Friday, August 31, 2007

#19 Podcasts

The word podcast is used to refer to a non-musical audio or video broadcast that is distributed over the Internet. What differentiates a podcast from regular streaming audio or video is that the delivery method for podcasts is often done automatically through RSS (which you know all about already, right?).

In 2005, "podcast" was named the "word of the year" by New Oxford American Dictionary and with the growth of podcasting over the last 24 months, it's easy to see why.

Podcasts take many forms, from short 1-10 minutes commentaries (like the ones that have been used in this Learning 2.0 program) to much longer in-person interviews or panel group discussions. There’s a podcast out there for just about every interest area and the best part about this technology is that you don’t have to have an iPod or an MP3 player to listen to them. Since podcasts use the MP3 file format, a popular compressed format for audio files, you really just need a PC (or portal device) with headphones or a speaker.

iTunes, the free downloadable application created by Apple, is the directory finding service most associated with podcasts, but if you don’t have iTunes installed there are still plenty of options, including Windows Media Player. Besides, iTunes a just a dandy music player anyway (psst, and you can download just about any song you like from the iTunes shop for only 99 cents each).

For this discovery exercise, participants are asked to take a look at some popular podcast directory tools. Do some exploring on your own and locate a podcast that is of interest to you. Once found, you can easily pull the RSS feed into your Bloglines or Google Reader account as well, so that when new casts become available, you’ll be automatically notified.

Discovery Resources:

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Take a look at one or two of the podcast directories listed above and see if you can find a podcast that interests you. See if you can find some interesting library-related podcasts here like book review podcasts or library news.
  2. Add the RSS feed for a podcast to your Bloglines or Google Reader account
  3. Create a blog post about your discovery process. Did you find anything useful here?

#18 Video - Discover YouTube

Within the past couple years online video hosting sites have exploded allowing users to easily to upload and share videos on the web. Among all the web 2.0 players in this area, YouTube is currently top dog serving up over 100 million video views a day and allowing users not only to upload their own video content easily, but also embed clips into their own sites easily.

Do some searching around YouTube yourself and see what the site has to offer. You'll find everything from 1970s TV commercials to library dominos. Of course, like any free site you’ll also find a lot stuff not worth watching, too. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore and see for yourself what the site has too offer.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Explore YouTube & find a video worth adding as an entry in your blog.
  2. Create a blog post about your experience. What did you like or dislike about the site and why did you choose the video that you did? Can you see any features or componets of the site that might be interesting if they were applied to library websites?
OPTIONAL: Try placing the video inside your blog using the copy and paste code for the for "Embeddable Player.” Note: you'll need to use Blogger's Edit HTML tab when pasting this code.

Here's an embedded video, one that Carrie showed us at our Fall term kick-off meeting:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lesson 17: Processing Words on the Web

In our second lesson devoted to web-based applications, we'll be examining tools that perform a task we're all familiar with: word processing! Some of the advantages of using a web-based word-processing program like Zoho Writer or Google Docs include:

1. They eliminate the need to worry about different software versions or file types as you email documents or move from PC to PC.

2. They easily accommodate collaboration by allowing multiple users to edit the same file (see the "share" feature in both ZW and GD).

3. They provide users the ability to save and convert documents as multiple file types (including .doc, .pdf, and .html).

4. Many will allow you to publish what you write directly to the web or to your blog.

  • To see an example of a document created in Zoho Writer and then published as a webpage, click here -- Helene Blowers, architect of the original Learning 2.0 program, created this list of some of the benefits she sees in using this application.
  • To see an example of a document created in Zoho Writer and then published to a blog, look no further: I used ZW to compose both of this week's lessons! :)
For this lesson's discovery exercise, you will explore one of these applications and then blog about your findings.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Create a free account for yourself in either Zoho Writer or Google Docs.
  2. Explore the application and its features by creating a few test documents.
  3. Create a blog post about your discoveries:
    • How does the application you chose compare to word processing software you're familiar with?
    • What features did you like/dislike the most?
    • Can you think of any ways the application you chose would be useful to you or to EKU students?
Optional: If you're up for the challenge, try writing your blog entry in ZW or GD and then using the "publish" feature to post it to your blog.

