Author Archive

Cool Collaboration Concepts–PBwiki & YackPack, and a Tumblr Example


How about engaging your students or patrons in real time by putting a YackPack Walkie-Talkie Widget on your library home page, your Facebook page, your online syllabus, your course Blogger blog, or your educational PBwiki?

This fun widget allows you to very easily put voice on any type of Web page, with no configuration or registration to do, no software to download, no money to spend—just one “push-to-talk” button widget embedded on your site and you have a web walkie-talkie for live voice chat from any Web page.

It is a very simple and easy way to connect local and remote individuals or groups together to collaborate or coordinate on just about anything, including students conducting or sharing research with a teacher, or students or patrons discussing database research tips or verifying APA citations with a librarian.

And YackPack has teamed up with another free resource provider, PBwiki, bringing voice chat/functionality to any of your PBwiki pages in less than a minute. CNET wrote a short, entertaining article on the Walkie-Talkie Widget and the PBwiki blog introduces the widget.

Janie Hermann, blogging from the Computers in Libraries 2007 Conference, mentioned Tumblr (and some other very interesting tools) in her “CIL 2007 Link Dump” post a few hours ago on Library Garden. I agree that it is something special for us to explore. If you go to our (Renee and Robert Lackie) Tumblr tumblelog (R&R Tumblr-ama), we posted a short video about the walkie-talkie widget on PBwiki pages. I think you will love PBwiki, the YackPack widget, and Tumblr!

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April 17, 2007 at 11:08 pm

OCLC WorldCat = GoogleLibrary? Wow, It’s Official–and Lots of Changes are Coming!

We all read about OCLC and the Research Libraries Group (RLG) joining forces, very recently under “OCLC Programs and Research,” and some saw that coming—but I don’t know about this! I just read several notices within the blogosphere about Google throwing its hat into the ring, because they have just acquired OCLC and all of its holdings, although I see nothing about this on any of their respective official sites on this, yet. Very, very interesting…. Check out Karen’s, Andrew’s, and Jenny’s take on this very new development. It is April Fools’ Day, though. Hmmmm….

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April 1, 2007 at 1:16 pm

ERIC (at www.eric.ed.gov/) has Added the “Find in a Library” Feature

In the fall, I blogged here at Library Garden about Google Book Search finally including library locator information in their results when you conduct a book search. My favorite addition was when they included under the “Advanced Book Search” the limit option of “Library Catalogs,” which would help locate nearby libraries owning the item, libraries in World Cat (learn more here).

Now, my favorite education database, ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center), two days ago, added the “Find in a Library” feature because they have recently…

“partnered with OCLC to leverage the OpenURL Gateway and WorldCat to provide users with a link from ERIC records to library resources. [This] feature dramatically streamlines the process of obtaining full text” from many ERIC documents. I tried it today with an education student, and it worked great.

Individuals, however, must search ERIC at http://www.eric.ed.gov/ at this time, where the “Find in a Library” link is featured at the bottom of each result under the “Full-Text Availability Options.” Currently, this feature is not available via the EBSCO version of ERIC.

“The Find in a Library feature offers two linking paths: OpenURL and WorldCat. For users associated with one of the 1,100 libraries registered with the OCLC OpenURL Gateway, selecting Find in a Library will lead to a search of the library’s electronic holdings and seamless access to available full text. If no full text is available users may choose to link to WorldCat.”

“If the user is not affiliated with a library registered in the OpenURL Gateway, Find in a Library will connect to WorldCat to find the nearest library with a print or electronic version of the material. WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library content and services and catalogs a billion items in more than 10,000 libraries worldwide.”

