Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Making sense of the World: Real Life & Second Life

My friend in the SG Blogosphere, Vanessa, appeared in the papers again (for good reasons). She was interviewed by Straits Times (Digital Life) for her views on why Second Life isn’t taking off as well in Singapore compared to games like World of Warcraft and Maple Story.

Here's my favourite part of the interview:
"Second Life," she said gravely, "is not a game".
"It is a world. You have to find your own friends, find your own goals."


I left a comment to say that those same words apply to Real Life too.

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Library User posts a "Beginner's Guide to the NLB Digital Library"

Spotted this via Tomorrow.SG, where Singapore-based Dipankar Subba posted an informative guide on accessing a part of the NLB digital media resources.

BTW, I noticed Dipankar linked to only one part of the NLB eCollection. While he wasn't wrong to use the term "Singapore Digital Library", technically it would be more correct to say "NLB Overdrive collection" (i.e. 'Overdrive' is the vendor from whom NLB paid money to subscribe to the digital content).

There are other "Digital Collections" at where I jokingly call the "eSection" -- because everything there is prefixed with an "e":
NLB - Web Archive
Dipankar also made valid observations and constructive comments about how the NLB digital content website can be improved. I'll refer my colleagues to his post.

It's nice to read comments from library customers like Dipankar, who wrote at the start of this post that "We in Singapore are fortunate because we have such a wonderful library system" and how he could "wax lyrical about the library until the cows come home".

But what's even nicer is to have library customers share information, tips, "How To" guides etc. for the benefit of others.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Chun See's "first catch": Blogging for Seniors Talk

LOL, Chun See informed the group (in jest) that we received our first "catch" from the talk. A person who identified himself as "Ah Lee" "Ahlee" left this comment in Chun See's blog:
I attended your talk at Queenstown library yesterday . Thanks very much.I just created a blog site. I may overtake you as an older blogger now as I came from Malaysia to Singaore over 50 years ago as a younster to study in Singapore.I think I am at least 12 years older than you.

How's that for encouragement? :)

Of course, starting a blog is easy. Maintaining it is a different matter. But I think if one doesn't make the first step, one wouldn't ever know. So congrats to Ah Lee Ahlee for starting his NasiDagan blog. He explained why he named his blog after a Malaysian dish in his first post.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Learning from an Ancient Library (part 1)

MacRitchie Nature Walk - Quote
Losing a rain forest is like letting an ancient library burn down before you can read all the books ~ Randall Haydes

Packing for Tree Top WalkThis morning, armed with a bottle of water, two bananas (along with an umbrella and my camera), I set off for the TreeTop Walk at MacRitchie's nature trail (see also, WildSingapore and Habitatnews).

I did my homework on the hiking route by visiting the NParks website. I knew it would take about five hours of walking. My aim was to reach the TreeTop Walk. The weather has been rainy so I made sure I packed an umbrella. Other than that, I wasn't sure what to expect.

I started the trail at 11.30am and arrived back at the start point around 4.30pm. I was left with sore leg muscles but a soaring spirit. It might have been the fresh air in the forest, the almost perfect weather for hiking, the tranquility, being ONE with nature... whatever it was, I'm contented.
MacRitchie Monkeys MacRitchie Terrapins MacRitchie Tree Top Walk
MacRitchie Squirrel MacRitchie - Flower

It's with pride that I say Singaporeans have a nature reserve that's full of things to learn. It's our Natural Heritage. Sure, it's not the Grand Canyon. Never mind that the hike was not as tough or the scenery as spectacular as this particular trail. The MacRitchie nature reserve is no walk in the park, let me tell you. It's good enough to work up a sweat and there are a few steep slopes to make it physically challenging.

I was also quietly delighted the trail was litter free (there were one or two things that made me frown -- but I'll save it for another post).

In my youth, I've been fed with talk of how Singapore is a concrete jungle devoid of "nature"; everything is man-made. Absolutely not true. Today it took less than an hour for me to go from my home to MacRitchie and cost less than $2 by bus per trip. And the experience -- priceless.

Definitely planning a few more trips to MacRitchie's nature trial. Kudos to NParks and all the people who made the trail a reality. It's beautifully done. I don't normally gush with pride when it comes to Singapore landmarks but I can't help it for that one.

The image at the top was from one of the many information signages strategically placed throughout the nature trail. Even though I was without a guide, I was able to read, watch, listen, learn and reflect.

Randall Haydes was spot on: a rain forest is indeed like a library.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Post-Talk Reflection: Blogging for Senior Citizens

Prior to the talk this afternoon, I wrote here, about what Chun See asked regarding the expected audience turnout:
There's no benchmark for what is a "good" or "poor" audience turnout, other than average attendances. So I'd consider a good crowd to be 25 people and up.

I'm happy to report that about 100 people turned up this afternoon! About 15 minutes before the talk was about to start, about 60% of the 80 seats were filled. Five minutes before we began, all but two seats were unoccupied.
Blogging for Seniors Talk (2) Blogging for Seniors Talk (1)
After that, more people came and were bunched up at the back (more than what I captured in the photo), with some standing outside the glass partition. I was sure the good turnout was due to the event being listed in the Events for Seniors Citizen Week in one of the newspapers.

Chun See, at 54 years old, kept saying he felt very young during the talk, because there seems to be participants in their 60s in the audience. I think the average age of the participant was 55 or thereabouts (darn, I forgot to ask them before they dispersed).

He shared why he named his blog "Good Morning Yesterday" (it was from a song, and one lady even sportingly tried to sing it when requested by Chun See), his motivation for blogging (mental exercise, share a bit of Singapore's history, and connection with the young), and excerpts of comments from younger readers of his blog (Chun See said the best compliment he received was "Uncle, you ROCK!")

I came in for the last part with a "live" demo on signing-up and creating a blog with I told the audience I had to assume they knew what a "URL" was, and the basics of accessing the Internet. Then proceeded to show how to publish a post, edit a previously published post, how to access the blog, and a brief mention on copyright and personal privacy issues. All within 15 minutes.

I emphasised a few times the session was not about the "How To" in creating or maintaining a blog. I was mindful not to give too much information but some were clearly hungry for more. We referred them to, where they run a course on Blogging conducted in English and Mandarin. I wonder if RSVP would have a surge in enquiries for their blogging course after today :)

Before I ended my part, I advised that even if they didn't start their own blog, what they might want to do is to leave comments in other people's blogs (followed this with a quick demo).

