VALA 2014 – L-Plate Series

Today I had the honour of chairing the L-Plate series, a schedule of short talks giving an introduction and foundation to topics that will be a focus of the VALA conference itself in the next three days.

Being capable at multi-skilling, I managed to chair as well as take notes, so here are those notes from the seven wonderful speakers today in the L-Plate series.

Web standards incorporating HTML 5 – Tom Edwards – Wyndham Library Service

Web standards are formal, non-proprietary and other technical specification for the world-wide web. (Wikipedia)  He showed the original www page from CERN, created by Tim Berners Lee –

HTML doesn’t need extra special software, emulators or plug-ins – it just needs a browser and it’s backwards compatible.

WC3 is responsible for administering HTML, accessibility guidelines, the SVG format and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). ECMA international has the standard for the base of Javascript. Other standards required for the Internet are controlled by a handful of other companies. There are also lots of engineering standards for data transfer etc.

So what is HTML? Hypertext Markup Language – Code that abides by WC3 that allows us to access content through a browser.

Internet Explorer 6 is famously not standards compliant eg. no CSS 2, png images not displayed properly. Showed an example of how Internet Explorer 6 didn’t display something which met the standards.

HTML 5 is still a recommendation but is due to become a specification in Quarter 4 this year. HTML 5.1 is due in 2016. HTML 5 has less reliance on plug-ins and is device independent.

Includes an element called canvas which allows you to embed real time information in animation etc. eg. New York transport info in linear lines and strings sound.

Video element to allow you to embed video into a website – various levels of browser compatibility however.

Web storage – allows you to cache games etc. in browsers, offline storage related to individual sessions, like cookies but more secure.

All the HTML 5 capabilities demonstrated visually –

Digital Rights Management may appear in HTML 5.1, which is a concern for libraries.  For more information on this and other privacy and rights on the web information, check out Electronic Frontier Foundation –

“This is the year that machines will generate more info than humans.”

Tom briefly gave an example of Web standards in action: It uses a Content Management System (CMS) called Omeka which uses Dublin Core metadata, into which they catalogued their items. Made their site a repository for OIA-PMH (Open Internet Archive – Protocol for Metadata Harvesting).  As a result, they now have a weekly harvest to Trove and their information can be found there.

“Chuck Norris doesn’t use web standards as the web will conform to him.” – Max Pool.


Internet of Things – Bart Rutherfold – Wesley College 

“Internet of things” as terminology has been around since 1999 – with QR codes and RFID tags. These technologies enabled companies to track items through the net. We are now moving towards IP 6 which means we can put an Internet address on anything – ridiculously extreme amount of internet addresses available through IP6.

Scenario 1 – wake up early, get ready and go to work.

Scenario 2 – bad start to the day.

“In our houses, cars, and factories, we’re surrounded by tiny, intelligent devices that capture data about how we live and what we do. Now they are beginning to talk to one another. Soon we’ll be able to choreograph them to respond to our needs, solve our problems, even save our lives.” Bill Wasik.

With regards to the scenario 2  above, what if we had devices which could work out when the best time to wake us and then start to wake you. This is linked data and the internet of things. If this, then……

A device could monitor my petrol situation and could remind me the night before that I had a need and the price was optimum. So no need to top up fuel in a rush.

Ninja bot thermometer sends you a message you set when the temperature reaches a set threshold.

Machines have been talking to machines for a while, but now we have cloud systems and the ability to talk to different platforms and through different standards.

Wifi parcel tracking – find out where your parcel is and get it to open the cat flap to receive it. Then you can be contacted when it arrived, or if flap used when not expecting a parcel can prompt to call the police.

Use Blue-tooth trackers to find where people are going in your libraries.

Night-time relaxation is moving to personalised TV via the web. Internet connected light globes with different colours and working on moods that can be programmed for the day.

Showed a landscape of the Internet of things image from Tech Crunch.

New technologies include Ninja Spheres, which give you control over your environment with the swipe of your hand.

Voice control coming next giving you question and control ability over your environment.

Showed the Technology of things Roadmap. –

If your interested in learning more, check out Bart’s Flip book – .

