Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Backtype a "Conversational" Search Engine

BackType is a real-time, conversational search. Conversational search is a new way of searching the web to surface what reputable people are saying about topics and webpages that interest you engine. We index and connect online conversations from across the web in real-time, so you can see what people are saying about topics that interest you.

We index and connect millions of conversations from blogs, social networks and other social media so you can find out what people are saying about the topics that interest you. BackType was founded in June, 2008 by Christopher Golda and Michael Montano.

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I searched for that scintillating topic "Library Outreach" and found a most interesting "conversation" with many voices which seem to have arisen from David Lee King's blog with Outreach being equated with being a "Rock Star".

Here's a peek:

Snarky Holly is jaded. - holly

*yawn* *changes the channel* - Mary Carmen

If I'd wanted to be a rock star, I would've learned to play guitar. - Kirsten

do rock star librarians get paid more than regular librarians? i could always go for a pay raise...how bad are the groupies? - Sir Shuping

LOL - I hadn't considered the groupie factor. this may change my opinion! ;) - holly

Real rock stars are, at least some of them, musicians. I'd guess the average earnings of rock musicians from rock music make library salaries look pretty good by comparison. A handful of them become rockstars--usually for a while. So, you know, be careful what you wish for. - Walt Crawford

*sigh* *goes back to doing her job well, unconcerned with rockstar status* - Jenica

What doofus wrote this, Holly? "Rockstar" is such a stupid metaphor. How about: "Are your librarians valued, valuable, essential resources to your community? If not, should they maybe consider wearing leather pants? Hmmmm?" Doofus. - David Rothman

I cant afford the hookers and blow it takes to be a rockstar... - The Archangel ωαřмaiden

Interesting that the meaning behind the question is being obfuscated with the snark... - Aaron the Librarian

librarians are not rockstars. They are (in the PL) municipal employees: underpaid, overworked, and the brunt of everyone's complaints. Much of this also holds in the academic world, although I have found there to be fewer complaints in the academy. - DJF

I am a rockstar, but not when I'm at work. - Kendra K

kendra *is* a rockstar. truth. - holly

To prove this, I will have a Thee Kendrak Attack Performance at IL. - Kendra K

WOO! - holly

Aaron: I think the snark uncovers something here--"rockstar status" may not be ideal or even what you're looking for. Valued contributors aren't usually rockstars... - Walt Crawford

So you are saying I *shouldn't* install a pyrotechnic display behind the reference desk? - Steve Lawson says Relax

Steve, make sure to chain all the firedoors closed before you set the display off, to get the maximum effect. - DJF

Students love our fog machine. - Kendra K

The "rockstar" language that we often see is funny to me since rockstars seem to have less and less cultural currency anyway.There are pop stars, and there are quasi-indie pseudo-stars like Radiohead. But the idea of the "rock star" as the guy in the leather pants with the groupies and the eye makeup and the half-hour drum solo--those guys are dinosaurs. So the last thing we want to be should be rock stars. Gee, this is like a blog post. - Steve Lawson says Relax

Steve, you make an excellent point. How many people actually want that sort of thing anyhow? This weekend I hung out with the "rockstars" of my youth, and their appeal didn't come from leather pants or mega drum solos, but from an amazing attitude and energy and some amazing songs. That's what I want to emulate. Now, I'll never be the Operation Ivy of the library world, or even Rancid, but what about Common Rider or Schlong? - Kendra K

If we are rock stars does that mean we have to wear leather pants? If so, count me out! - Bobbi Newman

The only rockstars in librarianship are the Dutch Boys. That's because they have accents, leather jackets and groupies. - Rochelle Rochelle

And they travel around the country in a van and are a little older than you might expect. - Steve Lawson says Relax

Kendra, if I could be the Cometbus of libraries, I'd be a very happy man. - Steve Lawson says Relax

I think you're not far off. I don't know who I'd want to be. Not really Jesse Michaels, not Dr Frank, I'll go for my gut and my heart and want to be the Dallas Denery of the library world. It's totally achievable. - Kendra K

I'm a studio player. No fame, but a moderately steady paycheque. - DJF

Not too hard to guess, Steve. I know my age peers when I see 'em. - Rochelle Rochelle

