Friday, August 24, 2007

Before I Go

I would like to share two completely Random Thoughts.
Overheard the other evening at the Library : "premeditated reading".
And, as always, "Inertia is Over-Rated".
See ya.

Last Three Things!

Time has gone by ever so quickly (as usual) and I am finding it hard to believe I have come to end of the 23 things. I am going to have to consider whether I will continue with this blog or not, and whether I will assign my real name to it. Hmmm. On va voir. First off, on with the Things.
Although Thing 18 directed me to look at things like word processing and spreadsheets (yawn) , you know me well enough by now to know I will do the assignment, but perhaps also take it off in my own direction (if not madly off in all directions). I am a firm believer in the play element of all learning (Enneagrammly I am a 7, quelle surprise, eh?) and it is through 'playing' around on the web that I have discovered the coolest things, which have become important aspects of my daily life. Out looking for other online productivity tools, I happened upon net vibes, which at first glance here looks really interesting. I will keep playing with that one and see what I think of it once I have spent some time with it. (It tells me it will be 100F here tomorrow - maybe I did not want to know that...) Also, there is Dreaminder - what a neat idea. Huh. I may not use it, but it is making me smile. That has to count for something in its favor. I am in the midst of exploring Pandora as I type, so I will let you know how it does.
I am still delighted and frequently amazed by the creative engineering of people out there. I am feeling very hopeful for the future of this 2.0 stuff this morning, although I still have my reservations, of course.
Onto the awards list. I have explored this before, and found the best games sites (another surprise there), so rather than going down that road again, let me see whether I can find an award winner that might be more productive.
(BTW, Pandora so far is great... and it is also the first place winner in the music category, I can hear why!)
Productive (well, in a way): at my next party, I could use Cocktail Builder - first place winner in the fun stuff category. (now I know how to make a blue blazer - that would totally be some party too, since it involves setting alight the whiskey... step one, disengage the smoke detector... hmmm).
Now, Healia is actually really good and quite useful as well. MedlinePlus rocks: authoritative source, nicely arranged search results. This is very good!
Facebook has become one of my favorite Things I have learned about as a result of this tutorial (with some urgings from my friends). I had way too much fun creating my Simpsons Me avatar yesterday! I quite prefer her with her (plum) hair down. (I miss my wild plum hair - when I am feeling particularly brave I will do that again).
And (once I have the $$) I have found my next tee-shirt on Threadless (retail winner) - have a peek at Pense Pas Bete - way too cool).
As you may be able to tell from this post thus far, I am not in such a contemplative mood this morning. Although, I have taken a couple of temperment/personality tests/quizzes recently and the prayer style quiz has me as moderately contemplative. The other has me as, in a general description of my overall approach to life, a Benevolent Creator. Yep, both are pretty accurate. (Anyone out there care to comment??) So, I am not sure what thoughts on this tutorial will be, and how I will share them, but it must be pretty clear that I have learned a lot about some hip new things, may of which I will actually continue to use once this is over today (and many of which I will not myself ever need, but which I now know more about than I did a few weeks ago, so it is all good). And that, ultimately, was the point, I think.
So, "Does Web 2.0 represent a major conceptual or paradigm shift in how we conceive and make use of the Internet as a means of delivering teaching and learning?" yes. But the essential elements of learning and indeed teaching must remain the same, just the method of imparting it all may be changing, but only maybe. Distance ed has allowed so many people who would not have access to more traditional methods of classroom lectures to have the ability to partake in higher education. I am all for it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Six more things

are what I have left to do. I will get to them, for sure, although I think not in order. Let me take three of them now (15, 21, and 22).
Let me take the downloadable audio books first. I like the idea, and it works wonderfully for one of my co-workers, who listens all the time, which is great. I have an ipod (which you know from one of my previous posts), which is not compatible with either overdrive or netlibrary. But that is okay. I do often listen to recorded books in the car, but I am very particular about the ones I am willing to spend so much time with. The narrator makes all the difference! There are so many cds I have popped in, so eagerly awaiting to hear the story, only to discover that there is no way I can spend 15 cds' worth of time alone in my car with that voice. I prefer to use my ipod for music and podcasts. I have many favorite sites right now for locating podcasts (itunes, of course, as well as my favorite news and music sites), and according to my itunes I have like weeks of listening to do to get through all of it. No problem, except that, of course, new things come every day. I have learned a great deal about the technology, which really has gotten so much easier to understand and to use since I first started with it. There is also just an awful lot more out there now, which was not there a couple of years ago when I got my ipod. I used to have trouble even finding podcasts I wanted to listen to; they were all about technology and stuff, which is interesting but not as a constant listening diet. Now, almost every website I tend to visit (for news like the BBC, the CBC, NPR, even the ALA) has either (or frequently both) an RSS feed or a podcast to subscribe to. This is great! I have discovered so many terrific things out there, and I know that all the time there is more to be discovered. I particularly like new music (like CBC Radio 3) and news from international news organisations. Getting a different perspective on things is important to me. As I write this I am listening through itunes to a news podcast about a shooting that occurred in downtown Vancouver. The world is not as big a place as it once was.
Although I do watch it every evening I am at home at that time, I think Neil Postman was right about the evening news. I am still considering some of his perspectives on the future of technology. I do not agree with all of his dire predictions about how we will will become used by instead of users of the new technologies, but there is something that rings quite true about "[We have had a] rapid emergency of an all-instant society: instant therapy, instant religion, instant food, instant friends, even instant reading. Instancy is one of the main teachings of our present information environment. Constancy is one of the main teachings of civilization." (Teaching as a Conserving Activity (1979), p. 76) I need to consider further whether the public library ought to be the one cultural heritage organisation that works to maintain that constancy. There needs to be a way for us to pursue the new technologies and to provide free access to them, especially to those citizens we serve who may not have such access, as a result of economic situations, or either perceived or actual disabilities, while at the same time, work very hard to preserved the printed word and the whole concept of a civilised society. (I know if you came into the public library where I work some evenings and witnessed the neighborhood youths' engaging with the new technology and with one another, you might not think we had anything to do with a civilised society at all, but that may only further our need to do just that. There has to be someplace that does, or it will be lost forever, right?
I will climb down off my soapbox now, and get ready to go to work. Three more things to do on Friday!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Little Behind

