Wiki case study

June 13, 2007

The Bull Run Library: At the very beginning, I didn’t think it’s a wiki because its appearance looks like a regular webpage. After I read the URL, I realized that it’s a wiki on a public wiki platform. But, honestly, I still don’t think this is a real wiki because it doesn’t allow people to input, or at least I have no idea how to participate. In addition, there is an archive section on the right hand side which makes it more like a blog. So I think the creator should reconsider the wiki site and make some changes in order to attract some external contributions.

Butler WikiRef: This wiki looks very amateurish in terms of layout and text, but it does provide some wiki functions to invite people to participate. Anyone could add or delete contents as they wish. All entries are organized alphabetically on this wiki, so users could easily locate a specific entry. One thing should be improved is to provide search function. I could not find a search box on this site (I am not sure if I missed it), so I would not be able to find information if the term is not in the directory.

Ohio University libraries Biz Wiki:  This wiki uses mediawiki software which is also used by Wikipedia. Using the popular software might help promoting itself because most people will feel comfortable when using a familiar tool. However, users need an account to participate on this wiki, so it restricts the freedom of adding or deleting contents.

Princeton Public Library: This library set up the book lovers wiki last year for summer reading club for adults. It seems they had a huge success because they had almost 200 reviews. They encouraged readers to participate, so most reviews were from readers instead of staff. The drawback of this wiki is because this wiki is only associated with summer reading club, it becomes useless in the rest of the year. I noticed that the revision on this wiki ended on Sep 20, 2006, so they have to promote it again this summer. Princeton Public Library should consider how to improve this wiki and add some new topics, so users could come to visit regularly.

SJCPLSubjectGuides: This wiki shares same strength and weakness as Ohio Biz Wiki. I really like the interface and functions, but sadly I have no rights to modify contents.

USC: I don’t not think this is a wiki, although it’s powered by PmWiki. I checked PmWiki’s website and it states that PmWiki pages look and act like normal web pages, except they have an “Edit” link that makes it easy to modify existing pages and add new pages into the website. Because USC restricts the access to “Edit” function, regular users would have no rights to edit. Obviously they use this software to create a regular website instead of a wiki. In addition, the blog on this site is not created by using PmWiki, they just provided a link to WordPress.

Wyoming Authors Wiki: I like this wiki because it clearly states its purpose on the homepage “The Wyoming Authors Wiki is a clearinghouse for information on book authors who’ve lived in Wyoming or who write about Wyoming”. The functions provided on this wiki are powerful. Users could search the wiki or browse by author, county or genre. Very detailed help information is provided on this wiki. Well done.


Wiki, a useful tool at the library

June 11, 2007

In my previous post, I mentioned that Wikipedia is not as bad as some profs said. Angela’s article backed up my points. She suggested that wiki could be used at the library setting as a tool to help manage knowledge. She pointed out that using a wiki was simple and straightforward. Users do not need extensive knowledge on web design or server configuration. Almost anyone who has Internet access could use wiki, even you are an elementary school student. She used Wagner’s idea “Wikis are a conversational technology, so they are effective when used for ad hoc problems with decentralized knowledge source.” and recommended that wikis could perfectly fit into a library as knowledge management tool. One potential use she proposed is to use wiki in library reference service. I totally agree with her. People who do not trust Wikipedia are mostly because they think the source of information is not trustable. So if we build up our own wiki at a library and librarians are in charge of selecting, organizing and verifying information, people might think it’s authorized. For example, she suggested that all of the librarians who teach library instruction classes could contribute to a library instruction wiki specifically tailored for their community of used. In my point of view, if librarians maximize wikis’ function at the library, our patrons would appreciate the usefulness of wikis and enjoy using it.

