Monday, November 30, 2009

Manhunt: Google Wave for Community (Emergency?) Communication

What can I possibly write except that I am so sorry that 4 officers of the peace who were working on their laptops in a coffee shop just as thousands of us do daily were killed apparently because of the uniforms they wore yesterday? There are no words. My heart hurts for their families. May justice be served swiftly, safely, and very soon.

As of tonight the suspect is still on the loose (edit: he was killed early Dec. 1st), and for most of today many in Seattle were trying to figure out what exactly was going on as the police went from one neighborhood to another to check out tips. It's not too much of a stretch to use librarian jargon, this really is information seeking behavior in an emergent stressful situation.

How can we understand where users turn to fulfill these types of information needs? There are always the usual media sources; newspaper, television & radio in what I now think of as three forms - traditional, website & social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, etc) in addition to everyone else participating online as well in social media.

Then things went in an interesting direction when The Seattle Times proposed this on Twitter:

I was one of the first 25 there. It eventually ballooned up to over 500 individual Wave accounts and bots, then it appears the Wave has died & lost functionality as of this afternoon. Google Wave is only in preview mode and been pretty unwieldy once the numbers were over 100 in other waves I'm on so I can't say I'm too surprised.

It was an interesting ride while it lasted though. These are some brief points of observation from my perspective of how it was used that may be helpful as Google Wave further develops and others consider using it as a community or emergency communication channel. I welcome additional perspectives in comments (moderated due to spamalopes), if you were there what's your take on how it was used and progressed?

  1. People initially joined and created new blips (discussion threads) asking and replying to questions.
  2. People then self-organized, still creating new blips but turning one towards the top into a type of wiki functionality with general sections and links to information.
  3. People refined the wiki functionality by adding deletes, citations, timestamps and other identifiers to the information in addition to creating new blips.
  4. People then wondered if it was ok to delete outdated/extraneous blips, decided among themselves it was since the Playback feature would record them all, and did so.

This is a screenshot towards the end of the third stage, click to enlarge:

Where I went librarian with an undergrad communications/journalism background was picked up as updates number 1 and 5 at's coverage of this use of Google Wave.

The comments in Another Google Wave Use: Manhunt at TechCrunch are excellent thoughts to consider: What if people deliberately posted misleading information there? What about spam? Sure enough someone did put some rather annoying robots in the Wave and the ability to remove them is nonexistent at this point in Google Wave's development. The screenshot TechCrunch got is during the initial self-organization phase.

My hope is this entry is close to my normal blogging. I've sustained a minor head injury tonight and like the good medical librarian I am I'm neither panicking nor diagnosing myself but I keep mentally running down the head injury symptoms checklist to see if there's anything troublesome. So far there isn't!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Foolery #61: Give Thanks for Shopping

Strange Floridian photographer reindeer in front of the Victoria's Secret Outlet, International Drive, Orlando

'Nuff said.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pink Glove Dance - Over a Million Strong, but...

“I think a lot of people didn’t know they had it in them.” from the Beaverton Valley Times

What beautiful people, and yes this is an authorized use of the song from singer Jay Sean.

Unfortunately I'm disappointed to learn information that came across what I thought was a reliable listserv was false about Medline (the glove company, not from the National Library of Medicine) making a donation beyond their normal sales contribution if the video reached 1,000,000 views according to snopes.

I really hate it when that happens :(

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In remembrance year 2: Know the signs

Dorothy Irene 4/26/24 - 11/24/98
(yours truly as the not-politically-correct blonde Indian in 1970s attire)

My yearly Thanksgiving post to increase awareness of the signs of a heart attack, still the #1 killer for women. Here's why, and here's the source for the information below.

Here are some signs a heart attack may be happening:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. This feeling may occur with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs of discomfort. These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you or someone you are with has chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs, don't wait longer than five minutes before calling 9-1-1 for help.

Please, please don't wait. It is far better to have a family member's chest pain and discomfort turn out to be pneumonia in an ambulance than to inherit your grandma's car knowing her last time driving it was to the hospital where she died within hours. Trust me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Crashing the #hcsm party

I can never attend the designated Healthcare Communication Social Media (abbreviated hcsm, affix a hashtag and you get #hcsm) community chat on Twitter in real time on Sunday nights, but have usually seen several medical librarians actively engaged and I enjoy catching up on the conversation when I can.

Tonight I also noticed mention of a blog entry entitled The Pew Internet/Health FAQ by Susannah Fox on about how people search for quality health information that contained a shoutout to the Medical Library Association (MLA), a comment from medical librarian Luke Rosenberger with an explanation about how the 'Google as diagnostician' article isn't necessarily accurate, and offered a comment of my own with more quality health information evaluation resources.

