Learn & Play @CML Thing #18: Discovering Web 2.0 tools

Okay, so I thought I'd take a break from turning 40 for a minute to do some Learnin' & Playin'.


Can you believe we are already on Thing #18 of Learn & Play? Me neither.

But here we are. Working on this particular thing, I discovered that I've actually used more Web 2.0 tools than was previously suspected. (I just like the word suspected)

For example I signed up for LinkedIn quite some time ago, but I've never considered it a Web 2.0 tool. Then again - why not? If it's all about communicating and connecting, LinkedIn certainly fits the criteria.

The number of tools / sites available just on the short list of Web 2.0 award winners is a little overwhelming, but also very impressive.

Still - I wanted to overwhelm myself some more so I checked out a site I had heard quite a bit about from many folks, (yes I like the word folks) and gave StumbleUpon a try. What I discovered was that it would be impossible to ever allocate enough time to spend stumblin' as it were.

As I stumbled along I found, posters, and games and ponies. Okay, maybe not ponies, but it wouldn't have surprised me. I also found this site that I think can only be referred to as a bit of a throwback - old school if you will. Still as someone who loves to write, I think it is pretty cool. It's also kind of random.

Hmmm... I sound like my teenager. She would probably love StumbleUpon.

I have to say that as a tool, something useful - I didn't get all that much out of StumbleUpon.

That said - It was an awful lot of fun.

Great Big Birthday Thank you!

Can't thank everyone enough!

Web 2.0 (Re?) Creating a Community

Not long after I started using Twitter I logged on for a Friday afternoon update and found a friend logged on as well. Though Twitter isn't really a "chat" tool, we did indeed start chatting about what we were doing that weekend. Going back and forth - by Saturday morning we made plans for our families to spend the day together watching football, and hanging out.

I commented to my wife that it seemed odd that we had planned an entire day without having spoken to our friends at all. "I'm not so sure how I feel about that," I said. We have used evites, and email to make plans before, but on such short notice we always, it seemed used the telephone.

Immediately, Netter told me how much she liked it. "Think about it," she said. "We both hate talking on the phone. This was perfect." (Note* we're not fond of talking on the phone no matter who we are talking to. It has everything to do with the phone, and nothing to do with the person we are talking to.)

What Annette said next completely blew me away. "I like all of this technology, this Web 2.0 stuff because it gives me a voice. With my blog, and my Facebook I feel like I am finally able to talk to people and people are able to get to know me - the real me."

I had never thought about this before. Surely people know my wife, and who she is and then again...

Netter is very much an introvert. I, of course am quite the opposite. I have no problem putting myself out there. When we go to a party, I'm usually running my mouth about something, high-fiving, hugging, being rowdy and loud. Netter - not so much.

While Annette comes along to the party, she is usually on the periphery. If not directly involved in the activities of the party, she can easily be found behind the crowds quietly observing everyone and everything. Unfortunately, sometimes - that gets misread. Netter is often asked - "What's wrong? or Are you having fun? or Is everything okay?" - and yes, it's usually me who is asking. Well it was until the aforementioned conversation. Now, I think I get it.

With Web 2.0 Netter feels connected. She's included in the conversation and she is able to be there on her own terms. Understanding this, I can leave her alone to be herself and be comfortable "just being there."

I've seen this article used a number of times in blogs recently with emphasis on different pieces.

On the whole though I think the article is about building a community. Or maybe it's about rebuilding our community.

This quote from the article says it best.

“The current generation is never unconnected. They’re never losing touch with their friends. So we’re going back to a more normal place, historically. If you look at human history, the idea that you would drift through life, going from new relation to new relation, that’s very new. It’s just the 20th century.”

I remember that time - do you?

As a final note - I want to thank all of my co-workers at CML who have happily included Annette as she comes along for the ride with the Learn & Play program. Whether via Twitter, Facebook, or through her blog please know that we both appreciate all of you and your friendship and we are very happy to be so connected.

This Ain't Your Grandma's Library

The first visit to the public library that I remember was somewhere around 1977. I'll never forget finding a book that I liked and jumping up to run and tell my Mom about my discovery. She shushed me so fast it wasn't even funny. Excited about reading? Great! Noisy? Not at the library Buddy.

Some 30 years later I laugh at that story, because as we all know that isn't the way it is anymore. Although curiously, some are still under the impression that it is or at least that it should be.

I've got one thing to say to those folks -

"This ain't your Grandma's library."

Not exactly like me, but in a similar vein libraries are also working to change their image.

No longer can we be the place where Marian the Librarian wields a mighty sword of silence over all who cross through our doors. Instead, we need to find a way to engage our customers, to make them want to continue to visit.

