Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Good Night, and Good Luck (Thing #23)

And now, the end is near; and so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.

Ah, the end. Here I am, just a few weeks after beginning what was a sometimes frustrating, mostly fun, and always educational challenge, about to make my final post and complete the 23 Things.

It's only in the last few years that I've become computer literate. I'm old enough that I took typing class in high school, and learned on those big clunky industrial electronic models (I was so excited when I finally got my own Brother typewriter, that even had built-in whiteout). Being married to a computer programmer has helped, but most of my knowledge has just come from the down-and-dirty, pull-up-my-sleeves-and-get-into-it type of learning, searching and fiddling around until I figure it out. So for me, the way this challenge was set up was a perfect match. I learned A LOT and will take a good deal of it and use it in my personal life, and hopefully, my professional one as well.

If I had to pick favorites, mine would be LibraryThing (although I don't really count that one since I knew and used it beforehand), Podcasts, Wikis, and YouTube. I'm excited to see how all of this technology will affect libraries going forward, how Library 2.0 will enhance our physical and virtual environments, and develop and strengthen our relationships with our communities.

I would definitely participate in more discovery exercises. It's been fun and inspiring to see people who didn't think they could do it not only finish, but enjoy themselves and have fun in the process. When I first started this challenge, I stated that one of the things I found most difficult about the process of lifelong learning was taking the time to play. This challenge has definitely helped in that area, as I've done a lot of playing these past few weeks. We may not all be 'digital natives' but we can still show those young whippersnappers a thing or two - or even twenty-three!

Audio-Phile? (Thing #22)

I tout myself as a bibliophile, but rarely do I listen to audiobooks. The only time I have access to a CD player is in my car, and I'm usually too distracted or focused on driving to concentrate on a book. My only exception is on extended road trips, usually with my husband, when I can pop in the CDs and listen to my heart's content. But even then, it's usually books that I've already read in print form. Listening to books reminds me a bit of being read to as a child, and having a good narrator makes all the difference. From the limited number of books I've listened to, Jim Dale, who narrates the Harry Potter series here in the US, is one of the best. Especially as more and more characters are added. You even forget that a man is providing the voice of Hermione!

So anyway, when I saw NetLibrary listed as a 'thing', I was both intrigued and excited. It was another online discovery for me, and one that I look forward to utilizing with my new MP3 player. :-)

There seems to be a pretty good selection, and I immediately saved The Night Watch (unread), The Other Boleyn Girl (read), and The Last Days of Dogtown (unread) to my 'Favorites' (a very useful feature, by the way). But the one I chose to download was 'Three Men in a Boat' by Jerome K. Jerome, a very British, very funny account of a Victorian-era trip down the River Thames. I read it years ago, and am quite excited to listen to it and laugh all over again.

Pod People (Thing #21)

I already have ITunes installed on my desktop, since I use that for my IPod, but I'd never looked at the podcasts before. I've really enjoyed listening to the various PLCMCL2 podcasts and have toyed with the idea of adding that feature to my main blog.

I immediately went to check out what book-related podcasts are listed in the ITunes directory, and the first ones to pop up were for Harry Potter - hah! I ended up subscribing to 3 podcasts: Authors in Your Pocket, NPR Books, and The Word Nerds. I also listened to an episode of Garrison Keillor's 'Writers Almanac' - his voice is so soothing to me.

Then I went over to podcast.net - one thing I immediately liked about this site was its ease of navigation. 58 results came back when I did a search for 'library' - most seemed to be university or research libraries.

The podcast RSS feed that I ended up adding to my bloglines account was the NYT Book Update, which I pulled from PodcastAlley.com (reminds me of HP's Diagon Alley).

I really am having fun with Podcasts and they're definitely something I'll continue to use after the challenge is done. I had no idea there were so many out there, spanning such a wide range of subjects. It would be interesting to see this technology used on the PLCMC websites; I think it's something users would enjoy having.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Guilty Pleasure (Thing #20)

I started visiting YouTube to feed my addiction to Project Runway, particularly those clips featuring my favorite PR contestant EVER - Santino.