Part of the #hcsm discussion?

Bring it on!

While I'm happy about steps that MLA is taking to advocate for the role of hospital librarians, such as the recent Vital pathways for hospital librarians: present and future article and others from the October 2009 Journal of the Medical Library Association, I'd love to see the profession take a more active role for medical librarian advocacy in non-traditional settings as well. There are plenty of us there already at @medlibs on Twitter and elsewhere.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Foolery #60: Half Hour Late and a Monkey Short

Yesterday was the happy conjunction of World Toilet Day AND the Great American Smokeout. What an amazing day for the United States to extinguish their butts!

Unfortunately, all of yesterday did not go so well. I know you will be as crestfallen as I am that I heard about too late to secure my very own Screaming Monkey with Hippie Rainbow Smiley Cape to share with you.

I believe this is karma paying me back for usurping the MLA webcast hashtag by six minutes on Wednesday because I missed the monkey sellout point by under a half hour.

Imagine the possbilities of "slingshot rubber arms" and a "professed 50-foot flight range"! This is devastating.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hashtags in Pwaise of the Twapper Keeper

It all started last month when I realized QuoteURL was (sadly) no longer functional, I had a small conference worth of tweets I didn't want to lose after the two week Twitter search grace period, and began scrambling frantically for free web-based Twitter archiving alternatives.


Seriously, how can you resist ripped Velcro school nostalgia combined with Twitter?

Initially I thought Twapper Keeper wouldn't work retroactively to capture the search results but it did much to my relief. Trust an 80s-inspired product to go retro appropriately! All 469 small conference tweets (#pncmla09) are there in the 500 limit view and I also set up Twapper Keeper for an enormous conference with low Twitter participation from last week (#eval09)

Then I went and subverted the presenters of today's webcast from the Medical Library Association (MLA, Cut the Cord: Connecting to our Mobile Users) by about six minutes when I set up a Twapper Keeper for a 2 hour presentation that has over 500 tweets thus far (#mlamobile). That was one great presentation by the way, check out the archive and the DVD when it's available later if you missed it.

In retrospect a unique hashtag may be better because the original plan of #mlawebcast & reusing it might result in a massive archive of confusion: which #mlawebcast when? We are librarians after all, I'm sure we'll start referencing points from previous MLA webcast hashtags along with future tweets or whatever incarnation social media takes by the Spring 2010 webcast. looks pretty cool as well (#mlamobile) with the ability to add a comprehensive definition of the hashtag, generate statistics and a transcript. I'm concerned about the number discrepancy (546 to Twapper Keeper's 566 currently) and I'm not sure how long the results hang around for reference.

I still miss QuoteURL for its ability to create Twitter conversation threads though and am glad the original reason why still works (one, two, three, and four) although I'll back that up right now.

Friday, November 13, 2009

AEA - Evaluation of Second Life EP, Evaluation enhancement using web tools

Enhancing Evaluation and Evaluation Practice Using Web 2.0

One of the sessions this morning from the American Evaluation Association conference is a veritable meta-hot topic for my National Network of Library of Medicine (NN/LM) and medical librarian colleagues: Using Adobe Connect for evaluation, and evaluating a Second Life class for health administrators who used it for an emergency preparedness (EP) training scenario.

Some highlights and fun

  • What was life like BT (Before Twitter)?
  • President Obama uses Adobe Connect for meetings to cut travel costs
  • Great collaboration possibilities in Adobe Connect I never even thought of before
  • Traditional eval areas: Knowledge, skills, application, decision making
  • Newish eval areas: Participation, interactivity, constructivism, situativity, visualization, collaboration
  • Challenge: Recognizing that learning will be made of immersive experiences rather than knowledge transfer between teacher and student.

I was quite disappointed that one of the presentations I was looking forward to about the use of wikis to engage stakeholders in meaningful discussions about their program and its evaluation was not offered due to the presenter's change of jobs. That's always a risk with the time lag between proposals and conferences but the first time I've had it happen with something I really wanted to learn more about!

AEA - Evaluation of (Distance) Learning

The Evaluation of Distributed Learning and Computer-Enabled Environments to Support Instruction

I'm highlighting this session from the American Evaluation Association conference since it's not only of high interest to me but many other information professionals who are offering instructional resources and training via web-based and other distance learning modalities.