And, you know, not all of us are wildly in love with the Dutch Boys. (Ducks and runs away.) - Walt Crawford

no need to run away, Walt. that is a-okay in my thread! - holly

we need more rockstars in education, seriously.. we need people who can do their jobs amazingly, achieve impact and influence our wider system - Holly Rae

Clothing Line: "Break the mold join the rock star librarian movement!" http://www.zazzle.com/rocksta... - JSNFLMNG

Jason, that makes me think of "you are unique, just like everyone else." - ǎňňǎ
totally: everyone can be a rockstar librarian 9if you wear our clothes) - JSNFLMNG
to me, it just smacks of TRYING TOO HARD. all of this rockstar stuff does. - holly
Nancy Pearl: "The original RockStar Librarian" http://bookchase.blogspot.com/2007... - JSNFLMNG

Cynthia Wilson =Rockstar Librarian http://www.myspace.com/iamalib... - JSNFLMNG
Ok, going back on myself a little: I like a little rockstar now and then. And the Dutch guys seem like pretty decent ones. They give real interviews where they give their subjects time to talk. They seem to get librarians generally feeling good about libraries and the work we do. I'm eating meringue cookies as I type this: I can't live on meringue cookies, but I don't have to. - Steve Lawson says Relax
that's cool, Steve. I know lotsa people like 'em, they just don't do it for me. kinda like cilantro. and licorice. - holly

First of all, unless you're Prince, you need to type out y-o-u, not the letter U. Second of all... yeah. I've got nothing beyond that. - Cecily


Well, I was running away to logoff and get lunch. To clarify: Not in love with means what it says. I see what they're doing, they seem like decent folks...but I also noticed the way they managed to treat apparently-non-rockstars as invisible in at least one social setting, navigating automatically to The Hot Folks. Which is OK, but doesn't require my admiration. But, as you suggest, nothing wrong with rockstars...once in a while. - Walt Crawford

This is from David Lee King who I DO like, and who I like more than other people who I would have expected to say something like this (and who will remain nameless). - Mike

David Rothman - I'm the doofus who wrote this. Cool - lots of interesting comments for my impending blog post! - David Lee King

DLK makes me laugh out loud ;) - JSNFLMNG

Remember, I am the Dallas Denery of the library world - obscure but brilliant, with a fair amount of self deprecation. - Kendra K

Oh sheesh people. Some of you are deleting your comments! Get real. - David Lee King
oh seriously? lame. - holly

quick.. cache... too late.. didn't think to take a screenshot sorry - JSNFLMNG
Holly just HAD to drag cilantro into this, didn't you? - Miriella

No, wait - it's back. That was odd. Sorry - false alarm (very glad for that, too). - David Lee King

oh good. AND YOU KNOW I DID, MERRY. and I'd do it again ;) - holly

Holly's hatred of Cilantro is a perfectly valid comment - JSNFLMNG

OK - my goal with the tweet was to ... well ... get a reaction. Which I apparently did. Yay for me. - David Lee King

Haters. - Miriella

But here's what I mean - my library's communication specialist originally said this when a ref lib was worried that something was a bit too much about her (meaning her name and pic were attached). Cm Spec said "yep - my goal is to make YOU the rockstar, not me." - David Lee King

Meaning - our librarians ARE (well, or should be) a valued resource in the community. Let's take that 1 step further - have people ask for us, want to follow our writing in our library blog posts, want to attend our classes, etc. - David Lee King

I've heard a manager tell an employee they were a rockstar before (but it kind of sounded like a derogative statement) -as in you put yourself too far out there on the stage.-and- yo should try to do more workwork instead - JSNFLMNG

people don't friend brands or books. They friend people. Interesting people. People who call each other doofuses (oh wait - silly barb alert). Want your library to start getting noticed in your town? Start getting out, doing stuff, letting people know your names, etc. - David Lee King

Lester Public Library's director does that - he's got a column in their local newspaper! People know him. - David Lee King

So that's where I was headed with those thoughts. Now, you can continue rolling eyes if you need to :-) - David Lee King

pssshaw...let me show you how to be a Rockstar Librarian. You can help me trash my room in a drunken blackout at CiL. - Rev. Dr. W!cKeD Rock

woooooooooo \m/ \m/ - holly

who's gonna the gg allin of librarians? this community needs that sort of rebel. - Kendra K

