Saturday, July 2, 2016

Thoughts on #blogjune 2016

Well, how did it go?  On 1 June I blogged here about "to blog or not to blog" and I guess ultimately I couldn't stop myself.  Yes, I blogged every day for the month of June - to a greater or lesser degree.

My first and only post in Hecuba's story, i.e. here, was the one on 1 June. I did 8 blog-posts in the Librarian and the Kitchen, and then I did 21 quite short posts over at Hecuba's Reflections, my Tumblr blog.

So what does all this mean in the context of my reflections in January about blogging and generally about "web 2.0" stuff? I decided then in January not to set myself any blogging targets for 2016, but I know I felt that, if I were going to blog, it was likely to be on the Librarian and the Kitchen.  I also talked during #blog12daysxmas about my ongoing addiction to Flickr.

So this month confirmed all of that for me.  I didn't set out in June with any plan, and I didn't really know whether I would even try to complete #blogjune. But I did 8 posts on the Librarian and the Kitchen, bringing my ytd total of posts up to 26 - already more than double what I did last year. I am even wondering if in 2016 I will equal my all-time best for that blog in 2008 when I first set it up. A contributing factor to this has certainly been the current course I am doing on Futurelearn, a course which combines history with cooking and historical recipes to be played with. However, only three of the 8 were course-related.

Some people doing #blogjune, I think starting with @librarianidol, pointed to the value of #blogjune in giving a daily snapshot of life for a month. I thought about that, but knew really I didn't need that snapshot.  For years my daily snapshot has indeed been a snap, and posted there in Flickr's PAD for me to reflect on at month's end or year's end. And this is what my Tumblr posts reflected in #blogjune.  They were short comments focusing on a photo, mostly my PAD but not always. So most of my blogposts (21) were reflections on the photos that document my life.  I quite enjoyed doing it and it certainly wasn't a chore. But will I continue doing it?  I really doubt it. I'll probably just wait for another opportunity like #blog12daysxmas.

What #blogjune has also confirmed for me is that although I remain very interested in technology and could have blogged about many things (e.g.regular bulletins from the Webbys provide a wealth of new and innovative things to talk about) I no longer have the passion to write about technology. Part of this has to do with my interest having moved away from libraries where technology was and is a critical issue. But I wonder if it is just me, or whether those heady days of endless technological possibilities have now passed for those who remain connected to libraries?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

To blog or not to blog #blogjune

That does appear indeed to be the question for me. I didn't do #blogjune last year as I was  overseas for the start of it but I had done it previously for what seems like forever.  And I still do #blog12daysxmas, though this year I was shocked by the minimal participation.  I like doing #blog12daysxmas as twelve days seems more manageable than 30, and also because it is a good opportunity to review one's digital presence over the preceding year.

And indeed I did review my blogging as part of the 2015/2016 #blog12daysxmas and concluded that I wasn't doing all that much.  You can read about the 2015 experience here and I won't repeat my reflections on it here. And the interesting thing for me with that post was the aftermath. I decided not to set any blogging targets for 2016: and then I did a flurry of blogging on my Librarian and the Kitchen site. Maybe all this proves is that not having targets provides freedom, as someone suggested to me earlier in the year.

And will I do #blogjune? Well, it is a good question.  I have a number of things I want to blog about and so maybe this is the opportunity? At any rate, I have left myself open to the opportunity by blogging today.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

#anz23mthings Thing 15 Adobe ID

OK, Anne, let's cut to the chase.  This Thing 15 Adobe ID stalled you in the midst of #anz23mthings two years ago.  Just get over it!

The point of this Thing is to explore possibilities for libraries using Adobe ID. I have an Adobe ID and it needs to be used for borrowing ebooks from my public library over Overdrive.  The Adobe process for signing up and for lost passwords is fairly cumbersome is my memory and potentially a matter of difficulty for some library users who may have limited computer literacy but want to read ebooks. So when introducing users to ebooks either face to face or on the website it would useful to have a clear guide and trouble-shooting, as well as having staff who are able to assist.

I essentially use Adobe for this as well as reading PDFs.  I create PDFs of documents directly from Word.  And I often read PDFs through my Dropbox app on my phone or iPad. One glitch I have noticed there is that occasionally filled in documents that I can read quite clearly on my desktop will come out blank when I am reading them through my Dropbox app.  I am not clear why this is so as I haven't explored which ones it happens to.  These are not documents I have created and happens in documents for a committee I am on.  I know it happens to other members as well.

