Thursday, August 30, 2007

Week 10 Thing 23 (Impressions)

I am 62 and definitely one of the older librarians to take on 23 Things. I don’t know if my experience has been uniquely arduous or if there are others of the brittle-bone set who have expanded their vocabulary in more ways than one during this encounter with technology. I do know the experience has been meaningful in ways that are at the same time diverse and ongoing. Let me say first that I am proud to have finished, albeit barely under the wire, on time. The knowledge I gained here and the directions it points to make me more relevant to my times and have given me the skills I need to grow with the requirements of my job as it unfolds.

In terms of the way 23 Things is organized, from the specific to the general, I was at sea until the very end. Some people reason and learn from the specific to the general. Given a tray of diverse and beautiful beads they will choose some that work together and create something integrated and meaningful. These same people are not boggled to learn a mathematical formula and apply it to specific problems without any understanding of how or why it works. Other of us need to see the broad picture before we can make sense of, and remember, the parts. I would have been greatly helped in my acquisition of the web based tour of tools and concepts if I had done items 15 and 19 first. There I could see the scope of things. There was a definition of words and tools. Instead I bungled around with no idea of the significance of what I was doing and that made it hard for me to remember things, even after I’d done them.

Where was it in the 23 Things that the statement was made concerning the necessity for us to let go of our rigidity if we are going to be successful in employing the tools of cyberspace? I forget, but I felt the truth of that statement all through the program. I don’t know how successful I’ve been. I’m trying to open myself up to a dimension of reality that is changing faster than I want to stay glued to a monitor to learn. That’s really the problem.

As I back off and look a bit at my place in time I see that I was born at the moment that the boys at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos were completing their incredibly exciting collaborative scientific brain child on nuclear fusion (or was it fission?) and the US Army was altering the B29 to carry the ‘payload’ to Hiroshima. Some of those guys didn’t really ‘get’ the significance of what was happening through them, to them and around them until it was all over.

Is it really surprising that my generation views cyberspace with as much trepidation and caution as it does excitement? And it is incredibly exciting. And compelling, those possibilities for collaboration, research, sharing of resources, organization of data and play, play, play as my grandson says. I can’t imagine what the span of his life will embrace in terms of changing what it means to live on earth. The first words he could read were ‘on’ and ‘off.’

The truth is that the library has no choice. We must not only embrace the opportunities afforded by the internet, we have to run it. We are in the information business. Cyberspace is our world and we all need to learn to live there with ease. But let’s continue to keep the storefront a great place to be. And don’t throw away that microfilm machine. Until every last little bit of that data, in every little by-water town USA is digitalized, our history and its significant events are not safely preserved for the review of future generations. And it’s not available on the internet. Who’s going to pay for that, I wonder?

And personally, I hope I’m a goner before we’ve been forced to do everything online. I enjoy depositing my money in person at the bank. I like sitting on the sofa surrounded by bills and checkbooks and circulars, watching sit-coms and stuffing the wrong checks into the right envelopes. And I still like cash, thank you very much. I don’t want a world in which everything that I need is dangling by an invisible thread to a screen from which at any time can be displayed the message, “Sorry, your browser can not find the site you’ve requested. Please check your settings and try again.”

I am grateful to have been invited to participate in the 23 Things program and to launch my own cyberspace learning. I’ve become fond of blogging, though it takes time. I expect I will be exploring its application to other aspects of my life as well as the library pertinent stuff. I love the wiki possibilities and, now that I know about them, I will use them. I’ll keep working with the 2.0 in 15 Minutes a Day, though not every day. And the online spread sheets will be useful. The mashups are almost too much fun. Maybe someday I’ll make my own. The RSS feeds are a handy item. I’ll stop talking. I’m launched. Don’t block my radio waves.

Week 10 Thing 16 (Wiki Whata)

What did you find interesting?

The scope of what a wiki can do is. . .what are some synonyms for 'exciting?' I am stimulated, intrigued and challenged. From the simplest use as a forum for brainstorming and planning of a project (and keeping a history of everyone’s contribution) to a ‘place’ where I can go to find, and possibly contribute to, ‘stuff we’re all interested in’ it is a wonderful concept. I liked the idea of it as a sort of ‘my favorites’ that can be created and shared as a group.

What types of applications within libraries might work well with a wiki?

It would have been very helpful in both teams I served on, particularly the Children’s Webpage Team. It would have been helpful when we were brainstorming about ideas for the current Literacy Council Spelling Bee cheerleaders theme. Maybe that's too small and short-lived an application to use a wiki, maybe not.

The idea that I find most appealing is the use of it as a community center where clusters of resources and related places to play can be grouped for public consumption. Used this way I can't see it ever getting 'old.' By it's participatory nature it would stay current and relevant. Such a wiki would be a community builder continually recycling interest to itself and the interests of the participants. Wiki invites added meaning, artful contributions, allows a growing complexity and still keeps order for purposes of consumption, conceivably for both a physical community and the ‘community of interest’ created for anyone who loves to learn.

I thought the St Joseph County Public Library site was fabulous. Just a beginning for them, but what a beginning!

To be able to go to a subject and find all-in-one-place a definition of relevant terms, books on the subject, reviews and staff recommendations, best sellers and new books; online resources for the subject and community resources was a rich experience indeed. I will be following the development of this wiki with interest and I’m already using it to enhance my own reading and to help my aging mother write the memoir she’s been threatening to write for a decade now.

The Bull Run wiki I found to be suggestive of how the whole tone of such a forum is set in just a few words as well as how the site will be received. In a way it was kind of human and endearing to read the comment probably too obvious to need to be said, unless the contributor was under considerable duress and needing to vent, i.e. "If this wiki does not meet with your expectations, please feel free to not use it." So wikis are also a place to vent. . . extrapolate. . .possibly even rant on subjects of mutual concern. Bull Run, however, does not invite participation. Why was I not surprised?