DLK, here's my actual, sincere response: As a librarian, I don't want to be a rockstar, to be ogled from afar and immortalized on an impossible pedestal for doing flashy, sexy things. I want to be respected, valued, and appreciated for the real contributions that I make to my community, and remembered for those things. Alternately, I'd like to be Angelina Jolie. Either would be fine. - Jenica

i'm more of a superhero in my community, rather than a rockstar: http://orgmonkey.net/?p=696 - Marie is not a monkey

Jenica - that's fair. And I think that there's a large group of librarians that want that. There are others who would rather the community focused on the library's resources, rather than on them personally. And that's just wrong, because the librarian is an amazing resource for the community. - David Lee King

Hi David! Reading over this, I feel pretty good about my contribution. Certain libraries in certain communities may need a "rock star"--someone who looks good on TV, who can sum up what the library is about in a memorable chorus. In my community, I think the more down-to-earth, DIY punk/hippie thing is a better way to think about it--someone you can share a joke with, ask a stupid question of, someone who will say "wow, I have no idea how to answer your question! That's neat!" - Steve Lawson says Relax

I don't know that it's "just wrong," David. The library is bigger than I am. It was here before I came along & it will be here after I go. I think I'm a pretty cool guy, but honestly, the library & all of my coworkers are much better resources than I am. Yes, I would rather the focus be on my library & everyone who works here than on me. - joshua m. neff

Josh - that's cool. But even then, you are focusing on the people rather than on the stuff, which is what I'm getting at. - David Lee King

Well, it's both. I mean, we're all good resources, but so are our books, DVDs, periodicals, databases, etc. Plus our comfy seating, our public computers, our wifi. It's the whole shebang. - joshua m. neff

Steve - that works. Someone else said "I'm more of a superhero" above, and Jenica said "valued contributor of community" ... Again, just thinking out loud, but I think some of this is similar to what I'm meaning. It's quite possible that using "rockstar" pushed some buttons (I'm apparently good at that sometimes). - David Lee King

Josh - B&N has that. Except for the databases. What's the diff? - David Lee King
Heh, that you are! Naw, I get it--the question seems to be "are your librarians active and known as librarians in your community, and how important is that?" And if you don't know the diff between B&N and the library, I can't help you. - Steve Lawson says Relax

Ye - that's what I'm sayin. And yes, I DO know the diff. But I think it's the librarians that make the difference. We arrange the stuff, we help find it, we teach about it, etc. A library's much more than it's stuff, I think. - David Lee King
David, I've worked for Borders & I've worked for public libraries, & I guarantee, it's not just the librarians that make them two different places to work or patronize. - joshua m. neff

Wondering if I'm more of a Keith Emerson (cult ultratalented prog-rocker) than a Keith Richards (mega-superstar). - Mike

You got me there Josh - I've never worked there. Just know two people now who have or did. Interestingly, the other one plays bass in local KC bands ... and wants to become a librarian, too. ohshootIbroughtitbacktotherockstarsagain! - David Lee King
DLK: like a church is much more than the building people worship in and the book they read out of? A pastor (insert religious figurehead here) can fire up a church, and members of the church can be beacons of kindness etc... and it is more of a community of information sharing/gathering working together in unison - JSNFLMNG
Jason - yep - that's a good analogy, too. Wow. So far, we have rockstars, superheroes, pastors, and valued contributors. And doofuses. - David Lee King

http://sadtrombone.com/ - Michael Porter

Rock n' roll library http://www.librarystuff.net/2009... - Mike

I think it's the mission of the library and the mission of the bookstore that make them so different. Competent people in each can make both of them important parts of the community. Yes, we think more of Powells or the Tattered Cover or something when we think of a bookstore as a valued member of the community, but I think a chain store in a town that hasn't had a decent bookstore can still be a very good thing. But the fact that the library is supported by the taxpayers for the taxpayers is, IMO, the main difference. B&N is responsible to shareholders, not the local community. - Steve Lawson says Relax

Speaking of which, I am going to the Tattered Cover tonight for a book signing... - Joe....

Besides librarians (rockstar & non-rockstar), libraries offer access to free information & entertainment, free literacy resources, free classes, free internet access (not just wifi, but computers for those who don't have their own) & free space. I worked at Borders while I was in library school & right after I graduated. No matter how much of a librarian I was at heart & in behavior, what I did at Borders was SELL PRODUCT. And for the shareholders & corporate higher-ups at Borders & B&N, that's all that it is: PRODUCT. It could be books, DVDs, CDs, duct tape or canned corn, as long as they show a profit, they don't care what they're selling or who they're selling it to. That's a big reason why I don't work at Borders anymore & why I'm a librarian. I didn't become a librarian so I could be a rockstar or a valued community resource on my own, I did it because I believe in the mission of libraries & what they have to offer a community. - joshua m. neff

Josh - I get that. Really, I do. You say "I believe in the mission of libraries & what they have to offer a community." My earlier thought was this - One thing libraries DO have that they tend to not focus on much (or market) is their staff. We tend to promote the class & the resource before we promote the person behind the class or resource. So I agree with you, but I'm thinking about it from a different angle right now. - David Lee King

If I hadn't just finished the first draft of an absurdly long Making it Work/Philosophy essay, I'd be tempted to snatch this whole thread for use there...some really good stuff being said here. (I grew up Methodist, and if we had rockstar ministers, they'd be snatched away by other congregations with greater pull at the Conference level, where assignments were made...) - Walt Crawford

I have to think most everyone here's right. I want to be the earnest contributor, but a large part of my job as director is to be The Voice and The Face. We have to humanize our services as much as we have to build good services... - Jenica

David, can you tell me which libraries are keeping their staff hidden? Because every library I've worked at has had staff doing community outreach & regular patrons who got to know which staff member was good at what. If you look at my library's website, you'll see staff promoted all over the place. Now, most libraries I've been at have promoted services & collections *first*, but you know, staff come & go, but services & collections remain. I think there's a danger in promoting staff *over* services & collections. But I haven't seen a lot of "keeping staff under a bushel," so to speak. - joshua m. neff

Good points, Jenica. You are right :-) - David Lee King

Josh - well, your library is an exception, cause y'all rock (oops - sorry about that :-). I haven't seen many libraries hide librarians (though I do know some, and won't name them) ... but I HAVE seen plenty of librarians hide themselves. Hide themselves behind their stuff, their fears of standing in front of people, their fears of being known (even in my library, just the fact that we wanted to put names and pics of blog authors on our website was cause for concern from some). So yeah - I definitely HAVE seen that. - David Lee King

Oh sure, I've seen that, too. Putting pics of our staff up on our website wasn't met with universal enthusiasm. But not everyone *wants* to be in the spotlight. Not everyone *wants* to be a rockstar. Is that really a problem? - joshua m. neff

Well ... yeah. I DO think that's a problem. And here's how I'd spin that - a library wants to go in a new direction. Change their name, put faces, names, etc on the website. Go out in the community to attract people to the library and it's stuff (I'm thinking of my recent trip to anythink libraries in the denver area here). If some staff aren't on board ... well, they're not meeting the new requirements of their job and their library's new plan, are they? No - no one needs to be a "look! There's Josh Neff! Swoon!" (though I'm sure they do). But I Do think for many libraries, part of our new job requirements mean getting out of the building. Organizing podcamps. Being known in the community for that. Being the "ya rockstar" with a guitar during storytime (we actually have one of those). Being at the important area business socials/meetups so people know your name/face ... and have easy access to you which = easy access to your library. - David Lee King

Interesting. I have long said that I don't think everyone has to be a "2.0 librarian" or whatever you want to call it, but that everyone does have to accept that libraries are changing and the status quo won't last long. So they don't all have to be guitar heroes, but if the library is going that way, they don't have the right to undermine those kinds of people and programs once they are in place. - Steve Lawson says Relax

I think several of you have made excellent points. I agree with DLKing that libraries need to be as present in their communities as possible, though I would argue that there are different "rockstar curves" (if I may coin a pointless phrase) for different libraries, in the sense that some libraries may have every staff member interacting regularly and thoroughly with the public. Others may be more 50/50. Others may be coming along at a different pace, with a different ultimate goal. I think the important first thing is to acknowledge that you *have* a public, that you owe something to them, and that they are, by and large, your reason for being. How that is then represented and performed by the staff/library will vary. And to completely mess with the insane metaphors of the day, even the quiet guy at the back who thrums away on his bass is important to the band. As long as he does everything he can to be sure the audience is fulfilled, then he's valuable. So. - Louise Alcorn

