Thursday, October 30, 2008

Retronym Contest: What Do You Call a Non-Internet Librarian?


Last year, Information Today, the organizers of the Internet Librarian conference, held a contest to find a "retronym" for a non-Internet librarian. A retronym is the revision of a word or phrase necessitated due to technological advances. For example, acoustic guitars were just guitars until the electric guitar came along. Other examples of retronyms are rotary-dial telephone, snail mail, nonfat milk, and analog watch. Information Today's President and CEO Tom Hogan announced the winner of the contest this year as he presented the list of finalists in reverse David Letterman style.

10. Shelf pointer librarian
9. Analog librarian
8. Legacy librarian
7. Librarian unplugged
6. 3x5 librarian
5. Internot librarian
4. Retrobrarian
3. (Insert the name of your supervisor here) librarian
2. Wallenda librarian (flying high without the net)
1. Librarian 1.0 - the winning entry!

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aswhelan/2806849990

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Digital Marketing: Successful Plans and Organizations

Presenters:
Sarah Houghton-Jan, Digital Futures Manager, San Jose Public Library and
Aaron Schmidt, Director, North Plains Public Library, Oregon

The goal is to connect users with librarians. Libraries want and need to transform lives but this requires the establishment of relationships.

When serving people online, we’re serving everyone, even people who aren’t carrying one of our library cards. Serving all digital inquiries should be a cooperative arrangement between libraries like interlibrary loan service.

What Are You Marketing? Snake Oil or Substance?
Make your library website two-way. Can people register for cards? Share their opinion? Have an identity? People expect these possibilities today.

Be good! This is crucial. It’s imperative to have great content online. Develop a plan to get it, update it, and make it relevant to your community. It’s the number one thing you can do to get people to your website and engaged. Once that happens, they’ll return.

Free Is Nice!
Take advantage of library directory listings using LibDex, MapMuse, Libraries411, PublicLibraries.com, and Libraries on the Web. Make sure the information on these sites is correct. Many offer links to your catalog.

Blog Search Engines
Feed Submitter submits your RSS feed to 15 sites at once. Good for posting your programming calendar. Consult Robin Good’s list of where to submit your blog and feed. RSS Specifications provides a list of where to submit your feed. Enter your feed URL and your email address and you’re done.

Blog Geo-Search Engines
List your library blog on geographic blog search engines such as Frapper, Feedmap, Blogwise, and gFeedMap. Sarah finds these get used a lot and brings people to her site.

Wikimapia is like Wikipedia but with a map. Add locations for your libraries and other community features of interest by drawing a box and adding a link. It's great to bring in visitors to the community.

Search Engine Findability
Search for variations and mispellings of your library’s name. Try minor non-Google search engines and metasearch engines, too. Buy AdWords from Google. (The words libraries need are inexpensive.).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This is a professional service that will cost money but is well worth the expense. They will help you get noticed and give you a plan to keep their efforts updated. Get teaser information out in as many places as possible.

Wi-Fi Service
Get your library listed in Wififreespot, Wifihospotlist, Wifi411, Wifinder, Jiwire, and Wi-fi zone. These listings will get people to your website as well.

Community Website Presence
Americantowns.com, booksalescout.com, artsopolis.com; Eventful, and LibraryThing Local. The latter catalogs local collections. You can click on the Do You Work There? link and prove your relationship. They’ll let you update your library information regularly. Be sure you’re listed on Yelp! and other community ratings sites. You can use positive Yelp! quotes -- short and pithy -- on your marketing materials. If you get five 5-star Yelp reviews, you'll get a sticker to put on the front door.

What Are They Saying?
Searh link:yourlibraryURLhere in Google or Altavista to find sites that mention your library.

Social Review Websites
What are your customers saying about you? Be there, compliment good comments, and initiate conversations. Offer explanations and apologies for bad experiences. Use negative comments to plan changes in service.

Where Are People Looking for Phone Numbers?
For many, they're not consulting a printed phone book! They look online. Make sure you’re listed in AskCity, Yahoo! Local, Google Maps, and MSN. Tiy can add photos to your entry and harvest Yelp reviews and reviews from similar rating services. It can take a long time -- up to two months -- to get information corrected.

Make Your A/V Content Findable
Make sure your podcasts and videocasts are listed in YouTube, Google Video, blip.tv, Blinkx, Singingfish, Yahoo Podcast, Podcast.net, and Podcast Alley.

Be Sociable
Create a profile for your library on social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, and Ning. People will friend you and form positive relationships with your library. Being in these spaces communicates to people in a way they understand and are comfortable with. You must have follow-through!

Aaron's plea: Please don’t use your building as your avatar image on these sites!

Iowa City Public Library has a lot of fans on Facebook. Yes, friends, reference transactions are taking place in public. Some is fun stuff, just talking back and forth.

Yep, it takes effort to keep interesting content on these sites. You get results if you make the commitment.

Find Local Blogs
Use Blogdigger Local, Metroblogging, Feedmap, and Blogs by City to establish a community and interact with it. Don’t intrude but be available. Don’t talk like a librarian! Don’t be heavy handed. Have authentic interactions. Don’t exhort everyone to “come to the library” on every post. You need to build your street cred.

Monitor blogs and forums and offer help and information.

Aaron featured Hennepin Public Library’s Bookspace, which offers one-stop shopping for avid readers. Readers are discussing their love of reading with each other. They can sign up for a newsletter. People can create book lists similar to the ones on Amazon. There is book club and audio book information. There are links to research books and authors. Featured lists, book events, new titles, etc. are included.

Aaron’s point: Readers are featured here instead of being faceless and nameless. This is a way to drive traffic to the site. Input is allowed from anybody anywhere.

List your staff as experts in free expert finding tools such as Allexperts.com, Ziki, Illumio, Qunu, Yedda, FAQQLY, Otavo, Yahoo Answers, or Ask Meta. Since these sites offer payment for correct answers, it could be a revenue stream for the library.

Slam the Boards is held on the 10th of every month. Librarians jump on the sites listed in the paragraph above, answer questions, and then identify themselves and gently mention that this is what librarians provide as a free service.

Push the information on your site OUT!
Invest in newsletter software or use free Open Source software. You can get email addresses from your ILS if you have had the foresight to specify that the library can send promotional emails in the user agreement your cardholders sign when they apply for a card. Send updates periodically but don’t spam. Only send news out once a week or once a month, not every day. Offer a way for users to specify the frequency for these updates and to opt out.

Get an entry on Wikipedia. Promote free wifi, reference service, and programs. Some libraries attempting to do this have been contacted by Wikipedia monitors and asked to remove the promotional content.

Make sure you have a short URL that people can remember. Register variants of your URL including a variety of domains such as .com, .org, .net, etc.

Instant messaging should be a primary form of communication. It's free, easy and therefore has a huge rate of return. Choose a fun screen name and advertise it.

Text messaging: Cellphones and SMS continue to grow. Offer both circulation and reference information via SMS. Distribute hold announcements and overdue notices via SMS. There’s software for this.

Text a Librarian combines instant messaging and SMS into one web-based monitoring system that allows for queues. Can have 20 people monitoring one screen name. Can form text messaging and IM cooperatives with other libraries similar to the Ask a Librarian service.

Twitter - Use this microblogging service for short informational messages. Be clear about what you’re sending out -- book recommendations and program announcements, for example. Casa Grande Public Library is using Twitter very effectively.

Second Life: Aaron isn't a fan. He says it's a huge time sink. There are many more things you can do that offer more bang for the buck.

Conclusion
Be tech leaders in your community!

