Thursday, 16 September 2010

28 Things...

Hey guys,

Anyone out there still basking in the post 23 Things glow? Here is a brief article from a website called the Museum of the Future suggesting practical web 2.0 ideas for 'Cultural Institutions':

28 low-budget, easy-to-do things to do with new media for cultural institutions

Anyone come across idea 9 which is a thing called Disqus? Sounds like a an aggregator for many of the online discussion platforms we studied. Thats got to be a good idea right? The mind boggles at the programming!


Friday, 10 September 2010

The next step...

My certificate arrived in the post yesterday (thank you project team!) and is now proudly displayed on the wall behind my desk.

Now what to spend that voucher on...?

A copy of 'Unleashing Web 2.0: From Concepts to Creativity' perhaps?

Thursday, 2 September 2010

How alter the Power settings on your PC

Photo taken by Flickr member ntr23:

I frequently find myself called away from my PC to the phone or to talk to someone without a moment to switch the power off on my PC. This wasted power bothers me so I decided to find out if it was possible for the PC to automatically switch the monitor and even itself off when that happened.

I found that, in fact, it is very easy to do so I am posting some instructions here for anyone who cares to follow suit. Its windows-centric guys but I am sure you could figure something out for other operating systems.

1. Right click on desk top
2. in the drop down menu select 'Properties'
3. in the pop up window select the tab labelled 'Screen Saver'
4. hit the button in the lower right corner labelled 'Power'
5. You'll then be looking at a dialogue box that asks you to select your power settings. The easiest thing to do is to choose one of the pre-prepared power schemes from the drop down menu. I favour 'Portable/Laptop'. Or you can specify your own settings. I am currently using:

6. Click on the 'Apply' button to update your settings.

So the next time you PC goes for more than 15 minutes (or whatever time you have set it to) without any imput from you it will begin to send bits of its functions to sleep. To re awaken your it simply hit the SPACE BAR on your key board

I meant to post this at a time when the Cam23 course was in full swing and planty of people would have seen it. I am kicking myself for missing the moment so please publicise this post in whatever way you can. Don't you think it is a curious thing that we are all so well trained to switch lights off to save power but don't think about PCs in the same way?

Just imagine how much power we could save if even just use folk in the Cambridge libraries did this!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Thing 23 part II

Regrettably I just cannot get Wordle to play. I have used it in the past to create quick graphics and do think it delightful!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Thing 23: Final Words

Please forgive the cursory nature of this! I want to meet that deadline.

-Which Things did you find most useful, or thought-provoking?
I think Doodle has to be the most useful thing overall but I am not using it in my current post. It is personal usage.
For the Library setting it has to be LibraryThing

-Which didn't you find useful at all?
I was not sold on LinkedIn at all.

-Which have you persisted with?
iGoogle page and RSS feeds. Simple, visually pleasing and effective.

-What about Web 2.0 and social media? How do you think they are shaping library services?
Its great that Web 2 is being using to reveal the inner workings and promote the treasures of libraries to the world. It helps refresh our image. We need to take great care though not to jump on band wagons for the sake of the fad of the moment. Prior evaluation and planning as ever are the key.

Great programme guys - thank you!

Thing 21: Podcasting - Cataloguing Inspiration

Here is a good podcast about the Pilgrim Trust's archival cataloguing grants programme:

Lovely calming but empowering delivery by the speaker - ''It puts money exactly where we need it''.

I did enjoy the plagiarism video and I can definitely see the merit of podcasts to commuters. I need to up the memory capacity of my phone and then I will indeed use them more on my commute.

As an aside here is a great, structured podcast that I used when I first arrived in Cambridge:

I think an audio guide to the UL exhibitions downloadable from our website would go down very well with users and staff alike!

Thing 22: User generated content by Wiki

The British Postal Museum and Archive have a very interesting wiki which they are developing within their ordinary webpages:

Try following the link 'Mount Pleasant Sports and Social clubs'
to see a fascinating image of Sikh workers.

I find it a little visually confusing and perhaps no quite so structured as I would like but the basic premise is an excellent one. The editing interface is WYSIWYG so very user friendly.

I really like the idea of users building up content in this way and think the BPMA are onto a good thing here.

Thing 20: Carry on blogging? Let me know via Google Docs!

I have been using Google docs in a personal capacity from some time now. Its a bit clunky and its functionality as an office suit is limited but the ability to share at so many levels outweighs all that. I will check out Zoho.

I set up a Google Docs spreadsheet last year to allow our 'Big Summer Quiz' to team collate their answers more efficiently. Now my secret is out!

