What is our value?

I have to say that I enjoyed Peter Bromberg's talk on Thursday night. He's an engaging public speaker, so that certainly helped, but more importantly to me, he made a number of interesting points. I usually find lectures or talks to be boring, and also not always germane to the actual predetermined topic. (I went to a lecture just a few months ago that was supposed to be about how not to read a million books and it turned out to be a history and a demonstration of the test version of some kind of advanced search interface...nothing about reading books, really, at all.) Peter's talk was about value, essentially: what is the value of libraries in particular. While I found his points on value great, one of the really gripping points that he made was when he spoke about the "Exponential Nature of Change." This really struck me. Thinking of how the length of time between life- and society-changing advances in science and technology is shrinking made me wonder a lot about how far this can go. Will there ever be a time when these kinds of changes occur every day? How will we all keep up? How will the libraries remain in the loop and at the forefront of such a rapidly changing environment? These are all valid questions that I don't know I would have thought to ask on my own, not having any big-picture understanding of this concept. When Peter made the brief comparison between his father and grandfather, saying that his grandfather's life was pretty much the same as many of the generations preceding him, but that his father saw an enormous amount of culture, life, and world-changing upheaval in his life was a staggering thought. What kinds of changes are in store in my life, and that of my family? Nothing is the same now as it was when my parents were my age. Things are barely the same now as they were 10 years ago! The speed with which we deem what we know as insufficient, and the speed with which we adapt to something new says a lot about where we are as a society--impatient, inconstant, obssessed with the new, and seemingly ungrateful for what we have already. Louis CK on Conan was a brilliant clip and absolutely hilarious (I've been really waiting to call someone a "noncontributing zero" since Thursday, but thankfully, I guess, I don't really know any. I'll find someone. In the meantime, the clip is below.), but it was a little sad, too. Things ARE amazing, when you think about it, and people still find things to gripe about.

I would have to say that I liked the beginning of the talk a little better than the end. For some reason, and I am probably way off base here, but the end, when Peter talked about how the principles of improv can apply to running a successful, valuable library in light of the exponential nature of change, it felt a little self-helpy. However, I understand the point Peter was trying to make, and I liked the idea of such principles as never negating and letting go of our fear of failure coming into play in my future work, as well as my life in general. Fearing failure, to me, is huge, but that's just me. I do fear failure, probably more than other people, and it cripples my actions sometimes. In the workplace, especially a library that needs to keep up with the times and cater to a wide variety of patrons, fearing that a new, innovative program is going to bomb spectacularly shouldn't stop you from trying it because maybe it will be a great success on account of its uniqueness. And if not, you take the hit and learn from it; there is nothing that can't teach us something. I enjoyed this part of the talk as well.

In the end, I enjoyed Peter's talk. It went a little late, but that's not really relevant. One thing that I enjoyed as a result of attending this talk was that I was able to sit and have dinner with several of the other ladies in our class (my group and one other). We chatted during dinner about school and about other things, and it was really nice. It was great to get a chance to chat with some other people in our class. Usually it's just my group and a couple of other guys who are always the ones that never got the emails cancelling class until we were all sitting in the lab that I talk to. This was a really welcome change.


Lifelong Learning 2.0

Learning 2.0 has been an enlightening experience for me. I remember on our first night of class, when we were asked how comfortable we were with technology and how well-versed we were in using technology, I answered that I was pretty comfortable and that I had a pretty decent knowledge of technological things, including the internet. The exercises in learning 2.0 have really kind of proven me wrong. There were many things on the internet that I had either never heard of before (rollyo, mash-ups, technorati), or had heard of but never used (flickr, delicious, rss feeds). I'm glad and thankful that I had to investigate these things for class. They gave me a greater insight into the vast possibilities that are open to me on the internet. I always understood the hugeness of the internet, but I guess I never really had a grasp on it.
I have to admit that I had the most fun when exploring the mash ups, which I can say with some confidence was probably not the main intention of getting us to use these different web programs. But as much as I enjoyed learning about rss feeds and delicious, I've found that I don't use them often. I've never used the mash-ups again, but I can still recall my first uses of them and how geeked out I was when I saw the endless lists of different programs. And I can't think of any other time in my real life when I might get a chance to bear the children of David Beckham and Christian Bale (I love the Brits, apparently).
Overall, I was pleased with the use of learning 2.0. I did notice that some of the links on the Web 2.0 site were not active and that the site hadn't been updated in a while, I still think that the principles of it are great. I'm looking foward to keeping up to date on new technologies (it would be really great if the Web 2.0 site could be updated with new programs and things) and continuing my education organically. It's fulfilling to be able to learn things on your own and explore new things on your own time and at your own pace. That's the greatest accomplishment I'll take away from Learning 2.0.


