Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Spring into Springshare or open source equivalent

Well, I am feeling invigorated with new ideas and directions after the New Librarians Symposium in Melbourne. It was great to hear what paths new grads have taken after finishing their degrees. Many librarians have found interesting roles, sometimes with job titles which sound very little like librarians, and not always via a straight path. Some have taken contract and temporary positions to gain experience and zig-zagged their way to their chosen roles, collecting many valuable skills and life experience on the way. Web 2.0 and beyond also featured heavily at the symposium.

At the Uni where I work, I heard about Springshare Web 2.0 Library Guides. Basically it's a solution that's ideal for academic libraries and school libraries in particular to draw together many of the Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 tools. The main feature is the Library Guides to aid students in their research, however there are many other useful interactive features.

I particularly liked the way users can rate each guide. I also liked the librarian profiles and the reporting functions to track usage of the guides.
LibGuides Intro from Springshare on Vimeo highlights many of the features. The downside is that Springshare isn't free, unlike many Web 2.0 tools, but at around US $800 or so, it is probably worth the (annual) cost. This is especially the case where the library (such as a public library) might be short of programmers: Springshare is so easy to use and does not require any programming skills to add content and functionality - it's just point and click stuff.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hands Free 3D for SL

Linden Labs are developing technology which will allow Second Lifers to move through SL hands-free via a 3D webcam. Check out the video on YouTube which explains how it is done!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Second Lives

If anyone has any doubt about the potential of virtual online realms such as Second Life (SL), they need only read one of the books I am currently reading myself, that being "Second Lives" by Tim Guest. Tim relates the story of a group of people with cerebral palsy who are expanding their lives through SL. Although they cannot physically do many activities themselves in Real Life, using the virtual world they are able to enhance their quality of life and experience many new things. The group play as one character that can be whatever they want he/she/it to be. They can interact freely with others virtually. To give you some idea of how liberating the experience of using SL is to these people, here are some quotes from the book: "Second Life gives us the voice we've always wanted to have" and "It's like being rescued after drifting what seemed like a lifetime at sea. Like a door I've been banging on was finally opened, or like being born for the first time. It feels how I imagine an innocent man who has been locked up wrongly feels when he's finally set free." (page 49, "Second Lives", Guest). In some ways I feel ashamed of my reluctance to get into these virtual realms, where this group of wonderful people are bursting with the need to express themselves and the desire to interact with others. It is heartwarming to hear that new technologies such as these are helping people to have better lives, rather than just being for vanity or amusement.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Technologic lyrics by Daft Punk

Buy it, use it, break it, fix it,
Trash it, change it, mail, upgrade it,
Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it,
Snap it, work it, quick erase it,
Write it, get it, paste it, save it,
Load it, check it, quick rewrite it,
Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it,
Drag it, drop it, zip, unzip it,
Lock it, fill it, call it, find it,
View it, code it, jam, unlock it,
Surf it, scroll it, pause it, click it,
Cross it, crack it, switch, update it,
Name it, read it, tune it, print it,
Scan it, send it, fax, rename it,
Touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it,
Turn it, leave it, start, format it,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Library 2.0 Committee

Well, we have formed a Library 2.0 Committee at work, so let's see what exciting new things we can offer our existing patrons and those we don't even reach at all, at present. Stay tuned!

There's rose-coloured glasses and then there's just pink, pink and more pink

Picture is from The Second Life Herald article mentioned in the post below.

Barbie World of Fashion 40 years on

In the same vein as Sony's "Home" is the Barbie virtual world called "Barbie Girls". Visually, it is a bilious combination of pinks, bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Hello Kitty school of design. Being a vintage and mod Barbie collector myself, this new Barbie world is as far away from true fashion and style as Hannah Montana is from Audrey Hepburn. It's downright ghastly and could only appeal to the young and befuddled in our society: those poor kids who actually believe this stuff is interesting and fun. Barbie Girls has very little to offer, it would seem, in the way of game-play or virtual social interaction. It is all pretty dreadful when you think about the way children, particularly young girls, have been hijacked by people selling useless stuff and manipulating their minds and behaviour, just to make a dollar.

In Barbie Girls, the emphasis seems to be on dressing up your avatar (the power of the 'makeover'), buying stuff (clothing, etc). Here is an article about it in The Second Life Herald (unconnected with Linden Lab's SL). Players use Barbie Bucks instead of Linden Dollars. You can buy virtual furniture or 'furni' as they term it, or virtual pets. I suppose on the positive side, it is reducing actual clothing bought (and as quickly thrown away as last week's fashion) and unwanted real animal pets.

And yet, it is not THAT far away from a game that Mattel put out 40 years ago, in 1967, called "The Barbie World of Fashion game by Mattel". There was still that emphasis on fashion, cute guys, but it wasn't so insidious and was probably aimed at an older market. And the fashions actually looked like fashion - you know, related to art and design, not some sort of ghastly pink cyberchic masquerading as 'fashion'. Cheap disposable fashion, as in the real world, now represented virtually. How utterly pointless! Mattel also release Barbie's "Keys To Fame" game in 1963 but at least the premise of that was "your dream career comes true!". Gosh, a career! There's something that young girls today don't seem to aspire to. They just want fame, money and to be very attractive (and don't forget sexy, even if you are only a tween or younger).

What a shame that all that effort has been put into a game which adds to the already gargantuan effort by companies to further squander and possibly destroy the potential of young girls in the Western world. When I was pre-pubescent, I dreamed of being a ground-breaking scientist or an inventor or an investigator par excellence. I don't think I ever thought of being famous for its own sake or being a popstar/rockstar/fashion model. Now that seems to be all these girls want to be. What an awful waste!

Sony Playstation Home - safer, but...

I read with amusement that Sony is launching a 'safe' social game product called "Home" which mimics Second Life (SL) in some aspects. Clearly there must be a market for this type of game, although SL is, of course not a game at all really - not in the conventional sense anyway. Home is described as "a social layer for the PS3", developed for people who wanted to experience some of the fun of SL, such as customising your avatar, meeting people, etc, but without the full-on scariness of the unknown found online, I presume. It also seems more about the game-play rather than actually creating a SL or other existence. For example, going 10-pin bowling with virtual strangers who have been vetted to ensure they don't offend or spoil your enjoyment. There will apparently be some live events too, which does make it more like a real virtual world (a virtual real world?) rather than just a game environment. This is the article I read: and the picture shown is from that article.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Label Clouds and Tag Clouds

At the behest of a fellow Learning 2.0 blogger who has been courageously delving into the various gadgets and widgets one might apply to one's blog, I tried adding a tag cloud. I was provided with the following link Being not afraid of HTML or even XHTML coding, I bravely added the relevant code and... nothing! It very quickly dawned on me that the reason for this was: no labels on my blog! It's pretty difficult to make a cloud from thin air, as it were. So I added some labels to my posts (which I had noted some fellow Learning 2.0 bloggers had done - those clever clogs!) and... voila! It worked this time. The only problem was that I had more of a tag row than tag cloud, so I will have to add some more labels to achieve the desired cloudy look for my tag or label grouping. It worked like a charm though: I clicked on my label 'Second Life' and my blog re-appeared showing only my postings with that label. I think a tag cloud on a library blog would be very useful to customers indeed as long as the content is there and the labelling is good.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A post-hiatus post

Blogger have developed a few new page elements, including the Blogroll, so I have added that with 2 of my favourite fellow Web 2.0 learners' blogs listed. I also notice that, finally, I can now find my blog in Google (those little webcrawlers must have indexed it at last) and there is also something coming up in Technorati. Wow, I am famous (just kidding)...

