Thursday, March 29, 2007

Week Nine, Thing Twenty Three

Well, after a very late start I managed to complete this program just in time. I want to say thanks to the Virtual Services Team for making this possible. I really enjoyed this program and I'm very grateful to my supervisors for giving me the support and encouragement to participate. For me, being aware of new technologies is not enough. I have to use the tools to really grasp and understand them. Being able to explore and test out all of these 2.0 programs was a great opportunity.

Out of all the exercises I enjoyed using flickr and flickr mashups, the image generators, and de.lic.ious the most. What surprised me about this program was how simple most of the exercises were. I was really expecting more obstacles. Also, I never explored YouTube much in the past. Whenever there is tons of hype about something I get turned off...but I think I will play around with the site some more.

I would definitely participate in another program like this. The only shortfall I experienced was an initial lack of work time to explore the program. About half of the exercises I completed at home, which was okay and definitely worth while. Even with the large time extension from the Virtual Services Team I was still barely able to finish in time. Then again I didn't start the program until the end of February. And, I could have finished after the March 30th deadline. It was my choice to try and finish in time.

Thanks Virtual Services Team and thanks also to Helene Blowers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Week Nine, Thing Twenty Two

On to eBooks. I try to encourage patrons to check out eBooks and when they turn up in the catalog. I give my little 30 second spiel about what they are, but so far people have seemed fairly reluctant to try them out. Home computers seem to be a rarity in the neighborhood where I work, so this could be a big part of the problem.

If I could generate enough interest, I would love to do a workshop on eBooks and have offered to train staff members on the eBook portion of our website. My main motivation is practice. I used eBooks a few times in graduate school, but haven't really used them much since. Most of the eBooks I would browse were software training manuals on Dreamweaver and Access. I would like to check out some language instruction books but so far haven't made the time for that.

These were the top 10 eBooks downloaded from Project Gutenberg on March 27, 2007

1. Manual of Surgery by Alexander Miles and Alexis Thomson (896)
2. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (849)
3. Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period by Paul Lacroix (508)
4. Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great - Volume 01 by Elbert Hubbard (464)
5. Searchlights on Health by B. G. Jefferis and J. L. Nichols (400)
6. History of the United States by Charles A. Beard and Mary Ritter Beard (374)
7. Great Britain and Her Queen by Annie E. Keeling (351)
8. Our Day by William Ambrose Spicer (335)
9. Kamasutra by Vatsyayana (302)
10. Illustrated History of Furniture by Frederick Litchfield (287)

Sort of an interesting cross-section of material. It seems like the list is heavy towards reference material and that is what I imagine eBooks are best suited for. I don't know anyone who prefers reading on a computer screen for a long period of time. But if you are working on a computer or hand held device, being able to consult a digital version of a book can be quite handy.

Week Nine, Thing Twenty One

I searched and browsed through a couple podcast directories, specifically and Yahoo!Podcasts. I wasn't all that impresed with In scanning through the results list nothing caught my eye.

I have to say I did like the Yahoo directory. The front page is subdivided into three panels; What we like, what other people like, and explore on your own. The first section contains podcasts that Yahoo! finds new and noteworthy. The second panel contains lists of the most popular and highly rated podcasts. And the third panel allows you to browse by category. I added npr's All Songs Considered to my Bloglines account. This podcast is currently the second most popular on Yahoo!.

I tried searching for book reviews in the Yahoo! directory and was surprised by the amount of comic book podcasts that are out there (along with reviews of fantasy books and podcasts from a christian perspective). I did find C-Span's program After Words which airs on BookTV Sunday nights. This podcast features the writer of a hardback, recently published, non-fiction book, interviewed by someone with knowledge in that particular field. I added this podcast to my Bloglines account too.

Most of the podcasts I tend to listen to are radio broadcasts like This American Life and Fresh Air. In the past, I haven't sought out library related podcasts with the excpetion of tutorials we've used on Learning 2.0.

Week Nine, Thing Twenty

Below is an Arcade Fire video I found on YouTube. I'm going to see them in concert in June but I haven't heard their new album yet, Neon Bible. This was one of the better quality videos I found. A lot of the music videos I looked at, Arcade Fire and the Shins, were taken at live concerts and had very poor sound and video quality.

When searching for a specific topic, I liked how you can sort by date, view count, or rating. I sorted by date because I was looking for something fairly recent from the new album. I also liked that once you choose a video, the right-hand side of the page would give you related videos, more videos from the contributor, and playlists. What I think is great is that the site really allows and supports both known object searching and serendipitous discovery.

Here's what I didn't like: When I tried to add my blog to my YouTube account, an error message kept appearing saying I was using an incorrect username or password or didn't have access rights to the blog. I checked and double checked my username and password and then gave up and just embedded the html for the video in my blog post. I don't know why I couldn't add my blog to YouTube, but it irritated me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Week Eight, Thing Nineteen

So I posted about LibraryThing already, and how much I love it, and how right on I found their recommendations. This time around I cataloged a handful of books I have at home.

Now this is going to come as a shock to those of you who think all librarians have huge book collections, but I don't actually own many books. Why?

1. I am cheap
2. I almost never read books more than once
3. I've worked in libraries for the last nine years

Now I read all the time. It's just that almost all of the books I read I get from work or I borrow from friends. So thinking of five books I actually own was a challenging exercise.

All of my books were quite popular with the exception of Impossible Vacation which is owned by only 90 members. That surprised me. And, get other members own the exact same books that I own.

I added a widget to my blog that shows some of my favorite books. See it? It's on the left-hand sidebar.

If you're interested you can also check out my catalog on LibraryThing.

Week Eight, Thing Eighteen

Today I am exploring web based productivity applications which is a fancy way of saying word documents and spreadsheets created on the web.

