Monday, November 24, 2008

Thing 26: Who, What, Where and When Now?

This is it, folks. The final stretch of our run together. I want to thank you all for joining me as we've run, jogged, walked and occasionally crawled through the social web.

Please take a few moments to fill out our end-of-session survey -- it's even shorter than the Midway Survey! I'd prefer you did this online, but I will have a few paper copies on hand at our Finish Line celebration on December 2nd.

Speaking of which, you should have received your invitation to our party through Google invites, one of the functions of Google Calendar. If you haven't, please check your Gmail account and let me know if you need the invite sent again. I hope to see many of you there!

If you're interested in tools for online event organizing, you've got a few options to choose from. Evite was one of the first event invitation tools out there. It's free, separate from any email or calendaring system, and easy to use. Crush3r offers a similar service, but the display is a little clunky.

Meetup focuses on regular meetings and serial events. There's a fee for organizers who want to start a group, but none for folks to find one. Better still, you don't need to register with the site to find a group and get more information about it. CityCita is a comparable free service that focuses on the person searching for a group to meet, rather than on listed events.

Finally, Zanby is an interesting blend of a social network and an event planning site. It seems like a great tool for organzing large family gatherings....or Friends of the Library groups!

Discovery Activity
Please RSVP to the Google invitation. Yes, Maybe or Regrets...just let me know. (See, I promised you an easy last week!)

Now, at the end of our class, I'd like to share a video for the holidays that's just bursting with social web fun. Enjoy, and thank you for running with me!

Thing 25: Food...Glorious Food!

Are you looking for some last-minute Thanksgiving recipes, tips or tricks? Something to push you through to the end of our run? Harvest a few from the online bounty of food-related sites!

Epicurious, Food Network, and Recipe Source all feature searchable databases of recipes. Type in something you have in your fridge and see what you can do with it! Recipes can receive ratings, garner user comments, and be shared and printed with ease.

The Joy Kitchen is the online home of the Joy of Cooking. They don't have the full contents of the books online, but the site is full of tips and suggestions, discussion forums and featured foods. (I'd love to similarly promote America's Test Kitchen / Cook's Illustrated, but they charge an unspecified subscription for their sites. Boooo.)

And, of course, there are cooking blogs. Thousands of cooking blogs. To keep it simple, let's start off with two:

A Year of Crockpotting chronicles daily experiments with crockpotting. From crockpot hot chocolate to turkey cutlets in mango salsa, there's something for every palate and taste. For an added bonus, many of them are gluten-free!

Simply Recipes has a truly eclectic directory of food blogs, including Habeus Brulee, written by a New York cook and "occasional restauranteur." Not only does she cook and post mouth-watering recipes, Habeus Brulee also also has an oustanding blog roll of food blogs; skim down the right-hand column to your stomach's content.

Discovery Activity:
I'm keeping it simple for our second-to-last Thing -- find and share a recipe or two. Better still, share your favorite food blogs or recipe sources and explore some of the sites your running mates write about.

Once you've finished digesting all of this, roll yourselves off to the very last thing in our course -- Thing 26: Who, What, Where and When Now?

Thing 24: Itty Bitty Blogging

Twitter. Pownce. Jaiku. Tumblr. Sounds more like Pokemon characters than social computing tools!

What do those funny-named tools do? Twitter and the crew are microblogging platforms, which feel like the instant messaging of the blog world. Short updates of text, photos, audio or video are pushed out to anyone following your feed on the web, through email, or via their cell phone or PDA.

Microblogging lets you quickly update and coordinate with many followers using a single post. You can schedule dinner plans at a conference, announce the cancellation of a library program, and share the first lines of new books. For a personal feed, you can just let your friends know what you're up to at the moment and share snippets of your life.

Libraries are largely using microblogging for publicity: promoting events, updating information, and answering quick questions. For example, the Kansas City PL's Twitter feed includes both announcements and some responses to questions and feedback (any post that starts with an "@" is a response).

Discovery Activity
Beyond program updates, what other uses might microblogging have in a library? For some inspiration, check out Ellyssa Kroski's SLJ article on Twitter, then explore your own thoughts in a post.

If you're up to an Extra Mile, try putting one of your ideas into practice and share with the group!

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm a little focused on the upcoming holiday. Let's try and find some last-minute Thanksgiving dinner ideas in Thing 25: Food....Glorious Food!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thing 23: The Internet Brought Back the Radio Star

Shaking loose the bounds of archived media, let's take a look at the wide variety of live media out on the internet. To keep things manageable, we'll focus on live audio streams; the number of live video streams (from the Times Square webcam to the NFL) is truly overwhelming.

Traditional radio stations (such as NPR, WFNX, and WMJX over there) are increasingly providing access to their broadcasts online, though some do require you to register to to listen.

Radio Paradise is one of the giants of internet-only radio. Using just about any media player you have on your computer, you can listen to commercial-free, listener-supported alternative music radio. While you're listening, you can browse through a playlist of current and prior tracks, discussion forums and additional information about featured artists.

Moving from 1.0 to 2.0 streaming media, Pandora is a free online service powered by The Music Genome Project. First, you create a free account and 'seed' a radio station with music you like. As your station plays, Pandora will begin adding other music related to what you chose. You can give each song a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, move it to a more appropriate station, or find out why Pandora suggested the song. Over time, you can fine-tune your own stations and add to the data of the Genome Project.

Magnatune takes yet another tack by providing access to the music of independent artists around the world. You can either listen on a song-by-song basis, or play through a genre mix. Here's the World Music mix, just for Nancy V.

Last FM works on a related principle, and expands it to include video. From the Music or Videos tabs, you can browse popular hits or search for a specific artist or song. The Radio tab works like Pandora, creating a station for you based on an artist you request.

Seeqpod goes one step even further by including podcasts, Flash animation, slideshows, lectures, images and all sorts of playable media in their results. It really does give you pieces from the whole media pie:

Discovery Activity
Yup, you guessed it: choose one of the sites above, poke around a bit and report back on what you find. If you're already familiar with one of these services, please pick one that you haven't worked with before to explore.

To Go the Extra Mile, choose one of the more tradtional live audio sources (RadioParadise or an NPR affiliate) and one of the more social services and contrast the experience of listening to each of them. What do you like or dislike about each style; how engaged are you; what do you think of the songs you're listening to?


Housekeeping Note: I will be away from my computer from Thursday through Sunday of this coming week (11/20 - 11/23). I'll be checking email, but my response time may lag a bit. For those of you still looking to complete Thing 20, I promise to be online as much as possible once I return.

Now, just as the final leg of the Marathon is down an easy stretch of Boylston Street, so too shall this run through 2.0 wind down to the finish line. Our last set of Things will be another week of fun and games, starting with Thing 24: Itty Bitty Blogging. Keep on jogging, folks -- we're almost there!

