Posts tagged ‘Fun’

Unconference? – Pres4Lib – A Review

Ok, I will admit it—when I heard the term ‘unconference’ I groaned. When I read the definition, I groaned even louder. I mean really, how could you not groan when the words “jam-session” are used to describe a conference. I assumed it was just another Boomer driven conceit—an excuse to navel gaze instead of doing real work. I wasn’t much more interested in attending camp. Yet, when I heard about the Pres4Lib unconference, I wanted to go.

Why? Because the topic—a camp for library speakers or trainers is of great interest to me. Plus it was being organized by fellow LibraryGarden bloggers—Pete Bromberg, Janie Hermann and Amy Kerns (along with John LeMasney) and would take place at Princeton Public Library, MPOW. Still despite my faith in my friends and fellow-bloggers, I was a bit dubious—could something without structure really hold my interest for an entire day?

My concerns were unfounded—Pres4Lib was easily one of the best training days I have participated in since becoming a librarian. The topic was relevant to my job—I teach and give presentations. The speakers were experienced, informative, and entertaining. Best of all, the lightening talk format insured that no speech would run so long that it could become dull or even mildly painful. The break-out sessions, in the birds-of-a-feather format, were a bit more hit-or-miss, but still quite good. All in all, I met a number of interesting people, learned a great deal, and had a good time in the process.

What made Pres4Lib work in a format that I am still not convinced would work most of the time? For starters, this was not a completely unstructured conference. By using a wiki and the free on-line survey tool Zoomerang (one of the best take-aways from the conference), when the camp began an agenda was already set. While it could change—that’s a primary rule of an unconference—the basic outline for the day was set. This was a good move—participants told of the first hour at other such events being spent hashing out the day. Wow, dull, dull, dull—for me, my ego doesn’t need to drive things and my patience wears thin watching others vie for dominance.

The other critical factor—the participants. This was a diverse group with only one thing in common—the train and they speak-in-public. That diversity meant the message was not the generic this is how to present. Participants are the conference, so if you have a group that lacks skills and experience, or without much personality, I could see an unconference being a really tedious event. Finally, the day ended with a Battle Decks session that was funny and goofy and the perfect way to end a long day at a conference focused on presentation skills.

For me the highlights of the day were Pete Bromberg’s lightening talk and John LeMasney’s birds-of-a-feather session on Creative Commons. Both really made the best use of the ‘unconference’ format.

Pete was funny, informative, and engaging. His tips and advice were really spot-on—both quantity and quality were higher than I anticipated. It was an amazing ten-minute show–Pete really raised the bar for PowerPoint presentations. He is in his own league. Check out the video.

John did not have a scripted presentation for his session. In fact, it was not ‘his’ session. His job was simply to get things started and generally keep an eye on things if they needed a nudge. He was perfect—his knowledge of the topic allowed for immediate Q&A. More importantly, he kept things rolling as the topic strayed from where to find CC items to how to use them, how to attribute them, and how to share your own work. The one hour session flew by and I found several tools I will start using immediately—FireFox, Zemanta, and PhotoExpress. All my breakout sessions were good, but none had as much information that was immediately beneficial to me.

While I remain skeptical that all unconferences would be as worthwhile, I will consider attending another one. I know what to look for—how well organized is the unorganized event and who is attending. Thank-you to the organizers and the participants. It was a day I will not soon forget. But be warned—next time I encounter Battle Decks, I will be a participant!

June 15, 2009 at 4:07 pm 1 comment

Happy Hanukkah from Everyone at LibraryGarden!

Non-Crappy Starring You! eCards on JibJab

You too can make a fun, funny, free greeting card at Jib Jab. My sister made several the other day and then I just had to try it! All you need is your Internet connection and some digital photos – it’s actually very easy and the site guides you through just a few quick steps. Try it!

We all here at Library Garden wish a happy and healthy holiday season to everyone, no matter what you celebrate, or if you don’t even celebrate, and all the best wishes for the upcoming new year!

