LIS 9726 and Second Life

This month I have been introduced to Second Life. I am not a big gamer nor have I ever been in an online world before, so the whole thing was new to me. In fact, I had never heard of Second Life before I began the MLIS program and was introduced to it in my first term by a TA. Immediately, I had problems figuring it out, for example I had trouble downloading the program (though that was likely due to my computer not my incompetence), and then had difficulty choosing a name for my avatar. Surprisingly, every name I could think of had been chosen, even if it was completely random. Eventually I settled on using a combination of letters from my first, middle and last name and came up with “Jaely,” however unamusing it may be.

In my previous intro to Second Life, my TA made us watch a YouTube video on newbies in Second Life. In this video, the newbie had great difficulty doing simple tasks, like walking or chatting. Thus, I was certain that I would have a similar experience. However, it was surprisingly easy to learn how to maneuver my avatar. Quickly, I discovered how to walk, run and even fly! After much experimentation and frustration, I even learned how to alter the appearance of my avatar, which felt a bit like dressing up a Barbie except that I could make her heavy, short, tall or thin.

I think it is safe to say that I have learned the basics of Second Life. I understand that it is a different way to connect with people, maybe live out fantasies that will never come true in real life, and have fun. So far, however, I do not fully understand the importance that is evidently placed on Second Life and other virtual worlds, and I am really not sure how libraries and virtual worlds relate to one another, but I am certain that as I explore and read up on Second Life during this course, I will come to understand and appreciate the importance of virtual realities.

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Webinars

My group has just completed out first webinar for the Saint Elizabeth’s First Nation, Inuit and Metis program. We discussed mobile devices and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and RSS feeds. We presented to a group of 16 health-care professionals who desired to learn more about social media and mobile technologies. It was an interesting experience. None of us group 8 members have met face-to-face as we all live in different areas of the province. We communicated through Google docs, Meebo and email to coordinate the two webinars we are participating in. It was an extremely challenging experience, as none of us have the same schedules and work, kids, school and real life conflict with our meetings. Rarely were we all able to attend a meeting at the same time. Despite these challenges, our first webinar was a hit. Participants asked questions, participated in our polls and made recommendations for future webinars on related topics. Staff at SE FNIM also seemed impressed by our knowledge and delivery.

Initially, I was wary about giving a webinar. You talk into your phone and it feels strange knowing that people are out there somewhere listening, but you’re met with silence so it feels as though you are talking to yourself. It was a great learning experience, however, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience a new technology (to me at least) in social media.  Hopefully, our next webinar will go as well as today’s did!

Library Thing

I’ve read a few of my classmates’ blogs and was surprised to see that Library Thing was so popular. Never having used it myself, I decided to try it. Like my classmates, I was immediately impressed. I like this site a lot better than delicious, probably because it is something more interesting to me -that is books. Tagging and collecting lists of websites is not that useful for me, but tagging and compiling lists of books is much more fun. Library Thing is very interactive. You can create lists of books you’ve read, books you want to read, books you are currently reading, etc. You can also join groups to discuss books, write reviews, add tags to books, check out recommended books and rate books. There is lots to do on the site, I could easily spend hours there.

Library Thing is a great resource for librarians. They can get a sense of what books are popular so they can add them to their collection. They can also discuss books with other interested individuals and advertise their library on the site. Library Thing is useful for readers advisory, finding information about books, series and authors as well as libraries around the world. It is a brilliant tool that I foresee myself wasting a lot of time on.

Smartphones and the Mobile Web

This week’s topic is incredibly relevant to my group’s final project.We are giving a webinar (two actually) on mobile devices, social media and learning. I have found this topic somewhat challenging as I have no previous experience with mobile technology and don’t know how they work or really what people use them for that has created such hype. So, obviously, this week’s readings have helped my knowledge increase somewhat.

I do not have a smartphone and I didn’t realize they were quite so widely used. I was even more surprised to learn that libraries have begun catering to users of smartphones by having mobile-friendly OPACS, apps and reference services. Some of the apps are really cool, for example Oregon State Library’s The Book Genie which allows mobile users a sort of readers advisory tool. According to Meredith Farkas, many libraries have provided different versions of mobile web technology, some for iphones, smartphones, some for web-enabled phones etc. This sounds like a lot of work to connect with library users, I would’ve thought there would be one site suitable for all types of mobile devices, but according to Meredith Farkas’ article, it is actually a fairly simple algorithm that detects which device mobile library users are using. I find it amazing that libraries are so tech-friendly, despite working in one and being in library school for the last year, I was sadly unaware that many libraries have advanced so far into the world of social media and mobile technology. Anyone who thinks that libraries are simply a storage space for dusty old books is sadly mistaken!

