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Hey everyone.  Update your readers/feeders/steamers/phones/implants.

I’m moving my blogging. 

I’m happy to say that all of my library talk will migrate over to the PLA blog (Thats the Public Library Association, for you non-libraryland subscribers).  You can expect me to write about the same sort of thing I always did here, but it will be interspersed with important information about PLA events and initiatives.  I’m pretty excited; this should broaden readership and get some interesting conversation going.

In addition, I will most likely end up keeping a personal blog at www.natehill.net/blog but don’t bother clicking on that link now, there’s no content there yet.  Just a blank, boring page.  Also note that the entirety of my site is still under construction, so be patient.  Please.

Thanks everyone!  Cya around, you know where to find me…

Nate

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Because it is stupid and ironic to write about things like usability and good design on a ridiculously un-usable and poorly designed blog, I’m teaching myself a thing or two and plan to migrate this project elsewhere.  Stay tuned and be ready for some improvements.

It is with a great deal of excitement that I offer at the bottom of this entry a database of 2D barcodes that describe all 60 Brooklyn Public Library locations and services.

A 2D barcode is an image that corresponds to a web address (the http://www.website.com is actually coded in the barcode image). Since each of the Brooklyn Public Library branches has a unique web address, I was able to use kaywa.com to generate barcodes for each of the branches web spaces.

How do you read this crazy looking barcode? With your cellphone of course. Many Nokia phones as well as the iPhone offer 2D barcode decoders. If your phone has a camera and is web-enabled you can probably do this, so don’t be intimidated. It is as easy as taking a picture! The decoder uses your phone’s camera to translate a picture of the barcode into the coded web address and then links you to that page on your mobile web browser.

I got interested in this idea after hearing that this technology is fully blown up in Japan and that CitySearch San Francisco has been using 2Dbarcodes to identify restaurants. Why not create stickers for library branches? Why not add these images to our print flyers, thus enriching an old-fashioned paper format with readily accessible web information?  Update: check out this online zine promoting 2D barcode projects and all of the exciting possibilities.

Below you will find 4 different links for each of our Brooklyn Public Library buildings. I’ve presented the barcodes in 2 different formats, datamatrix and QR. The first two links are PNG image files that can be copied and pasted into Microsoft Word docs, Photoshop, or Illustrator. Just copy and paste the barcode and you add a web page and all that interactivity to your flyer! The second two links are to PDF files of label templates. Each sheet has 6 stickers, and can be printed on Avery matte white labels size 8254, available from Staples here. Stick information about your local library anywhere! In addition I’ve added a link to PDF files of “ex libris” bookplate stickers that offer a barcode image linking you to the Brooklyn Public Library homepage. That should keep you busy and make your books look cool.

In the future, with the success of the OpenLibrary project’s goal to give every book its own web page, 2D barcodes could prove useful in offering online information about any given book. The possibilities are endless. This, my friends, is our first easily accessible, consumer-driven attempt at linking the physical world to the digital world. Well, actually that’s debatable, but I’m pretty damn psyched about this particular step. PLEASE people, USE the barcodes I’ve generated and made easy for you to distribute and stick anywhere and everywhere appropriate for the dispersal of the encoded information. You can always generate your own stickers for any site at blank.com, but I’ve made it particularly easy for you to spread hype about your local library. You’ll note that these stickers still promote the library without a fancypants barcode reader: they still say the name of your local branch on them. Promote your library yourself! Go to town with it!

Download bookplates here.

