Ello: Simple, Beautiful, Ad-free, and Definitely BETA

logo_808707_printIf you have not been introduced to Ello.co yet, allow me the pleasure. Ello is a nascent social network with a conscience and a manifesto (which reads).

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

Powerful stuff. Useful stuff? Not quite yet.  I love the mission of Ello, but have little use for the service thus far.  The key to a good social network for me, is being able to find the people that I want to interact with.  I do not socially network randomly very often.  Ello is still in Beta format and is by invitation only.  Anyone can request an invite, but currently I cannot find enough of my family and friends on Ello to actually consider abandoning Twitter or Facebook.  So, as long as I have to continue using Twitter and Facebook, Ello is not yet taking hold in my life.  But I want it to.  I do not want to be Mark Zuckerberg’s reluctant product any longer.

There are important questions to ask though.  Is Ello’s model sustainable?  They believe that it is.  The company is registered as a Public Benefit Corporation, which is a for profit business that creates a benefit for society.  From their own site this means:

1) Ello shall never make money from selling ads;

2) Ello shall never make money from selling user data; and

3) In the event that Ello is ever sold, the new owners will have to comply by these terms.

In other words, Ello exists for your benefit, and will never show ads or sell user data.

That does not mean that it is sustainable though.  Will they make enough profit or raise enough money to have the capacity to support the large networks that we all now expect?  Will they have the resources to protect data from hackers?  Not selling our data does not mean that it is protected.  Will this turn into a donation supported PBC?  As a huge supporter and user of Wikipedia.org, I would much rather donate $10 a year for a great social network, than continue being the product of Twitter and Facebook.  All of these questions will be answered in time, but most importantly, Ello must grow.  Its functionality and usefulness will grow for me, as I am able find the people I want within its network.








By: Dustin Fife, Outreach Librarian for Utah Valley University

Jessica’s Rules for Work

by Jessica Breiman

It has been a long week at work and thus I have failed at posting to Innovation Action Update like I was supposed to! I wrote a draft of a long post about homeless populations and libraries, but never quite finished it up (you know how that goes, right?). So here are a few thoughts for your Friday afternoon, catalyzed by my week at work, and some conversations with colleagues.  They are Jessica’s Rules for Work and are based entirely on my own strengths and weaknesses, which may not be your strengths and weaknesses, but nevertheless may get you thinking about the topic.

  1. Be kind. It is just as easy to be kind as to not be kind, so even if you are annoyed, frustrated, and pissed off (and even if you have every right to be), still be kind.
  2. Do take a deep breath but don’t take it personally. By which I mean, when I feel put upon or pissed off about a situation at work, I hereby instruct myself to take a deep breath and remind myself that work is not me. What happens at work does not define me, so I shouldn’t take it personally when things don’t go my way.
  3. Be honest. This does not mean brutally honest (a phrase which has never made sense to me), but be honest with colleagues, supervisors, employees, and patrons. Will my supervisor get this project from me in its best form at 8am on Monday? If not, then instead of promising it to them, I should say, “I can have a draft ready for you Monday. If I have a few more days, the project will be in better shape when it reaches you.”
  4. Do not expect honesty. By which I mean, people often spread themselves too thin and overpromise. If someone guarantees that they will have something to me by Monday and I don’t have it by Monday, I can throw a fit and be pissed at the person for not telling me the truth, or I can say, “Look, I know you have a lot on your plate. I have to your part of this project by X date. If I can’t get it by then, I will need to ask someone else to provide it for me. Can you get it to me or do you have too much on your plate right now?” That said, sometimes people are not honest for a variety of reasons, some political, some emotional, some other miscellaneous. Do not expect too much of people.
  5. Keep your mouth shut. If you’re feeling whiny or put upon or unfairly treated, it is best to lay those troubles on folks outside of work. It’s better if your coworkers and supervisors don’t know what you look like when you’re pitching a snit fit.
  6. What is told to me stays with me.
  7. Give and get help. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” and the corollary to that is not to be afraid to say “I don’t know. Can you help me?”
  8. Ask for what you want and be assertive. But also be prepared with evidence and documentation that you need what you need.
  9. The corollary of #8 is: don’t get attached to outcomes.
  10. Volunteer for stuff. Nobody has time for these committees. I certainly don’t and you probably don’t either. But you know what? Sometimes you get to meet cool folks and learn something new. Sometimes the work is deadly boring, but at least I can socialize with others outside of my department, which can lead to other fruitful collaborations.
  11. Sometimes stuff just doesn’t go your way. Go have a glass of wine and hang out with your fluffy puppy. Lou2

Alternatives to CRAAP


If you’re a teaching librarian, you’re probably familiar with the CRAAP Test. In fact, “familiar” is probably a major understatement. I’ve peddled it for years. For those of you who are uninitiated, the CRAAP Test was created by the good folks at the Meriam Library at CSU, Chico; it’s a quick(ish) test for evaluating information that you find, oh, anywhere, but predominantly on the Open Web.