In response to something Josh said, I've really struggled here with some of our staff, who are technically front-line staff, but who, given the opportunity, will keep from interacting with the public except at a bare minimum. A pleasant minimum, but still less than we could do. This is not unusual in libraries, as far as I can tell from what I hear from my colleagues. It takes a really forward-thinking management (yours, several I know here in Iowa) to say to their staff "hey, guys, this is public service. So let's go serve the public every day in a proactive way." I think we've made leaps and bounds in the last 15 years toward a more public face for all libraries, but it can still be a struggle. - Louise Alcorn

I'm certainly not arguing that working on the "front lines" isn't a public service job. But why, exactly, is it a problem if some staff don't want to be "rockstars"? I mean, I understand, David, that you think it's a problem. I just don't see *why* you think it's a problem. As long as they're not undermining the other staff, as Steve said, what's the problem with having some staff who want to put the library before themselves, who want to quietly but effectively do their jobs? Why do you think *all* staff need to be "rockstars"? - joshua m. neff

Why? I'll try to answer. I think that "quietly doing their jobs" = complacency and falling into a traditional rut, which = death for the library. Never a good thing - in libraries, in any industry. The book Good to Great talks about that. But I also agree with Louise - this depends on the library and their goals. I also like what she said about "audience." I read somewhere that in a sense, anyone at ANY job is in fact a performer on a stage. IE., when a stupid customer comes in and we act nice... we are in fact acting. Take that one step further, and we can pump that up a notch or two (like those fish dudes at Pike's Place Market). Put on a show ... at our jobs. - David Lee King

Wow. That makes me sad. Quietly & effectively doing your job is "complacency & falling into a traditional rut"? And that means "death for the library"? I don't see that at all. I certainly don't think that the key to library success is "be more like me." - joshua m. neff

Just telling you what lots and lots of librarians have told me. For them, "quietly doing their jobs" = no one stepping up to the plate to do the next thing (whatever that thing is) or (even worse) hoping no one notices them so they can minimally function at their job then go home. Effectively? Not sure you CAN be effective AND quiet... depends on what you mean by quiet. Doesn't share ideas at meetings? Doesn't ever have new ideas but still answers questions? What do you mean by quiet and effective? - David Lee King

See, when I think "rock star", I think about the librarians who have lots of speaking/preso gigs, or a whole lot of exposure beyond their community base, and that the quiet & effective folks we're mentioning just do their jobs and dont go on the circuit as much. And the quiet and ineffective ones need to go or be retrained. But that's my understanding. - The Archangel ωαřмaiden

I mean not putting yourself in the spotlight, not acting like the fish dudes, but when a patron comes in needing help, you help them. When something needs to be done, you do it, not with a lot of flash, you just get it done. If you have ideas, you share them, but what if you don't have any ideas? At my library, I see a lot of good, qualified people who do their jobs but don't make a lot of noise, don't sit at the front of the class, don't speak up a lot. But they do the work that needs to be done. Just because you're quiet & not putting yourself out there doesn't mean your complacent. It certainly doesn't mean you're dragging the library down. Honestly, I think it's insulting to even suggest that. - joshua m. neff

Sometimes "great" is "coming up with a brilliant new way of doing something." And sometimes "great" is "cleaning up puke, because goddammit, someone needs to do it." - joshua m. neff

Maybe I read your "quiet and effective" statement wrong. Sorry if I did! We might be talking about 2 different things here. Hope so! If they're quiet, and do their jobs well - that's wonderful. I'm certainly not meaning everyone has to be an extrovert! Heck, I'm a huge wallflower. But if they're quiet and don't speak up at a meeting (part of their job IS participating at a meeting) but then complaining about it later... that's something else entirely. - David Lee King

And I agree with your "puke" thing - in both cases, the person went the extra mile. - David Lee King

Of course, David, but I didn't think by "rockstar" you meant "someone who speaks up in meetings, instead of staying quiet but grumbling about it later." - joshua m. neff

My point was, just because you're not a "rockstar" in your community doesn't mean you're a bad librarian. - joshua m. neff

