17 July 2008

The sin of silence

To me it often feels like society pressures us to go non-stop, seemingly 24 hours a day, even on the weekends. We have to work to afford the necessities of life and a few extras to keep us from going completely off the deep end. Somedays it seems like work thinks that it is the be all end all, the all mighty point in life, and steals hours and often days away. Then its off to home where projects lay and await to greet us. Painting, cleaning, etc. Or family obligations of loved ones wait to meet us when we walk in. When do we get a few moments to ourselves? Why does it feel like its a sin to ask for a few moments of silence, to watch as a storm goes by or the cats chase a bug around the apartment?

This is something that I'm struggling to deal with and to learn about. I'm having to learn that those projects that are sitting on my table, while it will be nice to finish them, aren't all important. So my apartment is slightly cluttered, it's not the end of the world. That work, no matter what they tell me, is not the be all end all. The world won't end because a report didn't get written on time or that statistics weren't compiled to sit on someone's desk for a month. And that they can't keep stealing all of my time away.

I'm learning I am allowed to have a life of my own, even if its just for a for an hour each day where I can sit in silence. I've started listening more to the wind blow and the sun shine on those moments when I can. And that no matter what others may tell me, that as long as I'm happy, sitting in silence for a few minutes isn't a sin.

11 July 2008

The tao of cats

I've decided to develop a new philosophy based upon cats. It came about after looking at my life, the stress from work and life in general, and watching my cats. I discovered that I could learn a lot by watching them that could be applied to my own life. And yes I know others have probably discussed similar things, but this is my own take on it. And this was developed with the help of someone who at the moment will be nameless [not sure if they want to be associated with the tao of cats just yet :)]

It's still a work in progress, but here's what I've learned from observation of these fascinating creatures:
  • Find a position that's comfortable and take a nap. The sun is the best spot, but other places may work as well.
  • When you want attention just flop down, roll over, and let people know you need a bit of attention. But be careful, don't do it to often or you'll get ignored.
  • If you're hungry, get up eat and drink. Just make sure play with the water while doing so. It needs to be taught whose in charge each time.
  • Go exploring! Paw open those cabinets and doors. You'll never know where a surprise might be hidden away.
  • Make some noise and let people know that you've got something to say. If it's 3 in the morning and it's important, wake them and let them know.
  • Play with your toys! Bells are best and make lots of noise, but others work as well.
  • Play with your siblings, but make sure your nice to them, you never know when they might get bigger than you are.
If you more suggestions add away in the comments.

08 July 2008

Learning from 2.0

Yesterday my colleague and I completed our 3rd (and final) introductory session into Library 2.0 summer extravaganza. Out of 27 people on staff 11 attended including two members of the management group (2 that didn't come one is on a "special project" and rarely in the building and the other is a special status PT person.) The purpose of these sessions was to introduce Library 2.0/Web 2.0 to our colleagues and how the summer program would work. Or as my colleague liked to say "get their buy in."

And I think we did get their "buy in" support from them. Everyone that showed seemed to be interested in learning and those that didn't come well their loss. They asked good questions and let us know what we could do to make the next sessions even better. Everyone that attended I told them that what they learned in these sessions they could take back and show off to their colleagues that didn't come and then train them on the new tools. Hopefully building a continuing cycle.

Due to far too many projects being due at one time, my colleague and I didn't really get a chance to practice our session. Everything we did we built through Google Documents, IM, e-mail, and the short conversations we were able to grab during the day. And for us it was a big learning process. We had about two weeks to put all of the details together and get people interested and I think we did a pretty good job. We've learned things as we've gone along and we've listened to the feedback given to us by our users.

Now comes the more challenging part of the project, 4 one week sessions, each session devoted to a different topic. We let the staff vote and pick their top 4 topics and we're analyzing the results now. A couple things are tied so I'm thinking we may play to our strengths and show off some of the tools that could really be used in the library. The first session starts next week and we've got to pick a day to have the "petting zoo" porition (showing off the technology) and to be honest I'm a bit nervous, but I think we'll do okay.

What have I learned thus far? Well one is having more time to plan. I feel like my colleague and I started early enough in presenting the idea, but we forgot to take into account the slow moving wheels at MPOW into getting it started. It may have been better if we waited until next summer or fall to start this, but my colleague and I both were excited about getting it going and we had the support of managment so we went with it. The other thing that we've learned is to have handouts of some sort. We've started work on a wiki so staff can refer back to some of the key points of the intro presentation, such as how the program will work, what is library 2.0, and some examples of the tools and how they can be used in the library.

