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.