Friday, January 10, 2014

#anz23mthings Thing 14 Curating

My Pinterest account
This Thing focuses on sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest and aggregating types of sites such as in the introduction.

My Tumblr account

Tumblr is a microblogging site which I have belonged to for a while. I use my account Hecuba's Reflections for just that, microblogging when I might have a photo and a sentence or too.  I post most of my Flickr photos there for example and I follow quite a lot of other microbloggers particularly those relating to books, writing, archives and libraries and use it to repin their posts. I think it is a great way to get information about the holdings of various archives and photographic collections, often with quite a bit of information attached to them.

My former POW, City of Boroondara Library Service, is one of the libraries featured in the the 23mobile things site about this topic and has had a Tumblr account for quite a while. It is used to post photos and info about events and notices, as well as for similar things that I described myself doing in the previous paragraph.

I have also had a Pinterest account since it was first available and use it for a range of personal interests with boards such a Food, For the home, Travel, Favourite Places and Spaces, Local History, Family History, Film, Books worth reading, Cats etc as well as being part of a number of group Library industry boards, e.g. Discovery in our libraries, the National Year of Reading,  Timeless Literary Quotes and others.  It's a fun tool that one can spend lots of time on, get some useful information from, and have lots of fun. When I was working there, Boroondara was experimenting with trying to link the container in Sorcer to boards in its Pinterest account, but with changes to Sorcer that may have become too complicated.  Or maybe it always was going to be too complicated?

I don't use is a tool which allows you to gather together stuff from a range of sources and then put it together before sharing it on Twitter, Facebook etc. I have tried a series of sites for clipping stiff in the past and I am sure it is fine as a tool.  But when I find articles of general interest I tweet them, and Twitter then sends them out to Facebook if I wish.  I use to produce a daily summary in newsletter form of my Twitter feed and this can be subscribed to by email as well as being distributed via Twitter and Facebook. I also follow a number of other newsletters.

On my iPhone and iPad I also use Flipboard which I am surprised is not mentioned in this Thing as it is very much a mobile experience.  I have my Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr and Youtube accounts connected to my Flipboard and can use it to view the actual account content or various aggregated stories. I can also set up my own magazines on particular themes or topics and save them for future.

With a combination of for Twitter, and Flipboard for everything I am happy not to set up yet another account.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

#anz23mthings Thing 13 Online identity


Online identity is something that it is worthwhile pondering over every now and again. I have had an online identity since the mid 1990s when I started getting involved in listservs.  In fact I am still actively involved in two such groups. These identities relate to archaeology and breast cancer. Every now and again I Google myself and am fascinated by the stuff that comes up ranging from my library publications and activities to membership of things such as LinkedIn and to a MySpace account I had once but haven't looked at in years.

One of the useful reminders I found in reading about this Thing was the fact that we often use Twitter, Facebook and Google signins to get to other sites.  I find it useful to review what sites have access via these accounts and to revoke that access if I feel it appropriate. Sometimes there is nothing I want to revoke but other times there is. 

Whilst in theory I knew this, I was taken by the description of the spectrum of identity: anonymous, pseudonymous, self-asserted, socially validated, officially verified. Yes, I do have all of those and a number of pseudonyms dating back for years.  One thing I have noticed recently is that a lot of sites/apps which had previously been pseudonymous now allow real names as well so I doubt that many people I know wouldn't realize who Polyxena really is and that she isn't a white cat. In fact, I have blogged about my use of that name here and appeared at quite a few library events with that Twitter moniker on my name tag.

Hecuba the Beautiful

I know some people strictly divide their professional and personal identities.  I have always chosen not to do that. I am a librarian, I have breast cancer, I am a breast cancer consumer advocate, I am a technology junky, I am into family and local history, I love to cook and create recipes. All of these elements are part of my real and my online identity. However, it is also true that I do have multiple identities on the web and different clumps of people who know about different parts of my life.  Once I would have said that LinkedIn did reflect mainly my professional identity but in more recent times people from other parts of my life have started joining and my contacts have become more diverse, though my cv and skills have remained geared to my professional career.

Despite this, I usually think quite carefully about what I post. I am often amazed at some of the very personal stuff people post openly on the web, but maybe that is to do with my being an introvert.   I usually have location turned off on my phone when I am taking photos and I tend to use FourSquare mainly when I am on holidays. However, there is certainly a lot of me out there on the web.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

#anz23mthings Thing 12 Gaming and Libraries

Gaming and the role of public libraries is something I feel quite ambivalent about. I am not opposed to gaming at all and recognize its benefits for literacy, numeracy, memory, teamwork, social engagement and collaboration - and many more things I am sure. I am just not sure how libraries fit into this.

I am not much of a mobile gamer. I can get hooked on a bit of Spider solitaire on my phone but really that's about it.  In the past I have been quite hooked on various Zynga (and other predecessor) games via Facebook and have spent quite a lot of hours on them.  I know these are not really hard-core games and I have always lost interest in them after a while. And as most of these games were based on Flash they really haven't translated over to my i-mobile environment.

Jane McGonigal's Ted Talk "Gaming can make a better world" mentioned in the summation for this Thing really resonated with me and made me think about this issue again. I have always felt that I wanted to help people be the best they can and I have wanted libraries I have been involved with to assist people in this and have it as their vision. McGonigal talks of how gaming makes us the best person of ourselves, how we confront failure and try and try again, how we get feedback again and again like we don't do in life.

We learn the habits of heroes, she says. And that too resonated with me as did her talk of Herodotos and the origins of gaming in Lydia.  That is a very dramatic story but maybe no more dramatic than issues in our current world. I like her motto: "We want to make the future" and the fact that she and her company are making games such as World without Oil, Superstruct and Evoke that can really translate games into making this happen.

I am not sure what this means for libraries, but it really has made me start to think about the issue again.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Flipagram app
For a while now I have been trying to find a replacement for the late-lamented Pummelvision which would create videos from lots of photos (as opposed to not very many such as Animoto).  I liked using Pummelvision for creating a video of my Flickr challenge photos.  With various references to Flipagram in the last few weeks from people using it for highlights of 2013 I was hoping that I might have found a solution.

Flipagram is a micro video app for iPhone and android created by Cheerful Inc in Los Angeles, CA. I loaded the app easily from the app store and then created a short video from 14 photos on my camera roll.  I used a piece of their music and was also able to upload it to my Youtube channel and share to other social media. You can change the sequences of photos and crop them before creating the video but can't edit after that. The photos were chosen randomly so there is no significance in their choice or sequence.

I wasn't quite sure how many photos could be included, though once I had uploaded mine to Youtube I found several quite a bit larger.  My 14 photos ended up in 16 seconds. I also noticed that some friends were using collages so that was another way to expand possibilities.  However, the Flipagram FAQ on their website state that "You must select at least two images and there is no maximum limit".  Wonderful!  Incidently, it is very hard to find the FAQ where all the useful info is stored.  I found it eventually by a Google search and it appears to be in a link to Tumblr..

So at last an unlimited micro video site that I might be able to use for my Flickr challenges!  But, Flipagram can be used for photos on Instagram, Facebook and your camera roll.  I have a few photos on Facebook and use Instagram intermittently, but I store all my edited photos on Flickr. Alas, I can't access them for Flipagram.

I have communicated with Flipagram and they tell me links to other sites such as Flickr is a work in progress. I do hope the work progresses well. All those photos on Flickr provide a brilliant market.

I created another video, again rather randomly, of 35 moments and uploaded it to Youtube.  This curiously was shorter than the other and ended up as 15 seconds.  Again, there is potential: 

Monday, January 6, 2014

#blog12daysxmas Post 13 Epiphany


I don't usually do an Epiphany post to end #blog12daysxmas but this year I seem not really to have been very reflective about my 2013 challenges, nor to have documented the ones I have set myself for 2014.  So here goes!

Most years I do set myself some challenges which have arisen from my doing the original 23 things all those year ago in 2008. Some of them are challenges that I have done for years, and others are one offs. Read on to hear about my successes and failures in 2013, my learnings and my aims for 2014.

