Posts filed under ‘Blogging’
Hi, everyone! One of my favorite librarians and open source advocates (Nicole Engard) just Tweet DMed me and asked if I ever shared officially the tools I mentioned in a discussion session on Presentation Tools and Techniques at Pres4Lib at Princeton Public Library. I replied no, with regrets. I figured if she’s wondering about it, maybe you are too!
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I use a pretty well structured, personally vetted workflow for developing presentations and blog posts that involves developing an outline, collecting images, preparing images, research and citations. Let me share some of the tools that I use to accomplish these tasks just about every time.
Google Docs Presentations
I stopped using Microsoft PowerPoint a few years ago and have not looked back. While I would consider using the open source alternative of OpenOffice.org’s presentation tool, by instead choosing a presentation tool in the cloud, I get the ability to edit and present anywhere where I’m connected, the ability to edit offline with Google Gears installed on Firefox, the common ability to add images, draw pictures, embed my slideshows (!), allow people to automatically see the latest greatest embedded versions of my presentations up to the second after I’ve updated them, allow for collaboration and co-viewing and if I absolutely must, export to a PDF for offline sharing and presentation disaster backup. I can even make a PPT for someone who insists on it.
I typically log in to Google Docs, create a title slide for my topic, and then immediately develop an agenda slide, which I then begin to outline with the topics (and slides) that I want to cover in my talk. My style emphasizes simple broad topics which I elaborate on in spontaneous ways. I try to keep the number of words on slides to an absolute minimum. I usually make a slide for each of my topics, and I then try to look for stories, photos, and illustrations that lead the people in the audience to start thinking about my topics before I introduce them verbally or textually.
Creative Commons vetting via Google Image Search
Google Image Search is far and away the best image search tool I’ve come across (with the ability to search for line art, faces, and by color, etc.), especially now, since the recent addition of the license search feature in the advanced image search tool, which allows me to search according to Creative Commons licenses applied by designers and photographers to their images all over the web. This is especially important for me because I don’t just want to just use other peoples’ images in my work without their consent. I want to respect the wishes of image creators. By using the license restrictions, I can quickly find images available for commercial use, images allowed to be modified, images that simply require attribution, and even images in the public domain.
When we respect the rights of creators and innovators, and celebrate others’ work properly, I believe we engage in modeling important aspects of information literacy, if not common humanity.
I’ll search for a topic keyword, often choosing CC-attribution licensing, which allows me the greatest flexibility with which to use the images, to modify them, use them in commercial situations, and promote creative commons licensing, while simply being required to include attributive references to the original image author. I will very often name the file locally with the name of the author of the image, in the format “by username.jpg” or “from nameofwebsitedotcom.jpg” so that I have a built in back-reference.
Once I have the images I want to use in my presentation saved to my local hard drive in a project folder, I often need to tweak, categorize, combine, title, tag, and integrate the images. While I can do this in a myriad of different utilities, tools, and applications, none of them have quite the combination of speed, comprehensive toolset, ease of use, functions, smoothness, or slickness of Google’s Picasa. Once you have downloaded and installed this free tool, you can use a Google account to store images in free named online galleries and keep them synchronized for free. With the number and variety of images I work with in my design and presentation work, I am thrilled that I have Picasa to help me wrangle them all.
I use it to tag, group, move, geocode, describe, upload, tweak, collage, print, and watermark my images for presentations, design work, papers, and everything else. It is a free, versatile, and irreplaceable tool in my personal tool set.
Zotero is a Firefox extension that allows for the single click based collection, categorization, tagging, editing, and even full text storage of web based database entries, books, articles, presentations, images and other standard citable sources. The amazing thing it that it automatically recognizes and collects metadata when it is present in a form that Zotero understands. This might sound like a difficult thing for content providers to implement, but all I had to do to make my WordPress blogs compliant was to install a single metadata-providing plugin (COinS) that offers my name, the title of posts, the publication date and other automatically generated metadata in blogging to Zotero users. Other sources who provide the relevant metadata to Zotero include major scholarly databases like Ebsco, newspapers like the New York Times, online booksellers like Amazon, and blogs and wikis around the world.
