Cool Tools

Cool Tools for Webmasters from Darlene & Frank:

  • Site Maps
  • Bling
    Create Flash animations
  • Maps
  • Yahoo! User Interface Library
  • Flickr
    • Captionr!
    • ColrPickr (search for pictures by color)
    • retrievr (search for pictures like yours)
  • More Photos
    • Web Gallery Creator (goes through directories on your computer and creates pages with pictures and thumbnails)
    • BIMP Lite (compresses photos in batch mode)
    • Gliffy (quickly draw and share diagrams on the web)
  • For Libraries
  • Firefox
  • Learn more from Darlene’s Furl List – and hopefully the ppt will be online soon so I can link to that – because this is just the list I was able to catch :)

    [update]Darlene put up the slides[/update]

    [update2]Kate Carter has created a list on del.icio.us of all of the tools mentioned[/update2]

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    Web 2.0 & Libraries

    Karen Coombs started out the session on Innovative Uses of Web 2.0 Technologies by sharing some basic principles of Web 2.0.

    Radical Decentralization

    An example of centralization is people sending content to one web person and that person making the necessary web edits. Decentralization is the opposite – letting the people change the necessary pages as they need. The perfect example of this is Wikis & Blogs – giving the people the power – and saving us web people from the day to day web edits so that we can spend time developing nifty applications for you (this last bit is added by me).

    Small Pieces Loosely Joined

    Modular is the key – having huge systems that do everything and having everything intertwined is no longer a good business model. You need to be able to plug things in and pull things out with ease – but you also have to make it seamless for the user.

    Perpetual Data

    No more lengthy programming processes (kind of sounds a bit like Extreme Programming which we went over briefly in my System Analysis course) – release things early and constantly make improvements. I think that the drawn out processes do nothing but let people’s fears fester – making the change all that more difficult in the end. Karen called this the “Paper Cut” effect – change hurts – I say rip the Band-Aid off quick and it won’t hurt as much :) Also by constantly changing, people are more prepared – they know it’s coming because it’s always coming.

    Remixable Content

    This is all about sharing data. Why not make the library’s data available to be published on other pages? Why lock it up in the library? And the reverse applies – why should we develop all of the content on our own – why not take some from other places?

    User As Contributor

    Comes back to the first point – all the users to edit the content – why not – they know it better than we do – we’re in the IT department. Let the users then tag their data so that they can easily find it later and to make it more accessible to other users (I’m going to talk about this more later – because I saw an exciting presentation that has me ready to add tags to our intranet). Why not host blogs at the library so that your members (or students) can create their own content through your site? Karen mentioned UThink at the U of Minnesota).

    Rich User Experience

    Add fun things to the site to make the experience more enjoyable. Use multimedia like images and videos – maybe a video tour of your library. Allow for personalization of the site – we all want things differently – why not let us pick & choose? And my favorite – offer a space for collaboration – this is key and really makes the user feel like a part of the library.

    Next Up – Jason Clark

    Jason Clark followed Karen to share his experiences with user tagging (and this is what I was talking about before). Tagging is the act of adding metadata and my Systems Analysis text defines metadata as data about the business’ data.

    Jason showed us something I should have known about (considering it’s location) – PennTags. This is a tagging site hosted by the library at the University of Penn. From the site:

    PennTags is a social bookmarking tool for locating, organizing, and sharing your favorite online resources. Members of the Penn Community can collect and maintain URLs, links to journal articles, and records in Franklin, our online catalog and VCat, our online video catalog. Once these resources are compiled, you can organize them by assigning tags (free-text keywords) and/or by grouping them into projects, according to your specific preferences. PennTags can also be used collaboratively, because it acts as a repository of the varied interests and academic pursuits of the Penn community, and can help you find topics and users related to your own favorite online resources.

    It’s pretty nifty.

    So why does tagging work & why should libraries be using them? Jason mentioned the “Wisdoms of the Crowds”. Also they’re adaptable, current, and scale well. It’s not all good – there are some hitches. There is a lack of precision (controlled vocabulary), there is a lack of hierarchy, users can be wrong (but then again so can librarians – yes we can be wrong!), and lastly, there is a chance for people to spam (or “game” the system) to make certain tags more important than others.

    After listening to Jason’s talk, I came up with all kinds of ideas of how we can use this in house on our staff intranet – so keep an eye out for upgrade announcements from me!

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    [update]added presentation link[/update]

    Shared Innovation

    Today I had the pleasure of getting to hear Paul Miller from Talis talk again. You may remember my enthusiastic post from CIL last year. His talk was not titled Shared Innovation – but it was a lot about Shared Innovation (and the talk had the same title as at CIL so I didn’t want to title another post with the same name :) )

    Paul reminds us that library 2.0 is not just technology, but a fundamental shift in the way that we reach our users. Library 2.0 is about opening the library up and pushing the library everywhere.

    He mentioned that librarians like to say that the reason the user doesn’t find what they need in the catalog is that they aren’t searching right. Paul says – no they’re not! The OPAC is wrong. It’s the “customer is always right” philosophy – and while I don’t completely buy in to that – in this case I agree 100%. If the users can’t find what they need, than the system is broken!

    He went on to remind us that these monolithic library systems are a hindrance on the way we work. We need to break them down into pieces and let the library plug in the bits they want and need. Modular systems are the way of the future, and if the ILS vendors don’t get a clue they’re going to be left behind – there’s only so much us users can take before we decide to move on!

    We also need to open our catalogs up so that our data can be used by others (and this is not only on the librarians, but the vendors providing the locked down systems). There’s tons of useful info in there – why aren’t we sharing? This is what libraries need to get better at – opening up our catalogs and sharing, but sharing innovation as well.

    This is one of the things I have a hard time with – not that I don’t want to share, but I never learned object-oriented PHP – and that means that my applications are all hard coded for my organization.

    Talis has the innovation directory for this very purpose – sharing programs across library boundaries.

    Library 2.0 – Why Now?

    1. Dramatically falling cost of storage
    2. Falling cost of computer power
    3. Growing connectivity
    4. …And more

    Essence of Library 2.0

    Paul used a phrase of Tim O’Reilly’s when he said that library 2.0 is “an architecture of participation”. It is about making it possible for people who wouldn’t normally meet to collaborate together with ease. For this to happen librarians have to come off of their high horses a bit and have some fun with the data – he used John Blyberg’s card catalog as an example.

    Some examples Paul gave us were the Georgia PINES library catalog and Talis’ Keystone (a module that can be put on top of our catalogs – as a temporary solution).

    Are the Vendors Participating?

    Paul asks – are the vendors engaging us – the librarians? Do they have an open developer network? Are they engaging in the communication that is going around? The answer is no – and Paul thinks it’s because they all know that we’re going to buy the products (because there aren’t many choices out there – YET!) and don’t care what we have to say. On this note, I had lunch with Paul and we talked about Talis opening a US office – since they are the one vendor (that I’ve heard of) that are engaging the users and putting themselves out there with us – and sadly the answer is “no” :(

    The current model is broken

    Paul says the current model for sharing bibliographic data is broken. Why are we paying to share our information? This is something we should be able to do for free. The answer is because it’s difficult to share data because we’re all running different systems – well guess what? Talis has a solution for that as well. Silkworm is a directory of libraries that provides the necessary information for users to use web services to get at the data – I need to check this out more thoroughly – but it sounds amazing!

    Conclusions

    Paul closed with 2 conclusions that stuck with me. 1) Liberate the Data & 2) Open, Open, Open – open up everything – there is no reason for it to be so hard for us to share and work together!!

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    IL2006 – Keynote Day 1 – J. A. Jance

    Judy Jance was the speaker for today’s Keynote – and while I haven’t read her books (or heard of her before today :( ) I’m so glad I got to hear her talk!! When I have time to read something other than a textbook (a year from now) I’m going out to buy one of this woman’s books. She has lived through so much and had such amazing experiences and that really comes across when she talks – I can just imagine how great her books are.

    Judy was a bit like me – she wanted to be a writer from the time she was in second grade. So when she got to college she wanted to sign up for a creative writing class. Unfortunately, her professor was a real ____ (fill in the blank). He said to her “Girls become teachers or nurses, boys become writers” and he wouldn’t let her take the class. Here’s where Judy’s powerful speaking came in – her responses just made us all laugh. She said (and I’m not quoting here) girls who wanted to become engineers became science teachers and women who wanted to be doctors became nurses, she wanted to become a writer so she married one.

    Her talk went on to share stories in her life that brought tears to my eyes one minute and had me laughing the next. After leaving her husband (and a few other details in between – don’t want to repeat her whole talk here) she wrote her first book and when her agent said it was no good she started her second book. She has since written 35 books and still has the same agent.

