Friday, April 25, 2008

Still Playing With the Toys

Well, the Twins lost to Cleveland last Friday night, 4-0, but it was still fun to visit the Metrodome and get my first glimpse of the new edition of the Twins. Watching the game was a little tricky as I was in the first phase of a weekend prep for one of those medical procedures one needs to go through when they hit a certain age. (I won't go into the details--it's probably not the kind of thing one talks about in polite society--but it did involve drinking a lot of fluids over a three day period and then looking forward to a Monday morning visit to a clinic that included, thankfully, a bit of sedation and a designated driver to get one home.) A friend of mine once said that "after 40 its just patch, patch, patch." But this was an important screening (all right, it was a colonoscopy) and one that everyone should have done to catch anything more serious. I wouldn't rank it up there with life's greatest moments, but I'm thankful it was done and that, barring anything else, I won't need to repeat the experience for another ten years. One web site that I find myself going to again and again when I have a medical question is WebMD. I'm sure there are others out there that provide similar useful information, but this one has been very helpful to me in answering any questions I might have. Another site that I stumbled across just now is from the Mayo Clinic. I've added it to my site and want to come back and explore this site some more. But enough on the medical front.

It's a little over a week since the deadline for the 23 Things On a Stick experience and I'm still having fun with the stuff I learned. I've added a number of new feeds to my RSS reader, put a few more books on my Shelfari shelf, added more web sites to my page (and edited a few more tags on same). I'm looking for a larger chunk of time to play around some more with my Flickr and Picasa sites. Given the weekend forecast (which includes the possibility of snow!!!) I might have some good "inside time" to do just that. I feel like these tools are really adding to both my productivity and knowledge base. One blog that I added to my reader is from RLG/OCLC. I knew about this blog earlier, but really hadn't explored all it had to offer. This is a valuable site, and one that will be very helpful in my work.

Closer to home on the professional development front (and the reason why I posted an image of Sherlock Holmes, as conceived by the artist Sidney Paget) is my celebrating the receipt of a grant from the University of Minnesota Friends of the Libraries. The award was presented at last night's annual dinner and will allow me to travel to England sometime in the next year to do some research on Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. I am deeply appreciative of this award and look forward to sharing the results of my labors at some future date. I'm also celebrating the completion of a paper I'm popping in the mail this afternoon. I wrote it in response to a call for papers for a symposium on Doyle to be held in Canada later this year. I'm hoping the paper will be accepted for presentation at the conference, but won't know until sometime in the near future.

The Friends annual dinner was tied together with a most amazing event, the NOMMO African American Authors Series at which we had the honor and delight to listen to a reading by poet Lucille Clifton and be a part of a conversation with Ms. Clifton and U of M faculty member Alexs Pate. It was an extraordinary evening and made me want to read her poetry. My thanks to the Friends and the Archie Givens Foundation for making this evening possible. It was truly wonderful!

Friday, April 18, 2008 Again (With Some Baseball Thrown In)

Is this a medieval social network? I know its a woodcut from one of our rare books, but I feel a little like the guy at the desk, working away on some more follow-up after my journey through the 23 Things. I just spent a little more time on my site editing some of the tags that were created during the export/import process. I spent a fair amount of time with the tags that were imported, removing the "import" tag and putting something a little more meaningful in its place. In the process I learned some more about editing, went to a new site and used my new tag button on my browser to put that site into my database, found out a little bit more about bundling tags (which I haven't done, yet, but wanted to find out what it was all about) and generally had fun organizing my stuff.

I can definitely see how this is going to pay some dividends when I'm working on a computer at home or some place outside the office. It will be great not to have to worry about hunting through all the bookmarks (even though they were fairly well organized in folders) and to add new sites to the list as I continue to travel through the Web. I've also started to share more of my posts with the larger community and also think about those things that I'll keep private. Most of those sites will probably involve personal or work-related sites that don't have a wider appeal.

But soon the work week will be done and it will be time to turn my mind to other thoughts. Tonight I'm heading down the street to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to watch the Twins play the Cleveland Indians. A couple of years from now we'll be able to enjoy baseball in the out-of-doors, where it should be played. Sure, on a night like tonight, it will be a little on the cool side, but I'm really looking forward to sitting in the new stadium, watching the Twins. I'm guessing it won't be as noisy as the Dome (my Dad's ears were ringing for days after he went to one of the World Series games in 1991), but it will have its own flavor and atmosphere. Almost every day I go by the site where the new stadium is being built. Its fun to watch it go up.

One of the things I try to do when I'm at a conference during the baseball season is to try and catch a game. When I was in St. Louis for the RBMS conference a few years ago I saw the Cardinals play one of their last games in the old Busch Stadium. When I was in Denver long ago for an SAA conference I saw the Rockies play in Coors Field. I'm hoping to maybe catch a Dodgers game when I'm in LA this summer for another RBMS conference (if the schedule and transportation allow). Maybe my attachment to ball fields goes back to my undergraduate days, when I'd sneak away to see the Cubs play at Wrigley Field. Or even farther back, when I was a young boy, when my friends and I would get one of our parents to drive us to old County Stadium to watch the new team in town, the Brewers. (Somewhere, in one my boxes or drawers, I have a foul ball that I caught off the bat of Reggie Smith from the Boston Red Sox during batting practice.) Or when I was really young, at the fringes of memory, and went with my Dad and Uncle to a Twins game in old Metropolitan Stadium. Baseball. . . its in the blood. Go Twins!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A New Blog Addition: Shelfari

One of the widgets I've noticed as I've gone back and read a number of the 23 Things blogs from Metronet is Shelfari, so I decided to join and add a bookshelf to my blog so folks could see what I'm reading. I generally have two or three books going at the same time, so after a bit of tinkering with the widget I went with a three-shelf bookcase. It doesn't overwhelm the sidebar of my blog and lets me keep three books in view. I haven't joined any groups or invited friends yet, but that might come later. I did notice that there were a number of Sherlock Holmes groups that have been formed. The largest has 142 members and seems fairly active, so I might jump into that group.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Here's where I work and live during the day--the Elmer L. Andersen Library on the West Bank campus of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. At the moment I'm waiting for a patron who wanted to chat with my online, using our new Meebo widget on our web page. So, while I'm waiting, I decided to go back to one of the Things that I wanted to spend more time with: I didn't have the time, when working on that Thing, to export/import my bookmarks from my browser into, but now I'm in the process of doing that. I went ahead and registered, got the buttons installed, and am now waiting for the sucess message to pop up telling me that the import went well. Once that's done, then I'll play around so more with this site and see what it can do for me. I have no idea how long the process will take, but I think this will be another important tool to use, especially when I'm away from the workstation that resides in an office on the first floor of this wonderful library.

Thing 23 At The End

The end of the trip. Just like France, where I had to get on a plane and come home to the "real" world. In some of my earlier blogs I've reflected on what I've learned going through the 23 Things. So I won't dwell on those comments but now, having completed the survey, e-mailed my multi-type to tell them I've finished, and with a good night's sleep, here are a few final comments about this experience.

I know, for one, that I'll go back and continue to play around with a lot that I've been exposed to in this course. I want to dive deeper, to find out more about some of the Things, and to use them in my work. Beyond that, I want to read some of the other blogs from others in Minnesota who participated. I've had one fed to me by RSS, so I've been able to keep up with that one, but I want to read more and get a broader sense of what people learned and experienced (thinking, at the same time, that I might pick up another hint of something to do with a tool).

Plane rides, especially the long 8 hour ones from Europe, give you some time to think and reflect on the experience. While I was in France I kept a journal of my experiences. I've gone back to that journal a number of times since the trip. I'll probably come back to some of the entries in this blog again, too, and reflect on what I've learned. At the same time, I'm going to continue this blog. I doubt that there will be many readers. Its mostly for my benefit. But if there is the odd tidbit I find or write about that brings something meaningful to someone else, then that's a good thing too.

I want to thank all the people who made this possible. This took a lot of time and effort to put together, but it was very much worth it. Thank you!

One final thought: I'm wondering if there will be any kind of follow-up or presentations or sessions at MLA or some such venue or conference. I think it would be fun to bring the 23 Things community together, physically, for a time of reflection and interaction. Just a thought. Anyway, thanks, again!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thing 22 What I Learned Today

One last picture from France, this one again from Montpellier. During another stroll through the city I came upon this building, set in a lovely little park. What caught my eye (and which you probably can't see in the picture, unless you click on the image to get the larger view) is the sign for this building carved in the lintel above the door. It reads, simply, "Archives." A good, strong, solid image for a building that holds such records, but not terribly inviting to the public. One of the many things I learned today, and something that's been a thread through a lot of these Things, is the sense of inviting one into a community and the importance of being a part of a community. And its a two way street. Traffic is moving both in and out. We need to be out and about, on the highways and byways of this brave new world as much as we need to be tending to the things all around us, the things for which we have a responsibility. In my case, its a sense of stewardship, of passing the riches that I'm responsible for to a next generation. Much of what I care for in my work is as old, or older, than this building. Its all still standing, its all important, and these tools that I've been exposed to will help me to care in new ways, not only for the rarities of my realm, but for those who cross the space that is "Archives."

The other thing I learned, or had reinforced, is the need to create a discipline to learn more, to carve out that time to make it happen. Its part of the lifeblood that helps make it easy to get up each morning and look at the possibilities of the new day. Enough for now. Its on to the last Thing and then time for rest.

Thing 21 Other Social Networks

My social network expanded a bit with some actual face time with the people I met in France. And not all of my time was spent in Paris. I went south for a few days, to Montpellier, where my son did a fall semester at the University. One evening, while strolling through the city, we came to this, the St. Clément aqueduct. We had some great days there, although the folks were complaining about the weather, which was on the cold and wet side for this sunny city in the south of France.

I mentioned earlier that I was part of the Gather community, although I haven't spent as much time there lately. One of my colleagues in the Sherlockian world was writing the occasional column there, so I was drawn to that, and I've joined a number of the book groups. Like so much else, its takes commitment to be part of a community, whether your contributing content or just part of the conversation. I have a hunch that I, like many others, will plunge back into this world as we get closer to the elections this fall.

Web Junction has been a part of my life as well. I am really interested in the educational aspects of this community, the chance to do some things like I've been doing as I've walked through these 23 Things. But, like Gather, I haven't really had the chance to carve out the time and dive in. My guess is that a lot of this kind of activity is going to have to take place out of the office, away from the regular work that just needs to get done. There are too many irons in the fire at the moment to want to pile on more, yet this course has strengthened my resolve to try and make the time for additional professional development.

Well, I joined Ning, left a comment (it seems like a few of us are scrambling to finish the Things), and posted a photograph from a skiing trip I took last Spring in Colorado. Time to try and wrap this up and call it a day.

View my page on 23 Things on a Stick

Thing 20 Libraries and Social Networks

My last Paris pic during this little walk through the 23 Things. This is the interior of Saint-Sulpice and the gnomon which, contrary to the popular book, the Da Vinci Code, has nothing to do with the "Rose Line" of the best-selling novel. The library connection with the novel is, of course, that great line uttered by Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks): "I've got to get to a library. . ."

And, wow, when I went to the Denver Public Library site my first reaction was "there's a lot happening on this web page." The same holds true for the Hennepin County site. To my eye, it seems really busy (plus it seems to take a fair amount of time to load). I think it really taps into the kind of multi-tasking that seems so much a part of life these days. Both sites are what I'd call "fragmented" with a lots to choose from: blogs, blurbs, music, lists, searches, etc. In fact, the performance on my home machine plummeted when I had four tabs open, two of them in MySpace. It seems like it takes a lot of computing power to drive these sites, so you probably can't have a lot of tabs open in a browser, which I like to do, and have any productive time.

All of the sites that I visited seem to really be keyed to younger users. I didn't see much evidence of college or university use at first, but when I started to search some more I found plenty of listings. Many of them seemed to relate to library jobs in the MySpace Jobs group, although I did find the odd video tour or sites connected in some way, shape or form with graduate MLIS programs. I did find Vermont's 23 Things group, but couldn't locate any other group.

Thing 19 Podcasts

Podcasting live to you from Versailles. . . I wish. The day at Versailles was the coldest and worst weather day of the trip. All the same, there were folks crewing in the long pond beyond this fountain in the garden of Versailles. Snow and sleet greeted us as we walked the grounds (after staying a long time inside that magnificent space and making our way, slowly, through all the rooms). It was also the day of the heaviest crowds, with folks from all around the world. At the time, I wanted to know what was happening with the Gopher football team and, conveniently, we bumped into a couple of Yanks who had spent the previous evening in sports bar in Paris watching another Big Ten game (I think it was Michigan vs Ohio State). Tantalizingly, they told us that the Gophers were ahead (or close) during the first half, but they didn't remember the final score. Later on, I think when I arrived home, I found out they had lost (to Wisconsin, 41-34). What does this have to do with podcasting you say. . .

I'm not sure, but I've enjoyed podcasts for quite some time. I've got a number of subscriptions going. The biggest frustration is finding the time to listen to them all. If I had an iPod I could listen to them on the bus when I'm coming and going from work. Maybe that's what I'll spend part of my tax rebate on. Or maybe I can figure out if I can download some podcasts on my cell phone. I've already got music on that (which I do listen to on the bus), so it shouldn't be a big deal (or maybe so, since its mp3 and Verizon works with wma files). Just something else to explore.

I started out using iPodder (now Juice) for podcasts and then switched over to iTunes since I had so much of the rest of my stuff there, both at work and at home. Much of the stuff I've subscribed to comes from NPR or the New York Times, but I have some other subscriptions to things like a podcast produced for the Baker Street Irregulars. All of this helps me connected in other ways.

On the flip side, its nice to be able to point some of our patrons to both online video and audio for things that have happened to us in the news. Recent examples for me include a podcast of an interview I did on the Don Shelby radio show (an audio file) and two video clips from the Minnesota Daily and WCCO TV's "Finding Minnesota" segment on the news.

Thing 18 YouTube and Other Online Video

I'm wondering what Napoleon might have thought of YouTube (that's his tomb on the right, another of our Paris visits). Everyone has the potential to be an online journalist, so I wonder what it would have been like if someone had a digital camcorder on the march to (or retreat from) Moscow, or on the conquest of Egypt. (A little 1812 Overture playing in the background?) Or maybe the Emperor would have had a camera himself and taken some shots (hand tucked from view) and put himself online. Ah, the world will never know.

And yes, here we have another bandwidth issue, with YouTube gobbling up lots of it. Again, not something for the 100 buck laptop crowd. I had to chuckle at the little message that went along with this Thing: "We recommend you complete this exercise during light Internet usage times." Today's the last day for e-filing those tax returns. I'm sure the 'Net is burning up right now. I certainly noticed some poor response times last night when I was working online. And I noticed it the other day when I was searching for "West Wing" stuff (for one of my earlier posts) and found a number of clips from the show, including C.J.'s "motherboard" rant to Josh. The clip kept freezing up. Thank you IRS, TaxCut, etc.

Oh, it was so good to see the "Help Desk" clip again with the two monks and the new technology of the book. And, since part of our assignment for this thing is to embed a video in our blog, why don't I just give you the "CJ Throwdown" from the West Wing (one of my all-time favorite shows.) Here it is.

Thing 17 ELM

Before getting to the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM) another Paris shot, this one from the Musée d'Orsay. One of the strategies we employed in many of the Paris museums was to concentrate on a particular format or time period, for example paintings or 19th century. This worked very well and helped us not to feel overwhelmed by all the riches surrounding us in each of the collections. In a way, it was kind of like setting up a search alert in ELM. You create the limits for the materials you're looking for and then let it all come to you.

I've got search alerts set up in the EBSCO databases for anything relating to Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes. Once a week I get an e-mail with any hits that have come up based on my criteria. I take these hits and export them to my RefWorks database and then once a month, after a little formating and editing, post my findings in my ongoing Holmes and Doyle bibliography found on the web page for our Holmes collections.

In playing around with the Page Composer I found it a little clunky. It isn't really easy to stick an image on the page. It seemed to work best with text and background, but when you wanted to add other stuff it got a little more complicated. Like anything else, the more you play around with it the easier it will get.

Creating web pages in ProQuest was a breeze. I'm still trying to figure out how I might use these pages, for example, in a class or for some kind of presentation. I'm sure the opportunity will present itself.

The notes function in NetLibrary could be interesting as well. I did a search for Sherlock Holmes books and found quite a few. This would be a way to create some annotations with the text.

Thing 16 Student 2.0 Tools

One of the most amazing places I visited in Paris, Sainte-Chapelle. I could have sat in this space for much longer than I did (which was quite long). It was simply stunning. A very contemplative place which, while not a library, could put one in the proper frame of mind before diving into the Assignment Calculator and the Project Calculator.

I really like how these Calculators are laid out, with very clear steps and divisions of labor. They won't do the work for you, but they give you some great assistance and other links to places like the Writing Center that can help as the projects and assignments get underway. I also like the e-mail reminder feature that helps keep this in front of you at all times. With all these steps and reminders it shouldn't be too difficult to make one's way through the work. I also like the feature in the Project Calculator for different types of projects. Its not just all writing sometimes.