Contact information:
Aaron Schmidt
librarian@gmail.com
Walkingpaper.org/presentations/outreach
AIM address: xxagentcooperxx

Sarah Houghton-Jan
librarianinblack.net

2.0 Learning and 1.8 Users: Bridging the Gap

This session was presented Rudy Leon, who is the Learning Commons Librarian at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and Colleen Harris, a Reference and Instruction Librarian at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Myths about College Students
  • All students are skilled online searchers
  • They are at ease with new gadgets
  • They are always connected
  • Students are effective multi-taskers
  • They require constant stimulation
  • They must be entertained
  • They learn by doing
In reality, our generation is the one that doesn’t read the manual and is cyber-connected.

Myth Busting

Student do use the stuff, but in a dummy box way. They don’t understand the information environment. For example, they don’t know the difference between Google and the library. They don’t understand how Google works. They don’t have a mental map and don’t realize the tools they are using. We have to build the mental map for them.

Student don't have transferable skills. They can’t remember resources or apply research skills learned in previous classes.

The Digital Divide Is Alive and Well

Statistics


Only 61.8% of U.S. homes have computers, while 99% of U.S. schools have computers. Newer schools have newer equipment and software while older schools have older machines and students are trained by drills.

Class
  • 83% of those with a household income of $75,000+ have a computer at home.
  • 62% of households with an income of $25,000-35,000 own a computer.
  • 31% of households with an income under $15,000 own a computer.

Persistent Effects

In colleges, the expectation is that everything will be done online. Course syllabis, corrections to those syllabis, term papers, wikis, class work, etc. However, there is little training in the use of these technologies. “Welcome to Blackboard. Click on what you want.”

Statistics issued by the National Science Board indicate computer science BAs show racial issues. More Caucasians and Asians, fewer blacks and Hispanics.

Faculty Issues
  • What faculty know (or don’t) - Chicken burrito syndrome - focused on one type of research style, which is what they and their predecessors did
  • Belief about students: they’ll figure it out. Sink or swim! But students need context just like everyone else. We need to break professors of this belief. Get students away from using technology as equipment. They need to build their skill set.
  • Equipment - Teaching faculty to fish
  • Challenges - Faculty II
  • Faculty not highly trained in teaching, but they’re hostile to the implication.
  • Tech training is also Educational Tech training. Who does it? How do we discuss tech as teaching? How can we implement these technologies as educational technologies?
  • We can make a huge difference on campuses by sharing our skill and love of technology as a tool.
  • If we spend the time upfront, we won’t have to spend a ton later on working with students.
  • Getting Faculty on Board
  • Owning our own expertise - don’t think profs know everything. They’re experts about their subjects. We know about organizing and accessing information. We need to evangelize about this expertise.
  • Competitive processes for course development. Faculty seminars and workshops to improve their courses. An exemplary one is a 3-day session with lots of one-on-one time with librarians. Free lunches and a stipend are offered.
  • Getting out there to make connections. Embedded librarian programs with librarians as part of departments. Coffee works wonders. Make a personal connection. Let faculty see you as an intelligent person.
  • Faculty attend class instruction with their class. Single most useful tool ever! Ensures students show up and prof. is trained, too. Afterwards, when prof. is raving, say “I’ve got more!” Word of mouth starts working for you. Especially effective if you’re a good instructor.
  • Leveraging reaccreditation processes. Get on committees and inject yourself and technology and the library into future programs. Best way to force people to deal with it: It’s part of the university’s curriculum.

Campus IT
  • What they do - emergency hardware folks at some institutions.
  • Scarce resources - campus ref. libns. and liaison libns. take on some tech. roles
  • Kittens and beer - free software requires upkeep and hours to develop and to keep functional. Otherwise library tab in Blackboard will result in broken links.
  • Multiple models: Who trains? Why? Why librarians? Figure out model and where libns. fit in. We’re at a unique nexus of faculty, students, and technology.

Learning Spaces
  • Safe learning spaces - students can experiment and fail without consequences
  • How-to strategies for engaging students/faculty
  • Workshops aren’t intimidating when librarians conduct them for students. It's the professors who are intimidating.
  • Make equipment available - check out laptops, cameras, etc. for student work.
  • Actionable assignments such as creating a documentary, shooting and writing a photojournalism essay using the library's equipment.
  • Partnerships on campus: integrate yourself. Go out to lunch with support staff. Build bridges.

Moving Forward: Learning Spaces
  • Libraries are safe learning spaces.
  • Tech is fun and libraries are for learning.
  • Promote critical thinking and mental maps.
  • “Ripped from the headlines” night sponsored by the library. Ask professors to discuss news stories with students. Not a lecture opportunity. Invite media folks to discuss coverage. Learning is not tied to a discipline. Professors will like getting off the beaten path and having contact with their peers from other departments.
  • Movie night
  • Game night
  • Building the Bridge

Actionables
  • Create a service to build student and faculty skills.
  • Realize that gadgets support learning.
  • We decide what must be; we’re the grown-ups. Students want Cliffs Notes, MTV and to buy their tests. They don’t always know what they need.
  • Space and structure for play are needed.
  • We need to exercise more skepticism about the assumptions we hear regarding student mastery of media.

Questions/Comments
Colleen S. Harris
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Colleen-Harris@utc.edu

Rudy Leon
University of Illnois Urbana-Champaign
rudyleon@illiniois.edu

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tips for Keeping Up

Steven M. Cohen, who is a senior law librarian at Law Library Management, Inc. and blogs at LibraryStuff, stepped in to pinch hit for Gary Price, who is recovering from surgery. Steven is IL's version of Woody Allen. He is quite articulate and rapid-fire funny.

Steven's advice: "Listen to your peeps" -- the people that you’re serving -- and promote yourself as an information professional. Steven works with lawyers and makes sure to conduct his own personal PR campaign daily. The attorneys he serves love his personal touch and he sometimes gets requests to compile a "Cohen book" when he's handed a research project.

Why keep up? To market yourself and make your employer happy that you’re there. It's job security! Having fans is very important. They provide an important PR function for you.

When does the reference interview end? When the person he’s working with says to stop. Until then, Steven sets up alerts and continuously feeds his attorneys more information as it becomes available. When people pay attention to your needs, you love it and so do the attorneys he serves.

How does Steven train attorneys to use RSS? He doesn’t. They’re too busy. That’s his job!

The Goal
Information should come to you via RSS and other updating services.

What to Monitor
New articles, press releases, and changes to web pages. Steven has set up 200 Google alerts. When he receives an update from these, he checks a research project database to see who needs to receive them.

What to Look For
  • Employee changes (hires and fires)
  • New products and development
  • Look beyond the initial question for additional information that might be relevant

A Tool to Get the Job Done
Google Reader -- Steven has 1500 RSS feeds that he quickly scans in about an hour and a half every evening. When he finds information that would be relevant for one of customers, he uses Google Reader's email link and types “Dear So and So, I just saw this information, which was published xx minutes ago. [He says including the currency is quite important. It reflects on your skill as a researcher and it makes the recipient believe s/he is in possession of cutting-edge information. He contends lawyers love that feeling.] I recall that you were interested in this topic.”

Cohen's allegedly trademarked quote: “It’s not rocket science -- it’s library science!” (Steven, if you can track me down I'll pay you for this use.)

Recommended Resources
  • WatchThatPage - a free service that monitors pages and extracts new information. Checks pages at an interval that you select -- hour, day, etc. Enter URLs to monitor. Can file in user-specified folders. Can monitor links on web pages.
  • WebSite-Watcher - This desktop-based software costs $30/license. It highlights URLs that have been changed.
  • Page2RSS - Here's a way to get an RSS feed for pages that have stable URLs and are on the open web. Creates a feed for pages that don’t offer one. “Free is as free does” Steven said because this service only has daily updates.
  • ReloadEvery is a Firefox add-on that reloads a web page automatically every minute. It's good for Outlook’s Webmail because you'll never be logged off for lack of activity. Good for getting Southwest Airlines check-in too. Could you use it for eBay?
  • FeedSidebar - Another Firefox add-on for Live Search bookmarks. Pops them up in a box on the left side of the screen. You can specify the frequency of updates.
  • Update Scanner - Yet another Firefox add-on that scans selected web pages for updates. You specify the frequency and level of change so you won't see minor changes such as updating today's date and correcting mispelled words. Changes are highlighted. Update Scanner provides faster notification than Google email alerts.
Steven's Favorite Web Tools

Please email me if you can't find these sites. I'm not providing links because of time and web access limitations.

