Sunday, August 12, 2012

Spreading my wings: a double-barrel experiment

For the next few months most (if not all) of my blogging will be at my latest experiment.

A self-hosted, Wordpress, blog in my own name: 

How I feel about it (in pictures):

and a little fragile?:
Enter the Dragonfly

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Preparing for conference

#ALIA2012 is my first librarianship conference.

How different will it be to gather with a collection of librarians instead of a bevy of breastfeeding counsellors?

ABA conferences inspire

I found conferences with the Australian Breastfeeding Association warm, friendly and encouraging. Could that be because members are nurtured in welcoming skills (by example, inclusion and training) from their first contact?  Perhaps it was also because we all shared a purpose, and identity - having reached at least a specific stage of training in order to be there. 
Of course my own attitude played a huge part too: I was eager and determined to learn all I could to make my own volunteer work more successful. I expected to enjoy an ABA conference because everyone who had been to one spoke positively and excitedly about them.  Even that would have been shared though, because going at all was an additional voluntary opportunity.

Discovering ALIA conferences

So why do I feel a little differently about going to ALIA2012?
  • The association is different: ALIA is more heterogenous, sure we share an interest in library and/or information services but that is a very broad field. My evening work hours prevent me attending ALIAVic events so there are few inter-personal relationships involved in my membership. There is no patterned (personal) welcoming behaviour in ALIA.  I wonder whether warmer 'welcoming' is something ALIA groups could arrange for members to learn from ABA?
  • My position is different.  With 18 months of study and unschooling to go, and with a casual and subordinate work-role the distance feels much greater between what I might learn in session and any opportunity to apply it.
  • I expect that the content will be drier (no pun intended). Frequently after (other LIS) conferences bloggers bemoan a general lack of vibrancy in presentations.

Orienting myself

Nevertheless, having thought back to my ABA experience, I see ways to uplift my attitude and I realise I have been applying some already:
Discover mentoring at ALIA Biennial

Re-reading advice saved earlier (with Delicious/Diigo)

Do you just love it when you can use sites you found earlier?  Although I had remembered most of the advice, it was still reassuring to refresh and double-check my readiness against:

Sorting out the technology

  • With my Xoom (so I can Skype home, and continue testing its relative handiness):
  • My Toshiba laptop (for writing up in the evenings (and in case the Xoom dies))
    •  its charger and a headset in case I need to dictate instead of type.
    • with Evernote, Dropbox, Firefox and plugins (Diigo, Zotero, kwout, echofon) updated.
  • Mobile phone (although it seems to be dying, will I have time to look for a smartphone?) and of course its charger
  • Paper, pens and printouts of schedules - because electronics can die or disappear.
 I wonder what I forgot?
    Image Credit: Laura Geared Up by Edward Liu, CC at Flickr

    Who would like to meet up at #ALIA2012?

    Tell me if I can look for you? 

    Positive I am not the only introvert in libraries, would anyone else enjoy trying to put an internet handle to a face at the ALIA2012 conference? 

    I will be there on Tuesday for one of the tours, at first-timer's breakfast, staying at the Hilton, at each social event.  I am bringing Evernote Hello on my Xoom and hope to encounter other social librarians, information specialists, Xoomers (or other droids), gamers, introverts, students, parents ...

    Wednesday, May 09, 2012

    Information architecture methods have a nifty little table organising, and linking to their articles on a variety of methods used in the process of developing usable websites. Thank you kwout:

    Monday, February 06, 2012

    Will I like my Xoom?

    I do hope so... it cost enough - and will cost more over my two year data plan! It was time to bite the bullet: the only way I could properly explore the mobile/handheld experience would be to try it. Too many options and none of them, by reviews, perfect for all that I wanted one to do.

    I want *one* mobile device - not 3 or 4.

    New functions desired

    • let me read and annotate digital papers and books in bed
    • capture voice notes
    • easily sync the above and much of the following with my PC for those functions (extended typing) for which a PC is more comfortable.
    • capture and interpret QR codes
    • do all the wonderful things librarians anticipate people will do with mobile devices (which are?)

    To replace my phone it would, ideally:

    • ? let me send text to someone else's mobile device
    • ? let me make a call -- I'm told this may be possible through Google Talk or Skype?
    • :-( let me receive text messages (even if to gmail) -- apparently it can't
    • :-( let me receive phone call -- apparently it can't
    • ? provide easy to set, loud remindering

    To replace my camera it would, ideally:

    • take good photographs
    • upload easily to the places I use photos: Flickr, Blogger

    So now I have a Xoom, although I'm still miffed it doesn't have mobile phone service after all, only mobile data. After worrying about the security-risks of tying it in to my email address; and an excess of legalistic Terms of Service (what are tricks are being pulled in all that legalese?)... I wonder what to try first?

