Am I wasting my life?

A confluence of circumstances and events has got me to thinking lately about what I do, how I do it, all that good stuff. A summary (and you can almost just skip this part really because it’s just about borderline navel gazing. I put a graph at the end that summarizes the summary) :

  • Due to a “greening initiative” and tight budgets, my law school has gone as paperless as is humanly possible. The greatest effect I’ve felt from this decision is that I spent many hours this month training faculty and faculty assistants on TWEN. It was a very eye opening experience, to say the least. Now, I don’t expect everyone to have advanced computer skills, but I was shocked to find that in this day and age, there are people amazed that you can drag and drop files around folders in your computer.
  • Classes started and I’m teaching four sections of legal research this fall. During some pre-class discussions, I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of my students were trying Google Chrome and were actually discussing it’s pluses and minuses. On the other hand, the intricacies of TWEN seem too much for some of them to handle. Sure they can do Facebook, but so what?
  • When discussing Twitter with my boss, she wanted to know if I thought anyone would use it if we set up a library account. And for that matter, is anyone reading our library blog? To which I intelligently responded, “Uhhhh…..maybe?” (Hey, I had just got done teaching three of my four sections – I was fried!) Also this week my brother and sister (non-library civilians) both joined Twitter. Aside from them, most everyone I “talk to” on Twitter is a librarian or in the tech industry. Same thing with my blog contacts, facebook friends, etc. I have no idea about the uses of these services by “normal people.”
  • I’ve been starting to keep track of “Vendor 2.0” initiatives, such as the the ones implemented by HeinOnline. Librarians are geeking out about them, but is anyone else?
  • I just completed my dossier for my university’s promotion and tenure process, so I’ve gotten to take a good hard look at everything I’ve done over the past year. And I’m starting to see some intriguing job ads. So I’m starting to think about where I want to go next, what I need to do to get there, have I just wasted the past year, what projects should I spend my energy on next year, etc.

Anyway, in case that was confusing, I made a graph. I make lots of graphs. [/Lisa Simpson]

survey graph

So, it occurred to me that one way to clear up some of this confusion in my life was to find some hard data about what law students use and want when it comes to technology. I initially thought that I’d ask my sections of LR informally, and then I thought I’d ask the LR other sections at UK, and then I thought, “Well, heck, why don’t I just ask every law student I can get my hands on around the country?”

So I created a survey.

That is just a first, very very rough draft. Please don’t share it with law students just yet. But, Gentle Reader, if you have any suggestions, I would be more than willing to hear them – content, applications I’m missing, typos – whatever ya got. I’m not sure about any future plans for the data other than I just need some questions answered for my own sanity. If I get decent enough results I may try and write an academic paper or get a presentation out of it. If not, I’ll definitely make the info available here and to anyone who asks. Library science is about sharing, yo.

As for the technical aspects of that survey, I used the forms feature on Google Docs and I have it embedded in a Google Sites page. Advantages of this:

  1. Free cost
  2. If I’m reading things right, up to 5000 responses (although I would wet myself if I got that many responses)
  3. Easy to create and use
  4. Google sites URL looks cleaner than the survey monkey or zoombafoo (or whatever it is) one.

Disadvantages:

  1. I can’t seem to keep my questions from migrating around the page. The help group suggested that I edit in IE, which I grudgingly did, but that didn’t seem to help. I may try re-writing the whole thing in IE.

Okay. Again, I just came up with this idea four hours ago, so it’s still really rough. But I’m definitely open to any constructive criticism you may have. Also, if you know of someone else who may have this type of data set, let me know. I did a quick and dirty check of law journal articles, but found nothing.

I’m hoping to get this revised and tech aspects done with so I can start virally spreading it around the country mid-October. So, drop a comment here or e-mail me if you have any suggestions. Thanks.

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MeeID

Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m a Web 2.0 addict.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to organize my various profiles on Web 2.0 sites. This weekend I’m going to play around and see if I can create some sort of electronic dossier. Until I figure out exactly how I want to do that, an out of the box option that I just found today is MeeID. I’m using it to organize my profiles, but they offer other suggestions on how to use it.

Here’s what mine looks like or you can visit it here.

One problem found thus far: it won’t let me have enough characters to use my full name, so I had to stick with “S. Glassmeyer.” Ah, well, I don’t need my full name everywhere on the Internet.

Web 2.0 on Resumes

Hey, I got some reader mail! Letters…I get letters…bags and bags of letters….okay, actually it was just one. But anyway, here’s what they wrote:

Dear Sarah,

D’you mind if I ask you a serious question? (Okay, I just did.)

I’m fairly Web-2.0-literate: I’m on Facebook, I took an I-school class taught partly in Second Life, I met my wife in a chatroom, I’ve been on the Internet since 1991….

My question: How do I highlight this on my resume without sounding like a nerd or a loon? How do you do it?

I love your blog! If you feel like answering this question there, go for it!

Thanks very much in advance.

YHOS,

[REDACTED FOR PRIVACY]

First of all, I think it’s awesome that Gentle Reader here assumes that I manage to not sound like a nerd or loon in my resume. Just the vote of confidence that I’ve been needing lately.

