Monday, July 9, 2007

Cliff Lyon of Digital Universe Answers Your Questions

Our thanks to Cliff Lyon of Digital Universe for taking the time to answer the many questions that stemmed from Joe Firmage's presentation at the Generation Tech Event hosted by the Santiago Library System on May 2, 2007.

Is DU intended as an information tool, a social network or both? Who is the target audience?

The Digital Universe (DU) is a series of expertly-stewarded, commercial-free informational portals each having its own surrounding social network or MySpace if you will, except that instead of building a page, anyone can build entire portals using a professional-level Web 2.0 content management system. This will be called ManyOne.

The target audience for the ManyOne portals platform are people and organizations who want to build their own personal and community portals in a self-organizing Internet ecosystem based upon meritocratic principles, quality, and integrity.

The first institutional users of ManyOne are building a new network of advertising-free, quality-content-oriented Web portals called the “Digital Universe”. It is designed to revolutionize online education, entertainment and community, and can be thought of as the “PBS of the Internet” with ManyOne providing the technical systems and financial model sustaining it. Portals built by this alliance will ultimately span tens of thousands of topics of human interest, from space to earth to human health, from culture to music to sports. It will offer users across all demographics a next-generation, more compelling successor to the “Web directories” that became popular during the early days of the World Wide Web.

With so much information available to searchers, how will you keep them from getting frustrated and giving up?

Today, searching the web is like searching the index in the back of a book. We are creating a platform to allow the world to convert the knowledge and information part of the web into a table of contents.

How do we have access on a regular basis without having a page? Is there a fee or membership cost?

ManyOne and the Digital Universe will always be free.

If one is doing research using portals, how are your resources documented? How does one know that your experts are, in fact, scholarly, etc? And is copyright ever and issue?

Every piece of content and information in the DU is fully documented to the highest of academic standards. Stewarded articles will also include not only direct links to the authors’ bios’, but also the editor and their bio. (Example)

So many presentations have urged librarians to embrace the “dumbing down” of information portals and embrace social portals that are opinion-based, not factual. Can a DU product stand a chance in such and environment?

The DU/ManyOne platform makes a clear distinction between stewarded/edited information and opinion-based information. This transparency allows for the healthy exchange to emerge between the expert and the lay community in which pedigree is valued appropriately, while the lay community can establish credentials based upon transparent quantifiable factors as well as expert peer review.

A laypersons portal make be invited to join a stewarded portal (or submit it for consideration) if the editors deem it good enough and if its author is willing to abide by their policies.

Who oversees the “stewards” to insure that a particular political agenda is not promoted?

There will be federated layers of boards above each portal up to the DU board consisting of the most widely respected people we active in civil society today. Within this system is a Board of Arbitration, a judicial branch if you will. We call these “high-class” problems meaning, when they start to surface, we’ll know we’ve arrived and become really relevant in a particular field. Keep in mind; the Internet is not limited to column inches. If one portal starts to diverge too far down one path, another forms to fill that void and provide counter balance.

How do you keep bias out of the content & stewardship?

Of course the over-riding purpose of the ManyOne/Digital Universe Foundations is to eliminate the influence of commercialism, corporate influence, advertiser pressure etc over the information we receive. That’s 90% of bias. Beyond that, each subject area will still be exposed to different kinds of pressure. Full disclosure, transparency, and lively participation by a knowledgeable peer community will provide strong balance.

Will DU also cover pop culture? How will those moderators be selected?

Great question: This is a place where the lines between the stewarded portals and the community portals are likely to blur. The platform is designed for this. It is after all, a meritocracy. If “the people” produce a better set of destinations for pop-culture, then so be it. May the cream rise to the top!

How does this compare to GOOGLE & LII? Are stewards creating the content (i.e. reinventing info already available?) or searching for content (i.e. LII)? And please tell me I can do a text search and bypass pressing 10+ icons to get where I want.

LII is a gift from heaven. The only solution to the overwhelming problem of for-profit search engines is non-profit, human powered editorial review of existing websites. LII is a great start.
A partnership seems inevitable.

