we don't nearly have the hardware and facilities to fully match such.
I ask prayers for Liana that she may be restored in health. Right now this is a scary time for her and her family. That health crisis has also put Podango into a crisis. The whole matter is quite messy to say the least.
I really do not want to get into a discussion of theodicy at this point. All I can say is that the situation sucks mightily.
For the sake of those who want something more than just plain text:
Between looking at the "biblioblogosphere" reaction as well as the comments on recent Annoyed Librarian's posts, I am confused. I don't get the virulence. I really don't. The rampant conservativism as well as fundamentalism is also breath-taking.
I understand that there seems to be veneration of Library Journal as an institution. I don't understand why there would be such a vehement reaction to this whole matter. What Library Journal did is hardly earth-shattering and has popped up elsewhere in far larger publications.
Librarians traditionally had at least a small amount of appreciation for what goes on in the content production side of things. This whole incident shows nothing in the same ballpark as that. The more I look at it, the more I get disturbed. Are librarians really masters of information in its many respects or are we merely warehouse managers?
It scares me that so many notables within librarianship would rail against this. As I said in the current podcast, if this is such an existential threat to the profession and its image there is the offer made to try to write your own counter-balance. What am I missing here? To a rational observer, librarians should be leaping for the opportunity. Yet as far as can be seen, nobody has stepped up to the plate. Is it that much easier to just whine about how bad the hiring of somebody like the Annoyed Librarian is rather than make a difference that could even help tenure cases potentially in terms of intellectual output?
Blogs are blogs. The Annoyed Librarian's presence is grouped with other opinion entities. I am not worried about the Annoyed Librarian harming the public's view of the profession. If anything the Annoyed Librarian has plenty of analogues in publications from the tech realm like Robert X. Cringely or Spencer F. Katt. When one regards Library Journal as what it is, simply a commercial publication, then this is a pretty mundane thing. To see an example of a Spencer F. Katt piece, all you need to do is get up and move around in your library in the direction of your periodicals and look at the back page of any recent issue of eWeek. In this case, you potentially have a non-librarian analog to the Annoyed Librarian in print within your facility...and you likely pay good money for it too.
What is being taught in MLS programs lately? I know these things not due to library school but because I have been in the media business off and on since 1998. Librarians certainly do not speak with one voice and never really have. If these strictures by various online personalities were applied to Sandy Berman when he challenged the validity of various subject headings in Hennepin County, I frankly imagine that we would not have as accessible of an LCSH as we have now.
Sometimes things that help may be bitter or just not taste good. Why else would so many medications say to take with food perhaps? The Annoyed Librarian does play a valuable role pointing out issues to think about. Today's post brought up an interesting point or two about separating knowledge and counter-knowledge as well as pondering the role of librarians in such.
I do caution that this likely has warts, typos, grammatical silliness, and worse. It is not a finished item and should not be treated that way. It is a work-in-progress that I am not finished revising and editing. It is planned that such be included in LISTen #43 in one form or another:
Commentary – The Strange Case of the Annoyed Librarian
For all the heat generated recently over the hosting by Library Journal of a blog by a person writing under the pen name “Annoyed Librarian”, there are disturbing things to be considered.
What is Library Journal? Is it a voice for the profession? While the publication may be that, it must also be remembered that it is a commercial entity. Unlike the libraries it serves, Library Journal has to turn a profit somehow. Library Journal is not owned by a professional association but rather Reed Business Information which publishes quite a few magazines and journals in fields beyond librarianship. Publications also produced by Reed Business Information include titles such as Modern Materials Handling, Home Textiles Today, Broadcasting & Cable, Daily Commercial News, Professional Remodeler, and more. The only thing that keeps such a publication afloat is the revenue derived from advertising and subscriptions. Library Journal is a for-profit entity quite unlike the predominantly not-for-profit world it serves.