  • Internet Archive
  • ScreenGrab
  • Cool Iris - Add to toolbar, works great in Lexis
  • BugMeNot
  • TinyURL
  • AwesomeHighlighter
  • Picnik - Photo editor
  • Invisible Auctions - Looks for mispellings commonly used on eBay. Use it to get good deals on items because no one else can find them. Example: Thomas the Tain gear for his son
  • PDF Escape
  • PDF Me Not
  • CiteBite - Copy and paste an item on a website and paste it and the page's URL into CiteBite. It will create a static web page with the information highlighted. Great to send to others because they can quickly see why you've sent it.
Contact information:
steven@lawlib.com
917-837-9706

Presentation slides: tinyurl.com/keepingup

Search Engine Land: What’s Happening Out There?


Danny Sullivan, editor-in chief of Search Engine Land, presented today's keynote address.

Danny maintains "there ain’t no Google killer" on the horizon. A new search engine, Cuil, recently played the “biggest is better” card when it was released. Danny said that Google and Yahoo! had agreed to back away from this type of size claim, which is why you no longer see the number of websites in the Google universe listed on its search page. He compared a search for Sarah Palin using both Cuil and Google. It was easy to agree with Danny's contention that Cuil has serious relevancy issues.

Danny's contention is that Wikipedia by law has to be at the top of Google search results. Powerset, the Wikipedia search engine that Mary Ellen Bates included on her top list yesterday, has proved that natural language searching isn’t a natural killer. It’s overkill for what most people are doing these days. You don’t need a lot of syntactical analysis for this type of search: hot photos Sarah Palin. Most search engines are matching patterns and have no understanding of concepts.

Microsoft has fumbled with Yahoo! and, as a result, Google is more powerful than ever.

Pax Googlecana

Google has 60+% market share in the United States. It's higher in many other countries (in Germany, 90-95%) but hasn't taken over in China, South Korea, and Russia. Is it all over? Does Google now rule everything?

Google Killerettes

Google isn’t the top tool of choice in everything. Google has nothing to compete with the following:
  • Twitter - hyper real-time tool to see what’s being buzzed about. Danny recently experienced a minor earthquake at his home in Los Angeles and his first thought was "I should Twitter about this!"
  • Urbanspoon - You never need to wonder where to eat again. This iPhone app knows where you are and can randomly select a restaurant based on what type of food you want to eat. It works from a huge database of reviews from newspapers and users. Chowhound offers a similar service.
  • Eventful will tell you what’s going on, from music to community events and more. It's also offers another iPhone app that knows where you’re at. Upcoming, owned by Yahoo!, is similar.
  • Yelp offers local reviews of all types. You know it's a player when you can hire someone to make sure you have a good rating. Google Maps is trying to grow a community of reviewers but it’s not a real competitor.
  • Trulia and Zillow offer information about homes for sale, local real estate-related data, etc.
  • Travel sites such as Kayak (multisite) and Farecast, which is owned by Microsoft
  • Craigslist - Buy and sell related in your local area. Still a powerhouse compared to Google Base despite being very “web 1.0ish” in appearance. Why hasn't Craigslist mapped its search results?
  • Jobs: Indeed
  • People search: Pipl, Spock
  • News/discovery: Digg
  • Video: Blinkx and VideoSurf
  • Gas prices: GasBuddy
Killerette Challenges

It's difficult to remember all the ones that are out there. People will use a site once and when they don't remember it the second time around, they go back to Google.

Bigger Challengers: Yahoo!

Yahoo! continues to face uncertainty. They have been innovating with mobile applications, BOSS (Build your Own Search Service), and SearchMonkey, which offers a way for publishers to blend information of their own into their listings.

However, uncertainty leads to brain drain. The assumption is that Microsoft will eventually take over Yahoo!, which makes for more uncertainty. The user has to ask "Should I start using Yahoo tools and get comfy with them or will they be going away?"

Microsoft

Microsoft bailed out of non-consumer search services such as Google Book Search.

Microsoft has always focused on ads first and search second. Compare this approach to Google, which built a search engine first and then figured out how to make money from it. The soul comes through online.

Microsoft has major branding problems. SearchPerks is its latest in giveaway attempts and they're dangling the carrot getting a free XBox controller after searching Livesearch.com for four and a half months. It’s just good marketing since they don’t have word of mouth.

Microsoft has some good stuff, but will people notice? Will it grow?

Google’s Master Plan?

There is some planning, of course. They've been working on Chrome (a new browser), Google Checkout, and Google Shopping. But much comes naturally, through a “hive mind” mentality.
Expect perhaps more focus as economics get harder — and there will be many more ads everywhere, even places such as image search and maps where they traditionally have not placed them!

Googlettes

Google Video now continues to host videos but can't really compete with YouTube. It's become more of a video meta search service.

Universal search mixing continues.

Google Trends continues to grow, providing data about web site traffic.

Community editing on maps grows, but has spam problems.

Google does blog search clustering.

Search 4.0: Personalized and Social Search

Google reshapes your search results based on what you do or visit. Results are reordered based on your personal preferences. Pages move up, down, in or out of the top ten. You need to have Google’s web history service enabled for this.

And Now, Search Customization

Google is tailoring results based on geographic location, previous query, and web history. Some of this has happened before, but searchers are now being told and Google is likely ramping up for more.

Conclusion

Google will continue to dominate the search space. There's no margin for people who want to start up to compete with Google. There's a degree of vaporware or a “Googleware” chilling effect for those who try. However, mobile and vertical (industry-specific) applications do offer new opportunities.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Super Searcher Shares: Search Tips Spectacular!