The DU is the result of thinking through the primary challenges that LII faces; funding and editorial manpower. In short, we’ve created a platform where experts in a subject form an editorial board to among other things, perform the same tasks as LII editors; identify great websites and establish subtopics and spurn new editorial boards for those.

But then, we also give them amazing web 2.0 tools to create their own portals to add news feeds, fresh content, rich media, forums etc and a MySpace-like platform to attract a passionate social community of individuals and organizations around that subject portal. This generates revenue the same way MySpace does.

Each portal coalition is also a subsidiary of a 501c3 so they can apply for grants as well.

Of course users will be able to perform all manner of searches like LII, but the navigation system will be clickless.

(Similar Topic: Searching) If you want to go to a specific topic, can you just type it in and get there without going through multiple portals? Are there searching shortcuts in the DU? ManyOne navigator is beautiful, but how do I get a kid to go through all those points to get to poetry? Where’s the search box? Will DU include keyword searching?

Of course users will be able to perform all manner of searches and save favorites in highly organized fashion. In fact, user will be able to build their own taxonomies using self-created and existing portals and taxonomies.

How can you be confident that you’ll be able to maintain funding? Even good people have problems when they get large amounts of power and influence.

The ManyOne revenue model is quite robust. It includes banner advertising on free user created portals, subscription services, advertising opt-out, web hosting, affinity partner programs, and of course, as a non-profit foundation, is a wonderful candidate for all kinds of public and private funding.

The Diamond Shield structure is specifically designed to protect the entire enterprise from Wall Street and the influence of Corporations. We also believe that the kind of people who will control the foundation have well established themselves to be above the temptations of power and influence.

Will the ManyOne website have a place for comments of links to other authorities?

I assume you by “ManyOne website”, manyone/Digital Universe Portals. The answer is probably yes, but ultimately those decisions are made by the stewards/editors. I can’t imagine a good information resource wouldn’t include links to the best resources on that subject.

Please explain again how the DU will be able to have its information available without advertising?

Advertising on the surrounding personal and community portals, subscription services, and grants will generate revenue to support Digital Universe stewarded advertising-free portals.

Cliff Lyon also included a rather extensive executive summary for ManyOne Networks which I would be more than happy to forward to you at your request. Please contact me at:

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Anne Marie Luthro of Envirosell Answers Your Questions

Our Thanks to Anne Marie Luthro of Envirosell for taking the time to answer questions that we did not have time to cover during our panel discussion on May 2, 2007.

Have you ever helped redesign (assess) a historically significant site, with limitations on it restructuring? Any recommendations?

Envirosell has studied several Flagship stores set in real estate with unique building structures and challenges. Our work always focuses on how to work WITH these challenges (since changing them is usually out of the question). For example, one building whose elevator was in an out-of-the-way place and thereby the shoppers used the staircase as their primary pathway between floors, placed art exhibitions within the stairwell and lit it appropriately. The exhibits changed frequently so shoppers were “trained” to think of this as a cool space. Doing this created a pleasant distraction for shoppers and they looked forward to climbing the stairs.

If there exists a long outdoor pathway before the library entrance, ca it be included in the “decompression zone?

A long pathway is a wonderful thing because this is actually a PRE-decompression zone and a great place to start setting atmospheric touches (sound, color, smell, etc). You can also start branding yourself in this space. For example, if all of the kids’ signs (in the kids’ section) are ladybug shapes, then some ladybugs along the path would be fun, if the military history section is army green, some army green toy soldiers….

Once the patron is inside the building, she/he will always need to decompress (was it hot out? Raining? Noisy traffic?). Therefore, you’ll still need to respect the Decompression Zone.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dell Jacoby of BridgeWorks Answers Your Questions

Our Thanks to Dell Jacoby of BridgeWorks for taking the time to answer questions that we did not have time to cover during our panel discussion.

Why is there a disproportionate number of GenXers? Why so few?

