Thursday, September 11, 2008

Provide us with feedback (Sylvester's antics conclude)...

I think that there should have been much more genuine user/ participant interaction during the course of the learning program. By that I mean that observations and comments related to the blogs and posts which others have prepared, are really important. I have had the good fortune/ positive opportunity to glance through the different blogs recently. Amongst many fleeting thoughts, I have found the following:

  • Amy's post and find related to echcho was really positive;
  • Conan the Oz Librarian's "Warning - dangerously boring blog contents" generated image was great and made me laugh;
  • Laraine's image of the Impey boat in the UK was a nice touch. So too were the more useful tools that she referred for blog readers;
  • Emma's purple trees and chosen colours for her blog, reminded me of jacaranda season in the northern NSW town of Grafton;
  • Frances' sparkling custom glitter text was lovely!
  • KD's blog inclusion of the mountain imagery with clouds and eastern prayer flags were pleasantly spiritually inclined;
  • The overriding theme and unique "out of this universe" feel for The Librarian's Guide to the Galaxy blog was great;
  • Marg's black board: A creative blog name and the Difficult Library Customer You Tube video was fun, with Cookie Monster as the Sesame Street proponent.
  • The best thing I identified on any of the blog posts for the duration of 23 Things was the Charles Leadbeater You Tube clip called "We Think", which was included in Michiem's blog. It is absolutely brilliant causing much thought and consideration. See the following URL for background information to the video and book: I also liked the variety of Flickr images and the imported book cover images, despite Michelle having hiccups with technology.
  • The Novel lover's black and white image of little Colin was very cute indeed!
  • Neolithic images of an automated catalogue and new document copier were fabulous on the Modern Librarian blog. I'm glad the technology was around before my time in the industry!
  • The quote included on the My learning blog web page "Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere" is really relevant and pleasant too. Charles' gallivanting and sharing of the experiences on Odyssey 2008 is also very interesting for the armchair traveller.
  • The blog name Daggy Diva's tearoom was delightful.
  • Finally, the post on Terri's top blog which included an image of Thing from the Addams Family asserted that she would like to forget the Library 2.0 term itself because it reminds her of study. Her post and overall consideration of 23 Things was most interesting.
Well done to everyone who took the time to create a blog. Even those whom didn't receive a specific comment from me. I loved the way in which blogs and posts reflected the diverse personalities and backgrounds of Chisholm Library professionals. Congratulations to Jason for rolling out the 23 Things project. Also, best wishes to him for the pilot project in the broader Chisholm organisation.

How could you draw on what you have learned in
23 Things to help you in your work?
Subscriptions to blogs and exploitation of RSS feed technology will continue. This should assist with professional networking, knowledge of industry best practice; and other information services.

How could the library use the technologies featured in 23 Things to improve its service?
With planning and research the introduction of wikis and blogs could occur on the library pages, or be affiliated with the on-line catalogue. A series of educational podcasts and vodcasts could also be established. I'm not sure that social networking tools, Google docs, maps etc. have real value added relevance to the suite of services already provided. I'm open to some convincing though.

Do you think you’ll keep blogging; or keep using any of the other tools you learned about?

Fortunately I already utilise some of the tools on a regular basis. However, I hadn't previously extended my browser to its fullest capacity. Also, I hadn't utilised Firefox. Now I'm a convert, particularly of morning coffee. Blogs, social networking sites and Google products will continue to be at the fore, for me.

Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

I now love Flickr. It's my favoured procrastination tool! I suppose it is a take-away. There were not any unexpected program outcomes.

What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?

I have dug around to familiarise myself with other 23 Things programs. The brevity of instructions included in some of the programs was not a positive attribute. The program borrowed and adapted by Jason for the Chisholm Library team has a reasonable degree of instruction, as well as framed questions for review and reflection. Perhaps fewer things could be tackled on a weekly basis. Though, some have obviously embraced the concept of independent learning at one's own pace.

If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you again chose to participate?
I have thoroughly enjoyed the 23 Things program. As a genuine advocate of lifelong learning and continuous improvement I would readily participate in future discovery programs of this type. After all, I'm putting my hand up for a PhD during the next twelve months. I can concentrate on long-winded writing for it, instead of boring you with my much too long posts! Yippeee!

Read about Library 2.0...

It's not all fun and a simple...
The library 2.0 movement strikes me as being a sensible transition and further embracement of contemporary Information Technology tools, as well as attitudes. I like the terminology included in the literature which describes Library 2.0 as being in a state of "perpetual beta" because it is constantly being tested, as well as altered.

I appreciate and embrace the notion that "the active and empowered library user is a significant component of Library 2.0" by co-creating, building, consulting and participating. Collaboration in its truest sense! I'm also amenable to ideas that "library services have the ability to evolve and improve on a constant and rapid basis [using Library 2.0]".

As with all IT and information literacy in contemporary times, access to technology, as well as matters related to privacy and security require ongoing review and consideration. As with some critics, I also offer constructive criticism, by cautioning against introducing change and technologies, simply for the sake of change. It's important to pro-actively conduct preliminary analysis and feasibility assessments, to consider the perceived value of services; and to establish strategic action plans related to technology innovation.

