Learn More: RSS feeds and feed readers

February 24, 2008

[This is one in a series of self-paced discovery exercises for library staff venturing into the social web.]

If checking a website for information is akin to picking up a morning paper at a newsstand, then using an RSS feed is like subscribing to the newspaper. It give you the latest info and saves you the trip.

That’s the metaphor. In real terms, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a snippet of XML code that retrieves a website’s latest content. Paired with a feed reader (or aggregator), that content is delivered to single place: a web page of your own design. You choose the sources of information (i.e., blogs or frequently-updated websites that you hope to keep up with), and RSS will “feed” all that new info to your page.

MEANING FOR LIBRARIES

As a user: If you routinely check a dozen or more sources, a feed reader will make you more efficient. It could save you A LOT of time. Most (if not all) library-world blogs provide feeds. Blogging software, in fact, usually includes it as a basic tool. Many websites and virtually all news sites offer feeds, too.

As a provider: A library could (dare I say “should”?) include RSS feeds on many of its web pages, all of its blogs, and even within its catalog. When a page changes or a new blog is posted, subscribers will immediately see it on their feed readers. To maximize effectiveness, libraries should advertise the possibilities (or explain the feed concept) when opportunities arise. Don’t be content with providing an RSS icon; be proactive by explaining that RSS icon.

As a conduit: A library’s website could include RSS feeds from other sources. Do you know of a reliable RSS source of local traffic information? Does your town have a website with a community events feed? Maybe you could pipe that content (or content even more imaginative) into your page. When the information is updated on the original website, the RSS will feed it to the library’s page where your patrons can see it.

LEARN MORE BY PARTICIPATING

Some browsers (including Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox) have built-in feed readers which simplify the process but limit your feeds to one machine. Skip to the “get a few feeds” section below if you want that option. Follow the whole process if you prefer a web-based feed reader.

Start with a feed reader or aggregator.

  • Open a free account at GoogleReader, Bloglines, Technorati, or other feed reader or blog reader service.
  • Each site works a bit differently but I’m hoping you’ll be able to navigate the set-up process once you’re in. Look for links offering to help you add RSS, XML, subscriptions, or feeds. (This set-up is usually the most difficult step in the process. Fortunately, you will only need to do this once. Seek an experienced friend if you get stuck.)
  • This will be the beginning of the web page you’ll use to collect all those subscriptions.

Now, get a few feeds.

  • Open another browser window. (This is not required, but it will make returning to your aggregator much easier in a moment.)
  • Go to a blog or webpage to which you’d like to subscribe.
  • Scan the page for a (usually orange) button or link denoting RSS, XML, or FEED. It might also be an orange ’emitting’ logo like the one shown a few paragraphs above. (LibraryStream has an RSS box on its sidebar with an “Entries RSS” link, but the RSS/XML box right here works, too.)
  • Click that button or link.
  • Depending on the site and your browser, the page that opens might resemble computer code gibberish. That’s XML and you need not understand any of it. What you want is the web page address for all that XML. Right-click your browser’s address window, and click COPY.

Return to your aggregator.

  • Right-click into the aggregator’s RSS text box and click PASTE.
  • Once that address is entered, you should see the latest content (or a clickable title for the latest content) in your feed reader.

What you do next is your call: find more feeds to add to your aggregator,rearrange your aggregator’s display,adjust the feed settings (to display full content, titles only, number of posts to display, etc.),or close for the day. You can return to your feed reader at any time and see all the new stuff that your favorite blogs and websites have fed to you while you were away. And of course you can add other feeds whenever the need or mood strikes.

Make your feed reader work for you. Have all the stuff you like delivered. And why not? It’s your web now.

Advertisements

Learn More: Blogs and Blogging, pt 1

January 22, 2008

[This is one in a series of self-paced discovery exercises for library staff venturing into the social web.]

Like the social networking topic we discussed a few weeks ago, blogging is simply too big to take in all at once. So much has been written about blogs that I’m a tad hesitant to add my text to the pile. For the sake of inclusion within this series, however, here goes. We’ll start today and continue with Part 2 next week.

People have been keeping private journals for centuries. A diarist might have carried on an ongoing conversation with himself and used it as a record of his thoughts and feelings as those thoughts and feelings developed. Authors, meanwhile, have written public works in books and periodicals for mass-consumption. The cost of production (i.e., materials and distribution) limited publishing access to writers with exceptional knowledge, skill, or monetary resources.