Mary Ellen Bates never fails to expand my web toolbox. She whittled down her customary 30 search tips to 20 this year so she could spend more time exploring them with us. Since one site apparently has disappeared into limbo, make that 19!
  1. Google Translated Search - Why let your monolingualism restrict your web searching? Enter your search terms, then select your language and the language of the pages you wish to search. Google seamlessly translates your search terms into the target language, runs the search, and then retrieves and translates the results into your native language. Wow!
  2. Ever tried using Google's date restrictor to get current results only to find your results littered with sites with older dates? Google News Archive Search is new and improved. You can limit your results in a number of ways including those published within the last hour, day, or week.
  3. Google Trends offers a way to graph the news. It charts the frequency of the word searched and also its frequency in the news. A search volume graph is presented along with a news reference volume graph. The cities where searchers live, calculated using IP addresses, is shown. You can track when the interest in a topic peaked.
  4. Yahoo! Search Assist - Have you ever noticed a small downfacing tab on the upper left side of your Yahoo! search results? Click on it to view suggestions for related or complementary terms to expand or narrow your search.
  5. Yahoo!’s brackets are easy peasy. Just enclose two words in brackets [like this]. This signals Yahoo! to retrieve the words in that order but not necessarily next to each other. The first word you enter will precede the second word, which can be located anywhere on the page. Example: [subprime crisis] retrieves "subprime mortgage crisis," "subprime lending crisis," "subprime mortgage industry," etc.
  6. Yahoo! Glue is from Yahoo!'s India bureau. It offers a veritable cafeteria line of blended search results that are not displayed linearly. Handles different types of information well. Click on the Glue Page tab in your search results. You'll find Related Pages links along the top. A snippet from Wikipedia will be offered. Quick facts are listed below Wikipedia snap, which can lead you to more information and ways to search your topic. Google Blog search results are included. Your actual boring search results list appears on the left side while images are displayed on the right side. Try searching "United Nations," which was Mary Ellen's example.
  7. Live.com’s product reviews are wonderful! Run a search for a specific brand and Live will compiles reviews from other sources. Great for shopping because user reviews of product features are compiled and graphically portrayed. For example, searching for a digital camera shows recommended models for features, size, ease of use, photo quality, screen, affordability, portability, etc. The criteria displayed changes by the type of product searched. Once again -- here's the theme of Mary Ellen's presentation this year -- here's a search service that tries to aggregate results and make sense of them.
  8. State your preferences in LiveSearch. Sample search: “hybrid cars” prefer:convertible. Doesn’t drop searches that lack the preferred word but the results that include the preferred word do display at the top. Related searches also are suggested.
  9. Searchme has an amazing user interface that detects the different meanings of your search term. Example: Icons appear under the search box when you pause after typing sun. Is your interest astronomy, software, etc.? Click on an area for focused search results. Mary Ellen didn't mention this feature, but you can create Searchme stacks. Here's a link to the demo video. It lets you group sites you select and then scroll through them using an interface reminiscent of iTunes Cover Flow. You can email SearchMe stacks, which could be great for answering reference questions!
  10. Powerset is another sense-making search engine that at this point only works with Wikipedia. It's good for extracting information about your terms from all of the Wikipedia articles that contain it. Check out its Factz feature by searching plutonium. You'll see your search noun combined with verbs and facts: plutonium forms, plutonium contains, and plutonium makes and about fifty other pairings are presented to communicate key ideas and shows you ways to expand or narrow your search. Powerset recently was purchased by Microsoft, which leads Mary Ellen to expect that it will be expanded to include beyond Wikipedia searching to include the rest of the web.
  11. searchCrystal offers a way to "search and compare multiple engines in one place.
    It is a search visualization tool that enables you to compare, remix and share results from the best web, image, video, blog, tagging, news engines, Flickr images or RSS feeds." It's a type of metasearch engine that attempts to group results by looking for key phrases and words. You can navigate the content from a lot of different sources. Mary Ellen believes its ability to distill information is an automatic version of what we do when we skim results.
  12. Carrot2 provides clustering on demand and, unlike Clusty, offers you a choice of sorting algorithms. For example, enter aviation safety in the search box and click on the Show options link. The maximum number of results on most clustering sites is 100 but you can get up to 400 search results. Show option on right side of search box. Can get up to 400 search results. Don't like the results? Choose another clustering algorithm from the pulldown menu. Don't worry -- the names of these puppies aren't going to ring any bells.
  13. Silobreaker, which boasts "insight as a service" helps you visualize the news by aggregating it in a number of ways. See relationships between people and emerging industry trends. Identify unexpected relationships. It offers a trends search, network search, hot spots (where news is happening) search, 360-degree search as well as looking at the latest blog postings. It compiles updated fact sheets. You also can filter results to limit them to specific types of news such as environmental news.
  14. You've seen those tag clouds that indicate how many results each word has by its size. If not, look at this one at Flickr. SearchCloud gives you a comparable way to weight your search terms! Enter search terms one at a time and select the text size that indicates the importance of the term. The larger the text size you select, the more heavily weighted the word will be in your search results. Mary Ellen's example: solar nanotechnology in large text and green renewable in smaller text. You can even select a "cut to the chase" grid view of your search results that include srelevancy rankings.
  15. Loki is a toolbar you download to work in your browser. Mary Ellen does a lot of travelling and sometimes she wakes up uncertain which city she's in! With Loki, she can ascertain her location and, most importantly, quickly find the location of the closest Starbucks without needing to know the address of the hotel where she's staying. Loki works with your computer's IP address or nearby wi-fi signals to map where you are now.
  16. Serph is a Web 2.0 metasearch engine for blogs, social media sites, social news, and social bookmarking sites. Downside: It caps out at under 300 results. Results include Bloglines, Technorati, YouTube, etc. It's a way of finding where to search, which -- as previously mentioned -- is the theme of this presentation.
  17. Twing mines discussion forums and online communities. It can be an effective way to locate an obscure expert. It works best when you’re looking for something very focused. Example: 800 mhz interference. Mary Ellen claims only 40 people care passionately about this topic and Twing helped her find an expert when she was researching it for a client.
  18. Get the conference buzz when you have to stay at home by searching Technorati with the conference's blog tab. (IL2008, for example.) Bloggers sometimes transcribe conference slide shows so you can get a sense of a conference's key themes and ideas. This is also a way to catch live blogging during presentations. (I suppose this strategy will work at conferences that offer web access!)
  19. Spokeo collects postings from lots of social sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Amazon Wish List, Blogs45, Flickr, YouTube, and even includes some web content. You can search by a person’s email address. Verdict: Creepyo -- but it might be an effective way to convince teens to be judicious about postings that might catch up with them later. Spokeo's home page has a yellow banner that reads: "HR Recruiters: Click Here Now."

Quotes du Jour


I collect thought provoking, inspirational, and/or humorous quotes about teaching, learning, technology, books, and libraries. Here's today's haul:

“Don’t keep up with the technologies. Keep up with the literacies!” - Howard Rheingold

"It's not rocket science. It's library science!" - Steven M. Cohen

"I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book." - Groucho Marx

"We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn." - Peter Drucker

"In the nonstop tsunami of global information, librarians provide us with floaties and teach us how to swim." - Linton Weeks

The last three quotes were collected on bookmarks distributed at the Scholarly Publishers' Collaborative Network booth.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/melancon/2617198782

Smart Mobs and Smart Classrooms

Howard Rheingold appears to cherish individuality -- and color. The lid of his MacBook Pro is slathered with stickers. He was sporting a bright green and purple shirt today. He paints -- yes, paints -- his shoes, which today quite logically had canvas tops.

Rheingold teaches at Stanford and Berkeley and is the author of Social Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, which traces the use of technology to communicate and coordinate human activities. When he noticed Finnish teens sharing smiles and quick looks at a cell phone that belonged to one of them, he asked an adult that had been visiting with the teens about it. The man replied, "Kids today flock like birds." Rheingold traced the development and history of social behavior and communication, which he maintains began when non-related people started hunting together in prehistoric times. He offered several inspirational examples of how people around the world have collaborated for good using the web as a medium.

Most interesting to me was Rheingold's brief description of his brand-new project, the Howard Rheingold Social Media Classroom Notebook. He mentioned a site, Socialtext, which provides information and directions for using different social media, including blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, podcasting, video blogging, chat, digital storytelling, RSS, and mashups, in the classroom to promote "participatory media literacy."

Click here to listen to the podcast of this morning's keynote presentation.

I also located this blip.tv video Rheingold created to introduce his Social Media Classroom project.


Welcome to Internet Librarian! Did You Expect Web Access, Too?


Once again we're fighting a lack of web access at Internet Librarian. I can't connect in the San Marco Ballroom in the Marriott -- the very hotel I'm paying $9.95/day for Internet access in my room.

It was announced before the keynote this morning that every meeting room at the conference -- with the exception of the Ballroom -- had wireless access. So far I've only connected once!

The $10/day connection in my hotel room failed when I raced in to upload the keynote recording during our lunch period today. I phoned iBahn, the company that supports the service for the hotel. I hung up without web access. In a few minutes, there was a knock on the door and a fellow handed me a new Ethernet cable. He couldn't leave fast enough! No offer to come in and see if it worked. By then, however, I'd fiddled around and restarted my computer and was online. But there was only enough time to quickly scan my email before the next session started.

I'll attempt to post this. Blogger keeps informing me that the web is down and saving and publishing might not be successful. 

More later tonight after the conference -- maybe!

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/noii/2327713880

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Introducing the Book

Here's a fun video from TeacherTube that we viewed this week in my Blogs, Wikis, and Other Tools of Web 2.0 class at tech camp.