The session (my notes available in title link) refers to distributed learning (what's that?) and this is honestly the first time I've come across that term although it's been around for a while. My guess is it may be in more frequent use within the evaluation and education fields instead of the terms 'distance' or 'hybrid' that I'm used to in order to describe education settings exclusive of face-to-face instruction or including some along with distance modalities. It's good to get out of my library & medical terminology areas once in a while to take a look at other fields', but for the purpose of my own I'm using mine in my blog so I sound like me.

The three paper presentations were about

  • The role of computer-assisted instruction in the field of statistics (a strongly positive indicator was found for face to face instruction along with a strongly negative one in distance learning, but observe the caveat in my notes)
  • The role of collaborative communication in a hybrid engineering course (Communication? Engineering? Surprise, these two things aren't mutually exclusive after all and those who exhibit that are more engaged with exploring education tools)
  • The role of discussion board quality in online professional development (Dive in and D'OH with Homer Simpson about the structure and importance of the instructor's own posts. I didn't make D'OH up, the presenters said it!)

We had quite a discussion afterward until we were kicked out of the room due to time. I hope this information is beneficial to others working in distance education and the challenges of effective discussion boards in their classes, and I'm looking forward to seeing more research along these lines.

Friday Foolery #59: Get ready for World Toilet Day!!


Yes, World Toilet Day is for real next week on Thursday, November 19th.

Need a celebration activity?

Squat at noon.

Why World Toilet Day?

This strange but legitimate high school teacher singing on the can puts it far better than I could ever hope to.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

AEA 2009 Orlando FL Day 2 - Afternoon

Unfortunately I cut out of the first workshop a bit early through no fault of the facilitators; I lost all the time I had planned to edit & post about the morning sessions in an insanely long line for lunch. I plan to remedy this tomorrow by brown bagging it from the grocery store!

How To Do Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis

by Boru Douthwaite and Sophie Alvarez

Abstract: In this workshop, participants will be introduced to Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (PIPA) and develop impact pathways for their own program. PIPA is a practical planning and evaluation approach fast being adopted for use with complex programs in the water and food sectors (see PIPA begins with a participatory workshop where stakeholders make explicit their assumptions about how their program will achieve impact. Participants construct problem trees, carry out a visioning exercise and draw network maps to help them clarify their program theory in the form of 'impact pathways'. Impact pathways describe which actors need to change to achieve the program vision, what are those changes and which strategies are needed to make them happen. PIPA goes beyond the traditional use of logic models and logframes by engaging stakeholders in a structured participatory process, promoting learning and providing a framework for 'action research' on processes of change.

Next up were some interesting applications of a Key Evaluation Checklist (KEC) in the role of strategic planning management (apparently the term 'strategic planning' is used more often in the corporate world and 'strategic management' for academia) that I'm looking forward to exploring more when I return since I was part of an environmental scan for strategic planning (even though I'm an academic) & want to learn more about it.

Enhancing the Strategic Management Process Through the Use of Evaluation Measures

(Chair Michael Scriven unable to attend, Michelle Woodhouse-Jackson & Nadini Persaud presenting)

Abstract: Research has shown that companies (both for profit and non-profit) that engage in formal strategic planning tend to be more successful than companies that do not. Therefore, the strategic management process should be an integral part of every company or organization. Strategy evaluation is identified as one of the three phases of this process; however, the evaluative nature of this process has limitations which could be revamped using principles from evaluation methodology. This multi-paper session will focus on the evaluative nature of the strategic management process, with special emphasis on the widely-used Fred David strategic model, and will also highlight the similarities and differences between this model and the KEC (Key Evaluation checklist), a practical tool which can be used to conduct evaluations. The session will end with suggestions on how evaluation methods could potentially improve the strategic management process.

I'll cover the third session tomorrow morning in a post of its own, I'm still thinking about our great group discussion afterward that continued past the ending time until we were kicked out of our meeting room!

AEA 2009 Orlando FL Day 2 - Morning

I began the day not at the plenary session (sorry, just couldn't get going early enough after visiting with friends the night before and a 3 hour jetlag in full force!) but at a workshop with James Altschuld from The Ohio State University (why is it so important to include the The?) whom I remembered from last year in Denver as being a particularly engaging and thoughtful speaker.

I was pleased to discover that was the case again today and we dove into a great discussion of

Setting Those Needs-Based Priorities

Abstract: Many evaluators, while familiar with what needs are and procedures for assessing them, are much less knowledgeable about ways to formally establish priorities in situations where many needs exist. This short workshop will begin with questions asked of participants as to how they work with organizations to select priority needs. From that starting point a short overview will be given of criteria commonly used to prioritize needs (importance, feasibility, risk factors, etc.) and methods (weighting criteria, screening needs candidates, variations of rank ordering techniques, and so forth) employed. Participants will apply some of the methods on typical scenarios that might occur in needs assessments. The workshop concludes with a group discussion of perceptions of the prioritizing process and what might work best in different settings and why it is important to fully consider the nature of how final needs are chosen.

