Monday, October 12, 2009

Thing 23: Final thoughts

xI feel relieved to finally getting to the end of this program, I must confess that it was rather hard to keep up. A lot of the tools I had not used or even heard of.
Even though I am relieved to finish, I am also glad for the experience. There were so many tools that I enjoyed trying for the first time, like RSS feeds, tagging, LibraryThing, and blogging. I had never made and kept a blog, and I see the utility of it. i definitely will keep utilizing these tools for my benefit.
There were other tools that I had used before and had actually become familiar with, like podcasts, YouTube and Facebook. Even if I already knew about these applications this program helped me to realize that they are part of the Web 2.0.
One particularly enjoyable experience was to be able to keep up with my classmates' progress by subscribing to their own 23 things blogs. It was very interesting to see how their experience differed from mine, how the same tool shows to be more or less useful or preferred by different people. It made me realize that, even if all of us look at the same Internet, each one of us use it for different things, this is a testament to the vastness and variety of the Internet and the Web 2.0 environment.
This experience has been so rich that it would be impossible for me to describe it in one word. I find it tough enough to describe it in a sentence. If I had to describe my learning experience it would be "learning Web 2.0 systematically"
'Til next time, dudes!

Thing 22: What did I learn?

I don't think I exaggerate when I say that, during this 23 things on a stick assignment, I learn more about Web 2.0 tools than I had ever since I have been an Internet user.
After I completed this assignment, I had to ask myself if there are really more tools for me to explore. It seem like I have tested all of the tools available out there. I have learned how to post and embed video, how to use collaboration tools and productivity applications. I have learned so much about social networking, tagging and RSS feeds. I have learned how to really use the Internet to my advantage, making the most out of it.
The question remains, how do I keep up with all the stuff out there? I guess this is where RSS feeds, tagging and bookmarking come in handy. I also count on my classmates' blogs to inform me about new things.
Perhaps the most useful thing I learned, is the importance of information literacy on the face of an exponentially growing web. It will be hard to keep up, but this showed me a way to go at it systematically. The great part of the tools I learned is that they build on each other. Learning about one tool allows me to find and use others.
As said before, this has been one of the most enriching experiences I have ever had, and I look forward to keep up looking out there for the next Web 2.0 innovation.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thing 20 and 21: Facebook, MySpace and other social networks

Social networking sites have been all the rage in the range of Web 2.0 tools. Almost everyone I know (including myself), has an account with Facebook, MySpace, or both.
So, what is the attraction of social networking sites, like Facebook and MySpace? It is perhaps the natural human tendency and desire to form societies. The truth is, these sites makes it so much easier to form groups of "friends" based on the most mundane commonalities, like the city you live in or the school you went to. I am friends with some people from the schools where I went to, I do have many more friends with whom we have in common the fact that we live in the same relative place. Social networking sites do away with the constriction of space as an obstacle to make friends.
Which brings the question: what exactly is to be a friend in the digital realm? To what degree is an online friend similar to a "real" friend? This phenomenon is bound to change the meaning of the word "friend". Before these forms of communication became ubiquitous, a friend would be considered someone with whom we interact in close contact and share life experiences. Even the invention and proliferation of cellular phone technology did not seem to change the meaning of the word. A friend, whether we could see him/her in person or made contact with him/her on the phone, any time, anywhere, woulf remain someone with whom we had, at least a some point, interacted in a close physical manner. It is hard to imagine someone calling a particular city or campus and start asking whoever answered if they wanted to become friends. For someone on the other side of the line, living in the same city or going to the same school would not be enough to become friends, without seeing or recognizing the caller first.
On the other hand, people become friends on Facebook or MySpace without having to even establish any kind of close physical contact first. Simply because they live in the same geographical area or go to the same college. Why is that?
I think one of the reasons one can become a friend without having to have met previously is the amount of data about a person that Facebook and MySpace contain. If you have an account with these services, you would likely include a photo, as well as a profile, a snipet of information that attempts to describe yourself. This is enough to form a connection akin to a friendship in a social network site.
Whether this connection is comparable or even similar to be called a friendship, the way we usually know it, is still up to debate. Regardless, this form of social communication and organization is growing so fast it has become part of popular culture, not very different from old fashioned frienships.
Myspace and Facebook have enjoyed so much success that many other projects are out there where the basic blueprint from Facebook and Myspace is taken and used to organize people who seek to get together around a particular goal. I myself belong to a Ning group for one of my classes, the class being the common goal. we formed this mini social nettwork to collaborate and stay in touch. So far, it has worked well. but how well it will work, as compared to run of the mill, live, close contact collaboration is still to be decided, at least as far as I am concerned.