Podcasts

The links and reading provided for this week has opened my eyes to the benefits of podcast use by libraries. Some libraries have used podcasts to broadcast authors discussing their books, library tours, how to use certain aspects of the library (e.g. government documents, leisure reading) and how to go about finding them. There are podcasts for kids, tweens, teens, and adults. There’s storytimes, puppet shows and other performances. This allows people to participate in library activities from home, ensuring that they are accessible to those who are unable to physically attend events.

Again I have not had much experience with podcasts, other than cataloguing some in 9200. I have never listened to one and certainly have never done one.  I don’t know if my computer is technologically suited to creating a podcast, but I will give it a go and report back if/when I figure it out.

Facebook Depression

I just read an article discussing Facebook and depression in kids. Apparently, for a lot of kids social media is their main form of interaction. Instead of hanging out with friends, they chat online and post status updates. Some teenagers even check their facebook page more than ten times a day! Apparently, there is a lot of online bullying that takes place as well, which I would’ve thought would be fairly easy to deal with-just delete that person from your friends list, right? Apparently, it is much more complicated than that.The article suggests that parents are largely unaware of what their kids are doing when on these sites, and of the possible dangers to their mental health sites like Twitter and Facebook can cause.

For the younger generations it seems as though all social interaction is through a computer or mobile device. I wonder how this will impact them when they enter the real world and need to interact in person. It will be interesting to see if social interaction via the web is beneficial or not. I personally would say NOT. I see the benefits, but in no way should kids replace playing outside or hanging out with real, live people with chatting to an invisible kid on Facebook. But that’s just my opinion.

Check out the article here: http://ottawa.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110328/OTT_Social_Media_110328/20110328/?hub=OttawaHome

and a related article: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/new_illness_facebook_depression.php

Cloud 9

I have never heard the term “cloud computing” before this lesson which doesn’t surprise me considering the fact that I’ve said this about nearly everything we’ve discussed this term… But anyways, apparently I’ve been using cloud computing for years without even realizing it. Examples include Facebook and Google Docs-basically any site that allows users to access information without it being in a static place. For example, I can access my Facebook page, pictures and groups from any computer anywhere in the world because they are stored in Facebook’s servers, not just on my computer.

I admit that I still don’t fully understand cloud computing and what it means exactly, despite reading numerous articles about it. Maybe because it’s late and I’m tired or maybe because it’s just a concept that I need to delve into a bit deeper, I don’t know, but it seems to be a useful tool for libraries. According to the Michael Stephens article, librarians already use it to answer reference questions. For example, checking out blogs, Wikis and Flickr pictures to answer questions are all cases of cloud computing being put to use. As the author stated in this article, it would be a crime to limit users access to such social media sites, which I was unaware that libraries did by limiting browsers and hardware compatibility.

Advantages

The obvious advantages to cloud computing are convenience and simplicity. Everything you need can be available to you anywhere. This could be a huge time saver and makes life a bit easier on those who make use of  cloud computing.

Disadvantages

The main concerns regarding cloud computing are privacy and security issues. Does passwords and usernames offer enough protection? How safe are my Facebook pictures and Google docs? Not that I’m overly concerned about someone reading about a group project or checking out my profile pictures, but still, for someone who uses these sites to store more sensitive information, privacy concerns could be a real issue.

Conclusions

Cloud computing is apparently everywhere. It’s convenient and useful for individuals as well as libraries. However, concerns about security and privacy make this concept a hot topic for debate for some people and companies. I admit that I’m not entirely sure what cloud computing entails so more indepth research is definitively needed, but for now I’m going to say I’m a fan since apparently I use it everyday…

Tagging

This week I signed up for Delicious and Last.fm. I could see how Delicious would be used by people who use several computers, but for me it is not a useful site. I need to explore this site further but currently, I have no desire to tag sites and don’t really see how this site would be useful for me.

Last.fm is a really cool tagging site for music. Be warned though, it is also addictive. You can listen to songs, find recommended songs, and create a music library. Initially, however, it was difficult to figure out how to do anything because apparently you must download something first. Also, eventually, you must pay to listen to songs. However, you can explore thousands of bands, songs and pictures. It’s a really interactive site that has tons of users.

Recently, I wrote a paper on the social media employed by the Oakville Public Library. They allow patrons to tag items in the catalogue and create lists. Other patrons can follow people, similar to Twitter. This allows library users to interact with the library in a new, exciting way. It is a great way to get users involved and encourage awareness of library materials. Tagging allows users to create their own vocabulary to apply to items in the catalogue, possibly ensuring that others can find items if they are using the same keywords. This results in a very interactive and user friendly catalogue. Oakville is one of the first libraries to do such thing and other libraries should attempt to do this as well.

