thing 19: best of web 2.0

This assignment asks us to look at the Web 2.0 Awards and pick a site/tool to play with. I looked at both this year’s and last year’s lists and couldn’t find anything that interested me that I hadn’t already tried or am using on a regular basis. I guess that’s one of the benefits (hazards?) of having a lot of twopointopian friends — I may not be on the bleeding edge of shiny new technology, but I can at least see the contrails.

thing 18: web applications

It has been a while since I seriously looked at Zoho Writer, preferring Google Docs mainly for the convenience (I always have Gmail open in a tab, so it’s easy to one-click open Google Docs from there). Zoho Writer seems to have more editing and layout tools, or at least, displays them more like MS Word.

I have been dabbling with web applications like document editors and spreadsheet creators mostly because I don’t like the ones that I purchased with my iMac. I probably would like the Mac versions more if I were more familiar with their quirks, but I’m so used to Microsoft Office products that remembering what I can and can’t do in the Mac environment is too frustrating. While Google Docs isn’t quite the same as Microsoft Office, it’s more-so than iWork ’08.

Playing with Zoho Writer, however, reminded me that I need to work around my Google bias. Particularly since the Zoho products seem to have the productivity functions that make my life easier.

thing 17: UR wikis

At my library, we have a couple of wikis set up. One is basically a transfer of our main service desk manual from paper to online, and the other is Boatipedia, our FAQ. I agree with Carol in that the format works well for our manual, and I also agree with her that I’m not entirely sold on the idea of a FAQ in wiki format, unless the intent is more for the ease of allowing many authorized users to edit it. As Carol puts it, “we really don’t want anyone to be able to go in and change content — do we?”

As for other uses for an internal wiki… I could see myself using a wiki to organize information about our electronic resources, licenses, and contacts. Being able to search across pages to find information and the ability to have input from each of the individuals involved in the process would both be pluses for the format over more traditional paper files and email archives. However, we have paid for a tool specifically designed to do that, which also interfaces with the public side of linking users to the resources, so it wouldn’t make sense to use a wiki instead of or in addition to that tool.

thing 16: wikis

One thing I have learned from participating in several wiki projects — from Wikipedia to my libraries’ FAQ/Policies wikis — is that it takes a lot of work to populate and maintain a useful wiki. One of my favorite uses of a wiki is Whole Wheat Radio (which seems to have disappeared recently).

The streaming radio station out of Talkeenta, Alaska, switched over to using a wiki to maintain information about the artists played and available albums/tracks. Users could contribute as much information as they wanted to. For a while, I was addicted to adding content to it. Part of why I haven’t listened much in the past few months is because I would easily spend an hour or two adding data to the site every time I turned on the stream.

If the site ever comes back, I recommend you check it out. Aside from the wiki aspect, anyone can play DJ and pick the songs they want to have broadcast. Pretty cool!

side note: It appears that the music, at least, is still streaming.

thing 15: library/web 2.0

Librarians should be on the forefront of providing information services to users, but for some reason, we have a sizable contingent who seem to think that the innovations of the 70s and 80s are good enough for now. They’re the ones most often reacting negatively to anyone who mentions anything Library 2.0.

Anytime someone mentions some new web tool or gadget, and you think or say, “We don’t need that in our library!” or “What would you want to use that for?” stop for a moment. Do you use a computer in your daily library work? Do you use email to communicate with your colleagues and users? Have you talked to someone on the phone recently? These are all technologies that at some point in time, someone(s) didn’t think were needed in a library. They were wrong.

Maybe you don’t need to be on Twitter or Facebook to reach your users. (In fact, there have been many informal studies that indicate that students don’t want us in their social spaces.) But, you can use online social networking tools to expand your professional network, learn about what your colleagues are doing to improve services in their libraries, and share the things you are doing in your own library. Surely those are things that benefit the profession?

These things that people talk about as Web 2.0 are simply tools. You can choose how and when you will use them.

Library 2.0 has been used to describe a mindset that is open to exploring these tools and using them to enhance library services, but I think that has been a part of our profession for a long time. Library 2.0 was there when we began moving from card catalogs to online public access terminals. Library 2.0 was there when we opened up the stacks and allowed users to browse the shelves. Library 2.0 was there when we created free, circulating libraries that allowed anyone to access the knowledge they contained.

The philosophy of Library 2.0 isn’t anything new, we’re just using different words to describe what we already do best — exploring innovative ways to connect users with the information they are seeking.

thing 14: Technorati

The first thing I got out of this assignment was the final push I needed to subscribe to Lifehacker, rather than continue to rely on the biblioblogosphere to filter out the “important” stuff from it. The next step, of course, will be reading it frequently enough to keep from getting overwhelmed and behind. Unfortunately, I’m already 14 entries behind on Zen Habits, so overwhelmed and behind is a distinct possibility.

