Friday, November 30, 2007

Wikis, again

Editing the Learning 2.0 @ EKU Sandbox page was obscenely easy. Look for my edits under Favorite TV Shows: Pushing Daisies and Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe.

Wikis can be started by just about anyone who has something to say. I guess I could start one on my dream of goats... But I won't. Wikis can be useful for people who want to collaborate on projects together, or for teachers who want to create a website of resources for a class. It could be a good exercise for students to contribute to a wiki. Website creation is not just a random slapping together of links and words--it is something whose purpose needs to be carefully thought out.


Today I am learning about wikis. These are basically webpages that can be edited by just about anyone--though, in an effort to prevent erroneous editing, most wikis require editers to set-up an account before they can change or add things to the wikis. The classic example is wikipedia, which I've linked to a lot from my blog. I am a shameless user of this resource, if only to familiarize myself with the wealth of information out there and to see what other users have deemed worthy to include as reference links in their posts. For an example of a really cool entry, see the post on J.R.R. Tolkien. If I'm frustrated with an internet search on some particular topic, I will look it up in wikipedia to see if there are any worthwhile reference links to check out.

Wikis would be very useful to libraries, particularly for behind-the-scenes work. With so much stuff to be aware of, and people located in different parts of the building, it can be hard to keep track of what is going on. Wikis would be a way of consolidating all this information in one place. Giving a particular group of people permission to edit a wiki would enable them to post information to the wiki themselves, instead of relying on a webmaster to do it.

I would love to see a wiki set up for the technical services department of EKU, especially for the serials portion. My supervisor and I each have huge amounts of information related to the journals of EKU, and no good way of sharing it. A wiki could be a way to keep track of projects, publishers, misbehaving journals, etc.

(I feel very funny writing and saying "wiki" a lot).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Delicious links

For those of you who have not noticed, take a moment to admire my wonderful, ever changing list of links immediately to the right of this post, titled "my".
These are all websites I've stumbled across in my unending journey through the web and want to find again.

The beauty of is the ability to tag websites with terms you find meaningful. This tagging feature is particularly helpful once your list of websites to find again grows unwieldly (271 websites and counting..yikes!). I've generated my own variety of tag clouds there. Check out my page to get the full effect.

This tool has become very important to me in my work both at EKU and Clark County. There are tons of websites with information on electronic resources and library technology, as well as countless reference tools that I find invaluable. could be a neat tool to add to a library website. Users may appreciate being able to see what their librarians have deemed worthy to bookmark, especially as the wealth of information, both the good and the bad, continues to explode on the web.

What's a tag cloud?

Instead of just being listed alphabetically, varying tags have been "weighted" according to the number of times they have been used in a particular setting, in this case the Michigan State University library catalog. The more times a tag has been used, the larger and bolder it looks in the tag cloud.

I find tag clouds useful, simply because they offer various ways to search for something besides the search terms I used. Instead of wracking my brains for alternative ways to search, I can use tag clouds as a way of reaching materials I may not otherwise ever see.

Tag clouds are created from tags used by people to tag items of interest with terms they think useful. If I were to tag something in Michigan State University's catalog, that tag would probably show up if someone were to search on a related subject. This method, while it seems suspicious to the scholarly researcher, has proven to be quite useful. The odds are quite low that someone is going to take the time to maliciously apply erroneous tags to materials in the hopes of messing up someone's search--who has the time to go through the canon of Renaissance literature in some library's catalog and apply tags like "Fluffy_the_tiger" or "cotton_looms"?

Check out UK's new library catalog, and AADL's catalog for some more examples of tagging.

Go wild with your tagging

I am supposed to consider the joys of tagging for another lesson in the EKU Learning 2.0 series (I am woefully behind):

Maybe some of you have noticed that I've been adding tags to some of my posts. They're not very useful right now, unless I can find a way to get them to display in the right column. Their usefulness grows ever clearer as I realize how helpful they would be in finding some long-ago post. Several times I've had to scroll through my entire blog, trying to find my post on those evil creatures of hell: cave crickets. Imagine how much easier it would be if I just added the tag "cave_crickets" to that well-worn post. All I have to do is click on that tag, and a list of the posts I've created on cave crickets will magically appear.