Further Resources:

Here's a short list of more web-based productivity applications to explore, created by Helene Blowers using Zoho Writer and published as a webpage.

Credit: This lesson is based heavily on Lesson #18 from the original Learning 2.0.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lesson #16: Intro to Web-Based Applications

This week we are exploring web-based productivity applications. Basically, these are tools that allow you to do things like word processing, creating presentations, and building citation/reference lists (to name a few possibilities) -- for free, online, without having to purchase software! Downloading is sometimes required, but most of these applications do not even require that level of commitment or energy. ;)

There are a LOT of productivity applications out there, and some folks predict that they will eventually spell DOOM for products like Microsoft Office. Maybe, maybe not, but the $0 price tag and the sense of experimentation and innovation that characterize these programs may make them especially appealing to cash-strapped, tech-savvy young college students.

The librarians at the University College Dublin recognize this and in May they created a blog -- UCD Library 2 go -- designed to introduce students to web applications they might find useful during their college careers. Each blog entry focuses on a different type of application (tools for annotating websites, survey tools, office tools, etc.) and usually highlights several different options within that category.

I think this is a pretty cool idea, so for this lesson's discovery exercise, I'd like you to:

1. Browse through the blog posts on UCD Library 2 go, reading about the different applications these librarians have chosen to highlight for their students.

2. Write a post to your own blog with your reactions. Which of these applications (if any) sound interesting to you? Which of them do you think EKU students might find useful? How important do you think it is for library staff members who work in higher education to be aware of web applications such as these?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lesson #15: Get your hands dirty in the wiki sandbox!

Now that you've learned a little bit about wikis, it's time to get your feet wet by editing a page on the EKU Library Learning 2.0 wiki. For this lesson, you have two options--you can edit an exiting page or if you're up for a little more exploration, you can create and edit your own wiki page.

Here's how:

Edit an Existing Page
1. Start by visiting the Sandbox page on the EKU Library Learning 2.0 wiki.
2. Choose one of the pages there and click on its link.
3. Click the edit button at the top of the page. The password for our wiki is crabbelibrary.

Creating a new page
1. Click the Edit button on the main page of the EKU Library Learning 2.0 wiki.
2. Add the name of your new page to the bottom of the page.
3. Highlight the text you just added and click the link button in the toolbar.
4. Click ok (accept the defaults you see there).
5. Click Save.
6. Click on the link to your new page.
7. Click the Create New Page button.
8. Type your text in and click Save.


Discovery Exercise

Once you have edited or created a page, write a short blog entry about wikis. How could we use a wiki in the library? Can you think of another use for a wiki outside the library?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lesson 14: Gettin' wiki with it!

Unless you've been in hiding for the last couple of years, you'll have heard the word Wikipedia in the news. You might even have a vague impression of it as a bastion of misinformation and what used to be called flame wars (called edit wars on Wikipedia, there have been some doozies!) While it does have its problems, Wikipedia is still the most well-known example of a wiki. What is a wiki? In a nutshell, a wiki is a website that can be edited by anyone. In execution, it's a tad more complicated than that--many wikis require users to have an account before editing is possible, and some wikis are limited not only to a prescribed set of authors but restricted to a finite set of viewers, as well. Major features that make wikis a popular tool for collaborative creation of web content include:

  • Anyone can add, edit or delete content (some restrictions may apply depending on the nature, purpose and configuration of the wiki or a few of its individual pages).
  • Tools exist to allow users to track what changes are made and by whom.
  • Any change can be reversed, allowing documents to revert back to an earlier state when necessary.
  • Users need only know how to type into a box to contribute to a wiki.
  • Many wiki sites contain "discussion" or "talk" pages that allow users to discuss content or changes to content.
Discovery exercise:

Use some of these wikis to see how this flexible tool is being used in libraryland. Write a short blog entry about your favorite library wiki or about an application for a wiki that you might see in our own library.
And of course, a new topic would not be complete without a Common Craft "Plain English" video:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lesson 13: Tagging, part 2

Lesson 13: Tagging, part 2

Folksonomy, Tag clouds,, and Technorati

Have a basic familiarity with tagging? Then let’s move on to other concepts in the world of tagging.