March 23, 2007 at 11:24 am 7 comments

Pseudo-DOPA Suggestions (Age Verification) Provide False Sense of Security

Age verification for social networking sites provides teens and parents with a false sense of security. I believe that age verification just cannot be the best solution to the child safety issue. Adam Thierer, Progress & Freedom (PFF) Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Digital Media Freedom basically states this as well, warning us that

“creating [age] verification schemes that are too cumbersome for the user and the site owner [could result in] having popular networking sites pushed offshore, out of reach of US laws. An overly broad definition could [also] have a chilling affect on free speech. Moreover, collection and verification of the personal information of minors raises serious concerns of privacy and data protection.”

All of this is discussed in detail within the “Social Networking & Age Verification: Many Hard Questions; No Easy Solutions” report published yesterday from the The Progress & Freedom Foundation, where Thierer discusses some privacy and constitutional issues related to age verification proposals for social networking sites. He (along with many of us within the library and education arenas) logically explains that

“A combination of efforts, including greater online safety education, should be implemented to protect children from child predators and objectionable content.”

I found Thierer’s paper last night (read it again before work this morning) to be a rational, up-to-date, educational explanation of some of the political and personal implications of social networking and child safety issues and concerns—something I hear about often and am constantly asked about while I present on Web 2.0 and social networking topics at workshops and conferences—even while working the reference desk at Rider University! I just had to blog about it at lunch today.

What a lot of people don’t seem to fully understand is that many, many websites require user interaction in some way, shape, or form, and the legislation proposed today, as written, would, if passed, pretty much outlaw all blogs and other forms of online communication, making them pretty much worthless. I understand the privacy and safety concerns being batted around, especially as a parent and educator myself, and I believe that there are no easy answers or solutions at this time, especially regarding this aspect of our digital revolution.

However, age verification is not the answer, not to mention, as Thierer states, it would be extremely difficult to control and/or manage. A combination of educational programs and parental involvement is still the most effective way to keep our kids safe online. I think our legislators and law enforcement personnel do have legitimate concerns and are mostly looking out for our best interests. Still, I agree with Thierer’s statement that

“Policymakers and law enforcement should also focus their efforts on the prosecution of online predators under existing laws and ensure adequate punishment for the crimes.”

Let’s not go to the extreme while proposing and/or mandating legislation (like DOPA or some of the other pseudo-DOPA suggestions) which can and will effectively terminate our First Amendment rights, all for the sake of ineffectively protecting our online safety. Keep informed, and read this report and other current papers on the issue of online safety, and let’s work together, rationally, on this.
Come on, you know you are eating lunch while sitting in your office at your computer anyway! Your input and other suggested readings are certainly welcome.

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March 22, 2007 at 10:57 am 7 comments

"Femme fatales," "Supermoms," "Sex kittens," & "Nasty corporate climbers": Women, Media, & Stereotypes

I was viewing the latest addition of new sites added to Librarians’ Internet Index, and as the official library liasion to the education and communication departments at Rider University and a little brother to seven older sisters, I was thrilled to find the MNet site listed and evaluated, highlighting its “Media Portrayals of Girls and Women” section. And being that today is the official beginning of Women’s History Month, I thought I would blog about it.

MNet is the Media Awareness Network, and it houses a fairly comprehensive various resources intended to educate the young and older folks about media promotion and very related topics. They state that they provide “information and tools to help young people to understand how the media work, how the media may affect their lifestyle choices and the extent to which they, as consumers and citizens, are being well informed,” as well as easily leading us to “reference materials for use by adults and youth alike in examining media issues from a variety of perspectives.” After spending quite a bit of time on their site this morning, and especially regarding this section on media and females, I was impressed.

For instance, when viewing the Media Portrayal of Girls and Women main section, if you choose the subcategory of “Beauty and Body Image in the Media,” you can read some short discussions under the subheadings of unattainable beauty, the culture of thinness, and self-improvement vs. self-destruction. However, what I really liked about each of the subcategories under the Girls and Women main section was that, on the right-hand side of the page, it also listed related MNet resources and recommended readings, for instance, from university studies (i.e., Purdue U.), scholarly journals (Sex Roles), mainstream magazines (Ms.) and/or online newspapers and websites (CBSNews.com). Certainly, librarians can help any interested researcher in finding more up-to-date information within our databases and other research resources, but I think this site is a worthwhile one to explore.