Please report any errors you may find in the database below.
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Arlington

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Bay Ridge

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Bedford

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Borough Park

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Brighton Beach

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Brooklyn Heights

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Brower Park

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Brownsville

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Bushwick

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Business Library

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Canarsie

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Carroll Gardens

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Central Library

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Clarendon

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Clinton Hill

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Coney Island

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Cortelyou image

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Crown Heights

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Cypress Hills

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Dekalb

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Dyker

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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East Flatbush

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Eastern Parkway

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Flatbush

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Flatlands

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Fort Hamilton

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Gerritsen Beach

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Gravesend

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Greenpoint

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Highlawn

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Homecrest

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Jamaica Bay

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Kensington

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Kings Bay

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Kings Highway

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Leonard

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Macon

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Mapleton

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Marcy

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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McKinley Park

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Midwood

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Mill Basin

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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New Lots

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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New Utrecht

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Pacific

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Paerdegat

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Park Slope

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Red Hook

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Rugby

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Ryder

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Saratoga

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Sheepshead Bay

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Spring Creek

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Stone Avenue

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Sunset Park

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Ulmer Park

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Walt Whitman

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Washington Irving

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Williamsburgh

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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Windsor Terrace

image for flyer (DM) image for flyer (QR) 6 stickers (DM) 6 stickers (QR)

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So. You are walking down the street on hot summer afternoon in Brooklyn, when you see a fire hydrant gushing water with a gang of happy kids playing in it. “Good times,” you reflect nostalgically as you dodge the spray and keep strolling down the block. You remember what it was like being a kid yourself doing the same thing in the dead of summer. Your mind wanders and you start to think about fire hydrants themselves and their history and the laws strictly prohibiting people from wastefully opening them up like that. When you round the next corner you see another hydrant, and this one hasn’t been opened for recreational purposes. On the side of it you are pleased to find a small sticker placed there by another citizen, because that sticker will enable you to access more information about fire hydrants, their history, and the laws about opening them up for play. You snap a picture of that sticker with your phone and it immediately links you to the appropriate Wikipedia article “fire hydrant”, while the GPS determines your location and the appropriate location based information to push to you.

OK, the fire hydrant is a slight bizarre example, a bit of a stretch, but its been hotter than hell in NYC lately and this story illustrates what Semapedia.org does.

Visit the site, it’s a really cool idea- filling out a form on their website will create 2D barcodes for you that correspond to any Wikipedia article. It gives you a pdf of that barcode and then you can print stickers that you attach to a real world artifact “once you have permission”. Part two of the venture is installing a 2D barcode reader on your phone, which taps into the camera function (some phones come with them already installed, others you’ll have to sort out on your own). Then snap a picture of any 2D barcode and it will take you to the appropriate URL. Here’s a link to a project at Columbia where someone built a 2D barcode reader for the iPhone that can recognize URLs embedded in QR codes. Unfortunately, because Apple is all about driving you to their not so mom-and-pop App Store for everything, with the 2.0 upgrade I haven’t figured out how to install a 2D barcode reader on my phone. If any readers can help, please email me.

But wait, is hyperlinking the world’s objects an appropriate end game? I don’t think so. I went to a publisher’s showcase at New York Public Library this afternoon and decided to walk all the way back home to Greenpoint, Brooklyn from 42nd st. The urban hike is a beautiful thing, don’t knock it- even if some fools try to turn it into a networking experience. Along my way I was snapping pics on my phone and sending them to FaceBook mobile, documenting my path and my thoughts as I passed through the city. I love the graffiti aspect of the Semapedia project: literally “tagging” things with information. But what if you customized your own version of this technology and made the barcodes you place on objects link not to Wikipedia but to your own site. You could “virtually” slander or promote a physical target via one tiny barcode. You could create your own narrative of your urban hike, based on fleeting memories, random nostalgic associations, déjà vu, ANYTHING. While I appreciate the “information commons” aspect of Semapedia, the first thing I think of is customizing and personalizing the thing and making Sema-Nate-O-Pedia so that I can create my own narratives of the city and my daily journeys through it. I’d put those damn stickers everywhere! I’ll add that I think this is part of what the artists are experimenting with in the Marfa webring project proposed on Rhizome, but I’d love to see that taken to the next level and made individual rather than awkwardly pseudo-municipal.

