Tuesday, October 28, 2008

42. What have you learned?

It's been a long year, thinking back to January when we started this program seems like a long time ago. We've had some easy lessons and we've had some hard lessons.

For your very last lesson I'm going to make you think, I have four questions I'd like you to consider and answer in the comments.
  1. What was the most useful thing you learned?
  2. What was the most fun?
  3. What would you like to learn more about?
  4. Which do you think will have the most impact on libraries?

Monday, October 27, 2008

41. Finding blogs that are right for your job

I may be going about things in a bit of a backwards way, but now that I've given you all tools to handle information overload and getting buried in blog information, I'll now give you some tools to go out and find those blogs that are right for your job - so that you can use the tools I've already given you to get yourself "unburied". The ReadWriteWeb blog (one of the blogs that I've identified as being necessary for my job) has posted about finding the right blogs for you in the past. In a fairly recent post, they compared six ways to find a blog that will help you keep on top of what you need to know to do your job. They followed that post up with a "why" and "how" post as well.
  • Staying up-to-date on the news in your industry/area of work
  • Knowing what people are talking about
  • Finding reference resources for later use
They, of course, reference their earlier post on the subject, the one I linked to above, and then gave some concrete examples of finding blogs for HR professionals, Physical Therapists and Fire Inspectors. You can take these same techniques and use them to find blogs that will help you keep up-to-date with what others in your job are doing, talking about and thinking about. You can also use alert services such as alerts.com to pull information about a particular keyword into your feed reader. Another tool that you can use is a custom search engine that does constant searches throughout the web for information you want and dumps the results into an RSS feed for your feed reader.

Using these tools, you should be able to find blogs that will pay off handsomely in your ability to stay on top of what is going on in your particular job. Just going through and doing an alert or custom search for keywords will really help you identify what blogs are discussing topics you care about.

Monday, October 13, 2008

40. DimDim

Yep, the name of the service I'll be showing you all today is DimDim. Silly name, very cool idea. The idea behind the silly name is to bring simple web conferencing to the cheap! With DimDim (yes, I do like typing the name, why do you ask?) you can get web conferencing tools - desktop sharing, slide presentation, chat and voice chat capabilities - without paying for them. DimDim uses Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to give you voice chatting for free - instead of calling in via a telephone, you can plug in a headset with a microphone to your computer (or use a laptop which generally has a built in microphone included) and talk over the internet. There is nothing to install in order to use DimDim, so it's nice for people who want to collaborate without involving their IT department and it's easy to use even on very old computers.
Just like most "free" Web 2.0 services, however, it does have paid versions that give you more features. The free version allows for 20 people in a "room", but that's really the only limitation - all the other features are included. A bit more money, $99 a year, and you can put your logo on your room and have up to 100 people connected at a time. For a LOT more money each year ($1998), you can have your own custom logo, multiple meetings happening at the same time and the limitation on people per room is 1000.
DimDim, unlike many of the tools we've been profiling over the course of the last year, is social in a "synchronous" way - meaning that it requires people to be present at the same time. Because of that, I'll be on DimDim and hosting a meeting on Wednesday morning at 11am (room URL is http://webmeeting.dimdim.com:80/portal/JoinForm.action?confKey=webgoddess, meeting key is MRRL) and again on Thursday afternoon at 3pm (sorry evening folks, you'll have to play with this one on your own). I'll post the Thursday afternoon one in the comments later. If you need a headset to join the meetings (only necessary if you want to voice chat, text chatting is always available as well), come see me and we'll work something out!

Monday, September 29, 2008

39 .Hulu

What is Hulu? According to the about page it is
an online video service that offers hit TV shows, movies and clips at Hulu.com and other online destination sites — all for free
Yes, you can watch popular TV shows and movies, shows from back in the day and some of my favorites right online
  • Hulu does not require a download of any software. Users only need a Flash 9.0 enabled computer and an Internet connection to enjoy.
  • Hulu offers the freedom to share full-length episodes or clips via e-mail or embed on other Web sites, blogs and social networking pages.
  • Hulu's clipping feature allows users to select a portion of the video they would like to share.
Why am I showing you an online tv watching service as part of Library Learning? It's a great example of traditional media adapting to the new Web. Something libraries and publishers are still struggling with. Sure we have downloadable audio books, but how easy is that site to use compared to Hulu?

Other sites to watch TV online

38. Feedhub

Feedhub, a recommendation engine for RSS feeds, may be just what you need to start really taking control of your information sources. Are your feed reader "unread" items a bit higher than you like? Feedhub can analyze what you are reading now and pull interesting and relevant stories out of the 'net just for you. The more you use it, the better it gets at figuring out what it is you like. You can also point it toward your FriendFeed or Delicious accounts or your blog to teach it more about what you are interested in. Once Feedhub does the analyzing of your interests, you will start to get stories in your feed reader that are tailored for you. Once that happens, you can pretty much delete most of your other feeds and rely on Feedhub to keep you informed.
I haven't been using it for very long, but it seems to do a pretty good job of figuring out what sort of news/stories/blog posts I will like from my feeds and delivering them to me. I'll keep tweaking the stories it sends (by going to the Feedhub site and "voting" on the stories it suggests for me) to make it work even better, though! What I'd really like is for it to pull stories from *other* feeds to show me that match the kinds of stories I like, as well.
This tool is another possible way to take control of your information sources and manage your time efficiently - use it if you feel like you want more control over the amount of information that comes at your via your feed reader!

Monday, September 22, 2008

37. Blip.tv

Most of you have heard of YouTube, but it's not the only place to watch videos online anymore, today we're going to look at one of the competitors blip.tv. Blip.tv is more focused towards videoblogging than viral videos.