By the way, if you are interested in another collection of resources regarding women, check out Gary Price’s ResourceShelf posting from this morning, “Resources for Women’s History Month,” providing links to excellent resources from the U.S. Census and the Infoplease sites, among others–how can you not like what Gary Price does for all of us, and so early in the morning (and I thought I was posting early)!


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March 1, 2007 at 6:48 am

Topics in Librarianship: Social Software Literacy Course and ‘Top 25 Web 2.0 Search Engines’

Following up on our (Janie Herman and Robert Lackie) “The Latest and the Coolest–Technology Librarians Can Use” presentation and discussions at the Rutgers University MLIS Colloquium last night, I spoke with Assistant Professor Steve Garwood there about his upcoming course, “Topics in Librarianship: Social Software Literacy,” starting this summer.

We are always trying to highlight what Web 2.0 enthusiasts and experts are doing to help teach librarians and other information professionals how they can take advantage of this “software and information/communication medium,” and Steve’s course certainly fits the bill!

Steve has graciously allowed us to link to his draft version of the syllabus, giving us an idea of what will be covered and leading us to some interesting reading resources and the required equipment/software.

I thought this information and resources might spur on those of us who are might be thinking of offering a similar course or a series of workshops on “how technology is used in society to communicate information, ideas, practices, thoughts, and opinions and how this creates new communities and learning environments,” so I was glad that he was willing to share. Here are his objectives thus far:
* Identify and use popular social technologies for information collection, management, dissemination and collaboration.
* Discuss the historical and theoretical understanding of technologies of collaboration. * Demonstrate knowledge of the impact of technology on information services and instruction for diverse audiences.
* Explain what Web 2.0/Library 2.0 is – how it is different from the “regular” WWW, and why that shift is important to libraries & librarians;
* Generate ideas for the use of social software & programs at libraries and information agencies to improve services and to help staff work more effectively.

Sound interesting? Take a look at his entire draft syllabus here.

Also, one of his library school students emailed him very recently about the Web 2.0 topic that Steve and I think Library Garden readers will appreciate, too: The Online Education Databases’ “Top 25 Web 2.0 Search Engines,” published two days ago on their site. I really liked several of the mashup and Rich Internet Application Search Interfaces (RIAs) examples and descriptions, but visual search, social software, and audio/visual search examples are also provided.

Don’t you just love how librarians and library school students are willing to share?! Enjoy!

February 8, 2007 at 11:15 am

2/8/07 Teleconference: 15 Minutes a Day!: All It Takes to Keep Up in a 2.0 World

Stephen Abram is dong a one-hour “teleconference on learning faster,” entitled “15 Minutes a Day! All It Takes to Keep Up in a 2.0 World with Stephen Abram” this coming Thursday, February 8th at 11 AM ET for librarians “who want to learn more about keeping up with the vast amount of information and change in our 2.0 world.” Sound interesting? Go to his blog post for more information and to register, and see the excerpt below to get you even more interested!:

“Stephen shares his techniques and tips for keeping up and increasing the capacity of library staff to add tools, resources, learning and insights. Learn about 2.0 and add tricks to your kitbag of processes and techniques for keeping up with important changes and opportunities.
The Benefits:
Learn:
- Tips & techniques for keeping up with the tsunami of information
- Tools for enhancing capacity to sort through information
- Pointers for determining which trends and pieces of information are important for the library world
- Some of the top trends that our speaker [Abram] is watching”

February 5, 2007 at 12:47 pm

Statistics Surrounding our ‘Most Celebrated Sporting Event’–The Super Bowl!

OK, for once, my post is not a post about librarians, teachers, or technology. It is, however, about data–interesting data related to an important event to many this weekend: the Super Bowl.

