Friday, December 21, 2007

#23: Ta-(finally)-Da!

Hear that squeaking sound? That's me, coming in under the wire. I gotta say, blogging is a hard thing to keep up on top of the job and the actual life, especially during the jam-packed Hallowe'en-to-Christmas weeks. Of course, had it been run during the summer, I'd have said that was a particularly busy time, too, what with the kids off and vacations being taken. So, have a grain of salt with that grumble, won't you?

All told, I was very pleased to have been nudged and bribed and peer-pressured into exploring all the Things (even the silly ones) and I would certainly participate again in a similar program.

In the spirit of the tabloid papers' year-end Hot-Or-Not lists, here's my personal assessment of the 23 and 1/2 Things:

#1-#4: Reading, Learning, Setting Up, Registering: Hot! Because it was easy, and hey, 4 down.

#5-#7: Flickr, Mashups, Technology: Hot! Because it was fun. Flickr is awesome, easy to use,
extremely useful for sharing and keeping in touch, has no intrusive ads, and doesn't try
to claim the rights to every bit of content you provide.

#8-#9: Bloglines and RSS feeds: Hot! Because they save the time of the reader. And you know,
that's the law.

#10-#12: Image Generators, LibraryThing, and Rollyo: Not! Because they are time-suckers, in my opinion, without enough substance returned for the amount of time invested.

#13-#15: Tagging, Technorati, Two-Point-Oh: Hot! Not! Lukewarm! Because tagging is here
to stay, and we've got to keep working it until it works really well. Technorati, I'm not
convinced, as even with the ratings system, I think blogs are less reliable than
Wikipedia. Two-Point-Oh, you're just another way of talking about what I've been
doing all along.

#16-#17 1/2: Wikis and Facebook: Lukewarm! and NOT! Because wikis are a hard thing to do
well, and to keep up with: I found more than a couple of incomplete, abandoned
library wikis. Wikipedia is not bad, but it's not yet the Greatest Show on Earth.
And Facebook? No thanks.

#18-#19: Online Apps and Web 2.0 Awards: Hot! Again, because of the usefulness and the
benefits these things provide the average person.

#20-#23: YouTube, Podcasts, E-Audiobooks and Thoughts: Hot! Because they save the
time of the reader, provide every reader his or her material, and they provide these benefits without exorbitant cost. Even though e-audiobooks are not for me, I know lots of people who love 'em, and I can see why. I listen once in a while to podcasts, and I can see library applications for those.

All in all, I thought this was a great program, and I'll bet a lot of people who never continued or
even started blogging still followed some of it and tried a few new things that they wouldn't have otherwise.

Thanks to Hood and Hat for a job well done!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

#22: Audiobooks

Ya know, I was listening to audiobooks when they came on huge reel-to-reel tapes the size of a telephone-cable spool ....

.......okay that's a complete fabrication. But they were on tape.

And I just couldn't deal with it because I didn't know WHAT I was supposed to be doing with my eyes while I was listening. Plus I couldn't leave the room for fear I'd miss's not the same as music. So I tried listening in the car, and on the bus with my bulky Sony Walkman,
but I found it unsatisfying. It seems to be something you either like, or you don't.

The good news for those in the "like 'em" camp is that audiobooks are more convenient than ever to use, and the option of downloading e-audiobooks from your library makes it a more economical option than ever: no gas or carfare to get to and from the library, and no overdue fees. Download the free player, and get the books you want. Or, at the moment, the books that are available. I was surprised to see graphic novels featured, but unfortunately none of those seem to have an excerpt provided. I wonder how they do that...There are excerpts provided for many of the titles, and that's a very good thing. Due to my personal disinclination, though, I found it difficult to sit in front of my computer and listen for even those two-minute excerpts, so even though I went through the process of placing a hold on a title (very easy) I doubt I'll download the reader and listen to it.

But, I've worked with audiobooks and I know how many and how devoted are their listeners.
Those people made the transition from spoken-word cassette to books on CD, and as soon as the
kinks are worked out of this inconvenient delivery system ("It won't work on my iPod? are you serious?") I think they'll grow in popularity.

#21: The Proof Is In The Podding

I have iTunes already and have been happily using their podcast directory and downloading for a year. I'm usually looking for a podcast of a particular thing: radio show episode, a particular author speaking or musician; I don't browse. I looked at all three of the podcast tools, but I didn't like the interaction with any of them. I found it difficult to find anything I specifically looked for, and browsing was a frustration since I'm afraid I really don't want to browse audio. I'm strictly a visual browser, that's probably why I prefer YouTube. I can't tell anything from just the titles. Well. I do think podcasts are a great idea, and in a library setting there could be a series to accompany QBPL Gallery exhibits, maybe featuring interviews with the artists.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

YouTube? MeToo.