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the zero growth population movement began to influence birthrates in the United States. Since the introduction of the birth control pill, many women and families had the option of choosing the number of children they would have. Then, in 1973, Roe v. Wade became law and also influenced the choice in number of children. These changes in choices, coupled with the zero growth movement and the fact that many Xers are children of the trailing edge of the Boomer generation, when population numbers began to drop off, is reflective of the lower demographic for GenXers.

How do you suggest GenXers approach Baby Boomer management with their “why” questions so that they are seen as valid contributions to the organization? How do we get the Boomers to give the freedom to implement some of the changes the GenXers suggest?

First be clear on why you are asking “why.” Is the “why” question being asked to understand processes or the underlying reason behind these processes? If so, then be sure to articulate that intent. If the question being asked is a challenge to the way things “have always been done” then you have some homework to do!

To begin your homework, you must understand that all functions of organizations, whether libraries or not, must be directly tied to the mission and goals of the organization. In order to be an effective change agent, you must understand the mission and goals first and be able to articulate how your proposed changes support those mission and goals. Starting with this in mind, you may find a willing ear, regardless of the generation you are interacting with! A challenge that is not grounded in need and/or mission is often perceived by all generations as aggressive.

If you do your homework and are able to articulate the need for the change in relation to mission and goals, you will have a better chance to get your point across. Your argument is not based on generations, but on service delivery and mission and goals.

Having said that, let’s look at the generational issue. Boomers are primed to begin leaving a legacy and are looking for mentoring opportunities. This is a generation of change agents, a generation who sought to affect change on all levels of society. This is also a generation with a competitive nature and one suffering from burnout both in their careers and at home. Knowing this, how can you build a bridge between your desired change and the person who is the gatekeeper? Again, is your question a challenge to the status quo without an answer or a possible solution to a problem that could lead to the opportunity to take on a project under mentorship? If you wish to succeed, try approaching the Boomer with the desire to learn and the willingness to be mentored on your project. If you are a Boomer, use this opportunity to guide someone else in doing the project you do not have the time to do. This is a great opportunity to guide the future of your library, mentor an enthusiastic change agent and keep tabs on a change project that could get our to hand without your guidance.

Many of the Xer generation are perceived as impatient and unwilling to accept direction. This is in direct conflict with the competitive nature of the Boomer generation and complicated by the burnout many Boomers are feeling. Don’t forget that communication is the point of all generational work. How do you communicate with the other generations? In this case, try to catch yourself when you fall into a judgment mode and reframe it to a collaborative mode (regardless of your generation.) You will be amazed at the great things you may learn from a Boomer and you have so much to offer the Boomer in the way of solutions to problems or processes they do not have the time to address!

How do trailing edge members of the generations fit into this picture?

A great question! Trailing and leading edge members of each generation, what we call Cuspers, are a huge asset to any team. They help to bridge the two generations in that they have a foot in both worlds. A Cusper on your team will assist in helping you and other members of the team understand the motivations, frustrations and reactions of team members. If you are a Cusper, use your insight to build communication and team understanding – this experience will serve not just you but the team and your library!

How do we appeal to one age group without making another age group feel left out when limited funding prevents us from doing everything we want?

Funding is and will probably always be an issue for California Libraries. In making decisions on how to spend the limited dollars we have, we owe an obligation to serve all constituents regardless of generation. When we make funding decisions, do we need to base them on generation? And if so, what is the goal? Technology is often the area in which this question comes up most. The important piece to remember is that all generations use technology. So the question then becomes not how do we appeal to one generation and not the others, but how do we appeal to all generations according to their needs? Funding prohibits libraries from “doing everything we want,” so decisions must be made on what is possible.

One way to approach this problem is to design a needs assessment survey for library patrons that can be sorted by generation. This can serve as a guide post for providing those services. Fairly often, I have found that a good needs assessment survey leads me to solutions that do not necessarily require a change in funding but a change in attitude. The needs of one generation may provide an answer to the needs of another, such as understanding technology – could a Millennial provide computer training to a Traditional, who could in turn provide mentoring and guidance to the Millennial? Technology provides a great format for this type of cross generation mentoring, up and down the generational divide. This type of “out of the ordinary” thinking is a great opportunity to get the input from all members of your team and perhaps to enable a team member(s) to take on a project that will enable them to learn how the library can serve everyone.

