Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Big Society

Can libraries be adequately staffed and maintained by volunteers alone? Author Philip Pullman says NO!

"...Nor do I think we should respond to the fatuous idea that libraries can stay open if they’re staffed by volunteers. What patronising nonsense. Does he think the job of a librarian is so simple, so empty of content, that anyone can step up and do it for a thank-you and a cup of tea? Does he think that all a librarian does is to tidy the shelves? And who are these volunteers? Who are these people whose lives are so empty, whose time spreads out in front of them like the limitless steppes of central Asia, who have no families to look after, no jobs to do, no responsibilities of any sort, and yet are so wealthy that they can commit hours of their time every week to working for nothing? Who are these volunteers? Do you know anyone who could volunteer their time in this way? If there’s anyone who has the time and the energy to work for nothing in a good cause, they are probably already working for one of the voluntary sector day centres or running a local football team or helping out with the league of friends in a hospital. What’s going to make them stop doing that and start working in a library instead?"

Read the entire article, "This is the Big Society, you see. It must be big, to contain so many volunteers" on OurKingdon: power & liberty in Britain

"Volunteer Sign-in" by rkeefer

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Power of the Product: An EduCon Conversation

Gwyneth Jones (the Daring Librarian) and I will be hosting a session, The Power of the Product, at EduCon this year.

We're excited to be exploring this topic and hope you can join us on site or online.

One of our discussion tools will be a crowd-generated Google slideshow. Gwyneth & I will the ball rolling, and then invite you to add your own examples to the slide deck we're constructing. Additional resources are being archived at the TL Virtual Cafe.

A conversation is only as "Creative, Meaningful and Daring" as its participants. Come join us, and see what we can build together!

*and don't miss Gwyneth, along with Shannon Miller and Joyce Valenza, at The Future of Student Inquiry/Research session!

"PowerofProductSodaonDeskH2" by The Daring Librarian

Our Real Reunion

Over the past summer, my high school class held its 45th reunion...which I chose not to attend. I felt disconnected from this particular group of people, not having seen, or spoken with, most of them since graduation.

This situation started to change when a classmate set up a website for the Class of '65. I was contacted by one person on Facebook, and soon there was a flurry of invitations and networking. I found that some of us were kindred spirits, with a lot more in common than I had anticipated.

But the most meaningful connections have been made recently, as one member of our class battles for his life after a heart attack and stroke. Each evening, at 10:00, we share prayers and good wishes, via Facebook, with J.R.'s family (his wife is also a fellow graduate). It has been a profoundly moving experience. Another member of our class shared this reflection:

Reposted, with permission, from Facebook

Classmates with Class by Paul Murray, Saturday, January 22, 2011

It has been my good fortune to shake hands with a former President, a few Governers and several statesman . I've been blessed to meet several pro athletes to include more than a few Hall of Famers in both the NFL and MLB.

After bearing witness to the events of this past week, I am forced to conclude that some of the most impressive people were those which whom I passed in the hallways of CCHS. The faith, love and generosity displayed here the past several days make me proud to call a good many of you friends and wish I had gotten to know others better. Salute!

Our class was large for the area, almost 500 members. Since it was a central school, many of us tended to interact with those we knew from our home parishes. Tracking - college entrance, business, etc. - also created artificial barriers. And, of course, there were the standard teenage cliques: jocks, brains, popular kids.

Time, age, and experience have erased most of these differences. Our lives have taken many different paths, but we have a shared history. Although we are interacting virtually right now, I believe that in the future, we will be more likely to seek each other out in real life.

I'm proud to claim these people as friends. We ARE "classmates with class."

"Joy: High School Yearbook" by dmcordell

Friday, January 21, 2011

Here's the Story: Mercedes-Benz Tweet Race to the Big Game

You may have seen references on social networking sites that mention #MBteamS (or 3 other teams I choose not to promote here) and wondered what was going on.

As the Official Team S Storyteller, I feel it's my job to fill you in.

In mid-December, USA Today reported on Super Bowl ads that would "play the social media game"

Mercedes-Benz... plans to launch "The World's First Twitter-Fueled Race," which awards two new cars to the two-person team of social-media wizards that garners for Mercedes-Benz the most tweets, Facebook "likes" and social-media currency by game day.