Overall it's been a great project thus far and we're excited about where it will go.

06 July 2008

The power of paper

We've heard it before. Paper will go the way of the dinosaurs, librarians will be out of jobs, and computers will rule the world! But paper is still around. Books are still printed. Paper hasn't left us and still seems to be going strong in some areas. Here are my reasons why paper, including paper books, won't ever completely leave us.

Why paper just won't go away.
  • A love letter written or received from someone special. It's opened multiple times and carefully refolded to preserve the words written within. And if the day is just right, sometimes you can even catch a scent that reminds you of that person and of that time, even if the relationship is long gone.
  • A letter from those that have left our lives for whatever reason. Friends, family, loved ones. With each tracing of the letters and words written, you feel that they are once again next to you. The letters slowly yellow with age, yet they still feel strong.
  • The "feel" as you write a letter. The scratch of the pen or pencil on the paper. Thoughts and feelings poured into it for the world to read, by the way you write certain words.
  • The A on that big project in school. We run in and show it off and its hung ever so carefully on the refrigerator a source of pride to show off to whoever comes in.
  • Showing off how far you've gotten in a book, by where the bookmark is. A source of pride when you get to those first chapter books.
  • Showing off your love for a book, not because of the pristine condition and how "new" the book looks, but because of how the cover has nearly fallen off from reading it so often
  • The smell and feel of cracking open the binding of a new book for that first good read and wondering what adventure or knowledge lies ahead.
  • Finding comfort in a book that has traveled the world with you. Its pages dogeared so often that they've almost fallen, but there's still comfort in the pages soft from so much use.
I'm not saying that e-books, e-paper, and e-mails don't have their purposes, but for me there's still comfort in holding that book. Or writing a letter with pen and paper. Sending a quick e-mail is great to catch up with someone, but e-mails never quite seem to carry the same weight as that written letter where you can tell who wrote it by the way they crossed their t's or dotted their i's or the fact that its virtually unreadable.

For over 2000 years we've put a writing instrument to paper to capture our thoughts and feelings for what happens around us. In over 2000 years paper has seen us through it all. It captures our imaginations and our lives. It may be lost to time when it gets wet or decays, but yet it still holds our fascination. Technology has taken the place of some of what paper once did, such as the spread of news and finding of resources, but paper still holds the soul of the writer.

Friendfeed vs. Twitter

Others have posted their thoughts recently about the two services and the differences between them, and they did much better than I ever could, so I'll try keep my thoughts short.

Twitter is a great service, when it works. It doesn't take too much effort to find out on Google that Twitter is having all kinds of trouble staying up. And this is a bad thing because people really like the service it offers. You can Direct Message someone, its easy to let people know what you're up to, and you can see what your friends are up too. It's a great way to also play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. You can follow your friends post to other people and back others and keep going to the original source. It's been a great way to meet people you would have never had the opportunity too. But it has its limitations, namely that it won't stay working. As well as other little glitches that lets random people start following you.

Friendfeed is a bit of a different service. You can still post updates and follow people, but you can also tie in some of your other Web 2.0, updatable sites. You're followers can know when you've added new bookmarks, new movies to Netflix, updated your blog, and so on, all in one web site. Here's Friendfeed's FAQ that provides a pretty good description of what they do. While Friendfeed has its own faults, such as you can't Direct Message someone and if someone's profile is private its hard to tell who they are, it has some great pluses. It's a great way to roll your multiple services into one location. If you want people to be able to easily follow when you've updated your Flickr account or one of your many blogs, this is the place to see it. Friendfeed let's your followers instantly know when one of these services has been updated.

But what I really like is there's more of a sense of community building. You aren't limited by 140 characters to talk and discuss things. You can have a real conversation and share links and pictures. Conversations are threaded together so you can instantly see when someone else has added a point to a previous post. You don't have to go to thirty different pages and friend multiple people to see where the conversation started or is going, it's all in one neat thread for you. Because I've this I've met and talked to people I wouldn't normally have had the chance too. And they've started following me, which I find really cool as some of them have been big names in library world for a while.

So I'll keep Twitter around, but Friendfeed is really growing on me.

If you have links about the comparison please post them below!