Some of the benefits of blip.tv
  • Doesn't lower the quality of your videos
  • Free
  • Works with multiple video formats
  • Allows offers direct download links for all videos it hosts under Creative Commons

Other online video services
So you want to make your own videos? Here are some basic guides

Monday, September 15, 2008

36. Keeping things simple

Now that we are reaching the end of this set of lessons, you all have created accounts and played around with a *bunch* of different services in the Web 2.0 landscape. You may be wondering, at this point, how to keep up with updates to Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook and all the other sites that want you to keep them up-to-date with what you are doing. Using a social updating aggregator such as Updating.me, Ping.fm or Hellotxt will really help you out with this task. Any of these services will take your login information for a variety of sites and update them all in one fell swoop.
Updating.me offers one-stop updating for 10 different services, including Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, Plurk and others that we haven't gotten around to mentioning yet. It also will show you a single page of your friends' updates from any of those services on it's home page as well, which is a feature that the other two don't have. Updating.me is still in beta, but the code BetaToUpdateMe

Monday, September 8, 2008

35. Time Management

One of the questions about the web I’m asked most often is - how do you find the time to keep up with everything? So I thought I'd share some tips and ask you for some tips. Here are mine:

  • I don't try to keep up with everything. There is so much going on, I think it would be impossible to try to do it all and have a balanced life, so I accept that there will always be something I don’t know about.
  • I have a great network of people; when I find something new I share, when they find something new they share
  • I take what I like and throw the rest out. I’ll try most new services, set up an account, play with it for a while. If doesn’t click or do what I want, I stop using it.
  • I don't use every tool everyday. Twitter is often overwhelming to me, and it interrupts me when I’m really focusing, so some days I don’t check in at all. I know I miss some good things, but it’s part of that “can’t do everything” acceptance.
  • I’m organized - I use a feed reader and have over 10 folders. One titled daily - those are the blogs that have high priority, I don’t necessarily read them every day but if I have time they are the first ones that get read. This is a select folder and there are never more than 10 blogs in there. Other blogs are organized under subject. I try to read most of these once a week or so.
  • I don’t try to do everything at once. First I got a Myspace page, mastered that (it took a while let me tell you and I cursed Myspace more than once) then I moved on to the next thing.
  • I use gmail for my email list subscriptions, it groups emails together which makes is easy to follow conversations or delete the whole thread if I’m not interested. It also allows me to create custom labels (instead of folders) and sort incoming email by those and color code them!

Tools I use: a feed reader, blogs, email lists, FriendFeed, Facebook, Twitter, but use what works for you and you feel comfortable with.

What tips or tricks do you use for keeping up?

Monday, September 1, 2008

34 .Friendfeed Take 2 - the beta version

Bobbi mentioned the existence of a very cool lifestreaming application a while back called FriendFeed. Just last week, the fine folks behind this service released a "beta" (meaning not quite ready for everyone to use it) version of the new look/feel/features of the FriendFeed site and it is pretty amazing! You can now create lists and populate them with friends, work contacts, professional contacts or anything else you'd like and just view the feeds from the folks on a single list at one time. This is a great way to keep from being overwhelmed with information from your friends, collegues and co-workers all in the same "lifestream".
Also related to the friends lists, is a feature that wasn't advertised on the blog... It's called Fake Following. An excerpt from the TechCrunch post talking about the new feature says:
The Friend Lists also support “Fake Following” - a seemingly unintuitive feature that allows users to look like they’re following their friends without actually getting their updates. Users often expect to have their “Follows” reciprocated by their peers, and a failure to do so can lead to bruised egos. But indiscriminate following comes with a price too, as it ultimately leads to an unmanageable amount of noise (and stories you might not care about). Fake Following manages to skirt the issue with a digital white lie, and is a feature Twitter (which has a similar system) should offer too.

They have also improved the posting interface to allow easy posting of photos directly to FriendFeed. You can now post information about your life and include visual aids! They reworked the navigation to make FriendFeed rooms easier to find and manage - a nice touch to make getting around the site even easier. Finally (so far), they've also given us the ability to see another person's entire lifestream - their postings and all of their friends postings together - so that you can get a feel for what a particular person enjoys and/or finds interesting.
While the last option may seem to raise FriendFeed into the realm of a totally easy stalking tool, it also gives you a good bit of insight into your friends and allows you to find other friends very easily.
You can check out the new version by going to http://beta.friendfeed.com before it goes out, live, to all of the FriendFeed users. For those of you who decided not to join because it seemed too "noisy", you might want to take a second look - this new version is custom-made to make your FriendFeed experience as noisy or quiet as you want it to be!

Monday, August 18, 2008

32. Spam, Splogs and Blog Phishing

Web 1.0 gave us email - and all the spam we could stand to go with it. Web 2.0 gives us blogs - and comment spam, splogs and clever (and not-so-clever) blog phishing expeditions. While most of the time, spam is fairly harmless, it can also be used as a delivery mechanism for all kinds of nasty viruses and computer attacks. This lesson will give you a quick overview of the "2.0" spam that is out there and how to avoid it.
Comment Spam
This form of spam is basically a response to a blog post that either 1) has nothing to do with the post and is just a way for the commenter to get his URL out or 2) is a laundry list of links to porn, gambling, drug or malware (bad software that carries a virus) sites. Many of the more popular blogging platforms already do a pretty good job of screening out that kind of spam, but some will get through - just like email spam. You can set comments to moderated so that you have to approve all comments, but that is time-consuming for you and can put a damper on the conversation if people have to wait a while for their comments to show up. The "best practice" for blogs is to allow unmoderated comments, but pay attention to what is coming through and ruthlessly delete any that aren't on-topic and useful!
Splogs are blogs that are in exist only to make their creator's some money. The creator "scrapes" other blogs for content - basically copying and pasting whatever is said on another blog to their blog (sometimes this can be automated) and sticking advertisments on it - hoping to get traffic that may have been headed to your blog to come to their blog instead - where they can then show them a bunch of ads and make some money! This is, of course, a violation of copyright, usually. Depending on the copyright license you choose (see the Creative Commons lesson earlier in the year for more on that), just attributing the post to you - and not all of them do that - is not enough for many licenses. Even if they do attribute, they aren't adding value, or ideas, just copying and nobody likes that. The bad news is that there isn't much you can do about them. You can complain to Blogger or Wordpress.com and get them shut down, but they'll be back very quickly. You can also take the fact that they are copying your work as a compliment. They wouldn't do it if they didn't think it would get them some traffic!
Blog Phishing
This is a fairly new phenomenon that puts links to phishing sites (see Wikipedia's definition of phishing if you aren't familiar with the term) into either your comment area of your blog, wiki or "comment wall" or into your referrer logs (the statistics that show who is linking to you and that some Web 2.0 services offer - such as Wordpress.com). These links will take you to a site that you may think is one thing, but is actually something far more malicious and dangerous.
Twitter Attacks
Recently, there was a news story on the BBC website that documented the first known Twitter attack. The account's profile link went to a site that attempted to download a fake version of Adobe's Flash player, which then went on to steal data off of your computer. Other Web 2.0 sites, most notably MySpace, have fallen victim to malicious profiles as well.
How do you protect yourself from all of these attacks? The easiest way is to use a browser or operating system (OS) that is more secure than the standard (Microsoft) options. The Firefox browser and the Linux, MacOS (based on Linux) operating systems are currently more secure than most versions of Microsoft's operating systems (including Vista and XP). Most of the security, however, comes from the fact that they are relatively unused and so virus/malware writers don't target them - the MS world is a much bigger target. Not all of us have the option of choosing our OS and browser, anyway, so if you have to use IE and XP or Vista, you can still take precautions.
Paying attention to what you are clicking is key - note whether the URL (the website's address) has funny characters (ones (1) instead of lowercase Ls (l) or zeros (0) instead of lowercase Os (o)) and be careful when clicking on URLs that are shortened with a service such as tinyurl or is.gd. Those URLs don't give any clues at all about what lies behind them! Make sure you know who is sending you a shortened URL before you click!!
For the spam issues, you can also use a good spam filter that is built into most blogging platforms to help cut down on the comment spam that you get. Wordpress uses the Akismet filter. I'm not sure what Blogger uses, but it isn't bad... This will help you keep the comment spam under control and your blog far more useful for both you and your readers!

Monday, August 11, 2008

31. Let's have a little fun this week!

There are a lot of free fun tools out there that let you play with your photos. Let's take a look at a couple. Up first from ALA create your own READ poster. You can upload your own photo and choose from 4 different layouts. You can seen some your coworkers have done on MRRL’s Flickr account. If you want me to add yours just email it to me, but you don't have to,.

Read poster

Second is dumpr, which lets up insert a photo of you into a variety of different backgrounds and other cool things.

Created with dumpr.net

Last but hardly least, HeroMachine let's you create your own super hero. No skill with a pen or pencil required.

Me, All done up :)>

Some other fun sites

Monday, July 28, 2008

30. Information Overload

Email, Instant Messaging, RSS feeds and blogs - the number of ways that you can be overloaded with information is getting larger by the minute, it seems. These days, it seems like everyone is starting to drown in the ever-growing river of stuff that is coming at us every day. How do you cope with all of the information that is now at your fingertips? I've compiled some suggestions for combating information overload here that might help - but there are a lot of resources if the tips I'm suggesting won't work for you. Check the resources section at the bottom for links to more tips, tricks and techniques to help calm the raging river of information and to help keep you afloat!

  • Create a routine - a ritual you follow every day (check email, check feed reader, view FriendFeed timeline, etc.) will help you keep from feeling like you don't know where to begin. Everyone's "ritual" might be different - but pick one that you can live with and stick to it. No more wondering where to start - now you know! (RWW)
  • Turn off distractions - turn off the email notification window on Outlook, close out of your IM window, shut down your friendfeed tab in your browser for a while and concentrate on ONE THING. (RWW)
  • Learn to embrace distractions - while this seems like a contradiction to the point above, it is something that - once you learn to add in some distractions and live with them - can be helpful. There is a post called "Continuous Parallel Attention" that explains more about this concept if you are interested. (RWW)
  • Create your own filters - use the filters in your email program, use folders wisely in your feed reader and "filter" your time spent in Twitter or Friendfeed (or your favorite distraction on the web) yourself - set your own limits and stick to them! (RWW)
  • Get summaries - I attended a program at ACURIL this summer where the presenter said that he doesn't use feed readers or watch TV, anything that he needs to know will come to him via his friends and family. Find services, such as getAbstract, that will summarize the books you want to read, but don't have time to actually consume. Use services like AideRSS to find the best posts from your favorite blogs. You don't have to read every word of every post written to get the information! (CPU)
  • Pay attention to what you need and unsubscribe from any mailing lists, blogs, friends on social networks or other sources of information that you don't really read, but have hanging around making you feel guilty for not paying attention to them. (CPU)
  • Be realistic about what you can actually consume and don't subscribe to everything that looks interesting. (CPU)
All of these tips are meant to help you pare down your information sources and shut down the constant flow of data that needs to be processed. Check the references for more information on the concept of information overload and for more tips to help you out!

More Information
Contrarian opinion

Monday, July 21, 2008

29. Personalized start pages

There are a lot of ways you can create your personalize start page on the web. We're going to talk about why you'd want to and 3 services that make it easy. Creating a personalize start page puts all the information you're interested in on one page, right one you log in, no more clicking on favorites or checking 5 different sites to see what happening. You can do it from one site! All you need to do is find a widget for the content you want to display and add it to the page.

First up, iGoogle, from Google, of course. You need it your Google ID & password. Some things to note - you can create multiple tabs to display different groups of content, you can choose a different theme for each tab.

Next NetVibes, again you can create multiple tabs, choose a custom color theme, although the same theme will apply to all your tabs.

Last but not least, My Yahoo, you can use the same Yahoo Id you use for your email for Flickr to sign in an create the page. You can create multiple tabs to display different groups of content, you can choose a different theme for each tab.

They all work a bit differently and have different widgets. It really comes down to which one you prefer to use. Once you get it set up though, it can be a great time saver and information management tool.