The Strange Otherness of Second Life

Whilst playing what are usually termed video games, especially the later (and thereby increasingly detailed and sophisticated) Harry Potter games on PS2, I often got considerable enjoyment from just wandering around and exploring the virtual world that some designers had quite obviously spent many, many hours creating. There was little or no danger to 'me' (and none at all to me) and, as 'Harry Potter' or one of the other characters, it was possible to immerse oneself in the virtual (albeit limited) world of Hogwarts or whatever. One could enjoy the virtual nature, lighting, sounds and effects at one's leisure. The downside was, I suppose, that if you met another character (not a main character), and there were indeed other students or creatures sprinkled around the virtual world for those who could be bothered to explore, rather than just following the linear nature of the platform game, these characters could only 'speak' what they had been pre-programmed to 'say' to you.

This appreciation for the virtual world is undoubtedly what has led me to investigate Second Life (SL). I have shunned any 'scary' fighting games such as World of Warcraft despite the fact that I can see the artwork and technology of these types of games is incredible. I have seen screen captures of wonderful-looking worlds in other games but would never play or participate in them because of either an element of conflict or the realisation that if playing online, one is playing against real people with an unknown set of ethics, values, behaviour, and so on. I get the impression it can be pretty brutal in the world of online gaming, especially for the novice. However, at the same time I am missing out on experiencing a richly detailed virtual other world.

As I previously posted, when I found out about SL several years ago, I could see it was something quite different from gaming. I could see it could be attractive to non-gamers and the relation to real life was actually probably a lot stronger, with greater attraction for adults, rather than teenagers or children. However, it did seem a bit creepy and perhaps had a sordid element to it. After SL was covered in the Web 2.0 program, I decided to look into it again from a different angle - that of the potential for education and libraries, especially reference work.

I quickly read the following titles from my library: "Second Life for dummies" by Sarah Robbins and Mark Bell, "Second Life in-world travel guide" by Sean Percival, "How to do everything with Second life" by Richard Mansfield, "Designing your second life: techniques and inspiration for you to design your ideal parallel universe within the online community, Second Life" by Rebecca Tapley. I did not read them in detail but skimmed over the technological 'how to' bits to try and get to the real heart of SL and I believe I have a 'handle' on it now. It would be very difficult to sum up what SL actually is in a few words but it is a fascinating thing, that's for sure. What most intrigues me is the technology and the potential of it. I couldn't give a fair description of SL without having actually experienced it first-hand, and over some time, which brings me to my next quandary: whether to stick my toe in or not?

SL is really, more than anything else, an interactive online social tool. There's nothing wrong with that, but it holds little fascination or allure for me in that respect. If I want to meet people, I prefer to do it in the real world. I can see that meeting people who share the same interests is useful and fun, but, again, I can do that in reality. Sure, there are people on the other side of the world who I am in contact with, but I can use email or other methods of communication at the moment.

The job of creating an avatar seems laborious which is something I had not considered. I thought you would just pick an avatar and off you go. Indeed, you can do that but SL prejudices seem to be as bad (if not worse!) as in Real Life (RL). If you have not spent many hours altering your avatar with custom-designed skin, hair, clothing and so on, then you are viewed negatively or you stand out as a newbie. The only way to avoid such censure or judgement seems to be to take an avatar of an animal or other creature (a ball of light, for example) but of course that limits you to where you can go. Try turning up to a vintage jazz club or a library as a ball of light or a dragon! Anyhow, it's all very strange and I am not sure I can be bothered. The other element is meeting and virtually interacting with other 'real' people. Unlike a game, there are few rules and anything could happen. I find the idea of 'meeting' another person in that way very peculiar, although maybe it's not like that at all.

The other thing I noticed about SL is much of it seems to be about acquiring things: house, furnishings, accoutrements, clothes, jewellery, etc. It's like the real world only weirder. As I am not a lover of shopping at any time, this element of SL is also quite unattractive to me. The most interesting facets of SL to me are: the ability to explore, in-world gaming, and the ability to attend virtual learning events. I can also see the benefits in 'role playing', such as woman 'playing' as a 'man' and experiencing what that would be like, virtually. There is great potential for learning, such as in a news item I saw recently where Israeli students played a virtual game (not SL) where they had to be Palestinians. The students said it helped them to understand what it would be like. Clearly, especially for young people, this type of virtual reality helps their understanding and imagination.

Who knows? Maybe in the near future my curiousity will get the better of me and I will take the plunge. Or maybe I will wait until I can see greater benefits from SL before doing so. I guess, ultimately, there is not a great deal of risk as you are not 'you' in SL but an avatar, but it's that fear of the unknown I suppose. If I do go ahead, stand by for another posting on my initial experiences! In fact, I might now go and see what I can find out about other people's first experiences before I go ahead myself. I just have this nagging thought that I should get in now, before this virtual world thing explodes!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Second look at Second Life

Woo hoo! Finished my last exam! Now I have time to read some other stuff. I have borrowed some new books on Second Life as I thought I should find out a bit more about it and how libraries could use it in the future (or whatever comes after SL). Now to get some reading done...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Using Google Docs now!

At my workplace, some of my team have got together to create the first issue of a library newsletter. As I work part-time, I had finished a draft of my piece for the newsletter, in time for our next meeting. I had the draft on my home computer and I was thinking of saving it to my USB stick to take into work (I don't have a work email address or computer) when it suddenly hit me! Use Google Docs! I tried to upload my document but it would not accept .docx files (Word 2007), so I saved it as a .txt file and voila! I now have an editable (is that a word?) draft of my document online, accessible anywhere and I don't have to worry about remembering to bring my USB or a hardcopy of the document to work.

Today, I decided to do the same thing with some Procedures I have started writing for my work area. The only difference was that, to maintain the formatting, I saved another copy as a .doc file (ie, Word 97-2003) to upload. It worked perfectly and now others will be able to access the document and comment or alter it as needed, if I 'share' it with them. This is a real boon in a workplace like mine where many of us don't have our own work email addresses and we work part-time and varying days and hours.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Learning 2.0 re-cap

A colleague said that now they have finished the Learning 2.0 program, they are going back to check they completed all the required tasks to ensure their eligibility for the certificate. I definitely did lots of Discovering, Exploring and Adventuring but I thought I had better revisit the program outline to make sure I had made some relevant comments on my blog. So here goes!

Week 1: Let's Get Started. Watch the Stephen Fry video. Done! I watched this at home, due to problems accessing it at work and made some comments about it on the main forum, such as:

"I'm with Lesley on that first video. Even though I consider myself as not exactly a technological philistine, I also had to watch that one a couple of times. I suppose it summarised so much development in such a short space of time, so whilst the content was familiar the speed was a bit intense. I was wondering how someone who perhaps was unaware of much of the new technology would fare with that one.

I found the fact that the term 'news' seems quite rubbery and uncertain now. I liked the fact that these new tools are not as important as what we use them for but I question how much value is being added in a vast proportion of the blogs, etc, in existence today (from a large scale perspective). I did enjoy Mr Fry's comments - such a wonderful individual with so much to offer. I too, have rediscovered lost moments through the 'miracle' of the internet and the new technologies, such as a song I downloaded (legally) this morning that I had not heard since 1979 as a child. There seems ample opportunity for self indulgence using these tools, but I am interested in the greater value to the world (and not just the humans in it either)."

Week 2: Intro to Blogs. Set up a Gmail account and then a blog through Make some first postings reflecting on the program and what you have learned so far. Done! Interestingly, I don't seem to have received any emails at my Gmail account since mid-April, so not sure if there is a problem there. I haven't posted much to my blog since I completed the program, but I think I will still use it in the near future, until such time as I start a different blog. My Uni semester is 'hotting up' so I can't spend as much time on my blog or discovering new Web 2.0 things at this moment.

Week 3: Sharing Images. Explore Flickr and discover an interesting image to write about on your blog. Provide a link to the image or post it on your blog. Done! I chose not to open a Flickr account but I provided both a link to an image and uploaded an image through the Blogger upload tool. I also helped several people at my work to successfully upload images to their blogs, after they experienced many problems doing so. On the main forum, I posted:

"Well, I found uploading and linking photos to my blog a little tricky but finally ironed out a few minor problems and it worked at last! I found searching the images on and other sites (eg the Library of Congress) fascinating but I do have reservations about uploading personal photos myself. I can definitely see the benefits for an organisation, such as a library, though."

Week 4: RSS. Create a Bloglines account and connect at least 5 RSS Feeds to your account. Comment on how you find RSS. Done! I subscribed to several including the British Library and the Powerhouse Museum's Picture Of The Day. Since then I have added a few more, such as the Animals Asia RSS feed from their new website, but refer to my previous blog postings (eg 3 March). I also posted the following on the main forum (which I think is similar to what's on my blog):

"I am still undecided about RSS. It was quite fun setting up the reader and subscribing to feeds (although it varied considerably from one website to another in how easy this was to achieve!). Like Jenny commented, at the moment I can't really see much benefit to me personally over the daily emails I already receive from the various websites of interest to me. I can see that the reader would be useful if you subscribed to a great many feeds and needed to manage them.

For a library though, I can see RSS would be really beneficial. The library would have a great online method of promoting library events, services, new collections, and so on, to members and customers. This is especially great for the customers who don't visit the library often in person. I think libraries really have to got to not only 'keep up' (especially with the younger library users) but really be at the forefront of technology and RSS seems one good way of achieving that."

Week 5: Wikis. After learning about wikis, obtain the invite key to the NSW Learning 2.0 wiki and edit it. Done! Refer to my postings 8-11 March. I also posted the following to the main forum:

"Wow! I have learned so much more about Wikis than I knew before. I have used Wikipedia of course and I had thought about version control, and people adding bogus information, but didn't realise spam was such a problem. I had no idea about how one would go about setting one up. I always liked the idea of using Intranets and chat in a business setting but I found Intranets often disappointing. Often the info was way out-of-date and it seemed like no one took the time to 'tend the garden' regularly (to borrow the spade idea from Intellipedia). Chat was good but not so good for collaboration and it seemed to me that no-one ever used the expanded benefits of software like Lotus Notes. I can really see that wikis would work well, and I anticipate our library will jump on board very soon! I love the ability for everyone in the library to contribute easily, even those who aren't so hot with computers. I can see how the wiki could be the 'hub' for the library online with resources linking off from it. It is all VERY interesting to me!

BTW, I really enjoyed the Information Today article - academia has some fabulous opportunities if it would only grab them. Just a question: why is pbwiki's logo a sandwich???"

Week 6: Videos Online. Blog about your discoveries in both YouTube and Google Video. Done! See my March postings. I also posted to the main forum:

"I must admit I hadn't used Google video before. I have noticed on you often find a video (such as a comedy routine or program) broken down into parts because of the capped time, but I hadn't really thought about it much. Author talks are certainly better being viewed in one go without all the interruptions!"

"In response to wscaster's problem embedding a Google video, I just tried the following and it worked:
On the right hand side of the video, there is a blue button stating "Email - Embed HTML". If you click on that, it then says Send Link - Embed HTML. Click on the Embed HTML link and you will see the code. Copy and paste the code into your new blog post window (you can use the Compose view, don't have to use the HTML view). Anyhow, give it a try!"

I must say that, since I use YouTube on almost a daily basis, I can really see how annoying it is to have relatively small time-limit on videos for some things. On the other hand, some of these videos are probably not even supposed to be on YouTube at all (ie, whoever has posted them is breaching copyright). I notice some videos keep getting removed but as fast as they do that, someone (or maybe the same person) will re-post it. There are so many videos now, it is possible to watch something as old as a clip from a George Formby movie, or the latest TV commercial! Videos are now being rated, eg 'good audio' to assist people in selecting one of several versions available.

Week 7: Tagging, Folksonomies, and Library Thing. Post about the usefulness of social bookmarking for libraries. Done! (see previous postings). Set up your own del.icio-us account. I had already done this, not long before I heard about the Learning 2.0 program. I love the tag cloud and think it would be wonderful to have this for our library. Register your blog with Technorati. I did this and got confirmation that it was done, but to date I have failed to locate my blog on Technorati. I read the help pages and forums and it does seem there are glitches as well as many many people waiting to get the blogs registered. LibraryThing was my favourite thing from this week. Set up my library and got it to feed to my blog. I was so excited about LibraryThing I couldn't help blabbing about it to work colleagues. It gave some of them something to aim for when they were stuck in Weeks 2 or 3. I also posted the following to the main forum:

"I got the same number of hits for the standard search in Technorati as for their advanced search, using the search terms suggested. What am I missing here?!?" (re the Technorati exercise).

"Thanks Jalen! I did try the tag search for the term 'bookmobile' and got considerably fewer matches. However then I tried another term and got the same results for either keyword or tag. I guess it depends on how the articles have been tagged!"

"I have been trying out the Kingston Public Library (VIC) catalogue as they have built LibraryThing into it (try this link). It's great fun and seems to work very well. You can search on an author, pick a title, then view the tags, click on tags to bring up new items, then click on those and view the status in the catalogue (ie, available to borrow or not, etc). Wish we had this at my library!"

Week 8: Answer Boards and Social Searching. Done! See my March postings. I don't know if we have the staff resources at the moment to run this type of thing at my library but we must go in this direction if that is what our customers want and what they expect. We have some experienced reference librarians and staff who don't seem to be getting the reference questions they deserve! Perhaps, if reference could be moved to this online setting, staff would be able to help customers and have better job satisfaction as a result. I think many of our customers hold the reference staff in high regard (unfortunately to the point where they are sometimes reluctant to approach the reference desks!) and they would be more than happy to rate both our services and our collection. We receive verbal comments quite often and so I am sure online responses would not be far off. I posted the following to the main forum:

"Yes, the online brains trust! Let's get users to trust our brains! I think promoting library services through AnswerBoards is a great idea and keeps us in the public eye." because I really think librarian and library staff need to keep reminding people about the quality services we provide and we must go to the customers, not expect them to come to us!

