Saturday, 24 September 2011

The use of quotes

This poem of mine was written in 2000 and published in Verbatim 26(1), winter 2001, p.23. I have just learned, via a tweet from Verbatim Editor Erin McKean (@emckean), that today is National Punctuation Day, at least in her nation; here comes my offering.


I’ll send them both to jail, blabs ‘leaky’ judge.
The punctuation is correct,
with single quotes to mark what’s just alleged,
though what’s alleged may not be just.

‘Peace’ within quotes: a journalistic thumb
jerks its contempt for such a word.
But in Perhaps the mayor would like to come
(a plea of not-in-my-backyard)

and live with them “urinating in the lounge”
quotes mark unlettered emphasis,
eyes screwed to relieve out-of-focus rage.
Let’s call it a ‘non-standard’ use.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Cam23 2.0, Thing 23: Reflection

Things which made you smile
QR codes have become quite an enthusiasm of mine, and the mismatch between that and the dumbphone I stick with has generated some interesting conversations. I cried up QR codes in the Haddon's presentation to the Alumni Weekend, but didn't have an immediate answer to the alumnus who asked if I could recommend a QR reader app.

I was saddened by the recent Twitter spat

between Charlie Brooker and Phil Bradley. "Leave them to the competent" is no way to address a customer, or even a potential customer. I hope we can account it an appalling lapse on Phil's part, rather than a foretaste of his presidency. It's not the kind of thing I meant to support when I voted for him last year.

Gliffy I see myself using in connection with Haddon projects.

Things which have become a part of the way you live and work

This list has not changed much since 2010, when my list included Doodle, Google Docs, Google Calendar, RSS feeds, Twitter, and Google Reader. The applications I would add for 2011 are the ones named in the previous section. I'm making a bit more use of screenshots now that Lightshot has given me the power of editing them and pasting small, relevant sections of them into documents. And I am glad that the Haddon blog now tweets for itself.

Things which you'll never go near again

Pushnote, probably, for reason stated.

Web 2.0 and social media more generally - what role do they really play within libraries and information services?

I'm afraid I lack the resources to answer this question properly. Short of a proper survey of the library world, I am thrown back on my own observation and experience -- and they may be as unreliable now as in the diary entry of the white ten-year-old, after a car journey across London in August 1967: "I saw several coloured people but no prejudice."

My own experience is that social media in my library setting have been extremely useful to me, but have not wholly persuaded many other people of their effectiveness. It's rare that I get much response when I set up a Doodle poll for a meeting; the Haddon Library's Twitter presence has no more than 36 followers; not all readers possess the kit to use QR codes.

Against that is the fact that all the tricks named in this post were taught me by librarians. Librarians are evidently enthusiasts for these tricks. And the reports in other cam23 blog posts, even allowing for wishful thinking, do seem to indicate that the tricks are proving effective.

As a profession, we like to whinge about how we are perceived by our neighbours, by the media, and by the world in general. Here's a challenge. Let's listen out, instead, for people who mistake us for more able than we are. Let's try and get an idea of what drives any such welcome misperception -- is it linked to our bookish skills? is it linked to our skills with social media? is it linked to something else?

Maybe then we shall have some idea of what role social media are really playing....

Cam23 2.0: Week 4, Extra Thing: Using the Library Widget

Yes, I see I should have blogged about this, instead of airily dismissing it and turning my attention to a dark corridor of the Google Calendar.

Briefly, then: I once explained to a Haddon reader that non-delivery of our reminder notices did not excuse the late return of borrowed items, and told him, & then everyone else in an email circular, that I made a note of return dates in my filofax. The next person who tries on the undelivered-reminder ploy will be referred to the libraries widget, which takes the work of making such an entry.

And even more briefly: I wish I'd noticed, before the airy turn, the extra extra thing of the Libraries at Cambridge calendar. Now I don't need to go tramping through CamTools in search of journal discussion lunches.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Cam23 2.0: Week 13, Extra Thing: QR codes

Think about how QR codes could be used in your library. What are the benefits and the drawbacks?

The Haddon is already using QR codes on notices, generated from . We put them on handouts for new users and visitors. The codes link to the library's web pages.

I have considered using QR codes in the paper version of our list of useful links. I might yet do that; at the moment, my feeling is that a code for each link would clutter the thing, and that a single QR from that paper list to the web version would avoid that problem.

Have a go at generating a code of your own. Unfortunately you will only be able to read it if you have a phone with a barcode reader (e.g. QR Code Reader and Scanner for the iPhone or QR Droid for Android), but try and get someone to read it and test it out.

As indicated above, I have already generated QR codes for the Haddon. I lack a smartphone to read them myself. When I first put them out into the world I feared I might be in the position of the 4-year-old who scribbled all over a piece of paper and then said, "Mummy, when I go to school I'll be able to read that!"

I was showing off about the codes to one library user, and noticed that her phone looked smart enough to read them. But she'd never heard of QR codes. I conducted her to the nearest notice of ours that sported one, and then neither of us quite knew what to do next. Which part of the mobile should be pointed at the code? The reason for this embarrassing glitch, as Andy Priestner explained when I asked him, will have been that the phone lacked a QR reader app. Apparently they don't come built in, and a person who'd not heard of QR codes would hardly have downloaded such a thing.

I tried the QR codes again on a group from a Sutton Trust summer school. One of them pointed a mobile phone at the code, and the code led the phone to our web page. Better still was the answer from the member of the Open Cambridge group whom I asked if the results were mobile friendly. On the other hand, a question in that context isn't exactly rigorous market research, and smartphone users' views on our pages are hereby sought.

If you're feeling fancy, try making a personalised code!

OK, here it comes. The text is a stage direction from a sitcom episode by the late lamented N.F. Simpson (1979:486), which has been a catchphrase of mine for over thirty years.

SIMPSON, N.F. 1979. The best I can do by way of a table-leg is a hundredweight of coal. In Paul Jennings (ed.), The book of nonsense: an anthology. London: Futura, pp. 460-487.