Second Life

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I have been very successful in my avoidance of virtual worlds, and when I first entered the world of Second Life (SL), I was really overwhelmed. The initial link we were given for the CSU-SIS Learning Centre did not work, so I spent a lot of time trying to find where I was supposed to go. During this time, I was physically scared (sounds silly – having a real world reaction to a virtual world situation!) and as I wandered around looking for where I should be, people kept appearing in front of me and trying to talk to me. Being very shy I ‘freaked out’ and found a place where I could hide so I could gather my thoughts. I laugh about this now, but I really was scared!

In this partial view of the Second Life World Map, Each 'dot' is a different region.

In this partial view of the Second Life World Map, each ‘dot’ is a different region.

When I eventually found the CSU-SIS Learning Centre and we all gathered for the walk-through I was again nervous and a bit the nay-sayer: How could this possibly be useful for teaching/learning or libraries? However, as the walk-through went on, I began to see that this concept may just have some merits…

In evaluating SL, I would start with its size. According to Floyd and Frank (2012), educational institutions account for 5% of all regions in Second Life. Using their figure of 800+ educational institutions maintaining full regions on Second Life, there are at least 16,000 regions in SL. However, I could certainly not find the educational ones with any ease. Even using specific co-ordinates a region is not easy to find (although those can be incorrect: Initially the module notes gave 210.200.21 for the CSU-SIS Learning Centre, then that changed to 56.51.23, then to 59.56.23 and when I log on now, I cannot locate the Learning Centre). I find this to be the biggest negative. However, I did find that moving the avatar was relatively easy and the ability to use voice is excellent as people who cannot read or type very well can still be included in SL activities.

Teachthought (2012) lists 20 possible uses for virtual worlds in education and libraries can utilise some of these, such as virtual exhibitions. Libraries can also use SL to provide services across libraries (such as collaborative learning spaces and language classes) so that the best qualified person can assist others. For example, with language classes: currently where I live, there are a number of refugees. Not all of these residents live close to the main library, so using SL to provide English language classes means that only one staff member is required to conduct classes at multiple locations.

SL could be a great way of the library becoming part of the village green (Williamson, 2009).

REFERENCES

Floyd, J. and Frank, I., (2012). New immersive worlds for educators and librarians: beyond Second Life, Library Hi Tech News, Vol. 29(6), pp.11 – 15

Teachthought., (2012, 14 December). 20 Uses For Virtual Worlds In The Classroom. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/technology/20-uses-for-virtual-worlds-in-the-classroom/

Williamson, K. (2009). Creating the new village green: The impact of the retirement of the baby boomers on the public library. APLIS, 22(2), 83-88

Some more photos of my Second Life journey …

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Part 2: How RSS can enhance a library or information service’s ability to meet the information needs of its users.

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The first requirement of this post is to provide two examples of ‘RSS in action’. To this end I have found the State Library of New South Wales and the University of Cambridge Library. Both of these organisations appear to have a comprehensive sets of RSS feeds to which one can subscribe.

As RSS is intended to inform subscribers when information has changed, libraries and information services can utilise RSS in many ways to meet the information needs of their users. One of the more obvious ways that RSS can be used is in supplying information about new acquisitions. The State Library of New South Wales does this very well providing a generic link for the collection as a whole but then providing more links to enable the user the ability to select a more specific part of the collection:

State Library of New South Wales RSS Feeds Pagehttp://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/rss/index.html

State Library of New South Wales RSS Feeds Page
http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/rss/index.html

As you can see, the user can drill down to item format or language, or they can select from specific catalogues.  This means that the user can reduce the amount of information that they receive within their RSS reader/aggregator. Ensuring only the information they are interested in is shown to them.

RSS can also be used by libraries to notify users of due dates, outstanding fees, the status of a reservation or interlibrary loan request, even upcoming events. The University of Cambridge Library offers many of these but also links for job vacancies and information about downtime:

University of Cambridge Library RSS Feedshttp://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/toolbox/rss.html

University of Cambridge Library RSS Feeds
http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/toolbox/rss.html

RSS also enhances the user experience of the library service by providing the information to the user before they ‘request’ the information. This is where the question of ‘push’ or ‘pull’ comes in (De Sarker, 2012, 5): Is RSS push or pull? In many ways it is both: by changing the information on the web page, the RSS service is ‘pushing’ information out (to the feed reader or aggregator), but in subscribing to a specific RSS feed and reading the same, the user is ‘pulling’ information in.

RSS has an advantage over email subscriptions in that the user will only receive the information they have asked for as the subscription is to a specific URL. As noted by Lan and Sie (2010) when one subscribes to a web resource via email there is a good chance that they will also receive spam or advertising (Lan & Sie, 2010, 725) but due to the nature of RSS such spamming cannot happen.

REFERENCES

De Sarker, T., (2012). Analyzing RSS applications on library web sites. Library Hi Tech News. 29(5), pp.4-21.

Lan, Y. and Sie, Y., (2010). Using RSS to support mobile learning based on media richness theory. Computers & Education. Vol. 55, pp.723-32.

State Library of New South Wales. (2012). RSS feeds. Retrieved from http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/rss/index.html.

University of Cambridge. (2012). RSS feeds. Retrieved from http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/toolbox/rss.html.

Part 1: How RSS can enhance a library or information service’s ability to meet the information needs of its users?

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Well, this was an interesting topic for me. I have never really understood the importance of RSS, or the need. I have always found it difficult to get my head around … So when we were given a task to post an entry on “…how RSS can enhance a library or information service’s ability to meet the
information needs of its users” I struggled.

I struggled to see the difference between RSS and Twitter.

I struggled to see why one would use RSS when it seems just so difficult to use.

So I started Googling. Then I struggled to find recent articles on this topic (the difference between RSS and Twitter). finally I found some that helped me to begin to see the difference between RSS and Twitter. These articles were written in 2011 and were some of the more recent ones I could find. As usual with the ‘web’, one article lead to another, which led to another, etc. I started with an article by Giorgio Sironi on “Why Twitter is not an RSS replacement“, which led to a blog entry by Kroc Carmen titled “RSS Is Dying Being Ignored, and You Should Be Very Worried“, which led to Dave Winer, apparently the man who invented blogs and RSS (according to a Gizmodo article anyway). It was on Winer’s blog that I had my first ah-ha moment.

In a blog post on December 18, 2012 (Why is Twitter letting us export?), Winer made the following comment: “To publishers who act as if Twitter, Facebook, etc are part of the open Internet, maybe now you’re getting the idea that this is not true. These are corporations who think and act just like you do.” Ah-ha! It seems that RSS is not really ‘owned’ by anyone, only feed readers are. OK, so in that regard, RSS has the potential to be around for a lot longer than a ‘format’ that is corporately owned (also not, if uptake is too small). Then I read an article from Stephanie Quilao (How to explain RSS the Oprah way) which described RSS in a really simple way which also helped me understand a little more of the value of RSS over Twitter. The diagram below is from Quilao’s blog post.

I started to feel like I was beginning to understand the reason that RSS should be used by organisations, bloggers, etc.

I then reread the Sironi article and I really think I’m getting somewhere:

  • RSS is open – no-one ‘owns’ it.
  • Twitter is closed – Twitter owns it, and seeks to profit from its use .
  • RSS readers provide greater opportunity for recall of information and categorising of same.
  • Twitter ‘tweets’ can be quickly ‘hidden’ by newer posts meaning that information of interest may be lost to the user.
  • RSS feeds can be read ‘later’.
  • Twitter ‘tweets’ need to be read ‘now’.

So now I have a bit more of an understanding as to why both RSS and Twitter can be, and more likely should be used together – not one over the other.

Please see Part 2 for my answer to the actual question I was meant to answer …

REFERENCES

Camen, K., (2011, January 3). RSS Is Dying Being Ignored, and You Should Be Very Worried. Retrieved from http://camendesign.com/blog/rss_is_dying.

Quilao, S., (2006, September 21). How to explain RSS the Oprah way. Retrieved from http://cravingideas.blogs.com/backinskinnyjeans/2006/09/how_to_explain_.html

Sironi, G., (2011, January 11). Why Twitter is not an RSS replacement. Retrieved from http://css.dzone.com/articles/why-twitter-not-rss.

Tartakoff, J., (2010, March 29). The (short) history of Twitter’s plans to make money. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2010/mar/29/twitter-making-money.

Winer, D., (2012, July 16). Why Dave Winer Invented the Blog. Gizmodo. Retrieved from http://gizmodo.com/5926282/why-dave-winer-invented-the-blog.

Winer, D., (2012, December 18). Why is Twitter letting us export? Retrieved from http://threads2.scripting.com/2012/december/whyIsTwitterLettingUsExport.

Microblogging

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Microblogging in the workplace can be a very useful tool.

When I began the readings for this section of our module, I was somewhat sceptical. I know in my workplace that a blog has been set-up which has seen a number of my co-workers express concern that some people have the time to write blogs (admittedly some of what was initially posted was, shall we say, tripe!) and when you read the comments to many of these posts, it is the same people who are commenting. Another ‘problem’ with the blog in my workplace is that we don’t have the time to set aside from work activities to actually read it — leading one manager to ‘have a go’ at employees for not using the blog properly! However, when reading Burnham’s article 12 Microblogging Tools to Consider I began to think about the possibilities of microblogging (as opposed to blogging). the further reading of Grenfell’s piece on Deploying microblogging in the workplace really piqued my interest.