It's becoming more challenging, but I like the continual efforts to aggregate data; and recent customer involvement in this process. A final observation, despite all of the advances, it's perhaps reassuring for industry professionals that the "emphasis on the library as keeper [and organiser] of reliable information will [certainly] prevail".

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Create an iGoogle home page...

I created an iGoogle home page and suitably customised it with gadgets like map search and book search. I became carried away by adding the To do and sticky notes gadgets also. Everything was very easy, involving just a few clicks with the mouse button...

Enjoyable elements of personalising the site related to relocating the default inclusions, or closing them all together (e.g. latest YouTube videos). I deliberated over the theme for my page with such a vast array of options, for a length of time. Depending on one's mood, you might make a very different decision related to theme adoption. I think too that themes should be a reflection of your personality. So, I adopted differing themes for each of my interest area tabs. The theme I use for the main home tab is brightly coloured and stripy (as shown above).

When selecting areas of interest, the default inclusions are varied and relevant. I included business, sports, politics, film and books out of curiosity. Typically the headlines and other bits are from the US, or UK. However, some of my content is spanish. Fortunately my other half is proficient; and I have some grasp of the beautiful language.

Do you like iGoogle?
iGoogle is fun. I enjoy it for play, I'm not sure that I would access it on a daily basis as part of my recurrent online recreation, work, or continuous learning pursuits.

What improvements would you suggest to iGoogle?
I consider that the iGoogle function is designed to cleverly integrate and promote alternate Google products by way of customised,
at-a-glance access. I don't like deliberate endeavors which aim to ensure exclusive use of the Google search engine, like prominently locating the search box at the front, top, centre of screen. I can't identify any specific improvements for iGoogle. My preference would be for a generic site that can be customised just as quickly and that I can adapt with a variety of non-Google products.

Would you like to work at Google?
This is a strange question indeed. I'm not sure what it has to do with Library 2.0, or 23 things... I have no desire to be located on the west coast of the USA, in Mountain View at the Googleplex Headquarters; or Silicon Valley, for that matter. We do have some friends (an English girl and an Irish guy) that live in a really pleasant gated estate golf course precinct outside of San Francisco. Leah is employed with Chevron Texaco, as a geologist. It's nice, but there is a constant risk of earthquakes. I'm more than happy to be gainfully employed in Australia!

Other themes I like include the following:

Play with Google book search...

I really like Google book search. I have readily made use of electronic books (e-books) for some time now. They have been prevalent in my life for both study and recreational purposes.

However, I remember in some of my former professional workplaces there was much debate about the
Bed, Beach and Bath test i.e. that e-book readers and other electronic devices are inadequate for use in bed, on the beach or during a soak in the tub! Also, some people are partial to the tactile feel of turning pages, the weight of differing tomes, the use of a variety of aesthetically appealing bookmarks with sentimental value, as well as (believe it or not) the varying smells associated with traditional books.

Further, sharing conventional books is nice with friends. So too, having conventional books on hand with dog-eared pages at book club conversation sessions, is preferable for most people. I haven't seen e-books catch on in those contexts.

I like to curl up with a good book in a hammock, or on the lounge. When I have done so with e-books and readers I have had to remain aware of battery life spans and the dreaded hibernation mode!

In short however, I think that Google book search is a good idea. It's particularly useful for items in the public domain, for which copyright has expired; and works for which the publisher/ author have intentionally released privileges.

I love the ability to search in-text (full text searching), for academic purposes. I sometimes find moving between pages to be a bit cumbersome though. The buy this book (with a range of online supplier details) and borrow this book (with links to libraries) are also positive inclusions on the Google book search site. I like the add to my library and the review options.

Alternatively, I don't like the sponsored links / promotional information which invariably distracts viewers from the content pages of the e-book, in the Google reader layout (though full page view can easily overcome this hiccup). Of course too, I dislike the inability to print a couple of pages from the preview mode (particularly if a specific topic, or quote has attracted one's interest).

The About this book information is extremely comprehensive and useful... Some inclusions are the popular passages (extracts from the full text); references from web pages, and references from scholarly works (where the publication has been referred to elsewhere); hyper-linked key terms; and places mentioned in this book mapping function (physical geographical locations) are all positive for either learning and research, or novelty value.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Play with Google docs...

Several years ago my other half and I rented out our home to live frugally from the income, spending more than twelve months gallivanting around several continents, with our backpacks. In Munich an IT savvy friend suggested that we sign up to a free on-line German product for posting our documents and selectively sharing them with others. I have no idea what the product was called and it had a convoluted URL which looked very foreign. However, it was wonderful... We scanned important documents (e.g. wills, passports) and allocated access privileges to others in the southern hemisphere, in case something untoward occurred to us.

When we arrived home more than a year an a half later, we continued to use the product for our documents; and we continued to permit a chosen few to access certain documents there. Use of the product eventually fell to the wayside. Google docs is exactly the same concept.

As requested for Thing 19, I created a document and a spreadsheet. Without difficulty I was able download the documents in differing formats, e.g. RTF and PDF. I was also readily able to export the documents.

