Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

OK OK so I know that there are fears being raised about stalking using google’s new goggles service but…


… ain’t it the coolest thing ever?

I admit I have raised myself on a steady diet of science fiction, but I seriously like the idea of the kind of context that I hunger for and already use the net to provide coming to me this easily. Sure I enjoy using my creativity to massage search terms when looking for an unknown, but why should I when I can just scan?

Picture this: LIANZA 2020. A familiar face comes across the floor towards you… but no name arises. A subtle gesture, unobservable to the outsider, and a list of likely suggestions for the person in front of you scroll up on your glasses.

Privacy shmivacy. I’ve got a bad memory for names in my 30s and this is going to help in a decade’s time.


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Social media is making us more human

Who’d ‘ve thought?  Why? Because humans use it to share with other humans?  Seems perfectly logical to me.

Seems the “internet is evil” line of thinking is taking its time to die.  Television has always been the anti-social medium in my mind.

Btw, how are you liking the new look?  There are still some tweaks to be done, I hear.

Have a good one…

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See what happens when you take away the “must-post-on-this-day” regime? I found this cool site called iLibrarian It’s actually a blog as well, but it had a lot of cool posts on it about Web 2.0 technology. Apparently libraries aren’t Web 2.0 yet according to some Lianza conference feedback i heard last week – oh yeah, it was the presenter Tim Spalding saying that.

Anyway this blog  has some really cool posts like:

40 useful Firefox Add-ons for Librarians

20 Websites to make you a better blogger

18 Different kinds of blog posts

Guide to deal with Information overload

If found the list of 6 Free Web-conferencing tools useful because the tools might be simpler to use in connecting with extramural students.

The list goes on! Enjoy!

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A tool, according to my favourite cheap and cheerful reference source is “an entity used to interface between two or more domains that facilitates more effective action of one domain upon the other.”


Here’s a clarifying example:

“A hammer typically interfaces between the operator’s hand and the nail the operator wishes to strike.”

OK, I get that.

I’ve always had an interesting relationship to the world of entities-created-to-facilitiate-action-between-domains, and for a very basic reason – I’m left handed. Many tools are designed for an orientation to the world that is simply less natural for me.

It gets even more complicated than that. I’ve largely adapted to this aspect of the world, so that in most cases I’ll use a right-handed tool in a right handed way if that’s required, and not if not. As I said to a musician friend recently, it’s possible to get your guitar strung left handed, not so easy to do so with a piano. I make do, I adapt and I’m generally not conscious about those times when I’m being a left hander or being a right hander.

This has backfired on me historically. I clearly remember being young and struggling with setting the table – my mother suggested I should put the utensils as I used them, and then swap them around because I was left handed. I did so – and got them the wrong way round. I eat the same way as a right hander does, so using “the opposite to what I do” as a guide to setting a table just didn’t work. I still have to sometimes think the double step through that one…

This may or may not have been a formative moment, but now I am somewhat more grown up I often look at how we relate to our tools, particularly this wonderful tool called the internet. (Or is it a collection of tools?)

I look at libraries who run a blog. I see a lot of blogs that get updated with news about the library, with events and so on, but one think I’ve rarely seen (and I’ve looked at a fair few library blogs in my time) with an active community of responders. (Let’s not mention the NZ library blogs I know of whose comments are populated by responses from their own staff… most amusing…)

It’s very hip and cool to have a blog – but what’s the difference between a blog with no comments and a news page, which we’ve had on our websites for years?

I look at libraries putting out content with feeds, and I (who adore them) wonder if a wide enough sector of the population is engaged with managing feeds to make it worthwhile. Admittedly here I am thinking as a public librarian.

I look at our flickr accounts and wonder if we’re connecting directly through them, or if they’re simply taking the place of local hosting – not that I think secure remote hosting is a bad thing at all.

When we are looking for a hammer, we are concerned with our intent (to insert a nail) and the object of our intent (the nail). Once we have located the hammer, we’re only conscious of it if we hit our thumb.