    Judy said that her inspiration for writing comes from many places – but her cure for writer’s block is anger. I find that very similar to what sets me off on the best writing I do on this blog – anger – and being inspired (like the speakers I’m hearing here).

    Why was Judy the keynote at an Internet Librarian conference? Because she says things like this “The Internet allows me to hear from people in a very immediate way.” How true is that? That’s the whole point of this conference getting to our users and letting them get to us in a very immediate way.

    It was an amazing talk & I urge you to visit her site – and read her books – and hear her talk if you ever have a chance! I took pictures but apparently, my camera wasn’t happy with the lighting. I’m going to try and edit them – but I’m sure some of the other attendees will post their pictures on Flickr soon.

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    Flickr

    I have just paid for my Flickr account – that’s right – up til now I just stayed within my limits as a free member, but today when I couldn’t create a new set for IL2006 photos I decided it was worth it to make the leap! So now you can see my pictures at my own address: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nengard/ and I can upload until my heart’s content. See my IL2006 pictures so far.

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    SLA Reception

    I have just gotten back from the SLA reception (and after party). I had such a great time I got to talk to so many people about so many things I’m passionate about! The reception was hosted by InfoToday for the SLA members because they had just held their board meetings here in Monterey (I think I got that right) and the food and wine was great!! The best part was talking to so many people from SLA from such different backgrounds and areas. I was able to have some techie talk time as well as some general girl talk ;)

    After the reception (which I have pictures of and will eventually upload) I went out for coffee (tea for me) with some fellow conference goers/presenters. It was fun to listen to everyone share their stories from previous conferences – and it was a great way to keep me awake.

    On that note – it’s 8:30pm here which is 11:30pm at home and I’ve been up since 3:45am (home time) so it’s time for me to crash – I have a busy day ahead.

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    The Smallest Airport

    So I have arrived here in Monterey (with more bags than I care to tell you about). Turns out that Monterey has the smallest airport I have ever been in! You get off the plane by walking down these scary steps and then you have to walk a while (outside – it was a nice day) before you get into the terminal – and by terminal I mean one room with a few desks for you to checkin and another room is a metal – um – can’t think of a word – but it’s the replacement for the baggage claim belts you’re used to seeing. So you stand around in the baggage claim room and wait for the truck to come along with your bags. It comes in and parks next to the claim area and 2 men place you bags on the metal table – and since the “belt” doesn’t move you have to push and shove & bump into people to get to your bags.

    So finally, I’m out of the airport and it turns out that the airport isn’t the only thing that’s small – the fleet of taxi’s ain’t so big either. There are 2 companies and no taxis. So we wait in a line with 20-30 other librarians and slowly the cabs come in pairs to whisk us away!

    The point of this rant is that I’m here – in an amazing room and I am exhausted and ready for bed – but I can’t go to bed just yet (mostly cause it’s 4:30pm here) because I have an SLA reception to go to and then a dine-around with other web geeks like me ;)

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    Internet Librarian – Here I Come

    Well – not if I don’t finish packing today :) But I thought I’d let you all know that I’m leaving tomorrow morning for Internet Librarian. My talk will be on how we’re using Wikis on our Intranet and will take place in the first half of the 2 part Wiki session (come see me!).

    My schedule still has some openings if you want to meet up – I’ll have my cell phone with me the whole time. Can’t wait to meet some of you!

    Hear Me Speak at IL 2006

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    Internet Librarian OPML

    Well, I was waiting for someone else to do this – and no one did ;) So here we go. This is the first OPML file I have ever created – I hope I did it right. Share this file with your friends so they can keep up with what’s happening at Internet Librarian this year.

    Right click on the link for the OPML and save to your computer and then import into your feed reader of choice (I tested it with Bloglines & it imported fine, but isn’t showing the feeds :( ).

    [update] links removed while I fix the code – I did something wrong [/update]

    [update2] looks like I did it right but that Bloglines can’t seem to read the feeds from Technorati – keeps changing it to “Technorati: What’s happening on the Web right now” any ideas – email me[/update2]

    [update3]I know this is right – but Bloglines isn’t importing it right – so feel free to download it and if you see a problem, let me know and I’ll fix it.[/update3]

    [finalupdate] I guess Bloglines was doing some work yesterday – everything is working A-Okay today as far as importing goes – I hope this file is useful for everyone. [/finalupdate]

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