Prior to the talk, we asked how many of them had email accounts and half of them raised their hands. From the way the audience paid attention, the questions asked, and the way they responded verbally or other non-verbal cues, I sensed that a good number of them already have basic knowledge about accessing the Internet. It was very gratifying to have a few of them come up to us and personally thanked us for the talk.

Chun See was able to engage the audience. He was throwing names of places in Singapore (long gone now) that the audience was able to identify with his sharing. I think more important, being around the same age, they were able to identify with him. I'm sure hearing a 54 year-old blogger tell about the joys of blogging (yeah, Chun See used the word "joy" quite a bit) made the message sink in much more than what a younger person could have done.

Oh, and thanks to our FOYer friends, Victor, Walter and Dr. Tan Wee Kiat for turning up for the session!

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Do you have more examples of Accessible Designs?

[UPDATE 31 Dec 06: I've since learned that "Hearing Impaired" is not a preferred term. I should use "Deaf" or "Hard of Hearing". Thanks.]

I've re-produced a post from Preetam about Accessible Design, over at sgLEAD:
Braille marking on Japanese beer cans
Japanese alcoholic drinks also carry an “alcohol” braille character on top to prevent visually disabled people from accidentally consuming it.

Incidentally, a friend recently asked me about sgLEAD and why it was setup. He asked if it was to raise funds for the disabled. I explained that the initial aim was simply to start something that would interest like-minded friends and colleagues. I suppose raising awareness and sharing of information is the primary objective of the group.

It's hard to quantify the value of such groups. Take this for example -- a librarian colleague (who had joined the group) had a personal contact, and that contact was a non-librarian who's hearing-impaired Deaf. Where appropriate, I'd seek his inputs about deafness and hearing impairment being hard of hearing. [That being said, I know Kevin's research for his PhD. has something to do with measuring the value of social networks.]

Anyway, wrt to this post, do you have examples & photos of accesible designs? I'd love to learn what you've come across.

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Blogging Talk for Senior Citizens dutch translation mystery solved!

I was about to log-off for the night, to get ready for the Blogging Talk for Seniors tomorrow in about 12 hours' time, when I received this email. It definitely solved the Dutch-translation question I asked earlier (email published here with permission):
Hello Ivan

I just noticed you referred to my blogpost in Librarylingo on the Blogging for Senior Citizens event. And you were curious to know what I wrote about.

Well first of all it was meant to draw attention to the Blogging for Seniors event. I thought that was a nice initiative and I posted it as a suggestion for Dutch libraries to organise similar events.

Secondly I was intrigued by the fact that Mr. Lam Chun See at 54 was presented as the "oldest blogger". Living in a country with a surplus of older people it struck me that Singapore must have a predominantly young population and would consider people of 54 already 'senior'.

This is what I wrote about it:
"This announcement is from Singapore. The Mr. Lam Chun See from the announcement is considered at age 54 to be the oldest blogger in the country. I suppose that's how it works in countries without the problem of dejuvenation. You are considered a senior citizen much sooner. He writes a weblog with stories of his childhood years in the kampong. Maybe I'll do something like that some day. Start writing about public libraries when there were no search engines and things to do on the internet and all you had was a card catalogue and an encyclopedia to answer queries.Wait and see..

I use my blog to comment on the Dutch public library scene and to provide my colleagues with news I think is interesting or fascinating. A few months ago I also wrote about the Deafinitely Boleh event as well.

International fame! And you didn't even know!

Keep on blogging. I love reading your blog(s) and I thought Mr Lam Chun See does keep a nice blog as well.

If you're interested in Dutch libaries. I try to keep an English language log going at

And if you really want to know I'm 57.


Ria Smith | trends & advies
E rsmith [at] probiblio. nl

Thanks so much for the email, Ria. I intend mention your writing to me during the talk, as an example of the connections and conversations that can take place in the Blogosphere.

And Chun See will be happy to know that at least one (Dutch) librarian does not consider him to be old! LOL

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Science Fiction Book Club Meme

Discovered this book-related meme from Hamikka, which I learnt from this post by Larry Hosken that it's called a Science Fiction Book Club meme (not sure if it's the same as this Science Fiction Book Club).

"Below is a Science Fiction Book Club list most significant SF novels between 1953-2006. The meme part of this works like so: Bold the ones you have read, strike through the ones you read and hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put a star* next to the ones you love."

OK, mine as follows:
1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien*
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert*
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick*
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey*
22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman*
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein*
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

And the tally:
  • I've read 19 out of 50 (38%) of the Science Fiction Book Club selection
  • There are 6 which I really love
  • None which I've read and hated (I find it hard to hate books -- I may not get them, but hardly "hate")
  • There's 1 that I started but never finished (the Harry Potter story)

Although not specified in the meme, there are two books which I would want to read but never did (for various reasons): "Slaughterhouse-5" by Kurt Vonnegut, and "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson.

All the books I've read, I've borrowed from the public library. Didn't have to spend a single cent on them. How cool is that. Even cooler -- I can probably find some of them from the public library again.

Who shall I tag for this meme? [Scrolling through my blog feeds to see who tends to read]. I'm tagging the following: Siva, Brennan, Kevin, his sister Lynda, Preetam, Kenneth, Vanessa, Chun See, Billy, Lucian, Tinker Tailor, Walter, Sharon (who has a book-dependency problem)... ... CW, Von, QQ, Damien, Diane, Addie (librarians all). Might as well try Cowboy Caleb (who used to visit the NLB libraries a lot before his new job), and mrbrown too (he said he likes the library).

Those whom I've missed out, please feel free to tag to this post/ add a comment with your link/ email me. I'd love to see what we've in common re: Sci Fi readings.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Life in the New Jazz Age: But some people prefer to be in an Orchestra

[This post started as a comment, then grew into an essay. The good news is that I managed to contain it before it grew to a thesis. The bad news is that the essay might not be very coherent. Comments and critiques are welcome, whatever your musical tastes!]

I don't play Jazz nor am I trained in classical music. But I know just enough about the musical styles to understand what Vanessa wrote, in what I thought was an excellent post, titled "The conceptual/ jazz age".

We should all play jazz
Jazz is not chaos; it's not "free-for-all". My understanding of Jazz is that it has a framework (i.e. rules) but within that framework it allows a significant degree of improvisations.

