Walt at Random

Say what?

I don’t believe the three words are directly related–but they all play into changes in articles in the Library Leadership Network over the past week.

It’s been one of those weeks where everything’s a change in existing pages articles than brand-new articles. Sometimes that’s a tough decision, sometimes not. Last week, it was a split decision: One major commentary from a blog, and a smaller related commentary from a different blog, started out as a new article–until I realized, the same day, that they worked better as part of an existing article.



Much of what winds up in the Library Leadership Network emerges through a two-step process. Leslie Dillon reads widely in the management literature and some other non-library literature, e.g. Harvard Business Review, MIT Technology Review and others. As a contributing editor to LLN, she excerpts articles that she finds relevant to LLN issues, posting the excerpts and her commentary to “Leader’s Digest” as blog posts. (The Leader’s Digest page shows the first part of the ten most recent posts–unfortunately, changes in RSS handling in MediaWiki software mean that the whole posts no longer appear.)

At the end of each month, I do wiki markup on the blog posts, categorize them as one of the major topics, sometimes add a little editorial comment, and combine them into a monthly article. Then, as time permits, I find homes for most of the items in other articles and change the items in the monthly summary into links.

Two of the items for June 2009 deal with brain hemispheres, although certainly not in any scientific sense. In one case, there’s a claim that “facing tomorrow’s challenges calls for right-brain thinking,” added to Leadership issues. In the other, now part of Creativity and innovation, we’re told that the fashion industry has a “both-brain model” for innovation that’s important to other industries. (An advance apology to neuroscientists who may read this: I’m just noting what appears in other articles–not making any comment about the reasonableness of the “x-brain” usage.)


Two items seem to reflect a sort of technological triumphalism that I find all too common: X (whatever X might be) is not only terribly important, it’s vital for everyone in every field and has sweeping implications–mostly sweeping away the old.

This month’s examples? In Innovation notes, a new section on “Crowdsourcing: what it means for innovation” assures us that corporate attempts at crowdsourcing aren’t just ways to get free labor–they’re important new ways of doing things that can solve increasingly complex problems through mass collaboration. And, as with most sure-fire ideas, the advice for planning is “just do it” and let curation handle itself.

The other one is a new section in Innovation lessons, “Twitter’s ten rules for radical innovators,” where we learn that this “revolutionary” thing is a “living expression of the new principles of organization and management.” It vaporizes monopoly and shows how messiness is better than cleanliness–oh, and business models will create themselves. The list even seems to suggest that the financial crash wouldn’t have happened if banks were run by tweets.


LLN’s growing section on conferences, presentations and alternative approaches to both has tended to lump unconferences and xCamps (barcamps, librarycamps, etc.) together–and most notes on how they work in practice have related to unconferences–one or two day events that don’t include sleepovers or full retreats.

Unconferences in practice: Notes and resources now features a thoughtful, interesting report on something that’s distinctly an xCamp, the Creativity and Collaboration retreat in Monterey, CA. Nina Simon’s report includes some of the things that probably wouldn’t happen in an unconference.

Direct member participation

When the precursor to LLN began (before my time), one assumption may have been that library leaders themselves would provide most of the editorial matter–that’s one reason it’s a wiki. Part of my job was to check on new editorial matter and manage it coherently–editing as needed, adding subheadings, combining or separating items for better flow, avoiding spam.

That hasn’t happened so much. Library leaders and managers are busy people, so LLN comes closer to the “990:9:1” version of the Nielsen ratio for network participation than the usual “90:9:1” ratios. (One good statement of the Nielsen ratio, from Jakob Nielsen himself, comes in an October 9, 2006 post at Alertbox.)

In fact, a few LLN members have contributed text directly–mostly via entries on talk pages–but most member contributions are indirect, via blog posts that I harvest for worthwhile material. For a while, I was pushing for more direct activity, including more discussion on talk pages–but it seems that such activity only grows at its own pace.

Still, if you have thoughts to add to something you find on LLN, you’re invited to add your thoughts–directly on talk pages or by writing a new article. (If you detest MediaWiki markup or want an editorial eye, you can also just send me your material marked as intended for LLN, with a note on where you think it belongs–mailing either to waltcrawford at gmail dot com or to walt.crawford at lyrasis dot org.)