Biblion: iPad app from The New York Public Library

Biblion: The Boundless Library is a new iPad app from The New York Public Library. It aims to connect the public with the extensive research materials of the Library.

The first edition of the app showcases the Library’s 1939-40 New York World’s Fair holdings, one of the collections most consulted by researchers. The records of the Fair Corporation span 2,500 boxes of material, from press releases to 12,000 photographs to correspondence with every country and corporation that participated in “The World of Tomorrow” Fair.

By means of an innovative layout users can swipe their way through a virtual map of documents, images, multimedia, and original essays by leading scholars who have used the collections to put the raw materials in context.

Readers can jump from story to story, stack to stack through inter-story connection links resulting in a multi-linear, immersive experience.

Original sources are used to recreate the City of Tomorrow, Democracity. It’s a complete, 360-degree approach to navigating the collection and putting its items in context for a new and personalized learning and reading experience.

“The Library has always stood at the forefront of new channels of information,” said Paul LeClerc, President of The New York Public Library. “We are excited to present Library users with ever-increasing access to our renowned collections.”

The Library is establishing a reputation for itself as a leading innovator in the field of communications by combining different aspects of modern digital media to reach out and connect to its users and the general public in novel and compelling ways.

In a successful campaign called “Don’t Close the Book on Libraries” it used a theatre group called Improv Everywhere to reenact a scene from Ghostbusters in one of the libraries and used a video of a dog skateboarding through its corridors to garner attention.

A clue to the secret of the Library’s success in engaging with the new forms of media may actually be an old media maxim. In an interview with us last year, Deanna Lee, Vice-President of Communications said, “You have to tell a good story that teaches people about things that they otherwise aren’t hearing, that has great, compelling characters that makes a difference in people’s lives and says to them that you need to care about this story because it’s directly related to what is going on with you.”

The design of the app itself was done by Potion, a firm that specializes in interactive experiences. It was founded by graduates of the MIT Media Laboratory. According to Principal Phillip Tiongson, “Biblion transfers the physical library experience… We have given the content a shape, so people can intuitively understand what it looks like and want to dive into the story.”

The new app is available for free at Apple’s iTunes store. A web version will soon be available at nypl.org. It is the first in a series of apps the Library is planning to release in the coming months.

Highlights From BlogTalk 2010: Day Two


Ruairí McKiernan speaking at BlogTalk 2010.

The second day of the conference proved just as valuable as the first, starting with Stowe Boyd talking us through his “web of flow” theory and how it is all about the streams.

He was followed by Ruairí McKiernan inspiring the crowd with the story of SpunOut.ie. Fergus Hurley talked about his experiences doing business in Silicon Valley and Laurent Walter Goix spoke of bringing it back to “context” from a telecoms perspective. Ronan Skehill outlined how “Apps Are Bad”, and after a healthy debate around this idea we went to lunch.

Perhaps one of my favourite sessions from the conference was Deanna Lee‘s talk about engagement and The New York Public Library.

Various other presentations filled the afternoon; but again the highlight of the day was the panel discussion on location-based social networks.

Location-Based Social Networking Panel Discussion

The panel discussion was one of great interest for those of us who live in Ireland as it seems we are the only ones in the country who seem to be using location-based devices so far. Equally important is the impact such technology has on our behaviour.

Mark Cahill led the discussion, walking us through the various location based networks: Foursquare, of course, WeePlaces.com, Google Latitude, Gowalla, Plancast, and now Facebook Places. Mark put it very simply: it’s about relevance and if you’re in the right place, right time… that’s relevant.

Fergus Hurley outlined that despite the launch of Facebook Places, Foursquare still has potential due to it’s gaming elements. I’d have to agree, considering this is the appeal that it also has for me at the moment. But I think what we needed to contemplate was what would be the motivation for “checking in”? Fergus also touched on this when he said that he thought people would check in somewhere that they wanted other people to know about. Say for example, me checking in when in Spain while I was on holiday to remind everyone that I was somewhere sunny and when they were probably stuck in the Irish rain!

A debate ensued about the behaviour from one generation to another (and how “generations” may not mean years now but months) and that younger generations will adapt to sharing where they are at all times. Only question left to answer is which one of the networks will be king. It seemed Facebook was the popular, but very unpopular, choice for most.

We Should All Support SpunOut.ie

Ruairí McKiernan spoke about SpunOut.ie in one of the morning slots, and I think most of the BlogTalk crowd learned a thing or two about social media for non-profit organisations. The organisation is using social media to activate the young people in Ireland, to inform and engage them with a number of different issues or challenges they face.