I then did a quick google search and found an article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald (Karena, A window to get off the email trail) about using microblogging to replace emails — not eradicate emails, but to reduce the number of emails that are sent within a company. For example, between project team members, or even notifications to groups. For example, in my company a large number of emails are sent to different groups of people as they have been identified as parties with a potential interest in the content (such as reports, or updated next day plans, etc). Instead of clogging up the servers with multiple copies of the same email (and usual attachment), microblogging could be used to notify people that the report or plan is ready. The microblog can also house a link to the shared file, thus reducing the strain on the server. I really can see the potential benefits of microblogging within a business.

However, as Grenfell notes, there are factors that need consideration. Factors such as microblogging’s relationship to the strategies/goals of the organisation, the administrative requirements of the microblogging tool itself (potentially also moderation of comments) and management support of the microblogging activities, are some of the considerations of microblogging implementation. From my own experience in my workplace, I would say the most important organisational factor to consider is the staff resistance factor. Staff need to be ‘sold’ on the idea of microblogging and how it will improve their work life before they will really see the usefulness of such a tool.

As with many new ‘systems’ brought into an organisation, microblogging needs the support of the non-executive to really work. If the only people who use it are executives or publicists, then the tool will not work as it will likely be seen as a way for management to disseminate propaganda and talk about themselves. If the microblogging project team are able to garner enthusisaism from non-executive staff members, then I can see that microblogging could add much value a community to the workplace.

REFERENCES

Burnham, K. (2009, December 11). 12 Microblogging Tools to Consider. CIO. retrieved from http://www.cio.com.au/article/328255/12_microblogging_tools_consider/

Grenfell, C. (2011, July 29). Deploying microblogging in the workplace. Step Two Designs. Retrieved from http://www.steptwo.com.au/papers/kmc_microblogging/index.html

Karena, C. (2012, April 27). A window to get off the email trail. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/business-it/a-window-to-get-off-the-email-trail-20120426-1xocj.html

Social Media and Information …

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We have been asked to “think about how social media creates a new life for information, generating flows and conversations …”. I don’t know if I truly agree that social media gives information a “new life”, however, I do see that social media provides another outlet for information. Social media allows people to express their thoughts, ideas and experiences more quickly (and in many ways with more depth) than more “traditional” forms. Humans have been engaging with each other through conversation for, well, ever really! So I see that, through social media, people are taking control of the conversation again — except now the conversation is instantly global. That is where I see the true value of social media, its global reach and its “real-time” activity. In this way, this is the only sense in which social media is “creating a new life for information”.

The SlideShare presentation by Gary Hayes is very thought-provoking and anyone in the business of business should seriously consider what he has to say. The key points noted are:

Social Media Marketing Keys (Hayes, 2008)

Social Media Marketing Keys (Hayes, 2008)

These keys are simple and the apparent complexity of the diagram Hayes uses (below) should not be a deterrent to learning about social media and its ability to help business.

The Social Media Campaign (Hayes, 2008)

The Social Media Campaign (Hayes, 2008)

To add to this, the video referenced in the text associated with the slides is also more food for thought …

References:

Hayes, G. (2008). The Future of Social Media Entertainment. Retrieved from http://www.personalizemedia.com/the-future-of-social-media-entertainment-slides/

Papworth, L. (2008). Social Currency and Social Networks. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=x2Mjn400DNU

Kevin Kelly — Penny Thoughts on the Technium

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WOW! The video (below) itself is engaging, but there are some phrases that are really thought-provoking. I have written these down:

  • “The greatest technology humans have ever invented is humanity itself. We domesticated ourselves … we cannot live as a species without technology.”
  • “We’ve invented ourselves and it’s our greatest invention so far.” — These first two statements blew me away as we don’t often think of the advances we have made as a species — the way we operate within a community of other humans, the way we can change ourselves and our environment (not always for the better mind you) to make our lives better, longer, more stimulating, more comfortable!
  • Whilst there are many things about technology that we may not be able to control “we [do] have choices in the character of these technologies.”
  • “We have to use things in order to find out about them … we actually have to engage with technology. The only way we can determine if something is good for us or bad for us is through use.”
  • The web is a large-scale organism — I think especially now that we are using more interactive tools. We can see the organism grow and chance with us!
  • We will define ourselves by what technologies we don’t use — I think in lots of ways this is already happening. Apple is a good example (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/oct/06/why-do-people-hate-apple)

I really like the ideas Kevin Kelly presents because we often look back to childhood (as least I do as I get older!) and yearn for the simpler times, when there wasn’t so much technology, but in reality there was a lot of it — just different!

REFERENCES

Kelly, K. (2009, December 1). Penny Thoughts on the Technium. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeTEcwmfuu4

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