Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thing 11 - LibraryThing

A Sept. 16 2006 posting on the LibraryThing blog noted a few libraries using LibraryThing to display their new books on their website. I took a look at some of those libraries and did not like what I saw. Yes, you could see their new books with their cover art, but click on a book and you are taken to LibraryThing, not the library's catalog entry. You are taken out of the library's website entirely. One library's new book links takes one to Amazon, again not their own library catalog. I'd think that would be kind of confusing to patrons. How many must be thinking that the library doesn't own that book and is sending them to Amazon to purchase it for themselves?

I can't see myself using LibraryThing or any other online book list. I read a lot but have a so-so memory so years ago I made a database of books I've read. I refer to that often, both to refresh my memory and to recommend good reads to my friends. If I'm looking for something to read and my huge stacks of books start dwindling, I head over to Novelist for recommendations or just go to the library book sale and pick up another bag of possibly interesting books. Then I might check other people's reviews online to see if I might like the book. If not, it gets donated back to the Friends to be resold.

There are other online services doing similar things as LibraryThing. Shelfari gets mentioned often. I signed up for both LibraryThing and Shelfari. I entered 15 books I enjoyed reading into LibraryThing. Shelfari did not have one of the 15 in its database. Also, LibraryThing appears to be at least 10 times larger than Shelfari. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood was in over 3,000 people's collections in LibraryThing but only about 300 in Shelfari.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Thing 10 - image generator

Some of the image generators could be used for creating certificates or buttons for library events. Some are just plain fun.

In honor of the caffinated librarians group in Flickr I generated this image: - Create custom images

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thing # 6 Libraries using web 2.0

I've finally sat myself down to write down my thoughts on the libraries profiled in thing 6:

Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, Personally I don't like the rotating banner. I find it too distracting. Everything is clearly repeated below under New and Notable. They do offer a number of exciting services. One can subscribe to a variety of feeds of library programs and events, by topic or location. They offer online reference via instant messengers and email.

Seattle Public Library: Nice clean home page. Library news is clearly presented with appealing graphics.

Ann Arbor District Library: Their blog is nicely integrated with their home page and catalog. I do like Ann Arbor's very rich blog with its ability to subscribe to just those topics (tags) you are interested in. I'm assuming that the tags and book reviews within the catalog were submitted by patrons, not staff. Tagging and reviews must be a relatively new feature as there aren't many yet.
The tag cloud is very interesting, based on the most popular tags, I'd guess those that tag are young adult males who are into graphic novels.

Denver Public Library I don't like Denver's home page with Live News Feeds pulled from Yahoo! News, NY Times, etc. It just doesn't seem to fit. I'm all for creating RSS feeds for patrons to subscribe to for library created content. I'm not so sure about putting news feeds from outside sources on library web pages. Should the library website be a one-stop everything you might ever think you might need to know about your library, community, state, country and world? If I want to keep abreast of breaking news I wouldn't (nor should I?) think of getting it from my local public library.

Denver Public Library podcasts: The podcast page is nice, clean, and appealing. It has very clear podcasting help. Electronic story time for kids, what a great idea. The image of the book cover is linked to the catalog record. I'd have liked to seen a recommendation to check out the book and then listen along. It's not too obvious that you don't have to sit your kid in front of the computer to just listen to a blank screen talking, that you can check out the book and read along. Getting to the podcast page from the homepage required one to click on the DPL Download link. Pretty much straight forward but not obvious.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Friends and contacts

What is the etiquette of inviting and accepting invitations to be "friends" I see the value of adding contacts or friends at some web 2.0 sites but not others.

Twitter, to have any useful context to ones personal life, requires finding and adding friends that share a common interest or profession or whatever so that one can see and share what is going on with each other.

On Flickr and some other sites it is useful to have contacts just as a quick link to their photos or blog pages.

When one is invited to be a friend is it OK to decline? I declined one request on a social networking site and the next day the same individual sent another request. I chose not to "friend" this individual because they are not a librarian nor a personal friend. I will just ignore the request this time but am I ruffling any web 2.0 and library 2.0 feathers?

Myspace users seem to be big on gathering lots of friends. On some of the library myspace pages I noticed that most of the "friends" are authors trying to get free advertising. Is this a good thing?

I guess I'm just anti-social, but I do value my real friends and colleagues and the new ones I am making in web 2.0.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

More on Thing 9, Twitter

I've been having difficulty updating on Twitter. Each time I try it seems that their servers are having issues. Is it getting too popular and will the whole venture implode? How do they make money to maintain their equipment and Internet connection? There are no ads.

