Monday, November 23, 2009
It seems like an eternity ago that we were reflecting on our lifelong learning goals. Of course, this journey through the land of 23 Things has added considerably to my learning toolbox (#5 of the Lifelong Learning Seven and a Half). Most of all, learning the 2.0 tools, almost none of which I had a grasp of, relates to #6: Use technology to your advantage. I now feel poised to do so. Some of the tools I already depend on, many others I am incorporating into my way of life and learning more gradually, and still others I don't foresee using but will remain open to. Who knows what lies ahead? Embracing the question is part of the ride.
FAVORITE 2.0 TOOLS BY CATEGORY
Potential Personal Addictions:
Most Personally Indispensible:
All-Around Large-Scale Innovation Potential:
Most Fun and Inspiring Methods of Communication
NOT SO FAVORITES
Most Frustrating Due to Tech Difficulties:
Couldn't Figure Out But Definitely Worth Trying Again:
Why isn't social networking one of the 23 Things?
That said, I have a Facebook page, but I never visit. I use it to find people (and allow myself to be found) and exchange email addresses, then take our conversations to more private places. The ability of search engines to crawl through such sites sets off my Orwellian Alarm Bells. Social networking sites are the most disconcerting for their potential for abuse by outside interests. On the other hand, thanks to Facebook, and the fact that her son has an unusual name that I used to search, I was finally able to find my best friend from high school after 25 years...
Like other 635ers, I abandoned the notion of creating a NetLibrary account due to technical difficulties (and yes, 23 Things Narrator, a general reluctance to create yet another user account). I did cruise through the NetLibrary website, though, to see what it was about. The "About" page says that it's the division of OCLC that provides eContent to libraries and publishers--useful for acquisitions and collection development, etc. Honestly, though, I'm not sure what this means for an individual who just wants to download a book. This doesn't seem to be the place to go for that.
Like Lori, I checked out Audible.com. I listen to audiobooks in the car: on road trips now, and in the past during daily commutes in Washington, DC. The public libraries have always had sufficient selections, including current YA fiction, but I can see that having a monthly account with Amazon/Audible would be one of life's little luxuries if that beastly 3-hour commute still loomed on my daily horizon. Access to whatever you wanted, when you wanted it, in pristine condition, and for as long as you wanted are the obvious advantages of purchased downloads over library lendings on scratched CDs. And much less expensive than purchasing the CDs.
Downloaded books via the library...this would take care of so many issues in the public library that I have witnessed during my practicum: missing discs in cases, damaged discs, some other disc in the case. Problems with CDs and DVDs are by far the biggest collection and patron-relations challenges I see. The expense of maintaining the collections is enormous. My director only purchases used discs now--buying them new is not worth it. And indeed, I think that audiobooks via download are available through the library, but I have never been asked about them and I haven't investigated them...something to do before I finish my practicum, and before that next road trip!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Fast forward. Podcasts. When I have time I can make that radio show. I can make a whole radio station! The list of podcasts on podcastalley.com is testimony to the thousands of radio show ideas that folks out there have, information they want to share for education and entertainment. (It's pretty amazing that podcastalley is created and maintained by a single person, one 26-year-old Chris McIntyre.) Podcastalley has decent searching and sorting features for anyone looking for podcasts in particular topic areas, and in the spirit of "wisdom of the masses" the most popular podcasts overall and podcasts in topic areas are listed. As a reference tool for those who prefer audio to visual, this is a fun site to poke around.
The podcast that I most often listen to comes out of the Cooperative Children's Book Center, a children's literature research library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The weekly "show" features one of the CCBC's librarians booktalking one or two or three Books of the Week, current items in all categories of literature for children (picture books, fiction, nonfiction). These are the great reads that will eventually show up in the annual book published by the CCBC--Choices. There's nothing like hearing the enthusiasm of the librarians, though, to get you hooked and looking for that gem to pass on to the kids in your life (guiltless admission: or to curl up with on your own before passing it on). The podcasts aren't broadcasting every week at the moment, since the recent departure of the CCBC's podcast maven Tessa Michaelson, but they will be back. You can find them on the CCBC's homepage (http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/).
