Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Silent, upon a peak

Take my trousers. They have a hole in the knee that started forming just after the Large Hadron Collider was switched on. Soon it will take my leg. Then the universe. Such is change.

Consider.. since this course started how the 'things' have changed: Blogger has had a facelift, Facebook a makeover, Delicious and Bloglines upgraded their software, billions of videos have been viewed on YouTube, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of photos have been uploaded to Flickr. Over fifty thousand articles have been written for Wikipedia..

The content has changed and the underlying software has changed, and the possibilities these open up have changed. Forget trouser-devouring blackholes, this is the real dilemma: the relevance of public libraries shrinking in realtime.

One good way to appreciate how much each 'thing' has changed, and how these changes ramify, is to look at the developers' blogs. Take FlickrBlog for example. Reading through it over the course of the last ten weeks it's clear it's about more than just promoting new software developments like layouts for the photostreams, or slideshow features.

These are important, but it's also about new projects and new groups, and encouraging usage, and innovation, and drawing out what photographers have done. Check out these squirrels.. And then there's all those APIs. All in all, an extraordinary buzz of energy and feedback. Not just PR puffery, but useful, inclusive.

And I haven't even started talking about wiki yet.

Meanwhile, the library.

Sure, we've not got anything like the resources of a Google or a Flickr. But we do have possibilities and given a reasonable committment over time..

The problem, as I think this course makes clear, is not technological. In fact, that might be the acutest revelation of the course. Despite the anxious mutterings, I've seen nothing in any of the course blogs that make me think any individual's grasp of the technology is the limitation. Be reassured, more than ever it comes down to how clever we are as librarians.

Oh, and politics.

Whatever, I know what I'm doing in the future. Hopefully the library is doing it too.

Yup. This is the last post.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Netplaying: or social networking

The AP and RP bebo sites.. a weird stew of personal and professional. And it's hard to figure how much each is meant to be an individual or the institution.

I guess this is what Evans means by "the special kind of sophistication" necessary in "an environment that, while ideal for information exchange, is designed for casual interaction."

KaleidoscopicWorld points up the same tensions with lots of curly questions, trying to get at the right balance.

To me it seems social network websites are better suited to individuals. If an institution has two or three or more librarians involved they could set up separately, but still be well and obviously linked. Their interactions would be transparent and part of the thing that draws others in, drives the "net-working," and spins the wheel on the tail of the donkey right between the eyes. So to speak.

Whatever, Evans is right with the "paralysis by analysis."

An ebook in every hand?

Downloaded The Devil's Dictionary. To get it onto cellphone had to use txt format not plucker. Result? Well imagine if every entry in your dictionary was on a separate page, and you could only go back or forward sequentially.

O kay. Explains why there's still a reason for specialist ebook-readers or playaway devices. Average cellphones can do it all, but only barely - the convergence isn't quite there, yet. Neither is that great facilitator, the mobile network.

However a conjunction of device and network is surely approaching, even in nz. It won't be a book in every hand; but a library. In your head.

Playaway remark

What is a library podcast anyway? From podcastalley I bloglined "Keith and the Girl," some lame dj blather-comedy. Anyway would be great if this could play in the background (like a normal radio) while I multitasked my attention to pieces. Unfortunately it cut out when I switched to another feed.

Certainly these podcasts would be great for the cellphone. Set up enough feeds and you effectively create your own station. And no reason why that couldn't include audiobooks, as per the playaway..

And bytheby, don't know why, but I thought "podcasts" referred to just audio files. How embarrassing. Don't tell anyone.

So long & thanks for all the phish

Had a F account once. Had this great fishtank. Filled it with fish. Fish gifts. Gif gifts. Seahorses, etc. Flappyfish, orangefish, wryfish. Lots of. Then somebod invented the skeletonfish. Had to hav a skelie. Given one. Gave into it. Bony wee thing. Didn't look right tho, with all the other fleshfish. Swam the other way. Had to delite them. One after. Til just the skelfish. Grokked. Got rid of the fishtank.

Wikipedia redux

Russell Brown has written of a good incidence of Wikipedia in action, being used, and abused.

The article shows..

..how Wikipedia is recognised as a significantly useful tool by high profile individuals because, presumably, so many people go there, local people.
..how easy Wikipedia is to use - even politicians are in on it.
..how directly accessible Wikipedia is - no PR machine required, no cardre - the man himself can get straight to it.
..how Wikipedia is open to abuse
..and correction
..and its level of transparency.
..how articles evolve and are coupled to their talk pages and their editors - and the rest of Wikipedia.
..that shenanigans on Wikipedia are of interest to perhaps New Zealand's best media commentator.
..that the "main" media channels are clueless; this story played out in the blogosphere.
..that some politicals are fearful of Wikipedia's openness and wish to apply controls.