In 2013 I successfully completed #blog12daysxmas in January 2013, both for myself and for the Collingwood Historical Society. I finished it a couple of days late.  In June, I embarked less than satisfactorily in #blogjune for both myself and for the Collingwood Historical Society. That meant I was committing to doing 60 blogposts in June.  I must have been mad!  I have blogged about my madness here. In the end I managed to do 30 blogposts for the Collingwood Historical Society and 22 for myself.  So all up it wasn't too bad.

I maintain to a greater or lesser degree three blogs for myself and one for the Collingwood Historical Society.  The number of posts I did for each in 2013 are as follows:

Collingwood Historical Society 51 posts
Hecuba's Story 40 posts
Hecuba Reads 1 post
The Librarian & the Kitchen 4 posts

I was fairly pleased with the Collingwood Historical Society blog and amazed that with Hecuba's story I actually completed more blogposts than I had since 2009!  However, I am not so pleased with the others. In particular, more people actually read the Librarian and the Kitchen blog than anything else I write and people actually ask me when I am going to post something again.  I do create recipes, note them down on scraps of paper, take photos and them forget to write them up.I could definitely do better.

So, for 2014 what shall I do?  I have already completed #blog12daysxmas though only for myself. And as I am going to be away for part of June, I am not sure that #blogjune is going to be for me this year.  I regret that as I have been doing it ever since it started but sometimes things have to change.  I guess I will assess that as the time. And for the blogs, I am going to set myself some targets and see how I go.

Collingwood Historical Society 52 posts
Hecuba's Story 12 posts
Hecuba Reads 4 posts
The Librarian & the Kitchen 12 posts

ANZ 23 Mobile Things


I  started doing #anz23mobilethings enthusiastically when the program first started in May 2013.  I completed the first four things and then stopped.  My stopping seemed to relate to being overwhelmed with my over commitment to #blogjune but then I never went back to it.  However, I was determined to return to it during #blog12daysxmas, and I have now completed Thing 11.  I'm halfway there as Jan Holmquist supportively told me yesterday. I have committed to finish this in January 2014.  I am on a roll with it and enjoying doing it, so I believe I shall succeed.

Goodreads: Book reviews, recommendations, and discussion


In 2013 I made a modest commitment to reading 52 books in the year, i.e. an average of one a week.  I more than succeeded in this by reading or rereading more than 106 books. I document almost everything I read on Goodreads and will continue to do so in 2014 with a similar target of 52 books.  But I will try to review my reading a bit more during the year by blogging about it in Hecuba Reads (see above).


In 2013, I took part in three Flickr challenges.  Two of them were 365 day challenges, the 2013 Photo a Day Challenge which I administer and the Happy365 challenge which Kathryn Greenhill set up.  I succeeded in doing 365 photos for both of these challenges.  I also took part in one 52 challenge, Friday Photos, a themed weekly challenge which I completed myself and which the Collingwood Historical Society completed with input from me and another member. 

In 2014 I am again participating in one 365 challenge, the 2014 Photo a Day which I am again administering, and in Challenge Friday, which is a follow on from Friday Photos in previous years.  Flickr itself set up a 52 challenge Friday Photos last year which lead to all sorts of confusion so ours has changed its name for the New Year.  The Collingwood Historical Society is also doing Challenge Friday.  I am up to date with all of these so far.  So far so good.

This all seems enough for me to do.  I will be interested to review it in twelve months.  What challenges have you set yourselves?  I'll be interested to read about them.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

#blog12daysxmas Post 12 #anz23mthings Thing 11 Augmented Reality

Playing with Augment
This Thing provided a good introduction to augmented  reality (AR) and its potential. AR is the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device (eg. through a smartphone camera). This might be to play games, to check out whether furniture might be a good fit in your room (or library), to translate signs and menus from other languages or to show current and historical uses of a place.  We saw examples of some of this used to good effect in the earlier Thing about local history. A number of museums and galleries also have good apps that make use of the technology.

The following video by Dennis Dovgal gives a good overview of the topic:

Here, Matt Gonzalez discusses his five favourite augmented reality apps, Word Lens,  Dark Knight, Augment, ARZombies, and Starguide.