The librarian assigned to me is out-of-touch, out-of-date, and completely supported by library administration. Suggestions?

This question makes me wonder what the agenda is here. Is this judgment or impatience, or truly a desire to be a change agent to benefit the library and its constituency? I challenge the asker to take a look at the intent of the question and see if s/he can come to a place of understanding the system in which they work, not just what is wrong with the person running the system.

I understand how frustrating the “incremental” nature of public service can be. In a system in which change is not embraced or is embraced slowly, change agents have a doubly hard task ahead of them. Again, success relies on your ability to communicate - communication is the basis of all generational work. When a change agent Xer challenges an incrementalist Traditionalist or a competitive Boomer, the mixture is like oil and water! If the communication approach is one of challenge, you will not be a successful change agent. If the communication is one of collaborative solution seeking, the prospect for success grows. Try to understand what is motivating you first and then what motivates your librarian. If you truly wish to engender change for the benefit of your constituency, then make changes according to the system you are in. This may mean tiny steps when you want big ones, but many tiny steps lead to large leaps.

You may find that shaping yourself to the system you are in provides you with great experience towards the future, although you may not be able to effect change now. You may find that seeking mentoring from you librarian gives him/her the opportunity to leave a legacy and gives you a better understanding of the system and therefore a better opportunity to introduce change within the system. Do not take it for granted that change is not possible, challenge your perception and do your homework. Show them a reason to change and provide the road map to solution.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Dell Jacoby, What a Difference a Generation Makes

Dell talks about interpersonal interactions are affected by the four generations present in real life. She asks about the types of expectations of the different generations, for instance, why some generations like MySpace versus "in-your-face"? Did you know that this is the first time that four generations are in the same space at the same time? Dell asks: How can we come together in the worksplace?

A quick run-through of the four generations that Dell outline for us:

  • Traditionalists

  • Baby Boomers

  • Generation Xers

  • Millennials

Another important question is: Why is it important to understand the generations? Issues include increasing rate of change, longer life expectancies, democratic shifts influence attitudes our workers, growing communication gap, looming 'talent gap'. Most importantly, the attitudes and ethics that people bring will not serve the other three. These social expectations are what dominate the teens.


  • Stat: skilled worker gap will grow to 5.3 to 14 mil by 2020.

  • Stat: 58% of current us librarians will be retired by 2049.

  • 65% said that generation gaps make it hard to get things done in the workplace.

SO what can we do? Here's a sweet clip of an Ameritrade commercial Dell showed. I found the following on YouTube.

So this clip shows that willing to learn from other generations, the sharing of knowledge, and, most importantly, of personalities were the key take-aways from this commercial. The older man was able to shift perspectives and give knowledge back to younger man. (Btw, this commercial was about 20 years ago. Stuart, the young stock broker, is now about 40 years old.)

Generation breakdown

Traditionalists. influences that drive, if you gather together and trust the institution, you can beat it" this gen created theinsitsion that

It is a mistake that this generation was passed us without leaving their legacy. Remember that this was also the generation that created NASA and sent the man to the moon.

73% plan to return to work in some capacity afer they retire, says generation survey

Baby boomers, the largest most cuddled generation. Born in economic prosperity, water, individual cultural divide, "love it or leave it" mind-set. "public epidemic" The generation raised to be confident, to make change. Questioners of authority. on the edge of burnout?

75% of boomers chose "more time off" to name the most valueable award. why? Tired, somewone in the audience said. This is a competitive generation. This is the itme to build a legacy. This generation is to expland the raditionalists in to share with following gens.

Gen X. 24-hr media. Family unit changes. Everything changed in this generation. Insecurity. They believe that they have a greater chance of seeing a UFO than getting a Social Security check. They are comfortable with change. The generation that learned to make decisions on their own. Skepticism is good; it will make you look at things differently. Independent. They are the first generation to play Pong.

