Cats of the world

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Week 9: Is this really the end? Or just the beginning ...

So what did I think of the modules just completed? Well there certainly was a lot to examine and has helped me to appreciate the current range of applications out there for library staff to be knowledgeable about (although I don't doubt that there is much more). It reminds me of something said at an information session beginning my library diploma: this is not a profession you can retire into.

I suppose getting these exercises done has been a problem for many staff. At this point I'm aware that a number have barely started and this is due to work, study or other factors. So while the module has worked for me, to an extent, it hasn't for others. This needs to be taken into consideration for future training. Having said this I think the modules have worked better for me than a one day class at HQ in which the info may have simply gone in one ear and out the other. The fact that I'm an Internet nut has meant that I have had much opportuntity to get really familar with applications that I like and use such as flickr. The key to learning is probably more opportunities for staff to use, and to be encouraged to use, what we have learned in our branches.

There is a lot of literature out there on the Internet worth looking at. I have literally hundreds of pages of articles on tagging/subject headings and the use of folksomonies in social bookmarking tools. For anyone that's interested I'd recommend having a look at Wikipaedia for definitions of terms, such as 'web 2.0', used in the modules, RSS tutorials, 'Do your own library thing' by Jim Regan, articles by Adam Mathes and D-Lib magazine and "the Structure of collective tagging systems' by Golder and Huberman. These have helped my understanding of the debate very considerably. For this reason I can say that the exercises have helped me in what I consider the continuing education of my library career (hope that doesn't sound too pompous but I mean it).

P.S. Could we keep the exercises on the Intranet for further reference? I imagine I'll start to forget things I don't use very often.

Week 9: Audiobooks (or "The end is in sight ")

I'm not so sure what I think about e-books. They seem a bit cumbersome. But I havn't really used them before. Partly the problem is that we have so few available at Yarra Plenty and most of our borrowers don't know they exist (and most of our ebooks are about computer software).

Having just written the above paragraph and looked at a few ebooks I've got to admit I'm wrong. As an experienced Internet user I can see that most ebooks are like searching the Internet. There are, however, problems of copyright. Studies have shown that most people searching for a document on the web will print it off to read it rather than reading it from the screen.

I wonder if all the ebooks are available as full text (otherwise why does PLCMC have a full-text category for searching. It implies that some titles must not be available as fulltext). (Further investigation reveals that you get only a portion of chapters not the complete work. This might get around the copyright issue but is of limited use for the borrower).

P.S. another staff member has told me she had trouble creating an account. But go to <> there is a 'create free account' link on the top right hand side. This site belongs to RMIT and might not work for non-students It worked for me. I don't know if membership is only temporary.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Week 9: 21 Podcasts, Smodcasts!

The problem with having podcasts organised into directories, which are classes of information, imposes the site creators definition of how information should be organised onto the user. I couldn't download items in to do with running an activeX control. I have much better luck with

Yahoo podcasts has tag clouds so (providing you know what they represent) you can find relevant and the most popular tags. But it too has categories and I couldn't simply search for 'cats'. I'd have to go through a category and sites (relevant or not) that have those tags. A pretty annoying way to search.

I found trying to add an RSS feed on bloglines extremely difficult and time wasting.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Week 9: You too can YouTube

You have got to see some of the videos on YouTube they are hilarious. Go to the search button and enter 'cats' or alternatively just click the arrow on this picture.

This was very easy to do. I had expected that cutting and pasting the link would be difficult and would have to be done several times. So I'm very convinced about how easy it is.

While this feature might have some use in the library the obvious factor that we would need to address would be someone acting as content advisor making sure nothing offensive ended up on the site. This application could be used on our Intranet perhaps in local history and homework help. Latrobe university has something similar for use with tutorials.

Week 8 : Discovering Web 2.0 tools

This week is looking at the Web 2.0 awards. There's so many categories and so much to choose from.

I decided to look at the Wiki category because I think this is the most obvious application we could use to draw in greater borrower interaction with the library.

PBWiki comes across as being straight forward without the assumption of huge masses of knowledge about the Internet (good for those of our borrowers who don't have this knowledge and feel intimidated by it). The tour was very good and displayed the features in a easy to read style (but without explanation of some jargon such as RSS). I see that Yarra Plenty's summer reading camp Wiki has been created with PBWiki so it must be good and its advanced features was used in the week 17 exercise. It also has a word wizard with features such as conversion of PDF docs to Word but most of these features you have to subscribe to(which means, of course, that you have to pay - what happened to the notion that Wikis would mean equality for all to contribute to the Internet?)

It was awarded quite high on usability but average on interface and design. It has a forum for questions and answers on tagging and while quite helpful on the technical aspect of this it offers nothing on the matter of controlled versus uncontrolled vocabularies let alone other issues such as synonym control, hierarchy, etc. While this is not really the place to debate the pros and cons of the two different vocabularies I think these issues should be made clear for Wiki creators/users at the point of creation so that we can attempt to addres the tagging 'problem'.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Week 8 : Online Applications & Tools

This week we play around with Zoho Writer.