Week 9: Podcasts and Audio. Listen to some podcasts and blog about how the library could use them. Done! Refer to my posting of 23 March. I also posted the main forum:

"Still getting to grips with the usefulness of podcasts and vodcasts but I am getting the hang of subscribing now, whereas previously I don't think I really knew what I was doing. Of course, that's because I am not a teenager!"

I can see that many of our customers would enjoy podcasts and many have MP3 players, but I think much depends on the quality of the podcast as to how popular they would be.

Week 10: Mashups. Explore Keir Clarke's Star Viewer. Done! This week was also heaps of fun and I enjoyed learning about the way you can use different technologies together to create something new or even unique! Refer to my postings of late March. These are definitely something libraries can use by drawing together different content to suit a particular client group at a particular moment in time. I posted to the main forum:

"Hi net_goody! The Keir Clarke link goes to his blogspot and there is a link at the bottom of his page to the Star Viewer under the heading " Google Sky vs Star Viewer"." as another Learner seemed to have a problem with a link.

Week 11: Online Applications and Tools. Watch the Slideshare slide show. Create a document in Google Docs and share it with nswpln. Done! Also set up a Zoho account for comparison - refer to my blog postings for comments. I found this week very interesting, although the online docs, etc, I thought would be more useful for me at work, more than for the library customers. The slideshow, however would be a great method for presenting info to customers. I also posted the following to the main forum:

"Like Superchicken, I find the sheer number of FREE online applications staggering. Sharing has never been so easy (or accessing your own docs to update them wherever you are). I was going to try converting a file using Zamzar, like Jenny, but then realised the file I had chosen was probably copyrighted so backed out! I will try it again soon with something of my own. It's all just mind-boggling and the simplicity factor is just so right! 'They' (the developers) seem to have thought of everything."

Week 12: Wrap up; social networks and catch up. Reflect on how libraries can use social networking, and libraries in Second Life. Done! Comments are on my blog (see April postings). I posted the following on 9 April 2008:

"Well, I finished up the program this evening and, like Jalen, I feel it's been a wonderful journey. There were a few tools I had been meaning to look into but kept putting it off but this program has made me learn about them and so many more I had not even heard of! It has been heaps of fun and so very interesting. I really hope I get to use some of it at my workplace soon. Thanks to all the SL (that's State Library NOT Second Life) team for the program and for the comments. It's been fantastic!"

WOW! I really hope I have covered everything! What's important to me, though, is how much I have learned over a relatively short time. I no longer feel like I am totally in the dark about these applications and tools and I also feel a little more 'on par' with the younger generation of customers who use our library.

Upon Reflection
Although it is all very new, and virtual 'life' seems very strange, there is no doubt that this is the way things are headed whether we like it or not. I love reality but I also love online stuff and this is the next step. I am too old to really feel as comfortable as many young people do about sharing their lives so freely online, but I welcome developments such as Virtual Reference. Second Life is creepy to me, but it probably will not always remain so. I think it is partly because I connect SL with the seedier side of online life. I started using the internet back in 1995 before the GUI (graphical user interface) and have seen some strange things online in my time! Nonetheless, it is up to us to grab whatever tools are there to get our services and collections out to where people want to use them.

So many people I work with seem to expect people will always come to us, but, to be perfectly honest, I really never set foot in a library between when I left school and when I starting working in them (only about 3 years ago). Unfortunately, there are many people who forget libraries even exist and much of their information is probably obtained online. I LOVE the internet and new technology and everyday find something interesting on the 'net or some terrific tool. When I think about the library in which I work and the huge gap between what it currently provides and what it could provide, I feel very disappointed. I don't think it is enough to say that the budget won't allow such developments either, as many are not that expensive to implement (some free) and the budget spent on other materials and services could be reviewed. What is provided now may suit some customers but the customer base is changing and the library must also change to meet the needs of these younger or more technologically savvy, or risk becoming completely redundant or at the very least, becoming a community space but NOT a library. I suppose it depends on your definition of libraries...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More on Trolls - how droll!

Well, I have not posted anything much since I finished the Web 2.0 course, mainly because my Uni work was starting to mount up! In one of my previous postings, I was amused by the term 'troll' in social networking. As luck would have it, my NetLingo Word of the Day for today was TROLL - ha ha! I subscribed to NetLingo some time ago as a lazy way of keeping up with new internet terms. Anyway, back to the trolls!

troll (a.k.a. trolling)

Online it originally meant the act of posting a message in a newsgroup that is obviously exaggerating something on a particular topic, hoping to trick a newbie into posting a follow-up article that points out the mistake. In general, to "troll" means to allure, to fish, to entice or to bait. Internet trolls are people who fish for other people's confidence and, once found, exploit it. Trolls vary in nature; here are four types of online trolls:

Playtime Trolls: an individual plays a simple, short game. Such trolls are relatively easy to spot because their attack or provocation is fairly blatant, and the persona is fairly two-dimensional.
Tactical Trolls: This is where the troller takes the game more seriously, creates a credible persona to gain confidence of others, and provokes strife in a subtle and invidious way.
Strategic Trolls: A very serious form of game, involving the production of an overall strategy that can take months or years to develop. It can also involve a number of people acting together in order to invade a list.
Domination Trolls: This is where the trollers' strategy extends to the creation and running of apparently bona-fide mailing lists.

Thanks NetLingo! Find NetLingo at

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Last Thought On SL and Libraries

I have to say it: Second Life still gives me the creeps. I admit I have never created an account with them and tried it out but I did watch a television program on SL once and I think it really put me off. The creator of SL was interviewed and they explained all about how it originated, how it was set up, how it works now, etc. I didn't like its creator, although I can see it has taken on a life of its own now. I am all for using virtual environments (remember MUDs, MOOs, etc?) for training and educating purposes and I can see how it would be much easier to use something like SL that already exists and can host this type of thing, but I still find the look of SL very odd. Take a look at the first Irish library in SL in the picture I have posted here. The UCD James Joyce Library was set up by University College Dublin. It looks weird! At the time of this article (27 June 2007) there were apparently over 40 libraries in SL. Not bad!

I must admit though, I tend to side with Darren Barefoot and his "Get A First Life" parody site. I love video games and anything imaginative but I find SL too weird at present. There's too much that's inherently false about it. I guess it's just finding a balance between the virtual and the real.

Social Networking and Libraries

I really loved what the Rotorua Public Library had done with their Bebo identity. It really is a reaching out to its immediate public but also anyone from around the globe. There seemed to be a lot of good feeling towards the library from its new friends and that must be rewarding to the staff. I can see that not only can the library and its supporters have two-way conversations and ideas, but the friends are also socially networked so they can cross-communicate too.

In a way, all these smaller libraries (such as Kiama Library who say they have ditched email altogether for internal communications for a library blog) have done so much and my library has not, it makes me feel kinda sad. I really do have hope that, after this program, my library gets into all these fantastic tools and starts to really reach out to its customer and friends base.

Social Media and Corporate Function

I found the article by Josh Bernoff at Forrester most interesting and, to some extent, amusing! It's that awkward 'no person's land' or stand-off situation with what Josh terms the 'Purists' on one side and the 'Corporatists' on the other. The Purists distrust what the corporate types have in mind for social media tools and the potential for control over what happens, whilst the Corporatists are reluctant to get involved in social media arenas. I can certainly understand the distrust and reluctance on 'both sides' but perhaps it's not so much of an 'us and them' thing after all. Blogs have really taken off on so many sites, including mainstream ones like the Sydney Morning Herald. Surely it's only the next step for corporate people to get involved even if they do have the interests of their companies at heart?

