Tuesday, September 29, 2009

#8. Still waiting... RSS

on that confirmation email...

UPDATE: Finally I thought to check my spam email. There's something about retrieving something from the Spam folder. It's like the email has to prove itself past my sudden skepticism.

I did indeed figure out how to use RSS, to start with anyway. Before this exercise I'd already aggregated the websites I like to go to using the bookmark toolbar function on my mac computer. But this RSS feeder could potentially help me branch out a bit more. The browsing function is good in that way. My iTunes already aggregates my podcasts, so, it seems like it'd just get muddled to weave them into the news and cultural websites and blogs that I go to. I've sort of designed the RSS feed as a professional aggregator, infusing it with several library feeds, like Library Journal, Library Stuff, Librarian's Internet Index, The Shifted Librarian, etc. I'll need to do some more exploring, and I suspect that my next move will be to remove several feeds and build my way back up. I was thinking that the RSS feed wouldn't be that helpful when my computer can do the same thing, but if I'm working on a different computer... So it could have many uses and I'm looking forward to figuring those out.


I know many of you have probably seen this already, but this does a great job of showing the power of pictures. And music. I thought of it while strolling through Flickr and Mapr.

#7. Tech of the Week. iPhone.

I recently started a joint phone plan with my fiance. We both got our phones in the mail on Wednesday. I wasn't very pleased with the phone I'd gotten, so I did what anyone would do, I pouted. I hadn't bought a new phone in years, I don't even know how many, four or five probably. This new phone, it was supposed to be better. It was supposed to dazzle. It didn't. It wasn't any better than my previous phone and what it didn't have in dazzle it lost further ground with its confusing interface. Before this new beast of a phone, all I ever used my phone for was to make calls or send texts. That was fine with me, simple. Meanwhile, friends of mine had been getting newer and better devices. My friend Kyle's posts on Facebook would show a little note that it was created on his Blackberry.

At a bachelor party this summer two of my friends and I were driving toward Wisconsin Dells and we started singing along with a song on the radio. That got us talking about other songs, particularly fun or ridiculous songs, which prompted Bill to search his phone and pull up videos of songs we were talking about so that we could then sing along with those ("Hero" by Inrique Inglesias was stopped about half-way through, begrudgingly on my part).


A few weeks ago Kamie and I met a few friends for dinner, and while having a good time we spontaneously started talking about going to see a movie. We didn't know the movie times. Well, Amy brought out her phone, and we knew them in a few moments.

This is a long way to saying that the frustration with my phone built up to where Kamie told me: "Just get an iPhone." I tried to pout through it, but eventually the idea got the better of me. I gritted my teeth as the AT&T worker explained the pricing plans. That was Sunday. Still, when I got home, I started to really love it. There was no comparison to my previous phone. It made me think of the revelation I had when I first got an iPod: "This is...the best...thing ever." I still take my iPod with me everywhere I go. I'm one of those people. But it's a passion of mine, so I'm not ashamed.

In this post created today, Jonathan Margolis poses the casual question: "Is the iPhone the best gadget ever?"

I got the phone on Sunday. On Monday I was scheduled to get an oil change and have my tires rotated. Ended up getting my brakes replaced. Four or five hours later, I drove home. I was way on the west side of town, didn't have my school work with me. I did, however, have my iPhone. I used it to read the news, play games, send emails, listen to music. The only place that proved difficult: Learn@UW. I was able to login to my wiscmail and into Learn@UW, but reading posts/creating them seemed untenable. I also couldn't access the documents at the Reserves that I had a right to as a UW student. That would have been nice. Libraries, I thought, we need to understand the mobile format better. While sitting at Mazda for hours, things began to dawn on me, things I hadn't thought about before.

#6. More Flickr

One of the API's that I explored was FD Toys' Trading Card Maker. It seemed a little inflexible to me, especially since I just recently got an iPhone and it seems crazily intuitive and flexible. Nevertheless, it wasn't unenjoyable to put a picture of myself onto a trading card. I would have liked to chop off the bottom. Alas.

Mapr also seemed cool. There are a lot of things that could be fun about this. One idea that popped into my head was to find pictures of places I'd visited in order to create a kind of geographical ID. Haven't gotten to that yet.

#5. Flickr

Tagging is a tool for organizing information, similar in a lot of ways to subject headings in catalogs. Tagging is also similar to slang in the sense that certain tagging words become popular and signify the sharpness of one's place on the cutting edge. Still, websites like Flickr come and go, and for every rising star there seems to be one hundred that burn out, either completely or far out of cultural prominence. Myspace is a good example of the quickly evolving levels of popularity and culture. This blog posting compares the popularity of myspace and facebook to white flight.

