Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blogging and other tools

Here I am again trying to think about something interesting to blog about and coming up blank. So, I thought I would reflect on blogging itself and technology tools.

I would describe blogging as a way for individuals to share their thoughts and experiences with others. They can be used as a way for someone to deliver and/or receive information to selective individuals or large audiences. In this class, we are required to post a blog every week about something relative to our class and to reply to two other classmates’ blogs. The idea is that we (likely the instructor too) will gain more knowledge by this group sharing. In theory, this is true. Yet, I find the assignment to be tedious. I have wondered if I would find it to be as tedious if we were required to turn in a one page paper every week in place of the blog. I believe I would still find the assignment to be a heavy work load (welcome to grad school) but I am not convinced I would have such difficulties in finding topics to write about. There is no rhyme or reason to it other than the technology aspect of it and my having difficulties adapting to it.

I also had the same feeling about podcasting. While my group was trying to create our podcast, we had major difficulties getting the program to work on the computers. I was at a loss as to why anyone would like this technology. However, once we got the basic recordings finished and began manipulating them I saw the potential they had. Once they were all played during class, I was blown away by what heard from my other classmates’ podcasts. They were amazing. I still cannot see myself creating podcasts in the future, but at least I have a better understanding of the potential they have.

As I was finishing typing this blog I noticed that Blogger automatically saves my work like most Google tools. This is a feature that I have really begun to appreciate, especially in Google Docs. I am fairly new at using Google Docs but have become a fan of the tool. My favorite feature is my ability to access my work from any computer that has internet access; I also really like how it automatically saves your work. This has gotten me to thinking a little bit more about technology and my future usage of it. I would like to think that by my embracing and using a lot of the technology that is out there, and familiarizing myself, at least to some degree, with the common technology used by the rest of the community, that this would be enough. In most professions I believe this would be true; but, is it true for librarians? I wonder if it is actually enough to only familiarize yourself with the technology that your patron’s are using.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Boyd and McMurria

For this week’s blog I thought I would ramble about a couple of our readings. I just finished reading Danah Boyd’s article, “Viewing American class division through Facebook and MySpace” and found the article enlightening. Perhaps I was being a little na├»ve, or just not opening up my eyes, but I had never thought about their being a class divide involved with SNS’s. I was aware, of course, of socioeconomics playing a roll, at least when it came to computer access, but I was unaware of the class divide between Facebook and MySpace users. The article was written in 2007, I am curious to know how Boyd would interpret the SNS’s class division now. I feel that there has been a lot of new users to these SNS’s within the last couple of years. Different age groups are now participating in the SNS’s that were not mentioned by Boyd. I have noticed Facebook being popular among adults aged over thirty and have also noticed middle school aged students participating. In my experience, the adults tend to use Facebook and the young adults use MySpace and/or Facebook. Of course, after reading this article I wonder if this is because of class factors. I have also noticed a lot of parents being “friends” on their kids’ SNS’s. I wonder what Boyd would say to that.

Now onto a personal ranting about part of John McMurria’s “The YouTube Community” article. Wow! Talk about a class divide! I wonder if Boyd would refer to the YouTube community as hegemonic. I am always amazed by the number of people who feel the need to push their values onto everyone else while in the same breath they talk of democracy. As if the other person’s values are not acceptable or somehow inferior to their own. The small town image spoken of by Paul Robinett in McMurria’s article hardly represents America. According to the 2005 census, 83 percent of Americans live in metro areas. Robinett’s community does reflect a piece of America, but a very small piece. To be a truly democratic source, YouTube (and technology in general) has to get past this class divide. I feel that will only happen when people quit trying to dictate their values onto others. Just as we attempted to racially desegregate our country by beginning with our schools, it is time we desegregate technology by beginning with the school room. Instead of opposing technology, or at best ignoring it, schools and teachers need to embrace it and provide ALL of their students with access and the necessary skills to use this technology. You cannot be truly democratic unless all members of the community are given the opportunity to participate. This does not appear to be taking place.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A beautiful PowerPoint?

Being unable to think about something to blog I thought I would write about a PowerPoint article I recently read in Library Journal (March 2009). In the article, “The Power of PowerPoint,” Christopher Harris discusses the bad rap PowerPoint has gotten and argues that is not the fault of the software. Harris blames the user as being the cause to bad presentations, and says; how we deliver a presentation is the key. In this article, Harris refers to a presentation given by Palm at the Consumer Electric Show in January 2009 (http://www.palm.com/us/products/phones/pre/ces-video). In Palm’s presentation, Jon Rubinstein, the presenter, treated the presentation like a story in order to connect to his customers. And avoiding a common mistake a lot of presenters make, instead of using bulleted information filled with facts, Rubinstein used full screen images and very little text. Harris also points to an Al Gore presentation as using the same idea of full screen images and suggests a few references for people looking for PowerPoint tips.

I found the article interesting and the portion of Palm’s presentation that I was able to view, visually stimulating. Not only was I able to envision the product Rubinstein was selling, but by presenting it in a story style with full screen images he was able to keep my attention. Another aspect of the Palm presentation I liked was how simple the images were. I was able to follow what Rubinstein was trying to present and did not get distracted by the slide show itself.

