Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clarke

I complete this program sharing one of my very favorite quotes, one that has stood me in good stead as I've wrestled with understanding something new and "way too technical" or have been helping a library user do the same.

While the word "manipulation" itself can have a negative connotation, I think that one of the most positive discoveries I've made in the past few weeks involves "manipulation." Manipulating elements of blogs, manipulating photos, moving YouTube videos around -- fun and easy!


Many years ago I worked for the first subject department at Houston Public Library to have a computer for staff use (Humanities Dept., surprisingly enough), and our department manager encouraged all of us there to have no fear, or, at least, to show no fear in the face of new technology. I've been a comfortable end-user of many technologies (my VCR didn't flash 12:00!), however lately I feel like we're experiencing a meteor shower of new stuff -- stuff? that is the correct tech term, right? Having an organized, step-by-step approach presented for catching some of those falling stars has been truly beneficial for me. I'm committed to lifelong learning, and I thrive with some organization and discipline overlaying that learning experience.


Favorite things:

  • Flickr --I had played with other photo sharing programs, but I like this a lot.
  • LibraryThing -- using it for a record plus a reminder list of books I mean to get to.
  • NetLibrary and Overdrive -- I can help customers better, and I'm going to be a much more frequent user.
  • Online productivity tools -- didn't even know these were out there. Now I feel more empowered, and I will show them to customers, too.
  • I'll be using RSS feeds and podcasts more than ever before -- but selectively.
  • Image generators -- fun!


An outcome that didn't really surprise but did gratify more than anticipated has been the collaboration that I've observed. Assistance is sought and assistance is offered, so completion of the 23 Things is not an individual endeavor but rather one that involves colleagues working together for everyone's success.

Definitely I would participate in a similar discovery program. As noted above, I like having a pathway to follow. Both customers I deal with and myself, in my personal semi-tech way, are reaping the benefits.


Audiobooks

I've used ebooks for several years, even did presentations on NetLibrary at library conferences years ago, but downloading audiobooks is somewhat new to me. Last evening I listened to a bit of an Emyl Jenkins mystery from NetLibrary on my laptop at home. That was a good experience but it made me want to run right out and get an MP3 player! (or maybe complete 23 Things and get one another way. . . )

My use of Overdrive has been mostly ebooks to read -- have a Frommer's travel book on MD and DE out right now. I think that keeping a library travel section updated with at least some ebooks is a wise idea. But, having looked into the breadth of Overdrive audiobooks, I really want to get that MP3 player and keep it packed with things to listen to. The "Annes" are awaiting my download, i.e. Anne Lamott, Annie Dillard, Anne Tyler, Adriana Trigiani. And who would have guessed that an old Sharyn McCrumb favorite, Bimbos of the Death Sun, would be among the What's New titles.

Like some of my fellow 23 Things participants, I hadn't been to Project Gutenberg for a while. I'm looking forward to more exploration of Jane Austen titles available there in text and audio.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Podcasts

I looked most at Podcastalley.com (really like that name!) and explored some possibilities from areas of interest. Then, I branched out, going directly to some sites that I was fairly sure would also lead to podcasts of interest -- such as NPR and some related sites like Prairie Home Companion. Now I can listen to these favorites any time I want, even if I miss the regular broadcast. (I'm looking forward to listening to the podcast of Garrison Keillor's ALA speech soon, too.)

Yesterday on NPR, the on-air contestant on Weekend Edition's Sunday Puzzle program said she listens to a podcast of the puzzle because her local station doesn't broadcast it. This ironic sort of incident brought home to me what could be one of the most practical uses of podcasts!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Bruce Springsteen - Mrs McGrath

Eclectic taste -- my two favorite performers are Bruce and Yo Yo (Ma).

Web 2.0 awards

Because the branch managers have been considering developing a wiki as a means of updating the Branch Managers' Handbook, I decided to try out Wetpaint. Setting up the wiki was a piece of cake, basically just involving three steps. I've set it up as needing invites so I'll be adding some of my colleagues as writers if we decide to go in this direction for our project. My next challenge will be learning how to add the necessary content, but that doesn't look difficult.

I may also try PBwiki, just to compare.

Waiting room reading. . .

They're everywhere! They're everywhere!

While in my doctor's waiting room today I read two articles that were really relevant to working on the 23 Things.

The following is another discussion of the essay in the reference that Jamie Watson sent out with the article "MySpace Is For Freaks, Facebook Is for Geeks?" on http://ypulse.com/archives/2007/06/myspace_is_for_1.php

Social Networking And Class Warfare.
Authors: Levy, Steven
Source: Newsweek; 8/6/2007, Vol. 150 Issue 6, p16-16, 4/5p
Abstract:
The article discusses the explanation forwarded by researcher Danah Boyd for why young people choose either Facebook or MySpace as their online social networking site of choice. Boyd's controversial conclusion was that college-bound kids from good families tend to choose Facebook, while self-identified outsiders and anti-establishment types prefer MySpace.



The other article presented a point of view on wikis that harmonizes somewhat with my concerns about "people-power."

Title: Down With Internet Democracy.
Authors: Keen, Andrew
Source: Forbes; 5/21/2007, Vol. 179 Issue 11, p38-38, 1p
Abstract: This article presents commentary on the plans of Wikipedia.com co-founder Jimmy Wales to launch a people powered, open source Wiki search engine. The author argues that volunteer software engineers will prove as unreliable and corruption prone as the volunteer editors of the online encyclopedia. The objective of making Internet search transparent and community-driven as opposed to the secret mathematical algorithms of Google is deemed noble but naive. Other controversial aspects are questioned.


The article ends, a little harshly, with this statement:
"Let's all grow up here. On the Internet, as in life, you get what you pay for. And I, for one, don't want the responses to my daily search requests determined by a horde of faceless volunteers."

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Online productivity tools

What does Bill Gates think of these??

It's so good to know that Zoho and Google Docs exist and that we can get access to them anywhere there's a computer with Internet access. (Visiting my sister a few months ago, I was amazed to find she doesn't have MS Office products on her PC, just clunky Works. Some things I wanted to accomplish -- even while on vacation -- would have been much better facilitated if I had known then what I know now!)

Both Zoho and Google tools seem pretty intuitive (i.e. they look a lot like MS Office. . .) I wrote a letter using Zoho Writer, and I followed the simple steps to publish it to this blog. But, you may note that it's not here. I don't know where it is, but Zoho says it was posted to LindaLu-libn??? I typed a couple of random sentences in Google Docs and followed the steps to publish that -- and here it is, just below this post. Exporting as HTML worked smoothly in both tools. And being able to save as a PDF -- what a treat!

Another thing I noticed with Zoho Writer -- when I used spellcheck, the blank lines between address and salutation, between paragraphs, etc. disappeared. I had to reformat the letter. I wonder if this always happens?

Tuesday, August 14, 10 pm -- the lost letter done in Zoho has been found! It went as a draft to the page listing blog posts where you can view, edit, delete. I've decided I'm not going to post it now, but I am pleased to learn where it ended up!