What we can learn from their case study? Always involve your target audience. SpunOut.ie wants to engage young people, so they have young people on the board and involved in making key decisions for the organisation. And remember to learn from one market to another. Use social media to share ideas and learnings but remember to bring it back to your local audience.

Clixtr Presented By Fergus Hurley

He walked us through what it takes to go from Galway to Silicon Valley. His network, Clixtr, is one that I admit to not hearing about before the conference and will certainly use now in the future. His presentation had a lot of great resources so looking forward to getting the slides. He also gave us a sneak peak at Picbounce which appears to be a faster version of uploading your pictures to sites like Twitter.

Engagement Is Key From NYPL

Deanna Lee of The New York Public Library gave us a great presentation on how she has seen success in the social space. The title of her presentation “Communications 2.0″ is something that stuck with me, because she made the point that while the rest of us have moved on to Web 3.0 and beyond, for institutions and corportations, many of them are still stuck in 2.0.

I would agree that this is the challenge from a marketing perspective that we face all the time. Consumers have advanced their behaviour; but organisations are still fearful of diving head first into this space. The key point from the presentation was that we have to think about ways for our content to stand out. We cannot live by the “build it and they will come” motto, as social media is about being proactive. We have to create new ways to be noticed in the sea of content.

She referred us back to the “basics of storytelling” and to always be relevant. She gave us a lot of great examples of what makes content stand out like Ghostbusters in the NYPL or Tillman the skateboarding dog. As someone who has always been a fan of the library, she was able to draw on this favourably disposed emotion by making the NYPL’s campaign not a brand’s campaign but a people’s campaign.

Additional Points Worth Noting?

In addition to the highlights featured above, there were several presentations that sparked intrigue and got me thinking about all of the things I now have to follow up on! Some of them have been noted here below, but would love for others to add some of their highlights!

Consider The Six Degrees Of Collaboration And Apply To Your LinkedIn Strategy

Ted Vickey presented his thoughts on the power of LinkedIn and outlined several ways he has used the network to build his own network and others. Reach out to your network on LinkedIn and source contacts that can help you provide solutions to problems.

How Often Do We Ask Ourselves “Who Am I?” When Thinking About How We Are Presented In Our Social Profiles Online

Gabriela Avram, University of Limerick and Brian O’Donovan, IBM presented their academic observations about social identity construction. They outlined IBM’s internal social network, BluePages, as an example for their research. They pointed out that internal social networks are used with promotion in mind. Their slides definitely provided some food for thought.

A really interesting perspective was provided by Dr. Werner Breitfuss of Hypios, who presented his company’s “problem solving” platform that really shows the power of social media for our future. In my basic understanding of his product, Hypios helps people find experts with social media. If you have a problem that needs a solution, source the people that know the answers best. Take his Kraft example, where a small restaurant in Italy ended up providing the answer to something that Kraft was trying to solve on their own. The small restaurant was found using social media.

I haven’t commented on Ronan Skehill’s argument for why “Apps Are Bad” because I’m afraid I’d need to do a bit of research before I would be able to participate in that debate! His presentation did prove valuable in providing us with key stats about the future of native apps vs. web apps, and really drilled down the growth in this area. I had heard about Android’s growth, but didn’t realise that they had increased market share from 2% to 10% from Q1 2009 to Q1 2010.

Laurent Walter Goix of Telecom Italia was able to give us insight into our changing social behaviour from a mobile network’s perspective. His presentation was all about context. He outlined that we must always be “context aware,” considering the where, when, how, by what, and by which network? With this context awareness, there will a new role for telcos, whereby they may become the “context sensors” for the data we share and consume across the mobile social web. He also pointed out the importance of filtering content on your mobile due to the small display screens on mobile devices.

All in all, the conference was really valuable for a social media marketer/enthusiast due to its fresh perspective in speakers, as mentioned in my post about BlogTalk 2010 day one! From someone looking at social media with my brand and organisation hat on, it was useful to think about the technology behind what makes social networks work. The debates about the future of social media left us all buzzing. I look forward to staying in touch with those that myself and Aoife Murphy of Radical met along the way; as well as keeping up to speed on the blogs, videos and opinions shared from the speakers on the day. Thanks to John Breslin and other event organisers.

Emer is the Social Media Manager for Radical, a full service online marketing agency in Dublin. You can find her on Twitter at @emerlawn.

Deanna Lee: Social Media and The New York Public Library

Deanna Lee is Vice-President of Communications of The New York Public Library, (NYPL.) Before that she was at the Asia Society and before that she was a Senior Producer at ABC News.

As part of her current role she has been active in extending the reach of the NYPL’s social media presence. In one instance, through her efforts and the efforts of her team the follower account for @NYPL has risen from about 4,000 in January 2010, to over 65,000 as I write at the end of August 2010, seven months later.

