Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Slideshare - The jury's out [ fact they've run away]

Still forcing myself to try to sit on the fence about Slideshare and not jump off on the wrong side. This post has been festering as a much-rejigged draft for many days, because I feel like I'm swimming against the tide and just being old-womanish, same as with Twitter. I'm trying to like the actuality [as opposed to the altruistic idea] ... but I don't. One problem is that queasy feeling engendered by burglarizing other people's stuff. Huge fun though Flickr is, I feel uncomfortable about using images from it, CC or not [somehow Google Images feels a bit less like theft, maybe because of the type of images I'm after: Joan, Joan and more Joan]. But the discomfort racks up considerably with Slideshare, because whereas a photographer might conceivably have just pointed and clicked, that certainly ain't the case with a Ppt presentation. To knock up a decent one requires considerable reflection.
Rummaging around, it isn't difficult to find useful resources. For example:

[None of these actually embedded for reasons implied above]

But then the more I poked about in Slideshare the more ratty I got, as it seems to be populated with a lot of marketing tools [and there will no doubt be a Crail rant about social media being invaded by marketing mavens at some point], and some very odd material whose purpose is completely opaque, vanity publishing probably. Looking at teaching materials, it isn't hard to spot scans from books, and probably-not-technically-legal images, so it starts to get a bit ill-advised. Some people seem to have got completely carried away and uploaded things that clearly aren't presentations, eg research papers, so it all starts to look unfocused and rag-baggy. It is tempting to include some jaw-dropping examples of this side of the coin, but I'd like to celebrate my 30th birthday [again].
Perhaps I'll just remind everyone of General McChrystal's 'When we understand the Powerpoint , we'll have won the war' joke instead -
So, we're being invited to plunder these offerings without being clear on their integrity. It's a bit like 'Teach yourself via Google' without applying proper evaluation. In fact probably worse. Of course, most people wouldn't dream of operating that way - but Slideshare is encouraging people to do so. Aidan advises caution on this score too in his blog. And the NY Times article does make some pertinent points about the way Powerpoint forces us to 'bulletize' [oh dear] information - could be a good thing, could be bad.
It's hard understanding why the creator of a presentation would put it on a public-access aggregator instead of their own institution's resource [oh, wait, I do know, it's one of the tenets of Web 2.0], where it could still be free-access, but tied to the 'brand' or, as Revelation 23 puts it, where it was born. I would be uncomfortable about even recommending something clearly created by someone else, let alone dropping it into a website - by the most generous interpretation, it looks lazy. I agree with Librarianintraining that having something available for those who don't like, or cannot attend face to face training would be useful - though again at the place of birth, not on Slideshare. Aside from all that, I don't tend to use Powerpoint, marvellous program though it is, at least in the library context. It's great as an aide memoire, but less so as a teaching tool [old-maidism again, since that's what students ask for].
So, much as I admire the altruism of people who put their resources up there, and the energy and commitment of people like Phil Bradley to educate us on so many platforms, Slideshare as a resource in toto has an unfortunate whiff of unwholesomeness and untrustworthiness about it. Start digging, and there's a need to get out the hand sanitiser and the odor neutraliser. And possibly the Shake'n'vac - do they still make that?

Monday, 28 June 2010

Mmmm, Delicious ... Now where was I?

[Image : Encore perdue: Hommage a Brassai, par Fifi Derangee]
Ah, yes, have to confess to using Delicious for some time now for somewhat unorthodox reasons. It is absolutely invaluable for those awful moments in user ed when, having gone off at a bit of a tangent, the path has completely disappeared [no, one doesn't use Powerpoint, but that's another blog...]; or one has got so impatient with the browser that one has clicked several too many times and frozen the whole lot; or one has carefully set up a lot of tabs, only to hit 'close all' by mistake [gin, alas, does blur the vision occasionally]. Bit of covering banter, invitation to partake of more biscuits, and no-one will be any the wiser. It's simple, it's portable, thus ideal for those of us continually on the tramp.

Even better, Delicious is also useful as a parking lot for all those 'must have a look at that ... eventually' things. Thanks to Cam23 there are now lots of extra pages of links with that useful tag 'to-do' and a helpful note telling me why I need to look at it. NOT like the teetering 'pending' pile on the [real] desk which eventually falls over and can then justifiably be moved to the floor permanently temporarily [housemaid's knee]. Seriously, Delicious has proved perfect on this occasion, because so many blogs have contained or pointed to useful stuff that needs to be returned to and thought about a bit more later. Can't do it ALL now. And can't remember ANYTHING these days.

And I'm certainly intending to use Delicious to flag up to students some of the things they might profitably consider for searching and for organising ... just as long as it could be completely separate from all those embarrassing 'to-do' items....

Because Connotea is used for some courses for access to reading material, have tried that too, and feel obliged to recommend it to students as an alternative, but Delicious is easier to use. And we luuurve easy. Besides, 'Delicious' has that whiff of Soho - if not Meard Street, then Old Compton Street [could be a patisserie, could be an upmarket sex shop] whereas Connotea - well, it just doesn't send you off into a reverie, does it? [If it does, do let me know]