Sunday, September 14, 2008

Summing up

I decided I could finish this project in time if I came in to Main as a customer on Sunday.

My home PC is allergic to the Internet. I can log on, but the browser claims it cannot find any servers.

>:-[ I am in the Grand Reading Room, the first one to arrive!

I've already been using Bloglines, and PBwiki for several years, because I like their functionality and they are directly or indirectly relevant to my daily routines.

Of the new things I tried, it was good to finally experiment with Flickr, though I rarely need to post or share images outside of my blogs. I can see the values of Technorati, LibraryThing, podcasts and OverDrive, but again not stuff I would usually use much myself—though I definitely am glad to have learned about them for the sake of helping customers.

The most interesting in terms of potential personal use is Zoho Writer. Second to that—though I haven't had time to explore it yet—is the notion of online desktops in the Web 2.0 Tools.

The project gave me enough of a nudge to overcome enertia and actually try out apps I was curious about...but told myself I didn't have the time to try. It has generated a short list of things I want to go back to for further exploration and potential use. A good follow-up to the NEFLIN-sponsored "Social Software in Libraries" course in 2006.

Re improvements: I agree with Carol Bailey's critique.

  • The actual time commitment needed was much more than a lot of staff could spare.

    This sort of learning is essential for JPL staff, as is other e-technology learning. Although I think self-guided work on one's own timetable is crucial for the subject (everyone's learning curve is different), I also think the training needs to have a mandate analogous to the one for Destination: LEADERSHIP.

    In other words, supervisors can fit time for participation into their overall scheduling needs, but they must fit it in for every employee.

  • In addition to Carol's concern about inconsistent links, I found that occasionally instructions were incomplete or incorrect. For example, see the description of my problem subscribing to a podcast using Podcast Alley.

    I managed in each case—eventually—because I've been doing this sort of puzzling out of online software apps for years. And because I'm a stubborn curmudgeon who won't give up.

    I share Carol's concern about much of this being "very confusing to [newbies] who didn't know their way around a Web site." We want to encourage JPL folks to keep exploring, not discourage them.

I would definitely participate in another program, and I urge JPL to increase the amount of e-tech training it does. I'd like to see the time when more of these skills become part of job descriptions, or at least part of core competencies which we would expect probationary staff to gain.

I'd also like to encourage the discourse about "what all this means" in terms of the public library mandate to serve the "immigrants" and the "refugees." As you've seen, I've added a number of my own rants along those lines. It may not be the sort of discourse for the 'Net, but JPL should build more safe venues for that sort of discussion behind the scenes.

All in all: Excellent program! Thanks very much to all of you who made it possible.


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