Monday, October 13, 2008

Thing 14

LibraryThing...I think I love you! I set up an account last year, but haven't used it a lot. This was a good excuse to play around with it again. Briggs Library also utilizes LibraryThing for our BestSeller collection. The random display is cool, but it doesn't allow much precision. I would think most libraries would rather utilize RSS or good ole' HTML to display newly added items to the collection. I've been trying to get a workable New Items List for UMM, but so far haven't been able to find a robust enough system that allows for the excluding of certain titles in Aleph.

Thing 13

It's been a while. I guess that's what buying a house does! I looked through many of the productivity tools. I already have a iGoogle page and a online calendar through UMM. Stickynotes and tada list sound promising and I've set up accounts. They both could help cut down on the multiple post-it notes that are taking over my office like tribbles! I'm really excited about the free PDF converter. Can't wait to try that out!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thing 12

Digg, Reddit, Newswire, Mixx and the like are the news and Intertainment (Get it? It's entertainment on the Internet) equivalent of Wikipedia. Like the online encyclopedia content is largely managed by the populations that use them. I don't have a problem using Wikipedia for background information or as a starting point. I do have little interest with these collective news sites. Most of them are a mess and amount to little more than popularity contests. Vote for a news story indeed. Why would I want my content managed by the whims of others even more distracted than I am? Post my own story? Blog about my reading? Allow others to track it? Time wasters all. I certainly see some marginal benefit in the ability to share what's important to me and see what others are interested in. It's fun to explore for a few minutes, but I don't want to live my life that way and I certainly wouldn't design an entire site around it.

The argument for social sites such as these is that it puts the power in the hands of the people and promotes sharing of information. And to a certain extent it does. But it is largely trivial and inconsequential activity, no better than the old model of "someone out there" providing content. What I'm interested in is a system that allows me to pick sites and topics that I'M interested in and then be able to access that info in a convenient manner. de.lic.ious is a step in that direction. If I want to blog about it and send my thoughts out into the vast Internet ocean I can do that too. Maybe someone would even read it.

Of the four social news sites Newsvine was the most usable to me, mostly because its interface was less chaotic. I can't see using any of them professionally or personally, except on a lark or perhaps to search for some unusual topic. They are all productivity wasters. The underlying framework, namely social-sharing and wikis, could be utilized in a library environment. A more specific focus would help.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Thing #11

Time sure flies. I just noticed that it's been a month since my last post. As an aside, my trip to Wimbledon and Edinburgh was delightful, helping to recharge and inspire. Now back to business.

Tagging and was fun. I've had a account for a while now. At first it was a adjustment. I really wanted to simply bookmark my sites, and had to force myself to tag instead. Now it's second-nature. While not a perfect system or interface, the benefits are real. Since it's web-based I can access my sites from everywhere, and the fact that I can choose to have sites displayed alphabetically or under more than one subject is very handy. I still don't quite have a handle on tag mechanics, though. It seems as if tags of more than one word, such as Star Wars, only work if you smoosh the keywords together as in StarWars. When I try just with commas I don't see my tags.

Looking at some of the other social bookmarking options was cool. Furl seemed a step backward, in my opinion. The interface seemed a bit cruder and less functional. PageKeeper was much better, however. I liked the clean look and nifty subject categories. I could see social bookmarking sites springing up that specialize in certain subjects.

I know some libraries allow patrons to tag catalog items. I think this is great, and I think we would do it here if demand warranted it, and if it was technically feasible. Sometimes tagging just seems like a big mess to me, especially when a myriad of different tags from countless individuals come together. Yet I suppose that is also its advantage; creating uniqueness out of chaos, and then sharing it. One aspect of social labeling I do like, perhaps more in the public library level, is book comments by users. It may be useful for Briggs Library to create special subject directories for users. Then again, we already have directories of websites created for patrons through our ResearchQuickStart module.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thing #10

Much of the wiki basics was old-hat to me, but it was still enjoyable learning about what others are doing with wikis. I was a bit surprised at some of the examples, however. To me, the strength of a wiki is the collaborative nature it fosters. When I see institutions putting all their policies or even service information in the form of a wiki I don't get it. Creating web pages and policies with a wiki between colleagues makes a lot sense and I hope to utilize that aspect in the future. But using a wiki to maintain that content only seems reasonable if there is no one on-site trained in basic HTML.

