Monday, February 23, 2009

Twine & organizational forking

A few notes I put together a couple of weeks back, but never published (btw, today I published up a bunch of old blog postings that I'd never made live - from as far back as 2006! why? well, when I reread the drafts, I noticed that they were interesting to me & often a bit prescient... hopefully they are useful to others, too.)

- trying to listen to / watch tutorials on Twine - this "semantic web" tool for interest networking holds some promise. The reason I like the Twine concept so much is that it relies on "RDF" (Resource Description Framework), the basis of the semantic web.
"The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a language for representing information about resources in the World Wide Web." -
RDF is one of those concepts that's key for our creation and organization of digital resources, as libraries. I want to explore, for example, reengineering how we direct people to our subscription databases, possibly using RDF. A test twine I created for subscription databases =
The best thing about Twine so far, in my experience, is how it's been automatically bringing in tags / metadata about pages that I "bookmark" to put into one of my interest twines. As I've been trying to tell our content creators, tools like this are why its so important, key even, that they make sure that their web pages have good titles and metadata.
Still, I've already felt frustrated by Twine. As with all things still in their early developmental stages, one often hits dead ends. And before I become reliant on a tool, I need some reassurance that my data is exportable - something I've had trouble finding in Twine thusfar (not that it's not there, just I didn't quickly find it). Even Google Notebook, backed by the web giant, is going offline. So that's key for me.
I created a couple of "twines", but you have to know that I had planned to use Twine as an extra-full featured social bookmarking-type tool. And I bookmark a lot of things in an array of subject areas. (I refuse to be nailed down, am too ADD for that!) But Twine wants me to start by creating a "twine" on a specific topic. I get why - they see this as a way of people organizing their interests, but I have to say my interests evolve. I might start with just one or two bookmarks & documents on a topic, then no more, so it's part of a broader field of interest, or I might go deeply into it - thus qualifying for a new twine. Anyhow, couldn't decide on what to call the twine that I planned to import all of my bookmarks into (I have Archaeology, web development, organizational behavior, etc. in there) so I just called it "web resources test". I noticed that if I left it public, it appears that anyone could add to it. Again, what the developers had in mind for this tool, so it makes good sense. But, no, I don't want to play your way, developers - please forgive me. For now, I want to experiment with a twine by controlling what's in it on my own, but still making it publicly visible. Again, that's partly because I'm at a testing stage.
Twine didn't seem super-intuitive to me, but I really wanted to make the tool do backflips, but that's another story. And it couldn't also import my Furl bookmarks.
Another thing that I found compelling about Twine, however, was its support of graphical elements and digital objects of many types (including multimedia). In your twine, you can include items that range from bookmarks (URLs), comments, documents, to images and videos. You can add a graphic / icon to your "twine" to sort of serve as a representation of the Twine's subject area.
Most importantly, of course, Twine pulls data automatically from the sites/pages you're adding for the title and description, plus automatically adds in tags (granted, that's another area of concern for me - I like my homemade tags, such as webdev2, that mean something to me - the schema's in my mind, but it makes my use of tagging easier - you can add in tags to Twine items for yourself, but it looks like you can never remove a tag that's been automatically added - if I read correctly). You can make your twine private and invite people to it. You can also forward emails directly to your twine, so you can pull together a project using this tool. And I may be incorrect - maybe I just didn't figure out how to do the things I wanted to do yet - I've only been playing with it for an hour and a half or so - and that with lots of interruptions. But really - how long should it take?

- the business of "forks" - I was listening to the video of ALA's Top Tech Trends panel from this week's Midwinter (Top Tech Trends 2009 - ALA Midwinter")- thank you, Griffey! and I kept hearing all about the dangers of "forking" - so let me quote with its explanation: "In software engineering, a project fork happens when developers take a copy of source code from one software package and start independent development on it, creating a distinct piece of software" One of my great twitterati, whose words I always hang on mentioned the dangers of forking in an organization and though it was meant humorously, I started to think about it in the context of MPOW. One of the absolutely wonderful things about my colleagues learning about Web2.0 is that they're starting to see what's possible. One of the terrible things is that there's still such a communications gap (by which, I mean a gap which I play a role in, too, so I'm not trying to put it out there that it's someone else's problem) that people decide to just do things without working with others. A random set of pages (even of websites - blogs, wikis, etc.), no cohesion about the problems we're trying to solve online and worse still, no coherence in solutions is the result. This creates a really confusing situation for the end-user. They don't know where you go for what information (why are there so many pages about x, what's the difference between those pages), what's authoritative from the organization, how credible is the organization if it can't even pull information (our specialty!) together in a meaningful way. Additionally, when colleagues decide that the solution to an online presence issue they have is to throw up a blog, wiki, or social networking account, we have to think about the realities of such sites'/pages' maintenance and migration. The lifecycle of our online information is not something that people give much thought to, but if - in the economic collapse, many of our beloved Web2.0 tools disappear and we have no plan for how to handle that - heck, knowledge that we even are using such tools, how do we migrate those things off onto our regular site? How do we migrate to a CMS if things are hither and yon (and worse still, the person doing the CMS migration isn't aware of where things are or that they exist)? These are serious issues. I'm the world's biggest fan of empowering staff and providing some means of aiding them in rapid web development. I'm a HUGE Web2.0/Library2.0 evangelist. I definitely DON'T want to to shut anyone down, take away their sense of innovation & freedom, not by any means. I just want them to talk with me, to work with me, so we can move forward in the best possible way. Talking through what their true goal or problem is and the many avenues we can take to get there at the outset always yields a better result.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments: