#11 – Wikis

February 1, 2010 Leave a comment


If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you might have heard the term “wiki wiki,” meaning, “quick quick,” and a wiki is a very fast way of making a  basic website that allows multiple people to collaborate on, add, remove, and edit its content. 

The ease of interaction makes wikis an effective tool for organizing content and collaborating on ideas. Wikis are considered a content management system since they share common elements with these types of applications.

The most famous wiki is the Wikipedia, an online encyclopaedia that was created by and is constantly being updated by thousands and thousands of contributors. We shall  be looking at Wikipedia in more depth in Thing #12.



Why make a wiki? 

  • Anyone (registered or unregistered, if unrestricted) can add, edit or delete content.
  • Tracking tools within wikis allow you to easily keep up on what been changed and by whom.
  • There are Blog-like areas for “talking” (e.g., comments, discussion, and/or news pages)
  • Earlier versions of a page can be viewed and reinstated when needed.
  • Users do not need to know HTML, Web design, or have Web page experience in order to apply styles to text or add and edit content. Most wikis are no more difficult than a Microsoft Word document.

Take a look at this short video:  Common Craft’s no-nonsense introduction to wikis.


There are a huge range of wikis available on the internet these days.  Here are a few suggested resources that you should spend time getting to know.  They are useful for your professional and personal lives.  You may even feel inspired to contribute to one or all of them!

1.  A fantastically useful wiki for librarians and lovers of learning new things is Wikihow .. This is a How-to manual that can be edited by anyone.  Things that you can learn range from How to make your own Soduku pattern to How to read a chest X-ray.  Categories of articles include health, Hobbies, Computers, Pets, Home and Travel.  Spend some time investigating this site. 

2.  Visit the library success wiki which was created to be a one-stop shop for great ideas and information for all types of librarians from all over the world.  Here is their opening paragraph which gives a flavour of why this wiki was set up originally:

 If you’ve done something at your library that you consider a success, pleasewrite about it in the wiki or provide a link to outside coverage. If you have materials that would be helpful to other librarians, add them to the wiki. And if you know of a librarian or a library that is doing something great, feel free to include information or links to it. Basically, if you know of anything that might be useful to other librarians (including useful websites), this is the place to put it. I hope this wiki will be a venue where people can share ideas with one another and where librarians can learn to replicate the successes of other libraries

3.  Libraries and Web2.0 is a relatively new UK based wiki, featuring various Public Library services and their response to Web2.0.  Note that Devon Libraries 23 Things programme is discussed on this wiki!

4.  Haven’t had your fill just yet of wikis and need to know more? Here are some additional links to fuel your interest:

       List of wikis  

       Wiki index – A wiki of wikis.  

       WikiMatrix – A tool that offers you the ability to compare side-by-side features and functionality of wikis 

5.  Time to blog! In a new post reflect : Are you wiki-fied!?! Record what new ideas were spurred as you learned and reviewed some, or all, of the wikis above.

How do you envision the different ways in which you might use a wiki within your workplace?

If you are unable to apply immediately to your workplace what you have learned, are there ways that you could apply what you’ve learned about wikis to your professional or personal life?

Are there any particular safety, privacy, or developmental issues to consider?

Categories: Week 8 Tags: , , , ,

#12 – Wikipedia

February 1, 2010 Leave a comment


Wikipedia is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its name is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning “quick”) and encyclopedia. Wikipedia’s 14 million articles (3.2 million in English) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world, and almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site. It was launched in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger and is currently the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet.

Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous internet users who write without pay. Anyone with internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles.

Every contribution may be reviewed or changed. The expertise or qualifications of the user is usually not considered. This is possible since Wikipedia’s intent is to cover existing knowledge which is verifiable from other sources, original research and ideas are therefore excluded. People of all ages and cultural and social backgrounds can write Wikipedia articles as most of the articles can be edited by anyone with access to the Internet simply by clicking the edit this page link (found at the top of every editable page). Anyone is welcome to add information, cross-references, or citations, as long as they do so within Wikipedia’s editing policies and to an appropriate standard. Substandard or disputed information is subject to removal. Users need not worry about accidentally damaging Wikipedia when adding or improving information, as other editors are always around to advise or correct obvious errors, and the software is designed to allow easy reversal of editorial mistakes.

