Monday, December 10, 2007

Queens Library Learning

Well, I think I've finished all 23½ things. At any rate, I hope I did!

What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
I really enjoyed the whole thing. I most enjoyed writing the post about technology and really taking the time to think carefully about how I use technolgy and how we can harness the swift movement of technology and software changes going on now for use in libraries. I very much enjoyed learning some new things and will keep several applications in mind for future use.

How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
Some years ago, when I moved from Houston to the Dallas area, a friend told me "your word of the year should be intentionality." I grew up in an extremely fatalist sub-culture: whatever was going to happen, was going to happen. It's been sometimes difficult for me to see that one can set out to accomplish something. I've learned that in many ways over the years (and made "intentionality" my "word of the decade"!) and this program was yet another helpful way in reinforce that idea.

Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
It didn't surprise me, but the "take-away" for me was reading the blogs of the other participants and feeling I was getting to know people in a different way, often by realizing we were all sharing some frustration.

What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
I think it might have been useful to have 3 or 4 Tuesday mornings as work sessions on the "Things" for those who need some time away from their usual work place to be able to concentrate. This could have been just a room with computers available or more focused on some of the particular applications. And maybe 1 or 2 forums for people to talk in person about their discoveries, excitement, frustrations, or learning moments. Otherwise, I think it was very well planned and designed. I ended up doing a lot of it at home, but that was by choice.

And last but not least…
If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you again chose to participate?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thing 22 Audiobooks

I successfully found, checked out, and listened to some of And Then There Were None, which is the sort of thing I listen to as an audiobook.

Some narrators and productions are so good, that the audiobook is even better than the book, I think. One is Jim Dale, the narrator for the Harry Potter books. I confess that I found young Harry of no interest whatsoever. But I decided to check out the first book (on CD, shortly after it came out) and really liked his voice. I've listened to all but the last book (and I'll eventually get around to that one, when taking a long trip or something like that). And I could listen to Lisette Lecat (the narrator of, among other things, The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency) read the telephone book. I picked up that audiobook completely by accident. I didn't care much for the story, as there's not much to it. But it made a fine vehicle for Ms. Lecat's voice.

What I liked about the downloaded version of the audiobooks was there there were no bulky cassettes or CDs to manage. And it seemed that it would be easy to keep up with one's place in the story.

All in all, a very nice service.

Important note

I'm on vacation today!

I didn't spend all day in the office doing the "Things"! I just returned from a few days in New Orleans, where I stayed at the Pierre Coulon Guesthouse, which is a wonderful place to stay in that fascinating city. (And one of the owners has an MLS, even though he doesn't currently work as a librarian).

Thing 21 Podcasts

I've listened to a few podcasts before. And in my LiveJournal blog, I make a voicepost every few weeks (often I just read a poem or talk about something while walking down the street).

I think audio adds something very nice to the Internet. It's good to receive some of the parts of communication that are present in tone of voice and accent that are just not there in text only.

And here's the unusual thing about me and podcasts. When I'm actively involved in learning, I primarily receive information by listening. I listen closely, take few notes, and remember very well.

However, I find it difficult to listen to audio without seeing the person (this is equally true of audiobooks), unless I'm doing something else as well. So, I can listen very well while working out at the gym, while cooking, or while doing something else. But it's hard to focus on actually learning something this way.

But I still find the occasional podcast of value. I already had one or two set up in my Bloglines account, so I didn't add any more. I don't often listen to them--primarily because it's not possible to just glance over to see if I'm interested enough to pay close attention. Instead, it's necessary to actually listen!

Things 16 and 17 Wikis

Wikipedia is a great thing and has been my primary contact with wikis (the other has been the wikis ALA creates for conferences).

I have contributed some small corrections to Wikipedia articles (in one, the whole change was to change "non-profit" to "not-for-profit", but it was a very important distinction in that article). It's surprisingly easy to modify wikis, though there is something about the format (other than Wikipedia) that I don't see to be able to follow very well. But I think that has to do with the planning and design, not the basic idea of a wiki.

I kept thinking I had posted about this, but then I remembered that either on QL Chat or on another library forum I had posted something about using Wikipedia for reference questions. I looked through several library wikis and found them interesting. Many, though, I think could have easily been set up in other ways--that is, it felt like they were wikis just to be "with it". I would prefer to see the various versions and editors. Or a blog format would work just as well. For example, I think the ALA conference wikis could be set up as forums, like the QL Chat just as well as they could be wikis. There is no need for "correction" of posts and, in fact, I think that few are "corrected."

When I have done collaborative work, I've used a blog with comments or something like Google Docs. Maybe I just want more control than a wiki provides!

Thing 14 Technorati

1. Take a look at Technorati and try doing a keyword search for “Learning 2.0” in Blog posts, in tags and in the Blog Directory. Are the results different?

OK, I'm missing something (probably because I waited a while to do this). I see how to look for "Learning 2.0" in the tags......oh, OK, you click on "advanced" search. The results didn't seem all that different to me, though of course one can see differences. Interesting. I also searched some things that just interest me and found some interesting posts.

Now, what I don't quite get is the value of being able to just search blogs. I can think of some few times that I might do this, but not often.

I enjoyed Technorati and was glad to learn more about it. However, I'm more or less on information overload, so I think I'll stick with the tools I already know. I read plenty enough blogs already.

Also, the blogs I read, I read because I know or admire the writer. I don't want to just jump into the middle of a blog by a writer I don't know.

Thing 19 Web 2.0 tools

How cool! I had never heard of this award and right away bookmarked it (using, of course) so that I can spend time later looking through many of the sites.

I am particularly interested in local information on the web (I love the "neighborhood" application on Facebook and have made a good friend there--someone I wouldn't have met otherwise who lives only 4 blocks from me). So, I checked out several of the "City Guides and Reviews" and focused on Yelp

It was interesting. Oddly, unlike most of these sites, there was a lot of information about my hometown in Oklahoma. Many of the local sites are much more focused on cities, which makes sense. More new people move to cities, so people are looking for more information. And it's harder to be anonymous in one's reviews in a small town.

There wasn't as much in NYC, by neighborhood at least, as I would have thought. But the site is very easy to use, both to search and to create reviews.

I think that adding libraries to local information sites reminds people that libraries are still out there and still providing useful services.

Thing 18 collaboration

I've had a Google Docs account almost from the beginning of Goggle Docs. Being able to collaborate on documents was one of the things I thought would happen much earlier in the history of the Internet. I use Google Docs a lot. Not so much for work, where the Microsoft products are standard and (at some levels, anyway) there is easy access to shared drives. But for writing outside work, I often use Google Docs and highly recommend it. I checked out the other two sites as well and found them interesting and useful, but I don't think that I'll change, just because I'm so familiar with Google Docs already.

Thing 20 Video

OK, I just wanted to see if I could post a video on YouTube a few months ago. I don't take much video with my camera, but I couldn't resist video of these guys in Central Park (you may have seen them; I've seen them several times).

YouTube can be a terrible waste of time, but it also makes it really easy to share video content. I can see libraries using it to introduce staff (more in a smaller library), demonstrate something, offer a preview of a program, give a building tour, and so forth. It seems to almost call for amateur video, so one doesn't feel that it's necessary to have highly sophisticated video. And because so many people are looking for video there every day....those same people could easily just run across the library's video.