Friday, April 3, 2009

Three Teeny Things (#13-15)

I must admit at the outset that this is a purely mercenary post, made at the last minute to ensure that I'm eligible for the prize drawing in stage 2 of the TCCL "23 Things" process. The excited flush of my first foray into the Things has faded, and I had to make myself sit down and complete the latest three Things.

There are a couple of reasons. One is simple busyness. There's a lot going on in my life right now, and doing the Things seems somehow frivolous in the face of work responsibilities and family obligations.

But also, much that is in Things 7-15 has been familiar to me. For instance, I was an early adopter of, in part because I knew its creator through his previous project, memepool [Caution: questionable content may appear there], where I'm still listed as an author.

So, old Internet hand that I am, what can I possibly learn about, Technorati, and Library 2.0 that I don't already know?

Hubris, of course. There is much to learn (and relearn) about anything if you take the time.

Thing #13 -
As I mentioned, I'm a long-time user of del, and I have it cross-linked to several of my other online spaces, but I don't use it very often any more. In many ways, sites like Facebook and Twitter have taken over the social aspect of sharing sites for me, and my online world has narrowed significantly, such that I rarely look for anything I can't readily find on Wikipedia or through a Google search. When I revisited my del bookmarks recently, I rediscovered the site's value as a search tool.

I used to often recommend the Librarians' Internet Index to patrons in my Internet classes as an alternative to broad mechanical searches like Google and other engines. LII is a collection of hand-selected links, chosen by librarians. It's "New This Week" news post is still one of the best RSS feeds for librarians to know. But there's only so much a small group of individuals (no matter how dedicated) can do to make sense of the vastness of the Web. How can and other link-tagging sites solve the problem? Volume! Volume! Volume!

In the spirit of The Wisdom of Crowds, del depends on the aggregate intelligence of a whole lot of people. When it turned five last November, the userbase numbered more than 5.3 million. In this way, it's a lot like Wikipedia, counting on the cream to rise to the top. I think it does a great job.

Thing #14 - Technorati
Technorati, in web terms, is old. Practically ancient. I can't think of a time that I've been on the web that I haven't seen blog posts with Technorati tags on them. So why haven't I paid attention to them before? I'm not sure, but in fact, I haven't. When I looked at Technorati for Thing #9, I went ahead and checked to see if I'd ever signed up, and I had, but for the life of me I can't remember when. For some reason, it's just under my radar.

Having said that, I've spent some time with it today, tracking the "Will Google Buy Twitter?" story, and I do like the design and the content, but something about it just doesn't grab me. Hard to express what it is, I guess.

Thing #15 - Web/Library 2.0
It's all too much.

As individuals in the collective Library, (not speaking of TCCL here, but more broadly and universally) I think we are caught in the middle, tossed by forces beyond our control. There is a struggle between stakeholders, including:
  • the Users (who want complete, unfettered, free access to everything all the time, and want to be able to tag, edit, and adjust it all to make it fit their needs)

  • the Community (which has standards to be met, expectations to be considered, and of course, funds to be solicited)

  • the Staff (who need to understand all this stuff to make it work for the users, and need to feel that they're not being made irrelevant by technology)

  • the Management (which needs to keep everyone happy, or at least strive for an equal distribution of discontent.)

Compounding the problem is that these aren't discrete groups, are they? Librarians are users every time they answer a reference question or look for a book on the shelf. Users are the Community. Management is Staff. War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery... sorry.

That's about all I have to say, I'm afraid. Thanks for reading this far!