With the millions of users of social software around the globe, and next generations living and breathing it every day, I think it is inevitable anyway. I can see why people may have concerns about corporations taking over the Internet but I think that would be quite difficult in some ways and the Internet always seems to keep ahead of business just enough to ensure free thinking and expression, etc.

Again, with so many people using social software it would be crazy for corporations (and other non-so-commercial entities, like the Powerhouse Museum blog states) to 'get with it' and use these tools to enhance their own operations.

Google Docs vs Zoho writer

Well, it's too early to really make a judgement, but at the moment I think I will stick with Google Documents over Zoho writer, only because it is so simple and that's all I need at the moment.

Collaboration / Productivity Software

Wow, I found out about Google Docs a while back and was going to try it out but didn't get around to it. Today it was easier because I had already set up my gmail account in Week 1 of this training. The origins of collaborative software are not recent. Back in about 1995, because of the area where I worked, we were really into version control and we had documents that only some staff could access. I also worked somewhere where we had this huge spreadsheet which was Read Only access except to a few people and even then, only one person could update the spreadsheet at one time. If one person was 'in' the spreadsheet, then the others had to wait to update. We would yell across the office "okay, I'm done, now you can get into it!" (really professional I know - we did use email sometimes!).

But this new software is so much better because your documents are not tied to a particular drive in a workplace. You can use the Web to access them and so can anyone else who has permission. Lotus Notes tried to spread the word about collaboration many years ago now, but I guess most people just ended up using it for email and appointment calendars. I think it was called Groupware back then, but I can see now that things have moved on to a great degree. It seems like for every possible need or problem that you might have, someone (a smart developer out there) has come up with the answers!

I remember reading ages ago how everyone gets 'sold' into buying these powerful (and very expensive) computers that can run all these software applications that can do some amazing things, but you know what? Most people never use any of that stuff. The things that Microsoft Word and Excel alone can do is amazing but many people just use these applications for typing an essay or making a small spreadsheet of a list of items or for small calculations. Except for odd occasions, many people only need a very basic computer with basic software and this is exactly what is offered here online. Google Docs doesn't have all the features of Word, but for much of the time, it doesn't matter! It's like the old KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid). Simplicity is often the best policy and the best thing is much of this online sharing software is FREE! The internet is so cool that way. I love the logo designs and page layouts of many of these tools too - emphasizing the simplicity.

At the moment, I can't think of a lot of times I would need to share stuff with colleagues online, however I can see the potential for the future for me. Students, collaborating on a group assignment would find it useful. As a student myself, I would find something like Google docs very useful as I could start an essay or set down some ideas, then add to them at work, at another library, whilst on holidays - wherever I was in the world!

I suppose anything that has iterations could benefit from these tools, such as a group of workers putting together a policy document, or a Procedures Manual. I am not sure about how these tools could be used in the library where the public are involved, except in the case where a customer could watch library-made slideshows either from home on the library website or at a terminal in the library. This might be good for training customers on certain aspects of the library (eg how to use the catalogue) or showing something on local history or points of interest. Slideshows are not as exciting as video to some people but the picture quality is often a lot clearer, you can display static information better (like in a powerpoint presentation) and you don't need sound. The Sydney Morning Herald uses slideshows for its photos sometimes, so why not libraries!

I noticed that many of these new collaborative software solutions are still in Beta. It seems that everything is moving so fast now, that there isn't time now to wait until something is out of Beta testing. And if it works, who cares! The sheer choice of applications offered by, say Zoho, is amazing! Like another person commented on the main forum, it's difficult to get your head around it all at once. I want to try them all out but I can't think of the content at the moment. As for how to use them in libraries, I think that is going to take me a lot longer to think about.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Custom Framing for those family photos!

OK, I couldn't resist doing another one using Big Huge Labs. Here is a favourite picture of mine: Alien Loves Predator done as a homely framed photograph. Cute! (image from

Woo Hoo! Look at me!

How fun was this?!? I tried a few different things out at Big Huge Labs but thought I would post this 'mashup' of my Bambino photo as a Billboard.

Mashups vs Portals

I found the Wikipedia article on Mashups absolutely fascinating. The grid showing the main difference between portals and mashups was very useful. I can see that mashups are a lot more malleable than portals and therefore much better for personalised use or to obtain a certain 'snapshot' or view of something, using different sources, at a particular time presumably in real-time if possible (such as in business). The possibilities are incredible really with this hybridisation or aggregation technology. I particularly noted the two comments "The web 2.0 is all about the personalisation of information" and "As they are a part of the web 2.0, mashups increase the level of personalization of the Internet". These comments hit the nail on the head regarding so much of this new technology. Society at the moment seems to be a weird mix of the "look at me", and "it's all about me" generation and yet people have an interest in global things too.

The British Library London maps site was cool, but I was thinking how much better it would be if, as you watch the journey video, it would show you progressing on the map. See, I'm already wanting my own personal mashup of the information! I thought the Voicethread software and design was pretty amazing. The interactive functionality is great. I especially liked, for example, the teacher and his class commenting (using recorded audio) on the dragon drawing and the animation they added circling the dragon's tail to illustrate their comment. How great is that technology?!? I can definitely see how this type of software would make visiting local and/or historical information so much more exciting, especially for younger library customers. Older people could add their own comments about local and /or historical photographs, adding richness to the original resources.

I tried out a couple of the London map mashups on the Virtual Tourism blog, which combined videos and mapping sources. The Southbank Walk was quite good although, again, it would be good to have a marker of some kind move from one location to the next on the map as the video progressed. The user really needs to know what the landmarks look like already and what they are called otherwise. The downside of all this technology was evident in one which combined Google Maps with a YouTube video of St Paul's Cathedral. Better than nothing but the home-made type video was poor quality, compared with the high quality production we are used to with TV and DVDs. The mashup of the Katherine Gorge would be useful for tourists and schoolchildren although again, the quality of the YouTube video was poor. Zooming into the Gorge on the TerraMetrics image was fun though! I suppose these types of mashup are good for a quick 'snapshot' about one thing. The Star Viewer was very cool, combining fun interactivity and lovely clear, wonderful images, with pleasant audio. The Hubble Story, drawing video from YouTube was fantastic.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Go Poddy over Pottercast!?!

I have noticed podcasts popping up everywhere and two websites I visit fairly often, TripleJ and The Leaky Cauldron both offer regular and varied podcasts and have done so for quite some time now. I thought about it: when would I actually listen to these? I no longer spend an hour each way on the train - how useful it would have been back then to have these Podcasts! I can see the benefit of listening to a radio program or interview that I might have missed, but that's just downloading or streaming to the computer (or then to my iPod). I now understand that what makes podcasts different is the distribution factor.

I did try some time ago trying to set up a Triple Jay podcast to my iTunes software but I am not certain it worked properly. Unless you are opening the software and getting the updates daily, or at least often, I am not sure it's that useful. I gather the idea is that your podcasts are updated with the latest ones, you plug in your iPod or other player which is updated and away you go!

