Tag Archives: Conferences

Graphic Design 101: Marketing and Data Visualization Tips for the Non-Designer

I ‘attended’ another SLA2020 session today. Sarah DeWitt, a former graphic designer talked about graphic design for the non-graphic designer. This was another 30 minute session, which I am beginning to appreciate more and more. The session covered:

  • How to create a layout
  • Choosing fonts
  • Choosing colors
  • Information visualization

Grids, type and color are the three most important components of a design.

I have created forms, signs and marketing pieces in the past. I have never been afraid of leaping in and just doing it, but I thought this session would help me improve my skills.

The first tip she had, which made a lot of sense, was to visualize your information in a grid. Why didn’t I think of that?

Sarah talked about fonts and noted that Serif fonts are primarily used in print while Sans Serif fonts are used more frequently on websites. I find that interesting and will need to think about it some more. It is good to know that I should just use one or two fonts in my design, but I can mix up the look by including bold, italics or regular fonts in the final product. Size is also useful.

Ms. DeWitt talks about Lorem Ipsum text, which we all have seen as it is used as a placeholder for text. I didn’t know much more than that and the presenter gave a brief overview. She included the information that there are generators that could be used when you need text, but don’t have the final version yet.

Another tip had to do with spacing. It was interesting to see how space between columns could make text easier to read without looking like the designer had intentional put a big space in the text.

Color was also covered, though Sarah said that she didn’t have time in the presentation to do the topic justice. I thought she did a great job. One aspect of color that she talked about was evoking mood with colors.

i was impressed that Sarah covered color blindness in the section on color. I have never heard a presentation on color mention color blindness. It is an important topic and I am glad she talked about it. Coblis is a color blindness simulator you can use to test how your colors look to those with a variety of different types of color blindness.

Other important components of a design are:

  • simplicity and white space
  • alignment
  • focal point
  • flow
  • repetition

These tips or components track with design classes I have taught.

Information visualization, such as Infographics, were also discussed. Information visualization is a way to help us think about and understand data. In information visualization, less is more. One of the examples used a treemap example. I was interested to see how that type of graphic showed proportion.

Towards the end of the session, Sarah includes a list of free and subscription based resources. A couple that I had never heard of were Google Data Studio for information visualizations, Unsplash for images, and Gimp, which is design software.

For a 30 minute session, this one was packed with useful and easily understandable information.

SLA 2020 Awards Ceremony

Along with the rest of the conference, the Awards Ceremony moved online. A few of my colleagues received awards, so I wanted to attend. One of the things I found really interesting was the technology.

Remo Ballroom - SLA 2020

Remo Ballroom – SLA 2020

The organization used a program/web app called Remo. I was not excited about the virtual experience, but found it to work very well. It was easy to move around the ballroom and turning on the mic and/or camera made you live with your table mates. Being live made you part of the conversation and that sort of broke the ice for me.

The chat window was pretty active throughout the presentation. Remo could do a little better by making most or recently used emojis stay at the top of the emoji pop-up. I would also have liked to ‘like’ other people’s chats and be able to tag them in one of my chats.

One of my table mates brought out the whiteboard, so we all tried that out. Networking in this way was not on my to do list, but I found it enjoyable, especially when I got to chat with people across the country and who I only see at SLA conferences.

Of course, the award recipients were all eloquent and really deserved their awards.

I am a little confused about why SLA is using more than one platform, but I imagine there is a good reason.

All-in-all I found the technology to be a bonus and easy with which to familiarize myself.

Agile Principles and KM

I am struggling a little bit with scheduling at the SLA 2020 conference, but decided to dive in and try watching a pre-recorded session after watching the opening remarks live.

Applying Agile Principles to Ensure the Success of Your KM Strategy by Guillermo Galdamez

Agile is often cited as a requirement in various job descriptions, so I thought this would be a good session to attend. Also, it was listed as a 15 minute session. Since I had to be bright-eyed and bushy tailed at the crack of dawn (East Coast time is being used for the conference while I am on West Coast time) for the opening remarks, I thought a short pre-recorded session would work.

Guillermo’s session was very helpful and I think there are things I can take with me to my next opportunity.

One of his most helpful slides was the cost of not having KM in your organization:

  • Impeded decision making
    • Creating information anew doesn’t always provide the full picture
  • Knowledge loss when employees depart
  • Slower learning, upskilling
    • People don’t know who has specific skills, knows the institutional history or where to find training, so an employee has to recreate the skillset, which takes time.
  • Productivity loss
    • this can come in the form of sending an email for some information and having to wait for that information
    • It can also be that the information cannot be found, so the employee has to recreate it. This takes time when they could be working on something else.
  • Inconsistent and incomplete information
  • Limited innovation and strategic thinking
  • Ineffective collaboration

All of these lead to lowered employee satisfaction and morale.