Further information about wikipedia can be found here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About   About Wikipedia

and here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:What_Wikipedia_is_not   What Wikipedia is Not


1.  If you’ve never used the Wikipedia, now is the time to visit it and take a look around!

2.  Search for a topic that you are personally interested in.  Once you have found and read the article, do you have anything to add to it?  Feel free to get involved and edit an article..maybe you can add references or citations, maybe you have additional information that might enhance the article.  Go ahead..after all this is what Web2.0 is all about..sharing and communicating with others.

3.  If you start to get really interested in the concept of wikis, you may ( and this is an optional activity!) want to set up your very own wiki.  Follow these instructions on wikihow on how to start up a wiki of your own


4.  You are not required to create a wiki for this activity, but if you would like to try one, you could look at the website. http://www.wetpaint.com/.  This site allows you to create a free wiki on any topic or subject that you would like.  Other free sites include:



5.  Blog about your views about wikis.  If you have set up a wiki of your own..provide a link in your blog so that others can get involved.  Or if you have edited an article in Wikipedia, tell us which article it is so that we can all benefit from your knowledge and experience.

Categories: Week 8 Tags: , , , , ,

#13 – Video Sharing and YouTube

February 1, 2010 Leave a comment


There are several large video sharing sites which allow users to upload and share their own videos. 

Video share websites are changing the way that we view media and the media that we view. On the Internet, amateur producers can share their videos with thousands of viewers and average people can steal the limelight from Hollywood stars.

Whether you’re looking for a clip of your favourite film, an important newscast, a how–to video or just some good entertainment, you’ll find it on the Internet. Video share sites make it easy to browse, find and watch your favourite streaming video.

On the other hand, individuals can become a celebrity or famous producer overnight. Video share sites offer the tools and resources that producers need to create and upload videos. Helpful articles and editing tools can be easily accessed. Some sites allow users to post their videos for everyone to view or keep them private.

A link to the most popular video sites can be found here:



Launched in 2005, bought by Google in 2006, YouTube is the most well-known video-sharing site.  It has become an important place for seekers of news items, political campaign information, how-to instruction videos, classic music, pop culture phenomena and more. The majority of its content is user-generated, although there are some companies who have their own commercial channels.

Anyone can view videos on YouTube. However, in order to upload videos or to benefit from the site’s “social” features users need to register for a free account. Registers users can:

  • upload an unlimited number of videos (that they have authored). Users should own the copyright of any videos that they upload – although its easy to find numerous abuses of this.
  • rate and comment on videos uploaded by others
  • save their favourite videos to their YouTube account
  • create video playlists
  • set up a subscription to receive new videos uploaded by their favourite YouTube authors (“subscribing to a channel”)

YouTube Channels
Every registered YouTube user has their own YouTube channel. This is their public page on YouTube and displays the videos that they have uploaded, plus their favourites, profile information and recent activity.
It is possible to browse the most popular channels on YouTube by choosing “Channels” on the home page.

YouTube EDU
YouTube EDU brings together YouTube content from Universities around the World. Although most of the channels on YouTube EDU are currently in the USA, you will also find universities in the UK, Australia, Canada and elsewhere.  


Thing 13 – Activities

1. Search for and view some videos on a topic of your choice on YouTube.  It could be recent news coverage of a major news event, or a recording of a favourite local band taken by a mobile phone!

If you can’t think of a topic try looking for library related videos – some of them are hilarious!

2. Choose a video and check to see if anyone has posted any comments. If you wish to add a comment yourself you will have to register for YouTube (but this is not required for this “thing”)
3. Find more videos uploaded by the same user by linking to their YouTube channel. You can do this by clicking on their username (just to the right of the video).
4. Find “YouTube EDU” by choosing “Channels” from the YouTube home page followed by “Education” and then “YouTube EDU”. View some videos from a university of your choice.