The Internet and easy-to-use software have removed the barriers to publication and the cultural shift that followed the advent of the social web has changed the nature of the journal-writing. Both effects may now be seen in blogs. A blog, by simple definition, is a journal maintained on the Internet. It was originally called a web log, then later shortened to weblog and finally, blog.

Setting up a blog and publishing to the world is free. It also requires no competency tests or admissions process. That’s bad in the sense that there’s a lot gunk out there that would have been filtered out by learned editors in the past. But it’s good because there are many gems that those editors would have rejected, too. Knowledge and skill play significant roles in whether the blog is widely read, but the audience can decide that. Assuming a writer has something to say and knows how to say it well, a blog can be an effective vehicle with which to express a point of view to the world. This can be done immediately at virtually no cost.

Some blog writers (a.k.a. bloggers) are online journalists, tracking traditional news in a nontraditional medium, or specializing in subjects that had no previous forums. Many bloggers are online diarists, making public what past generations would have kept private. And some bloggers post only for themselves, their friends, or family. They don’t seek vast audiences; they merely share with each other. Most bloggers allow readers to comment. They encourage it, in fact. It fosters discussion about the topic and lets everyone swap ideas and opinions.

The result of all this is a rich cacophony of conversation ranging from insightful to useless, written with talents varying from gifted to abysmal, and reaching audiences from millions worldwide to perhaps no one. The blogosphere (i.e., the collection of all blogs) is online self-publishing writ large. Anyone can participate as long as they’re interested.

PARTS OF A BLOG

  • Posts. The basic building blocks of a blog are the individual articles. They can very long — as long as the chapter of a book — or extremely brief. Some include links to other websites, photos, or video clips. Whatever their individual style, however, blog posts are usually displayed in reverse chronological order so that the newest posts appear at the top. Older entries get pushed down the page.
  • Comments. Blogs almost always allow readers to add or view comments. This invites everyone to get involved in the topic.
  • Tools. Often a blog has a collection of sidebar tools to aid the reader. These tools may include an archive of old postings, an author profile, and a “blog roll” of links to other blogs that the writer finds interesting.

Meaning for libraries

“Hmm,” the blogger murmurs while glancing at the length of this blog post and holding his fingers to his chin. “Let’s save this topic until Part 2.”

Learn more by participating

We’ll save the set-up and development of our own blogs for Part 2. Right now, let’s explore a bit. Visit a variety of blogs on two or three separate days this week (15-20 minutes each):

  • Obviously you’re already reading LibraryStream. Now visit a few of the library-related blogs listed in my blogroll in the right-hand margin. Explore, scroll, and click. Get a feel for the content and style of the various blogs.
  • Would you like to see more library blogs? There are many lists out there, including the blogrolls of other blogs. I encourage you to wander! I enjoy browsing Dave Pattern’s biblioblogosphere tag cloud for interesting new topics, too.
  • Want to break free of the library world? Go to Technorati or Google’s blogsearch and search any topic that strikes your fancy. Blogs are written about almost any subject you can imagine. See what’s out there.
  • Remember when I said that the blogosphere is “a rich cacophony of conversation ranging from insightful to useless, written with talents varying from gifted to abysmal”? I wasn’t kidding! 🙂

Now think about a blog YOU might create. Get your imagination humming. I’ll see you next week in Part 2.


Learn More: Twitter

January 14, 2008

[This is one in a series of self-paced discovery exercises for library staff venturing into the social web.]

“It’s Monday? Again??”

That’s how I enthusiastically embraced the work week this morning in Twitter. Several friends saw the 20-character message because my random thought wandered out across the social web. The same thing happened when I was “kicking the day out of my shoes” and when I was “gardening – Olive Gardening.”

Many social sites let you express your thoughts and creativity, but none compresses that expression with the concise style of Twitter. The popular site asks you to share what you’re doing or thinking in 140 characters or less. That’s only about 20-25 words. You might call it a microblog.

Some people don’t get the concept; others love it. Big announcements — “I got the job!” (14 characters) – are possible, but most entries – “gotta go to another meeting” (27 characters) – don’t reveal much. Twitter’s value increases over time, however, as friends learn more about each other from the collected log of messages. Your followers might discover what excites you, what annoys you, and glimpse some of your life’s miscellany that would never make it into an email.