As a for-profit media outlet, Library Journal is part of a world where it has to compete. Publications can host forums and blogs that do not necessarily agree with their editorial views. An example of such is the Washington Post which has a forum hosted by Ramesh Ponnuru who happens to be listed in the masthead of National Review as a senior editor. For those not familiar with such, the Washington Post is typically considered to be a liberal publication while Ponnuru writes for a publication associated with neo-conservatives. The forum continues and seems to be thriving. Similar works such as the blog network hosted by CNET, now part of the Interactive division of American television giant CBS, also allow for such diversity of views to be expressed even though they do not reflect the overall editorial view. For a year CNET had its own equivalent to the Annoyed Librarian known as the Macalope.
The outbursts and anger online over the hosting of the Annoyed Librarian's blog pose problems. For as much as librarians are supposed to be masters of information, are librarians well behind the curve in terms of media trends? Has the world changed and left librarians behind? It seems to be that even though librarians have tried to embrace Web 2.0 technologies that the louder librarians online don't quite see how the for-profit media landscape has changed. That becomes highly problematic, for example, in a public library setting when trying to answer questions at a reference desk without knowing about changes to the landscape that holds answers.
The Editor-in-Chief has made an open call for anybody willing to serve as a counter-balance to have hosting space from Library Journal. You could even potentially be paid for such! A big problem becomes whether it is easier to complain about somebody you don't like or to take action. If the granting of space to the Annoyed Librarian is such an existential threat to all librarianship then perhaps it is necessary to oppose such through a counter-balancing blog.
The two big benefits you could get from such would be the feeling that you are standing up for traditional values as well as some supplementary income perhaps. As someone who first saw their byline in newsprint ten years ago, I can say that the rules for the media realm are such that complaining about how hateful and spiteful someone may be is hardly as effective as providing competition. As such comes up in the for-profit realm routinely, it can hardly be said the skills to support providing competition are all that present in the non-profit realm most libraries inhabit.
Not all editorials need to give explicit marching orders in their calls to action. This one certainly won't. Sometimes editorials, let alone blog posts, are written just to hopefully jump-start the brains of those who hear or read such.
Be thankful that the Annoyed Librarian only got hosting space at Library Journal. Could you imagine seeing such as an arts and culture newspaper column distributed through a features syndicate that even the laity could see? Perhaps we can be thankful for small blessings that this is merely intramural for now.
This is an unusual time with so many national elections occurring within roughly the same time span. Within the Anglosphere, the following elections are coming up in next several weeks:
The next several weeks are going to be quite interesting. While coverage of the US presidential contest will likely dominate news worldwide, two other nations have their own high-stakes elections where their respective premiers may lose power potentially. Could a President Obama wind up talking to a Canadian Prime Minister Jack Layton? Could a new New Zealand Prime Minister named John Key be required to speak to a President McCain? Only time will tell.
As to library policy, I know that in the platforms put forward by the Democratic and Republican parties in the US the word "library" is only mentioned once. That mention came in a paragraph in the Democratic Party document about expanding the availability of broadband Internet to libraries and similar entities. The Republican Party's platform document never mentioned libraries directly. As for elections outside the United States, securing copies of platforms is not an easy task.
This was pointed out to me by Liana Lehua via Twitter:
Nevada is one of those states referenced where voting registration wraps up on October 4th.
I wrote the following stream of words and sent it to JESSE. Such has been stuck in the moderation block and not left. Considering that, I relate such here at present. A few days ago I wrote:
I am temporarily departing from the state of "lurking" to put forward an
idea. I produce LISTen: The LISNews.org Podcast. We are coming up on
our one-year anniversary. We are also coming up on seemingly
unavoidable economic issues.
Producing a podcast with somewhat of a current awareness focus is
neither cheap nor simple. We just ended approximately nine hours of
work on the floor at BlogWorldExpo as duly-accredited media members this
weekend. The first of a few episodes containing interviews with
technology vendors was just posted in the past couple hours. For all
the technologies that undergird Library 2.0, key players in bringing
such tools to market were present there. You can find that first
coverage episode online at
What was remarkably lacking at the event was any sort of representative
from larger technology media. For librarians and librarians-to-be
wondering about the new tools and services launched at that show,
turning to outlets such as CNET or the TWiT.tv network will not bring
any coverage as they sent no one. Coverage of tech questions geared to
library service was provided through what we did in interviewing.