Today, I ended up subscribing in a few different ways. I subscribed to a podcast from The British Library which was about the birds of Madagascar. Then I subscribed to The Book Show from the ABC website. Sometimes clicking on the link seemed to link directly to iTunes but other times it added the podcast to my Bloglines reader (not sure how useful that is!). The best method seemed to be physically copying and pasting the relevant URL from the website directly into iTunes, as I did with Dr Karl's Great Moments In Science from the ABC website. Interestingly, when I clicked on the iTunes link for both the TripleJ film guide and Pottercast (Harry Potter), the software connected with the iTunes store (although it was free to subscribe).

I noticed, like most things, the quality of podcasts varies considerably. The Pierce County Library podcasts seemed very professionally done, whereas some that were clearly designed to get the community involved (which is good for its own sake) were not so great. I listened to some MP3s and watched some MP4s from different USA libraries and I could see that, although the quality wasn't that great, local audiences would find them interesting. A lot of the podcasts were author talks and book reviews. I can see the benefit of an author talk, especially a vodcast, as a podcast, but as for book reviews I can't see a huge benefit over reading the information. I suppose many people like to listen or watch other people, whereas personally I would rather just skim read what I want. I wonder if podcasts will become popular because we are all so addicted to television? I personally tend to 'tune out' when listening to audio. Besides, it takes time to listen to podcasts or watch vodcasts, although at least you can use the Fast Forward and Rewind buttons!

One of the most interesting podcast ideas that I came across was scavenger hunt podcasts posted by the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The children could embark on their scavenger hunt activity, listening as they went for instructions and they were able to pause the audio whilst they looked. I thought this was a great use of the podcasts for children's activities which could be developed by the library and many children who use my library have MP3 players. The other use I could see for podcasting would be historical, local information in video format with audio. I think using new technology to encourage interest in library resources, such as local studies, is a positive step. Getting the community involved would also be a good thing, such as getting teenagers and children to review books and these could be posted as audio podcasts on the library websites.

I visited the Online Education Database and perused the list of podcasts. After I selected one "The Future of the Internet" I soon realised it was 1 hour and 40 mins long! Perhaps some other time... Actually, some of the topics looked really interesting and it would be fun to listen to these on the train or in the car, but it is a shame the duration of each one is not given on the main list. I guess the topic is more important here than how long it takes to listen to (and download) it.

(iPod picture from

Saturday, March 22, 2008

AnswerBoards to promote library services

I noticed some of the exemplary answers were signed off by librarians who gave the name of their library and a nifty tagline, eg "Librarians: Ask Us, We Answer!". I thought this was a great idea as it promotes the already good reputation librarians have of providing quality information, but with a friendly tone. If there was a local version of this database, it would be great to 'advertise' our libraries on it in this way. It's up to librarians to keep ourselves in the public eye and maintain our good reputation!

Slammin' The Boards

Aha! My concerns about non-authoritative answers to questions (see previous post below) have now been addressed. We get reference librarians to answer questions! Okay! This is a great idea and could be the way of the future for many librarians, with dwindling numbers of customers wanting to physically come up to the reference desk at the library. I had a thought though: wouldn't it be good if users of Yahoo!7Answers, WikiAnswers, etc, could CHOOSE an answer posted by a librarian over others posted by non-librarians. If nothing came up, they could just go with a wider search. I wondered if this has been suggested previously. I clicked on the link "Help us improve Yahoo! Answers.Tell us what you think." and searched on 'librarian', 'librarians', 'library' but no results in their Suggestions database! I also tried 'reference' but that yielded no obviously relevant answers. I had a look at the method Yahoo! uses to encourage participation by users in grading answers, it's "Points and Levels" system. There could be potential for development there but at the moment it's all apparently in the 'spirit' of the online community, much like eBay and various others are supposed to be. I discovered that those who abuse the system and don't play by the rules are branded 'trolls'. I just love the lingo of the internet! Troll piccy from

Consult the oracle?

I admit to being absolutely passionate about information retrieval and knowledge-based systems. I had not heard of the term 'social searching' previously though. I had not deliberately tried either Yahoo!7Answers or WikiAnswers before, although some Google searches I had done (I think where I had used a question in the search field instead of a Boolean search phrase) had led me to Yahoo!7Answers. I was not that impressed, I suppose because of the lack of authority of the answers, however for a quick answer to a more general knowledge question I could see that it might be useful to some. I tried a couple of questions today and much preferred WikiAnswers. I liked the way that, you ask a question and it gives you a selection of questions that are similar that have been asked before. In this way, there is some control over quizzing the database and extracting the answers and the computer system can measure the results more accurately. The Yahoo! tool seemed more conversational, more social and less structured, although I only tried both a few times. Both tools looked incredibly similar (colours, layout, etc). I think I will have to test these a bit longer to see if I think they are okay tools or great tools!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What is best in life?

Sorry, I just had to post this - such a classic! I found it after watching the "Conan The Librarian" skit on YouTube.

Technorati hunting party

I had looked at Technorati a few times since this training commenced but, to be honest, I found their website really unappealing and too jam-packed with information. I suppose the more one uses it, the easier it would get, but it seems to me that most of the stories are very US-oriented. There's no arguing the influence of America on the world (especially the West) but I wonder how relevant Technorati is to many people in the world? I also suppose I am only looking at the top and up-and-coming major stories, so overall it could be a useful tool. Definitely need to spend more time on it. The amazing thing is that, despite Technorati's claims to how wonderful they are, I don't recall ever having heard of them before! I find that amazing as I certainly try to keep abreast of new technology and the web, and I had heard of many of the other sites we have been using.

I signed up (which was easy) and 'claimed' my blog (took me a few minutes to locate the right spot to do this, although once I found it, it was relatively simple to claim - did require OpenID access though) although I am not expecting too much! I also installed a widget on my blog. First I tried the Top Searches widget but that seemed to bring up some very odd searches, so I removed it and replaced it with a Top Tags one.

The recommended search on "bookmobile": I got exactly the same number of hits (791) for both the standard and advanced searches. Was that what was supposed to happen? Same for the search on "nswpln2008" (6 hits). Might need some help on this!

Widget power!

Installed my LibraryThing search widget on my blog. Didn't like the grey colour, so found an CSS colour chart online (I used although the authority is probably W3C) and changed the colour to pink and purple so it would stand out! What fun!

Delicious wishes

I started a account about 2 months ago, at the same time as my Digg account (see previous posting) but my first attempt to find interesting links on other people's lists proved disappointing. I think maybe the subject I chose was very limited or, the people interested in it haven't discovered social bookmarking as yet (more than likely!). I have now started using it to bookmark interesting sites and other online bits and pieces relating to this Learning 2.0 or Web 2.0 training and today I learned how to bundle my tags!

I thought Sutherland Shire's library tag cloud was fantastic, especially the Aboriginal Australians bundle and the Environmental bundle. The cloud of unbundled tags seemed a bit odd, especially with tags such as 'steel'. I am not sure of the usefulness of an unbundled tag cloud or perhaps free tags that don't fit a category should be kept to a minimum. I think tag clouds are great because they appeal to users who like to think in a different way, whereas other users prefer their information very ordered and set out in a traditional manner.

Sure, I can see the potential for using this at the library, especially for people doing family or local research, or HSC students, for example. Sometimes users are not sure exactly what they are looking for and a hierarchical index isn't always the best idea. They often need suggestions of keywords within the area they are researching and tag clouds would be perfect because they allow browsing and the user can see all the keywords or tags in one place at one time. Tag clouds are also so easy to create in the first place and tagging seems to be everywhere!