If I haven’t hooked you in to using Zotero yet, did I mention that with two clicks, you get properly formatted bibliographies in APA, MLA, and other citation styles? After I’ve visited books on Amazon and collected their data, or after I’ve found articles on Google Scholar and collected their data, or after I’ve grabbed creative commons licensed images from Flickr and collected their data, I can simply select all of them in my Zotero database, right click, and choose “Make bibliography from selected sources” which I then choose to send to clipboard, then paste right into my final slide, reference area of my paper, or wherever else I need to respect copyright or usage license. It is also a phenomenal way to meet the requirements of CC Attribution.
Number 5, QuoteURLtext (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4292) is another Firefox Extension that does one thing, but does it exceptionally well. It copies the highlighted text on a page along with the date and time, URL, and page title to the clipboard so that you can easily paste some casual piece of information (such as a tasty tech tip, a quick statistic, a delicious quotation, or a little known fact) into a slide, paper, or post without having to go so far as to reference it in APA style. It’s like a casual little sister utility to the powerhouse that is Zotero.
<Jeopardy Daily Double Music> Bonus Tool: Zemanta: </Jeopardy Daily Double Music>
Finally, Zemanta (a play on semantic) is another Firefox extension that shows up in a sidebar when you are using supporting applications, such as Gmail, Blogger, WordPress, and other applications (check out their site for more). I desperately wish it worked with Google Docs Presentations, but nothing hints at that yet. Here’s why I care: All of the photos, captions, tags, post story articles, and even some of the links to referential sources were all suggested, generated and placed with a single click each using Zemanta. As I type, Zemanta autoscans sources with CC licensed imagery, content, and resources related semantically to my content. Let me reiterate: As I type. All I need to do to add it to my post is simply to click. Clickety-clickety.
A pleasure to speak with you as always, I hope you learn to love these great free tools for developing your presentations just as much as I do.
Related articles by Zemanta
- A Simple Way to Specify Image Licenses (thaibrother.com)
- Back to School: 10 Must-Have Firefox Extensions for Students (mashable.com)
- 10 Browser Based Research Tools (imakethingswork.com)
For the last few months I have been suffering from a writer’s block of sorts that has made it impossible for me to write a blog post of any length or substance. I have done other writing, just no blogging so it is a true blogger’s block. This has never happened to me before and I have spent the last few weeks honestly trying to figure out the cause is behind this blockage.
It is not a lack of ideas. I have lots of ideas for posts, they come to me at odd moments and usually when I am nowhere near a computer (or even a piece of paper and pen to jot down a quick outline). Lately, however, when I finally sit down to write a post one of three things seems to happen:
1. I start writing and suddenly I feel as if it has already been said before. What seemed like a brilliant blog post when I thought of it, now feels like it is just rehashing the same conversations that we have been having on libraryland blogs for the last few years. Is it possible that we have blogged to death the whole Library 2.0 movement? I am pretty sure we have. If we have, what is the next big discussion topic on the horizon?
2. I start writing on a timely topic but I don’t have time to finish and by the time I go back to polish it off it is no longer relevant or timely. My responsibilities at MPOW have increased greatly since I was promoted to Programming Coordinator, my son is older and involved in activities that require me to be the chauffeur, our older home is undergoing some renovations, and I have begun doing a lot more speaking engagements once more . All of these factors leave me with no time for sustained thinking or writing. I used to blog late at night, but lately my brain is exhausted by that point and when I do write it is mostly gibberish (trust me on this).
3. I start writing and feel like I am writing too much about MPOW and all the awesome things we do here. This is not the intended focus of Library Garden — all the bloggers on our team agree that we want it to be a broader conversation about libraries rather than a simple “how I did it good” type of reporting. Not that we haven’t posted occasionally about cool things we are doing at our libraries or places of work, but we want LG to be more than that and I am aware of this. However, I am so focused these days on planning and running programs that I have little left in me at the end of the day to discuss.
