Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rollyo? Thing #12

Why on earth should I care about the rollyos created by Debra Messing, Arianna Huffington, Rosario Dawson, or Brian Greene? OK, after that rant, Rollyo looks really interesting. It's better than the Bloglines account (which I found completely overwhelming), because it's easier to manage and filter, but it fills the same information need.

However, in terms of "sharing" rollyos, it's not terribly useful because the rollyos aren't sorted at all! You can "explore" the rollyos, which is a very unhelpful term because you're not exploring, you're searching through the rollyos looking for ones that use search terms that you're looking for.

Professionally, I think I should be looking at book review sites, and this might be a good resource for it. While I'm designing a My Books & Authors rollyo, I think it would be much easier if the search sites were automatically alphabetized while I was editing them, because it would be easier for me to find one or double check that a particular site was part of the rollyo, however I like that the sites included in the rollyo are listed on the page with the results of my search.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Online Image Generator -- Thing #10

I'm going to call this guy Fred.

Friday, October 26, 2007

LibraryThing's ease of use or Thing #11.

I went to LibraryThing.com to catalog the books that are already listed on my "What I've Been Reading" list. However, when I tried to make changes to the list in LibraryThing, I couldn't just go to the LibraryThing page, make the changes there, and allow the link to stay static, even though as far as I could tell the link should take an Internet user to the same page ("What's On My Bookshelf"). It doesn't. I had to go back to LibraryThing, copy and paste what appears to be the same code back into my blog and then it was changed.

This is tedious, and since the information that should have been embedded in the code that I copied and pasted into the "Random Books from My Library" entry had changed, I don't really understand why the information on my blog didn't change with it. Am I the only person who thinks that doesn't make sense. I assumed that the link to LibraryThing was not static, because if it is, it isn't as useful as I'd like.

Book Blog on LibraryThing

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Serendipity or "push vs. pull" technology : a little more on Thing #8

A drawback to relying on newsreaders and primarily using the World Wide Web to access newspapers is that it's easier to find only what you're looking, thus avoiding finding out things that don't necessarily agree with your search strategy. You have to use some limits when using newsreaders (what newsreaders you pick, for example) and that limits what information people are exposed to, which frequently means that they further limit their own experience and knowledge to that which makes them feel comfortble and keeps them within their own bubble.

In "The Complete Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" there is a plot point where Claudia is so determined that when she is looking through a newspaper to find out information about Angel, a sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she completely misses an small news story about her parents who are frantic about her diappearance. (Claudia had mailed them a note telling them not to worry, but clearly the note didn't work.) The narrator points out that this is a prime example of letting the goal of your search dictate your search strategy and control what you see, and the nature of your results can be compromised because of one's focus.

Jump Around (Thing # 9, or is it Thing #11?)

I went to Feedster and looked up Banned Books (does anyone detect a theme here?) and got to LibraryThing (which I see is also part of Thing #11). My first problem with LibraryThing is one of my problems with all of these "everyone can post what they like" sites; I'm really not sure that it's a meaningful resource for a professional. Novelist at least has editors who I know are employed and therefore their work is supervised.

On The Other Hand, I also know that bookstores often have a section called "Employees' Favorites" so that regulars of the bookstores can go to that section and use a similar search strategy (The "I know I like the books Jean likes" algorithm) and I also know from experience that sometimes customers know that they like books that a particular librarian likes, so they go up to her for recommendations.

LibraryThing's Book Suggester is more annoying than helpful, because it requires at least one more step for me to figure out what the book that's being suggested is about. I might have liked "The Other Rebecca" for any number of reasons, and because LibraryThing hasn't figured out how to manage tags (while Novelist has) means that I won't find it professionally useful, yet.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reconsidering Bloglines or Task #8 part 3

A lot of the information on Bloglines looks really fascinating and helpful to me as a librarian, but should I be interpreting my job as including looking through these newsfeeds for different sources of information? And what do I tell the parents who are convinced that their children have been told "not to use the internet" for a school project when I have the perfect site that's sponsored by the JFK Presidential Library?

It's Really Too Much!!! (Thing #8, part 2)

I signed up for a bloglines account. I'm completely overwhelmed by the amount of information that is out there. If part of my job is to help people navigate the Internet and not drown in information overload, my advice might be just not to subscribe to news feeds. When I was in library school my teachers were talking about how the Internet was "pull" technology, as opposed to the television which was "push" technology. When a person looks on the the Internet they have to actively go looking for what they want and even then, what they seek might be elusive. The bloglines account gives me the impression that the creators of bloglines are using the television "channel" metaphor as their model, though they may have just borrowed it from AOL which was using that metaphor back in 1996.

