Showing posts from April, 2013

AL Live April 18, 2013

Here is the link to AL Live's April 18, 2013 video, featuring the always astute Sue Polanka, EBSCO's Scott Wasinger, and me. It's all a pretty good snapshot of the issues at this moment. The discussion is an hour long, so be prepared. Sue asked some great questions. One of them got me to say something I hadn't prepared ahead of time: that in an age of abundance of literature, not scarcity, libraries are not gatekeepers. We are gardeners, working to grow the fresh local produce of creators. The more I think about that image, the more I like it. Thanks to AL Live's Dan Freeman, Sue, and Scott (EBSCO was the sponsor of the show) for the opportunity.

Nexus 7

Suzanne bought me a Nexus 7 for our anniversary (thank you!). The 7 stands for 7 inch screen. It is wonderfully light, fast, comfortable to hold, easy to read, and easy to type in (with Swype or thumbs). But on a lark, I remembered the bluetooth fold up keyboard I bought years ago for my Palm Pilot. With a few new batteries, it works just fine with the Nexus. So here's a picture of a really tiny portable computer station. I put the edge of a book next to it so you could see relative size. I'll take the combo with me on my next trip to see how it works.


In this fascinating article, "Utopian for Beginners," Joshua Foer writes about a man, John Quijada, who invented a language, Ithkuil. Foer dives into the world of conlangers (constructed language), and Quijada's invitation to speak at a conference devoted to his language. That trip proved startling in several ways. But along the way, Foer touches on everything from Esperanto to Tolkein and Heinlein, to the most successful of invented languages, Klingon. Back in college, I briefly toyed with studying linguistics. It still deeply interests me. But at my university, the head of that department was insufferable. And librarianship really has been a lifelong passion for me. But what an interesting world!

Little Outliner

Little Outliner was released on March 25, 2013. To try it, go to There are some tabs over on the right that explain things. All the usual things are there: * the ability to expand and collapse tabbed lists subordinate to another heading, hiding or revealing them. That makes it much easier to stay on top of the structure of a document. * the ability to effortlessly drag around (or use keyboard shortcuts to move) those structured paragraphs, thereby effecting major structural revisions rapidly. What's interesting about Little Outliner (from Dave Winer, the man who gave us a lot of the late, great outliners in the 1990s, and invented the RSS feed) is that although an outline is created within a browser, it is saved locally. Each approach - local storage and cloud storage - has its advantages. One is personal and private. The other enables both ubiquity (access from multiple locations and devices), and collaboration. In Little Outliner, there doesn't seem…


While poking around on I ran across a mention of this free little web application (free up to 250 items, apparently). "Workflowy" ( is a cloud-based outliner. You log into it once (give it an email and a password), and you get, basically, an empty page. I'm a longtime fan of outliners, and haven't really found the perfect match, particularly in the Linux world. Workflowy is pretty good. Why? It's fast. Its interface, like its display, is clean and simple. It has good keyboard shortcuts for the few commands I need and use a lot: expand and contract outline levels, move outline levels up and down or left and right, and what Workflowy calls Zoom. (Other outliners call it "hoisting.") Zooming is particularly well implemented. Click on the button of an outline level, and it immediately moves to the top of the screen. You see only those items subordinate to that level. Because it is web-based, it is platform agnostic. …

Real leadership

Real leadership begins with listening. In so many spheres -- the public sector, the not-for-profit, and the private -- leadership isn't some kind of machine-gun decision-making. Rat-a-tat-tat, do this, do that. Real leadership begins with listening, with the inherent humility of a question. The purpose of leadership is to make meaning. It's to identify what matters, then to start assembling the human resources to focus on that issue. Then, by harvesting the "wisdom of crowds," leaders do something breathtakingly simple. They make things better. I think much of the frustration of our times, when so few people trust either elected leaders or CEOs, is just that these so-called leaders are so full of themselves, so arrogant, that they've stopped listening. And so they stop learning. Many people seek power and authority. But neither confers wisdom.