So, this brings us to this particular post. This is my “break the blogger’s block” post. It is the post to get me posting again. I can’t stay in this rut of not posting and so I sought advice online on how to break writer’s block. Here are the 3 of the most common pieces of advice I found:
1. Write on a Schedule: This is not likely to happen unless I start getting up at 5:30 am as is my only free unscheduled time at this moment that I could regularly guarantee nothing else happening in my day. I am a morning person, but even that is too early for me.
2. Set Deadlines and Keep Them: I have a lot of deadlines in my life to keep and I am pretty good at meeting deadlines. Blogging is a hobby and a creative outlet and somehow a deadline makes it feel like more pressure on me and I don’t write well under pressure (actually, I evidently don’t write at all as can be seen by my lack of posts lately).
3. Work on more than one project at a time: I am always working on about 10 projects at a time at a minimum. Maybe not writing projects, but I always have too many things to juggle. I actually think working on too many things is my problem. I can not sustain a single train of thought long enough to write a cohesive and coherent post. I get distracted by too many other pressing tasks.
Hmmm… okay, so three common tips down and none are working for me. I worked my way through many more tips such as those above, and none seemed to be the solution. Until I found a good article called How-To Break Writer’s Block on Buzzle that seemed to actually have a few ideas that would work for me! So, this post is courtesy of tips # 7 and #10 from this article:
7. Write when you are tired. Write at the end of the day, when you are so exhausted that your mind isn’t interfering with the flow…
10. Lastly, write about having writer’s block. Seriously! Write about why you feel stuck. What is it that seems to be keeping you from writing? Free associate and write about it. When you get down to the reasons why you have writer’s block, you can address them and correct them.
I wrote this post when I was exhausted. I know it is not perfect or the best writing I have ever done, but at least it is a post to get me out of my rut. I have also analyzed the reasons for my blogger’s block and now that I have one post out again I am already excited about another post that I started working on recently. So, with any luck, I will have another post out within 48 hours.
If anyone else has experienced blogger’s block, I would love to hear stories, tips and advice on what you have done to overcome it. If anyone is currently suffering from blogger’s block, try reading the above article to see if it helps you like it did me or else read through this helpful list of resources I consulted to get me back in the blog saddle again:
I am looking forward to attending the OCLC Blog Salon at ALA Annual in Chicago this year — and now that I have actually written a post I won’t feel like a fraud for attending. Oh, and if you plant to attend the blog salon, there is a Facebook page so RSVP today!
Creativity Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alun/253596595/
Today is the 3rd Annual Blog Day and I thought I would play along by listing my 5 “new and/or interesting” blogs. I won’t be giving much of a description for each blog I list due to a time crunch (aka packing for a vacation at Disney) and I will not be blogging again until mid-September at the earliest. I am leaving my laptop behind and unplugging for the entire vacation. Without further ado, my five “Blog Day Blogs”:
Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit — I love everything about cupcakes, especially experimenting with new recipes. I also love to read about them and Cupcake Bakeshop gives me lots of visuals to see the process. I actually follow more than one cupcake blog and I have to say that I read and adore Cupcakes Take the Cake equally as well. So many cupcakes, so little time.
Sandusky History — I received an email earlier this week from Dorene Paul, Reference Assistance at Sandusky Library in Ohio, that led me to a wonderful local history blog that is “inspired by the collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center and Follett House Museum”. The photos are fascinating, the accompanying stories are engaging. This is local history done right!
Trashionista — Great for keeping up with chick-lit on both sides of the pond. They have a great tagline too: “We read books like they’re going out of fashion”.
MomsRising Blogs -MomsRising is a grassroots, online effort that has a goal of “bringing millions of people who all share a common concern about the need to build a more family-friendly America” and they have several bloggers helping to move their cause forward.
The Gadget Blog — There are lots of gadget blogs that I check and read regularly, some well-known and others that are not. Keeping up with the world of gadgets is important to my job, even if my budget can rarely afford the newest and the coolest.
See everyone again in a few weeks — enjoy the Labor Day weekend!