Thing 22: Quick, to the Wayback Machine!...and everything else at

The Internet Archive is a worldwide initiative to build a deep and broad repository of human cultural history in digital form with the participation of libraries, archives, research institutions, scholars and everyday folks. The Archive is open-access, meaning that everything contained in it is in the public domain and usually under a Creative Commons license.

The Wayback Machine preserves the way the Web was by periodically capturing 'snapshots' of the Internet. You can see a website's history by typing in the URL and choosing from the dates available. (I must say, the Boston Public Library's first home page wasn't very inspiring.)

The Moving Image Archive contains thousands of digital movies, including classic full-length films, alternative news broadcasts, and videos uploaded by Archive users. Among its treasures are the Prelinger Archives and the Machinima Archive.

The Live Music Archive is an amazing collection of concert recordings from bands obscure and famous. One of my favorite examples is the live recordings of Chucklehead, a now-defunct Boston-area band from the 1990s.

The Audio Archive is comprised of digital recordings of all sorts, from audiobooks and music to alternative news programs and poetry readings. Through the Netlabels collection, community-oriented 'virtual record labels' share their catalogs of signed and unsigned artists from around the world.

The Text Archive is open to anyone in the world, though it is the contributions of libraries scanning their public domain items that form the backbone of the collection. Of particular note is the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a joint effort of ten major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries, and research institutions.

Finally, The Software Achive aims to preserve and provide access to legally downloadable software from around the web. They are also archiving (but not providing access to) copyright-protected software through the CLASP project; access will be granted to the archived materials as their copyrights expire.

Discovery Activity
Yes, you could spend hours roaming through any of these archives. Let's narrow things down by focusing on The Wayback Machine. Please search for your institution's URL and post a link to the earliest version in the archive.

To Go the Extra Mile, poke around in one of the media archives and share a treasure with us.

Now, let's round out our week of multimedia Things by moving from the stasis of the archives to the in-the-moment nature of streaming media. Why don't you flow on over to Thing 23: The Internet Brought Back the Radio Star.

Thing 21: E-Book 2.0, or, What the Kindle Hath Wrought

"Everything's electronic!" "We'll be reading on screens!" "It's the death of the book!!!!"


Yes, the publishing industry has seen a shift in the past thirty years -- first to audiobooks and then (finally) to ebooks -- but the act of reading objects made of bound paper is still going strong. Still, the percentages are shifting, and with the advent of the Kindle and Playaways, it's easier than ever to consume books through digital formats. As we watch newspapers slide closer to a solely-online experience, are we finally crossing the tipping point to the final decline of the printed page? And what place have libraries in this new world?

Cresting the wave of interest in reading online, if we're clever. For an absolutely fantastic example of what can be, check out the New York Public Library's Digital Collections. From a single landing page, NYPL patrons can access library-provided content using every single tool we've covered in this class. However the public wants to 'read,' NYPL can provide something to interest them.

But back to the current Thing. Two projects are underway to create electronic versions of items in the public domain: Project Gutenberg focuses on print manuscripts, while LibriVox tackles audiobooks. Both are free, open-access resources meant to bring even non-commercial publications into the digital age.

There are also low- or reasonable-cost sources of e-content available. The
World Public Library has an astonishingly diverse collection of more than 500,000 PDF ebooks and 23,000 audiobooks in its collections. NetLibrary (a division of OCLC) and Overdrive are electronic content services for libraries; a library subscribes to the service and their patrons gain access to thousands of titles. You can see NetLibrary on the NYPL page above, and the Boston Public Library showcases Overdrive.

In the commercial market, check out Audible. They're currently running a promotion for Boston-area commuters -- sign up for a trial membership & get a free audiobook. If Audible doesn't grab you, take a look at EBooks About Everything.

Discovery Activity
All three of this week's Things will have the same Discovery Activity: choose one of the sources of content listed above, search for items of interest, and post a link and a review of something you find.

If you'd like to Go the Extra Mile for this Thing, please add a word or two on what your vision of what libraries might look like as reading moves increasingly online and in-ear. What will happen as we catch this wave and ride on into the future?

Next, we'll take a look at a single source of online content so vast it deserved its own Thing. Come join me deep in the archives for Thing 22: Quick, to the Wayback Machine!...and everything else at

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thing 20: Can I Ask You a Question?

Instant messaging (IM) or 'chat' is a way for individuals to instantly communicate through the web. Using a website or computer-based software (a 'client'), you can quickly connect with another friend who's also online and have a real-time conversation through short messages. Faster and less cluttering than email, less distracting than a phone call, IM is a great way to quickly share and confirm information...or to coordinate dinner plans with a friend.

As more of their patrons work and live online, libraries are discovering that IM reference is a powerful use of technology, and the list of libraries using this tool is growing. For example, the Massachusetts Law Libraries offer a variety of IM connections with their reference service.

There are many different programs you can use to chat. With your Google account, you have access to two: Google Talk (a separate downloadable IM client), and a chat window right inside GMail. Look for the Chat section on the left side of your screen:

Other popular IM services include AIM (from AOL), Yahoo Messenger and MSN Web Messenger. Facebook and Myspace both have IM functions as well. Many companies have an "official" chat service for work-based discussions. Typically, users will either go with whatever chat service is attached to their primary email account, or they'll choose the service that most of their friends use.

A newer option is to have accounts with all of those IM clients and use a tool like Meebo, Pidgin, Adium (for Mac OSX) or Trillian to work in all of them at the same time. One login and you're good to go!

Here's a comparison of 12 different IM services and the Open Directory Project entry for Instant Messaging clients for some more examples.

Discovery Activity
At some point this week, head on over to my professional blog and see if I'm online. You'll see a Google Talk gadget over on the right side of the screen. If the button is green and says that I'm online, say Hi! (MeeboMe is another service that lets you embed a chat box on your blog.)

If this is difficult due to time or technology constraints, try contacting the Massachusetts Law Libraries or one of the other libraries using IM reference and interact with them. Ask them a reference question that's stumping you, or feel free to let them know that you're working through a class on 2.0 tools. Post about your experience in your blog.

We're coming into the home stretch, folks. Next week, we'll return to exploring online media, starting with Thing 21: E-Book 2.0, or, What the Kindle Hath Wrought. Don't turn that page....

Thing 19: Clip, Clip!

Remember clippings folders and vertical reference? Welcome to the social web version of this tried and true library resource. Social bookmarking sites are web-based ways to collect and share your website bookmarks or favorites. You can access your bookmarks from any computer with an internet connection, and tags and multimedia options make it easy to search for and share items of interest.

Consider all the time you take to find the best reference sites for your most-frequently-asked questions, or your most frequent patrons. Imagine being able to put all of those sites in one place, tagged with subject terms and descriptors, and then publish the link to your library website or blog. Different classes or subject specialties each get a tag page or feed, and the whole collection is searchable and instantly updateable. Neat, huh?

The most well-known social bookmarking site is Delicious (formerly ""), but Furl, Ma.gnolia and CiteULike are also widely used.