Plethora of Social Media: Midterm check-in

This term I have been overwhelmed with computers and technology. I have learned to create a website (sort of), a digital library (somewhat) and have joined numerous social media sites. I am now a member of the following:

Facebook;

Twitter;

LinkedIn; and

Flickr.

I have a blog, I’ve edited a Wikipedia article, I’ve created a mashup, and I have set up a wiki for business communication. I’ve used Google docs to communicate with group members and I will be participating in a webinar and administering an online survey using SurveyMonkey. I’ve learned more about the internet and computers this term than I have in years of schooling and exploration. Hopefully, all of my new skills will help me get a job upon graduation!

Twitter

This week I set up a Twitter account and posted my first tweet! I also selected a few sites to follow including London Public Library and Mashable.com. I found it difficult to keep a tweet under the character limit and I imagine it would be quite a writing challenge for libraries to advertise events in so few words.

I am now a member of Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  I expect to never use any other than Facebook. My friends are on Facebook, not any of the others and I use it to communicate and connect with them. While the other sites are fun and interesting, I don’t think they’re my cup of tea. I’m not one to share my thoughts and opinions with complete strangers, and I don’t especially like the idea of posting my photos and personal information online either. I rarely even update my status on Facebook, so I can conclude that I am not a lifestreamer (if that’s even a word). The problem that I have with social media sites like Twitter, and even blogs, is that I don’t really understand what it is that people are writing about. Some people update blogs every single day and really, unless they are advertising something, what could they possibly have to say? I understand companies having Twitter, but what do normal people tweet about? What they’re doing? Interesting things they’ve heard? I don’t know. I guess I just don’t see the point.

Despite my initial dislike (distrust?) of these sites, I will attempt, at least, to Tweet and read Tweets that I follow for the next few weeks at least. Maybe I will become addicted like so many other people, which probably would be a bad thing if the time I waste on Facebook is any indication…

I was surprised to learn that Twitter is not as actively used as I initially thought. It’s mentioned in TV shows, commercials, movies and books, so I assumed it was widely used. It seems as though every website has a link to Twitter, so I assumed it was up there in popularity with Facebook. Apparently, I was mistaken. I wonder how many libraries are actually aware that Twitter isn’t that widely used? I wonder if this realization would deter libraries from using Twitter in the future. I think that for the most part, it probably wouldn’t. Libraries use Twitter to connect with online community members and advertise library events. Even if millions of people aren’t reading these Tweets, someone is, and this person could potentially attend one of the advertised events after learning about it on Twitter.

Just like Facebook, Twitter can be useful for advertising the library and communicating with patrons. I’ve seen libraries use Twitter to answer reference questions as well, which is an interesting way to reach out and provide service. Twitter widens the possible audience for libraries, provides free advertising, and opportunities to communicate with community members, check out other libraries and offer reference services. The only downside I see to libraries using Twitter is time. Someone will have to tweet, respond and monitor the site. Once a library has several social media sites to monitor, this may become a full time job. Which in my opinion would be awesome! Hopefully, that will be a job some of us work in after we graduate.

Social Networking

Personally, I just use Facebook to talk to friends. For me, it really is a waste of time. I have had no profound experiences, been reunited with no long-lost friends, and generally only talk to a handful of people using the site. Really, it is just a replacement for email and a way to share photos. However, I do realize the potential that networking sites offer. The possibility of connecting with old friends, work contacts and people I meet in my travels increases my contacts, which could of course prove useful in the future when I am looking for work, or moving to a new place. it’s always beneficial to connect with as many people as possible, after all it’s all about who you know and what easier way to keep in contact than by using Facebook?

Most libraries have taken advantage of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Flickr. This increases their online presence and allows libraries to connect with their community in a new, modern way. Facebook and other social networking sites offer numerous opportunities for libraries to advertise their library, programs and events, as well as encourage patrons to actively participate in the library by reading, posting, “like”ing and contributing to blogs and online book clubs available via Facebook.

This week, in order to expand my online presence and discover what other social networking tools are available, I decided to sign up for a LinkedIn account. It was easy to sign up for, but it was annoying that it attempted to connect with my gmail contacts and that I had to provide a postal code. The interface of my profile was pleasant and easy to use, however, it is unlikely that I will ever use this account again, as Diane mentioned in her lecture, there’s not much to do there.

Slightly disappointed by the lack of excitement on LinkedIn, I then signed up for a Flickr account. This site is much more interactive and exciting. There are countless videos and pictures to view, I can update and personalize my profile and I can make my pictures public or keep them all to myself if I so desire. I could also create a group or join a group in order to connect and interact with people who share similar interests as I do. For libraries, Flickr is a great way to share photographs and video from library events, further helping to promote the library and let people know that it is not merely a place to get dusty old books, but rather, the library is modern, interactive and progressive.