    Okay, *after* taking photos with front and back cameras, getting frustrated at how long it took me to discover how to remove a widget from the desktop, wondering what image to place as background, adjusting the time settings, trying the built-in alarm sounds, unsuccessfully looking for my cotton gloves and using my cotton poncho instead to prevent finger prints...

    What do I do next?

    Update: Have downloaded Dropbox and Evernote apps.

    Friday, February 03, 2012

    Sharra sells her first book, am I her first interviewer?

    Sharra Veltheer, who describes herself as "just your average girl from Australia who likes to write" has been refining her writing skills since she was 10 and now at 19 has sold her first e-book: Sketchbook Girl.

    Upon hearing the news in one of my rare visits to Facebook, I began peppering Sharra with questions:

    So Sharra, you mentioned on Facebook that you'd sold a copy of one of your e-books, that is very exciting... am I your first interviewer, now that you're a published and selling author?

    It is really exciting, and yes, since self publishing and actually selling you are my first interview ^_^

    You have two books available (Lucy and Sketchbook Girl) at the moment, which is your favourite - and how do you see the difference between them?

    It is hard to pick favourites between things I have written; different moods and different outside sources affect which it is at different times.

    Sketchbook Girl was written at a difficult time if my life: In the middle of high school and bullied. Sketchbook Girl somewhat reflected my own life at the time, though to more extremes and Elliot received her happy ending a lot sooner than I. Lucy has a darker theme to it and was inspired by a band called Skillet who's song "Lucy" stirred deep emotions when I first hear it. I'm not ashamed to admit I cried when I heard it, and I cried while writing Lucy several times. Killing a character feels a lot like losing a friend, even if they're imaginary.

    As for my favourite, it would have to be Sketchbook Girl, not because it has sold, but because it was my first serious writing project that I took the time and effort to complete and re-write before making available for purchase.

    I've enjoyed the tasters for Sketchbook Girl on your Wordpress blog - what proportion of the story is told on your website?

    Well it would depend on where you're looking, I have made the first 12 pages available to read on my Smashwords profile, but only the first 3 parts on my blog so far.

    On that note, it was later declared by a reader that the preview was irresistable, he *had* to learn how the story would turn out:

    Sharra, I have writer friends who are focussed on the traditional routes to publishing - What motivated you to publish your books through Smashwords?

    My ultimate goal is to have my work published in book format, but it also occurred to me that it may not be possible for my first endeavors to be realised through traditional means since publishers are swamped by work. There just isn't enough money in the book publishing industry to get everyone's work out there anymore. Smashwords was introduced to me by a friend on Kametsu Forums, she was researching for her own benefits and shared with us the ability to self publish ebooks online.

    As yes, I recall you've been with the Kametsu forums for a long time and have become a moderator there... what do you find most enjoyable or valuable about participating in the forums?

    I enjoy the sense of community within the forum, the feedback on writing work as well as the rich diversity of people. Through Kametsu I have made friends all over the world, including Serbia, India and Spain. The admin Koby, has been very supportive of creative work, and participates in many of the competitions around the forum as well. I have many members on the forums as friends on Facebook as well, just in case something happens to the forum. Not long ago we were down for
    two weeks because we kept crashing the server we were using through overloading and Koby kept us updated through facebook to inform us what was going on and everyone was very understanding about the technicians not getting back to him about what was going on.

    You mention feedback on writing: do you get constructive critique there?

    Since the people gather for one specific common reason, which is games and anime, a lot of the forum tends to be focused on that however a lot of members have a passion for writing and out Literature section has exploded with wonderful and interesting stories, since everyone has different tastes in stories, it is sometimes difficult to get constructive critique, and for many of the users English is their
    second language so their understanding is sometimes a little skewed when using long descriptions and words grabbed from the thesaurus, but the feedback on stories there is always well received.
    You also have Lucy available through Amazon - why both distribution points?

    Since they are only distributors and I still retain the rights over my work, I found it best to give people options as to where they purchase my works, as well as giving me the ability to reach a wider market since some people don't go to Amazon they have to option to buy through Smashwords, while other will only purchase ebooks through Amazon.

    I'm curious about how the selling/paying/receiving funds works, and what kind of information you get about your customers...

    Smashwords I believe is paid through paypal, and I am not informed who buys my work, only that the purchase has been made. Amazon sends the Author a check every month if they're profits reach over $10 for that month, I have not sod anything through Amazon yet so I don't know what I am told about the customer there.

    In my surfing, I've read the occasional criticism about self-published e-books - that they tend not to be adequately proofread - what are your thoughts on that kind of criticism? ... have you *bought* self-published works?

    I have sampled a few of the self published works on Smashwords, and some of them do tend to have spelling errors and other various typos. Criticizing the lack of professional editing however I find is unfair to an author, no authors work is going to be perfect first time round, this is why we have editors. Someone who cannot hire a professional rely on close friends and relatives to proofread their work, which while not always reliable, is often the only means they can afford.