is what I am, so I will try to do some catching up with the nine (of 23) things still awaiting me.
I have to say that my delay in getting to these has not been for lack of interest, or time, or even in not having done the work (I am, I have had, and I even have done). Oddly enough for me, it has been solely because I have not felt like writing anything. I do not know quite what the issue here is - I am not often feeling so incapable of talking with someone (no matter what the chosen medium) whether in person or via blog. I know my far-away friends must thing I have either completely forgotten them or have decided to not talk with them any longer - not the case! Just feeling a little like keeping to myself (not very like me, I know!) lately.
Anyway, is up first, isn't it?
Once again, this is an interesting concept, and kind of cool to see what other people are into, and have found useful, but I am not sure whether this will be something I will be employing once this tutorial is finished. Perhaps it is a symptom of my malaise of late, but I do not necessarily need to share my bookmarks with the world. Although, I do think it makes cataloguers out of everyone, in a way. Is there something about the need to catagorise the world around us? Assigning tags is like using subject headings, isn't it, only without the controlled vocabulary or the subject hierarchy? I do think this whole idea taps into some need for people to make some orgnisational sense of the world around them. (Yes, Professor Leide, I know there are two kinds of people in the world, but there is also a tiny little bit of Party Girl in everybody who uses social bookmarking, whether they are aware of it or not is another thing....)
Moving on, to a related sort of thing, just taken one step further: wikis. These, for me, are quintessential web 2.0 : collaborative, democratic, and open to vandalism. Everyone gets to share his/her 'knowledge' (or whatever) with everyone else, which is cool. They create something entirely new out of the mixture of a variety of contributions and perspectives, and they allow virtually anyone to contribute to that new creation (whether their intentions are noble or not). Again, I say, this is the essence for me of the whole web 2.0 phenomenon. All we can hope is that the necessity of critical reading and source evaluation are emphasized as the use of such sites become more and more commonplace. The Creative Common License concept (as I understand it, you can share, remix, and use the information for non-commercial purposes as long as yu attribute where you got the stuff) is great, though: another element for me the essential 2.0. It has the potential to make the user the creator (and the reverse as well).
So, to bring it back home, library wikis could be quite useful, both to be used among the library staff community (to share best practices, programming ideas, knowledge gained by experience, etc.) as well as with the public (to keep them informed on what is going on at their library, what is new for the system, that sort of thing). Sharing in the creation of the community makes one a vital part of it.
I have entered something about a few of my favorite books in the Sandbox, so I think it is time for lunch now.
"I go to school, I write exams, / if I pass, if I fail, if I drop out,
does anyone give a damn?
And if they do, they'll soon forget 'cause it won't take much for me / to show my life ain't over yet.
I wake up scared, I wake up strange. / I wake up wondering if anything in my life is ever going to change.
I wake up scared, I wake up strange / and everything around me stays the same." Barenaked Ladies

