30 June 2010


I do like the idea of slideshare. Having been on courses and to conferences it is always useful to be able to revisit the presentations ( somehow there is always some point of the presentation one wishes to refer back to, however carefully one tries to write notes). In general I have found that those presenters who use slideshare for their presentations, have them up on slideshare quicker than those who rely on the conference/course organisers to put them on the website (possibly because slideshare enables one to put them up with restricted viewing and then change permissions later...making it easy to load them at the time of creation).

In the past I have only looked at presentations by people who have given courses I have been on - and I have found it interesting to see their other presentations. I can see that searching for topics; can provide a goldmine of information. I can also see that it could be a hit and miss affair (and one would need to check the quality of the presentations). I struggled to find presentations from Cambridge Libraries, but I suspect that was due to impatience on my part, and not taking sufficient time to refine my search - on the other hand, how many users would spend the time to do so if  their first attempt fails?. Searching for other topics, I came across a variety of potentially useful presentations.  I have an interest in Open Source software and its potential in libraries. However I have always found it hard to describe in detail - for those who are interested, I am including a slideshare presentation at the bottom of this post.

In a library setting I could see the benefit of putting some of the induction and library information on slideshare and embedding it in the library website enabling students to revisit the information as and when they need it (but probably waiting until after the tours before making it available!). I can also see its use for CPD (quality reservations allowing).

From the publishing point of view, when sharing it so publicly it could be harder to keep control over one's own work (I wonder how many people actually read the terms and conditions before publishing?)...although I suspect in the majority of cases this would not be a problem for the type of material that is published. On the flipside it could raise your profile, and if it became known that you create interesting presentations it could encourage course/conference organisers to use you.

In short I think it is a useful tool, which I currently use to access the slides of presentations I have attended. In the short term I will be looking at more of the presentations that are available...however it may be some time before I publish anything myself.

26 June 2010

Flickr - photos, fun, and Creative Commons

This was a much more enjoyable 'Thing'. Flickr seems very intuitive, and it is interesting to see others photographic attempts. Trying a few quick searches was interesting. I chose my daughter's hobby of re-enactment for a search, and it was no surprise that this brought up a plethora of images. More surprising was the quantity of images of Saorge (this photo was taken by Kapri http://www.flickr.com/photos/kapri/2471796476/  ) - a small village on the French/Italy border. Finally doing a quick search for my library retrieved the usual architecturally interesting views of course - but quite why one of the students wanted to take a picture of one of our notices advertising jigsaw puzzles for stress relief is a mystery. (As for the pictures taken of his friends, eyes closed with a red bar over their eyes from the barcode reader - well that was just bizarre!!)

Regarding the use of Flickr for one's own photos - I can see the advantages of using images for virtual library tours, publicity etc. However I am less convinced that it necessarily needs an online storage system to keep them in. I can however see how it can be useful when a diverse group of people are all contributing to an album (for example participants in an event). Being able to use other people's photos under creative commons licenses seems to be where Flickr comes into its own (although one is taking the photographer on trust that they have the relevant permission). Hence the photo I am including is not one of the inside my workplace, although these can be found even when the search is limited to only Creative Commons-licensed content.

Regarding the taking of photos in restricted circumstances -  my workplace states that all photos for commercial purposes must be cleared by the relevant person. One of the photographers who has taken pictures of my workplace appears to be a professional, and states that permission must be given before his photos are used - what it does not state is whether he has been given permission to take and 'publish' these photos.

25 June 2010

Labels Tags, and Friday afternoons!

It perhaps was a mistake to try and cover Thing 8 on a Friday afternoon. I've quickly read Clay Shirky's essay, ontology is overrated but I was struggling to keep going! (more coffee is needed I think).

I can see some of the problems of a static system, whereby one person, or a group of people decide how to classify, or categorise an item (and I agree that with the web one can have a multiplicity of links to the same item), but I still feel that at some stage whichever system you use, it has to come down to "best guess" on the part of the searcher. An organic system whereby others can add tags may increase the success rate, but does not guarantee that the searcher will choose a label someone has given it. Similarly a system which searches all the words in an article, could cover a greater range of possible search terms, but cannot help if that term is not contained within the article...even though the reader could tell that that was what it was about.