I haven’t really found much use for Technorati. It’s handy to have for doing ego searches (i.e. who’s linking to me), but beyond that, I have so many sources of information that this is one more that I don’t need. However, if you’re looking for what’s hot or interesting in blogs, it’s a good place to start.

thing 13: del.icio.us

When social bookmarking sites came on the scene, I was very resistant to using them. I had an organized system of bookmarking sites I visited regularly or sites that I needed to reference occasionally, and the del.icio.us format for displaying bookmarked URLs seemed cluttered and unorganized to me.

Fast-forward about five years, and we are now in a world where tagging and folksonomy are no longer scary new concepts (well, to those of us who have been reading, writing, and talking about them in the mean time). Tagging is now almost a requirement for a Web 2.0 service, and I use it frequently to keep track of things I want to go back to later, or to categorize what I am looking at.

About a year ago, I started using the del.icio.us extension for Firefox. At first, it was just a long list of the tags I used and had to be manually updated. Now it’s fully integrated with automatic syncing and the very useful search box (from the sidebar). It has nearly replaced the bookmark tool native to Firefox as my primary source of collected URLs that I find important to me. The best part is that I can access my bookmarks no matter which computer I am using, and this has come in handy on many occasions.

As I noted, I still use the bookmarking options within Firefox and do not send these things to my del.icio.us bookmarks, either. Mainly these are the sites I visit frequently, and I have them in my Bookmarks Toolbar folder so they’re just one click away. I have another folder of links to the tools that we use for on-call reference (Meebo, Ref Desk webmail, and LibStats), and I can tell Firefox to open all of the bookmarks in that folder with one click when my on-call shift begins.

One thing I’ve started doing with del.icio.us is creating sets of links that I can share with other people. I was inspired by a Computers in Libraries presentation on using del.icio.us for creating on-the-fly lists of resources for individuals and classes. If you’re interested, you can check out the list of podcasts I’m currently subscribed to.

Since I haven’t jumped on the Wordle bandwagon yet, and since it was a bonus activity for this thing, here’s the Wordle cloud for my del.ico.us tags:

wordle cloud of my del.icio.us tags

thing 12: Rollyo

Blogcritics used Rollyo for a while a couple of years ago, and I was never happy with the search results or the way they were displayed. It could have been some setting that BC used, but I assumed it had more to do with the way Rollyo works.

When I was at Blogworld last fall, I chatted with the folks at the Lijit booth for a while and made a note to take a look at their product when I got home. Apparently so did Phillip Winn, the Blogcritics Chief Geek, because not long after, Lijit replaced Rollyo as the site’s search tool. It’s worked out well.

Rollyo’s web search is powered by Yahoo Search, so I can’t see why I would want to use it as a general search engine. I think that Rollyo’s best value is as a search engine that looks at a specific collection of websites. This might be handy in a library if you have, for example, a number of different digital collections being served up from different domains or subdomains. With a Rollyo (or similar) service, you could build a single search interface for them. That is, if you don’t mind sending your users to a site that mixes in six paid links for each page of ten results, in addition to side-bar advertisements.

thing 11: LibraryThing

I have had a LibraryThing account since mid-October 2005. Most of my collection is in there and tagged, and I’ve even started keeping books in my catalog that I no longer own (appropriately tagged, of course), just so I can keep a record of what I have had at some point.

If you look on my blog, you’ll see that I am using the LibraryThing widget to display a random book from my catalog. This changes every time the page loads, and sometimes I am surprised to see what is there. As I’ve noted several times in the past, I have more books in my house that I have not read than those which I have read.

If you’re new to LibraryThing and you have a large collection of books that are new enough to have barcodes printed on them, I recommend you purchase a CueCat scanner. It will speed up the process of getting everything in, and then you can take more time to tag, make notes, or do whatever else you may want to do to tweak your library to suit your needs.

What I have not done yet is to make use of the Recommendations, mostly because of the aforementioned over-abundance of reading material in my possession. Also, I’ve already read many of the books listed or they are already on my wishlists. Eventually, I plan to import my book wishlists into LibraryThing. I am doing that with my music collection on RateYourMusic, and I can see the value of having all that together in one place.

thing 10: image generators

For this assignment, we are asked to look at several different online image generators/editors. The first is fd’s Flickr Toys, which I have played with in the past. However, I am surprised to see how many nifty tools they have now — far more than the memes that have invaded my online social network. I will probably find use for CD Cover, Motivator, and Lolcat Generator. (If you’re a new WordPress user and you want a spiffier header than the default, check out the Blog Header tool.)

Dumpr seems to be similar to fd’s Flickr Toys, except that a handful of the more interesting tools require a pro membership to use, which does not impress me. If I’m going to pay for something like that, I might as well learn how to do it myself in Photoshop or GIMP.

BE NOT AFRAID - CEILING CAT SENT ME