Visualisation – Kate Davies QUT

Visualisation is Visual sense making – make sense of the world and good communication devices. Help to unravel complexity, make things simple and clear and make them accessible. Helps clarify.

Mind interprets visual information easily. We are all geared to process visual info. See for more information on this.

Images transcend the divide of language and in fact transcend language. They are the language of thought. Consider the power of using images with or in place of words.

We are drowning in a sea of information. As we exist online, we are in a flow of information and work with and through that, which can be difficult to do in light of the amount. And the amount is only going to get bigger with open data. Big data gives us a point of comparison for our data. Now lots of tools to help us visualise all this data.

Visualisation is graphical representation of data. Helps us to communicate data in visual forms, bring together different data sets to create something new.

Eg. Spreadsheet of 400 rows and lots of columns. To get an impression of what’s happening across the entire data set use visualisation. Tag cloud gives overarching view. (see Information is beautiful – for examples).

Showed video of 200 countries, 200 years, 4 minutes.

Info-graphics are overloading us but still have value, they tell a story and are self contained and complete. Lots are being created due to a proliferation of tools.

Info-graphics can be images, videos and interactive. Showed an example, but there are plenty around.

Information design Is the practice of designing information in a way that supports the transfer of meaning. Focuses on informing, although aesthetics is important.

We don’t think linearly. When we break out of linearity, we can discover tangents of value.

Visualisation is great for thinking as well as communication. Visuals are important to help communicate ideas.

egs. Sketch notes, diagrams, mind maps, info-graphics and visualisations.

Want to know more? There are lots of good YouTube videos on the topic.

UTS Sydney is doing some good work in this area.

Creating infographics – Piktochart website. Can create them in Power Point.


Cloud – Corin Haines Auckland Libraries

The Cloud enables a lot of what was presented earlier.

“A model for delivering information technology services in which resources are retrieved from the internet through web-based tools and applications, rather than a direct connection to a server. Data and software packages are stored in servers. However, cloud computing structure allows access to information as long as an electronic device has access to the web. This type of system allows employees to work remotely.” Investipedia.

The Internet itself is a cloud which is connecting data. We can use that cloud to deliver various things.

Started with dumb terminals and the server did all the work. Cloud kind of does the same thing. Moving away from fat clients which do all the processing, to a server workstation relationship, similar to old dumb terminals.

Cloud computing allows us to access from multiple sources in multiple ways.

Proliferation of cloud services – iCloud and Google Drive are biggest. Also Skydrive, Dropbox, SoundCloud, Amazon.

Cloud computing moves admininstration such as backups and upgrades offsite and is potentially scalable. Accessible from anywhere with potentially lower overheads. Shifts from up front cost to subscription, but this has budgetary implications.

Pros include lower cost of infrastructure, mobile and web access, removes reliance on corporate IT.

Cons include reliance on connection speeds, trust with vendors, knowing where your data is and legal issues.

Has huge potential for libraries in serving customers.


3D Printing Andrew Kelly – Town of Victoria Park

Read Andrews paper on the topic from NLS 2013 –

3D printing is additive process, building things up layer by layer. It has been around for a long time. 3D printing also covers subtractive where you start with a block and pieces are removed.

(Andrew had a Replicator 2 actually printing a bracelet while he was presenting.)

Technolgoy is similar to dot matrix. Commercially it uses powder which melts it together. Makerbot Replicator 2 here is a home version and uses plastic on a spool.

Auto magical thing which looks more amazing than it is. PLA plastic comes on reels which feed into the printer. It is fully biodegradable, softer and melts at 230 and more malleable. ABS is used in higher end machines and more permanent pieces. 3D printer is just a vehicle.

Plastic feeds through via a reel, it is pushed to a heated tube to melt it and then the print head moves on an XY axis. Can also have set print heads with movable bases.

Can 3D print it’s own replacement parts.

You can make anything. Andrew doesn’t tell his library users what they can do because he doesn’t want to stifle creativity. There are rules though. If it has angle of more than 45 degrees, it needs support. It can only be as big as the print area on the printer itself. You can get around limitations by printing in parts and you can also build connectors.

