Saturday, May 24, 2008

On RSS, Newsfeeds, Widgets and Other Tech Toys

Continuing with our library system's staff exploration project, we took a look at RSS and how to organize newsfeeds and podcasts in a news aggretator.  We used Bloglines to subscribe to newsfeeds and podcasts.  I subscribed to the following newsfeeds: BBC News, NASA, Entertainment Weekly, and I also subscribed to Mugglecast, a podcast devoted to all things Harry Potter.

Last week, before I even knew about this assignment, I had placed a widget on my blog:  a RSS reader that contained updated news about Senator Barack Obama's primary campaign.  A widget, or desktop widget, is an "applet that gives you access to infomation and frequently used functions such as clocks, calendars, and news aggregators.  (  I also added a widget with videos of "Battlestar Galactica".  

I have been using other widgets (virtual sticky pads, calendar of moon phases, etc.) as part of my customized Google page at work.  I have also been listening to podcasts on to keep up with my favorite shows like the aforementioned "Battlestar Galactica".  My Macintosh computer at home automatically displays the RSS symbol in the address bar if one is present on a particular website.  (Internet Explorer will be adding this capability in its next upgrade). So I have been familiar with these technology tools (tech toys) before we began our "23 Things" Web 2.0 assignment.

As I mentioned in a previous post about using blogs in libraries, I think RSS can also be used to enhance a library's electronic newsletter.  An RSS could be used to inform patrons about library happenings and events.  For example, instead of using our scrolling news link on our web site, a link which points out such information as holiday closings and new branch openings, we can use RSS to provide that type of information directly to a patron.  

Given that I came across quite a few library-related newsfeeds while browsing through Bloglines' RSS list, this technology is obviously being used by librarians to keep up with and share information about the library and information science field.  I subscribed to one of the American Library Association's RSS feeds on Public Programming.  I've already been a subscriber to that section's ListServ, so by subscribing to the RSS, I will be able to get the same information in a more convenient way.  The endless postings on ListServs tend to tie up your email account and is cumbersome to go through, whereas a RSS provides the same information in a more streamlined fashion.

These tech toys can be both useful and fun.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our 2008 American Idol!

David Cook Rocks!
image by dustindonlove

There is Justice in this world. Yes, I know this is a singing contest, but the idea that someone you care about wins something -- in this case his dream to be a rock singer (not to mention a recording contract, a car, publicity, etc.) -- it just gives me a sense of hope.

Although I've been watching "American Idol" for the past few years, other than Chris Daughtry, David Cook was the first contestant that I cared about winning the competition. ("caring" equals "would buy his record", "go to his concert").

See, I have this sense of Justice. I hate when the "underdog" doesn't get treated fairly. Even though the Idol judges praised David C. all along, during the last night of the competition, they blew him off by declaring David Archuleta the champion.
Yet, unlike during past seasons where the viewers voted for the "wrong" person (Taylor Hicks) and the judges picked the "right" one (Chris Daughtry), this year the viewers got it right. David Cook is clearly the better singer. While he may not be as technically precise a singer as David A., he is certainly a more intuitive and emotive singer. Overall, he is the better performer.
So, there is Justice in this world. Now if only Senator Barack Obama wins back the White House in November for the American People, then I'll really have something to write about regarding Justice...

Rock on!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Idol thoughts

"American Idol" is the one reality show I allow myself to watch. In my previous life, I was a music journalist, and it was mandatory to be up on the latest pop fare, as well as the more "serious" rock and alternative music that I covered while living in Athens, Ga., during the heyday of R.E.M. and the B-52's.

I admit that I'm an "Idol" fan. It's musical "brain candy". After watching fabulous but emotionally draining dramas such as "Battlestar Galactica" and "House", not to mention the equally emotionally draining cable news shows detailing the latest casulty in Iraq or the never-ending Democratic Primary, a little brain candy is in order.

Since today is my birthday, as well as the final show of the 2008 "American Idol" season, I get to make a wish:  that David Cook wins the "Idol" competition, and most especially, that he and his family have much health and happiness.

Now, of course I don't know David Cook, but he seems to be a genuinely nice person, who happens to be hip, talented, and smart.  (Can I add that he's cute, and that I wish I had a boyfriend like him?  Or, should I say,  him as a boyfriend?).  Okay.  Okay.  It is my birthday, after all...

After seven seasons, "American Idol" has now become a part of our zeitgeist.   Despite criticism saying that the show has run its course, with all those millions of people watching this tv show, there must be something about it that captures our collective imagination.  Something beyond reality-show voyeurism.  Perhaps it is the good old-fashioned idea of the American Dream, the idea that anything is possible as long as you work hard and follow the Golden Rule.