We have a mac at home and the computer I use at work is a Hewlett-Packard PC. Sometimes I run into problems opening files at work that I created at home.  A web based application, like Zoho Writer or Google Documents, would eliminate that problem.  I also wouldn't have to worry about different versions of a software program being compatible.

My dad could really benefit from applications like these. His computer is loaded with two operating systems, Linux and Microsoft. He prefers working on the Linux side, but if he emails documents from that operating system to others, the recipients often have trouble reading or editing the files. If he used a web based application, he could create documents on the Linux side and still share it with others. I think. Anyone: Correct me if I'm wrong.

I just exported this document from Zoho Writer to my blog. It worked pretty well with the exception of adding some unnecessary coding and paragraphs.

Week Seven, Thing Seventeen

So I added my blog to the SJLibrary Learning 2.0 Favorities Wiki. I like the quick and easy exercises. I also added Tai Pan to the favorite restaurant page and Amelie to the movie page.

One of the departments I work in has a wiki, which I haven't used yet. I know, shame on me. I think it could be a great tool for sharing programming ideas, documents, and event flyers.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Week Seven, Thing Sixteen

Moving on...This post is about wikis and their implications for, what else, libraries.

I have to admit I've been one of those people whose mind immediately jumped to wikipedia whenever the word wiki turned up. To put it mildly, I've been generally distrustful of the site. What's frustrating is that I often see students turn to it as their sole trusted resource for any particular question, whether it's personal or school related.

However, I do think wikis have good capabilities and good applications, particularly for libraries. I really enjoyed Princeton Public Library's BookLovers Wiki. I've been wanting to collaborate on something like this in my own work environment. What a great way for staff and the public to learn about new books, find recommendations, review their own reading, in an open, shared network without hierarchy or division between participating groups.

I'm also really impressed by the Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki. Just in the few minutes I spent exploring I found several resources that could be quite helpful in my current work setting. In particular there are some neat programming ideas, such as the cookie swap, and the area devoted to services to specific groups had some intriguing resources. I just posted the Services in a Multi-Lingual Environment page to my account. I sincerely hope I come back to it. I fear that may become a new, elaborate way for me to procrastinate. A technical version of "I'll get to it later."

Week Six, Thing Fifteen

What do I think of Library 2.0 and the future of libraries? My thoughts are a bit bipolar. In some ways I'm very excited about web 2.0, its implications for libraries, and the opportunities it provides for discussion and connectivity. But I'm also overwhelmed and exhausted at times by how quickly the world of information expands and evolves. I guess what I'm saying is that my views of it as a participant are sometimes different from those I have as a professional.

In many ways, Learning 2.0 has been the best professional exercise I've experienced since moving to the west coast. I am giddy with the possibilities of what web 2.0 has to offer, yet I also feel torn. Technology and time has a way of altering everything on its own schedule. I like how the library profession is changing on some levels, such as making services more user-friendly, libraries more patron focused, incorporating more and more media into collections, providing more virtual services, and so on.

And although I enjoy the new I also get nostalgic for the old. I love the physical collection. I like working with the physical collections of libraries; reading reviews, selecting items, cataloging them, creating reading lists, displays, weeding materials, and in general, managing the physical collections of the library. That role in libraries has been slipping away from me and I miss it. But with its fading comes new opportunties to manage virtual collections and web content, from webliographies to ebooks to bookmarking information into social networks like to using web 2.0 technologies to share information with patrons in their own virtual time and place.

So I agree with Rick Anderson and I see the icebergs he warns us about: We need to think more about virtual collections, make our services more intuitive and user friendly, and create libraries that are more relevant and accessible to people who may not have the time, interest, or inclination to visit libraries virtually or physically. It's the last item in particular that makes me dizzy. But so does a strong cup of coffee, a good book, and a long conversation with an old friend. And I certainly wouldn't give up any of those things.

Week Six, Thing Fourteen

So there's way more to Technorati than I imagined. At first I just thought of it as a way to search RSS feeds but that is just one its more basic features, I suppose.

Today I played around with Technorarti's popular feature which delineates the top keywords users search, the top blogs favorited by readers, and blogs that have the most sites liking to them. Looking at the top searches is like being faced with a randomly weird cross-section of America: You see tech terminology, tech geeks, country music stars, tabloid celebrities, comic books and video games, popular websites, etc. I saw words that are deeply etched into popular culture and then words that are utterly meaningless and completely unkown to me.

I took a peek at some of the top 100 blogs favorited by Technorati users. In particular I explored 43 folders and Postsecret. Postsecret is more up my alley. It reminds me of the humor, creativity, and visual escape I used to find in Found Magazine.

Then I tried searching "Learning 2.0" in Technorati's blog posts, tags, and blog directory. I added the quotes because without them the search engine was adding an implicit or (vs. and) and giving me only half of the equation I was looking for. The results became more relevant and more centrally focused on learning 2.0 as I moved from searching blog posts, to tags, to uncovering blogs via the directory whose partial defining feature was blogging about learning 2.0. In searching "learning 2.0" I also discovered a lot of the blogs created by my coworkers as part of sjlibrary's 23 Things exercise. I even turned up my own blog which was a bit startling.

Part of the purpose of this lesson was think about tags, their advantages and disadvantages. So this is what I think right now at this specific moment: Tagging is an uncontrolled vocabulary which basically mearns that it's a mixed bag. Tagging allows each user to be as vague or specific, universal or idiosynchratic, terse or verbose as they wish. Some taggers may attempt to work in a shared vocabulary with others and some are more personal or obscure with their tags. Bu what level of description is best? I guess like everthing in life, it depends. It depends on the situation, intention, and needs of the user.