Tag Archives: innovation

Wrap up #ndf2012

Wrap up
Andy Neale (@andyhkn), NDF Board
Andy Neale is the Manager of DigitalNZ at the National Library of New Zealand and Department of Internal Affairs. He is a current member of the NDF Board, and is most well known as the founding technical lead of DigitalNZ and New Zealand’s Mix and Mash competitions.

Risk with conferences like this is if it’s too inspirational it can seem out of reach, detached from everyday life. Don’t be put off by this, by lack of funding, no designer, whatever limitation.

It’s okay to beg and borrow if necessary – that’s how we all get started. No-one comes along with a bucket of cash and time. All have to find a way.

Don’t need to do everything. Used to come away buzzing and wanting to do it all. Digital envy. We want all these amazing things for our customers and institutions but neither possible nor necessary to do everything.

If you like something and think it’s relevant to you, talk to the people involved and find out if they can share / extend it. None of the stuff seen here was achieved on their own. Everything built on top of the work of others.

Take whatever ideas you’ve got – talk to someone in another organisation – pick up the phone, email, tweet until they respond… and continue the conversation. Turn it into collaboration and new ways of working.

The Future of Products #ndf2012

The Future of Products
Dave ten Have, Ponoko, davetenhave
How digital fabrication and distributed manufacturing changes the way products are designed and used.

We sit at the centre of a supercollider – social, cultural and technical changes in the way things are made. The orthodox of getting something made on the other side of the world is changing. Looping back around to the way things used to be made – by ourselves. A manner focused on relevance, “customer of one”.

What if the carbon component of a product/transportation were transparent, priced into the product? How do you design a factory with all we know today?

Keep the point of instantiation as close to point of consumption as possible. Instead of putting factory in China, smear it across the surface of the Earth. A distributed manufacturing system.

Built the Ponoko platform made up of

  • a catalogue of digital product designs
  • catalogue of materials
  • digital fabrication hardware (eg 3d printing but other tools too)
  • buyers

This last part is the hard part. Etsy was and remains dominant in this space…

At core, system is a file checking mechanism. Designed a design language – design checking in order to allow credit card charging. Have relationships with eg electronics components producers so people can develop very complex products.

Achievements: Have moved amateurs to professionals – people using this to run their own business. Tapped into inter-generational shift and cultural shift around the maker movement.

Diagram showing level of need of something crossed with degree of effort to create it – intersection is point of relevance.

Use the network to give you reach. Move fast, iterate, eschew IP protection. Quotes someone saying “If I were to apply for a patent, by the time I got it I’d be onto my 10th product.”

Someone using Kickstarter to determine whether people want it and whether people would fund it. TechShop for local prototyping, fabrication, and Ponoko for digital prototyping and fabrication.

Future of products – that people can build their physical environment in same way as digital environment.

Beyond social #ndf2012

Beyond Social
DK @justadandak
If social (media) is no longer the new shiny set of tools that everyone gasps at then what are the next set of questions? In this fast-paced session, DK will balance his presentation with overarching cross-sector ‘big picture’ strategies right through to platform-specific tools and techniques which deliver.
DK (yes, just a D and a K) is a social media advisor who has helped people like UNICEF, BBC, the Gates Foundation, Welsh National Assembly etc. He lives on the internet at justadandak.com. @justadandak

Not going to talk about “Why Twitter is cool” because assumes we already know that.

Shows interactive TV from 1953 Winky Dink where kids had printouts and at some point in show it told them to join the dots.

April 20th someone became first person to edit Wikipedia 1,000,000 times – rewarded by Wikipedia with a day named for him.

Quick dirty simple ideas for museums (people are already aggregating stuff for you- why not borrow/steal/embed existing work?). Problem is at conference people get excited and then realise they have to go back to work.

“Culture eats strategy for lunch” – Peter Drucker. We need a culture that embraces social media – it’s not one person’s job. Doesn’t mean everyone needs a Twitter account, but everyone needs to embrace idea.

(Lots of animated gifs in this slideshow.)

We need to become a lot more curious about other people’s work. Not just within GLAM but outside the sector. Social media lets us do that with RSS feeds.

Currently we think of our website as a destination. But the most popular places on the planet are not destinations, they’re intersections. Google’s popular but we don’t go there to stay there – we go there to go somewhere else. Same with Twitter. We should be an “intersection of amazingness”.

“Trust people to know that there’s a back button on their browser.”

Recommends Rework by Fried. DK wrote notes as read it summarising it, posted to blog. Two weeks later retweeted by author (who “could have gone a different way with that”) and got tens of thousands of hits on his blog – and was then remixed by someone else adding colour; and then someone in Sweden remixed that into a more corporate-style format. Nothing the author could have planned!

