Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pandora's Box

Pandora is a Web 2.o "radio". The site takes internet radio to the next level -- you can explore and share music for free. Like satellite radio, you can listen to customized "stations" based on your music preferences; unlike satellite radio, you don't need expensive players or service subscriptions.

The site has well-organized and thoughtfully put together in what the founder calls the "Music Genome Project". Besides offering music to listen to, you can find artists' biographies and photographs of the musicians and the album artwork (I mean CD covers). I explored the rock music offerings and found both newer musicians (my "American Idol" fave David Cook) and established artists (U2, The Beatles).

For my library's Web 2.0 exploration project, we had to study whether or not this 2.0 app would be useful in a library setting. Although I like the site and would use it at home for personal enjoyment, I don't see how Pandora could be used in a library. Other than as a research tool for finding information about the music and artists. But we have reference books that provide more in-depth information. However, I can see where this site could be used in an education setting: a teacher or professor could play songs for a music history class without having to switch CDs or make mix tapes.

Rock on!


A Rainbow or Two From Heaven:

Rembembering Tim Russert (1950 - 2008)

by Donna Marie Smith

A message from God, for a man of God

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

(photos from: NBC)

I was attending the Henry Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, the year Tim Russert took over as anchor of "Meet the Press". The year was 1991. I had hopes of being a music journalist, writing for "Rolling Stone", one of the most influential music, culture, and political magazines of the day. While my path took a different turn, Mr. Russert continued to follow his rainbow to become one of the most objective and honest journalists and political commentators in recent times. Even though I am not a journalist by profession -- I am a public librarian who happens to use her journalism skills at her job -- I can follow Mr. Russert's example. I can continue to be a caring person, a conscientious professional, and a patriotic citizen. Like the double rainbow that was spotted after his memorial service in Washington, D.C., Mr. Russert's spirit of kindness and integrity lives on in his family and in his professional legacy. If only we, too, can aspire to be a rainbow or two from heaven.


Zoho What Fun!

Web-based applications, like Zoho Writer and Google Docs, are being touted as the next big thing in social networking and office productivity. For our Web 2.0 exploration project at our library, we took a look at both of these tools. We even created a document on Zoho Writer

I thought Zoho Writer was easy to use, especially since I have been using Microsoft Word and Correll Word Perfect for about 20 years! However, I got stuck when I tried "publishing" my document to my blog. I kept on getting an error message saying "blog not available".

Eventhough I like to try to figure things out for myself, I finally gave up and consulted my friend. He discovered that Zoho gets hung up on any punctuation or symbols that are in blog titles. I had to take out the comma and ampersand in my title in order for the publish feature to work. Interesting...

These tools can be useful for collaborative projects: for authors co-writing a book, for editors of newspapers and magazines, for employees working on a project together. It's handy if you don't want to fool with sending email attachments or if you have to remember to carry your flash drive with you. As long as these applications remain as safe as possible from hackers (or corporate spies!), then these tools can be a convenient and easy way to share information.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Playing in the wiki sandbox

As part of our Web 2.0 exploration project, our library system set up a "sandbox" for us to play in our library wiki. It was fun! We got to add some entries to this "favorites"-themed wiki. I chose to "play" with the "Favorite Vacation Spot" page and the "Favortie TV Show" page.

My entry for "Favorite Vacation Spot": Alaska!!!

My entry for "Favortite TV Show": I couldn't narrow it down so I picked my current favorites: Battlestar Galactica (new series), Doctor Who (new series), House, Pushing Daisies, and Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

As I discussed in my previous blog entry, I am wary about using a wiki to disseminate information could be problematic, particularly if the author is unreliable or careless. However, wikis used in this informal manner can be a fun way to share ideas. For example, you can create a wiki for your family and share news and photos, or if you are in a club, you can share information about events and meetings. The possibilities are endless.


Monday, June 16, 2008

On Wikis and Library Services

The concept of wikis is interesting, especially to one who works in library and information services. Knoweledge dissemination is structured and formalized. Collection development librarians purchase materials based on a certain criteria: an author's knowledge, a reputable publisher. A cataloger organizes a book's information in a standardized manner. Journal articles are peer-reviewed. You get the idea. Those of us who love information love to organize it and take control over it! We're knowledge authoritarians!

Library Success: a Best Practices Wiki is an example of presenting knowledge in an informal way, and information listed on a wiki is not necessarily written by an expert. Wiki's are egalitarian. They're collaborative. Is this good?

I think wikis like the one above can be useful in that it is maintained for the most part by a group of professionals. I came across a section of "Library Success" that deals with my area of library services: adult programming. The section included "ideas for adult programming", a list of related blogs and web sites, and links to articles. I even found a reference to a library that had created a database of programs, something I am interested in since I'm collaborating with a colleague to create a programming database as tool for our branch librarians to use in program planning.

So are wikis useful in other instances? The granddaddy of all wikis is the ubiquitous Wikipedia. The jury is still out for me on whether or not this is a reliable source of information. I cringe when students cite "Wikipedia" as a source, especially when they are doing an essay on an easy-to-find subject that can be found in the easy-to-use World Book Encyclopedia.