Thing #18 Online Apps

The availability and use of online productivity web-based applications (think word processing and spreadsheets) has exploded over the past few years and for good reasons! These powerful applications provide users with the ability to create and share documents over the internet without the need of installed desktop applications.

Some experts speculate that this emerging trend may mean the death to Microsoft Office and other software-based productivity tools. Already, many new small and affordable laptops (called Netbooks) do not come with office suites, instead using free online applications. This makes them much more affordable than laptops with expensive software preloaded. Others think web-based applications have their place, but not in the office, citing difficulty in securing information online. But no matter which side of the office suite platform you side with, on this both sides seem to agree; web-based apps have their place.

One large benefit to web-based applications it that they eliminate the need to worry about different software versions or file types as you email documents or move from PC to PC. Another bonus is that they easily accommodate collaboration by allowing multiple users to edit the same file (with versioning) and provide users the ability to save and convert documents as multiple file types (including HTML and pdf). And, you can even use many of these tools, such as Zoho Writer and Google Docs (formerly known as Writely) to author and publish posts to your blog. It’s this type of integration with other Web 2.0 tools that makes web-based apps so appealing.

For this discovery exercise, participants are asked to take a look at a web-based word processing tool called Google Docs, create a simple document and then document your discoveries in your blog. If you're up to the challenge, you might even export your document as a web page or publish it to your blog.

With web-based applications, the possibilities are endless.

Discovery Resources:

A short list of web-based productivity applications – Note: Created in Google Docs, then clicked "Share", and "Publish as web page".

Discovery Exercise:
  1. Create a free account for yourself in Google Docs (you should be able to use your Blogger account).

  2. Explore the site and create a couple test documents, spreadsheets, or presentations.

  3. Try out a few features (maybe Share or Publish), and create a blog post about your discoveries.

    • Can you imagine using this at work? What about in your personal life?

Thing #17 Hands-on Exercise: Playing in a Wiki Sandbox

"Sandbox" is the term that wikis often use to describe the area of the website that should be used for pure play. For this discovery and exploration exercise, there's a whole Learning 2.0 Favorites wiki* that’s for nothing but play!

For this “explore-and-play-with-wikis” exercise, you are asked to add an entry or two to the PBwiki Learning 2.0 wiki. The theme of this wiki is simply “Favorites” : Favorite books, favorite vacation spots, favorite restaurants, favorite anything …all you need to do is play and add your thoughts. To mark your adventure on this site, you should add your blog to the Favorite Blogs page.

Discovery Resources

Discovery Exercise

  1. Access the PLCMC Learning 2.0 wiki and create a login account for yourself. The password is on the bottom of the login page: plcmc.
  2. Add your blog to the Favorite Blogs page (look for the San Antonio Public Library logo toward the end of the page). That's how we'll know that you've been there. It’s easy to do if you follow this simple syntax (11/24 UPDATE: the all-text instructions below will only work if you switch to the "classic" editing mode. The default is the WYSIWYG mode. Try both. See which one you like. You won't break anything!):

    [ URL Title of blog]

    [ Learning 2.0 ]

    With brackets [ ] and just a little typing, you’ve added a link - yup, it’s as easy as that! (If you don't want to do it old-school style, there's a handy WYSIWYG editor, too.)

    OPTIONAL: Add a favorite or two to a few other pages (Favorite books, favorite vacation spot, etc). And, if you feel up to the challenge, you might even want to create a separate page for book reviews or short travel essays and link up to that.

  3. Create a post in your blog about the experience.

* NOTE: The PLCMCLearning Wiki was created using the free version of PBWiki, a tool that lets you create webpages that anyone can edit.

Thing #16 Wiki-mania

A wiki is a collaborative website and authoring tool that allows users to easily add, remove and edit content. Wikipedia, the online open-community encyclopedia, is the largest and the most well known of these knowledge sharing tools. With the benefits that wikis provide, the use and popularity of these tools is exploding.

Some of the benefits that make wikis so attractive are:

  • Anyone (registered or unregistered, if unrestricted) can add, edit or delete content.
  • Tracking tools within wikis allow you to easily keep up on what has been changed and by whom.
  • Earlier versions of a page can be viewed and reinstated ("rolled back") when needed.
  • Users do not need to know HTML in order to apply styles to text or add and edit content. In most cases simple syntax structure is used.

As the use of wikis has grown over the last few years, libraries all over the country have begun to use them to collaborate and share knowledge. Among their applications are pathfinder or subject guide wikis, book review wikis, ALA conference wikis and even library best practices wikis.

Discovery Resources

Use these resources to learn more about wikis:

Discovery Exercise
  1. So what's in a wiki? Find out by doing some exploring on your own. For this discovery exercise, you are asked to take a look at some library wikis and blog about your findings. Here’s a few examples to get you started:

  2. Create a blog post about your findings. What did you find interesting? What types of applications within libraries might work well with a wiki?