Ideas – “Social media Tuesday” once a month for social media geeks to get together over lunch and share – build culture

For a long time Mr Potato was sold without the potato because they assumed you already had one.

Clip of William Gibson talking about how we can get a bit “iPads, meh. gene therapy, whatever” about the present. DK says instead of looking forward to future, should sometimes focus on using the cool stuff that already exists.

Could ask us “Who’s got a social media strategy?” and hands would go up. But what if he asked “Who’s got a cultural strategy?”

Walking backwards into the future – #ndf2012 opening by @vikram_nz

Am at National Digital Forum 2012 doing my liveblogging thing…

Opening address
Vikram Kumar (@vikram_nz), InternetNZ

[ETA: Vikram’s posted slides (and will link to video when available.]

Vikram Kumar is currently Chief Executive of InternetNZ and has previously worked with government (State Services Commission) and the private sector (Telecom). He writes regularly at http://internetnz.net.nz/news/blog on a range of issues related to the future of internet in New Zealand. Recent topics have included re-invention and evolution of the internet, piracy, privacy and cyber-security. A regular at NDF over the years, he’s interested in how the GLAM sector can support new creative and commercial models online.

“I curate stories about the internet – how it changes individuals, organisations, countries.” Internet driving massive disruptive change. Such change has happened before, eg television.

Quotes: Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore from The Medium is the Massage: “When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.”

Disruptive change like a midlife crisis – does God exist? why am I here?

Shows excerpt from TED talk Thomas P. Campbell: Weaving narratives in museum galleries

How do we look forward and use digital technologies in context of social, political, economic change. When looking at technologies we wonder, “What can I do with this?” Sometimes this is wrong question – should ask, “What should I be doing?” Don’t extrapolate the past to define the future.

Look at what we want to achieve, don’t worry about how we’re going to do it.

New media affect society not just by the content, but by the characteristics of the medium itself. Eg how does the internet affect copyright? Copyright from an age when cost of producing copies was high. Internet disrupts this – copying becomes not just cheap and easy but inherent to how the internet transmits information.

Internet is:

  • ubiquitous – especially with APNK. What does it mean when people are constantly connected? Need to think of ourselves not as a destination – we can go where our community is. Eg Quake Stories. Organisations coming together to deliver virtual reality – overlaying past street images over present empty lots.
  • End-to-end principle, layered architecture – internet itself is simple, just moving bits around, but it allows all sorts of things to be built on top of this. Need to permission to innovate. Semantic web emerging slowly. 1762 means nothing by itself – but add context/metadata and (a year), it gives meaning.
  • Everyone can be a producer – people we’re trying to reach needn’t be passive consumers. We don’t have to do all the education/preservation on our own.
  • Openness – goes back to not needing permission. Lets us experiment. Deep engagement. Get people involved in projects – even to put in money. Pledge Me to crowdfund NZ creativity. But only works if you’ve got engagement.
  • Bottom-up evolution – new areas of collaboration all the time.
  • Global and universal

What future do you want?

Wild ideas free to a good home

1.You know in sf you get to say “Oh hi computer, calculate this for me / find me information about this thing / make me some hot Earl Grey tea!” and the computer says “Sure thing, my friend!” and does it?

Here’s how that could work in the near future:

  • speech recognition – this is fairly well developed already (I’ve recently started using it myself for navigating and dictating on my home computer) and will continue to improve
  • + a search engine
  • + a whole lot of aps for different functions, with associated metadata which can be matched against what the user’s asked for.

The computer, like a librarian, doesn’t have to know everything, it just needs to know where to find everything. Ask it a calculating-type question and it gets a Wolfram|Alpha-style widget that can calculate the answer. Ask it an encyclopaedic-type question and it brings you an answer from a Wikipedia-type source. Ask it to convert your word processing document into pdf and it finds the appropriate ap to do that. Tell it you want a pizza, it finds the aps from the local pizza places, asks (or remembers) your price/quality/toppings preferences, and places the order for you. In due course, your doorbell rings.

I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this was working within five years. I also wouldn’t be overly surprised if it wasn’t; while we’ve got all the pieces, gluing it together mightn’t be quite so straightforward as an idealist would think.

2.Dynamic/adaptive website navigation. For sprawling websites: instead of having the traditional static navigation links, have the server generate the links based on the most popular recent destinations for visitors to the same page.

