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Spacemen and Play

spaceman

Yesterday I went to the Vermont 3.0 Tech Career Jam.  I did not go into the actual gym with the tables set up since I am not actively looking for a job, but I did attend two panel sessions that sounded interesting.

The first one was called “So you wanna build websites.” It was interesting to get a perspective on the field of web design today and where it will be going in the future.  The future clearly is mobile computing and handheld devices (cell phones, etc.). and the future is here. They gave excellent advice to students and career seekers.  First they told them to concentrate on designing to standards not browsers.  “The browsers will come around,” they said.  They also said that it was necessary to have a concentration.  You cannot be a Jack of all trades in the web-design world doing graphic design, web app programming, and actually designing the site. You need to find your place and hook up with a few other people who have complementary skills.  Web design is far to specialized now.

The second session I attended was “So You Wanna be an Internet Marketer.”  This session was mainly about Google Analytics making conversions.  It made me want to do some more reading about making sense of web traffic numbers.  The most important thing that was said in the session, in my opinion was to be open to play with technology.  Champlain professor Elaine Young and others noted how important it was to try out technologies instead of instantly deciding, “that’s not for me.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this philosophy.  I need to constantly do this for my career as an Emerging Technologies Librarian.  Playing with technology is the only way you will stay current with what is out there and what your users are doing.  I hope to foster this environment and idea of play at Champlain College, along with other colleagues who are already playing and enjoying it.

Overall this Vermont 3.0 Tech Career Jam seemed like a great event bring businesses and students from around the area together to fill mutual needs.  I look forward to it next year.

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Information Literacy for the 22nd Century

Yesterday, I attended the Burlington Book Festival.  The best session was one entitled Writing in the 22nd Century: A Panel Discussion.  It was a terrible title that did not really fit what they were talking about.  Nevertheless, it was a great session.  They were actually talking about the 21st century — more specifically the near future.  It was also not limited to writing.  It was a discussion about writing, reading, and consumption of information.

The panel was composed of Steve Benen a political pundit blogger from the Washington Monthly, Cathy Resmer online editor of Seven Days Newspaper, and Ann DeMarle, head of the Emergent Media Center at Champlain College.  It was moderated by Jeff Rutenbeck Dean for the Division of Communication and Creative Media at Champlain College.

One thing that got people going in the audience was when Jeff said that books were an inefficient means of communication. Publishing online is much quicker and people can interact and have a conversation with the information, whereas books take years to publish and you cannot interact with a book.  The audience got defensive and sentimental about books, expressing that they did not want them to go away.  Someone actually stated how books were one of the most perfectly evolved forms of media.  Jeff also passed around a Kindle for people to gawk at.  The guy next to me was ogling it for about five minutes.

Photo by davidking

Photo by davidking

What was especially interesting was the discussion that ensued after Jeff brought up the idea that textbooks are “so superficial.”  He said that for his classes, “you could get 90 percent of the information in the textbooks from Wikipedia.”  At this a student commented that he did not go to textbooks first.  He went to Google or YouTube or blogs or other online sources.  Barbara Shatara, a librarian at the Fletcher Free Library asked him the same question I was thinking: how do you evaluate this information for credibility?  His answer was that he evaluated by cross referencing.  If he found info on one blog he would look and see if it was confirmed in other places.  If there were more people agreeing with something than disagreeing then he would believe it.

This gives a good insight into how information is being evaluated in this era.  Instead of looking for some authority people look to the masses.  “Do a lot of people believe this?  Ok, good then I will too.”  A lot of people believe that evolution is a falsehood and that global warming is a fabrication.   A great danger with this is when looking to corroborate or disprove a piece of information on the web, it very much depends on how you are searching.  If you search with keywords only  related to creationism, or find a creationist website and start following their links, the information your find is going to be colored in a very specific way.  With a mindset such as this, the tyranny of the majority can then determine what is true and not true, and that is very dangerous.

There were a number of debates back and forth and everyone really got into the session.  I was surprised at how many people were engaged and actually caring about these issues.  I guess information literacy is a real issue that people outside of libraries or academia care about.

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Cutesy 2.0 names

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There are a few rules you need to follow when naming your new startup web 2.0 company.

  1. Have real cutesy names (These would be names like Bebo or Jing. It gets your customers excited about something cutesy while not telling them anything about the company. It’s like a surprise.)
  2. Your best bet is to have a name that includes double letters together so customers can remember it. (Names like Joost, Meebo, Moodle, Joopz, Goowy, or Blummy work well. Extra points if you put three letters in your name like Zooomr.)
  3. Rule two is especially important if you are in the social bookmarking business. (Two big ones Digg and Reddit know the score. Del.icio.us is getting along without it, but the way they split up their name is cutesy enough)
  4. Hurry! All the good names are running out! (I tried making up a name for my own startup 2.0 web site. I figured if I could get a sweet enough name Yahoo or Google [both double letter names] would buy me out. Unfortunately Squibble and Grinky were already taken.)

Now, I have decided to start up a consulting business where I help fledging 2.0 companies find a name.

Me: “Alright, tell me what your company does exactly.”

Them: “Well, we are synergistic, hybrid blend of chat, VoIP, social networking, and user created content of some sort.”

Me:”Hmmmm………..you’re now Chubblekins. Wait, wait, wait! Zoombango!”

Those two are free. The rest you’ll have to pay for.