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!
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).”
First–I must apologize for being away from “the Garden” for so long, at least from the posting aspect, as I have been following it when I could. So many personal and professional wildfire this fine fall semester, some of my own doing–some definitely not–but I guess that’s life. Thanks to all who have checked in on me from time to time, by the way.
Well, before I went missing, I was talking about social networking sites and Web 2.0–I know…those phrases again, especially Web 2.0. It is called by many other names, too: “social, participatory Web,” “user-initiated Web,” even “live Web.” In my very recent short introductory article in MultiMedia & Internet at Schools magazine, sent off before I went missing and published a few weeks ago, I mentioned how Web 2.0 is so widely interpreted.
As I mention in my article, the “definitions are many, and this can be distracting. But if, instead, you look at all of this as a new opportunity, a possible way to better communicate, interact, share, create, and publish information online–to connect with those we are already serving and to those we wish to serve in the near future–then it gets exciting! Librarians and other educators everywhere are now using these Web 2.0 technologies in practical and worthwhile applications. Don’t you want to as well?”
I must say that I find it a bit humorous when I conduct or attend workshops or seminars on some of these technologies that some people start tearing them down before they have even seen what others are doing with them, much less even tried them. A lot of people did not like email when it first emerged either. In my article conclusion, I mention that “nobody is saying that you have to change everything you do, or jump into every technology or public relations idea that comes your way. However, we all know that we need to continue to reach out to our students and patrons and get them interested in what amazing things we can do for them.” I, then, one last time, ask the readers to “browse the listed references and recommended readings. Try setting up a library blog with Blogger, or start receiving library- or special topic-related RSS feeds via Bloglines. Build a subject-guide wiki with PBwiki, or start bookmarking, tagging, and sharing with del.icio.us.”
Stephen Abram just wrote a short post yesterday entitled “Bloglines” at his Stephen’s Lighthouse blog. He states that “Many are unaware of the role that RSS aggregators play in making it MUCH easier to keep track of your favourite blogs.” And he further encourages us in “library land” to not worry if “this seems common knowledge” because there are more “folks heading up these learning curves every day. Those who’ve trod the path before need to share the tricks and tips.” I agree wholeheartedly!
I truly do believe that if librarians and other educators would learn and play with some of these technologies and tools that they would get excited as well. It was from talking with and watching three people in particular in our Garden State work with these social Web tools that really got me interested, and I mention them in the article: Pete Bromberg, Janie Hermann, and Sophie Brookover. They are amazing librarians, making amazing connections for those they serve–these are my “local” librarians that I talk about in my seminars, and I am proud to know them and happy to have them challenge me to make better connections myself. I am glad that they continue to “trod the path” and so willingly share their “tricks and tips.”
Anyway, enjoy the article, and feel free to share it if you find it useful for someone thinking about entering into the Web 2.0 domain. The full text of the article is available via EBSCO Academic Search Premier (although many of the links need to be fixed here!) and other library databases, via the MultiMedia & Internet at Schools magazine site (with free registration), and weeks ago in a RedOrbit NEWS Technology blog!
Any of the quotes above spark an interest in you? If so, you will very much like the fact that The World eBook Fair site opened the International Book Fair Month of October earlier today with an offer that you probably cannot refuse–at least that’s how I feel about it! That’s right–1/2 million ebooks await you for your personal reading pleasure (most free) this month!
The World eBook Fair, a very large showcase for ebook authors and publishers, beginning today and continuing throughout October, will allow us to download our selections from their collection of 500,000 ebooks. I actually think this is only fitting, since according to the Fair site, we are now celebrating the centennial birthday of the public library system, which probably enabled many of us and our parents and grandparents to read their first free book and continue to do so today.
Anyway, I blogged late last month about the Google Book Search-WorldCat link-up, providing us with an improved way to find the book we want within the libraries near us, which I find very useful. I also very recently published a short article in MultiMedia & Internet at Schools (a great magazine/guide to K-12 technology and education resources), where I listed some of my favorite places to go on and via the Web to get free full text books, articles, and more, but due to the limited scope and length of the article, I could not mention more there. And although I have updated my original Wow!–Full Text and Free?! hotlist site with more “places” to explore, especially Open Access directories and sites, this World eBook Fair site can lead you to a much more organized listing of free ebooks.