Interesting but... The notion of sharing and being able to alter the one document has been done before. Yes it has all sorts of features like exporting and adding hyperlinks and it could be used in communication between staff and the borrower but I find Wikis more exciting and friendly for that purpose. Did anyone else have the trouble I've had with username/password access and confirmation sent to their email address? That was very frustrating and I think the average borrower would avoid it like the plague.

The danger here might be in overloading people with too much new technology just because its there and we already know our older patrons don't like what we have already.

Week 7 : Learning 2.0 SandBox wiki.

This was fairly straight forward except for the fact that I couldnt get the link for my blog to align with the other entries already on the list. However after I played around with it for a while I got it right. Yee haa.

Week 7 : Wikis

Security and accuracy of information remains as important in Wikis as it does in an OPAC. An article in the Saturday Age (December 2) claimed that Wikipaedia has site/content managers checking up on potential ligitous and offensive material. The libraries referred to in this exercise as having Wikis must have people controlling what content is being added by their borrowers.

I like the idea of using the Wiki, such as in the New Orleans example, to publicise recent events. This might help to publicise a Yarra Plenty Wiki and stimulate borrower interest. Having links on the Wiki to library 2.0 and the type of learning programmes such as we are working on now would help people know what this is all about and the ability to communicate with staff who have specific interests on their blogs might create further interaction between staff and borrowers.

Week 6 : Library/Web 2.0

Well where to start…

There is much debate on blogs and the Internet in general on the nature of Library 2.0. What I personally have found interesting is the debate about tags and subject headings (check out catalogablog). Could we add tags to our OPACs for instance. Perhaps with a filtering agent (human or technical) that could arrange hierarchy and synonym control. The problem with allowing users to make their own tags is the subjective nature of it all. Descriptive words for one person have a different meaning for another. I don’t think complete freedom in searching a library catalogue is a possibility. We would need to have in place some means of guiding the searcher to the ‘correct’ search terms used in the catalogue. Othewise we could end up with a catalogue that only a minority(the technology savvy?) could use.

Week 6 : Technorati

Searching for ‘Learning 2.0’ in ‘blog posts’ and ‘tags’ brought up material that was not very relevant, presumably it is searching like a search engine and looking for instances of the terms in the text of the blogs. Searching in ‘blog directory’ was much more successful although it still found items not relevant to the search that had the word ‘learning’ in it.
Technorati has a ‘Top tags for the hour’ which,, as of December 7, included Pearl Harbour, Christmas, shopping, Britney Spears, quite predictable in itself, but also youtube, mp3, ipod and firefox betraying the technology savvy nature of much of its audience. Do I find any of the popular blog, searches and tags interesting or surprising? Depressingly the answer is no for the site is full of the usual nonsense that I would expect to find on the Internet.

Week 6 : Blogging

This week we look at

I had a look at ‘Youth Tech- MySpace handouts’ which had a range of positive and negative comments about MySpace over issues such as access to pornography. The site ‘Youth Tech’ covers a range of issues such as ‘Gaming in Libraries’ using both categories, implying the use of a taxonomy perhaps as well as tags.

Could be used for research purposes? The idea of bookmarking specific subjects with a range of different links and having easy access via the desktop is attractive. However there remains the same problem of authenticity and relevance that you find using Wikipaedia which could put some people off using it. A further problem remains the use of tags instead of subject headings in these tools (check out the debates on folksomonies and taxonomies on the Net). So I can’t see that delicious would have much application in research and public libraries.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Week 5 : Rollyo

I don’t know if Rollyo is going to be of much help. It just seems like another search engine with different options for dividing up search results. Using the search term ‘cats’ with the category ‘celebrity gossip’ resulted in hits such as the Tom Cruise wedding. Presumbly the word ‘cats’ is in the site somewhere but it seems that the search is dominated more by the category and the timing of the page (one day after his marriage). This is despite adding cat sites when creating the searchroll. So I’m not particularly impressed.

But then again maybe I just need more practise.

Do anyone know how to make the link active?

Week 5 : Library Thing

Having some cataloguing experience I found Library Thing interesting to use. It was difficult to catalogue anything more than twenty years old. A number of books I could not find. For example ‘Pedigree cats and kittens : how to choose and care for them’, written by Paddy Cutts and published in 1981 I could easily find in Libraries Australia but not on Library Thing. Fortunately items can be manually catalogued. But this solution depends on the user having some cataloguing skills needed such as when filling in the dewey field. The date field didn’t indicate if you needed to add only the year. The publication field didn’t indicate if you needed to add place as well as name of publisher. A brief guide would have helped here.

What I did find interesting about this exercise was the use of tags. Like subject headings these can be applied subjectively. However this subjectiveness is taken to a completely different level. An example that I’ve seen in some of the literature is that of the use of the term ‘unread’ as a tag. While this might make sense for the person creating the record it means nothing for anything else looking at the person’s blog. So as far as I can see this means searching will result in as many irrelevant hits as you would get using a search engine. With Library Thing I found that it was not clear how the information was to be entered in the tags field. But it appears to have a thesaurus which automatically separates the tags.

Check out my catalogue at library thing:

Monday, November 13, 2006

Week 5 : image generator

Friday, November 10, 2006

How cute is this?

Cat of the week - catasize