Sunday, August 9, 2015

New tool - gif maker!

We have mean bees in our yard that make a habit of attacking the honey bees on the sunflowers, and today I caught one in action.  My husband suggested I make a gif - so here it is!

I had success with - it was indeed easy to use.

My first ever gif.  It's a good one!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Digital Literacy in Action - Civic Engagement

Last night, the first of (too) many GOP "debates" took place.  I had an interesting experience while trying to watch the event that highlighted the importance of digital literacy skills.

In the last few days, we've fielded questions at the library about the time of the debate and where it could be watched.  I helped one of our regulars find a schedule of all the debates between now and the election - but didn't look closely at the details for this first debate.

I guess I should have - it turned out that only cable subscribers could watch the debate live streaming on the internet.  That ruled me out, and probably some of the people calling the library for information about the debate too!

But not all was lost - for those with a bit of tech savvy.  After determining we would be skunked through normal streaming sources, my husband searched around and found a YouTube channel that was showing the debate.


Marcus Harun, a young journalist based in Connecticut, was literally filming his television screen and broadcasting via YouTube so those of us without the precious cable subscription could still see the debate and learn about the "top tier" of GOP candidates.  This worked great, until about halfway through the debate when YouTube pulled his stream for copyright violation.

Not to worry though!  Marcus had a backup broadcast going, using Periscope.  We were able to watch the rest of the debate this way.  What was most interesting though, was the things Marcus had to do to ensure this stream wasn't pulled down too.  We think he must have been getting warning messages from Periscope, because he started to make sure that he was visible in the broadcast at all times, and he occasionally turned it off for discussion.

This is a great example of digital literacy in action, on both ends of the experience.

From our end, we started with the desire to watch the debate on our computers (as we do not own a television).  Once we determined it wasn't a straightforward (free) endeavor, we used our skills to find an alternative viewing option.  Our determination to watch the debate gave us the motivation to persevere.

On the broadcaster's end, he made the decision to circumvent traditional viewing methods based on the belief that information should be freely available, especially for the sake of an open democracy.  He used his technical skills with recording equipment and several websites to provide the opportunity for more people to be involved and engaged in the democratic process.

Both of the people I know of that called the library for information about the debate would not have been able to take advantage of these alternative viewing methods, due to lack of access.  I'll not get into the political ramifications of locking down a portion of the democratic process to only those that pay for access.  That's a different (but very important) issue.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Those questions...

It took a few days, but I'm back to answer the questions posed in the last post:

  • What resources can we use to duplicate what November describes (e.g., transforming an existing space into a space that becomes a launching point for community-changing endeavors grounded in strong digital literacy skills?
  • What are we (and can we) be doing to encourage our learners to use digital literacy skills in ways that "leave a legacy” (i.e., something that the learners can continue to own and share long after the formal learning opportunities conclude)?
  • What can we do in defining and fostering digital literacy to support work that has an identifiable purpose that is meaningful to our colleagues and our learners?

Very good questions...

In most libraries, we work with the physical space we currently have.  It can take years to get new buildings, and even remodels require a good deal of planning and money.  Librarians are really good at rearranging what we have in order to try new things, with the least amount of budget expenditure.  At my library, we transformed the area near the entry into what we call the Lifelong Learning Center.  Here it is prior to the final addition of tables and seating conducive to collaborative work.

I really like the open feeling of the newly revamped entrance area

It's be three years since the remodel (really?!!), and now I often see people working together on computers and we hold many of our "Book A Librarian" sessions in this space.  I'll have to take a photo tomorrow to show what it looks like - it's kind of funny to see it in this state before the furniture was added.  This may not be the source of any groundbreaking developments, but we do provide a space for people to learn and work together.  Two of our other branches were remodeled into Creative Tech Centers, which provide an array of equipment and programming focused around technology.

Question two - not much, yet.  I cannot think of anything my library system has done to really encourage any sort of "legacy" by the people we offer technology training to.  In fact, I think it's been quite the opposite.  We offer generic classes teaching basic computing skills, and a few people come but overall attendance is slim.  What's lacking?  CONTEXT and PURPOSE.  A generic class to learn how to use Word is nice, but boring.  The learners need a reason to learn that will carry on after the class occurs.  Our Book A Librarian appointments are popular because people have specific learning goal in mind, and they receive personalized help.  This still does not encourage a legacy, however.

Question three - for my coworkers, our purpose is to help the people that walk in the door.  Therefore we need to have a level of digital literacy that enables us to provide high quality service.  Until now, this has meant the ability to help people download eBooks to their devices, or showing them how to access their flash drive or print from the public computers.  Obviously the potential for so much more exists.  In the next few months, my work will consist of expanding digital literacy skills for my coworkers, who can in turn open doors for our customers.

This course has given me so much to think about.  Everyone needs meaning for their learning.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Leaving a legacy...

This week, our first task is to watch this fantastic TEDxNYED talk by Alan November.

We have three questions to ponder:
  • What resources can we use to duplicate what November describes (e.g., transforming an existing space into a space that becomes a launching point for community-changing endeavors grounded in strong digital literacy skills?
  • What are we (and can we) be doing to encourage our learners to use digital literacy skills in ways that "leave a legacy” (i.e., something that the learners can continue to own and share long after the formal learning opportunities conclude)?
  • What can we do in defining and fostering digital literacy to support work that has an identifiable purpose that is meaningful to our colleagues and our learners?
I can tell that this exercise is a little more difficult than our earlier tasks, as here it is Wednesday and nobody has posted on the weekly discussion board yet!  Difficult is not quite the right word - what this task takes is a bit more thought and it's not so easy to quickly type out an answer.