Users can send tweets (as Twitter messages are known) via mobile phones and pipe them into other applications, too. That makes the site even more appealing to folks who like to be in continuous “live” mode online. You can arrange meetings on the run and connect with friends wherever they are.

Critics say Twitter is a waste of time and produces endless blather. Let them say that! “At least it’s short blather” (27 characters).

Meaning for libraries

I can’t offer a long list of Twitter applications for libraries.  I’m not yet convinced it can attract or assist patrons much, but I’d certainly recommend experimentation.

A university library — dealing with a finite community of users — might find twittering more productive than a public library. A librarian with a network of patron followers might develop ways to share short service updates: “Lots of computers are available right now” (41 characters) or “Just got the new * in the mail” (29+ characters).

Library staff should be aware of Twitter, at least. Many of our patrons use the site in their private lives. Librarians use it, too, and any networking within the profession is good.

Learn more by participating

In the spirit of the site, I’ll keep this short.

  • Open a Twitter account.
  • Encourage a coworker or friend to join, too.
  • Become followers of each other.
  • Post a tweet a few times a day, every day this week.
  • Whattya think? Is it fun? Might it be useful? Is it a waste?

My 56-character Twitter update: “Steve is prepared for the week now. Oh, wait a minute…”


Learn More: Social Networks, pt 2

January 8, 2008

[This is one in a series of self-paced discovery exercises for library staff venturing into the social web.]

We’ll wrap up yesterday’s topic today by describing three popular social networkings sites.

  1. Read the descriptions. (Please note: These are highly abbreviated. Each site has much more depth than I can possibly squeeze into two paragraphs.)
  2. Pick a network you like and sign up. All sites mentioned here are free.
  3. Enter some information. (See my caveat in the previous post.)
  4. Be creative. Upload an avatar/buddy icon, photos, music, etc.
  5. Make friends. If friends or family already have accounts, connect with them. If you’re doing this activity with coworkers, connect with each other.
  6. Interact. Post on each other’s page or send emails.
  7. Explore the site for other applications, features, and people you know.

MySpace (217 million members). By far the most popular social networking site in the world, MySpace has a thriving community of people of all ages. Teenagers are there, of course, but the majority of users are over 35. Parents, celebrities, churches, companies, and non-profits round out the mix. The typical MySpace user fills out a profile “About Me” that describes likes and dislikes, favorite music, favorite movies, favorite books, etc. These become the snippets others read when they visit the page. A blog built into the page offers a chance to wax poetic or ramble about any subject of interest. Always an important part of the MySpace experience, musicians are given special pages within the network to offer audio clips for other members to sample or paste in their own pages. Many pages (if not most) also feature embedded videos and photos, giving MySpace a truly multimedia look. Users are also free to decorate their page with their choice of colors, background images, and flashy effects. This individual expression is a real strength to some people and a real turn-off to others.

MySpace members you can send messages to each other by leaving comments which anyone can read, or by sending private email. Instant messaging is also popular. While it is by no means a requirement, some people try very hard to increase their number of MySpace friends, encouraging and collecting hundreds or thousands of “friends” in a never-ending popularity contest. You might be content with just a few people you know personally. That’s fine. We each have a comfort level. Your friends’ buddy icons will appear on your page, leading you to their pages with a simple mouse-click. Find additional people using the search box. (Hint: Email address searches find people faster than name searches.)

Facebook (58 million members). Started in 2004, as a means for Harvard students to meet each other, Facebook expanded its membership to other universities, high school students, adults, and (recently) organizations. Facebook pages are less open to design tinkering but support a wide range of features and applications written for the Facebook development platform. Users can choose “apps” and rearrange the contents of their page as often as they’d like. If they have a Flickr page, photos can be streamed to Facebook. The same is true of blogs and other RSS feeds.

Like the MySpace Comment feature, a Facebook user’s Wall is open to the scribbling and viewing by anyone within his circle of friends. Private email is also possible. Applications provide an endless supply of “gifts”, quizzes, ratings, and other amusements to keep people busy for longer than anyone originally expects. Want to get a friend’s attention without writing an email? Facebook lets you “poke” them. It’s like a friendly ‘I’m thinking of you’ nudge. Want to share a quick thought or your current activity with everyone (or no one in particular)? Update your status. Many of these may sound silly to the uninitiated, but over time this myriad of communication formats provide glimpses of your friends you might otherwise miss.