This kind of tool might be helpful for managing work projects, but at the same time some of the features in the calendar tool do much the same thing.

Thing 15 Online Games and Libraries

Another Paris picture, this one of Notre Dame in the morning. Our hotel was about five minutes from here, but even so I felt myself drawn to this place more than once. Its probably the site we visited the most while in Paris. I wonder what online games might have some connection?

I have a patron who is very interested in getting us to have a presence in "Second Life." So far, I've been resisting, mostly out of concerns for time and work issues. But I haven't dismissed the idea entirely. It is, for me, really an issue of the stewardship of my time. I've got so much going on in the real world that I'm not sure I've got the time or energy for a second life in a virtual world. The other concern, at the moment, relates to my user demographic. I tend to have older users (graduate students, faculty) using our collections. There is a push on to make this material more accessible to younger users, so something like Second Life might be an avenue for this. At the same time, I've got three kids (two college age and one about to go off to college) and none of them are into Second Life. Guitar Hero, yes; SL, no. Finally, a little red flag goes up any time I see that something requires a little more computing power. I doubt, for instance, that the $100 laptops headed for the Third World can handle SL. So where, really, is the most bang for the buck?

Thing 14 Library Thing

What would my little side trip to Paris be without a picture of this, the Eiffel Tower. This was taken during our first night in Paris as we walked around and got an initial feel for the city. We did a lot of walking because of the transit strike, but it was a great way to experience the city. Also, because of the strike, there were long lines (even during the early evening) to get up into the tower. We took a pass on the chance and just kept exploring.

As to the Library of the interesting uses of this tool that came my way was the use made by a donor. All of his material had been entered into Library Thing and it was a great way for me (and others) to peruse the collection and get a sense of what all was there. I thought this was a very creative use of this tool. Not all of my donors will go this route, but it was a great help in this particular case.

One of the items that caught me eye with this tool is the limit on the number of things that can be entered for free, i.e. 200. Beyond that you can enter as many as you like, for a small price. This is the first time that I've run into this kind of limit, although there's something of the sort on the photo sharing sites. At the same time, it kind of blows you away to see that over 25 million books have been cataloged by members.

I've been wondering how the Library Thing differs from something like, say, RefWorks where you can dump records into your database(s) from online catalogs and yet still have the opportunity to share this material with others. I do a lot of work on RefWorks (although its not shared with others at the moment). But inquiries have come from others about this possibility.

When looking at some of the other links I was struck by how active some are and how inactive others are. It seems, in the latter case, like there might have been a great flurry of activity and then interest dropped off. The MLA group, for example, has a fairly small membership and not a lot of talk happening. I've experienced something similar with being a part of Gather. Like so much else, it takes time. I'm part of some books groups on Gather, but its been a while since I've been online, so I know I've missed out on some conversations. Not just enough hours in the day...

Thing 13 Productivity Tools

Another Paris pic to start things off, this an evening shot at the Arc de Triomphe. We arrived too late in the day to climb to the top (we did that on another day), but I was struck by the importance of this place. I was not aware, until I arrived, that this is a place of memory and functions in many ways like the Tomb of the Unknowns does in Arlington National Cemetery. It is a place of honor and remembrance. At the same time, I wondered if my grandfather had the chance to see this when he was in France during World War I. It was almost 90 years between our two visits and I have to believe that in the years he was here and in Germany, that he paid a visit to this place. But on to our next Thing.

I have an iGoogle page set up (after experimenting with the others) and really like how it delivers everything I need in one place. I've played around with it quite a bit and now its probably one of the first places I visit when I start work in the morning.

As to calendars, we have one that everyone uses (or is supposed to use) at the University called UMCal. It allows us to share our calendars online, check for conflicts in scheduling meetings, send notes, and do other nice stuff. For example, our room reservations are handled through the calendar so we can check on the availability of a certain space. We still need to actually schedule the room through our building manager, but it works out well when planning for classes and events. This also combines the list making feature found on some of the other tools in this Thing, so I can make "to do" lists and track progress on tasks and projects.

I tried pdf converters a while back and they worked all right, but in the end (after having things lock up on me in a few conversions) I opted for the full Adobe package so that I could take stuff and put it into pdf without any hassles.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thing 12

More from Paris. While walking through the Louvre my son and I heard some folks talking (in English) about the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. We both took a couple of steps and then turned around to see who was talking about one of our favorite museums from a city we called home for a long time. Were we surprised! It was Derek Jeter from the New York Yankees and some of his friends. We decided we just had to go meet him and say hello. He was wonderful, and thanked us for the time. I wonder what other museums he visited while in Paris?