No mention of public libraries in the story, for some reason.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fomerly known as video

Librarians can be so.. gosh darn (as in knit) earnest. So I liked that all the infotubey winners used humour. However my favourite is the book dominoes. Batman, in case you're out there, that's dark.

Anyway, one day, hopefully, we'll also see something like Best of Rhymetime, and the world record for the number of stuffed animals riding in a library lift..

So, the answer to the question is: YES.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How now browser pal

Nearly sighted, where the deer- and the antelope-avatars playstation: the new gChrome browser, upon a knol.

Putting aside Goo's plans for world domination, it's intriguing, as the nzherald article notes, to look at how Goop has advertised its new product - with a comic embedded in a GoogleBook.

Personally I find such use of frames and pdf cramped and more cramped and still more cramped, and not at all Web2.0. And I barely had a chance to get orientated before this:

Whatever, more positively, it is a good illustration of the diverse possibilities of marketing something. Rather than a PR broadsheet or a list of links, its visual, with a narrative.

It's also a good example of how quickly a Wikipedia page can happen. About as fast as the thing itself happens.

And, talk of a new browser reminds: nsl still uses IE.er..6? How.. come?

Pipe to the spirit

If the first wave of Web2.0 was creating user-friendly, visual, non-technical passive applications, like word-processor type things; and the second was user-friendly, visual, non-technical set-piece/ slightly tailorable things like rss, widgets, and rollyo search engines; then perhaps the third wave is.. user-friendly, visual, non-technical programming.

Leastways that is the direction I think YahooPipes is heading. It's a big step and still looks a bit complicated, but it's well worth watching the video to get a sense of the possibilities.

Combined with something like wiki-ware or say GoogleSites, which lets you build your own webpage, it's even possible to imagine, one day, being able to chose your own date format. Heaven.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sheep watching


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Zoho locomotion

Great things start with Z: Zealand, Zorro.. Zugby, and now Zoho.

My only concern is how this zoho frowny-smiley face is not going to appear.. So I'll have to type it :( Thats tragic.

Not entirely layout-compatible with Blogger, which would mean, over a long haul, one or the other. And howabout the screen jittering every time it updates.. I mean, :(

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Realio trulio little read Rollyo

One slightly awkward thing about Wikipedia is its search engine. If there's no redirect manually set up to compensate for capitalisations, for example, then you can miss out. Hence Rollywik - my search engine just for Wikipedia. However, as with my experience with making something similar to rollys, a swicki, I found it a bit finicky. But if a librarian were to set one up for me..

In passing I note Jimmy Wales is trying to create a wiki-built search engine, WikiaSearch. Not sure if this will benefit Wikipedia directly. Nor even if he'll have much luck bettering Google either - wouldn't relying on the crowd be just a manualised form of the awesome PageRank algorithm? Hope he succeeds, G seriously needs the competition.

Library Thingamajig

Does Thingee use LibraryThing? Or does he prefer Shelfari, GoodReads, Anobii, Books iRead.. What, between LibraryThing, and Wikipedia, and Amazon, and-
But I digress. My LT. Chose several entries of same book, "An Angel at my Table," because the first time I used LibraryThing I was struck by how identifying with ones "own" book depended so much on the cover. Not that we should judge em by em..

And, by the by, wouldn't it be grand if maybe NSL could be the first LTFL library in noozoo. An opac of many parts. Very.. frankensteinian.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

People people people, and a cat

Our tools are way in front of our imagination
--Paul Reynolds
Reynolds is good value. Maybe it's the accent. Maybe it's the "Library Link of the Day" widget in his blog. Or the blog. In the RNZ podcast (quoted above) he's referring to how webtools used to be difficult, now the limiting factor is.. people.

So it's all about people deciding peoplely what people want, and people well doing it. A thought par for this course. Beautiful.

Now, mate, about the Fitch..

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

TV is dead. Long live TV.

Choose.. a forking big television. But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose television: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got the Interweb?

But here are some anyway.

What's really profound is not the amount, but the array of new sources. This is not incidental. Clay Shirky explains. He even mentions public libraries.

BBC proves the msm can wag the long tail. Now howabout an online sequel to Planet Earth..

It's not all Youtube. Actually, there was some disgruntlement when Flickr started hosting vids. This one is.. touching.

TED shows why, repeatedly, conferences work online. PS: that waterbottle costs $10,000. Sip sparingly.

Vimeo. One of many video sharing websites. Like I said, it's not all Youtube. Incredible HD. And this is what, just somebody's homework..?