YouTube and the NetLibrary

I think it's really interesting to recall that there once was a time when people didn't know anything about YouTube. It's such a central part of our collective social conscious that I forget sometimes that it hasn't existed forever. I know 6 and 7 year old kids who not only know about YouTube, but they know how to search for videos and watch things. I realize that this isn't an ideal age for surfing YouTube, but still--it's just as much a part of their internet use as it is mine. The amount of things you can find on YouTube is incredible--I've personally searched for music videos, sports clips, clips from TV shows that I watch, a few World of Warcraft promotional videos, and a few Battlestar Galactica montages of key moments between Starbuck and Apollo (in case anyone is also a viewer, I was really annoyed and bothered by the way their relationship was "resolved" in the series finale). But still, I don't doubt that the extent of movie clips posted on YouTube cover an enormous amount of material.
For the purposes of this blog, I opened up YouTube with the idea that I might try and search for something that I've never searched YouTube for in the past. Difficult to do, but I managed to think of something. Tornadoes. Weird, I know. But I had just been watching the weather channel, and I had to think hard about something that I have never looked for on YouTube before. And I actually found some really amazing videos. I also learned that they have tornadoes in Canada. Maybe I'm a little stupid, but I had no idea they had tornadoes there. Apparently they have pretty bad ones. Anyway, here's a video of a tornado from 2004:

I thought this video was kind of awesome. I love that you can see the tornado starting! I'm a secret fan of the movie Twister, and for a short while in high school I wanted to be a storm chaser like Helen Hunt's character. Ever since, I've been a little geeky-excited about tornadoes, so if you're not as big a geek as I am, indulge me a little?

I also looked at using NetLibrary, which seems like a great service. My library is not a participating member, so I had some trouble setting up an account for myself just so that I could get a good look around, but I think I'm ok with it. Even though I see the appeal of and am impressed by the technology of things like the Sony Reader and the Kindle, I know that I'll always prefer my books in hard copy format. I like holding my books in my hand and touching the covers and feeling the paper. Total nerd, but it's true. When I say that I love books, I'm not talking about the audio kind.


Zoho writer

I was really impressed with Zoho writer. My previous post was a document that I typed up in Zoho writer and posted directly to my blog. And it was INCREDIBLY easy! I've had a hard time getting some things to post on my blog, but getting my document up was no sweat at all, and it was fast. That's a really awesome feature that would be great to have in Word itself. Also, I think that for me, an application like Zoho writer is really invaluable. I have a Mac and have sometimes had trouble with conversions to PC word processing programs, even versions of Word on PCs. Being able to write or even import/export my documents into a program like Zoho writer to avoid these issues would be beneficial.
One thing that I've noticed about this entire Learning 2.0 program is that, even though I considered myself to be pretty well-versed in technology, I had really no idea about quite a few of the things we've covered here! Anyway, more on this in a future post.
When I took a look at some of the award-winners, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are almost 500 Web 2.0 tools to be found! That's an incredible number, to me anyway. Taking a further look at the list, I decided to explore the tool called "Hair Mixer." You can upload a picture of you and replace your hairdo with the hair of celebrities or pictures from the web or blogs. I, of course, chose to look at celebrities. I think I look the best with Jessica Biel's hair (the first one), but I've always wondered what I would look like blond (Rachel McAdams) and with red hair (Julia Roberts), although it wasn't a great picture of me, and my face got cut off a little bit, but whatever. My real hair never looks like any of these pictures.

As you can tell, you can absolutely see that I've added my face to these pictures. The picture that I used of myself was from a weird angle, so I had a hard time getting everything lined up, and some of my hair was kind of in my face, so you can see it in some of the pictures, but I like the idea of the application. It's a fun thing to do if you have time to waste on the internet. I enjoyed playing around with it a lot, and was pleased that my face didn't fit in any incarnation on Paris Hilton's pictures.
Although I only looked at Hair Mixer, the list of award winners was impressive and long. The variety of the applications was really impressive as well. It's amazing the different things you can do on the internet! Something that I thought I already had a good grasp on, but apparently I was wrong!

my first doc

Hello!  My name is Amy. I think that Zoho writer looks kind of like the document feature in Google groups, but that's not a bad thing. I think that this online application and others are a great idea, and that they all serve their purpose really well. It looks like this application has just as many of the most necessary features as Word, and as long as I can type my document and perform a few formatting commands, I'd be happy to use this for writing my papers etc.cool