I read Vanessa's post as a commentary on workplace culture and mindsets in the context of a globalised world -- on the need for a balance to be struck between Structure and Flexibilty; Centralised Control Vs Decentralised Creativity.

Excerpts from her post:
When I learnt classical piano, everything was fixed and pre-determined with little room for variation, if any at all. When I learnt my exam pieces, there were specific notes or bars where I had to play louder, softer, staccato and legato... Translated to the old-world working style, as long as you got your job done, you could clock in your hours, collect your pay and go home.

When you play a jazz piece, you aren’t expected to stick to the main tune, note for note. You play the main melody and chorus (variations are fine but the tune should be recognisable to the audience). Then you improvise. Ideally, you should work out with band members who gets to improvise and at which stage. Finally, someone gives a signal - drummers are usually good at doing this - then we know we’re going back to the main theme and completing the song.

So in a jazz band, there is flexibility without absolute chaos. We’re given a basic framework (the “company mission statement”) and are familiar with our main roles (the “organisational chart”). Everything else requires creativity, which is something you cannot memorise.

Jazz musicians are better prepared for the unexpected. A change in key, tempo or rhythm doesn’t upset the pro. He adapts to it and comes up with something new and mind-blowing. That is the whole point of improvising in music. Today’s workers cannot expect to have an iron rice bowl (ie, permanent employment). Times and tunes are changing fast. We have to sing for our supper.

Perhaps we should all be trained in Jazz :)

Two main ideas
I was chatting with Vanessa about her post. I asked what the main ideas were. She explained there were two, and in her own words:
  1. All organisations should realise they have to adapt to this new age;
  2. Organisations should give employees leeway to be more like jazz musicians rather than stuffy violinists
Regarding point #1, I'm sure that in today's context, no organisation can afford to operate like a traditional orchestra (i.e. playing set pieces all the time) -- and they know it. Those that don't recognise this or refuse to change would have closed down by now. As for point #2, I think the issue is not whether organisations give leeway to employees to improvise, but rather "how much leeway".

Does everyone want to be in a Jazz Band?
But implied in those two main points seem to be this -- "Employees want to play Jazz". From my conversations with friends and also my observations, such a statement is not necessarily true.

I have come across people who prefer to play set-pieces more than they'd like to improvise. These employees are not necessarily from the "old economy". They could be fresh out of school -- those relatively new to the New Economy.

Thing is, these employees probably see themselves as Jazz Players too. They want the latitude to improvisation. The problem is the degrees in which they are expected to. In short, they may only be prepared (actual or perceived) to improvise that much.

For instance:
  • Employee: "Excuse me boss, may I have a decision on this matter?"
  • Boss: "What would you do?"
  • Employee: (Silently thinks, "You're the boss, aren't you supposed to make a decision instead of asking for one?")
There are always two sides, or more, to an issue. The above example may over-simplify things. I'm just illustrating some employees who might think or react.

Admittedly, there have been times where I've reacted like that employee. But in truth, I've come to relish the chance to make decisions on behalf of "the boss". Even in situations where I've been given instructions, I'd try to test where I'm allowed to be creative. Not that I can be creative all the time (some things I should and will not, like financial policies).

How Jazzy should I play it as an employee?
That being said, it'll be a mismanagement on the part of any boss if -- knowing that the employee likes to improvise -- the boss deliberately assigns a lot of routine tasks to that employee.

That's not to say we shouldn't assign routine tasks at all. I have routine tasks all the time, like monthly reports. I think they are a pain, albeit necessary ones. Generally it's the assignments outside normal routine that keeps me happy. I make that fact known to my boss. I let it be known that I like to play Jazz.

How Jazzy should I let employees play?
As a manager, I have colleagues reporting to me. I tend to give them the chance to make decisions too. However, I've learnt that doing so might be misconstrued as not playing my part as "the boss".

Is there a way to resolve this?

I think it's about (1) the boss not making any assumptions that the employee is comfortable with making decisions; (2) setting expectations right between boss and employee, and (3) keeping communication open, i.e. really say what each other feel in a tactful manner.

As a manager, I'd assume that the onus on me to initiate the discussion -- although in truth, I'd prefer colleagues to raise them first. For one, it alerts me to the issue in a more direct manner. Two, it signals that the employee takes ownership of their work and personal development.

What if I want to play more than Jazz?
There are of course cases where certain employees wish to improvise more than what the organisation is prepared to accept. Continuing with the Music/ Jazz analogy, it's a case of the employee preferring to play rock tunes in a Jazz Band. That's a job-mismatch issue.

Either the player follows the jazz band, or find a rock band instead. Or you can stay in the Jazz Band and slowly introduce them to Rock. If you survive the process and the band still retains you : )

Whatever way, I believe we all have a choice.

Achieving Musical Equilibrium in an Age of Globalisation
Taking an academic perspective, the ideal situation is when we achieve Equilibrium between the Employee's Propensity for Improvisation and the Expectations of the Organisation.

In plain speak, there's a disequilibrium when:
  • The employee wants more leeway to improvise but the work environment/ culture tends to veer towards more central control, or
  • The employee wants more structure whereas the work environment is way too dynamic and exceeds the ability of the employee to improvise.
  • And combinations that basically create an imbalance.
(Sheesh, my plain-speak isn't that plain afterall...)

Understanding the Language of Jazz
Traditional orchestral pieces will still have their place in this world but definitely fewer than they used to be. Even they will employ variation in playing their pieces. I believe that as effective employees or bosses, it's a given that we need to understand the Language of Jazz. We need individual competencies. Then we need a framework to exercise those competencies.

But in life, that "framework" isn't as clear cut as Jazz. Playing a piece of music is a lot more defined than, say, "Promoting Reading" or "Promoting Libraries".

I suppose it comes down to this -- in all things there needs a balance (I realise that sounds like a cop-out statement; nevertheless, that's my final analysis). That balance will come from engineered effort but also forces more subtle. Things will evolve. In the final analysis, I believe we either play Jazz or learn to create a new form of jazz.

The alternative is perhaps not play at all.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Blogging Talk for Senior Citizens goes International

Wow, I had a kick when I discovered our talk -- the one Chun See and I would be conducting in a week's time -- had been mentioned at this Dutch language blog hosted in the Netherlands called LibraryLingo.