I’d like to see more library professionals using social media think about their intent (to communicate with an audience) and the object of their intent (the audience) rather than become preoccupied, as we sometimes seem to be, with the tools.

To go back to handedness – we’re a natural profession for left-brain (right-handed) thinkers. Orderly, organised, procedure oriented. Let’s actively work on being librarians from the right side of the brain. The tool that is the internet is most efficiently intuited because it’s too big to be structured. If us lefties can adapt to a world of right handers, you guys can take on this challenge.

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The 2006 LIANZA conference was a “talkin’ bout my g-g-generation” moment for me.

I can remember sitting in the audience with my hand proudly in the air as Stephen Abrams asked audience to respond with their participation in a list of key web technologies.

I can remember seeing a glimpse of the future as Michael Stephens delivered a talk from Illinois using voip (and if memory serves, a webcam) while Brenda Chawner relayed the audience’s responses to him via IM.

I can remember sitting down at the computer centre next to a guy using his PSP to sort the photos from his digital camera before uploading them to his flickr account. I can’t remember what I was doing but it was not quite but almost as 2.0. We spotted each other as like minds and started an enjoyable conversation that’s continued on in a most unhurried manner since. Currently Tim and I are swapping the occasional music videos thanks to youtube and he was recently kind enough to take the time to help me understand twitter a bit more. He’s still ahead of me on the digital front, and I suspect I always will be.

The whole time was heady, but my favourite memory of it was when after I wrote a snotty comment under a pseudonym on the conference blog Brenda thoroughly hacked me and sent a discrete email to my work account giving me a chance to come clean. There’s something about the nature of a geek that we enjoy being deftly caught when we’re being naughty, and if we’re good at it we turn it to inspiration.

And turn it I did. I came clean on the conference blog, put forward my ideas in a constructive fashion, and I’ve been trying to communicate my view of things to the profession ever since. Hence this effort.

I was always pretty much a geek of one sort or another – music, games, computers, books, but this one period of a few days turned me into an evangelist and a gadfly. So I’m wanting to hear from you good folks out there – even though this is a new thing we’ve had some interesting, challenging responses already. What’s made you a person with something to say on these matters that we talk about? What’s inspired you?

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A teaching student comes to the desk of my public library. She comes across as intelligent, capable, library friendly – she knows what she’s looking for and how to articulate it.

She’s looking for information on different types of pen through the ages as a backgrounder to a lesson plan. She’d like book references if possible, and they have to be useful to her and potentially useable with primary age children as well.

As is often the case, what we needed wasn’t there – there were no works to hand on the subject itself, the how it works books didn’t cover the full range of options and the titles on writing only had a limited amount of information on writing instruments.

I asked if she had looked on the web. She said she had but she hadn’t found anything useful. I suggested we start with a quick look at Wikipedia.

“Oh no,” she said “we’re not allowed to use it.”

I’d like to tell you that I felt a professional conflict, but I didn’t. This interaction wasn’t the first time I’d been asked by help for students whose instutions wanted them to stay away from Wikipedia, or google, or any number of modern bugbears. My response is tailored to the student’s age and need, but is generally the same: a touch of subversion for the better good.

Thus, I explained that her institution was right, and that she oughtn’t use Wikipedia as a final reference, but that we might use it as a secondary source, and go better armed from there. As I had anticipated, the site had an excellent page on pens giving us not only the full list of pen types (including reed pens, new knowledge for me) but an exhaustive coverage of the subject. I finished the interaction by strategising with her how to proceed with her online research using terms and links garnered from the source.

Educational institutions with an aversion to wikipedia/google/etc. is not a new thing. Schools lock these sites out of their inhouse computer systems, but I had felt that culture had become less entrenched over the last few years.