Monday, July 14, 2008

28. Social Task Lists

Do you find yourself having trouble remembering things? Maybe you have a friend, family member or co-worker that could use some help in the remembering department. If either of those are true, you might want to try out one of the many "social task lists" that are out there. The differences between traditional task list programs or sites and a "social" site is that these Web 2.0 versions of task management are easily sharable and easily updateable through non-traditional means (Jott, Twitter, etc.). There are a lot of entries into this field, but I'm going to focus on three of them briefly and one in great detail!
The first two
social task lists that I'll mention are Gubb and ClockingIT. These are both free and available via the web - meaning any computer you are at, work or home, can access your lists. Gubb has a really nice SMS feature that lets you both request lists to be sent to your text-capable phone or add items to lists on your phone. Each list has a unique email address that you can use to text commands or additions to the list from wherever you happen to be. ClockingIT is a more full-featured product - almost a project management system in itself. It provides a LOT of structure for your lists and a lot of extra functionality beyond just lists (such as time tracking and project management-style charts), but you can turn off anything in the interface that you don't need to keep it simple, if you prefer.
The task list tha
t I use is Remember The Milk, a great name for a simple task manager! RTM, as it is commonly known, offers simple list creation and management, a very powerful search function (including creating lists that are results of saved searches - something I use frequently) and a lot of "extra" information for each item on your list. RTM supports tagging and notes for each item, as well as basing items on location. If you use it for both work and home lists, you can separate them out by location and use the saved search feature to create smart lists that just list the items that need to be done where you are - home or work - so you won't see anything that will just distract you!
The social part comes with the ability to create contacts in RTM and send them items from your lists. You and your significant other can create "honey-do" lists that automatically recieve anything sent from that person - handy for busy folks who might not see notes left on the kitchen table! RTM also comes with a Firefox extension for Gmail that allows you to completely integrate your task lists in with your email (something I've been wishing for in Gmail for a while). Installing this extension into your Firefox browser gives you the ability to easily add emailed information and items to your various lists and allows you to access your RTM information without needing to open a new tab (or window). Also, RTM allows you to share your data with third parties, such as Jott or Twitter, and either set or retrieve tasks via those communication channels. This means that setting a new task is as easy as calling Jott, saying RTM (or whatever nickname you give it) and telling Jott what your task is. It will be in your RTM inbox when you next log in! Pretty slick....
Each of these list managers has features and quirks that some will love, some will hate. Try them out, see which one fits you best and then see if the one you choose helps you get more organized! Check out the resources list below for links to the three lists I mentioned, as well as some information about a personal productivity method that is VERY popular with geeks (but don't let that scare you off!!) and some information about setting up a RTM account in accordance with the GTD principles. Have fun, make lists, share them with your friends and become more organized as you play with these Web 2.0 tools!


Monday, July 7, 2008

27. This One Next

Today we'll look at another Reader's Advisory tool called This One Next. You can enter a book, a cd or a dvd and it will suggeset items you might like.
You can start with just a title and it will try to guess which one you mean

You'll get a list of suggestions with a link to see even more
You can enter an email address to get even more customized results

Monday, June 30, 2008

26. Evernote

Evernote isn't exactly a "social" application. It is, however, very Web 2.0 in its insistence on making data entry painless wherever you happen be - on your phone, on the web or on your desktop. You can use Evernote to clip parts of web pages (or the whole thing), enter free-form notes yourself or save images and other media in a single spot. Evernote comes with a desktop client, a Firefox browser button and an email address that you can email to (or text to an an email address) notes/media/thoughts as well. For those of you who got into the Jott application when it was featured earlier, you can take that Evernote email address, add it as a Jott contact and "Jott" your notes via your phone to Evernote. It is free and offers 40 MegaBytes of uploaded data per month - that's a lot of random thoughts you can capture pretty easily!! Their own description of their services comes from their Help section:
Evernote is a Web Service that helps users manage all the digital information most relevant to them. The Service can be accessed through free, user-friendly Evernote software running on a personal computer or mobile device, or any Web browser.
This isn't the only note-taking software that is available, but it is the best example of a note-capture system that uses Web 2.0 theory (be where your users are!) that I've seen. No matter where I am, I have no problems dropping information into my Evernote account. While it isn't precisely social, it does allow you to share portions of your data - any of your notebooks can be easily shared with the public. It also takes advantage of tagging to help you organize your thoughts and your notebooks in a way that makes sense to you!
Evernote is free, but it is still in beta and requires an invite. I have 19 of 'em left and I think Bobbi might have a few as well. Just leave a request in the comments or email me and I'll hook you up!

Monday, June 23, 2008

25. Friend Feed

By now we've explored so many Web2.0 accounts, you and your friends have accounts on Twitter, Flickr, a blog, Facebook, YouTube and a lot more. So how do you keep up with all your friends accounts without spending half your day by going to all these sites to check in? FriendFeed!

Users sign up for an account from FriendFeed, add in the services they'd like to share then friends can create an account and subscribe to their feed. It's that easy! You can see when they upload pictures to Flickr, add a new book to LibraryThing, bookmark a new site on del.icio.us, start listening to a new station on Pandora or Lastfm and 30 other sites.

Check out MRRL's feed patrons who want to keep up with MRRL's happenings can do so in one place. You can even have the Feed digest sent to your email each day.

This can be a great time management tool. You can even great Imaginary Friends to follow the feeds of friends who haven't signed up for FriendFeed.

Like many sites there are some great privacy settings, your feed doesn't have to be public.

If you're interested My Feed.

Monday, June 16, 2008

24. Greasemonkey

Greasemonkey is a browser add-on (extension) for the Firefox browser (no equivalent in Internet Explorer, sorry) that allows little snippets of JavaScript code to manipulate the web pages visited by the browser. After you install the extension, you can then use it to install and manage scripts that do everything from change ads on pages from the original ad graphic to random Flickr pics to adding information from one site (say, your local public library's) to another site (say, Amazon.com). This is all done via the JavaScripting language. You aren't a JavaScript expert? No problem, people have been writing scripts - and sharing them - for years. Just about any site that gets more than a couple of visitors a day will have some scripts that can adjust its user interface, functionality or both. You can find an exhaustive list of scripts, arranged by website, on the Greasemonkey User Scripts wiki or you can find a number of "best of" lists that link to the most popular, useful or fun scripts that author can find, some specific to particular sites like del.icio.us or Gmail.
I use Greasemonkey to add a "twit this" link to my Google Reader web page - giving me a quick way to share what I'm reading with my Twitter buddies. I also use the Better Gmail script to improve the way the already very cool Gmail service works for me! Spend some time browsing around the various script sites, seeing what is available and what might improve your browsing experience (pay attention to all the social sites that have scripts - FriendFeed, Twitter, del.icio.us, blogger, Facebook, etc. - some of them are handy in helping with information overload).

Monday, June 9, 2008

23. gnod

There are so many new tools for book lovers, ways to connect with your friends, write and read reviews, but what if you just want a good old fashion recommendation?
Today we're gonna look at a Reader's Advisory tool that's not just for books, but movies and music too!

Start at the home page Gnod.net

We'll start with the books option. You have 4 choices when looking at this page, the "Map of Literature" is my favorite. Type in one of your favorite Authors

Then you'll get this visual display of similar authors, the closer they are to the original author the more like they are supposed to be.

