Monday, September 15, 2008

End of the journey!

And what a journey it has been...

Lots of highlights (and some low lights!) over the last few months with participating in the Web 2 experience...

The biggest low for me was definitely the amount of time that was invested. I would have loved to have seen North Shore Libraries support this fully by allowing us to complete the exercises during work time, but in a structured way ie: an hour or so each a week.

However, overall, I personally found the program to be a great learning curve and I am really happy that I have participated as there have been some great benefits in doing so.

It was intriguing to see the flurry of colleagues signing up and the sheer determination displayed as people were trying to figure out who other people were! There were lots of interesting 'relationships' and 'conversations' between blogs going on and it became quite a fascination for many people and almost a 'cult-like' compulsion to check the comments left on blogs! And then there were the ones who got obsessed with the progress chart...!!

The level of creativity and talent shown on colleagues blogs in the way of enhancements etc was extraordinary. It became obvious that there are definitely some web savvy experts amongst us (not mentioning any names quizzylizzy & soandso) and this served to inspire others to do the same and some of the results were amazing. For those of us who had never blogged before, let alone having any experience with widgets, page elements or generators etc, it was amazing to see how easily these tools could be utilised with very satisfying results...

On a personal level, I discovered some fabulous sites that I will definitely continue to use:- Flickr and de.lici.ous being two of them. I will also probably continue to 'blog' as it seems to have become second nature to me and I quite like the anonymity of it and the sense of ownership it brings.

Exploring the different 'generators' was a fun thing to do and the array of options just astounds me. Very satisfying to use minimum effort for maximum results with these and it is something I will utilise again. Most impressive! Definitely something for everyone...

My least favourite sites were Rollyo, Technorati and RSS feeds. Nothing specific...just not sites I found useful or would utilise again.

I think it is great that so many staff attempted to complete this course and am sure that we have all gained much from the experience.

The next step is to master the MP3 player....!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

For Zipperty-doo-dah!

This is posted especially for Zipperty-doo-dah who is currently obsessed with all things crocheted! I know it's knitting...but I'm just illustrating that I can find something interesting too!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blatant bystander at the Social Networking stop!

Ok...Social Networking sites! While I've heard all about them, been invited to join them, and seen how popular they are with the patrons who come into our library, they have not been something I have even entertained the idea of joining....

Why? I'm not entirely sure. I guess first and foremost, I am a fairly private person, and the thought of having information about 'me' out in the never never for all in sundry to see, does not please or excite me in any way, shape or form, despite assurances that limits are put in place etc. My immediate circle of close friends are also part of this culture, so it seems irrelevant to where I am at right now.

I'm also of the opinion that after entering the 4th decade of my life that I do not fall in to the target audience (18-35?) but perhaps that is just my perception rather than fact. I am still more than happy to contact my friends on an e-mail basis.

There is no doubt that sites such as Bebo, Facebook, MySpace are filling a void for many people but it remains to be seen if they will be a fixture or a fad in the long run... As far as our library environment is concerned, I would have no hesitation in agreeing that North Shore Libraries should follow in the footsteps of Rotorua Public Libraries, Auckland City Libraries and others, in regards to promoting this type of forum as part of our website, with the aim of capturing the interests of our teenage membership.

However, the success of the site will rely on the dedication of a 'savvy' team of people who will ensure that content is consistently current, fresh, interesting and interactive as there is nothing worse in this fickle world as boring, out of date and stale content that never changes! You must grab the attention of this demographic and make them want to return (and in this case...contribute!)

Ultimately, success will also be measured by the contributions that are made by the targeted audience. This was not consistently evident to me on the sites that I visited which suggested that some of them may be missing the mark as there were more entries made by staff than anyone else and sadly, even these contributions had not attracted comments from visitors which to me would feel rather like hitting my head against a brick wall...

Bringing the social networking element to a business environment is definitely a learning curve that many companies are embracing today which is commendable, but for me, I would far rather it stay in the business realm, than for it to become part of my personal life...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A, B, C, D, E-books!

Firstly, I've got to say that I was quite impressed with "Kindle". I had never heard of it before, but the machine itself seems quite impressive. It apparently holds 200 books, and can keep blogs updated regularly throughout your day and will deliver newspapers directly to the device too! hardly needs to leave home...!

While I am impressed with the low prices to download e-books after the initial outlay for the device itself, I still cannot justify or understand who would want to read a book off this hand held device. Surely there would be no pleasure associated with this, as it could not possibly produce a comfortable 'reading font'!

Both LibriVox and Google Book Search had all the author names I searched:- Emily, Anne & Charlotte Bronte, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, H.G Wells, Leo Tolstoy, Jane Austen... Both offered an array of 'hits'.

My searches were done easily by providing the authors' name. Each search bought up multiple listings and also offered additional information.

LibriVox provided details of other 'works in progress' (as opposed to 'completed') of my chosen author.

Google Book Search gave lots of options beginning with splitting my initial search in to "books by (Leo Tolstoy)..." or "books that mention (Leo Tolstoy)..." which I thought was a great option. It then broke the search down again by offering the following which could also be useful:-

Refine results for author:"Leo Tolstoy":
Literary Criticism / Russian & Former Soviet Union
Study Aids / Book Notes
Fiction / Classics
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / War & Military
Fiction / Historical

While I don't think these would be sites that I would personally use, it is good to know that they exist!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Perusing Podcasts?!

Podcasts....hmmmm. I must admit that I'd never really looked at any of these before, but they are obviously becoming very popular. Not sure that it is something that I would have the desire, or need to access every day but I guess they have their place as a different sort of media.

I am keen to see North Shore Libraries adopt this type of tool to promote oral histories etc, and know that other libraries are already doing this. Waitakere Library for example are filming & recording their oral histories rather than just recording audio alone. Thus a podcast is born...

Podcasts would be an ideal way of giving a 'soundbite' or 'teaser' to something more...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Roving (not raving) about You Tube

While I thought the 70's commercials may have taken me on a trip down memory lane, I must admit, I didn't even remember half of them and thought them more likely to have been from the 60's...

After being disappointed in this selection, I thought the best thing a novice like me could do is to enter into the depths of "Top Favourites". Grown adults pretending to be babies with dummies and bottles in their mouths shouting expletives was not a good start.

I was disgusted to see some of the comments that went along with some of the videos. Mindless, senseless, racist and foul-mouthed. I have no respect for a site that has no editing or standards in place as it is then just a free-for-all to mouth off in an unsightly manner and to hell with who they offend...

Trying to find a positive about this 'raved about' and 'hugely popular' site, I decided to do a search of my own and there was an element of redemption when I discovered some "Rove" footage. If you are a Rove fan, there was some great "What the...." footage and a few old videos of Pete Hellyer with big hair!!

I personally fail to see the huge interest that this site generates as I struggled to find anything that was worth watching, let alone passing on to others for their enjoyment. However, for the purposes of the exercise I have added the following video which is from Rove and "The best of thing things I love".