Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thank You Erin

Just a final post to thank Erin and her 23 Things online course for providing me with an organized way to explore Web 2.0. While I see how many of the resources covered would be useful in the library environment, the course exposed me to what's out there and applicable to my online business endeavor. It's only a part time pursuit now but I hope to make it a full time business in 2010. And this blog which was set up for comments on the weekly assignments will now be turned over to Jansjems and my adventures in the world of arts and crafts.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Week #10 -- Social Networking & Microblogging

OK. I'm old. I just don't get the point of Twitter or most of the other microblogging sites at all. I set up an account a while ago, looked around, posted something and never went back until I got an email that someone was following me. Why? I went back there today because of this lesson, plugged a couple of searches in and nothing has changed. It's still just a lot of random comments. Why would anyone care that a stranger stopped at Starbucks on their way to work, or someone couldn't get into their favorite jeans, or that someone else hopes a certain fashion trend goes away soon because they hate the look. Back in the stone age, when I was young, those were the kinds of comments that were made in conversations with your girlfriends. You chatted about nonsensical things and it was fun and funny because these were your friends. I find it sad working on a large university campus to see so many people walking alone but phoning or text messaging their friends all day long. I used to spend time with my friends and all those messages were delivered in person. Have we evolved into a generation of loners who don't know how to interact with other people in person? They're now offering classes in some high schools to teach students how to interview for college or jobs. I have a niece who comes to family events and sits in the corner with a hand held game or phone or whatever and doesn't talk to anyone after she says "hello".

On the other hand, in moderation, social networking can be useful. I do like Facebook. And I actually stop in once in a while. Unlike Twitter, I'm connected to people I know, many of whom live far away. It's nice to hear about what they're doing and see pictures of their kids or pets. Somehow this connection seems to have more of a purpose. Also, occasionally if I'm on at the same time as my daughter, we do talk to each other there instead of on the phone.

In looking through some of the sites in this lesson I also found that I like Digg. It seems to be composed mostly of news items--sometimes weird news items. I linked it to my Bloglines. But there's also a link to Facebook and if I'm reading things correctly, doing so will make it available to all my friends. Do I really want to inundate my friends with little news blurbs? Is that what happens? So I don't think I'll do that.

I had no idea there were so many social networking sites. People signed up on several must spend the entire day on the web. No wonder they have no time to BE with their friends? I think that I spend too much time just answering emails.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Week #9 -- Podcasts & Videos

This lesson was fun. I’m familiar with YouTube, have been sent links via email, and occasionally stop in to check on what’s new by just using the search term “funny”. It always brings up something that makes me laugh. “Introducing the Book” was too funny. I also enjoyed “Thriller” by the National Library of Australia. Looks like a fun place to work. But while watching the “Library Dominos” all I could think of was who would re-shelve all those books. Japanese dominos was much more entertaining. Yahoo Videos & Google Videos are interesting as well but I still prefer YouTube. Although I might use Metacafe to check out movie trailers once in a while.

The video I chose to link to in this post is one I found of the band, Maestro’s Men. I grew up with polka music, my dad was a polka DJ, and my brother has been playing with polka bands since he was 16. So I searched in several of the sights for a video of Maestro’s Men, the band he currently plays with. They’ve won several awards and were nominated for a Grammy a couple of years ago. I looked in 3 or 4 of the video sights and YouTube was the only one that had several to pick from. So here’s the Maesto’s Men.

I didn’t spend much time on the Podcasts lesson. Fortunately I have children who are well versed in various types of technology. From them I learned how to download pictures and load my Ipod. So I have Itunes set up on my computer at home. I love being able to pick and choose types of songs from different artists and put them into different folders. So when I told one of my daughters that I wished I could play music at some of the craft shows that I do, I found that the technology was there for that as well. I have a cute little Ipod docking station that will run for 8 hours or so on its rechargeable battery. How convenient is that?

As for Ebooks...the jury is still out on that one. I spend a lot of time on the computer and can’t imagine reading a whole book that way. Though I might like an audio book to listen to in the car, I prefer current publications and they’re not available for free download due to copyright issues. So, are ebooks as valuable as paper? Well, online journals are useful as it’s usually only an article or part of a journal that students or researchers need. Having that journal available to more than one person at a time is useful. Then most people will print off whatever they need. Databases are searchable and allow you to zero in on the pertinent topics. But recently someone in my town needed a section of the town codes. He was given a website where they could be accessed. It’s hundreds of pages and too expensive to print. But the online version is not searchable and therefore not useful at all.

Reading for pleasure, I still prefer the paper version and probably always will.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Week #8 -- Online Applications & Tools

While I didn't spend a lot of time on this lesson, I found and learned several things that would be useful. Of the online applications I like Google Docs the best. As I mentioned before I belong to a group of Western Mass.crafters who wanted to see the spreadsheet I had created for upcoming craft shows and applications due dates. I managed to get it into Google Docs fairly easily but emailing it took a couple of tries. I had to allow it to be shared and how wasn't obvious to me at first.

I already use the Yahoo calendar with the same group and we've found it helpful to post events, craft shows, gem shows, etc.

I then took a look at the short list of Web 2.0 Awards sites. I really liked a lot of the websites I found there, so it's hard to speak to one in particular. I've already used several of these, such as Zillow where you can look up house prices by address and the cost of houses in the neighborhood. I have my pictures up on Flickr and when I'm desperate to find something I have checked Craigslist. But there are several really cool sites out there with great and entertaining information.

If you're into genealogy, and that may be something you tend to do when you get old, My Heritage is a free site. While I haven't really explored it much as you have to download it, it appears that it might be helpful in locating lost relatives. I'll download it into my home computer and see how it goes. I plan to do a lot of traveling after retirement. Farecast on Bing is another site like Travelzoo and Best Fares that has flight information. But Boo has reviews of destinations, hotels, and restaurants. Very useful.

Definitely useful with its local restaurant reviews is Urbanspoon. And then there's Im Cooked. Loaded with cooking videos that instruct as well as entertain. I really enjoyed the "coffee art" video. Just fun.

And lastly, and not part of this lesson, I learned how to put urls under words so you can click on them and get to the site. It was incredibly easy and I don't know why I never tried before.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Week #7 -- Wikis

This is one of the "23 Things" with which I'm actually familiar. Our Technical Services Division was tasked with creating a Wiki made up of procedures and information sheets that we use regularly in our work. This would allow someone not familiar with a job to have a source for information on how an item is processed or a list providing choices of things like vendors. It also allows us to easily change procedures in our agile (very much so lately) environment. I was appointed to the team and, as usual, had my doubts about whether I would be able to contribute.

Wikis, it appears, are not that complicated. Once you get used to their type of editing and learn to work around the unique spacing issues (it's not like editing a word document), it's rather easy. So I've added several documents to our Wiki.

But what I had never thought of was that there can be other uses for wikis, like the video camping trip. It never occurred to me to utilize it in any way other than an encyclopedia or dictionary that everyone can edit.

As a member of a local craft group, I can see where this would be very useful in the organization of an event, like a craft show. We are spread out all over the Pioneer Valley and communicate mostly via email. This certainly would be very helpful.

So I've added my blog address to the PBworks wiki and I'm moving on.