The date when we will hit a snag in financial terms is October 16th.
While the team has been trying rather hard to shore up its financial
position, we have had no success so far. Recognizing that we work in
current awareness as well as providing educational segments about
practical functions, it seems appropriate to ask if there were a program
in librarianship with which we could partner. We are happy to provide a
practical test-bed for students in using Web 2.0 technologies much akin
to how a journalism program hosts a student newspaper or other such
outlet. Getting a chance to keep the podcast going as well as to
provide LIS students with practical podcasting experience would likely
broaden discourse in the profession.
If there is interest in exploring potential relationships, the initial
point of contact is Blake Carver at LISNews. The podcast is produced by
Erie Looking Productions which has somewhat of a studio-network
relationship with LISNews. The main reason to initially communicate
with Mr. Carver is that any potential partnership must ensure that there
need not be drastic changes to the podcast provided to LISNews and that
there be appropriate decision-making structures. Mr. Carver can be
reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It must be noted that this is not limited to institutions found in the
United States as partnerships with institutions throughout the
Anglosphere are possible. Inquiries from the UK, Canada, Australia, and
New Zealand are wholeheartedly encouraged. With CILIP re-posting the
podcast on their own server we already have taken a step at serving
Thank you for your patience and forbearance in regards to this message.
A spreadsheet containing draft figures for the podcast to continue as a free-standing unit can be found at the Pownce blog. It may be cheaper to have the podcast operation be part of another entity. It may be cheaper to remain free-standing. I just don't have enough data to say either way.
Considering that we already have the librarian action figure, this just amuses me:
Martin Sargent and Jay Speiden have a unique style of comedy.
Sometimes it is appropriate to talk about the technology used in production. Why? Some days I would much rather serve as the pathfinder for others rather than have most in the profession engaged in the Sisephean task of reinventing the wheel.
Out of the production team, one member of the team is in Ohio on leave while two will be able to attend the conference. The production engineer is the only one with media credentials for the conference. In the lobby outside the south hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center is where I will hiding out as I have no badge.
I wish I could pull off a bit akin to "Blazing Saddles" to get in the door. For this, badges are quite needed. I will be in the background for this.
We're putting a non-librarian out on the floor. That was not my choice but I have to live with who had the successful badge application. I applied for badges for the whole team, it should be noted. While Blake and I can both advise the person on the show floor about possible topics we could use all the advice possible. The engineer cannot keep running off the fairly big floor to the areas outside to ask me what to do so any suggestions of inquiry areas will help.
Most, but not all, of the tools we are planning to take:
1. 2 laptops with their necessary accessory components
2. One ICD-P620 Sony voice recorder
3. One condenser microphone
4. Headset for reviewing audio recordings
5. Diagnostic & Repair tools as needed
We won't be ready or able to do video work. With only one person on the floor that isn't really feasible either. When Pixelcorps filmed at New Media Expo they had to have multiple crew members involved. While their most expensive piece of equipment was the portable LED-based light, it still was a two-person minimum matter.
We have the capacity for audio reports to be recorded on the floor. While our person on the floor is recording, I will be outside editing. As the recent techcrunch50+2 showed, banking on having usable WiFi is not necessarily a viable proposition. As such, we will have no way to receive feedback while at the show. This is why Blake's post noted that there is a deadline to get feedback before we have to go get media credentials. Once the show starts and we are there, it will be the engineer's judgment supplemented by my advice.
The information gathering strategy we have is something librarians might not be used to. The first round will involve having the engineer out on the floor without a voice recorder but with a writing utensil and a notebook observing. After that we'll review things against inquiry priorities that were established beforehand as well as any suggestions I may give.
Once that is done the engineer returns to the floor to make the rounds while occasionally bringing me back audio files to review. My purpose in reviewing the audio files would be to see if follow-ups were needed. On the second day such would also include hopefully getting started on editing work so that the podcast can be released on time.