Try this translated page to read the page in English (note: the word "web-unwieldly" means "blog"; that's the best the translation software can do). The translation is far from perfect. I have no clue what the paragraph on Chun See's blog meant. Can anyone translate this passage from Dutch to English?
Hij schrijft een weblog, 'GoodmorningYesterday' vol met verhalen van vroeger toen hij een klein jongetje in de kampong was. Misschien ga ik dat ook maar doen. Lekker mutsen over echte catalogi met kaartjes, toen je nog geen zoekmachines en webgedoe had en je gewoon in een kaartenbak en een encyclopedie een antwoord moest zoeken. Wait and see...

Preetam very kindly shared these two 'senior citizen blogs'/ blog posts he's come across in this region (explanations are from Preetam):
Chun See and I had a quick phone discussion over preparations for the talk. He wondered how many people would turn up. I shared that it's usually hard to tell, especially when such a talk has never been conducted before (i.e. less chance of word-of-mouth publicity). Also, being conducted in the English language would also mean a narrower pool of participants.

Publicity posters have been put up at other library branches. My colleague from Programmes & Events Management would have alerted the usual print media (if they find the event interesting, they'd list in their activity section). I'll also ask if the folks from Yesterday.SG would help give a plug for this event in their blogs (if they find it relevant). Apart from that, we'll have to see who turns up.

There's no benchmark for what is a "good" or "poor" audience turnout, other than average attendances. So I'd consider a good crowd to be 25 people and up.

But whether it's an audience of two or 20, I'm not too concerned. Personally, I think having such a talk for seniors being organised at the library is, by itself, a step in the right direction. If the turnout is poor, we'll review the reasons why (like how we tend to review all new programmes conducted). Sometimes, the audience just isn't ready or there's no demand. We'll know only after we try.

I don't expect the participants to start their own blogs after attending this talk. It's really about sharing personal experiences and perspectives of using blogs, so that the participants can make their own informed decisions.

Blogging for Senior Citizens
Date/Time : 25 November 2006 , 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm
Venue : Queenstown Community Library - Programme Zone
Subject : Education & Learning (English)
Presenter : Mr Lam Chun See and Mr Ivan Chew
Admission :
Free admission

Blogging has become tremendously popular among young people in Singapore in recent years. Unfortunately there is a misconception among the older folks that blogging is technically very difficult is thus is only suited for the young and internet-savvy. The main aim of this talk is to explain what is blogging and to share with you the fun of blogging. You will also see a demonstration of how easy it is to start and create a blog.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

No such thing as "No Talent"

It's hard not to be impressed after watching this:

We’re all talented in some ways. It’s a matter of how we make the best of our limited abilities and maximise what we’re good at.

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Blogging and Big Business: A reflection

When I read Lucian's Dell Troubles, these thoughts went through my mind:
  • I know Lucian personally. I trust his opinions. If he gives a thumbs-down for Dell, I'll take his word for it;
  • I remember similar "Dell Hell" posts, like this one, from Shel. As with Lucian, I also know Shel and I trust his opinions;
  • Increasingly, when Dell products are mentioned in blogs, it's usually highlighted for some defects.
  • I have this strong impression of how Dell is going downhill. I don't recall people praising about Dell products anymore.

Good thing about blogging is that I can access the archives of ideas and opinions (mine and others), and review them in the present context.

Here's one on my troubles with an Ariston Fridge (3 Jan 2006). Question: "Among those who read that post, would they buy an Ariston Fridge or even consider one?"

I can tell you this -- even if I've forgotten about the earlier pain, I still remember that I'd blogged about it and having re-read my own post, I'm really never going to buy Ariston. Not when there are other brands to try.

Via this earlier post of mine (23 Apr 2005), I re-read the BusinessWeek article that posits how "Blogs Will Change Your Business" (2 May 2005) and "Why You Can't Ignore Blogs Anymore" (22 Apr 2005). Back in 2005 when the articles were published, it was not well understood (if at all) how blogs could affect Big Business. More than a year has passed. If it's not well understood then, I bet it is now.

  1. It's not necessarily true that Businesses will Die if they don't blog. But I think they MUST read blogs and know how to search out blog posts about their products and services. Imagine Dell happily thinking all's well when consumers are seething with rage;
  2. Blogging does matter to Businesses, especially when there are alternatives for consumers (i.e. when competition is fierce)
  3. In the absence of viable competitors, customer opinions expressed via blogs may not matter so much to your business. Your customers may rant and rave but if they have to use your product, they will.
  4. Libraries are Businesses.
  5. In a globalised world, so are Governments.

OK, you make the inferences and draw your conclusions : )

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Observations on how NLB's Book Blog (High Browse Online) has evolved

I cannot claim that High Browse Online (HBonline), the NLB's book blog, was my original idea. Looking back at my blog archives, I found this comment from Preetam, who suggested that the NLB could start a "common book-blog". That comment was made back in September 2004 (btw, I started blogging in June 2004). Eventually, High Browse Online was born, sometime in Oct/ Nov 2005.

Parenting and Guerrilla Warfare
What I can say without embarrassment is that I was one of its "parents". Not a single-parent though. There were others, like colleagues in the editorial team and the tech-guys/ gals who worked silently behind the scenes. Also not forgetting those who simply supported the idea. Having people who believed in what was being pushed for (when there were uncertainties behind the project) was crucial. It might be overly dramatic but let's just say there were skirmishes that had to be fought (by myself and others), which sometimes involved guerrilla tactics, LOL.

Art of Administration Vs Art of Blogging
I was very hands-on with HBonline when it first started. Few of my colleagues in the HBonline editorial team had blogging experience (or maybe they didn't dare admit they were bloggers, heh). Being fast learners, they quickly got the hang of formating and handling the blog software and were able to take over the administration of the blog within weeks. I was content to watch how the team handled the posts.

However, what took longer was to establish an appropriate tone and writing style for the blog -- the HBonline "Voice", if you will. We lacked one at the start. The writing style was still very impersonalised. This fact was quickly picked up by TinkerTailor and Kevin (see their comments here and here).

Training Vs Innate Qualities of staff
The editorial team members recognised that on their own as well. Beginning of this year, some of them opted to attend courses like "Writing for the Web" so that they can brush up on their skills. As I compare the newer posts with earlier ones, I think the training has helped somewhat in improving the writing styles but a more objective assessment would be by others (so I'd appreciate if you let me know).

