Sunday, February 22, 2015

My review of How Google works

How Google WorksHow Google Works by Eric Schmidt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to start this review with a few obvious statements. This book is written by senior staff at Google. Google, like any company, has issues. Keeping all that in mind, this is still a very interesting book. It is about how to inspire ideas, encourage creative solutions, but mostly it is about letting people do their work - being inspired to problem solve, and making sure people do problem solve. There are several examples of how problems were posted on a wall, and people chose to solve them. Very quickly. They weren't asked to solve them, and they may not even have been in their area.

It is also about failure, and Google can fail impressively (like when they stopped Google reader, one of my favourite tools, but for them it was a failure). To quote from the book (location 3384) "To innovate, you must learn to fail well. Learn from your mistakes: Any failed project should yeild valuable technical, user, and market insights that can help inform the next effort Morph ideas, don't kill them...And don't stigmatize the team that failed: Make sure they land good internal jobs. The next innovators will be watching to see if the failed team is punished. Their failure shouldn't be celebrated, but it is a badge of honor of sorts". I like this because it acknowledges, rather than hides or disguised failure.

Also a quote about office design (locations 611, 613) "Offices should be designed to maximise energy and interactions, not for isolation and status...The traditional office layout, with individual cubicles and offices, is designed so that the steady state is quiet..most interactions planned..This is exactly backwards, the steady state should be highly interactive...brimming with hectic energy...Employees should always have the option to retire to a quiet place when they've had it with all the group stimulation, which is why our offices include plenty of retreats".

It also highlights the challenges of working in a meritocracy, and how people have to challenge the ideas to make sure they are the best. I learned a new term - hippo - highest paid person's opinion, and at Google they try and avoid the hippo approach, hence working at being a meritocracy.

This is an entertaining and interesting book to read, and it will give you some ideas which you can use in your work place.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My review of Strange material

Strange Material: Storytelling Through TextilesStrange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles by Leanne Prain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I took a really long time to read this book, not because I was not enjoying, but because I did not want to finish it. This is the first book I have read by Leanne Prain, and will be reading her others.

This book is a wonderful look at how fabric artists tell stories, some explicit, and some implicit. All through this I kept thinking about the value of these ideas, and how they could be used to create some wonderful local studies content. There are some patterns, prompts and lots of inspiration. There is the idea of using a sometimes overlooked method, textile work, for telling neglected stories. This can be seen as helping to highlight, record and share marginalised culture and experience, it can also be seen as be seen as very inclusive because we all have connections with textiles.

Many artists are interviewed, sharing their motivation and ideas. This is a wonderful combination with illustrations of their work. Some works are comforting, and others are disturbing. Some done by individuals, other collaborations. Many of the prompts would be great for recording oral histories as well as prompts for community art works telling local stories for public library local studies collections. A wonderful read which is also a call to action. It is likely to appeal to people who read for stories.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

what would the library version of this look like?

This came through my twitter stream.  It was wondering how a global representation of libraries would look like (because IFLA looks a lot different to this). It could not be a world cup of libraries because there is no advantage in eliminating or knocking out libraries (as we see from the massive cuts to libraries in some countries, and how other countries struggle to have a viable public infrastructure for libraries).  We don't want libraries as elite institutions, but libraries for everyone, everywhere.

It made me wonder what the library version of this

would look like. This would translate to the most mentioned libraries on twitter, maybe.

I like the helpful - cricketers on twitter list, and have seen many library/library worker versions of this.

The tagline on Google says 49 matches, 14 teams, over 2 billion fans, and I can see the results.

So I will be watching some of the matches, but also thinking about lots more possibilities for libraries (and I am sure there are lots of possibilities for libraries which specialise in, or have substantial holdings in, cricket).


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Discovery by colour and shape

I like to see how different places are making shape and or colour searching possible, like the Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek and their image based similarity search.  This is really interesting to explore as you look for things like the the shape/image chosen.  

Along with the many other wonderful things the Cooper Hewitt Museum is doing, there is a colour browsing/discovery for part of their collection database.

You do a search (or use one of their many discovery/browse options), and under each object which has a digitised image on the website there are up to five coloured squares, reflecting the main colours in the item.  There is an option to select all colours and see difference colour schema used to describe the colours. From here you can click on any colour, and you will be taken to other items containing the same colour. This is lovely, and it is very tempting to keep trying different colours  (and I quite like their Please don't steal our images, yeah? on the main image page for each item).  There are lots of other ways the items are connected for browsing/discovery such as the medium where you are also prompted about similar things.  This is very helpful.

Make sure you scroll to the end of the item page as there are ways which you can connect your images with the images online (through unique tags for each item).

I also like the way the content is shown here with percentages of the online collections includes in the data.

This is really a lovely catalogue/database to play with, and you can share the items on Pinterest, Tumblr or Twitter (but it would be rather fun if you could embed them with all the metadata attached - and I may have missed that this is possible amongst all the other wonderful things you can do).

There is a Random button to click which delivers (not surprisingly) a random collection item.

Saturday, February 7, 2015