Two Faces of Beth

I’ve been mulling something over in my mind the last few days.  Am I a hypocrite?

I am a big supporter/lover of Web 2.0.  Part of me loves the fact that the average Joe can contribute to the content of the web.  You no longer have to have a degree in computer science or have spent years learning code to be able to add your mark to the world wide web.  I love to see people contribute to the web via word, photo, video or code.  I’ve hopefully influenced many people where I work (both internally and externally) to become a part of their web – to participate or contribute in some small way.

So why the feeling of being hypocritical?  Two reasons – wikis and sites that allow people to create websites without teaching them to properly code or design.  Since both wikis and sites that help the average Joe create their piece of the web are definitely Web 2.0 you can see my dilemma.  Although I can appreciate that both technologies give the ordinary non-geek type a way to express themselves I feel they do a bit of harm in the long run.  They don’t teach people the backbone behind the pretty pages they see on the web (proper coding).  They also don’t teach people that loading a site full of information without giving proper navigation and thought to function (usability) is a disservice.  The worst part is they don’t teach people to be web standards compliant.  They allow people to add information, color, pictures, videos, links, widgets, etc. but fail to teach them basic rules that if followed will make their wiki or site be accessible by anyone on any operating system in any browser.

Perhaps the next Web 2.0 application can somehow allow people to contribute to the web but teach them proper design and coding in the process.  If so, that will be a technology I can get behind.  I’m afraid as much as I love Web 2.0 I can’t support wikis or sites that allow you to create a web page or whole site without teaching you what works and doesn’t on the web these days.

So call me a hypocrite.


No Woman is an Island

Forgive me John Donne (1572-1631) for taking poetic license.

I’ve been training staff members over the last 3-4 years (maybe more my memory ain’t what it used to be). It was something I stumbled into and found that I not only enjoyed but actually good at (or at least according to comments and evaluations). With each class that I taught, I’ve gained some insight. I love the give and take of training, the flow of not only energy but information. I believe that training should be a two-way street. It isn’t all about ME passing on information. I can learn a lot as well. I can learn what does or doesn’t work for a particular curriculum or for a particular learning style. I can sometimes learn a new way or shortcut of doing something even thought I thought I knew them all. To me it’s important to keep on learning as I help others to learn.

Recently I gave my first training for the public. What a great unknown that was for me. How computer savvy would they be? How do you create a training not knowing the skill level of your auidence? It was a good thing because I had gotten comfortable with training the staff and sometimes comfort can equate to being stale. The last thing I want to be is stale.

Most importantly this series of Web 2.0 classes wasn’t all about me. I wasn’t alone. No woman is an island or at least this woman wasn’t. So far the series has been pretty much a big success. I’ve been encouraged to offer this to staff and again to the public since we had such good turn out. But I could not have done this alone. So taking a nod from the Oscars….

I’d like to thank the academy:

  • Luis Salazar for diligently working to get me a viewsonic that gave a clear picture and worked with our Ubuntu laptop (at one point we had tried Ubuntu, Windows and Mac before we realized it was the viewsonic not the laptop)
  • Donna Metcalf for her support (attending a class) and helping Luis w/viewsonic issue.
  • Dennis Wood for being my AV man. He not only got me setup correctly on the sound portion but also tried to get the viewsonic working for another instructor in the Web 2.0 series.
  • Amy de Groff for allowing and encouraging me to do this. Also for her flexibility with my schedule (being boss and all).
  • Ruth Vargas and Danny Bouman for also being flexible and allowing me to switch my morning duties so I could present these classes at night.
  • Kim Ha for willing taking on a class on wikis (her passion) by herself.
  • Katie George for an outstanding job during our social networking class. I honestly couldn’t have done a better job and she was a hard act to follow.
  • Brian Auger for being willing to share our mutual passion of music and help me with tonight’s class on music social networking.
  • Fritzi Newton, photographer extraordinaire, for sharing her passion of photography and allowing me to sneak in a few moments about YouTube and Veho during Tuesday’s class.
  • my hubby for dealing with the dogs and dinner without me there – yes, dear we are a team
  • and most importantly the public for embracing this series so far

If I left anyone out it is not intentional.  I thank you all for helping me with this endeavor and I’ve learned a lot from each one of you.