I was interested to see the large suite of "desktop apps" that are available for subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud and can imagine that, if library subscriptions are possible, these tools would indeed be useful to a wide range of students involved in design or web development, though people seriously involved would no doubt need their own subscriptions.  I noticed Photoshop is included and it is certainly a suite of tools we used in my former POW for editing local history photos during digitization. Personally, I don't currently feel the need for this as I have a number of other photo editing tools (free and paid for versions) on my iPhone and iPad.

It was good to explore what was included in the Cloud, but I don't have the need for any of the apps at present.  I note that they are called "Desktop Apps" so I am not sure what implications that has for using them on the go.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reflecting on #anz23mthings #blog12daysxmas Day 12

So on this Day 12 of #blog12daysxmas for 2015/2016, I want to spend some time reflecting on my inability to complete #anz23mthings and reflect on reasons why this might have happened.  I started the project on May 12 2013, did the first four things, wilted a bit, and then started up again during the 2013/2014 #blog12daysxmas when I completed things 5 to 14. Then I stalled completely.

In my wrapup for that, I vowed and declared that I was on a roll, more than halfway through, and was determined to finish anz23mthings that month. So what are the reasons for such a chequered history in doing this excellent program? I think that there are two key factors and some contributing ones.

Firstly, I had done the 23 things and continued with 23.1.  This was life-changing for me and I commenced a life filled with fascination for possibilities.  This only increased once I started using mobile devices more. The end result is that for some of the Things I found that I was reading about things I had been using for years, on desktop and mobile, and often when they were startups or in beta. I had tried and discarded many more Things. In the 14 Things that I completed there were certainly new apps and slants on things that I learnt about - some were great and others disappointing, but there were a lot where I used the tools regularly. This did mean that for me the course was largely reflective rather than explorative and exciting.  I like reflection but I also like exploration and excitement and maybe it turned out that there was not the right balance for me.

Secondly, seven months or so before I started the course I had retired. The anz23things is, of course, framed in the context of libraries. Today I reviewed the 18 posts I completed and could see that from my very first post on Thing 1 Twitter (My Twitter Dilemma) this difficulty of trying to reframe my usage of the various Things (including ones like Twitter and Facebook) that I had used since 2007/8 was evident. I had used all these Things in the context of my professional life and I couldn't work out how they were going to fit with my retirement occupations. How could they work with local history, with travel, with breast cancer advocacy, with language learning, with cooking? This thread emerges throughout the posts.

And the subsidiary reasons? I blamed #blogjune for my first fallout.  But I don't really know why I didn't just get on with it for my #blogjune posts.  Anyway I didn't.  And then I headed off to the US for another trip in the second half of 2013. As I said above, I started off again in December 2013/January 2014. Then in 2014 travel intervened again with trips to Greece/Wales/France/England in the first half of the year and to the US and Canada in the second half of the year.  And then it was out of sight, out of mind, and, of course, the Greek factor started to take effect. In fact, already in the Things that I completed you can see evidence of the Greek factor starting to intrude. I had started 23mthings just after my return from Greece after my first trip back after retirement.


So, will I ever complete the other nine Things?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I reviewed them this evening. Again, most of them are things I have used for ages and either still use or no longer find need for in my current circumstances and interests. Maybe I should just power through them and document what happens. Afterall, I found it very interesting to read about my dilemmas in relation to the first 14.

I think, however, for me the really interesting thing is my reflections on what life there is for 23 Things or 23mthings outside of the library professional environment - for me. To explore that further is something that fascinates me.  But maybe I need to finish the project to get on top of that?


Monday, January 4, 2016

Not a good year for blogging either #blog12daysxmas Day 11

Oh dear! I haven't read my Goodreads targets and really my blogging wasn't up to much either.  However, the good news is that as I actually didn't set any 2015 targets for blogging it cannot be deemed a failure. But how does it compare to the last few years?

The last time I reviewed my blogging was in 2013. In 2013 I successfully completed #blog12daysxmas in January 2013, both for myself and for the Collingwood Historical Society.  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 and the Kitchen 4 posts

For 2014, I set myself the following targets:

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

And in 2014, what I actually achieved was as follows: 

Collingwood Historical Society 16 posts
Hecuba's Story 6 posts
Hecuba Reads 4 posts
The Librarian and the Kitchen 12 posts

So in 2014, I actually achieved my blogging aims for Hecuba Reads and The Librarian and the Kitchen. I can be thankful for small mercies. The Collingwood Historical Society and Hecuba's Story rather fell off. There were a couple of reasons for this. And yes, I'll blame the Greek again.  In 2014 for the first time since it started, I didn't do #blogjune because I was overseas at the end of my Greek course trip.  The previous year, posts from this had featured in both blogs. A further reason for Hecuba's Story was that I stopped doing #anz23mthings when I got to number 14 and stalled on Thing15, although I had planned on completing it in 2014. But I will reflect upon that on another occasion.