Clipmarks takes things to a finer level of detail by letting you clip just the piece of a site you like and share it via a feed or a blog post. Check out the demo video to see it in action.

Library Journal recently featured an article on social bookmarking, and a Stanford-based research team investigated whether social bookmarking improves web search. To see how libraries are using social bookmarking, visit the LibSuccess wiki; Wikipedia's list of social bookmarking sites offers other choices to explore.

Discovery Activity:
Using Delicious or one of the other bookmarking sites, run a few searches on topics of interest to you. Share a link to both the bookmarking site page and a page or two that you find via the site.

If you'd like, Go the Extra Mile and set up an account of your own. Share the link with us in a post, and give us a few words on the topic you chose.

Housekeeping note: As the class winds down, I'll be asking you to create fewer new accounts and do more exploring and sharing of your discoveries.

With that in mind, let's move on to Thing 20: Can I Ask You a Question?

Thing 18: Vini Vidi Wiki?

Wikis. We've heard much about them, but what are they really? Put simply, wikis are a webpage or collection of pages that anyone can edit. Links to other pages in the same wiki make it easy to cross-reference information, and access can be open or limited to invited authors. Like Google Docs, wikis are another way to collaboratively work on the web, but where the docs are individual documents, wikis provide an entire 'website' to work in.

Wikipedia may be the most well-known use of this tool, but sites like PBWiki and wikispaces make it easy for individuals and small groups to create a wiki for any purpose. Storing and organizing committee information, documenting commonly-asked questions and working on multi-author booklists are just a few examples, but our friends at Common Craft have a little more fun with it:

Discovery Activity
To play around with editing a wiki, why not take a stab at BPL Booklists, a wiki I created a year or so ago as a 'sandbox' for folks to play with. Please log in using the email "boston26dot2 @" (take out the spaces) and password "thingz." Click on the link to the 26.2 Things Book List and add a short review in the same format as an example. Please include your first name and initial so I can give you credit for this Thing.

If you need some helpful hints, take at look at the PB Wiki style page.

If you'd like to really Go the Extra Mile, create a wiki of your own that you're willing to share with the class. Post the link to your blog with a description of the wiki.

Up for some more working together online? We're making the old school new school in Thing 19: Clip, Clip!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thing 17.2: Harvesting the Bounty...

As you've all been exploring and playing with social web tools, you've been discovering and sharing things in your posts. I'd like to display some of the bounty of this harvest here in our ".2" Thing. In no particular order, here we go:

TripAdvisor review of Gino's East from Thunder and Consolation

Lonely Planet's podcast list, courtesy Carin

The UMass Lowell Sunrise Radio podcasts from Joanne G

Deutsche Welle's German-language podcasts from Amanda

The No Show archives, featuring Steve Post, courtesy Beatrice

Nancy V introduced us to Peerflix, a neat combination of LibraryThing and BookMooch (a book swapping site), but for DVDs

From Mary Librarian, we have two more media cataloging and sharing sites: and LitLovers

New items RSS feeds from MIT Libraries, an awesome illustration of 2.0 in action from Saraphine

With only a day left to the election, a quick browse through 538 might be a good way to pass some nerve-wracking hours. Thanks, Dave G!

Susan V gives us another spot to indulge ourselves: LuckyScent, an online perfumerie. I note the Hello Kitty fragrance with glee.

Five Limes is a reviewing site for sustainable living choices, from Ms. ReadAlot

Joanne L showcased Stephen Colbert on Libraries

Karrie highlighted podcasts for Spanish lessons, a resource I'll be putting to use soon

B's Grrrl gives us to facilitate community-based travel

Need a good laugh? Try Comedy Central's random joke generator, courtesy Chris N

Also on the language-learning tack, Olga offers us Freelanguage -- language-learning materials from around the globe

Lauren points out one of my favorite webcomics: Unshelved

New England Arts points us to Dilettante Music, a community for classical music lovers of all stripes

For a taste of Chicago Public Radio, check out This American Life, from Millie G

Clayton points out that the Queens Library is using AquaBrowser with its OPAC to give their patrons a different way to search for materials

Librarians to the Rescue!, courtesy of Pia

And, finally, StayingWithIt brings us a Slideshare presentation on revaluing your time

Thank you for sharing, everyone. As a few of you have pointed out in your posts, one of the primary goals of all of this user-created content is to share neat stuff with everyone you know.

Discovery Activity:
Follow one of the links above and write a post about what you find there.

That's it for this week. Stay tuned for next week's continued focus on collaboration with Thing 18: Vini Vidi Wiki?

Thing 17: Classrooms Without Walls

For the past decade or so, universities and colleges have been using course management software (CMS) such as Blackboard to facilitate communication between professors and students. Discussion forums, blog posts, wikis and other social web tools enhance the learning, and both on-campus and distance learning students benefit from 24/7 access to their work and the ability to quickly check in on all of their classes through a single site.

But online learning is extending far beyond the campuses of higher education, as we hinted at in Thing 11. Long known as "the people's university," libraries of all sorts are poised take what they've learned while training their staff and bring that expertise to their patrons and communities. Think of the possiblities for outreach and a renewed enthusiasm for libraries.

What do you think of these ideas of "what might be?"

Moodle, an open-source CMS, is quickly gaining ground as a competitor to high-priced commercial software. Smaller non-profit institutions can offer classes of the same technical caliber as larger organizations through such low-cost software. Here's what NELINET is offering using Moodle. (Click on the small blue "i" to the right of the class title for more information.)

Also for library staff, there's Webjunction, an online community hosted by OCLC. In addition to course offerings in technology and library management skills, they provide a place for staff to chat and network, share ideas and upload their own course content. You don't need to be part of a member institution to take a course, though it is for-fee.

On a much larger scale, Wikiversity comes to us from the developers of Wikpiedia. Educators and experts worldwide are creating a growing treasure trove of educational resources and courses, and it's a neat example of using wikis as the basis for a course. (We'll be covering wikis next week!)

Imagine searching for lectures as easily as you look for the latest pop hits? That's the premise behind iTunesU -- a new service from Apple for educators. Just type "iTunesU" into the search field of this popular media management system and programs from institutions around the world are at your fingertips.

Learning By Ear gives us a quick glimpse of another path for distance learning. This program from Deutsche Welle provides skills training and education for young adults across Africa using radio broadcasts, but imagine if it were made up of podcasts, videos, blog posts and videoconferencing! As projects like One Laptop Per Child help to lessen the digital divide, such a vision moves closer to reality.

Discovery Activity:
For this one, I'm going to ask you to dream a possible dream: What kind of online learning program could you develop for your patrons? Reach for the sky -- let's hear your most outrageous and funky thoughts. Consider all the programs you offer inside your might some of them become 2.0? Don't worry about implementation right now. Just dream.

Now, after such heady thinking, you all deserve a bit of a break. So, check out what your running mates have discovered along the sidelines of our course in this week's mini-Thing -- Thing 17.2: Harvesting the Bounty.