Guillermo also briefly laid out the Common elements of a KM strategy:

  • current state assessment
  • benchmarking
  • visioning and target state definition
  • road mapping
  • implementation

I have used these principles for a long time, but it is great to see them laid out in a coherent manner.

The presenter also gave a brief overview of Agile, which the audience was reminded, is more about interactions than technology. In addition, he said:

  • Focus efforts on creating a usable product with business value
  • Engaging with customers is the best way to build trust
    • this begs the question of all the substandard customer support out in the technology world.
  • Leave room for emergent solutions / responding to change is more important than following a plan

He talked about 5 principles to include Agile in your KM practices:


  • Create an opportunity to learn after each milestone
    • this will bring closer alignment to the customer’s needs
    • it will also improve the team’s performance and, I think, create more satisfaction for the team

If the team discusses what went well and what could have been improved in a way that focuses on learning rather than blame, people are happier. They are happy to move forward, they don’t leave the meeting feeling underappreciated and undervalued. This approach can help to build trust within the team.


  • Make team’s work and workflow visible
    • helps team members coordinate their work, which is helpful if one step is dependent on another. It also keeps the team well informed.
    • increases team accountability
    • brings clarity among complexity


  • Invite constant feedback
    • inviting feedback ensures the team understanding of customer needs and objectives
    • surfaces conflicting priorities or requirements
    • co-creation leads to ownership
    • allows for knowledge transfer between project team and stakeholders

Often this can mean meetings, but the opportunity to ask for clarification or identify new issues is really valuable. Constant feedback also focuses on the collaborative aspects of meetings.


  • Break down recommendations into smaller activities, then iterate and expand
    • smaller tasks reduce risk and are easier to accomplish. They also make the whole project seem less daunting
    • value is delivered earlier and team members see progress, which is great for morale
    • users are better able to understand and relate to activities with a targeted scope
    • there is an ability to adjust course as well.

With smaller tasks, the team can focus on solving a particular challenge as a team. More brains are better and the task can be accomplished faster than if one person was beating their head against the wall.

Testing in a limited timeframe also gives people an idea of how a feature will play out. Key stakeholders can see  progress as well.


  • Engage stakeholders frequently
    • builds trust and understanding
    • identify issues sooner
    • makes difficult conversations easier

In situations like working from home because of a worldwide pandemic, having trust is key. Creating trust by being in the same room with stakeholders before the pandemic can be key, but we are improving our ability to communicate via video during the pandemic as well. It is also a good way to set expectations and objects as well as discuss obstacles.


These 5 principles are pretty basic, but just right as well. If  a team included all of these in a project, I think the team and project would be successful.



My only problem was that I couldn’t find the slides and would have liked to review them later.

SLA Conference 2020

After a rocky start, I got into the SLA 2020 Conference. I was awarded a scholarship to attend, so was excited to try out a new way of attending a conference. I have never attended a virtual conference like this one before, though the COVID-19 conference last week was similar. The first hurdle was the URL. The URL provide in the email started with icptrack… and my browser didn’t like that URL. Apparently it is flagged in some list. I parsed the full link and found a direct link embedded, which took me straight to the main page.

SLA 2020 Main Lobby

SLA 2020 Main Lobby

There is a lot to look at, do and see from the main page. I watched most of the intro video,  but since the welcome remarks were starting, I flagged it for later.

The chat window was helpful. People were identifying problems and others would provide solutions. I also looked at the attendee list and started connecting with people.

As a scholarship recipient, I have to report on some sessions (check back for those posts), so I watched a pre-recorded session called Applying Agile Principles to Ensure the Success of Your KM Strategy by Guillermo Galdamez. It is listed as a breakout session, but was just a short session. Despite my sad Internet service, I was able to watch it with no problems.

So far so good!

Internet Librarian 2018

I was selected to give a talk at Internet Librarian in Monterey again this year, so I went for a quick trip. My session was called Brainstorming Content Management Plans and I talked a lot about what I have discussed on this blog regarding content management.

Somehow my slides did not make it to the speaker site, so I am posting a pdf version here. I’ll also post the slides to Slideshare, if that is more convenient for you.

I was pleased to see a post about my session on another site. Shockingly fast reporting. The reporting is good, but do look at my slides and call if you need a consultation.

The wonderful Doris Helfer was the moderator and she did a great job. I also got a tip about continuing education courses held at Oxford University. I’ll have to put one of those on my list.

