March 25, 2009

I'm Cooked

So for this week's activity I looked at the video recipe sharing site, im cooked (yes, that's really how it's spelled). Seemed kind of interesting. I liked the ability to keyword search the recipes. I really liked the "Channels" tab at the top which broke down the videos into categories like Breads and Appetizers. Being a vegetarian and always curious for new and interesting recipes, I clicked on Veggies & Vegetarian. Unfortunately, there were quite a few there which featured seafood or other meat including *gasp* one for a burger made with actual ground burger! OK. So maybe some of you omnivores out there are groaning and saying, "Oh great, another hippie complaining about meat contamination." But for those of you with dietary restrictions, either self-imposed or not, you know that you really don't want to sift through a bunch of hits that don't apply. I think the site should separate the Veggies & Vegetarian channel into two different ones. Maybe it would only satisfy a few celery-munching vegetarians out there, but I think other users may appreciate it too.

As for the social aspects of the site, how much more personal can you get than filming yourself working away in your kitchen as you narrate? Well, other people could comment on and discuss it. im cooked has a few tabs for this, "Most Viewed", "Most Discussed" and "Top Favorites". Users can also tag recipes. I have to admit, the "Most Discussed" tab did have some gems like "Watch actor Christopher Walken roast a chicken". I never would have found that on my own!

This site was kind of entertaining to browse around in and I found some good recipes I'd like to try out, but as for library applications (hey, I had to fit it in there somewhere ;)) I can't really see it. There's the sound issue. This site is all about making you, the average cook in most cases, the star of your own cooking show. You want to be heard! Most of the videos were narrated or had music going on in the background or both so unless the patron had earphones or watched without the sound on it could be pretty disruptive to other patrons. It might be a fun link to add onto the library homepage or subject guide though.

March 12, 2009

Wiki wiki!

First of all, I love the fact that wiki means "quick!". Leave it to the laid back state of Hawaii to come up with such a great word for such an annoying activity. If someone told me to "quick, hurry up!" I would get annoyed. If someone told me to "wiki wiki!" I would crack up laughing, then get on with what needed to be done. But it really does represent what user generated and edited content is all about. If anyone has ever opened up the history tab of a really popular Wikipedia article, you can practically watch it change as you're looking at it.

For this blog I browsed through several of the Learning 2.0 links on wikis and here are some thoughts:

I looked at the St. Joseph County Public Library subject guides and my first thought was, "Huh. It kind of looks like Wikipedia." After that I clicked on a few subjects to see what I could see. It wasn't really clear to me that users were able to, or even had, contributed to the pages. Maybe I missed it. Entirely possible. There wasn't too much content there either except for the cooking section which was pretty nice. Next I looked at the Library Success wiki and it was a completely different story. It looked a lot like Wikipedia-the uber-wiki. Right away there was an invite to add content in whichever category was appropriate. I also liked that there was some sort of handle attached to user-added content. It was well organized too with an "edit" link right next to each section. I think I'll let my local library (I'm a volunteer) know about it. Maybe they can find some good ideas...

I also checked out "Wiki's: A Beginner's Look". What really stood out to me here was a slide on the 2006 ALA conference where they had developed a wiki-guide to getting around the conference, the host city and ALA in general. There was a clear invite to edit and links to ground rules and editing tips. That seemed like a great idea to me. I think all user generated/edited sites should have some sort of statement about editorial control, if any. I think there should also be a warning label stating that you are looking at user generated content. Not to scare people away or necessarily discredit any of the info, but just a friendly FYI.

One of my all time favorite examples of how wikis can go bad is when Stephen Colbert edited the Wikipedia entry on elephants to state that they were no longer in danger of going extinct because he was sick of hearing about their sad situation (I think that was his reason...!). The entry ended up being corrected fairly quickly so he changed it back again. After that he was barred from editing any more articles! So, actually, this isn't really an example of wikis-gone-bad; it illustrates the positive power of many multiple editors keeping track of content and correcting false information. Just the same, I still like the idea of a clearly written and obvious statement educating viewers on what kind of information they are looking at-ya know, 'cause there might actually be some people out there who aren't really sure what the heck a wiki is! Even if they've heard of and used Wikipedia, do they really understand the dynamics of what's going on? How many people have noticed the little subtitle "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" on its home page? I know I didn't until I actually went looking for it.

So, bottom line? Wikis good. Educating and informing people about how to use and contribute to them, even better!

March 5, 2009

Librarian 2.0

I was shocked when I read on the Library 2.0 web site that Technorati tracks over 51 million blogs. And that was in 2006! Back in the day an author was something that one aspired to one day become, submitting story after story or article after article in the hopes of getting published. Now, anyone with access to a computer and internet connection can be an author. Is this a good thing? I think it probably is. But what about all the junk out there? Well, no one says you have to read it. Technorati does a pretty good job of weeding through the excess and finding what you want. Sure, there is still some trial and error involved and probably a few misses too, but you have to start somewhere.

So what is the attraction to blogging? Why are millions of people doing it? And who's reading it? To tell you the truth, I don't really know the answer to either of these questions. I guess that it gives a voice to those who didn't have one previously. Or an audience for that matter! Now that I'm thinking about it I did find some helpful information for a project last semester on someone's blog. In the case of an institution like a library it could also serve as a very cheap method of reaching out to patrons, those that already are and those that may get pulled in.

After writing the first couple paragraphs of this post I read Michael Stephens' blog post on Librarian 2.0. He brings up some interesting points. He mentioned using web 2.0 to meet users where they are-online and in real time. It makes sense. Gone are the days when librarians can sit back and wait for patrons to come to them, if they have the guts in the first place. Aparently librarians can be kinda scarey! I can't think of any terrible experiences myselt, but I know others who have. So what could be easier for most tech savvy folks these days than clicking on an ask-a-librarian-type link on a web site and being instantly connected with an information professional.

Trendspotting, as Stephens states, also seems like a must for the library contending with a world that changes more quickly every year. Keeping current means connecting with new and younger users. And if you can hook them while they're young, the library stands a good chance of becoming a relevant and integral part of their lives no matter what happens in the future. There is a balance, though, where new patrons feel welcomed in while those already comfortable with a traditional library do not feel alienated either. After all, these are the people who have helped libraries make it to this crazy, interactive techno-point in the first place!