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?

Thing #15 - Wikis (part 1)

"Wiki, Wiki" in Hawaiian means quickly. A wiki allows you to work with others to write and organize information. Everyone can be both writer and editor. For your introduction to wikis watch the video from Common Craft below for a really simple explanation:

Wikipedia, the online open-community encyclopedia, is the largest and perhaps the most well known of these knowledge sharing tools. The use and popularity of wikis in businesses, libraries and in online communities is expanding rapidly. Did you know NJLA is now using a Wiki for their website?

Some of the benefits that make wikis so attractive are:
  • multiple people can add, edit or delete content

  • you can keep track of who is editing what

  • earlier versions of a page can be viewed and reinstated when needed

  • no technical background is needed
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 to share knowledge. Among their applications: subject guide wikis, book review wikis, ALA conference wikis, and even library best practices wikis.

Take a look at some of these wikis:

Did you find anything useful? Did you find anything you didn't like?

Next, visit Ocean County Library's article on Wikipedia. Most people never notice the Discussion and History tabs at the top of each Wikipedia article. They give you important clues on the article's accuracy and currency. Clicking on the Discussion tab in the OCL article, you'll read that Wikipedia made OCL give permission before we could repeat material from our website in the Wikipedia article. Wikipedia really hates copying from other websites without permission.

Click on the history tab on top of the OCL article to see a list of every change made to the article's words or images. Any guesses on what edits were from OCL staff? One staff member changed the description of Sparks from a pink dragon to a magenta dragon, then another staff member added a citation to prove the change correct!

Share some of your thoughts on wikis on your Web Challenge blog.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thing #14 - Picnik

What is Picnik?
Picnik is another online application or program. It's free photo editing software. Instead of installing it onto your computer, it runs right out of your internet browser. You don't have to download or install anything, and it works on any computer. It's easy to use and a whole lot of fun.

What can I do with Picnik?

Picnik packs a lot of punch into its online software. With their Basic Editing tools, you can crop, resize, rotate, or adjust the colors or contrast of your photos. They also have a section of "creative effects" which allows you to add all sorts of artsy effects to your photos. You can darken the corners, make it look like a 1960s photo, boost the colors, turn it into a sketch or heat map, invert the colors, turn the whole photo one color.

Picnik also lets you add text, frames, or clipart (Picnik calls them "stickers") to your photos. They are always adding new seasonal stickers, so for Thanksgiving, you can add turkeys and cornucopias to your photos. Yes, it can be silly or overly artsy, but you could also use it to make a digital e-card to send to family and friends. Or use it to make a quick flyer for an upcoming program at the library.

Picnik lets you open photos that are saved on your computer, or from a website URL that you put in. Picnik is also partnered with Yahoo, so you can use Picnik to do a Yahoo image search and then edit a photo - all within the same window.

You do not have to have an account to use Picnik. However, with a free account, you can link your Picnik account to your Facebook, flickr, MySpace, or Twitter account. This lets you post photos to those sites, or edit photos that you've already posted on those sites. You also have the option of paying for a Premium account. Some of the features (creative effects or off-season clipart, for example) are only available to those who have paid for premium accounts.

Picnik allows you to save your edited photo to your computer, email it to your friends, or print it using your printer.

To complete Thing #14, here's what you have to do:
Visit and click "Get started".

There are a few demo photos on their main page that you can play around with. You can also try out uploading one of your own photos. Write a blog post about Picnik. Do you think you'd use this at your library? Could you imagine using it to help customers?

Bonus: post your creation on your blog!

Thing #13 - Google Docs

What is Google Docs?
Google Docs (or Documents) is FREE online software for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, much like Microsoft Office (aka Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). And did we mention our favorite part? It’s free!

What can I do with Google Docs?
To put it simply, a whole lot! You can use it to create new documents, spreadsheets or presentations. You can access your files from any computer with an internet connection, and your files are securely stored in Google’s online file storage system – no disks needed! You can also open existing Word or Excel documents using Google Docs to edit or print them. (This can be quite handy if you are working on a computer that doesn’t have Microsoft Office.)

But one of the most innovative and exciting things about Google Docs is the ability to share your documents and collaborate with others. Any time you create a document or spreadsheet with Google Docs, you have the option to share it with someone, just by putting in their email address. They can then view, edit, and collaborate on the same document you just created – without sending pesky email attachments back and forth.

This can be helpful in many ways – working on a project or report with a coworker, sharing gift lists with family, helping a friend edit a paper for school, and really, any way you can imagine.

Most of the Web Challenge was created with Google Docs. One committee member could draft the text of a Thing and everyone could comment and make changes. We're using a Google Doc spreadsheet to track your progress, too.
And because Google Docs are part of Google, you already have an account just by having a Gmail address.

Here's a great video made by the people at Google describing why you should use online software:

You can also check out the Google Docs Tour.

So what are you going to do this week?
We will be sharing a Google Document with all of you for this week's exercise. You should see an email (in your Gmail inbox) from the Web Challenge inviting you to view the document we have shared with you. To view it, just click the link in the email.


Go to
Google Docs and log in with your Gmail username and password. You will be taken to your Google Docs inbox, which looks a lot like your Gmail inbox. You should see a document called "2009 Web Challenge Favorites".
To open it, just click on it as if you were opening on email.

Once you have opened the spreadsheet, add your name and answer to our question. Then save and close the document. You'll be able to see what other Web Challenge players have added.

Then, write a blog post about Google Docs. How would you use the collaborative features at your branch for a project? Is there a project that you're currently working on where Google Docs could help or save time?