Monday, March 9, 2009

Some Rant Related Thoughts

I think I want to keep this blog active, somehow.

I want to continue to make a notes here of new technology, trends, or just stuff I find online. Once I started this project, I really got into it. I like checking it to see what the other librarians have posted in their blogs. I liked learning about new technologies, however brief. That said, there are definitely some things I would like to go back to and look at(and perhaps post about) in even more detail.

It was a relatively painless process (apart from the repeated creation of new accounts) and while some of the technologies aren't for me, it was useful to do more then just dismiss them and to take a look at what they can do so I could make a more educated decision.

I'd say that flicker was my least favorite, I'm just not that into photography. And while I may like YouTube, I would not like posting videos of myself there either. I use YouTube like I use hulu, for entertainment and educational purposes, not for viewing me. My classmates would like hulu, they should check it out. Tv for free :) I really hope that site grows.

A couple of my favorites were the image generators and Bookmarking! I really love because it was the most useful tool for me that we explored. I love being able to have access to any of my favorite/useful web sites and not having to write them down (too many to memorize now). It's so easy to add to and search. And for me, the image generators were a fun and creative part of the project. And usually I embrace creativity.

As far as if there were another program like this one, would I do it? Yes, I believe so, I suspect I am addicted to learning : D ... must learn ... new ... things!

"We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people to learn"
- Peter Drucker
(1909 - 2005)

Like learning, it's good for you, similar to carrots. ; - )

Below is yet another video from Mike :)

And check out the Web 2.0 Search Engine !

YouTube Rant + a little about podcasting and audiobooks

"Television is called the new medium. Its called a medium because nothing is well-done"
- Fred Allen (1894 - 1956), on the radio program The Big Show, Dec. 17, 1950
I wonder what he would have thought of YouTube?

I really don't know any other video hosting site as well as I know YouTube. By far it is the king of free video hoasting today. Other popular sites are trying to catch up, or get some 'market share' of their own. I see that GoogleVideos and YahooVideos exist now but they don't seem to have as polished an interface or appearance. Originally what attracted me to YouTube was the ammount of original content, and lack of excessive advertisments complemented by the white background color(although now there are adds on every video site, even them.) In fact, GoogleVideos is actuley pulling most of its content from YouTube and allowing Google users to organise them. Only a few videos on the feature page were from And, of course, in an act of shameless self promotion, all of the recommended videos were from The YahooVideos seemed to have more variety as far as where the videos were coming from(their original hoasting sites). It seems as if YouTube is the only site where the bulk o the videos hoasted are its own.

My brother and I have even used it for school(heck I'm doing just that right now aren't I?). He is in a film class right now and has to rent all different videos all the time, and they are often out of them by the time he gets to the store or library(he's not exactly prompt about doing homework...some boys) So in terms of providing homework help in libraries YouTube could be a valuable resource. If librarians can post videos on how to use services provided by the library, perhaps more people would use them if they knew how? YouTube can also be used to promote libraries as useful facilities that serve a purpose in communities. They could post video testomonies from patrons about how the library helps them, or videos of fun activities. However, librarians would have to get premission from individuals in videos, and locations as well(not all library activites have to happen at the library).
We can find almost any of the videos he needs to see in 10-15 minute clips online for free. We just preload all the clips and go to the next one when the first one is done. The quality may not always be the best, but it serves his purposes and does so for free and at his convience.
I'm sure this violates some kind of laws somewhere, but the problem is YouTube can change its terms of service and contracts in weeks or days if they want to while laws can take years to be passed. Clearly YouTube has the upper hand here.

For one of my classes we learned about an anthropologest Mike Wesch at Kansas State University. He says on his YouTube account,

"My videos explore mediated culture, seeking to merge the ideas of Media Ecology and Cultural Anthropology. Currently we are analyzing anonymity and pseudonymity on YouTube, throughout the web, and in the "real world" throughout all times and all places. You can check our progress at"

It was his video I posted way back in the beginning of this blog, and I'll be posting another one. The video below is about an hour long, you don't have to watch all of it if you don't want to. 5-10 minutes is plenty to get the general idea, but if you like it i recommend watching the whole thing.

Also Podcasts.

I don't use podcasts personally, I haven't had a use for them. I just got an mp3 player last year, before that I listened heavily to radio and still enjoy it time to time, but the mp3 player lets me listen to what I want when I want to without interruptions, and to replay things, skip things, etc. However, I still like radio.

It seems I've been doing something similar to podcasting for years. I'm doing it right now. I'm listening to some video on my computer instead of watching it, and I switch to that when it sounds interesting to see. I do the same thing with my computer or with radio. This is nothing new to me, I do a lot of multytasking. It's not the same as podcasting, but the idea is the same, to make use of that time on the bus in transit, or while waiting for something else to begin. I don't like it for use as a primary tool, such as listening to podcasts in place of regular addendance to meetings or classes. I don't think they serve well for that, well, not for me anyway.

And eAudiobooks

I am not really a fan of audio books either.

I really, really love reading.

I'm a good listener too, but I like reading because I can use my imagination, even if it is just an audio book on, say, something Library Science related. Maybe I don't want to hear the inferences in the readers voice, maybe their voice irritates the heck out of me. Well, I can always read it myself.
Unless I'm blind that is, in which case, this is a great service. It is easer to share audiobooks now then before, and they can be shared by more people then brail books can be. Even if I were blind I'm sure I would be irritated by the way the books are read...I just know it.
I looked at eAudiobooks but was not impressed. I would not use it just to listen to a book being read. Perhaps for conference speeches or somthing like that, but never for fiction, or even some kinds of nonfiction.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rant on Web-Based Apps and Web Tools

I took a look at a web-based app site called ZOHO, similar to Google Docs (which happens to be my preferred wbap [wbap = pronounced wE-bap - stands for web-based applicatons, yea i just made that up now, deal with it] but no reason not to explore another one, after all we are supposeto be life long learners here!)