Webcams. Not the golden weather; its golden tamarins. When bandwidth is free, and giant screens are too we won't have windows. Well, we will, but they'll be windows.

Youtube. Lest we forget. Not just for your cat. YT also hosts well-known television giants like New Scientist.. And offshoots of tvnz. And quirky bits of individual genius. Moo.

Opacs are not even fruit

The woolly mammoth in the room is that libraries tend to have two websites: a website proper, and an opac.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ducks without orange




Orange, orange, against the plying of the slight

In space no one can hear you scream
try the public library!

Once upon a time Russell Brown used to write for the NZListener, commenting on the Internet. Now he's given up journalism for television, though he still runs the Public Address commentariat.

Recently one of his cohort of bloggers, Fiona Rae wrote: "Good news, everyone. Science fiction is coming. That's if you haven't already downloaded it from the internets, put it on a flash drive and played it on your 32-inch widescreen LCD TV via your PS3. Ahem. What I mean to say is that season three of Battlestar Galactica starts tomorrow night on C4."

What's telling here is that of all the involuted options to access the tv series she explores none mention the public library. Hmm.. I wonder why. At NSL say, just say, for example the dvd set has been available for at least six months. Arghhhhhh! Have another orange.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Halftime quater-orange pull over play nice

Nearly rest week. Here is a half-time quarter-orange then - and an eighth of a thought to go with it.

Am amazed at the range of opinions here, shown on this course. Even within this relatively small, relatively homogeneous professional group there's been quite a nuanced range of reactions to each Thing. Take, say, just at random, wiki..

There's been assured, positive, very positive, convinced, almost-convinced, musing-on-possibilities, for-it, furthering-it, practical, useful-buttish, cautiously-enthusiastic, wonderstruck, gushing, zealous (that'd be me then), nonplussed, double-nonplussed, doubting, more-against-than-for, more-for-than-against, fun-but-not-serious, not-convinced, against, rabidly-against..

And when you factor in how these positions are still evolving, and will keep doing so.. and multiply them by the opinions of the other 22Things.. and how all the applications are all constantly developing too, and their synergies.. well, we'll definitely need more oranges.

Lightning doesn't strike here

Like a bolt from the blue, or in the case of Beijing, the grey. The lightning kid strikes. It's not hard to pick the headlines surrounding Usain Bolt. It was a great Olympic moment. Pictured is a screenshot from tvnz's coverage, at the moment Bolt insane slaps his chest before prancing across the line..

Uh-huh. Uh-uh. D N A Y S. Turns out tvnz doesn't do web2.0 - you can't embed the video, you can't even take a screenshot.

I mention this because it's easy to forget when carping over flaws in things like Wikipedia, just how good, how absolutely extraordinary these initiatives are.

I mean, I'm sure, if I wanted, if I really wanted, I could find the Usain footage Out There. Though rather than be furtive about it I wish things like video were more subject to the same Fair Use as text, so it could be quoted from, etc.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lolcats beam me up

Image generation, sounds like something from Star Trek, probably the holodeck. Great fun. Who could resist lolcats! The hard thing is finding a way to use these generators in a manner that is both innovative and useful, yet doesn't lose advantage of the convenience they represent.

Drawing a long cow

Whoa: this. More commentary on web2.0, library2.0, blah, blah. Blah blah blah um blah. (Mouseover, readunder.) Ok, maybe just watch the vid.

Go on, say it. You know you want to.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

If a wookie could wiki

[Please note: I've updated this post to better reflect Badke's position which, he pointed out, I mangled. Original in comments. I have left in my irritating sarcasm. ]

You'd think public librarians would love wiki. Yet does any public library in noo-zoo make use of a wiki? Why not? Not yet? Hmm..

In some the response to, say, Wikipedia is still ambivalent, almost disapproving. At best, Wikipedia is considered a "single" source. (William Badke wrote that, despite its strengths: "we need to help our students see that Wikipedia is also an environment for shallow thinking, debates over interpretation, and the settling of scores." Yeah, cos like, none of that happens in academia.)

The mistake, I think, is to expect Wikipedia to be perfect. As if an error in any particular article damned the whole project. Yet despite what Nick Carr says about Google making us stupid, (or presumably any part of the Interweb), I'd put money, real money, on Wikipedia. Because on well-above-average - for all its errors, biases, and frauds - Wikipedia is better informed than an individual. That is a hard metaphysical thing to take.

I recommend Chris Anderson. He gives a good, clear sense of the way Wikipedia works, and it's importance: "the first source of information, not the last." He also links to Nick Carr's critique for those who still want a straw to clutch.