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Online Communities v.2

Randall Munroe, creator of the online webcomic xkcd has updated his well known Online Communities map for 2010. It looks similar but the “countries” have changed quite a lot since the first iteration, created in 2007. MySpace was still huge then, and Facebook was smaller than both Orkut and Xanga. Now Facebook occupies nearly all of the top continent and has it’s own little kingdoms within it. Twitter doesn’t even feature on the 2007 map, while now it’s a large island.

It’s interesting to note that the first comic was number 256 while the new one is 802; it certainly has been awhile.

xkcd: Online Communities 2

A Change in Direction

I’ve been quiet the past few days here, but this time I do actually have a reason that doesn’t stem from my own laziness. (I’m just kidding, I promise.) I’ve accepted a new position in the system where I currently work so I will no longer be serving as a reference librarian. Instead my position will be as the web librarian, where my duties will be creating and maintaining the systems website. This is an exciting turn for me as it will allow me to put many of my ideas into action and help construct our site using many of the Web 2.0 tenants. My transfer should go into effect sometime in February.

I had been thinking about library websites as well, as I was brainstorming about many of the things I would like to be able to impliment. So many sites I see are (lets face it librarians) subpar, looking like they were made in Geocities or in *shudder* Frontpage. Even libraries that serve big cities are often overly simple or just not exciting. Now I know that I shouldn’t expect librarians to also know webdesign too and that learning code takes time and study to master. There is always the option to hire someone to create a site for you who only does webdesign but I think in this capacity while you may get a site that looks visually lovely it won’t nessicarily incorporate what a library really needs to properly serve its patrons in a virtual environment. This is because while webdesigners create usable pages they aren’t librarians and so don’t know what libraries need. Librarians know, but are held back in the design aspect. This seems a real pity.

There are sites such as the Lansing Public Library (Illinois). Visually pleasing it is not, however, they’re utilizing a blog like feature for news on their main page, RSS feeds, IM reference,, podcasts!, flickr, and they have several seperate blogs with their own Feedburner stats. I know technology isn’t everything, but despite the fact that it doesn’t look like this or this such things are a draw to the website and I think a pull for patrons to utilize what their library has to offer online. If these two ideas could be married on a library website, just think of what could go from there. (Just a note, off topic, I have a particular soft spot for Korean library websites. I can’t read a lick of Korean,and the English versions of the sites are usually not nearly as good, but they are very visually pleasing, at least to me. Sejong University‘s website is a far cry from my alma mater‘s own, and I think a lot more nice to look at.)

But, I’ve gone far off topic here so I’ll veer back into the right lane. I will admit, I am not a webdesigner. I follow a lot of blogs and hopefully now professional publications on the subject. I know the trends and I know HTML and CSS so I can author. And I know I’ll have the tools too. Therefore, outside of making flickr,, blogs, and the rest a noticiable part of our online services, I hope to make a library webpage that reflects what a library really needs in order to serve their patrons, of all age groups and classes. This is my goal and I will try my hardest to see it through.

Surprises, Surprises

Librarian M and I’s Web 2.0 class that was developed for the staff of our system went quite well, all things considered. Between the two of us we covered: 43 Things, BitTorrent, Blogger & LiveJournal, Bloglines,, Digg, Flickr, & Pandora, LibraryThing, MySpace, Skype, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Opera & Firefox. (Whew!) Not to bad for a three hour class with a short introduction (and lots of time playing on YouTube). The class was composed of nine staff members ranging from librarians, circulation people, and one or two from tech services.

What was most surprising to me was the sheer amount that our coworkers didn’t know about Web 2.0, even the other librarians. In truth, the age distribution of the group was slightly older which makes me wonder just who in libraries is paying the most attention to Web 2.0 and its potential to intigrate into the profession. It’s impossible to tell just from this first group and I’m rather hoping to see what the groups in the future sessions have to say about that. Still, I spoke to a circulation person about the class (who has yet to take it) who is quite young and computer literate who still confessed that they didn’t know nearly anything about what we were going to be teaching in the class.

But I probably digress. We began with Opera and Firefox merely to illustrate the point that not only is the web changing in the shape of social software and programs and things but also in the simple way that we surf around the web to. Immensly customizable browsers that come out with new versions on a regular basis and support user aid in development. Opera’s built in BitTorrent client and Firefox’s extention were part of our talk and helped very much with illustrating just how all of these services cross each other and quite often support each other too. That seemed to click, considering like libraries they work together to help and serve their customers/patrons/users.

But many (and I would hazard to say most) in the room didn’t know anything about either browser despite the ground they’re gaining on Internet Explorer. And all that can be done with programs like and YouTube was taken in with more than a little excitement. Wikipedia was a fun one too, despite our library system being on it, and just making sure they knew not to let patrons use it for their senior theses. We also mentioned on the fly, the Stephen Colbert inspired Wikiality wiki, which they quite liked. Thanks to The Shifted Librarian for mentioning it.

Needless to say it was quite encouraging to see my fellow staff members enjoy the class and actually learn something. Gratifying doesn’t even begin to say it.

I’m hoping to learn more in future sessons of the class (and lucky us the Web 2.0 class has been made a requierment for all staff) though weither Librarian M will be teaching those with me is unsure. But, we shall see.

Viva Web. 2.0!