While I have taught CRAAP to students, it’s definitely not ideal. No disrespect, Meriam Librarians. But in my experience, it’s a pretty tough sell–even when points are attached to completing it–and, generally, students don’t retain much in spite of the catchy acronym. So, I decided to go a different route and make the learning experience more active and less rote. One of my colleagues suggested taking a constructivist approach based on cognitive development, which assumes that some of the methods we use to teach information evaluation, like the CRAAP Test, are developmentally beyond undergraduates’ abilities. Most freshman (if they’re part of the typical demographic) believe in right answers and wrong answers; their analytical skills aren’t so nuanced that they can easily determine if information is relevant to their research needs. They’re simply looking for “good” information, whatever that means–especially if it’s on the first page of Google results. (I say that with all the compassion I can muster, no judgment.)

Benjes-Small (et al) wrote a great piece last year for Communications in Information Literacy called “Teaching Web Evaluation: A Cognitive Development Approach.” I totally recommend looking it up (citation below). I’ll give you the nutshell version:

1. Put students on teams, show them a site that isn’t credible, ask them to come up with five reasons why it’s not.
2. Give students a topic, ask them to brainstorm what a gold standard site for that topic would look like/include. Who’d write the content? How current would the site be? What about the URL extension? And so on.

In both activities, you can categorize their responses according to the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, why).

3. Ask the students to apply their gold standard criteria and find a credible website about their topic. You can do this piece as a competition. They kiiiiiiiind of love it.

Needless to say, because you give them a safe place to start by saying, “Hey, this is what BAD information looks like” and also give them autonomy to identify what’s “good,” they tend to be more nuanced in their evaluations. They’re also more invested because they’re actively participating in discussion and brainstorming, rather than having to reply to a lengthy list of questions. And if you’re like me, you fire them off, auctioneer-style to make it more high action. (I kid, I kid.) I’ve used this approach for one-shot and multiple-shot visits, and it’s been wildly successful. You actually get the students to talk to you!

Okay, so, now it’s your turn: What do you folks do to teach information evaluation?


Benjes-Small, C., Archer, A., Tucker, K., Vassady, L., & Resor, J. (2013). Web evaluation: A cognitive development approach. Communications in Information Literacy, 7(1), 39-49.

By: Adriana Parker, University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library 

PODCAST Holiday Schedule

evillibrarianslogoThere will be NO podcast:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014


Thursday, January 1, 2014


If you need a fix, just visit the podcast tab, I bet there are a few you haven’t yet listened to!!!!!

Lame Duck

logo_808707_printSigh.  Today there was an opportunity for individual privacy and civil liberties to be disentangled from the government’s bulk data collection through the NSA.  There was also an opportunity for surveillance reform and greater transparency for the whole process.  Sigh.

A bipartisan bill titled, The USA Freedom Act of 2014 (full bill here), went to the Senate floor for a vote (Tuesday, November 18th).  This bill did not renew the entirety of the Patriot Act, but did extend the ‘lone wolf‘ provision, the ‘roving wire tap‘ provision, and a reformed Section 215 — commonly referred to as the ‘library provision’ (remember FISA orders and national security letters, that was so 2005, right?!)  The American Library Association, along with other advocacy groups and companies, have urged the Senate to pass this bill and yesterday, ALA asked us, as librarians, to act!

The bill only needed 60 Senators to vote YEA……..the result: 58 voted YEA.  JUST 2 VOTES shy!  (Read why.)  Now, the Senate has the remainder of the current legislative session to pass the USA Freedom Act.  We can still press our representatives!

Local, National, and World Affairs matter; they effect policies and policies effect our lives and our profession.  Libraries assert that they facilitate informed and engaged citizenry.  If this is our core, then librarians should be modeling this behavior in their community.  Informed and Engaged Librarian; now, I’d wear that button!

How to stay informed via ALA:

ALA Legislative Action Center

ALA’s Washington Office Blog

Choose Privacy  ….  If anything, watch Glenn Green’s Ted Talk on Why Privacy Matters.

By: Tegan Davis | Eagle Valley Library District | PR Librarian

Episode #066–NET NEUTRALITY, please do something, ANYTHING!


Today, Tegan and Dustin are talking about NET NEUTRALITY and why it is important that we all pay close attention. Policy set by the FCC now, will impact our society and culture for generations. The Internet needs to continue to be as free as possible, and ISPs are not worried about our best interests.

