Monday, February 16, 2009

Practicing the sermon

Hare rant 2/16/09

For far too long I have resisted using Web 2.0 tools to establish a web presence. Unpleasant experiences in the past have kept me from exposing myself in any way to people I neither know nor trust. Now after more than a decade in self-protection mode I am gingerly wading into more social seas on the Internet.

It all began with Netflix really. Being able to use Netflix to line up a queue of movies to be delivered to my house was a wonderful thing. With the subsequent finding and joining the Netflix Community Ning, all of a sudden I had a public profile and my world didn't cave. I didn't get spam or unsolicited distasteful comments and I found the people there quite helpful and friendly. My next Web 2.0 venture was into the world of social booking with a Delicious account. Being able to save bookmarks that would always be accessible was one thing, but being able to share them with others and subscribe to a network of bookmarks saved by people who share my interests is huge in terms of spurring me to to greater depths of knowledge.

Then came the the discovery of wikis. While I knew about Wikipedia I didn't see a smaller scale application for wikis until I attended a hands-on workshop at TIES. There we were forced to set up a wiki "for practice". Since I don't like to waste practice on irrelevant work, I set up a wiki for my school with the idea that teachers would be able to use it for find and offer information on using technology. From that point, there has been no turning back. I am in the ocean; I am going to swim and will hopefully encourage others to follow my lead. Who knows, I may even find some folks who'll build a boat with me.

What I find as I work on the wiki is that if I am going to make if a useful tool, I need to have first-hand knowledge of the items featured there. Not many people are contributing at this point, but the people who are have different technology skills than I do. This has prompted me to try out the tools they're using. Hence this blog, likewise twitter. At this point it doesn't matter to me that few people read the blog or that I don't have a twitter following to speak of. What matters is I am learning to use the tools and using them opens up new opportunities to gain new skills and will be able to open up new worlds for those whom I support in my job. My colleague and blog follower, Ghost, affirms me quite often and the other day commented on what a powerful professional development tool blogs and wikis are. This could not be more true. Much of what I have learned in the time since I began this blog I have gleaned from other wikis and blogs, most of which I found through social bookmarking.

The next assignment I have given myself is to learn photo sharing to the point where I can explain it to others. In that vein, I spent time yesterday uploading photos to my folders in Picasa with the hope of sharing them with my 75 year-old parents. If I can get them to upload their photos as well, they'll be able share them without the fear sending huge attachments vie email and we'll be swiming in this exciting sea togther.

1 comment:

  1. I dived into the Internet world in a little different way but find that I'm learning so much more than I ever expected by being here. It has expanded my world tremendously. I think we've grabbed onto a log together. Now we need to get some more so we can work on that boat.