Saturday, October 09, 2010

"Sharing buttons" are EVERYWHERE, and Technorati. (Things 13 & 14)

Sharing is good.

It seems like "share" buttons are everywhere now. As with many of the services I use daily on the ever-evolving Internet, it's hard for me to remember exactly when and how they became so ubiquitous. Only a few major sites had them at first. YouTube was one of the first places I used them, and the NY Times is another memorable early implementer.

Today, it's relatively easy for any blog or site author to add social bookmarking/sharing functionality. In fact, I just now enabled that option here, on my own blog. It took me all of 20 seconds to navigate to the "Design" area of Blogger and turn on the functionality. Kind of amazing. my blog posts are much more easily shareable. The central challenge of blog authoring still remains: to write something insightful or incendiary enough to be worth sharing. No Blogger checkbox for THAT particular issue.

motion gears -team force
Switching gears: Technorati

I hadn't spent any time at Technorati prior to this, and looking at it, I'm not likely to in the future. Why? Because, frankly, the 'most influential' and 'most popular' blogs and posts are the ones that are already pretty easy for me to find. They're already being re-blogged and posted all over the place.

As I alluded to in my previous post, the things I consider true "Internet gold" are the blogs and posts that are less visible/popular but more uniquely useful. Metafilter and Reddit are two sites that work well for churning up aureate nuggets of information.

Reddit logo
Reddit yet?

Of course, the 'most influential/popular' stuff shows up there too. Reddit's upvoting/downvoting system ensures that the big headlines from the usual suspects usually end up on the front page. But Reddit's organization (built of countless 'subreddits' of varying esotericism) allows me to drill down to my own interests-of-the-moment (current favorites include the Linguistics and Language, Astronomy, and Wordpress subreddits). Also, it's not just about the links - the comments/conversations are of equal value (most of the time - there's plenty of stupidness as well).

I has a MetaFilter shirt
I'm on Metafilter; Metafilter is on me...

Metafilter's kind of the same way. There's no voting system, but it's a well-moderated collective blog. You get plenty of that popular/newsy/viral stuff, but also tons of well-crafted or plain weird posts like this one (links to almost every song Joe Raposo ever did for Sesame Street and the Electric Company!) or this one (galleries and discussion of the banknote as an art form). The quality of accompanying conversation varies, but the good ones are GREAT.

Upshot: I don't mean to paint myself as a snob or connoisseur; the viral/popular Internet is that way for a good reason, and I like to keep up with it. But I'm still more impressed by great stuff individually curated from the kooky-weird unplumbed corners of Internet.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Delicious: mmmmm tasty!

Bobby Flay's German Chocolate Cake
(flickr photo via kimberlykv, recipe here)

You mean I can't just talk about cake for the whole entry? Darn...

Delicious (formerly known as
I really like Delicious a whole, whole lot. I use it like crazy for both personal and professional bookmarking - so much so that, except for a few sites that I use extremely frequently, I do all of my bookmarking with Delicious. What makes Delicious so much more useful to me?

1. I can add my bookmarks to Delicious from any computer. No matter whether I'm at home, at the ref. desk, or at my own desk, I can see all of my bookmarks. This is great, as I'm always running across cool craft projects to do with teens while surfing around for fun at home.

2. Tagging lets the organization of my bookmarks grow organically. With regular web bookmarks, I have to either decide on a folder scheme from the outset, or just make a huge long list and eventually try to organize it into folders. On Delicious, bookmarks with similar tags are automatically grouped together, and I can add as many tags as I need. It's a lot quicker.

3. The Delicious button/add-on for Explorer/Firefox is awesome. I can tag and bookmark pages without leaving the page and losing my place. Search these tools out if you're interested; they're easy to install and completely worth the trouble.

4. I can take advantage of other folks' work in mining the Internet. The Internet is a huge place. Wide swathes of it are just useless grit, and the best tiny flakes of 'gold' are often in weird unfindable nooks and crannies. For instance, I just searched for "teen programming" and found this great blog to which I immediately subscribed. A Google search for "teen programming" did not find it (at least it wasn't on the first 3 pages of results).

Have some good links that you think will be useful for other NOPL staff? Please let me know. I will give you the login credentials for the NOPL Delicious account and you can make us privy to your Internet 'gold'!