Late night musings of a techie procrastinator…umm trainer

Explore, discover (or rediscover in this case) and play. That is what I’ve been doing all day. Some might be jealous that I had such a luxury but truth be told it was due to a bad case of procrastination. Months ago (last year even) I was spurred on by a Web 2.0 committee meeting. Being part of the staff development committee I had been privy to all the great training we were offering staff when a light bulb came on – why shouldn’t we offer more of this for our customers? Since my base is in the technology world my thoughts immediately turned to computers and the web. So while sitting in a meeting trying to figure out what Web 2.0 features we wanted to explore to give our customers more, it dawned on me – why not start with a class on just what Web 2.0 is.

Forward to this year in May when I submitted to our marketing department, a series of classes (5 in all) touching on Web 2.0. I was fortunate enough to have several committed colleagues that wanted to help me explore Web 2.0 with our customers. Classes included wikis, photo sharing, audio streaming, and social networking. All of which followed my overview class. Classes didn’t start until the second week of October and in May that seemed a long way off. I had thoughts in my head, bookmarks on at least 3 different computers, and a few Impress presentations slides started but nothing really solid.

Monday October 13th. Thank goodness for Christopher Columbus and the government for wanting to celebrate him by giving me a day off from work. However, the Internet service providers weren’t letting me off the hook that easily. I settled in at my desk – laptop, comfy chair, plenty of Diet Coke and my English Springer Spaniel at my feet. Now if only my wifi connection had enough strength to load a page of Google image results I might have gotten something done. Alas it was not in the cards or the stars. Off I trudged to work where I could be assured (I hoped) of a blazing fast connection to the Internet. Bingo!

Felt I got a lot done but time flew before I knew it it was time to pickup my son from school. Stopped to get dog food on the way home, minor bird emergency (son’s cockatiel) to attend to, dinner to fix and eat, being IT had to figure out why hubby’s Windows laptop was suddenly not connecting to the wifi while my Linux laptop had no problem (solved) and at 8:30 pm I was finally able to look at what I had done that day. UGH! What I thought sounded good this afternoon suddenly didn’t flow like I had first thought.

So here I am as if I was back in college pulling an all-nighter. Laptop, playing, and a 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke by my side. Sadly the Springer is asleep in her cage. Hopefully, I’ll be able to put the “paintbrush” down. I tend to tweak and tweak and tweak like a painter who is never quite happy with how things look or sound.

So when I go to demo blogs, tags, comments, RSS feeds on Wednesday night, I think I might just keep my class away from my blog. I don’t want them to think I didn’t care enough to do this earlier. Honestly, things have been mulling over in my brain since I first thought about doing this class in 2007. And work has been plentiful this year and in the last couple of months very intense and consuming so much so that when I got home I was usually asleep right after dinner (not a whole lot of time left to work on things).

Lesson learned – even though I know the material inside and out, upside and down it takes time to sort, organize, play a little so you rediscover features and okay, get a little too lost on YouTube (darn those Mac/PC/Linux, Eddie Izzard, and Springer Spaniel videos!).

Wikipedia – The End of the Librarian?

This morning’s water cooler question of the day on WBAL TV was – Do you think people rely too much on online resources like Wikipedia for accurate research and information? Hmm, this one has been debated before and as part of the library profession I know where some folks stand on this one. I myself have struggled with this one. For me it is a great jumping off point and is often a way to confirm something I already know but just wasn’t 100% sure about.

Since the web is no longer 1.0 but 2.0 and beyond these days, it stands to reason that sites where the “public” can contribute to the greater knowledge are becoming more and more attractive. Gone are the days where an “expert” would design/contribute to a web site and that would be the authoritative source, end of story, bye-bye, see you later. With the advent of wikis and such, more and more people (some who actually know of what they speak) are contributing to the information on the web.

I believe that one must always weigh the information they find on the web, in a book, via a pamphlet with common sense no matter what the source. Just because it is printed does not make it accurate. The old Motown song comes to mind “…People say believe half of what you see, Son, and none of what you hear.

Do I think that the general public is going to forsake the sage wisdom and training of the librarian for Wikipedia? Hard to say. But one thing that is for sure if we as a profession don’t get ourselves out on the web more and contribute to sites like Wikipedia we may find that we are no longer seen as “Information Professionals”.