I asked her how she did approached the task of managing the NYPL’s online activities.

Making content that really stands out and then very proactively and consciously pushing out all this great content. Because, of course, we are all working in a world that’s very exciting but the sea of content is growing and growing. So how do you make what you do stand out?

First of all it starts with quality content. We all think this is New Media but guess what, not everything in New Media is new. Certain things have never changed. You have to tell a good story that teaches people about things that they otherwise aren’t hearing, that has great, compelling characters that makes a difference in people’s lives and says to them that you need to care about this story because it’s directly related to what is going on with you.

How easy is it to create content?

It’s shockingly easy and that’s the challenge. We work for a big organization, The New York Public Library and to a lot of people there who haven’t been creating their content doing it seems a really daunting thing. My job as a manager is to inspire people and to say, “You’ve got all the goods. You have the great content for stories. You know how to tell the stories and, guess what, making the stories is just not that hard.” And when people start, invariably they find that’s so.

Of course the easier it is for people to make that great content the easier it is for that sea of content to grow. But the challenge to what I call, ‘market it out there,’ is even greater. So the very thing that is exciting is making it harder at the same time.

So, there’s no place to rest in this New World?

There are changes every week. There’s exciting new technology every week. A lot of those new technologies are helping us. Just look at what we are all able to do now with Google Analytics. It used to be you used to go trial and error and see what punches through to people, what gets you more eyeballs. Now you can actually measure it. In traditional media we were never able to really do that. You would wait for news of television ratings through sweeps and those were very imperfect.

Google Analytics can be very precise and you can and should be trying different techniques and measuring them constantly.

Nobody seems to know where it is all going so where should people start?

You should make content that interests you. You don’t want to just throw anything out there. You want to feel good about what you are doing. Presumably, if you are a content maker you want to make content that makes a difference to other people’s lives. Isn’t that the ultimate definition of Social Media? It’s that you can reach other people. Not just reach them and make them look at you but reach them and make them care about something. In an ideal world even make them act. In the broadest sense that’s what the definition of what Social Media is. You better care about it yourself and care about what you are doing.

I never know if everybody know this term from that old Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams;” “Build it and they will come.” Well that’s an old movie and that’s and old thought. Because it’s not “build it and they will come.” You can make the content that interests you. You can make the content that’s full of good story-telling but more and more people are doing that every day. You can make it but then you have to figure out how to make them come.

Which is how?

You just don’t it out in one place, in one blog, on Youtube. You have to multi-purpose your content. The great thing about what we are all doing now – and certainly technology and devices are making this more possible – is that a blog post doesn’t have to be what an old blog post was which was primarily text. Or, if you were lucky, a slide-show. Now with tools like Tumblr a blog post can incorporate that video that you made. You could start it with a video and add a little bit of back story and you’ve got a blog post on Tumblr in addition to a Youtube video, or a Vimeo video or a video that you are putting out on your Facebook page. It should all be circular. You should me multi-purposing everything.

How does collaboration work in this mix?

We like to partner with people that add something that we don’t have. Partners that can add a huge ready-made viral marketing machine for example. We don’t have a lot of marketing dollars. We are a non-profit, we’re the ‘public’ library. We partnered with this group Improv Everywhere and every video they make automatically gets tons of views and massive press. Old Media, New Media, everyone writes about everything they do. They’re the ones who made the famous no-pants subway rides. Their motto is “We cause scenes.” We figured that they would love to get the chance to cause one of their scenes in the famous Rose Main Reading Room at the Library. We said to them, we are going to invite you in but in return let’s think of something you guys and your creative team can do that will promote an advocacy campaign we had at the time to fight dramatic City budget cuts. It was a great partnership. They got something great out of it and we got something great out of it.

With all this information moving around what about the issues of openness and transparency?

Many people would say that the jury is out. People can post more easily to more and more places and right now and transparency is considered a very good thing. I do feel that in these times when many people don’t feel that they have very much control over large parts of their world then feeling like you can see how decisions are being made in the institutions you care about or in politics, or in arts, culture and entertainment plus feeling like you get an inside look at something, that kind of transparency is considered a good thing and New Media and Social Media is making that possible.

What do you see coming over the horizon? What should we be paying attention to?

What young people should be looking at is that you may think you may know what you want to be doing in five years but new disciplines, new fields, new possibilities are opening up. More then at any time in history you are the ones defining what the next fields shall be. I would just hope that young people looking forward aren’t trying to fit into careers, fields or jobs that are set. Or if you do go to a set job you’re asking yourself every day, “How do I expand the bounds.”

Deanna Lee is speaking at BlogTalk 2010 on Friday, August 27th.