Friday, 13 August 2010

Things discovered

After getting increasingly stressed all this week about getting behind with 23 Things, and muttering enviously every time I saw someone else's blog pass the finishing line, now that I've almost finished I feel a bit regretful. But, to sum up:

I've most enjoyed:
* Finding that these Things were a lot easier than I ever thought!
* Trying out new things
* Being able to talk to other people about them

I will definitely use:
* Google Docs - for shared editing of funding applications and publicity
* Wordpress - for project blogs
* Wikis - for discussion documents (eg. the UL "Working together" paper)

I'd like to try:
* recording people reading aloud very short extracts from books in the Tower and putting these into our blog, possibly a Hallowe'en ghost story?

I wish I'd had more time for:
* Reading other people's blogs - some people write posts with a lot of content in them, that deserve more attention than my speed reading on late duty.
* Posting comments on other people's blogs

I'm still not convinced by:
* Twitter (though I'm a convert to JournoTwit)

The future: the main question that's been bothering me all through 23 Things is "These 23 things are the things I need to know, and other people have identified them for me. How will I identify the things I need to know about in future?" But now I've realised that I can "just" try things out and talk about them to other people. In fact, carry on using the skills that Cam23 has taught me. 23 Things is not about informed people telling you what to do (though I'm very grateful when they do) but about empowering people to find out answers for themselves. And I really do feel that has happened: many many thanks to the Cam23 team, it's been one of the best educational experiences I've had.


We're already using it. This is the first time I've been able to look at a Cam23 action and think
Been there. Done that.

At the UL we have a divisional wiki for Collection Development and Description. The action plan for the year is posted on the wiki, and each head of department writes a running commentary on what has been achieved. It's a closed wiki: only named people can contribute as much of it is confidential (like the reasons why we haven't achieved everything on the action plan). It's very straightforward to use, and you can set up an RSS feed type of thing which lets you know when the wiki's been updated. It doesn't make me think of Hawaii any more than this picture ...

(George Eastman House Photography Collection)

All Greek to you?

Looking for something easy as it's Friday afternoon. Here's part of the Wordle image for my Cam23 blog, translated into Greek as a novelty.

Google Docs

Google Docs is something I'm keen to use at work. Cataloguing projects often have a fast staff turnover and yet we ned to document cataloguing policy. Putting this on the intranet means that you have to do HTML every time you need to add or change something.

So I planned to use Google Docs to store our project cataloguing documentation.
But I found when I began to copy our cataloguing notes into Google docs that the formatting went haywire. It's not quite such an instant solution as I hoped. However, I admit I'm pretty impatient, so I will persevere. Until now, whenever I've needed to collaborate on a library document with other staff members we've used the collaborative function on Microsoft Word. In order to use Google Docs I'll have to persuade other people to adopt it too, so it will be interesting to see if they're happy to change.


I found Zotero to be the most time-consuming Thing so far, and it's taken a fortnight before I can write about it! It was such a hassle! I was surprised I had to download Firefox just so I could look at some referencing software. Apparently the UL doesn't like Firefox? Or Zotero? Or Zotero has some feud with Internet Explorer? I usually use Explorer.

I don't need to manage references myself, for home or work, though as Libby says, I can use it to organise al the references featured in 23 Things. But when I found it so awkward to set up, I realised just what the students have to struggle with and why they probably go for a system like Endnote which the Computing Service actively supports.

All that said, Zotero is beautiful to look at and made me feel like a proper researcher and terribly professional. I can see that if you're writing a dissertation/thesis you need some substantial software to manage it, and once I'd got it set up Zotero didn't fail me. And to my surprise I've used it quite a bit. I often have to acquire a rather rapid knowledge of a topic in order to write a funding bid or do a presentation or exhibition, and while I've been working on the Tower Project I've looked for articles on hundreds of topics, from the books Kipling read as a child to the late Victorian view of the 19th century. Until now, as soon as the event was over, I dropped my notes into a folder and forgot the whole thing. But this time I kept all the references, including all the JSTOR articles, on Zotero, and there they are for future use. Brilliant!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Blog for Tower Project

Here it is, hot off WordPress - the Tower Project blog

Do keep an eye on the blog - it's a great way to explore our collections.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Telling it how it is ...

