Friday, July 31, 2009

Post workshop reflections: Using Wikis for communication

Yesterday I conducted a 1.5hr workshop for 17 participants, on "Using Wikis for Communications".

After the session, I told the course coordinator I didn't quite 'nail it down' this time round. I felt the participants weren't as engaged as I would like them to be.

My segment was part of a two-day Introduction to New Media Communications workshop organised by the Civil Service College.

By the end of my 1.5hrs, the aim was for participants to understand the general features of wikis, to be able to create a wiki (we used, edit pages, manage a wiki (including allowing others to edit; minimising the risk of vandalism).

Overall, I believe the main objectives were met. All participants were able to create a wiki, go through the experience of editing pages, learning how to restore versions. We also had a short discussion on what to consider when deciding if a blog or a wiki was more appropriate.

But I realised that while the basic course objectives were met, what most participants didn't quite grasp was what to do with wikis.

To put in another way: if this was a course on how to build a bicycle, the participants manage to build themselves one. But after that they weren't quite sure where to go with the bicycle.

Creating a wiki was simple (simpler than blogs). The beauty of it was that creating a user account was not mandatory for one to edit a wiki.

But next time round, I'll probably impose a tighter structure for group-work activities, so that participants get a better sense (and do so in a fun and engaged way) of how wikis can be used for work and personal. Examples:
  • Create a RSVP list
  • Write a collaborative story (could also assign roles, e.g. Editor, contributor, vandal!)
  • Create an instructional website (e.g. cooking recipes)
  • Collaborate on a draft proposal
  • A simulation of a site to build a corporate taxonomy
Set a time limit for each group to create the wiki, then present as a group.

If you've ever conducted similar workshops, what's your experience?

BTW, if you ever use as part of your demo/ wiki workshop, you can ask participants to play around at without them having to create user accounts.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

SCL News June 2009: Newsletter of the IFLA Libraries for Children and Young Adult Section

Here's the latest issue of the SCL News (Jun 09), the newsletter of the IFLA Libraries for Children and Young Adult Section.
IFLA - SCL News Jun 2009 issue
PDF (1.05 MB) | Link to all issues

  • The Chair Speaks - p1.
  • Editor’s Note - p2.
  • Teens: “What I’d Like The World to Read” p3-4.
  • Relocation of the French National Centre for Children’s Literature - p5.
  • Announcement: Sister Libraries project - p6.
  • New literary prize: "Insula Europea" - p6.
  • Minutes: SC Mid-year meeting, March 2009 - p7-9.
  • Read and Reap: Harvests of Reading - p10-11.
  • Give a Bath of Reading to the babies! - p12.
  • Standing Committee Contacts - p13-14.
  • Winner of the 2009 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award - p15.
BTW, this would be the last time I'm editing the newsletter. My four-year term with the Section is up. I'll be relinquishing the membership to another colleague. I'll save the reminiscing for another post :)

Do check out the newsletter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reflection: Blogging less but producing more

Met a friend this week.

He commented that I seem to be blogging less nowadays.

True, I replied.

At least at this blog.

But I'm probably blogging the same quantity, if I add up all the blogs from here, here and here.

Still, my recent posts are definitely shorter and less analytical, compared to the ones in the earlier years. Recent ones are more "point and go" rather than "write and think".

I still write. If you consider my tweets as "writing". Probably more accurate to say "I still publish".

In many ways, I had more to prove back in the early days. When blogging was viewed with a certain degree of skepticism. Especially when corporate guidelines were vague about blogging about work. So I tend to give more thought and spend more time fleshing out blog posts.

Now, no one bats an eye when you say you have a blog.

I was also busy with this for a while.
I'm doing a GB demo!

You could say the Long Tail effect led me to being invited to do the demo. Someday I'll write about it.

There's a new equilibrium in terms of my blogging, reading, creating music and stuff.