I downloaded the Augment app  and played around with adding some of the existing models into my environment. I decorated the television with pumpkins, added an Eiffel Tower to my desk, imported another cat, and provided my lap with a tray of coffee. You can see some of the illustrations at the head of this post.  I was just playing around but I can see how this could be really useful in library design to get a feel for particular furniture for example. I think it would also be good for creating marketing tools and promo material.

The other apps that I was interested in were the real time translators, Word Lens and Babel Shot. I was wondering about potential use for library services to those whose first language is not English. Word Lens was a bit disappointing.  It said it was a free app, but the reality is that the core operating app is free but you then need to pay $5.49 for each language before you start. It can be used offline so that's a great help if you are somewhere without wifi.  However, whilst the languages offered may be of potential to people travelling in some parts of Europe, I didn't find it of much potential for any of the main community groups in Melbourne.  The languages offered were German, English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese.  But it is certainly worth a mention (as is Babelshot) if you are running sessions for the community on travel type mobile tools.

Babelshot screenshots using Greek

So I moved on to Babelshot which operates in a similar way. It costs $5.49 up front and offers a huge array of languages within the app.  I set my language to Greek and played around with it a bit. There are basically two ways it works.  You can type something in and it will translate.  Or you can take a photo which it scans and translates.  I found with the couple of simple words and sentences I typed in that Babelshot was accurate in its translation.  The first scan I did was of a record cover on Spotify and it just couldn't identify the words at all.  And in all fairness there is a warning that it works best with clear simple typeface.  I then scanned a bit of a poem by Dimitri Tsaloumas and whilst the scan was ok and recognized as Greek the translation was less than desirable.  With my bad Greek, I was able to do a better translation.  You can see an example of a sentence I typed in as well as the Tsaloumas quote in the image above. So I think this may still be a work in progress and a matter of playing and potential rather than of current use.  However, when I next go travelling I shall be very happy to have these apps and hope that they provide some practical use.

In summary from this very cursory review, in terms of libraries, I can see Augmented Reality being currently of use for planning of library buildings, promo material, and local history tours and displays. With the language apps, I do think there is potential but maybe we are just not there yet.  I also recognize that I really only looked at a couple of the possible uses that interested me and am sure that there is much more out there for libraries to explore.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

#anz23mthings Thing 10 Social reading

Over time I have investigated a few different book and reading sites. Bookjetty, LibraryThing and Goodreads stand out amongst the ones I have used most. And I think ultimately the choice depends on what you are mainly using the tool for.

These days I use Goodreads regularly and not any of the others.  I don't want to catalogue my books at home. The non-fiction is arranged in broad DDC categories and the fiction is in a bit of a jumble but all in the one bookshelf and it needs weeding. Most of my new purchases are ebooks and I can search for them in their apps.

What I want a reading tool for is primarily to monitor my own reading and to have social interactions with followers and authors.  So I decided a few years ago that Goodreads was the one I wanted to use.  I have nearly 300 friends from a range of backgrounds and covering most elements of my life. I can't ever keep up with what they are reading but I like to see their opinions about new books getting added to my to-read shelf. We don't always agree but that doesn't matter. 

I mostly use the Goodreads app on my iPhone and have it linked to report to other social media about my reading progress. I usually find the books I am reading on there but have occasionally had to catalogue a title not already present.  However, some times I just don't bother recording those titles.

I set an annual target for my reading on Goodreads but I keep it very modestly at 52.  I know people who read 365 a year but I am not really interested in doing that.  I just really want to keep a record of my reading as proof to me that I really still do it.

And therein lies a problem. I really like re-reading books. But if I re-read books the re-reads are not counted towards my annual target as the books still have their original completion date.  I have got around this in previous years by adding shelves called "read-2012" etc.  Or at least I had thought I had. However, this year I have had a real difficulty.

Elizabeth Peters
I reread a whole swag of Elizabeth Peters' books last summer in sweltering, can't do anything heat. So they are counted in my read-2013 shelf.  However, quite late in the year when I was ill and with my cotton-wool head barely capable of reading, I picked up a well-read Elizabeth Peters.  Of course, that didn't get counted either in my target or in my read-2013 shelf as it was already there once. And it got worse. After I had read that book, I went to Elizabeth Peters' site to identify the other books in the series. And I discovered that she had died. So I then reread a swag of her books which I had already reread in January 2013. This means that to calculate my annual reads I need to add the number of these books to the number of the books in my read-2013 shelf.