Bottom line: I’m less interested in a physical-computing encyclopedia of the world’s objects than I am in a physical-computing encyclopedia of the world’s object versus me. That’s not vanity, that’s just the way individuals interact with the world, as individuals. The collectives will form by themselves later.

Update: looks like this is easy enough to do with this QR code generator!  Awesome!  Now i just need a reader for the iphone…

Update again:  I got a datamatrix decoder to work on my iphone!  awesome! 

  A few days ago I was looking at my friend Jess’s blog and I ran into this:   

 

 That got me thinking.  What kind of color schemes do different public libraries use in their web designs, and what sort of “vibe” are they conveying by using the particular color palette they use?

 

There’s certainly a lot of literature out there about the psychology of colors in marketing and advertising.  I was reminded of a really fun old book on my shelf, one that I purchased mostly for the color palettes in the centerfold.  The book is “New Horizons in Color” from 1951.  They break down colors into two categories: “Decorative” and “Functional”.

 

 The scans below show those palettes, and I then sampled the colors used in the websites of a number of major public libraries.  I thought the results were pretty interesting, and they are perhaps somewhat telling of the way these libraries and library systems choose to articulate their mission and vision.

 

 Palettes that fell in the “decorative” category were Brooklyn Public Library, Queens Public Library, and Chicago Public Library.

 

 Palettes that fell in the “functional” category were New York Public Library, District of Columbia Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, and the Ann Arbor District Library.

 

The images below are thumbnails, click on them for a better look.

 

 

 

Here’s another drawing, this one a little more recent.

Here’s a few drawings I made not too long ago. I like to slap a piece of paper on the wall, usually something pretty good sized at head/chest level so that I feel like I’m confronting it, and then draw a diagram of my thoughts. Its really sketchbook type stuff, but for whatever reason when I’m confronted face-to-face with paper it transitions from simple thought diagram to simplified information landscape. I find it strangely satisfying to make these things.

This is utter genius.  Thanks to my pal Jess over at bananasarebeautiful for pointing me to it.

This just in: HOLY CRAP.  Its not a joke.

“Just as fat has replaced starvation as (the US’s) number one dietary concern, information overload has replaced information scarcity as an important new emotional, social, and political problem.”

Found this quote in Jonah Brucker-Cohen‘s presentation for an old Situated Technologies symposium. the quote is by David Shenk. Watch Jonah’s presentation.

1/ Experience Protyping for a Library to the Elderly

Recently a comment that was added to my Library Outpost entry that is worth expanding upon. A user posted a link to the Wiki from his service Design class, and it turns out one of the student projects is a new service model for a Library to the Elderly. The service itself is pretty great, here’s a summary for those who haven’t already clicked through:

In shorts terms the use of the service is a following. The users can access the service, when it is offered in their nearby area. They order the requested materials by filling out an ordering form. The user hand in the ordering form at the sub point and within a couple of days, the users can pick up their materials at the sub point. The library retrieves and packs the requested orders and make sure that they get delivered to the sub point. The delivery is taken care of by an elderly assistant, who is hired by the library. This elderly assistant goes to the nearest library or book bus stop, picks up the ordered materials and brings them to the sub point and distributes them When the users are returning the materials, they hand it in at the sub point for the elderly assistant to bring it back to the library.”

I think the thing that really got me excited about this page was the diagrams. They are absolutely beautiful, and they do such a great job communicating the service from different points of view. In service design they call this sort of storyboarding experience prototyping. Read a definition from servicedesign.org. As libraries worldwide reassess the way they distribute information and media in the 21st century, experience prototyping is a useful tool for determining what works and what doesn’t from the point of view of all the different stakeholders. Have a look at a diagram from the page:

2/ An Event This Week

Going on Tuesday with Maura the Librarian to hear Michael Gorman, James G. Neal & Maggie Jackson “The Book Is Dead! Long Live The Book!” at The New York Society Library. Psyched, this should be a good one, I’ll be sure to post some thoughts afterwards.

3/ Microfinancing as a model for collection development.