Thanks to Del, one of my coworkers, I also saw a very funny parody of the Travel Channel TV show 'Most Haunted', from the absolutely funny and fabulous 'French and Saunders' duo.

And now, I've just spent the last hour and a half watching some clips from one of my favorite Canadian TV shows - This Hour Has 22 Minutes. In between guffaws of laughter, it made me a bit homesick really. That led me to watch some Canadian TV and Newfoundland tourism footage. Then I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at old cartoons that I remember watching as a kid, like The Barbapapas, Rocket Robin Hood and The Mighty Hercules.

OK, so here's the one I ultimately decided to insert into my blog, a short news clip from Los Angeles on BookCrossing:

As for where YouTube can inspire libraries, virtual tours and showing clips of special library-hosted events are two things I think would be great for the public to access online. There are 3,151 results that come up from a keyword search for 'library' so it appears that the connection between the two has already been made. There are even a couple video clips from PLCMC!

The Web of the Future (Thing #19)

I immediately went to the book nominations for the Web 2.0 Awards, but was disappointed to see that a winner was not assigned to this category. According to the site, "there were either not enough nominations or there was no clear leader to award winners in this category." I beg to differ! LibraryThing was the obvious winner for me, hands down.

My favorite of the award winners is Craigslist, which is a site I've been using for years. It's a national site, with city-specific listings for most major cities in the US and even global. It's free and is a combination of online community, classifieds, and more. I've sold things prior to having a yard sale, found a newly formed bookclub here in Charlotte, discovered a meeting group for locals and newcomers to the area, searched for jobs, laughed at various 'rants,' given away stuff for free and gotten free stuff in return, and more. It's not that popular in Charlotte yet (in cities like Boston and Atlanta, it's huge), but as more people become aware of it and more transplants come to Charlotte, it's growing more popular everyday. Craigslist could be used by the library as a sort of community outreach, letting the public know about upcoming events at the various branches, such as book clubs, friends of the library sales, author appearances, etc.

Move Over, Microsoft (Thing #18)

Zoho is another site I hadn't heard of before this challenge. It's definitely user-friendly and visually appealing. I like that it's online so you're not tied to one computer. I am continually emailing myself documents so I can access them from any computer, and so using Zoho would eliminate that hassle.

The chat feature is a neat option. Coming from a corporate environment in my prior job, where we used MS Office, AIM messenger/chat, and other online programs and communication tools, I could see Zoho becoming a sort of 'one stop shop' especially for companies and organizations as a means of increasing the flow of communication and collaboration among its employees.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sweet! (Thing #17)

PB Wiki was a fun diversion, combining the informational aspect of wikis with social networking. I added my blog, along with some favorite books, movies, websites, music and restaurants. It was neat to read the favorites of some of my fellow PLCMC bloggers.

It was especially cool to have hyperlinks to the specific favorites, so I could click on them and see more about whatever it was. Fun!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Wild for Wikis (Thing #16)

I've been using Wikipedia for awhile now, and so was excited to see that we'd be learning more about wikis as part of this challenge.

The site I liked best was the best practices wiki, since it provides lots of ideas and the ability to add our own.

I could see wikis being incorporated into the PLCMC Reader's Club website (ala the Princeton Library's Book Lovers wiki) and it would be interesting to see what kind of ideas could be brainstormed around getting the public more involved in the library, to feel as though they were active contributors to the services that a library provides, besides being the recipients of its benefits. I think teens would be particularly receptive to this idea. Perhaps even adding a 'reviews' wiki to the online catalog, or a 'if you liked X, you may also like A, B and C' and allowing the public to enter that information themselves. Basically, I think wikis provide a great opportunity for more interaction between library staff and patrons.

Which ties in with an exciting workshop that I attended today: Reader's Advisory: What's Next with Joyce Saricks. From the moment she began talking (with a slight Midwestern lilt that immediately reminded me of Garrison Keillor), you could tell that this woman was passionate about reading, that she truly loves it, and wants others to share in that enjoyment. She shared some great ideas for boosting RA within the library and extending into the community, and also sparked some thoughtful discussion among those in attendance. It will be interesting to see where and how Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 will affect and enhance Reader's Advisory.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Back to the Future (Thing #15)

So now we are coming to the crux of the matter. What place does technology have in libraries and how will libraries adapt, embrace and innovate as we move forward? I agree with all of the perspectives to one degree or another, but through it all, I'm seeing a lot of ideals, a lot of theory, but am still left wondering how this will all be played out in the real world.

And therein lies my real concern with all this talk about the next wave of libraries. It all seems somewhat elitist to me. I don't see any discussions about how this will affect those who don't fit within its parameters. I'm thinking of the senior population, the working class poor, and immigrants. Will the library of the future leave those people behind, or embrace them?

There's no question that we're in a transition period, and I'm the last one to consider myself some kind of Luddite, but it will be interesting to see how this all plays out, and if we can come through this better serving the communities to which we belong.

Technowhatty? (Thing #14)

I checked out Technorati today, another one of those little gems of the modern Internet. I staked my claim to this blog, as well as my other one and got access to all sorts of nifty little tidbits and stats. For example Bibliochick ranks at 865,633 and A Life in Books comes in at 111,184. I can really see the value in those features for people who use platforms such as Blogger for their blogs, since Blogger doesn't provide any of those stats in its features (at least the non-beta version doesn't, not sure about the new one). Things like recent comments and inbound links are especially helpful. People with more interactive blogging software, such as Wordpress, will find that they already have access to some of the features offered by Technorati.

I entered 'Learning 2.0' and searched blog posts (16 results in blog directory, 58 in tags, and a whopping 28,419 in blog posts - about to be one more after I publish this one). The most popular searches, tags, etc. is an interesting page and seems to run the gamut from celebrity fluff to hardcore geek stuff.

As far as the tags go, I especially like that feature for this blog, since Blogger doesn't have tags built into its site. But again, perhaps the beta version does, and I'm actually surprised they haven't already done so, considering how they already network people via shared interests, etc. on the profile page.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

In the Press

One of my fellow PLCMC bloggers came up to me today and showed me the latest issue of School Library Journal, which features an article on the Learning 2.0 Challenge - how cool is that! Click here to read the online version. I love that people are already finding ways to incorporate what they're learning into our libraries and look forward to seeing what else people come up with.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Delicious? (Thing #13)

Okay, so unless you've been living under a rock in the online world, you've at least heard of Del.icio.us - but that's about as far as I'd gotten. I never bothered going to the site to check out what exactly this site was about, and why it was getting so much buzz. So, thanks to this challenge, I finally know what Del.icio.us is and why people think it's just so yummy.

I can definitely see the potential and uses for research purposes, and if I was back in college, I'm sure I'd be jumping on this site in a heartbeat. And if I was interested in more online social networking than I already do, then I'd also be joining for that aspect.

One of the informative links I found via the PLCMCL2 account was this one on Splogs, which includes the tidbit that 'some 56 percent of active English-language blogs are spam' - and the article explains why that's actually a very bad thing, including the following:
"Blogs are the leading edge of what is often called Web 2.0, the vision of the Internet as a bottom-up, communal platform for data of all sorts that is generated and continually updated by its users [...] Unfortunately, the very openness and ease of use that make these Web 2.0 sites popular will inevitably make them perfect targets for spammers [...] People in the industry disagree about how to beat back spam, or whether it can even be done. But there's no dispute that if the blogosphere and the rest of Web 2.0 can't find a way to stop the sleazeballs who are enveloping the Net in a haze of babble and cheesy marketing, then the best features of Web 2.0 will be turned off, and it will go the way of Usenet, which was driven to desuetude by spam."
It's a long article but well worth the read. Ever wonder why Blogger and other sites require you to type in a 'word verification' sequence of distorted letters and/or numbers? Those are 'Captchas' (an acronym standing for 'completely automated public Turing tests to tell computers and humans apart').

But anyway, back to Del.icio.us!

I think it's a great idea but just not a site I would really utilize. Therefore, I didn't create my own account - it would have required installing some options and I tend not to do that unless absolutely necessary. Still, I'm glad I found about what the site's all about and perhaps someday I'll be in a position to either need and/or want to use it.