20% say they get their phione bill more often than they get relevant feedback. They are looking for reasons to stay.

80% of Xer men say that time with family is more important than challenging work or high salary. Harris Poll. Takeaway: The library gives the option to live with family.

The attitude is that there are dues to be paid. They want to participate now. The #1 reason for staying in a job is automony.

Millennials are Xers on steriods. Explosion of media. Obssessed with technology. World Wide Web generation. They are tuned in, turned on, and engaged. This is a connected generation, the most racial generation. One out of 8 is immigrant. 90% of Millenials talk to their parents everyday. They want to be a milionaire by 30. They volunteer, want meaning in work. global reality. Concerns are safety and entrepeurism.

37% expect to stay single before 25. Retirement benefits are a very important factor in their job choice. They expect to have gone through 8-10 careers by the time they're 30. Libraires should engage them. You want this generation to lead you in the future.

Clashpoints on Institutions

Traditionalists: "We have faith in them"

Babyboomers: "we can change them" They think they invented the 80-hour workwek. Mid-life burnout. Sandwiched. Need to allow them to mentor and build legacy.

Generation Xer: "We're skeptical of them". Shift your perspective.

Millennials: "Judge them on their merits". They're not a black/white generation; they understand grays. If they find meaning, diversity, ability to participate, you want to capture them now.

What are those posibilites?

The California Library Association has a mentoring program that is a great opp for Traditionalists and Baby boomers to mentor from the bottom up. The Chicago Public Library sysetm is doing this. This is a plae to re-energize from within.

Dell then looks at different workplaces and crtics their websites on recruitment. She highlights the Lilly Company website which features a woman with a child. Dell says that this is a great recruitment site because they understand the work-life balance.

Xexxon Mobile is another good workplace because they highlight that an employee there can go through 5-7 careers with them. They say that you can reframe your career, have opportunities to explore.

MCLS FILL program is another great way to get Genration Xers and Millenials in the department. This program offers paid internships.

Career library > who can you partner with to be sure that the generation filling the workplace can see you?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Libraries 1.0 & 2.0 -- the Old & the New

Wow, how can people do this every day?!

Yet, this is how some (many, most??) of our patrons are interacting with the world around them these days, so I'd better get onboard with this New World Order in order to be more effective in my chosen career!

So, finally, after several days of digesting what the GenTech speakers had to say, here are my impressions.

We all know libraries have been facing incredible changes and challenges in the past decade or more. Defining and then accomplishing what we do, how and for whom, not to mention why seems a Sisyphean task these days -- at least since 1993 & Mosaic/Netscape/GUI. Technology is the culprit in making this task so difficult, but it can also be an ally.

Adapt or die. Is that our only option? Marketing seemed to be the overarching theme -- or at least some kind of image-realignment for libraries (public libraries were the main focus).

GenTech 2007 kicked off with Michael Wesch's thoughtful & insightful piece on Web 2.0
( ) & from there the conference was off & running, exploring the new opportunities available as well as looking at existing resources for expaning & redefining libraries & the central role they have (or should have) in their communities.

Some of it was overwhelming.

Michael Porter's presentation offered so many insights as to the kinds & amounts of technologies in use today that it was hard not to hear that sound of the Digital Divide expanding & whooshing past, not only beyond individuals, but beyond the library institutions themselves.

How can libraries possibly compete with that much $$ poured in by the private sector to attract people's attention as well as their time & money?

What it takes is the will to invest the staff time & energy to engage in those activities & spaces where many of our patrons (or potential patrons) spend a lot of their time -- not just by being physically out in the community, but also virtually by blogging, social networking & other online activities. And not just being there, but touting what libraries are, have & can do for them.

Library outreach really needs to be *OUT*. Another point MP made was that libraries should not necessarily be looking to convince people to come *INTO* the library -- that virtual visits can be just as effective & informative & service-driven as in-person interactions. Personally, I think just organizing local & state government info & services into a simpler online pathfinder or database would have patrons weeping with joy.

