Friday, April 1, 2011

Popping balloons

OK, kids, this is it. My final thoughts on 23 Things.

It's been far more than I imagined. My favorite discovery has been the unexpected enthusiasm and the number of "a-ha" moments that have been reported by staff. I was particularly excited to see everybody overcome their fears of blogging and go so far as to be willing to participate in the blog list. Great stuff.

I was also really excited about the enthusiasm for RSS, which I've been using for so long, I forget how unfamiliar it is to many. I've seen a number of tech pundits dismiss RSS as dead technology. I know now they are wrong.

And I've learned a number of tips and tricks from the participants, so it's continued to be a learning experience for me. I am indeed more confident with these tools than when I started, which I wasn't expecting.

I'm not going to tip my hand as far as future endeavors and other things we could cover. But trust that I have a few ideas in mind.

Speaking of tipping, I want to give a special tip of the hat to the 23 Things subcommittee of TAG. Jody, Seth and Susan, this would not have been possible without your tireless efforts over the past few months. I can't possible express enough appreciation for your time, energy and positive attitudes.

Mostly, I'm just proud and pleased as punch that we pulled it off and that so many people went along for the ride. Some of you even did it enthusiastically. The entire journey has been rewarding for me in numerous ways. I hope many of you feel the same.

And with that...

balloon pop

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Almost out of balloons

Let's start with GoodReads. I discovered an issue (actually a smart feature) in which you can't send the same recommendation to the same friend twice. In testing, I managed to recommend Toys by James Patterson from my own GoodReads account. I've been using it for a while. I'm friends with the guy who founded LibraryThing, which is something of a geekier competitor, so I do this with mixed emotions. But the interface is decent and the sharing options are good. One of things that drives me crazy about GoodReads is that all books have to be on one of three shelves in your collection: Read, Currently Reading, To Read. Where's "Didn't Finish?" I'd use that all the time.

Bookletters, perhaps the least recognized feature on our website. I've subscribed to the Audio and Lifestyle newsletters in both email and RSS formats forever. Added Book Sizzle because everyone else seemed so enamored of the concept.

NoveList, the capitalization of which I need to correct on our Research Tools page. I went with Science Fiction>Alternate Histories. This is a tool that really speaks for itself, but would be pretty handy for putting together book displays too.

My reading selection tools are a mix of buzz from my social networks, references from my RSS feeds and the random stuff sitting on the shelves of my house that I've never read. But I'm not nearly the voracious book reader that I once was, so I hardly need more books to never get around to reading. Sad.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ninety-nine luft...Oops, I mean nineteen (and twenty).

Oh, wiki, you're so fine. I have lots of experience with wikis. I set up the one we're using as a 23 Things sandbox. I added content to every favorites page and set most of those pages up as well.

I also selected many of the wikis that are part of the explore tour. I realize now that we didn't point people to WikiBooks, which is an open-content textbook collection that can be edited by anyone. Interesting project. You should check out their cookbook

There are so many ideas floating around my head as to how wikis could be used to move the library forward. Ultimately, I'd really like to emulate projects like the ArborWiki which is a community-driven resource covering all aspects of life in Ann Arbor. I could definitely see the library serving a central role in the development and curation of such a resource for Louisville.

No shortage of ideas about how to use wikis internally as well. I've already seen a few projects come together using a wiki, including 23 Things. The ability to work collaboratively, edit easily and keep revision history of your documents make wikis a great format for the type of planning work that so many of us have to do.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Even rats like balloons.

A song by some old friends of mine. This song was featured on the first Guitar Hero game.

I'm looking forward to listening to "Lizard King: the True Crimes and Passions of the World's Greatest Reptile Smugglers," which runs a mere seven hours and one minute.

I have a long, storied relationship with podcasting. Feel free to check out the podcast I used to host and produce. It was called Uncontrolled Vocabulary. The premise was a roundtable discussion of happenings in library-related news. You can check it out at

I still listen to a few podcasts. I've been listening to Coverville since 2004. Just a guy playing all sorts of cover songs from his basement. I also listen to This Week in Tech. I stole the idea for Uncontrolled Vocabulary directly from him.

Podcasts are great as they give a voice to the person with the niche interest. They've helped me endure my hour-long commute for years now. Critical technology for me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Subscribe to my balloons

I've been an RSS junkie since 2002. I've had as many as four hundred feeds in my Google Reader. I have that many now, but half of them are your 23 Things blogs. I can't possibly imagine how we'd track 180+ blogs without the magic of RSS. And I know I wouldn't track very many of the other 200 feeds without it.