I watched the video two nights ago, and took a few notes.  Then I watched it again, and added to my notes...
A photo posted by Anne Murphy (@librarianguish) on

Rather than answer the questions directly, for now I'm just going to make note of my notes.  ✏️

  1. Involvement in community gives meaning
  2. Critical thinking and problem solving
  3. Don't teach any particular technology --> short term
  4. Find a problem, THEN use technology to solve it
  5. Dignity and integrity of work; adding value
  6. Leaving a legacy adds value
  7. PURPOSE!  There must be a purpose to the work
  8. Peer to peer learning is effective (social interaction)
  9. The ecology of learning has changed
  10. Contribution = ownership of learning

I've got more thinking to do on those three questions, and how I might answer them in the context of my work both with library staff and our patrons.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Crap Detection - Fake Accounts on Twitter

Have you ever received an obvious spam email or blog comment that's trying to look legitimate?  On the surface they might seem okay, but a quick read gives them away.  Here's a snippet from a recent blog comment I received:

Unbreakable & collapsible, multifarious from stock bloom flower vase.
While performs the done gathering as accustomed cheap flower vases one.
Charm vase made of hard-wearing and flexible soft materials.
Absolutely fill it with copiously then it takes show improvement as a flower vase.
Fatiguing davy jones's locker layer helps it continue firmly with sprinkle in it.

Pretty obvious, isn't it?  But spammers and bots aren't always quite so obvious - it takes a bit of crap detection (and skepticism) to spot them before you click on a link that might infect your computer with a nasty virus.

Let's look at an example from Twitter.  Yesterday I was followed by an account that didn't pass the smell test with me.  How many problems can you find in this screen shot?

Gina Randolph looks like a nice enough person.  I don't watch television, but her face seems familiar to me - can't place it though.  Beyond that, there are some things going on with this account that should raise the alarm bells.

  • Twitter handle:  @ArangoKryukova - a foreign sounding handle by itself is no problem, but in this case there is nothing about the account that matches a name like this.
  • The bio blurb makes no sense:  "The most effective remaining stock promoter is one that I have not yet blogged .... This blog has a terms of use that is incorporated by reference"

  • Location = Las Vegas, baby!  Kind of cliché, don't you think?
  • Every single tweet contains a shortened link through a site called - click on them if you dare!  I didn't.  And the photos often don't have any connection to the topic of the tweet.

Bubble dog is horrified at the economic decline in China!  See how horrified bubble dog is?  Bubble dog weeps for China.

Bubble dog wants a treat.  As long as it's not made in China, because it might kill him.

Somehow, this account has 2,638 followers - who are these people?  How many of them automatically followed our friend Gina when her account followed them, without checking the details?  Quite a few, I imagine.

A little bit of investigation goes a long way.  I'd much rather follow Pogo the Death Clown than Gina.   Research tells me that Pogo is followed by real people that I trust, and his account has a wide variety of posts including original thoughts and retweets.  Pogo may have a strange name, but that's a good indicator there's a real person at work on that account.  I can follow him, and if it turns out I don't like his tweets, I can unfollow him.  No big deal.  I'm going to have to say no to Gina however.

I sure do like bubble dog though...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A new tool!

One of our assignments this week is to try something new and expend our digital literacy skills.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I don't have a very good record with video production and editing, however I'm not quite ready to go there (though I do have an idea of what I might try).   I am quite comfortable with static imagery, and really like visual representations of information.  It seemed logical then to create some sort of visual to go along with our class content.

Last night I searched for sites where one could create an infographic, but I wasn't happy with the options I found.  Fortunately I came across mention of Canva while poking around the US Digital Literacy site (there's a gold mine!)

Then I made something.

During our first week we looked at Doug Belshaw's Eight Elements of Digital Literacy, and I loved his graphic based on the periodic table.

When we started talking about Rheingold's literacies, my mind wanted to see everything in a way that I could easily compare them and think about how they overlapped or differed - but there was no quick visual available for Rheingold's list.

Until now!

I think I'll get some good mileage out of Canva.  It was very easy to use and I can already think of specific needs I have for upcoming presentations at work.  I'm glad I discovered it!

If you're interested in visual representations of  information, I recommend Information is Beautiful.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Digital activity inventory

2010 ended on a swell note - good riddance to a stressful year!

Before moving on and trying something new, I figured it might be a fun/frightening exercise to try and remember all of the sites I've been involved with or posted on since first stepping into the digital realm over 10 years ago.  In no particular order...

I'm sure this list is missing something - in fact I know it is (I'm just drawing a blank).  I've also left comments on numerous blogs and news sites, participated in discussion forums, and contributed little bits here and there all over the internet.  This may seem like a lot, but this list represents about 13 years of my life.  That's a pretty significant chunk of time.  Some of these sites were great, but don't exist anymore (Multiply).  Some I've tried out, but they haven't panned out to be anything much (Ello).  If nothing else, I can capture my username by signing up for the various sites even if I don't ever do much.

These days, my top usage sites are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, and G+.  And Blogger for those times when I feel like waxing non-poetic...