Here's a link if the embedded video isn't operating.

The video parodies how many of us have been dragged into an understanding of how new technologies work. Viewing it might be comforting to some of us who occasionally get overwhelmed by how to make all this new-fangled gear work in our daily lives.

Greetings from Tech Camp!

I'm attending Camp Plug and Play 3.0 in Tucson this week. It's a rigorous week-long training session -- held at a 5-star resort! -- that's conducted by the Arizona K-12 Center.

Yesterday all of the campers went on field trips in the area. I visited Biosphere 2 in Oracle. The University of Arizona is leasing it from the real estate developers who now own the property.

We toured the biomes, which include a rainforest, savannah, desert, and ocean under the glass. We went underground and walked through the basement filled with pipes and interesting signs such as "Upper Savanna Basement" and "South Lung." We left with some insights about how the eight "terranauts" lived (and suffered) during the two-year self-sufficiency experiment in the early 1990s.

We returned, downloaded our photos, made a slide show in iPhoto, converted it into a QuickTime movie, and uploaded it on TeacherTube. Here's a link to my hastily created movie. I shot over 250 photos (as well as shooting video and recording audio files to make into podcasts). However, we were encouraged to upload short videos because we're suffering the bandwidth blues this week as 133 campers and their instructors all try to search, use online tools, and upload content.

Monday, March 24, 2008

#23! Is This Really the End?

I've reached item #23 -- the final one! -- in the Learning 2.0 training. This is the opportunity to reflect about the training. The following questions were provided to aid in this activity.

What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
There weren't that many new discoveries among the 23 items. I enjoyed exploring the 2007 Web 2.0 award winners. There were new discoveries on that list that I'll be exploring. I also revisited several services that I had not focused on and decided to adopt several of them into my online activities.

How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

I am an enthusiastic lifelong learner! I enjoyed the way this program was organized because I could work on it at home when I had the time to focus, explore, and blog about my discoveries and thoughts. I consider this preferable to being away from my duties at Palomino to sit in a more structured training session.

Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

This is a good way to learn -- as long as the learner is self-motivated (or otherwise incentivized) and believes that learning is fun. The incentive provided by offering an MP3 player to those who complete the program is a good perk and it's motivated many staff members. I plan on advocating for and adapting this type of program for teaching teachers (and perhaps a few librarians, too) about new technology.

What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?

Learning 2.0 and its list of 23 Things date back to August 2006 when Helene Blower initiated the program with the staff of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Web 2.0 tools continually are proliferating. Newer, better tools have been introduced for several of the items. The training needs to be frequently updated and the learner offered the opportunity to compare several tools.
I also would like to see ability level options for each item. I quickly lost patience with the podcasts, which were designed for beginners.

And last but not least…

If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you again choose to participate?
Absolutely! Count me in.

The Greater Phoenix Digital Library Meets the Digital Divide

You might imagine that someone who is an avid podcast listener would also enjoy listening to audio books. Absolutely! I check out audio books on CD and transfer them onto my iPod shuffle, which I listen to while I'm commuting.

Unfortunately, I'm on the wrong side of the digital divide when it comes to downloading audio books from the Greater Phoenix Digital Library.

The Overdrive console is Windows-only and my family are die-hard Mac users. "Yes, but Mac users are such a small segment of the computer market," you might reply. Look again. Windows Vista and the popularity of the Apple iPod have doubled Mac's market share during the past year.

The books will not play on iPods, which have cornered approximately 75% of the market for MP3 players.

I don't understand how libraries and many librarians have been wooed and won by Overdrive when we are the people who have been spanning the digital divide.

If it's any consolation, I'm going to help a friend learn how to download books from the GPDL on her Plays for Sure MP3 player next week. Maybe some day I'll be able to do the same from the library's public computers!

Of Podcasts and Podcasting

Item #21 in the Learning 2.0/23 Things training focuses on podcasts. I'm quite the fan of both audio podcasts and video podcasts, also known as vodcasts or vlogs.

At the Microcomputers in Education (MEC) conference in March 2005, I attended a session about podcasting conducted by ASU's Guy Mullins. I returned to Palomino Library and told Krissy, my colleague and future TACkies leader, that podcasting was a technology to watch. When iTunes debuted a podcast directory in June 2005, we went to our supervisor, Ted, and asked him to find a way to get the gear we'd need to start podcasting.

Ted located the funding, we bought the gear, and in late October 2006 the DMHS PodSquad, an informal student group that meets in the library after school, recorded and edited their first podcasts. The PodSquad is listed in the iTunes Store's Podcast Directory.

We've learned that podcasting is easier to do on Macintosh computers, although Audacity, a free Open Source audio editing program, is cross platform. We've learned that the fancy USB mics we bought aren't as convenient as either the portable Edirol R-01 MP3 recorder with a 2 GB SD card or the inexpensive Belkin Stereo TuneTalk mics that plug into student iPods. We've taught students all about broadcasting and copyright and Creative Commons licenses.

After two years of extracurricular podcasting, I've lined up funding that will buy a mobile Mac lab so we finally can do, among other nifty Learning 2.0 activities, curricular podcasting. We plan on recording podcasts of conversations our DMHS Spanish students will be having with English students in Chile -- if the technology there will support it.

In the past, I have recorded podcasts of conference presentations and posted them on this blog.

But it's not just about recording, editing, and posting podcasts. I'm an avid listener (and viewer)!

Sorry to veer away from the directions, but I use the iTunes Podcast Directory to track down new ones. Here are SOME of the podcasts I download either regularly or intermittently:

This American Life -- I enjoy this whimsical radio program but usually miss it when it airs on Saturday afternoon. Yes, podcasts of radio shows are rather TiVOesque, but this is a perfect for public radio junkies who can't always catch the shows.

The Writer's Almanac
-- Garrison Keillor's daily podcast covers today in literary history and includes a poem that is usually short, accessible, and enjoyable.

Future Tense is another American Public Media production billed as a "daily journal of the digital age."

The Tech Chicks podcast is a bit amateurish but these two tech teachers help me find great ed tech sites and services that I occasionally blog about on my Information Goddess blog.

TED Talks
-- "inspired talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers" -- really amp up my brain. They provide some of the best content out there because the speakers are all very accomplished in their respective fields and do have "ideas worth spreading." I think the audio version of this podcast has been discontinued, but the vodcast is alive and kicking.

Library Geeks -- This is one of the intermittent podcasts I download. It's not regularly updated and it's too long in my opinion. However, "library geeks" I respect such as Gary Price and Jessamyn West are interviewed so I cherry pick the episodes. I learned about Zotero from a Library Geek podcast.

RocketBoom -- Watching this wacky program on my video iPod Nano in bed just before I doze off is one of life's guilty pleasures.

DMHS PodSquad
-- OK, I might be a bit biased about this one!

Other podcasts I enjoy include Slate V, Unwired, The Thomas Jefferson Hour, NPR's Story Corps, etc. Although I have a video iPod nano now, the audio podcasts are especially appealing to me because I can download them and listen while I'm doing something else!

YouTube

I've arrived at item #20 of the Learning 2.0/23 Things training, which is the exploration of YouTube.

I have the perfect YouTube video to embed! It's Mike Wesch's The Machine Is Us/ing Us, which most likely is the best commentary of Web 2.0 available on YouTube.





"Who will organize all this data? We will. You will."
"We Are the Web."
"We are teaching the Machine" with all of our searches and our tags. "The machine is us."
"Web 2.0 is linking people....people sharing, trading, and collaborating."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Web 2.0 Toolbox

I explored the winners of the 2007 Web 2.0 Awards for this item. Many are sites I've already discovered such as Craigslist, One Sentence, Picnik, Flickr, Pandora, Podomatic, Zillow, Etsy, StumbleUpon, iGoogle, Twitter, etc., etc.

When I saw Statsaholic, I hoped it would help me collect visit statistics for a podcast I post. I entered the URL as directed and was disappointed to discover it only tracked statistics for the entire web.mac.com domain and not my site on it.

I found other interesting sites on the awards list and will spend some time exploring them.

Google Docs

I explored Google Docs for #18 in the SPLS 23 Things/Learning 2.0 training. I've used Google Docs for a while now. I appreciate the simple interface and the fact that I can access a document from any computer that has web access.

The following is a document I created in Google Docs and posted to this blog.

More Vacation Snaps

Also on Galiano Island, we spotted these colorful star fish in the water along a dock.

This black slug was heading in the opposite direction on the Pebble Beach trail on Galiano Island.

There were quite a few farm stands scattered around the Gulf Islands. This one, on Salt Spring Island, had delicious cookies for sale and was operated on the honor system. After a while, however, a black dog came trotting down the drive to inspect us.


PBwiki Post

Item #17 in SPLS's 23 Things/Learning 2.0 training gives students the opportunity to try posting in the "sandbox" of a wiki. I added a rave about my favorite vacation destination. It was very easy to do!

Wandering Around Wikis

Item #16 of the 23 Things/Learning 2.0 training focuses on wikis. I'm planning on building a wiki from scratch soon for an educational project so I enjoyed looking at some other wikis.

However, I noticed a few drawbacks:

1. The design of most of the wikis linked to in the Discovery Resources are visually stark. Templates need to be developed that are more visually appealing.

2. Some libraries are not taking advantage of the participatory nature of wikis. I noticed only librarians can edit St. Joseph County Public Library's Subject Guides. We don't have the market cornered on information. Why not devise a moderation system and let users add great resources?

3. Too often library users are not taking advantage of the participatory nature of wikis. The Butler WikiRef is a ghost town.

How can a wiki be effectively used in a library setting?

For staff, a wiki could be a useful way to replace local information files. It also seems more effective than Google Docs for "today in the library" communication because information can be categorized for quick access.

When I attended the University of Arizona back in the Paleozoic era, David Laird was the University's Library Director. He had a bulletin board in the main library's lobby for Q&A about the library's policies, services, and collection. Quite low tech, but I often stopped to read the cards on it and I learned a bit about the library this way.

Why not share our customer comments with the community? If these could be moderated so inappropriate comments could be screened, we could share answers with all who are interested. The questions/comments could be solicited on the page where they will be posted with the staff response. There also could be a page for purchase suggestions where the selectors could note what has been ordered and why vetoed suggestions were not.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

MySpace and Facebook

#12 in the 23 Things/Learning 2.0 training focuses on the two preeminent social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook.

I've explored both sites. MySpace allows the unregistered visitor greater access than Facebook. I tried searching for Desert Mountain High School students and alumni. I found up-to-date news in MySpace on a number of DMHS grads. I also learned more than I wanted to about some of them!

Students in the library where I work seem especially drawn to MySpace, although school administration prohibits the use of social networking sites during the school day. I wonder how many of them would find visiting a library's MySpace a draw? I checked Denver Public Library's MySpace for eVolver, the teen program. The profile claims eVolver is single, female, 18, and a Capricorn. "Lite" rap music played as I perused the page.

Sorry, but this is L-A-M-E! Most of the friends are either authors promoting their books or other libraries trying to pass as fellow cool entities. I connected to "nobody's home because this was a phishing attempt" error messages when I tried to link to the Find a Good Book or Good Music or Movie Reviews by Teens pages. The page hasn't been updated in five weeks and the program links are outdated.

At the Internet Librarian conference, Aaron Schmidt has promoted libraries having MySpaces and Facebook accounts. He recommended having a teen design these pages to add authenticity and design chaos. He poohed-poohed concerns about online safety by claiming teens realize the difference between real friends and MySpace "friends." However, I know that MySpace has been used by students to harrass and embarrass other students.

If one of the coolest teen programs in LibraryLand looks lame there, it doesn't bode well for the rest of us. Are libraries on MySpace the online equivalent of the person who attends a party only to make contacts and pass out business cards? Or perhaps they're the middle-aged person who's trying to be cool by wearing teen fashions. Will teens give us credit for trying -- or avert their eyes? I'd be interested in knowing how many teens frequent the library pages on these services, but I haven't encountered any counters yet.

Friday, March 14, 2008

What Is Library 2.0?

#15 of the 23 Things training focuses on Library 2.0. What does this term mean? I've explored several of the OCLC articles in the Discovery Resources and found interesting ideas and resources to explore.

Rick Anderson's words resonate with me:

"We need to focus our efforts not on teaching research skills but on eliminating the barriers that exist between patrons and the information they need, so they can spend as little time as possible wrestling with lousy search interfaces and as much time as possible actually reading and learning....If our services can’t be used without training, then it’s the services that need to be fixed—not our patrons. One-button commands, such as Flickr’s 'Blog This,' and easy-to-use programs like Google Page Creator, offer promising models for this kind of user-centric service."

Most Web 2.0 applications are intuitive and easily mastered. Why do we have classes to teach customers how to use the library catalog and databases? Why are they needlessly complex? Why can't cookies be used to speed logins? Amazon offers one-touch ordering of a computer that costs $1000, but to access an article on a library database I have to expertly guide and diligently click my mouse and enter a 13-digit library card number and a 4-digit PIN. Is it any wonder my students would rather use Google and Wikipedia?

Michael Stephens (pictured with his ever-present Mac notebook!) writes about Librarian 2.0 who "uses the Cluetrain Manifesto."

I visited Cluetrain.com and checked out the 95 Theses. Although these are directed at commercial businesses, I found many concepts in the list that librarians can easily embrace. I found the focus on the power of the human voice very meaningful at this time when my colleagues and I are being informed that our own words are ineffective in ensuring customer satisfaction:

"Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

"But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about 'listening to customers.' They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf."

Stephens also addresses our need to be more flexible and spontaneous:

Librarian 2.0 "recognizes how quickly the world and library users change with advancing technology. Project timelines that stretch on for months simply do not work in Library 2.0 thinking. Perpetual beta works well for the library’s Web presence. This librarian redesigns for ease of use, user involvement and easily added/re-configured pieces."

Michael Stephens' contention that Librarian 2.0 embraces Web 2.0 tools demonstrates that SPLS still has room to grow in our services:

"This librarian uses Instant Messaging to meet users in their space online, builds Weblogs and wikis as resources to further the mission of the library, and mashes up content via API (Application Program Interface) to build useful Web sites."

I chuckled when I reached the end of Dr. Wendy Schultz's article. She follows the library far into the future when the latest incarnation will be called Library 4.0:

"Library 4.0 revives the old image of a country house library, and renovates it: from a retreat, a sanctuary, a pampered experience with information—subtle thoughts, fine words, exquisite brandy, smooth coffee, aromatic cigar, smell of leather, rustle of pages—to the dream economy’s library, the LIBRARY: a WiFREE space, a retreat from technohustle, with comfortable chairs, quiet, good light, coffee and single malt. You know, the library."

To balance and conclude this discussion of Library 2.0, I'll offer two contrarian viewpoints.

The Annoyed Librarian dismisses Michael Stephens and other "twopointopians:" "I think we can now see the intellectual content of library 2.0. [Note the lower case "l."] I haven't been hearing much from the twopointopians lately, and now I suspect it's because they've been playing videogames, apparently an important part of both library 2.0 and social networking."

A contributor to PUBLIB noted:

"Librarians, ever eager, in their inexhaustible insecurity, to emulate the latest fad to prove their hipness and coolness, have come up with 'Library 2.0,' a term which, as near as I can tell, means we will embrace all the various social-networking sites and tools to reach our patrons, in a sort of vast, blissful emailochattic, facebooky, myspaceish, ningytwittery, blogospheric, flickristic, picasametric, mahalodic, youtubian, wikidly del.icio.us informational" climax.

