Sunday, October 12, 2008

The End (for now)

Well, I'm glad to be at the end of this as it's been time-consuming, but it has been an interesting journey. The highlights for me were the web mashups - especially the maps and images, as I can see a use for them for our local history work. The mashup applications around at the moment still aren't at the level of sophistication I'm really looking for - I'd like to be able to use our own historic maps and add images to them rather than add images to the google maps - but I'll keep an eye on what is happening with those as they will surely keep developing.

I also liked the online word processing options like Zoho - those could be very useful, especially if laptops keep coming down in price, as it will make it that much easier to be mobile if you can cart around a cheap basic notebook and get online via a wireless connection from pretty much anywhere. I know you can do that now, but most laptops are still pretty heavy as they need processing power to run Word and all the rest. Shifting both the software and the storage of your files to the net means the hardware needn't be so complex, costly and heavy. PDFs and iphones sort of do that for you now, but I don't like their squitty little screens - for people who seriously need to WRITE, a decent size screen and keyboard are still important.

The blog itself is likely to be a useful format for our local history work at the library - I wouldn't use it for personal stuff, but as a means of bringing together online unpublished info we find about the shore, combine it with our digital pictures, and get feedback from knowledgable locals, it could be good. Once we've all had time to think about this Web 2.0 technology, it would also be valuable to go back through what we've covered and look at what we can co-opt into our regular, professional library work.

On a personal level - my favourites were YouTube, the Image generators and sorting out once and for all how to set up RSS feeds. (I would have liked to put one final YouTube link in here but the site keeps coming up in Chinese - that's been an issue for most of us right throughout this Web 2.0 program and it happens in Blogger also - if there's a solution out there I'd like to know it!!).

Thanks to the people who put this program together - your hard work is appreciated. - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
Anna L

Monday, October 6, 2008

Libraries Online

Nice to see the number of libraries that already have profiles on MySpace and Facebook - I can see the value of this especially for building relationships with younger library users who are at home in the MySpace world. The blog by Meredith Farkas was helpful and she raises some very good points - for instance, about making your site truly 2-way (which is what Web 2.0 and social networking is really all about) by inviting comment, contributions, suggestions for purchase. We already talk at our users via our own websites - having a library portal somewhere like Facebook is a chance to talk with them.

With the right kind of promotion, this kind of outreach can move beyond the teen audience to embrace older users too - Kete Horohwenua (set up by Horowhenua Library) used Web 2.0 technology to reach out beyond their library users to the community at large, and did so in part by enlisting older contributors through promoting their site to the Senior Net people, who then went on to enlist and train others. They also set up workstations in the library itself that people without pcs at home could come and use to scan and post photos, documents, blogs - you name it - to the Kete site. It's a great example of local content built by its users - the library maintains a loose monitoring role, but the main contributors are the locals themselves.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bebo, Facebook et al.

I can see why these sites are so popular - they are great places to invent (or re-invent) yourself online in relative safety, but as with so much of this social networking technology you still have to wade through the usual legions of adolescent diaries and lame groups where they all argue about the virtues of evlish versus klingon, or whether Bladerunner or Star Wars was the greatest SF movie in the universe to get to the bits worth looking at. I'm still not sure I want so much personal info just out there for the world to see. Back when we all wrote our diaries the old-fashioned way they often had keys, or you hid them where your Mum and your sister couldn't get at them. It was called privacy, and back then, I valued it.

I've had a look at the three sites, I've created an account and a basic profile (Facebook) - but do I feel moved to keep using the site? Proably not, for now anyway. I'd rather talk to actual friends in a real cafe while drinking coffee I can smell and taste - the virtual world is fun, and occasionally useful (see last post) - but I still prefer the offline world. It has better bandwidth.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Books Online

Better accesibility to e-books is good news for the print disabled - most people with vision impairments read in this format rather than braille. It's also good news for the leisure reader - I had a friend whose husband was a long distance truck driver and he loved listening to audiobooks while he was driving. The range of titles is so much better now than the Catherine Cookson- style Victorian romances and westerns that dominated the old audiobook on tape and CD format.

For the serious researcher though, the preferred digital format is full text online rather than audio. Why? If you live in this part of the world and your research area isn't NZ-related (or even if it is), you need access to out-of-print and often very fragile old texts that in the past you would have had track down and use in a rare book archive in some overseas uni or national library archive. Project Guttenberg started it all off, and the NZ equivalent is the NZ Electronic Book Center. Having this material online makes access so much easier and cheaper, and (a plus for the library that owns it) it protects the old book from rough handling. Here's one I tracked down via Google Books and used while researching my PhD at Auckland Uni. It isn't available in hard copy in NZ.

People interested in full text online versions of out-of-copyright New Zealand books should try the NZECTC site - it's a goldmine for those interested in NZ literature and history.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Had a look at the podcast directories - again, lots of American content, so I don't know how often I'd actually use those to look for things to subscribe to. Mostly I find podcasts on the sites I'm already interested in anyway, or find out about them by word of mouth. National Radio has podcasts from their various shows and I've put a feed on my Bloglines site to their regular movie review guy, who is very good. They also archive many of their interviews. is where you will find all their feeds.

What will be more helpful in the long run is the tutorial material on how to create your own podcast - I can see this being good for book launches, Heritage Week - that kind of thing - especially now our new PA system allows us to digitally record events.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I think we all know this site and regularly trawl it - mostly for the funny/weird stuff that you often hear about via word of mouth (who really wants to trawl it just to wade through someone's Emo teen angst video diary?).

It's actually pretty easy to find things here - on Saturdays National Radio had a half hour slot where NZ comedians play their favourite comedy clips and you often hear alot of great old classics by people you've never heard of.

One of the ones I remembered was by an American guy (whose name turned out to be Alan Sherman) singing about being a kid and going away to summer camp - it was used in a funny yoghurt ad here about 5 or 6 years back - and I could only recall the first line of the song. Typed it in, and within about 2 hits, found it.

The clip doesn't include visuals, just the audio - for the curious, here's a link to the relevant YouTube page.

Hello Muddah, Hello Father song

And here's another funny cat cartoon (from the same "Simon's Cat" series as the one that did the rounds a few months back).

Anna L

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Checking out eSnips

Went to the Web 2.0 Awards List and had a look at quite a few of these sites - most seem very US-oriented, and a couple were no longer around (one link took me off to some US Insurance company's site) - so you'd want to be a bit careful about what you end up uploading to some of these sites, especially those that offer internet storage and online sharing options for your documents (in other words, back them up if you need to keep them). (And don't use them to store confidential work-related stuff - that should be a no-brainer).

A few are sites we've probably all seen before, but some were completely new. I can't see a direct work-related use for many of them - they fit into the 'fun but use them at home' category - but I would use the mapping tools for creating local history content. Wayfaring looked nice, and so did Community Walks, (though even with broadband they are slow to load and to navigate).

I also set up an account on eSnips - one of those Facebook-y type sites - though it's slightly worrying how much personal info you are invited to post there. Good to have an alternative online identity. Not sure how much I'll use it, but we'll see.