With the tremendous growth of the Internet, and the rise in the number of homes with personal computers folks are venturing out to libraries less and less. Google and Amazon eat at our business, providing access to information and material previously available only at the library or at a more than modest price point. Throw in the Kindle and other similar reading devices and folks would seem to have very little if any need for a library.So, it's our responsibility to find a way to remain relevant to people's needs. There are some great ideas out there for how to make that happen.

Most recently I found this idea for seeing things from a library customer's point of view. I especially like this quote -

"Experiencing the library in this way will make sure the library isn’t just the place we work, but it’s where our patrons work. And play."

Who doesn't want to come to a place where you can play? I also like the reconsideration of so many library policies & procedures, and the discussions that are a necessary part of that process.

We need to make things easy for our customers very much like this, and be careful to avoid situations that paint us in a less than stellar light.

It's an entirely different world for libraries today. (Full disclosure - the grapevine quote in the article is / was me via Twitter.) How we present ourselves matters now more than ever.

The library has always been an important part of the community. By embracing Library 2.0 there's no doubt we can keep it that way.

Next up - A final Web 2.0 installment about that community.

- Perpetual Beta - Not just for Learn&Play @ CML Thing #14 - part 1 -

About a year ago I was walking into Main Library after doing some Vocera training at one of our branches when I ran into one of our managers. We chatted for a moment and she said something like "You're a very good trainer." I said, "Thanks I really love doing this stuff." She was shocked. "Really?!" she said. "I had no idea." I didn't think much about it at the time, except that I thought it was odd that after all my years with the library somebody could not know that about me. I love to train. I love to teach. I love to coach.

As the year progressed and I encountered a number of similar incidents it became clear to me that there were a lot of library employees, my co-workers who didn't know "the real me." In retrospect, it really wasn't their fault.

Outside of work I have always been Jimmer, Jimbro, Jimmy, Coach B. - a fun guy, a talker, an occasional jokester - maybe not the life of the party but definitely a good friend.

At work well - Sitting back in my little corner of the world called the Media Center I had become somewhat of a codger - set in my ways, determined to make it all work my way, portraying an arrogance that said; "This is who I am. Deal with it."

Then in 2004 the Media Center was no more and my job changed significantly. Though I accepted the change and went along, I don't think it was any secret that I wasn't very happy about it.

I drew into myself more and more, focusing on the things I did have control over; primarily my family and my coaching. I didn't completely shut myself off from work. I do have some pride. Still I made it known that I was looking elsewhere. While I got along with my co-workers, I didn't really know them, and they didn't really know me. I had turned off the library and I was under the impression that the library had turned me off as well.

Now for those of you who are saying "Jimmer what are you doing? Library folk are reading this. You're committing career suicide. Etc... and so on," I want you to pay very close attention to the next sentence.

I was wrong.

Unequivocally, undeniably, no boutadoubtit, on all counts - 100% wrong.

And I lost myself in the process. To find myself. To let people know who I really am I was going to need some help. After all, how do you undo what had essentially taken 10 years to create.
I got lucky - I got Web 2.0, well I got Learn & Play- (This began before L&P, but the program has helped the most.)

So I'm trying to let people get to know a whole lot more about me than some might ordinarily be comfortable with. I'm hoping to take advantage of what Michael Stephens termed The Unintended Consequences of Social Software (or Putting Yourself Out There), and make those things work for me. I have a chance to let people get to know me through my online presence. I need to be transparent. I need to go outside my comfort zone. While not so much needing to reinvent myself, I am working to repair my image, all the while promising myself that I will never, ever let myself get stuck again. I will be adaptable, willing to change, willing to learn, willing to step outside of the box. I will in essence be Jimmer in Perpetual Beta, (*note I "borrowed" this term from Michael Stephens as well.)

As it happens this has all occurred during the year that I will be turning 40. As I am terming this my year of inventory anyway - I feel very fortunate to have this particular opportunity to make a transition to the next stage of my life.

A wise person said to me once: "You know Jim, you only get to do this once." Now, I'm trying to do it right.

Next up - Jimmer what does this have to do with the library?

A Hockey Freak and a Techno Geek

It's official - I'm a hockey freak and a techno geek.

I've always known I was a hockey freak as I share this story all the time:

My Dad took me to my first Red Wings game at Olympia in 1976. We attended many games during the teasing playoff chances of the late 70's followed by a move to God-forsaken Lima, Ohio where they think hockey is what you do down at the local park on the off-chance the pond freezes (Sorry, Lima folk - I still love you.) - followed by the dead Wings era. Anyway - fast-forward to 1997. Wings win the cup and I'm on the phone with my Dad - I'm in Ohio, he's in Memphis, Tennessee. We're not saying a word - just breathing into the phone watching the Wings with the cup. Mrs. Jimmer says, "Hey, that's long distance." I said simply - "I'm watching the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup with my Dad," and he says "that's right," and we both cried like babies.

sigh* Still one of my favorite stories of all time. Miss ya' Dad.