Since I've been there with creating and sharing all kinds of documents previously I decided to set up a survey for this thing and have embedded it below (not altogether successfully!). It's a short survey about whether you will continue to blog post Cam23. Please do respond and share it with others!

Click to go to a prettier full page version

Thing 19: Marketing

Well I admit I had never really considered the difference between marketing and advertising but that's why I am doing Cam23 - to pull my brain into the new century!

The examples of what social media marketing is ''going on out there in Libraryland''
given by Andy in his Thing 19 introductory blog entry are extremely varied. It is the variety that really strikes me about these opportunities. For instance I had never heard of Goodreads. I am slightly concerned that we information management professionals are simple caught up in a process of chasing each band wagon that comes along. We feel obliged to have a Twitter account. We get criticised if we don't have Facebook page. I am worried about proliferation and 'faddines'. My initial thoughts are that should stop chasing teh wagon and focus our efforts on our webpages which are the most established form of electronic marketing but perhaps with forums so that we can engage in the 'Conversations' which I do appreciate are useful. Hmm.

All that said I am the joint author of a project blog begun at the same time as Cam23 was launched. I promise faithfully to think more carefully about 'product, price, place and promotion' with reference to this product as a result of this thing!

Thing 18: Zotero

Morning Campers

I'm catching up on Cam23 after a serious hiatus caused by annual reports, a much needed holiday and the catch up thereafter. It may mean posts today are perfunctory which is a shame but unavoidable if I want to have any chance of completing!

Zotero is a pretty neat thing now isn't it? The layout appears simple whilst allowing quite a sophisticated display of data. Its use seems very intuitive.

Its been a while since I have studied in a way that required the sort of level of organisation that would be well supported by this but I can still recognise its potential. The citation into Google Docs could come in handy. At some stage I will investigate the group library option.

The down side for me is that I am not a huge fan of Firefox. I find it clunky in comparison to internet explorer and frustrating that it seem to cache things it shouldn’t. Not enough time in the day to figure out why!

I thinks its fabulous that folk put work into things like Zotero to make them available to the world. Hurrah for them!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Fen: A walk on the Wild Side

Warning: Non Cambridge 23 Content - its totally off-topic and its all about the Fen...

A reminder last night that the fen has a dark side...
Ahead of me on the path I could see a gathering of people. Something about their stance told me it was bad news. On coming closer I discovered two men one hauling on a rope, the other waist-deep in water heaving with all his might. The object of their attention; one of the beautiful red poll cows that had somehow become trapped in the ditch. I regret to report it was bloodied about the nose and peculiarly quiet, as if resigned to its fate.

This morning another red animal in the far east ditch. For a split second I thought it was a deer but as it dashed up the far bank and sped out across Fen Causeway, with no regard for the cars, all be came clear: a gleaming, athletic fox!

The cow, I am pleased to report, was gone - I hope returned to grazing.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Things: Phizog Volume and Hitched Betwixt

Ah, a few moments fun with the thesaurus...

Well now to business:

I have had a Facebook account for a about four years now and the fact that I can't be bothered to login to check exactly how long I've had it speaks volumes. I am a detail person and I ought to want to know that date. Facebook for me has simply become a tool to contact loose acquaintances and to advertise charitable events in which I am in some way involved. The more involved networking aspects of it have become less and less engaging as time goes on. I find it rather a 'false' experience in many ways; a whole lot of blowing of horns and mutual back slapping.

I am sorry to say I can't fully understand the need for a library presence on Facebook. Looking at the examples given all of the access information posted there is merely a duplicate of what appears on the institutional website and most of the updates a duplication of RSS news and events feed. Why replicate these things in an environment that requires a Login? The only difference is that the Facebook pages are 'chattier' than the website and I am not sure that is actually an advantage.

If I sound sceptical about Facebook I am going to sound downright scornful of Linkedin. I wouldn't dream of posting the kind of information it collates in public. Its an identity thieve's playground. I am sure the benefits of discussion groups can be hosted in a much more secure environment elsewhere.

Rant over... Friday night... time to go home... grr!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Thing: Virtual Bookshelves

Well I like Library Thing.

I liked the speed with which you could build up a collection because of the imported data. I liked the look and feel of the site. It feels uncluttered but that in no way compromises the complexity of the data it can hold. I like the idea of following a link to librarys flagged as containing the same books as mine because I hope a person with similar tastes might have listed something which I would be interested in too.