    DISCLOSURE: Sharra, the author interviewed, is my son's girlfriend.

    Image credits:
    Top: Of Sharra and a cat, used with permission of subject and photographer, Sharra's mum Vic Barton.
    Middle: My snip of Facebook comment, used with permission of Anthony Hearn, commenter.
    Bottom: Of Sharra and Josh, used with permission of subjects and photographer (Josh).

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Donating plasma

    Donating plasma

    My preferred type of gift-giving (considering I don't participate in the typical activities) at this time of year would be blood donation - except that I can only donate blood once every twelve weeks; so today for the first time I gave plasma instead. I can do this every fortnight. I guess I am 3/5 perceived typicality for a plasma donor (Bove, Bednall, Masser, & Buzza, 2011 [behind pay/study-wall]). I have the time available to give... others might find the time if it were recognised as a valid volunteer/participation activity (Is it recognised by Centrelink?).

    I like and believe it is important that, in Australia, blood/plasma/platelets are *donated* (ie not *sold* by the human-producer).

    I understand that if production of medicinal products from plasma is not in government hands (would that ever have been an option?) that a commercial enterprise would need to have a profit-motive - and yet I am curious as to the *level* of profit that stands to be made by such commercial enterprise [in Australia I understand this is CSL Biotherapies] from my donation. Can anyone suggest a way to discover that?

    Another concern I've discovered stems from a threat to Australia's self-sufficiency in blood-product supplies from the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the United States of America. I read of this in a 2004 submission from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to the Australian Government - Where stands that threat now?

    What would I think/feel if I found that Australia was importing plasma products from companies who buy plasma from humans (who do not then qualify as "donors")? It seems wrong, although I can't pinpoint why... is it just wrong for Australia to buy what we're not allowed, individually, to sell? I don't want that law to change, but so long as it stands, I think that restriction should be respected in the other direction - that others (government, doctors, companies) in Australia should not be allowed to buy products obtained through payment (or reimbursement) to the original individual human supplier.

    (Behind pay-wall):
    Bove, L. L., Bednall, T., Masser, B., & Buzza, M. (2011). Understanding the plasmapheresis donor in a voluntary, nonremunerated environment. Transfusion, 51(11), 2411-2424. doi:10.1111/j.1537-2995.2011.03168.x

    Questions about Second Life experience engineering

    Futura artistic outfit for Second Life Birthday 8!+
    ? What makes a great Second Life experience?
    ? Which answers to that could be applied by SL Libraries to enhance their/our projects?
    ? For that matter, how might LIS courses apply it to improve their classes about LISinSL?

    -- no answers here --
    please help me find answers

    Small details made a recent Hunt an entertaining experience for me. Significant little event management strategies and differences I found between merchants' strategies made me wonder whether some might improve SL library services. Of course, many librarians* work innovatively in Second Life and some may already be demonstrating answers to these questions--if so I look forward to hearing (or googling up) about them.

    In case serendipity does not favour me with answers I plan to continue:

    Direct Observations

    Does that sound like a great excuse to participate in more hunts; and visit featured Destinations?

    I will keep using Flickr for noting positive and negative details of my experiences, although I suspect my detachment might make me too fussy?  However observing, noting and analysing observations takes time, particularly as I battle distractions (new clothes; editing; wanting to build; chatting).

    Others have been around longer, participated more deeply, and will have actually tried and tested ideas, so:

    Web searches

    The answers are bound to be out there, however this method has its own distractions:

    to which I was led by Pooky Amsterdam's defense** of Second Life against ignorant (inadequately investigative) journalism, to which I was led by:

    Nevertheless, such distractions demonstrate that there is a great diversity of types of experience in Second Life. Will what counts as great, differ if the information comes from:
    • shopping experiences - Torley and his sources refer to some of the details I have witnessed: navigation, interesting and relevant decor, and even packaging (although disappointingly all the links there are deadends [found Suella's tips that he acknowledges; oh and the forum thread) [interestingly there has also been some academic research on positive influencers of SL shopping experiences - particularly spokes-avatar presence]
    • role play or game experiences?
    • exploration - (I've enjoyed sims' beauty travelling alone, but I've noticed guided tours available at times I wasn't - would anyone say they'd had a great SL guided tour experience--what made it so?)
    • interpersonal experiences?
    • artistic experiences - does the work of artists producing delightful art sims, photography, machinima and webcomics from and within Second Life suggest ideas? Could a visit to SL libraries become a more photogenic experience?

    For thoroughness (but without sacrificing the excuse of value in my personal observations) I will look for more published views on Hunts***; however I will rely even more on others' views about what makes great in RP/gaming and social events - and how those might be applied to SL libraries.