PresQT Conference

PresQT: presqt.crc.nd.edu

PresQT: presqt.crc.nd.edu

I have just returned from PresQT. This is an academic conference focused on preservation of digital data, especially scientific datasets and software. The point is to allow others to check results through reproducibility. I was invited to give the corporate perspective on preservation.

As I wrote several weeks ago in my post on innovation, I am not a fan of silos. Attending this conference I found another set of silos: academic and corporate. There were so many tools people were discussing that I had never heard of. The first day left me reeling from all the new information. I also felt WAY out of my depth. I was wondering why I was there, how I could contribute and how this effort could engage the corporate and law firm worlds.

I did my presentation relatively early in the morning on the second day and felt much more like I could contribute to the discussion. I was warmly welcomed, good things were said about my talk and people asked a lot of questions. This answered my question. Part of my presentation was about content strategy (see my posts on the components of a good content management plan), but another part was about how academia and corporate environments can work together on this project to achieve better, more useful results.

Part of my point was that preservation starts with a content strategy. Preserving at the end is great, but much can be lost if you don’t start from the beginning. Of course, nobody in corporate, law firms (law firms do have a good handle on records management for client files) or academia does this. Preservation is an after thought. Content management is a huge undertaking. I hope to make a difference, but it will be small as I am one person shouting about it into a canyon. Whatever small inroads I can make in my work will be worth it.

I learned a lot. I learned about new tools and sites. One is ReproZip, which allows people to backup and entire project “by tracing the systems calls used by the experiment to automatically identify which files should be included. You can review and edit this list and the metadata before creating the final package file. Packages can be reproduced in different ways, including chroot environments, Vagrant-built virtual machines, and Docker containers; more can be added through plugins. What this means to someone like me is that I can pack up my entire website and someone in the future will be able to unpack the whole thing and look at it in all of its glory. Software, databases, widgets, text, everything is included so that the project/site/whatever can run as it did when it was posted on the web. The difference between this and the Internet Archives Wayback Machine is that pieces can be missing from the Wayback Machine as their crawler can’t access everything. The downside of ReproZip is that the creator, or someone involved in the project or site, must create the archive. The ReproZip tool comes out of the NYU Center for Data Science. A librarian, Vicky Steeves, is heavily involved in the project as a trainer and outreach coordinator. It makes my librarian heart happy.

I was also very interested in Euan Cochrane’s Wikidata project. Wikidata, funded in part by the Wikimedia Foundation, is a free and open knowledge base that can be read and edited by both humans and machines. Wikidata acts as central storage for the structured data of its Wikimedia sister projects including Wikipedia, Wikivoyage, Wikisource, and others. As you know, I like the idea of central storage for information. I like wikis a lot and this platform allows all different people to edit and contribute. They do have reviewers to verify information.

The thing I like most about Code Ocean, aside from the name, is the look and feel. It is pretty and looks like it has a user interface that it easy to use. Code Ocean is a cloud-based executable research platform. I am sure that it works very well, too- I can’t really speak to that as it is out of my area of expertise. I hope we can make the PresQT tool look and feel just as good.

I also think that Code Ocean could create a section that would be useful for tech companies. They could deposit their code as a safeguard for changes to their corporate structure and backup as well as well historic preservation. So many companies with interesting tools have gone out of business as the tech industry waxes and wanes. Think about some of the early search engines. As a result we have lost that knowledge. What could be done with it if it were deposited somewhere like Code Ocean and made available once certain corporate events or actions took place?

The big coup, from my point of view, is learning about Open Science Framework. This is essentially a streamlined, but well thought out and useful content management system. One thing that is very intriguing is that it overlays (not sure if that is the right idea) on top of cloud based storage systems and allows users to search across them. I think this tool could solve the problem of companies using Box, DropBox and Google Drive. I have a lot to learn about it, but I hope to become more well versed and use it to its fullest extent. Stay tuned for more on OSF.

Just because I didn’t mention every single tool or presentation doesn’t mean that I didn’t find it interesting or potentially useful. There was so much interesting work shown at this event that I feel somewhat overwhelmed. I hope to be able to participate further.

EVERYONE can participate in PresQT in different ways. One is to take the needs assessment. This survey will allow the team to get feedback from more people to make the tool more useful. The permanent link will be available soon and I will post it here. Personally, I had a hard time with the survey as the language, and some of the subject matter, was not in my wheelhouse. Still, I soldiered on and provided as much helpful feedback from my community as I could.

People can also explore the resources from the conference on OSF. More of the presentations will be posted there shortly.

