06 March 2008

The end of 23 Things - for now.

Well here I am at the end of 23 Things, and it's a great feeling. I've enjoyed this project immensely.
The most fun part for me was starting to blog. This has opened up a fantastic way to express my stuff in a way that retains the discipline of writing to an audience. My blog life will definitely expand to encompass wider content from now on. It's a really immediate creative tool that has the added benefit of feedback from friends, peers and strangers.

(I've just been drinking coffee, thinking about the Singularity again and having delusions of grandeur about becoming a maths geek. When will I fit that in, what with the Library Degree and the Literature Degree...?)

How could I draw on what I have learned in 23 Things to help me in my work? Well, I feel more at home on the Web now, so when I study again, I know what parts of Web technology I'm drawn to now, such as design.

Also, I've found that amongst friends, it's really important being a library technician, to know about Web 2.0 and Library 2.0, because people are interested to hear what is developing and if a library technician can't explain some of this, who can? Students are using these technologies and I feel empowered to be able to at least relate to the networking tools they are using. It is great to love my work, but it's also great to be current in my skills, technologically and culturally. (Keeping in mind that whatever the technology, the message is the message now...)

How could the Library use the technologies featured in 23 Things to improve its service?
Well, the Library's Blog has been a great way to keep students up to date and informed. RSS feeds could be incorporated in the Library's services in some way - maybe under subject headings for industry-related Web pages.
The whole idea of natural-language tagging of items in the library interests me - and the idea of students being able to post reviews of books read for their peers to refer to. From playing with iGoogle, the whole of idea of customising one's own search page is great. Perhaps each student could have their own personalised space fully customised within the University's Web environment in the future. And podcasting would be a great training tool.

How do I think the 23 Things program could be improved in the future? I'm not really sure, the difficulty of tasks really varied but that's OK. I guess we're all just wondering whether another 23 Things have already emerged since we started this project. Probably: maybe we'll have to do this every year! What I really liked was that all the staff at my library totally helped each other with this project. The generosity of spirit shown was fantastic. It's been really great to share new skills. The other wonderful thing that has happened is the real increase in morale and camaraderie amongst staff as we have learned about each others' interests and hobbies through blogging.

Do I think I'll keep blogging or using any of the other tools I learned about? Yes! And I'm really interested in what's next.


Second Life

I have been reading about Second Life and having a look from an aerial distance at various university and college islands from around the world - not that I can see much without signing in. I've also watched some introductory videos on YouTube, such as Murdoch University's video. What I find interesting is the idea suggested in the above video that the Web as we know it may in the future lose its 'flatness'. Although Second Life may not hold a great deal of attraction to the general public at present, its "3D-ness" might be a precursor to the Web of the future. Perhaps navigating the web with an avatar and moving through our daily activities in a three- dimensional cyberspace might be as banal as keyboard and mouse navigation through flat pages is now.

I'm not sure about Second Life's usefulness for libraries. Sure, libraries are teaching clients how to create an avatar and move around, universities are conducting forums and classes, but is it really so popular that there is a need to reach students 'in world'? How is a reference librarian answering a student's question in Second Life different from answering the question in person, by phone or email? Well, I guess the librarian in Second Life has wings...

Isn't the quality of information provided more important than where or how the interaction takes place? And if the information can be provided quickly and easily by the means we use now, why spend big bucks on IT building a virtual space that might go out of fashion next month?
O yeah, and it costs money just to hang out in Second Life, doesn't it?

I can see how Second Life is a great space for artists, architects and musicians. It is a way to reach a whole new audience that may not have been reached. However, art, design and music are audiovisual and have to be seen and heard. Information at the moment is just written or spoken, so how is it more attractive in Second Life? Maybe for remote users and those with a disability? It is a way to get people together to interact in transcontinental conferences or forums - but so is Google Docs, videoconferencing etc.

Hmmm....Maybe babies born now will laugh at this later.

Right now I'm back being interested in the Singularity . They were talking about it on the radio this week. It's my concept for the week. Take a look at the Singularity Institute's Web Page for more info, or read some Raymond Kurzweil. This guy is really interesting, whether you agree with him or not - and he's invented a heap of stuff.
If you think Second Life is creepy, wait till the Singularity, ha ha.