Thing 16: Now My Whole Office is Online!

Howdy, all, and welcome back. If you haven't already filled out the Midway Survey, please take a few moments to do so. For those of you who have, my thanks.

A few years ago, the notion of "the paperless office" began to circulate among business theorists and efficiency experts. Don't bother with printed memos and endless forms, they said. Just put it all onto shared computer networks and your costs will plummet. Email was the first attempt in this initiative, but trying to collaborate on larger documents or spreadsheets produced a mess of revisions and miscommunication.

Online office suites are the first social computing answers to this problem. Users can create documents, save and store them online, invite collaborators to make changes as needed, and publish them for a small audience or the world. Like web-based email, you can access your documents on any device connected to the internet and not worry about what files you have saved on which machines. Better still, so can co-workers, friends or anyone else you're working on a project with.

One of the more obvious uses for online office suites is to publish the notes or slides for workshops and presentations. But how about coordinating a budget for a nonprofit organization, or for a party or a wedding? With everyone involved in planning able edit the spreadsheet, keeping up with expenses is a snap!

Google Docs offers the three most popular tools an average user needs: word-processing, spreadsheets and presentations. They aren't meant to replace your Microsoft products -- yet -- but they do the basics well enough. For a better idea of how Google Docs work, take the tour.

Zoho is more comprehensive, designed from the start to integrate all the workings of an office into an online platform. Stroll through the product list and see what the future may hold for telecommuters, solo workers collaborating on projects, and independent workers of all stripes.

Discovery Activity:
Create a Google Docs document or spreadsheet, add some content, and save and publish it. Choose anything from a simple letter to an imaginary library committee budget -- whatever you'd like to do is fine. When you click on Publish (under the Share tab at the top right of your document), please copy and paste the URL into a blog post.

To Go the Extra Mile, try your hand at a Presentation (aka, slide show).

Think we're getting a little too corporate? No worries. We'll return to a strong library focus in Thing 17: Classrooms Without Walls.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thing 15: Itsy Bitsy Etsy

Now, I'm not one to advocate joining the consumer rush for the holidays, but if you do enjoy giving gifts that mean something, perhaps a few online alternatives might make things easier.

To illustrate the point, let's look at Etsy, a "marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade." Rather with struggling with their own sites or large, multipurpose clearinghouses, Etsy gives artisans a place of their own on the net. Creators put up their wares for sale, Etsy handles the money transactions, and then the crafters ship the products. Sites like this bring us back to a time of small, personal business while they open us up to the products of the world. As an example, take a look at Cosmo's Curiosities.

Small entrepreneurs can find a marketing site for nearly any thing they create. Here's a small sampling to show you what's out there: is a self-publishing business and marketplace for creatives of many stripes. They use Lulu's tools to format their content and turn it from electronic files into print, CD, DVD, calendars and reports. They can then use Lulu as the back end for their electronic store or distribution network.

CafePress and Zazzle offer a similar service for folks who want to sell merchandise to promote a band, company, event, online comic strip or anything they can think of. T-shirts, mugs, calendars, CD covers and gifts of all sorts are available.

Threadless takes a slightly different twist. Artists and designers upload their submissions and Threadless members take a week to vote on the designs. When an idea wins, it's printed onto a T-shirt and sold through the site. Often edgy, Threadless t-shirts are perfect for the eclectic freethinker in your life.

New to the scene, Spoonflower will soon be making quilters and crafters around the country swoon. You can upload an image or design to their site and they will custom-print fabric for you. A perfect example of a small home-grown business designed to serve the same type of folks.

Remember SmugMug? You can use their printing service to showcase your favorite photos through prints, photo books, puzzles, photomugs and other personalizable gifts.

If custom printing is more your speed, you've got a wide array of sources to choose from. VistaPrint will take any text you input (or upload) and print it on business cards, stationery, greeting cards, sticky note pads and more. works on a similar platform to make custom bumper stickers just for you.

Moo initially made their name by offering minicards -- trendy mini-sized calling cards with individualized designs or photos -- but now stand out by letting you create sets of cards or stickers with a different image on every one. Think of the customization possibilities!

Discovery Activity
No, I'm not going to ask you to purchase anything. Instead, take a look at a few of the sites above and post about what might convince you to buy (or not buy) from the sellers there. What did you like or dislike about the site or the merchandise? How far could this micro-business model go?

That's all the fun and games for now. I hope you all have a wonderfully spooky Hallowe'en! Next week, we'll get back to some nitty-gritty work with Thing 16: Now My Whole Office is Online! See you then!

Thing 14: Right In Your Own Backyard...

One of the most enjoyable things to do at this time of year is find a local haunted house, spooky cornfield or pumpkin patch to hang out in. American Towns "offers communities a single online location for everything--and everyone-- needed to navigate daily life in their town." Local resources of all sorts can be found here, including events and attractions. Updates can be accessed via RSS feed or weekly email digest.

Oddly, American Towns is one of the only non-newspaper sites I've found doing what they do. As you've seen, the Globe, Herald and Phoenix all offer classifieds and event listings. In addition, many of the former Massachusetts small town papers have merged and gone online as WickedLocal, an umbrella site for town-oriented blogs and news sites.

Another way to discover local goings-on is through placeblogging. In the words of Watertown placeblogger Lisa Williams (of the currently non-working "A placeblog is an act of sustained attention to a particular place over time." These blogs focus on physical locations rather than a blogger's life or interests, and can have a treasure trove of local information.

Placeblogger is a search site/directory for placeblogs around the country, while Boston Online colocates links to Boston-area blogs. Universal Hub works slightly differently - the authors write posts about mentions of Boston in other blogs, rather than just offering a list of links.

Discovery Activity
Search American Towns or Wicked Local to find spooky things in your town. One you've found a listing, post a link in your blog.

If you want to Go the Extra Mile, post an event to one or both of those sites for your institution or an organization you belong to.

With our next Thing, we'll shift from the current holiday to our first glimmerings of the next few. If you're in a gift-giving mood this fall and winter, perhaps you'll find a few treasures in Thing 15: Itsy Bitsy Etsy.

Thing 13: This Thing...That Thing....Library Thing!

Spooktastic congratulations from your Coach! We've completed the first half of our run together and to celebrate, this week's Things show us a bit of the lighter side of the social web.

First, though, could you please all take five minutes and fill out our midway survey? It's a few short questions on what you think of the class so far and how you're faring with these Things. Tell me the good, the bad and the ugly....and then it's on to Thing 13.

LibraryThing is a book cataloging site that began as a way for folks to keep track of all the books in their home libraries, but it quickly became much more. To date, over 32 million titles have been cataloged by 500,000 members; each title has user reviews, useful information, descriptions and tags. Tags are user-created terms that help searchers find what they're looking for, based on phrases that other readers think will be helpful. Tags not only identify the content, but also describe the less tangible aspects of the book.