Next concept: folksonomy (or, folksonomies)

Folk + taxonomy = folksonomy. Ta-dah! A newly coined word!

According to Wikipedia, a folksonomy is “the practice and method of collaborative categorization using freely-chosen keywords called tags.”

To elaborate a little further (with a nod again to Wikipedia as a source):

--Folksonomies are used to classify and retrieve web content.

--If used wisely, folksonomic tagging can make “a body of information increasingly easy to search, discover, and navigate over time. A well-developed folksonomy is ideally accessible as a shared vocabulary that is both originated by, and familiar to, its primary users.”

Well, here’s ye old cataloger again. In a way, is not Library of Congress Subject Headings a “well-developed folksonomy”? I suppose we could argue this case on either side. Certainly, LCSH is well-developed, for it has existed for a century, and much time and thought and labor has been put into its creation. LCSH is definitely a shared vocabulary.

But what about the “folk”? Are the “folk” of LCSH the librarians, or are they the users they serve or both? Who are these users? Or, who were these users? Were they humanities scholars? Are they all scholars? Are they everyone in academe? Are they everyday people hungering for knowledge?

I ask these questions because although I think there are many beauties to LCSH, I see drawbacks to this “folksonomy” as well. If I want to know more about draft dodgers during the Civil War (and naturalist John Muir dodged the draft by fleeing to Canada), I would not find the following subject string intuitive:

United States – History – Civil War, 1861-1865 – Draft resisters

Even as a librarian who has cataloged a great deal, I find that heading awkward. I don’t want to dissect this heading word by word, but will simply state that “draft resisters” is not the phrase that comes to my mind – not after growing up during the Vietnam War. And that leads back to the definition above: “A well-developed folksonomy is ideally accessible as a shared vocabulary that is both originated by, and familiar to, its primary users.”

Can this ideal be achieved? Do you resist the draft? Do you dodge the draft?

And what about a particular mammal who pops up every February 2? Do you cook a ground hog? Or do you cook a woodchuck? LCSH has its cross references and they tell you to see woodchuck, not ground hog. If you are teaching a wildlife biology course and want to use “ground hog” as your topic, forget it. Our electronic resources prefer “woodchuck.” But – if I’m a primary user, and from a region where you use ground hog hide for a banjo head, am I going to mess with a woodchuck? Probably not. So which is it? Do I dodge the use of woodchuck? Or do I resist it? If I blog about the value of ground hog hide, or if I upload a group of photos of banjos with ground hog hide heads to Flicr, will I used the tag ground hog or woodchuck or both? Would both be redundant?

Language is an exciting and perilous ride. Enjoy it! (And if you’d like a recipe for ground hog, send me an email . . . )

Discovery Exercise 1

Read a short article by Thomas Vander Wal on the origin of the word “folksonomy” and the role he played in coining the term. He writes well, and his last paragraph is excellent.

Here’s the URL:

Tag Clouds

Back to Wikipedia for another definition:

Tag cloud: A tag cloud is a set of related tags with corresponding weights. Typical tag clouds have between 30 and 150 tags. The weights are represented using font sizes or other visual clues. Hence, unlike histograms or pie charts, tag clouds can represent many more weights, though less accurately so.

By now I think most of us have seen tag clouds, but it’s worth our while I believe to ponder them for a moment and consider their value.

Discovery Exercise 2:

If you’ve not done so, check out Encore at Michigan State University. Input a term, press enter, and see the tag cloud that occurs on the right side of the screen.