So to sum up, I don't think RSS really makes my life that much more simple.

Rant re: Digg or Thing #6

I just signed up for a Digg account. I had noticed the icons for Digg and Del.i.cious. on nytimes.com and wondered what they meant. This may be a much more helpful way of bookmarking stories I want to explore at a later date. Great. I just have one annoying comment regarding Digg....

Why are its gender selections so "hip?" What's wrong with my wanting to identify myself as a "woman," not as a "grrl," "lady," or "female"? It's not a BIG deal, I know, but it might just be enough to put off women of a certain generation who fought to be called women in the workplace.

Monday, October 15, 2007

One reason I prefer Firefox or Thing #7

On my Firefox browser there's a link to Scribe on the bottom of the screen, so I can automatically start blogging about whatever page I'm looking at. If there's an RSS feed affiliated with a webpage, that RSS link shows up in the address bar of the browser. In Internet Explorer, there is no link to Scribe, and the RSS link shows up somewhere on the screen, but not in any set place.

I find the standardized presentation on Firefox much easier to navigate than I find Internet Explorer.

It's All Too Much!!! Or Thing #8

I love the World Wide Web. I really do. I love that I could disagree with someone about tax law and find out that I was right within 5 minutes by going to the irs website, and then copy and paste the correct information into an email complete with a citation.

But there is just so much out there! And some of it's great, and some of it isn't at all interesting, but the medium doesn't give me enough control to limit what I can look at so eventually I'm just overwhelmed. The news feeds make it even worse.

Banned Book Week!

Banned Book Week has ended, and I forgot to celebrate it.

If you don't like that picture, try my banned books display.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Flickr issues or Thing #5

I wasn't sure what to make of Flickr. I'm still not. First of all, it needs a much faster connection than I have at home, where I'm relying on a dialup connection, to be really useful. I think it's nice that I can take pictures and put them up on a website so my family and friends can see them, but it's also a little disconcerting. It's too easy to forget that the Internet is in no way a gated community; anyone can see what everyone's posting. Forgive me if it sounds a little paranoid, but I don't want to put my name on anything I just put up without controlling who can look at it.

I know Flickr tries to control for this, because they do give people an option of restricting who has access to what's posted, but it still makes me feel a little uneasy.

I did however put pictures from my grandfather's birthday party up and invited my relatives to go look at them. We live all over the country and never really get a chance to see all the pictures we've taken of one another.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

But Mommy, I Don't LIKE Science Fiction/Fantasy!

I've never really been a Science Fiction fan. I've read some Heinlein, I've read some Asimov, but I never really got into the genre. Then I found "The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse" by Robert Rankin, and I was hooked. Jack goes to "The City" to search for adventure. After surviving a carnivorous farmer who traps and kills orphan boys, Jack is taken up by Eddie Bear, a stuffed teddy bear private detective. "The City" is Toy City, inhabited almost exclusively by toys. Someone is killing off the old toys (Humpty Dumpty, for starters). If you need to recommend science fiction to someone who really doesn't want to read it, try offering them The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

7 1/2 Habits of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners?

I think calling "play" only half a habit belittles the value of having fun; I remember things better when I'm having fun. I am more likely to pay attention to things I enjoy, and I do not consider playing "work."

I took piano lessons for 7 years, and I never thought that practicing was "work" until the very last year. I think I got to be pretty good at the piano because I didn't consider exercises or practicing "work."

Beginning with the end in mind often prevents me from enjoying the learning experience, because all I'm concerned with is my intended "destintion;" getting there is half the fun, and staying aware of other possible uses for what I'm studying can make the process more interesting.

Commentary on HTML coding on blogger.com

I know HTML coding, so I found the HTML coding assistance a little confusing; I was just typing the link to Walmartopia into the text of my post, and I had to hunt around to figure out which of the icons was necessary to link to something else on the web. (That might be because I'm known for making things more difficult than they have to be, but I don't think the icon for posting a link is terribly meaningful.)

I also don't understand why the post time isn't right; I click on "Post Options" and a post time and date are listed, but the time has always been wrong by about 3 hours.

First Play

Last week I saw Walmartopia, a musical about Walmart and how Walmart treats its employees. It posits that there might be a time when Walmart is the only store in the world, and that is ridiculous. How could Walmart want to be the only store in the world, since at that time its "always low prices" ad campaign would be meaningless?

I just found this fabulous site, Off-Off Blogway, and I think other people should see it because it's pretty impressive. I wish I'd put up a blog like that.