1. Go to YouTube and seek out a library or a related video to your blog.

2. Right click on the video you want to add to your blog.  Click on “Copy embed html”
3. Start a new post in your blog
4. In the composing window of a new post, and making sure that you are in the HTML screen,  right click and “paste”.  Try a preview before publishing to make sure that the video is correctly embedded in your post.

Finally:  A fantastic video clip from YouTube!  Librarians go Ga-ga

Categories: Week 9 Tags: , , , , , ,

# 14 – mp3 Players and music downloads

February 1, 2010 Leave a comment

MP3 players are increasingly popular these days, not only as a stand-alone item, but also on mobile phones, games stations, TV etc. MP3s allow you to choose the music you want to listen to from your CD collection, or you can purchase individual songs from onsite sites.  Even if you’re entirely new to this kind of technology – it’s simple enough to get started.

The most common,  and arguably easiest, method of getting music onto an MP3 player is to copy CDs directly to it.

Most MP3 players will come with a CD that contains some software that allows your PC to hook up to the MP3 player. Install this and then connect your MP3 player to the computer. Once you’ve confirmed that the computer can see the player you’re ready to start putting music on it.

How to rip your CDs

Open up your chosen CD and put it into your PC. The software associated with your MP3 player should sense that a music CD has been inserted and ask you if you want to copy it to the player. If it doesn’t, don’t panic, simply go to the file menu and select import to start the process manually. The faster your computer the quicker the files will be ripped.

The music on the CD will now be copied from the disc to your computer’s hard disk and from there onto the MP3 player. You should take into account the quality settings, as MP3 is actually lower quality audio than that of a CD. So if you want to improve the sound make sure you do so in the preferences section of your software. As a general rule of thumb think “The better the quality –  the larger the file”  .  Take into account that you might not be able to get all the music you want on to your MP3 player if you choose a high-quality file setting. You can expect to get  250 decent quality songs on a 1GB MP3 player.

My mp3 player did not come with any software!

If you don’t have any software for your MP3 device then you should be able to copy across MP3-format audio files by: 

  1. Hooking up the device to a USB connection on your computer.
  2. Your computer should now automatically detect the device, probably showing it as a removable hard disk.
  3. If it doesn’t detect automatically : Going through the settings on your device to find a “USB CONNECT” or “USB MODE” option. Some devices do that automatically when they detect power on the USB cable, others (like the Sony PSP) require you to do it manually).
  4. Copy your music files from your hard drive to the device.

Some MP3 players don’t require software at all you simply copy the music file to it as if you were putting a file into a folder. In this instance you’ll simply drag the file to the player, which should show up as a drive in My Computer. Although this approach is hassle free it doesn’t allow you much as control or editing options.

Activity.  Thing #14

1.  If you have a mp3 player, follow the instructions above to copy music from a CD to it.

2.  Other than your CDs you can put music onto an MP3 player through one of the many online music stores available.

a.  Have a look at the Amazon and iTunes sites. 

b.  If you have an Apple device you may want to download from iTunes

c.  If you have another make of mp3 Player, you may wish to use the Amazon website.

d.  Follow the instructions on site.  Both are fairly simple to use .

e.  There are other music download sites that you may want to investigate, such as Play.com or Napster.  Make sure that the site you are downloading from is only involved in legal downloads.  Further information and further legal download sites can be found in this Guardian article:  Where to Download music legally

Categories: Weeks 10 Tags: , , , ,

#15 – Podcasts

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

What are Podcasts?


A podcast is a pre-recorded audio program that’s posted to a website and is made available for download so people can listen to them on their computer or mobile devices.

Podcasting takes its name from combining the word broadcast with Apple’s popular iPod line of products, but it isn’t limited only to iPod owners and listeners, in fact any mp3 player, laptop or PC with speakers or other mobile listening device can be used.

