Monday, October 27, 2008

Thing 12 - Favorite Podcasts

This is my special area of interest, as I am trying to create an online audio archive for our organization. We will not have daily updates, but will probably produce 1-2 new lectures and programs each month. Is this still called podcasting?

I have been listening to NPR, BBC, and Radio Free Europe podcasts before, but, thanks to this course, just discovered StratFor's Daily Podcast - it has a broad international coverage and a non-hurried manner of news presentation, which makes it sound different. In searching for interesting topics, I also came across great language learning resources featuring podcasts, like Free Language and Radio France International with "slow language" programs for non-native speakers and students. I am always learning some new language, so this is a great finding. I will try to listen to news in "slow French" daily from now on: they are a bit easier to understand than regular speed French :) Looks like language learning CD's and tapes will be out of business in no time...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thing 11 - Libraries and YouTube

Welcome your patrons, promote your library, give a tour to your new media lab, read stories to kids, give video instructions on catalog searching and audio book services. Every library service could be enhanced by a simple visual. Check this Tale of Library Circulation told by the Wizard of Oz characters - what a nice way to introduce children to their local library. And now for Extra Miles and smiles...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thing 10 - My 2 cents to maps

I've decided to use Google Earth for my Thing 10 activities. I like "to fly over" places of my childhood vacations, past and future travels, and distant lands with Google Earth, seeing 3-dimentional monuments and recognizing the coastlines I may never see. Ability to add photos to Google maps completely changes your mindset about each destination. I used to imagine places from books, stories, and glimpses in the movies and then surprisingly discover that the place is nothing like I imagined. Well, this is different now: if you do your pre-travel homework with Google Earth , you are destined to come across pictures that will reflect reality pretty accurately. Not to say that anything virtual can compete with real life experiences, but still... That rotating globe has come dangerously close...

The easiest way to add your own photos to Google Earth is through Panoramio, another web photo service. It lets you upload up to 2 gb of photos for free and then map them to Google Earth and Maps right there. Here are my Panoramio additions from the trips to Amsterdam, San-Michele Cemetery in Venice, and Verona.

Thing 9 - My Photos and Discoveries

Check out this Knowledge Sponge photo of a Cambridge building that came up in my search for Boston architectural sites on Flickr. What a nice metaphor to the work we do in libraries! It's amazing how quickly these photo sharing services filled with artistic photos and moving images. Being in charge of the Back Bay historic archive, I hope to see more historic black and white photos of our facades and skylines (could not find many of those on Flickr). The BPL project to make the postcard images public sounds great! I wish all local archives would do the same! There is a Digital Commonwealth initiative going on to integrate all Massachusetts historic archives. If anyone works for a participating library, let me know what your experience is.

Going Extra Mile: I've been using Picasa for some time, both for work and family pictures. Here is a link to the Album I created from the negative film found in our archives and turned into a historic exhibit.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Remembering Milk for Thing 8

I looked at the Task Management tools out there and decided that Remember the Milk would be best for me. Cute cow face paired with the simple, almost kid-friendly, tab interface, makes it a bit less boring than other todos: one needs to be cheered up on that Monday morning after all. I think it is a Dutch company: I like how they let you choose the date/time format and insert dates when you just type day of the week. [Correction from Olga: it is an Australian company - I've just been fooled by accidently getting into their Nederlands log in page - one of several foreign language interface options :) I still think they have a great international appeal with the european date format and military time choices. I am using it! ]. I will try to use it for work - it's time to get rid of the paper clutter!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thing 7 - FEEDback on RSS

I've happily subcribed to WBUR, BBC World, TEDTalks, YouTube Most Discussed, and other RSS feeds in Google Reader. My favorite so far is the Joke of the Day from Comedy Central. I am also following the blogs of my fellows from the 26.2 Things in Boston course. It is nice to have all news in one place, my two frustrations have been: 1) it is often difficult to find the correct RSS url for a particular service - you have to go from page to page to find how they break their RSS feeds; and 2) too many too broad chunks, e.g. there is Most Popular and Most Discussed categories on YouTube, but no categories for News & Politics and such. I guess I will get better at it, once I start using tags, but coming up with the subject relevant to each news service is time consuming, as they are not always consistent. I could not subcribe to Library Journal - Google Reader not finding a perfectly valid RSS url for some reason. I wonder if there are alternatives to Google Reader, something more intuitive (regular Google finds RSS pages way better than Reader does).

There is certainly a place for RSS on every library web page: local news, library events, storytelling, new aquisitions, a newsletter, blogs could all be made into RSS alerts. Perhaps there is even a way to deliver the titles for the most discussed or most circulated books and articles to patrons. With the archives collections being more static than regular library ones, I can't quite see the same service for archives. Unless we push professional news, blogs, and newsletter items onto readers. There is always a danger to become too agressive with your customers - we have all come not to appreciate SPAM, but still... No reason no to have a Reader-like subcription page for a library or archive, set up with subjects and readings relevant to your audience.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Thing 6 - Craigslist Rocks

Somebody has recently told me that Craigslist became a place to look for a job, especially in the legal field, so I tried to check the theory myself. My first emotion was "wow, the thing grew big since I've last seen it." It is indeed full of legal and paralegal postings and many other jobs for that matter (save for librarians, who seem to still like their special library places to advertise openings). Who needs those monster boards and job banks when craigslist got it all? I like the simple nature of craigslist, it's universal appeal and white/black/blue appearance, volunteer and free stuff ads, and mostly the local touch. It is very human compared to other sites: has an authority of a big metro newspaper, which makes you feel being watched while you fight that nagging question in your head "does anything still read Globe classifieds?" I think Craig's secret is to make you and your privacy feel respected. Other sites tend to bombard you with ads, questions, and demands for registrations, and you often feel distracted and tricked by imagery and animation. After all, you search for classifieds for a reason.

I was genuinely surprised by the growth of the Graigslist "for sale" section. No wonder eBay wants its part of the company! I think it used to be more of a free giveaway "students leaving their furniture to others" kind of service (I felt a pang of nostalgia reading its "Lost and Found" section), but money talks here too. As part of the experiment, I decided to sell some baby things here (never got around to do it on eBay) - will see and report how the experiment works.