You can do the same with movies or gnovies

Again, the closer it is to the movie you entered the more like it it is. There are some other search options where you put in 3 authors, movies or bands to get different results. There are also some discussion forums.

Monday, June 2, 2008

22. Web 2.0 Office

Those of us who worked on the library's Library 2.0 program are aware of the very cool features offered by Google's Docs and Spreadsheets applications. They take the basics of office documents (word processor, spreadsheet and a new presentation slides application) and allow us to use those functions without downloading (or paying for) standalone software. Google, as cool as it is, isn't the only player in town, however. There are many options for those who want to use standard office software without paying big bucks for a standard office suite - or for those who work on multiple computers with multiple people and have office document format issues. I work on 4 different computers with varying access to Office 2003, Office 2007 and Open Office. This makes keeping my documents in some sort of common format necessary - and difficult to sync up!
If you have the same sort of issues, you can use online office suites to keep all of your documents synced up, no matter what computer you are on, or in the same format, no matter what software is available on the computer upon which you are working. One site, the Office 2.0 Database, offers a comprehensive list of the sites available for use in an online office suite, including a page which lists the applications the author uses with a bunch of alternatives to the one he likes.
Since the use of any of these applications is free (though some have "premium" accounts that give you more storage in return for a monthly fee), sign up, try them out and find out which one(s) suits the way you work!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

21 Teacher Tube

Most of know about Youtube and some of us love it, but it can be hard to find what you're looking for in the mix of videos of people cat chasing string, the neighbors kid playing t-ball or other less than desirable videos. You know what I'm talking about. Enter Teacher Tube.

Our goal is to provide an online community for sharing instructional
videos. We seek to fill a need for a more educationally focused, safe venue for
teachers, schools, and home learners. It is a site to provide anytime, anywhere
professional development with teachers teaching teachers. As well, it is a site
where teachers can post videos designed for students to view in order to learn a
concept or skill.

A safer place to direct parents, teachers, at home schools, and children for great videos!

Who wants to make the first video for MRRL?

Monday, May 19, 2008

20. Evaluating The Read/Write Web

Now that we are all aware of just how easy it is to publish on the Internet (blogs, Wikipedia edits, YouTube videos, etc.) does this change how we approach information we read on the web? For me, it does! In the past, most "published" works - that is, articles and books - went through an editorial process before they were released to a wide audience. This doesn't mean that they were all perfectly factual with no errors at all, it just means that someone other than the author saw the material and approved it for publishing. Now, a single blog post can reach just as many people as a single article printed in Time, Newsweek or any "peer-reviewed" journal - with no one but the author ever seeing it before publication. How do you ever trust what you read on the Internet then?
Well, in short, you don't. Part of the side-effect of this self-publishing phenomenon is that you are never faced with just one source for any information. Checking facts by comparing what multiple people have to say about a topic is just one way to evaluate information that you find on the Internet. It's not a bad idea to do so when you find information anywhere. There is a reason our teachers asked us to use several sources for those pesky research papers!
You can also do a "reputation check". If the site looks like it is providing the most authoritative information on a subject, check who the author is. Google him/her. See what else they have written, what others have written about them and what their backgrounds are.
Sometimes, you just have to take what you see on the 'net with a grain of salt. Stephen Abrams, of SirsiDynix, posted a press release about the information being spread on YouTube about vaccinations. The results were that almost half of the videos that were studied contained information that contradicts the "best scientific information at large". This means that people who consulted YouTube for medical information (not the best idea in the first place, really...) were not getting the whole picture when it comes to an important medical decision.
So, how do you evaluate information you find on blogs or Wikipedia - knowing that the information is put there by a human who has biases and is not perfect? Below are 2 resources that you can read to help you evaluate blogs and other user- and individual-created content as well as Wikipedia articles.


Monday, May 12, 2008

19. Flickr Revisited

There have been some changes at Flickr since we did our first lesson in LL2.0, so I thought we'd take another look at it.

What's the same: there are still free and pro accounts

Free Account:
  • 100 MB monthly upload limit (5MB per photo)
  • 3 sets
  • Photostream views limited to the 200 most recent images
  • Post any of your photos in up to 10 group pools
  • Only smaller (resized) images accessible (though the originals are saved in case you upgrade later)
Pro Account :
  • Unlimited uploads (10MB per photo)
  • Unlimited storage
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited photosets
  • Archiving of high-resolution original images
  • The ability to replace a photo
  • Post any of your photos in up to 60 group pools
  • Ad-free browsing and sharing

What's new or wasn't covered in our original lesson.

Picnik - you can now edit your photos after you upload them! Just click on the "edit photo" button and you can crop, rotate, remove red eye, resize, sharpen and more. You can save your edits over the old photo or as a new one.

Piknik also has a "create" tab. You can change the look of your photo here using sepia, black and white or even add snow!

Groups - groups are a way for you to share pictures with people with similar interests. You can share your pictures, browse and comment on pictures contributed by other member and participate in discussions.

To find a group that interested you, just click on the "groups" tab on your flickr page and search by keyword. Once you've found a group, join it.

You can then send any of your pictures to that group by clicking on the "send to group" button about your photo. There are some great groups for Libraries out there, do a search, what do you find?

Geotagging or Maps - this feature allows you to place your photos on a map. For a great explaniation see this video.

Privacy settings - remember you control your privacy levels on flickr. You can set privacy on each photo individually, just you, just your friends, just your family, family and friends or everyone.

Videos - Flickr now allows you to upload videos. It's as easy as uploading pictures and allows you to keep your movies and photos in the same place.

Last but not least a video

How can libraries use these tools? MRRL is using Flickr to share it's pictures and put a slideshow on our website. We've always taken pictures of events but now they are available for everyone to see. How else could be use it?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

18. Claim your online ID

With so many different services out there, how do you definitively claim certain social networking sites, blogs or other content as "yours"? This can be especially difficult if you have a common name! There are a couple of different services out there to help you with just this problem. The one that I use is called Claim ID and it is both useful and social! With this site, you can enter in all of the MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and blog accounts you have and "claim" them as your own.
Why would you want to do this? It gives you a way to exclude blogs/social sites that may have been made by someone with a name similar to (or the same as) yours - which in some cases may be necessary! Part of protecting your online privacy is protecting your online reputation. It also gives you a starting point to let folks know what it is you have done on the web. With so many of us creating so much content, it is easy to have something you have done or created fall through the cracks. This site will allow you to point people to a single page with all of the cool things you have done so that nothing gets lost.
Claim ID is pretty easy to use. Once you have set up your account, you can add links to it. When you add a link, you are given several options. You can enter the title you want to give to that link, the description that will show up, tags for it as well as classifying it either about you, not about you or some other classification that works for you, then classifying it as by you, not by you (with the option to add the author) or in some other way that works for you. You can create groups - work stuff, personal stuff, any other kind of stuff - that help you to arrange your information the way you want it.
And that is the point of this new sort of service, after all - to give you the opportunity to manage your online identity, reputation and what exactly you want to "claim" for yourself!