More LibraryThing stuff

I wanted to add a particular book to my LibraryThing library, but I had trouble locating it, so I added a few catalogues: The National Library Of Australia, The British Library, and finally located the details so I could add it. Adding tags is simple too! I have found I get better results when I search on author instead of title, much like in regular library catalogues. It's great having the actual pictures of the book covers too, so it's easy to differentiate between the different editions - not so scientific for a librarian, I know, but easier and quicker! I changed my widget so now 10 books display instead of 5, just because the miniature book covers brighten up my blog!

LibraryThing - a booklover's dream!

I just LOVE new technology but I can see that some of it is so new, that improvements need to be made. However, it's early days and I will make the most of it all! I first came across LibraryThing in November 2006 and could see the benefits to myself straightaway. I didn't really have time to set up an account or check it out that much at the time but I bookmarked it for future use as I could see its potential. Well, today I checked it out once again and I can now see how I could use it, not so much for myself, but as a tool at the reference desk. I found the LibraryThing website REALLY slow but maybe that's because it's still in Beta, or maybe they were working on it. It did speed up later which alleviated my frustration (and this is from someone who remembers dial-up and DOS-prompts!). I found it a little time-consuming working out how to add authors and book titles, and then tags to those, but I am sure with practice I would be quicker. This tool would be so wonderful to be able to access anywhere, at any library desk, on holiday, on my next mobile phone! Instead of racking my brains trying to think of, or remember, a particular author or title, it's all there for me! I admit to not reading as much as I did when younger (too many distractions and demands on my time now) but building a personal library would also be helpful. Sharing it with friends would be fun. If I could use LibraryThing and also search my library's catalogue, that would be so good on the reference desk. A library version with recommended books read by library staff would be invaluable and much easier to maintain than our current "Staff Picks" display shelves. Once I really get the hang of LibraryThing, I will take the suggestion and check out Shelfari or GuruLib but there's little point in getting myself confused just now!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Book reviews for youngsters

Whilst trawling through the various videos online linked to libraries, I came across this one entitled "What if Barbie had a book group?". Personally I think it's more than a little trashy and very American, however it made me think that there is potential for my library to devise videos which could be posted on the library site or blog or wiki, to catch the interest of younger library users. Perhaps something like this would be quite appealing to younger teens and if it gets them interested in reviewing books, and therefore READING books, that would be great. It also circumvents the potential problems entailed with videotaping real children doing book reviews and posting them. Using toys or the like could be a fun way of presenting the library material! Anyhow, here is the video from

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ben the Guitar Hero expert!

This kid is amazingly good at Guitar Hero and yet so polite and humble! I think it is interesting that the video on of him playing Dragonforce's "Through The Fire And Flames" on the Guitar Hero 3 game has had almost 4.5 million views, whereas Dragonforce's own video of them playing their song has had a mere 3.5 million views! Anyhow, I have posted an interview with Ben and his guitar hero video as they are fun to watch.

Video killed the Radio Star or...

perhaps killed the television? I certainly spend a lot more time watching videos on line than television some evenings. Well, I already posted a video from YouTube (see the hilarious pigeon video I posted in February), but I thought I had better find something more library oriented. So I found this very unusual but quirky video posted by a US librarian. It's not the greatest video or even use of the format but I found it interesting and some of the text seemed relevant to our journey. Some memorable quotes from the video are: "librarian 2.0 won't stand still, keeps the momentum going", "giving customers a new outreach" (through our harnessing new technology), "librarian 2.0 is without generation, old or new doesn't matter" and "knows this movement is more than words, more than lip service to change out world". So let's hope we all do put what we have learned into practice!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows film a 2-parter

Warner Bros have announced that the film adaptation of J. K. Rowling's book "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", the final book in the Harry Potter saga, is to be made into two films. Having read the book, I can quite understand they don't want to lose detail, much of which is crucial to the plot. A single film would either have had to be really long or very short on detail, making it very confusing, especially for those who haven't read the book. Here is the official press release and thanks to The Leaky Cauldron for alerting me via email!

3 diggs is a start!

I joined Digg 10 days ago and posted my first news item, an article from the Sydney Morning Herald on the Sea Shepherd and Japanese Whalers. I checked Digg today and I have had 3 Diggs! It's a start I suppose. Digg claims to more accurately reveal what people are really interested in reading, without the editorial control (and higher level control - government or commercial) of other online news providers. I don't know if is covered in the Learning 2.0 tutorials, however I came across it in a marvellous little book that I started reading about 2 months ago, called "Your Life Online: Making the most of Web 2.0 - the next generation of the internet" by Terry Burrows (ISBN 9781844423941)(book cover image from This book covers many of the areas we are using in the Learning 2.0 training and I do recommend it! I also started a account a few weeks ago but haven't really used it since. This is a social tagging or bookmarking tool and I liked the idea of it but haven't really explored it much yet. Once I finish my degree, I will have loads more time to explore these tools!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The email from the Learning 2.0 wiki came through and it reads:


Check this out. I've set up a PBwiki, a quick website that lets multiple people edit it, and I want to invite you to join mine.

This link will take you to the wiki.

I will have to check back with the wiki periodically to see what others have added or changed! I don't know if I am game enough to add 'extra features' to the wiki - it's a bit scary making major changes.

Monday, March 10, 2008

More Wikiness

Well, I got my 'key' to the wiki and gave it a try! I felt a bit odd adding to the wiki as I wasn't sure how much to write - I chose the Circulation page to add to. I then changed the colour, style and size of the font to differentiate my bit from the other comments. I then changed the size of the font of the questions. I wasn't sure if I should do this, but I thought it looked better and anyone can change it back later - that's a wiki for you! I then had a look at the bottom of the page. I 'shared' the wiki (sent a link to it) to another email address. Then I found the 'history' bit where I could see the list of updates and who had made them. This seems very useful as I had concerns about version control with wikis and the impermanence of the content. I like the 'transparency' of the wiki within it's community. Wikis are like living things, in a way, not static like many other communication/information forms.

I found this picture of a 3D wiki in Second Life (NOT a game, I've read - the participants get annoyed if you call it a game apparently). What an interesting concept: a wiki with an extra dimension. Here is the link to the picture and caption with more links to relevant articles.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Wikipedia, Wookieepedia, and Wikiality

Well, as I have posted on the main Learning 2.0 blog (week 5), I have learned a lot about wikis this morning. I have used Wikipedia countless times, of course, with that reservation that library and information professionals have, but the benefits of wikis didn't really jump at me. However, today I can understand that a wiki could be a great way for libraries to progress without the need for library staff to learn how to design websites, learn XHTML, or have a centralised person through which everything had to go to be posted online. Even the staff at my library who are not so 'hot' with computers could easily manage to contribute to a wiki. I still have concerns or thoughts about content control, which will always surface with something that is so changeable (and easily changeable at that). I didn't realise spam was such a problem, but it seems that there is software that can help, plus the wiki community members can 'jump' on spam and deal with it. It's not left up to the one person to edit, manage, etc.