(I searched woodchuck. No kidding. And I got a tag cloud with no groundhogs. My first hit, though, was a children’s book with illustrations by Wendell Minor, who spoke here last spring.)

Explore Encore further with a number of searches. Then, write a brief passage in your blog about the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness if you so desire) of the tag clouds in Encore. Do you think the tag clouds will help our users in the future? Why or why not? If you teach classes, how do you see yourself teaching undergraduates about tag clouds? is a social bookmarking tool. Rather than give you another endless definition, how about a video? The source below will tell you everything you need to know about getting started with

Discovery Exercise 3:

Set up a account and take this Web 2.0 tool on a test drive. Practice your tagging techniques, and, after you have tagged a few sites, take a look at the tag cloud that’s been generated from your tags.

Also notice that you can set up an RSS feed for your account.

Finally, write about in your blog. Is this a useful tool for you personally? Can you see its value in teaching a class? How would be beneficial for the library? These questions should assist you in pulling your thoughts together about


Here is another video about If you are interested in learning more about the potential of using, then you might want to view this video. It covers much of the same ground as the other, but there is more emphasis on as a classroom tool here. A caveat – I found the sound a little fuzzy and the background music slightly annoying. You may or may not have the same reaction.


Our last topic in the world of tagging – Technorati.

Wikipedia’s definition: an Internet search engine for searching blogs, competing with Google, Yahoo, and IceRocket. As of April 2007, Technorati indexes over 75 million weblogs. The name Technorati is a portmanteau, pointing to the technological version of literati or intellectuals.

Well, those are the basics. Here’s a pretty good video that puts Technorati within the context of Web 2.0, especially social bookmarking and blogs. One point to note – since this video was made, Technorati’s homepage has changed its look. I suggest you listen more to the speaker and look less at the webpage graphics. When you look at Technorati in a few, you’ll find it’s attractive and easy to use.

Discovery Exercise 4:

Go to the Technorati website. Here’s the address:

1. Pause to admire the gorgeous tag cloud on this page.

2. Once you have finished admiring the cloud, search for your own blog using their search box.

I put in “Celtic musician librarian” and found my own blog.

Are you blogged out about tagging? Head in a tag cloud? Well, congratulations! With your FYI visit to Technorati, you’re done! Bravo!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tagging! Part 1


You now have the opportunity to learn about tagging! And you're learning from someone who has spent a lot of time over the years using a complex form of tagging to create cataloging records and a particular subset of those records called subject headings. Eek! Cataloging! Oh no!!!!!!!

Well, not exactly . . . but there are some similarities, so gather up your courage and read on.

Let’s start with a TAG. Just what is a tag?

According to Wikipedia, “a tag is a keyword or term associated with or assigned to a piece of information (e.g., a picture, article, or video clip), thus describing the item and enabling keyword-based classification of information.”

And now for tagging, definition courtesy of another source, Webopedia.

Tagging is where “authors attach keyword descriptions (called tags) to identify images or texts within their site as a category or topic.” When a web page, a blog etc. has the same tag, these pages “can then be linked together allowing users to search for similar or related content. If the tags are made public, online pages that act as a Web-based bookmark service are able to index them. “

Strengths? Tags help you to find the information you seek. Without tags, could you find anything in Google? I hope by now you have noticed that there's a parallel here with -- to use an old-fashioned libary term -- access points (author, title, subject).

Tags help others locate information successfully. No tags, and the treasures you want others to find will remain hidden forever. What’s the point of a blog if no one can find it? For that matter, what’s the point of an item in a library collection without some sort of tagging (or, access point?)

The weakness of tags? Ah, here’s the tricky bit. Language is a slippery slope. If you put pictures of your pet feline on Flickr, do you tag the photo cat? Or Cats? Or Felix cattus? Or Fluffy? Or tiny tiger? Wikipedia gives an excellent example of the semantic problems associated with tagging using a very simple word of 5 letters and 2 syllables: Apple. An apple is -- Gwynth Paltrow’s baby, right? Or is it the company formed by the Beatles? Or is it a computer hardware company? Or is it – a fruit?