Let's start with a traditional request for this time of year: "I want to read something scary."

Starting from the Search tab, we can enter "scary" as a tag search. Our choices are plenty, but equally importantly, LibraryThing gives us related tags for further searching. Just click on one to get another list of suggestions.

For more traditional searching, you can also use a list of related subjects to find what you're looking for.

Good searching is only the tip of the LT iceberg: users can form groups around genres or authors, discussion forums allow for good conversation, and the zeitgeist page puts all sorts of stats at your fingertips.

A recent LT development is LibraryThing for Libraries, a service that institutions can overlay on top of their existing OPACs to bring LibraryThing tools to patrons. Check out the Danbury (CT) Library's use of LTfL in their catalog.

LibraryThing was one of the first book cataloging sites/social networks, but others have followed. GoodReads and Shelfari are stand-alone sites, and Visual Bookshelf is a Facebook application that does much the same thing. (Here's a neat comparison of LibraryThing and Visual Bookshelf.)

Discovery Activity
Poke around in LibraryThing or another book-based social network and find some spooky reads for the weekend. Choose one or two and share them with your running mates in a post. Feel free to link to the title record if you're able to.

Many of you may have already Gone the Extra Mile and signed up with one of these services. If you have, care to share your libraries with us?

Meanwhile, we'll press on from scary reads to spooky goings-on-about-town with Thing 14: Right In Your Own Backyard....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thing 12: Can You Hear Me Now?

Podcasts are audio broadcasts used to spread the word (many words!) across the social web. Podcasts are created by professionals, amateurs or anyone else with access to a computer and a microphone, and can be on any topic under the sun.

What makes podcasts different from any old audio track embedded in a website is their serial nature. Typically, a new podcast comes out daily or weekly, with a changing topic or guest speaker. You can subscribe to podcasts through a service like iTunes or through your RSS feed reader, or listen to the cast directly at its site.

LISTen is a weekly podcast from LISNews. A short synopis of items of interest, LISTen hits the highlights of the hundreds of weekly stories from this user-supported library news source.

StratFor's Daily Podcast offers a quick analysis of world events and trends, geared towards decision-makers and those who want to know. As someone told me recently: "Listen to this every day if you want to get smarter."

And, of course, one of the most natural podcast sources is radio. NPR's podcast directory is a testament to the continuing appeal of well-created audio-only news and entertainment.

As a note, podcasts are different than streaming audio or internet radio. Podcasts have distinct starting and ending points, while streaming audio flows like a river of sound. Spoiler alert: We'll be covering streaming audio in a later Thing.

How do you find all of these podcasts? As with all things 2.0, you can either hear about them from friends, family and bloggers of all stripes, or you can see if your favorite news/entertainment/educational source has podcasts to offer. You can also search a podcast directory site such as Odeo, Podcast Alley, Podcast Bunker or to look for podcasts on particular topics. If all that fails, use your favorite search engine to look for "a subject of your choice" AND "podcast" and you'll turn up more results than you'd thought possible.

Discovery Activity
Find a podcast that intrigues you using the resources listed above (or another you already listen to) and share it with us in a blog post. Please link to the original website (such as NPR above). Tell us something about your experience searching for podcasts and about what sorts of things were available.

Housekeeping: This is the last of our 2-Thing weeks, but don't worry. In honor of reaching the halfway point in our run, next week we'll be taking a break and engaging in a few more playful sites and tools. So tune in on Monday for Thing 13: This Thing..That Thing...Library Thing!

Thing 11: You(Tube) Oughta Be in Pictures

So, enough with the screens and screens of static text and images. The first decade of the 21st century is much like the first decade of the 20th: still images have begun to move! They've also started to speak and sing and...well...

Meet Keepon, a robot designed to react to and engage with children with autism. Turns out, he's also a YouTube sensation. Just as I'm doing right now, videos posted to YouTube are linked to and embedded in blog posts and web sites around the globe, quickly shooting unknowns into online stardom! They even inspire responses and parodies.

YouTube began as a place for individuals to share moments from their lives, from zombie marches to orchestral experiments and drum line performances. Christmas house light displays and the Hallelujah chorus. Oh, and knitting instruction...lots of knitting instruction.

Somewhere along the way, posting a video to a website became an important marketing strategy. Bands are using online video for inexpensive and easily shared exposure. The pop group OK GO! posted an innovative music video two years ago and it's gotten 40 million views to date. The popularity of this video earned them a spot at the MTV Music Video Awards in 2006.

YouTube is the most well-known free video hosting site, but there are others: Google Video, Vimeo and many more.

As internet connections have gotten faster, longer and more serious video has made it to the smallest screen, usually kept on an individual site rather than with a free service. The TED Talks, Google Tech Talks and Berkman Center lectures are three series of presentations given at esteemed institutions and conferences, put online to share ideas beyond the limits of the lecture hall. Similarly, some higher educational institutions are videotaping professors and offering their lectures online, while others are offering distance learning with print, audio and video components.

Now, for the obvious question: How are libraries using this multimedia tool?

Discovery Activity:
Go to YouTube and run a search for "library video". Include the quotation marks to focus the search a bit. Choose a video that strikes you and link to it. In your post, talk a little about the video and what you think of the library's use of this tool.

If you'd like, Go the Extra Mile and embed the video in your blog post.

And now, reversing the usual course of history, we're going to move from moving pictures back to audio-only with Thing 12: Can You Hear Me Now?


Some more of my favorite videos, just for fun:

Mime Johann Lippovitz's version of Natalie Imbruglia's Torn echoed across the web....and eventually got him onto to the stage with her.

Do you remember The Dot and the Line?

And, because we must be able to laugh at ourselves...The March of the Librarians.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thing 10: What Do I See There?

There's a certain satisfaction in sharing your photos with friends and family, but how about millions of people seeing your favorite pictures while looking for other information? In the past year or so, sites have been encouraging users to upload their photos to add richness and interest to search results of all kinds.

For instance, if you use Google Maps to look for San Francisco (CA), you'll not only find a street map of the city, but photos, videos, user-created maps, comments and more. What was once a very flat (and...perhaps even boring) answer of "You Are Here" has expanded to "You're Here, and Here's What You Can See, Do, Find, Eat, Explore...."

At reviewing sites like Yelp, user photos can help make those ratings jump off the page. Don't just read what folks liked or disliked about the Boston Common, click on the photos at the upper right and see for yourself.

Over at Amazon, customer images are used less frequently, but sometimes with interesting results. Check out the mind map illustrating Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat.

Discovery Activity
Using Google Maps, Yelp, or another site you've discovered, locate some examples of user-added photos. Write up a blog post on how these photos might have changed your opinion of the place or thing that you searched for. Add a photo or two to your post to make your point.

Your Extra Mile is to upload your own photo to one of those sites and share the link with us.

