Monday, January 29, 2007

25 - YouTube

Rita Starnes, a local small business woman, created some videos of her speaking so that I could post them on her website for her. She wanted people who were considering hiring her as a speaker to be able to see her in action. I chose to use YouTube to host and serve the videos for a couple of different reasons. I wanted to be able to use the statistics YouTube offers for their videos to keep track of the number of views she is getting and I wanted to be able to host these rather large files on a server other than her own - since she has limited space to play with!

The video clip above is of Rita giving a speech on gender communications - it's her first try at videography, and I think she did a rather nice job!

I've seen other uses for YouTube that are more specific to the library. St. Joseph public library posted a video that they created for their staff day on YouTube and inspired a LOT of other librarians to use this new tool. Now Denver's public library is having a contest for people to submit videos, via YouTube, to the library where they are encouraging teens to tell the world about how they have fun at the library. These are both great library advertising - and it's getting the word out to people who may be hard to reach in more traditional ways!
Robin Hastings

24 - Web 2.0 awards

I went to the "short list" of winners - just to cut down on the number of sites I had to choose from! I chose to check out Newsvine - a "peer news production" site. I took the 60 second tour and discovered that Newsvine has "digg-like" qualities. You can vote a news story up or down to indicate how important you feel the story is (digg allows you to do that to websites) and then see what other Newsvine users feel are the most important stories of the day. Commenting and conversation are also encouraged by the Newsvine setup. That gives you even more information on how people feel about the various stories that are submitted. I can see that a determined group of activists could "game" this system into presenting stories that are one-sided, but - like Wikipedia - I would hope that there are enough users to prevent any one group from taking over the service like that!

Robin Hastings

Monday, January 22, 2007

23 - Google Labs

I've been hearing amazing things about the new Google RSS reader (similar to the Bloglines application that we've introduced you all to and that I use right now), so I decided to give it a try. After importing my feeds, I clicked around and I think I may like it a lot. One of the big benefits is the same as Gmail - no folders, just tags (though Google Reader calls them folders, but they act like tags - just like the labels in Gmail). This way I can put a librarian blog that is written by a friend (such as Librarian By Day) into both my library blogs folder and my friends folder. That rocks!!
The other tool I decided to write about is the Google Notebook tool. That puts a little notebook on your browser's extension bar (if you are using a good browser - ie. Firefox) and lets you add selected text to a note page in the notebook application. Now, if only they would link up the Notebook and Google Docs & Spreadsheets so I can import my notes into a Google Doc, I'd be in heaven!

Robin Hastings

22 - online applications

I have to say that I am a HUGE fan of the online office applications. Michael Howard and I were collaborating on a bit of writing for the River Journal the other day and, despite the fact that we sit 2 feet from one another, we both had the document open on our computers and were making changes to the document while discussing it. That is efficient collaboration! The blog post about this week's lesson has a lot of cool uses for this kind of thing, be sure to read it carefully! One of the coolest (in my opinion) is the multitude of file formats you can save in. To create a PDF using MS Word, you have to buy the Acrobat program ($200+ dollars) and install it. To create a PDF in Docs & Spreadsheets, you just go to File --> Save As PDF and it's done.
Finally, before I go (and according to File --> Count Words I'm just at 153 words, so I'm ready to stop typing...), this application allows you to create spreadsheets that are fully compatible with Excel and can be saved in PDF format as well. That's just cool!!

Update: My title for my document didn't come through!! That could be an issue at times, but this time I just edited this post and added it...

21 - Search Engines

My computer at home is beeping at me and not starting up. I've been meaning to search out the BIOS error codes that correspond to those beeps all day, and I'd forgotten until I started working on this post. I searched for dell bios post codes - no quotes - in Exalead first. I really liked the "refine search" window that popped up, because they aren't really post codes, they are beep codes - and Exalead let me know that! I found the answer (I tried to install more RAM the other day and apparently didn't reseat my original RAM stick properly - the computer has to be opened once again...), but I'm going to keep trying on the other search engines - just to see if something new comes up for future reference!
When I tried the same search on Gravee, I got the same result for the first "hit" (with the exception of Exalead's "sponsored search" result which was on top of that result set), but the rest seemed to be different. I think I like the idea of tagging search results, but it seems like a lot of work unless everybody is doing it...
Last, but not least, I tried Kartoo. I have to say that I really didn't like that one at all. Not only because I couldn't tell what the "top results" were to compare them to the last couple of result sets, but because I had no way to tell which results were going to get me what I wanted. Most search engines give you a snippet of content, the full URL and possibly a date to use for checking the "freshness" of the information. All of these clues are useful when evaluating search results - Kartoo doesn't provide any of that!!
With the exception of Kartoo, none of the search engines were particularly more difficult to use. I like the idea behind Gravee, but Exalead seemed pretty comprehensive and easy to use, too!
Robin Hastings

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

20. Library 2.0 perspectives

I, of course, read all of that while helping Bobbi put this program together. I went back and re-read them this morning, though, and caught some things that I'd forgotten about but think are pretty important. In the "Away From The Icebergs" article, there were two comments that struck me as I was reading them. The first deals with training:
"But if our services can’t be used without training, then it’s the services that need to be fixed—not our patrons. One-button commands, such as Flickr’s “Blog This,” and easy-to-use programs like Google Page Creator, offer promising models for this kind of user-centric service."

The second is more along the lines of what we are doing here - making our services available to people who may not be able to physically visit the library via RSS feeds, MySpace pages and the like.
"At a minimum, this means placing library services and content in the user’s preferred environment (i.e., the Web); even better, it means integrating our services into their daily patterns of work, study and play."