 What distinguishes a podcast from other types of audio products on the internet is that a podcaster can solicit subscriptions from listeners, so that when new podcasts are released, they can automatically be delivered, or fed, to a subscriber’s computer or  mobile device usually through an RSS feed ( see Thing #4 for a refresher on setting up an RSS Feed)

Podcasts are now common on the web and are often audio files (for example recordings of radio programmes, lectures, readings, drama, interviews, audio diaries or music). However, Podcasts may also include video content as well.
When you come across a podcast on the web you can usually listen to it or view it, simply by clicking “play” or “listen”. However, because podcasts use RSS, you can also subscribe to them using a feed reader such as Google Reader or Bloglines.  This means that when ever there is a new episode of the podcast you will receive it in your feed reader. In fact. subscribing to a podcast is a bit like subscribing to a blog – except that the information you receive is in audio or video format rather than text and pictures.

There are some RSS feed readers which have been designed specifically for podcasts. These are called Podcatchers and often facilitate the transfer of podcasts to MP3 players. Probably the most well known podcatcher is iTunes. However, you can susbscribe to podcasts using an ordinary RSS feed reader such as the one you set up for Thing#4  just as easily and effectively.

How do I subscribe to a Podcast?

The program you would use to subscribe is called a ‘feedreader’, ‘aggregator’, or ‘podcatcher’ .

 There are a whole variety of podcatchers that you may like to investigate:

iTunes, Podcastalley, Podcastdirectory, Everyzing and Podomatic  are some of the many available

There are podcasts on just about every subject under the sun so try and find ones which are of personal or professional interest to you.


1. Find some podcasts which interest you using one of sites listed above.

2. Subscribe to the feed for your favourite podcast in the RSS feed reader that you subscribed to in Thing#4

3. To find out more about podcasts and podcasting view “Podcasting in Plain English” on the Commoncraft Show.
4. Blog about your experience of podcasts.

Categories: weeks 11 Tags: , , , ,

#16 – Online TV and Radio

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Online TV and Radio

The days of being restricted to viewing your favourite television programme on the days and times that the programme schedulers dictate are well and truly over.

 These days you can record TV shows easily for future viewing but you can also stream your favourite shows over the Internet or download them to watch on your laptop anywhere in the world.  The advent of BBC iplayer and a host of other online streaming applications have revolutionised our viewing habits.

There are many different online TV services available, but one of the best known in the UK is BBCiplayer.


 BBC iPlayer lets you catch up with radio and television programmes from the past week. If you are in the UK and connected to the internet you can:

View and listen to programmes from the previous seven days instantly on the website by clicking on them to play (called streaming).You can either watch or listen to a current show as it is transmitted live (the On Now facility) or catch up with a programme after broadcast -normally up to seven days.  This works on computers, games consoles and mobile phones – click here to see the list of compatible devices 

 Once you’ve found the programme you want to see, it’s easy to watch it. You must be connected to the internet, and then you can either simply click on a programme to watch it there and then – note, you will need fast broadband speeds to watch these programmes successfully.  If your broadband speeds are slow or if you have problems watching live TV then you can save it to your computer (download) to watch later or transfer to another compatible device such as a mobile phone or games console to watch it on that (sideloading). You can then watch it without the need to be connected to the internet. To save the programme you must have BBC iPlayer Desktop installed. You must be in the UK to stream or download a programme, though you can watch saved programmes anywhere in the world.

Programmes are generally available for seven days after broadcast. If you download the programme you then have up to 30 days to watch it before the licence expires.

 Online Radio : Streaming

When listening live or on demand to BBC Radio you will need to be connected to the internet – this is streaming. Your device will also need to have Flash installed.

Where possible, the BBC offers high-quality audio streams however, internet connections can be inconsistent at times. If you experience buffering when playing one of their streams, try selecting the lower bandwidth option at the bottom of the console.

Listening to radio

There’s two simple ways of picking the radio station or programme you want to listen to. 

1)    Go to the Radio homepage on iPlayer

2)    Type the station or programme name into the search box

When you select a station or programme to listen to a pop-out console will open and automatically start playing.

In the console you can also favourite programmes, edit stations and both make and see recommendations.

 Activity #16

 1. Save a programme onto your computer or other compatible device to play later (called downloading). For this you need to install BBC iPlayer Desktop. To do this your computer must support BBC iPlayer.  Programmes can be kept for 30 days; after that they can no longer be viewed as the programme licence will have expired.

 2.  Listen to a radio programme from the past seven days or to a current radio broadcast as it is transmitted live (the On Now facility). The option of a pop-out player allows you to continue listening while you browse other web pages.