Most of the links in the 23 Things podcast page are dead, which continues to be a frustration with the 23Things site. Only the Podcastalley.com and two of the "how to create a podcast" links are still living and breathing. Doubtless there are other tools for locating podcasts, which could be added to an updated THING 21...?
Something else to squander oodles of time on. This could be almost as bad as Harry Potter's Mirror of Erised. TV clips from the 1970s (see Information Professional in the preceding post). Formative music from adolescence that is nowhere to be found but--miraculously--is here. On a hunch, I even found clips of my own son (hands only) playing the piano.
Seriously, this is the place to find anything that anyone bore witness to with a camera, or that was ever recorded on video. I would like to see a better Help function, and of course the files are so big that computers may not be able to keep up with the download at busy times. But as an information source, as well as an entertainment source, this is huge. In terms of spreading news, getting the word out, You Tube is free and anyone can post, so commercial and political interests may not have power to censor. (Remember the debates?) But as Google gets bigger and bigger, will it remain so (absolute power corrupts...)?
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
What a great resource the list of 2.0 winners is! It's interesting to see Library Thing as only the Honorable Mention for social cataloging. I wonder what the First Place tool is like. Will have to check it out (chant mantra: in my spare time).
I checked out Craig's List, the First Place in the Classifieds category, which I used a few years ago when I moved. It is even better now, very user-friendly, with no need for a tutorial if you are the least bit tech-comfortable (although there is a good help section). Finding things is easy because of both the category-sorting and the searching features. There are many categories--sales, personals, real estate, free stuff, cars, employment, musicians (always fun to read). And if you are offering something but are not tech-savvy, this is the place for you. The help sections are plain English, comprehensive, easy to navigate. And folks are maintaining the site with scam warnings and such. There are even Craig's Lists for cities all over the world, so if you are about to do a year abroad or some such, you can look for apartments, houses, furniture, and more. I wish my son had had access to the Montpellier, France, list before he did his junior year over there...
THING 18: ZOHO WRITER
I am actually writing this post in Zoho, so that I can experiment with pasting it into my blog. I recently had the experience of writing a lengthy post in MS Word for another class blog, and couldn't copy/paste it into the blog. After hunting around online (and seeing that lots of people have had this problem), I found a solution, but who needs the anxiety? I am eager to see how this works.
Other reasons I have come to love online word processing:
- I can create a document on a computer at SLIS (I don't have a laptop or netbook), save it, and it's mine again for the asking when I get home.
- I can write a doc and then access it from anywhere without having a flash drive, a laptop, etc.
- If I am feeling paranoid -- let's say I just finished my 100-page research paper but haven't turned it in yet --I can quickly save it in Google Docs or Zoho Wite, and I know it's safe if my computer blows up, the house burns down, etc.
- I can collaborate with groups in producing papers and projects, sooo much more easily than email.
I especially like the revert-to-version function of Zoho. And the tags! I adore tags.
As a library/reference tool, it can be of service just as I have described: a patron is in the library and needs to make notes on readings, write a document, post to a blog, whatever. And doesn't happen to have his/her own computer (or other device, such as a flashdrive, an iPhone, etc.). Not a problem. Use one of the library's computers to transcribe, save in Zoho (or Google Docs, or...) so it stays out there in a cloud for Patron to retrieve any time, anywhere. Nice.
Hmmm, this #18 Thing page could use some updating, by the way. (I've said this about other Thing pages, too. Are they still maintaining it?) Google Docs has been around for a while now. And then some.
UPDATE: Wow! Posting to the blog from Zoho is incredibly easy! You don't have to know the URL or anything. Okay, I am a convert. :-)
The PBWiki Tour and PBWiki Video links on the 23 Things site are obsolete, taking you to the dread 404 error message. This Thing could use a little updating, and not only in the broken links to tutorials. A cruise through some of the other wiki hosters, and a more informative piece about contributing to wikis (including such concepts as create, edit, protections) are in order.
That said, I posted a book to the Favorite Books page on the Learning 2.0 wiki (and saw postings from some classmates, along with their favorite reads, which was the most fun part of the exercise). I didn't want to post my blog, though--the page is kind of a mess, and I didn't see anyone else from 635 there. So why contribute to the chaos?
Like many (most?) people, the first wiki on my radar screen was Wikipedia, and until recently it was the only one. Wiki encyclopedias alone make for a fascinating study: There's the vast Wikipedia; and the new Britannica with its combination of authority articles and participant contributions; and the upcoming Google "Knol" which will permit anyone to post signed articles but none will be editable so you might have 500 entries on the same topic. And those are just the general encyclopedias. There are many more wiki encyclopedias devoted to particular topics, all with their own rules, almost all having a mission to deliver high-quality information free of charge from a community of experts to the public.
The 23 Things #16 page has some cool links to other wikis. A Subject Pathfinder example, where I was able to plug in someone's name and approximate age and find out his birthday! Great for stalkers. *hem* A book-lovers' wiki at the Princeton Library, where patrons post reviews: limited, but you can see the appeal for the community using it. The ALA conference wiki. Public library wikis, such as the one in Loudon County, Virginia, an old stomping ground--fun to see what's new there. And if you click on the link "Other library wiki examples," you get a terrific source that features a multitude of innovative ways to use this collaborative tool, not only in libraries. This seems like a tool that is being deeply mined for its potential. It's definitely here to stay, and worth knowing how to do. (Segue into Thing 17...)
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I am a huge fan of this tool. I learned about it and opened an account last month for LIS 644. At first I wondered why this could be so great that it would be worth replacing Favorites and Bookmarks, but I am a complete convert. I tag a lot of sites and pages. Being able to categorize them with tags is the best thing that ever happened to my bookmarking ability, especially since I can assign multiple tags, then edit at will. The other great thing is that I can access my bookmarks from any computer, and since I use several computers, this is a boon. I haven't had the need to share bookmarks yet -- the social part of social bookmarking -- but if I do, that will only be icing on the cake.
THING 14: TECHNORATI
Things at Technorati have apparently changed quite a bit recently, or at least since the 23 Things site put in its links and such. It sounds like they have been busy making changes to deal with the overwhelming mass of blogged information and the faux stuff masquerading as information. An authority system has just been implemented that scans blogs and ranks them for trustworthiness as the real thing, not scams. The highest ranking one as of today is the Huffington Post. You can see the Top 100 blogs (I searched for Hendrik Hertzberg and KT Horning to see how that works, but the search function was temporarily out of order), scan the vast index of popular tags, and more. Well worth exploring further. I do not want to tag any of my blog posts; they are not worthy of anyone's attention other than instructors and personal relationships who read them to see what I am doing in the time that I am not with them...
The podcast and how-to information on the 23 Things page is not very helpful with this Thing. Sounds like a fun idea but how exactly do you do it? Do you google "image generator"? I went to one of the links (Generator Blog) but gave up--you have to know what you are doing. I went to another link (BigHuge Lab) and spent waaay too long trying to generate something and post it. I made a lame op-art montage of an old portrait photo, but all I could do was post a link to this blog, not the image. I tried to save it to my computer and then post it from there, but just got the eternal spinning wheel of doom. So all I've got here is a link. Diminishing returns...must move on to the next Thing. In my copious spare time I will return to this Thing and try again. When I have a real need for it.
THING 11: LIBRARY THING
Now THIS is addictive! I'm having great fun adding books to my library catalog, finding covers, discovering others who love the book I read 25 years ago and never forgot, discovering others who have put books I produced into their libraries. I've clued my 17-year-old librarian-in-the-making niece into it, so that we can share books and ideas in yet another way. When I have more time I will post comments (that time Thing again). I love reading comments from others. I can see this could be the Thing that I lose all track of time with.
THING 12: ROLLYO
Incredibly frustrating. I get the basic concept, but I can't get the site to work, to load anything. It might be fun to create a search engine for intellectual freedom or attention deficit disorder or college funding. If I could get Rollyo to respond.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Up to this point I have recognized benefits in most of the 2.0 technologies I've explored. Wikis: great for getting information about things from experts, from enthusiasts, from locals. Facebook: great for finding long-lost friends, but I stay away from the Wall. Who has time for that? Delicious: my favorite, the beacon for those seeking to turn chaos into order, to make things sortable and findable. Google docs: what to use when you don't have a flash drive, or when you're worried about losing your opus to a computer snafu, or when you need to run a group project around the group. Flickr is fun, inspiring creativity, saving shipping space in email, making it so easy to pass around pictures to far-flung friends and family. Blogs...well, here I am, a lifelong diarist with a new venue.
