Monday, February 11, 2008

#18 Summary: the end/beginning

Da-daa! Well I finally crawl over the finishing line several months later. I feel like I've just completed the Dakar rally on a bicycle. First of all, hats off to Lynette, Leanne and Mark for coaching us all through the program. Looking back at my posts I seem to have done a fair bit of grumbling and been cynical about the web 2.0 universe more than once but nevertheless I think this has been the most creative and interesting training program we have been offered in years.
Being self-paced meant I often found it hard to find time to work through the exercises as I found it required a bit of concentration to really explore new applications and so the program would end up on the back burner for weeks at a time. There was also the occasional frustration born of working in isolation when confronted with new interfaces that just didn't work for no apparent reason, were not that intuitive or had online help that was not that helpful. That is all part of the environment though - there are bugs and glitches, people search and browse in different ways and something that is obvious to one person is utterly obscure to another. I think the group workshops were a great way to overcome those issues (even though I rarely got along to them). Not only have I learned heaps I am actually applying new web 2.0 tools and it has changed my perception of the web. I have recently set up a wiki for my classmates at uni, and now add all my bookmarks to - very handy.
I am currently grappling with meebo and the IM thing and am pretty unimpressed at the moment because it's doing the just not working thing. Then again sometimes the technology works beautifully and the people don't. After putting a chat widget into my wiki I am still the only one who ever seems to be in the room (shades of my childhood budgie burbling away to himself in the mirror, through an increasingly opaque layer of dried budgie saliva). That had a bell on it too. The similarities are disturbing. Still there is nothing like 'doing' to let you understand how something really works. That has been the great experience of this program, that gives you that really direct sense of understanding, personal investment and functionality offered by the web 2.0 environment. Permission to play has been a revelation as an opportunity to learn about emerging technology.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

#17 On Library 2.0 & Web 2.0...

Nearly at the end. I read a few of the the Library2 pieces - David Lee King 'Library 2.0 ripples' and the OCLCnewsletter There are lots of clever observations but one thing that smacks you in the face is the zeal of these pieces. I was struck by the emotional quality of this writing as they outline an imminent information utopia of unfettered universal access, harmonious collaboration and the warmth of an online community that never sleeps, free of information poverty or disease. Cool, let's party! And what's with the "Hi I'm a mac" cutouts of librarian 2.0s holding cute props like oars. If you don't embrace it your get called names like "luddite" and warnings of being LEFT BEHIND!It's a bit odd actually because it's hard to believe anyone is reading these posts *except* librarian 2.0s. Zealots make me uncomfortable. There is definitely a particular mise en scene that accompanies the current web/learning 2.0 discussion. Still revolutions are bound to get people excited and an information revolution is no exception. I think the threat of being left behind is a little exaggerated tho. Revolutions aren't generally invitation only events. If you are there at the right place and time, you're in it dude.
I think declaring the death of print collections is a bit premature also. There is no doubt the balance in service provision in library is swinging rapidly toward the online environment but Wendy Schultz's model is persuasive. Library 2.0 should absorb or contain Library 1.0, and just plain library before that. It's not about rejecting the previous model it's about adapting the best of it, adding new stuff and keeping the some of stuff people don't want to lose even if you think its useless. You can find a whole archeology of knowledge living in our library at once and that's a good thing. Diversity is a good thing. It's very easy to be seduced by the virtual, but the physical remains important. In 2001 the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan. I can google them and still see a picture of them in seconds but wouldn't it be better if they were still there?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

#16 Podcasts, Smodcasts

Running out of January here so might have to use my time effectively by writing my post while I wait forever for the podcast I'm downloading to download. Although there are lots of podcasts out there it still isn't that easy a thing to search for. I searched podcast alley and but you kind of have to browse the subject lists to see if there is something there that takes your fancy. Podcasts are great for lectures or talks when you already know what you are looking for and where to find it, say one of the talks given at the state library but less specific searching tends to mean you end up browsing which is time consuming. Long download times are very tedious as are numerous messages to install software. I guess if you have itunes installed on your broadband computer at home it could be more fun.Of course music is still the obvious domain of the podcast and for this it is brilliant. Well, finished my post and that stupid podcast about library news I was downloading still isn't done so bad luck podcast exercise, another time perhaps - click!

#15 Youtube

Why youtube is good - I have seen many photos of this installation in mags etc but didn't think much of it til I saw this on youtube:

It's Olafur Eliasson's Weather project at Tate Modern in London. Isn't it beautiful?
Downside of youtube? Waiting forever for the video to load but maybe that's just a work network thing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

#14 Discovering more Web 2.0 tools

Had a look through the web awards. Checked out Wetpaint wiki site as it scored ahead of pbwiki which I had played with earlier. The templates seem more attractive and the interface a bit more intuitive but it was sooooo slooowwww!I had another browse through the site which looked just as attractive today but it was still slow to load pages. I thought that would be a massive turn off for people if you wanted them to visit often and add lots of fresh content. Got sick of waiting so I had a look at the ominously named "Fun" category of the awards. There I found One Sentence: true stories told in one sentence. It was indeed fun, and witty and interesting. I felt the judges were a bit harsh only giving it one star for usefulness. I can imagine having something similar for a library site where users could write one sentence book reviews. Users could rate the review or the book or both!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

#13 - blog on tech

I'm starting to lose count of the number of things I've subscribed to. It's very convenient to have access to lots of info aggregating tools and other applications on the web but you can end up with an awful lot of passwords and logins. After a while it's tempting to use the same one over and over again but that might not be a great idea.
There is a constant tradeoff between convenience and privacy and/or security. If you want to participate fully in the web 2.0 culture the pressure to forego certain rights or expectations increases steadily. For example you have to not mind too much who is accessing your content - pictures, posts, info. That's the whole point - it's a porous dynamic resource that is shared. It helps to have a trusting, optimistic nature. If you do, the rewards can be huge - extensive, vibrant online communities, a cornucopia of content and opportunities, and it's all free! These huge multibillion dollar websites just want you to join in and enjoy yourself. If you are concerned you can always read everything in full, turn up the privacy settings to the max, say no to all the unsolicited emails, not take unusual comments too seriously and never give your real name, but it gets to be a lot of work and the fun can drain away a bit.
There is also the question of personal investment. How much time and effort are you prepared to commit to your online life? It is certainly time consuming if nothing else and life is short. If you are going to pour hour after hour of your life into this environment it had better be important to you and in that sense, as lived experience, the virtual does become real.
Then there is the question of who is looking after your virtual world? I think the queen of darkness raised the question of all these .com's becoming the dubious custodians and owners of this vast archive of human experience, memory, culture and trivia. Who's storing all these exabytes and for how long? What happens when they collapse or just become passe? No matter, I'm sure we all have backup copies and print versions...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

#12 Web-based applications - not just for desktops

I do like Zoho even though it probably takes more than one visit to master it completely. The posting to your blog option is great and gives you so much more control over the layout of your posts. It did a few odd things with my test post though. It converted a smiley button to the word "laugh!" which made me feel like I was suddenly reading a script with some heavy handing acting prompts. Also I have a background colour on my blog ie charming vellumesque beige,and it dropped out to white where I pasted existing text from Zoho's welcome page. I guess you gradually learn these various quirks as you edit more entries.