In "To Better Bibliographic Services", the author gives some good advice to libraries looking to fit into the 2.0 world,
"Adopt Web features The features of Amazon and Google of interest to students and scholars ought to be incorporated into the services libraries make available. Libraries should welcome the submission of reviews, assignment of keywords (“tagging”), addition of scholarly commentary, and other forms of user participation."

and I agree completely! Web 2.0 is all about user-created content. We should be encouraging that content. We also, however, have to worry about policing that content. These are issues the library should be discussing, though!!

In the Wikipedia article - Library 2.0, the definition of Library 2.0 has a couple of lines in it that go back to the idea of participation from our users:

"an increased flow of information from the user back to the library."
"the need for libraries to adopt a strategy for constant change while promoting a participatory role for library users."

These ideas really resonate with me - I love the idea of letting our users become content creators - even if it's just to rate books in our catalog (already available!). I'd like to see us offer reviews, comments or tagging abilities to books - but that's a ways in the future, probably...

In the WEB 2.0 and Its Technologies for Collaborative Library Communication article, I really liked the "cheerleading" tone of the following sentence:

"I think that if librarians everywhere would just get up to speed on some of these little-known and newer techniques, tools, and thinking on the crucial topic of Web 2.0 within libraries, they (and this includes you) will find that many other libraries and librarians are already using social software tools and offering best practices suggestions for all of us-then, you will get excited as well and become a denizen of Web 2.0 sites!"
That is what we are doing here, and I've been seeing, in your blog posts, that you are becoming denizens of Web 2.0 sites already. That can only benefit our patrons and help them become users of these new sites, too!!

Robin Hastings

Monday, January 08, 2007

18 My visited states map

The map below is for states in which I've spent at least one night. I've driven through more of them, but I decided to make a night spent in the state a requirement for this map. I've got some traveling to do, don't I?

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

Robin Hastings

17. My online images

Robin Hastings

16 - RSS Feeds

Which method of finding feeds did you find easiest to use? Which Search tool was the easiest for you? Which was more confusing? What kind of unuseful feeds did you find in your travels? Or what kind of unusual ones did you find? What other tools or ways did you find to locate newsfeeds?

I generally find plenty of feeds just while trolling through the web, but when I'm looking for specific feeds, I like to use the "blogrolls" of sites I already read. I've found that especially helpful with library-related feeds! Most blogs have a list of some sort that contains at least some of the blogs that the blogger reads on a regular basis. I consider those to be pre-selected good reading!! When I have to search for a particluar topic, Technorati is the engine I use most these days. I've used Syndic8 in the past, but it seemed to be more confusing to use - not quite as useful as Technorati's social aspects - knowing how many other bloggers subscribe to a particular feed, how many consider a feed their "favorite" and so on. I've found LOTS of unuseful feeds in my travels - mostly feeds that were started with the best of intentions, then left to wither on the 'net due to lack of posts. I have to go through my bloglines account occasionally and get rid of feeds that haven't posted anything for a while. Firefox (the alternative browser) has been really helpful in finding feeds that I might have missed. If there is a feed on a site, the browser gives me a little hint that it is subscribable. That comes in handy to grab feeds I wouldn't have realized are available!!

Robin Hastings

Friday, January 05, 2007

15 - RSS Feeds

Now we are getting into my favorite part of the whole Web 2.0 field - RSS. The benefits of having information come to you - as opposed to you having to go out to find that information on different websites scattered throughout the 'net - are immense! However, the ease of subscribing to RSS feeds and the possibility of finding yourself following 160 different feeds (the number I currently have in my Bloglines account...) means that you have to be careful of information overload.
Be sure to check out the Bloglines buttons, too - just click on the "Add" link above your subscriptions on the left side of the page, then click on the "Easy Subscribe Button" link on the right side of the page. The directions are pretty simple - pick the browser you are using, drag the appropriate button to your toolbar and start subscribing whenever you see that a site you like has a RSS feed.
I generally use Bloglines to keep up with both my librarian blogs and my web design blogs - as well as the blogs you all are creating for this program. Without Bloglines to let me know when you all post to your blogs, I would be very hard-pressed to respond in a timely manner to your posts!! Other people use Bloglines to create temporary "research" folders, adding in sites that publish information on their topic so that they can get the latest info that they need for their particular research needs. You all will find your own uses for Bloglines, I'm sure - I can't wait to read your posts to find out how you are using it!!

Robin Hastings

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

14. Flickr Mashups

My choice for the Flickr mashup was the trading card. I pulled a picture from Flickr of me relaxing near the New River in Ft. Lauderdale. The icons I chose are pretty much meaningless - except that I liked them...

The Librarian Trading Cards group was pretty fun. It's interesting to see faces to go with the names that pop up on librarians' blogs!!

Robin Hastings

13. Flickr

I've been using Flickr for a while now, it's a great way to store my pictures and give others a chance to view them! What I really like about Flickr, though, is the ability to create a community around photos. Each image can be commented on by any other Flickr user - it's really a great way to meet new folks who may be interested in the same things you are and to share bits and pieces of your life with your friends and family!
I posted a selection of photos from my recent vacation in Florida to Flickr as soon as I got back. The one that sums up my experience the most is the one of the alligator checking out our boat in the Everglades! There are a couple of different ways to upload pics to a blog, but the way I used was to go to the "all sizes" button on the top of the photo's page, pick the medium size, then use the image's URL to enter into the photo upload tool at blogger. There are easier ways to do it - trust me - but this one works in a pinch!!

Robin Hastings