A certain unicorn’s response to the final survey piqued my interest on a few of the book 2.0 sites that I did not explore in depth (I spent my time on ReadingTrails, which was one that I quite liked).

Of all the 23 Things blogs I read, I liked Erin’s the most for both its concision and her ability to find positives in sites I dismissed and/or scorned. She’s done thoughtful work worth recommending.

Virtual Unicorn‘s blog is notable for its exhaustive coverage of the Things; the author quite clearly took the project seriously and left very few stones unturned.

Most entertaining, but least useful, of the 23 Things blogs was probably My Wiki Blog Cast Thing.

Dry Fork Fiddler was notable both for its shameless sexism as well as referencing Harold Bloom as anything other than a tiresome self-righteous windbag. And Dumbest Generation is by Mark Bauerlein (about which see Campus Progress‘ commentary).

My work here was perfunctory: occasionally interested but more often not. I did find some sites that I like (Blist, ReadingTrails) as well as finally joining others I knew about but weren’t part of (Delicious). In spite of my many reservations about both the time commitment and some of the content, I think the 23 Things experience was worth it.

I took it.

Here are some other things we hope you have learned:
It really doesn’t take that much time.

Ha. Ha. Ha. No, that is not something I learned.

What I learned was that 23 Things does take a lot of time, even to give the Things a cursory look, and that Thing 20 in particular takes a lot of time even when you don’t explore one site from each category.

I’ve learned about a few useful sites and quite a few more I’m not in a hurry to visit again.

I have no intention of continuing this blog. In my first post I said I’d had something like ten already; on counting them, I find that the number is actually (with this one) 14. I start projects, I lose interest in them, I abandon them. I lost interest in this one around Thing 6, as the actual time to do the Things turned out to be so much more than claimed, and the usefulness of them a bit less than I’d hoped.

Things, in order of usefulness to me (roughly)

Useful:
Thing 5: Flickr (esp. with searches on CC-licensed photos)
Thing 9: Sharing – slides, photos, databases (but Lazybase never works; Blist at least does work, though it only does matches on terms and apparently doesn’t do even inner joins).

Somewhat useful:
Thing 4: RSS and newsreaders
Thing 8: Communication – Web 2.0 Style
Thing 16: Youtube (fun to view videos, painful to read comments)
Thing 17: Podcasts
Thing 18: Facebook and MySpace (MySpace especially, since we don’t get enough spam at work)

May eventually be useful for library work:
Thing 6: Flickr mashups
Thing 7: Online Image Generators
Thing 20: Books 2.0 (most of the sites here don’t do anything particularly interesting, though Reading Trails has potential. And, again, this Thing is entirely too long.
Thing 21: Student 2.0 Tools

I doubt I will ever use these for work at the library:
Thing 3: Blog Search Tools
Thing 13: LibraryThing (nearly any of the sites in Thing 20 do book recommendation much better, as does amazon.com)
Thing 14: Online Productivity Tools (online backup maybe, the rest a solid NO)
Thing 15: Rollyo (doesn’t work)
Thing 19: Other Social Networks (I like BakeSpace, but cooking is not part of my job)

Maybe this all shows nothing more than a failure of imagination on my part–certainly other people can find use in Things that I don’t.

On the assignment calculator, I tried to set up a timeline for the separation of church and state. Since the establishment clause took effect in mid-December of 1791, along with the rest of the bill of rights, I decided I’d give the project a full year to be implemented. The calculator told me that I had 0 days to complete the project.

It was a bit depressing to imagine that a project over 200 years old still hadn’t been completed, but most of the members of my group had passed on to other things and there the project remained, unfinished and in need of attention. So I went back and gave the project a new end date of 2091.

The assignment calculator reported, again, that I had 0 days to complete the project. While I didn’t question the conclusion–ideally the project should not need any more time to complete–I did question the math that led to that conclusion.

I decided that the assignment calculator was either politically biased or afraid of big projects, so I chose a smaller assignment divorced of politics.

The second assignment was to cook all of the recipes in a cookbook that I received 12 years ago on my 21st birthday. So far I’d cooked about 30 of them and there were quite a few to go still.

