Humans vs. Zombies, an Internet Librarian Presentation

Come see me in the flesh Monday at 1:15 in the DeAnza 1&2 in the Portola.
Added: Grab the Handout. View the slides.

The track I am in for Internet Librarian, Track D: Library Issues and Challenges, is a special one where the speakers are encouraged not to talk much and to let the participants do most of the talking. Meaning: It is my kind of presentation. Because I will be speaking for less than 10 minutes and have only 5 slides of a PPT, I wanted to write a post on the content of my talk instead of posting just the slides online which would be meaningless without context. The slides can be found here.

The title of the session is Engaging and Inspiring Staff. I am speaking with Lisa Hardy, who is going to give some real world examples after I talk about the big picture. My segment is called Human vs. Zombies: Organized Survivors vs. Mindless Horde.

When you are only speaking for a handful of minutes, you really only have time for one main idea. My main concept is crowdsourcing only works when you give people a purpose.

Crowdsourcing without a purpose is like unleashing zombies on the human race. Things will get done, but it is going to be very, very messy.

Using crowdsourcing methodology is a fabulous way to engage and inspire staff because it forces them to participate in the process from start to finish. Once people start investing time and resources into something, their heart will eventually follow.

You should want your people to have heart in what they do for the organization. People who have heart give more, believe stronger, and work harder. They give because their heart compels them to do so. Not only that, but people who have a heart in your organization will then tell other people why your organization is so great.

Crowdsourcing can be done many ways. I have a handy hand out that I am giving to the participants and that you can download here (link is to a Google Doc). It is similar, very similar to the one I used at Computers in Libraries last spring. The handout includes some quick and dirty facilitation style and pointers. I do not discuss the handout in the presentation. It is just a resource.

But how do you organize your mob? How do you take a bedraggled group of humans and outfit them to face the future, even if the future is a teeming mass of zombies?

To give your mob, your humans, the means to organize, to create, and to find their heart in your organization, you need to do three things.

Give them a goal. Without a goal, your people are the zombie horde. The have one things on their mind and that is a selfish thirst for brains (or whatever it is that suits their fancy). Crowdsourcing only works if you give the crowd a goal so they can then work together towards the same goal as a team. It is possible to let the crowd define the goal, but they still need an overarching purpose.

For instance, do not just throw people in a room and say, “Get to it!” Put them in a room and ask them to come up with a product: a new slogan, a new service with a plan to execute the service, a strategic direction, a marketing plan to increase business, a charitable campaign, or an organizational restructuring. They can do anything, accomplish anything. Just point them in the right direction and let them go. You will be amazed at where they take you.

Let the crowd choose their weapons. This seems obvious, but it is one of the worst abused within organizations with robust bureaucracies. Often, more often than not, crowds contained within an organizational structure are asked to perform a task, but are then also told what tools to use and how to complete the task. This cripples your mob of survivors before they have even ventured forth.

Give your crowd the direction and then let them choose the method. They may want to work asynchronously or synchronously on Google Docs. They may want to create a facebook group. They might prefer video chat. They might * shudder * want to use a word doc that they save and forward around on email. Let them work their way. Give them resources so that they are able to choose the tools they want and then step away. Let them know you have faith in their choices and then follow through on that statement by leaving them alone to work.

Celebrate their successes and failures alike. We are wonderful at pointing out successes, but we have to celebrate our mistakes, even the crash and burn ones. Why? Because we learn from our mistakes and we get better. Give high fives for every zombie kill, but learn from the near misses and improve your swing. Do not be afraid to get dirty. Killing zombies is hard work.

After a very condensed version of the above motivational speech, Lisa is going to take over with some examples of things they have done at her library. Then, we will get to the really fun part. The attendees will form groups and talk about things they can do in their own organization to motivate staff. They will come to a consensus about the best ideas from their group and then share them with the room.

At the end we are going to give away some copies of my book, Mob Rule Learning, for people who can answer some of my nerd trivia.

–Jane, do you have a plan for the zombie apocalypse?

Original link to the Zombie pic can be found here.

Around Town at Computers in Libraries 2012

The family Rochester is heading north to Washington, D.C. for the Computers in Libraries conference this week. The boys will be seeing the sights, aka the Air and Space Museum, while I am mingling with book and tech nerds, aka librarians.

I will be making two official appearances:

Wednesday from 10:30-11:15, on Track F, I will be presenting Unleash the Power of Your People, a session on how to use unconference principles for training and other things. This will not be a sit back and sleep session, so come with lots of questions, ideas, and a willingness to share. If you know nothing about the unconference style or you are an old hand at it, you will learn something new. In a room full of intelligent people, passionate about people and libraries, how could you not leave inspired to change the world?

Wednesday evening, 5-5:45, I will be signing copies of Mob Rule Learning in the Exhibit Area. Drop by, grab a book, and come chat!

Other appearances are assured, probably with this guy, but do not hold that against me. I am easily befriended by either complementing me on my incredibly handsome, intelligent boys or buying me a drink.

–Jane, safe travels

Twitter Spaz

Sorry about the completely crazy Twitter feed update that popped up a couple days ago. Twitter tools is having a moment. I am going to try to fix it soon. It is turned off now, so there should be no more crazy posts from me.