A thought: isn't Facebook doing a lot of these things. One of the distressing things about all of the innovation is that when new ideas emerge, they seem to be everywhere. I think people like the idea of having many of these innovations in one place and in user-friendly forms. Flickr is nice, but why not share photos, tag them, and display them to groups you already have with friends on Facebook.

There does seem to be a tension between hipness and practicality. Flickr can be a practical way to share photos with other people. It would be helpful (in a practical way) for libraries to tag photos they take of library activities, that way when people search a particular library, they can see what they want to discover. Seeing is believing, and creating a visual connection can welcome users in, not only virtually, but also in through the library's doors.

Flickr is also a good place to find artistic photos of a topic that interests you. For example, if I were doing a presentation on Madison's Memorial Union. It would be helpful to show it. But, of course, the images have to be downloadable. Google Image might work as well as Flickr for something like that. Might.

Monday, September 21, 2009

#4. Twit

I thought I'd be funny and give the definition of "twit," which dictionary.com defines as "an insignificant or bothersome person." But little did I know that "twit" actually has several other definitions too. As a verb (used with object) it means "1. to taunt, tease, ridicule, etc., with reference to anything embarrassing; gibe at. 2. to reproach or upbraid." As a noun it means "3. an act of twitting, 4. a derisive reproach; taunt; gibe." A "twit" is also a "weak or thin place in yarn caused by uneven spinning" and "an excited state; dither" as in to be in a twit about company coming.

The word "twitter" is also interesting. As a verb (used without object), it means "1. to utter a succession of small, tremulous sounds, as a bird, 2. to talk lightly and rapidly, esp. of trivial matters; chatter, 3. to titter; giggle, 4. to tremble with excitement or the like; be in a flutter." As a verb (used with object) it means "5. to express or utter by twittering." As a noun, it means "6. an act of twittering, 7. a twittering sound, 8. a state of tremulous excitement."

I already have a twitter account. My handle is Tastebudder, cause I'm in a band called The Taste Buds. Get it? ... Anyway, I don't use twitter all that much, though my friend Aaron uses it a lot for work, and he says it's a valuable information resource. For example, he'll be working on a new software that he doesn't entirely understand and will post a question and will receive help from people around the country in less than an hour. You have to build up your professional connections, but when you do, twitter seems like a helpful resource. It's a good way to build a community of niche interests or to join such a group.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

#2. Lifelong Learning

Ah yes, lifelong learning, a major buzzword in education. I love how school is referred to as an "old school" form of learning. 1). Set goals. 2) Accept responsibility for your own learning 3) View problems as challenges 4) Have confidence 5) Create your own learning toolbox 6) Use technology to help your learning 7) Teach someone 7 1/2) Play.

One of the things I wonder about is if I'm spreading myself too thin, or not thin enough. For example, there are so many things I'd like to do and learn, but making choices is a big part of learning. The same goes for reading: I'd love to read many, many books, but there is only so much time, and thus, decisions must be made.

I've learned to play the guitar over the past 10 years. I didn't play it much during the first four years that I had it. I distinctly remember thinking that I should just abandon playing it, because I wasn't getting any better and wasn't enjoying it much. But I'm glad I stuck with it. I've found it's essential to break through those moments of doubt if you're going to get better at anything. Now I can't imagine myself not playing. It's a true outlet and joy. It's changed the way I relate to music. It's made me want to learn others instruments.

This leads me to the hardest part of the lifelong learning, which is ironically the first step in their process: set goals. This is the hardest thing. It requires you to focus upon your desires and to not simply indulge them, but to edit them into a realistic form, into something that demands striving but is also possible. That's a strange negotiation between ambition and self-awareness.

My goal is to learn how to cover the Beatles' song "Blackbird."

# 1. Learning 2.0 Project

The Learning 2.0 Project emphasizes self-discovery of the new technologies shaping our world.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

#3. Hello

John Travolta can dance. I watched Pulp Fiction again recently (the first time since when it first came out), and the dance scene still kills.

This is a blog for LIS 635. I'll fulfill the 23 things requirements here.

I'd like to blog about other things in addition to the 23 things. I'm not sure what. I consider my recent reluctance to engage in passionate political discussions as a positive development, but who knows. Small talk. Getting a new dishwasher today. You're welcome.