BlogWorldExpo is a very rich environment full of vendors that offer things to libraries and librarians. With recent attempts at incarnating a Library 2.0 culture using such tools, representatives of the vendors libraries rely on will be available. These will not be vendors specific to the library profession by any stretch of imagination.
As libraries and librarians start to reach beyond our own little niche, though, we eventually do have to engage with the world around us. What we are trying to do is to produce something that meets the needs of librarians rather than general tech reporting offered by an outlet like CNET. CNET has a general audience and that has worked for them well enough to where they have been bought by CBS. LISTen really doesn't serve a general audience so it behooves us to focus on what the audience wants to learn. Who knows? Perhaps someone might suggest an area of inquiry that CNET would not follow up on?
While this may seem hideously complex, it really isn't. This is the way news-gathering and reporting happens. The only reason it seems to be complex is that we are trying to be open and transparent about such so that others can learn. Look at LISTen as being akin to a teaching hospital without a Dr. House rambling around the halls. If someone was really interested in doing so, this would be an easily adapted strategy for covering ALA Mid-Winter by folks other than LISTen perhaps.
Sometimes the team communicates matters aurally. This time the method used is more visually based:
On Monday we'll see how the first test to the Digital Television transition happens. The switch will take place at 1600 UTC solely within a narrowly defined area centered in Wilmington, North Carolina. If one is not equipped for the switch, the only thing that will be viewable on a standard television with Over The Air reception will be the local PBS station and one low-power television station that will make the switch at the normal time. According to the Commission's press release, this was suggested by Commissioner Michael Copps.
Why is this a worry at all to librarians? The first thing to consider is not how reception will be impaired but how this changes the landscape. Shifts like this may rapidly reduce the use of any collections of VHS tapes due to the wiring changes involved. While converters are able to be hooked up to VCRs, who would want to go through all that trouble? Once the full roll-out takes place of this, we may well see what happens with our media collections in terms of continuing composition.
There have been predictions that this will be a trainwreck. I certainly hope it is not. If our libraries have any sort of media collections built up, we really do have a vested interest in seeing this roll-out be a smooth yet simple matter.
...this is all I have in terms of capacity for doing telephone interviews:
It may not look like much but it did surprisingly well in its very first run. The bridge worked quite well being adapted into our wiring setup for recording. While I miss the flexibility of Skype right now, I have to work with tools available. Fortunately this bridge was able to be built (solder and all) in a fairly short period of time by the program's engineer.
If you want to see a larger size version of the picture, feel free to click on what is shown above. Provided all proceeds well there will be an installment of Tech for Techies talking about how librarians out there can build their own.
The question arises at times as to why LISTen does not have transcripts available. The first thought in my mind is that the team is producing an audio production and not a weekly newsletter. Even at the longer length, LISTen is geared quite a bit towards folks who are making their morning commute to work. With the prevalence of "bedroom communities" in the United States it only appeared logical to consider listeners having commutes longer than five minutes. With an international audience, I also have the difficult task of ensuring that I am not completely focused on the United States to the exclusion of other things.
Transcripts are not impossible to find for various media expressions. CNN's transcripts are available freely online and the up-to-minute ones appear to be recordings of what was shown in Closed Captioning. Other media outlets provide such on a fee basis for programs such as the chat show hosted by Phil Donahue.
While there are scripts to some portions of the podcast, the percent of each episode that is scripted is far less than it was eight months ago. Live interviews have been obtained. The problem is that I cannot do the transcripts myself. It is hard enough listening to myself as we prep an air check and I don't want to hear myself over and over saying the same thing.
A firm in the Los Angeles area known as Noble Transcription Service does cater to podcasters. Their rate card is available online. In terms of their rates, LISTen would normally fall into their third category due to the multiple voices heard and varying segment types which otherwise results in a fee of $3.15 per minute for transcription. To cover the special edition with Dr. Stanley Kurtz as well as episodes thirty two to thirty four the cost for three to five day turnaround is USD$267.75. A rush order for those episodes coming back in one to two days would cost USD$352.75.