Last week I was determined to get a blog set up for the Tower Project. But, being new to all this stuff, the process was a bit baffling and by Sunday night I was thoroughly confused. Happily, on Monday I took my laptop over to the Cam23 drop in session, where Libby and Emma Jane smoothly resolved my bafflement over how to set up a Wordpress blog. Monday afternoon I wrote my first post. By Tuesday morning three other project staff were editing, and by Wednesday afternoon we had a project blog (due to go live this week). I must emphasize that other Tower Project staff have done most of the work on design and set up. But I did manage to organise it. Which I still find both amazing and exciting.

Setting up a blog was a totally new kind of work-related experience for me and to be honest, a bit unsettling. Let me explain. In the past, when we acquired a new cataloguing system/program, some authoritative person would turn up and issue instructions, and we would follow them (or not). But when we're trying to implement things with skills we've only just acquired I think we might find that it's a bit daunting. Especially when there's a quite different hierarchy of expertise and skills and it's usually the younger (and more junior) staff who are at the top.

I'd never used Wordpress before Monday lunchtime, and I could have waited until I was less of a beginner at it, but I was keen to get on. So, for example, the process of adding contributors to the blog became a process of trial and error. I certainly didn't know what I was doing. But here's the thing (as they used to say on the West Wing). It doesn't actually matter. You don't have to know it all. You can work it out as you go along and do some cursing and (when it goes right) excited squeaking.
We're learning, and it doesn't matter if things are a bit messy.

I hope this doesn't sound patronising. I'm writing it a bit tentatively. I'm sure some people will put into practice their Cam23 skills in a far more planned fashion. But for people who face a September that's already packed with work to do and might put off trying out new things, I would encourage you to have a go: it's so satisfying, you feel like you've really achieved something.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Discovery or dictation?

My number 2 bus takes an hour to creak its weary way into Cambridge every morning, so podcasts are a lifesaver for me. And they provide some surreal moments: the soothing tones of Donald Macleod's Composer of the week (BBC radio podcast) just about audible over the CRC kids' staccato conversation. But for work? I watched the library podcasts but I have to say I wasn't convinced of their value. Yes, they impart information. They were much better than anything I could produce myself. But the creators seemed to simply see them as a different way of imparting the same information as a leaflet. Not a single library video achieved any sense of the taste of discovery, they simply documented the process. So watching these videos was like reading a recipe without ever getting to eat dinner. Finding a book on the shelf and using a self-issue unit - is that really what libraries are about? When you think about your younger self enjoying libraries, don't tell me that the day you cracked the secret of self issue was one of the highlights. The highlights are the days you see a picture, grasp an idea, join a conversation. Where is the excitement, the sense of being let loose in a world of ideas, of being part of a process of discovery? This seems to be something that video could do better than a leaflet - think of the film Educating Rita, which makes you feel the experience of learning new things. Yesterday I wrote in a blog comment that people respond best to blogs showing genuine feeling rather than facts. The same must apply to video: there must be a sign that it was created by a person with a beating heart. Not convinced? Watch this West Wing video to the end! Only 4 minutes.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Global markets

I'm lucky enough to have a job where marketing matters: all the projects I've worked on have been externally funded. Not only do we have to market projects to potential funding bodies, but increasingly these funding bodies demand "supporting statements" from relevant academics, explaining the value of a proposed project. For example, the Tower project produces catalogue records for "non-academic" books published in the nineteenth century. The project is funded partly by the Mellon Foundation, but as part of the grant application process we have to ask academics to write letters of endorsement for the project. Since the Mellon Foundation only funds projects of international academic importance, it's more effective if the academics are not all from Cambridge.

