Sunday, October 31, 2010

Google Tools

Google seems to own the Internet. :) They do so many more things that just providing a search engine these days. I've been a fan of Google Reader for a while, and have created an iGoogle page that I sometimes use. In checking out the Google Products page, I realize that there are many more resources than I knew about previously. I looked at Google Knol, which is a content creation tool similar to a wiki it seems. People can create content on any topic they choose, and folks can comment on it and edit in. Interesting. I also checked out Google Books, something that I know there has been much talk about, but I never really spent much time with. I found it interesting, but a tad frustrating as well. Oh look, a crochet book that I'm interested in! Oh drat, the book preview stops after page 13. I decided to browse through some of the books in the Humor category, and was astonished to find out that The Time Machine was humorous, as well as Last Shot: A Final Four . I would really like to trust Google Health...I think it would be a great way to keep track of health information, but then do I really want Google to have my health info? Ummmm, no. I don't think so. One thing that I have found useful for my job is Google Alerts, to see when VAPLD is mentioned. And I think also that Google Realtime could be helpful.

I spent some time with Google Docs Presentation program. Wow! I had initially thought it was going to just be like Microsoft Powerpoint, but Google seems to do it so much better. I was able to incorporate videos and drawings if I wanted. How cool is that? Google documents also allows for the sharing of the content more easily than through Microsoft. I think I'll be trying to use it more!

And I checked out some of the newer features in Google Labs, particularly with the calendar, email and maps. With Google maps, I can now see things that are going on in a particular area, including real estate listings. Amazing.

In summary, I think I like Google Docs Presentation best of all, and I plan to use it again. I'm not sure yet if (or how) I will incorporate it into my daily work. Maybe it could be a way that I keep track of the procedures that I follow for certain aspects of my job.

Well, goodnight Google!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Social Networking

I love Facebook! I have had an account for about 3 years or so. It's a great way to keep in touch with people, and also to solicit feedback about a particular topic. Right now, I'm asking advice from my crafty friends about carving out a corner for crafts in my basement. I also found that there is a group in Flickr for "craft rooms" with lots of great picture ideas. Neat! ok, back to Social Networking ;). Facebook is such a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. While I may not think of writing an email to someone (or have much to say) I can certainly comment on links and photos they post, or a status that speaks to me. I find also that I like putting positive quotes in my status bar. People love that. It is a way to make a positive contribution to people's day. :)

Twitter. Hmmm. I have a Twitter account but I haven't used it that much. In fact, I've started and stopped using my account like three times now. I know that some people use it a lot, but I just can't get into it. I do like it for the real time posting of information. And it is also a great way to get feedback, but really not very many friends of mine are using it, so I would mostly hear from strangers. And while I have followers, they don't necessarily comment that much.

Regarding the VAPLD Facebook and Twitter accounts...I add content to both and I'm still getting used to what kind of content to add to it. I'm now part of the Social Media team, and getting direction in that respect has been invaluable. I just have to keep posting and I guess I'll get better at it. I wish we could solicit more feedback from people. I've found that the best way is to ask direct questions, or at least post on topics that people are interested in (they seemed to like our new Harry Potter guide, for instance). We have 202 followers to our Twitter account. Our recent postings include the James Swanson program. While it is nice that that content is included, I can't help but think that some people just don't care to read all of that. The nice thing though about Twitter is that you don't have to read it all.

Facebook and Twitter are a great way to get the word out about library programs and collections. They are even better at soliciting feedback though, and I think that is where we can step things up a little bit. Perhaps we can have a "question of the week" that is posted not only to our Facebook or Twitter account, but also to the webpage. When we cross-post our information, I would think it would get more hits. People can't comment on our VAPLD page (while I wish they could) so why not solicit input there (with simple questions) and encourage people to sound off on Facebook. Hmmmm, the possibilities.

Regarding Internet safety, I read one of the articles on the ILA page about creating content, and I found this quote encouraging, "Students and parents report fewer recent or current problems,
such as cyberstalking, cyberbullying and unwelcome personal encounters, than school fears and
policies seem to imply. Only a minority of students has had any kind of negative experience with
social networking in the last three months; even fewer parents report that their children have had a negative experience over a longer, six-month period." The unfortunate thing, is that those students who have had bad experiences on the Internet tend to have really bad ones. The stories that you hear about cyberbullying, etc. have been horrific. I was never bullied in school, but for those that are, social networking seems to be the newest way to do it. I guess that while an adult might have negative experiences on the Internet, a student might be less likely to do something about it and therefore the bad experience continues. And I don't really get how students can hijack another students' Facebook page and post bad things, but I've heard that it happens. The thing is, when kids say bad things or post bad pictures about other kids on the Internet, there isn't that much that the bullied child can really do about it. Perhaps that is the difference between bullying and cyberbullying...the intensity and the lack of ability to stop it. Kids need to have a strong sense of self to be able to say "this isn't right" and then have the ability to do something about it. Hopefully as the article seemed to illustrate, the percentage of kids that have experienced this cyberbullying seems to be relatively low. I just there was a better way to help those kids who have been bullied in this way. The best way, is for the parents to talk to their kids directly about cyberbullying and to encourage them to go to their parents for help if they experience it. And as far as people hijacking facebook accounts to post inappropriate stuff, I *think* that if kids didn't give out their passwords to friends (I've heard this happens) maybe this would stem the problem. Kids can certainly benefit from using the Internet and social networking sites (they seem to create a lot of content for it) we just need to teach them what is appropriate sharing of their information and what to do if things go awry.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Adventures in Video

Like the world of podcasts, the world of video is vast! I do like VAPLD's video site because it is a good way for us to keep up with meetings that we haven't been able to attend or things like that. Hmm, I feel like I have written about this already. Deja vu! I wish that we were able to tape other library functions, but I know that we would need to get permissions, either from the program attendees or the performers. And for staff-led programs, while many of our staff are hams who love being on stage, others are bit more shy and would require some convincing. It seems as if on our staff internal page, that would be a good place to put our Reading Club videos...but hey, that is just me because I'm a bit of a ham and I'm in them LOL. :)

I just checked out VAPLD's YouTube account and yes, the videos are there. Yea! There are only two subscribers to the channel though. Boo! And the channel is a little plain vanilla looking, but I know these things take time. The key (for VAPLD) is to subscribe to other library's channels (Skokielibrary has 48 uploads, but still a pretty low number of subscribers at 19) and then we'll get some of them to subscribe to us! :) The first time I used YouTube I immersed myself (for 4 hours) in the world of "library-related videos" which were mostly of kids shooting videos in the library during their studying time. Pretty funny! There weren't many library tutorials at that time from what I could see. Now just a quick search brought me to this one: which is a "Library Minute" about tutorials at the Arizona State University Library. It was short, and to the point, and funny! I liked that it incorporated other pictures and audio other than just a person talking. It was almost set up like a quick video newsblurb. Perhaps we might try something like that. I know that Rich did a tutorial about wireless printing at VAPLD, but we didn't see him, just his hands, and the video wasn't really that jazzy, although certainly a good start. But where is the video now, I ask? Hmmmm, bring back Rich's tutorial!! :))

I also checked out two videos about amigurumi, or the practice of crocheting animals or other small creatures from yarn. While I crochet, I've been reluctant to "take on" this small animal world because I thought it looked too complicated. So I tried to break it down a little by searching for tutorials about how to make them. I watched two different videos presented by two different people. In this same case, the first video I watched was just two hands crocheting the amigurumi from the first steps. Ok, but the video quality wasn't great and I wasn't even interested enough to watch the whole video, so I don't know if a person showed up in the end. The second one started out with a real person in a yarn store. Hmmm, now that's a novel idea! I think I'll search for a few more crocheting tutorials... because that is the perfect use of video. A video is something you can watch over and over, pause and go back a step, etc., until you master the skill. It is one thing to read about doing a skill, through a book or a blog, but it is another thing entirely to see the skill in action. So, thumbs up for video tutorials, especially about crocheting. Any how-to skill would be helpful in video. :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lime Green

Lime Green, originally uploaded by ginparis2002.