I think RSS is pretty much a critical tool of my lifelong learning toolkit and of my environmental scanning efforts within the profession. It's rare that I don't know relatively early about a major news event in libraryland. It used to be that my RSS reader was the first place I'd read about it. Now, that often happens via Twitter or Friendfeed or even Facebook. But the RSS reader is where I go to see what people who can actually write have to say about the news of the day. I still check my reader daily more than eight years later.

Monday, February 28, 2011

An even dozen. Balloons, that is.

10b) Thanks to ProQuest, I learned that poor Betty Jean McMichael's obituary was published on March 18, 2008, two days after her death. She has four sons.

10c) Telos: Not in full-text, although I found citations in Academic Search Premier
British Journal for the History of Philosophy: Yes, full-text 12 months after publication via Academic Search Premier
Clinical Medicine and Research: Yes, via Academic Search Premier

11a) Duane F. Kelly heads up this four-star rated Vanguard fund with a stewardship grade of B.

11b) Yeah, it was the Dec. 2009 cover story, available as full-text PDF from MasterFILE Premier.

11c) It looks like Starbucks is the biggest competitor, followed closely by Dunkin' Donuts, if you are measuring competitiveness by number of franchises. But if you look at the historical data, you'll see that Dunkin' Donuts franchises appear to take in twice as much sales volume as the Starbucks franchises. Got to look at the whole picture.

12) I've gotten more personal use out of Morningstar than any other database. I have always thought that more people need to know about Business Reference USA and I hope this exercise helps in some small way the evangelical effort. I'm going to agree with my buddy Claudia and say that, if we could only keep access to one database, then that database has to be Worldcat. Maintaining our connection to most of the world's libraries is ultimately the best chance we have at meeting the diverse information needs of our patrons.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A picture's worth eight or nine balloons

I've been a Flickr user since late 2004, well before I started with Facebook or Twitter. I have almost 10,000 photos stored there. I'm a little paranoid about pictures. I keep two copies locally, a copy on Flickr and a copy in the cloud, currently using Mozy.


The "pizza in Chicago" search was my addition to this week's lesson, because it was the first thing that came to mind, even before hearing that Giordano's was filing for bankruptcy.

A lot of people this week have noted that they often use Google Image Search to find photos, but were surprised to discover how much better the images on Flickr are. My bonus lesson for those folks has been to suggest searching Google images using the "" parameter. You get the best quality pictures with all of the other search parameters that Google provides.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Five balloons, six balloons, seven balloons, more!

I probably spend more time using Twitter's search function than most people. I like to know what people are talking about and I find it easier to isolate the conversations of interest to me by searching for the relevant keyword or hashtag. Essential online resource for me personally at this point.
I'm of two minds on Facebook privacy. On the one hand, I thought it absolutely critical that we steer people in the direction of the privacy settings for this exercise. And I keep my profile very locked down and reveal very little to people who I don't consider friends.
On the other hand, I'm of the mindset that online privacy is a myth. You don't really have any. If you don't want what you say to be used against you, don't say it. Facebook provides information to vendors all the time. They could also be hacked. Your friends could decide they aren't your friends and exploit the personal information that you've given them via your profile. And so on and so on.
And yet, I choose to live a pretty high profile online life in general. I embrace all the things that come with being highly connected in the profession and amongst my social groups. I'm more hesitant about dragging my children into that high profile existence, so I tend to post pictures more guardedly and just about never use their names.
I'm not someone who necessarily thinks we need to know everything about every emerging technology that comes along, but Facebook is so pervasive amongst our patrons, that to ignore it is to position ourselves to provide poor service. And that shouldn't be acceptable.
Social networking? I mostly love it. I've had to dial it back to be a better father and husband. But the pull is still pretty strong for me, since my friends are scattered across the globe.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Two, no wait, three, no, four balloons!

How do you solve a problem like Google?

Well, it all begins with play, of course. Google Docs has been critical to 23 Things. It's the mechanism for producing and keeping track of the survey and the tool we use for tracking everyone's progress with 23 Things.

Google Books has also become an important part of my life, but more on the personal side. I have been using it to get free books to read to my children.

I love Google Scholar. If I may stroke my own ego for a second, what I really love is seeing an citation for an article I wrote back in 2003 that has been cited by 10 other resources that you can find in Google Scholar. Love that.

Google Maps is pretty much the only navigation tool I use these days, especially since I've moved to an Android phone. Essential.

Google Patents is fascinating and can become a huge timesink for curious folks like myself. Just refreshing the front page and seeing what comes up is entertainment enough.

Google Uncle Sam is a huge resource as well. Not something I'd be likely to use often in my position, but everyone should know its there.

Google Sites...I've never known anyone who created a site with it. Not much to say there.

Great stuff overall. In retrospect, I wish we had directed people to Google News. The way it aggregates news from around the globe is just astonishing.