Categories: weeks 11 Tags: , , , , , ,

#17 – ebooks

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

An e-Book is an electronic book, one you read digitally on your computer, laptop screen or on devices called ebook readers.

Sometimes the equivalent of a conventional printed book, e-books can also be born digital. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines the e-book as “an electronic version of a printed book,” but e-books can and do exist without any printed equivalent. E-books are usually read on dedicated hardware devices known as e-Readers or e-book devices. Personal computers and some cell phones can also be used to read e-books

At present e-books are available in various formats and until the industry has a standard accessible in all devices these various formats will exist.

History of e-books

Surprisingly, the earliest e-books were around in the early 1970s.  Among the earliest general e-books were those in Project Gutenberg, in 1971.  These first e-books were generally written for specialty areas and a limited audience, meant to be read only by small and devoted interest groups. The scope of the subject matter of these e-books included technical manuals for hardware, manufacturing techniques and other subjects.

In the last couple of years the ebook phenomenum had an explosion in growth, due to the availablity of portable and desirable new e-readers such as Kindle.  In July 2010, online bookseller Amazon.com reported sales of ebooks for its proprietary Kindle outnumbered sales of hardback books for the first time ever saying it sold 140 e-books for every 100 hardcover books.   By January 2011, ebook sales at Amazon had surpassed its paperback sales

So, why would you want an e-book?                                                                                                                       

  • There are over 2 million free books available for download as of August 2009.
  • At present, an e-book can be offered indefinitely, without ever going “out of print”
  • In the space that just one comparably sized print book takes up, an e-reader can potentially contain thousands of e-books, limited only by its memory capacity.
  • E-book websites can include the ability to translate books into many different languages, making the works available to speakers of languages not covered by printed translations.
  • Depending on the device, an e-book may be readable in low light or even total darkness.
  • An e-book can be purchased/borrowed, downloaded, and used immediately, whereas when one buys or borrows a book, one must go to a bookshop, a home library, or public library during limited hours, or wait for a delivery.
  • Compared to printed publishing, it is cheaper and easier for authors to self-publish e-books. Also, the dispersal of a free e-book copy can stimulate the sales of the printed version.

What are the drawbacks of e-books?

  • Technology changes rapidly! While printed books remain readable for many years, e-books may need to be converted to a new carrier or file type over time.
  • Not all books are available as e-books.
  • E-books cannot provide the physical feel of the cover, paper, and binding of the original printed work and a library of books can provide visual appeal, while the digital nature of e-books makes them non-visible or tangible.
  • At present, Books with large pictures (such as children’s books) or diagrams are more inconvenient for viewing and reading.
  • E-book readers are more susceptible to damage from being dropped or hit than a print book. Due to faults in hardware or software, e-book readers may malfunction and data loss can occur.
  • At the moment, the cost of an e-book reader far exceeds that of a single book, and e-books often cost the same as their print versions. Due to the high cost of the initial investment in some form of e-reader, e-books are cost prohibitive to much of the world’s population.

There are many other advantages and disadvantages of e-books versus the printed book, but hopefully for many years to come we will have the luxury of making a choice as to which medium we prefer to use.

Libraries in the US are actively promoting the use of ebooks in their systems, and debate rages at present within the public libraries in the UK.

Activity #17

1.  Download one of the Top 100 ebooks on Project Gutenberg to a device of your choosing.  http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/scores/top

If you don’t have an e-reader, you can always read the book you have chosen online.

Further reading:

E-book restrictions leave libraries facing a virtual lockout http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/oct/26/libraries-ebook-restrictions

Will your local library lend e-books?  http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/will_your_local_library_lend_e-books_or_can_they.php

Judge rejects Google e-book deal http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/366244/judge-rejects-google-ebooks-deal

The debate about ebooks is very topical and current, therefore it is impossible for this blog to keep up with the almost daily changes to the technology, systems, debates and legal challenges that this topic is generating.  However there are several websites and blogs that you could add to your RSS feeds which would supply you with current and up to date information

Categories: Weeks 12 Tags: , , , ,