–Jane, malfunctioning

unala10 (Un)Official Call for Volunteers

Can there be official announcements for an unevent? Perhaps.

Mark your calenders, oh you lovers of chaos and fun. ALA Unconference 2010 or unala10 will be Friday, June 25, 2010 from 9am-4:30pm in room 207A at the Washington Convention Center.

This year, I am planning the unconference with the amazing Sean Robinson. Last year, ALA was just getting their feet wet with the unconference idea. This year, Sean and I decided to kick it up a notch and give the crowd more power. Between our two brains, we have cooked up an exciting day of unconference fun. For a sneak peek, check out the preliminary schedule already on the wiki.

Announcements about registration dates will be coming in mid-May. Registration will happen shortly thereafter. Keep your eyes and social media feeds open. We will announce it in enough places that you will be unlikely to miss it.

Now to the true purpose of this post. Sean and I would like to have some volunteers for the unconference. These lovely, fabulous people would help us wrangle the crowd during the course of the day. You know how those crowds can get all chaotic and unruly. Volunteers will not have to compete for an official spot on registration day as they will have a special spot reserved. We would like our wranglers to be SLIS students. I know some of you seasoned librarians are a little broken hearted. I still love you.

If you are a current or soon to be graduating SLIS student, please email me at mboule at gmail dot com, DM me on Twitter, or send me a smoke signal. I only need three people so type fast.

–Jane, (un)changing the world

When Politics and Nerds Collide

My friend, who works in Washington, DC, and I were having a nice little chat today and he asked me how things were at Lockheed.

Mr. Rochester, for those of you that do not know, is an actual Rocket Scientist on the Constellation Program which has been canceled by the new NASA budget. That budget is now going to Congress where they have to argue and dither over what will happen next. The bad part is even the NASA admins will not say what NASA is going to do or where they are going to do it. It is irritating for us little guys who have to stay in a holding pattern, life-wise, while the PTBs decide what the heck they are doing.

Nice that we all have a plan, right?

So back to the conversation. When you have conversations with nerds about politics, this is what you get:

[14:20] Friend: How are things at Lockheed?
[14:21] Me: not great, everything up in the air. no news. congress has knickers in a wad over NASA budget. interesting politics. would be better if it was less weiny wagging and more actual decisions however
[14:23] Friend: They get a -5 modifier to intelligence with dealing with knickers. No joke. You should see the roll for that.
[14:24] Me: Well add that roll with a few +7 asshats and whoa are they up to their ears in trouble
[14:36]Friend: That’s a pretty high asshat modifier.
[14:37] Me: well perhaps only +3 then

–Jane, wearing her +5 Browncoat t-shirt

Readers and the Smart Bitches Sound Off About Publishing Trends

It is all well and good for librarians, publishers, and other professional bibliophiles to rave and rant about publishing, ebooks, DRM, and other things that we love and hate, but it is something all together when regular readers have the same conversation.

Sarah at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books will be speaking at O’Reilly Tools of Change conference on changes in the publishing industry. She asked her readers what she should include, what their concerns were, and what they wanted publishers to know and boy howdy did they respond. BSTB is not a blog with retiring violets for readers. The comments are thoughtful, smart, funny, and I hope that the publishing PTB are paying attention.

Not surprisingly, they bring up every issue I have heard librarians grumbling about as well. One thing that I realized as I read the comments was that people do realize and are concerned with the same issues that we are and for the same reasons. I have occasionally felt like we (librarians) are talking to ourselves in an empty room, but this makes me think the room may be the crush of the Season. It gives me hope that the publishing industry can still choose to listen and respond better than the music industry when faced with similar issues.

–Jane, her bookshelves thank her for buying a Kindle

The Librarian and Her Tribe

In preparation for a major writing project (more later), I have been reading a lot of books on collaboration in the era of the Internet and the ways this mindset has influenced… everything. I am currently in the middle of Wikinomincs. I know this is something I should have read ages ago, but there is no time like the right now and so, I read.

I have felt, as I have read these books, The Wisdom of Crowds, Crowdsourcing, The Starfish and the Spider, and Tribes, that these books were talking about me, my tribe, my experience. I have been a lurker in my librarian tribe of late, due to my family obligations, but I still think about librarians and libraries quite a lot.

In conjunction with all this ruminating on the way collaboration has changed everything, I have also been thinking about organizational culture and professional organizations. You know, like ALA and libraries in general. I have been thinking about how librarians share information and how we resist change or jump in depending on the technology or who is proposing the change.

I have been thinking of all the ways librarians share knowledge, collaborate on projects, and have embraced technology in ways that are wonderful and amazing.

And speaking of amazing… David Lee King and Michael Porter are launching a new website today called Library 101 that is a great example of all the things I have been pondering. Open, free access to information? Check. Information in multiple formats? Video, music, essays, and resources? Check, checkity, check. Making professional learning and sharing fun, informative, and cooperative? Yep.

Library 101 looks like a fantastic project. I can not wait to see the content, hear the music, and see the community grow. It goes live, live at Internet Librarian at 2 pm PST.

–Jane, loves her librarian tribe