These calculations are not beyond me, but I really do wish that computers could do the stats for me.  It also really under-estimates the number of books read in Goodreads annual targets IMO.  Or maybe others don't re-read books?  Do you re-read? In total, I read (including re-reads) at least 106 books last year. I say at least as I think here were some others that weren't on file.  I am very happy with that as I had set a target of 52 books, the same as I have now set for 2014.

Goodreads with its iphone app is a tool that I use practically daily and a great example of a mobile tool. You can check out my Goodreads profile here.  Please feel free to add me as your friend.  I am always happy to have more.

#blog12daysxmas Post 11 #anz23mthings Thing 9 QR codes

I must admit that I am not really sure what to think about QR codes.  Are they are passing fad or are they just too much of a bother to read?  Certainly they do provide opportunities in libraries for links to lots of other information e.g. on a membership card or in displays. 

I have been experimenting with online tools for creating local history tours and maybe rather than doing a lot of writing for a stop a QR code linking back to where the data is would be enough.  Or would this work?  If you are doing a mobile tour on an app how do you go to another app to read the QR code?  Am I missing something?  However, the QR code I found above on interpretive signage on a walk in Virginia Beach, VA, shows a good use in local history. Minimal clear info can be provided on the board with links to more comprehensive info elsewhere, in this case a video about the history of the lighthouse.

QR codes do crop up in all sorts of places these days, although I think they are far from ubiquitous in Australia.  The one above is my ticket to a film called Nina at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF).  The tickets for MIFF sessions on its app are all QR codes which are scanned for entry.  Another use by a Councils can be found on the information board below where the City of Yarra directs people to more information about the temporary relocation of the Council Customer Service Centre. 

I have a couple of different apps loaded on my iPhone for reading QR codes.  One is called QR Reader and the other is the RedLaser app.  These are pretty simple transactions and either work ok.

I have also been part of a Flickr group called QR codes in the wild for a while.  I have illustrated this post with a couple of my contributions to that group. If you want to look at the variety of places people have found QR codes, go over to the group and have a look. I think I might has said once or twice before that I heart Flickr.

Friday, January 3, 2014

#blog12daysxmas Post 10 #anz23mthings Thing 8 Calendars

On the tenth day of Christmas I got back to #anz23mthings!   Yes, I am going to finish this in January.  No stopping me!

Thing 8's theme is Calendars. I have tried various online calendars over the years: Outlook on my home computer as a standalone, Lotusnotes at work, Outlook at work, work calendar synced with work phone, work calendar sending invites to me on home calendar and so it goes on.

I did try Google calendar a few years ago (and know plenty who use it) but I think the key thing was that my work calendar which was critical was on Lotusnotes and then Outlook.  So Google calendar was only ever going to be a duplication for me. Finally I got to a stage when I abandoned my personal Outlook calendar and just used my work Outlook which synced with my work phone for all personal and work commitments. Of course, that led to some loss of data in terms of personal appointments (eg recurring ones) and contacts when I left that POW.

These days I am pretty happy using the native calendar interface on my iPhone. Via iCloud this syncs across various iThings.  It also allows me to add calendars from other sources eg Google, Yahoo, as well as iCal.  It also syncs with my Facebook invitations and events.  And now there is also an iCloud sync with my desktop Outlook so I have even started using that calendar again.

#blog12daysxmas Post 9 Yay for Helene Blowers!

Fox Hotel , Collingwood

Yes, I am behind again but I have two posts ready to do today.

On the ninth day of Christmas I had a wonderful social media inspired time at the Fox Hotel in Collingwood.  We were having a Melbourne Flickrup for members of the #2013PAD and #fp13 Flickr groups. My involvement in both of these groups started in late 2010 when I joined the #2011PAD along with Caroline Ramsden, the only other Australian in a group that we got involved in because of UK library Twitter friends.

