Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Week Eight of 23 Things

I could spend another couple months exploring the winners of the Web 2.0 awards, and I feel a certain amount of professional obligation to at least continue to enhance my grasp on this nebulous world. So far, I've looked at about 8 of them pretty closely, and there were some with which I was already acquainted to various degrees. Picking a favorite would be like choosing among many good fruits -- the season and the mood do count! Practically speaking, to which ones am I most likely to return?

Zillow, for real estate -- house hunting, etc. -- is one I might well recommend.

Farecast, for travel planning and fare comparisons -- again I would recommend.

Already I use Google Maps frequently. PeerTrainer has potential. And I was quite intrigued with Picasa and even Meebo, for personal reasons. Now I have to get out of my blog and keep exploring...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Week Seven of 23 Things

(photo courtesy casual chin from flickr - inspired by favorite foods list)
I find it immensely interesting how the collaborative shift, that release of ownership and control over the content and form, invites a new dimension into information sharing practices. What does that say about us? I am reminded of several images from my past. . .

-In library school we learned first thing in reference class that the primary avenue people select when they wish to gain information is ask somebody close at hand.

Because we are lazy and we don't care about getting a right answer? Because we're social and we love the excuse to connect with another human being? Because we are more interested deep down in another person's opinion than in an authoritative response? Of course it depends on the question, and of course we don't always opt for the path of least resistance, but wikis remind me of this. They are social by nature. They rely on a group of people both interested and trusting of each other's contributions. They may be highly monitored and authoritative, but they clearly aren't the first choice of tool for the control freaks among us. They evolve through common interest, common connections, shared purpose and an inherent respect and desire to seek out other people's experiences. Their existence says something really nice about people.

-Another memory, farther back, elementary school maybe, middle school for sure: group project time. You've been there. Did you groan? Were you the one who did all the work when the group got the credit? Did you suffer when another person dropped the ball? Did you turn into a screeching mini-dictator and try to run the show, or did you just kinda go with the flow and detach yourself? No one ever told me out loud that the group project was its own lesson. Having nothing to do with learning the imports and exports of South American countries, the group project's real agenda was learning the imports and exports of your peers' efforts to be social and to achieve something for the common cause.

Wikis remind me a little of this, and I cringe at the image of someone posting to a wiki and being corrected or erased and posting back again stubbornly as if in a school yard power struggle. Okay, we're grown ups now, and most of us are beyond this, but the memory surfaced nonetheless. The real difference here is that Wikis allow for self selection. (The teacher seldom let us pick our groupmates or topic.) Nobody has to play in the Wiki sandbox if they don't want to! Hmmm. So actually, I didn't. I explored. I read. I learned. I could if I wanted to. But I don't. So don't look for me or my links or my favorites in the Sandbox Wiki. But I will say I enjoyed reading happy people's vacation favorites!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Week Six of 23 Things

CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO if you didn't already: The Machine is Us/ing Us

It's way too soon for me to say much about an emerging concept about which I know so little, but a few thoughts crossed my mind while I was reading about Library 2.0.

"With information and ideas flowing in both directions -- from the library to the user and from the user to the library -- library services have the ability to evolve and improve on a constant and rapid basis. The user is participant, co-creator, builder and consultant -- whether the product is virtual or physical." - from the Wikipedia Overview

  • what else evolves constantly and rapidly? is evolving the same as improving? on what can a patron depend depend in a constantly changing library environment? who is defining this core service?
  • when the user is co-creator and builder and consultant and participant, who defines the goals, the boundaries and the measures of success? why do I feel like trying to grasp this concept in practical reality is like trying to stretch slime across a building frame to make a shelter?

Probably I'm reacting to the overwhelming broadness of the descriptions of Library 2.0 in the reading. When a new concept is being promulgated, the proponents can try too hard not to leave anything out. Academic, special interest and public libraries are already different from each other. That's okay. Might they become even more different? That would be okay too.