The very first time I ever YouTubed for was not for entertainment but instruction. I wanted to see what kayaking in Alaska might be like, and what riding a zipline would entail. In both cases, I was able to quickly find and view clips recorded by people doing those very things. Some were very short and/or poorly done, a couple were slick professional "commercials," but others were just what I was looking for. Searching YouTube for "Queens Library" brings up just a few clips of library programs now, but I think it would be a great way to commemorate, document, share and generally "talk up" what's going on in your community library. (Insert boilerplate admonitions about filming persons/minors without permission, etc., here.) It might be a while before there's a widespread library-related use for YouTube, only because we still have waaaay more computer-access demand than we do supply, but outside the library, I personally know scads of preteens-and-up who are making their own suspense movies, exploring film editing and special effects, and generally learning a lot while they think they're just goofing around.
The other lovable thing is that YouTube's a "wayback machine" that takes you anywhere you remember on TV. Old cigarette commercials? Check! Captain Kangaroo? Got him! I know these things can be acquired commercially, or viewed in the Museum of Television and Broadcasting, but that avenue is for the serious researcher. For the casual dabbler in nostalgia, YouTube is awesomely handy.

#19: The Web 2.0 Awards

I was all set to write about Etsy being a favorite site, when I saw Bibilio on the winners' list.
Decisions, decisions. I haven't used Biblio, preferring AbeBooks, but it looks like Biblio's site has been redesigned and is quite appealing now.
Both Etsy and Biblio are sites where independent sellers "gather," like a giant cyberspace marketplace, with the added bonus of not having to schlep from table to table. In both cases, you can browse a single seller's wares, or look through everybody's inventory for something specific.
At Etsy you can plug in all kinds of parameters for your search: blue things, for instance, or things in the category "Geekery." There's even a way to shop by the geographic location of the seller, so you can support your local artists (everything on Etsy is handmade, being sold by the artist.) At Biblio you can search by format, limit to first editions or books with dustjackets, indicate a price range, publication date, or indicate keywords you wish to find in the book descriptions. You can even limit your search for a title to only those booksellers belonging to any of a number of local, national and international associations.
These kinds of collaborative "storefronts" seem to me one of the best aspects of the whole "Web 2.0/Social Networking" concept, keeping alive the mom-and-pop shop and bringing it to an enormous audience.

Friday, December 14, 2007

NOW We're Talking: #18

Web-based applications that let you email docs around to others for them to edit, add to, comment on...and no worries about whether they use Word or Wordperfect?! This is bliss!

I'm sure they won't be eliminating the need for those installed desktop applications, but they are perfect for informal situations or for the initial stages of collaboration.

I tried Google Docs first, and like it very much. It let me import Word documents from my hard drive as well as create something new. Then I tried Writeboard and found the interface even easier and more welcoming than Google Docs. I could really get used to the simple keyboard strokes required to bold and italicize your text. (I love to bold and italicize. Perhaps a bit too much.)

I could see this being a great way to solicit input from far-flung staff members, brainstorm a better subject guide, or assemble reviews for the summer reading newsletter.
These are the kinds of applications that, had I merely heard about them, I might have thought "Ah, nice for those who don't have/can't afford Word," not realizing that, while they're not as sophisticated as installed desktop apps, in some ways they do much, much more. I'm so pleased that QL Learning compelled me to look closer.

Facebook, the Half-a-Thing

I took the tour of Facebook. Not very informative. I started the process of signing up, in fact I guess I did sign up, even though at first it rejected my qbpl email address. I didn't feel like providing my personal email yet, so I backed out of the signup. But I was captured anyway, it seems! With my name all backwards and my birthdate wrong but whaddaya gonna do? Any site that requires this much data entry is no friend of mine. I poked somebody, but ya know, I could have called faster and with more of a surprise element. And the poke contains no information, so of what interest is it to them, or me? If I text-message, there's some content; I don't type "poke!" (not that there's anything wrong with that!)
It seems like a time-consuming task to really work a Facebook account, and your friends would all have to participate, too. Even though it sounds reassuring to see that "only friends and people in your networks can see your profile," it turns out there's fifty-three thousand people in my network. Cozy!

I suppose it's just not for me. And now it doesn't seem possible to delete my account, all I can do is edit my profile. That may be very Web 2.0 ("you're connected forever!!") but it's not very customer-friendly.