As has previously been noted, I didn't set myself any blogging targets for 2015.  But what did I actually complete?
Collingwood Historical Society 4 posts
Hecuba's Story 1 posts
Hecuba Reads 8 posts
The Librarian and the Kitchen 12 posts

So again, Hecuba Reads and The Librarian and the kitchen were tracking along as they had been. Hecuba's Story just fell off completely, as did the Collingwood Historical Society. And there are different explanations for both. With both again #blogjune didn't feature as I was off doing Greek again.

As for the Collingwood Historical Society, there were two key issues. Changes to the blog plugin to our website along with issues with Flickr no longer allowing posts to Blogger made what and how we were blogging previously very difficult and required cumbersome work arounds. Eventually we embarked on a project to change the platform for the website and in December 2015 launched the new site on a Wordpress platform. We are still playing with the blog format but hopefully in 2016 the blog will be more active.

For Hecuba's Story, I have to wonder if my lack of interest in blogging about technology relates to my lack of interest in libraries?  I am certainly still interested in technology.  Some would say I am obsessed with it.  However, I haven't felt like blogging about it. But maybe it mirrors my reduced interest in Twitter. Who knows? All I can say is that I still blog quite regularly about cooking and more sporadically about reading.

So for 2016,  I am purposely not going to set myself blogging targets.  I am just going to see what, if anything happens. The following illustration may just symbolize what I heart.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015: a bad year for reading #blog12daysxmas Day 9

A number of years ago, at  this time of the year I decided that I wasn't reading enough.  So I set up my Hecuba Reads blog and at the same time experimented with various online tools for recording my reading. After a bit of experimentation, I finally decided to go with Goodreads.  My sister who uses it voraciously had suggested it during my first musings.  Yes, she was right I finally decided.

I actually had no idea how much or little I was reading and so I made a modest commitment to read 52 books in the year, i.e. an average of one a week. Surely I could do that? That was for 2010. Without any particular effort (apart from the recording) that year I easily reached 62 titles, by reading or rereading.  In following years, I have made the same commitment, some times documented here, some times not (most notably not for 2015 when I didn't document anything here) but always there on Goodreads.

Goodreads: Book reviews, recommendations, and discussion

So how have I gone after that initial year? Quite well really to 2014.  In 2012 I read 71 titles, in 2013 76 titles, and in 2014 I managed 105 titles!  So that was all to the good.  But then came 2015.  In 2015 I succeeded in reading only 34 titles! Why did my reading levels plummet like this?  Is there an explanation?

I think there is and it is probably not going to go away any time soon. I definitely haven't stopped reading.  I just don't read books or can't read the ones I want to! In 2013 I decided I was going to try to learn Greek again and in 2014 I headed for Athens and an intensive Greek language course at the Athens Centre. That was an amazing experience and has set me firmly on a new (or revisited) pathway.  But you may well say, that was in 2014 when your reading levels didn't plummet. 

When I finished the Athens Centre course in 2014, I did continue to try to read bits and pieces in Greek news sites but it was all rather sporadic and without application. After a short flurry of last-minute revision I returned to the Athens Centre in 2015 for the next level of the course. And what a different experience that was! I was so cross with myself for the stuff I couldn't remember from the previous level - out of sight, out of mind for a year. Because I had on a number of occasions over the last 40 years (gulp!) made efforts to learn Greek, there was actually very little that I learned in the 2014 course that I hadn't already learnt before. I certainly didn't remember it, but it wasn't particularly new and, let's face it, we were there for fun.

There was certainly fun in the 2015 classes where there was constant laughter and much hard learning going on. And there was lots of new stuff this time. Outside the classes the homework filled up most of my spare time and I was also doing a MOOC from Monash University so that was taking time. I started several books during that time - and have never finished them. And, whilst I have read titles since, I date the downward slide to that period.

This time I left the Greek course not only with my head stuffed full of new stuff that I needed to get my head around properly but also with the realization that my brain was remembering stuff it had learnt decades ago! How amazing was that?  This started happening to me during the course when I would come out with words that I had no idea I knew. It must have been quite frustrating for the teacher as I was also remembering ancient Greek and katharevousa words and not distinguishing the difference. "Yes, I understand the word, but we only really use it in church" is one response I remember.

