Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Spiders and future-proofing your cloud. Tagging# Thing 8

I guess my approach to tagging is embarassing for a librarian; it's haphazzard, willy-nilly, erratic and exessive. Like those caffeine drugged spiders , I tend not to have any structure to my tagging web. It's about how I feel on the day, on the minute, on the second, and more importantly, how I think I will feel in the future...

Wordle: my Delicious tagsI get scared you see, of not being able to find anything again. How do I stop the cloud eating up all my data and dispersing it as rain somewhere I can't find it? My answer is, tags, tags and more tags.  And, so far it has worked. My Delicious account has a ma-hou-sive tag cloud,  BUT,  I can find stuff.  For example, anything to do with images is tagged under: 'photo' 'image' 'picture' 'jpeg' etc., etc. Whatever my brain decides to search under, it is likely to find what it's looking for first time round.

When I find a site I like, I usually put it away away for later perusal. Whether this is in a bookmark, in Delicious, or in an email folder. Any which way, I have to tag it so you can find it again. When you get that niggle in the back of your brain that says 'hang on a minute', I've seen that somewhere before. That niggle could be 2 weeks down the line, or 2 months down the line, or 2 YEARS down the line. How do you know what you are going to type into the search box 2 years later about your vague niggle. You're darned tooting it won't be what you tagged it 2 years ago when  you felt different, acted different, were different...
So, I see tagging as trying to 'future-proof' your cloud, if that is at all possible. The more options you give yourself,  your future self, and your other selves, the better. The more chance you have of finding things again.

That said, I will introduce a bit of structure to this post by offering up Marsh's list of twitter tag types. In my observences over the last few months I've noticed that twitter tags fall into a certain number of categories depending on the aims of the tagger:
  1. #the humourous tag - the one where you add humour to an otherwise embarrassing situation, #oopsImeantputnotpus. No use for information gathering and recall but gets you out of a tight spot.
  2. #the conference tag -  Comment on the speakers/organisation/food & drink and see what other people really think, in real time. Let those who couldn't come know what's going on. Can act as a useful minute taking method #ala10 #libatcam11??
  3. # reference tag - pure bog-standard reference. I want to be able to find this later or for other people to easily find it too.
  4. #The bot tag - I want to see if a web bot picks me up on my desire to buy a #digitalSLR and offers me a good deal (!)
  5. #the trendy tag - I want to appear in a trending topic, I do, Ido, #WayneRooneyCantPlayFootballForToffee
  6. #the small conversation tag - so you can follow a group conversation more easily #drinksonthursdayanyone ?
  7. #the Face tag on Twitpic - a la Facebook, tag a face, any face....
There must be more types of twitter tag. Can you think of any?

Monday, 21 June 2010

Twitter, Furwalls and David Milliband. Thing 7.

I think I've cracked writer's block, or at least know what causes it in me:  I'm just too damn busy at work to be creative. I've discovered I need time and space to a) enjoy blogging, b) feel that I can spend time creating a quality post that I'm happy to put out there in the ether.

Where am I sitting now? At home.
Sad? ... hmmm. Yes and no. Okay, so I'm giving up my precious spare time at home, BUT,
I've got the music of my choice playing, a nice widescreen monitor, a glass of something cold beside me ( I won't tell if you don't!) and hec, I'm relaxed and enjoying it. The only trouble with being at home is the cats and keeping them off my keyboard. Why do cats feel they need to walk all over your letters? That's another blog post in the making...

Also, by the way, I've been spurred on by all the friendly comments about Marsh's B(l)og out there. Thank you. I may not have had time to interact with you directly, but your comments are really appreciated.

Enough waffle. Down to the nitty gritty, or, twitty gritty?

Twitter, or my quick user guide.

I recently handed over the @libatcam twitter name when I moved back to my cataloguing job and part of the handover process was initiating the new person behind libatcam into the world of twitter. I won't tell you who this person is by the way, as I don't want to blow their cover, that's up to them. Anyhoo, I put together a few essential pointers for the handover, so thought they might be useful to share with you here:

  1. check your @your-twitter-name messages. This is the FIRST thing I do when I login in the morning. Situated to the right of the twitter dashboard in the 'home' section, this little gem will make sure you never miss anybody who is tweeting to you or about you by using your @name. I didn't learn this until a few months in and wish someone had told me about it earlier!
  2. Want followers? Tell them who you are!! Take the time to write a small bio and put in a picture. When I'm deciding whether to follow somebody, the first thing I read is their bio. If they say nothing about themselves I don't feel inclined to follow them. if they can't write a short bio, can they write tweets??
  3. DMs. Danger Mouse? David Milliband? or Direct Message? Not very often used as they kind of go against the spirit of twitter. However, do consider DMs for conveying personal info, like an email address, to someone you follow and trust. That way the information is ony shared between the 2, or however many of you, and not blurted out to the world (and archived at LC!).
  4. Try to keep your follow/follower/tweet ratio on an even keel. This conveys a good vibe about you and your tweeting habits. You've got a decent amount of followers so must be worth a follow, you don't stay completey slient, but at the same time you don't flood peoples feeds with a constant stream of tweets, and you are interested in following people back. A good ratio also implies that you are not a spammer.
  5. Don't forget to check your 'connections' tab in your 'settings'. This lists the 3rd parties that have access to your twitter account. People like Tweetdeck, Tweetmeme and addthis. Usually you will have given them access and all is ok. However, if you see someone there you don't recognise, don't be scared to revoke access. If they are bona fide and you've just forgotten who they are, you can always set them up with access again at a later date.
  6. Most importantly, have fun! Take the opportunity to intreract with a community you wouldn't have had otherwise. Talk to people, ask questions. See it as another group of friends who can help you out if you need it, and who you can help in turn. 
Happy tweeting!  

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Share and share alike. Google Calendar, or Thing 6.

You may call me a dunce, I will allow it. I had such terrible trouble understanding how to share on Google Calendar when I first started using it. Thought I'd share my troubles with you now...

I spent a good couple of months thinking that Ange, aka, Beauty_school_dropout could see my calendar when all the time she couldn't. DOH! I had accepted her 'sharey' email and had added her calendar to mine by going to 'other calendars' and 'add a friend's calendar'. I thought that doing all this would automatically give her access to mine. Nope. Dope.

I have learnt that It's a two way road. You also have to actively share your calendar by going to 'my calendars' and the drop down arrow beside the calendar you wish to share and then to 'share this calendar' and then add a Google account email address to your calendar settings... gasp of breath...

It should be easy to share and I think it probably is. I've just lost the plot a little here. This should have been an easy post to write but for some reason it's been the road to hell. I'm still a little confused about sharing to tell you the truth and writing this was supposed to help me sort out these issues, but it didn't really. Ah well, road block, writers block, whatever you call it. Move around it and start anew. Thing 7 here we come...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Five Doodle facts for Fing Five

My Nan loves to wax lyrical about the Doodlebugs that flew over East Anglia "during  the war". Each one did, according to Nan, have her name on it and was destined to land directly on her head. But they didn't and she is still with us at 83 and going strong! Doodle also seems to being going strong having reached its 6 million monthly unique users mark, according to its newsletter (May 6, 2010). 
Having used Doodle to organise a couple of events at work (of most importance, the Christmas lunch) I know how useful it is and how easy it is to use. I don't need to practice sending out a Doodle poll so I thought I'd do a bit of research and put together a few factoids instead:

Five Doodle facts for Fing Five:
  1. There's an app for that...
    check out the Doodle apps for Facebook and the iPhone
  2. Doodle is one of the finalists in the Enterprise 2.0 LaunchPad 2010 competition in Boston - this is no mean feat as they had to be voted into the final 4 by users.
  3. Doodle say we should take Friday afternoons off (yay!)
  4. The Premium service offers a Quick reply or "who's missing?" service helping you save valuable time by chasing people up for you. Slackers beware!
  5. Don't forget to close your poll. This is the most underused Doodle function. Doodle will close the scheduling process for you, update your calendar with the final date (if connected) and deletes all tentative calendar dates. Clever Doodle.