Immediately after I posted that bit about “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional,” right before the Futures Conference, I realized it needed an amendment. It needed me to add that I am such a hypocrite!
I am a huge advocate of using “2.0″ things for libraries – blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc… and not being AFRAID of CHANGE and of doing some different things. And here I am, NOT blogging really! I posted that post and then went off to take a shower and it was there that I realized that I have to admit and face up to MY fears and issues if I am going to be talking to others about CHANGE – FEAR – GROWTH and their issues.
My fear is of not being perfect; not being good enough – liked – accepted; etc…. That is why I have been avoiding blogging. This is a true soul-baring admission. I want to blog. I often think of things to blog. Yet, I allow my fears to hold me back.
Well, no more! I am realizing my fears, admitting them, and challenging them. Just as I want to be able to challenge everyone else to do! So, as I go forth and blog and challenge you (hopefully) you can know that I do so with a clear conscious having admitted this and having started to face my own fears!
At the conference Robert said to me that people appreciate honesty and that’s what is most important. Well, consider yourselves warned . . .
[Thanks to Robert and Pete for discussions surrounding this topic at the conference! It helped a lot!]
Helene Blowers over at Library Bytes posted some “Podcast Thoughts” last week where she made the case for libraries to podcast about current events, topics and culture. Helene’s thoughts mirror mine precisely. In fact, it is something that I have been thinking about for several months and it finally came to fruition on April 2nd with the official launch of the PPL Poetry Podcast Blog for National Poetry Month.
I wanted to call it the “PPL Poetry Plog” since it is a series of podcasts on a blog, but I thought that might be too confusing (and too much alliteration). I then wanted to call it Poetcast, but the folks at poets.org beat me to it. Not thrilled with the final name (last minute decision, just had to call it something), but I am thrilled with the results and how many readers we have had during the first 10 days. Our stats, in fact, are exceeding my expectations by leaps and bounds (over 225 viewers on most days and over to 2,000 views thus far). I know the statistics will get skewed by posting here, so I held off. I wanted to see how far we could take this with only local exposure and word of mouth. Others have found us already, such as the Book Blog at timesunion.com and that has thrilled me.
We have recorded 26 poets so far and hope to do a few more before the end of the month. The poets all come from the greater Princeton area and each poet brings a unique voice and perspective to the project. For instance, Paul Muldoon, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003, did a beautiful reading of a pantoum for us and Enriqueta Carrington’s poem was read by 2 poets in 2 languages while Judith McNally contributed a unique “microlouge”. We have many more surprises in store for the rest of the month, including some wonderful poetry by a high school student.
This has been a real team project and with me every step of the way has been Evan Klimpl. Evan is one of our Tech Aides at PPL and I simply must give credit where credit is due. I may have had the original concept and coordinated the project, but it is Evan who responsible for doing 90% of the poetry recordings, cleaning up the files to make them sound professional, uploading the files, preparing many of the posts and anything else that I have requested. I can not thank Evan enough for embracing this project with the such enthusiasm and dedication. Also assisting with this project and deserving thanks are Bob Keith and Romina Gutierrez from PPL. And last, but certainly not least, in the early stages of this project my good friend John LeMasney gave me some invaluable advice about how we could do this project for free (which was one of my goals besides promoting poetry).
This is an idea that I hope other libraries will steal, because it is a project that can be done without having to make any investments — except perhaps a decent microphone for recording ($35-50 maximum) if you don’t already have one. Here is how we did it (in a nutshell):
- We used Audacity from sourceforge.net to record and edit the .mp3 files
- The blog was set up at wordpress.com — this is the free version of wordpress and it works well for a project such as this
- Our .mp3 files are being hosted at archive.org
- The player that we are using to in the posts comes free with wordpress
- We took photos while the readings were being recorded to ensure consistency
This has been a terrific way for Princeton Public Library to experiment with how we want to implement podcasting in to our programs. We have lots of ideas and now that we have the process figured out we will hopefully be able to podcast more original content in the near future.