So marketing matters - how well are we doing it? The 'Cambridge University' brand is a strong one and we rely on it heavily. The UL senior staff have many international contacts that we can call on. I have to admit that personally I could do a lot more, especially on the networking front. If you haven't built up contacts over the years, it's more difficult to approach academic staff and ask them to write an endorsement for a future project (though Cambridge staff seem pretty tolerant of this). As I work a few hours a week in the UL Rare Books reading room I must confess to "highjacking" readers who request several books from the tower and telling them about the project. Conferences held in Cambridge are also a useful way of meeting relevant experts, even if this sometimes feels a bit like stalking. On the web, we've had a web page for the Tower Project for a few years, it's a way to showcase some of the best images from books in the tower, but having worked even this far through Cam23 I can see we need something interactive. Which will be:

The Tower Project blog. Work has already started on this (not public yet, so don't rush off to search for it) and during next week we'll be trying out various looks for the blog, identifying stuff to write about, and setting up defences against spam comments (had no idea these existed till this week). The great thing about a blog is that people can comment and have some sort of online conversation about what the project is doing. The Tower Project featured in Mary Beard's blog back in 2006, and that post is a great example of how to connect funding bodies, academics and libraries, and attract comments.

And here's a preview of one of the things we'll be blogging about:

The cot / M. Waterson.
London : Dean & Son Ltd. ; New York ; Philadelphia ; Chicago : Wolf & Co., [1895?]
Gold-decorated paper and cloth structure forming a three-dimensional cradle, with a book of illustrated verses forming the child's bedding. The whole structure also folds flat.
Fetched to the Rare Books reading room. And that's not grass in the picture background, only our strange office carpet!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

From chained books to linked librarians

Following my previous post, which was about my entrenched opposition to using Facebook at work, I can blog about LinkedIn with a refreshing lack of prejudice.
Having looked around the LinkedIn site and read the article from State Library of Ohio, I found it attractive, chiefly due to a sense of purpose. LinkedIn knows what it's there for. It's there for business, with just enough personal chat to make it friendly.

I have no idea whether it's an effective means of business communication: few of my friends had heard of it. One friend was actually on it, she was advised to join after completing a Skills for Enterprise course. She hasn't actually gained any clients from it but finds it is a useful way of seeing what's going on in her world of small business start up and connecting with other professionals (= competitors) in her local area. I would certainly look at it when updating my CV, you can see the language people are currently using to describe their jobs and activities.

But even more useful would be LinkedInLibrarians, just for librarians/information sector workers or whatever. It may even exist, or there may be something out there that performs the same role. Anyone know of anything? I know there are Facebook groups, web pages, Twitter etc but I do prefer the professional style of LinkedIn.

Facebook and libraries

My attitude to Facebook has been the same for a while: I use Facebook for real life (it is possible to have one outside of work, honestly) and I don't intend to create a sanitised version of that life, not even to attract future employers. I wouldn't try to contact a work colleague or library reader via Facebook any more than I would turn up at their home. This attitude clearly isn't going to be useful for networking but I'm happy to use other means to get in touch with people.

However, many librarians see Facebook as another opportunity to pursue their elusive customers. "Facebook is used by lots of people, so let's use it to contact them." Well, so is Tesco, but I don't plan on camping out there with a library poster.
I'm not yet convinced of the need for a Tower Project Facebook presence. There may come a time when a cool professor laughs at my antiquated email request to meet her in the tea room, and I'll have to FB her instead but I'm not there yet. Other people are doing it very well, judging by the Facebook pages for eg. Jerwood Library at Trinity Hall, and the Classics Faculty Library.

Library Thing

I seriously considered demanding an official exemption from this Thing. A site where you can spend your (constantly shrinking) non-working hours cataloguing books? You might as well ask Tesco checkout staff to scan in the barcodes of their kitchen contents every night. So I admit this may have influenced my opinion of LibraryThing. But my initial impression was that it wasn't great.

It was slow: when I searched, the "loading" bar kept appearing as if groaning under the effort, then there were further strained pauses while it sorted the results.

It didn't have catalogue records for the books I own. It's probably workable if you only own books published after about 1980. I did like the idea of the book covers but I couldn't find any for books that I own. Some people include DVDs, which is confusing. There are subject groups that interest me but I don't see myself discussing ancient history with someone called bookmonk or hyppo. I tried looking for records for books in the UL tower, with some idea that we could use the dustjacket images in publicity for the Tower Project, but still no records.