Wikipedia, not bad as some profs said

June 11, 2007

I’ve heard about Wikipedia long time ago and have used it many times. Although, Wikipedia is not recommended for academic purpose, I still use it as my starting point on my paper or project when I have no clue where to start. As Stacy pointed out in the article that Wikipedia has more than 1 million entries and Encyclopedia Britannica only has 120 thousand entries. Honestly, I never did any research on Wikipedia before I read Stacy’s article, and I was shocked that Wikipedia was so well organized and did such a fine job. I really like the words Wales said “To me, the key thing is getting it right. I don’t care if they’re a high-school kid or a Harvard professor.” I think this goal is very realistic. Everyone has his/her own strength and people could provide authorized information on a specific subject even they dropped out from high school. So I think that we should not simply oppose using Wikipedia, especially at schools and libraries. In contrast, we, as future information professionals, should consider some other better solutions, and take advantage of this useful tool. For instance, we could contribute the information on Wikipedia and make sure that readers could find correct and authorized information. Also we could teach users how to analyze the information, verify sources and filter out wrong messages. So if we could slightly adjust our angle of view, Wikipedia is not as bad as some profs said in the class.

Customized RSS feed – a wonderful tool

June 8, 2007

A proper layout and organization of webpage will be very helpful to visitors and it’s also true to RSS feed. RSS feed provides alert of new message, postings, or materials at the library and is very useful for researchers, students, and general user. I went to visit the Seattle Public Library’s website and examine its RSS options. Unfortunately the layout is not good and lack of visual impact. Because most people surfing online hardly read the text, most of them try to peek at the headline and several images in order to locate the proper information. There is not commonly used orange-color RSS icon on the page, so that visitors might not notice that RSS feed service is provided.

The RSS feeds service provided at EBSCO seems pretty good. It provides a customized RSS feed which is based on your search function and alerts researchers every month. I think this function is very useful for researchers who want to keep trace articles on similar topics or certain subjects. And ProQuest offers the similar service. It allows customers to integrate the latest articles in a particular field into the corresponding e-resources page. The RSS service provided at Engineering Village 2 does the same thing, and updates the information weekly.

As a user, I think the customized RSS feed is much better than the general feed because I could control the content received and the information is more relevant.


June 4, 2007

I tried Feed2JS but it did not work as I expected. I am not sure if my expectation is correct, but I thought that’s the way it should go. I copied and pasted my RSS feed to Feed2JS and got the generated code. Because my blog does not allow me to embed Javascript, I had to try my UWO personal website. I inserted the code into my HTML file and the page did show my blog posts. However, after I updated my blog, nothing happened on my UWO personal site even I refreshed it many times. My expectation was when my blog’s updated, the information on another page should also be updated. In that case, libraries could use it to display current information and keep all posts up to date. Please let me know if I did anything wrong.

week 5 readings

June 4, 2007

After reading four articles assigned for this week, I suddenly had a strange thought. At the very beginning, I totally agreed with all authors’ judgment that users could use RSS aggregator to subscribe RSS feeds and read all new information and updated contents in one single place. However, after I read this same concept four times, I started to think if there is any drawback. Obviously, nothing is perfect. Any technology has its flip side. Based on my personal experience, I realized that RSS also had some flaws.

Firstly, I never used web-based RSS aggregators, so had no comment on that. But I am using a desktop RSS aggregator, which collects all updated information and highlight the blog name as sooner as it’s updated. Sometimes, I was overwhelmed. Because I subscribed many bolg sites, everyday, I have hundreds new posts. They are too many to read in 30 minutes. I am not addicted to blogs, so I won’t spend hours reading them.

Secondly, even I spend time reading those new posts, but finally I could not tell the source where a specific story or article is from. So it really hurts the credential of the information. Because I subscribed different blogs, personal, newspaper, and library, some sources are more authoritative than others.

Thirdly, the RSS aggregator only updates the new content. If the old post has been deleted by the blogger, users could still read the old one on his/her computer. It makes me believe that RSS is not a real synchronous mechanism, because it only checks the new entry.

As a result, I think when libraries implement this technology, they should be aware these issues and try to avoid them. For example, the library could give a very clear title to its article in order to explicitly indicate the source, or update a reasonable number of new posts without overwhelming readers.

Case study

May 30, 2007

KANSAS City Public Library: It seems a lot of RSS feeds are listed on KCPL website, but I had difficulties to understand some titles. For example, there is one section called “test”. Honestly, I have no idea what this supports to be so I clicked the link “test”. Then I was brought to the Block Business Center and more links appeared. Unfortunately, I tried 4 links, “Tax time”, “Forms 101”, “Find Information” and “Ask us” and none of them worked (They are all broken links). I do not know what happened over there, but obviously as a visitor, I was not happy with this experience.

Hennepin County Library: Same thing happened at here. This library has many feeds, but very few of them are working. There are so many RSS-FEED icons on the page, but some of them are links and some of them are not, which is very confusing. In addition, in the subject guides section, no RSS FEED icon works. If you click that icon, I am sure you will get the message “sorry, the page’s not there.” If I am a newbie, I won’t be able to locate the proper feed.

NHMCCD: I really like this RSS feeds. This site gives very clear explanations and all feeds are listed alphabetically. After you click the feed, it displays very detailed current RSS feed content, which tells me if this is what I want. Unfortunately, I don’t have student card or library card, so I could not go any further.

Tacoma Public Library: This site’s RSS feeds are very well organized. Visitors should not have any problem to find what they want. The site provides two options, so you, as a user, do not have to subscribe the feed. You can just read it online. In addition, they provides very detailed help information to teach people how to use the RSS feed and how to subscribe them. Very well done.

University of Oklahoma Libraries: The RSS feed list is great on this site. They broke down the LC classification number to each subject and users could subscribe each section as they wish. Also I love the search function. But I have one small comment. If they could let people to tick all sections they want, and subscribe them together, it’s going to be wonderful. Right now, if you want to subscribe 15 subjects, you have to do it 15 times, which is waste of your time. Great RSS feed lists.

Western Kentucky University Libraries: I compared this site with the previous 5 sites, and found this one did not have too many feeds. I thought that they might be able to manage this small number of feeds very well, but I was wrong. There are two major problems. The first one is that the naming is not appropriate. As a university library website, they use old stuff and new stuff on its website as RSS feeds, which are not suit for its academic setting. The second one is that they mix all sites together. On its homepage, they have blogs, external links, and internal links. Not all of them could be subscribed. Within the scope of blogs, they have two different blogs on this site which have different appearances. One is hosted on campus, and another is from Blogspot. I think these problems really defeat its credential.

Which RSS reader do you use? Web-based or desktop

May 30, 2007

It seems that web-based RSS readers rule the Internet today, so I am wondering why nobody likes the offline RSS reader. In my point of view, I think the offline RSS reader is very good for travelers and commuters, because they could not get Internet connection all the time. I did some research and found very few articles about this topic. I think most people have experience with MS outlook which could download your Email from your mailbox and you can read it anytime you want. Is it great? I am not sure whether people do not like to use desktop based RSS reader or they don’t know about it. So I’d like to find out what the market share is for web-based and deskeop, as well as the ranking of different RSS readers. I only found RSS reader market share for web-based, but it’s a very old version. I really appreciate if anyone could help me find out the information. Thanks a lot.

RSS reader market share

News aggregators

Rojo vs. Netvibes

May 30, 2007

After exploring these two RSS aggregators, I noticed that they both collect numerous feeds and sort them into one single place. Therefore, some people could have one-stop shopping if they do not know where they could find the proper feeder.

Rojo lists all feeders into different categories and might help users efficiently find and read RSS feeds from different publishers. Honestly, I do not like Rojo. It does not have a good appearance and I feel overwhelmed after so many feeds show on the screen.

In contrast, Netvibes is much better. The design is very attractive and users could personalize the page. I really like its customization function. The site could identify where you come from based on your IP address and provide related information. For example, I am in Niagara Falls now, so it provided me the weather information in Niagara Falls and CBC news. In addition, all links and tools at the left hand side of screen are very helpful.


RSS, saver or killer?

May 30, 2007

Robin’s article raised a very interesting point “Is E-mail dead?” In my point of view, although a lot of people love RSS and do have big problems with Email due to ads and spam, it is impossible to replace one by another. These two tools are different and each has its own specialties. Just like Robin mentioned in the article, E-mail is a two-way communication medium and RSS is only one way. In addition, the history of E-mail is much longer than RSS, so who could guarantee that RSS will not have ads and spam in the future. I bet that the inventor of Email had never thought about using E-mail as a tool to spread ads and spam. With the development of RSS marketing, I could see the future of RSS would be same as Email, full of ads and some people might have already noticed that more and more articles about RSS marketing started to appear online and in the magazine. As a result, I think the integration of RSS and Email is a very good idea, so we could take advantage of both tools.

Here is another interesting article and the author believes “Social Media Will Save Email Marketing