The last time I told this story was to the Red Wing's Live Game Blog during the Stanley Cup finals last Spring. This is the great group of friends I get to watch Red Wings' games with and during the playoffs we were as tight as thieves. I'll talk more about this in my Web 2.0 piece later this week.

Since I read my friend Juice's story last May I've been certain I was strange. When Juice wrote this piece at the end of the playoffs and it made me cry like a baby, I knew I had a problem.

Still, I told myself. I can handle this. After all, hockey is just a game. Right?

I was wrong - (What? No surprised guffaws?)

Last Thursday was opening night for my beloved Red Wings and I was completely useless all day long. Oh, I got some work done and did what I had to, but my focus was on getting to my computer in my office watching my television by 7:00 p.m. SHARP! The Stanley Cup Championship banner was being raised to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena in Detroit and I was not going to miss it for anything.

I also realized there was something else I was missing - my online friends. We had all touched base a couple times during the summer, some had even made it to the D for a celebratory beer. -Sorry we missed it Gang. Still we had not really talked since June.

But there they all were when I logged on and we watched the opener together. I was so excited.

(JuiceinLAla, k bennett, winfran, Coldest, Fed0r0v, judyzerman, DtownDinah, westsidefan, HawaiinWingNut, JohnnyG83, scottlacy, WingNut1967, hockeytown101, jleWings, RWfaninSD, OctopiAlley, and LunaticNumber100 I am looking forward to watching with you. JLinkTX, shutemdown, and Hockeylvr I look forward to the discussions. I hope I didn't forget anybody.)

Then the Red Wings lost that opening game and I found myself completely drained. What had been a euphoric high had become a dismal low. I stayed online with my friends for awhile discussing the game and then I just moped around for the rest of the evening.

The next morning I had a talk with myself. To quote my Twitter feed and Facebook exactly I said, "Ah look it's the next day and the world did not end. The Wings will fight another day. Back to some normalcy today." I told myself I was going to miss Saturday night's game anyway because I'd be watching college football at a party with friends. I'll just take a break I thought.

But when I got home around midnight I couldn't get to the transcript from the live game discussion fast enough. How had the Wings done? What were my friends talking about? Holy smokes Jim - cool down. You won't be able to watch Monday anyway. The game is not on t.v.

But the game was on t.v. Justin t.v. And so I found myself not only watching the game, but also the live game blog. Don't worry - my new addiction did not lose out. Twitterfox was up and running. As much fun as I've been having with the Learn & Play program at CML I couldn't possibly turn off my Twitter friends.

Twitter feed, Facebook? Live Game Blog?

Must be some kind of technology freak - no make that technology geek as well.

Maybe - but I'm having fun!

Learn & Play @CML Thing #17 Google Docs

Before we go any further I think it is time to acknowledge that Google is going to take over the world. I'm not so sure that's a bad thing really.

I mean if anybody else can come up with the wide array of tools that Google provides for free, they should step right up... Bueller, Bueller - anyone...

For this exercise I took a look at Google Docs.

I'm actually typing this blog entry as a Google Document and I've already started my blog post about Web 2.0's effect (or is it affect - I always mix those two up) on Libraries and people, including Jimmer using Google Docs as well.

Google documents are pretty straight forward with maybe a few less bells and whistles than Microsoft Word. Wait, that might not be a bad thing. Then again, what would I do with these gems from my repertoire? "No, I do not want that to be autoformatted - fricken, fracken styles. Autocorrect this Bill Gates!"

I imported a PowerPoint presentation to test a Google Presentation. It seemed to run just fine, but I lost some of the animation I had built in. Curious, I created a new presentation to see if any animation effects would be available. They are not. Again, a few less bells and whistles - this time not so good as I consider animation to be a key ingredient to slide show presentations.

Finally, I tested Google spreadsheets. This one tested me a bit. I started by importing a spreadsheet I use on a weekly basis. If you follow me on Twitter, you know exactly what I am talking about. No losses this week - well I didn't play.

One of the reasons I didn't play is because I had some hangups manipulating the spreadsheet. For starters, there's no autoformat for column size. Folks this is a season long spreadsheet with several columns factoring in - I need those columns to be sized perfectly so I can see everything, and I don't want to have to take the time to do it manually.

Second, my formulas, or zeros or even "REF!" were not visible. Oh they were there, I just didn't realize it until I went back to the original spreadsheet to see what numbers might be missing or if I might have copied something incorrectly. This is when I realized there is no formula bar. What the heck - how do you edit a cell and see what you're typing? Well, as it turns out you edit a cell by double clicking the cell. You can also do this in Excel, that's just not my normal workflow. Ah well.