I was grateful to the creators of 2.0 in Fifteen Minutes a Day for the way they organized the information and defined terms. That link I plan on saving to favorites

So what's in a wiki? Everything related to a subject or project or community or field of interest that anyone wants to put there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Week 10 Thing 15 (Library 2.0 and the Future of Libraries)

I read several of the suggested selections because I badly need an overview to make sense of what I've learned so far. Wikiopedia, Library 2.0 offered me the definition of terms I've been wanting as well as an explanation of trends and concepts that I've noticed in Commerce and the library for some time and wondered, 'Where are we going?' A Temporary Place in Time offers a peek into a future of library possibilities that seem to offer all the best of 'place' and 'virtual.' The place we wish we'd had and never could have afforded and the sensory enhanced world of knowledge and knowledge of the world by 'virtual' experience.

The discussion of long tails as a business model I found inspirational in counteracting the alarm I feel in Blockbusters when I see the number of video choices shrinking and the number of copies of current movies blooming like flowers in "Little Shop of Horrors" (an interesting movie no longer available there, by the way), usually in horrible fangy, blood dripping, psycho-sexual crazed glory. And I'm sad and frustrated because, where oh where are there good movies to choose from? I've seen all the ones in the library. Answer, I'm looking at short tail marketing. But I am cheered because marketing experiments have discovered a way to meet the less popular demands of the many.

I understand I'm looking at a warehousing and transportation high overhead marketing choice when I stand in Blockbusters and that Netflix, with their all-in-one-place storage offers me an online option for ordering almost any movie from the past I'd want to see. For a monthly fee. Netflix finds patrons galore for their 'deeper' collection. Long Tail.

It is clear that libraries have the same space vrs interest problems and that Library 2.o offers and that even for just this one problem, OPAC systems, especially visual OPAC, offers the solution. The recent move to a 'shared collection' was just a drop in the bucket. Information sharing, resource sharing, is the only way libraries could possibly keep up with the explosion of information dawning in our time. I get it.

As we struggle to provide ways to channel the exponentially exploding amount of information to patrons, it is apparently just as important to get information about patron use and preferences and ideas back into the hands of system makers who are ever-revising vehicles to meet needs.
More than ever we need to know, to be able to determine how data relates, how it was gathered and what impact that has on what we are being presented. I guess there are vehicles for this discrimination process as well. The librarian of the future will have to be very knowledgeable in these areas if she/he is to do a credible job. And that begs the question, "how will librarians of the future be trained? How can public funds possibly pay them what they're worth? Are we to judge the excellence of the help provided us by the happy many or will we use the long tail model for those many but diverse calls for truly accurate, verifiable data? What about first sources? Who will warehouse all the copies of everything that is needed? Which interpreter will be chosen for the audio or visual component of searches and how might that slant the user's preferences or understanding? What happens when the power goes off? Where does the information we live by go? "Information garbled, try again," "the server has temporarily been int erupted," "that page is no longer available", "your password has been denied", "sorry, that data is virtually unavailable."

Sorry, this is the old person talking and I know rigidity has no place in 2.0 thinking, but I'm not the only person to see that dependence on a monoculture is an invitation to disaster, whether it is lost genetic material for crops or having all our information on how to do everything floating on a wave nowhere special.

I did like hearing that Library 4.0 will absorb, not replace, the early models of library as 'place' and books at books as 'physically tangible printed and bound items that smell and sometimes taste (were one inclined to lick them) of the last user that can be held in the hand, read in bed and read unconnected." The details on that absorption process are a little unclear.

Well, if you are an amoeba and living in two dimensions and one day evolve the capacity to perceive the third dimension, then you are living in it. You have no choice. Cyberspace having been created as almost as another dimension poses the same non-question to humans. We can't not live there. And yes, the idea, library 4.0, the 'pampered experience with information,' and all the ways of accessing the formerly inaccessible sounds so good. I'm sure I'll be there, as always, soaking it up. But I'm not throwing away my books.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Week 10 Thing 18 (Online Productivity)

I registered at both Zoho and GoogleDocs and poked around some on both sites. At GoogleDocs I started a basic spreadsheet of contacts for my business Alesia Art Glass which I saved to store online. This will allow me to employ assistance in marketing and mailings and contacting people via the web. I allowed the document to be shared and edited by my collaborator and erstwhile assistant.

At Zoho I saved a template for bill of sale for an automobile, since I have taken upon myself the responsibility of selling my mother's Honda Accord by private sale. I enjoyed looking at the possibilities of other templates.

I did not export anything or post to my blog but I hope to revisit this option later. I plan on keeping my blog alive.

Week 10 Thing 17 (Sandbox)

This is my first hands-on experience with Wikis. I was happy to add my blog to the favorites list. It is a long list. Thank you Craig for the lovely large font. If I couldn't find this, I'd have been blind.

I hope to add more content to this later, as time permits.

Getting more Dazed than Amazed at this point

Week 10 Thing (Overdrive)

I would love to be able to download audiobooks directly onto my own ipod. Someday I will get a satellite connection which will allow me to use this option from home. I went to Overdrive so I could become more familiar with it. I can see that the TV will someday be replaced with a computer. And I will likely be watching videos from it that I downloaded free from Overdrive or some other net library.

Yes, I found a movie title I would like to see: Childhood of Maxim Gorky byAleksei Lyarsky.

Week 10 Thing 19 (Award Winning Web 2.0)

These sites would be worth the time to explore in greater depth. I was thrilled to find an RSS feed that would show at a click from my blog the current theatre and art events in Baltimore and surrounds.

See my Blogfeeds.