I hasten to add that this was just a very little transformation and only noticed by me. However, it was enough to make me determined not to go backwards again - for the umpteenth time. So the end result of this has been that my reading time almost every day since has focused on quite short Greek pieces which I take forever to read surrounded by dictionaries. And it's very much a two steps forward one step back sort of feeling.  But I definitely do spend time reading almost every day. And in addition to the short articles, I have over the year, in addition to the 34 titles which include a number of Greek easy readers, read some Greek poetry.  I have read some Cavafy and Seferis and I reintroduced myself to Dimitris Tsaloumas. But that has just been dipping and not whole books. I did also read some Greek picture books which I didn't document. 

And so, for the coming year what will I do?  Yes, I'll certainly keep slogging away with my Greek and one day I might even find myself up to reading a short story :)  And I will again set myself an annual target on Goodreads of reading 52 titles in the coming year.  A good start might be to read some of the books I have downloaded and never read, or ones I started reading last year but didn't finish. 

So that determined librarian at the top of the post is fighting for two things in relation to reading:  firstly, her continued struggles with Greek reading, and secondly, a greater effort at reading English language books so that 52 titles will be read with great ease again in 2016.   We'll see.   Θα δούμε.

Friday, January 1, 2016

I heart Flickr! #blog12daysxmas Day 8

Now that it is 2016, I can start to use #blog12daysxmas as an opportunity to check out how I have performed over the year in the tasks that I set myself at the beginning of 2015.  That should have been easy.  But last week when I went back to my blogs to review my last #blog12daysxmas, I realized that not only did I not finish the task, but I also didn't set myself any tasks for the coming year.  Well, I didn't blog about them at any rate. I certainly had tasks that I involved myself in.

And my involvement with Flickr was certainly one of those.  I first learned about Flickr and joined up many years ago in 2007 when I did 23 Things. I am an inveterate snapper, rather than a careful photographer, and all those snaps land on Dropbox and Flickr, get edited and stay there if I think they are any good.  Since I have had an iphone, my camera has gathered dust and I take my photos on the phone. Often I take them through the Instagram app and share them onto Flickr and Tumblr and Twitter and increasingly on Facebook too so have other communities there, of course. All my devices are linked up to Dropbox and Flickr and Instagram and Tumblr and Facebook and Twitter for ease of sharing.

Although during #blog12daysxmas last year I didn't set myself any challenges, I actually did set myself some as the year commenced on Flickr. So did I meet these challenges? I did!  And I am very happy with myself for meeting them. I completed my 365 photos for PAD2015, iPhone 365 and Project365: my 365th photo for the year heads this post. I also completed Challenge Friday for all weeks of 2015 for myself and, with the assistance of some other members, for the Collingwood Historical Society. In 2015, I administered the 2015PAD group, the Victorian Hotels group and the Victorian Public Library Buildings groups and I contributed to quite a few other groups.  Notable among these was the Trove group which provides a fabulous way for Australians to get their photos onto Trove.

During 2014 I also set up another group jointly with the Collingwood Historical Society, the Abbotsford, Clifton Hill and Collingwood group for photos taken in the area covered by the former municipality of Collingwood and I continued to administer that in 2015.  If you take any photos in that area, please add them to the group. It is so important that we document today which is tomorrow's history. We are building up a good collection of photos in the group, where it is lovely to skim through and view them.  It is also a good place to get discussion going about the places and their history.

So what's my Flickr challenge for 2016? It's much of the same really.  I continue with Challenge Friday (cf16) for both me and the Collingwood Historical Society. This year as part of an experiment we are going to be doing Challenge Friday on Facebook as well as Flickr. By that, I mean that it will be operating on both: some people will be doing just Flickr, some people just Facebook, and others will do both.  It remains to be seen how it goes. It is a way of tapping into people who don't want to join Flickr, as well as people who don't want to be on Facebook.

I am doing my Photo A Day (PAD) for 2016, for 2016PAD, iPhone 365 and Project365.  I continue to administer that group along with my UK colleague, Julia Chandler, as well as administering my hotels, Victorian public library buildings and the "Collingwood" group.  And I will try to organize another Melbourne Flickrup soon, and hopefully we'll have one in England when I visit towards the middle of the year.

Everyone is welcome to join any of these groups! In particular today is the day the 2016 Photo A Day Challenge starts. You can join up here if you want to.
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