Friday, March 27, 2009

It's P.B. Wiki Time! P.B. Wiki Time!

Well, that was fun! Like answering one of those fill-in-the-blanks emails without all the ">>>>>>"s to remove and spam your friends.

I entered my favorite wine, favorite vacation spots and favorite restaurant.

I can see this being an excellent resource for reader's advisory, book groups, craft groups. My first thought was that it would be great for teen groups too -- but you never know what sort of havoc may be wreaked when you combine teen angst with an anonymous forum. Hummm........

You ARE useful, aren't you? Thing 16, wiki

My gut reaction to wiki was always an eye roll. Uttering "Wikipedia" in a room of journalists results in groans and eye rolling. It's notorious for being complete nonsense, totally unreliable. And you shouldn't so much as look at it, less ye be tainted with its filth.

So I never really thought about a wiki's uses in other forums. But of course, its weakness when fact-finding (anyone can publish their so-called "facts") is a strength when you are actually searching for opinions and suggestions.

And I've always known that -- I just didn't know that was a wiki. Poor wiki. Scandalized by it's infamous cousin "ipedia."

I love the idea of using it for lists of favorites and suggestions. For conferences? I don't know. I wouldn't want to rely on it for actual important facts like What Time Is Lunch and Where. I've known too many people who give strangers made up directions to places in a attempt to be helpful, i.e., "The bank building? Oh,, head up to that KFC and take a right. Then go straight. You can't miss it." (Is that a Southern Thing? Too polite to say "I dunno"?)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Oh! Oh! Thing #15: Library 2.0 & Web 2.0

Earlier today, I was speaking to someone who was considering a job in the oil industry. After pondering, she said. "Well, not that that industry has any future since we're all going to be driving hybrid cars in a few years." I disagree. Loudly.

For all the talk of new energy sources -- solar power, hybrid cars, wind farms -- the fact remains that not a single jet has been designed to fly on anything but jet fuel. I'm sure the same is said of many similar energy-reliant products. So although we are (thankfully, belatedly, mercifully) headed towards renewable energy sources, the oil and natural gas industry isn't going to disappear in my lifetime. Will it change? Absolutly. Disappear? No.

I think the same holds true of books, and for that matter, libraries. They will not disappear, they will continue -- but in a hybrid fashion. As evidence, I have yet to work one day in an empty library. Ever. But looking around, the view is certainly different from the libraries of my youth. Most obvious are the computers. Some would argue that's not what libraries are for. But look at what people are doing on those computers: reading, researching and playing. All that stuff libraries were designed to help people do. Is some of it fluff? Junk? Sure it is! The same could be argued about many books in any given library (*cough* especially near the paperback rack *cough*).

Libraries were, are and will always be places of knowledge. How we receive that knowledge may change, but our need for knowledge will not.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Technorati Makes Me Think of Illuminati: Thing 14

Way back in the beginning of my Internet career, we used to have to provide our copy editors with a list of keywords that they would imbed into the HTML code of our stories. This way, search engines could find us. But scam sites and advertisers would do the same thing. So searching for a particular topic would bring up a slew of unrelated junk trying to sell you something or leech viruses onto your machines.

Then along came Google. The reason Google works so well is that it ignores keyword tagging. Instead it uses a method of how many other sites link to a particular site when using a certain word.

Technorati, like the search engines in the old Internet, uses keywords -- which is both good and bad. Good, if you are an honest blogger trying to get your writing a larger readership. Good, if you are looking for knitting blogs (A found a TON more that I had never heard of). Bad in that you may waste quite a bit of time not finding what you are looking for -- just finding items incorrectly (or loosely) tagged that way. For example, when I searched "library," the top pick was Miscellaneous Mom, who has no association with libraries except that she recently visited one. So the keyword tagging relies upon the honesty of the tagger. Hummmmm.....

However, the "Popular" feature is a great way to find new blogs that people (other than the blog owner) like. In that way, it's a lot like Digg.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Delicious: Thing 13

I love Delicious! Especially seeing as how I move from library to library and from computer to computer, this is going to make things so much easier. I have a flash drive that I keep with me at all times -- it's been good for toting around documents and projects I'm working on -- but it's rather cumbersome for bookmarking Web sites. So I had started a file in my Outlook that I use for pulling up remote access to meeting room calendars, etc. (don't worry Library -- that one is not publicly shared) But this is much more user friendly -- and unlike Outlook, Delicious doesn't log me out every few minutes.

And as an added bonus, I can stop trying to remember how to spell "Icanhascheezburger." It's filed under "cute."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rolling with it: Thing 12

I have been putting off Rollo Day. Probably because, in my years as a journalist, I became very adept at searching for legitimate answers on the Web. And this was Not One of Them. My main problem being that using Google, the Grand Poo Bah of searching, yields a lot of junk but it also leads you to new legitimate sites you may otherwise never have discovered -- something that will never happen with Rollo.

But ignoring this site forever wouldn't be very progressive of me, would it?

So I put it off for a few days. And tried to find a rationale for my aversion. And that turned into weeks. And then we got a reminder email.....

And then it dawned on me that without using the darned thing, I couldn't have much of an opinion. So today, I tried to make it relevant.

In a short time (days? weeks?) my new niece, Lucy, will be born. Her mother, my sister-in-law and dear friend, has had many, many complications leading up to this birth. With every new complication, I would hit the net, trying to learn more. Generally, this search would turn up a lot of hits on message boards: "I have this problem. Does anyone know the answers?" Mostly, these would be followed by posts of "Me too! Anyone know the answer?", repeated over and over. I quickly learned to find actual answers using a few pregnancy sites and WebMD.

Finally, I understood the usefulness of Rollo. If I only plan to search specific sites -- and want no information outside those sites, this is a Good Thing (as Martha Stewart would say). With this in mind, I created the Rollo search Nervous Mama, a combination of, and Perfect for finding out causes of horrible lower back pain, sans frantic repetative postings.

But I'm not sure when else I might need a similar search tool. The great thing about the net is how much information is out there -- and how much new information appears every day. Rollo restricts this, so, unless one is annoyed by excess information (and if you are in the library profession, that's probably not you) it seems only to limit learning.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thing 11: Library Thing

I must admit, I was biased against Library Thing, seeing as how I am already frighteningly involved in Shelfari. However, at first glance, I have to admit that Library Thing may be a better program -- it's faster to load, clearly organized and the forums are much easier to follow. That being said, Shelfari is, well, pretty. On Shelfari, you can arrange books on your virtual shelf by date read, reading progress, favorites or manually shuffle them around to your heart's content. It appeals to the manically ordered part of me. Library Thing seems a bit more utilitarian.

Any Library Thing followers want to convert me?

Image courtesy of the Fighting Librarian.