30 November 2007

Book Search

I had a look at Google Book Search today. It was pretty interesting. I tried searching for a couple of obscure and hard to get books which took me ages to find when I wanted to buy a copy years ago. One was The sexual politics of meat which convinced me to be a vegetarian for about 7 years. Maybe I should read it again. The other was the weirdest book I ever read, Nothing in this book is true but it's exactly how things are. This has a great meditation at the end of the book which always made me feel fantastic afterwards. With the first book, I notice the text starts at page 12 so it's not complete. With the second book, they tell you some pages have been omitted as well. It's enough to get a fair idea of what the book is about though. I like the 'find this book in a library' link. Since my friends had an intervention with me about excessive book buying about 10 years ago during which I was encouraged to get a job in a library (hey presto!), I have bought very few books. The whole selection of links to places where you can buy the book you are looking at is inevitable I guess, but if I was going to buy the book online, my first choice would probably be Amazon still. Maybe that will change. Book Search is a reasonably good tool, although there are less reviews than on Amazon but maybe that's because it hasn't been around as long. As for reading the book on screen, that's never going to happen - my eyes are already packing up.
On the topic of reading books onscreen, I heard about the new Amazon product Kindle the other day, a hand-held device for reading whole books on screen. I'll be interested to see if this takes off, how much, and what the demographics are on who gets really into it.

21 November 2007

Google Maps

A while ago I had a look at Google Earth
It was great fun: I could see my house with the car in the drive and I had a look at the Pyramids of Giza, Paris, the Grand Canyon, the top of Everest and other amazing places. I could also see my local swimming pool, which was somehow more exciting. I have found Google Maps
really useful too, especially the hybrid map/satellite function. It's useful for linking directions when I invite people over to my house and for working out the best way to get to places. Mostly its just fun to look at my neighbourhood or places I used to live. Google Sky is also amazing - I took a tour of nebulas the other day and was absolutely captivated. Hours of fun!

15 November 2007

Searching for and subscribing to other blogs

Today I had a go at Google Blog Search and subscribed to some blogs about libraries, about knitting, and also to some friends' blogs. I found this quite a handy tool and after getting over my initial shock about the number of feeds coming in to my Google Reader, I think I will be able to adjust my feeds down to a manageable level. It all kind of requires one to check the reader every single day, which assumes I want to be this on top of news all the time. I don't think I can adjust my life to fit the technology, so I will experiment with ways it can be a useful tool for me, rather than another information pressure.
I am really enjoying the whole 23 things experience, though, and it has got me thinking about how to use technology in ways that enhance my quality of life, rather than load it down. Was this what it was like when TV went on the market, or mass printing? Did people go o my god, I can't keep up? Maybe they just gave up and called it a tool of the devil because the new ways of receiving information made them feel vulnerable and overwhelmed.
I am a bit behind with my tasks for 23 things and have decided to just keep going at my own pace and eventually catch up.

10 November 2007

Feed reader

I've just been getting a screen tan looking at Google Reader in the middle of the night. I am feeling pasty and vague from the thousands of pieces of information. Although a feed reader is a great way to keep track of all my favourite blogs in one place, having subscribed to a bunch of stuff, there were thousands of items. Digg.com is a little overwhelming but I found out some interesting stuff, particularly about Facebook , which I've been enjoying using for about two months. Apparently, there is a whole bunch of new advertising and information gathering getting in on the act, which is disappointing. For some tips, go here. So with regard to Google Reader I think it is useful for keeping up with a few blogs and sites but information overload if I keep subscribing to as many as I have.

08 November 2007

Commenting on other people's blogs

As part of our library's 23 things project, one of the things we were asked to do after making our own blogs was to comment on each other's blogs. I have been doing a lot of this but forgot to mention it here. Commenting on each other's blogs has been a great way to share common interests as well as to help each other out with the technical side of the project. I've really enjoyed the room to give and receive feedback between colleagues.

I've been on holiday the last three weeks but managed to set up Google Reader and subscribe to digg.com
I've yet to explore these much but will report back when I have.