As this is a short week, we'll end here, but don't touch that dial! Next week we'll take these images and get them moving...then add sound...beginning with Thing 11: You(Tube) Oughta Be in Pictures. And now, for a preview....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thing 9: My Friend Flickr

Hello, all! As I'd hoped, you took advantage of the long weekend to catch up, go further and write prolifically. I'm still reading your posts, comments and email, but in the meanwhile...on to Thing 9!

Sharing your favorite photos has come a long way from vacation slide shows and sticky-paged photo albums. Web-based photo sites like Flickr will store your digital photos and other images online and let you arrange them for easy viewing, but there's so much more you can do.

When you look at a photo in Flickr, you don't just get the image but comments, subject tags, various sets that the image belongs to, additional data about the image and much more. If you click on any of these bits of information, you'll start a search that will find all of the images that meet that criteria. Better still, other people can add tags and comments, or ask to include your work in their photoset to bring similar things together.

Professional photographers and everyday snapshooters are obvious users of these tools, but so are libraries. The Boston Public Library is in the process of putting its collections of public domain postcards and other rare images online. Think about the fragile resources made more widely available through this process!

One of your fellow runners proudly shared a current project: the Emmanuel College Library's Flickr site. They've linked the image of a group of book covers directly to catalog records, so by posting this Flickr image on their website, patrons can see the cover of the book and immediately find out if it's available. Nicely done!

Discovery Activity:
Choose one of the photo sites below and run a few searches for things you enjoy. Try searching for your institution's name and see what shows up, or for a travel destination you're eager to visit. Find a photo that appeals to you and post a link to it in your blog. Write a bit about how you might use photo sharing in your life or library work.

Some places to start:
Take a tour of Flickr's features to see exactly how flexible this tool can be.

Google's photo tool comes in two parts: Picasa is photo editing and organizing software you can download onto your computer, while Picasa Web Albums lets you store and share images online.

SmugMug is a paid photo-hosting service that provides more security and stability for a low annual fee.

Photobucket is a free site that targets bloggers and social networkers, with one-click posting and tons of special effects for your pics.

If you want to Go the Extra Mile, create an account on the site of your choice, upload a few photos and share them in a blog post. You can either post a link to your photos or embed one in the post -- it's up to you. If you have an account already, then just go ahead and show us what you've done!

Now that you've explored the possibilities in getting your photos online, we'll take a look in what you can do with them in Thing 10: What Do I See There?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thing 8: Of Dates and Lists

In this Thing, we're going to take a look at some fun and functional tools for keeping track of your life online.

Another of Google's many services is Google Calendar. From doctors' appointments to class assignments, Calendar lets you update your schedule from any internet connection. Adding and changing events is as easy as clicking and typing, and you can set reminders to poke you, via a pop-up window or email.

If you choose to, you can share your calendar with friends, family or anyone else who needs to see what you're up to. Depending on what you're using your calendar for, you can make it public to the general world, or invite only a few select people to view it. Many organizations include a calendar in their website to keep customers or members current on events and schedule changes; clicking on the event title in the calendar brings you additional information, directions, contact info and more.

Discovery Activity:
Set up a Google Calendar and share it with me. Just as you did with Google Reader in Thing 7, you'll find the link to the Calendar service in the upper left corner of your Gmail page. Click on the link, fill in the appropriate information and you're set.

Once you've got a few things scheduled, click on the Settings link under the "My Calendar" box. In the list that comes up, you'll see a link to "Share this Calendar" next. Click on that and share your calendar with "boston26dot2 @ gmail. com".

Please note that the goal here is to learn to use this tool. For your calendar entries, feel free to use made-up events, national holidays, celebrity birthdays or the storytime schedule at your library. Just something to practice with.


Shifting from managing time to managing tasks, Remember the Milk, Todoist and Toodledo are three tools to help keep your to-do lists organized and available wherever you're online. Depending on which service you use, you can integrate your task manager with your calendar and email to create a personalized complete time management system. Toodledo has thoughtfully provided us with a comparison of some popular tools.

Going one step further, 43 Things, the 1001 Day Project and similar sites take your to-do list into the social web. Rather than a simple checklist of tasks, these sites encourage you to think of long-term or life-time goals. Then, they take that simple list and add the elements of a social network to it, providing you with a virtual community of support, advice and encouragement. Other members of the network cheer you on and you can do the same for them.

There are many other tools out there to improve your efficiency and organization on the web. LifeHacker and 43 Folders are two sites that showcase the newest resources and offer tips and tricks for streamlining your life.

If you'd like to Go the Extra Mile, consider signing up for one of these services and tell us which you chose and why in a blog post.


This is one of our two-Thing weeks, and you've got a little time to catch up and play with what you've discovered so far. Next Monday, we'll get away from all the text and start looking at some pictures with Thing 9: My Friend Flickr.

Housekeeping note: Due to the Jewish holiday and the long weekend, I won't be online as much this coming week as I normally am. Keep emailing me questions and concerns, but understand that I'll be slower to respond than usual. Thank you, and enjoy!

Thing 7: Feed Me!

Every once in a while, someone else has described something so well that all you can do is share their words. The Common Craft Show is a free resource for videos that teach the basics of the social web and other topics. For an introduction to RSS, here's Lee:

Simple, yes? RSS is a tool that allows web users to "pull" information to them, much like a magazine or newspaper subscription lets folks pull the news to their mailbox. Using feed readers or news aggregators, individuals can subscribe to receive the latest updates from their favorite sites. To read the updates, all they have to do is go to their reader, log in and see what's new.

For a bit more detail, here's a text-based presentation on RSS, feed readers and how to organize them.

Discovery Activity
Create your Google Reader account and subscribe to up to 5 feeds. You can subscribe to your favorite blogs, news feeds from national or local sources, or library-related resources. Better still, subscribe to your running mates' blogs and follow along with them on our marathon!

A word of warning: subscribing to feeds can be a bit addictive and quickly overwhelming. Start small and build up your collection slowly.

To start using Google Reader, log in to your Google/Gmail account and click on Reader in the upper left corner. You'll be taken straight to your Reader page and you can take off running!

A few places to find those feeds:

The New York Times and The Boston Globe both offer feeds for their primary sections. You do need to register with the site to read the content, but it's free.

Library Journal has feeds for most of its major sections. Scroll down until you start seeing those orange RSS icons, then click on one to see the full list.

Educational Feeds and Government Central collect feeds from those fields in one A to Z list. Think of how this might help with reference, if you could find out what's new on the Census Bureau's site without having to remember to check it each week!

As one last resource, I keep track of a number of library-related blogs using Bloglines. Check out my Every Day folder for top recommendations.

Going the Extra Mile
It's not just news organizations and blogs that are using RSS to push information out to their patrons. Libraries are, too. Poke through some of these examples and write up a blog post on how your institution might use RSS to offer your patrons customizeable service.