Also, my observation is that training can only help to some extent. It seems the better posts are by those (librarians) who already have a flair for what I call "Blog Banter". Take a look at the comments here as an example. So maybe for libraries considering a book blog, you might want to pick librarians who are already chatty, and with an "Extroverted Online Personality" (i.e. you can be an introvert in real-life but an extrovert online).

Page Views, Hits and Comments
At the onset, Page Views and Page Hits were not the primary objective for HBonline and we knew it wouldn't be easy to get readers to post comments. For one, HBonline was considered a niche blog -- limited to books and impossible to cater to all reading preferences. Two, we knew that having a love of reading does not automatically mean you'd be inclined to share your thoughts. But having said that, I still harboured hopes that HBonline would be a runaway success in the Singapore Blogosphere, where more bloggers would be talking about it, if not posting comments or contributing alerts or posts. That didn't really happen.

Incentives & Community Contributions
Things improved a little when HBonline offered a Monthly Voucher Giveaway for book review submissions. From that low-key promotion, we received unsolicited contributions to HBonline.

Looking at the published submissions, the number of contributors numbered less than five a month, but I'm not complaining. That's five more than when we first started. And from what I observe, some of them are beginning to be regular contributors -- like "L Goh" (contributions here, here and here), Thomas Salim (who has his own blog) and someone called "Little Blue Herring" (see HBonline search results).

Aside: I'm really curious who's Little Blue Herring (LBH). Hmm... "Herring", and "Blue"... someone from NLB? heh heh. Not that it matters. It's the submission that counts. Like this one titled "On Writing In English" (which was a longer response to comments in this post).

Where comments and discussions in HBonline are concerned, efforts by my colleague who manages the Heartlands Bookclub have also paid off, as seen by posts like this, this and this one.

Community Partners
HBonline doesn't have an apparent blog-roll, but it's really hidden under the Book Blog Partners category. HBonline's first book blog partner was from overseas. Another partnership to highlight would be the one with Singapore Entrepreneurs. I was delighted when Bernard (who maintains SG Entrepreneurs blog) helped with this author interview. The story was that when the interview came up, there wasn't a librarian who was familiar with the topic of marketing and available to do the interview. Good thing Bernard stepped forward to help.

In my opinion, that was an excellent example of community partnership. The library will always have limited capabilities and resources so we shouldn't be afraid of seeking help from the community.

But I think more can be done to create more regular linkages/ cross-postings to the partners. I'll have to discuss this with the HBonline colleagues. Maybe we should start a section for blog-roll even, just to link to individual bloggers we like, nevermind if they don't always blog about books.

It's only the beginning...
Finally, I discovered this post where I asked "Are librarians ready for blogs". Of particular interest was this comment from Shel, where he asked "What if (librarians) blogged for their library passions and got into conversations, debates, arguments with readers over the books themselves. What would that do for reading, and using libraries?"

My response mentioned some possible outcomes like librarians being "more visible & accessible to readers", creating a "better user experience for existing library users", and that the librarian and the books stood a good chance of "being Googled" by non-library users, who subsequently might be persuaded to use the library after reading the blog.

So far, the part about librarians "being Googled" (i.e. appearing in search engine results) is apparent. For instance, search for "Lee Ping Librarian" or any of the HBonline editors' names. That's one part of being "visible".

As to whether HBonline has created a better user experience for current library users or encourage non-users to become library users, that might be too early to tell. Perhaps it requires us defining what is a "better user experience" or even what is "usage".

HBonline is about a year old. This may sound sappy but like any parent, I'm hopeful and anxious and this "baby" would continue to grow and mature and "do well" in future. Not so much for its own sake though. It's for the library customer's benefit and I feel that ultimately impacts on the continued presence of libraries and librarians.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My sister's blog

I sometimes "meet" my sister on MSN. The other night, I asked her if she would like to start a blog. She said she wanted something to upload her music (gospel songs that she sang and recorded as practice or something). Having tried out Vox, I suggested that to her. It seemed perfect for what she intends to do.

Tonight I "met" her again and asked if she's created the blog. She said yes but she couldn't remember her URL. We managed to figure that one out eventually. I learnt how it felt to be the Family Online Tech Support, heh heh. Anyway, it was useful for me to know her newbie point of view. What a "seasoned" blogger might take for granted, the newbies might find it confusing. Each new thing I learn helps for that next sharing session.

Minutes after we resolved that minor issue, she'd already uploaded several of her audio recordings. I like this one. No, she doesn't use Mac :)

Initially she didn't publish any post. I suggested she publish at least one "Hello World" post, which she did. And as I refresh the browser now, she's blogged a second post, this time with a picture of her and my brother.

I asked if she was comfortable with me telling the Whole Wide World about her blog. She said OK but hopes the world doesn't mind her blog posts are a little "childish".

"Well, if that's you and you're comfortable with it, then so be it," I replied.

I quickly shared two simple guidelines with my sister: (1) Don't post anything that you are not comfortable with the world reading; (2) Don't post things that you will regret. OK, maybe the guidelines aren't that simple. It's a matter of judgment.

ASIDE: Some points of discussion about privacy issues & blogging:
  • In that two posts, my sister has already alluded to how we're related and that she has a twin brother. Revealing those facts aren't a problem by themselves. It's just that the paranoid me can't help but think that potentially someone might use that information to do a con job on, say, my parents or on them.
  • But in the final analysis, I'm convinced I already have no control over a lot of personal and private information. Who's to say what people already know about me or my family, even without me blogging about it. How many times have our personal and private information changed hands through the course of our lives -- friends, school, transactions?
  • I think the biggest mistake we can make is to think that we have absolute privacy over our lives. Hence, it might be better to work on the basis that some data is already known.
  • Also, it might be better to let our family members know what we use our blog(s) for. It's OK if they discover pleasant things about you from others. I'm talking about avoiding unpleasant surprises, whatever they may be.

My sister's blog is at and my brother's at

Don't ask me what's a "Zog Wog". :)

My brother's blog hasn't been updated for a while due to work and personal commitments. I'm not sure if my sister's blog will be maintained. I certainly don't expect her to be as prolific as Kevin's sister. My brother and sister are probably not "bloggers" in the conventional sense. But come to think of it, who's to say who's a blogger and who isn't?