Wiki lover

Let me begin by saying that I love wikis. I think they're easy, quick, informative, and I love that they can be created for virtually any topic or institution. While I always keep in mind the fact that any person can edit or add to a wiki, thus calling the contents' validity into question, I check Wikipedia at least once a day for any number of things: bios, definitions of words, tv show episode guides, historical information, ANYTHING. It's my go-to site for getting informed quickly on the basics of whatever I'm interested in. But I also use the Lost wiki (http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page) to check for spoilers and recaps and theories. And I've also used the World of Warcraft wiki (http://www.wowwiki.com/Portal:Main) when I was geeking out over the story behind it and the history (I love reading fantasy, so I was very excited to say the least when I heard that it had orcs and elves and stuff in it). Both of these wikis are easy to use and readily accesible. You can even search the World of Warcraft wiki right from the Google search results page.
It's a good thing, I think, for libraries to use wikis, provided that they can either control the content a little bit from the outset or have someone on staff to monitor the content that the patrons post. I looked at the Princeton Public Library's Book Lovers wiki, and really liked it. I like reading book reviews, and that's basically what the content of this site was. Unfortuntately, this wiki hasn't been updated in almost a year, but the book reviews are still up and available for searching. I think this is a great way for libraries to use the wiki. Customer reviews are some of the more reliable ways that I find for people to decide which books to read or which books they might like. I consult the book reviews on Amazon before I purchase any book from them; I've come to believe that as long as most people like the book, I figure it's probably good.
I also checked out the Library Success wiki, and found this one really interesting. What a great way for libraries and librarians to learn and discuss different methods, programs, and policies that are being used anywhere to make their libraries more efficient and user-friendly! One of the benefits of specialized wikis like this one is that all the information on a particular subject is in one place, which makes searching for particular items easy and allows for happy accidents of browsing other pages of the wiki during a search for something specific.
Overall, I think that wikis are an excellent technique for sharing information--as long as the content can be monitored. The one weakness of wikipedia is that the content for some of the more popular culture items can't always be trusted. It looks like the Library Success wiki tries to monitor their content from the beginning by requiring registration before someone can edit or enter information. In reality, I think the only way that you can be sure no one is posting or removing inaccurate or relevant information, respecitively, is to have someone available on staff who can check up on the updates made and make sure that nothing suspect is going on. If that can be handled, there's no reason why wikis shouldn't be a go-to, reliable source for everyone.


Delicious, Technorati, and Library 2.0

So, I started out this week by getting acquainted with Delicious (I can't remember where the periods go, which, incidentally, throw me a little bit. Why are they there?). I liked it. I imported all of my previously existing bookmarks without realizing that the system also imported Firefox's previously installed bookmarks too, which I either don't use or have bookmarked on my own not realizing they were already there. So when my bookmarks were imported, I had to go through them all and delete the dupes...took me a little while. After I spiffed up my bookmarks, though, I was able to appreciate how convenient delicious is. It makes using the internet a lot easier for me. I'll definitely keep using it.
Technorati was interesting. I tried finding some blogs that I know (including this one) but couldn't. I'm not sure that I did everything right, but none of the blogs I looked for came up. Granted, since it seems that Technorati "spiders" blogs based on tags and I am pretty bad about tagging my posts, I'm sure that's one reason that my blog isn't on there. But in further investigation, I thought that it was really involved and allowed for many different search words to find blogs that might interest you. I don't think I'll keep using it, but in theory it was a really cool site. 
I was interested in learning more about how libraries are incorporating Web 2.0 into their services. I was reading Michael Stephens article on how he uses Web 2.0 principles to make his library more user-friendly and user-centric. It was this last idea that really struck me; that he seemed to invite his users and patrons into his processes of basically every area of his library. I think that because libraries really exist solely for the patrons, looking to them for their input and trying to implement those things that they think would make their experiences at the library more comfortable and successful is smart and lets the patrons know that they have some control (however limited it might actually be) over the environment and tools that exist in their libraries. However, I do think that it's necessary to curb some of the suggestions or ideas from users or the technology industry put out for libraries to latch on to. Not using technology for the sake of technology just streamlines the whole library experience, and makes sure that what technology is available in the library is exactly what they user needs, nothing more and nothing less. More, I think, would be overload and confusing; less, obviously, would be disappointing and lacking. I found Michael Stephens' points the most reflective of my own.