This is an idea that popped into my head this week that I’m pretty excited about, one that I started kicking around with the Playful Librarian, Panoplyculture, and my buddy Adam who is launching LittleShoot. What if a public library reconsidered collection development using a microloan model? Imagine a site that works similarly to Kiva, but instead of offering microloans to entrepreneurs in developing nations, you offered books and media locally to people who need them? Say a kid in Brooklyn really wants a new manga book or something, but its always checked out at the public library because its new and its hot. He could create a profile and a wish list on the site, and then potential donors could browse the site looking for the person they wanted to help out. The donor then finds this kid and his wish list and in a few clicks purchases the book through Amazon, it gets shipped to the kid, and then when the kid is done with the book it is returned to the library (if it hasn’t bee totally destroyed) to add to the collection. The whole transaction counts as a circ for the library, and in essence really takes building the collection back to the community on an indvidual basis. In my opinion, one of the reasons Kiva works so well is because psychologically donors want to feel like they really connected with an individual, one that they see and can understand through a profile and pictures. Its the personal connection that makes the difference. This NY Times article talks about tech with a social mission; earlier today library tech champion Linda Braun tweeted “Do you think libraries can learn anything from Mozilla and the Internet Archive” in reference to the article; perhaps building a platform like this for libraries to add to their existing collection development models would be a possibility?

4/ Everything else

Here’s all the other things that have been keeping the mental gears turning this week. This is the blog version of a run-on sentence. I’ve been meaning to talk about how awesome I think Aaron Schmidt’s Social database mockup is over at Walking Paper. C.C. Pugh over at This is Here offered me an interesting comment the other day that I believe relates nicely to Aaron’s concept.

“Is it possible to bridge the physical and digital information areas? The emphasis is that discussion is on building a personal data-set, and from all manner of miscellaneous procedures. It’s tools will be handy, but desire paths are specific and intentional. Libraries are object-centered social spaces, but their social objects aren’t books; they’re the links between books.”

(of course with Aaron’s mockup we are talking about articles, not books- but the point remains the same) Just to be clearer about what desire paths are, look to the Playful Librarian again:

“Desire path is a term used by landscape architects to describe those informal dirt walkways worn into lawns or fields by people finding the shortest distance between two points. This is such a wonderful phrase and like most wonderful phrases could be appropriated meaningfully into other contexts—like, for instance, information science, which counts among its primary mandates information pathfinding.”

Does Aaaron’s “FindBook” concept take us a step closer to observing, measuring, and learning from people’s information desire paths? I say yes it does. Take a look at his mockup:

Moving on from that, I’ve started digging into some social media marketing strategy stuff, since everything we do is only useful if we find the right way to put it out there and reach people with it. This is unfamiliar territory for me, but partly because I’m currently about to embark upon a redesign mission for a major website, and partly because “web 2.0” is just plain the web at this point, its time to learn a thing or two. Have a look here at a fascinating post on Socialized that describes the difficult transition to this 2.0ness in the marketing field. I wonder how we could measure the effectiveness of something like Aaron’s FindBook if our mean of collecting usage data is antiquated and not relevant to the social web?

Finally, as we try to bridge the digital and the physical in creating services, I was really excited by the book Designing audiences, in which Katie Salen (video game designer) creates a physical avatar situation in meatspace with her Karaoke Ice project. Katie says that in creating the project “we asked ourselves, ‘How can we combine the notion of karaoke as a participatory medium and the notion of character-as-interface'”. The solution? This crazy mute squirrel character that drives around an ice cream truck and facilitates good-times karaoke on the go. Sadly the site I linked you to doesn’t do the idea justice, I suggest taking a look at the Designing audiences book, where she speaks with Erik Rodenbeck of Stamen, Stefan Bucher of Daily Monster, and Ze Frank of lotsa stuff.

One last thing: check out Matt Webb’s presentation and blog entry about Snap, which basically acts as a web interaction aggregator. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all. Til next time…