Today, on its Facebook page, Mercedes-Benz USA issues a casting call for social-media users who want to compete in its Twitter-Fueled Race.

When the chosen teams were announced, I was astonished/happy to see that educational blogger, self-proclaimed "mayor of the Internet" and fellow Packers fan, John Pederson (@ijohnpederson) is co-driver for Team S, along with Todd Sanders, aka @tsand.

In the spirit of competition, fun, and avarice (participants will be eligible to win a V.I.P. trip and/or a Mercedes!), I followed the steps to join a team, claimed a spot as "one of our human resources" (librarian, photographer, and historian were already taken, but "storyteller" encompasses all of that) and stand ready to Tweet my team on to victory.

It promises to be an interesting social media adventure, and beyond all the hype and hyperbole, there is a worthy cause:

At the core of this contest, behind all the football, fancy cars, and social media silliness, is a $25,000 donation that Mercedes-Benz is making to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on behalf of our coach, Pete Wentz, and #MBteamS. Even better, if we do end up “winning” this thing, Mercedes-Benz kicks in an additional $20,000, totaling $45,000, to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. -ijohnpederson

So follow these three simple steps:

1) Twitter. Come race time, your tweets are our fuel. You’ll need a Twitter account. Follow both @tsand and @ijohnpederson.

2) Join Team S on the Mercedes-Benz Facebook page.

3) Finally, claim your spot as one of our “human resources” by giving yourself a role on our team. Visit and add yourself in the comments.

Become part of our team, and help us write this story. It's social media with a goal and for a cause. How wonderful!

Photos from Mercedes-Benz USA

Monday, January 17, 2011

On the Home Front

I sometimes get so caught up in my online life, with its multi-national connections and innovative slant, that I tend to overlook what's happening in my own community.

New York State school districts vary widely in demographics, resources, guiding philosophies. While I worked as a K-12 teacher/librarian in a small, rural, public school (graduating classes averaging about 39), my own children attended classes in a larger, suburban district (graduating classes near 200).

Today, my eye was caught by this item in the "Boos and Bravos" section of the daily newspaper:
"Bravos to the Queensbury Board of Education for coming up with an innovative way to solicit public input and include taxpayers in upcoming budget decisions. In February and March, the board will host three community forums in the elementary cafeteria in which citizens themselves will 'constructively and collaboratively' address issues relating to the budget, employee benefits and the educational direction of the district. Citizens will be divided into groups and asked to come up with solutions to several problems on their own. Board members will not participate in the discussions, but instead will observe and learn. This is a new approach that will get the public more involved in the decision-making. The board deserves credit for its openness and creativity." -The Post-Star

I like the participatory nature of this BOE-sponsored workshop, and the fact that citizens are being acknowledged as both stake-holders and partners in setting education policy. In fact, it mirrors what many of us would like to see happening in the classroom: constructive, collaborative, creative problem-solving.

Bravo, indeed, Queensbury Union Free School District. I'll be there.

"Too many decisions about changes are made by people untouched by the change process." -Peter Block

"A shared vision is not an is rather, a force in people's its simplest level, a shared vision is the answer to the question 'What do we want to create?'" -Peter Senge

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead

Image from Queensbury High School Alumni webpage

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Aerial Dead Reckoning: E 6-B

It all started with the snow storm...

Since I've been posting 365 Project photos of ice and snow for the past few days, I decided to look for something from inside our home to feature today, for a change of pace.

When my siblings and I cleaned out our parents' home this fall, I ended up with an assortment of mementos. I've begun scanning pictures, starting with my father's WWII album. In addition to the photographs, I saved some other artifacts.

Today, my attention was caught by a gadget in a leather case, a U.S. Army Air Force "Computer: Aerial, Dead Reckoning" tool. A little research yielded a huge amount of information.

My initial keywords were "Aerial Dead Reckoning;" then I zeroed in on "E-6B."