However, I had the idea of looking for books I might want to read or own and I have to say it was a lot more rewarding. There were far more records for modern books, the majority of them with dustjacket images. It's a visually satisfying way of keeping a "wishlist" online. I put together a possible reading list of books by Jon Stallworthy, who dazzled me by quoting three times from Horace in as many minutes at Tuesday's Sassoon exhibition opening and generally looking like an Oxford don, probably played by John Gielgud.

Then I noticed the Currently reading option and thought that might be something I'd like to talk about. So I've put my current reading there and I'll see what happens. Will I be contacted by other Lindsey Davis fans?

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Vanessa is on holiday

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Reflections part 2

Flickr is definitely my favourite thing so far. I love the possibilities that arise from the interaction between word and text. And despite my doubting attitude to tagging, I have to say that I've been proved (a bit) wrong:

In my previous post I started to write some reflective material about Cam23 so far. I searched Flickr for keywords "reflection woman mirror", expecting to find pictures of a woman looking in a mirror. But then I fell in love with this photo of a woman and her reflection. And here's the thing: Library of Congress had allocated subject headings

Airplane industry
World War, 1939-1945
United States--Tennessee--Nashville

but all the things I'd searched under were listed not in the LC headings but in the tags on the right hand side. Someone had the imagination to see that it was a picture of a woman's reflection in a mirror and tag it accordingly.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Mirror, mirror ...

(Woman operating a hand drill, 1943. Photo courtesy Library of Congress)

In my first post I mentioned the blog Random acts of reality

Recent posts about training and learning on that blog have been outstanding. Reynolds writes forcefully about the need to move new technology skills from the "nice to know" category to the "need to know". He writes about the need to develop yourself: "the only development you can be sure of getting".
Having followed 23 things so far I know he's right.

Looking back, it's been hard work. Re-visiting my own blog posts, I can spot the things that I reviewed when I was tired and grumpy (Delicious in particular, written up late Friday night and early Saturday morning). But if you're not careful, this becomes a reason to do nothing, forever postponing activity until one's feeling fresher/ had more coffee etc.

I've learned a lot of new things as well as the web skills. Apparently, according to the VARK questionnaire, I'm a "follow the written instruction" type of person. But while doing 23 things, I've been amazed by how much I can learn by simply asking other people. This hasn't been part of my learning strategy in the past, but it will be in future. For example, reading about other people's learning experience in their blogs has been the thing that has kept me in this programme so far. I have loved reading about how people have approached learning a whole lot of new things. I never realised I was surrounded by so many creative and talented and downright determined people.

So, the future: I know now that there's a bigger pool of expertise than I ever realised, right on my doorstep in the UL. Future resolution is to use it. I hope this will feed into work and help me get a lot more done.

Friday, 2 July 2010


Delicious. Well, I can think of more delicious things. It's OK. It's likely to be useful as I can work on up to 3 different PCs depending on which dept I'm working in, so I can track my bookmarks across different machines. But I'm not sure it's worth yet another log in/password. According to Yahoo, all sensible usernames on the planet had been used by other people, so I've ended up with the sort of pretentious id (Italian opera aria) that usually really annoys me. And I can only just spell it. It's just about worth it because every time I type it I remember Juan Diego Florez singing it and the usually sedate opera house shouting like a football crowd.


Wow, I think this is called synergy! I did a little exploring on Slideshare and found this presentation which is an introduction to Twitter!
I found on Slideshare what's become a familiar web 2.0 situation: there's a lot of stuff there of varying quality and it's tedious wading through it for something authoritative. I'm not sure of the source of some of the material - surely some of the presentations are in fact corporate advertising? Which could make them less reliable. Investigating all this is time-consuming. I think it would be fine for a topic you already knew something about and didn't want to re-invent. Looking at the range of presentations on web 2.0 for example, I would choose one by a person or institution who already has an established reputation in the library world. But I don't think I would risk using Slideshare in the situation where I tend to need it most - the times when I have to acquire basic knowledge of a topic for a tight deadline.
Some of my resistance to Slideshare is a personal dislike of Powerpoint presentations, dreading another hour of my life wasted by someone explaining the bleedin' obvious. But like all these things, it's a useful way to see what's out there, especially the way corporate presentations differ from those in the library world.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Catalogue makeovers

After looking at cataloguing images on Flickr I have a whole new idea: library catalogue makeovers. Do you have a boring looking catalogue that nobody notices? Do people routinely assume that your catalogue is five years older than it is? It's time to update your look: add balloons to your catalogue terminal, plus perhaps a colourful label.