Decentralized Web Summit pt.8: Some Impressions

See Part 1
See Part 2
See Part 3
See Part 4
See Part 5
See Part 6
See Part 7

FWIW, these are my impressions.

There is a lot of data being moved or stored – or applications being produced to move and store data – in a secure and private manner. Somehow this impression makes me think of boys and fast cars. Not so much is being discussed about being able to find it again. Not much talk of metadata or finding aids. Of course, finding aids point to a location, which can compromise privacy.

Bitcoin is a big deal in this crowd, which is interesting since my experience comes from one CSI episode and some references I have read. I have no idea how to even buy bitcoin. I looked it up and found that you can’t even find the value without signing up with a bank that has bitcoin. So much for privacy.

There was a lot said about bringing some of these apps to the browser, because the browser was more universal. Having to install programs/software/applications is a barrier.

Women were present, and Primavera De Filippi even spoke, as did Mitchell Baker. Most of the audience and presenters were men with beards and t-shirts. As I said, only Vint Cerf wore a suit. The men weren’t, however, the stereotypical computer geek. Many of them had, or were working on PhDs and could talk intelligently in front of an audience.

There doesn’t seem to be any thought given to making any of these tools, applications, ideas available in anyway to the commercial world. If there was some common ground found or some small way that commercial entities could use some of these tools, they might get a wider audience.

There is a role for librarians if we make ourselves known to this segment of the Internet community and keep harping about access, findability and metadata.

Check back. I may add more impressions.

Listen/watch the video of the whole conference for more detail and more information.


Decentralized Web Summit pt.7: Lightening Talks

See part 1
See part 2
See part 3
See part 4
See part 5
See part 6

Lightening Talks were 5 minute introductions to various concepts, products and service being discussed or showcased at the conference. Most, if not all of the lightening talks were followed up with a workshop after so more people could understand the concept and technology behind the product or service.

Jae Kwon (@jaekwon; jae [at] tendermint [dot] com), Tendermint: his product creates a better solution to consensus for services such a Bitcoin.

“With Tendermint TMSP, you can write smart-contracts in any programming language. Leverage existing codebases, workflows, and development ecosystems to build complex & production-quality applications.” They are working on an Apache webserver for WordPress.

GnuClear is a new architecture for Blockchain scaling. It is built on top of Tendermint. GnuClear (I think) is not very good at inter-Blockchain communication, especially for proof of work. Shard1 and Shard2 communicate through a hub. They are mostly interested in money.

GnuClear Uses

  • pegging to other cryptocurrencies
  • Ethereum scaling
  • Multi-application integration
  • network partition migration
  • federated name resolution system
  • Can have own governance system with own rules

It requires its own distribution system

  • identified entities

GnuClear Governance is interesting. They do not just have Yay or Nay voting. You lose something if you abstain or vote no. The loss depends on other voters and what the issue is.

Michael Grube, FreeNet

FreeNet is a decentralized distributed censorship resistant datastore

It can transmit data securely

The communication system withing Freenet is not very robust. They use IRL, and FB-like system, etc.


  • Publish content
  • Publish and turn off computer without people losing access

Nerdagedon is a list of FreeSites

Sone (sp??) is an FB clone

There is a vibrant community of developers who have developed

  • GitHub sites
  • Wikis
  • Forums
  • IRL
  • etc

It uses 3 kinds of keys

  • CHK – content hashkey share
  • USK – updatable subspace key
  • SSK – signed subspace key (contributor with a key)

There is content moderation

  • I don’t know if filtering is also part of it.
  • They use Web of Trust, which mostly works for them.

They only have a primitive search function, which uses webcrawlers and allows users to search on a keyword.


  • configure routing bases on reputation
  • people sharing files and developers using it now

I still get the impression that moving data is morning important that the data itself and finding information again later.

Muneeb Ali, Blockstack (@muneeb)

Users own their identity with a private key

naming is separate from identity

You pay for your own storage.

They also have a GitHub.

Devon Read, Alexandria

This presentation was one of the best and most understandable that I saw, but it made me angry. They named their product after the Great Library of Alexandria. They call this product a library, but it is really iTunes without being iTunes.

They call it a decentralized library which allows for publishing content, is censorship free. It doesn’t have a lot of content and even less free content, but could be used for free content. It isn’t used for that now. They used the word library because of the implication of storing as much as possible. It is more of an artistic clearing house, like iTunes, than a library

They want librarians to organize stuff, but they don’t have any librarians or metadata analysts working for them now.

There are a lot of paywalls and you pay with Bitcoin.