Because my university has a variety of in-house tools such as Moodle, NetFiles and U-Think blogs I don't use the free ones like blogspot or pbwiki very much. The technology is the same, though. I do find myself pausing to consider what tool to use for a given project. Our library is co-sponsoring a campus book read, my wife and I are leading a theatre trip to Dublin and there will be a banned books event this fall. All of these activities could benefit from a Web 2.0 tool. But which one? Blog, wiki, discussion/learning forum? I'll have to investigate some more.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thing 9

It was a lot of fun editing the Declaration of Independence and I can some really useful applications for tools such as these. I preferred Google Docs primarily because I couldn't access the document to be edited in Zoho. I'm also more familiar with Google aps.

The University of Minnesota, Morris along with the rest of the campus system, utilizes a file sharing program called NetFiles. Because of this Google Docs won't see too much use from me, at least in terms of file sharing and Web storage.

Here's a spreadsheet from Google Docs I created last year when we were trying out different IM options for the reference desk.

IM Spreadsheet

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thing #8

I spent a lot of time checking out some of the Share Your Creations sites. Because I work in an academic environment I found that many of these applications were not suitable to our environment. I was impressed with Zoho (which I had seen before, but forgotten) and Slideshare. I created a Flickr badge and will attempt to upload it to my blog. I did not see a way to grab the code.

As I go through these Things I keep reminding myself to turn off my critical eye that wonders 'How can that be useful?' and instead just explore and have fun.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thing 7

Gosh, at this rate I'll be done with my 23 Things in the year 2323! Luckily for me this wonderful initiative has been brought back for a second (2.o) time.

My library and or me is already doing many of the things mentioned in Thing #7. We've used email for years, of course, through our Ask A Librarian reference service and I recently added an IM component. This is through Pidgin and Meebo. The latter is utilized only as a means for patrons to contact us with research questions without having to have or to connect to their IM accounts. Personally, I don't IM much. Most of our librarian staff have IM accounts, but because we're so small we do most of our conversation face-to-face or send an email so we have a copy.

If you knew you'd know that I don't text message much. My cell phone location is often a mystery to me and even if I have it with me I often forget to turn it on. In the library world in terms of reference service texting is big and will get much bigger. As librarians we struggle to keep up with our users use of technology only to find that they have already moved on. IM would be a good example of technology that while not passe' is certainly in danger of being overtaken by texting. Our library and campus hasn't seriously looked at texting for communication or reference. The one exception is emergency communication. I wasn't aware of Google SMS and will certainly look into it. In order to fully take advantage of mobile technology our website would have to be reconfigured. Perhaps in the future the library could incorporate a Librarian Reference Blackberry or the equivalent to at least handle texting calls.

I have taken myriad number of webinars and enjoyed them very much. They have all been through the phone, though, and I wonder if VOIP would be less hassle and cheaper. I haven't presented a webinar as of yet.

Twitter is a funny little application. I'll register and check it out. I do admit to skepticism. Not every technology works for every library setting, and I think there would be better choices for some of our upcoming projects (community book read, banned books event) such as a wiki or blog.

All for now.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Thing 6

No doubt about it, online image generators are cool. I suppose they could fill a limited niche by supplying some custom modifications to websites, but all-in-all they're just something fun to play with. And play I did. My favorite among many strange applications was this quotation generator featuring one of my favorite writers.

Thing #4 & #5

Well, I've been playing around a bit with the Mash elements from Flickr. Very cool I suppose, but not very practical. I've set up my office Flickr account (I already had one at home) and look forward to spending some time populating it with pictures. My wife and I are going to England this summer to take in Wimbledon, some theatre and Scotland so we'll have plenty of new shots!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thing #3

I've signed up for Bloglines and Google Reader and will compare the two for functionality before deciding which to go with. When I subscribed to content through RSS a year or two ago I remember being overwhelmed by the content. On a good day I can just barely read my emails and do my reference duties. With that in mind I will only subscribe to 2-3 feeds, and then see how that works.

I'm looking forward to playing around with RSS. Our library page currently has RSS generated news, although folks can't subscribe to the content. Perhaps I should revisit that...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Thing 2

Very interesting articles on Library 2.0. Some of the stuff I've read before, but there were lots of new perspectives as well. It's all about staying current, relevant, and in the information stream!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thing 1

Well, I set up my blog so that's Thing #1. I'll set up my avatar soon!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blog Beginnings

I'm looking forward to playing around with Library 2.0 things. Some of them will be review, a few will be new and all of them will be cool!