I can't really answer the question about whether my library could use Library thing as I am an archivist just along for the ride! I can see how it might be of use to small libraries and in fact the subject of archival cataloguing software for small archives is a regular subject on the archival listservs. One of the recently developed open source systems is:
but there is nothing out there with the broad appeal of LibraryThing. I guess the main differences are:

  • the number of people that have extensive personal collections of books is much higher than extensive personal archives

  • that the ability to draw in data from elsewhere (e.g. Amazon) can't really apply to archives which are unique… it would take much longer to build data up and I myself was pleased by the immediate nature of LibraryThing

  • and, following on from my last, people like to know what they have in common with each other - a sense of belonging, a pack mentality?!

... interesting.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Award me half your bonus point please Ange?

Ange Fitzpatrick wrote on

Ctrl + Alt and the cursor keys rotate your screen. Bonus point if you can
find a viable work use for this function!
So I got to thinking there might be times when you want to show just a little more/slightly different content in a screen shot than you can get in landscape. You could use the rotate screen a useful route to do this. See comparative screen grabs below:

Normal screen shot
Screen shot on rotate (which much to my suprise automatically uprighted itself )

Perhaps I am only due half your point as I still can't think of a valid use for totally upside down!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Things: On the Isle of Introspection

So here I am on the 'Isle of Introspection' half way between 'In the Dark' and 'In the Know'. The journey across 'the Fen of Knowledge' thus far has had its share firm paths and boggy spots. Let me elucidate...


- My Google Start page has revolutionised my experience of keeping up with news and announcements from other organisations. I have found it so useful I have unsubscribed from some mailing lists I was previously part of - mailing lists are so old hat darling!

- The course can't help but to improve ones knowledge - it is its very reason for existence. Each week has proved an opportunity to investigate things that I was only dimly aware of or had no knowledge of at all. The step by step instructions, might I say dear Leaders, have been a truly excellent guide.

- At the risk of sounding arrogant I did already feel quite competent and confident with web 2.0 so it is really breadth of knowledge that is the big gain here. And, of course, being able to look good at the tea table when discussing the Library of Congress’s project to allow users to free tag online photo galleries is quite a bonus.

- On the subject of application: I am currently using the Google calendar to email reminders for things such as lunch duties. I am certain that I will be able to use Doodle and Flickr for future work use although in my present post I can not see exactly how that will come about. Twitter, Slideshare, Tagging and Commenting I think are unlikely to feature much in my work life. That said I found the first hit ina Google search yesterday was to Slideshare. i probably woudl not have followed the link if 23 Things had not already introduced it to me.

- I have already recommended Doodle and Start pages to other people. What great tools they are.


- How is it possible to know if ''the 'Things' [have] covered everything that you need to know, or think it relevant to know?''. It is only by knowing them that you realise you need to know them, and in some cases, such as Doodle it makes me wish I had known them long ago!

- I think I will try to identify a specific time in the week to set aside for the next half of the course. I find the work being pushed towards the end of the week and I consequently feel under pressure and perhaps do not enjoy it as much as I should. I will make a little time each day for reading the blog aggregator as other peoples views have been so enlightening, especially when I have viewed a 'Thing' a pointless myself.

- VARK tells me that I have multimodal learning style so I suspect I might have learnt a few different things from the odd lecture/presentation or question and answer session. However the big advantage of the activities as presented is the ability to stop at a moments notice and pick up again where you left off.

The 'the Fen of Knowledge' has been a great place to be and I just wish I could visit it at more leisure! My fellow travellers have proved a great boon and I thank them all for their companionship, their help and their encouragement so freely given both verbally and online.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Things: tag.tastic or may be not

I am really just not getting Delicious. I know I won't feel inclined to use it at all in a personal capacity. Something about too few hours in the day...

I did read an interesting post about using it as a way of preventing the need to duplicate favourites folders at home and at work but I get round this by refusing to allow the internet to intrude into my home life!

Work wise I did find the tags being posted by the Philosophy Library most interesting. However, as our fiends at the Judge point out how do you persuade your users to go to your tags rather than just hitting Google? We used to provide a similar facility in a previous place of work as both a web page 'Where to Start you research' and as an equivalent emailable word document. Both these had the advantage of allowing you to write the document in a structured format with hints and tips included. While delicious's bundle facility goes some way to facilitating this I remain unconvinced.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Things: Slip sliding out of date

My current post is not one in which I am in either a position to give or receive many presentations so perhaps my appreciation of the potential of a site like this is somewhat limited.

It is the public nature of this site that, bizarrely, seems to me to be its down fall. The majority of presentations are developed ad hoc to appeal to a very discreet audience. They usually have to be heavily altered even if they are used in house again. Presentations are about information in the here and now and the shows uploaded on Slideshare will soon be out of date.

