Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cool Sites I Don't Want to Close

26Maybe I am the only one with this problem, but when I come across a really cool website, I do not want to shut it down or navigate away from it. I KNOW I can tag it and come back later, but I also know that lots of things I tag do not get visited again. I keep telling myself...OK, I know I tagged, but I am not going to leave this site until I have looked over it just a little bit more...and then I do this with another, and another, and finally I have a ridiculous number of sites open in my tabs, sitting there and confusing me and my computer as well. So I am going to share these sites here as a second way of remembering them for when I want to review a little more. In my mind they are irresistibly cool. Even with my weakness, I do manage to tag and close most sites I like. Here are some still open from the last few days:
  • Tag Cloud: http://www.tagcrowd.com/ This one is a bit like Wordle but I want to play with it some more before I decide which I like better. Incidentally I made a tag cloud about cloud computing. How cool is that!

  • http://blog.achille.name/tag/tag-cloud/ This is a blog entry about tagging. I keep telling myself I will read it again and try some more of the sites mentioned.
  • 16 Awesome Data Visualization Tools: This is an article about data visualization, a topic that has been intriguing me the last few days: http://mashable.com/2007/05/15/16-awesome-data-visualization-tools/ I want to read it again and try out all sites, and then look over the larger website, called Mashable, The Social Media Guide.
  • Data Visualization: Modern Approaches: http://www.diigo.com/annotated/cdd7155aac5001023d0db95e085d6403 This is the article that got me excited about data visualization in the first place. I also want to look at the main site here, Smashing Magazine.
  • What Cloud Computing Really Means--Infoworld. This is a very clear and understandable explanation of the term "cloud computing"--I will reference it in an upcoming article on this topic. Here is the URL: http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/04/07/15FE-cloud-computing-reality_1.html
  • Dear Librarian Blog: http://www.dearlibrarian.com/#bumpin-widget Yes, I have a ton of blogs tagged, but this one has me especially interested, with a nice combo of tech and librarian-y entries.
  • Twitch-Board http://twitchboard.net/ Allows you to bridge between Twitter and Delicious or other web environments. Or at least I think that is what it does...need to try it out!
  • Amaztype http://amaztype.tha.jp/ Oh Gosh Oh Gosh I LOVE Amaztype. It is sort of Amazon meets Wordle but not exactly. Just go! Be sure to try Amaztype Zeitgeist. JUST DO IT! YOU WILL THANK ME!!!!
  • Gallery of Data Visualization: http://www.math.yorku.ca/SCS/Gallery/ I just stumbled across this last night. It looks like tons of fun. I am promising myself some time with it later this evening.
  • HistoryShots: Another data visualization site. I have not explored it much either but LOVE the graphic on the first page. I can see kids having fun doing something similar. This is another for my brain-dead evening browsing. http://historyshots.com/index.cfm
  • This is a link to an article in Houston Chronicle. It shows the downside to drug testing teachers, something the Texas Legislature is considering as a mandate. Let me point out here that the very expensive drug testing for high school athletes turned up less than five positive tests since its inception. But hey! We have plenty of money to spend demeaning teachers as well, right? Governor GoodHair thinks it is a good idea, which is one compelling reason to be wary. Here is the link: http://www.click2houston.com/news/18886268/detail.html
There, I did it. I closed all those windows. Maxine MAC, my computer, is breathing easier. About my browsing habits...around 7 PM each night, unless a huge deadline is looming, I own up to the fact that I should not do any SERIOUS work. My brain has down-shifted. That is when I fall back in my lounge chair with computer in lap and TV on as background entertainment. I finish reading the newspaper, watch TV if it catches my attention, and roam the net. Yes, I am a nerd. Or am I a geek? Hmmmm....anyway, I hope somebody enjoys some or all of the above sites.

Monday, March 9, 2009

London Trippers 2008--Lori and the Rest

This is a great shot of Lori in the foreground as we gather in the airport before departure.

Here we are at the British Library. The bench we are using is shaped like a big book chained to the floor. Lori is on the front row, second from left. As you can see Nancy Pearl Travelin' Librarian Doll is in the shot along with her Scottish boyfriend, Hamish. Trippers, I will try to post all my pics to Flickr tomorrow.