Further reading:

Librarian in Black's 13 ways (and 147 Tools) to help your library save money on technology 

Mashable's 4 Web-based Meeting Schedulers Reviewed

Tech Crunch's Doodle launches API for group events

and for a bit of fun:

How to analyse your doodles!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Being a Social Bee, or, Thing 4. My take on blog info. and titles.

I've been a real busy bee visiting all the Cam23 flowers out there.  I must say that I'm most impressed with what I've seen. Well done Cam23! You all look like seasoned bloggers to me. Although one thing does peeve me slightly ; the fact that I can't work out who many of you are. I guess I've been pretty up front about putting my name and ugly mug on everything, and some people aren't comfortable with doing with that I know, but just a little more info. would be really helpful. You don't have to put your full name, address and telephone number (in fact you shouldn't!) but a little info about who you are helps to engage the reader and is more likely to create a follower. You're writing good stuff, be proud and debunk that shy retiring librarian myth. Hang your cardies out there and reap some credit! Isn't this what social media is all about?

On a further note about being a busy bee, thanks to the Girl in the Moon I now have a Cam23 reading list set up in Google Reader. I can see that I have 299 unread posts and the reality of it is that I will not get round to reading everything. No way Pedro. Which brings me on to titles and how important they are. When scanning a list in Reader I will be unashamedly attracted to the the most colourful flowers out there i.e., the ones that look interesting and tell me something about what lurks beneath. Time is of the essence and I will not click through to anything when I don't know if there will be any nectar. Judging by what I have just said and looking back at some of my blog titles, I would change them. But this is what this programme is about, learning on the job and bee-ing better!

Friday, 4 June 2010

A picture says a 1000 words, or, tips on adding images.

Being a visual person I immediately set out to add images to my blogger blog. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be and I got rather frustrated (see post 'things 1 & 2 iGoogle and others'). I tried to add images from both my PC and the Web and although the image popup loader was telling me it was done, nothing  appeared. Nada, diddly squat, zilch. I couldn't work it out so called upon the more experienced Ange Fitzparick for help. Here are a couple of  pointers that came to the forefront. Hope you don't have to go through the same hair-pulling as I did!

1. Check your post editor settings
Under the settings tab and Global Settings, make sure that you have the updated editor checked. The blogger default setting seems to be for the old editor for some reason. This old version really wasn't playing ball for me and I think Google are gradually phasing it out so why it is the default is anyone's guess. Switching to the new version is definitely recommended.

2. When posting an image from the web
Don't do as I did and try pasting in the URL for the whole webpage where the image is located (DOH!). It won't work as you are pointing to a page not an image and the image loader will just go 'no, not doing  that'. You need to either bring up the image in it's own tab by right clicking on the image and choosing view image. Then copy and paste the URL from that tab which should end in an image file type such as .jpeg, .gif. or .png.  OR, even quicker, right click on the image and 'copy image location'. Then paste in the URL box of the image uploader.

Hope this helps. Happy image posting!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Things 1 & 2 - iGoogle and others...

I am having a bit of trouble with Blogger at the moment, so apologies if this post feels a bit jangly, it is reflecting my nerves. The Blogger image uploader just isn't playing ball, hence the visual desert that is Marsh's B(l)og. Grrrrrrrr.

I will work it out I'm sure and will blog about it when I have done so!! That's the spirit.

So, Things 1 and 2. i.e. , IGoogle homepage and adding an RSS feed to said page.

I've had IGoogle as my homepage for a little over a year now so it was already there popping up like a good little homepage every startup. I like it. I find it easy to use.

(ha ha! Finally got a screenshot in!)