I found it listed on Librarians’ Internet Index, one of my favorite quality reference sites, brought to us by an unlikely, at least to me, but otherwise well-known quality organization: The U.S. Census Bureau!

This short and interesting special edition press release comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features & Special Editions newsroom, which collects stats on “demographic and economic subject areas intended to commemorate anniversaries or observances or to provide background information for topics in the news.” You can receive RSS feeds to these releases, too, if you want to be cool and stay up-to-date!

Anyway, this latest release provides facts and other links highlighting the demographics of the cities related to and info about the teams in this year’s Super Bowl, as well comparing how times have changed (i.e., populations, aging, educational levels, earnings, baby names) from the 1967 (Super Bowl I) to this year’s Super Bowl XLI.

It’s a quick read, so check it out!

February 2, 2007 at 8:21 am 1 comment

"Digital Bling" — Spicin’ it up with Widgets

I learned a bit about web widgets at the last Internet Librarian conference, but this is the first very interesting (and fairly in-depth) article in the mainsteam press that I have read discussing widgets. Not sure what these “widgets” are all about? Check out today’s New York Times Technology Section’s “Some Bling for your Blog” article, describing what widgets are, what they can do, how you can use them, etc. Some of my favorite excerpts from the article:

“Widgits are elements, often in the left or right columns of a blog, that enhance its usefulness or aesthetic appeal. (The term “widgets,” confusingly, can also refer to compact applications that operate on a computer’s desktop.)”

“‘Widgets pull content or services from some other place on the Web, and put it into your personal page,’ said Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures in Manhattan.”

“Ed Anuff, a co-founder of Widgetbox.com, divides widgets into three categories. ‘One is self-expression widgets, like photo galleries, games or YouTube videos that you like,’ he said. The second category includes widgets that generate revenue for a blogger, like a box that displays auctions from a particular eBay category, or a blogger’s favorite DVDs from Amazon.com. The third category, Mr. Anuff said, encompasses ‘site-enhancement widgets, like discussion forums, news feeds or a guest book, which provide better utility for your Web site.’ Widgetbox is a site begun in September that collects widgets, spotlighting the newest and most popular ones; it offers more than 500 widgets.

According to Widgetbox, its most popular widget allows bloggers to incorporate an updated feed of news items from the site Digg into their blogs. Matt Mullenweg, creator of the WordPress blogging software, says the widgets that his users have been incorporating into their sites lately include Meebo, an instant-messaging application that allows blog authors to chat with their visitors.”

The article goes on to discuss the benefits of widgets to blog visitors and publishers, more examples of their use, and people, companies, and sites that promote and supply widgets. A very interesting read, I must say, again. I am looking forward to playing around with various widgets, and I hope you enjoy reading this article as much as I did!

January 18, 2007 at 5:33 pm 4 comments

Update on U.S. Web Search Market–Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, & Time Warner

In this morning’s USA Today Tech section, a short article was written about the U.S. search market from comScore Networks, showing that in December 2006,…

* Google sites were ranked as #1 with 47.3% of U.S. search market
* Yahoo sites as #2 with 28.5%
* Microsoft sites as #3 with 10.5%
* Ask Network as #4 with 5.4%

Also interesting from the article…

* “An estimated 6.7 billion searches were conducted by U.S. Web users in December, up 1% from November.”

“The number of U.S. Web search queries has grown 30% since December of 2005, comScore said.


Go to the actual January 15, 2007 press release of comScore Networks survey cited for some more detail, which also lists…

* Time Warner Network as #5 with 4.9% of the U.S search market,

and it states there that “Google Sites led the pack with 3.2 billion search queries performed, followed by Yahoo Sites (1.9 billion), MSN-Microsoft (713 million), Ask Network (363 million), and Time Warner Network (335 million).”

January 16, 2007 at 10:59 am

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