Now that I've opened an account on flickr, I plan to be diligent in applying tags to each picture. There will come a day when the number of photos on my flickr account will outnumber the grains of sand on a beach and I will be very thankful that I can gather together all pictures of Pope being stupid, or all pictures of our hikes in Damascus, VA, etc.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

North & South

Jenni met a fellow Janeite (I can hear Dwain's cries of horror) who loaned her a BBC production of an Elizabeth Gaskell novel, North & South. It takes place during the Victorian age and tells the story of a minister and his family who move north to a mill town because he objected to some religious detail the bishop wanted to force him to acknowledge. They meet a mill owner, Mr. Thornton, who is very business-oriented but still interested in being educated.
There are plenty of clashes between Mr. Thornton and the minister's daughter, Margaret. Of course they fall in love. It's not just a love story, though. There is a lot of commentary on the social and economic issues of the time. The story focuses on the hardship of the mill-workers and the contrasting concerns of the mill-owners. It was very interesting.
The movie was beautifully shot. The scenes within the cotton mill were gorgeous while disturbing. Tufts of cotton filled the air while the looms worked, like snow, yet it was quite clear how damaging it was to the workers, who breathed the stuff in daily and suffered for it. One of the millworkers says, "When I think of hell, it is white."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Literature and faith

A friend recently asked me my opinion on a particular book and how it relates to the Christian faith. I plan to give it some thought because I wish to respect the concerns some people have concerning the book, while at the same time respecting the concerns the book itself raises.

This has made me think about the activity of reading itself, always a rather dangerous thing, and the relationship between reading and life. For children, this relation can sometimes be obscured so that the two are interchangeable, and in other cases it can heighten the similarities and differences between the two so that the reader's understanding of life is transformed, or challenged. We hope for the latter, but sometimes welcome the former.

I know that reading helped me while I was growing up, not only in the more mundane function of developing a better understanding of language that I could not hear, but in dealing with the frustrations of a life that I felt was rather unfair, and still feel the effects of. We all have thorns in our sides that we wish to escape, and for me, reading was my form of escape. For children, they tend to want to escape the thorn of not being an adult (funny that we adults long for childhood when we spent all of it wishing we could grow up faster) or something like that. Reading is one way of doing that.

I used to be all for letting a kid read whatever they want. Now I hesitate, since there are clearly some books that children simply are not mature enough to process or understand fully. How do we determine what books should be saved for later, and what are fine to read whenever? Do we seek to protect a child from the "bad" things of life, knowing that they will have to come to terms with them sooner or later?

What about issues of religion or morality? Should we try to protect children from different ways of thinking, or allow them to work through it on their own? These are hard questions to consider, especially for parents who want to raise their children in a particular faith. It is tempting to restrict the reading of any kind of literature that opposes their particular faith, but such control tends to lead to children determined to read such "rebellious" literature.

So what is a parent to do? My personal inclination is to allow children to read a broad range of literature they so desire, making sure the literature falls within their reading/maturity level. How else can we understand why we believe what we believe if those beliefs have not been challenged? God has survived much worse attacks than that of some book advocating atheism.

Having worked at Joseph-Beth and seeing the kinds of books available, I know that I would be more reluctant to let my kid read series like "Gossip Girls," which advocate a selfish, consumerist, back-stabbing way of life than some book in which faeries and goblins roam, or where the protoganist has encountered some devastating life event and questions the purpose of life.

I'm going to get off my soapbox here, since I'm sure only one person is reading this to the end. :)

It is finished

I break my blogger fast (I doubt any of you would have really wanted to read what I was thinking about, namely controlled vocabularies and strategic planning and all that fun stuff).

I have just turned in my COMPs essay and must now wait to find out whether I am a librarian or not.

I do get a second chance if I don't pass this time.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A "better" accent quiz

Jon says this is a better quiz than the other one.

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)


You have a Northern accent. That could either be the Chicago/Detroit/Cleveland/Buffalo accent (easily recognizable) or the Western New England accent that news networks go for.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
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Friday, November 09, 2007

What do you sound like?

Here's an interesting quiz.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Inland North
The Northeast
The West
The South
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz