Monday, December 7, 2009

Thing #21 - Wrapping Up

Guess what? It's the end of the 2009 OCL Web Challenge! In the last ten weeks, you have learned about new technologies that are changing the way people are using the Internet (and libraries).

The great (and sometimes frustrating) thing about the Internet is that it is always changing. Technology companies and bloggers are already working on a definition of what Web 3.0 will be.

The OCL Web Challenge Committee hopes that you enjoyed the Web Challenge and will continue to be a lifelong learner. We are hoping to host an advanced challenge sometime in 2010, too. Thank you for playing!

To complete Thing #21, write one last blog post:

This is your last required blog post, so make it a good one. What was your favorite thing you learned about? Conversely, what did you like least about Web 2.0? What areas of Web 2.0 do you think the library should get more involved in? What Web 2.0 services have you shared with your friends and family?

Advanced Optional Exercise
Look up Web 3.0 and predict what you think it will be.


The drop-dead completion date for the 2009 OCL Web Challenge is December 31 at midnight. You must have completed all 21 Things by that date to be eligible for a prize. You will be hearing from the committee by the middle of December letting you know your progress so far. Good luck and have fun!

Thing #20 - ListenNJ

Digital audio books are similar to the audio books that the library circulates. Instead of picking them up at the library, you can download them on your home computer. Once you have downloaded the audio book it can be listened to on the computer. Some titles can transferred to an MP3 player or burnt onto a CD.

The Ocean County Library offers its customers digital audiobooks through

ListenNJ offers a wide variety of audio books for customers to access from their home computers. Topics include fiction, biographies, business, children’s literature, current events, history, mystery, romance, suspense and more.

To access digital books at
ListenNJ you will need:
* A valid Ocean County Library Card
* Access to the Internet
* OverDrive Audio Book and Windows Media Player 9.0 software (both are free and available to download from ListenNJ)
* An MP3 player (OPTIONAL)

To complete Thing #20, download and listen to a book from ListenNJ. Here's what you need to do:

FIRST: Read Ocean County Library’s instructions for ListenNJ downloading.

You'll need your library card number to use ListenNJ.

If you have an MP3 player already, great. You'll download a book to the player and listen to some of the audio to make sure everything worked. If you don't have a MP3 player or don't want to download a book to your MP3 player, that's okay. Use the instructions above.

Go to ListenNJ and download a book of your choosing onto your computer (use a PC Plus computer at work) and listen to some of the book to make sure everything worked.

Hint: To make it easier to find the downloaded file, download it to the desktop. Once you're done with the exercise, delete the file off the desktop.

Then, write a blog post about your experience. Do you see yourself using this for audiobooks in the future?

Thing #19 - Podcasts

One of the greatest buzzwords in the Web 2.0 world is podcast. But what is a podcast, really?

A podcast is downloadable audio programming that you can listen to on a variety of topics. They are created by your neighbor, your coworker or large media companies like ESPN, CBS and the New York Times. Best of all, the majority of podcasts are free.

When we said that anyone can create a podcast, we mean anyone. All you need is a microphone, a computer and some simple recording software to create a podcast. The number of podcasts grows daily and there are podcasts on virtually every subject. From sports to cooking to gardening to video games, you can probably find a podcast about anything you can imagine.

So how do you listen to a podcast?

The old way to get podcasts was to check the website of your favorite podcast frequently for updates. Once there was an announcement that a new podcast was available, you could then listen from the website or download it to your computer.

Web 2.0 makes listening to podcasts easier. Remember way back to the beginning of the challenge when we talked about RSS feeds? Podcasters now use RSS feeds to distribute their podcasts. People use programs called podcatchers to subscribe to their favorite podcasts. Once they subscribe to a podcast, the podcatcher will automatically download new podcasts for you.

There are a variety of podcatcher programs available. The most popular is Apple’s iTunes. Below is a video that shows how simple it is to maintain your podcast subscriptions with iTunes. Most other podcatchers work similarly.

Doesn’t that look easy?

Once you have downloaded a podcast, you can listen to it on your computer or transfer it to your portable media device, like your iPod, Zune or other mp3 player.

With newer portable media devices like the iPod and Zune having video features and home digital video editing equipment becoming easier and more affordable, some podcasters have stepped up their game and gotten into video podcasting. It works just like regular podcasting, but instead of producing audio they are making video programming, or vodcasting.

To Complete Thing #19, here's what you have to do:
1. Explore a podcasting site like or Odeo. (or iTunes if you have it at home)
2. Search for a podcast on a topic of your choice and listen to it.

3. Write a blog post about your experience. Did you like the podcast you found? Was listening to a podcast easier or harder than you expected?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thing #18 - Delicious

In Thing #17, we talked about tagging. Well, Delicious ( is a site that takes tagging to the next level. Delicious is a social bookmark manager that allows you to bookmark a web page and add tags to categorize your bookmarks. You can use it to store your links, share them with friends, and discover new links and articles.

Many users find that the real power of Delicious is in the social network aspect, which allows you to see how other users have tagged similar links and also discover other websites that may be of interest to you. You can think of it as peering into another user's filing cabinet, but with this powerful bookmarking tool each user's filing cabinet helps to build an expansive knowledge network.

