Internet Libraries

Pages are now available on Google+

You’ll have noticed that all recent library conferences have had presentations on “Using Google+ in the Library” or similar, but they all were missing something. You could use Google+ as a librarian, but not as a library. As of yesterday, that’s changed.

I found some good step-by-step instructions here on how to make a page, or you can follow along on Google+ official help. I am still unclear on the advantages to a Local Page vs. a Company, Institution or Organization page. This seems to me very much like the old Facebook page vs. place argument. If they are exactly the same thing and you only have one location maybe you should make a Local Page rather than a non-profit or organization page. I made the decision to make an organization page, which hopefully wasn’t the wrong decision. (I actually did make a place page as well, just in case, but didn’t do anything with it yet). Facebook eventually made it possible to have both at the same time, so this might be coming soon.

There also is no info that I could find on how to add additional administrators, though I assume this is coming soon. I will add it to the library’s social media repertoire slowly, since not all our librarians are on Google+ anyway yet. We don’t get many reference questions over social media yet, but we do get a few and have a librarian assigned to monitor social media each day. I could see scenarios in the future where we had hangout office hours for distance or commuter students or really anyone who wanted to do a hangout, since that’s so easy in this platform. But that will have to wait until we get more people on board, and figure out if any of those constituents are even using Google+.

Update: Just a few pointers–this works the same way as Facebook, in which you have to have a personal account to create a page. But like Facebook, your personal page is completely separate. You either use Google+ as yourself, or the organization page. You also cannot follow anyone until they follow you, unlike Google+ for individuals.

Education Internet

AcBoWriMo: Academic Book Writing Month

I was just thinking yesterday about how something like NaNoWriMo was cool, but really not the writing I needed to be doing. (I routinely write the first chapter of a novel just to get it out of me. Chapter 2 usually proves to be more of a problem). Lo and behold, ProfHacker posted about Charlotte Frost’s idea to do AcBoWriMo, where you write an academic book in a month–with, of course, the caveat that academic writing is far different than novel writing. “[B]ut aren’t you just a little bit curious to know how much of a kick-start a dedicated writing month could give your book?” she asks.

So in the spirit of fun and GTD, I am going to give it a shot. Plus I just joined a faculty writing group at Dominican, so I am in the mindset of improving the volume and quality of my writing. I am thinking  500 words a day is totally doable, but to get to the full 50,000 words in a 30 day month requires 1,666 words a day.  Considering that it’s already November 2, this may be challenging. Plus I don’t have any projects that require quite that length in the pipeline. I do have several shorter projects due in November, plus a number of longer projects partially completed. So rather than planning to “do things over winter break” (hahahahahhaha), it’s not a bad idea to just suffer through November and enjoy more of December for fun, as several people have pointed out.

In November I have 750 words worth of writing due to two different publications, a white paper that needs to happen soon, and two articles I would like to at least draft (both are outlined already). That’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 words. Not to mention I could always blog more! So let’s say 20,000 words to be generous. That’s 666 words a day. I have written 600 words for a book review draft (it’s pretty rough yet), and this blog post will end up being about 400 words. So that’s 1,000 words. I feel like that’s cheating, but then again, it’s not nothing!

Anyone else participating in any of these “write such and such many words of…” memes? Do other people accomplish things in different ways? Or are writing groups the only way to do it?

Writing Progress Chart


Distraction Free Me

View what this post looked like in composition

This is my first time trying out a “distraction free” text editor. (WriteMonkey, in fact). Proponents of these tout the joy of older versions of word processors where your words took up the whole screen. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to use a word processor like that. What a pain. But a text editor is different. Sure, I’ll use Notepad to type up some quick notes about setup or tweak one teeny CSS thing. For more extensive coding I prefer Notepad++ or Dreamweaver (once upon a time I learned all the Dreamweaver HTML shortcuts, so I like to save time with that knowledge when it’s necessary). Doing a lot of extensive writing in a text editor designed for coding is awful. People who are all like “I wrote this whole book in XML” are not natural. Watching people work on command line Linux for a whole day make me want to cry.

At the other extreme, however, opening up a blank Microsoft Word document often takes more will to fill with creative writing or deep thought than I actually possess. I remember listening to a podcast one time where someone talked about working on a business plan, and said that he had started because he had saved a Word document. You hear similar things sometimes about Google Docs. In any event, for most things a full-fledged word processed document and its associated XML is unnecessary. If in the old days it would be a typewritten memo tacked up on the staff room bulletin board, it doesn’t truly need to be word processed and attached to a wiki in the new days. In the old days everyone had secretaries. Do they anymore?

Ultimately though, sometimes we just want to look at text in a pretty font and color, because this is more creatively appealing. I don’t personally feel that distraction free is ever possible as long as you are working on a comuter in an office. Distraction free is possible if you are working on a deserted island. Yet this does seem like something I could get used to for writing long form pieces. Or at least drafting them. As you might notice, the blog post version looks rather different than the initial composition. I am trying to train myself to write more than one draft of blog posts. More than two might do it even better.

A few points. Yes, this is mindless BS that keeps you from working on what you actually have to work on. But for me at least, this seemed to fill an important need. I write every single day on paper with a pen, usually about a page. This helps me crystallize ideas and perceptions, but almost never do these writings turn immediately into content. Second, producing a raw text file doesn’t help much when you have to add images and links and special formatting. Markdown helps with this, it’s pretty easy to learn, though I have as yet only learned two or three things. But after writing the initial draft, I exported the HTML and pasted it into WordPress for WYSIWYG laziness goodness. Note that once you get it into WordPress, you can toggle full screen editing mode for WordPress and then run the browser in full screen. Certainly you could compose the whole thing that way as well, but you wouldn’t get crazy colors of text or typewriter sounds or any of that eye candy.