Week 13: Wrap Up Exercise

PLAY and REFLECT activities

Week 4 REFLECT: RSS Feeds
Week 4 PLAY: Social Content Curation
Week 6 REFLECT: Social Networking Sites
Week 6 PLAY: Social Networking Sites
Week 7 REFLECT: Image Sharing and Creative Commons
Week 7 PLAY: Image Sharing and Creative Commons
Week 10 REFLECT: Gamification
Week 10 PLAY: Gamification
Week 11 REFLECT: Mashups
Week 11 PLAY: Mashups

INN333 Information Programs has been a unique experience for me. When I first enrolled in the class, I didn’t have much of an idea about what the content would consist of- I had a vague idea that Information Programs might mean learning about databases or eDRMS, or something else along those lines. As such I was surprised to discover that the majority of the unit was made up of web 2.0 related learning activities.

Before I had begun the unit, I had fairly minimal contact with many of the applications I was to discover over the semester. I had a neglected facebook account which I almost never posted to, and although I had a twitter account this was only because joining twitter was a necessary part of INN634 Professional Practice, in which I was enrolled last semester. I was unenthusiastic about, and even daunted by the idea of creating a blog, and using other programs which I was unfamiliar with.

By the end of the semester, however, my attitude has changed. Although I was unenthusiastic at first, writing my blog entries for the weeks I had selected became quite enjoyable, but most of all it was a real pleasure to see other people post comments to my blog about something I had written, and to explore the different points of view each person has had on the various activities in which we participated throughout the semester. I am now also more confident in using many internet based tools which I may have previously not even known about (such as bundlr) let alone tried.

I have enjoyed connecting with my peers by participating in facebook discussions and commenting on other student’s blogs. I have not used twitter as much as I could have have this semester, as I found that the facebook group format was much easier to follow. I had even set up a hootsuite account to make monitoring the inn333 hash tag easier, and although this did help, the facebook group was still my preferred method of keeping in contact with the class, and I feel some of the other students may have felt this way as well.

People have posted some really interesting topics and with so much information being posted, the subject has kept me more informed than ever about the goings on of the library world. Although at times, especially at the beginning of the semester, I found the volume of information on the facebook page to be quite daunting, and it was sometimes difficult to keep up with everything that was being posted. I have not been the most active poster on the facebook group, but I have generally taken the time to read what others have to say, and I feel this has been very beneficial to my learning experience this semester. The facebook group has also been a great place to get advice about the weekly learning activities, and being able to get help from my peers has been very useful.

I felt that for this class, the learning experience gained was very much up to the student. There was potential to learn a lot, and from a wide range of different sources, especially through information classmates have have posted on the facebook page and exploring the resources available for each weeks learning activities. Otherwise, students could potentially do very little. As such, it seemed more than ever that it was the student’s responsibility to get the best leaning experience possible by making use of the resources available.

I found the mashup PLAY activity in week 11 to be the most enjoyable activity of the semester. I have studied graphic design previously, and it was fun to be able to put some of the techniques I have leaned previously to use. The most frustrating point in the semester, on the other hand, would have been when I was attempting to complete the week 4 PLAY activity using Bundlr or storify. I had decided to use WordPress to create my blog, and I had so far been quite pleased and even pleasantly surprised by how easily I had been able to set up and post to my blog. Whilst completing this activity, however I found out that I was unable to embed my bundlr or my storify (I used both, in an attempt to see if one would work when the other hadn’t) into my blog as WordPress has a policy preventing this. This was a disappointing experience, but I did learn a lesson about the limitations of software.

I found learning about creative common to be the most interesting subject of the semester, as it is a subject that is becoming increasingly relevant, and as a future librarian, I believe that any information about copyright is important to know.

Although I am pleased to have learned so much about tools that I previously had little experience with, I do admit that I have not been overly experimental with my blog posts (i.e. I have not attempted a podcast or a video etc.), and I although I feel that I have participated adequately in class discussion via facebook, I should probably have posted more often. I believe these are the two main weak points of the semester.

I believe the most important lesson that I have learned this semester is not to underestimate the value of social media and web 2.0 tools. Now I have a much better understanding of the variety of tools that are available and how they might be used within a library context, as well as a better understanding of how important web 2.0 has become to libraries and to organisations in general. This is something that I began to understand when I first started my degree, as even in the first semester we were encourage to join twitter and linkedin. This course has served to further confirm the importance of social media for me, and I will now feel more confident in using many of these tools in the future.

Week 11 Reflect: Mashups

Choose a LibrayHack data mashup entry and prepare a critical commentary on it. Consider questions like: What data inputs were used? What does the end product do? How successful do you think it is?

