Monday, August 24, 2009

NSL Learning Wetpaint SandBox Wiki

I was having great fun exploring this wiki and, before adding my favourite television programme Packed to the Rafters, checked TVNZ’s webpage to make sure I had the title correct. Imagine my dismay when I saw their news headline ‘Auckland Zoo’s Kashin the elephant dies’. Kashin has been at Auckland Zoo forever … initially sponsored by Auckland Savings Bank – hence the name ‘Kashin’ … she has been dearly loved by all zoo visitors. Dear Kashin, we will all miss you so much. I have posted this photo on the NSL Learning Wiki in Kashin’s memory.


Until now, my only experience of wikis has been Wikipedia and, although I knew it was contributed to and edited by people all over the world, I didn’t really comprehend the significance of that until I did this exercise. What a neat idea! Why hasn’t someone started one for North Shore City (before we get sucked into the supercity) where everyone can post community news? In the past, when I was involved with various PTFA fundraising committees, I would have loved to have been able to go on-line to see when there was a ‘free’ weekend to organise a fun run, gala, etc. and I’m sure others would too. The library is an ideal starting point for something like this … it is community-based and a known physical noticeboard so why shouldn’t it be the virtual source of local “what’s on” information that everyone turns to first? A link to/from the library webpage could enable patrons to access and edit it.

Wikis within the library enable patrons to comment on books and post reviews. Information contained within the summary field is limited and a link to a wiki would allow readers to share thoughts and opinions about books. This could be particularly useful for those people who have limited searching skills.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Library 2.0

Isn’t it funny that the stereotype picture of a librarian is a quiet conservative woman, set in her ways and resistant to change yet the truth is quite the opposite. Just because libraries hold many historical records, it does not mean they are old-fashioned. Libraries today are staffed by innovative personnel who are constantly seeking ways to supply the best available service to their patrons. Web 2.0 (or Library 2.0) means more than the introduction of new technology. It is about communicating and interacting with patrons to ensure their information needs and wants are met today, and in the future. This is something that librarians have always aspired to. My earliest memories of “going to the library” are of walking with Mum along the beach to Takapuna Library. I must have been about eight at the time. The library had a quiet, studious atmosphere, a bit like a church, where you spoke in whispers and only when absolutely necessary. But librarians then were just as interested in their patrons (even the young children) and just as eager to assist as they are today. By embracing technology and constantly up-skilling staff (by means of programs such as this), libraries and librarians are moving with the times and keeping abreast of current information trends. A library that supports its community well is constantly refining and refocusing the services it offers.

Delicious v Technorati

Thought about this overnight and did a little test this morning by searching for “Monarch Butterfly” on both Delicious and Technorati. It was interesting to see that Delicious returned 652 results, all directly related to monarch butterflies and insects, whereas many of the 310 results found on Technorati seemed to have nothing to do with monarch butterflies. Delicious is a more direct way of finding specific information linked by tags. Technorati has lots of interesting stuff but I didn’t find it an easy site to navigate around and I wasn’t sure of the ‘worth’ of what I found. It uses a ‘crawling’ system to search blogs and posts and, because of this, returns sometimes meaningless results.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I was a bit apprehensive about visiting Technorati … it sounded like a sect of elitist geeks … however, when I got there, it wasn’t too scary. Had a look at most things on the navigational bar and then searched as directed for Learning 2.0. It was interesting to see that it scored only 539 hits in Tag search compared with 6,721 hits in Blog Posts. Next had a look at ‘What’s Popular’. Wasn’t sure why Boing Boing came first in the Top 100 blogs by fans but only fifth in the Top 100 blogs by authority so clicked on Help for some more information. Might have to come back to this another time as it was a bit technical to take in at this time of night but it seems to have something to do with the number of links in the last 180 days.

Under ‘Site Guide’ I did find some really good explanations of blogs and blogging terms in plain English which I will probably use to explain to my elderly parents who can’t seem to grasp what the www is all about.


For me, this discovery exercise has clarified what bookmarks and tags are all about. I have long known how to add a site to ‘Favorites’ but never really understood the difference between that and bookmarking. Favorites enables an instant link to a webpage - useful for sites visited regularly (post code finder, bank, on-line campus, etc.), whereas bookmarking allows you to maintain access to a site and, at the same time, identify with a tag what is relevant to you about that site. I even now know what a ‘tag cloud’ is – how technical’s that!

Being able to access your bookmarks from any computer has to have many advantages, particularly for students who work sometimes on a home pc, sometimes at school/uni. One benefit for me is being able to bookmark a site to show others. Take a look at this site of Deidre Copeland’s, for instance. She is a very talented New Zealand artist who does the most amazing portraits; they’re huge but so life-like! I first saw some of Deidre’s work featured in a magazine and later viewed many more portraits on her website. Unfortunately, I am hopeless at remembering names and couldn’t find the site again when I was telling someone else about her. Since discovering Delicious, I've searched again, eventually found her site and bookmarked it. Now I can simply check my bookmarks and voila there she is!

It is interesting to see how many people have bookmarked the same site and the various tags they have ascribed to it. Few had left comments against the bookmarks I looked at. While being able to share information can have huge benefits, I do wonder whether it makes research too easy for students, particularly school students, who really need to learn the processes involved in searching for and assessing the worth of information obtained electronically.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Searching for feeds

When I didn’t know what it was, I saw that little orange icon everywhere … now that I’m looking for it, it seems to be hiding!! Still, I’ve had a lot of fun checking out some weird and not-so-weird sites … (couldn’t find anything truly wonderful). Didn’t have much success with the Bloglines Search tool but found Google Blog search and Google News much easier to use. Haven’t found any more news sites I want to subscribe to just now but did find this great blog to follow … loved the concept (very similar to ) … oh, how I’d love to have a few more hours in the day to play!!
Photo by dominocat

Success at last

It's taken nearly all day (and part of yesterday) but at last I've got it ... I managed to insert a photo from Flickr my RSS Feeds post ... hooray!!


originally uploaded by mvadu.
I watched the videos at night in order to be all ready to start the next morning but then had to re-watch them because I couldn’t remember the exact steps – silly me! But, it was probably a good thing to watch them twice as I think I understand the process better now. At first I wondered why anyone would want to subscribe to a feed but the videos were really helpful! I now understand how useful these links are to people who need up-to-date info NOW!

Didn’t really know what feeds I wanted so subscribed to a couple of newsfeeds from NZ Herald and TVNZ for starters, but … and this was the really challenging part …I couldn’t find how to access them! Took a while but eventually I found it was as simple as clicking on the Feeds tab, under Favourites – silly me, again!! This makes me wonder whether I have done things correctly … can’t see why I needed a bloglines account as I access the feeds from Internet Explorer. However, it’s been an interesting learning curve and now I can go straight to the latest news bulletins – and the NSL Exercise site, as I’ve added that too. Being able to search up in the top right-hand corner is handy. And, there’s no advertising on the Herald and TVNZ feeds, which has to be a big plus!

Not sure how often I’ll use this new skill myself but, who knows? … now that I’ve mastered it, I might be subscribing to all sorts of information. Can see that RSS could be a very useful marketing tool for libraries, keeping patrons up-to-date with new releases, book reviews and up-coming events.

This photo by mvadu found on flickr epitimises RSS – ripples travelling outwards.