Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thing #23: Wrapping Up

First, thanks to the Web Challenge team for putting this together. It seems like it was a lot of work, and you did a terrific job!

What I liked best: It's hard to pick one thing... so many of them are useful and fun. In my own life, I read and subscribe to lots of blogs, subscribe to podcasts and listen while I'm exercising or walking, use Remember the Milk to organize my home life, Basecamp to manage projects and Google Docs for collaboration.

What I liked least: There weren't any tools in the challenge that I didn't like at all. I did notice that the library-specific tools that we subscribe to (NetLibrary, Overdrive) are probably the least user-friendly of anything we tried. WorldCat is the exception. I wish LibraryThing had better organization features.

Thoughts on Web 2.0 in the Library: There are probably dozens of ways we could use these tools in the library, both for the public and for staff. I will say this: there has been a lot of hype about Web 2.0 in the library world (and beyond). As with any technology, I think we should first focus on the need: what task are we trying to do? What do we need to do faster, better, etc.? Then we can pick the right technology to do the job - not the other way around!

Enough said - I hope we continue to play and experiment, and carry this attitude into our daily work!

Thing #22: ListenNJ

I downloaded Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It went very smoothly. I will probably burn it to a CD and listen to it in my car.

I did try out this service when we first got it. I was pretty excited about it, but the selection at that time was really poor. I haven't used it since then. Until today! I'm glad I did find a book I'd been wanting to read.

Thing #21: Crazy wine podcast

There's a podcast (actually a vodcast) called WineLibrary TV. Its creator is a wine merchant at a store in South Jersey called Wine Library (you can read more about him here).

This guy is really energetic - he loves his wine. It's pretty educational - you could learn a lot about wine this way. But he's just so prolific, I think I'd find him hard to keep up with. He does several 15-20-minute episodes each week. But it's fun. And quite well-known: he's been on Conan O'Brien and the Ellen Degeneres show, among others.

Thing #20: Rescued Kittens on YouTube

Mostly I like to use YouTube to watch cute videos of animals. Funny things, too. Perhaps I should make it a goal to use it for productive, educational purposes. Nah...

Here a reporter rescues a kitten who survived the earthquake in China.

Thing #19: I'd like to try Yahoo! Pipes

I watched a demo on how to use Yahoo! Pipes. This tool lets you re-mix or mash-up content from around the web. So, for instance, you can take an existing RSS feed and tweek it. In the example, the Yahoo! Sports feed was filtered so that it only delivered stories on tennis or football. That's a simple example, but it looks like there are all kinds of interesting things you could do with this tool. One idea is to embed RSS feeds or maybe Flickr photos in our web pages while filtering out content we may not want displayed, or don't find useful for our customers.

Things #18: Google Docs

I've used Google Docs here at work before for writing reports collaboratively. It's better than using traditional word documents for so many reasons: multiple people can edit at once without fear of losing work, a history of changes can be viewed easily (as opposed to Word's Track Changes, which can be confusing), and, best of all - no emailing back and forth! No crazy filenames like document_version1_revisionsbyJA_update2.doc! This is a true timesaver.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thing #17: Using PBWiki

PBWiki has steadily become more user-friendly - you used to have to use some coding, and that pretty much ruled out use by lots of people. There may be easier wiki tools out there, and Google Sites has some interesting potential. But overall, I like it very much.

There are lots of uses for wikis at work. We are collaborating all the time, and spending a lot of time emailing documents back and forth, and probably losing track of them. Departmental wikis are a great way to keep track of happenings and documents within a department. Hopefully our next iteration of OceanNet will have collaboration features similar to wikis - this is definitely the trend in corporate intranets.