This one’s easier to program (I think, if I put the work in, I could come up with a clunky implementation myself) – you just need server-side scripting with access to stats of a) links clicked and b) keywords searched. I’d weight keywords searched a bit higher than links clicked (partly to keep things dynamic but mostly because people will tend to click a link first if it looks even halfway relevant, so just the fact of searching will indicate that the current links are useless).

So when you go to (say) the uni library’s homepage at the start of term it’ll show links to the catalogue, and tutorials, and computer workrooms. Towards exam time people will start searching for “past exam papers” so that’ll soon appear on the homepage, while “tutorials” will drop off, but people will click the “computer workrooms” more so that’ll stay on.

There are obvious downsides to this approach. Confusion about links shifting around, for one. Also ideally it should be customisable so postgrads can see a view which isn’t overwhelmed by the preferences of undergraduates for most of the year. But. It would be interesting. I’d like to try it sometime (or see someone else try it).

Review: Journal of Library Innovation

My favouritest new journal ever is currently the Journal of Library Innovation. I have vague memories of issue 1 being decent but issue 2’s contents are totally awesome. They include:

  • an editorial (pdf) pointing out that: a) when we innovate we don’t have to seize on every expensive new technology, and b) on the other hand sometimes failing to use a new technology can be expensive too
  • Quick and Dirty Library Promotions That Really Work – whee, fortune cookies!

    [I would really like to amplify this squee. I think we should do this: it puts a smile on people’s face and it 99% guarantees they’ll actually read the promotional message, which is at least 90% more than traditional signage. (Fudge factor because I can’t remember the number I saw the other day, though I think it was less than 10% and included primarily mature students.]

  • Accommodating Community Users in an Authenticated Library Technology Environment – making a computer kiosk for non-members to use which respects database license agreements; not my thing at present but cool enough that I nevertheless recognise the super utility of it.
  • Making Physical Objects Clickable: Using Mobile Tags to Enhance Library Displays – QR tags in book displays – evidence that these increase usage of promoted materials/webpages

    [See also Embedding tutorials into physical objects – using a QR code on a photocopier to link to video instructions. I think here I’d use QR codes in conjunction with a bit.ly link for people who don’t have the right hardware/software combo to make it work, but this caveat shouldn’t be construed as decreasing my enthusiasm for the idea.]

  • The Library is Undead: Information Seeking During the Zombie Apocalypse – another quick and dirty library promotion, jumping off a student event.

    [Why do we insist that big promotions have to be planned months in advance? Maybe it’s Parkinson’s Law (“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”) – when you plan 3 months in advance, it still feels rushed at the end so you figure next time you should plan 4 months in advance. But if you start planning 6 days in advance (as this library did), sure you’re rushed at the end, but the short timeframe has forced you to forgo normal inefficiencies and brush off the temptation to perfectionism, so you save thousands of staff time and in the end you’ve still got it done.]

  • and also book reviews which seem genuinely helpful and balanced evaluations of how useful the books are and for what purposes.

Why reinvent the wheel? (a photo essay)


Stone wheel in a trough (by Vincent Jones, CC-BY-SA)


Wagon wheel (by Richard Sonnen, CC-BY-NC-ND)


Steamroller (by Rog Frost, CC-BY-SA)


Car wheel (by Mr T. in DC, CC-BY-ND)


Bicycle wheel (from Soil-Net, CC-BY-NC-SA)


Bulldozer tread (by John Schilling, CC-BY-NC-ND)


Eggbeater (by Candice Wouters, CC-BY-NC-ND)


Table saw (by Patrick Fitzgerald, CC-BY)


Wheel of Fortune (by Paul Stack, CC-BY-ND)


Ferris wheel (by Josh McGinn, CC-BY-ND)

Links of interest 22/9/10

Assessing the (Enduring) Value of Libraries

MIT Libraries has created a Beta Graveyard for trial projects that aren’t being continued – nice to see what’s happened to old ideas.

Cyberpunk Librarian, part 1 – a librarian and a library robot; a problem and a cunning solution.

The launch of Foursquare buttons for websites – a button you can easily add to any website that lets users link your site and your physical location on their phone.

Hacking Summon in Code4Lib describes how OSU made their data display more tidily

Rehearsing the unplannable

After my post about planning the LIANZA 2009 un-workshop I’ll be facilitating, I met with Erin Kimber, who’s going to be chairing the session, and we talked and brainstormed some more. She gave me some really great ideas including one that will probably be obvious to people who’ve actually been to unconferences: that, instead of dividing the time up among the topics, I should divide up the space so there can be three simultaneous conversations going on.

