Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thing #23 - Wrapping Up

I feel like this has been more of a crash course for me rather than a journey. Only being with the library for two months, I was rather late in starting this web challenge. I feel thankful and lucky that I am of a generation that was exposed to and grew up with the beginnings of the Internet. But even though I've been living through it, it has definitely passed me by. Even if learning new technologies was your entire life, it would be extremely difficult to keep up with things. So for most people, who have to work, take care a family or friends, among a million other things, we can very easily be left behind. I'm thankful for the opportunity to play a bit of catch up throughout these exercises. I've managed to make my way through new aspects such as blogging, but I had no idea about the more technical side of things such as Google Docs, Wikis or RSS feeds. If nothing else, at least these challenges have given us an exposure to some of the new vocabulary that floods our technological world.

And as I started, I must end with the mention of my grandfather. He believed that we could make things better by working towards new technologies as long as we held true to teaching the basics of reading. With that as our primal tool, the goals we can accomplish are boundless. As a precursor to the digital age, my grandfather made use of the tools he had around him. Long before the Internet and hypertext he had a way of sharing what points he found important or needed further research. He attained this with the simple markings of a red pencil and a straight edge.

Thing #10 - Technology

I think technology is the great catch 22 of the library system. There seems to be so many benefits, but at the same time, when the technology fails, we are left rather helpless. I can see both sides of the argument for raising the staff's awareness of these new experiences and features on the web, but I also wonder if it will drive us apart rather than bringing us together in the long run. We've been learning about all these features that allow us to work with others without leaving our desk, or things that allow patrons to do more from home. If one of the goals of the library is to bring the community together and serve as a focal point, are we setting ourselves up for a more dissonant community by making it easier for them to function is a solely virtual world? This is a concern of mine for the world at large, not simple for the library system. The library will always have a place and a purpose, and we can work to make these new resources bring about a positive outcome.

Thing #22 - ListenNJ

I found this to be a great service provided by the Ocean County Library. This allows you to download free material in the form of an audio book. Although not all titles or authors are available, you would have a hard time not finding something that you would enjoy. I was able to download two classic titles and one language tutorial. I have never been big on audio books, but I did find them entertaining during a few long road trip up to Maine. The process for logging in was extremely simple, and only required you to enter your library bar code. I think this is also a great service for people who may not be able to make it out to the library, and who might go through material before the home bound services can provide them with new.

Thing #18 - Web Apps

Google Docs is set up with tools that are very similar to Microsoft Word, which made using it feel like a familiar task. The possibilities for what or how this could be used are again endless, but an example I came up with was about the upcoming onslaught of summer reading suggestions. Whether it is a child looking for a title as part of the summer program at the library or if he or she is needing something for school, having a detailed list of titles would be useful. Not only would it be good to have titles, but people throughout the branches could add information or descriptions about the books. This way, we could take the child's interests and try to match him/her up with something that would really hold his/her attention. Just one of the many ideas out there that might address something we will be dealing with during the next several months.

Thing # 17 - Playing in the Sandbox

That was kind of fun. Quite a few references to chocolate. I've had experience publishing comments or blogs on MySpace, but I've never done anything as a collaborative effect. It was also kind of neat to create a link to my site. I never knew doing something like that could be so easy.

I think that a pbwiki would be useful in any situation where you were looking for the input of others who might not be at the same location as you. It could be something as simple as a poster advertising an event. Maybe someone would have an idea that would make the catch words really pop. Or maybe someone would find a more sensitive way to phrase something in a letter that addressed a difficult subject. The possibilities are endless when you can have so many minds working together on something where they can see the actual results.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thing #21 - Podcasts

My first exposure to podcasts was when I got into the television show Lost. I found a few things to listen to on on the same subject, but I didn't enjoy them as much as I did the official podcasts from ABC. I found these bits rather entertaining for several reasons. The show Lost is a giant puzzle or mystery to solve, and each podcast gave the listener a few extra bits of information to piece together. The writers are there speaking as they would to a group of friends in a very familiar way. This brings the viewers and the writers of the show together in a way that may have never been experienced before. You can start to understand their senses of humor and see how the writing is influenced by their personalities. And yet with all of this new technology, it did bring the group of us listening together as the old radio shows would have. Everyone sat around the computer listening and laughing. Podcasts are another great example of how the world becomes smaller as we all play our part in creating entertainment that is accessible to anyone.

Here is a link to a list of podcasts found on ABC pertaining to the show Lost.

I had to share a bit of my kitten playing fetch.