Friday, 16 July 2010
So far I've just added the books we read this academic year, with the tag '2009-10', but I'll add the back lists in due course. The next step will be to add an email address to the profile so I can generate a Developer key and embed links and images into the WCRG page on the College website. In the meantime I've used an individual cover image for our next book, Barbara Kingsolver's Lacuna to spice things up a little (cf. also the image for the current Lee Library 'Book of the Month' which also looks the better for some colour; next stop cover images for our New accessions RSS feed, which I presume will require a bit more technical know-how! I'm hoping though it'll be possible once Aquabrowser is live...). So, more anon on the embedding side, but this is a start.
The real value of LibraryThing though would as a repository for comments and reviews, both by individual WCRG members and the Group as a whole (a good source of reference when the lucky 'volunteer' comes to write up the year's meetings for the college magazine...?). The challenge there though will be persuading people to use the site, and then to contribute. I suspect there won' t be a mad rush. Most of our members are busy people, and I myself am often guilty of speed-reading the final sections of a book minutes before the meeting. Still, if only a couple of champions cotton on, we'll have a more dynamic facility than we have now.
[Let's hope they're more efficient than I am at maintaining this blog...]
Monday, 5 July 2010
But Google offers much that is useful. I'm bound to admit that I search Google multiple times a day, and since re-establishing an iGoogle page for Cam23, I've enjoyed exploring more of what's available. I first set up a Google account to view statistics on the College website delivered through Google Analytics (again, not set up by me, but I was particularly keen to see how the college library webpages were fairing, though, alas, found the detail to be a bit too broad to be useful in the event), and had dabbled a bit with Google Reader. But it wasn't a page I visited regularly, thus defeating its purpose as an RSS repository. 'Thing 1' helped me set up the page more systematically, and with a few additions over recent weeks as I've tried to make it useful in more contexts, here is the result:
[Now, as promised in my last post I started writing this as a blog post in Word. At this point I saved the post as a draft and viewed it in Blogger direct. The text transferred fine, but not the screenshot, so I switched back to Blogger to add it, as instructed. I used Paint.net as the image editor, which is the free application I use in College for all picture editing. Next on my 'to do' list is to spend time looking at the other options Andy recommends. Meanwhile, I'm still bothered by this Picasa business - same thing as happened when I loaded the Library entrance photo: has my image now been stored in Picasa...? No.2 on my 'to do' list - find out!]
Despite being so slow to date, I can see the real potential of a blog as a reflective tool, and was highly enthused after first setting this up to establish one for my CPD activities. When I've caught up a bit more here, I'll be thinking more carefully about which tool to use (at the moment I'm slightly inclining towards WordPress, but the jury's still out...), and about how far I would want to publicise the site. One of my frustrations with WordPress on the Wolfson site at the moment is the very limited way it can display images, but that I think is to do with the amount of space afforded to the feeds on the HTML pages. Working with the blogging software in full screen mode will hopefully allow more flexibility.
Finding this blog! Now that I've created a feed to 'My Cam23 Diary' on my iGoogle page, I trust it'll be easier to hop to it than I've managed so far. Previously I was having to open (yet another) new tab in Firefox to get to it (the really bad moment was when I ended up doing a Google search for it!).
For my next blog post I'm going to try writing it in Word and uploading the post from there. I came upon the instructions for doing that by accident the other day, while looking for something else. One advantage is that it will create a copy of the post on the server (worth thinking of if I want to create a blog archive for portfolio purposes, perhaps?), but the other side of that coin, of course, is that the offline archive copy is stored in one place, and not accessible from elsewhere, except if downloaded to a flashdrive, etc.
Monday, 21 June 2010
Of course, all that was going to be taken care of on that mythical future day after the end of term when I would set aside sufficient hours to catch up with all the 'Things' outstanding, and reflect calmly and intelligently on each in turn before typing a well-crafted blog post on each. Equally obviously, term has ended, and there is no prospect of such a day in sight. How could there be? Such lacunae of time do not exist, and I doubt I'd want to be a librarian if that's how the life was.
One of the harshest lessons this project might actually help me to learn is that 'a little and often' is more important, and perhaps ultimately more useful, than a long session devoted to getting it all done in one go. This is counterintuitive for me, and something I've battled with in other contexts. Having the confidence to comment 'on the hoof' feels uncomfortable, but I do recognise that it's necessary if I'm ever going to embrace Web 2.0 in a practical and really useful way, rather than in an abstract and intellectual one.
So, please bear with me during these bumpy early days. More anon, when I'll finally get on to Thing 3 and share a screenshot of my iGoogle page in the state it's reached to date (there's more to do, of course...).
Friday, 4 June 2010
Squeezing 'Thing 3' into the end of Wednesday didn't leave enough time to get it all done, but I was greatly cheered to cycle off with positive thoughts about how to smarten up my iGoogle page before moving on to 'Thing 4', and how my blog might take shape during this Cam23 period.
The end of Friday has brought a new theme for iGoogle and a banner for this blog, with grateful thanks to Ange and Andy for the ingenuity and spreading the word. Choosing a theme for iGoogle was simple enough, though I wasn't greatly enamoured of the selection pictures I looked. I tried customising my own theme, intending to use a picture of the Lee Library entrance I took last summer and used for our induction poster (see left), but the narrow selection Google allowed wouldn't have done it justice, so I reverted to the pre-set theme selection, and am content with Felix the cat for now. I wasn't expecting Google to appropriate my own Lee Library picture for Picasa (there doesn't seem any way to avoid this), and must look to check whether it's still there even though I cancelled the operation.
I could and perhaps should spend more time beautifying my sites before registering them with the Cam23 blog, but that'd be akin to stumbling at the first hurdle. Consider these then, please, as works in progress. More anon...
Wednesday, 2 June 2010
I was grateful for the gentle launch into the 23 Things programme last week (more reflections on RSS and iGoogle to follow), buoyed by a confidence that, perhaps yes, this will be manageable after all. A week closer to the end of term, and other demands press in hard, but I'm still glad that there' s a timetable for the programme to help keep focused, and encourage me to make the space I need to explore these 'things'.