The June 2007 issue of Wired magazine has a short article about Evan Williams, the creator of Twitter. Here's a quote that I find telling about some of these free Web 2.0 services: "He's so confident, he recently spun Twitter into its own company, even though the software has yet to earn him a dime."
I'm still trying to find some value in Twitter. It seems very ephemeral.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Rental books via the web

Today's Sacramento Bee had a little announcement of a new web service. Rachel Leibrock, an entertainment writer had this to say:

"Doing 'what Netflix has done for movies', offers book junkies a new way to indulge. With monthly plans starting at $23.99, users can 'rent' several books per month ... with free shipping, no late fees and the option to purchase"

I should hope this business model is doomed to failure.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Thing 9 - Twitter

I signed up for a Twitter account. If you are reading this post and have a Twitter account, go ahead and Friend me at For those of you like me new to Twitter, on the right side of the page is a box labeled Actions with a link to Add jsiegel. Once clicked you've added me as a friend.

Oh, now Twitter is down. I've read the FAQ and don't really get the why people use it. It seems to be a merger of IM and blogging. Skeptical me thinks it must be supported by wireless phone companies as it encourages more text messaging. My cell phone is usually turned off and I never text message because I have no use for it and don't want to pay the added costs.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Things 7 and 8 - RSS and Bloglines

I've been using an assortment of RSS readers for quite awhile.

At home I've been using Firefox as my web browser and it has had a built-in feed reader for a year or so. Subscribing to an RSS feed is extremely easy. Just click the orange and white icon that appears in the address bar and you are good to go. The feed will appear in your bookmarks. To view an article of interest just select the bookmark.

I also have a Bloglines account. It's easy to subscribe to feeds there, just add and paste in the URL of the blog. I can view my feeds from any Internet connected computer.

I subscribe to a number of library and librarian blogs. I find Walt Crawford's Walt at Random an enjoyable read. I also check out Library 2.0, Cataloging Futures, and I especially like Stephen Abram's Stephen's Lighthouse.

365 Library Days Project

I've finally started dragging my camera around with my at work so that I can snap a few pictures each day to participate in the 365 Library Days Project on Flickr.

I uploaded a week's worth last night and added them to the group. I just have to remember to keep it going, or recruit others to help out.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thing 18 online productivity tools

I'm jumping ahead to thing #18 because I found a need and there was the solution. I had a Microsoft Word document on my work PC where I've been jotting down Our23 Things notes for eventual addition to the blog. I planned on working a bit on it at home over the weekend. In the past I would have sent the document to my home email as an attachment, worked on it there, then sent it back. That would have resulted in possibly three different versions.

I created a Google Docs & Spreadsheets account (already had the account from signing up for blogger) and cut and pasted my Word document onto the web page. Now, where ever I may be I'll have access to the one and only current version of the document.

I've deleted the Microsoft Word version since it is no longer the most current, nor the most convenient.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thing 5, fun with Flickr

Flickr mashups

Retrievr Interesting idea, not sure how useful. It is hard to draw something and get expected results. I tried drawing a sailing ship, got pictures of trees and snowscapes. I tried drawing a simple picture of one of my photos in Flickr, nothing similar came up. I tried uploading an image but it didn’t work and didn’t give me a reason why.

Spell with Flickr Wasn’t too intuitive on how you could then paste the resulting letter words somewhere else, but I figured it out. The website is hard to read with its black background and blue lettering but finally saw “Here is the html of these images for use on other sites” with a box below with html coding. I selected all the text in the box and then pasted it into the blog (first selecting the edit html tab, then going back to the compose tab to easily write more in this post.

J A C K I is for Édifice E

Tagnautica Mesmerizing. I’ll have to mull over possible value. Reminds me a bit of searching library catalog through relationships, a la Aquabrowser and the like. (see Queens Library for a demonstration) This enhances the ability to browse through a library’s collection.

Flappr An interface to searching Flickr. It requires Flash 8 or above. I thought I only had Flash 7 on my PC, but it worked fine for me. I used the same search in Flappr and Flickr. Flappr found 14, Flickr found 76.

I didn’t want to take the time for the games. Perhaps I’ll play with them at home with my S.O. He enjoys the unusual sites I come home with.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Jakob Nielsen's views on Web 2.0

BBC news has an article about Web 2.0 with quotes from Jakob Nielsen, a prominent web usibility expert. Web 2.0 'distracts good design'

I agree with some of his statements and find the statistics (from unnamed sources) interesting. Only about 1% of users to a site regularly contribute, 9% are occasional contributers and about 90% are just lurkers. That 90% is the key. The biggest question is why aren't they contributing? Are they finding what they need (in which case his concerns about usability are groundless) or are they dissastisfied and look elsewhere?