I'd say they have a personal website to call their own, and that's all there is to it. Up to them to use it as it meets their need at that particular point in time.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

IBM's Innovation Jam

For those who subscribe to SPH's Business Times, you might have read an article in the 13 Nov 2006 issue about IBM's $100m investment in virtual worlds like SecondLife (but not necessarily only SecondLife though). Here's a similar article from CNET
IBM's chief executive, Sam Palmisano, is set to launch a $100 million investment to incubate new businesses--and he will make the announcement in both the physical and virtual worlds.

In the article, under the header "Where IBM is placing bets", some project ideas were mentioned:
He said that the ideas that seem likely to produce something solid in the next year or so are: "Intelligent Utility Networks," which looks into ways to do real-time monitoring and control of power transmission grids; "Real-time Translation Services"; and "Simplified Business Engines," a proposal to package Web 2.0 services up with IBM blade servers.

Medium-term projects are "Smart Healthcare Payment Systems," which use smart cards to process medical claims; and "Integrated Mass Transit Information Systems," a way to get real-time data for mass transit systems.

Longer-term projects are "Electronic Health Records" and "Big Green Innovations." In the second case, IBM intends to seek out emerging environmental opportunities, such as using nanotechnology for water filtration.

Other ideas include "Branchless Banking for the Masses," "3D Internet," and a simplified online storage service dubbed "Digital Me."

Interesting. I'm thinking "If those ideas become reality, what does it mean for libraries in general?"

I suppose there aren't any real answers to that, because "what it means to libraries" depend on how the ideas are manifested. Still, I can already visualise how some ideas could turn out.

The "Digital Me" idea is the most intriguing of all, at least for me. I can imagine myself carrying a device -- like how I wear a watch or carry a mobile phone or PDA -- and using that device to upload/ download/ share digital objects or files on the fly. Except that the storage space would not be on to the physical device but online. Implied is that access bandwidths are also vastly improved, and cheap enough that everyone can afford it.

Hmm... if such an idea does become reality, the question wouldn't be "what does it mean for libraries" but rather "what does it mean for society"... ...

OK, what I was really picked up from the article was something called InnovationJam, an online brainstorming session that IBM organised (see

Under "Where we'll focus: Market Opportunities", there are four sub-sections:
  • Going Places
  • Finance & Commerce
  • Staying Healthy
  • A Better Planet
Each sub-section contain more ideas and elaboration, as well as related ideas and insights (e.g. under "Staying Healthy", there are links with headers like "Innovation that matters for Insurance" and "The Future of Work")

Another section I found really interesting was "Emerging Technologies", where they had these sub-sections:
  • Embedded Intelligence
  • Extracting Insight
  • Global Collaboration for Individuals
  • Global Collaboration for Companies
  • Practical Supercomputing
  • Intelligent IT Systems

I'm not sure how many of you read Hard Science Fiction. If you do, I bet the above ideas aren't exactly revolutionary or radical. But you can't deny that while the concepts and ideas aren't reality yet, the fact is that they have spilled over from the pages of fiction to the business realm. That has to mean something.

To read what others are blogging about InnovationJam, click on this Technorati Tag:

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Monday, November 13, 2006

State of Play Conference 2007 - Singapore

Thanks to Wandie for the heads-up -- State of Play IV conference will be held in Singapore from 7th to 9th January 2007.

From their About page:
Organized by Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, New York Law School, Trinity University, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, this pioneering global conference on virtual worlds invites experts across disciplines to discuss the future of cyberspace and the impact of these new immersive, social online environments on education, law, politics and society. The hallmark of the conference is its multi-disciplinary perspective.

Ok, sounds interesting. I'm intrigued by the programme line-up. Granted that conference programme and session names are often jazzed up to make them sound more sexy, I'm still quite keen to attend this one just to get a sense of what's being discussed and potentially network with conference participants to know what their thinking (and also discover new bloggers, heh).

Registration details aren't confirmed or published as I post this. You might want to subscribe to their blog feed to get latest updates.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

“Explore Singapore!” Campaign

Some Singaporeans may lament about "yet another campaign" but nonetheless, I feel this particular campaign is worth mentioning because (1) it involves libraries, and (2) it's a collaborative effort between three government agencies.

From the Explore Singapore webpage:
To spark a national desire amongst Singaporeans to rediscover their heritage, National Heritage Board (NHB), together with the National Library Board (NLB) and Media Development Authority (MDA), has joined hands to organise the “Explore Singapore!” Campaign...

...Led by a pioneering info-tainment heritage show on primetime TV, “Explore Singapore!” will be supported by newspaper columns, radio as well as blogs and SMS to engage all Singaporeans in their heritage and culture. These channels will be complemented by enriching and edu-taining activities at Singapore’s close to 80 museums and libraries throughout the island.
There's going to be a TV series, events at the libraries, museums, and a contest.

My liblogarian colleague, Damien, has an on-going update at his blog:
You might also want to read these posts at Yesterday.SG:
Oh, there's a mention of $10,000 worth of prizes: "You still have one last day to bring your treasures down to the National Library to win up to $10,000 in prizes!" -- say, isn't that TODAY?!

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Fortune senior editor says Second life is not overhyped

The coverage and "hype" concerning SecondLife seems to mirror that given to blogs about a year ago, or so it seems to me. Here are two articles from
No, Second Life is not overhyped(10 Nov 2006)
Is it a game? No. Is it a marketing opportunity? Yes, but who cares? What matters most is that it may point to the future of the Net, says Fortune's David Kirkpatrick.

A less-than-recent article also from, but one that might shed light on the economic potentials in SecondLife:
The Virtual Rockefeller (1 Dec 2005)
Anshe Chung is raking in real money in an unreal online world.
It's all virtual, of course--part of a flourishing online universe called Second Life. And if it sounds absurd, consider this: While Anshe won't talk about how much money she's making ("I'm careful not to stir animosity," she says), Philip Rosedale, the founder and CEO of Linden Lab, which runs Second Life, estimates that she's bringing in around $150,000 a year--in real, hard cash.

I found my way to those articles from, PacificRim Exchange, a blog created to "chronicle the development of the Pacific Rim Exchange project (PacRimX)":
This is a collaborative project between two school districts, one in California and one in Japan. This project will be built on a virtual island in Teen Second Life. Since this island will be “off the grid” it will only be open to exchange students from the two school districts, and their teachers that are part of the program. This blog will be your window into our world as it is built.
The blogger of PacificRim Exchange prefers to keep his/ her first life identity private and blogs under a SL identity.