So this afternoon I ran a practice session at my workplace and that’s how we did it. We got just enough people (about a dozen) to make this viable. I started off by going over the ‘groundrules’ and explaining where I was coming from and what we were going to do, except I babbled a bit so that wasn’t entirely clear. Lesson learned: I need to write a script. Word-for-word scripts aren’t for everyone – they can make you sound like a robot sometimes – but I know how to write in speaking-language, and can memorise sufficiently well, and the alternative for me is to babble for twice the time with half the sense.

We did introductions, but even with only 12 people it took too long. So far apparently 86 people have registered interest in the session itself (I deliberately didn’t put an upper limit on numbers. 86, or 100, or whoever turns up, sounds like , but if 86 people are interested then it’d suck to turn away 56 of them. Besides, I think the format really is that flexible) so I’ll go with a kind of “Mexican Wave” of first names, as a warm-up, instead — which gives me the opportunity to add on a few more Mexican Waves of increasingly challenging questions.

The “50 Reasons” exercise worked okay but probably won’t scale up without me providing more guidance – I’m thinking of a variation on Mitch Ditkoff’s suggestion, of answering each excuse with a question: in this case eg “I don’t have the authority” -> “Who does have the authority?”

We divided into three topics, with a spare table in case of break-out topics. With only 12 people, one of the groups dissolved about halfway through; with 86, we’ll probably need 10+ topics to start with.

It wasn’t always easy to follow the “keep it positive” rule, so I’ll focus on that more in the warm-ups. Also in the real thing I’ll be wandering around instead of being a part of any group, so I can intercede and help encourage turning problems into questions.

Other than the one group dissolving and splitting among the other two, there wasn’t any movement between topics. This isn’t deadly because there’s only a short time anyway and people might well want to stick with a single topic — also it might partly have been because the groups were so small — but someone suggested it’d be good to remind people of the opportunity by blowing a whistle (or, less martially, ringing a bell) every ten minutes.

I ended by passing around a sign-up sheet for the mailing list (again, with 86 people, this will be too time-consuming — I’ll go instead with a box for people to put in their email addresses if interested) and then a very brief wrap-up. People suggested it’d be good to have a takeaway, eg come back to the larger group at the end with a bullet-point list of tips – they also pointed out that having “Come up with some bullet-point tips” as a goal would help keep conversation on track. So I’ll do this in the conference session too.

So that’s where I am at the moment. Having that kind of dress rehearsal was 1000% value for money, and has got me even more excited about the conference session itself in two weeks.

Planning the unplannable

I'm attending LIANZA Conference 2009
At LIANZA 2009 I’m going to be facilitating an un-workshop kind of thing on “Getting people onside: making allies to support your innovation“. It’s an un-workshop thing because I’ve just been fumbling this stuff out on my own and, while I’ve got ideas, I bet other people have ideas too; and we’ve got 45 minutes because that’s how the programming worked out. Some of the things I’ve been thinking about are:

  1. the boring-but-necessary ground rule stuff: keep it positive (“This situation is a nuisance but let’s brainstorm ways to work with it” is all good); confidentiality (so we can talk about real life work situations despite New Zealand being a small country); and the twins: participate and respect (aka encourage others’ participation).
  2. maybe a brief warm-up kind of things: brief introductions in small groups (“Hi, I’m Aroha and one innovation I’ve helped launch is … OR one innovation I want to launch is ….”) and/or brief discussion on how to combat the 50 reasons not to change.

    [I am so going to have to take along a timer….]

  3. actual meat – topic ideas I’ve had are:
    • working with organisational hierarchies; networking with other ‘change agents’; getting support from people who don’t at first seem interested/keen; figuring out what other people need and giving support to other people’s innovations
    • communication – communication styles, miscommunications
    • miscellaneous tricks and ideas

    [I’ve been toying with the idea of starting with a quick poll on how long we should spend on each topic. It’d go like this: say there’s 20 people in the room, I’ll name a topic and the time we’ll spend on that topic = the number of people who raise their hand multiplied by slightly less than 2. Very scientific and all.]

  4. perhaps most importantly: a piece of paper for people to write their email addresses on if interested in a mailing list or similar I plan to set up so we can keep talking about this stuff and supporting each other after conference.

I’m trying to balance the “Gotta make every one of those 45 minutes count” impulse and the “Come on, mate, it’s an un-workshop” impulse and probably losing the spirit of both, I dunno. But/so hey: if you were attending a session like this (and particularly if you are attending this session!) what topics would you want to be included? how (if at all) would you want it organised? is group-work too traditional for an un-workshop, or the Fishbowl too intimidating given that the first LIANZA-hosted mini-unconference won’t be held until after this un-workshop?

Oh, and what should I make sure I read (whether about ‘getting people onside’ or about unconference-stuff) before conference starts?