Great images from the reading...

from Wendy Shultz

  • "convocations of people, ideas, and artifacts in dynamic exchange...libraries are communities." sounds so cool, what does it mean?
  • "a rising ladder of value progressing from commodity to product to service to experience...superimposed on the Library 2.0 debate." so, what is the experience public libraries want to provide?

from Rick Anderson

  • "In fact, it may no longer make sense to 'collect' in the traditional sense at all." totally close to home -- this paradigm shift can take us places!
  • "We need to focus our efforts not on teaching research skills but on eliminating the barriers that exist between patrons and the information they need..." yes, yes, yes -- and what do they need that they can't get for themselves??? over and over we have to ask who we are serving and why will they come to us instead of their own home computers, a bookstore, an internet cafe? we aren't in competition if we're providing essential service that elsewhere is not so accessible.
  • "it can be equally disastrous when a profession fails to acknowledge and adapt to radical fundamental change in the marketplace it serves." go training! go planning! go research! expect change!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Week Five of 23 Things

I played with the sketch generator. Clearly there are a lot of possibilities for play out there. Along with teaching our children how to have all kinds of fun generating images that aren’t quite true, I hope we are teaching them to apply some critical thinking to evaluating the images they see. It’s an amazing world of possibilities out there – there are more choices every day. What runs deep is the need to know how to choose. Every time we choose for one thing, we are choosing against so much more than ever before.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Week Four of 23 Things

RSS FEEDS - making your life simpler...

Well, yes and no. My experience with this via the 23 things instruction and activity tells me that RSS is a great tool for the disciplined, organized and efficient internet lover who knows what he or she wants. With this tool, those who know the frequent uses they wish to make of their web wanderings will have their tasks boxed and filed and at the ready on command. And if all those web-wanderings are job sanctioned necessary trips, more power to the RSS user!

For some of the others of us, however, here are an extra few steps to complicate an already busy and overwhelmed tangling of internet v. real life struggles that play out every day.

  • Which sites are worthy to be added?
  • How deep is my commitment to this one? If I put it on RSS, will I feel guilty if I ignore it?
  • Wait a minute, who's in charge here -- me or the internet? me or my addiction to web wandering?
  • How many RSS feeds is too many? Whoa, if I have that many RSS feeds, I need to face how much time I'm really spending on the internet! I thought I just popped into a few spots now and then. I thought I was really working most of the time, not goofing off.

An athlete -- no matter what the sport, no matter what muscles are most in play in the execution of his or her athletic endeavor -- an athlete must have a strong core. That is foundational.

We would do well to have a strong foundation in the ways we choose to order and spend our time, but how many of us do? It is hard to remember that the technology is supposed to serve us, and that we are not supposed to become ensnared by the technology and distracted from our original mission.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Week Three of 23 Things

Exploring Flickr is the task stretching my mind this week. I am left with many impressions --

1. so many people are willing to share their talent freely and generously, whether their photos, their software development, their creative ideas for photo use -- what an excellent community of technological scholarship!

2. the evolution of photo preservation and sharing has come a long way from the boxed stack of photos or slides in grandma's attic -- what does that mean for photo taking now? more, more, more photos that are more, more, more available

3. privacy? fame? invisibility? security?-- the tension grows increasingly taut
  • a man once called himself a name, lived on his land, knew a few people and died -- he had privacy, whether he wanted it or not
  • increasing numbers of people called themselves the names they were given, lived on less land, depended on more people, wrestled with choices, and they died too -- they valued privacy, if they thought about it -- why?
  • populations exploded with people who have been numbered as well as named, who are intricately entwined in the fabric of a complex and extremely interdependent society, who are constantly defining the boundaries of their lives through personal social choices and technologically determined choices, and they will die too -- do they want privacy anymore, immersed in a bigger and bigger world? or does privacy make them feel invisible? does publicity make them feel validated? and have we developed a whole new dynamic with our options for public anonymity??

4. finally, there are only so many hours in a day -- that hasn't changed

  • hobbies: quilting, baking, golf, gaming, watching television, photography, surfing the net -- everyone chooses, and most never consider what they haven't chosen
  • we do what we enjoy, what passes our time the best way for us, whether that's writing software to share photos; recording lives with a camera and preserving our visual record; observing others' lives through online viewing options, reading books or magazines, or maybe watching movies or tv dramas -- some of us enjoy reflection ;)
  • who has time to explore it all, master it all, keep up with it all? no one -- and that's totally okay, too, isn't it?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Week Two of 23 Things

Reflections on the lifelong learner's 7.5 habits...

#4 Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner.

Where does confidence come from? It comes from success. It comes from achievement. It doesn't come out of smoke and mirrors or kind white lies. If you want to have confidence, go out and do something well. Then do something else well. Tally up what you've done well and figure out why you've done it well -- what were the steps for your success. Then have confidence in your process, in your strategy, in your plan.

#6 Use technology to your advantage.

Technology is to serve humanity. Not to replace it. Not to devalue it. Not to separate us from one another or to excuse us from becoming fully human. It is a tool that can be used for achieving goals that have existed long before itself and goals that will remain in the face of every technological failure possible. Know your goals, know what is advantageous to you. And then you can have fun with technology.