Monday, March 24, 2008
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
The following is a document I created in Google Docs and posted to this blog.
More Vacation Snaps
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
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
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.
#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
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 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.
The suggested sites were:
The Generator Blog
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.
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
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...
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
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.