In this post, he/ she also shared how the younger generation takes to virtual worlds like ducks to water, unlike the older generation (generally speaking), and I tend to agree. For the older generation (how old is 'old' is subjective but I'm talking roughly 40s and above) I suspect it's not even an issue of them being closed-minded. It's just a different way of doing things wrt virtual worlds. A cultural/ lifestyle gap even.

It's like the question, "Why do people blog?" How do you convince them that the answer is simply, "Because they can"?

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Podcast: Lady of Shalott (Down to Camelot)

My first serious attempt at a song with vocals (mine). Kevin heard it first and he said he found it funny. Er, not quite the response I'd hope for but at least he didn't cringe, LOL.

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[Playing time: 2min 51secs]
Download/ Play MP3

This song came about quite unplanned. I was just strumming the basic guitar chords and then decided to record into GarageBand, with a percussion (shaker) layer set at 80 beats per second (bps). Once that was done, I hooked up the microphone to test the recording of vocals with the recorded tracks playing. There was no specific plan to record it as a song. I hummed a tune and it seemed to fit. In a flash I decided I needed lyrics (recording a hum wasn't the same).

The fastest way to get lyrics was for me to grab a yellow-paged copy of "Poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson" that was sitting on my bookshelf. I flipped at random and came upon the "Lady of Shalott" poem. In truth, the book wasn't mine. I've never read much of Tennyson either. But with the tune in my head, I started mouthing the Lady of Shalott poem, singing and narrating the selected lines of the poem. It just fell in place.

It was only after the song was recorded that I went to Google for "Lady of Shalott", and I found this page ( that explained what the poem was about.

I have no training (formal or otherwise) in singing or musical arrangement. One time a friend (who's trained) told me to "sing through your nose". I don't really know what that means. The only practice I have had were during Karaoke sessions many years ago, heh.

Before posting the song on the web, I decided to let my wife listen to the song. About 30-seconds into the song she said, "You can stop playing now" but I forced her to listen in its entirety. Then finally she said "You can title it 'Relaxation Music'". Well, she didn't say "ugh" so I guess it's fit for sharing with the rest of the world. LOL.

I can't imagine myself blogging love notes to my wife like what Lucian does. But I can dedicate this song to her :)

No, I don't mean to imply she's the Lady of Shalott.

[1 - Spoken]
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
(To many-tower'd Camelot);
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott/ (To Camelot).

[2 - Sung]
But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights
And music, went to Camelot:

[3 - Spoken]
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:

[Repeat 1 - Sung]

[Repeat 2 - Sung]

[Repeat 1 - Spoken]

[Repeat 2 - Sung]

[4 - Sung/ fade]
When the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed:
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.

RamblingLibrarian's Podcasts:
My Odeo Podcast

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why men will prefer World Of Warcraft over Second Life

If the earlier explanations weren't clear on what is Second Life (SL), this video (Introduction to Second Life) might help.

Whereas this video (World Of Warcraft Trailer) will show you why men, especially men, will prefer something like World Of Warcraft (WOW) over Second Life!

[You can play both videos directly from this post]

In many ways, both WOW and SL are (to use this term that Walter said to me) "avatar based socialisation models". I've not played WOW. From what I understand, WOW is a role playing game, much like an extended Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). Players team up with other players online, go through missions that involve battles and/ or engage in trade and crafts (like Blacksmithing) and gain experience points in the process.

In SL, there's no battles or killings but there's the trade-craft/ economic element (i.e. creating and selling objects). There's certainly the gaming element, for instance there are role-playing islands (like Star Wars), and bars/ music clubs/ casinos. There's also the educational element that WOW won't have. Read these posts -- by Vanessa Tan (on Learning Environments in Second Life) and by Kevin (How not to teach in Second Life).

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More (on)

Here's an article on the creator of, Joshua Schachter. He's 32! Wow. What's significant about a service/ tool like is the concept of "tagging". Here's an explanation of "tagging", written by a librarian, which I think other librarians will be able to relate to.

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Public library event: Blogging for Senior Citizens

Mr. Lam Chun See (, arguably the oldest blogger in Singapore, would be conducting a talk at Queenstown Community Library (QUCL) on Saturday, 25 Nov 2006. I'll be his assistant for that day.

Chun See is a management consultant by trade, and I think he conducts training as part of his work. I'm sure I'll be able to learn a lot by observing him in action. I'm already learning so much from reading his blog. He's a prolific and proficient blogger, who's also a frequent contributor to Yesterday.SG. He was posting videos to YouTube even before I'd even signed up for a YouTube account!

I've not collaborated with Chun See before. We're not sure if we'll have time to do a dry-run of the presentation before that day. But I'm confident we'll pull it off. It's not that I'm not giving this my 100% commitment. It's just that reading his blog regularly, and having met him (albeit much fewer times in person than online), I have quite a good sense of how well I would be able to work with him for a presentation. There's relatively less preparation involved also, since it's a talk and not a practical session.
Blogging for Senior Citizens
Date/Time : 25 November 2006 , 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm
Venue : Queenstown Community Library - Programme Zone
Subject : Education & Learning (English)
Presenter : Mr Lam Chun See and Mr Ivan Chew
Admission : Free admission

Blogging has become tremendously popular among young people in Singapore in recent years. Unfortunately there is a misconception among the older folks that blogging is technically very difficult is thus is only suited for the young and internet-savvy. The main aim of this talk is to explain what is blogging and to share with you the fun of blogging. You will also see a demonstration of how easy it is to start and create a blog.

Just realised Chun See mentioned about the upcoming talk as well. What a coincidence. BTW, even though the talk is aimed at Seniors, I think teens to adults will find it useful as well. Ah, I shall ask if my mum and dad if they want to attend the talk, heh.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Trying out Vox

A few days ago, Kevin, Siva and I were sharing over email on some of our experiences in conducting blogging classes, particularly those that involved hands-on creation of blogs. In one of the email thread, I asked if any of them have shown Vox as a demo. Between the three of us, only Kevin had tried Vox (

In order to keep myself current in terms of blogging tools, I decided to check out Vox. As far as I can tell, and remain the most popular blogging services used for demo purposes due to what I deem as good grounding of basic blogging features. Compared to those two, seems a little late on the scene. However, it has a solid reputation as far as blog hosting services goes -- is by Six Apart, the company that provide TypePad, Movable Type, and LiveJournal.