Like Google Docs anything created on ZOHO can be saved there and edited by others that are allowed to make changes to a document, spreadsheet, etc. (they also offer e-mail hosting) You can download your work to a computer and save it there as a backup copy, or to edit in another program but like Google Docs there are still some bugs to be worked out as far as being able to convert work from ZOHO format to another program.

After creating yet another account (((...yarg, is that getting old fast...))) I began to explore the virtual world of ZOHO

It offers, among other things a ...
word processor
presentation tool (think powerpoint)
web aplication creator
web conferencing
note taker
...and so much more!

Much like Google Docs, ZOHO is easy to use, most applications contain only the basics in terms of styling and editing tools. In the future, I can see these being expanded on as people find being able to collaborate simultaniously more useful and much easyer then constantly swapping e-mails and being sure to have the most up-to-date document.

With tools like web conferencing and online invoicing it seems to me that the original intent of the site was to be a place that offered for free services that small businesses previously had to pay for.
Yet the site can be used by big businesses, organizations, groups, communiteies, individuals, and of course librarians too.

One thing I could do without is the tendency to reiterate identity of the site by throwing ZOHO this or Google that in front of every aplication. I get it, I'm using your application, now quit trying to brainwash your name into my head and let me work, sheesh.

Then I took a look at one of the top web tools from the Web 2.0 Awards List.

I chose to take a look at music because I have only recently found! So for once I didn't have to make another account since I already have one. I must say I love this site, it lets me find new music that I might like, or learn more about artists I'm already interested in.

For instance, I did a search on Meatloaf* (I <3 MEATLOAF!) and up comes a breif bio on the artist, some pictures, some artists that I might like in terms of sound, music videos, and the option to play the Meatloaf radio station and add it to my favorites.

This site is great since it lets you listen to almost anything for free, and you can switch stations just like the ol'fashon radio, when you want to hear something with a differnt style or beat. There are differences, such as the radio does allow you to skip to the next song in the que and there aren't any commercials. And the stations are usually themed, a lot are themed to your favorite artists, but they can also be themed to the style of music, era, etc.

*a little side note: he is also very interested in acting, most people know him as Bob from Fight Club :)

First the SPAM! thing and now Meatloaf,
what is it with me and processed meat products?

Wiki Rant

This week I looked at some ways libraries have been using Wikis. Wikis are very attractive to me because they encourage collaborative work, creativity, and a sense of community to those that edit the page.

From a source other then wikipedia, I found a definition on Webopedia that compared Wikis to some other technology we have been learning about, it said :

"A collaborative Web site comprises the perpetual collective work of many authors. Similar to a blog in structure and logic, a wiki allows anyone to edit, delete or modify content that has been placed on the Web site using a browser interface, including the work of previous authors. In contrast, a blog, typically authored by an individual, does not allow visitors to change the original posted material, only add comments to the original content.

The term wiki refers to either the Web site or the software used to create the site.

Wiki wiki means “quick” in Hawaiian. The first wiki was created by Ward Cunnigham in 1995."

I found that last part about the origins of the word 'wiki' pretty cool.

Then I looked at the BookLoversWiki from Princeton Public Library and the Bull Run Library Wiki. I looked at a few others but these two in particular detail. I noticecd that Wikis can vary in appearance and I belive they devlope according to the user populations tastes, after all, they wouldn't use them if they didn't like them.

I liked that the Bull Run Library had a button at the top that let you view the page history, that could be useful to see whats been going on on the wiki. Both wikis have added a search option to their site, which can be useful for a quick search. However, sadly I noticed that the Prinction Wiki needed to update to the new 2.0 version, which leads me to believe it would be a good idea to put a select group of individuals in charge of maintaining the wiki and making sure it is up to data and preform tasks like monitoring, tho I know one option is to only let the wiki update or add things after an administrator has reviewed the changes.

In a library setting, however, where some people may not be able to work on a wiki everyday, the benifit is that everyone can edit it and make changes, the question is how often should someone updates the site/web page? Both sites required users to log in so that their activites could be monitored and no changes that were detrimental to the site are made. For libraries this is very important, we are not meant to monitor users, but the wiki is designed to allow for collaboration and it is a good idea to know who is making what changes and are they good for the purpose of the wiki?

In lieu of being able to continue my blog on the wiki this week I'll post my thoughts on the potential use of Wikis for Libraries here ...

How can wikis be useful for libraries?

In lots of ways.

They can provide a safe and free place for patrons to organize related information on a variety of subjects, while also keeping it all organized and easily accessible. That can be great for patrons who can't always make it to the library for a variety of reasons, but want to stay in touch with reading groups or library programs/activities and in short, still be a part of the library community.

For faculty they can be a way to send updates, since everyone knows no one checks e-mail as often as they might like. It can be a way for faculty to stay in touch when they are away from the library, at conferences or etc. And users can choose to have messages sent to them whenever a change is made to the page, I bet there are PDA and iPhone aplications out there already that make these updates availabe to those mobile devices. A wiki can also have a calender of events, a chat log, urgent messages, link to related sites, a tag cloud and so much more that I don't have the space for it all.....

.....which can be a downfall too, a wiki can take up a lot of time and energy.

I did manage to create an account with pbwiki and learn a little about templates, using styles and sharing the page with others. It is very user friendly, you don't have to have a programming background in xhtml to use it, but that would probably be good for some fancy and advanced stuff.

I also learned users need a password or invite to get into the Learning 2.0 SandBox Wiki :( and will see what happens with that...updates to come later.