Archive for August, 2010

Fallen at the final wordle…

Sorry, couldn’t resist!


So long and thanks for all the fish

The final post! (well nearly – I’m saving my wordle for last). Time for a bit more reflection methinks:

In my first post I wrote that my hope for the outcome of the  Cam23 project was that “I will have marshalled some convincing arguments in support (or otherwise) of web 2.0”. And now we’re at the end I hear you ask? Mission accomplished 🙂 and I have to say (much to my surprise) that most of my arguments are Pro web 2.0, not against. Obviously not everything I’ve tried has been to my taste, but there has been nothing on the course that I would dismiss out-of-hand. To have tried the Things and come to a balanced conclusion about whether they’re useful to me now/in the future/not at all is very satisfying – and to have tried them thoroughly enought to be able to recommend them to others, regardless of my own opinion of them, is a win-win situation.

Here’s a brief run-down of what I’ve found useful:

  • iGoogle has made it into everyday life, along with Google Reader and RSS feeds
  • Facebook I already used in a personal capacity, but I’ve becom more aware of it as a tool for reaching out to users
  • Doodle I’ll use as and when I need it
  • Flickr has already proved very useful, and I may even set up a personal account on there one day
  • Creative Commons is a great idea
  • GoogleDocs for accessible-anywhere work

Here’s some Things I’ll keep in mind for the future:

  • Delicious I might revert to when my bookmarks dropdown menu becomes so large it obscures my screen
  • LibraryThing I might delve back into at some point, but it’s ended up as one of those gimmicks that I’m enthusiastic about for 5 minutes and then forget about
  • LinkedIn, for when I’m feeling a bit more professional!
  • Zotero, definitely for recommending to users and for my library course
  • Wikis for collaborative projects
  • Blogging, to keep users abreast of events, interesting snippets of information and generally to give our wonderful library a bit more of an online presence
  • Podcasts (but mainly for personal use)

and some Things I don’t think I’ll be using again (but you never know):

  • Twitter – I can see the point, it’s just not for me
  • Slideshare – I found this the least engaging of all the Things
  • YouTube – not in a professionalt capacity, and hardly ever personally

At the end of the programme I’m a lot less intimidated by web2.0, trying out new things, and making my own mind up about what’s useful and what isn’t. Whether we like it or not, social networking is here to stay and we should use it to our advantage as much as we can, but never to the detriment of the face-to-face service we provide for our users. All the resources we’ve discovered over the last 12 weeks should enrich the service we provide, not forgetting that librarians can often be the most useful resource of all.

Wikis and light at the end of the tunnel

Before this Thing I had absolutely no experience of Wikis whatsoever. I’d heard of them, but I’m not sure I could have given a succinct definition of what one was. Happily, this situation has now been rectified and they appear on first investigation to be very useful things.

As many of the Cam23 bloggers have already said, they look to be great for collaborative projects where information needs to be available and editable by many different people in diverse locations. The excellent and obvious example of how useful they can be is currently being demonstrated by the TeachMeet team.

External projects aside, wikis can be usefully employed for all sorts of things – a staff intranetty type thing is one that springs to mind, where you could incoporate departmental announcements, calendars, training plans and logs, and any other useful documentation that you want to be contributed to and available to all staff.

I’ve got one particular project on the go at the moment where several members of staff are working on various bits at various times, and a wiki would be an excellent way of co-ordinating our working practices and charting our progress – could be a great start to my Wiki career!

Obviously a careful eye has to be kept on contributions and edits of available information – a problem that has plagued Wikipedia from the start, but current Wiki software appears to offer quick and easy control over this, and so as long as you keep on top of things there is no reason why this should become a problem.

15 minutes of fame

Podcasting. I have to admit I got a bit stuck on this one – I decided to leave it until ‘after I’d returned from holiday’ and since then I’ve been procrastinating and putting off doing my homework (never do today that which can be left until tomorrow – that’s my motto!). HOWEVER! I have now done it (and it wasn’t as painful as I thought) and will attempt to collect some semi-sensible thoughts on the uses, or otherwise, of podcasting.

Sandy ToksvigI’ve never really used podcasts before – I mean, I’ve been aware of them for ages and keep thinking to myself every time I miss an episode of The News Quiz ”I really should sign up for their podcasts’, but somehow never get round to it. I wouldn’t necessarily  search out media on specific subjects, there are things I like to listen to but if I haven’t made the effort to catch up on iPlayer then the chances it wasn’t that important to me anyway and it’s no great loss. That being said – I do use the BBC’s iPlayer regularly, and I have been known to watch the odd TED talk now and again (I would particularly recommend Maz Jobrani’s Did you hear the one about the Iranian-American? and Alain de Botton’s Kinder, gentler philosophy of success).

Personal use aside, I think I’d have to class podcasts in the ‘gimmick-nonessential’ group of Things. If you have enough time on your hands, and the final product looks really good, then a podcast could be a real asset to your library website. But if you and your staff are pushed for time then there are 101 other directions in which your time could be better spent (ok, maybe 101 is an exaggeration). I do, however, have to confess to aspiring to Ninja Librarian status – which Library School teaches that, I wonder?

JISC has some podcasts on interesting professional topics, such as the Future of Libraries and Library spaces for the ‘Google Generation‘, but I’m not sure I agree with the use of Podcasting for library tours etc. Yes, they would be useful as a ‘quick reference’ tool, but nothing to replace face-to-face contact with users (which I think we should be encouraging more of).

To summarise, then: Podcasting seems to be an engaging way of disseminating information to users and information professionals alike, but for your ‘average library’ (whatever one of them may be) it’s probably only the icing on the cake – much better to get the actual cake sorted out first 🙂

Google Docs

You can tell that Cam23 apathy is starting to set because I am no longer able to think up silly titles to do with the Things we are supposed to be exploring. That being said, Thing 20 was easy-peasy-lemon-sqeezy 🙂 I have had a little bit of experience using Google Docs before, mainly for organising training timetables and sharing training plans for coming weeks, and also as a useful place to back stuff up, but I’d never tried the process of creating the document and sharing it.

I decided to create a little drawing and share it with a couple of colleagues – the drawing document type is very similar to ‘paint’ in that you can paste in a [cc licsensed] photo and draw silly things on it. This done, it was a simple (or so I thought) process to add their addresses to the ‘share with’ box and all’s done an dusted. In reality, if you have more than one email address for the intended target you need to make sure it’s the one they use to log in to their Google account with, otherwise they can’t get to it. You do have the option of sending them a link in an email that wil allow them access, but I haven’t always found this reliable and it works on the assumption that they’ll always be able to follow that link. Girl in the Moon, in the spirit of exploring things thoroughly, took the opportunity to edit the drawing, and that worked fine.

All in all, Google Docs is an excellent and simple way to work collaboratively on projects and library documents. I’m not so sure that it lends itself to sharing information with users, as I think there are more elegant and suitable ways to do this, but for staff document sharing it’s great – especially as it makes location no object at all and can be used from anywhere. Usual proviso of everyone needing an account for it to work well, and Google taking over the world blah, blah blah…