Thing #15 More on 2.0

Library 2.0 is term used to describe a new set of concepts for developing and delivering library services. The name, as you may guess, is an extension of Web 2.0 and shares many of its same philosophies and concepts including harnessing the user in both design and implementation of services, embracing constant change as a development cycle over the traditional notion of upgrades, and reworking library services to meet the users in their space, as opposed to ours (libraries).

Many have argued that the notion of Library 2.0 is more than just a term used to describe concepts that revolve around the use of technology. It also a term that can be used to describe both physical and mindset changes that are occurring within libraries to make our spaces and services more user-centric and inviting. Others within the profession have asserted that libraries have always been 2.0: collaborative, customer friendly and welcoming. No matter which side of the debate proponents fall, both sides agree that libraries of tomorrow, even five or ten years from now, will look substantially different from libraries today.

Discovery Resources:

OCLC Next Space Newsletter, analyzing Libraries and the Future.

Five Perspectives:

Wikipedia – Library 2.0

Library 2.0 Discussions (list of great references from Wikipedia)

And finally... a librarian's 2.0 Manifesto.

Discovery Exercise:
  1. Read two or three of the perspectives on Library 2.0 from the list above.
  2. Create a blog post about your thoughts on any one of these? Library 2.0 - It's many things to many people. What does it mean to you?

Thing #14 Explore Technorati

So now that you’ve been blogging for awhile, you might be wondering just how big the blogosphere is. Well, according to Technorati, the leading search tool and authority for blogs, the number of blogs doubles just about every 6 months with over 900,000 blog posts posted every 24 hours. Already, Technorati indexes more than 133 million blog entries. Yes, these numbers are astounding, but as you’ve seen, blogging is so easy that these publishing tools are being taken advantage of by almost every industry, including libraries.

So how does a person get their blog listed as part of the blogosphere and how can you tag your posts with keywords to make them accessible through a Technorati search? The answer to the first question is that your blog is probably already being captured by Technorati due to the fact that you are using Blogger, the most popular blogging tool. But if you want to join the party and have your blog officially listed on Technorati and also take advantage of the watchlist and other features, you’ll need to claim your blog yourself. As for tagging posts with Technorati tags? This is easy, too. All you need to do is add a tag to the bottom of your post (on Blogger there's a spot called "Labels for this post") and Technorati will pick up these tags when it spiders (or web crawls) your site.

There are a lot of new features that have been added to Technorati, including new ways to search for blogs. You can search for keywords in blog posts, search for entire blog posts that have been tagged with a certain keyword, or search for blogs that have been registered and tagged as whole blogs about a certain subject (like photography or libraries).

Discovery Resources:

Some Technorati How-Tos

Technorati Discover & Popular features

Discovery Exercise:

Take a look at Technorati and try doing a keyword search for “Learning 2.0” in Blog posts, in tags and in the Blog Directory. Are the results different?
  1. Explore popular blog, searches and tags. Is anything interesting or surprising in your results?

  2. Create a blog post about your discoveries on this site, and tag your posts by with Technorati tags so they can join tag searches. Create a post about something. It can be anything you want and add the HTML code to the bottom to tag it as “SAPLL2.” You may also want to consider claiming your blog and creating a watchlist.

There's a lot to explore. Have fun!

Thing #13 Social Bookmarking

Tagging is an open and informal method of categorizing that allows users to associate keywords with webpages, pictures and posts. Unlike library subject cataloging, which follows a strict set of guidelines (i.e.Library of Congress subject headings), tagging is completely unstructured and free form, allowing users to create connections between data anyway they want.

We've explored Flickr, a site that allows users to use a tag like "My Branch Library" to create an association between the tags we've added and the photos that we've individually uploaded. This week, in addition to exploring Technorati tagging, we want to also take a look at a popular social bookmarking site called (typed in as or now is a social bookmarking manager which allows you to bookmark a web page and add tags to categorize your bookmarks. Many users find that the real power of is in the social network aspect. You can see how other users have tagged similar links and discover other websites of interest to you. You can think of it as peering into another users’ filing cabinet. By bookmarking each user's filing cabinet you help to build an expansive knowledge network.

For this discovery exercise, you are asked to take a look at and learn about this popular bookmarking tool.

Discovery Resources:

Discovery Exercise:
  1. View the video above and/or the 8 minute tutorial to get a good overview of its features.

  2. Take a look around using the PLCMCL2 account that was created for the original version of this exercise. Note: In this account you will find lots of resources that have been highlighted or used throughout the course of the Learning 2.0 program.

  3. Explore the site options and try clicking on a bookmark that has also been bookmarked by a lot of other users. Can you see the comments they added about this bookmark or the tags that they used to categorize this reference?

  4. Create a blog post about your experience and thoughts about this tool.

    Can you see the potential of this tool for research assistance? Or just as an easy way to create bookmarks that can be accessed from anywhere?