Secondly, I don’t really have an answer for this. I include this blog in my publications, and my interests in Web 2.0 sort of come out via the activities I participate in (e.g. Blue 2.0, I’m on my library system’s web committee, etc.).  As part of the P&T process for MPOW, we include dossiers and in that I have print outs of some of the wikis I do for B.I. sessions and my blogs, handouts from presentations I do, etc.  I guess one could list these things as a skill or as part of a personal statement in the cover letter.

Any one have any other ideas?

More Chances to Learn Web 2.0 Technology

Hey Blog Reader!  Have you been wanting to learn how you can join the glamorous world of blogging?   Or do you want to learn the difference between a twitter a wiki and a flickr?  Well, you have a couple of chances.

If you are a law librarian, the AALL CS-SIS is running the Web 2.0 Challenge.  This will run five weeks and starts immediately after AALL.  Registration opens today.

If you’re a UK person (and by that I mean an employee of the University of Kentucky, not a resident of the United Kingdom), the Office of Integrated Academic Services is operating Blue 2.0…2.0, an adaptation of the Blue 2.0 program that the UK Libraries organized in the spring.

If you belong to none of the above groups, you can still learn how to use Web 2.0.  There’s a ton of programs out there, and almost all are on the open web.  You won’t have the interactivity that a full fledged participant has, but the info is still there.

The Problem with Web 2.0

web 2.0 logos

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of Web 2.0 companies.  They all do slightly different things and have varying degrees of usefulness for the library community.  However, there is one thing that they do all have in common: we don’t own them.  As a result, we users are really at the mercy of these companies and their mixed qualities of performance.

At first this didn’t bother me too much.  Coming from a financially strapped institution (which is to say, just about every library in existence), I was so ecstatic that these services were free that I didn’t think too much what the trade off would be.  However, I’ve been getting more and more concerned (read:annoyed) with this issue.  First there was the thing last month with Facebook censoring posted items, then a big story today about privacy issues with Facebook applications.  But you know what has really just about sent me over the edge?

The Twitter Fail Whale.

I’ve briefly mentioned how awesome I think Twitter is.  In case you missed it, here’s a recap: Twitter is a microblogging service that, if you follow and get followed by enough people, becomes a really useful way to share links and ideas and communicate.  It’s awesome.  When it works. Which…isn’t a lot.   I mean, on the whole it’s available over 90% of the time.  It just seems to crash whenever I want to make a post.

Instead of a “404 page not found” error, Twitter posts a cute little picture of something that I have since learned is known as the “Fail Whale.”   I mean, look at it…it’s adorable:

Well, it’s adorable the first hundred or so times you see it.  At visit #101 you begin to see the smug smile of the whale, mocking you and your feeble attempts to post some great insight that your dozens of followers have been waiting with bated breathe to read.

It’s just so amazing to me that people accept this level of functionality with Twitter.  But honestly, acceptance is – in the end – the only real option.  A regular Twitter user almost goes through a modified Kubler-Ross.  There’s anger (it’s down again?!) and denial (keep hitting that refresh button, buddy).  Bargaining doesn’t really happen, although I have noticed that people go through a flirtation with Plurk or Pownce before crawling back to Twitter.  I’m currently somewhere in between depression and acceptance.

And why is acceptance pretty much the only option?  Because we can’t cancel our subscription or change to another service.  Facebook and Twitter are currently the 800 pound gorillas of their Web 2.0 service area.  They won’t lose any money if we cancel and switch to, for example,  Bebo and Pownce and we’ll just lose all the contacts that we’ve made on their sites.   As I’m slowly learning in my librarianship career, we get jerked around by the companies that we do pay money to (like Wexis and ILS vendors), so I can’t see that we have any hope against free ones.

I don’t want to give up using Web 2.0 services, but I think libraries need to start developing our own services and programs that utilize and/or adapt the good things about Web 2.0 (ease of use, collaboration, user generated content, etc) without being at the mercy of some snot-nosed  Sillicon Valley wunderkind OR (ideally) the corporations that are already pillaging our budgets.   I don’t know if this means leaning on more open source resources or finding new vendors or what, but something’s gotta give.

Web 2.0 Challenge for Law Librarians

It looks like the CS-SIS of AALL is going to be offering  a Web 2.0 training course July 21 – August 18.   The planned topics are: Blogs & RSS, Wikis, Social Networking Software & Second Life, Flickr & Social Bookmarking Software, and Selling Social Software @ Your Library.   Registration is limited to 90 participants and if you’d like to be notified when it’s open, fill out the form here.

Of course, if you don’t want to wait until July to get some practice using Web 2.0 tools, there are several library-centric Web 2.0 training programs available.  (Blue 2.0, for instance.  The people organizing that one are really awesome!) These programs are all pretty much designed to be self-explanatory and will allow you to work on it at your own pace.

The Machine is Us/ing Us

I have twofold purpose in posting this video.  (1) This is a nice introduction to Web 2.0. (2) I want to see how wordpress embeds YouTube videos.