It keeps my 'stuff' in order and saves me time. In true British fashion I like to know what the weather is doing. Hey presto, there's an app for that! (ooopps, brainwashed by Apple) I mean, there's a box for that. I like to have the Google map page handy. Hey presto, there's a box for that. I like to have a virtual To Do list. Hey pretso, etc, etc. The GOOD thing is that it saves me time. I don't have to open a BBC page every time I need to know whether it's welly weather. I don't have to open Google Maps every time I need directions to a library.

IGoogle is to me a basic online PA. I haven't yet found it useful in the wider library world. I set up a 'Library Things' tag and the libraries widget is there to be used if needs be, but I still find myself going to my Newton bookmark, or COPAC bookmark for the full screen experience. I'll be interested to read what other people do and think with regards to IGoogle and libraries.

As for Pageflakes, I had a flirtation with her (if a start page is female??) back in 2007. It didn't last and I didn't buy her flowers. She was too U.S.-centric. She couldn't get me the UK weather. Then, she disappeared for several days on end and I heard NOTHING. Thought she was gone with all my information. She came back with her tail between her legs but it was too late. Once bitten twice shy and all that. She may have changed a few years down the line, but I haven't felt the need to re-visit.

One thing about IGoogle is that it has been reliable throughout and because the Google giant is so big, I don't expect my stuff to disappear into the ether any time soon. I also use Google Reader as my RSS agregator and I must admit that I prefer using the Reader interface to sift through all my feeds rather than have them listed in a tiny box on IGoogle. There isn't enough space for me there. However, picking one feed that is important or needs to be keep an eye on, Cam23 in this instance, is a useful devise and I would consider doing that again in the future.

My social media potted history

This is Thing 3, part of the Cam23 programme, and my obsessive compulsive side is telling me I really should be starting with Thing 1, but hey, I am going to fight it!

My social media potted history:

I've been using social media for a good 10 years now. It started way back in 2000 when I got into Friends Reunited. Anyone remember them?? They are still around and I get the odd email through my uber-retro Talk21 address (which I am very proud of). I've had that since 1998!! Anyhoo, I have a feeling that the info. about me on FR is sooooo out of date that I would cringe, so I'm not even going there....
Then I think I started using Facebook in 2007. Relatively late I guess. I really fought against it to start with. I ignored request after request to join but then I caved in and have been what I call a fair user since. I don't post an awful lot but I find it an incredibly handy way to keep in touch with friends all over the world. Without FB I would never have been able to do that. I'm not worried about security. I just check my settings on a regular basis. Never been hacked or stalked or anything like that, touch wood.
Then came Pageflakes at about the same time. Didn't get on with it at all... more about that in Thing 1...
Followed by the Google suite: Igoogle, Google Reader, etc. etc. about a year ago and Delicious .
Yum yum!
Started the @libatcam Twitter account in January this year which was my first real foray into Web 2.0 for work.

So, you see, I'm a bit of a 'wait and see' gal. I don't jump on the bandwagon from the word go, but if I find something I like, I stick with it (love you Talk21. Mwah!). I'm not an early adopter and I'm much more a social social media user. The work and library 2.0 thang has, relatively speaking, only just started and that is what I hope Cam23 will help me with. I'm also a bit reluctant and need a bit of a push from time to time to try new things. Don't we all?

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

What's in a Name?

Did I fall or was I pushed into this blogging thing? A bit of both.

Even though I am a very reluctant writer (could try harder read my school English report) and other people reading my stuff quite frankly brings me out in a terror sweat, I must admit that I already had a name lined up for that 'eventual' Blog. Now that eventual blog has become reality thanks to Cam23, the pushers, and thanks to my falling into an addiction to other web 2.0 librarian bloggers (Ange Fitzpatrick mostly and Librarian in Black ), my coping strategy is to just write to myself. Hence, the 'notes to self' above.

On another note to self, may I be excused for the pun in the title? When you've grown up with a surname like Marsh and heard all the variants (Marshmallow, March, and even Mash) you either get married or learn to love your name. I did the latter. So when presented with a golden opportunity to put my name to good use, I took it.

Now bogof and read some other b(l)og!