I seem to spend more time reading now. I still go online every day, after work when I'm home. I read and respond to emails. Then I hit the books and magazines. Not so much RSS feeds even.

In terms of creating stuff (text, audio, videos), overall the number has increased compared to when I just blogged (text).

I've not made an exact count, but I'd estimate I publish one new song a month. Maybe more. Things like ccMixter is a reason why it's so easy to create songs.

Sure, I'm blogging less indepth as a whole.

But I'm definitely producing a lot more (quality is something for others to judge though).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chance to win NDP '09 Preview tickets & Fun Packs: Public Libraries Singapore - READiscover Singapore!

This is a collaborative effort between the Public Libraries Singapore and the National Day Celebrations '09 organisers.

From the Public Libraries webpage -
Public Libraries Singapore - READiscover Singapore!

Borrow FOUR items for a chance to win. At least one item must be from the Singapore Collection [SING].
  • 1 Jul - 31 Jul prize: Four pairs of NDP preview tickets
  • 1 Aug - 31 Aug prize: 100 NDP Fun-packs

Terms & conditions:
  • Loan receipts for FOUR items must be dated 4th - 26th July 2009.
  • Draw date will be on Monday 27th July 2009. Winners will be notified by phone. NDP 1st August 2009 Preview tickets are to be collected at Woodlands Regional Library.
  • At least one Item must be from the Singapore Collection [SING].
  • Loan receipts cannot be used in conjunction with other reading promotions.
  • Combined loan receipts are allowed but must be under the same borrower's name.
  • The Library reserves the right to amend any of the above terms & conditions.
  • There is no limit on the number of entries submitted.
  • NLB's decision is final.

The library has also prepared a list of suggested reads (1.2MB PDF) from the Singapore Collections. The book are selected based on the National Day Celebrations '09 themes: "Our Way of Life", "Our Places and Streets", "People & Stories of Singapore", "Our History & Heritage", "Our Heroes".

2009 Booklist READiscover SG.pdf (1 of 7 pages) 2009 Booklist READiscover SG.pdf (2 of 7 pages) 2009 Booklist READiscover SG.pdf (3 of 7 pages) 2009 Booklist READiscover SG.pdf (4 of 7 pages) 2009 Booklist READiscover SG.pdf (5 of 7 pages) 2009 Booklist READiscover SG.pdf (6 of 7 pages) 2009 Booklist READiscover SG.pdf (7 of 7 pages)

Extracts of selected books are posted at the Read and Reap blog:
Read and Reap

More information at (last accessed 19 Jul 09).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Quoted in ST article, about Twitter (or "How I deal with angry situations if I'm blogging about it")

Last week, ST journalist, Serene Luo, emailed me asking if I could provide some comments for an article she's rushing out. Because some of her questions had to do with NLB's official policy, I cleared the request with NLB Corp Comms. They said OK.

Jitters over Twitter

For a concise version of the ST story, check out "Jitters over Twitter", 9 Jul 09.

In essence, she asked my Corp Comms if NLB has a corporate policy on new media. The full story quoted the NLB as saying there was one, which came out first quarter of 2009.

During the phone interview, Serene asked me what I kept at the back of my mind when writing a blog post, especially if I was angry. Here's what appeared in the article:
Blogger Ivan Chew, who is a manager at the National Library Board, said he tries to treat each blog post as an e-mail: 'Once you put it out, there's no taking it back.' Asked what he would keep in mind when writing a post, he said: 'If I'm writing because I'm angry, I'll save it as a draft and revisit it when I'm more calm. There are better ways to resolve issues.'

This reminds me -- when I first started blogging, I was always conscious of these points:
  1. Why do I want to blog about it?
  2. Is it my business to talk about it?
  3. If I do blog about it, am I willing and able to live with the consequences?

Asking "Why" is to make sure I write/ blog for the 'right' reasons. Of course, what's considered 'right' might be personal and subjective. But essentially, the Why question serves as an intellectual Stop sign at a traffic junction. To make me pause and think.

