#YesAllWomen

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past days following the #YesAllWomen hashtag, and reading articles and stories that many of my friends have posted on Facebook and their personal blogs.

I’ve stayed abreast of the #NotAllMen backlash and the critical assessment of it.

There’s one article in particular that I keep coming back to:

Why It’s So Hard for Men to See Misogyny by Amanda Hess (posted on Slate on May 27, 2014)

I believe that the best thing I can do in this situation is to shut up and listen. I’ve gone back and forth about this post, debating whether or not I should even say anything.

But I’ve heard too many women tell me that the silence of men on this issue is a part of the problem. That by not speaking up I tacitly allow these problems to continue. So here goes…
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The Real Problem Affecting Kids & Reading

This op-ed piece is an important contribution to the ongoing discussion of literacy and reading in our current culture:

Kids Don’t Read Books Because Parents Don’t Read Books by Jordan Shapiro (posted on Forbes on May 13, 2014)

It focuses on the essential point:

The most powerful influence on whether or not kids read, and grow up to be reading adults, is their parents.

Whether they read in print or on screens is secondary—the first requirement is that kids need to be taught to make reading an important part of their lives.

I admit that I get caught up in the “print vs. digital” argument (although I tend not to argue for one or the other, but to point out that this isn’t a competition).

There is evidence which shows that our brains handle written language differently between different presentation media, which can have an impact on retention and depth of comprehension, as well as the kind of deep, slow reading required to develop empathy.

I don’t want to minimize this evidence—but Mr. Shapiro is absolutely correct to point out that framing these discussions as essentially “print vs. digital” is a distraction from the true core issue:

Parents must make time to read to their children and actively engage them with the text.

Parents must take the time to read for themselves so their children see adults reading as a normal part of life.

This—more than any other factor—is what makes kids want to read, and keep reading for the rest of their lives.

The Potential of Ebooks, Part 2: Another Modest Proposal

S.
S. by Doug Dorst & J.J. Abrams
I keep thinking about the novel S. and how Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams intended it to be a celebration of the printed book—they created an experience calibrated to take advantage of aspects that are unique to printed material.

It has me wondering—how do you create a story that equally celebrates ebooks and takes full advantage of the aspects that are unique to electronic formats?

Part of the challenge with such a goal is that we haven’t even come close to developing the full potential of ebooks yet: multimedia integration, burying easter eggs in the pixels, ereader versions of the Konami Code… There’s tremendous opportunity for a level of interactivity that print simply can’t match and we’ve barely scratched the surface.
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Website Development as Storytelling

In my last few jobs—non-profit health support organizations in Chicago, the Kansas City Public Library—I developed a reputation as the person who can break your brand new website in ways that you never anticipated.

As we built our award-winning Civil War on the Western Border website here at KCPL; as the non-profit I worked at for my last few years in Chicago went through two different content management systems and completely redid their website—we obviously spent a lot of time testing the new sites and services, making certain of the functionality, running the systems through their paces before launching them to the public.

In the process, I learned that I’m the guy who identifies the most bizarre ways that things break down and fall apart. I search for the most counter-intuitive paths I can take through a site and I see where they lead me.

For example:
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Everything to Everyone, or: Why Library Websites Are So Complicated

“Everything to everyone is a very confusing mixed message.”

This is one of the last lines in this post from UX Magazine:

Five Customer Experience Lessons Coffee Taught Me by Tyler Wells (posted on May 5, 2014)

As a digital librarian, my library’s website is the entrance point for the Digital Branch. So it’s no surprise that I spend a lot of time thinking about library websites and following discussions about the subject. Sometimes, I even write about it.

A couple of years ago, I noticed a lot of people comparing library websites to Amazon.com. Amazon has far more stuff in their catalog than any library system (probably—I don’t actually have any numbers to back up this statement) and yet they manage to maintain a site that’s much more user friendly and highly functional than most library websites; their information architecture, their UX design, and the ways they leverage their product metadata puts most library websites to shame.

Why can’t library websites be more like Amazon?
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