Sunday, November 29, 2009

Alert - Today's news feed, tomorrow's food wrap

Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr

We all know just how easily - and how much - information is accessible today, so to have tools like email alerts and RSS feeds to assist us in sifting through some of the deluge is good news. AccessScience is relatively easy and straightforward to use, but Proquest is another story. Setting up email alerts was a simple task, but I experienced the same problems as others when it came to RSS feeds. I wasn't won over with RSS in '23 Things' but I did persevere here, and it worked on the second try. My first search strategy gave some good results, but when nothing more appeared over the following several weeks, I refined my search terms. Once this was done, I was satisfied with the results delivered, although actually accessing the articles is rather frustrating. Somehow, to have to copy and paste the link seems a backward step, but fortunately this isn't so with most RSS feeds. Because of this messy process, I'm not sure I'd especially recommend Proquest for RSS feeds. Having now set up feeds and alerts, though, I have yet more information accumulating, and will feel obliged to have to return to it from time to time. However, feeling like I already spend more than enough time interacting with a computer screen, rather than Life, this information junkie may soon be turning off those feeds... Sometimes you just have to know when to say "STOP".

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Libraries and Twitter - should we? Will you follow?

I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand. Why shells existed on the tops of mountains. How the various circles of water form around the spot which has been struck by a stone, and why a bird sustains itself in the air.

Leonardo da Vinci
(artist, architect, musician and scientist), 1452-1519

Time is the one thing we all seem to be short of, yet here we are still exploring the ever-expanding cyberworld. Where will it all end? This exercise has thrown up some nice library twitter pages, with quite a variety of styles. Most tweets appear to be being posted by often only 1 or 2 librarians at each institution, and there didn't seem to be a lot of interaction on many of the ones I looked at. Most content seemed to be promoting library events or resources - always a good thing - and I really liked the tweets on the College of Du Page, Glen Ellyn (Illinois) "LibrarySecrets" page, and they have a good following, so it looks as though a lot of other people like them as well. Rodney Libraries has a chatty style and a mix of library and 'newsy' tweets, but at least the language is clear. Nathaniel Hawthorne said "Easy reading is damn hard writing", and with only 140 characters available for a tweet, good skills in the art of writing must surely be a real asset?

If NSL were twittering, a tweet about the Northcote Maori Collection could look something like this - "Mā te huruhuru te manu ka rere ai / With feathers a bird can fly". Come and meet Manu Aute and browse her treasures.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Twitter searching - (not) hunting in the deep?

“The fact is, that among his hunters at least, the whale would by all hands be considered a noble dish, were there not so much of him; but when you come to sit down before a meat-pie nearly one hundred feet long, it takes away your appetite.”

Herman Melville, 'Moby Dick' (1851)

And my appetite for searching Twitter has certainly been taken away on this exercise. I guess I like my information in more than just the mini-bites dished up by Twitter, and in plain english rather than the 'tinglish' that seems to abound. For some people Twitter may be all they need or want, and that's okay, but it's not really for this lobo, I feel. After striking out with my first search about the resumption of the sanctioned shooting of wolves again in the Greater Yellowstone region, (I used various brief search strings, but almost everything that came back involved the movie "Twilight") I revised my search and went looking for "Japanese whaling". There were some good results on the Twitter search engine, although I did feel somewhat cheated at the very brief accounts, because understandably you can't convey a heck of a lot information on such a subject in only 140 characters. The links to longer articles or posts were helpful, though, and I can see in the coming weeks it could be a very good way of keeping track of what is happening as this year's "whaling season" gets underway in the Antarctic, so I may yet find myself making more use of this. TweepSearch wasn't the right option for this particular topic, but I did like Twoogle, and if I were to do any regular visiting to Twitter, this would probably be my search engine of choice. You can get your tweets and your meat, so to speak, in the one search, satisfying the news junkie side of me, and giving some real-time news-bytes at the same time. So, it would definitely depend on what you were searching for, but this could be worth persevering with, after all...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's the tweet, tell me what's happening...

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

Henry David Thoreau
(American essayist, poet and philosopher, 1817-1862), Journal, 19 August 1851

Like this wolf photographed by Scott Ian Barry, peering up into the tree at a bird and looking rather puzzled, so too am I rather puzzled - by Twitter. Things such as Twitter have an unnerving ability to make me feel as though I'm too old and crusty to appreciate them properly, and maybe I am, but it seems to me that some people really could (and perhaps should) spend their time at better pursuits. The Internet has become such an extension of peoples' everyday lives, but just because you "can" do it, it doesn't necessarily mean you "should" join the latest online fad or fashion. I looked at Dr Maya Angelou's page and maybe she was "experimenting", but she only "tweeted" 4 times over 5 days - back in February. Perhaps she's found she prefers other ways of occupying her time?

There was quite a variety in the number and frequency of tweets on various accounts I looked at, and if it wasn't for this exercise, I doubt I would have even looked at that many. The content of the tweeting was as varied as the different tweeters and their subjects - but for someone who has only recently entered the world of phone texting, the Cookbook via Twitter to me was just a mess! I'm afraid I couldn't be bothered trying to 'translate' it, and can't really see the point in that one! I regularly follow a blog by author Jon Katz, and he also has a Twitter account, which I decided to check out. I can see the uses of Twitter, and I think Jon Katz's works well, combining tweets about events with thoughts and musings, without being too inane. I really like his attitude to all this though. He is currently incommunicado from his blogging and tweeting while he is taking an extended weekend break in the Big Apple - and reconnecting with real people, friends and family, in his life. However, from what I have discovered so far on this exercise, I am unlikely to be a regular follower of anyone on Twitter, and it doesn't entice me to become a tweeter myself - yet. Who knows what I'll discover when I do some Twitter searching for myself...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Creative Commons - to share or not?

"There is no delight in owning anything unshared"

Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD)

I loved this beautiful crisp image of prints in the snow and the story around how the photographer got the photo. I hope I'm as lucky some day. Have a peek at this This comes with a Creative Commons license which has some rights reserved - attribution, non-commercial and share alike (BY-NC-SA), 2.0 generic. So this lovely image may be shared, remixed, tweaked, and built upon for non-commercial purposes, as long as credit is given to m.d.d. and the new creation must be licensed under his identical terms.

The Creative Commons licence for the "Get With It" programme is BY-NC 3.0 New Zealand. This licence lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this work noncommercially and although new works must acknowledge NSL and be noncommercial, they don't have to license their works on the same terms.

Copyright is full of many issues, and with such a multitude of new and different means of accessing and using all this stuff, it's really good to know that you are able to at least try to retain some kind of intellectual property rights over works you may create by licensing something in this way.

Friday, November 6, 2009

OpenID - WHO are YOU? (Who, Who) Who's asking??

"Where id was, there shall ego be"

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

OpenID sounds good in theory, and no doubt for people who do spend a lot of time online, it is probably a very useful thing to know about, but I don't think I'm likely to "sign on". It sounds a bit like letting someone else have the keys, and forget that you should be taking some responsibility yourself for your own online security and wellbeing. We hear stories about the 'fun' some people like to derive from creating online mischief - why should OpenID be any different? Personally I have better things to do with my time, but I know there are plenty of people out there who would delight in being able to indulge in some 'online vandalism' and OpenID could be a great place to stir such havoc. We seem to be all-too-quick to leap to new ways of making our lives 'easier', but like everything - the more gadgetry, the more there is to beware of. I will certainly keep my eye out for the OpenID tag and icon on sites, though, and if I feel it could be helpful in the future, I may give it a go. In the meantime, I'll keep charge of my own 'identities', and make sure my doors and windows remain my responsibility.