Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thing 23: I'M DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just took some time to look over my past blog posts, while reflecting upon the new skills and knowledge I have acquired. I’m really stunned that I’ve come so far so quickly. It seems like just yesterday that Glynis was trying to convince me to participate in the Web Challenge during a staff forum in Mancini Hall.

Of the internet tools which were totally new to me (, RSS), I often felt a profound sense of empowerment and insight as I was learning about them, as I was finally finding out what all of my peers had been talking about. As for the other applications and sites with which I had some prior familiarity (Wikis, podcasts), the exercises I was asked to complete helped to reinforce my comprehension.

Among my favorite “things” were Flickr, the Google and Zoho web apps, and the Web 2.0 Awards site. I hope to use Flickr more in the future as I continue to experiment with digital photography, Google Docs and other web apps should be very helpful to me when I go off to grad school in the fall, and I am already fully addicted to Pandora.Com. The only exercises I didn’t enjoy were “Finding Feeds” and Technorati, the former doesn’t seem to be very useful or interesting to me, and the latter seems to have a chronic case of the gremlins. I would definitely recommend that OCL look into implementing some form of Wikis to facilitate staff communication. I highly recommend adding WorldCat to each circulation computer’s list of favorites (or tagging/bookmarking it). Also, a number of web apps seem to have a lot of potential uses in the library system and at individual branches, as I discussed in my post on Thing 18. So far, I have told everyone I know about Pandora, I mentioned Google Docs to my sister and a friend, and I plan to introduce my mother to ListenNJ very soon.

All in all, this was a great experience. Major props to the committee for real.

Thing 22: ListenNJ and The Great Gatsby

When I first looked over this penultimate "thing" I decided that I would have the best chance of success if I attempted to complete the exercise at home. Last evening I made my way over to and tooled around a bit. Early on I found the pdf instructions to be vague, and determined that I would do better by allowing my intuition to guide me.

On the home page, I located a link to download the OverDrive Media Console, followed the steps, and saw a shortcut appear on my desktop in no time at all. I then returned to the home page. In the search box I entered the title of a book I have been meaning to read for most of my life, "The Great Gatsby," and found a version narrated by the actor, Tim Robbins. I added it to my cart, proceeded to the check out, initiated the download process,...and promptly hit a brick wall of error messages. I restarted my computer and tried again, with the same results. I then realized that I also needed to download a security upgrade for Windows Media Player in order to get OverDrive to work. After a few clicks I was back to downloading Fitzgerald, and finally had success.

I listened to the first several minutes of the first chapter, and I can understand why this book is so highly acclaimed. I can't wait to hear/read the rest of it.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thing 21: Podcasts

Podcasting is a technology with which I was very unfamiliar until recently. In addition to this exercise and Web Challenge's reliance upon podcasts throughout the previous exercises, I had the good fortune of taking an outline course with a unit on new technologies such as podcasting. All of this reinforcement has helped me to become quite comfortable and moderately competent when using podcasts.

I first checked out, and found several podcasts that seemed interesting to me ("MSNBC News Headlines," "ESPN Baseball Today," "The Monkey Box"). However, the settings on my work computer did not allow me to play any of these. So, I went over to and immediately found "The Onion." I gravitated toward some of the political humor ("Hillary Receives 3 A.M. Phone Call From Drunken Bill Clinton," "Cheney Re-Grows Limb In Front Of Shocked Advisors"), listened to these podcasts (with the volume turned way down), and found them to be hysterical.

Here's the link:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thing 20: You Tube

Oh, the videos I could have posted.

As the committee itself has already speculated, I am very familiar with You Tube. A quick visit just now led me to some of my old favorites: a cat getting its head stuck in a car's sunroof, a wildly irrelevant Starburst Commercial, Charlie the Unicorn's trip to Candy Mountain, and all of my favorite music videos.

For this exercise, I decided to go with a recent discovery of mine. This is a music video from an obscure band named Of Montreal. The song is called "Wrath Pinned to the Mist and Other Games." The video itself is fully animated, and features rabbits made of bubbles, an acorn spaceship, and trees that grow umbrellas. It never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Here's the link:

Thing 19: Web 2.0 Awards

First off, many thanks to Chris B. sounds totally awesome, and I plan to check it out as soon as I get home. I recently became aware of a similar website,, which lets you pick a genre or artist, and then listen to songs from or similar to that genre or artist in a continuous streaming feed. I have also heard good things about, the runner-up to Pandora.

The category that caught my eye when I first visited upon the Web 2.0 Awards list was "Mapping." It came as no surprise to me that Google Maps was the first place winner. The second place winner,, was one I had not heard of previously. As I started poking around, I realized I had made a great find. uses technology similar to Google Maps, but offers tools to personalize maps (i.e., locations of your favorite restaurants, reliably good hotels, worthwhile attractions). You can also collaborate with other users and share your maps with the public. One user mapped all of the places he stopped on a cross-country road trip. Another user mapped all of the best restaurants in the Philadelphia area. I can hardly wait to dig in deeper.

Here's the link:

Thing 18: Web Apps

This is soooo cool. It's such a simple idea, I don't know why I didn't think of it myself. I am totally going to make use of Google Docs and/or Zoho when I go off to grad school in the fall. The scenario of leaving my term paper on the kitchen table has happened to me a little too often!

There are so many ways in which the Zoho apps could help us out at the LBI branch. "Planner" would be a great help to everyone at the branch to keep track of events, from programs to individuals' work schedules. At present, there is one master calendar for events and one master calendar for schedules. There are often times when the master copies need to be used by more than one person simultaneously; putting it online would mean that everyone who has access to a computer could have both calendars at their fingertips. "Show" could be used by presenters who wish to make their presentations available to the public before, during, or after a program. We could even use the "CRM" tool to keep track of our booksale inventory and sales.

Most of my duties don't include advanced computer applications such as those offered through Goolge Docs. In fact, most of my duties are very lo-tech (making displays, maintaining the vertical file, updating the sign board). However, the "Polls" and "Challenge" Zoho Apps have sparked my intrigue. Perhaps I could do a display on the presidential election, and use these tools to track the progress and compare the policy proposals of the two parties' nominees.

Thing 17: The Sandbox

I followed the link in the email that was sent to me last month, and was able to establish an account, post a link to my blog, contribute to the tips page, and create a new page about my favorite CDs. It was all fairly intuitive and very easy. The only thing I'm having trouble with is viewing my 'favorites' page now that I have created it.

I found the page on computer tips very interesting and helpful. I had forgotten the key strokes for toggling between open windows (Alt+Tab), and now I plan to use it often enough to remember. This demonstrates one of the best potential uses of a pbwiki: the ready exchange of insights and advice. I suppose pbwikis could also be used as a sort of forum to discuss an organization's policies when they are in their formative phases. The feature of themed pbwikis, such as with the various favorites pages, seems like a good way to foster socialization and creativity among coworkers.