The upshot – tagging is important, or the information you give or seek will not be found. But when you do tag your blog or your Flickr photos, choose your tags thoughtfully.

For more about tagging, see the Wikipedia definition:

Exercise 1:

1. Go to Google and type in a topic that interests you. (I chose W. B. Yeats, the Irish poet). See how many hits you retrieve.

2. Do the same keyword search in eQuest and see how many hits you retrieve.

3. Now search for the topic as a subject (or author if it is an author) in eQuest.

Now blog a paragraph about your searches. First, describe your adventures with your topic of interest in Google and eQuest, then offer your views on the following questions.

1. Can you see a parallel between the catalog and tagging in Web. 2.0?

2. Do you think tagging is a reinvention of library cataloging? Or, do you think that tagging is a continuation of tradition of library catalogs, but an expansion of that tradition into new and exciting possibilities?

3. Or, do you see another angle to tagging?

Exercise 2.

1. Review the tags in your blog, in Flickr and in Library Thing. Think about the terms you have used. Having learned a little more about tagging, consider changing your tags to make them more searchable. You may even want to add more tags. For instance, in case you haven’t noticed, Flickr allows up to 75 tags per photo. Please don’t be like the cataloger writing these words who learned that in traditional cataloging 1 to 3 subject headings are enough. Go wild with your tags if you want to.

2. Add a few words to your blog about the joys of tagging.

Next lesson: Folksonomies, tag clouds,, and technorati. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

#11 Search Tools

[Sorry, no podcast for this "thing."]

Welcome to the second lesson of Play Week! We hope you had fun with LibraryThing. Now that you all are experienced Bloggers, you are invited to take this survey about Library Bloggers over at the Information Wants to Be Free blog. Meredith Farkas did this survey once before, in 2005, and given the explosion of blogging over the past couple of years, the results for 2007 should be interesting.

Now onto today's lesson... Most people are familiar with searching using engines such as Google or Yahoo, but did you know that there are Web 2.0 tools to help you customize your search experience? Here are a couple of useful tools:

~Rollyo - Do you have a group of websites that are your favorites? Or a set of online resources that are similar that you frequently use to answer homework or reference questions? Do you end up doing a search for the same thing in multiple websites and wish you could just do one search? Well Rollyo may be the tool for you. Rollyo allows you to create your own search tool for the just the websites you know and trust. Check out these examples of existing search rolls on Rollyo:
· Public Domain e-Books Search
· Rare Book Library Search
· Library Associations
· Explore other rolls here.

~Bookmarklets - Is there one site that you search many times a day? Instead of scrolling through your favorites/bookmarks or typing in the address, you can place a Bookmarklet in your browser’s link toolbar. Watch this excellent screencast that explains how to create and use bookmarklets. See Geek to Live and Lorelle on WordPress for examples of helpful bookmarklets.

Discovery Exercise:

1. Explore Rollyo and create an account for yourself.

2. Create a search roll for any subject you like. Unfortunately, Rollyo does not appear to work with EKU’s licensed databases (like Academic Search Premier), so you should only include resources that are freely available on the web. If you want, you can find an existing search roll that you like and click “Edit this Searchroll” to alter it to meet your own needs.

3. Create a post in your blog about your experience and link to your search roll. What potential use can you see for tools like this?

*Don't forget to e-mail your blog posts to librarylearning at gmail dot com.

Optional Discovery Exercises:

1. Add a Rollyo Bookmarklet to your toolbar. Follow the directions at Rollyo to place a bookmarklet on your browser’s toolbar. Please note that for some versions of Internet Explorer, instead of dragging it to the toolbar, you will need to right click on the bookmarklet, add it to your favorites, and put it under “Links.”

2. Add your searchroll to your blog using the "Create a Searchbox" tool.