What I Learned Today...
Web 2.0 and programming tips from a library Web manager, What I Learned Today will cover blogs, rss, wikis, php programming and much more.
Sunday, December 11
NEW SITE - UPDATE YOUR BOOKMARKS
I hope to see you all there - Looks like over 100 of your are subscribing to my feed via bloglines! Thanks for the support.
Are an excuse to get busy ... well for people like me. Today was a snow day so I decided to try and get my new domain set up with WordPress so that I can host my own blog. The url is web2learning.net but I'm still trying to transfer stuff over and I haven't decided on a design yet. So if I don't post as much as normal, it's because I'm trying to get everything over there and the more I post here the more I have to move :)
So what do you call this? This isn't life trumping blogging - it's blogging trumping blogging ... woah ... something to think about :)
Thursday, December 8
Today when I logged into Gmail for the first time I saw something new on the left menu .. it said Talk using GTalk ... or something like that (I didn't think to take a screenshot before hitting the little x). Now I just logged in and when to delete a message, but I couldn't find Move to Trash on the little pull down menu ... that's because they changed it to read Delete. I guess the people at Google are working on Gmail today ... wonder what I can expect to happen next.
Reading Comprehension & Blogs
The question is whether or not Google Book Search will be bad for literacy ... personally I think assuming that it will is just plain silly ...
Steven quotes a blog post in the Washington Monthly that I'd like to comment on:
It's not just that I spend less time reading books, it's that I find my mind wandering when I do read. After a few paragraphs, or maybe a page or two, I'll run into a sentence that suddenly reminds me of something — and then spend the next minute staring into space thinking of something entirely unrelated to the book at hand. Eventually I snap back, but obviously this behavior reduces both my reading rate and my reading comprehension.I don't think this has to do with blogs ... well at least not for me ... I've always had poor reading comprehension ... in my case it's impatience and a strong desire to multi-task at all times. This was the case way before there were blogs ... before I even had access to the Internet. How did I major in Literature you ask? Well I went back through the books after I read them and found the passages I vaguely remembered and re-read them to see if they fit with the topic of my paper. This is why I love the idea of Google Book Search so much - not because I only have the time to read snippets, but because I only have the memory for snippets. If I had something like this in college I would have been able to easily find that passage I was looking for and then go to my book and re-read it.
I'm ashamed to admit that I rarely read newspapers - I guess it's that whole patience thing - blogs have made it so that I can read about the news that interests me. Yes blogs post that news in snippets ... but I always always always click on the links that lead to the full article - so in the end I've no only read the article, but other people's opinions on the article - which you don't get from a newspaper.
I feel as if I'm rambling on a bit, but the point is that (for me at least) Google Book Search & Blogs are not going to be the ruin of literacy ... in fact (maybe I'm being optimistic here) they seem to be bringing information about news & books to more people.
RSS Scraper is a nifty little tool that lets you notify people of updates to your HTML pages with RSS.
If you have an item in your page you'd like to include in the RSS feed e.g:
Sounds pretty handy if you don't have a database driven page ... but I do see one problem in the code above ... it's missing a </a></b> before the <br> ... just FYI if you plan on using this.
Monday, December 5
Amazon Keyword Watch
I just read about this new site on Solution Watch. It's called gumshoo and it's an eBay search engine that filters out items they fill are junk (I can't seem to find any documentation on how they decide this) and add notices to the top of items they feel may be scams - notes about high shipping costs or negative feedback.
The best part is that is also searches for misspellings. I'm always searching for items spelled in more than one way ... now I don't have to.
The Battle over Books
As of today (or maybe it will be next Monday) Wikipedia will no longer allow anonymous users to create pages:
Wales plans to bar anonymous users from creating new articles; only registered members will be able to do so. That change will go into effect Monday, he said, adding that anonymous users will still be able to edit existing entries.The article on ZDNet (Growing pains for Wikipedia) was published today - so I'm not sure what Monday they're talking about.
This change was brought on by a few highly publicized errors in the Wikipedia:
While I don't disagree with this move to only allow registered users to create pages, I do think the complainants are being a little silly ... especially since anyone can edit the encyclopedia ... meaning they could go in and fix their own pages. In fact that's what Seigenthaler ended up doing.