Thing 19: Podcasts

I was extremely happy to find podcasts in this 23 things on a stick. I am proud to say I am somewhat of a podcast veteran. I have used podcasts as a means of entertainment for a number of years.
This is perhaps the Web 2.0 tool I use the most. I download podcasts of programs from NPR and other radio stations. I have even dowloaded podcasts from higher education institutions in the form of lectures.
The best feature about podcasts is their flexibility. most of the content in podcasts are from programs that normally one would listen to aired in the radio. The difference between these and podcasts is the sound quality, much better in podcast form, their portability and time flexibility. Radio programs are subject to a time schedule, but podcasts can be listened to anytime, anywhere after the original radio show has aired. In this sense, poscasts are truly "radio on demand".
There are also video podcasts of some shows in television. these are rarer due, I suspect, to many factors. Perhaps TV companies want their audiences to keep watching television and discourage the posting of content in this format. Also, even though portable players are quite advanced, the demand for space that video podcasts impose makes them not such an appealing option to see video. The restrictions imposed by the size of portable video screens might also have something to do with the limited popularity of video podcasts.
Not only radio and TV post podcasts, virtually anyone with enough knowledge of the medium can post a podcast for others to listen to, although they are not very popular. People are more drawn to either post information in writing, such as blogs and web sites, or video, such as YouTube. Given the choice, I think most people would prefer to publish a video than a podcast. Nevertheless, for information naturally found in audio only, like radio programs, podcasts have the potential to take their media to the next level, the Web 2.0 level.

Thing 18: YouTube

I can't believe how easy it was to include a YouTube video in my blog! I just now realized that I can make my blog more like a multimedia experience, with audio, video, pictures and even interactive content.
This particular video I posted in my blog is one of my favorites. Created by Michael Wesch, professor of digital ethnography at the University of Kansas, is one of the most interesting videos I have ever seen. On top of that, it is so relevant to the things we are learning here that I venture it would make for quite an interesting discussion.
My experience with YouTube was born more out of necessity than anything else. Sometime ago, I moved into my new apartment and found myself without a TV. I thought at the time that, given how busy I envisioned myself to be with schoolwork and my own job, I would not need it. Nevertheless, because of how long I have lived watching one, its absence was deeply felt at those rare times when I did not have anything to do.
I did not have a television, but I had a computer, so I started looking for videos online, and that's how I found YouTube.
I was very excited to find it, since, after some exploring, I found so many videos I could never even dream of finding on regular TV. Everything from the funny, the mundane, the outright bizarre, I could find it in YouTube.
It was during my search for online video that I found Hulu. Hulu is very similar to YouTube, the difference is that Hulu shows videos from commercial television, as well as some movies and documentaries.
Thanks to YouTube and Hulu, I am happy to say, I can waste my time just as if I had a TV.
The video I included is definitely not a time waster. Please look at it, wou will be amazed at its depth and relevance to what we are doing here.

Thing 17: ELM

I think it's a very comforting thought to find sources of reputable information available to the public on the web, given that there is so much information floating out there that, given its lack of credentials or its unknown reputation, has the potential to mislead its users or to altogether mislead an audience in order to forward an agenda.
The use (or lack thereof) of this kind of information sources makes us library and information professionals to think about ways to provide information education to those who seek information on the Internet. Given the abundance of information, in various degrees of legitimacy and authenticity available out there, information literacy is becoming a most important task for us librarians.
Seeing the lack of information literacy as a problem, many would be inclined to suggest imposing regulatory practices on the Internet. Many wish that the information posted to the public could be controlled in some way as to allow only veritable, reputable information to be published. The truth of the matter is, part of the huge success of this form of communication and information dissemination is its freedom. Anyone with enough computer-savvy can publish anything of their choice, and many see this medium as an idealized platform for communication. I for one think that regulations and policing would destroy the internet as we know it. A more feasible option would be to educate the public on what is good, dependable, reliable information and what is opinion, musings, or agenda driven.
Our task as librarians is to educate the public, as well as to make "good" information available for our patrons.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thing 16: Research Project Calculator

Out of all the Web 2.0 tools I have examined so far, the Research Project Calculator is the one I am most skeptical about.
One of the goals of education is to integrate their students to the workforce, based on what their abilities and aspirations are. School is supposed to teach students about tasks and deadlines, since that's how the real world is structured. Regardless of the field in which a student specializes, he or she must be able to manage their time working on a task and deliver the desired results in a timely manner. Time management is an integral part of school curriculum and an invaluable task in the workplace.
Don't get me wrong. This tool could be a very useful one to teach students about time management. Used early enough, it could teach students about the time spans it takes for research to get done. For someone who has not done research before, it could prove very useful to learn from a seasoned researcher the estimated time it takes to do literature review, form a hypothesis, construct an outline, and start writing the paper proper in order to deliver it in a timely fashion.
The most significant feart I have abpout this tool is for it to become a crutch for a student. This toool carries the danger of becoming too much of a necessity for a student, hindering the ability of said student to manage their time without external help.
Perhaps I am overreacting. Maybe many other people, including seasoned researchers, use this tool to manage their time. But, in my honest opinion, part of the learning process is to teach a student to be able to learn to do research, and, including in this, is the ability to learn how long it takes to deliver a quality product.
This is a very good tool, as long as it is taught early enough and does not become a necessity.