Here I am on the plane headed home after what has been an incredibly informative and stimulating Internet Librarian/Internet@School West Conference. Not only is this the ONE conference where I learn more than at all others combined, it also takes place in beautiful Monterey. I know, tough gig, but someone has to go. This year, not surprisingly, the buzz was all about Web 2.0. Another big theme was gaming, and this area has taken on new potential in my thinking. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to just put down some thoughts about the conference and what I learned, without looking back at any of my notes, the conference schedule, the book of presentations, or anything. The idea is to see what was compelling enough to rise to the top of the rich broth of ideas, impressions, tips, and other information that is bubbling in my creative cauldron after this intense week of learning and sharing with colleagues. So here are some things right off the top of my head. When I get home and have all my resources handy and time to go through them, I will post again and follow up on these and other things that I want to share that I learned this past week.
· You can podcast from your phone! There is a number you can call up and then when you talk into your phone, your comments will be recorded. Then you can send them as a .wav file to the location of your choice. I have not tried this and do not remember the URL or name of the service, but I am dying to try it out!
· This is another fun phone trick: You can use this Internet service to set up for yourself a free phone number in any area code in the US. So if you want to sound high-falutin and give yourself a ritzy code, you can. If you have clients/friends in that AC, they can thereby leave you messages without having to call long distance. Then you can call that phone from your other number(s) and check your voicemail. Another thing you can do is have THAT number call your “REAL” number at a certain time. That would be handy if you were headed for an event and wanted an excuse to leave. You could just answer the call from yourself and say with regret that you have been called away.
· Ask.com’s new layout is cool. They call it the 3D display. There are three columns presented when you get search results, each offering a specialized type. I will talk about this more, but it does make a lot of sense as far as offering choices to the searcher.
· Layout in general is a theme I noticed with sites. The goal of many home page services, blog aggregators, and searching tools is to come up with cool and innovative ways to present information via layout. Google continues with its traditional list by and large, but is ranking results a bit differently in recognition of the fact that people are more and more interested in video as opposed to just text.
· Some searching trends include
o personalized searching
o blended searching
o social searching…more about these when I can refer to my notes and get online.
· Ask.com again…this time maps. They have some very cool features
o Ask gives not only driving directions, but also WALKING DIRECTIONS. They are the only search engine to do this.
o In Ask, you have drawing tools at the bottom of a map. One thing you can do is use the circle tool to select a small specific area on a city map, maybe several square miles or less. You can then search within that area for locations such as restaurants, theaters, businesses, etc. So if you are in San Francisco and hungry for sushi, you can do a search of your immediate surroundings and find what is nearby.
· Wikipedia is here to stay. As librarians, we should join in, tending it like a garden. School librarians and administrators should keep an eye on entries for their schools. What, your school does not have an entry? Are you sure? Have you checked? Your little darlings may have put one up with all kinds of creative information. If you have one, and many schools and school libraries do, you need to check it frequently to see how your scholars have been tinkering with it.
· Gaming belongs in libraries. I am so out of the loop on this that I really did not know how may purely educational games there are out there that are beyond reproach. Furthermore, the creative teacher/librarian can use the more popular games as hooks to get students interested in their subjects or in the library and its services.
· RSS—you need to be informed about its value and use it to share your web presences and to gather what you want from the net.
· Right before I came out to this conference, I was a little worried because I feel that I am spread out all over the place on the Internet. I have information at Blogger, PBWiki, Flikr, Picasa, my university web pages, a domain that we bought for our department, several email addresses, Nancy Pearl’s BookLust wiki, the Librarians’ Ning, Twitter, and I am probably leaving something out. But this week it occurred to me that this is not necessarily a BAD thing. Being out there a lot is a way to communicate with lots of people. What I need to do is something I am proud to say I have already done. Just before I left for the conference, I made a page at my PBWiki site where I provided links to all the other places I am on the net. Regardless of whether other people use this, it will help me to keep up with everything and simply my life. Good for me!
· There are many more things, and likely more important things, that I need to call up and share. But my computer battery is on the way down, so I will save them for later.