Those of us who gathered were @emerald_j, me, Nicky from Civica, @birdsey7, @pru (a prospective member!), and Fiona and Terence who are fiant and their two children.  Unfortunately @csmramsden, @kat_frame, @bonitoclub and Pat M2007 all couldn't make it because of other commitments or last minute ill health. How amazing that we could have a face to face gathering with more than a couple of people!  That was unbelievable in 2010.

It was great to meet the people behind the photos and work out how we were all connected. We discovered that Fiona and Terence, the non library people in the gathering, had become involved via @csmramsden's daughter.  There were those of us there who reported that we were taught by @csmramsden's father in library school.  So now there is a hash tag on Twitter #ramsdengenerations! Unfortunately we were so interested in our face to face interactions that we forgot to take photos of the people.  But photos of the Fox Hotel were taken and posted on Flickr.

Fox Hotel, Collingwood

This probably sounds like a very personal little gathering of no interest to anyone else except a few Flickr geeks.  But I think it was a very significant gathering.  I joined Flickr as part of Thing 2 (I think - the number is the query not the process) in Helene Blowers' 23 Things when we did a Victoria wide roll out of it to all public libraries. And I am still there using it as an integral part of my life. A couple of others mentioned above did that Victorian 23 Things program too.  Many of us also started experimenting with a new thing called Twitter at that time and through it we made UK contacts and so the story goes on.  And we are still there enjoying our world wide networks.

All of the Melbourne people who are mentioned above have come together virtually and physically via various combinations of Twitter, Flickr and personal connections that can be traced back to several of us doing and embracing 23 Things as part of our lives.

So I say:  Yay for Helene Blowers!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

#blog12daysxmas Post 8 #anz23mthings Thing 7 Communicate: Google+Hangout and Skype

This topic's theme is Communicate! And we are asked to look at Skype and Google+ Hangout. I've had a Skype account for a while and I have used it mainly for communicating with overseas friends or with family and friends in Australia when I am out of Australia. However, I really do find email, Twitter and Facebook often a very good way for virtually instant communication. So I do tend to use those mostly. On Facebook you can easily do group discussions and I have found these very useful for many group discussions, be they with friends, family or colleagues.

I have also had a Google+ account since beta days but I must say I still don't use it very much.  In the early days I remember thinking that the Hangout was one of the best things about Google+, and experimenting with a couple of people. I can see from the use that it has been put to for discussions about the #anz23mthings that it is really beneficial.

I can see great opportunities in libraries for various things with all of these sites. Really anywhere you would like to have some face to face discussion. That could be with staff in various locations or with the community either in groups or singly. In terms of local history, I can see advantages with both Skype and Google+ for recording oral history and for group discussions about local history topics. Often people enquiring about local things will come from interstate or overseas and these tools could be used to great advantage.

Another tool that is worth considering is Facetime now that so many people of all ages have iPads and use them regularly. The photo above shows it being used in Virginia Beach, Virginia on two iPads which allowed the two people in Virgina Beach as well as the person in Amsterdam on one iPad and the person on the other iPad in New York City all to communicate!

Since my diagnosis with breast cancer I have been part of an international online breast cancer support group. The group has a face to face gathering once a year in North America whence the majority of people come. For a number of years, as part of this gathering, I have organized an international chat. It is really for any members who are in either in North America or the rest of the world and who would like to participate whilst not being physically present, so it is strictly speaking an online chat session on the program. We have experimented with a number of ways of doing this - successfully and unsuccessfully. We have an online chatroom on our website and that has been a constant for a number of years.

But in 2012 for the first time we trialled Facetime. You can see Jax in Amsterdam on my iPad participating in this photo opportunity in San Diego, California in 2012. In 2013 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we used Skype, the BClist chatroom and also Facetime as seen in the photo at the head of this post. We had a couple of laptops set up for Skype and for the chatroom, as well as a few iPads for Facetime. People used what they felt comfortable with, or swapped around. We had talked about a Google+ Hangout but it didn't come off. The reasons were complicated (and involved illness and death) and don't need to be gone into here.

But when the BCList has its 2014 Gathering in Akron, Ohio this year, I certainly hope that we can get a Google+ Hangout organized.
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