For over-fifties catalogues who want to stay age-appropriate, add a traditional lamp or pot plant. This can really help to soften hard lines

It's such a pity this Cam23 isn't just about trying to be witty. I could spend hours on it if so. But here is the work bit. Something I don't get asked very often is "What's retrospective conversion?" You may not be asked it either but your job title isn't "Head of Retrospective Conversion". Well, for those of you that haven't already switched off, retrospective conversion is the ultimate makeover process, turning ageing housebound catalogue cards into electronic catalogue records that are flexible and fully mobile and travel all around the world. We're about to finish converting the UL sheaf catalogue and start on the UL supplementary card catalogue. Which means publicising the end of the sheaf catalogue and raising funds to convert the card catalogue. And I think Flickr images can be a useful way to do that. After all, you all know what retrospective conversion is now.

Monday, 21 June 2010


Tempted by NPage's blogpost on JournoTwit Using Twitter without using Twitter I've given it a try. This is definitely a good thing.

This picture is just the feed from Twitter for theul. To see the full JournoTwit screen, see NPage's blog above.

Note neat columns for each Twitter feed.

Note easily clickable links to other feeds (Glee at top right, inevitably)

Note easily clickable icons at top to Tweet, search Twitter, minimise the column when you want to read another column, etc.

I'm going to give Twitter another chance. Will keep you posted.

Sunday, 20 June 2010


Oh, I like Flickr! This is a screenshot from a Flickr page created by Glasgow University Library Special Collections department. I'd definitely like to do this for the Tower Project, we've got some great images. But I can't see any special collections stuff from Cambridge libraries - has anyone else found them?

Saturday, 19 June 2010


Twitter: so far I don't get it. I find it pretty bewildering. Long ago in a sci-fi TV series called Babylon 5, a girl suddenly acquires the ability to hear everyone's thoughts (a mindburst). Everyone's. All at once. That's what Twitter feels like to me. What do you do with it? Partly it's the text-speak, partly the troubling fact that I don't know any of these people. But in an attempt to select an event to follow, I kept an eye on Twitter during the World cup match between England and Algeria, and the subsequent post-mortem discussion. It was great! I picked up some of the best jokes I've heard in ages:

"What's the difference between the England team and a tea bag?"

"The tea bag stays in the cup longer."

Excellent. Unfortunately I've had to censor all the others as I haven't worked out how to do the adult content warning thing. I think in future when there's something groundbreaking going on I will probably have a look at Twitter and see what people are saying and make a few comments of my own. But I can't get the point of it for work.

Friday, 18 June 2010


I'm in two minds about this tagging idea. Asking a librarian to add independently generated keywords rather than controlled vocabulary goes against ingrained work habits. I'm not joking.

The screenshot shows what happens when you search Aquabrowser for books by the author Angela Brazil. it finds the books (among other things) but the tags generated (in the little cloud on the left) are a motley collection and generally not much use.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Did we make it crash?

Sunday, 13 June 2010

I wouldn't say I was obsessive ...

This is my first attempt to add video to my blog, and it has to be Glee. If you ever feel that library life needs livening up, this may help!