I decided that I would complete this assignment by my birthday in 2014. “Cooking” wasn’t an option, so I chose “food science.” The assignment calculator told me that I had 6573 days left to complete the assignment. By my calculations, with a due date of 2014, I had about 1900 days.

Perhaps the assignment calculator was basking in the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind? 1996 did indeed happen, and long ago. I tried yet again, using today’s date as a starting point. Now the assignment calculator was giving a reasonable timeline, with things like “by Fri Sep 11, 2009: Write working thesis.”

Except that the points on the timeline all implied the writing of a traditional research paper rather than an arts project or even a scientific paper–scientific papers call for scientific experiments, and while it’s worthwhile to research previous experiments in the field, sometimes there simply aren’t any.

Did the choice of field on the first page matter? What would it suggest if I did not want to write a paper at all? And what timeline would I need if my project were, instead, to direct a film adaptation of In His Own Write or to sculpt a 3D representation of survivor’s guilt? It seems this calculator would have little advice for me there.

What, then, if I wrote a paper about the limitations of the assignment calculator? To make it most like my own college experiment, I’d make it due three days from now. Ah, and a busy three days they’ll be: a thesis to be made, books and articles to read, careful notes to take, first, second, and final drafts to write….

Luckily, the Research Project Calculator has options for more arts-focused projects, including the making of a film.

Unfortunately its suggestions on how to make a documentary included some things I would encourage film-makers not to do on a documentary (especially not an observational one), including writing a script beforehand, rehearsing scenes, and shooting retakes. I hold tight to the naive and non-post-modern view that observational documentaries should reflect how things are and not how the director would like them to be. (Other kinds of documentaries can of course be different–a historical documentary is quite likely to have a script beforehand; and a biographical documentary might very well offer people the chance to reshoot interviews.)

Many of the handouts in the teacher’s guide could be used to help children write essays for school. But in general I think that perhaps the first tool is only suited for writing papers, and that the second is not well suited for making documentaries, in spite of purporting to know something about it.

But for students still writing traditional research papers, I’m sure these two tools can be useful. I think that the timelines offered (when both offered and reasonable), as well as the division of the project into clear and distinct steps, could help make the project seem both more concrete and less intimidating.

I believe you’re really reading online, simply because I had the idea that reading is looking at a series of symbols somehow representing sounds, converting them into words in your head, and then converting those sounds into sentences conveying meaning.

Whether reading online is enough like reading a book to satisfy stodgy academics is another matter entirely. I know that there have been a number of studies showing that people doing things online tend to multitask, and that multitasking more often than not means doing several things poorly rather than one thing well. I believe those studies, based simply on anecdotal evidence (my friends and I have all noticed that our attention spans have shrunk as we’ve begun spending more time online). Of course anecdotes aren’t science, but the previous studies were.

One of the articles makes mention of the value of assessing information reliability. I agree that this is also an important skill, and I’m disappointed but not surprised that most mentions of it are in regards to information on the internet rather than all information everywhere. Of course any book may or may not reliable, or may be reliable only in part, since misprints, omissions, and unquestioned assumptions are all possible.

I remember reading of a court case a few years back where a woman prepared a meal according to the instructions in one of her cookbooks and then suffered complete and permanent failure of one of her organs (liver and kidneys seem equally likely, though I can’t remember which it was). What happened was that the author had left a crucial step out of the recipe which would have transformed a toxic raw ingredient into a safe one. I’m not sure how the case turned out–probably with a ginormous settlement–but the point is that even strictly procedural knowledge, in a book vetted and published by a multinational publisher, isn’t always reliable. So why shouldn’t people make the same warnings about print resources? Why this illusion of complete reliability simply because the information has been compiled, made tangible, and bound together?

At any rate–enough soapboxing.

Books On Your Phone
I’ve tried one of those lit-by-email services before; after a few weeks I canceled it for lack of interest. I like to do most of my reading away from the computer, where videogames, email, and chat programs are all not an option.

Readers’ Advisory
I thought that Reading Trails sounded interesting, so I went to the site and did a few searches. First I searched for the book GodHead, by Scott Zwiren, to see what was recommended.

God Head is a devastating and oddly touching autobiographical novel about a man suffering from bipolar disorder. The book serves more as a character study than as a plot-driven work of narrative fiction, and while I tend to be lukewarm towards works with little plot, the book is intense and memorable, and also features one of the most unusual and tender love scenes I’ve ever read. Though I’m in no hurry to read the book again (having last read it about 14 years ago) I still remember it fondly. But it book didn’t turn up in any searches on the site, so I couldn’t see what they might recommend.

I decided that God Head might be more obscure than I thought, so next I picked something I expected to be more popular. For this I chose Y: the Last Man. This led me through a short but interesting trail of post-apocalyptic fiction.

Intrigued, I tried Still Life with Woodpecker. It didn’t turn up. One Hundred Years of Solitude. The predictable list of magic realism, a book of “middle school angst,” and a book of classics. Blech. Artemis Fowl. No trails. Skim. No trails. Ender’s Game. A four-item list of tween reading. Nation. A list of Terry Pratchett books.

Verdict: Intriguing idea but it must be a young site. It needs much more content. I decided I’d set up an account at some point and see what I could add. But there are Things to do still, so that’ll have to be for a later post revisiting this one.

Online Book Communities
Overbooked: poked around a bit through their themed booklists (which took quite a lot of clicks to get to). I thought the list of apocalyptic fiction was fairly stodgy and unexciting, as was much of the list of “Cooked Books.” The list of books about gender identity consisted of two titles. Verdict: the site needs a lot of work, but I won’t be the one to do it.

Book Group Resources
LitLovers: I was an English major, have no interest in holding book clubs, and have read quite a lot from different authors about what it’s like to be an author. I may revisit this site to try one of the courses, but it’s not a big priority.

Audio Books
No thanks.

Book Reviews
I love Metacritic but decided to skip it for this Thing.

BookBrowse: Their Eyes Were Watching God, Love Medicine, Satanic Verses all didn’t turn up. Fail.

Thoughts
Book 2.0 tools could help or hamper one’s experience, as could any tools. But most of these sites strike me as decent ideas which needed a lot more work put into them before they went public. C’est la vie.

On Diane’s advice, I skipped Gather altogether, though I did read the article about it (“Can Gather.com Get Book Lovers Online?”).

The article set off my Spider-sense early on, and it continued to tingle throughout. I’m not sure why any industry needs to be “given a platform” by someone else; industries are quite capable of building their own platforms through advertising, which I’m certain should be considered part of the expense of doing business. That Gather sees itself as giving a platform to major publishing houses just convinces me that the impetus for the site wasn’t “hey–what if we made a networking site for the over-30 crowd?” so much as “hey–I bet if we made a networking site and it became popular, we could make a lot of money in ad revenue.”

Again–just my assessment, and one that I have not backed up with a throwaway email address and the time to make a personal experience of it. But the deluge of spam that Diane suffered makes me wonder.

Instead, I joined ning–I’ve heard good things about it and so I decided to give it a chance. On poking around a bit, I realized that for the most part I’ve had enough of socializing with strangers online; instead what I’m interested in is socializing with friends online and/or getting item recommendations and being useful somehow. So I left the ning page without doing anything more than creating the barest of profiles and instead moved on to the cooking and movies sites.

The top 100 list on Film Crave leads me to believe that the site must be a monocultural boyzone (the culture: U.S. geeks watching the most popular films). And The Goonies is not a bad film, but this site has it as one of the 100 best….

At Flixster I realized that the site was available as a Facebook application that I had used awhile and then removed. I can’t remember what the reason was, but I do remember that the quizzes tended to be silly and that I thought their list of top films was more a charcoal mine than a diamond mine.

At NibbleDish I searched on “vegan” and found that the left half of the search results page shows matching recipes with some very appetizing photos, and that the right half is devoted to “sponsored links.” I decided not to participate on this site.

At BakeSpace I did the same search. Users can apparently upload photos of the recipes on this site as well, though many don’t and the uploaded photos are posted in thumbnail on the recipe page. The smaller photos aren’t nearly as appealing but the general lack of ads is. I decided to participate on this site since I have a fair amount of recipes I could add and since it seemed that it might be useful to others if I did so.

So I uploaded a recipe to BakeSpace (which, in spite of the title, is not strictly about baking).

I might continue to contribute to BakeSpace, simply because I think it’s a neat idea, but the rest of the social networks covered in this Thing don’t really speak to me.

I uploaded a video. Unfortunately I failed to shrink the resolution so it took forever to upload, but that was something worth learning.

“The problem of the plastic ring,” a short film starring Slinky:

I signed up to Facebook in late 2007 and have used many of its features since then. Its “Notes” app is very basic, not nearly as useful as the blogging tools on WordPress or Blogger, but that’s fine since I go there mostly to get a quick overview of what my friends are doing online or to play a Scrabble clone with a friend.

I’m well aware of the Boogeyman in re: child predators online, and I think safety is almost always a good thing. I’m also well aware that most sexual predators are friends and family of the victims, abusing the trust they’ve built up over time. I’d be interested in knowing what percentage of victims are actually picked up through social networking services; I’d bet that the worry is mostly trembling over shadows. Which is not to say that predators aren’t online–far from it–but imposing restrictions on a technology is a subpar solution in comparison to the messier and less comfortable act of actually talking to your children and teaching them how to assess danger.

At any rate.

Myspace is a horrible site unless you’re hoping to get a deluge of spam delivered in your choice of a bevy of godawful designs, all using a table-based layout for data that isn’t tabular.

Facebook is a better site if you’re less interested in spam, and also if you want much more granular control over your privacy–you can set very specific restrictions on different activities on the site, based on groups that you create yourself.

I have more than 2-3 friends on Facebook already. I have a profile. I’ve written on walls. I’ve joined groups. I’ve grafittied walls. I’ve laid down bingoes in Wordscraper, formerly Scrabulous, formerly much more like Scrabble. I’ve accepted a few invites to useful applications. I’ve rejected countless invites to useless applications. I’ve built a virtual bookshelf and added hundreds of books to it. I’ve joined the Library 2.0 interest group and poked around, withholding judgment till it’s merited. For now I can say that it looks interesting and I hope it will prove to be.

I have for been listening to the Metafilter podcasts for about nine months, though I don’t subscribe to them because I don’t like how the stack up and begin to seem like a chore instead of a pleasure. I know about RSS, including for podcasts, but still won’t be subscribing to them for the same reason.

I haven’t tried Gcast yet because I haven’t yet found anything worth recording. I think podcasts are good for interviews and music, places where cadence and intonation are important, but not as good for strictly factual information which people may want to skip around in.

I’ll probably podcast some comic book reviews just to have experience with Gcast, though for now I’m calling myself done with this Thing so I can move on.

Youtube, huh? Well, it’s Web 2.0 but the 2.0 part of it (user feedback) is the worst of any I’ve seen on the web. The comments are almost uniformly stupid.

PLEASE DONT READ THIS. YOU WILL GET KISSED ON THE NEAREST POSSIBLE FRIDAY BY THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE. TOMORROW WILL BE THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE. HOWEVER IF YOU DONT POST THIS COMMENT TO AT LEAST 3 VIDEOS YOU WILL DIE WITHIN 2 DAYS. NOW UV STARTED READIN DIS DUNT STOP THIS IS SO SCARY. SEND THIS OVER TO 5 VIDEOS IN 143 MINUTES WHEN UR DONE PRESS F6 AND UR CRUSHES NAME WILL APPEAR ON THE SCREEN IN BIG LETTERS. THIS IS SO SCARY BECAUSE IT ACTUALLY WORKs

More of SATAN’S work. The only Superhero is Jesus Christ~!

Oh great! We now have a president who has tunk the country in just 30 days dances like a monkey (because he knows his ideas are failures) Please start the impeachment proceedings now before we go deeper in debt from this wasteful spending socialist. We cannot bare another second of this idiot in office.

Well, it has some neat videos at least.

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