LinkedIn (16 million members). Are MySpace and Facebook too busy for you? LinkedIn is at the other end of the spectrum, but still useful as a network. Launched in 2003 and targeting the business community, LinkedIn users network for career enhancements and commercial prospects. Whereas MySpace and Facebook profiles may remind you of a teen magazine quiz or a dating service questionnaire, a typical user profile on LinkedIn feels distinctly like a resume. Job title, industry, education, and location are crucial for connecting with others to land the next contract, get a better job, or simply keep a mutually beneficial professional relationship going.

LinkedIn has tools to find additional people in your industry and region. It also can tell you of other people in your company or school that are listed in its network. People you already know, after all, may be helpful in opening a door for you someday. Emails through the network are possible, but the chatty nature of MySpace and Facebook are nowhere to be seen. LinkedIn is almost all business.

A few other social networking sites

  • Friendster (50 million members) was one of the original social sites and made a modest splash before MySpace arrived on the scene.
  • Orkut (67 million members) is Google’s social network. It’s very popular in Brazil and India but hasn’t caused much excitement in the United States.
  • Hi5 (60 million members) is another network quite popular (in Latin America and Asia) but not as much in the U.S.

Whichever site you choose, make it to your liking, make it your online address, and remember what I keep saying: It’s your web now.


Learn More: Social Networks, pt 1

January 7, 2008

[This is one in a series of self-paced discovery exercises for library staff venturing into the social web.]

This is a big topic, so we’ll start today and wrap it up tomorrow.

So far in this series, we’ve opened accounts on several niche social web sites, uploaded content (photos, book titles, bookmarks, etc.), and mingled a bit with other people. This week, we’ll look at a few giants of social networking: MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. What do people do on social networks?

Post. A few hundred million people around the world house their online identities on these sites. Some people stick to the basics on their profiles, but others get comfortable and let their personalities shine through. Publishing (or posting) to the web can become a creative outlet. Users fill their pages with thoughts, interests, desires, photos, music, videos, and online discoveries. The pages they create often become the web addresses they most often give to friends and family.

Interact. The most amazing phenomenon social sites make possible, of course, surrounds the networking. You (and your page) become “friends” with another person (and her page). The software makes it easy to jump from your page to hers. Many sites even send you a “feed”– a kind of news ticker — that tells you what new things she has added to their page. Making a friend is just the start. You might collect more friends over time, building a network of family, friends, and acquaintances who can stay in touch quite easily. Each new connection is a like a direct link to a friend’s world that you may visit any time you’d like.

Communicate. Because it belongs to you, your page can become your message board. You can post photos and comments to your own page instead of sending email (and clunky attachments) to all of your friends and family. They can check in (at their convenience) and find out what you’re up to and what’s on your mind. You can say things publicly or privately, visit their pages (to see what they’re up to), and even meet your friend’s friends.

As a recent article in Slate explained, there is a trend toward communicating within networks instead of standard email. Email is incredibly convenient, but networking sites share so much more than an email could. They are multi-dimensional. An email from an acquaintance, for instance, might tell you only relevant facts. A social site, on the other hand, could reveal a common love of U2 music or scuba diving — things that could foster a better appreciation of each other but would have never otherwise come up.

Think of it this way: An email is like a short phone call. A social site is like sitting down in your friend’s front room and seeing all the pictures and knick-knacks they like to surround themselves with.

Caveat: I’m speaking glowingly of these sites because of their potential. You could easily misuse a social site as well. Those are the cases that end up in the news. Posting too much information might be unwise, unsafe, or embarrassing. Comfort levels vary from person to person. The rule I generally advocate: Don’t post anything you’d regret if your loved ones, your boss, or a creepy stranger stumbled upon your page.