Meanwhile, back to Thing 12. Something struck me almost immediately as I was looking at a number of the suggested sites: there's a lot of garbage out there. I really don't care if someone just unearthed a 16mm film of Marilyn Monroe performing a sex act, nor any other details. So I'm looking for a site that might not give me "everything" but just the stuff I want to see. Newsvine was something like I might be looking for. But then I find myself asking if I'm going to be overwhelmed. I've already got RSS feeds coming to me from the new sources I'm most interested in. So the key seems to be on mediation (or lack thereof) and voting for favorites.

I'm beginning to wonder who all is out there casting these votes. I'm reminded of an episode of West Wing in which Josh discovers there's a web site out there "for all things Josh" When he makes the mistake of posting something to this site and then starts to read the responding posts, he wonders "who are these people." His assistant, Donna, tells him that many of them hadn't taken their meds that day. Later, when it goes from bad to worse for Josh, there's this reaction from C.J.: "Let me explain something to you, this is sort of my field. The people on these sites: they're the cast of 'One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest.' . . . I'm telling you to open the ward room window and climb on out before they give you a pre-frontal lobotomy and I have to smother you with a pillow. . . . I'm assigning an intern from the press office to that website. They're going to check it every night before they go home. If they discover you've been there, I'm going to shove a motherboard so far up your..."

Thing 11: Tagging and

Another picture from the trip to France. This from a night-time prowl around the Louvre. We were there during the transit strike so it made for some interesting times. As we wandered around, we talked to some of the museum staff, who weren't sure whether or not they'd be open in the morning, or if so, when. We just kind of went with the flow and, in the end, didn't really have too many problems. The museum pass was probably the best purchase we made. We could cruise right into a museum and not have to stand in line for tickets.

Anyway, on to tagging, etc. One of the things I've wondered about tags, from the beginning, is how messy things might get. Part of the beauty of working from an authorized list of headings, access points, etc. is that you really don't have any mystery about the process. (Although the mystery might be in finding an authorized access point in the first place). But with tags its seems like you're opening yourself up to some confusion and the inability to find the stuff that you really want to find. For example, I don't want to have to look up a person's name and all its variants. I want, in essence, one stop shopping with no surprises. So I'm nervous about tags.

At the same time, I've added tags/labels to this post and may do so for the rest of the posts from here on out. I'm not going to go back and re-tag everything I've already written. There aren't enough hours in the day, at this point, for that kind of retrospective work. I hadn't even noticed the little box at the bottom or the compose window in Blogger (or maybe just blocked it out), but now that I know its there I'll probably use it.

It seems like one of the advantages with social networking sites (like so many things in Web 2.0/Library 2.0) is the ability to work from any computer anwhere. You're not limited to your own workstation. I really like this feature because of the flexibility it gives me with my work. The idea of sharing stuff with other people seems to be another huge part of this whole world. I'm the reticent Scandinavian type, so I'm not as up to sharing things with the world as others might be, but again, I can see some advantages, especially on the collaborative or creative fronts. The downside, again, is yet another account and password. On the upside, I can see where this might provide some real creative options for the class I teach at St. Kate's and for my own research and reading. I'm starting to think how I can redesign my class using what I've been learning with the Things.

Thing 10 Wikis

I had such a good time when I was in France this Fall that I thought I'd keep posting some pictures from my trip, as I make my way through the rest of the 23 Things. This one is from Notre Dame, about dusk, in mid-November.

Before I get into Wikis, I just wanted to note that I've taken advantage of some things learned earlier and with the encouragement of my colleagues at the Charles Babbage Institute have installed a Meebo chat window on the home page to our unit. Now anyone can chat with us during regular business hours. The startup was actually quite amazing. Within 5 seconds of going live with chat I had someone asking me a question. I still have no idea how they found us so fast, but I'm guessing (since it was a colleague in another service unit) that as soon as we went live, they received some kind of notice through Meebo to that effect. Anyway, it was pretty cool and a bit scary as all of a sudden I was carrying on two conversations simultaneously. But its calmed down a bit. In any event, I think this will be a new and useful service. I also had some fun re-sizing the window for chat to make it look a little nicer on our page.

