Week 13: REFLECT -- End of the Information Programs Journey

Image: http://thankfulnessproject.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/The-Journey-Ends.jpg

I enjoyed doing the activities offered in this subject. When it came down to it, the blog posts were fun. Motivation for me was an issue this semester and as a result, I was behind for much of the time. Still, I enjoyed the forays into the Facebook group discussions, the occasional tweet when I replied to a fellow classmate, and of course reading the blog posts.

One post that garnered much attention was my Kevin Rudd mashup image, and I believe it symbolizes the topics I’m best at: the idea of the information professional with social networking connections, my limited yet well thought out art abilities, and my knowledge of politics. In a subject like this, largely reliant on improvisation and getting a feel for programs and tools used in the industry, it allows for experimentation.
My blog posts I’m proud of. I think that in the rambling I spluttered the occasional epiphany, and provided plenty of links to great content. Which post did I like best? My favourite is definitely when I’m writing about video games, and I believe the post combining video games with the educative qualities that libraries could utilise was the most fun. I loved exploring games of my childhood that introduced me to the famous historical legends that school and kids books could only dream of conceiving.
The most informative post of mine was the final piece I wrote on open data. I based my arguments on the Pirate Party’s copyright reform that they kept available on their website, despite the political party not being elected to parliament in the last election. I thought that open data was a necessity in our present times, and especially so as a way for libraries to keep further relevance in the information age. Collections and availability of sources would be much better served if copyright restrictions were not as archaic as they are now.

Personal Learning Networks was the overall topic for this subject. While I’d established mine from semester one of this course, and my networks on Facebook and Twitter have been running for a while now, I found new peers and the friendships and learnings they gave I have been grateful for.

My biggest fear of this subject wasn’t the deadlines, nor was it any of the actual writing; instead, the fear for me was the week when I had to record a screencast. I’m always anxious of my voice and never used a screen recording program.  Thankfully, I used Screencast-O-Matic, and while I’m still a little nervous about how it turned out, at least I got it done. I listen to a lot of political and video game commentators on YouTube who do voice-over Let’s Plays or political montages while they discuss the topic. A pet want for me has always been to do something like that at some point in the future, and that particular activity gave me a little taste of it.

This has been a relaxing, fun journey and I’ve learnt more about myself and those I’m doing this course with, as well as insights into Personal Learning Networks, the information age, and the role of libraries.

The weeks I blogged on were:

Week 11: REFLECT -- Open data is the future of the web

Image: http://www.copyrighttribunal.gov.au/images/copyright_graphic.png

Data should be open. In every case, from the NSA keeping classified tabs on the public to people illegally downloading because they don’t want to pay for backward pricing schemes and content restrictions, the problem has been from the data itself not being transparent with the public. Libraries should aim to be as open as possible, as they are a service fundamentally there to serve the user, not the organisation. A government typically funds a library, so there is no need for profit margins that would typically require internal procedure with numbers and statistics. Everything should be released, being a government organisation, into the public domain.

Books, e-books, DVDs, history information and their own data on how their services are being used should be made available to the public. Libraries should be curators of information, not gatekeepers of information. A library’s job is to help someone find the information they are after and helpfulness can only be guaranteed if there is full disclosure of information.

On a wider note as to the copyrights involved with these materials, the best information I’ve seen originates from The Pirate Party’s plan for copyright reform. Our copyright law is outdated, and the reason people are illegally downloading off of torrent sites instead of buying first hand or using the library is because libraries mightn’t be allowed or have access to the material. The Pirate Party looks to change the legislation, chiefly by:

 - giving the rights to the creators of the material and retaining their moral rights

 - reducing copyright to being held for only 15 years instead of the current ridiculous amount of time after an artist has passed on

 - Something akin to US law's “fair use” will be enforced to allow for appropriate commercial or non-commercial use of products (ie. Youtube uploads will not be taken down if they conform to this use)

-          Exceptions will be made for remixes, parodies, or other artistic implementation of samples from copyrighted work

-          Allowing libraries and digital archives to digitise the material (really important for libraries!)

- DRM enforcement will be repealed, and instead the fundamental confusion to users will be cleared up by changing a DRM-laden product to being a “licence” for a product as opposed to “sold”

There are other changes too, but they are the main changes pertaining to libraries. Sadly, with the recent election, the Pirate Party did not win a seat, perhaps due to their ties to the Pirate Bay in how they market themselves. However, this kind of reform is what data needs to be open and fundamentally of a positive service to the user and the artist, and what libraries would need to expand their collections and how much they can offer a user. As well, these kinds of sweeping changes to copyrights could fix the deadlock between users illegally downloading and the publishers with an archaic approach to the rights of both consumer and artist in the internet age.

Image: http://pirateparty.org.au/constitution/ppauLogo-australia.png

Week 11: PLAY -- Create an image mashup

I present to you...


I decided to use a photo of people watching a Royal Geographical Society lecture from the Brisbane City Hall in 1946, then overlay it with Kevin Rudd's Creative Commons image from Wikipedia with 50% opacity.

I see this work as a metaphor for the ALP campaign during the 2013 election. They relied on nothing but Kevin Rudd's awesomeness to see them through. Sadly, he was revealed to be a ghost of what he once was, and us, the Australian people, were forced to endure an endless circus put on by Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott for an incredibly condensed campaign trail.

Also, the idea of the 'elephant in the room' being Kevin Rudd is reflected in this image, as he was lurking in the background of every political discussion during Gillard's time as Prime Minister.

I wish I could've used that brilliant photo of Kevin Rudd laughing, but sadly, News Corp owns it.
So I'll link this instead:

Week 10: REFLECT -- The role of gaming in libraries

I definitely see a role for gaming in libraries. Already some libraries provide game consoles as a way to entertain kids, but there could be so much more. Big things among school and college students are LAN parties, community socials where everyone brings a computer or console to a space and have a highly social experience playing multiplayer games. Within this idea would be great opportunities from an education standpoint, too.
The best example of games being implemented into an educational purpose would be Valve using Portal as a way to teach physics and have kids create in the classroom. If we had sandbox and puzzle games like Portal 2, Minecraft or Cube World as educative tools, like one would use an art room to design creations. As well, historical games such as Civilisation V and Shogun 2 would be invaluable to a library in helping students learn about how battle strategy was conducted as well as famous battles of the era.

Image: http://leady247.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/dw3_20.jpg

For me, I grew up playing Dynasty Warriors 3 (link is to one of my favourite missions in all of gaming -- based on the real life Yellow Turban Rebellion). And as a result, I learned about major battles and real life people from the Three Kingdoms dynasty in China’s history. Age of Empires II gave me a general understanding of many major campaigns in the Middle Ages before I even stepped foot in a history class. These games can be both fun and educational, and I believe that dismissing them as merely time wasters is both missing the point and ignorant.

Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6e/Gone_Home.png

Libraries are places of learning and community, somewhere to go and pick up a book to whisk you off to a different world. Video games do the exact same thing. Stories come in many different mediums, learning comes in different forms, and community can be fostered in these. Games like Gone Home and Depression Quest actually break barriers and can expose people to perspectives and stories they might not otherwise have experienced.

Gaming is fast maturing as a great medium for storytelling, and libraries, the place where stories are kept, should make use.

If you'd like to read more on my thoughts about gaming, I've written a post about player positioning in games on my CLN647 blog: http://benharkin647.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/week-8-video-games-and-player.html

Week 10: PLAY -- Gamification Idea for Libraries

Image: http://crystalwashington.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/foursquare_logo.png

Gamification is the idea of using game elements and mechanics to enhance an activity and have users further engage. There have been plenty of situations where gamifying activities have resulted in success. Take for example, RunKeeper for working on fitness, Valve Corporation for gamifying game ownership, Ingress for seeing landmarks, and even FourSquare for going outside.
Libraries would be best fit to keep people reading. I believe this would be best achieved through using a platform similar to Goodreads, a social network for readers. The Goodreads Reading Challenge is a great system of keeping people reading. However, instead of people setting their own milestones, a library could set milestones and release achievements like the Xbox gamerscore for reaching them (of course, libraries would not monetise, but the point system is an interesting idea). Indeed, this could extend to different genres, types of books, or even depending on how difficult a book is.

Doing various community activities put on by the library could net you further achievements. Integration with Facebook could mean these achievements would appear as an ‘app’ on the person’s profile. Libraries should be working where possible on capitalising on the established services of their user base. Twitter, Facebook and Google+ integration for gamification of information service would be an excellent way to bring people to the library, and perhaps even get people who would have otherwise spent their time on a video game. As games take the spot for most bought and used electronic entertainment product, libraries should cater to these changing times.

There would be a further sense of people being brought together, and the idea of achievements for accomplishing reading and other library activities would revitalise people to come to the library more often. The competitive factor of these achievements would be great too, and have been shown to be of addictive nature.

Keeping people addicted to books is the name of the game! 

Week 8: REFLECT -- What is the role of podcasting, online video, screencasting or slidecasting in libraries or information organisations? Do you see them as enhancements to the existing work, or services in their own right?

In this digital age, we need these mediums in libraries. What has been pressed in this degree is that libraries are falling behind with their old image of being book-centric and a means of simply borrowing books. A library is a community hub today, and these mediums enhance the activities already being conducted. Podcasting, online video, screencasting and slidecasting are integral to helping illustrate a problem, or how to use a database and search, or helping someone with a community activity.

 Even in these university subjects, the role of screencasts (especially) and the like have helped present assignments, illustrate an idea or as a means of showing how to use certain program. Podcasting is a means of talking at length about a topic, and these typically have others on the podcast to bounce ideas off. The best known podcast is arguably Ricky Gervais’ podcast which has been downloaded over 300 million times and has spawned two seasons of a cartoon TV show on HBO to visually play the podcast. His podcast consists of three radio people discussing inane topics from their lives. This speaks to the versatility of podcasting, that they don’t require rehearsal or any kind of stringent format (putting a slideshow together for example) to get information across.

Podcasting is simply a platform for people to talk about what they’d like to talk about. This would work in a library context as a means to conduct community discussion and make it available to the public for download. Online video is a cost-effective way to put together a presentation. Numerous sites exist to upload video for linking online, and the benefits to reaching a wider community are self-explanatory. A presentation can be given once and then posted online for more people to view instead of using up resources and money needing to repeat a presentation in the library.

Topics can be explained in online videos, and I see the library’s online presence becoming far more prevalent as more people use library services from home. Screencasting and slidecasting lead on from this idea. These two services can be used to explain library services, thus saving the time of both a librarian and a user. Why explain how to use a search or borrow a book at the front desk (which still should happen, the difference is there needn’t be as many people on the front desk with online tools available) when there are screencasts guiding the user through how to use a database?

Week 8: PLAY -- My Screencast - Allmovie

Here's my video for screencasting. Apologies for Dropbox that I had open during its duration! You can see I don't use Dropbox much anymore, I've moved on to Google Drive for the cloud files.

I used Screencast-O-Matic after seeing Anita's glowing review of the program. I have to agree. Super easy to use, all that's required is a click of a button to record and another to upload to YouTube.

This database is not as expansive as IMDb, but Allmovie is definitely more professional in presentation and much better at linking and providing ways of viewing movies, and in essence more beneficial for a user. There's also less user edited information on the site, so Allmovie is a more trustworthy database than IMDb for movie information.

Also, Dennis HOPPER, not HOFFER.