Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This is one of the image generators I had a play with, and above is an image I downloaded and added some text to. The hardest bit was trying to think of something witty to say - I think I pretty well failed miserably but still, at least it's relevant and I learned how to use the image generator, download the image to my desktop and then add the image to my blog. There seem to be a whole host of image and text generators out there. All I did was Google 'image generators' and there were pages and pages of them. It's a fun thing and I guess helps you to flossy up your blog or web page but again, could become a great time waster!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This was really fun. It is quite neat to join this group and know that all the other members are my colleagues from around North Shore Libraries. I enjoyed adding comments to the favourites lists and reading what other people had written. And yes, it was incredibly easy! I can see this tool being used by all sorts of groups of like-minded people to share their interests and passions.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I think libraries can make good use of wikis to further enhance their services to patrons and as a different and extra way of organising information and resources. Wikis like subject and resource guides are a good way of grouping things and allowing many people to have input into the way things are organised and what works best for the people who use the library. They can also allow more visibility for the library's resources such as e-resources and databases which can be hidden in a website or catalogue. I particularly like the Book lovers wiki which allows people to share their experiences of books and add reviews and it's good to get people actively involved in their library.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The results of searching blog posts, tags or for entire blogs are quite different, although they can also delivery some of the same results depending on the content of the blog and how they've been tagged. For example, there were some blogs which turned up in the search for blog posts and tags. It seems to me that searching for tags or entire blogs might turn up more useful results if you want something specific, but if you want to do as wide a search as possible searching the blog posts might be the way to go. It's interesting seeing what is popular too as a way perhaps of getting into a bunch of blogs without having to do too much searching.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I have already learnt a lot from doing the Web 2.0 course. Some of the things we've looked at so far I hadn't even heard of, let alone explored or used in any meaningful way. The articles by librarians on the future of libraries in the Web 2.0 environment emphasised the need for libraries to get on board with these technologies and use them to enhance our services to patrons. Some libraries are already doing this, as examples of the use of mash ups and accounts show. There is an online community which people are involved with for many aspects of their social and working lives, where sites are user-friendly, interactive and collaborative in a way they weren't previously - surfing the web is no longer enough on its own. It also made me realise the growing need at North Shore Libraries for staff dedicated to working in this area, web librarians and so on, positions which are currently being considered.
I found exploring this site very interesting, and can see why some public libraries in the US are using it as a way of promoting their resources and services to a wider audience, particularly an audience which is used to using the web in this way. I like concept of sharing ideas and resources with others and being able to give and receive help in this way. Of course you still need to use your own judgement to decide whether any of the information found in this way is reliable, but it can certainly lead you through to all sorts of places you might not otherwise come across. A lot of the tags used seem (from my reasonably brief searches) to be useful and show that a lot of people are probably going to categorise things in the same way. Although this doesn't mean we no longer need library catalogues with standardised subject access!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

RSS and newsfeeds

The thing that impresses me most about searching these sites is the wealth of information out there, and the need for some discretion when viewing information and considering reliable sources. I thought was pretty good for finding news items that are more likely to be from reasonably reliable sources such as newspapers and other media outlets. Searching for feeds could be useful for business or leisure purposes. For example, using Technorati I searched using the keywords 'viola' and 'violists' (in my other life when not being Shopping Woman I am a very keen amateur violist) and found a number of interesting links, including one mentioning the Arizona Viola Society on a blog called 'Major League Jerk : the daily ramblings of men with no professional experience and even less social tact'! The Arizona Viola Society apparently played the national anthem before a football game. I guess it shows as well that you need to be pretty specific with your searching and spend time evaluating results to really make the best use of these tools. Although Bloglines was the most comprehensive in terms of finding all sorts of feeds and citations I found the others mentioned here easier to use with more meaningful results.
The exercise about RSS and newsfeeds has been very interesting and really opened my eyes to some of the possibilities out there in the world of Web 2.0. I've got a couple of RSS feeds for work at the moment, the eLGAR blog posts and the 'Unshelved' cartoons (which are a bit of light relief each day, and often right on the money about librarians and the work we do). However, registering on Bloglines and signing up for various newsfeeds was something completely new to me. It really was very easy to add the sites I wanted just by typing in the URL and clicking the subscribe button. I can see that this could have great benefit for me in my job as I could get useful and up to date stories about publishing, book reviews, what's popular etc, and also news stories about things of relevance such as Booker prize winners, the latest Harry Potter releases and so on. However, again I think you need to make this technology work for you because it seems to me there is the potential to either waste a lot of time or be completely overwhelmed with the volume of information you're receiving. I think it's good to consider how these things can be used most effectively which will often just be trial and error, working out what you want and need and how to use it well.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Online shopping is a great thing isn't it? I find something almost magical about ordering and paying for something online and then having it turn up in the post. Sites such as Amazon as well as the online auction sites though can be dangerously addictive and you do have to have some self-discipline because it's all so easy. Amazon for example is forever tempting you with recommendations based on things you've already bought from them, and once you've got an account set up it is very quick and easy to order from them. The ease of use of the site is very important when doing shopping online. Some sites will let you purchase without having to create an account (which makes life a lot easier if you're unlikely to use it again) while others insist on you creating an account even for minor one-off purchases. Also I have found some sites (especially American ones) won't ship to New Zealand, as though we aren't part of the known world, too far away and too small to be worth it. Still, there's usually someone out there who will sell you what you want and ship it to you. But do we really do our shopping on the internet? It reminds me of a radio programme I heard by British comedian Mark Steel about Leonardo da Vinci. He was talking about the so-called marvels of modern technology, with people saying 'we can do our shopping on the internet now!'. His response was no, you contact the shop via the internet and then they send round a bloke in a van - just like the 1850s when the grocer would send a lad on a bike, except there was less chance then of him saying ' sorry, I can't fill your order, my notebook's crashed'.

This has turned into a bit of a rave but then I am Shopping Woman aren't I, and in my travels I've learnt a bit about shopping online!
One of the mashups on Flickr that interested me was Montagr, which uses photos on Flickr to create mosaics. You can type in a word, for example 'flower' and Flickr will show a photo of a flower and then proceed to create a montage replica of this photo from other photos of flowers in the Flickr collection. You can then click on each individual photo as well. The idea of creating these mosaics is creative and imaginative and can be beautiful. I can't see any terribly practical application for it apart from creating amazing images, but perhaps that is a sufficient end in itself. Anyhow it shows that people out there are coming up with new ways of using technology all the time.