Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thing4: Flickr

Huh. I've been using Flickr since the birth of my daughter 2 years ago. We have friends and relatives from all over the country that like to see what she's up to, at their convenience, and Flickr is a much better tool for that then sending e-mail to all of the people on our distribution lists-- especially when you take into account that those e-mail addresses can change. I thought I was pretty familiar with Flickr until it came to this assignment-- when I realized Flickr had made some changes.

I follow several professional photographers' photostreams as they take pictures of their own children and post them. Several of them have complained about the way that people were stealing their photos from Flickr-- some going so far as to delete their accounts in entirety. Completing this assignment, I was surprised to see that the Blog This feature does appear to be turned off for all photos that have all rights reserved-- but it did appear when I was looked under the Creative Commons photos. Flickr must've instituted that as a way of dealing with the complaints.

Either way, I found a Creative Commons photo that ACPL posted of a therapy dog.

Thing 3:RSS

I love RSS-- it's one of the tools I took away from Internet Librarian and started using right away. I've had a "My Yahoo" account for about 2 years, and have been stubbornly holding on to it, despite the hint from colleagues that it was past its prime.

To monitor the 23 Things bloggers in the SELS region, I started using Bloglines and I'm starting to see why everyone else I know has been choosing Bloglines over other options. My Yahoo has been upgrading both to offer the same features as Bloglines and to match their Yahoo 360 product, and honestly, I'm starting to find these upgrades to be annoyances rather that useful-- I think part of the My Yahoo charm for me was that it was an older interface. I plan to investigate some other aggregators later-- I'd like to see some of the ones Firefox has as add-ons and Google Reader, but I am going to resist change here and not rearrange all my feeds until after the 23 Project has been completed.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Notes from Advanced Composition

Not part of the 23 Things, so you can skip this if you're there for that.

I enjoy the act of writing, the arranging of words in a sentence and then on a page. However, I've never been a creative writer or even, really, a writer about anything personal. This here is an exception I'm making because I do try to challenge myself and reach out for the uncomfortable once in awhile. This post will probably be a rare exception to my usual professional and library related posts that may relate stories as they happen to me, but rely mostly on anecdotes or research.

Why do I find creative or personal writing so difficult? I tried my occasional times as a youngster, but I still remember the dismay on the face of one of the people I showed my writing to. I might have been 10, but I still knew when I reread the 4-5 sentences I'd shown her that I had too much of a filter-- I can't remove myself. Everything I write is so subject to a time and place that it is painful to read if you are not of that time and place, inhabiting this body, this mind, these feelings. Even then, it's pretty suspect.

With that knowledge in place, I also find writing too permanent. I'm having a hard enough time with my evolution over the years; the documentation of that change is maybe something that is too much for me. The inability to closely examine my feelings or thoughts at a particular time may be a personal weakness or it may be what allows me to go on-- I need to believe that my experiences are strengthening me and teaching me something and I can't handle all the proof shoved in my face that I am still the same foolish girl that started out in this world, living the same life that millions have before and will in spite of me.

After discussing creative writing recently, I did go and find some poetry I wrote for a seminar class that I had in college. I had tried to get excused from the class because I knew that a component was writing poems, not just reading them, but I failed in that endeavor, so was forced to do some creative writing for the first time. I had remembered the bulk of the first poem I wrote for the class because I had those lines composed hours before the rest of it was complete. Ten years later, the poem was possibly more awful than I remembered, and it included some classic naivety masquerading as bravado that I can't believe I managed to defend in critique. I think my professor must have been too engaged in wryly pointing out that my poem complaining about my lack of rhythm was composed in fairly accurate iambic pentameter.

In contrast, the semester immediately preceding that, I unexpectedly fallen in love with Advanced Composition. I wasn't even sure I was comfortable with that depth of writing, but I quickly learned that it was the type of writing I was already doing. I am still grateful to that professor for the advice he gave me and the amount he improved my writing.

One of the signs I was more successful at composition involved the section of the class dedicated to vocabulary words. Our professor introduced these words into the class as means for students to improve their grades in the event that their hard work never resulted in a grasp of composition basics. Towards the end of the semester I met with my professor to discuss my work in the class, and he frowned slightly while he informed me that I was one of the first students ever to have my grade lowered by the vocabulary tests. If I had been graded on writing alone, I would've faired better. I guess most people that know how to write are better at memorizing flash cards than I am.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Library 2.0--- edited to add: Thing 2

I am trying to avoid going the easy route on my library 2.0 post by posting something banal-- although it is awfully tempting to post a generic sentence without putting a lot of thought into it.

My thoughts, though, fall somewhere between the hopeful posts listed on the page for Thing 2 and the newer Library 2.0 post on Blyberg's blog. I do have one basic problem with Blyberg's blog post that is required reading on the 23 Things page: the assumption that libraries aren't relevant. Circulation has, for the most part, steadily increased since 1990. How is that proving our irrelevance? But somehow, all the library literature out there acts like libraries are some decaying being. That bothers me. We fail as librarians in buying into the hype that libraries are dying on the vine, without actually looking at the situation very critically. I think that is one of the main failings of Library 2.0-- it's all about poking holes into institutions that may, yes, sometimes need a finger in their direction-- but it seems to be poking those holes at random with no real evaluation going on.

I don't think I'm alone in this frustration. I think a lot of librarians have tuned out of Library 2.0 for that very reason-- it's calling anything that came before it a failure. Libraries were not failing before this buzz word came into being. They were reexamining their place in the world-- as most institutions do.

That being said, I am cheerleading for this program, pretty much to anyone I can talk to. I don't think libraries were broken-- but I always think we should push ourselves a little bit. I've had the conversation a couple of times recently that some of the things I've enjoyed most in life were things that made me really uncomfortable, at first. I didn't know that I had the right rapport with children to work with them as a career-- but I ended up loving it. I wasn't sure I was technologically competent enough to move into an organization where I would be working pretty exclusively with tech staff-- but it has been endlessly rewarding. Libraries can challenge themselves to dip their toes in the waters a bit, too.

There are lots of excuses to avoid getting a little uncomfortable the biggest being that it doesn't appear library's primary patrons-- some people say boomers-- are using a lot of 2.0 technology yet. Then again, maybe libraries just don't know they are, because they haven't asked. Either way, acquiring this knowledge isn't that painful. And it makes it easier to assess what is actually out there, happening in your community.

Besides, I'm having fun. Aren't you?