Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fresh Meat and the Creative Commons

Being a newly minted "fresh meat" roller derby girl, I was proud to receive my temporary meat name last night. The only rule of thumb for a meat name is that it be meat-based (or, for vegetarians, meat substitute based). Can you guess my meat name from this photo?

via Flickr Creative Commons license, by Lady/Bird
Anyways, when searching for a pic for this post, I thought I might make sure I'm up to date on my knowledge of copyright and use of others' creative property. Just like plagiarism of text, you cannot just grab any image from the web and use it for your own web site, blog or even power point presentation without permission. Copyright rules apply. Luckily, there is a wealth of material available that has been given some variation of a Creative Commons license. The photo above was found using the Flickr Advanced Search and checking the box for limiting the search to Creative Commons work (Google Images probably has a similar search limiter). If you upload your own pictures to Flickr, you also have the option of designating them as creative commons works, so that others might reuse or adapt it, as I've done above.

To learn more about using images and Creative Commons: http://libguides.babson.edu/creativecommons

Next time you post a blog or create content, think about sprucing it up with some visual Creative Commons flair!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Problem with Community Q&A Services and FAQs

Briefly: more often than not, people do not have a clear idea what they need or how to ask for it. 

So my response to the recent resurgence of online community Q&A services, like Facebook is trying, is that they are probably doomed to failure. Not to say there's no place for such services. I think, especially within niche communities, they serve an invaluable source of support and information. But it takes training and experience to be able to guide most general information seekers to uncover what they really need. In my opinion, this cannot be effectively accomplished, beyond rudimentary questions (which can mostly be answered by simply "Googling it" anyways), by anonymous voluntary answerer's or by reams of FAQs.

These are skills that trained librarians and other specialty service personnel do best through what we in the library world call the "reference interview." It is a give and take; a negotiation; and a teachable moment. So I'll be watching Facebook's efforts in this area. I don't think the service (or others like it) are any sort of threat to libraries, especially if we continue to get the word out about our value and skills. Granted the library profession still has lots of room for improvement in that department.