Sunday, October 03, 2010


I don't have as much stuff to say about Things 10 & 11, except that I do wish I'd been wise to LinkedIn when I was deep in the throes of my first job search out of grad school. It's a lot quicker/easier prospect than building my own personal website with all of the relevant information (something I tried and gave up on). Networking in general is something that I struggle with, and LinkedIn definitely seems like an easy-ish way to manage it.

Tu-whit, tu-whoo, TWITTER

I have a Twitter account and have for awhile, but I rarely use it - I think it's because I still haven't quite embraced the mobile device lifestyle. Also, my life is just not that interesting - if I were doing something interesting and time-sensitive, I probably would use it more.

Truthfully, most of the stuff on Twitter is less than interesting to me. Plenty of banality. But taken en masse, those messages start to get pretty fascinating. Of course I'm glued there whenever there's something momentous happening (watching the protests in Iran unfold recently - heartbreaking). It can be used as a real-time search engine - when Facebook went down for several hours recently, it was sort of hilarious to search through tweet bemoaning this fact.

But all that data can be used for other things too. For instance, here's a very cool research project on the collective mood of the US throughout a 24-hour cycle as determined by Twitter posts.

Also, there ARE a few feeds that are genuinely creative/interesting.

Some funny/generally awesome Twitter accounts I've found

lowflyingrocks - Automatically generated Twitter stream detailing all objects that pass w/in .2 AU of Earth. Just kind of cool for the astronomy nerd in me. When that big Armageddon asteroid shows up, I'll be ready!

HalfPintIngalls - yep, it's "Laura Ingalls" tweeting away. Pretty snarky and hilarious.

feministhulk - HULK SMASH PATRIARCHY! Smart, thoughtful, AND funny. So great!

cookbook - recipes in 140 characters or less. Tricky to read at first, but tasty and simple to remember once you decipher them.

So many more of these. Dig around. Whatever your interest, there's probably someone tweeting about it.

Finally, a bit about libraries and Twitter

Twitter is an easy application to use/update, and in my opinion, it's worth it for libraries to at least TRY having a Twitter account to see what happens. But it's also important to realize that 1) not every cool tool will pan out the way you expect and 2) that's OK! It's not so much about finding the magic bullet as it is about trying things and seeing what sticks.

Leigh Anne Vrabel, a librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, writes here about her library's experiment with Twitter, and why it's been abandoned for the time being. Very thoughtful, worth a read.

Social Networks: lots more than just a book of faces

(oh, the memories...)

I feel like I've been using social networks forever. Not really true, obviously (they've only been around for 10-12 years). But I did have an account on, one of the first social networking sites, back in college. I have been using them long enough that just talking about the time-suck that is Facebook will not cut it. Instead, I'd like to talk about a few the more obscure social networks I use, and what's neat about them.

43Things is a niche site in some ways, organized primarily around the question: What do you want to do with your life? It's sort of a barebones blogging platform centered on personal goals both large and small. Each goal you add to your list is a link; by clicking on this link, you can see a list of all the people who share that goal and read about their progress on it. You can write as many updates as you want on your own goals, cross them off your list, or revisit them at a future time. People can easily adopt other people's goals, comment on other people's entries, and give out a limited numbers of "cheers" daily to encourage fellow users.

It's turned out to be a very personable, mostly very positive sort of site, and I find that it can lend itself to quite meaningful relationships. A few of these have even turned into IRL friendships for me. Even if you don't use it to build relationships, reading about someone else's methods and progress toward a mutual goal can be invaluable. It can be as serious or as frivolous as you decide. is really about the music, first and foremost, and there are a lot of places on the Internet where you can stream music for free. The social networking features of are what make it my music streaming application of choice. As I listen to music on my own computer and rate music that is broadcast via the free music stream (quite customizable), the site automatically builds a profile and library of my musical taste. As it 'gets to know me better', it matches me up with other users whose tastes are similar to mine.

One of my favorite things to do is to listen to the "My Neighbourhood" station - it plays tracks from the libraries of people who share my taste but have much much better musical collections than I do. :) As a result, I like almost everything I hear on the station, but most of it is 100% new to me. I should probably take a break from it for awhile, as the mp3 portion of my entertainment budget has increased substantially since I started using it. There's just too much good music out there.