I can see how using PowerPoint in this fashion would be beneficial and successful to a director or someone presenting some sort of expansion of the library or a new program at the library to their board. The Palm presentation was a beautiful presentation; however, it is a sales pitch being presented on a theater size screen. I have to admit, I am having troubles envisioning such a PowerPoint being used in one of my Pratt classes. I wish Harris would have given a library oriented presentation as an example. I do recommend this article and watching the PowerPoint presentation to anyone who delivers PowerPoint presentations. I know I will be reviewing this article and the sources provided again before giving my next PowerPoint presentation.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

LinkedIn: Another SNS

For about a week now I have been following the LinkedIn social networking site and noting how it applies to libraries. LinkedIn, which was briefly mentioned during class, is a social networking tool designed for librarians, and other related professions, to network themselves and to stay abreast of their colleagues work. As far as the site’s usefulness to libraries, I would say other than recruiting professionals; the site is geared more towards librarians. Although, LinkedIn can be very attractive site for a library looking for a skilled professional since the site allows the user to post their works and interests.

Linked has various features that allows a person to showcase his or hers work. The SNS asks for specific details about the persons schooling and place of work, such as the name of the school, place of the school, year of graduation, and degree. The same questions are asked about person’s current employment; the name of the company, place, title, and duties are all asked. It also allows a person to post their past employment history, any specialty’s they have, blogs, groups or websites the person follow, along with various other items. LinkedIn also includes special features that allows postings of SlideShare and Google presentations, polls, blogs, and a Reading List by Amazon just to name a few. Basically, you are posting (or advertising) your resume and interest online for potential employers.

Obviously LinkedIn was not created with privacy in mind. About the only items the site does not post about a person is their personal address. Of course, one can list false information, but as I have learned, there is no point in joining this network if you are going to list false information. The whole point of the site is for networking yourself and searching for jobs.

I admit, I had troubles accepting how public this information is until I started thinking about our profession and our overall use of the web. If we look back on our education and daily professional lives, we will see that often the information posted on LinkedIn has already been shared to the public. While attending Pratt, I have frequently been required to follow library related blogs. A few common features the blogs included were information on the bloggers background: their current employer, their title, their interest, and other blogs they follow; basically, all the information being listed on LinkedIn. The same thing is true about guest speakers and lecturers, they almost always note their background, interest, title, and at times, their educational background is also noted. I guess what I am trying to get at, is that while LinkedIn is a social network with very little protection of privacy, it just reflects the atmosphere we live in today.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lesson Plan

I always find this first stage of choosing a topic the most difficult (other than presenting of course). I am still undecided what direction I would like to take for my final project. I have never done a lesson plan before so I should be grouped with someone who has experience. My general interest is in public libraries. I would like to do a lesson plan aimed at adults or young adults. Listed below are a few ideas I have come up with so far. I am open to ideas if anyone has any.

• I am currently interning at Brooklyn Public Library in their Education and Job information Center (EJIC). Since I have been there, I have had the opportunity of observing some of their outreach programs. One of the programs involves teaching teens how to prepare for a job. It focuses on resume preparation, presenting themselves, and how to use the resources at the library in their job search. PowerPoint is the main method of instruction. I think it would be neat to bring some sort of media into the instruction but I have no idea of how to do it.

• I have also been playing with the idea of a creating a lesson plan on evaluating websites. With how widely used the web is for research, I think it is important we teach people how to evaluate these websites.

• Another idea I had was to teach some sort of oral history. I was thinking the lesson plan could involve teens creating a YouTube video about their lives. Not sure exactly how this would work either, but thought it might be kind of fun.

This is all I got so far.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Random Thoughts

For this week's blog I thought i would discuss some random thoughts that I have been having regarding Flickr, Facebook, and other social networking websites.

I was having a conversation with some coworkers the other day about joining a particular group on Facebook. We were discussing why each of us decided not to join the group, which basically amounted to all of us deciding that it would not be in our best professional interest. During this conversation, one of my coworkers stated she did not have a Facebook profile and had no intention of setting one up. She said, she had a Friendster account when it came out, then set up a MySpace page after everyone told her she had to check it out, and is now being told she has to set up a Facebook profile. As she put it, "no way, not again." But this got me thinking about how fast technology changes and how we are always playing catch up. As we join and quit (or more appropriately discontinue using until forgotten about) these social networking websites, what happens to the information we save, transfer, and share. When we join these websites, we post pictures, blogs, videos, we share personal and professional information. Coming from an archivist and a librarian's point of view, how do we insure vital information created through blog postings, image sharing, and so on, is being preserved (or properly disposed of). Will we later discover information, that at the time of its creation was deemed either unimportant or was forgotten about, that turns out to be historically important. It may seem unimportant, but you never know when a blog posting might be the beginning of the next big invention. You just never know. So how do we properly organize, save, retrieve, and delete the vast and uncontrolled amount information being created over the web? How do we control the web while keeping it free and open?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quoting McLuhan

"The method of our time is to use not a single but multiple models for exploration – the technique of the suspended judgment is the discovery of the twentieth century as the technique of invention was the discovery of the nineteenth" (McLuhan, 69).

As I was home today, doing work related research on my laptop, I found that this statement by McLuhan could not be any truer. During a four hour period, I referred to photocopies of an original 1873 document (print), found the full version of the document online through Google books (internet), and spoke with a coworker on my cell phone (oral communication & technology) regarding the research. And this was all done in a short, four hour period from my bedroom. As amazing and convenient this technology is, I cannot help but think about my fellow classmate, Emily, who wondered if, "people are slave to the medium or to the information that it brings them…”