Meaning for libraries

  • Cultural awareness. This is, increasingly, how people interact. Understand it. Better yet, join in.
  • Professionally. Librarians and library staff can use social networking sites to stay in touch with colleagues anywhere in the world. In fact, they can expand their social circle by connecting with fellow conference-goers and collaborators.
  • Patron interaction. Many libraries have social network pages. If patrons spend so much time in these networks, it makes sense for libraries to be available to them there, too. Library social sites can tout services, share photos, advertise upcoming programs, and connect readers with bookclubs and authors. Perhaps more importantly, the informal nature of social sites may help the library appear more approachable and friendly. Make friends with your patrons. Have fun on the page. Speak casually. Leave the formal language on the official website.
  • Personal librarians. In addition to a social networking page for the organziation, many librarians set up individual pages to become “that friend at the library”. Such an arrangement might give your patrons the comfort in knowing that they can simply pop over to their librarian’s page to ask a question or get help with something. It’s personal service. They’ll know someone who knows stuff. Cool.

Learn more by participating

  • Watch Social Networking in Plain English, a short introductory video from the folks at Common Craft.
  • That’s Part 1. In Part 2, we’ll look at three big social networks, pick one, and set up shop.

Learn More: Wikis

December 17, 2007

[This is one in a series of self-paced discovery exercises for library staff venturing into the social web.]

If you gather a committee, write a draft document, and solicit feedback, you might receive scores of revisions in email and on paper. Compiling all those changes back into a single coherent document could be a long and tedious task. On the other hand, you could create a wiki. That would enable everyone to work on the same collaborative document and compile changes on the fly. A wiki is basically a read/write website open to anyone with permissions.

Wiki is a Hawaiian word meaning “quick”. Ward Cunningham, who developed the wiki concept in the mid-1990s, named his WikiWikiWeb program after the “wiki wiki” shuttle bus he encountered at the Honolulu Airport. It seemed the perfect name for a web platform intended to give users quick access to editing tools.

The largest and most famous wiki, of course, is Jimmy Wales’ Wikipedia, where thousands of contributors have complied a global encyclopedia with more than 2 million English language articles (and even more than that number in other languages). Most other encyclopedias publish articles written and vetted by experts; Wikipedia entries are created and edited by anyone volunteering the time and effort. Accounts aren’t even required! Readers add information, correct typographical and grammatical errors, and contribute to a worldwide public-review process that is much faster than traditional peer-reviewed documents.

Meaning for libraries

Here are three ideas for libraries to consider.

  • Accuracy. Information in a wiki is mostly accurate, but who knows? How’s that for a ringing endorsement? Wikipedia, the largest of all wikis, has been studied* and found to be reasonably accurate. It might not be peer-reviewed by recognized authorities, but it is read and continually re-edited by thousands of people. There is vandalism, to be sure, but most people don’t make changes unless they are confident of their facts and they are more likely to contribute good information than bad.
    My opinion: A site like Wikipedia is a reasonable place to begin a search. You can pick up a few facts and grasp an understanding of a subject. However, it probably isn’t the best place to end a search. Don’t prohibit its use as a resource, but encourage people to supplement it with other sources.
  • Collaboration. Libraries increasingly use wikis within the profession.
    • Wikis created by the international library community provide ample room for collaboration toward common goals.
    • Library conferences have begun providing wikis. Planners, speakers, and attendees compile information and experiences without the need or delay of editors.
    • Intranet-based wikis may be helpful within an organization. University libraries have been active in this regard. I recently began a manual-writing project on an internal wiki open to supervisors at my public library. Such wikis can foster the participation of many people without the usual drag of long committee meetings.
  • Patrons. Wikis can be created for library patrons. Bookclubs and teen programs might help construct and/or benefit from them. A “Community Places” section seems custom-made for residents who know their area better than anyone. A wiki can give them a venue for sharing their knowledge with others.

Learn more by participating

Nothing demonstrates the concept of a wiki better than just diving in. Here are a few explorations I’d encourage you to try this week.

  • Go to Wikipedia and search a few topics that are near & dear to you. Topics might include a town or a hobby you know well.
  • Read over each article. Look at the organization and note the writing style. This article was probably not written by a single person. Several people likely compiled it over months or years.
  • Click the “History” tab to see past activity on the page.
  • Click the “Edit this page” tab to open the page’s editing functions.
  • Browse the source code to familiarize yourself with the text and format code of this particular wiki. Wikipedia was built on MediaWiki software. Other wiki platforms may use a different mark-up language.
  • If you honestly have something to contribute, edit or add to the page and save it. That’s how wikis evolve: one reader/writer at a time.

  • Bonus: If you or your library are interested in creating your own wiki, there are many software types available. Shop around for the best fit. Some services charge, others are free; some are open to public view, others are private; some host pages for you, others allow software downloads to your server. Here are three examples: MediaWiki, PBWiki , WetPaint.