One other thing I would like to mention from testing is the wide array of templates Google Docs offers. Everything from letterhead, to invoices, to scrapbook presentations - pretty cool stuff.

On the whole - Google Docs are very usable products, and I know I'll find myself returning to them at some point.

Of course I'm thinking MJB Foundation collaborative work. Kind of exciting actually.

The coolest thing about Google Docs is they are available online to be shared or edited by multiple users. As usual the Commoncraft folks explain this best.

Collaboration is the word that keeps running through my head when I think about Google Docs. Because the documents are available online to anyone you give access to there are not 50 kajillion copies floating around of each document. Instead, there is one consistent copy available to anyone in a group who might need it.

Imagine how this might work for your library task force or committee. I know right?!

And remember it's all FREE!

Google will one day rule the world MUHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!

(Editor's note - I posted this to my blog directly from Google Docs. Now that's cool.)

Wikis Learn and Play @CML Things #15 & 16

Alright so I am a little behind with the Learn & Play program as I got caught up in telling the story of Mulligan in my last few posts.

Getting back on track - you'll note I've skipped Thing #14. This is odd to me as I've actually been working on my post for thing #14 since early September. I've been doing a lot of research and digging through emails, blog posts and news articles. Hopefully it will all lead to an interesting, or at least an enlightening read about Web 2.0. But it won't be today.

Today, we are talking about Wikis.

Wikis aren't something I had used so while I was not hesitant, I also can't say I was overly confident going into this exercise. It also didn't help that I was also having a very "clicky," (with the mouse) day and all 400 + people taking part in Learn & Play @CML seemed to be editing the group wiki at the same time. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. - Maybe.

In any case, - Wow! What a cool tool, especially for collaborative efforts.

I can see libraries using these for all kinds of working groups, book discussions, procedural items, and especially as a means to get info from the public. Why not a public wiki where people can login and tell us about their tastes, list books, movies and music that they like? Sure, they could just email, or send a message, but with a wiki they could add to the list and see what other users want as well.

Okay for the naysayers - You know that guy who thinks we just have to have every copy of every book by Bert Niffendorfer - (I made that up)-? With the wiki we could point him to the list of customer requests so he could see that he really is the only person who wants those books, so No we're not going to buy them.

For the glass half-full folks, think of how this would help us respond to what our customers want and need in their library experience.

Personally, I'm thinking of using a wiki for the work of The MJB Foundation. With so many family activities pulling everybody in different directions it might be nice to have all of our pertinent information, and a list of "what's going on" all in one place.

Food for thought at least...

Video test - Help a brother out.

Hi there - I'm working on a Web 2.0 post for CML's Learn & Play program.

I have this webcam sitting on top of my monitor that I've never used for anything practical. Obviously, I'd like to put it to use.

Please vote in the poll to the left and let me know what you think of the video.


Daddy's Boy

Mulligan and I quickly came to an understanding. He would do what I told him, when I told him. I would repeat myself as many times as it took for as long as it took, and still takes.

Oh I used the choke collar – a few times. After that I had to stop because other than getting his attention it really wasn’t working. Here’s how effective it was. When he grew out of the first collar, (which happened very quickly) I spent a whopping 74 cents at Big Lots on a replacement.

This dog is constant energy.

Rather than be perplexed or angry we found a more effective tool for keeping him calm – a gentle lead.

The rest I just kind of made up as we went along. Mulligan was teaching me something I had never been very good at before – being patient.

His behavior was improving, rapidly really, but his ability to do anything for more than a few seconds was, heck is a serious challenge for him.

But while Mulligan has a short attention span for obedience training, he has an incredibly long attention span for love.

And as 2005 came to a close – I needed some love.

For a number of reasons I won’t detail today – late 2005 saw me reach an incredible low. I was very depressed. My glass was, as they say – half empty.

But my dog, my boy wouldn’t let me stay that way for long. He was always there when I needed him.

He would greet me at the door each day, learning to wait until I had come in and kissed the girls and Annette, and then he would roll over on his back as if to say “Hey Daddy, I need you to love me.”

He would snuggle with me in the mornings until it was time for me to leave for work. He would hop into bed with me at night when I needed something to hold onto.

He actually still does all of these things, and they mean just as much to me now, but I don’t “need” them now like I did then.

Don’t get me wrong, Annette and the girls were there for me too. They always are. But Mulligan brought an intangible, something I can’t put into words – which is why this last Mulligan post took a little longer to put up than the others.

He saved me from my worries, from my depression, from all the things I needed saving from. The sparkle in his eyes, the energy in his body, and even his slobbery kisses all made me feel so much better about myself, and my life.

I really don’t know why. I just know that I am grateful.

I think Annette knew exactly what she was doing when she handed me that newspaper in the spring after all…

Thanks Honey!