The library hack mashup competition invited participants to utilise data provided by a number of libraries in conjunction with data from other online sources to create an application. For the purpose of this weeks reflect activity, I have chosen to discuss the data mashup “Talking maps”, by Michael Henderson. This entry was the major prize winner in the library hack data mashups category, and can be accessed here.

This application is designed to display information both geographically- via an aerial view or a map and through a commentary- supplied as either a voice over or as text displayed in a bar on the right hand side of the page. The user can then scroll through the various locations listed, in an interactive tour or journey.

This is a particularly ambitious project in that it provides information on four different topics, which are:
A walking tour of West End, Brisbane
The Journey of the H.M.S. Endeavour
Sights and Sounds of the Brisbane 2011 flood
Real Estate sales in the early 1900′s

The information on each topic was sourced from the datasets and images available through libraryhack, and was then mashed up with images and data available elsewhere online.

From my experience of mashups so far, maps or aerial views combined with related data seem to be one of the most popular types of data mashup. Talking Maps is an excellent example of how this can be achieved, although I feel that some of the four topics covered were done better than others. The walking tour of West End, for example, tries something a bit different by adding a recorded audio commentary, however some of these commentaries seem a bit long winded or difficult to follow.

Another issue that I experienced with the application was that when I attempted to visit the Sights and Sounds of Brisbane 2011 Floods section, a username and password was requested, which I did not have access to, and as such I was unable to access this section of the application.

As such, this mashup does have some errors, but in general I feel that this is an excellent way of representing data, especially of a historical nature, which might otherwise be difficult to envisage.

Week 10 Reflect: Gamification

Post a short reflection on the role of gaming in libraries or information organisations. Do you see a place for it?

I think that gamification is an exciting new idea, which is currently picking up a lot of momentum. Gamification can be used as an excellent tool for both marketing of libraries and for education, and when used correctly, should provide a seamlessly fun experience, whilst still imparting valuable information. This seems to be the next step in user experience, which is all about making the time spent by a user on something like a website or database as pleasant as possible

Designers do, however, need to be careful about how they present the game. For example, a game designed for a library, or any other organisation as a marketing tool may work well as long as the user is engaged, however the user may feel that they have been “tricked” into being sucked in if the marketing aspect of a game becomes too heavily emphasised. After all, the reason a user is going to play a game is for fun. Once a game stops being fun, why keep playing?

As noted in this article, the information provided through gamification should be imparted seamlessly, whilst the user has fun. There are even websites available such as luminosity.com which claim to exercise the users mind, whilst the user plays games which seem to just be fun, and not at all tiresome or mentally taxing.

For libraries in particular I think that gamification is a great idea, as people often are unwilling to spend the time required learning about library related news. Making this into a game is likely to make the experience more memorable, meaning users are more likely to return to the library or library website to replay the game.

The New York Public Library’s “Find The Future” seems to have been an excellent promotional event, as far as raising awareness about the library is concerned, however gamification on a much smaller scale could also be helpful for libraries. Not everything has to be gamified, of course, and some people may simply think games are nonsense and not want to deal with them at all. After all, games do have a sense of triviality attached to them, and as is noted in this article, some people may find it hard to accept the idea that games can be educational or informative.

It is however, early days for gamification, and I believe games will be embraced by libraries in the coming years.

Week 7 Reflect: Image Sharing and Creative Commons

How do you feel about Creative Commons licensing your own content? Are you comfortable with reserving only some of your rights as a content producer?

Firstly I feel that there is a sort of “culture of collaboration” happening online, which can be seen through things such as free open source software (for example, I currently use the free to download Apache Open Office as a substitute for the Microsoft Office Suite), as well as websites such as Wikipedia, which encourage collaboration from people all over the world.

In terms of my own content, generally speaking, in the creative commons spirit, I would be happy to allow other people to use my content- to a certain extent.

For example, this weeks play activity involves posting a photo every day on either flickr or instagram (I am using instagram myself). Personally I would be happy for anyone to use those pictures for just about anything, and I probably wouldn’t even particularly mind if I wasn’t credited for the photos either.

On the other hand, a large part of the reason that I wouldn’t mind other people using these photos is that I am not expecting to sell these pictures for a profit. Once the idea of money comes into the picture, I feel creative commons can become a lot more complicated. If I was an author, for instance, and my livelihood (and reputation as an author) depended on these books I might be less inclined to allow people to use my work, especially if I was going to be then posted online for anyone to access free of charge (I imagine this would be a bit of a hot topic amongst fan fiction communities).