One final note - you will see a lot of information on OpenID at the Claim ID website. Even if you don't feel you create all that much content (which you will be surprised once you start trying to add it all in, I bet!), you can use the Claim ID service as an OpenID provider. A nice, only slightly technical, explanation of Open ID is found at openid.net. Take a look and see if it might help you with your expanding username/password combinations!

Monday, April 28, 2008

17. Creative Commons

You might have noticed this little logo on both this blog and the Library Learning 2.0 blog. It's a Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists,
and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to
carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved"
to "Some Rights Reserved."

Creative Commons is an alternative to Copyright, it allows more use, a wider range of choices for distribution, reuse and attribution. You can go to the Creative Commons website choose among the options for how you'd like to share your work. The license can be applied to both works online and offline. There are books publish with the Creative Commons license. Flickr allows you to apply a license to all your photos, very handy for people looking for images to use, you can limit your search to only those you're allowed to use.


Monday, April 21, 2008

16. Are you LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a social network with a decidedly more "networking" feel. It was originally set up to allow people to do the sort of networking that happens at both conferences and company parties. The idea is that you connect with people you know, then if they know someone you would like to get to know, you can request an introduction. This is why the service stresses that you shouldn't link to, or connect to, people you don't actually know.
LinkedIn has a free basic service that lets you:
  • Build and maintain a trusted professional network of unlimited size
  • Find and reconnect with colleagues and classmates
  • Request and provide recommendations
  • Create a professional presence on the web
  • Request up to 5 Introductions at a time
  • Search for and view profiles of other LinkedIn users
as well as a premium service that gives you a bit more access to other LinkedIn users. The free service, the one that I use, is good enough for most uses!
LinkedIn has, as all social networks do, a way for you to create a profile for other users to see. When you enter in all of the jobs you have held, the educational institutions you have attended and the various clubs, committees and any other ways you may have met people you would like to be linked to, you will be given a list of all of the other people who have worked in those jobs (at the same time you did) or attended those schools or belonged to those clubs/committees/etc. When you recognize someone, you can easily invite them to become "linked in" with you and they will be one of your connections, as soon as they approve the invitation. Through them, and their connections, you can grow your network and keep meeting new and interesting (and possibly helpful) people.
My LinkedIn profile is http://www.linkedin.com/in/hastingsr if you want to see a profile in action (or make me a connection of yours...).

Monday, April 14, 2008

15. Last FM

Last.fm - is the music you want. Another music web2.0 site. Sign up for an account, tell it songs or artists you like and viola! Music just for you. It's easy just to go to Last.fm and sign up for an account to start listening!

Last.fm taps the wisdom of the crowds, leveraging each user's musical profile to make personalized recommendations, connect users who share similar tastes, provide custom radio streams, and much more.
Like other social networking sites you can:

Monday, April 7, 2008

14. Edit your photos - without PhotoShop

In library learning 2.0, we covered Flickr, the photo sharing application that has become so popular in the last few years. Today, we are going to revisit Flickr and one of it's newest features! Flickr has recently teamed up with Picnik, the online photo editing site, to offer basic online editing to it's users. With Picnik, you can crop, resize, add annotations (as I did here:

) and generally do basic editing to your images - without an expensive application like Photoshop installed on your computer. When you first get into Picnik (by clicking on the photo in your account that you want to edit, then clicking on the "Edit this photo" link above that picture) you are faced with a row of options, including sharpening and a red-eye fix. Click the button to get to the interface to make your changes, save the picture as a new photo or over the old photo and you are done!
If , however, you want to do more than just simple fixes to your photos, there is a "create" tab as well. This tab gives you the option to add annotations of text and arrows (as I did above) as well as creating image effects, adding frames or touching up photos that aren't quite right. Some of the options, however, do have the word "premium" running along the side of the option button. This means that you have to pay (even if you are a Flickr Pro user) to use that particular effect. There are a LOT of options that are free, though!
If that feature of Flickr's doesn't work for you, or you aren't a dedicated Flickr user, there are other options out there as well:

  • Pixenate: This site lets you make edits, save the new image to disk, upload to Flickr or MySpace or store it on their site.
  • Resizr: For basic resizing of images (for use in profile pics and the like), this site will resize them, then help you upload them or share them.
  • Phixr: More advanced tools, and it requires a login to save your images, but it is a great replacement for basic "photoshopping" needs.
  • Adobe Photoshop Express - just released last week, this is the "little brother" of Adobe's very expensive Photoshop program - no downloads needed!

Monday, March 31, 2008

13. lib.rario.us

Love tools like Goodreads and LibraryThing for tracking your books but wonder about your Music collection, DVDs or games?

lib.rario.us might be the solution for you! This online cataloging tool allows you to catalog DVDs, musics CDs and video games in addtion to your books!

You can add items two ways, by dragging a bookmarklet to your tool bar that allows you to add items as you're browing Amazon or by typing them in manually. You can also import your library from LibrayThing.

Like so many of the online catalogs you can add tags to your collection, write reviews and see who else owns them.