Positive attributes of Google Docs include the Revision history information. I love this in the context of preparing comprehensive workplace documents, or teaching notes; and wanting a record of all the revisions, not just the most recent. I also really appreciate the facility which permits the uploading of documents like .ppt presentations up to 10MB in size! When wanting to share bulky documents by conventional e-mail, unfortunately internal and external mail servers sometimes delay or block the distribution. By adopting Google Docs as an information sharing tool, everyone can gain access to the document in question, irrespective of its size.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Play with Google maps...

The cartoon is compliments of:

The You Tube video which promotes Google maps is extremely cheesy! I have friends whom are advocates of other Google products like G-mail and Google docs. I try to avoid Google as a search engine and I constantly suggest to others that there are a variety search engines, as well as directory alternatives.

It's interesting that just today (September 2) an article in The Age, New Google browser muscles in on Microsoft declared that Google is spreading its wings in an effort to attain a greater IT market share. The new free browser called Chrome will be available for download in more than one hundred nations and it will function on Microsoft's Windows operating system.

I get some pleasure from Google maps. However, I have really enjoyed monitoring controversy related to the Australian launch of the street view mapping tool. The function became available in early August 2008 and permits "people [to] explore the country at ground level for the first time with little more than a computer and an internet connection". Google has introduced the positive step of obscuring vehicle number plates and the faces of people. Potentially invasive images can also be reported directly to Google. Privacy activists are still up in arms though. Very early on, the visible imagery in Australia revealed a lying neighbour, identified a cheating spouse; and snapped a man sleeping on the job!

My first preference with regard to on-line mapping tools is Travel Mate's map maker: However, this is powered by Google maps too! Travel mate provides really concise directions, distances between two points of interest; and other information, similarly to Google. I'll probably intermittently utilise Google too.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Explore social networking...

I am not very familiar with MySpace (i.e. I don't have an account with them). Alternatively, I have had a Facebook account for as long as I can remember...

It's absolutely imperative that my other half and I have an on-line account: Having attended several primary and secondary schools in different states; having friendships with people from various tertiary and vocational courses; having friends and family that live abroad; as well as having networks with characters from a variety of sporting and recreational circles allows us to all keep in touch, using a convenient one-stop forum.

Facebook is indicative of a truly virtual world for those of us whom like to regularly communicate with people from abroad, breaking down geographical and national boundaries. We frequently chat, convey personal news, display images, make enquiries of others and schedule real-time, personal get-togethers with our Facebook friends. Many of our friends really enjoy posting interesting brief sentences to convey information about "what they are doing now" and it's a fun tool. Another popular Facebook feature is tagging (notifying people) that they have been included in digital images posted on the site.

I have to admit that some friends become carried away with different groups, or causes and inviting (coercing and making others feel obliged) to take up the plight, donate or partake too, by becoming the member of something, donating money, or doing some act or other. Other friends become very preoccupied with giving electronic gifts like good karma, gnomes and teddy bears... Some are inclined to join fan clubs of people and movements in droves too, which I perceive as involving some peer group pressure, or fear of missing out mentality.

Some of my professional colleagues have formerly been concerned about Facebook's function as a data gathering tool
, Facebook also collects information about you from other sources, such as newspapers and instant messaging services. This information is gathered regardless of your use of the Web Site. I consider that like all things in life, Facebook should be used in moderation and personal evaluative criteria should be applied before readily disclosing personal information. Common sense and caution should prevail.

Alternatively, I don't believe that social networking sites have much merit in the workplace at all. Recent reports have even declared that Facebook could be a five billion dollar waste of time in Australian workplaces. I think that it is more appropriate for customised communication and information sharing tools to be established in-house with suitable branding, layout and restrictions, in the interests of professionalism, propelling codes of conduct and exemplary corporate images.

Several months ago I read a scathing report related to Facebook in The Age newspaper. I was able to find the report online today:
Hodgkinson has nothing but disparaging remarks to make about the way Facebook currently operates, the way it has grown so rapidly; and the (potentially untoward) motives which the co-founders and board members have. I particularly love Hodgkinson's quote, "Facebook is profoundly uncreative. It makes nothing at all. It simply mediates in relationships that were happening anyway". I agree with Hodgkinson to some extend, but for those of us whom can be nostalgic, I can attest that Facebook is a great directory for rekindling old friendships.

Jason's link to the resource titled Prediction: Facebook will be the largest social network in the world, as part of Thing number 17 is very relevant. Allen's prophecy was posted on his site during May 2007. An article from August 14 of this year with data provided by analyst organisation comScore declares that "Facebook has dethroned MySpace to become the world's most popular social networking website"; and "social network users grew... [across the board amongst all on-line providers], globally to 580.51 million people". In June 2008 alone, Facebook attracted 132.1 million unique visitors.

Irrespective of all the banter and some detractors surrounding Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is to be commended as an entrepreneurial member of the Y generation! I wish that I was one of his Harvard colleagues responsible for the original inception and roll out of the idea. Zuckerberg has successfully capitalised on IT tools that are appealing to his generation and some older folk (like myself) too!