Adding this was hard - where has Sunday gone to? I was sure I'd seen a handy 'add video' icon on this blogger toolbar, then I realised it is on the 'old settings' but not on the new, so I've changed back to the 'old settings to add video. I wasn't even sure of the difference between uploading and downloading, also didn't know what "embed" meant, didn't know anything about different video formats and the different programmes required to play them. I realised I know nothing about the copyright issues of downloading a clip of a TV programme. Surely there's a 'fair dealing' clause for something like a 30 second clip? I shall have to find out, or I may get dragged off to a US jail and miss series 2. Also I suspect that Fox TV, which makes Glee, is canny enough to put something on their videos to stop them being downloaded. After struggling with trying to add video clips of Glee from the E4 site, I thought I'd fall back on YouTube, and that is a lot easier: instructions are here

Sadly, for various possible reasons, I haven't yet managed to add the Glee take on Lady Gaga and I still have to eat. So here's the link

And apologies for the dodgy layout, I've been over-ambitious today!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

What's happening out there?

Lots of this web 2.0 stuff is new to me, but it's been around for a while, so I decided it was time to see what other people in university/teaching institutions are doing with it. So far the outstanding institution is just up the road - CRASSH. Which is:
The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, or
"a crossroads. A way in which people can move from one end of the university to the other, from one discipline to the other, from one set of interests or problems to the other...A continual and busy crossroads of exchange, circulation, ideas"

Oddly, I first noticed CRASSH's presence in the TLS (Times Literary Supplement, weekly journal on the arts esp. creative writing, amazingly good in patches but pretty reactionary). CRASSH was advertising a conference to be held in June, and I noticed there was a "collaborative blog" related to the conference and went to have a look at it. Unfortunately the conference topic is totally baffling "Reconsidering detachment: an emergent discussion of the productive potential of disconnection, distance and detachment ..." you may get the idea. But I was intrigued to read the blog: conference speakers had posted abstracts of their papers, researchers posted abstracts of related journal articles. Several people had used the comments to raise questions they would like to see addressed at the conference, and a discussion had already been started well before the conference began. Researchers from several different disciplines were involved, in fact anyone could register for the blog and comment. It seems to have great potential for opening up the exchange of ideas among different academic specialities.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Can I do that? Yes! (not always)

One of my favourite things about learning new things is that you find yourself asking a whole lot of new questions. After a few weeks of Cam23 I find myself not just looking at things online but wondering how they're done. How does it work? On the UL public homepage there's a slideshow of images, many of them from the Tower project - how does it work? Cardies and tweed has video in her blog - I want it too! And the great thing is that I can just ask people and find out.

Which leads to the next, revolutionary question: can I do that? And often the answer is yes!

It's a great feeling! And hopefully the answer will be Yes more often as I try things out.

Google calendar and Doodle

Now I have a Google calendar, and I've added it to my IGoogle page. I've tried several online calendars before, but have never maintained them for more than a few days. I still fall back on my little pocket sized diary made of paper - it's portable, easy to maintain and I like the business of choosing one every year and looking at the pictures/literary quotes whatever, for each week. Even for work, in the Tower Project we get by with a shared diary on dedicated file space, so we can all see who should be where and when. I'm on leave this week but when I get back I will ask my colleagues if they would like to sign up for Google calendars and share them. I think I might find this calendar more interesting if I customised it a bit, but at the moment I'm doing so much new stuff that customising the calendar will have to wait.

Doodle - we already use this at work (UL Collection Development and Description) for scheduling meetings. It's certainly more economical in time than dealing with a dozen replies by email. Thinking about it, I'm quite embarrassed to remember that in the past I've had email exchanges on the lines of "Can we meet to talk about x? When are you free?" "How about Monday?" "Oh, I can't do Monday, how about Tuesday morning?" ... and so on. Life is finite.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Finally! Not sure if it's my discovery of brandy and soda as drink of choice that's made this possible, but I've done it! I've added an image! In fact it's more due to reading other people's experiences of adding images, so thanks to all you pioneers! Now for lots more pictures!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

identity crisis

One of the interesting possible outcomes of 23 Things is that some of my quite fundamental feelings might change. For example: yesterday I was slightly alarmed that people weren't using their real names in their blogs. Today, reading through some of the Cam23 blogs I found a deeper sense of unease creeping through me. One blogger admits to setting up multiple Google accounts with multiple different pseudonyms. To be willing and able to maintain multiple identities - doesn't that sound like some sort of personality disorder? The sort of sinister brilliance of the talented Mr Ripley? Or the sort of headline "she led a double life as university librarian and vice girl" headlines. But who knows? In a few short weeks I may have got over this particular hang-up and changed my attitude.