For the "is it my business to talk about it" part, it's to remind myself that my "work-related" posts deal with things that are meant to be publicised.

I'm also mindful not to jump the gun and tell the world things that my employer has not made public yet, even though the information eventually is meant for public consumption. I'd consider if my employer intends to issue a public announcement.

If yes, obviously I'd wait for that and then link to the news. If no, I'll often check with my own colleagues and bosses, just to be sure. I don't consider this being overly cautious. What I want to avoid is for good intents (on my part) to be misunderstood and avoid unnecessary grief to colleagues and myself.

The #3 "am I willing to live with the consequences" question is useful particularly when the answer to #2 is not so clear-cut. So far I've not faced such dilemmas. In many ways, this #3 personal guideline is to ensure that while I'm no rebel, there's a balance to ensure I can speak up if the situation warrants it.

Make sure my statements can be backed up with facts. Or if I'm making claims and subjective statements, then one doesn't have to be confrontational. I've always maintained a big part is about How we write, in addition to What.

I tend to trust my intuition (as I'm sure more reflective bloggers/ writers tend to do). If I still feel doubts, I'd go back to consider #1. That's usually enough for me to consider not posting it. Or simply re-writing it to review the tone.

Above all else, I should probably add a #4: apply common sense and respect.

It doesn't really matter if one blogs or Tweet. Substitute the words "blog" or "tweet" (or any social media action-word of choice) with "Talk".

You know, I wonder if NLB would ever make the policy public?

Imagine a page on the corporate website, with a public link to the corporate new media guidelines/ policy. And a list of employees and their blogs/ Twitter/ Facebook -- personal or official ones (voluntarily added for the former).

Librarians 2.0!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Singaporean Kevin Lim on CBC Business News: Examining eBooks

Friend and fellow Singaporean blogger, Kevin Lim, was interviewed by Canada's CBC Business News.

Kevin's blog post, here.

The first question was "Why are eBooks taking so long to turn mainstream?", i.e. why consumption/ sales of eBooks hasn't taken hold as fast as digital music/ video.

Kevin's response was essentially about User Experience. That the experience in consuming music and video is essentially the same if you watch from the big screen or from a DVD Vs. iPod or portable devices. Whereas the reading experience is vastly different if you read off a digital device Vs. a print copy.

I agree.

Though I'd add a claim.

That fewer people read for pleasure compared to listening to music or watching videos.

It is far effortless to listen to music and watch videos. So that makes it more popular.

Reading, as all readers know, takes more intellectual effort. You can't just 'read in the text' without churning words into meaning.

I'm not saying those who listen to music or watch videos are lazier than those who read.

I think it has to do with human evolution and biology.

Music (aural) and videos (visual) affect our human brains a much more direct way. Like, there's less conscious processing and effort involved. Whereas reading requires the brain to process text into language into ideas, concepts and meaning.

At least, that's what I think.

Oh. And now Kevin is probably a household name in Canada, eh? :)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sony Singapore's "Help A Child Learn to Read: Donate Children’s Books to the South Africa Mobile Library Project" - 1st to 31st July '09

From Sony Singapore:
The purpose of this project is to visit schools in remote areas with books for children and teachers who would otherwise not have access to such learning materials.

Sony Singapore will be conducting a book donation drive from 1 - 31 July 2009, and we encourage you to donate English children's books (new or used) at the new Sony Style store at Orchard Central. So come down to Sony Style and help a child learn to read today!

Details on what books will be accepted/ rejected, as well as collection date/ time/ venue at this Sony Singapore webpage (sharedcopy link, here).

Thanks to PJ for the alert.

Help A Child Learn to Read: Donate Children’s Books to the South Africa Mobile Library Project : Events : Sony Singapore

Thursday, July 02, 2009


This was in-progress when I passed by the National Library event plaza this evening:
NLB Reading Marathon 2009

The NLB was getting ready for this event (which is part of READ! Singapore 2009).