As for Wikis, we have a staff wiki at work. I haven't had the chance (or need) to do any editing on a page, but its nice to understand the concept and how well this tool would work in a collaborative process. At the same time, it is interesting to note that wikis do sometimes tend to have problems with vandalism and folks just generally messing about. On at least one of the wikis I visited, you now need e-mail confirmation before you can edit anything on the site.

The 23 Things wiki was really easy to use. I can really see this as a valuable tool for working with folks from other places. One of the questions I have, which I didn't see in any of the intro stuff, is what degree of privacy one might have on a wiki. I'm assuming, if its a web page, that its pretty much out there for folks to see, but I'm not so sure. Something, anyway, to explore and find out. I'm just wondering, for example (and using the video clip from earlier in this Thing) how many people really need to know about all the preparations for a camping trip. There's probably an "invite" function that would allow or limit who sees the wiki.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Archives and Art Presentation

Archives And Art

From: Johns976, 58 minutes ago

Presentation done for Advance Drawing course at U of M related to student projects using archives

SlideShare Link

Thing 9

While I'm waiting for my presentation to be converted to the SlideShare format I thought I'd move on to the next Thing and see what's in store. Looks like its online collaboration. I can see a couple of possible advantages to this if you're working with someone on a jointly-written article or if you have some kind of committee or process document with which a lot of people are involved. So let me go explore this Thing and then I'll come back with some more comment.

OK, I'm back and a bit frustrated. I have a Google account, but I'm not being given access to the document that everyone was working on. I tried the link at the bottom to edit the page, but was told by the system that I didn't have access.

At this point, having looked at the Zoho site, and having problems with the Google site, I'm not going to take this Thing any further. I think the promise of collaboration is good, but it also seems to hinge on getting (or giving) the necessary people permission to work on a document. That might be a bit of a hassle.

As to what happened in Philadelphia during the summer of '76, I've always been a bit partial to the musical and movie, "1776." Every year, on or near the 4th, my family has made it a habit of watching the movie. I'd first seen the musical in Illinois at a dinner theater venue and then saw it again last year at the Guthrie in Minneapolis. Loads of fun, good music, and pretty good history.

Thing 8: Presentation

OK, I signed up for an account with SlideShare and uploaded my presentation from last night's class. At the moment its been converted to the SlideShare format, but as soon as it is ready, I'll post it to my blog.

I can see where this would be really useful for students to access and for not having to worry about a lot of technology, just access to the web.

Fun Presentation

Death by PowerPoint

From: thecroaker, 8 months ago

Fighting death by PowerPoint... How to make a presentation and not to bore your audience to death.

SlideShare Link

Thing 8 Sharing

Another Friday in the Reading Room and still fighting this cold. Yesterday was a long day, but finished on a great note. I was the guest presenter for an advanced drawing class. The class has a project that involves using an archive, so the professor asked me to come and talk about archives. We were supposed to go for about an hour, but the class was so into it that it went closer to two hours. It was a lot of fun and will probably generate some additional use of the collections in Andersen Library. And, since it was an art class, I had some fun with my presentation and found some really interesting images online, including this one from World of Warcraft--The Curator.

There seem to be some server issues somewhere this morning as I'm having trouble making connections with a few of the sites. But I'll keep trying as I explore the various tools. The one that has the most immediate appeal to me is online presentations. That would have been nice to try for my presentation last night. Instead, I had my presentation copied on the loaner laptop and my memory stick. Everything worked out just fine (although I forgot to plug in the laptop and the battery eventually died). You learn something every time.

I just finished watching one presentation that I noticed on the SlideShare site. It was the title that caught my eye: "Death by PowerPoint." I experimented with posting it to my blog. We'll see if it comes through.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Thing 7 Web Conferencing

Well, I'm fighting a cold so after hosting this month's "First Fridays in Andersen Library" I wrapped up a few things at work and headed home. I'm sure my staff is happy that I'm not spreading the germs. I'm missing my T1 connection, but checked out the videos for this Thing on my slower DSL connection and am now listening to Tom Peters' podcast. One question that did come to mind is what equipment is necessary for web conferencing; I don't know that I've seen much in terms of equipment lists or stuff needed for this Thing, but I've got another reading or two to do so maybe I'll find the answer there.