Monday, March 24, 2008

12. Google Maps

Google Maps deserves it's own lesson - it's a Google application, true, but it has spawned more mashups (2 sources of data "mashed up" into one useful application) than any other application out there. Google recently released a personalized version of the Maps application that lets you very easily create a new map with your own data in it as well. I created this one:

View Larger Map

in about 10 minutes on the last night of my recent vacation. Other people have created maps that take a source of data (gas prices, for example) and combined that with Google's Maps to create Gas Buddy, as one example of a mashup application. There is a directory at Google with all the popular maps available for the US (or whatever geographical area you have in the screen).
There are at least two blogs that track what new mashups are being created with Google Maps as well.
Creating your own mashup, as I did above, is very easy. Go to maps.google.com and click on the My Maps tab. If you are already logged in, you will see a "create new maps" link. Click on it, title the map and add a description in the sidebar on the left side of the screen. Once that is done, find a place of interest on the map on the right, either by clicking and dragging to the location or doing a location search, and click on the 2nd icon at the top of the right frame (the blue "placemark" icon) and click on your location. You can then add a name and description to your place. Do that for all of your locations, and your map is done! I added the images into my map descriptions by copying the image address from the Flickr photo page, using the "rich text" editing in the description of the placemark and clicking on the image icon to paste the image address in and make it show up on the description of the map.

Monday, March 17, 2008

11. LibraryThing Revisited

I know many of you enjoyed our lesson on LibraryThing in Learning 2.0. There has been a lot happening at LT since that post so I thought we'd take a look at it again.

What's the same?

  • Costs $25 for a lifetime membership. Really not that much
  • Can catalog 200 books for free
Some stats:

  • Over 313,000 users have signed up
  • Over 20 million books have been cataloged
  • Users have applied over 26 million tags to their books
What's new or what we didn't cover last time:

LibraryThing for Libraries - basically it allows you to mine LibraryThings wealth of information for your Libraries' catalog.

What does LTFL do?

LibraryThing for Libraries enhances your catalog in three ways:

  • Book recommendations - these show high-quality "recommended" or "similar" books.
  • Tag clouds - tags are descriptive terms about the book, and function as descriptors and points to search from, which is more powerful and flexible than searching using an OPAC alone. ?read more about tags?
  • Other editions and translations - links to related editions and translations of the same work (a "FRBR-like" concept).
Basically rather than relying on your patron base to tag, review and rate. Libraries get access to the collective input from LibraryThing users. Examples of Libraries using LibraryThing for Libraries

LibraryThing Local - If you've been using your LibraryThing account you might have noticed a new tab recently - "Local" This new service kicked off March 3rd and as off writing this post (3/8/08 10:30 am central time) over 13,000 venues and over 1,100 events have been added.

LibraryThing Local is a new sub-site devoted to finding, mapping and describing the world's bookstore, library, book fair and festival—as well as all the readings, signings, lectures and other events they host.
Go take a look at your account. I've added MRRL and our major upcoming events, see if you can find it and "favotie" it. What other ways could Libraries use this?

LibraryThing on your Cellphone - if you have a cell phone with web browsing capabilities this little feature lets you access your account from your phone. Handy if you're like me and have a want to buy list of books a mile long and can't remember which one you've actually already bought when you're standing in the bookstore.

Some more links:

Monday, March 10, 2008

10. IM Safety

Instant Messaging (IM) has grown to encompass more than just traditional "chatting" via AOL or Yahoo!. It is built in to many of the social applications (MySpace, Twitter, Gmail, etc.) that we use every day. Because IM is now so common, I wanted to be sure to discuss some of the ways we can keep safe while using this very handy tool!
  • Client - the software program you use to chat via IM
  • Server - the service (AOL, Gmail, Yahoo!, etc.) that provides the IM services
  • Log - record of your chat (transcript) that can be saved, printed and shared

Personal Safety
  • Never give out personal information! If you are uncomfortable with the direction the conversation is going, use the "blocking" tools in each IM client to make sure that person can't contact you again.
  • Never agree to meet someone offline that you only know through IM
  • Set your IM client to automatically set you to "hidden" or "invisible" when you first log on, so you can see who is online, without anyone else being able to see you. Check your contact lists during this time to see if there are any mysterious contacts you don't know and get rid of them if there are.
  • Keep your personal IM screen name private. Many services connect your email address and your IM screen name, so if people have one, they can get the other!
  • Remember your "netiquette" and be nice!

Computer Safety
  • Never accept files or click on links from people you don't know and trust. Most IM clients don't have any sort of virus protection built in - yet.
  • Know how to save copies of your conversations to your computer's hard drive. All clients have this ability!
  • Do not use the automatic login feature that comes with most programs if you share your computer or use a public computer - that just gives others access to your data!
  • For your IM session to be secure, your computer must be secure - don't forget to update your virus protection and keep it current.

Monday, March 3, 2008

9. Pandora - It's a new kind of radio

Pandora is a new way to listen to music, but not just any music, music that you choose. You tell Pandora a song or artist you like and it plays songs for you passed on your recommendation. You can even rate the songs as it plays them to narrow down the music it plays!

So how do you get this great music listening experience? It's easy!
  1. Just sign up for an account by entering your email and password.
  2. Pick and artist and a song and start listening!

You can also:

Monday, February 25, 2008

8. Jott this down!

What Is Jott?

Jott is a service that takes your voice message and transcribes it into text. After you sign up for a free account, you can call a toll-free number and indicate who you want to "jott". Say your message, and the service records, transcribes and sends the message on. You can jott yourself (to your email account, for example), you can jott your friends (send a text message to your best friend with no typing necessary!) or you can jott many Web 2.0 services and applications for a variety of reasons.

Signing up is easy! Just enter your basic information - as shown on the left - and validate your email address by checking your email and clicking the link in the email that you get from Jott. Enter your phone number (cell or land line numbers work) and then validate it (Jott really doesn't want someone getting signed up without their permission!) by calling the service (another toll-free number) from the phone number you just entered. After that, you are asked to enter in your contacts that you will be "jotting" and you are ready to use the service!

Why use it?

For people who tend to call themselves to leave voice mail messages on their own phones, this is a nice way to get those messages in other places (email, text messaging application, online to-do list application, etc.) as well. You can also put your group of friends into Jott's contact list and send out a single reminder to all of them (Jott lets you put multiple contacts into a group for broadcasting out messages).

Extend it with other Web Applications!
Jott also partners with many different web applications to allow you to "Jott" them. If you have a Remember The Milk account (an online to-do list), you can call Jott, ask it to jott your Remember The Milk task list and add a task - without touching a computer. You can also post to Twitter, Wordpress.com, Typepad and many other blogging or microblogging applications from Jott. I've tested out the Jott to Twitter service and it's pretty nice for when I want to post to my Twitter account from a phone, rather than from text messaging.