Time I think to try and put some more tags on my previous entries...and  refill my mug before I re-read the article.

18 June 2010

To tweet or not to tweet...

I have been using Twitter for a few months now...and am still learning. My first exploration of Twitter began after a workshop (on open source management systems) where a number of participants were tweeting and using the hash tag suggested. Although I refrained on the day - looking at the entries on that hash tag later encouraged me to dip my toe in the water.

To start with I followed some of the people who had been at the workshop - and looked at  who they were following - and so on. A hint I was given - which has made all the difference to how much I use Twitter, is to be ruthless with who you follow. A couple of the people I followed early on, tweeted many times a day about personal trivia that one had to wade through to get to the gems. Now I no longer scroll through pages to find what I want.

I confess it is only in the last few weeks that I have discovered that clicking on the @libchris on the sidepanel brings up all those tweets where people have mentioned me in their tweets! Wanting to explore Twitter further for this 'thing', I have now personalised my page as well :) (and of course chatted to other Cam23 participants)

So what do I use Twitter for?
Largely for information gathering - If you choose who you follow with libraries and information in mind, you can find a wealth of material.
From the other side - it can be useful for disseminating information - one can reach a wider audience because of the links of someone who follows someone, and the facility to retweet.

In a work setting - I can see that it very useful for information gathering - for keeping oneself abreast of developments. Also for general 'advertising' it has a place. However it's very fluid ever-changing nature means one could not rely on it on its own to get information across to one's followers, as I suspect few would scroll down all the posts since they last logged in. (unless of course they constantly have a Twitter window open). This is also assuming that the library's users choose to follow it in the first place.

So - as a personal tool for CPD and keeping in touch - I think it's great. As a means of keeping users abreast of developments in their library - it has possibilities, but only in conjunction with a website, e-mails etc.

12 June 2010

Google Calendar

This 'Thing' was easy, in that I already use Google Calendar.  (You can see from the sea of colour on the screenshot how heavily it is used!) However as I played with, following through the instructions, and tried to find out "how to..." for a fellow Cam23 participant I did make some discoveries. Thanks to Cam23 therefore I have an even better set-up than before.

First discovery when playing with the settings was that I could put the default to a month view - brilliant - much more useful to me. I could also have the week starting on Monday not Sunday. Again this is more how I view the world. I've also played around with the colours, so that now 'my' events and interests are in shades of blue and green, and the rest of the family, outside events are in oranges and reds. I have also discovered the 'agenda' setting, interesting but I think I prefer the calendar view. Putting the calendar into iGoogle seems a good idea, although again I would prefer this to be in a calendar view rather than as a list.

For me the ability to share calendars is where Google Calendars comes into its own. My family seem to lead busy lives - and it makes it so much easier when planning to be able to see all events at a glance. I can see that in a library setting this would also come into its own - though i suspect there might be a period of 'playing' before all had sorted out exactly what went on the calendar and how to share (i.e. which events in one's calendar are personal and therefore of no interest to those you share with and those you need them to know)

10 June 2010

Doodle... it's a doddle

I have come across Doodle before as a participant, but never tried setting one up before. I was surprised by how easy this was. I decided to use it to arrange a meeting with two of my fellow Cam23 participants, who I already needed to organise a meeting with on another matter. I had been putting off doing this because of the usual plethora of e-mails that need to be sent before all find a date that is free. This seems a much easier way of doing it.

Any disadvantages? I would prefer not to have all the adverts. However if this is the payoff for getting the application for free, I can put up with them.
Also a potential problem is the ability to edit the survey after it has already started. However on the whole a very useful application, which I can see myself using in the future, and encouraging others to use too.

8 June 2010

RSS Feeds, Screenshots, Blogging and Getting Social!

RSS Feeds
Today I have suffered a digital identity crisis!
As stated in my first blog, I knew I had set up RSS feeds as part of a workshop exercise. This was a couple of years ago, and I had totally forgotten about them since - today I found them amid much confusion.

I have two Google identities (don't ask, it's a long story). Last night while looking at the 'Cam23 blog', I decided to add the 'Cambridge 23 things' bundle kindly supplied by 'Girl in the Moon'. So far so good. I'd been editing my blog so Google used that identity when I saved to Google Reader as directed. Today after using iGoogle (using my other identity), I went to look at the blogs on Google Reader only to find no sign of them. However I did find all those RSS feeds I had set up before - quite a few unread needless to say!