I have used Intranets for many years in the business world and, although I thought they were a great idea in principle, and I also liked using IM or 'chat' programs, they did leave a lot to be desired. I suppose the Intranets are still there in the technological sense - it was the content and the management of that content that annoyed me. Intranets were left to grow weeds - the information on them was way out-of-date, often incorrect, and I got the distinct impression that there was no-one 'tending the garden' (to borrow the idea from Intellipedia and it's spade award). The intranet at my current workplace (a council one) is one of the worst I have encountered. It's almost completely useless. So I can see that a wiki for my library would be fantastic!

I really enjoyed the Information Today article and its discussion of academics being luddites with regard to Wikipedia. They really need to take the opportunities that are there with regard to the new technology. I also found the concept of 'wikiality' interesting. Let's face it: most of history that has been recorded is probably exactly the same. If enough people believe it, it becomes 'truth', so perhaps the concept is not that new.

Loved the term 'Wookieepedia'. I am constantly amused by the variations on names which the internet brings, such as the variations on successful brands like Google.

Friday, March 7, 2008

And we call ourselves civilised?!?

No, not just another cute animal picture. A reminder to all that the annual baby harp seal killing is about to start. I posted a cute photo but if you want to see what happens to these poor innocents, you can find it easily enough on the 'net. Please support animal rights activists, such as signing the petition on the PETA website here: Help End the Seal Slaughter

Monday, March 3, 2008

Curious Rabbit

OK! Time for some more fun. I think this bunny can teach us all that anyone can learn, even about strange things like RSS. Bring it on!

RSS: does it deliver (so to speak)?

I have always avoided RSS ever since I heard about it, because, although I could see the value of 'push' technology, especially given enormity of the Web, I wanted to avoid creating work for myself. What I mean by that is that I learned from experience that subscribing to Listservs, for example, would result in influxes of emails that were almost completely unwanted by me. Signing up to a Listserv is relatively easy - just type in your email address in the relevant box on the website. It is easy to join, not always so easy to 'unjoin'! I am still receiving emails from library listservs I was urged to join by Uni library science lecturers, not to mention the unwanted emails that have arrived over the years from various other online businesses with whom I have conducted transactions.

However, I have recently been looking into RSS again because I believed it would have developed considerably from its early days (when I first heard about it) and this does seem to be the case. One can now have an RSS reader or aggregator, rather than everything coming to the email inbox. There is greater control of subscribing and unsubscribing and one is able to regulate the regularity of the inflow of items. I suppose my interest was linked to my recent interest in podcasts, etc.

Thanks to the Learning 2.0 tutorial, I have learned quite a bit more about RSS, its history, the problems encountered and where it stands today. I have set up my Bloglines account and subscribed to about 10 feeds - some of my own choosing, some suggested in the tutorial. It's early days and I will hold back on any major judgements about RSS until I have tested it out for a few weeks. Because I chose feeds which tend to reflect the sites I already visit or already subscribe to by email, I suppose I can't really see the benefit as yet. I receive emails on a daily basis from several internet sites which hold my interest and this system seems to work pretty well for me. At the moment I cannot really see the benefit in having to log in separately to a different site (ie Bloglines) just to check the latest headlines, although at least it all comes to the one spot I suppose. It is like the drawing in the YouTube video on RSS showing the setting up of the reader: it's all in the one place - the feeds all feed into the one spot so that would be beneficial if you subscribed to a great number of feeds. The ability to manage the feeds is also very useful in that case.

I think there are greater benefits for the sender of the feeds rather than the receiver, in a way, because it is a marvellous way of marketing and keeping a website or blog in the mind of the subscriber. For libraries, it is wonderful technology, as they would be able to advertise upcoming events or promotions at the library, eg author talks, or new collections, or educational services - the list is endless! I think libraries, or rather many library staff members, need to realise that many library members interact to a great extent with the library through the website, often only coming into the physical library very occasionally and briefly. More and more, people are using the websites and having a library blog with RSS would be a great way of connecting and communicating with those members and customers.

My library has just revamped its personal profile function for online library members, enabling them to be updated on newly acquired items that fit their Special Interests Profile. This is great 'push' technology, but the library also needs something that fulfils more general information - getting it out to the customers online.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Auto Italia 2008 coming soon!

Hey, all you fans of "pretty cars" of Italian lineage. Don't miss your chance to see some real beauties on display at the Auto Italia car show in Canberra. This year, the venue has moved to the other side of Lake Burley Griffin outside the old Parliament House.And there's not only cars, there's also motor scooters and motorcycles. From cute Fiat Bambinos to Lamborghinis that make your knees turn to jelly! Check out the official site at

Giant Pigeon

This video is pretty old but utterly hilarious even now!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Millau Viaduct

This is the highest bridge in the world: the Millau Viaduct in France. I have chosen to post two photos from for my Learning 2.0 exercise. The first photo, an aerial shot, is by the.voyager ( The second photo is quite inventive and amusing and can be viewed at here (

The Millau Viaduct almost definitely has nothing to do with Learning 2.0 but I think it is a beautiful, graceful looking structure yet at the same time a phenomenal engineering success. Hopefully I will get to see it in reality one day soon!

The value of blogging

I have viewed blogs of friends and family members for some time now, but could not really see the value in spending time creating and maintaining my own blog. The blogs I have read sometimes have a theme, eg, philosophy, astronomy, but often they do not. The appeal they have had to me has been limited, I have to admit. I am not usually one to not venture into a new technology or use a new tool, but there has to be some benefit to me in spending the time and brainpower in getting the hang of it. MySpace always left me cold and I have now read, via links in the tutorial, that many bloggers feel this way. They give the reason that MySpace fails to connect people on a given topic sufficiently well. My opinion of much of the social networking tools around is that it does seem to often be for people with a lot of time on their hands, eg younger net-users, and people with overinflated senses of their own self importance. Given their was an estimated 6,679,532,264 people in the world as at 7 January 2008 (according to the World Population Clock, the significance of one person's blog seems minimal. Especially when there is estimated to be between 65 million and 70 million blogs now in existence.

However, I am beginning to see the uses of blogs (it's early days though for me) from one point of view. It is a way of linking a very small group of users on one very particular topic. Those users might be separated by vast distances, differences in age, wealth, etc, but can converse or share on one single specific topic or thing. That could be useful. The other use I do see is that the one biggest failing of the Internet, particularly in previous years, is it's lack of LOCAL content. If a user wants to find out the name of an actor from an obscure film from the mid 1960s, or the distance between two galaxies, the internet is guaranteed to now supply this information somewhere, but finding useful information about your local community, especially very recent information is sometimes near impossible. This has improved more recently but I can see that blogs, and, in this case, library blogs could be really useful here. The key is keeping the information very recent and updated.

The journey so far

What is news? Has the definition changed really? News used to be defined something like: dog bites man (not news) but man bites dog (that IS news). In other words, news used to be something that someone assessed as being new, exciting, revolutionary, never-before-seen. A different definition could see news as being something which is important-to-know to many people, eg a tsunami affecting several countries. So if blogging is a new way to spreading news, or, as in the tutorial, making news a 2-way street, is it really news at all? News spread on blogs and other social networking tools may be recent and of interest to some, and therefore classed as 'news', but is it really news in the broader sense? I suppose this is illustrative of the way in which the world has changed or the usage of English words.

And they're off and racing!

This is the first posting for Bambino's Blog as part of the Learning 2.0 tutelage.