On vacation

July 30, 2007

I am taking my Blog vacation this week and next week.

some thoughts on games

July 23, 2007

Sara pointed out that leisure games and simulations can be used to support educational practices such as immersive learning and simulations could be used for specific training needs such as military, medical and health professions or business. In my point of view, these games and simulations could be separated into two different categories: pure leisure game and educational game. Personally I only have very limited experience with pure leisure game called “driving school game” and don’t think it really simulates the real world. On the other side, the educational game is very useful for learners to understand the basic concept and idea in certain fields. For example, when I studied my undergraduate degree, I used to have difficulties to understand how to operate binary, octal or hexadecimal numbers. I still remember I tried one educational game which gave explicit explanation and showed every single step in order to manipulate numbers. Diana also discussed these two different games and she called them educational game and traditional casual game. Diana introduced several attributes associated with games, social, research, problem solving, transfer and experiential. I’d like to only discuss some issues related to the social property of the game.

Presently, one of the most popular games is MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing games). This type of game provides a collaborative game play and offers several different channels to players so that they could communicate each other. These channels include online chatting and text messaging. It potentially could cause safety issues. There are millions of children who are online playing MMORPG frequently and strangers could possibly approach these kids and threat their safety. In addition, MMORPGs often present realistic simulations of violence, so it is possible that these games could have effect on the moral development of some children.

Case study

July 18, 2007

Before I talk about this week’s case study, I would like to say that apparently Western applies some polices to restrict Myspace access. I was at school on Monday and tried to visit Libraries on Myspace – myspace group. After using this site for about 15 mins, ITS kinked me out and told me that I was doing some suspicious activities and my account was suspended for two hours. I am not sure if anyone had this experience before, but obviously it happened on me.

Back to this week’s case study, I visited some sites (there are too many in MySpace & Teens – Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki). I think most of them are similar and noticed one common issue. It seems that friends on most sites are not library patrons for that particular library. In other words, the library setup Myspace or Facebook and wanted to target those teens or patrons in its community. However, most friends are writers, other libraries, or publishers. I looked many users’ profiles, and very few of them are teens. So I have to ask if these libraries did any study after they setup the site to research their friends. In business sector, managers always mention return on investment, so maybe this concept could also be used in social networking tools.

Can we lead the trend?

July 16, 2007

Stephen Abram said in his article “How can myspace inform library portal development”, that his daughter called all her friends to discard Myspace and migrate to Facebook, after he spent whole weekend building his Myspace profile. So I am wondering if libraries really want to use social network tools to approach their patrons, which tools they should pick, or they are going to set up account on every single social network site.

So far, we have studied many different social software tools, and I don’t think that any library could possibly implement all these tools or integrate into their website. Because of the limitation of manpower and financial power, libraries have to evaluate each tool and choose the most suitable one. Stephen asked eight questions about Web2.0 and social networking services, and shared some recent initiatives. I was thinking that after carefully studying those questions and initiatives, librarians should come up some ideas to create new models or provide new services, which are most suitable to library setting, instead of using existed platforms. As the information professional, we should lead the trend in the information age, not follow the trend.

Before using social software tools, libraries should study them

July 16, 2007

Just like I mentioned last week in my posts, Meredith shares the same points with me. She pointed out that simply blocking a website is not the way we suppose to go and libraries should play a critical role in helping parents monitor what their kids are doing online. I gave schools some recommendations last week, which could also be used by libraries. One thing in Meredith’s article really caught my eyes is that she mentioned that libraries should be useful to patrons where they are. A lot of people would like to use the newest technology and think it’s very cool. I still remember millions of companies built their websites back to 1997 or 1998, because that’s the coolest thing to do. Same things are happening all the time. Building library profile in Myspace or Facebook is not cool. If you don’t put yourself in patrons’ shoes, your expectations will fail for sure.

Although I totally agree what Meredith said, I am still skeptical about her solutions. I am not sure if anyone has done a research on why teens use facebook or myspace, but I am pretty sure their purposes would not be to look for a library. They all know how to find their own library website, even they could not explicitly remember the URL address, but they can google it. Therefore I think even if libraries present a well organized profile, these teens won’t bother to read or use it. It’s going to be interesting to see how many clicks a library profile has everyday and how many clicks are from teens instead of other libraries or the owner. Therefore, I would say that we, as librarians, should spend some time studying these new social networking tools, before we start using them. As Helene said that “the trend of using Myspace shouldn’t be ignored by libraries, but rather studied. After all these current Myspace users are our future”.

it’s not a wise move to simply block access to social networking sites

July 12, 2007

Several articles in this week’s reading raised a critical issue – how to prevent children from predators in social network, which is heavily concerned by parents and the government. Wade Roush pointed out in the article “The Moral Panic over Social-Networking Sites” that the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) to block minors from accessing commercial social-networking sites and chat rooms. Honestly, I don’t think this a good idea. Because social networking sites are so attractive for teens, they could not stop using it. If you really want to do something, you will always find a way to go around it. I still remember when I was in China, Chinese government restricted accesses to some foreign news sites, such as Voice of American. I was able to use proxy server to bypass the filter and get access to it.

It is obvious that schools should play a critical role to advice teens, who are students at school, on using social networking sites. I got some recommendations that they might adopt. (1) Tell students “don’t disclose their personal information online, including address, photo, and phone number”. (2) Schools should effectively monitor using social networking sites at school and provide appropriate assistant. (3) Schools should educate parents on using social networking sites and inform them potential consequences, so that they could cooperate with teachers to help teens use these sites appropriately.

In conclusion, I don’t think it is a good idea to simply restrict teens’ access to social networking sites. Parents and schools should work together to guide teens to take advantage of these sites and form their virtual social circles.

week 10 reading

July 9, 2007

In Matthew Williams’s article “Myspace and Facebook: What higher-ed can learn from social computing”, I noticed a problem, how to judge that students spend more time on facebook or myspace than on classwork, which widely spreads through all campuses. The author mentioned that instructors blamed the social network software which attracts students from the class and wastes time. Finally, he pointed out that the question for instructors should not be how to stop students from spending so much time on those sites; in contrast, it should be how to invite students into the inner workings of classes. There are some initiatives in the academic setting. For example, Bowling Green State University tried to integrate Myspace into their job hunting service. They encourage students to use this tool to exhibit academic inforation to emploers, family and friends around the country. And same product was introduced at the University of Brighton, the university developed one social networking software called Elgg, which is used to create a online discussion community and provide collaborative and conversational exchanges for students, tutors, and professors outside class.


Also these positive initiatives are encourage, but I still have a little concern about some potential issues. In Danah Boyd’s article “Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why youth heart myspace“, the author mentioned that youth want some private or public space where they could engage with their teen peers. However, I think this digital public could potentially further isolate different groups of students. There is another article written by Danah Boyd, called “Viewing American Class divisions through facebook and myspace.” In that article, the author pointed out that different “classes” have been formed on these social networking sites. The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other “good” kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college. MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, “burnouts,” “alternative kids,” “art fags,” punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn’t play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn’t go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. It seems that people are separated by different social classes not only physically but also virtually. I am not sure if this judgment is discrimination, but obviously, the possibility is there.


June 25, 2007

This week’s reading is mainly about folksonomies and classifications. In Kroski’s article “The Hive Mind: Folksonomies and User-Based Tagging”, the author pointed out the advantages and drawbacks of folksonomies. I listed all these factors as the following:

Advantage Drawback
Folksonomies are inclusive Folksonomies have no synonym control
Folksonomies are current Folksonomies have a lack of precision
Folksonomies offer discovery Folksonomies lack hierarchy
Folksonomies are non-binary Folksonomies have a “basic level” problem
Folksonomies are democratic and self-moderating Folksonomies have a lack of recall
Folksonomies follow “desire lines” Folksonomies are susceptible to “gaming”
Folksonomies offer insight into user behavior
Folksonomies engender community
Folksonomies offer a low cost alternative
Folksonomies offer usability
Folksonomies is futile

Kroski gave further discussion about all these pros and cons in the article and the factor I am most interested in is “hierarchy”. This factor is also discussed in all other readings in different formats, such as subject heading or hierarchical structure. Quintatelli mentioned that folksnomies are a flat space of keywords and it is hard to think of real people crafting complex structures of tags to describe their objects (posts, photos, etc) or objects from other sites. In my point of view, most people using tagging are not experts in the library field who could setup the hierarchical structure properly and choose the correct subject heading. They just randomly pick up the word they think best describing the content. Therefore, it brought up the next issue, how to form a good hierarchical structure or choose suitable subject headings. Our librarians, as information professionals, and millions users who never had or had little trainings in information sciences, could possibly work together and make “folksnomies” better. Carol Ou discussed some ideas in the article “White-Paperish Thing (about distributed classification)” and “folksonomy? ethnoclassfication? libraries? wha?”. Ou said “providing authorized subject headings does represent a bibliographic ideal, however, and one that is intended to aid user search. To this end, catalogers have been guided by principles outlining a certain preferred specificity in the use of subject headings.” and “we figured patrons would want to participate because their participation in classifying these electronic journals would allow us to dynamically generate lists of journals that might be relevant to their own work.” Liz Lawley said “Describing things well is hard, and often context-specific.” So it is possible to tie librarians and patrons together and construct a better hierarchical structure and choose suitable subject headings. In Sam H. Kome’s paper, the author pointed out that today’s subject enthusiasts’ classification efforts indicate that users in a collaborative computing environment can create valuable metadata. If librarians use their expertise, and join in these subject enthusiasts, it is possible that current folksnomies could become a valuable electronic thesaurus in the future.

Bookmark cases

June 20, 2007

Because most cases in this week are based on del.icio.us, I’d like to discuss them together. Del.icio.us provides a uniform platform for all these libraries, so users could easily identify different functions on the webpage and use those functions. That’s the beauty of using consistent interface. However, a big problem I identified on all library based on Del.icio.us platform is that they have way too many tags. Also too many synonymies and ambiguous terms are used in their tags. For example, MCC library used “book” and “books” as its tags. I don’t really know what the difference is and only 1 article belongs to “book” and five articles belong to “books”. Lansing Public Library has a tag called “800”. What does this mean? Obviously, all these problems will cause confusion and readers might finally give up.

PennTags provides the most used tags on top of the page which helps users locate some popular articles. The best function provided on this site is that they actually tell you whether the requested page is available or not. In contrast, Del.icio.us does not have this function. For instance, if you use seldovia.library’s bookmarks and click “KPB Parcel Search”, you will get an error “the page cannot be found”. So I think it is very useful to tell the availability of the bookmark.

social bookmarking (week 7 readings)

June 20, 2007

In this weeks’s reading, the topic is mainly about tagging and social bookmarking. In Hammond et al.’s article, they introduced the basic concept in social bookmarking and gave a brief introduction on history. Also they discussed why use tag and some issues related to tagging. Finally, authors proposed that the social bookmarking could be used at the academic setting because the current technology not only stores user-supplied tags, but also provides citation metadata terms which could possibly be used on electronic publishing. There is the second article on this topic “social bookmarking tools (II)”, but I’ve not got a chance to read it. I believe it’s going to talk more on the application of social bookmarking.

Rainie’s article’s about tags. He discussed how taggings work, who taggers are and why use tagging. He also identified the trend of using tagging and thought that tagging sites were getting more popular. In his interview with Weinberger, he pointed out some problems associated with tagging. These problems are also discussed in Hammond et al.’s article, such as lack of standard and ambiguous tags.

Mathes discussed an interesting term “Folksonomy” which is the combination of “folk” and “taxonomy”. He pointed out that an important aspect of a folksonomy is that is comprised of terms in a flat namespace: that is, there is no hierarchy, and no direct specified parent-child or sibling relationships between these terms. So these folksonomies are the set of terms that a group of users used. Therefore, these terms might be meaningful to their owners or a small group of people in a limited field, but other people won’t really understand what it’s about. As a result, there are some problems related to folksonomy, such as ambiguity or synonym. At the end, the author talked about the potential research on tagging, including quantitative and qualitative tag analysis. These researches could help us use the strength of tagging and apply it in different fields.

Udell mentioned in his article that tagging is very powerful and it helps people organize their blogs and articles. However, the example he used also demonstrated the serious problem. Piquepaille said that he won’t be able to collect a full archieve of his posts even using keyword searching, but after using tags, he could open del.icio.us and get the posting. The problem is if you write the article, but you still could not find it, then who’s able find it? Same as tags, you are the only person know what the tag is, who else could possibly know? So hopefully, the future of tagging could follow the way Udell described, “self-interested use leads to collective abundance.”

Hollenback introduced a new expended del.icio.us, nutr.itio.us. The most useful feature of nutr.itio.us is that it knows the most common del.icio.us tags associated with whatever page you are attempting to bookmark. He mentioned that when you tag a paper, nutr.itio.us helps you by allowing you to pick from the tags you have previously used. I think this is a great feature because it potentially reduces the ambiguity and provides a relatively fixed vocabulary. In addition, he discussed some others new applications, such as extisp.icio.us and cocoal.icio.us, and they are all very useful tools.