Now that you've got your information inputs organized, let's move on to time management with Thing 8: Of Dates and Lists.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thing 6: It's Classified

As 2.0 has become an integral part of the web, the Classifieds section of the newspaper has changed dramatically. Far from the old 4-line ad full of strange shorthand and acronyms, we can now digitally search thousands of ads using standard English. With increasing competition from social sites of all sorts, newspapers have adapted and adopted everything from customer ratings to blogs and comments.

Locally, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and the Boston Phoenix have all put their classifieds online. But ask your average patron where to go to find apartments to rent or stuff to buy, and they'll mention Craigslist. This nonprofit service developed by a guy named Craig may be single-handedly responsible for getting newspapers and circular publishers to change the way they do business. With a simple format and no need to register, craigslist offers a place for anyone to promote anything they want to buy, sell, do or find. Free event announcements, calls for artists, personals ads and anything else you'd normally find in the Classifieds -- and things un-dreamed of in the days of print-only -- are here. It's locally-oriented services and shopping, by users and for users.

There are other sites that capture part of the same market -- FreeCycle focuses on barter and giveaways rather than sales -- but craigslist is powerful because it is so diverse in what it offers.

Discovery Activity:
Poke around craigslist for a while. Look for things that interest you, activities nearby, ads for apartments and cars and anything else that catches your eye. Keep track of what types of things you find and the diversity of it all. Look for the same sorts of things on or the Herald. Write up a short blog post about what you find and compare the different sites.

Edited To Add: For an excellent, concise comparison, check out your running mate's post at Expanding Horizons. Nicely done!

Go the Extra Mile:
Post an ad to craigslist for an event you're having, an exhibition you're hosting, or classes you offer. Once you've got the ad up, post a link to it in your blog.


Are you feeling social yet? Overwhelmed? No worries, because next week we'll be looking at some tools to keep the rising tide of overload a bit more managed. We'll start with Thing 7: Feed Me!, a look at RSS and online subscriptions of all sorts.

Thing 5: Did You Read That Review?

After the general social networking sites, social reviewing or rating services are probably the most well-known source of online community action. Through these sites, individual users post reviews and rate their favorite bars, restaurants, stores, news items, books, movies....and libraries. People who need to find that kind of item or service can go to the community, search for what they need, read reviews, and then make a more informed choice. Once they've used the thing or the service, they can go back and add their review to the listing.

The number of social reviewing sites grows daily, but here's a few to get you going:

Media of all sorts: Amazon
News items: Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon
Food, Entertainment & Other Services: Yelp and Chowhound
Travel: TripAdvisor
Clothing: Many online stores now include customer review sections. Zappos (shoes) is a great example.
Contractors & Home Services: Angie's List -- a paid membership service that provides reviews of contractors. Take the Quick Tour to see how it works.

Discovery Activity:
Simple -- choose a site from above, find something to rate, and submit a rating. Write about using the tool in your blog and include a link to your review. Better still, find a different rating site or store and share the discovery with us through your blog.

You'll find more detailed instructions on how to do this here.

Go the Extra Mile:
Look up your library or institution in Yelp. If it's not there, make an entry for it. You'll need to post an initial 'review' to get it going, but don't pretend to be a patron and give your library four stars. Be you and be honest about who you are and what your library has to offer.

If you'd prefer to review something else, try and do the same for your favorite local restaurant or entertainment venue.

Next up, Thing 6: It's Classified!

Thing 4: Expanding Your Social Networks....

Hello, everyone, and welcome to Week 2 of 26.2 Things! From your posts and comments, I'm getting the feeling that you're an enthusiastic bunch who can't wait to get running. Great! because here we go...

First, some housekeeping:
  • If you haven't sent me your Gmail address or blog address, please do. It's the only way I can give you credit for doing all those neat Things!
  • If you've created your blog, please put up an initial post (even just saying, "Hi! I'm here!"). I can't add you to our blogroll until you do.
  • A few of you have chosen to make your profiles private, which means that I can't see your blog information. That's fine, but then I truly do need you to email me your blog URL so I can keep track of it.


Now, back to social networks...

In the three-dimensional world, your social network is the system of contacts (personal and professional) that surrounds you. You chat with your network and make new friends. Your network gives you recommendations for new restaurants, bands, contractors and places to go on vacation. Professionally, you find out about new opportunities and get feedback on ideas. Your social network contains hundreds of people you know directly or through other friends and coworkers, and gives you access to interesting activities and useful information.

Online, social networking sites do the same things, and often with many of the same people. These sites are tools to expand those networks further and more easily than meeting at the diner or corner store ever could. People from around the world can come together to talk about politics or parenting or knitting and crochet. Through posts and discussions, reviews and comments, email and chat, these networking services offer another way to foster community and become part of a larger world.

Discovery Activity:
Explore some of the social networking services from the links above and below, or use your favorite search engine to find sites that match your interests. Think about what place an online community might have in your life, for fun or profit! Brainstorm three ways a social network could be useful to you or your institution, and write about it in your blog.

Here's a few more specific communities:
The Lone Arrangers, a community of solo librarians in all sorts of settings.

A Library 2.0 community.

TF Wiki, a wiki-based community for Transformers fans.

Network for Good, a place for donors, charities and volunteers to come together.

Loopt, a social network for your mobile device.

Go the Extra Mile:*
Choose one of your ideas and run with it. Join or create a community, and let us know about it in your blog. Include links, as appropriate.
* These are optional activities, if you want to take what you've learned one step further. They are *not* required.

As you can see, there are social networks for any possible interest or need. We'll explore a few more in Things 5 & 6. For now, jog on to Thing 5: Did You Read That Review?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thing 3: A Blog! A Blog!

So, what is a blog, anyway? The word is a contraction of web and log, and a web log is a series of posts (articles) displayed on a website in reverse chronological order, most recent at the top. That's it -- nothing too fancy.

Originally developed just as online diaries, blogs have become places for people to express their opinions, write about their lives, and share information and recipes and cute pictures. What makes blogs more interesting is that readers are able to respond and create discussions by commenting on the original post and on other commenters.

As I mentioned in Thing 1, libraries are using blogs in all sorts of ways. How might you find a use for a blog, either in your library or in your life?

Discovery Activity:
Set up your blog for this course at Blogger and comment here with the web address. If you already have a blog, please skip to Step 9.

1) Go to the main Blogger page.

2) In the upper right corner, sign in using your Google Account information. [Google bought Blogger a few years ago, and you use one account to gain access to both services.]

3) This will take you to your Blogger Dashboard. Just like that part of a car, this is where you can oversee everything in your Blogger account. You can edit your profile information, manage your account and create blogs. Which brings us to....

4) Click on the Create a Blog link on the right.

5) Fill out the appropriate fields. The Blog Title is the main title for your blog. The Blog Address (URL) is the web address for your blog. Choose carefully when you pick a blog URL, because you can't change it unless you delete that blog. Think about what you might want to use your blog for after 26.2 Things. Don't just pick anything; give this some thought.

6) Click on Continue.

