Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thing Number Twenty-Three - My Life in Technology

As I reflect back on My Life in Computer Technology, exploration and discovery have most often been driven by the desire for the application - exploring Macintosh programs in order to create lesson plans to engage inner city 7th graders; learning HTML in order to give a museum a web presence; following scanning best practice in order to preserve and provide broader access to primary source materials.

From past experience, then, I know that the discovery process can be challenging and frustrating. What drove me to Learning 2.0 was the support and encouragement of the library system and the chance to have fun learning about new technology while accomplishing a performance objective. This journey was not application driven since I wasn't aware of many worthwhile uses for the technologies involved.

Some unexpected favorites were YouTube (surprised that there was so much of interest to me) and LibraryThing (surprised that I would like something that sounded a bit like cataloging.)

I learned that even frustrations might have practical applications in helping customers. Last week a customer came to the information desk wondering if we knew why Yahoo wouldn't accept 21014 as a ZipCode. Since I had encountered the same problem in trying to register for Flickr, I was able to tell him to use another ZipCode. Who Knew?

Even though I had to take this journey on my own time, I would be enthusiastic about embarking on another similar journey. Technology applications are dynamic. It's fun to see how they go.

Thing Number Twenty-One - Podcasts

It's nice that you don't need a separate device to listen to podcasts, but I encountered problems when trying to download software upgrades/plugins on my home computer.

I added a royalty free music feed to my bloglines, but wasn’t able to download a plugin needed to listen - listened to part of a Diane Rehm program instead. Guess I’ll have to get a new computer to be able to experience some of these things from home.

It was fun to see some of the old radio shows available as podcasts, discovered via the Yahoo directory. (Yahoo announces that its podcast site will be taken down at the end of October.) I also checked out the other two directories listed in the discovery exercise.

I'd like to experiment with actually recording a test podcast. The short tutorial podcasts included in Learning 2.0 have been very helpful and are an example of how libraries might leverage this tool.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thing Number Sixteen - Wikis

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit with 2,026,123 articles in English is used by our virtual reference librarians as a reference aid, with emphasis on the word aid, especially for queries relating to popular culture. But best practice guidelines discourage sending chat customers Wikipedia pages in answer to a question. Since anyone can edit, information is not considered authoritative. A Wikipedia versus Britannica debate rages on blogs in library circles.

Libraries are using wikis in innovative ways by creating subject pathfinders and by opening up the maintenance and enrichment of community information to community members.

Interesting possibilities are outlined by Meredith Farkas in Using Wikis to Create Online Communities.
"The library could team up with other local organizations to develop, maintain and add content to the wiki, but the bulk of the content will come from average member of the community. Opening up a community guide to the public allows a wealth of information to flow in that can make the library’s website a true community resource."

Thing Number Seventeen - Sandbox Wiki

I added the following to the Sandbox Wiki: "Favorite Song Lyrics/Artists - Simon and Garfunkel - early Bob Dylan - traditional folk songs - Daisy May.

I didn't add my blog to the list; the directions confused me, and it looked like others were confused as well, erasing entries in the process of adding their own. Required reading in a beginning library course, Donald Norman's book, The Design of Everyday Things makes the point that if too many mistakes are made in the use of a product, the design of the product should be re-examined.

So I guess my question here is what needs reworking - the directions? the product? my brain?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thing Number Twenty-two - Audiobook download trials

As I write, an audiobook download is in progress. The first part of the book timed out before it completely downloaded; I expect as much with the second part.

I wanted to complete this exercise with Overdrive since that is currently the main web audiobook option for our library customers. Since I recently tried to step someone through it by phone, I thought it would be good to get more practice. The operating system on my home computer is too old for the newer versions of media players. Even though the download stalled, I was able to listen to the beginning of Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling.

I also checked out and tried to download an Overdrive video, but my computer froze during the download. I was successful with an ebook from Gutenberg, an illustrated The Raven by Poe. Wasn't aware of Gutenberg audio format, but again had trouble downloading.

Maybe I'll have better luck another time.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thing Number Nineteen - Web 2.0 Awards

Craig's List bleeds blue! It's been around since 1995, started as a hobby to showcase events in the San Francisco area. Although I've known of it for some time, I don't remember ever visiting the site.

I looked at various items for sale in Lawrence KS, Baltimore, and Ann Arbor; browsed through a music forum; checked out men looking for women in Personals; and wished I could deliver Edy's Ice Cream in trade for some Organic Roma Tomatoes in the bartering section.

Some of the Web 2.0 award winners have already been explored in completing 23 things.

Thing Number Eighteen - Docs across platforms

Portability of documents is much improved since earlier days when struggling with Macintosh at home and school, Microsoft at work. I have managed lately with drafts in email messages or as email attachments...but I do have MS Office applications on most of the computers I use.

I created two documents at home in the Google Docs text application, one a routing slip with an inserted table, another a first-thoughts draft for a high school class library tour that the Department is conducting. The latter could have been shared for the other librarians' ideas, but our timeline was too short. I accessed and printed the document at work.

I hope to eventually check out the presentation application, since those files are usually so huge.

Bless the developers of this!