Tech Roundup

Technology Committee members here at Towson University’s Cook Library are always on the hunt for new technology applications to bring into the library or technology-related issues our library should be addressing.  As we scour the internet for important, interesting, or just plain cool examples of technology applications, issues, or news, we post links and  summaries with our take here to the blog.

Demographics and Interests Now Available in Google Analytics

Google recently added new data lines to their analytics product, allowing Google Analytics customers to view information about their site’s users according to Age, Gender, and “Interests” segments. This offers a new level of data that may provide some interesting insights for library websites. However, you have to wonder how much data granularity users will tolerate. It’s a careful balance that seems to be getting slowly pushed more and more in the favor of website owners who (rightly so) want to understand their users’ behaviors. Google does ease the privacy concerns a bit by utilizing thresholds and requiring websites to update their privacy policies based on the data they collect. As an analytics fanatic, I share the author’s excitement about the new data and look forward to seeing what insights it brings.  – David

The Virtual World of Jane Austen

There is plenty of cross over when it comes to storytelling. A book to a movie. A movie to a video game. Even video games into books. A Kickstarter project is gathering funds in order to create the virtual world of Jane Austen. Characters will interact with familiar names such as Lizzie Bennet, and gossip their way to the top. Perhaps an enterprising library might try to develop a similar game within a library setting, requiring correct reference responses or positive reader advisory interactions in order to become the best librarian! However, while I enjoy a linear plot line I am also tempted by the possibility of a world where anything could happen, such as setting up Downton Abbey style characters within Sims 3 and seeing what happens. –  Laksamee

Helium for Energy Efficient Drives

Libraries continue to seek more storage space, sometimes in the form of bigger and bigger hard drives.  These new drives use helium to allow the drives to spin faster and easier than they could in oxygen.  As libraries turn towards digital storage for mass quantities developments like these will make accessing all of this data faster and more energy efficient. – Matt B.

Kindle Matchbook

Kindle Matchbook has arrived! Have you had an Amazon account since they first started? Have you been buying print books? Well now many of those print books you bought can be purchased digitally at a discounted price! Maybe you’re library has purchased books through Amazon and can now add to their digital collection? The potential for a significant amount of ebook purchases for libraries could mean changes to budgets. – Laksamee

Universal Analytics: Implications in Higher Ed

Google is currently in the beta development stage of a revision to their analytics platform. They are calling it “Universal Analytics“. As the EDUniverse article mentions, the biggest difference is a change in “perspective” – from a visit-focused view of your data to a visitor-focused view, resulting in an opportunity to gain a lot more insight about who is using your site (in addition to the typical “how”). Of course, as you start increasing the amount of data that is collected about users rather than visits, privacy concerns become more complicated. Getting quality insights also requires a great deal of work for technical implementation, including the need to track an individual across multiple devices, as well as online and offline (e.g. service desk) interactions. As we seek to gain more insight about our users, it will be interesting to see how higher ed institutions and libraries approach this trend. – David

What do you think about some of the issues or technologies presented?  Have you found anything interesting online this week? Share in the comments!


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