At the blog of Uncontrolled Vocabulary I did quote some incorrect figures. Those related to another service I cannot quite afford at the moment. I apologize for any confusion caused by that, especially in terms of this post.
This is not a cost I can pick up right now let alone on a continuing basis. Producing the podcast, among other things, became my day job as of the start of August. I have had to do enough donor prospect research to try to fund the operation of what is regarded as a legitimate media entity. Unfortunately nothing has turned up as to those funding hunts, yet.
Seeking podcast transcripts is a difficult thing. Contrary to what some who frequent LISNews may think, LISTen is actually quite mainstream in the podcasting world and considered fairly timid. We're not blazing new trails but we're also not in left field. I know that the TWiT.TV LLC network of podcasts offers no transcripts for their shows and they not only have more staff than the crew at Erie Looking Productions but also quite a bit of funding that I only wish I had. Mr. Laporte's network is now up to four employees and will hit five once they hire a video editor. If the eight hundred pound gorilla in the field is not moving on releasing transcripts then perhaps its lead needs to be followed.
I do not write this to be nasty or evil. I put this forward to show the business realities I am working within. It was suggested at one point to have a subscription-based entity operating to divide the costs of transcripts as well as operations. I dismissed the suggestion on the grounds that that would be too much like how Rush Limbaugh operates and that I doubted anyone would subscribe.
Transcripts are not free. There is a cost involved. The rate card I have linked to above shows what the minimums per minute will be. The machine-produced transcription service that is out there currently does not cover LISTen and likely won't be making things free any time soon. I'm out of ways to avoid any costs on this one.
You can suggest ways of funding this by hitting up the contact form and selecting under category "Contacting LISNews Podcast". That reaches not only the team in Las Vegas but also Blake. This has been an open matter for consideration for a while now and we have come to no good answer. If you have a good answer, we are interested in hearing what you have to say.
The head of logistics at Erie Looking Productions said as to this, "You guys do enough freebie [EXPLETIVE DELETED]." -- Read More
You can also use the uploader below:
And this is set to randomize on load:
Mixing a little bit of Keynote with Garageband and showing odd colors, hopefully something is conveyed:
Sometimes recording interviews is not simple. There can be much involved in preparing. As I write I am wondering when I might fall back asleep (tried once already and failed) after getting up well before dawn. Working across time zones can be hard in scheduling things because if an interview subject on the east coast of the United States wants to talk at 8 AM their local time, I have to be up by 4:45 AM at the latest Pacific time. The engineer for the production has to be up quite a bit earlier to make sure everything fires up and doesn't die.
LISTen #32 should be interesting. I had the chance very early this morning to talk to a representative of the Department of Homeland Security. For the sake of librarians curious about recent laptop "seizure" news I tried to get an agency rep on to speak directly about the matter. Twitter for me sometimes serves a similar purpose to having a radio scanner running in a news room. Sometimes it is best to just see what trends, issues, or concerns may pop up. This is one of those cases.
Getting a rep lined up was not easy. Lining up interviews for the program is not easy, for that matter. Work to get a representative to speak started on Monday and continued during. I got bounced around a few times among component agencies of the Department of Homeland Security. Finally, after all that bouncing around, I wound up hitting the departmental press team in DC. From start to the finish this morning that took about a week.
There is a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes as of late. For the most part the only folks who get to hear about it are family as well as Blake. I enjoy getting good programming out there but I will say that it is not easy. There is no magical code word to utter to make interviews just happen. While folks like Rush Limbaugh and the ladies on The View have people who do booking, I pretty much have to do that myself. That gets interesting in and of itself sometimes as it is sometimes difficult work.
Sometimes I just like to show some behind the scenes stuff about how things work out. While it may sound easy on the podcast, there is a ton of work involved. Hopefully it pays off for listeners.
Right now the big issue I have to ponder is why we have nothing showing up in the iTunes Music Store and there are presently no download links or embedded audio players. This may or may not have something to do with the move to ibiblio and inquiries are underway. Part of the work that is involved in my part is making sure I have backup plans ready. Today involves probably some prototyping, I think.