Freelance 2.0

I was looking forward to be able to mess around with some different tools this week, and was immediately drawn to the image generators. I played around with several of them and, for the most part, thought they were really fun. One of the first ones I tried was a glitter text generator, which resulted not only in me trying out lame-ish kind of stuff like my name
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The glitter text was fun, but I thought the options (at least the ones that I found) seemed a little limited.
Then, I got a little psycho and tried out the "make me babies" generator. I now have two children of indeterminate sex, one with Christian Bale (on the left) and one with David Beckham (on the right). Hot!

I'm not really sure that I can see myself in these kids, but whatever. They're cuter kids than I thought they would be. I assumed that the generator would deliberately turn out ugly babies.

I was also able to generate my own seal. Granted, I wasn't very original with the text, but I think the result is kind of awesome, and I wish that I could have my "seal" made up for real. The Official Seal Generator that I used was really easy and gave me a lot of options. I geeked out a little bit when I noticed that the fonts they were offering were completely different from the fonts that I have on my computer or have ever seen on any computer. Here's my seal:

Love it!

I also tried the Library Thing system. I have a similar catalog on Facebook through Living Social that I've actually tried to post as a gadget here, but I keep getting an error message. I am now 0 for 2 when trying to post a link to some kind of library of my books on this blog. The Library Thing catalog that I created is woefully incomplete (I just picked a few random books that I could see on my bookshelf), but the link is here.

Overall, I enjoyed exploring these things on my own. I had a great time with the generators: there was also a tartan generator that I tried, but I wasn't really crazy about the result, so I didn't include it here. And I've bookmarked my personal seal so that I can go back and fine-tune it and get it made into a magnet or something. Now I have to go...my celebrity babies need a diaper change.

UPDATE: The glitter stuff is screwing with my post! Those little boxes don't appear anywhere until I look at my published page, and everything is aligned much better in my preview screen. Boo, glitter text!



I have never heard of Pecha Kucha. It sounded a little bit like a cross between a Pokemon character and a Southeast Asian festival or something. To say that I was mildly curious to discover its actually meaning would be...putting it mildly. So when I did some investigating, I was intrigued to learn that it actually is a method or setting that aims to trim down presentations in corporate and other environments. When I read this, I had a big laugh. The company that I used to work for had (and, according to my friends who still work there, still has) a mind-numbing propensity to create interminable PowerPoint presentations on everything from annual company meetings to health insurance presentations to demonstrations on how to use the new coffee machine. I sent a few of my friends an email cluing them into this idea that presentations should be limited to 20 slides in 6 minutes and 40 seconds and suggested that one of them present this information to the higher-ups...perhaps via PowerPoint. They got a kick out of it.
In theory, I am a big fan of Pecha Kucha and think companies and other entities would do well to keep presentations concise and easy to digest. It is my personal experience that unending presentations only allow guests to nod off, become bored or disinterested, or to lose their focus entirely and wind up doodling in their notebooks. In my former employer's case, it caused most of the staff to make the higher-ups the subjects of mild ridicule for their heavy reliance on PowerPoint. All this being said, however, I recognize that in some instances it might be impossible to limit all presentations to this time limit and slide number. For example, in a corporate setting it might be very difficult to keep an annual state of the company presentation to such a short duration, however much the employees might appreciate such an effort. But no doubt the effort, at least, would be nice.  


Lost at the orchid

I'm a huge lost fanatic. Just wanted to represent on my blog ;-). Ok, commercial's over. Back to the action. What happened to Aaron???!?

RSS Feeds

I have to admit that, even considering my crowded, never-seem-to-have-the-time-for-anything life, I'm a little against RSS feeds. Part of what I enjoy about surfing the internet is being able go the websites that I enjoy and poke around, see what the site looks like, check out the pictures, the archives, whatever. The variety of content and design draws me to them. I have to own up to a fascination with celebrity gossip, so I'm constantly checking people.com, ew.com, usmagazine.com, even Perez Hilton. Truthfully, I can't imagine not being able to actually look at Perez Hilton's personally altered images. 
This being said, I found it really easy and user-friendly to set up an account on Bloglines, and I subscribed to some feeds that are interesting to me; some are websites that I check every day and others are sites that I would like to be able to read, but don't have the time (or I completely forget that I want to check them). Being a library person, I obviously love books, so one of the sites I subscribed to was the New York Times Book Review. I also subscribed to ESPN, but I might remove that one...I check ESPN constantly and I prefer visiting the website. There might be a few more sites that I add to my list, but they'll probably be sites that I wish I visited more regularly rather than sites that I check daily already. 