You can print a pattern from Thingiverse, scan an object which is a bit more difficult or you can create from scratch using various cad programs. eg. Tinkercad, a 3d designer which works in a browser.

Can print in low res, standard res and high res. Low res is fastest, high res slowest.

Infill is usually honeycomb – not wasting material and is still sturdy. At 10 percent infill, you get 1 kg of print outs from 1 kg of plastic. Can build supports for you and will offer it to you. They can be removed once the print has finished. Some models allow you to print in two colours or two materials (eg. Soluble supports).

In libraries, it’s not about the printer, but about the community. If you don’t have the community, then it’s just a bright shiny thing. If you have a creative community, school kids, maker culture etc., then this could be for you.

Your library does not need one – read Hugh Rundle’s blog post ( It can not be put out and forgotten, it’s not a copier. Combine it with programs and partnerships and it could do great things for your library.

Open publishing – Rebecca Parker – Swinburne

Publishing is the activity of making information available to the general public – Wikipedia.

Started with clay tablets, the papyrus, the Romans had the book and the Gutenberg printing press made books available to the common man.

Some of the biggest developments in publishing have happened in the last 20 years. The web, e-books and more.

Open publishing is about the open access movement. A worldwide effort to make all scholarly output free to access.

Barriers to access include cost (of research, staff, subscription to journals that publish this research etc.), infrastructure – only open if you can access it as it is online – not really mobile accessible yet, reuse – must be available for this, language – English and European languages still dominate, which is a barrier in itself.

Berlin Declaration on open Access has been made. Open humanities mandate is still in progress – humanities tends to be more book publishing.

Repositories are supported by libraries, use the rights owned by the author to make the articles more accessible. Born open access means that the author makes it available. Some libraries are publishing open access journals at no cost to the authors.

Open access articles are harder to access as they are not in discovery tools.

Hybrid access is both published and open access although the latter costs around $3000 to release if published first.

Growing momentum for open access movement in books and tools available to facilitate this.

Open standards – PDF is standard. ePub is platform independent.

Challenges: there are so many different types of open publishing – very confusing. Vanity publishers are mimicking open access journals.

Open publishing change is very slow. Gradually pushing to 50 percent open access. Publishing is still expensive, even after going online.

There is more support from funders and institutions for those who publish in mainstream journals and are indexed in commercial indexes, making it harder for people to make the switch.

Librarians can take up the challenge of curation of research output in their institutions.

Government now is saying you must publish open access if you receive funding from them.

Copyright and digital rights -Constance Wiebrands – Edith Cowan University

Copyright is the rights given to the owner over their material. It does not protect an idea until it is recorded in some way. Copyright Act 1968 is Australian law and we have different clauses to support libraries of different types, which gives us a range of rights regards copyright.

We don’t have fair use in Australia, that is from USA. We have fair dealing which gives exceptions to places like schools, libraries, museums, archives etc. Australian Law Reform Commission has a review currently before the government, which recommends a form of fair use. If this is adopted, it will change how we work with copyright in Australia.

Lots of info available from Copyright Agency Limited website.

Internet has made copyright more challenging. Copyright Act is about screen and print rights. Technically the internet is broadcast and when you look at a web page you are copying and therefore in breach of copyright.

Technology now allows you to do so much. Law is not keeping up with what technology enables. Digital rights management is an attempt to control how their publications are used. Digital rights management (DRM) makes it difficult for libraries to do things like preserve items. A licence overwrites Copyright Law. Should try to not allow contracts to overwrite copyright.

Creative Commons is a way of making content available through a licence, which loosens copyright restrictions.

Can ask for permission but you may not be given it.

Twitter is a great place to learn about copyright – lots of copyright lawyers on Twitter and they are good at answering questions in not legalese.


    • Laura on February 4, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Thanks for putting your notes up. I’m sad that I can’t be at VALA but at least I can still get some feel of the presentations 🙂

  1. Thanks Laura. Sorry you can’t be there either, but glad I can share a little of what’s happening.

Comments have been disabled.