November 2007


Well, Techapilla did it! He signed up and downloaded Second Life and got himself an avatar. OK, it didn’t last long. Ten minutes max. Took 10 times as long to download the thing and install and then download an update and install that.

And no, Techapilla didn’t like Second Life at all. Especially when he found himself out there in the Second Life public with no clothes on! Luckily, clothes suddenly appeared on the toned Techapilla bod after 5 minutes or so, just when he was about to run for his life out of shameful modesty.

Hmmmm. Don’t really have much to say about Second Life beyond that, and that it was clunky to play on my home computer. Images took ages to appear, and movement was jerky. So that’s a problem with my computer, not with Second Life itself. But I don’t think Techapilla will be back anytime soon. I admit Techapilla has a bit of a mental block about Second Life and just can’t understand what the attraction is.

Techapilla can’t help thinking that Second Life is a novelty that’ll wear off sometime in the not too distant future.

We will see. We will see …

UPDATE: Techapilla cancelled his Second Life membership in a hurry! Despite having a “free” account, Techapilla received a “billing failure” email. While there wasn’t any risk of Techapilla being cheated, as he hadn’t provided his credit details; and Techapilla is savvy enough anyway to detect phishing scams – and this wasn’t one of them – it is definitely unsettling to receive bills for something you think is free.

Nearing the end of 23 Things – up to the 21st thing already. And this one was quite an interesting one, although not in the way my treasured fans (yes, that’s you, dear reader) may expect.

Despite the title of this post, the 21st thing is principally about podcasting. But since podcasting is meaningless to someone with my particular suite of talents and traits – think about it! – I chose to concentrate on vodcasting instead.

Now, because of these special talents and traits of mine, I have a very specific requirement of any vodcasts. They must either be subtitled or have closed captions (drat, surely that doesn’t mean that Techapilla’s cover has been blown?).

Despite searching high and low for vodcasts which fit one of these requirements, the results were very sparse. None of the dedicated vodcast websites searched included any vodcasts meeting these requirements. There were a couple of mentions in Google of closed captioned vodcasts for academic purposes, and pursuing that trail further may have actually yielded a suitably captioned vodcast or two. But entertainment was the aim, so I didn’t bother.

I did discover that PBS’s NOVA ScienceNow includes captioned videos; and there is an RSS feed for the vodcasts also. Unfortunately, the videos linked to by the feed don’t include the caption options. And the captioned videos on the website – to cut a long story short – aren’t working for me.

Will give NOVA another try at work, in hopes of getting those captioned videos working. So there may be an update to this post early next week.

In the meantime, my preliminary conclusion about vodcasting is that it is too new a technology to have yet started providing much support in the way of captioned and subtitled vodcasts. So not much use to me at this point. Maybe that’ll come later; but if it does, one thing is a foregone conclusion – only a miniscle proportion of vodcasts will ever be captioned.

UPDATE: OK, the captions work at work. It appears that the captions only work under QuickTime, not Windows Media. But as far as NOVA ScienceNow goes, captioned vodcasting is a dud, as the vodcasts don’t include the captions and the feeds just include a direct link to the m4v files, not to the streaming video with the captioning options. So useless as far as captioning goes.

A new week, a new adventure, and a new test to see if I can embed a video into my blog. Here goes –

And another (this must be fun!) –

Some cunning person with great PR skills thought up the name “Library 2.0” to bring librarians’ attention to all the new tools associated with the Web. Librarians have long followed the basic principles behind Library 2.0 – sharing, collaboration and community involvement. Union catalogues, recommended author lists, interlibrary loan, book circles, children’s hour and cooperative archives are just a few of the ways in which libraries have long supported those principles.

Of course, the thing about Library 2.0 is that the focus is now on Webbish ways of sharing, collaborating and involving the community. Which doesn’t mean that the old is no longer relevant, but there are more tools and more ways to involve more people in more cooperative efforts.

Some Library 2.0 tools do indeed enhance the basic library functions of storing, retrieving and disseminating information. Immediately jumping to mind are tagging, rating and reviewing tools. A little more thought yields outreach tools like blogs and wikis. But there are a few so-called Library 2.0 tools that really make me cringe – MySpace, Second Life, gaming and even FaceBook, despite the fact that I was reasonably positive about it the other day. Libraries don’t have to be all things to all people. We don’t have to be in every part of our clients’ lives. We don’t have to play games to prove we’re professionals, nor do we have to dumb ourselves down to the lowest common denominator, as some of those tools imply, and as even some of the librarians I highly respect imply.

We need to choose our Library 2.0 tools carefully and not just jump on the latest bandwagon. We could well end up with mud on our face if we don’t carefully consider the benefits and possible costs of specific tools.