Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thoughts on the Web 2.0 journey

This has been a bit like dancing along the Yellow Brick Road, meeting all sorts of characters along the way, some of whom were scary and some of whom were just annoying, but I feel an immense sense of achievement having got to the end without too many flesh wounds. Some of the material was familiar (Facebook and e-books), some I wondered how I had lived without (delicious and YouTube) and some had me reaching for the caffeine and TimTams (Rollyo, LSS and worst of all the hideous iTunes). If only Apple and Microsoft would talk to each other instead of mudslinging, then it would be possible to embed podcasts into your blog as simply as YouTube allows you to. Steve Jobs, wake up and listen to what the public want, please..................It is gratifying that all these new technologies (with the exception of iTunes) are becoming much more intuitive and user-friendly and dispensing with the jargon, so finally we all wake up to the fact that IT specialists are NOT rocket scientists after all, though most of them still prefer to flaunt virtual NASA badges to keep us in our place. One of the best parts of the learning experience has been the sharing - amazing how often our workplace chats revolve around the 23 things programme! Thank you Karen, Hantie and Kathy for your never-ending patience and optimism, we couldn't have done it without you all!

Social networking and libraries

I've thought about this a lot, and agree with Meredith Farkas who says that just because a library has a Facebook or MySpace profile does not make it cool, a fact which is proved when you randomly click on links to some of those libraries in the wikipedia article (though I did like Birmingham, Alabama's profile). Many of our patrons (those over the age of 25, probably) would be hesitant about joining the library profile as a "friend" for fear of being bombarded with info that they may not want, and also for fear of their details being passed on to other organisations, despite any assurances we might give that this would not happen. I have found the whole process of subscribing to things like Blogger, BoingBoing, podcasts etc. a bit scary - "download" is non-threatening, "subscribe" is the opposite, bringing thoughts of "what am I getting into here? Am I going to be asked for money? Who else will find out I have subscribed?" But anything that gets the message out to a whole community in an interactive, visually exciting way, has to be a good thing. National Library have recently run 23 things workshops to upskill all school library staff, where the need is, if anything, far greater than in the public arena, given the clientele. As the old MIT poster with the dinosaurs used to say "Evolve or die".

MySpace, Bebo and Facebook

Even more joy, these are all old favourites - anyone watching the kids after school will be more than familiar with these. They seem to go in crazes, and also seem to be age-dependent - Bebo attracting the younger teens, Facebook the older teens/early twenties, and, increasingly, a number of old fogeys like me - I have had an account for several months. I like the spidery quality of it, which proves that in NZ there are only at most three degrees of separation, and I love it when you find old friends or they find you. Having said that, I look at it possibly once a week, if that, and never add things onto my wall - it worries me how freely others add quite personal details like mobile numbers and addresses, for anyone and everyone to view, and even though you can lock down your profile, it is still accessible if you know how. I liked the Rotorua Public Library Bebo page very much, though I guess there is a bit of webmastering going on as regards people submitting comments, as they were uniformly positive! This is definitely the future of NZ library websites.....

Ebooks and more

It was a relief to get back onto familiar territory - I have used Google Book Search before, and also NZETC which is run through Victoria Uni and a wonderful NZ project. I searched for Hamlet, and compared the full-text (1860) with its wonderful copperplate writing, with the Limited View and Snippet View. I know people have been predicting the rise of e-books for years, and I do know people who have actually read in this format, but it's not for me, I'm afraid - I enjoy reading snippets of things online, like the Herald every morning, but to immerse myself in a book requires a whole physical experience which includes paper, print, and an ability to lie in a bath and soak without the worry of electrocution.............

iTunes and podcasts

I found this the most frustrating exercise so far - it took me well over an hour, partly because my home PC is very slow, and partly because no sooner had I found something than I was flicked out, for some reason. We already had iTunes loaded at home, but getting into ANY podcast was very very slow. I listened to some of the ones suggested in the tutorial and wished someone had told the kids that presentations go better when there is a hint of animation in the voice rather than flatly reading out their essays! I didn't like the fact that the iTunes terminology was all so music-oriented (My Music Store, etc.) so obviously geared to folks younger than me, and that the podcast screen was so in-your-face and messy. I did listen to a cool analysis of Steve Jobs using the word "funnest" and whether that is, or should be, a real word and thought I'd embed it in Bloglines, but no go. The link generated is to an xml file, which does not (obviously) work as a hyperlink. Having spent well over an hour trying to find a solution, I decided my life was too short. So here is the xml file for those that wish to try it. Very, very, annoying, and I will NEVER use this in my day to day life. Hate the format of iTunes, hate the lack of embedding software, hate that ghastly midwestern diction, am now going to have a cup of coffee and a TimTam to soothe my shattered nerves.


Monday, September 8, 2008

YouTube rocks!

I am a great fan of YouTube - so many forgotten gems, so easy to upload. A big thank you to all those who post clips - I have whiled away many happy hours watching ancient Coro episodes, and Ena Sharples looks as good on YouTube as she ever did on ITV in the seventies. For those transplanted Poms with no access to Prime TV and all their repeats, it is a quick and delightful way to time travel - hence George Dawes (Matt Lucas) before fame and fortune turned his head, when he was just a stooge to the Dove from Above. Library-wise we definitely need to do a North Shore Libraries video - maybe along the lines of the reference video (available on CD from your local ISL) so we can justify the time and expense in the name of staff training, but we could have lots - some of the holiday programme activities, explanations of what we offer in each library and general PR for the whole library world. The important thing is that it should be fun and appeal to a wide audience. AND it is a lot cheaper than advertising on TV or radio, or even, for that matter, in the North Shore Times......Love it!

Matt Lucas before Little Britain sings Baked Potatoes