I learned that this pocket computer is actually a circular slide rule:
"These flight computers are used during flight planning (on the ground before takeoff) to aid in calculating fuel burn, wind correction, time en route, and other items. In the air, the flight computer can be used to calculate ground speed as well. The back is designed for wind correction calculations, i.e., determining how much the wind is affecting one's speed and course." -Wikipedia

Included in the results, I found a forum discussion, an instruction manual, and an aviation blog with a photo of Dr. Spock using an E 6-B! There's a YouTube how-to clip, and a book that serves as both a history and a tutorial. Modern versions of the E6-B are still being sold to pilots, although the case is now vinyl, not leather.

After his discharge from service, my father studied engineering, graduated from RPI, and became a metallurgist (how I loved to fill that in on school forms asking for your parents' occupations!) for the General Electric Company. I'd like to think that this fascinating little metal "whiz wheel" contributed to his survival during wartime, and fueled his lifelong interest in science and mathematics.

A snowy day treasure hunt yielded a sweet little reminder of my family history.

"My eyes are dim I cannot see, I have not got my E-6B with me, over the Valley of the Ruhr." (World War II USAAC ditty)

"His computer is the instrument on which he stakes his life ... Don’t ask for his computer, for he’d sooner lend his wife." (Navigator's Song, 1943)

Related posts:
The Navigator's Daughter

"Computer: Aerial Dead Reckoning" by dmcordell
"Over the Atlantic" by dmcordell

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Club Click

One of the benefits of semi-retirement is having a flexible schedule that leaves time for interesting new ventures.

Shannon Miller is an online acquaintance who became a friend when we got to connect in real life at the SLJ Leadership Conference this fall. She and I decided to collaborate on a project: we would become co-advisers for her school photography club - Shannon, from the school library media center in Van Meter, Iowa; and me, from my home in upstate New York.

We Skype at times that fit into her students' schedules, keeping in mind the one hour time difference as we plan. Although an Internet problem forced us to cancel one meeting, Shannon, some Van Meter students (in grades 6 - 12), and I have managed to make a good start on organizing Club Click. School administrators have given their approval, an explanatory letter went home to parents, and we have about 20 enthusiastic members.

The Van Meter students are respectful, creative, and fun to interact with. Some have moved ahead quickly on their own: Kylee (who is old enough to have her own Flickr account) has been building an impressive collection of photographs. Alissa includes lovely photos in her blog postings.

And then there's Emma, who not only has a blog of her own, and a Twitter account (with her parents' knowledge and approval), but also has volunteered to set up and co-administer the official club blog, which will feature students and their photographic work.

Our Club Click Flickr group has more adult than student uploads right now, but that will change as Shannon and I determine the best way to allow younger members to share their photos.

In our Skype sessions, we've discussed some of the possible directions in which the club might move, from choosing themes to constructively critiquing each other's work to community service projects. I talked about the importance of tagging, and displayed some of the tools available on Flickr. Shannon and I have been stashing relevant resources in diigo; we want to offer students as many options as possible to feed their obvious enthusiasm for taking, editing, and sharing photographs.

For most Club Click members, this will be a fun hobby. For some, it may grow to be a lifelong passion. Either way, it's a privilege to be part of the adventure.

"I wish more people felt that photography was an adventure the same as life itself and felt that their individual feelings were worth expressing. To me, that makes photography more exciting." -Harry Callahan

"What is art but a way of seeing?" -Thomas Berger

"Skyping with Van Meter" by dmcordell
"Some Flickr options" by dmcordell

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pieces of the Puzzle

As the new year begins, many of us have started, or continued, participation in 365 (photo a day) groups. A Twitter friend was lamenting the fact that she couldn't use Flickr for this activity - she doesn't have a Yahoo I.D. and therefore was unable to create a Flickr account.

Her comment triggered a vague memory, so I did a bit of searching. It gave me great pleasure to to inform her that new Flickr users can now sign up - and sign in - with Google OpenID.

This little interaction highlighted for me one of the huge benefits of a PLN (personal learning network): it allows you to tap into the collective wisdom of your colleagues. In our information age, no one can be an expert in everything...but everyone can contribute something to the conversation, frequently more than they realize.

That trick or tool that's been in your repertoire for months may be a revelation to some in your network. A frustrating technical problem could be a quick fix when you crowd-source the issue.

It's nice to know that the answer to your quandary may only be a click away.

"Puzzle pieces" by liza31337