Thursday, 15 July 2010

Thing 13: "Her silver visage in the watery glass"

Moon reflected in puddle, Test st by J.C. on FlickrCeline has already said so much of what I've been thinking about while reflecting, that it's hard to know what to write here without just repeating her points.  And the first repeated thing: I have a habit of trying to read everyone else's posts and then finding that everything good has been said, several things I disagree with have also been said, and my post has to grow to enormous lengths to cover everything I wish to comment upon (or, it has to fall short of what I'd really like to say). An obvious solution to this is to post before I read, but when my opinion's going to be public I like it to be considered, and the other cam23 posts are giving so much food for consideration. I shall try to be more selective when thinking about future posts.  It's difficult to write a full evaluation and not so useful for other cam23-ers - I'm most interested by the posts that respond to particular points about or features of each Thing.

At the start of 23 Things I wrote: "I hope to learn lots of practical skills, but also to have a much better idea about which gadgets are best for what." I've definitely learnt how to do new things, including embedding widgets into websites and combining RSS feeds, and I've seen what a number of tools I'd not used before actually do.  But more thatn learning which gadget does what, I've been thinking about the ways in which different sites are increasingly linked together (and being frustrated when some of them won't easily), and what this might mean for library service provision in The Future (I haven't worked it out yet).  So cam23 has helped me think critically about what skills I might need in the future as a professional, and what in which ways users might reasonably expect library services to be integrated into other online activites.

As for confidence, I was fairly confident that I would be able to figure out how to use the Things in the course, but I wouldn't have necessarily tried these new things without some reason greater than curiosity. So having a structure that encourages (I was going to say 'forces', but that's unfair) me to look at something each week has been really beneficial (I agree with Aidan on Blutmetry about the value of the look-try-think-comment structure of the programme).  Once I've made the first step into trying something out I'll keep tinkering away with it without further encouragement, so I don't need instructions any more detailed than those given.  The nature of the instructions - some written, some screenshots, some video tutorials - has made me think about the ways in which instruction can be given. I'll try in the future to think more carefully about which tool is best, and not to reject videos and other embedded widgets just for being flashy and modern!  Equally, the cam23 posts have shown the value of a simple list of things to do - it's a question of picking the right tool for the job.

Untitled photograph of trees reflected in water by ebergcanada on FlickrTrying out the different Things has certainly increased my confidence to comment and contribute instead of being a passive absorber of content. I've really enjoyed diving in and taking part instead of sitting on the sidelines watching things fly past my nose.  I've signed up to the LIS New Professionals Network, and talked to @theREALwikiman about difficulties with editing my profile there.  I've looked at some documents put on line by Tony Hirst (@psychemedia) and talked to someone who had commented on them.  I now feel much more connected and involved with what's going on in the world of libraries (and aren't we cursed with living in interesting library times?). Discussion of Web 2.0, social media and the future of libraries at recent Libraries@Cambridge conferences (why isn't this link findable by navigating from the Libraries@Cambridge homepage, especially as the slideshows are now available? Am I missing it somewhere?) left me wanting to bury my head in the sand, but now I've dared to get involved with some of the Things, I find that I'm actually quite interested in some of the issues that were being discussed. Watching what other people are talking about makes me feel more confident to make my own judgements about what's good, bad, or indifferent, and about where things might be headed. Having gained this confidence, I'll continue to try to write some of these thoughts down and maybe engender a little discussion of my own.

This increase in communication has applied as well within the real world of Cambridge, and not just online. There is no shortage of communication means in Cambridge libraries (as discussed last month on Blurtmetry), but I'd previously felt a little 'out of the loop'.  Now I feel like I've got much more idea what's going on, and have even met up with some people face-to-face (with more of that to come in the future!).  This speaks, I think, to the value of the immediacy of many social media.  If someone writes a blog post, or tweets something, then the default assumption is that they're open to, and maybe hoping for, quick comments from other people.  With traditional forms of communication, if someone sends, say, an email bulletin it seems less appropriate to reply with something simple like 'yes, I found that too', or 'have you tried this...', so connections between people are less frequently made.  Or maybe I just feel less shy with the my cam23 guide to hide behind.

My own photo of the Cam in Autumn
What else have I learnt? Over the last few weeks it has become unavoidably clear (though, in truth, I knew it already) that I am an inveterate tinkerer.  Nothing is safe when I'm around - it will be fiddled with until I have it just so (and not just computery things, either, you should feel sorry for the things I knit, and unravel, and knit, and unravel, and knit...).  This means that I need to set myself time limits and constraints when working on any kind of project, otherwise the time spent will balloon as I 'just test out one more feature' or 'try it laid out the other way round'.  This applies as much to blog layouts as setting up exhibitions, writing reports, or even cataloguing papers.  It has been useful to have this trait made so plain to see, so I can more consciously try to curb it when necessary in the future.

There's has been no Thing that I could see no point in at all, so I will bear them all in mind for particular scenarios and recommend them to others as they seem appropriate.  Scary though it might be to look into the future, I'd also recommend keeping an eye on early-adopters and 'web guru' types like Tony Hirst and Phil Bradley to see what they're talking about.  There's no need to try everything out right away, perhaps, but it's useful to keep an ear to the ground as to what might be coming round the corner.  Personally, setting up an RSS feed reader (Google as it happens, but I hear others are good, too) has been the biggest gain.  Now the internet comes to me (and isn't there a lot of it!) and I spend much less time cycling through my favourite sites to see if there's anything new.

My own photo of the Cam
What I would like to change about my approach for the rest of the Things is to pay more attention to the further reading suggestions.  I often find myself wanting to know more, and wondering where to look for it, when there's a perfectly good link or three waiting to be clicked on the cam23 page.  Truth be told, I'm sometimes just a bit lazy to read what I'm told to.  I've started as I mean to go on with this goal, and have revised this post in light of what I've learnt from reading B.A. Sen's article.

One last thing... On the day that Thing 13 was posted (aeons ago in Web 2.0 time), this blog post of resources for librarian bloggers was posted by thewikiman. It's based on a presentation at the CILIP CDG New Professionals Conference 2010 and is well worth a look!


  1. Really interesting reading, and it wasn't all just what I said either!

    I agree that the (partial in my case) anonymity made the social interaction side much easier. I still hardly spoke to anyone at the launch party so let's see if I'm any better at the wrap party.


  2. Beautiful pictures and a well-thought out post. Thank you for the heads up on the LIS New Professionals Network.

  3. Thank you - I spent a bit too much time on Flickr looking for that first one...

  4. Dear Girl in the Moon, thank you everso for your jolly kind comment on my blog. I am really looking forward to discovering your thoughts on LibraryThing - you've really piqued my interest now....[No pressure there, then...]
    Many of your blogs have been added to my 'really-MUST-come-back-to-this-good-stuff-later' Delicious list. Being in DivIII for every subject, I look forward to the insights of clever DivI people like you. Thank goodness for the 'inveterate tinkerers' say those of us in the 'oh, that'll do; time for a bag of Maltesers' brigade.

  5. You're welcome, and thank you.

    Top tip for wannabe tinkerers: you're doing it wrong if you're stopping to eat Maltesers. Just scoff 'em away in front the screen! The chocolate sometimes gums up the keyboard, but it's well worth it!