Tuesday, August 08, 2006

23 Things: Thoughts

Basically, I just want to think for a few minutes about what the 23 Things project (part of PLCMC's Learning 2.0) entails. What I want to do is give my first reactions to each of the main topics, so don't expect to find 23 things listed here! (Although you can find there here as well.) Some weeks there are three "Things" that really all deal with one topic; in fact, I guess I'll be talking about each of the nine weeks.

Week One: Introduction
I think this is officially Week One, the week that began Aug. 6. The introduction is good; the thing is that it gets me excited and eager to do something, but in order to really do something, I have to work ahead. I wonder if other people feel the same way? No complaints here, as I'm happy to do things on my own!

After watching the Lifelong Learners presentation, I have decided to concurrently learn how to take good digital photographs. More on that later, as it will get it's own post.

Week Two: Blogging
Got it. I've got a personal blog I've been writing off and on for several years at Typepad, but decided I'd rather set up a separate one for this project here at Blogger. (I'm still debating this decision, and I may change my mind in the end.)

There are many, many things I'm struggling to do at Blogger that I could easily do at Typepad, because I have more experience with how Typepad works. However, I think it will be a good learning exercise to use Blogger, since that's probably where most patrons who might consider starting blogs will work, and the service I'm most likely to get questions on. Oh, I guess I really should have introduced myself. I work in Virtual Village, the computer center at PLCMC's Main Library. A lot of what I do involves customer support on the Internet; any kind of question, from "How do I email the gas station at the corner of 3rd and Main in Topeka, Kansas" to "How do I use eBay," the library computer users expect me to be able to answer it.)

Week Three: Photos & Images
Mostly, this week is about Flickr. Flickr is, of course, the most popular image hosting site on the Internet. To be honest, I haven't used Flickr much. I'm not even sure what the practical uses for it are. To share photos among friends, I'd prefer something more private.

I've been using Picasa Web Albums recently, since I got invited to the beta a few months ago, and using it to post pictures is so easy. I haven't ever tried posting using Flickr; maybe I'll do that when week 3 rolls around. Flickr definitely is more social that Picasa Web Albums, although I think Google intends to make Picasa more Flickr-like eventually. Right now, unless you know the address for another Web Albums user, it's almost impossible to find their pictures, so it isn't the browsing tool that Flickr is.

The instructions for Week Three also indicate I should explore some Flickr third party sites; that could be fun. Wonder if that search engine where you draw something and then search Flickr for something similar to your drawing counts? Because that was fun. Wish I could remember what website that was ... Wait, this is it. Works best in Internet Explorer, so no Firefox! If I could draw it might work really well. Try something simple; it responds mostly to color for me, although if I draw this I do sometimes get a London Underground sign, which is the goal.

Week 4: RSS & Newsreaders
Week 4 has us playing around with Bloglines. Bloglines is great! I've had an account there for several years, and have always been impressed. I also like NetVibes and the Mobipocket Reader for RSS feeds. NetVibes is another online reader; Mobipocket is a free program to download and install. If you have a PDA, Mobipocket makes it easy to transfer RSS feeds to your device for reading later.

Week 5: Play Week
Play Week first has us learning about an online image generator. I think I'll have to wait and see the detailed post for that week, because I'm not sure what they mean by "online image generator." Could be one of many things ...

We're also going to look at LibraryThing during week 5. LibraryThing lets you catalog your book collection. I've been using reader2 to do this for some time, off and on. I'm interested in seeing what the differences are and which I prefer.

The third "thing" in week 5 is Rollyo, where you "roll your own" search engine. Looks interesting. (While I'm talking about search engines, let me say a quick word about Exalead, which is a great search engine not many people have heard about. I'm playing around with the beta for their new design, and it's going to be even better! I haven't done enough investigating to see if the changes are mostly cosmetic, but even the cosmetic changes are good.)

Week 6: Tagging and Folksonomies
I've been playing around on del.icio.us for a couple of years; I'd do more there if I could remember where to put the . s in the URL. And I noticed lately that Amazon has added tagging, which I think is great! (In library-talk, a tag is a keyword, BTW.)

Week 7: Wikis
Wikipedia is great, and so is the wiki we set up for Virtual Village staff a year or more ago, so that instead of rummaging through a massive notebook for what to do when computer 68 looks like it has ants on the screen, we can do a quick search. I think that wiki is still running - Viki was her name. I haven't had the guts to check on her in a few weeks as I am afraid I will find the patient has indeed expired and I liked her too much.

Week 8: Online Applications & Tools
I know these exist, but I've never really played around with them. In theory it's great to do word processing and such online, but then what happens when your modem and network card get fried in a lightning strike as mine did a few months ago? It took 4 weeks to really get up and running online again! I'd hate to think about all my info being online and being unable to access it from home; sometimes it's just too private (like banking account info) to really feel comfortable using a public computer to get to it. Technology is great when it works. But I'm sure these will be fun to try.

Week 9: Podcasts & Downloadable Audio
Despite the nominal topic for the week, the first thing we'll do is examine YouTube. Well, I examined YouTube one night a few weeks ago and got almost no sleep because I kept finding Beatles and Rolling Stones concert footage from the 1960s. (Well, duh, it had to be from the 60s if it was The Beatles, huh?) Anyway, I love YouTube but try not to visit because it takes all my time. I really don't understand how YouTube keeps out of copyright trouble ...

Also in week 9, we'll search for podcasts and videos, and download an audio book. I've done both of those things before, so that shouldn't be difficult, but it will be fun.

Conclusions
Well, they'll have to come later. This post is already too long, and it's time for me to be on the public service desk anyway. There are a few things I think may have been left out that we ought to explore, but for now I'll just say that the program is nicely done, and if everyone on PLCMC staff will follow it, we stand to learn a lot.

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