A few examples of how libraries are using Delicious already:
* Toms River Information Services has put together a huge set of helpful resources, and organized it with tags. Make sure to click "all tags" in the right hand column to see all of the tags they've used.
* Check out Stafford Branch's version of The Southern Regional Middle School's
Summer Reading List from a few years ago (much better than a pdf file!)
* The College of New Jersey uses in place of
traditional subject guides and pathfinders to help students find resources (scroll to bottom of page to see cloud)

So what do you have to do?
Go to Explore the links there.

* Click on Fresh Bookmarks to see what's been posted most recently.
* Click on Popular Bookmarks to see what's hot.
* Click on Explore Tags to browse through tags.
OR just try out a search, like travel tips or craft tutorials or recipes.

Then, write a blog post about delicious. Do you think this would be useful? How would you use it at the library or for your personal links?

Thing #17 - Tagging

Tags are another part of this whole Web 2.0 thing, but they are actually very familiar territory for those of us who just so happen to work in libraries. Many sites now allow users to "tag" items, adding descriptive keywords to photos, blog posts, links, videos, and much more. But think about it - couldn't I say the same thing about subject headings in the library catalog? Of course I could! And when you think about tags in that library-oriented way, it makes so much more sense.

When you're looking for a book in the catalog, and you don't know what the title is, a subject keyword search will very often connect you to what you're looking for. Tagging on websites works the same way, with one big exception. Subject headings are determined by library catalogers. In most cases, tags can be added by any user.

We've seen tagging a few times already in this Web Challenge. You can add tags (aka labels) to your blog posts. You can tag books in
LibraryThing. You can tag people in photos you post on Facebook. YouTube videos have tags too - if you go back to that Wedding Dance video we linked to a few posts ago, you don't see tags right away. But if you click on "more info", you'll see that there are tags.

Why are tags useful?

If we go back to that YouTube example, several of the tags included "wedding" "wedding entrance" "creative wedding" "wedding dance ideas" and more. You can click those links and you'll be taken to a YouTube search for those terms. Or, a user who didn't know about that video in the first place may have done a search for "wedding entrance", and the tags on this particular video will help that video turn up in search results.

If my friend Pete posts a photo on Facebook and I'm in the photo, he can tag me in his photo. Then when people go to MY page, they will see a link to Pete's photo when they look for photos of me. (You can turn this feature off if you don't like it!)

Remember the
tagmash in LibraryThing? The user-added tags there helped find books you don't know you're interested in. Or they help you assist the customer who knows they're looking for a book about the black death but can't remember the title.

The thing about tags is that because they are added by users, sometimes they are redundant or too generic. They'd probably annoy a vigilant cataloger. However, because they are so unrestricted, it can help refine searches in a way we haven't seen before.

To complete Thing #17, try out ONE of the following:
1. Go back to
LibraryThing and search for your favorite book. Take a look at the tags. Are there any unexpected tags? Are there any tags you'd add?
2. If you use
Facebook, has a friend tagged you in a photo? Have you tagged someone in a photo you posted?
3. Tag your next blog post. (When you're composing a post, look at the bottom. There's a box called "labels for this post".) What keywords would you use?
4. We used a fun site called
Wordle to create the tag cloud at the top of the post. Visit the site and try creating a Wordle out of a site you like. Or just add in a few of your favorite words and see what happens.

Write a blog post about what you tried. Did you like tagging things? Do you think it's useful or fun? Does it annoy you that it's so freeform?

PS. For those of you with Windows Vista or Windows 7, the Photo Gallery software allows you to tag photos you've taken with your digital camera. Imagine being able to tag all the photos of your family and friends with their names! You'd be able to do a quick search and find all the photos of your brother or sister in one shot.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Break!

The Web Challenge is taking a break for Thanksgiving. Use the time to relax, or catch up!

Next week's things will be posted on Friday, November 27. See you then!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thing #16 - Wikis (part 2)

"Sandbox" is the term that wikis often use to describe the area of the wiki website that should be used for pure play and experimentation. For this discovery and exploration exercise, we’ve set up a whole OCL Web Challenge Wiki for you to play with.

Our wiki is on Google Sites which is a wiki site offering restricted wikis to individuals and businesses. (Restricted means you'll need to log in to edit the wiki.)

To mark your adventure on OCLWebthings wiki site, you will be adding a link to your blog to the page on the OCLwebthing wiki called

1. Go to the
OCL Webthings wiki.
You can get there by going to your email account you used to register your blog with the WebChallenge Committee and opening the email you were sent about the OCL Webthings wiki and Thing #. Click on the invitation link inside the email.

Why you can't just click on the link: Google requires you to be invited to edit a wiki. This keeps the editing rights to only those people the Administrator of the wiki (in this case the Web Challenge committee) wants to have the power to change the wiki. Otherwise it is an open wiki like Wikipedia and the whole world can edit it. That's not a good idea for most wikis that are cooperative efforts within a specific group.

2. So to explore-and-play-with-wikis in this exercise, you are asked to add an entry or two to the Sandbox page on the wiki. The theme of this wiki page is simply “favorites” : favorite books, favorite vacation spots, favorite restaurants, favorite anything. All you need to do is add your favorites under one or more categories. You're also asked to play with the fonts and the formatting features.

3. Next go to the party plans section of the wiki and add an item. Make sure to include your blog url so we'll know you've been there. Remember, if you have questions, or need a little help, email us at

4. Create a post in your blog about the experience. Here's a question you might want to blog about: What are the potential uses of a wiki for work?