Collaboration. Participation. It’s all part of the social web.


* most famously by Nature magazine, Dec. 15, 2005.


Learn More: Tags and Tag Clouds

December 3, 2007

[This is one in a series of self-paced discovery exercises for library staff venturing into the social web.]

We explored social bookmarking last week and briefly mentioned tags. Let’s look at tags — or folksonomies — a bit more closely now.

Formal cataloging involves experts who assign subject headings based on approved lists and hierarchical taxonomies. It’s an organized and presumably consistent way of storing and retrieving materials and information. But there are many ways of classifying things. I might look at a photograph of a lake in winter and think of the words lake, frozen, and cold. You might prefer lake, winter, and ice. We often rely on experts to iron out our differences. Unless we think like the expert who cataloged the item, however, we still might not find what we’re looking for.

Now suppose everyone participated in cataloging. You might imagine people attaching notes to everything (much like the two girls in a delightful video from Harris County Public Library). With folksonomies, you tag things the way you want, and I tag them the way I want. If enough people participate, we might collectively describe any content with greater depth, color, and nuance than formal subject headings.

Consider J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. The book’s formal cataloging in WorldCat shows:

Caulfield, Holden (Fictitious character), Runaway teenagers – Fiction, New York (N.Y.) – Fiction

The collective input of 1000+ people tagging the book in LibraryThing offers all these words:

Because content creators and users generate the tags, folksonomies often present information that the average person finds most relevant. Visual representations of tags (like the one from LibraryThing shown above) are called tag clouds and may give us even more information because they display frequently-tagged words in larger fonts. More people thought those words were important.

Visitors to social networking sites tag content for their own reasons. Each person adds words relevant to him/her, and the aggregation has a powerful organizing effect. If you’d like to know more about tagging and organizing digital information, I recommend Everything is Miscellaneous [LibraryThing/WorldCat], a very readable book by David Weinberger.

Meaning for libraries

Libraries cannot possibly classify everything. Even the enormous Library of Congress (with several hundred catalogers sorting through about 7,000 new books each day) could not handle the volume of Flickr, the photo-sharing website we discussed a few weeks ago. Flickr receives a few thousand photographs every minute. Tagging makes possible the organization of all those pictures.

YouTube members tag videos; Delicious users tag websites; LibraryThing members tag books; bloggers tag their posts. Tagging is everywhere on the social web.

It’s vital for library staff to understand tags. They should know the strengths: that tags accumulate quickly and offer a wide range of keywords. They should be aware of the weaknesses, too: tags can be ineffective when very few people are involved and offer inconsistent word choices (examples: Should we search car, cars, or auto?; Which meaning of the word spring was intended?).

Libraries might also explore ways to incorporate tags into software where appropriate. Some libraries have or soon will have tags and tag clouds in their catalogs. My own library has tags on its staff intranet site.

Learn more by participating

You’ve read enough by now, so this week’s activity can be done in short exploratory sessions of mouse clicking.

  • Explore your Flickr tag cloud. Assuming you created an account for an earlier lesson, log into your Flickr account and go to the “Your Tags” option in the “You” menu. This cloud was assembled with the tags you added to your own photographs. Common themes among photos shine through. Click any word to find all photographs marked with that tag.
  • Look at Flickr’s communal tag cloud. This will call up other Flickr members’ photos. It’s great for browsing, but there’s a search box, too, in case the word you’re looking for isn’t there.
  • Explore tags in your Delicious account. (That was a previous lesson, too.) Your tags appear in a clickable list or cloud on the right side of the screen. You may also click the “saved by X other people” link shown for any particular bookmark and see the collected tags from everyone else who saved that bookmark. Click one that interests you and see what other sites come up.
  • Add more tags to your Flickr photos and Delicious bookmarks. It will make them easier to find and others to stumble upon.
  • Explore Dave Pattern’s biblioblogosphere tag cloud. Pattern’s software regularly scans library blogs and updates the communal tag cloud. A glance at the cloud can give you a sense of the topics librarians around the world are currently chattering about. Clicking any word in the cloud takes you to those blogs doing the chattering.
  • Create a text cloud. Just for fun, copy the text of a long memo or email into TagCrowd and see the cloud it produces. The longer the text, the more likely the prominent words will be meaningful.