Thing 7 Web Conferencing

I think I was doing a bit of this yesterday as I visited the OCLC PARCast page and viewed one webinar and listened to one podcast in preparation for a visit next week with Merrilee Proffitt. This was an effective way to get some good information quickly, in preparation for the visit, and to be pointed to other resources that will benefit our discussion. I've been part of other webinars, both live and after-the-fact. I especially appreciate the opportunity to view a saved webinar at any time. This is been a main avenue of continuing professional education and development.

Well, my Reading Room stint is over. Its been a quiet morning, with three readers in the room. Time to go back and view those videos from this Thing and then move on.

Thing 7 Text Messaging

Before I say anything about "texting" I just have to say how much I enjoy the little pleasure of my 4 gig flash drive/memory stick. That gizmo has made life so easy in terms of portability or working on someone else's computer or a shared computer (like I'm doing right now in the Reading Room) and being able to save my own work to the drive and not clutter up the other machine. Just a nifty little device that I really like.

As for texting, I do it all the time with my kids. Its probably the easiest way to get short messages back and forth. There was one time, however, when my wife and I started a conversation that got a little 'testy' as time went on. It probably would have made more sense to just call and finish the conversation, but there was an interesting 'buffer effect' that happened as we were texting back and forth that seemed to keep the conversation from getting overheated.

One additional and very important use of text messaging has been made at our workplace. Called "TXT-U" it is a way for the University to communicate with faculty, staff, and students in the event of an emergency. This service followed after the Virginia Tech shootings and is a welcome addition in the workplace. I can see where other communications between patron and ILS would be useful, but this emergency text service provides an additional level of comfort.

Thing 7 Instant Messaging

Here's one that I don't use that much. The main use I make of IM is in the situation I find myself right now: monitoring a reading room. We didn't want the phone ringing all the time distracting our readers (the click-clack from the keyboard is noisy enough), so we went with Meebo as a way to communicate between the Reading Room and the eight units in the building. The problem, however, is that not everyone who should, signs on when there's a patron of their's in the Reading Room. So we sometimes end up calling the unit if there's a question. My unit is just a guilty as the rest. We have a reader here using one of our collections. No one from my unit is currently logged in, so I can't communicate with them through IM.

I know that there's some kind of IM functionality connected with my Gmail account, but I haven't played around with that to see what it could do. As to setting up a work account, I will probably do that shortly, as the CBI did (and which I noted in an early post).

One activity associated with this Thing that I can't do while I'm monitoring the Reading Room is to watch videos. So I'll do that when I'm back at my desk or later in the day.

Thing 7 Email

Here are a few ramblings as I work through this particular Thing as it relates to e-mail. I have, at the moment, four different e-mail accounts, but use mainly two of them. One is a work account that I use most of the time (Eudora) , two are personal accounts (Gmail and Yahoo), and one is an account related to my adjunct faculty status (Outlook). I'm not really happy with the last one, but part of that is probably from my lack of familiarity and use. The first one, Eudora, is going to go away at work because the company who sells it, Qualcomm, is no longer selling or providing technical support for Eudora. I forget, at the moment, what system is coming at work (some folks already have it installed), but it will mean learning another system. I think that's what we do a fair amount of our professional life--we learn new systems, always trying to keep up (or be ahead of) the curve.

I have found myself unsubscribing to a number of lists lately, focusing on what needs to be read and done. I also use filters to block spam and certain addresses. But some stuff still sneaks through. On an average day I'll trash over a hundred messages. When I'm away for a few days to a conference or vacation, my staff will create a pool to guess how many messages I have waiting for me when I get back. In the early days of e-mail that pool size could be quite large. Now, even when I'm gone a week, its not so large.

Part of the temptation to be avoided, for me, is to look at e-mail as a way to bring work home. Sure, I can do that. But its about what almost killed me in my last job, where I lived two blocks from work. It was so easy to go back to the office after dinner and before I knew it, it was closing in on midnight. Not a good way to live, especially with a family. So, generally speaking, when I'm home I don't do office e-mail. I have a life, and not all of it revolves around work.

A Month Away

All right, I don't know where March went, but I do know that it was extremely busy (not to mention the late season snows). Anyway, its time to get back in the saddle and finish the rest of the Things. One thing I have been doing more with is RSS feeds. I'm finding the time spent with the rss reader much more productive than wading through all the different web pages I used to visit. Plus, I've found a few other fun sites to subscribe to. One is from one of my sons, who has his artwork posted on Its a fun site to explore and see what's out there in the local art world. Here's one of my son's drawings, more appropriate for last month, but fun all the same.