7) Now for the fun part! Choosing a Template lets you give your blog a look you like. Each template is slightly different in both color and layout. Choose one that appeals to you, click on the radio button (the small circle) next to the template, and then click on "Save."

8) Congratulations again! You've just created your blog, your own home on the web. This is where you'll post the results of the rest of your Thing discovery activities, and where you'll discuss what you find with your running mates in comments. If you want to customize your blog a bit more, read through Blogger's help page on the topic and play around.

9) Please either email me your blog's web address, or better still, leave it in a comment here for your classmates to see. I encourage everyone to follow a few of the 26.2 Things blogs, because you'll learn as much or more from your peers as you will from me.

10) Sit back and relax! On Monday, I'll post the next few Things, beginning with Thing 4: Expanding Your Social Networks...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thing 2: Great Google-y Moogly!

A bit of a cute title, but "The Great Googly One" is a powerhouse collection of tools that's just getting stronger. This simple search engine is now a home for more than twenty tools to help communicate, coordinate and create online.

In this course, we'll be using Google for email, blogging, photosharing, RSS feed reading and more. By creating a Google account, you gain access to most of the tools you need to run your way through the social web. There are other sites that provide many of the same services (Yahoo!,, AOL, etc.), but Google really does have everything we need all in one place.

Discovery Activity:
Set up your Google account for this course and email me your address. If you already have a Google/Gmail account you'd rather use, please skip to Step 5. If you'd prefer directions with images of what you'll see, please go to this page.

1) Go to Gmail's website.

2) Click on "Sign up for Gmail!"

3) Fill out the required fields, including choosing a login name/email name. (As a suggestion, think about what you might use this email address for before picking "fluffybunny200".)

4) Click on "I accept. Take me to my account." to accept the Terms of Service and create your account.

5) From your new email account, please send mail to me at

Congratulations! You've completed your first sprint on the 2.0 course. Since this Thing is a foundation for much of the rest of our work, please let me know in a comment here if you have any questions or problems.

I don't want to overwhelm you on the first day of class, so I'll post Thing #3: A Blog! A Blog! by this Wednesday. Enjoy the anticipation!

Thing 1: What's the Big Deal About 2.0, Anyway?

Blogs, wikis, Flickr, MySpace. By now, I'm sure you've heard of most of the web sites and services we'll be encountering in this course. You might have used many of the tools we're about to work through, possibly without even knowing it.

But why are libraries joining the push to provide social technologies through their library websites and catalogs, and to offer training to patrons in everything from finding an apartment on Craigslist to promoting their small business using Flickr? Why are library staffs being offered courses in social technologies to get them up to speed?

Go back to the sentence that starts: "You might have used many of the tools..." The majority of our patrons no longer think of these things as 'interesting new technologies' -- they are now a seamless part of how the web works. YouTube is how you watch videos online. Comments on newspaper articles might be how you write a Letter to the Editor. Picasa is where your wedding photos or your vacation slides are viewed by eager family and friends. Wikipedia is how you do your homework. (Just kidding...)

As library staff, we need to be prepared to answer our patrons' questions about what they're doing and finding on the web, and possibly use some of these services on our own sites to provide that same seamless interaction. To do both of these things well, it helps to understand more about how the social web works and what it's capable of. To begin, let's look at what 2.0 can do.

Note: Throughout this course, I'll be using the terms "Web 2.0" and "the social web" interchangeably. Both of them refer to the use of interactive tools and technologies to allow a continuous conversation and flow of information across the World Wide Web.

Discovery Activity
For this first Thing, please choose a few of the links below and read through the articles or watch the videos. Then, share your thoughts about what you've seen in a comment on this post. You could also talk about what experience you've had with the social web so far, or anything you're particularly interested in.

If you'd like some background information on what the social web is, you could start with "What Is Library 2.0?", a post from my blog. Most important are the links to further articles at the end of the piece.

"The Machine is Us/ing Us" is a video by Michael Wesch at the Digital Ethnography project at Kansas State Universty. Hosted on YouTube, it offers a fantastic explanation of Web 2.0 in five minutes.

The Blogging Libraries Wiki is a clearinghouse of links to the blogs of libraries around the world that shows the diverse range of uses you can put this tool to.

The Lansing (IL) Public Library website is full of 2.0 in action. From their library podcast page (under User Tools) to their multiple blogs to the ability to chat with a librarian through the site, Lansing PL has given their users a variety of ways to interact with the library before they've even stepped in the door.

The book website for "No One Belongs Here More Than You," by Miranda July. It's not precisely 2.0, but it shows what can happen when you do things just a bit differently.


To submit your Thing results, click on "Post a Comment" below. Write your comment in the space provided, and then fill out the Word Verification field if it's there. Please include your first name and last initial in your comment, so we know who's who.

Once you've shared your thoughts here, head on over to Thing #2: Great Google-y Moogly!

Welcome to 26.2 Things!

Hello all, and thank you for running with me. We're about to start a course full of exploration, play and -- with luck -- no Heartbreak Hills.

26.2 Things in Boston is a self-directed program of discovery designed to introduce you to the tools of Web 2.0, also known as the 'social web.' Over the next ten weeks, we'll cover blogs, wikis, social networking and reviewing sites, photo/audio/video resources, RSS feed readers, online applications, downloadable services and more. By December 1st, you'll have a list of 26.2 Things you can do on the web that you might not have tried before and, hopefully, you'll be more comfortable discovering and using new tools in the future.

If this seems like a lot, don't worry. Every Monday, I'll put up posts for 2 or 3 Things; each post will contain information about the tool or site, some examples and a discovery activity to work through. The discovery activity should only take about 15 minutes to a half hour to complete and report on. (Unless you spend a few hours looking for your favorite childhood cartoons on YouTube!) You'll receive credit for completing the Thing when you report on it, usually in a blog post.

Please note: We don't expect you to become a Flickr Pro or LibraryThing power user. The point of this course is to explore and become familiar with the basics.

As a part of this program, you will set up a Google account and blog with Blogger, if you don't have one already. These will be our primary means of communication and discussion, as well as the place you'll post your completed activities. I'll be monitoring all of your blogs, and will include them in a reading list (blog roll) here on this site, in case you'd like to see what other participants are finding.

As I mentioned in the course description, I view myself as your coach on this run through 2.0. I'm here to show you the basics, walk you through trouble spots, offer advice and tips, provide support and encourage you to play. I also encourage you to ask other participants, friends and coworkers for additional help you might need. Comments are the places that discussions happen in blogs, so don't hesitate to let others know what you're thinking and what questions you have in response to their posts.

To start things off, please read through the About page for this course. I've also written up a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to explain some things in more detail. As a reminder, there's no specific software you need for this course, but you do need access to a computer with both audio and video capabilities, and a reasonable internet connection (broadband/DSL or better).

Thank you all for being a part of this first version of 26.2 Things in Boston. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can find out in the great wide web!

Up next....Thing #1: What's the Big Deal About 2.0, Anyway?