I think it unlikely that the majority of people would be able to find a good enough match in the presentations to just present one wholesale. Do correct me if I am wrong - I want to know!

I am not all convinced I will use Slideshare in the future but that said I am pleased to know about it for when you lot convince me I am being a luddite.

Still for all you fashion conscious librarians out there this may amuse you:

Friday, 25 June 2010

Fen: Red 'n' Pinkness

Warning: Non Cambridge 23 Content - its totally off-topic and its all about the Fen...

The Fen is just beginning to take on a slight brown cast. High summer is on it way and some of the plants are done for the year already. The leaves on the trees have lost their spring softness and brightness and have hardened up ready for a tough summers work.

A curious number of red and pink things spotted today; a bright red ladybird and brick red tortoiseshell butterfly sunnning themselves side by side; the spent red lower leaves of the sorrels and wild geraniums; arching branches of dog-rose with soft pink blooms turned up to the sun; and lavendar-pink emerging thistle flowers atop their spiky spires.

If you have a hour to spare over the next 24 hours perhaps you'd care to help our colleagues from the Museum of Zoology with their 'BioBlitz' on the Fen?

''At 1pm on July 2nd 2010, experts, volunteers and members of the public will begin a race against time to count as many species of plants and animals on Coe Fen in Cambridge as possible within 24 hours. No small task! And we are looking for you to get involved with this exciting project exploring the biodiversity within our city.

As well as the survey of the site, there will be walks, trails and hands on activities provided by wildlife organizations from around the region. Members of the public are invited to drop in on the Friday afternoon and Saturday. Visit base camp on site when you arrive for maps, recording forms and hands on activities.''

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Things: visual feast

What a delight to be able to legitimately spend time at work looking at pictures! Its good to have a better understanding of creative commons licensing. Here is a fascinating image of a map from the Walters Art Museum stream on flickr:

I have added an RSS feed of Cambridgeshire images to my iGoogle page which is proving really varied and totally delightful:
I am curious to see if anyone will use it to promote anything (e.g. a library!). At the moment it is very personal and artistic.

Quite a number of archival cataloguing projects have been creating Flickr albums of images of high lights of the collections. I like the fact that Flickr allows you to send a link to a slideshow rather than just a gallery as people will respond differently to different types of media. Here is an example created by the University of Bradford Special Collections as an outcome of their project to catalogue archives of Peace activists:

Looking forward to Slideshare…

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Things: tip for following Cam23 step by step instructions

I am just following the step-by-step instructions for Thing 10 and realise I have done something on autopilot that other people may not know about and may find handy. It is possible to have the Cam23 instructions displayed alongside the website of the Thing you are working on so you don't have to keep jumping between two windows.

To do this you need to have your browser open twice. Probably the quickest way to do this is to press the Start Menu and click on your browser programme (eg. Internet Explorer) and then to do exactly the same thing again - i.e. press the start menu again and select you browser again.

Once you have done this you right click on the background of the Windows taskbar (i.e. the big grey bar along the bottom of the screen). In the pop up menu that appears select Tile Windows Horizontally.
I use this function quite a bit to compare say two versions of a report or two lots of data in Excel tables.

Apologies this is so Windows based people.
PS does anyone have any idea why my posts get truncated in Girl in the Moon's feed of all the blogs?!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Things: Tagging and Name Authorities

I had great fun tagging my blog entries thus far 'Hurrah' for things I enjoyed and can see the point of and 'Bizarre' for things I am less convinced about.

Well now I confess to having enjoyed reading Clay Shirky's essay, 'Ontology is Overrated', very much indeed. It is good to think about such things from a different perspective. I particularly found the sections on signal loss and 'smeariness' of tagging enlightening.

I should perhaps add that I am an archivist rather than a librarian so perhaps my approach is a little different. Each collection requires an individual hierachical structure (classification scheme) to be created for it as the material is unique. So in the archival world I guess there are fewer issues with signal loss because one is always attempting to create a scheme based on what is in front of you now rather than trying to force an items into an existing set of headings someone else set up a long time ago. Indexing or addition of name authorities is often viewed as a non-essential activity but I feel this may change as more online thesauri are developed. I'll add a link here to an interesting article on indexing in the latest Society of Archivist's magazine when the e-edition is made available.

There is certainly an issue about critical mass with user led tagging. And perhaps, dare I even say it, a collaborative effort rather than an 'us or them' approach might work best with library tagging projects.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Things: the jury's out on Twitter

After only a few days with a Twitter account I don't feel in a position to form a sound judgement of it. Its been fascinating to follow the Cam23 blogs this week re Twitter; this has to have been the most divisive week yet. Jenni very succinctly describes it a marmite reaction in her latest blog entry.