Essentially saying whether or not I would be comfortable only reserving some of my rights as a content producer would depend on what kind of content I was producing, and for what I wish to use the content for, as well as what others may wish to use it for. The idea of someone else taking content that I have produced and changing it does seem somewhat discomforting, however I tend to forget that Creative Commons does still leave the user with some rights, just not all of them, and that through collaboration the end product may be something different and unexpected, which could never be achieved through just one person.

Week 6 Reflect: Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites are more than just marketing channels. Write a post for or against.

Social networking for organisations (such as libraries) definitely has a marketing aspect to it. Social networking sites such as facebook are a great new way for any organisation to promote products, events etc. to anyone who wishes to join up.

However, I believe that social networking also has a significant element of involvement from the person who is being “marketed” to which is something that hasn’t really happened in the past. This allows for people to become involved with an organisation in a way that they have never been able to before. As an example, this week I posted a link to the New York City Library on the class facebook group. NYCL can use this page as a way of promoting events, however people can comment and interact with the library through the page as well, leading to the page not just becoming a marketing tool, but also a community and information hub for anyone around the world with an interest in the New York City Library.

nypl
My local library sure doesn’t look like that.

nypl_lion
I just love their lions!

I do believe that this kind of social networking for organisations still does fall somewhat under the category of marketing, its just that it’s a very new and different way or marketing from traditional methods, and I think that people are just a bit unsure at present of what it means for organisations and the way that they market themselves.

I do, however, feel that social networking is a great way for organisations to connect with people. Instead of simply putting marketing material out there for people to see (or not see) with social media, marketing can become more of a two way conversation, rather, than just shouting out a message and hoping that the right people hear it.

Essentially I believe that there is certainly a strong marketing element associated with social networking sites, however they also have a community element, and an information element, making them more than just marketing channels.

Week 4 Reflect: RSS Feeds

Although I have heard of them, I have never before made use of rss feeds until now. I do see how they can be very useful for information professionals, albeit I cannot help but notice that they seem to be a technology that is coming out of vogue, especially with the recent demise of Google Reader and the rise of twitter and other social media.

Rss feeds do, however, have a number of useful qualities, the most important of which seems to me to be their ability to save people time. This is essential for professionals, who are most likely looking to get work done as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is something library professionals are likely to be familiar with, as tightening budgets force libraries to do more with less. The tool can also be used as a reminder to visit a site which might otherwise be forgotten or overlooked due to the over-abundance of information available online.

I would see rss feeds as being especially important in a course such as inn333 information programs, as keeping track of the many blogs that are currently being written by the students participating in this class can be quite overwhelming. I have added a few sites to my new rss feed so far, and I can certainly see how twitter may have begun to overshadow rss feeds somewhat, as I have noticed that much of the information delivered through my rss feed is also available through my twitter feed. I would imagine however, that using an rss feed may well make more sense for receiving updates for important information, as twitter updates can be easily missed if the feed is not checked very frequently. Essentially, however, it would come down to a matter of preference as to which way each person wishes to receive his or her information.

In conclusion, rss feeds are a great time saving tool, and are likely to be used most frequently by busy professionals or anyone looking to be organised and efficient, however other available news feeds are now beginning to eclipse them.

Week 3 Reflect: Microblogging

Unexpectedly, twitter has played a fairly large role so far in my library and information studies degree. What with libraries trying to keep as up to date with technology as possible, it seems that libraries and librarians have embraced microblogging and view it as an important factor in promoting libraries and library related activities, as well as being a tool to be used for professional development (Hall & Loudon, 2010, p. 236), hence the focus on social media within the MIT LIS major.

As I have mentioned in my previous post, I have never been particularly drawn to social media. This is the first blog I have ever started (can you tell :p) and I joined twitter only a few months ago, as it was a requirement of a subject I was enrolled in last semester.

I have, however, enjoyed using twitter so far, and even if I don’t post much myself, I do think its a great way to keep in contact with classmates, and to get news from a variety of different sources.

As far as twitter’s role in my learning experience is concerned, I feel that the most beneficial aspect of having a twitter account is being able to contact and interact with other students. I can’t say I’ve perfected this yet, probably due to lack of expertise, however I enjoy following various LIS teachers and students, and it helps me keep track of where everyone else is up to in subjects, and is also a useful alternate way of asking tutors questions about classes and assignments.

In the future I believe I will continue to use twitter, since although I am not a very active user in terms of posting, it acts as an excellent personalised newsfeed. My future as a blogger, however, is something I am still unsure of, as the blogging world is still all very new to me, and my experience with keeping this blog throughout the semester will be likely to shape my opinion on continuing to blog in the future.

References

Hall, H., & Loudon, L. (2010). From triviality to business tool: The case of twitter in library and information services delivery. Business Information Review, 27(4), 236-241. DOI: 10.1177/0266382110390480