All of which brings me back to my original view of RSS. It can be a great tool for keeping abreast of one's field of work and interests - but choose them with care, don't rush into subscribing to everything...it can be very easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume. Also be equally ruthless at deleting those that are no longer of interest.

With this in mind I've decided just to stick with the Cambridge 23 blogs to start off with, and build up others naturally as I come across others that are meaningful to me, so as not to become overwhelmed again (I'd sooner follow a few things in depth than skim many - part of me always feels I must be missing the best bits if I do that!)
Thankfully no such problems with Screenshots. I've always found this facility so useful - from use in a presentation when trying to describe how to set-up an online questionnaire, to explaining to the IT Dept. exactly what the error message said. Definitely a skill worth picking up (Also worth knowing that if you hold alt as well as print screen, then just the active window is pasted in - I had several windows open when I took this screenshot).
The hardest part of blogging has been thinking of what to say and how to say it - it is certainly an interesting experience. I must admit I am enjoying the technical side of the 23 things rather than finding the right words to explain the experience (this most definitely won't be the wittiest of the group!!). I suppose it says it all that the delay in starting the blog was the time taken to choose a name. I am hoping it will become easier with experience, but I think I can safely say that I am not a natural blogger.

Getting Social
So far I have only "dipped my toe in the water". I've commented on a couple of blogs (one under each of my pseudonyms- courtesy of  the Google Reader confusion). I know I will enjoy this part of the exercise - I am an avid commenter on Facebook, and a forum I subscribe to. Somehow it is always easier to respond that create... I look forward to making more connections in the next few weeks.


I have considered using igoogle before - but not really seen a need to. This was a good chance to play with it and see whether I would use in in earnest.

Having now had it set up for a couple of weeks, I am still in two minds about igoogle. I love the ease of adding new applications (and equally deleting them), but I still feel a little uncomfortable about using it in a work setting. Somehow it still feels more like 'playing' rather than work related. I realise that this is in part due to the lack of specifically library related items on my page, but in all honesty at the moment there are few applications (that I know of yet), that I would use on a day to day basis.

For personal use I think it is great (although as often as not I forget to log in and just go for the standard search when I am looking for something). I also love having everything all together, and changing it around at will.

The page is still very much work in progress - I know for it to have any chance to be used long term, it needs to be filled with items relevant to me, so I can see this will need careful consideration over time. I also want to put my own picture rather than a standard one at the top of the page...something to work on I think.

6 June 2010

Ramblings of a Novice Blogger

Welcome to my blog. For those of you who are wondering - the name comes from my website Loopylizard. This is a recent 'challenge' - I knew enough about HTML to edit a page, but wanted to take this one step further and create one. For those of you who are curious, the web page got its name when I was discussing possible domain names with my family - who responded "well you like lizards". After that Loopy Lizard and The Lizard Lounge just seemed natural! With any luck this blog should appear in an abbreviated form in the website.

I'm a librarian (why does that sound like the opening line of a "Librarians Anonymous" meeting!)
as you will probably guess from the content to follow, I work in Cambridge and am taking part in Cam23. I was interested in taking part in this to expand my knowledge of Web 2.0, and as an incentive to have a go at those things I have not tried before. Coming from a 'techie' household, trying out new computer applications does not fill me with any great dread - rather a sense of adventure... once I get going.

I've played with various Web 2.0 applications over the years - some with more enthusiasm than others. Almost all has been for personal satisfaction, rather than in a work context. Facebook is used to keep in touch with far-flung family and friends, and for entertainment. I have 'dabbled' in Twitter for a while - mainly to glean interesting facts, rather than to disseminate much useful information myself. Delicious has been looked at fleetingly - set up in a training session, but then promptly forgotten about - as were RSS feeds (mainly because they were set up to a new e-mail account, not the one I normally use, and also because they were chosen fairly randomly as an exercise, and therefore were not of sufficient interest for me to follow). Google Calendar I find an essential tool, for keeping tabs on our busy family - and working out when we actually have a weekend free. Other applications have used as a consumer but not contributed too. I look forward to trying out the other challenges.