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!