Thursday, 25 August 2011

Reflections on blogging (Thing 11)

After a shaky start I’m really enjoying blogging and can see a place for it in both personal and professional areas of my life. However, upon reflection I’m inclined not to mix the two. The subtitle for my blog was “libraries, dance, the wild world and more”, but I’ve changed it, to reflect that I will only be using it to post about library- and professional-life-related issues. I know that a well-rounded professional has a full and active personal life too, but thinking of my blog as a communication tool (rather than a podium for self-indulgence), it feels much more appropriate to stick to one area of my life per blog, so that readers, who will usually (if at all!) be reading a post because of what it’s about, and not because they’re interested in me (partner and mum aside!), don’t have to wade through a load of posts that don’t interest them at all. So, because it’s my day-to-day interactions and experiences of the natural world that most inspire me to blog, I’ve set up another, Natural selections, to record this kind of thing.

My nature diary...

I still feel some unease about the vanity of blogging (something touched upon by Becky in her recent post on Library Thing, and narcissism). Who really cares what I have to say? Is it really pathetic to blog if no-one reads it (partner and mum aside again!)? But I’ve realised that blogging is an excellent form of reflection (or record keeping, in the case of Natural Selections, which I hope will be my online nature diary). Writing the posts helps you consolidate thoughts and opinions and is extremely valuable as an exercise in itself. Why not then post these on a blog? At worst no-one reads them, but you’ve learned something yourself by writing them; at best, you connect with somebody else, either now or in the future, and that’s just brilliant!

Thing 11 - Reflections

A lake in sunny Lincs.
I'm a little late with my first bout of reflecting, which I should have been doing in week 6. But actually, I think my reflections are the better for being so far behind that which they reflect upon, as I've had more time to mull over/absorb/digest/reject etc.

I've had a really busy summer at work, continuing with my regular duties as well as some extra projects, which has been great, but has left me little time for exploring Things. I certainly don't regret signing up to the programme, as it's been a great way of giving me the push I needed to explore the topics/technologies covered, many of which I'd heard of but just never gotten around to investigating before, and some of which I was just plain prejudiced against (Twitter, for instance!). Not only am I learning about these new Things, but I'm also much more professionally aware and engaged generally, which is excellent news for my career.

I've tried to organise my reflective thoughts about the Things in this table. Where my opinion is still reflected accurately by my original blog post about it I've created a hyperlink to that post; otherwise, I've tried to give a brief summary of my thoughts about each Thing upon reflection.

Things I like  J
Upon reflection…

Thing 2:     Blogging

I've too much to say to fit in this box, so I've saved it for another post!

Thing 3:     RSS feeds

I’m not great at checking Google Reader regularly, but am always glad of it when I do. It’s a great way of keeping track of information and news without having to remember/find time to check the source sites. This way I know I won’t miss anything because the reader is storing it all up for when I do have time.

Thing 4:     Twitter

Great for current awareness, both at a local level, by following other Cambridge libraries and librarians, and nationally/internationally, by following various organisations and other useful tweeters. I’ve picked up on a lot of news, helpful links and tips already. I just wish I had more to say myself! I can’t imagine myself using it socially, but for keeping in the loop as a librarian it’s great, and employed as a tool to ‘market’ a library/collection I think it has real potential.

Thing 5:     Screenshots
Thing 6:     Screencasting
Thing 7:     Doodle
Thing 9:     Google Docs
Hmm. I was initially reasonably enthusiastic about this, but wonder how much I will use it. There are issues regarding formatting of text that make me still more inclined to reach for the memory stick or email attachment than make a Google doc…
Thing 10b: Evernote
Things I don’t like   L

Thing 8:     Google calendar
Thing 10a: Pushnote
Other Things   K

Thing 1:     iGoogle

Just over a month ago my computer hardware was upgraded, and I got the new Windows 7 operating system. The upgrade left me signed out of everything, and iGoogle is one of the things I just haven’t been bothered to sign back into. The iGoogle page took a frustratingly long time to load, and all the things I had on the tabs can just as easily be reached from my web browser favourites list.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Thing 10 - Evernote, virtually a notebook

I've just spent an hour installing Evernote, reading the simple "Getting started guide", watching several helpful tuition videos, and then having a play around with the application. My first impressions are that I really like it and I think I will use it a lot for various research projects I have on the go. Being able to save web content is the main draw for me, and is something that I have, before now, been doing very inefficiently and precariously. My web browser favourites folders contain a lot of addresses saved because I wanted to archive particular content on a particular page for future reference. Saving the address is not a sensible way of archiving the content, because once the page is taken down or moved, you've lost that content forever. With Evernote, even after the page disappears, you get to keep the content. This is great! It's only taken me a few minutes to create a notebook and clip into it several web pages and screenshots that mention/show my grandad (George Hunter), whose career as a jazz musician in the 1940s, 50s and 60s I've been trying to piece together over the last few years. Fans of Ted Heath, Jack Parnell and other pioneers of big band are few and far between nowadays, so I'm glad to have archived this content before these websites disappear.

I like the way you can tag content, create multiple folders, search, make notes - generally engage in all those satisfying activities that made me want to be a librarian in the first place (organise, analyse, classify, catalogue etc.)! Another great feature is that you can save tweets to Evernote. Lots of useful pieces of information and links are disseminated via Twitter, so it's great to be able to archive these.

I've mentioned before that I'm a stationery fiend. I love having a notebook on the go for jotting and clipping useful snippets in. I definitely won't be abandoning that practice any time soon, but for me Evernote's real power lies in being a notebook for online stuff. I can cope with having two notebooks - one real, one virtual. That's not messy, that's just good sense.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Thing 10 - Pushnote? I think I'm missing something...

At the risk of sounding narrow-minded, antiquated and just plain un-cool - I don't 'get' Pushnote. What's it for? Erin tells us (in her well explained and mercifully easy to follow post on Thing 10), that it's for "when you want to comment on web pages". But I don't think I've ever wanted to comment on a web page; certainly not in a way that didn't involve ranting to whoever happened to be in the room with me, in a very informal way that really should not be transcribed and archived. If I had some criticism that I thought was actually worth making I suppose I feel that I'd be better off emailing the webmaster than commenting on Pushnote. And for sites and pages that I like and think are worth sharing, I'd rather use Twitter, or my blog, or an email, or a real life conversation. It's not that I'm averse to the idea of classifying, evaluating, organising, archiving etc (I'm a librarian after all). I know I could use it purely for my own purposes to, as Pushnote puts it, "rank [my] all-time favourite things on the web", but there are other ways I would rather do that, like using the (I don't like to boast, but) frightfully well organised favourites list in my web browser. I know a favourites list doesn't allow you to make notes in the way that Pushnote does, but Pushnotes really pushes this ranking and sharing business, which really doesn't excite me. I think Evernote, geared towards helping you organise and make notes for yourself, not for the benefit of others, and without using stars, is going to be more up my street (goodness, I'd not realised how selfish I am before I wrote that!). I think what I'm trying to say is that I'm happy with the methods I currently use to evaluate and share thoughts about web pages, and won't be using Pushnote any time soon.