    Mundanely, I've frequently observed that maintenance is a massive issue for any set-up that expects their sim to support self-service.  In what ways are great experiences set up to minimise failures of maintenance?  Does the lack of Creation and modification dates in objects (and lack of distinction between creation and spawn in landmarks) bother anyone else?

    The personal touch seems to be revealed as significant (Jin & Bolebruch, 2009), but people can't be there all the time - and I've found some avatars' profiles enhance my experience while others grate - do you agree? I haven't analysed the source of the difference yet - are there details for using profiles to help make a great experience? [Wow, Treacle Darlandes shared a great story which included the contribution of a profile to a great experience]

    Is all this pondering - at least for the perspective of libraries in SL - a waste of time? Sometimes, like this moment, I lose sight (did I ever have one, I thought I did the other day) of what point a library really serves in Second Life (except as point of connection for librarians) -- tell me?

    * * *
    *librarian = person who runs a library (YMMV)
    **while the arguments on investigative negligence, and contribution of the importance of customer service to my own question, may be valid, the motivation for defense is naturally biased by Pooky's investment in Second Life as a medium for her services.
    ***For example, but not linked above for unreliability (the author (unnamed) claims three years SL business (unnamed) success (unevidenced)) though the information on optimising business with hunts sounds sane.

    +Photo Credit:
    Nevery Lorakeet *LpD*'s Futura artistic outfit for Second Life Birthday 8! CC2.0:BY-NC-ND

    Reference (I'll be interested to see how this appears, as dragged from Zotero):
    Jin, S.-A. A., & Bolebruch, J. (2009). Avatar-based advertising in Second Life: The role of presence and attractiveness of virtual spokespersons. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 10(1). Retrieved from

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    SLExperience management: The Renaissance Hunt

    --rambling, amateur & preliminary observations--
    --actually, while I began with wanting to connect my experiences through TRH1 to ideas for libraries in SL... I realise I don't have enough knowledge at all, so if you've been tempted to visit expecting to learn something useful I apologise, though you might skip the following blather if you're willing to answer some questions--

    Today visited the penultimate merchant in The Renaissance Hunt. As some were not ready when I began, I cannot claim to be "finished", but I have at least sorted through *all* of the gifts collected so far (and good heavens that is an undertaking for over 135 gifts!).

    Early on we were asked through the in-world group to vote via notecard on a FAVE FIVE of locations (no mention of this in the blog that I can see) when we finish.  Yay: an additional validation for my new (since The Sinister Steampunk Hunt) practice of keeping a Hunt Journal. I figured a Hunt Journal would help me recall what I liked (or not) in case I'm ever asked for recommendations; it could support recall to help others on the hunt; it would help me keep track of where I'm at as a Hunt can be very long; but most importantly I'm under the impression that jotting notes helps me think straight - and wherever I go and whatever I do in Second Life I wonder "what if SL-libraries did things this way"?

    Do any Hunts offer prizes for the first to finish? I can't imagine so, because a race would compete with the value for merchants of having hunters take time to browse the stores. Even so, I did want to FINISH the Hunt (I didn't finish SSH) (greed:pretties:free) and so I felt a self-imposed time pressure because time spent on hunt was time away from my projects; and guilt-time at the downloads it consumes.

    On the other hand: this Hunt experience provoked thoughts about quality experience management that could give points of comparison to my analyses of SL Libraries, and yet I'm not sure I captured those thoughts adequately. Notecard journalling saves switching in and out of Evernote - however it lacks images because my frugality will not let me upload my snips* as images to inventory. So, I'm going back to the start to see whether, with greed out of the way, I can concentrate on a reasonable analysis.

    With snips I tend to focus on things that could be better - but as I can't snip past instants, nor my passing psychological dispositions, nor the things I did not realise I was seeing, identifying the things that made the experience so positive will be harder. Particularly when returning just distracts me with beauty I didn't see first time around (the landscaping, Mike, is ... is ... "perfick" (thank you Pop Larkin)), and the postponed acorn-greed.

    Actually I guess the acorn-hunt will be an aspect to consider, but I believe I will try not to take photos of the merchants at the Faire because, although Perryn's careful selection of them (as webspelunker Ghostraven mentioned) is an important contributor to the Hunt experience (and care in setting selection criteria is an important librarian consideration), it will just be too diverting.

    OMG it is dawn already, the rest will have to wait

    This is one of those posts I will probably edit over time.

    *snip refers to my use of Windows Snipping Tool rather than the SL snapshot because even though I can send a snapshot direct from Second Life to Flickr, with Snipping Tool I can be more selective in what I capture, and because I am not an artist I don't need dramatic Meghogging resolution.

    However, for the sake of comparison, the first picture above was Snipped, and this one Snapped:
    Fall Field at Renaissance Faire


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