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.

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