This World eBook Fair site is truly one you must visit. For instance, while browsing it, I visited the Classic Literature Collection there and, being a sci-fi fan, immediately downloaded one of my favorites highlighted on the first page as one of the most popular selections–The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. I then downloaded an MP3 of a favorite by Poe–The Telltale Heart. I also really liked browsing the Online Educational Resource Collection, especially since I am library liaison to faculty and administrators in the School of Education at Rider University–I knew that many there would be interested in the full text of the Innovative Pathways to School Leadership report, by U.S. Department of Education and the Office of Innovations and Improvement, listed on the “favorites” page.
I am very impressed with this entire World eBook Fair Consortia site and, of course, for the free offer to search or browse and download or read online. By the way, although I liked browsing the 112 collections, and Michael Hart with Project Gutenburg recommends this, too, you can also find the title you want by using their full text search option. Note that Michael Hart’s Project Gutenburg is partnering with, among others, The World eBook Library, Digital Pulp Publishing, and the Internet Archive (my favorite digital library “place” to frequently visit for free full text) to bring us today’s World eBook Fair.
I also found that the World eBook Library site lists some other interesting tidbits that I wanted to share, including the following:
“Each year, the World eBook Library nearly doubles its entire digital holdings. Boasting over 500,000+ eBooks and eDocuments, making the World eBook Library Consortium the world’s largest eBook site. More than one 15 million Internet patrons have visited our library, making us one of the most visited libraries in the world. Since our initial launch time our webservers have had a 99.98% up time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and in all of that time our programs and files have been free and open to the public.”
Time to get back to my family, but I must say that I was so happy to be able to search, browse, and now blog about this site today. I highly recommend starting your browsing or searching experience immediately as this is such a tremendous collection! I hope you like it as much as I do–enjoy and share it with others!
Google Book Search has provided a relatively small amount of links to books held in WorldCat-participating libraries for some time now, even though Google has been allowing those searching the regular Google search engine to find books in libraries by providing the “Find this book in a library” link within some book search results pages. But, finally, today it was announced that this valuable library book finding tool is now highlighted within the Book Search service. Once you conduct a search for a book title in Book Search, look for the “Find this book in a library” link on the bottom right-hand side of a results page, directly under the “Buy this book” section. Click on the link and enter a zip code (or other location info) to find which libraries nearby carry your title.
The best news, however, is that Google’s “Advanced Book Search” let’s you immediately limit your search to this WorldCat search page by searching within the option “Library Catalogs,” which is located to the right of “All books” and “Full view books” options, directly above the “Return book with the title” limiter box (see example here). Once you do the search, click on the “Find libraries” link under the book title, and enter your zip code, state, province, or country information to find nearby libraries owning the item, such as the book Libraries and Google. I must say that I have been asking for this since the Internet Librarian 2005 conference last fall, and, finally, it’s here—and it’s about time! Take a look and try a search yourself.
In September 2005, “Secretary Spellings formed the Commission on the Future of Higher Education to launch a national dialogue on the need to strengthen higher education so that our students and our nation will remain competitive in the 21st century.”
It is stated here that their report and the response plan associated with it will be of interest to and respond to the “needs of all consumers of the system—educators, institutions, taxpayers, parents, and students.” Certainly, academic librarians and other educators will want to read this–don’t you agree?
Anyway, in case you did not know, for about a year, the Commission met, discussed, debated, and came up with conclusions and recommendations, important for all of us. They determined that the current system of higher education within the U.S. does not work well for some, especially low-income and minorities; financial aid needs a lot of work; and better information on our institutions is needed—certainly seems accurate.
Yesterday, the Commission presented its report to the Secretary, listing “recommendations designed to improve the accessibility, affordability and accountability of higher education,” quoted below:
- Student academic preparation should be improved and financial aid made available so that more students are able to access and afford a quality higher education.
- The entire student financial aid system should be simplified, restructured and provided with incentives to better manage costs and measure performance.
- A “robust culture of accountability and transparency” should be cultivated throughout the higher education system, aided by new systems of data measurement and a publicly available information database with comparable college information. There should also be a greater focus on student learning and development of a more outcome-focused accreditation system.
- Colleges and universities should embrace continuous innovation and quality improvement.
- Federal investments should be targeted to areas critical to America’s global competitiveness, such as math, science, and foreign languages.
- A strategy for lifelong learning should be developed to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of a college education to every American’s future.
On the 4th item above, I would like to insert after “universities” and before “should” this: “including their libraries,” or maybe even, “especially….” Adding “libraries” to the 6th item would work for me, too, especially if it stated how we are already assisting in this endeavor–what do you think?
Follow this link for highlights of the Commission’s report, for the entire full text report, and info on the Commission itself, all on the ed.gov site, and I recommend looking for the Secretary of Education’s action plan/response soon in the press.