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....