Monday, 7 June 2010


Well, I looked at the next thing to do and it was to go and look at some other blogs from the Cam23 programme, and my heart sank. Do I really have to read 43 blogs on Today I got up and did a little cataloguing? But more by luck than judgement the first one I looked at was brilliant, I don't know who you are "Evans above" but you saved my sanity! I've been getting a bit stressed trying to keep up with ths programme and my photoeditor wouldn't download and then it turned out we were running short of space on the PC and I was going into full crisis mode, then I realised Evans whoever was going through almost the same thing. And getting annoyed like me. And using words like blasted. And then I sort of got the point of this blogging thing: it's not about being literary or competitive, it's about sharing. And I never thought I'd say that without my toes curling, but it's true.

Things 1 & 2 - Igoogle

Well, I already had an Igoogle page, but this was a good opportunity to try out some new things. Some are surprisingly poor: I got very excited about getting a Glee (tv show) theme for my Igoogle page, but it cuts right through Matthew Morrison's face.

How could they?! So I've gone for a tasteful Cambridge scene of Clare College bridge, it's quite soothing first thing in the morning.

I use the Igoogle as my homepage so I need it to provide any essential info to get through the day. Traffic, weather, news. BBC for news: it has a talent for clarity. Years ago I picked up the Nottingham Evening post and read the headline 'Bombs fall on city'. The city was not Nottingham.
It would be good to have something on audio - random song from Glee? - but that's not advisable in a shared office environment. I shall have a lookout for something.

Better late than ...

So far my experience of Web 2.0 stuff has been patchy: I have a good deal of curiosity but not much staying power, so I've got some driving enthusiasms (Igoogle, YouTube, Google reader) and other things that I dipped into but stopped because I couldn't see the point of them (Facebook, Twitter). Google reader and Igoogle appeal to the organiser side of me, but YouTube is something else, my favourite country to travel in. You can instantly jump back to revisit your childhood, (1960s TV), or explore different versions of a song (so far I prefer Glee versions to the originals). And some quite inspired things are on it - I found out how to hook up my hearing aid to my ipod with a little gadget, they've put a video on YouTube to show you how to fit the thing together.

I had a brief flirtation with Twitter around General election time this year, I'd created an account last year but retired baffled as to what people got out of it. What persuaded me to try again was talking to John Naughton briefly while doing a library Tower tour: he was so attached to it as part of the political process that I was almost converted. I think I'd need a definite focus to tweet about.

Blogging- I've never blogged yet but I'm quite keen on reading blogs: Mary Beard's A don's life which has nothing to do with the mafia but has a lot of classics news (and Cambridge Uni gossip). The comments are actually almost as entertaining as the blog: the same commenters (?) appear after almost every post, they have a real engagement with the topics, and I get the impression they either know each other 'in real life' or have been sharing a virtual life for some time.

Also Joyce DiDonato's YankeeDiva: if you're not into opera you might be unable to cope with the breathless excitement of this blog. DiDonato is the opera singer who managed not only to break her leg while performing an opera (not part of the plot) but managed to continue and play subsequent performances without apparent effect on her voice. Although DiDonato's blog has a weakness for pictures of cute animals, her enthusiasm for writing about the process of opera-making, (rather than the three hours performance in the theatre) is outstanding. And her penchant for pink frocks I can share. If she can find time to blog - and say something intelligent - then nobody can say they're too busy, or that blogs are too trivial to say anything sensible.

And finally Random acts of reality, a blog by a London ambulance driver that gets inside all those houses and lives belonging to other people - the people you wouldn't choose as friends because they're ill, confused, violent or whatever - and writes about what happens. I like it partly because it puts my own working life into perspective but I think it's effective because it continually points out that society constantly fails on a domestic, everyday level, that the process of illness or injury should go Problem - ambulance - problem solved. But it doesn't, and this blog gives plemty of examples.

So, my plan for 23 things is that I don't just read stuff online but I actually get out and interact with what's happening.