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The next few things

I had a look at Rollyo and while I can understand and appreciate the idea of it, I know that it will never replace Google, either in the world at large or in my tiny little part of it. I like the idea especially that one can limit by 'reference' sites, since is that not the first thing one needs to learn when using a search engine - how to sort the possibly credible information from the less possibly? Information literacy, man. Limiting by .edu or .info or whatever is a step in that direction (but again you can do that in Google already, eh?)
My first venture into technorati began this morning as I was led there by a click from a cbc news article (Tim Hortons are raising their coffee prices in some parts of Canada, btw). Very interesting (not the coffee prices, although what I would not give for a lovely coffee and maple doughnut about now.... cue Homer Simpson 'hmm, doughnuts...) stuff I got into, too. Of course, those of you who work with me every day know far too much, I feel, about the so-called Gord-mania of recent weeks (well, I have had I think one maybe even two Gord-free posts here, you knew he would be making a return appearance sometime soon, didn't you?) so (to quote Sam Roberts, in speaking of a different Gordon (Lightfoot) though) : 'when all else fails, go with the Gord'. So, that was my second (yes, second) technorati search. And it did yield some interesting results, and many nice moments of listening have been spent by me this afternoon as a result.
My first search was (really) library 2.0 blogs, just to see what and whose I might get. Some very interesting discussions are going on out there - I like the idea one blogger had of setting up a small chat thing where participants from her library system could get together once the 23 things had been completed. And I was happy to read that I am not the only one feeling a little bit overwhelmed in some respects by all of this. Well, and underwhelmed as well, there is a dichotomy there, in all honesty. I, as I have written earlier, feel like each of these things might be just One More Thing, you know, but I have been reflecting on some of this and perhaps a more constructive approach is that, although I have learned about a few new and nice (not necessarily hip) things over the past few weeks, I do not need to incorporate all of them into my life. I can pick and choose the ones that work for me and leave behind the ones that do not. As much as I do kinda dig this stuff, techno-girl I will never be. People I know now are perhaps surprised when I tell them I was like the least techy person in my library school class - it is true. And I am fine with that- but I still like to know what is out there and how it can benefit best my life and my provision of good customer service, so I will carry on with the next few weeks, and see what I am feeling when I get to the end of Things 22 and 23.

"Black day in July /Black day in July
The streets of Motor City now are quiet and serene
But the shapes of gutted buildings /Strike terror to the heart
And you say how did it happen / And you say how did it start
Why can't we all be brothers / Why can't we live in peace
But the hands of the have-nots / Keep falling out of reach" Gordon Lightfoot

Friday, July 6, 2007

First week of July

Have been busy with many other things this week, and now it is Friday and I am working my way through the next several things on the 23 things list. I have created my Bloglines newsreader account - very interesting. I have selected all of the news sites I usually read - yes, having them all in one easily-accessible place makes it easier than going to each site in turn, I suppose. Now, all I need to do is remember to go to the bloglines site! I know a couple of news junkies who use this with glee. I can see why. I think I will need to spend some more time with it and customise it a bit more. Of course, in the midst of my news-seeking, I found lots and lots that is library-related, but since I am supposed to be on holiday this week, I will keep my news (as much as I can, it is actually rather difficult) library-free. (Ah, who am I kidding - I know I will be reading the American Libraries as soon as it comes into my inbox. Sigh. I think this makes me a total library geek.)

Anyway, the online image generators have been kinda fun, and really just like kinda. The few I have enjoyed : the graffiti generator was cool (Degrassi is a font style!) and so was making a 3D snowflake (try it - you will see). And seeing what my name looks like in manga-style Japanese.

Well, I have just gone to Library Thing and had a peek around. It sounds like it could be fun and all of that. Again, it is also kinda just one more thing to do, you know? I am also not sure just how much info about me I want to put out there into cyberland. I understand the need to connect and to share and all of that, and yet there is something about me that I also feel ought to be private. I am considering whether I want to put just the current stuff I am reading, whether I like it or not, or just to stick to the books I know and love. I have added to 'my library' just a few titles that I know and love, and there is one person with whom I share two books, and they are not the two books of poetry I have in there, either, oddly enough. However, to refer to a previous thought, they may both have free spirits as their creators.

There is no way that I could ever enter all of the books I own (those of you who have been to my home - you know what I am talking about!) so I will need to see how best I can use this site, if indeed at all. I have just recently joined facebook (at the insistence of a good friend of mine who now lives in Australia), and I am also not quite sure how I am going to get into that. I will need to spend some more time poking about and pondering what is going on with all of this, and see whether I can find a place for me in it, and perhaps realising that it will be okay if there isn't.
"Ah we can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind
Cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance
Well they're are no friends of mine
I say, we can go where we want to, a place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind,
And we can dance" Men without Hats

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Technology, eh?

Hmm, anything technology is the topic of the day/week/whatever. Where to begin? I remember thinking once when I was younger (and had fewer possession as well) that my favorite things were my electric tea kettle and my hot water bottle. I think this tells me many things about myself - including the fact that I was living in a colder climate than where I am now! Also, that I enjoy drinking warm beverages and having warm toes. Probably not too revealing, but still very true.
Now, I suppose this post ought to be more newer-technology related things, not like central heating, the television, the dvd player, the microwave, and the refrigerator (of which I am a very a big fan - all of them). Technology of this sort is wonderful! I was chatting with someone last weekend about what it must have been like for women living in the DC area in the years before A/C. (Not to mention the amount of clothing those poor women would have been wearing as well!) Every one of these things would have been a techy advancement in its day. I wonder what we will find to be completely indispensable in a few years from now.
All that said, I love my photo ipod, my notebook computer, and really want an Internet radio receiver. I use my flash drive every day and do not know what I would do without the internet in my life.
"Minds are like parachutes; they only function when open"
Thomas R. Dewar
(In my Grade 10 English class, our wonderful teacher Mr Herlihy, had a Salada tea bag assignment. We had to write an essay on the quote on the tea bag we each got. This was my tea bag. I still quite like it!)