Isn't this a beautiful photo? It was taken by a person named Geni. What a beautiful flower! I might have to plant some of them in my garden.


I've got a Flickr account. I really like Flickr and all of the features it offers, especially notes. If a person is interested, they can join groups and photo pools to get their photos "out there" into the world so they can get feedback. I haven't really done much of that...I primarily use Flickr for my own photos. I just discovered a group called "Lime Green" which I signed up for, and I hooked up my Flickr account to this blog. I'm going to try and post from there. Next post you'll see is from Flickr if all goes well.


It is so easy to get sucked into the world of Podcasts. I started listening to podcasts maybe about a year or so ago. I subscribed to anything and everything under the sun. Technology? yep. Cooking? yep to that too. And so many more. And I got overwhelmed and unsubscribed to them all. One really good one that I continued to listen to was the Satellite Sisters. This was a talk show produced by 5 sisters. They talked about everything, and invited listener feedback through their blog. It was a great show. And then, for whatever reason (financial?) the podcast shut down. I think it is still available through their website, and Facebook too probably, but in the nice format that it was distributed before, through iTunes, that is no longer, and that is sad. For this exercise, I just signed up again for a few more podcasts, including the Absolute 80s, a video podcast. I'm a big fan of 80s music, and I was hoping that because it is a video podcast, they might have 80s videos. One of the first shows that I see listed (although it is still downloading) is about the Pet Shop Boys at a concert. How cool is that!

RSS feeds

I just watched the "RSS in Plain English" video. Something that struck me was said near the end of the video, about being careful, it's addictive. I would have to agree. I have had an account on Google Reader for about a year now, and I look at it about one every couple of weeks. Ok, so maybe I don't fall into the addicted category, but I do know that when I dig into those articles from the RSS feeds of my favorite blogs, I can be a bit overwhelmed with all the information.

Lee LeFever, in his video, talks about the old way, vs the new way of reading news from your favorite sources. When I first started reading blogs, I didn't spend too much time reading them individually, rather I sort of jumped right into Google Reader. So, instead of saving myself time and aggravation tracking down whether or not the blog had added new content, I was spending more time, reading things on my Google Reader. LOL! That being said, I really do like Google Reader, because it brings all of my content together, although you don't really get the flavor of the original blog, since Google Reader really only brings the stories and not the look of the blog. I don't comment on blogs very much, but I've never really learned how to do that with Google Reader. Perhaps something to learn more about. As a side note, I had initially had a Bloglines account for reading feeds. It has features that I don't think Google has, which I really liked, but then something about Bloglines kept giving me problems, so I ditched it as a newsreader.

Oh, and another thing. I generally find the blogs I'm interested in reading through the "Add a Subscription" search box in Google Reader. I haven't really done too much of the going to a specific page and looking for the Add RSS orange box thingie. I tried that with a Chicago Tribune blog for this exercise, and could not find the RSS Feed icon anywhere on the main page, or on a columnist's page. There are options to Like the Chicago Tribune on Facebook, get an iphone app, and share the content through various social media outlets, but I couldn't seem to find the RSS icon. Probably a good thing. Much of the stuff on the Tribune site was pretty disturbing. I'll check out the Daily Herald instead. On to podcasts!!

I am not behind...I've just been thinking... :)

So a few more days have passed since I last worked on VAPLD Staff 2.0 Challenge. I tell ya, it has been next to impossible to work on this at work because I have had so many other things to get done (planning and executing programs, school loans for teachers, etc.). The good thing is that because I love this 2.0 stuff, I don't mind doing it from home. Which is what I'm doing now. :) So, with no further ado, I'm going to take a looksee at the RSS feeds and podcasts tab.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Behind the blogging 8ball :)

So I'm a little behind on the VAPLD Staff 2.0 challenge. I've found this is actually a pretty common occurance when it comes to blogging. Even if a person has the best of intentions, it is easy to fall behind. That's why it is often a good idea to have modest goals and expectations, in order to achieve the greatest success.