Flickr Firsts

I was looking forward to getting lost on Flickr, a site that I have never used before. I am horribly out of touch with photographs--I don't even have a digital camera. Most of the pictures that I find online are from Webshots, where my sister posts every picture she ever takes. I do, however, like using these kinds of image services to get photos to use for my desktop, and I am always drawn to images of nature, particularly close-ups of flowers. Fortunately, I was able to find some great images--of flowers and of other things--on Flickr. 

One of the first things I searched for was "fields of flowers." I love these pictures; they make me feel like I'm running around in a vast open space on a beautiful day. They make me happy. I found an image of a dahlia with a raindrop on one of its petals that I thought was really pretty.

I noticed in this image that the raindrop had a little box around it where someone had commented on that particular feature of the image. This is a feature that I've never seen on any other imaging service and I thought it was interesting and fun for people to be able to not only post a comment in the traditional sense, but also to be able to post a comment directly on the photo using Flickr's notes feature (see the photo here). 

I also searched for "stained glass," which I think is really beautiful, but sometimes the religious overtones make me wish for some kind of stained glass that is abstract-looking. Luckily, I was able to find some Tiffany stained glass that was really gorgeous. I used this image to create a Trading Card, which is an awesome feature. I wish that there had been a little more flexibility with this feature, though. I had hoped to be able to change the font or use other backgrounds, but all in all this was a really unique option. 

I was also really intrigued and excited with the Flickr Commons. I once worked for a book publisher that put out children's nonfiction titles, and one of my jobs was to locate images for the books online, mostly from the Library of Congress. Looking at historical images is something that intrigues me; I love thinking about the history behind the photos. This image is from the Powerhouse Museum collection, which is a collection of glass plate negative images.

One of the other cool things that I discovered on Flickr was one of the mashups called Flickr Color Pickr. It was a color wheel that allowed you to select a color and instantly, all around the color wheel, Flickr images matching that color would appear. I found this blue image, which is of the water in the polar bear tank at the Philadelphia Zoo. 

Some of the mashups that were available on Flickr were really ingenious. I thought the Flickr  Color Pickr was a great way for people to be able to search for images based on a particular color, and the accuracy of the images located based on the color selected from the color wheel was astonishing. Granted, the number of photos returned were no doubt a miniscule sampling compared the number of photos on Flickr, but it was an easy one-stop shopping kind of thing that I thought was convenient and clever.

Finally, one of the last features that I investigated on Flickr was the World Map. I thought of looking at images from around here, and even though I did search for my town on the World Map (I found some images that were sort of around my town, but not necessarily very close), I also wanted to see some of the images that were from Iceland. I don't really have a particular desire to visit Iceland, but I'm envious of the people who live there and who get to see things like Northern Lights on some kind of regular basis (there was one time probably about 5 years ago that the Northern Lights were, through some kind of meteorological anomaly, vaguely visible from my house, so I have seen them and they were stunning, however pale they might have been). I certainly don't envy the winters in Iceland; I've been complaining enough about winter here! But I thought that this picture looked really peaceful and quiet. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Flickr. I'm sure that there are tons of options and extras that I didn't get a chance to look at, but the images I found were beautiful and the features that I noticed made my first Flickr experience enjoyable, and it made me look forward to exploring some more.


lifelong learning

I am looking forward to taking advantage of Learning 2.0. From reading about the program and the 23 things, it seems mostly comprised to technological things that I don't know, which is one of the things that I was hoping to rectify with this class. I think the concepts behind Learning 2.0 are really wonderful. The idea of controlling your own learning and that pace at which you learn, I think, can only yield more positive results. Being required to move away from a topic or issue before you have grasped it, for me anyway, only creates frustration and a disinterest in continuing to pursue and learn that issue later. Granted, because we are learning these things in class, I'm sure there will be times when I will need to devote a  little more time to things than our schedule allows, but understanding the ideologies behind Learning 2.0 will encourage me to continue my enquiry after our class has moved on.
This also ties into the concept of "lifelong learning." Being a lifelong learner is something that I can relate to in many senses. If reading is a method of learning throughout your life, then I've got that part in the bag. I can also relate to this in a literal sense--I've been out of school for 5 years now, so continuing my education by going to school is another way that I'm hoping to enrich my future. And I think that by learning communally, as we will do, will benefit us all. I think that some of the best ways to learn new things is to experience, make mistakes, and discuss those things with other people. 
Of the 7 1/2 things, the one that I am most intrigued by and looking forward to practicing is number 3, turning problems into challenges. I'm pretty certain that there are lots of challenges ahead for me, and this is a helpful attitude to have. It'll help me battle the stress, I'm sure!