Dell Jacoby was reassuring in her assessments of the "Gen" aspect of the equation -- the incredible synergy residing in our greatest resource: our staff. There are 4 generations of workers currently in the workplace today & each has its strengths. Listening & learning between and among generations needs to be a two-way (or more) street. I know I will be asking a GenX or Millennial for help with blogging & the rest of this Web 2.0 world just as I will be listening to the Traditionals & Boomers for past practices that succeeded (or failed!). We need to make the most effective use of our respective talents.

Analyzing & rearranging the physical library space as Anne Marie Luthro suggested is a wonderful idea, but it's something I'm sure many of us have already pointed out to our respective Admins & how many of us have actually been succesful? Really -- if you have been successful, please let the rest of us know how you managed it!!

I think we all have pretty good ideas of what needs to be done. The main problem, IMHO, is with bureaucratic, public institutions & the ponderous ways in which they work, not to mention the limited resources available & the limiting policies & procedures in which these resources can or must be used. By the time we get approval for anything, the next version is out & we're behind again... Change is good, but frequent change is really hard to keep up with!

Good luck to us all in finding strategies to cope with these Interesting Times that we're in!

Generation Tech Follow Up.....

Thank you to the 185+ library enthusiasts who came down, up and across to the Nixon Library and Birthplace for Santiago Library System's Generation Tech. Your participation helped to make the event a wonderful experience for all who attended. An especially big thanks to our presenters:

Michael Porter, WebJunction
Dell Jacoby, BridgeWorks - (handout)
Joe Firmage, ManyOne & Digital Universe - (handout)
Anne Marie Luthro, Envirosell

For inspiring us to look at our libraries, the services we provide, the resources we utilized and the people that we work for and with a fresh, enlightened and reinvigorated perspective.

Another special thank you to Ellen Fusco (Anaheim Public Library), Jon Legree (Yorba Linda Public Library), all of our bloggers, helpers, and the incredibly accommodating staff of the Nixon Library and Birthplace for helping the day run smoothly and seamlessly.

Please be sure to take the time to fill out our survey, the link to which you should have received sometime yesterday. Your feedback helps us to determine when we are exceeding expectation, when we are meeting your needs and where we need to make improvements or retool our process.

Be sure to "stay tuned in" to our blog for additional posts from our UCLA Bloggers, follow-up information and answers to the questions we didn't have time to cover during the panel discussion.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The shifting ground beneath libraries

With its tranquil gardens and stately corridors, the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace seemed like the perfect setting for this conference about the big transitions occurring in the library world. As new technologies combine with the perspectives of four “generations” of librarians, they are reshaping the way we view our roles as intermediaries in the distribution and consumption of knowledge. The changes rumbling beneath the marble floors of the Nixon Library illustrate some of the new trends. As we learned from two speakers, the Library’s executive director John H. Taylor and the director of the Nixon Presidential Materials Project, Dr. Timothy Naftali, the Library is set to morph from a private into a public space that will operate under the aegis of the National Archives. In the process of changing its mission, this institution will embrace both paper-based and digital materials as it attempts to tell a balanced story of the rise and fall of our 37th President.

The heart of the Generation Tech conference was the animated presentation by Michael Porter, a one-time children’s librarian who now uses his position with OCLC’s WebJunction ( to preach the virtues of what he calls “SociaLibTech.” Porter made a persuasive case for the power of emerging social software like MySpace (, YouTube (, Flickr (, and many others to help fulfill the librarian’s mission of sharing information with the communities she serves. Even though the library is generally thought of as a cornerstone of the community, said Porter, the institution is in danger of being bypassed unless it stays technologically relevant and goes where most “content consumption” is already taking place—on the Internet.

Porter offered several examples of SociaLibTech, including the web sites of Illinois’ Kankakee Public Library ( with its blogs, podcasts and RSS feeds as well as Washington’s North Central Regional Library ( with its mail order service along the lines of a Netflix. Vital decisions are being made today, he stressed, ones that will impact the patrons of the future. Porter acknowledged that “technology is not always the right answer” to every problem but that libraries are misguided if they simply let private organizations provide the kind of information services they are used to offering.