Remembering Lori

Back in June of last year, I wrote an entry called "Remembering Rebecca." It was about the loss of a very special student in our program, Rebecca Forward. As I said then, a student is not supposed to die before her teacher. It is the wrong order of things. Once again I must write a remembrance, and I am having similar difficulty with the death of a student who passed all too soon for those who knew her. Lori Rollins was an outstanding student, full of curiosity and enthusiasm. She did not just do her work, she overdid assignments. If a list of ten resources was required, she would turn in 15. If she needed to write three pages, she would write five. She was also a leader in our online discussion forums. Last summer Lori took my travel study class and was one of the group of students who went to London. She told me then that she was celebrating completion of cancer treatment, and was officially a survivor. I had not even realized that she was battling breast cancer. Characteristically she had not mentioned this when she was in another class of mine. Because most work is online, it was easy for her to keep up without missing face to face meetings. While other students might ask for extra consideration due to much less trying situations, Lori never missed a beat in class.

It was during the travel that I got to know Lori better. If I had to pick one word for her, it would be spunky. She was full of good spirits and vitality, and kept expressing her delight to be able to make our trip. I was happy when she signed up this fall to join our next trip, scheduled for this coming summer. When she emailed me in December to say she needed to drop out of the group because her cancer had recurred I was disappointed but not overly concerned. After all, Lori was a survivor! Sadly, her recovery was not to be. In February I visited her in the hospital after she had undergone surgery for a brain tumor. I expected to find her flat on her back with tubes, etc., and to say hello briefly and leave. She was sitting up in bed and eating lunch, looking quite hearty for someone who has just had major surgery. Her biggest goal was to finish her very last course and graduate. I felt sure this would happen, because she looked and sounded so good. By then I realized she was not likely to stage a full recovery, but I did think she had several more months, and that I would see her again at graduation. This was not to be. Lori died last week. To compound this very sad event, her brother, one year younger, died last week also, of unexplained causes. He collapsed and died at his home a day or two before Lori passed. Such loss for a family is hard to fathom. My heart goes out to this close-knit family, and especially her children and her parents.

Lori's diploma will be awarded posthumously in May. I had told her that when she walked across the stage to get that diploma I was going to stand up in the audience and cheer. I may just stand up anyway when her name is announced.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Conference Assimilation...Impossible Dream?

As I mentioned in my previous posting, I attended two wonderful meetings last week. The first one, an all day event, was about kids and how they use the Internet. The unique thing was that the WiredKids Summit was also conducted BY kids, with the audience composed of both kids and adults. Industry leaders were there as well as educators and proud parents. The kids had some great research to share. It was a memorable event and I desperately want to go over my notes and share some of what I experienced. I cannot say that I LEARNED all that much because if I do not go back over my notes, I am likely to forget just about everything except that it was a great event.

The next day and a half I attended the IMLS/Wolfsonian Webwise 2009 Conference for people in both the library and the museum worlds. We have much to learn from one another. I met some fantastic leaders and reconnected with others. Ironically, I visited with a number of Texans, some of whom I had not seen since LAST years Webwise. Again, I took extensive notes. Now I am back home. What I really want to do is spend time assimilating all the ideas and information to which I was exposed. BUT, due to being out of town almost a whole week, I am woefully behind in grading and never-ending administrative tasks, not to mention catching up with email and writing in this space. What to do? I really wish that conferences would build in some assimilation time. The ideal would be a "quiet time break" before the concluding session. People would be able to visit about mutual interests or just wind down and perhaps blog or write a bit about what they had learned. Then there could be a final session with some sharing from the audience as well as a fitting finale. Of course I realize that logistics work against "down time" at paid venues like convention centers or hotels. Planners must work to get everything in and maximize facility use to justify cost.

Another solution would be for participants to plan to stay over the last night and take time to reflect and synthesize. However, there are forces that are likely to deny this option. At my institution, if you ask for an extra night's lodging, you may very well have to pay for it yourself. At a conference this fall, I did stay an extra night after an conference whose last session ended at noon. My colleague and I used the time to drive closer to the airport, have supper, and talk about the conference. It was one of the best things about the event because it allowed us to bounce ideas off one another and also to remember important ideas and points. However, upon returning home, I had to go to great lengths to justify this "extra" time. Alas. I wonder how other people deal with the challenge of trying to assimilate new ideas and information after a conference ends?