If I have to flutter down off my fence I think I'll be with the 'Not to Tweet' camp. I was a strong convert to start pages (iGoogle has proved really worthwhile) and RSS feeds at the beginning of this project. I can easily appreciate their worth. Somehow feel that Twitter is merely being used by most institutions to replicate what they produce in blogs and feeds and the replication is superfluous. I understand its all about reaching a wider audience but 140 characters just doesn't do it for more. Has anyone actually come across any research that quantifies the direct benifits of Twitter to Libraries?

All this said I'll stick with it for another week or two and who knows I may be singing from the roof tops yet.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Things: A proliferation of calendars

I have set up a Google calendar but my current feeling is that I am unlikely to use it. Like so many of us I am happy with my very tangible filofax. I like that it sprouts papers and has to be tidied up from time to time!

Yet again I think I can see the potential for this application more in my personal life than at work. I tend to enter lunch duties, meetings etc on the existing online departmental calendar so my colleagues know where I am.

I wonder how many of us have used the word 'potential' in blogging about Thing 6?!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Fen: On cows and the effects of rain

Warning: Non Cambridge 23 Content - its all about the Fen...

Here is a curious thing; cows will eat ivy. I am not certain why it surprises me so but it does. I saw a cow this morning with nothing short of a voracious appetite for it. Nothing was going to come between it and its breakfast!

Noticed also a beautiful juxtaposition of plants caused by the weight of rain water lightly crushing together stands of black sedge and white comfrey. The interspersed spikes of the sedge and bells of the comfrey were quite a sight covered in tiny globes of water.

Things: KISS

Doodle is a real hit with me perfectly fulfilling the KISS mantra - Keep It Simple, Stupid!

I like it simplicity, its clean look, and it functionality. What a relief not to have to set up an account for once. My favourite feature is the 'Yes-No-Ifneedbe poll' setting as it acknowledges peoples answers may not be clear cut.

I do realise that there a whole hosts of options to enhance functionality but even at the most basic level this site will prove invaluable.

I should be on a commission as I have advertised it to all and sundry.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Fen: Misty Morning

Observed crossing the fen this morning:

- a grey heron in flight languorously making its way down the water course

- green wood pecker also making its way down the fen, first noticed as a flashing dash of red

- the cows companionably lying round the base of a poplar tree chewing the cud

- the soft look of the fen created by a haze of new grass heads and tall buttercups, accentuated by the misty start to the day

Things: this commenting business

The facility to comment on blogs is a curious thing.

Comments I have read mostly seem to fall into two groups: those that validate what the author has written, and those that disagree with it. I suppose the most useful incoming comments for me will be those which make me reappraise what I have written in my post.

A third type of comment are those posted by 'trolls'. In all seriousness see:
I have decided to moderate comments on this blog as I expect the volume to be low enough to do so with ease.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Things: you mean the information can come to me?!

I find I am rather keen on this startpage idea. I have actually set up the page as a secondary tab rather than as my main home page. This makes it slightly less obtrusive but it does still operate how a startpage is intended to i.e. it opens every time I open my browser.
I have a rough split of news feeds and widgets between two pages. I thought I'd want to look at the feeds more regularly than I would want to use the widgets.
A slight irritation is that I am finding that as I already use a GoogleDocs account for which I have another user identity that I am having to continually alter who I am signed in as.

Metaphore for cataloguing?

So here is my first post for the Cambridge 23 Things continuing professional development course.

I'm planning on taking this blog on a slightly of piste route - from 'In the Dark', over 'the Fen of Knowledge' to 'In the Know'. It will be an interesting journey I am sure.

I often choose a longer commute for the sheer pleasure of walking across Coe Fen. My reasons are many but one is that seeing the minute daily progression of nature through the seasons somehow helps me to reflect on how the minute act of cataloguing a single item in a collection can add to appreciation of the whole.

Often there is something out of place or new in the fen. Walking through it and noticing these things helps provides an opportunity to broaden my recognition and consequent appreciation of species of plants, birds, trees etc. Similarly, like any CPD opportunity, I expect that engaging in the 23 Things will broaden and enliven my working experience.

My previous experience of Web 2.0 and social media has largely been confined to use of a social networking site and awareness of reporting of sensationalist stories about Web 2.0 in traditional media. I am sure it will be educational to observe some of these things first hand to form a more rational opinion of them.