My favorite line in the article is: "Mr Nielsen also questioned championing teenage use of the web as a harbinger of what people will continue to do when they were older. " I think Mr. Nielsen is saying that once these teenagers become adults they will turn into the rest of us (old fogies like me). As he is not a teenager himself, how can he predict how that generation will change as they age? But I do agree with him.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

iPod vs. Vista

Just bought an iPod shuffle. Gee they are cute and the built-in clip is an inspiration in functional design. Attached it to a USB port on my new computer running Vista and got a friendly beep that the computer recognized new hardware. Then all &*#%^@! broke loose. The USB mouse and keyboard no longer responded. Detached the iPod, still no keyboard or mouse. Unplugged both, plugged them back in, still no response. Powered down a couple of times, switching out USB ports and plugging the mouse and keyboard in both with power down and power up. Still no response.

Pulled out the warranty for the computer to find the toll-free number. I expected to be on hold for quite awhile but I was connected to a technician in under a minute. He had me do a drain all power shut down (power down, remove power cord and then hold the power button for an additional 20 seconds before replacing the power cord and turning the computer back on) That did the trick and the mouse and keyboard were back. However, I have two hard drives in a RAID 1 array and the array had to rebuild itself. I left the computer churning away while I gathered strength to try again with the iPod. BTW, it's a Dell. I'm really impressed with the customer service I received.

You know when people say RTFM? They really mean it. Turns out I should have downloaded and installed iTunes before connecting my Shuffle to the computer. Did things in the correct order and now I'm bopping to my tunes.


I am really enjoying playing with Flickr, so much so that I recently purchased a two-year subscription and now am thinking of all the fun sets I can create. Today is the Whole Earth Festival in Davis, California, so digital camera will travel.

For several years I had been looking for an easy, free web site for sharing photographs. Early attempts on other sites required everyone who wanted to view my pictures to also register with the site and log in each time. One site promised free hosting forever, and then was bought out by another company and in a flash all my photos were gone. Tried another site, again it was to be free forever, but they changed their business model and you had to purchase prints from them at least once a year. Zap, there went those photos. I still had the originals on my computer but the links I sent people and postings on forums no longer worked. So, I'm thrilled with Flickr. People do not have to register in order to view photos. I also like the ability to create sets, or albums and add tags and descriptions. Only thing that concerns me is the public sharing part of it. I'm careful to not upload photos of friends and family unless they approve to protect their privacy. For those photos I use a different service. With Snapfish (which I use to develop my 35mm film) my photos are shared only to people I've invited.

I learned about Flickr groups from the Infopeople eBranch online workshop. I decided to search for groups on cruising. I found a pretty good group about Princess cruises (not my favorite cruise line but the family likes it) so joined. I was poking around the members and saw that the creator was Libraryman. How serendipitous, stumbling upon a librarian as I'm exploring personal interests.

I've started taking pictures around my library and plan to upload them soon into the 365 Library Days project. We're only open Monday through Friday so it won't quite be a documentation of a full year (plus I do get vacations)

With a head start from the online workshop, I believe I've now completed things 1 through 4. Oh, BTW my Flickr photos can be found at:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

California libraries 23 things

I am so glad that Infopeople is hosting a Learning 2.0 23 things project. I look forward to working with others in my library in exploring web 2.0 technologies.

I've been playing for awhile but know that there is much more to discover.

One of the first tasks before getting to number 1 is to view the archive of Helene Blower's webcast. Though I watched the webcast live, I went to the arcive to see if our staff might have problems. I was able to view the webcast. I had major problems running the Wizard which checks to see if the PC can run the webcast. On three different PC's, running Windows 2000 and Windows XP and IE 6, both SP1 and SP2 the wizard crashed IE each and every time. I don't know if this is a local problem with our staff PC's or a problem with the wizard. If I have a chance I'll try the wizard from home on my PC running Vista and IE7.


I was introduced to Yelp through the Infopeople online eBranch workshop. My first thoughts were, gee, yet another online review site. There are so many these days, from the big old-time players (AOL and it's Digital Cities) to fly-by-nights.

In looking through it however I realized that word of mouth is really working in Yelp's case. I compared a couple of local restaurants in Yelp and Yahoo local. The most recent Yahoo review was from over a year ago. Yelp's was from just last month. Yelp also seemed to cover many more local places than Yahoo local.

By the way, Digital City has no entries for my city (Davis, California).

Interestingly some "hardware" companies are trying to get into the local recommendation market. There was a big four page ad in a recent home decorating magazine for Philips (makers of audio, television equipment and light bulbs) for Philips Simply Concierge service. A free service through September 2007 (after which I'm assuming they will charge if it lasts that long) allows users to get a listing of restaurants, shopping, entertainment and other locations in any of 20 popular US cities sent to their cell phone. This is a service that would not interest me.