Sunday, October 7, 2007

Week 9, Thing 23

Boy, this has been quite a journey. Today's technology is evolving so rapidly it feels like it will be impossible to keep up. I'm definitely glad that I learned about these things even if I never use some of them.

First, the whining:
1) The general public is WAY too complacent about internet security. I'm especially concerned about Flickr (photos of children) and Google Docs (information that people think is private may go over public networks). Even the supposedly secure networks can be compromised.

2) While most of the things we learned about can serve useful purposes, many of them are actually being used for what I would call "fluff"--a lack of substance. Avatars are a good example. No, I'm not saying life can't be fun, but it seems like the younger generations are spending more and more time in dream worlds, and are not participating in "real" life. C'mon--get off the couch (or out from in front of the screen) and do something worthwhile. Get out and explore nature (it needs your support), or help your elderly neighbor by mowing her lawn, or read a story to a kid.

3) The new technology is sometimes being used in mean-spirited or harmful ways. YouTube videos, images on Flickr, posts in blogs---all have the potential to escalate violence against another person or group by spreading inflamatory or false information. I can secretly take your picture with my cell phone, alter it in Photoshop, upload and tag it in Flickr, then write a blog about it, and it is read/seen by all your classmates before someone exposes it as fake. Then you do something even worse to get revenge....and so on.

4) The ease of using the technology for free democratizes it, but also allows an unbelievable amount of crap to be available. It's tiring to wade through it all. It almost seems like the social aspects of the technology are causing the "dumbing down" of the American public. I can think of no other explanation for the continued popularity of "reality" shows. Some people are so intent on "sending in their vote" that they don't stop to realize that they are wasting their time even FORMING an opinion on some frivolous "problem". Ah, but I'm generalizing, and it's not true for everyone....

5) I am constantly getting emails from friends and relatives forwarding some "really cool" picture, or some indignant editorial from a "well-respected" source. With very little investigation I determine that the photo was modified with software and the editorial is a hoax. Not enough people take the time to check out the sources but they sure can forward it to "everyone in their address book" immediately.

6) Lastly, even though the technology we learned about is free, not everyone can afford a computer or the required hard drive/memory amount, or the highspeed bandwidth to use it. Patrons who have never touched a computer come into our library because they need to use the web for something (apply for a job online, look up their child's grades on a school web site, etc). I sit them down and walk them through it, but they have trouble even finding the numbers on the keypad to enter the ID. What happens to these people? We need to service the entire community, not just the techologically savvy.

On the other hand:
1) If libraries don't evolve technologically they will be perceived as out-of-date and will lose their effectiveness. The whole point is to make information freely available, and we need to accomplish that using the most widely-used methods. We have to shift our paradigm, starting now.

2) You can't believe everything you read/see. Libraries can play a huge role in teaching the public about the need for information literacy. I think this should be our most important goal.

3) Besides teaching people about the need for information literacy, libraries must take every opportunity to act as information filters. Wikis and blogs, especially, can be used for this purpose, and other technologies as well. We need to become a trusted source for helping people to separate the wheat from the chaff.

4) I like the idea of the future library as a refuge from technology. A place to get away to relax with a good book....

That's it for now. I'm ready to get away from the computer for a looooong time....

Friday, October 5, 2007

Week 9, Thing 20

YouTube is my last Thing (besides the final comments). I can see where you could lose whole days looking through this stuff. Some of it is cool, some is just taking up space on the web. Luckily, it's pretty gray and damp outside or I would feel like I'm wasting valuable time inside.

The concept of sharing videos is interesting. That is certainly the way of the world these days, and I can see many useful applications. For example, a couple of our new library branches are going to have self-checkout terminals. We could put a video on our web site showing how to use them.

Speaking of checking out.... check out this great Public Service message from the 70s.....

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Week 9, Thing 22

I looked at the top 100 ebooks downloaded yesterday on Project Gutenberg and was gratified to see that none of them were "fluff" titles. The top title (1180 downloads) was "The Outline of Science, Vol 1" by Thomson. 104 people chose one of my favorites--the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. This seems like a neat way to get free books out to people, even if the selection is somewhat "limited". Looks like our library system has access to Overdrive ebooks. I plan to download an ebook in the near future to see what it's like, but I don't have a device (other than my PC) to listen to it.

Week 9, Thing 21

Search tools for podcasts.... I briefly looked at Yahoo! podcasts, but since they are shutting down their site at the end of the month I didn't dally. I liked the "clean" appearance of site and found it easy to use. I searched for Travel Italy, and got 5 hits. I tried the same search in and got 200 hits. Big difference! The podcastalley site is very cluttered, though.

Week 4, Thing 9

Regarding the search tools to find interesting blogs/feeds, I wasn't impressed. There is so much junk out there that it's too time-consuming to narrow them down to something informative. The Bloglines search tool was probably the most useful.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Week 6, Thing 14

I didn't really enjoy Technorati--I don't know that I will use it again. The top "favorited" (new verb?) blog was Boing Boing. The top searched topic was FOWA (future of web apps), and the top blog was Engadget. When I searched for Learning 2.0 there were thousands of results in blog posts and 676 results in the blog directory. The tag search came up with videos and photos.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Week 6, Thing 13 This one is giving me a headache. There are too many "angles" to think about. I understand the idea behind it, and certainly I can think of some good uses for this tool in the library world (mostly as a filter for the great masses of information out there), but I hope I'm not the one who has to set it up.