I recent post to one of the listservs I read showed that the issue is still bubbling away under the surface. The author, a school librarian, cited a recent incident in which a parent doing some background research for her child on Newberry Award winner Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh on Wikipeda found “pornography”. The article was cited as justification for the kinds of hands-off policies educational institutions have towards internet sources. (Why the article wasn’t about how children can only learn by doing their own homework I can’t tell you).

This is a hard one to respond to. Pornography, particularly when notionally directed at children, is a hot button. As the earlier interaction was still on my mind I decided to investigate further. Fortunately, with Wikipedia, this is eminently possible.

Wikipedia holds a revision history for the Mrs Frisby page, as it does for all the pages it contains. It tells us that at 1.36 PM on May 19th this year, an unknown user from IP (ie someone locateable if a true offence is being committed) altered the page to include some obscene material.

I say obscene rather than pornographic, because the half-paragraph of text while offensive is clearly not written to arouse. I would estimate the writer’s age to be between maybe 10 and 14, probably male. Read the text yourself if you’re interested.

While I can understand that an adult reading this would be offended, it occurs to me that this random mishmash of meaningless acts is exactly the approximation of adult concerns children invent for themselves on the winding path from complete innocence to full agency. Try reading a Goosebumps sometime. Aimed at primary age children, and absolutely shocking to an adult.

An hour and three minutes later, SilentAria, a Wikipedia editor of what seems to be good, longstanding reputation reverts the page to its last good revision. He or she sends the anonymous vandal a politely worded message explaining the philosphy of Wikipedia, encouraging their positive contribution and warning of their banning should they continue. The vandal has not posted since.

Now, I’m not saying we should expose our young people to this kind of content. What I am saying is that this content was there for one hour, a blip in the evolution of a page that has existed since October 2004. I’m reminded of the comparision of the risks of flying in an airplane versus crossing the street – in this case, the television that’s on in the home every night  is far more likely to bring potentially upsetting content to children than this hour’s worth of transient and well-hidden filth.

A concept I intend to explore more fully at a later time is that of information literacy education needing in the modern information culture to go beyond a set of procedural rules – and believe me, “no wikipedia” is one of the most blunt, basic procedural rules an institution could put in place in this context – and change our approach into on vastly more dynamic.

Let’s not ask “is this source reputable”; let us learn to ask “is this source reputable today.

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Several librarian blogs have recently mentioned the very interesting and useful research report by Char Booth entitled “Informing Innovation: tracking student interest in emerging library technologies at Ohio University” which is available free to download in PDF format. Like many libraries, Ohio University libraries have experimented with many Web 2.0 applications in order to stay relevant to students. But the question remained “if we build this, will the students care?” So Ohio University libraries have begun to veer away from the “technolust” towards a “culture of assessment”. The report presents findings of an environmental scan to investigate what motivated student interest in emerging library technologies. Essentially the findings indicate that libraries should not focus too much on Web 2.0 technologies as a means rather than the means to an end and that students still need some “library awareness” to make full use of any medium which pushes information. Some of the technologies may not be needed or effective. Naturally, then, libraries should survey their users to find out what may or may not be useful before adopting a new technology for the sake of keeping up with the trends.

This struck a chord as I have found myself wondering at times whether libraries should be quite so keen in adopting Web 2.0 applications for their users. Some experimentation is fine but often I wonder how useful they are to library users. The generalisations which apply to different generations are just that – generalisations. Not all members of the Y generation are into blogs and instant messaging, for example. This was brought home to me when a friend of my teenage daughter asked me last year what a blog was. She’d never heard of one. I then reflected on the applications my daughter and her friends use. They occasionally use instant messaging and social networking sites and visit Youtube, but they don’t read blogs or Twitter or use RSS aggregators, for example. They may not be typical of her generation but it’s still important to remember not to lump everyone in the same category. Then there are the more mature library users. What do they use or find useful? Libraries surveying their own users is therefore very important.

Char Booth’s excellent and highly relevant report includes a survey template which libraries can use to do a similar environmental scan. Very handy!

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