No Google doc of notes as his slides were very text heavy and I want to digest their content when I receive them later. The terms 'needs' and 'needs assessment' are tossed around a lot though and it is helpful to keep in mind for the context of evaluation that need is defined as the measurable discrepancy between what is and what should be, not about projecting solutions as part of them but using verbs (desired, likely to occur, etc) to describe them. Needs assessment is a systematic way of setting and making decisions about needs-based priorities. (both terms Witkin & Altschuld, 1995)

As a medical librarian, I briefly wondered what (if any) needs assessment work was done regarding the new PubMed layout.... but I won't get into that here!

Next up was a deviation from the title and abstract that made for a great presentation and discussion with the group. The deviation? There Is No Checklist :) The title is also a link to the Google doc of my notes.

Establishing Effective Relationships: Presentation of a New Checklist to Help Evaluators Understand and Work With Diverse Clients
with Gary Mikron and Nakia James, Western Michigan University

Abstract: This skill-building session will introduce a new checklist that is designed to help evaluators establish relationships and work effectively with their clients. Broadly speaking, the checklist covers a list of issues and common obstacles that evaluators face when working with diverse clients. Checkpoints will highlight strategies and practices that will help ensure effective relationships are built and maintained. The checklist draws upon three key sources of information: (i) relevant literature, (iii) interviews with experienced evaluators and program officers that oversee evaluation contracts, and (ii) the national and international experience of the presenters. While the checklist is intended to be concise and provide only prompts for evaluators, the presentation and paper will allow a more in-depth description of the do's and don'ts when it comes to working with evaluation clients.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

AEA 2009 Orlando FL Day 1 Coverage

For the next few days I am attending the American Evaluation Association (AEA) conference in Orlando FL, which is just about as far as you can get from Seattle in everything from geographic distance to climate. I had to find my summer stash of clothing which I had packed away until next year when I was packing for here, with temperatures in the 80s... about as hot as it normally gets in Seattle during the summer!

The opening plenary began with a polite inquiry from a passerby in the aisle as I was booting up my computer: "Excuse me, is that Office 07 on your computer?"

When the answer was affirmative, he then asked if he could borrow my laptop (!)

It turns out that the passerby was Leonard Bickman, one of the plenary panel members. The panel had saved their Powerpoint in 2007 and it was incompatible with the 2003 version the presentation computer had. I suggested getting a flash drive of the presentation that I'd be happy to convert for them, did so, and on they went.

The hyperlink of the title leads to a Google document of my notes from the plenary& below that is a paraphrased abstract.

The Impact of Context on Evaluation Choices: Lessons for Three cases

Jody Fitzpatrick moderated a discussion with Leonard Bickman, Ross Conner, and Katrina Bledsoe about specific evaluations they conducted. The discussion focused on ways in which the contexts of those evaluations influenced the choices they made about the questions to be addressed in the evaluation, the methods used, the role of stakeholders, and their efforts regarding use.

Enhancing Organizational Learning with Technology: Implications of Diversity, Improving Response Rates, and Increasing Evaluation Capacity

A multipaper session sponsored by the Integrating Technology into Evaluation topic interest group.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Foolery #58: Bacon hats

Being a proper grammarian about How To Use An Apostrophe AND involving bacon! What better way to lead more people away from the sadly prevalent trend of writing 'it's' when 'its' is called for?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Do you have what it takes to SWIM with Eagles?

As a recent Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) scholarship University of North Texas (UNT, the Eagle of Eagle Dawg) distance learning degree graduate myself, I am thrilled to help promote the South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana (SWIM) Regional Collaborative Library Education Project at

The program is for 50 residents of these four states who want to become librarians but not relocate in order to earn a professional degree (see how there are no American Library Association accredited resident programs there), and who will continue to serve their communities as professional librarians after earning their distance learning degrees. The scholarships pay up to 80% of the tuition and fees for the degree (almost $13,000).

I particularly love this concise yet dead-on accurate assessment to help determine if a professional distance learning degree is right for you from the Ask Yourself page:

The combination of the reality of distance learning (critical to have support for your learning and how much time it takes) with active participation in local professional organizations does lead to the best chance for success as a new graduate.

Applications are being accepted now, good luck!