But Twitter? This seems a tool fraught with peril. It's a great way to get relevant breaking news. "Your child's school is closing in 30 minutes due to weather." "Obama wins." But the potential for misuse is big. And tempting. The tutorial I saw today gushed about the ability to broadcast messages about the most mundane thoughts and chores. "Mmm coffee..." that sort of thing. This is a good Thing? This is progress? Honestly, I am a busy person; I don't want to be interrupted by tweets announcing that you are enjoying your coffee. These will annoy me and cause me to view you as self-absorbed and lazy (don't you have anything better to do than to think I have nothing better to do than follow your coffee break?) Worse, though, is the use described in Time magazine today (Oct. 5, 2009, page 64): Companies are paying regular folks to plug products to their Twitter followers via a site called Sponsored Tweets. ($29 per tweet. Nice money.) Parents and lovers and teen BFFs might be willing to get those "what are you doing?" glimpses about morning coffee and walking the dog, but when advertisements start to roll in, disguised as greetings, is there anyone who won't draw the line and silence the bird?
But gosh, $29 a Tweet is probably more than I can make as a librarian...
My new Flickr account is named Darcie's Pix. In the spirit of librarianship, I uploaded photos of our cats, past and present. At this point the pix are for friends and family. (Must go back to the site and admit some friends and family... ) Don't like Yahoo asking for gender, birthdate, postal code, etc. I couldn't create an account without giving the information. Why?
Thing 6: Flickr Plus: Mashups and More
The photo-plus-map combo looks really interesting. Plus lots of fun toys for those with a digital artistic bent. The Learning 2.0 head was constructed with someone's mashup application, a Thing I can imagine dabbling with when I have the time (ha!) to create photo albums and any other nice visuals to share.
Monday, September 21, 2009
What have I done?
I signed up for Twitter. Followers are involved. Not sure if they are following me or I am following them. Reminiscent of stalking.
I added NPR and the New Yorker, but am not sure what "adding" them is setting in motion. Will I get news scoops? That was my intention. Ads?? Ugh. Hmm. I should look for SLIS. Or the CCBC. Or a favorite library or librarian...
It was a little bit fun and a little bit creepy (okay, maybe a lot creepy) to see all kinds of people from my past pop up with photos and everything because at some time in the past we have emailed and this Twitter Thing has connected all the dots. Past romances, past colleagues, businesses in places where I no longer live. Is there such a Thing as the past any longer, other than a past that will haunt you? CHECK 9/21/2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
How can you not get a little excited by the promise of playing with all these new toys? Pat yourself on the back, they say. And start having fun. CHECK 9/19/2009
Thing 2: Lifelong Learning Lecture.
The 7 (and 1/2) habits of lifelong learning are divulged and explained, and we are prompted to fill out a LL contract and to reflect on the habits that are the easiest and the most difficult for us. The easiest is #2: Accept responsibility for my own learning. At my age, I welcome every chance to exercise the gray cells and refresh the connections among synapses, and I have nobody else's agenda to contend with. The hardest... well, several pose some degree of difficulty. #3: View problems as challenges, for example. If I am tired or in a rush, I am less likely to see the opportunity in a crisis, although I agree with the overall concept. Or #5: Create a learning toolbox -- Books, classes, Web pages, friends, no problem, but I am a little fearful of new technologies (is this going to blow up my computer?), and I have to overcome a certain amount of reticence to seek mentors. Habit #6: Use technology to your advantage -- again, there is that Fear Factor, but on the other hand, I'm here, blogging! And I want to learn these other Things (*gulp*). CHECK 9/19/2009
Thing 3: Create a Blog.
Ta-da! Can I just point out, though, that it's not quite as easy as they make it sound. First, even though I have a gmail account, I couldn't sign in with it. (Fortunately, I have Friends (see Habit #5) who provided solutions. Also, did anyone else have a hard time reading the string of characters that you had to recognize and key in? Sheesh! Accurate transcription required not only good vision but also excellent powers of gestalt reasoning plus a dash of sheer luck. In other words, I got it wrong a couple of times before I got it right. CHECK 9/19/2009