Do you think Jott could be useful to remind co-workers about upcoming events, tasks or meetings? Would you use that way? How else could you use Jott?

Monday, February 18, 2008

7. Goodreads

Goodreads was developed for Book lovers as a way to keep track of what they're reading, what they've read, what they want to read, and what their friends are reading. You can get recommendations from people you know and read their reviews. Goodreads is free and there is no limit to the number of books you can add to your lists.
To get started

  1. Go to the Goodreads website
  2. Click "get started"
  3. Enter your name, email address and desired password
  4. You'll be promoted to enter your email password, this is so Goodreads can check your address book and connect you with people. You can skip this step if you choose. More and more social networking sites are providing this option to help you locate people you know.
    1. If you enter your email password, Goodreads will provide you a list of friends who have accounts and you can check which ones you want to be "friends" with.
    2. It will also give you the option of sending an invitation to friends who don't have an account.
  5. Start adding books!
  6. There are 2 default "shelves" sort of like tags or subjects they are "to-read" and "currently reading" You can create your own "shelves" books can belong to more than one shelf.
Like many social networking sites you can set your profile options to be as public or as private as you want. You can be as active in the groups, discussions and reviews you like.

Some fun things

  1. You can import lists from your Amazon wishlist or any site you can export your book list from such as LibraryThing.
  2. You can create a widget to put Goodreads on your Myspace page
  3. You can add a Facebook application to add Goodreads to your Facebook page
  4. You can create a widget for your blog.
Additional Links

Monday, February 11, 2008

6. Ebooks and their Readers

Electronic books (ebooks) have been around for quite a while. They've never really taken off, though, because they generally must be read while sitting at a computer. A lot of people don't like spending time reading on a computer screen - the glare and relatively low resolution (compared to print) of the screen makes it uncomfortable for them - or while sitting on a relatively uncomfortable desk chair. On the other hand, being able to do a full-text search of a reference book in ebook format is a definite advantage! To combat the computer screen problem, ebook readers have been coming out for years, trying to make reading from a screen a more pleasurable experience. Many cell phones also now have features and applications that let you read books using your phone. They are convenient, but still not something that most people want to curl up with and read.

The newest ebook readers, most notably the Kindle and the Sony Reader, are appearing on the scene with new technologies designed to make reading on screen more comfortable. The Kindle uses what they call an "electronic paper display". Sony's Reader uses "E-Ink". Both are supposed to be more like reading on paper than on a screen. They are both about book-size and have large book storage capacities. Unfortunately, they are both electronic and not really ready for the bathtub reading that many people like to do.

You can, of course, read lots of ebooks online without needing any kind of reader or even any money. Project Gutenberg, named for the man who brought us the printing press, has a huge selection of books that are no longer copyrighted. All the classic books that you have been meaning to read, all 17,000 of them, are available - if you don't mind reading them on screen or printing them out on paper yourself. More recent books which are still under copyright are available at MRRL through the netLibrary service. These are books that are available for you to use any time - even when the library is closed - and can be checked out just like our printed materials.

Have you ever used an electronic reader (phone or dedicated device)? Have you ever read a book online? Rochelle Hartman, a library manager from Wisconsin, has received a Kindle for her library to use and test out. She wrote about the possibilities of library usage for the Kindle recently. Do you think any ebook reader would be usable in a library? Would you like to see a library offer an ebook reader for checkout (provided the legalities are ironed out)?

Extra Reading

Monday, February 4, 2008

5. Tumblr

Interested in blogging, but don't think you have enough to say? Or just don't know where to start? Tumblr might be the platform for you!

Tumblr is sort of a cross between Twitter and blogging. It allows you to do quick and easy posts about what you're doing. The dashboard gives you 7 types of posts to get you started. It gives you a fast, simple way to share, links, quotes, videos, pictures and more. In just a few minutes you'll have your tumblelog up and running. If you feel more adventurous you can do more customization with it, tie it in to your Twitter account

For this lesson take a look at some of the favorite on the main page to get an idea of how it looks and works. How do you think libraries could use this? How do you think you could use it personally or professionally? How is this different from a regular blog?

You don't have to create an account for the lesson, but you're more than welcome it's a lot of fun!

More reading :

Monday, January 28, 2008

4. Twitter

Twitter is a service that is hard to describe. It's kind of like blogging and sort of like IMing (Instant Messaging), but it's not exactly like either of those! Twitter gives you 140 characters to answer the question, "What are you doing?". This wouldn't be very much fun if you just entered what you are doing right now and left it at that, though! The fun in Twitter is the fact that, like most social networks, it allows you to "friend" other people who use the Twitter application and read their updates, too. If they want, they can "friend" you back and get your updates as well. The reason behind the 140 character limit to each post is that Twitter works really well as a text messaging "add-on". You can subscribe to get all of the updates sent directly to your phone or you can update your own account via text messaging from your phone. This means that even if you aren't at a computer, you can still update and receive updates via Twitter with no problems - if you have an unlimited text messaging plan...
People use Twitter in a lot of different ways. Some people use it as it is advertised - as a way to update their friends on the minute-by-minute details of their lives. Others use it as something of a time-tracking log - they can view the archive of their previous posts and see what they've done all day! Still others use it as a conversational tool - sort of like IM, but with broadcast abilities - now you don't have to set up a chat room or an IM channel to send all of your friends a message, you can just post it to Twitter and let them read it when they have time.
Like most social networks, this one isn't limited just to individuals. Lots of businesses and organizations have Twitter accounts, too. CNN and Google News both offer a "breaking news" twitter feed that you can friend (or subscribe to) and get in your twitter timeline. Several libraries, including MRRL, offer Twitter feeds to keep our patrons and staff up-to-date on what's happening at the library. MRRL's feed lets our friends know when a new blog post has been written, when a new photo has been uploaded to Flickr or when the Bookmobile isn't going to be able to make it out on it's rounds due to weather or driver illness.
There are also a lot of ways to get your Twitter feed - besides just on your phone. You can view it on the web, download an application like Twitteroo or get an extension for your Firefox browser that lets you load the "twits" you follow into a sidebar in your browser. You can also get Twitter updates piped into whatever IM client you use, something that's pretty handy for folks who use IM all day! I, personally, do a combination of the Firefox browser extension and the phone text messaging. It just depends on where I am - and that's one of the great things about Twitter, you can take it with you and use it wherever and whenever you like!