DLK- A doofusy thing is a doofusy thing, no matter who says it. Everyone says 'em. The internet just makes 'em widespread and permanent. I'd like to add that if your ambition as a LIS talking head is to evoke reaction, I strongly suggest pursuing more useful and meaningful ambitions. Your constant message seems to be "do more, be better," - and I love that- but the way that you sometimes say it (hyperbole, radical oversimplification, self-promotion) spoils the appeal of the message for me. - David Rothman

Agreed. But I also think that there's a pretty wide space between being a good librarian and being a community "rockstar" that could be explored a bit more by libraries... that's all. - David Lee King

A couple of comments. First of all, this seems to me to be pretty well the same conversation as all those SLA/ASKPro threads. Who are and what do we do, is there and "old" way vs a "new" way. - John Dupuis

Know what? Twitter is lousy for nuance. The role of the librarian perhaps deserves more nuance than terms like "rockstar." - David Rothman

David Rothman - to each his own. My goal isn't to evoke reaction (though I do that). It's always been to toy with ideas in my head, to share, and to see what others think. OTher people come along for the ride, whether or not they agree, and that's cool - David Lee King

And I must say - you didn't say "doofusy thing" - You said "what doofus wrote this, Holly?" I agree with your doofusy thing comment. The other? Not so much. - David Lee King

Second, I think a lot of the discomfort with the Rockstar term has to do with authenticity. When we think rockstar, we think of people who are clearly deluded (ie. Ozzy) and people who are famous for the sake of being famous or who want to be rockstars to show up everyone else or just to show off. I don't think this attracts more librarians or, in fact, most people, when it comes to how they do their jobs. People want to be authentic in their public personas, not something false and uncomfortable. - John Dupuis

John - you're right, and with my original thoughts, I wasn't going for deluded or fake! I'd just heard the statements more than once and was saying them "out loud." Yes - authenticity is hugely important - we can't be taken seriously otherwise. - David Lee King

At the same time, it's vitally important for librarians to be deeply connected to their communities, to be involved and visible. But I think the message here is that people want to be the Laurence Lessig or Clay Shirky of their library community outreach, not the Ozzy Osbourne or the Jon & Kate. - John Dupuis

DLK- sorry, but get over it. You say you wanted to evoke reaction. Fine, here's my reaction: it was a ridiculous thing to say. I didn't know who said it, just that it was ridiculous. I stand by that estimation. Yay! You evoked reaction- so stop portraying hurt feelings over it. If you aren't ready to receive disagreement and criticism, I strongly suggest not constantly posting your opinions online where they are subject to criticism. - David Rothman

DLK, that's great, it's just that you're never going to evoke an image of authenticity if you're talking about rockstars. Except for maybe Springsteen, but that's another thread. - John Dupuis

David - whatever. I disagree. No hurt feeling here - just pointing out what you said. Seriously - I love it when people disagree on my blog, in FF, in twitter, etc. But name-calling, even to anonymous people, is simply not cool. The "reaction" I meant from my original tweet was to say something and have people respond - not to see if I could get anyone riled. - David Lee King

John - yeah, I think you're right. Interestingly, people like Clay Shirky are called rockstars... - David Lee King

Several of the libraries I've worked with have been well served to keep some of their librarians hidden. On the other point - I totally want to be the Ozzy Osbourne of Libraryland. lmao In fact, going forward, I'd like to be referred to as the 'Prince of Darkness'. Seriously though, David, 'Rockstar' has connotations in the profession now...as in Colleen's (warmaiden's) definition. So, I think perhaps this is somewhat at the root of this long discussion. *wanders off mumbling* - Rev. Dr. W!cKeD Rock

Yep, you are correct I'm thinking, oh Prince of Darkness :-) Bad choice of words on my part. - David Lee King

David, true about Shirky, but I'm thinking more along the lines of contrasting *wanting* to be a rockstar rather than ending up as one -- although I can only guess at other people's true motivations, of course. Rev D, I was thinking more Ozzy 2009 rather than Ozzy 1975...and I'm afraid I don't know Colleen's rockstar definition -- is there a reference? - John Dupuis

I particularly like the opinions of the fellow signing himself Josh M. Neff. A reasonable, practical chap. A rockstar in the conversation, one might say.

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