Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Web 2.0: It's Many Things to Many People

I have been reading several articles on Web 2.0 and its applications to providing library services known as Library 2.0. One author spoke of some traditional library services as being "icebergs", or roadblocks to providing services to the modern, "plugged in" information seeker. I don't know. Maybe because I think traditional library services still have value in today's society.

In fact, I think that the librarian is still a library's most valuable resource. Despite the "social" nature of Web 2.0/Library 2.0, the face-to-face contact with a "live" person remains important to many people. I can appreciate the Library 2.0 model being important to university students and the younger generations, but there is still a large segment of society (the elderly, but even some people of all ages) which is not comfortable using a computer, never mind working in an on-line environment.

I also read some comments from notable librarians who have blogs dealing with the library profession. In a cover story called "Mattering in the Blogosphere: Observations from the Well-Connected" (American Libraries, March 2007), librarians discuss the "democratizing power of blogs to add fresh viewpoints to the professional dialogue." Perhaps if us librarians continue to explore the possibilities of Library 2.0 in the Web 2.0 environment, we can continue to incorporate such online modalities into library services without losing our "human touch".


Playing Ping Pong with the Technorati

Remember when we were kids and we had a Secret Diary? We carefully recorded our thoughts and dreams, and then hid the diary where our parents, sibling and friends couldn't find it. We might even have had a lock and key!

Now with the world of blogs -- these digital diaries of sorts -- you are sharing your thoughts with the World Wide Web. If you are a blogger, you obviously want others to read your thoughts and ideas. Maybe even market your blog. So one of the first things you can do to get your blog noticed by others is to tag it or have it with blog search tools such as Technorati. You can also make sure people find your most updated posts by pinging them to search engines.

For our library's web 2.0 exploration project, we took a look at Technorati and learned how to tag our blog posts with the site's tags. For this excersie, we searched the tag field to see what blogs we could find about the concept of web 2.0. I found this type of search to be a bit cumbersome. First, I got 35, 289 hits. Second, I noticed in the "related tags" list that there are other tags that were variant spellings of "web 2.o" ("web 2-0" and "web2.o"). Third, not all the "hits" dealt with web 2.0. The first blog I looked at was just an advertisement and not someone's ideas or thoughts about web 2.0.

Overall, as a librarian, I didn't find the use of tags in techorati or or other sites to be useful in finding relevant information. I can't imagine how to find information without using formal knowledge classification systems (Dewey Decimal System, Library of Congress). Even with minor flaws, these systems are more useful to me in that they are based up a standard -- an agreed upon designation -- for any given subject or body of knowledge. It would be like driving without a road map. You might get to your destination, but you might wind up going in circles before you arrive.

However, as an informal method of sharing information, tags and such can be a fun way to drive around the blogosphere, seeing sites and things along the way that you might not have discovered if you had that road map.


Monday, June 9, 2008 sites to behold

We're continuing to explore the world of Web 2.0 as part of my library's continuing education project. I just created my ourn account to see what social bookmarking is all about. I downloaded the and tagging tools to my Internet Explorer toolbar. I then tagged several coffee-related web sites in keeping with one of my blog themes.

After exploring the site and seeting up an account, I can think of several ways in which this tool would be useful for librarians. First, can be used for computer and internet instruction classes. The instructor can set up an account and then be able to access the bookmarked sites he might want to use for the class. That way, he won't have to bookmark the sites for each computer/laptop he uses for any demonstrations. He can "transport" his "favorites" from Internet Explorer via a account.

Second, can be used as a reference tool. For example, instead of having to bookmark frequently used websites at each reference station, a account can be set up for all the librarians to share. Likewise, the specialist librarian can set up an account of his own to use at the reference desk or at a training class. Then again, if a library has a web page like ours does -- a "useful weblinks" section organized by subjects -- then that would be a more useful tool for librarians to use.