Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Interesting! I could see using this tool for business research and so on -- no wonder Mary Ellen Bates finds it worth her while to know about and use. I could also see its use in a library/information center setting for patrons.

I'm sure many offerors of products and services have figured out how to tap the marketing potential of a tool like this, as well. I was paying some attention to the ads that appeared on various pages as I went through the exercise in the "23 Things" wiki page.

Authority and reliability are the crux of the question about these tools and about many of the technologies we are exploring in "23 Things." I would apply all the same criteria I use for evaluating anything I find, whether it is on the Web or elsewhere -- what can I tell or what do I know about who's supplying it? are they known? reputable? and so on.

And let's not forget the common sense factor -- known in my family as the "squint" test: when you hold it at arm's length (literally or figuratively) and look at it from a different perspective or with a different lens, does it still make sense?

De.licio.us etc

My reaction to social bookmarking: eh.

I don't like the fact that I automatically ended up with another bar of "things" across the top of my browser (which I have hidden, along with Google's and everyone else's). Before we know it, we'll have so many of 'em that we'll be reduced to a screen height of 1" for viewing actual content or e-mails or whatever. My screen real estate is precious -- no, I don't have a low-res or teensy screen! -- and will only get more so as my peepers age.

Other than that, I really don't see the utility. User-defined tags mean missing connections to items tagged with synonyms. It's just a new version of the old controlled vocabulary vs. natural language debate.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thoughts On Teaching

I teach an advanced searching class at the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies with Anne Caputo, SLA's incoming President-Elect. We have a great time, and consider it time well spent. In fact, the class is one of the reasons I'm doing SLA's "23 Things" initiative --our students were getting so far ahead of me on the technology curve.

One of the best things about teaching is that I learn so much from our students. They have fresh perspectives on everything, and so much energy for things, which energizes me.

As usual, we have a great group of students this year. The students that inspire me, though, are the ones who really have to work at it, but they get there. Many if not most of our students are working full-time, and have families, and are taking a course at a time -- sometimes two! And yet they manage, somehow, to get the work done, and the coursework, and the housework, and all.

Hat's off to them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

First experience with SLA's "23 Things" initiative

Let's see -- Thing 1 and Thing 2 were a breeze. I've set up a blog (obviously!), and figured out how to change the look, set up my profile, post, and stuff like that. I've also already set up a del.icio.us account and registered my blog as a new bookmark, so SLA knows I'm doing the "23 Things." It's public knowledge, so I'll have to get through at least the "23 Things-lite" version, or 13 things. So I've covered Thing 3 and Thing 4, and have started on Thing 5. (Why is this sounding like The Addams Family IX?)

The "23 Things" wiki is pretty well set up -- it has useful links, but not too many of them. The stuff is organized well, and is written at the right level for me.

At least I already had worked with a wiki. My chapter (Washington, DC) uses a wiki hosted through SLA to share Board and Committee information. I've been posting financial reports (restricted to Board members) for a few months now. However, we're not doing it at present because the wiki is open now to non-Board people.) I found I still had to think each time about how to go about posting an announcement that new reports are available, but I'm the try-it-and-see-if-it-looks-right sort of person, so trial and error eventually got the job done.

As for blogging, I have to answer for myself some additional questions: Which blogs to follow? Which sites to link to from my blog as being ones important to me that others might find interesting or useful? And so on.

I set up my blog using Blogger (www.blogger.com). It has the basic functionality I desired and allowed me some leeway in choosing my look. And frankly, I chose it because it was first in the list of ones in the 23Things wiki page.

These sorts of decisions are the sort of thing people frequently overthink. Is this the best -- the absolute best -- blog host for me? I have no idea. I don't really care. I gave the decision some time, but as soon as I identified Blogger as adequate and usable, that was all the time I was willing to spend on the decision. Pick one and get on with the next thing.

Welcome to my blog

OK, it's about time I joined the Web 2.0 thing, isn't it? After all, I'm supposed to be an information professional. Credit the Special Libraries Association (SLA) with their "23 Things" initiative and the Washington, DC chapter president, Diane Schnurrpusch, with actually poking me until I looked into it.