Let's hope this doesn't change the Wikipedia too much!
No more days off
I spent yesterday helping my husband install & customize Wordpress. I plan on switching to that myself, but I haven't had time yet (although I did purchase the domain). Anyway ... it was a very easy install and customizing the templates hasn't been t0o difficult either. I do have one gripe ... it's this new trend towards using CSS for layout ... which I'll admit I have no experience with.
It seems to me that using CSS for layout is what has led to this trend of fixed width pages ... and I'm really not a fan of that at all. So while I was editing the templates last night for my husband's new blog (I'll give you a link when it's all done) I found myself stripping out id & class tags and adding a table around the pages to make things expand to the entire screen ... to some this may seem like sacrilege, but to me it just makes sense. Who knows maybe down the road I'll change my mind, but right now I'm going to stick to a combo of tables & CSS to create my layouts.
Saturday, December 3
See inside books
Part atlas, part scrapbook, part bibliography, "Literary Locales" is a collection of links to pictorial Web sites related to the lives and works of writers.I clicked on a few pictures like Robin Hood's Major Oak which led me to the BBC's Inside the Major Oak page.
Are you keeping with the Bill-of-Rights discussion?
And now John has replied again.
The thing I love about this back and forth is that there is no bashing going on ... these two are using their blogs to have a professional discussion ... a discussion they could have on the phone ... but if they did it that way we'd never have had a chance to read it ... or comment on it ... don't you love this new trend?
John makes lots of great points in his response ... the one I liked the best is:
Telling an organization to entrust it’s livelihood to you without allowing them to look under the hood is not right. Even philosophically, it doesn’t jive with the idea of web 2.0.it just sums up everything he's been trying to say all along ... and the one thing I have been complaining about for the last 5 years. Why do I have to depend on people who know nothing of my organization to fix and enhance our catalog? Why do I have to spend hours on the phone with someone who obviously has a very minimal knowledge of HTML explaining to them that they have an extra tag that is messing up my layout ... why can't I go in there and remove the darn tag? -- sorry just ranting about a reoccurring problem we're having.
John also says:
In my opinion, the debate over how much we’ve been paying vendors is not important to this discussion and is probably counterproductive.Yes, but the amount we're paying does have something to do with it. We're shelling out money for products we're not 100% satisfied with and we keep shelling it out because changing means learning a new system and dealing with new problems ... what ever happened to you "you get what you pay for"? In an age where open-source technologies (that are as good if not better than the proprietary packages) are being churned out by the second, ILS vendors can't afford to charge what they're charging for what they're offering ... it just won't fly for long ... which is what I think John was saying:
What vendors need to be asking themselves is, “If we don’t change, will we still be in business?” I see rough times ahead for vendors as the gravy train comes screeching to a halt.Well that's it for my 2 cents on the subject ... I'm off to see what others are saying.
Thursday, December 1
Are you kidding me? That's how Michael Gorman is introduced in a snippet on the InfoToday Blog (ironic?) entitled Libraries in a Perilous Era. Apparently the ALA president feels that libraries are facing "gigantic issues":
The emphasis on quick search and the retrieval of nuggets of information defies the thoughtful process of the scholarly tradition and libraries' role in preserving and providing access to the human record of recorded knowledge, he said.When I read what this man has to say I feel like I'm reading something my grandfather would write ... something backwards and the exact opposite of what a "technology advocate" would think.
Times are changing and if libraries don't change with them then there won't be libraries anymore. We can't stay the still while the world around us is changing. Gorman is right about one thing ... people want instant results (quick search and nuggets) ... and if we as library professionals don't do everything we can to help people find the right information quickly, we're going to lose our patrons.
As far as the comment on amateurism ... well I'll redirect you to Bill Drew's post on the subject.
The ball is back in John's court
Anyway, I’m now going to make life even more complex by responding to John’s response to my response to his Bill-of-rights.I'm not going to comment too much ... because I forsee a much more detailed reply/comment coming from John ... basically I have to say that I wish our vendor was reading and replying to these comments ... the fact that Talis is doing this much is amazing (and should be expected of all ILS vendors) and has given them a big plus in my book ...