Okay, one more, I just couldn’t help it! Be sure to turn up your volume! :)

Non-Crappy Starring You! eCards on JibJab

December 10, 2007 at 9:56 pm 2 comments

NYT online hotlilnks—WTF??

Lately I have been noticing that the NYT online edition makes some very, um, interesting choices when deciding which words in an article need to be hyperlinked to additional information. I guess my question to whatever unpaid intern they’ve assigned to the job is: “What are you smoking, and haven’t you read the latest research on what that does to you???”

When used sparingly and caringly, hyperlinks, the modern day equivalent of what my pappy called “footnotes”, can be our friends. (for more information on footnotes, see footnotes)

Take for instance today’s Science Times article, A Giant Takes on Physics Biggest Questions. My first thought was, “Oh boy, an article about giants! I KNEW they really existed, I just KNEW IT!!”

Guess what? The article’s not even about giants (I know, I was pissed too. I bet the same stupid intern who does the linking also writes the misleading headlines.)

OK, after I get over my disappointment that the article is actually about a bunch of fizzisists 300 feet below the ground trying to re-create the beginning of the universe by smashing tiny little particles into each other, I sit back and say, “hey, cool, I’ve been meaning to brush up on my particle physics. But I’m a little rusty on some of the basic concepts and lingo of advanced theoretical phenomenology. It sure would be helpful if the NYT would footnote — oops, I mean hyperlink — some of the hardcore scientific stuff to definitions, background information, biography, or further material that might enhance my ability to understand any of this.”

The NYT chose to go another route.

In their six page article on theoretical particle physics, this is what they thought was really important to hyperlink:

Page 1: On a page containing such terms as “European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN)”, “Large Hadron Collider”, “electron volts of energy”, “dark matter” and “dimensions of spacetime”, the only word they thought was important to hyperlink out to more information was…wait for it… Earth. Earth? EARTH???? I guess they chose to hyperlink it for those few souls who read the New York Times online that don’t know that Earth, ” is the third planet from the Sun and the only one in the solar system known to harbor life.”

Page 2: Unlinked go search terms as, “trillion-electron volt Tevatron”, “antimatter opposites”, “antiprotons”, “Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory”. And the hotlink goes to… Nobel Prize. And not even to a definition of Nobel Prize, just a link to random articles in the New York Times that mention “Nobel Prize.” Super! (a good a time as any to note that ALL hyperlinks, save perhaps paid ads, on the New York Times website only link back to—you got it— the New York Times website. Super!)

Page 3: Unlinked terms: “Cocktail party physics” (I’m guessing, not so much with the fun), “God particle”, “Higgs Boson”, electroweak force”, “Planck energy”. And the hotlink goes to… Nada. No hotlinks. Skippy the unpaid intern must have been checking his MySpace page for messages.

Page 4: Unlinked terms: “Quantum weirdness”, “supersymmetry”, “photons”, “glunino”. And the hotlink goes to… I guess Skippy’s busy twittering.

Page 5: Unlinked: “primordial fluid”, “quark-gluon plasma”, “Compact Muon Solenoid”. And the link goes to, “radiation.” Which I could actually let slide if it didn’t lead back to a bunch of random NYT articles, mostly about cancer, that mention the word radiation somewhere.

Page 6: Unlinked: “Fermilab Tevatron”, “CDF”, “UA1 and UA2″, “LHCb”. And the link goes to… Uh, nothing.

But wait! I now notice at the bottom of every page a little link that says, “Sphere: Related Blogs & Articles“. Yes! I knew the New York Times was just screwing with me! Now I’m going to click on “Sphere”* and get all sorts of related theoretical particle physics goodness. Here I go… I’m gonna do it… < CLICK! >

The good news: Sphere actually links to material outside of the NYT universe. The bad news: This is what it links to:

I’m speechless. I am without speech.

*Sphere: “Connecting Blogs and News”

May 15, 2007 at 5:27 am 10 comments

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