Evil Librarians Podcast 066

Resources we discuss:

President Obama

David Weinberger


logo_808707_print “An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.” –President Obama

The merits of Net Neutrality are being debated throughout America right now (Net Neutrality is being both heralded and demonized). It is important that we take notice as librarians, and make our voices heard as citizens and information professionals. This issue affects each of us personally and professionally. President Obama has made a strong statement urging the FCC to reclassify consumer broadband services as a utility that should have universal access and protection, just like telephone lines.

The key to this, is to stop service providers from charging twice for the same services. They want to charge both content consumers and content creators for the same service, charges that inevitably filter back to the content consumers. Reclassification would stop service providers from BLOCKING, THROTTLING, and PRIORITIZING information as they see fit. There are many sides to this conversation, so it is essential that our voices be heard. The Utah Library Association will be drafting a letter to our Representatives and Senators soon, in hopes of representing our profession and the communities that we serve.

“The Internet has been one of the greatest gifts our economy — and our society — has ever known. The FCC was chartered to promote competition, innovation, and investment in our networks. In service of that mission, there is no higher calling than protecting an open, accessible, and free Internet.” –President Obama

President Obama’s Statement

By: Dustin Fife, Utah Library Association President-Elect

Episode #065–Job Hunt: Searching, Applying, Preparing, and Interviewing


Today, Tegan and Dustin are talking about searching for work and the hiring process. Both Tegan and Dustin are in a transition period and they discuss insights they have gained recently while searching for jobs, preparing resumes, interviewing, and the many other facets of the JOB HUNT! Tegan and Dustin also discuss their exciting new positions.

Evil Librarians Podcast 065

On Innovation (but not technology!)

logo_808707_printIn September, Adriana wrote an astute post on this blog about the term “innovation” being equated with “technology.” I have been musing on that subject for the past several days, especially as it pertains to public libraries, and increasingly, academic libraries. I now work in an academic library, but I got my start there. I have also worked in a homeless shelter, and that experience provides a backdrop for some of the following musings as well.

Adriana’s post sparked my thought process about an inherent challenge for libraries; that is, how best to serve different and diverse communities of users, from the homeless population to tech-savvy teens interested in videogame design and programming. I’m also very interested in how we serve populations that we can’t “see”; libraries often focus on user needs via surveys of current users. But what about services to homebound seniors and senior centers? What about the growing population of refugees? What about the students (and this is a true example from my own experience) who never enter the library until the final semester of their master’s degree? We have had SIX YEARS to reach this patron, whom we could have given very valuable resources; how and why have we not done so?

Some libraries have addressed the needs of homeless populations by incorporating social service offices into their premises and adding homeless street outreach workers to their staff. When I think about how often I helped library patrons log onto the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) website to access benefits (e.g. food stamps, unemployment, etc.) and assisted patrons with resume and job application questions, these ideas seem to be on the right track. But what about bringing the library to the homeless population as well? For instance, starting a satellite operation in the homeless shelter in conjunction with DWS staff, where folks can check out and return books, learn tech skills, and use computers?

I realize libraries can’t be everything to everyone, and I’m not picking on any particular library here because I think we must partner with each other in order to operate such outreach efforts; academic as well as public libraries must be invested in their communities. For instance, given the entrepreneurial business community downtown, could the library community in greater Salt Lake City offer tutorials on conducting patent and trademark searching, copyright information, and industry and market research through the Women’s Business Center Business Essentials program? Could we jointly operate a one-librarian satellite location downtown to assist entrepreneurs and established business owners with research and information needs?

When libraries think about expanding services, we often just add more, when we could be adding the right resources or targeting new populations. We add more databases, more e-books, more computers, and more branches. This is not necessarily wrong; we often do need more, but I think it would also be useful for us to think about using what we have to target new populations and match the right resources to the right patron.

We must open ourselves up to the diversity of what our patrons actually are, as well as who our patrons could be, while at the same time maintaining our identity as knowledge institutions and spaces where quiet introspection can take free rein (and surprisingly, quiet space is often hard to find in today’s libraries!). I’m not maintaining that I know how to execute innovation in reaching users, given increasingly tight budgets, underpaid and overworked staff, and competing interests for library services, but my intent here was simply to put out some ideas. What innovative services does your library offer? What would you like to see your library offer? What do you think is working in terms of reaching new users? What’s not working? Post it all here!

There are several articles that I consulted in writing this post. Shannon Mattern wrote an excellent piece published in Places Journal titled Library as Infrastructure (June 2014). Jeff Goldenson and Nate Hill wrote an article titled Making Room for Innovation for Library Journal (May 16, 2013). Additional musings were found in Thomas Felton’s Innovation Teams article for the Urban Libraries Council.

By Jessica Breiman, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

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