OPTIONAL: If you’re up to the challenge, create a account for yourself and discover how this useful bookmarking tool can replace your traditional browser bookmark list. You might even want to explore’ latest addition, a network badge. (Psst! see it over there at the end of the navigation sidebar)

Note: If you do setup a account, here’s a quick word about the Buttons. On PCs that have the toolbars locked down, these will install as options in your browser bookmarks. Use the “Post to my” link to add the current webpage to your account (you may need to log in). Use the “My” link to view your online account.

Thing #12 Roll Your Own Search Engine

What are some of your favorite websites? Do you use some of these sites to answer homework or reference questions? If so, Rollyo may be just for you. Rollyo allows you to create your own search tool for the websites you know and trust.

Take a look at some of these search rolls that have already been created:

Here’s a searchroll created by the 23 Things Team to search the top movie and TV websites.Try a search for specific titles, actors or film terms, such as "Finding Neverland” or “Johnny Depp” or "Cinemascope," to see reviews, biographies and other relevant information listed from multiple sites.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Explore Rollyo and create an account for yourself.
  2. Create a search roll for any subject you like. (Tip: Use an Internet directory, such as Alexa or Yahoo! Directory, to discover sites that are similar to ones you're familiar with.)
  3. Create a post in your blog about your experience and link to your search roll. Can you see a potential use for tools like this?

OPTIONAL: Embed your searchroll in your blog using the "Create a Searchbox" tool and cutting-and-pasting the code Rollyo provides.

Thing #11 Goodreads to find good reads

Are you book lover at heart? Or do you enjoy hearing what your friends are reading? Then Goodreads may be just the tool for you.

Here's what their website says:

Have you ever wanted a better way to:

  • see what your friends are reading?

  • keep track of what you've read and what you'd like to read?

  • get great book recommendations from people you know?

Obviously, the answer to that is Goodreads.

Add a book to your catalog by just entering the title -- it’s so easy that you don’t even need MARC record training to do it – and connect with your other reading friends. Grab a widget (see Didi's sidebar for sample) to show off titles that are in your shelves.

So join the ranks of other book lovers and create your own library online. Connecting with friends will yield tons of new book recommendations, and soon you'll be like most folks: more books in the to-read section than anywhere else!

Discovery Resources:
Discovery Exercise:

  1. Take a look around Goodreads and create an account.

  2. Add a least 5 books to your library.

  3. Find a friend on Goodreads and comment on what they are reading.

    • Click Friends, then either enter your email info to search for your email contacts

    • or scroll down to search by name

  4. Blog about your findings.

Thing #10 Play Around with Online Image Generators

Generators? No, I’m not talking about those gas powered back-up things. The generators I’m talking about allow you to easily manipulate image and graphics to create fun images like these:

For this discovery exercise, I just want you to have fun! Find a few fun image or text generators to play with. Now write a post in your blog about one of your favorites and display the result. Often adding the image you mocked up to your blog is as simple as copying and pasting the code that the page provides. If not, you may need to right click on the image and then save it to your hard drive before using Blogger’s image button to add it to your post.

If you’re having difficulty getting your image added to a post in your blog, ask a co-worker for help. In looking at several staff blogs, it’s easy to see that we have lots of people in the system who have figured out how easy it is to add images to their blogs.

Discovery Resources:

The Generator Blog

Letter James

FD Toys

Also try searching for online generators, text generators or image generators!

Discovery Exercise:

1. Play around with some image generators and find one that you like.

2. Post the result of your discovery process in your blog.

Note: Be sure to include a link to the image generator itself, so other participants can discover it too.

So take some time and have fun with this exercise. And remember to be tasteful too!

* Images created with Dummies Book Generator, FD Toys Magazine Cover, Comic Strip Generator.

Thing #9 Explore RSS Feeds

Now that you have a newsreader (your Google Reader account), you can begin adding other newsfeeds that interest you.
  • Adding Feeds:

    • On the web: Look for RSS Feed icons (). Clicking makes it easy to subscribe to updates to that site.

    • You can also search by keyword on Google Reader. Use this to search by your interest.

    • You can also just type in the URL of a blog you like. Try typing into the "Add Feed" or "Subscribe" area - that's the blog that the SAPL Children's team uses to share ideas.

  • Other Search tools that can help you find feeds:

    • - This search tool allows you to locate recent newsfeed items based upon keyword or phrase searching. The tool focuses specifically on news and media outlet RSS feeds for information, not weblogs.

    • - Syndic8 is an open directory of RSS feeds that contains thousands of RSS feeds that users have submitted.

    • Technorati - Technorati Blog Search can help you find RSS feeds for topic-specific blogs you may be interested in.

Discovery Excercise:

  1. Explore some of the search tools noted above that can help you locate some news feeds.

  2. Create a blog post about your experience. Here some questions to think about:
  • Do you think you'd regularly use RSS to keep up with personal or professional blogs? Why or Why not?

  • Which method of finding feeds did you find easiest to use?

  • What kind of useful feeds did you find in your travels? Or what kind of unusual ones did you find?

  • What other tools or ways did you find to locate newsfeeds?

Beware: RSS Feeds can easily become too much to keep up with, obviously defeating their original purpose. Do not succumb to dreaded "information overload".