Over the weekend, I managed to create a Vox account and a new blog ( Heh, this time round I didn't have to think too much about the blog name. Apparently, "IvanChew" was available so I might as well take it.

I have to say I'm impressed with overall, even though it's given me some problems (lucky for, I was keen on trying out Vox and didn't give up trying to see if the issues were resolved). It was clear to me Vox has done some serious thinking in terms of the features and level of integration that a blog tool should have. I've blogged (Voxed?) about it in my Vox blog -- on Vox features and inserting videos in Vox.

Overall verdict for Vox -- it's done a nice job, even if it seems a bit late on the blog hosting scene. If I were new to blogging and starting a blog for the first time, Vox might even be my first choice because it provides a photo and audio hosting service along with the blog.

But I'm not giving up my Blogger or Wordpress blogs for Vox anytime soon. To be honest, I don't think I'll ever give them up. All three services have their unique features, strengths and weaknesses. For instance:
  • Blogger allows multiple blogs to be created under one account ( followed suit relatively quickly), option to muck around with the blog template, ease of switching between WYSIWYG and HTML modes when composing posts, and Blogger Beta promises some new features that some bloggers have been hoping for quite some time. But I'm not sure if its design templates will be updated (they are relatively plain compared to Wordpress and Vox, but then again its advantage is also its simplicity...)
  • allows new "web pages" to be created and maintained just like a blog post, the ability to create and manage categories, and a hassle-free built-in statistical reports. But it's interface is not as intuitive as and Vox.
  • Vox's advantage is its well-integrated photo and video hosting, loads of blog templates and other features that promotes interaction among Vox users. But more sophisticated users, especially those already used to using external photo/ audio/ video hosting services, might not see the integrated features as a bonus. Other missing features include Trackbacks and site reporting tools.
A few minutes ago, I recommended to someone over IM. She said she wanted a blog tool that allowed her to upload audio files. She's not as inclined to explore external services like what I'm doing, so I think Vox would be perfect for her.

I quite like Vox too and I wonder if I should post more frequently at my Vox blog. I know to some of you, I already have one blog too many. But maybe it's the librarian in me who sees the use of subject or "intent-specific" blogs. Each blog serves its own purpose and audience.

Another reason why I might maintain the Vox blog is because the Vox URL is specifically for me (, rather than tied to an industry (ramblinglibrarian) or a hobby (MyRightBrain). But if you're expecting me to share really personal stuff over there, let's just say I'll be as personal as I have been in all the other blogs I maintain : )

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NLB (Staff) Learning Festival: Creating blogs with

As part of an internal "Learning Festival" for NLB staff, the NLB Academy organised a series of brief "Learning Hours"/ Sharing Sessions conducted by staff, for staff. I was asked to conduct a three-hour session on "Blogging", specifically on how to create a blog with I was happy to see the class fully subscribed (20+ colleagues), some of them senior staff. It was a hands-on session, pretty much like the previous sessions I've conducted except that this focused more on using

With only three hours, I decided to skip the "theoretical" stuff and tried to get the class jump right into Of course, to set the context, I made them read the ST article of an interview with George Yeo, on his motivations for blogging (Oct 13, 2006. "George Yeo gets personal online: The Foreign Minister's foray into blogging has created a buzz among netizens. What is a Cabinet minister doing in the messy online world, Lynn Lee asks"). I chose this article as it's well-written, in a light-hearted manner, by the journalist (like a blogger). More important, it captured some essential points on blogging in the context of the session I was asked to share. These two points were pointed out when I asked the class to share what struck them most from reading the article:
Three rules guide him: 'Don't be controversial, don't touch on policy matters which involve organisations, and don't be nasty to people.'

He confesses he felt 'self-conscious, as if the world was watching', the first few times he posted. But he soon realised 'the whole world is not watching and not many people are interested'.

The session was also peppered with Questions and Answers, like "How do I know what my child is blogging?", "How do I locate/ search for blogs?", "Can blogs be set as private?", "Why do people blog?", "How much time does it take up?". The usual questions that are asked by those new to blogs and blogging.

From the feedback forms, it seems my colleagues enjoyed the session. About a quarter to a third even suggested a longer and more in-depth session. Someone requested that I email the slides I used, so that she can share with her colleagues back in her department. I've since emailed her. They were simply screen-shots of the process of registering with I thought I might as well post them in my blog. The steps are correct as of 1st Nov 2006 (when will cut over to the new Blogger Beta, which might have a different interface).

*** UPDATE - See New Blogger Features (Dec 2006)

Click on the images for the larger-sized screenshots:

Step 1 - Blogger - Login/ Create Blog
Blogger - Login/ Create Blog
This is where you you create a blog, or login to your Blogger account - (additional notes in - click here)

Blogger - Step 1 in Creating An Account
Blogger - Step 1 in Creating An Account
You are required to choose a User Name for your blogger account. Blogger uses Image Verification rather than Email Verification in accepting accounts. The email you enter is for things like "password reminder" rather than for creating an account with Blogger. If your preferred User Name has been taken, you'd be required to enter an alternative. Your User Name does not necessarily have to be your Blog Name or Display Name (i.e. you may wish to choose something totally unrelated to your blog name for additional security).

Blogger - Step 2: Name your blog
Blogger - Step 2: Name your blog
Here, you're required to enter a Title for your blog and the blog URL (these can be changed later; for the URL it will be subject to availability, so it's best to choose wisely at this stage). The Word Verification is a feature for blogger to ensure it's a human being that's creating an account, rather than an automatic program (spambot).

Blogger - Step 3: Choose a template
Blogger - Step 3: Choose a template
Click on any of the design. Tip -- you can always choose a new template, so simply choose anyone to proceed and complete your registration/ blog creation process. My observation is that most "Blogger newbies" spend way too much time at this stage, and adds unnecessary delay in registering the blog.

Blogger - After Step 3
Blogger - After Step 3
You're almost there...

Blogger - Confirmation of new blog
Blogger - Confirmation of new blog
Congratulations! You now have a blog. But you if you try to visit your blog URL, you'll get a 404 Page Not Found message. Don't worry -- you see your blog once you publish at least one post. Which is why blogger will bring you directly to...

Blogger - Create/ Publish Post
Blogger - Create/ Publish Post
This is where you create a new post. It's almost like composing and sending an email. More explanatory notes are at the image - click here)

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