The library of the past is gone. Intelligently planned and implemented change will ensure our continued value to our communities. However, change for the sake of change is pointless and stressful for everyone.

Enchanted by the glow radiated by those new ideas and programs presented in ALA conference sessions? Ignore the spin and look for the facts. As I recently discovered on a trip to the ghost town that is the Perry Library, all that glitters is not gold.

My respectfully tendered advice is to continually dialog with our communities and with all library staff members as we plan future services and collections. The best change usually is effected through consensus and buy-in.

Say Blogosphere Seven Times Quickly



#14 in SPLS's list of 23 things in the Learning 2.0 training focuses on Technorati, which is a search engine devoted to delivering results from the blogosphere. (Does anyone else out there feel the need for an antacid when you read this word?)

I ran the recommended search for "Library 2.0" using the advanced search option. As a keyword phrase search, I retrieved 2,679 results with tabs for posts, blogs, photos, and videos -- most of which looked B-O-R-I-N-G except for this one. Why are librarians so incessantly sincere?

I ran a tag search for Library 2.0 and found 806 posts with that tag. Hey, the videos on this search were more promising! Although too long, this one made me laugh. And you've got to appreciate Prelinger Archive's Your Life Work: The Librarian.

Technorati offers RSS feeds for your searches, but you can't limit the feeds by format.

Technorati offers a service that allows you to claim your blog and have it gain admittance to the blogosphere. It sounds a bit like a blog's birth certificate! Two options for doing this are offered. One involves providing Technorati with your blog's login, and the other gives you a bit of code to insert in a posting. After Technorati's spiders detect it, you're in.

Why take the superhighway on this mission? The idea of spiders tippy toeing through my humble Information Goddess blog has captured my imagination! I've inserted the code in a posting.

Let's see how speedy those spiders are! (Update: Read about the galloping Technorati spiders here.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tag, You're It, Folks -- Or, What Does Social Bookmarking Say About Me?

I've reached #13 in the 23 Things training, which focuses on tagging, folksonomies, and social bookmarking in Del.icio.us.

A couple of years ago I co-presented a workshop that focused on cutting-edge Web 2.0 services. Del.icio.us was one of the selections. I set up an account at that time, but I didn't get hooked. Why not? I know people who swear by Del.icio.us. I have three computers that I regularly use, two of which have three browsers that I alternate between using. I NEED a central location for my bookmarks!

My aging brain cells always falter for a beat as I attempt to get the periods in Del.icio.us typed in the right places. I'm not sure I want to share my bookmarks and see how many other people have bookmarked the sites that interest me. Should something as basic as bookmarking be a popularity contest? Do I want to take the time to tag every bookmark? Will I remember the tags? In the past, social bookmarking has seemed more complex than simply bookmarking sites in my browser and tossing them into folders.

The link to "Several Habits of wildly successful Del.icio.us users" that's included on our Discovery Resources list isn't working. In searching Slackermanager.com for the article, I found a glowing review for Diigo and signed up for an account. As has been the case with several of the other items I've explored during this training, I think I might have found a resource that's more up-to-date and fully featured.

Diigo has no awkward periods to parse. Diigo can suck up my bookmarks from some of the browsers I use. I can highlight sections of a web page and add comments about them on sticky notes. I can forward individual bookmarks with my highlighted sections to others.

I have added a Diigolet button on my bookmark bar on all but one of my browsers. (There's also a Diigo toolbar, but I'm reluctant to give up real estate in my browser.) Diigo will allow me to export its bookmarks into my Del.icio.us, Furl, etc. accounts without any fuss. I can keep selected bookmarks private or add private comments to my public bookmarks -- this is perfect for stashing account information! I'm going to give Diigo a try.

Quick asides: I understand that folksonomies reflect diversity of thought and make searching easier. The chaos of a folksonomy is its strength! Yes, searchers won't find everything -- as they might using a controlled vocabulary. But who wants to find everything these days?

I really like tag clouds on sites and use them as discovery tools.

Monday, March 10, 2008

LibraryThing

LibraryThing is topic #11 in the Learning 2.0/23 Things training.

LibraryThing is rather like a noncommercial version of Amazon.com. You can explore it to find good books to read by searching user-assigned tags and reading user reviews. Unlike Amazon, the section titled LibraryThing Recommendations is worth the price of admission (which is free!).

Although I've had a LibraryThing account for a while, I haven't put it to good use.

I used to keep a reading log, but I stopped that when the library catalog added a reading history feature to user accounts. I thought it was a step forward because I could access it anywhere. However, some of the items in my reading history have disappeared because they have been withdrawn from the Library's collection.

I've realized LibraryThing is a better substitute for my reading log. I can access it anywhere, no items will disappear, and I can read my annotations as well as those of others.

Playing Around with Image Generators

Here I am at #10 of Scottsdale Public Library's 23 Things training, which has given me the opportunity to play with image generators. I LOVE image generators as those of you who read my Information Goddess blog probably have noticed.

The suggested sites were:

LetterJames

The Generator Blog
FD Toys

I had fun testing the available options at these three sites. Here's one of my attempts:











To create this image, I used the Photo Spread Effect Generator and a photo of Palomino Library's exterior.

Finding Feeds

I've arrived at item #9 in the 23 Things training, which is titled "Finding Feeds." I'll address the questions that are provided.

Which method of finding feeds did you find easiest to use?
Frankly, none of the three resources provided were ones I'm likely to revisit.

Which Search tool was the easiest for you?
I like Technorati's interface the best, although Syndic8's information about the last day of update could prove useful to find sites that are regularly updated.

Which was more confusing?
Topix wasn't confusing, but it's not my cup of tea. If you want to find feeds on the latest celebrity news, try it.

What kind of useful feeds did you find in your travels?
I discovered Library Garden. The top posting was about the Webware 100 awards, which will provide hours of browsing pleasure!

What other tools or ways did you find to locate newsfeeds?
Almost every blog or web page that I'd like to track offers an RSS button. I'd rather search directly for a site than cruising around Technorati or Syndic8.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

RSS Feeds and News Readers

I've arrived at item #8 of the 23 Things training -- RSS feeds and newsreaders. Although the directions instructed me to set up a Bloglines account, I've decided to stick with Google Reader. I appreciate its clean design and navigation macros.

I set up this account after I returned from Internet Librarian '07. Why? I attended Steven M. Cohen's session about RSS feeds and Google Reader. Steven contended that Google Reader has Bloglines beat hands down. At that time, Steven had about 960 feeds set up on his Google Reader account and claimed he spent only one hour a day going through them! He demonstrated how he emails postings to the lawyers in his firm to keep them updated. ("This article was posted by the New York Times five minutes ago. Thought you'd find it interesting.") I currently have 18 feeds set up on my Google Reader account.

On to the questions!

What do you like about RSS and newsreaders? Imagine picking up a newspaper that has been customized to cover all of your interests. There are so many RSS feeds available now that you can stay up to date on just about anything that interests you. The Google Reader newsreader allows me to quickly review the latest postings and distribute ones of interest.

How do you think you might be able to use this technology in your work or personal life? I'm already using it! When the Scottsdale Tribune stopped delivering to my area, I missed having the paper to read while I ate breakfast. Now I take my notebook to the table and browse the latest news and postings while I munch and sip.

How can libraries use RSS or take advantage of this new technology? There are many ways! Here are some thoughts.

RSS feeds of catalog searches would allow library customers to be alerted when new items by their favorite authors or on subjects of interest are added to the collection. (I'd like an RSS feed from our new DVDs page to save the tedium of plowing through the titles I've already reserved!) We currently offer an email alert service but it isn't immediate and frankly it doesn't work very well.

We already offer an RSS feed for account information.

Several of our databases already offer RSS feeds on searches. In addition to doing more training on these wonderful resources, we need to publicize this service!

We could provide customizable RSS feeds for book reviews, library program information, and library news.

As a school librarian, I know the email addresses of the teachers I serve. I can send them (and my colleagues in the public and SUSD libraries) postings from Librarian's Internet Index, ResourceShelf, etc. when I know they will find them interesting and useful.

I've heard both Steven Cohen and Gary Price contend that RSS is not mainstream. People don't "get" it. When they click on those little orange buttons they encounter on web pages they get a page of gobbledygook. Libraries can provide a useful service by offering Web 2.0 training sessions that include RSS and newsreader topics. This is a way of positioning ourselves as goto technology leaders!

Time to post this and go check out the latest from the Annoyed Librarian and Fake Steve...

Blog About Technology: GrandCentral


I'm on item #7 of the 23 Things training, which is Blog About Technology.

This morning I discovered GrandCentral and set up a free account.

Google recently bought this service that assigns you a phone number. You control which of your real phone numbers (home, work, cell, hotel, friend's house, etc.) ring when someone calls you at your assigned number. Right now the only area code in the Valley that they're assigning is 623.

Log into your GrandCentral account and control your phone calls. You can access voice mail online, block unwanted callers, control which callers get through and which go to voice mail, set up custom rings, etc. Learn more about the service from Business Week and Slate.

I usually give a fax number when I'm asked for my phone number by someone who has no business needing it. Now I can use my GrandCentral number! Because GrandCentral currently is being beta tested, if you go to GrandCentral's home page you can only indicate your interest in getting a phone number when one becomes available. But if you follow this link, there's more information about the service and a link where you can set up an account today.

On to item #8!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

More Flickr Fun

I'm working on the 23 Things training program, and I'm delighted to see that the next two items focus on Flickr, the photo sharing site I've previously extolled on my Information Goddess blog.

Flickr has inspired a plethora of tools and mashups -- ways to use its open programming to concoct unique ways to incorporate Flickr images and data.

One of my favorite tool sites is FD's Flickr Toys, which offers quite a variety of photo manipulation tools.

Need a motivational poster? A magazine cover or movie poster? How about a a trading card or a personalized name badge? Would you like to Warholize a photo so it appears multiple times in an assortment of colors? Howzabout making a jigsaw puzzle or a photo album you can tote in your back pocket? You can do all these things and more with your own or others' photos. Remember that you can easily locate Creative Commons-licensed photos using Flickr's Advanced Search.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The 23 Things of Learning 2.0

I'm not on the road for my latest training -- I'm sitting in my home office.

I've signed up to participate in Scottsdale Public Library System's Learning 2.0 training, which is based on the PLCMC Learning 2.0 program developed by Helene Blowers, formerly of the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. I had the pleasure of attending a session at Internet Librarian 2007 that Helene co-presented where she talked about this training and the importance of play when one is learning.

As an incentive, SPLS is awarding a Creative Stone MP3 player to all staff members who complete the training. With any luck, the software needed to download ebooks from the Greater Phoenix Digital Library onto the MP3 player will be available on library PCs. I've served on SPLS's OverDrive committee for a couple of years now but as a Mac and iPod owner I've never been able to try this service.

Tonight I started the training at
http://splslearning.blogspot.com and I've already completed four of the items on the list of 23 items!

Step #2 of the training involved watching a video that focused on the 7 1/2 habits of highly effective learners. I suppose it is designed to be encouraging to those who might not have tried self-paced distance learning before. Although I was informed at the outset that "attitude is everything," the presentation struck me as being simplistic and even a bit condescending. Yikes! I'm starting off on the wrong foot!

I may be able to save you some time. Here are the 7 1/2 habits:
  1. Begin with the end in mind.
  2. Accept responsibility for your own learning.
  3. View problems as challenges.
  4. Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner.
  5. Create your own learning toolbox.
  6. Use technology to your advantage.
  7. Teach and mentor others.
  8. (Also known as habit 7.5) Play!
As I reflected on this list and my approach to learning, I'm pleasantly surprised. I think I'm on the right path! Here are my thoughts about several of the items:

1. I don't see an end! I plan on continuing to learn about new Web tools, services, and techniques for the rest of my life. Mastering individual tools can be accomplished, but even those are subject to change because features continue to be added in the successful ones or they disappear and another resource jumps into the void. Fortunately, most of the Web 2.0 tools are pretty intuitive. Unlike some expensive software I use on the job (see #6 below), the user interface has been simplified to work for a variety of users with a wide range of abilities on a number of different platforms.

3. This is probably the toughest challenge on the list for me. I'm a reasonably good troubleshooter, but this activity requires time and energy. When I'm attending a conference, I would rather spend both immersing myself in the sessions and activities.

5. I've assembled a great learning toolbag with my MacBook, digital camera, Belkin stereo TuneTalk mic, iPod nano, cell phone, assorted cables, and, occasionally, my video camera and/or PDA. These allow me to record podcasts, shoot photos and videos, type notes that I can convert into blog postings, and then, if web access is available, post the podcasts, videos, photos, and blog postings.

6. While I'm at home, I think I do use technology to lighten the load. I carefully research new acquisitions to ensure that the technology I buy is the best that I can afford. However, this isn't the case when I'm on the job. Regrettably, the library automation system occasionally works against us, not with us!

7. My goal is to teach others by sharing my training and new Learning 2.0 services in my two blogs.



Sunday, January 27, 2008

Folklorico Las Alacanas






Folklorico Las Alacanas from Cholla High School danced for AzTEA conference attendees during our lunch break. Enjoy a QuickTime clip of this colorful entertainment!




Saturday, January 26, 2008

AzTEA Keynote: From Classroom Knowledge to Global Contribution

AzTEA schedules conferences every school year in Flagstaff, Tucson, and Phoenix. Each conference has unique content but all focus on educational applications of technology. On Saturday, January 27th, I attended the Teaching and Technology: Students in the Global Village conference at Pueblo High School in Tucson, Arizona.

Dr. Tim Tyson is presenting the keynote addresses at all of the 2007-08 AzTEA conferences. He is the former principal of Mabry Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia. Mabry students hold an annual film festival. Student film teams are encouraged to identify an issue, research it, and present their work in a video. No grades are assigned for these projects. Dr. Tyson has shown several impressive student videos during his keynote addresses in Flagstaff and Tucson.

Here are some highlights from Dr. Tyson's keynote:
  • Kids are facing foreboding global issues. We’re not doing enough to prepare them. We’re so out of touch.
  • The new oil will be bandwidth. “Bandwidth is this generation’s oxygen.” - Steve Jobs, Macworld 2008 keynote speech
  • Brainwidth can’t keep up with bandwidth. Developing and distributing transformative ideas is growing exponentially, not linearly. How do we keep up? We don’t! Don’t focus on technology. Let kids handle it. Focus on making the connections in students’ minds.
  • Students want an emotional connection with their learning. We’re teaching kids with tools that they have no emotional connection to and we’re wondering why they’re not engaged in learning.
  • Technology is not a tool for students -- it's a habitat, an ecosystem.
  • iPods can be Trojan horses because students love them. Load them up with educational content!
  • Students crave educational experiences that leverage their unprecedented interest in technology.
  • Video is the language this generation speaks. Adults think in the two-dimensional world of words. Students think increasingly in the four-dimensional virtualized world of connected, interactive media.
  • Videos are a studio for students' creation, a stage for sharing, and a community for collaboration.
  • Kids are writing more now than ever but they're using different tools.
  • The use of technology tends to be at a very low level on Bloom’s taxonomy. We need to raise the bar to increase the scope and quality of what they’re producing.
  • Teach students in a language they understand.
  • Dr. Tyson predicts that public schools will join universities in a digital distribution model similar to iTunes University. Lectures, instructional activities, assignments, digital media objects, and student-created learning objects will be databased and available.
I've posted a podcast of the full keynote here.