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I am once again reminded that I am not in love with my fellow humans. I know that it is not the most politically correct thing to say, but people have some sort of weird need to feel sorry for themselves and from the videos on the Center for Digital Storytelling website pity stories abound. Why is it that everyone has a story to tell, and it is always about homelessness, cancer, death of loved ones…in a word tragedy.

I have never had a tolerance for this sort of thing, all of those heartwarming stories of the Olympic athletes…blah.

Ok, so enough of my dislike of my fellow man. I really liked the SL video “Life on Life” , it did have a bit of a “feel good- Human interest” thing happening, but it was more reflective than a woe is me thing.

I would like to see (maybe this has already happened) digital story telling– to tell actual stories. I mean like ancient stories, passed down from generation to generation …entertainment as it was hundreds, or thousands of years ago before television or mass printing of books. In my head I am seeing the old “Reading Rainbow” show, anyone remember that? Only with the digital aspect, pictures and story that go together on your computer.

Grandmothers and grandfathers can record stories that they remember from childhood or even adulthood for the next generations. But not only tragic things, happy stories of how parents met, or what school was like for them, what they did for a living…I guess the problem is getting folks to sit down and tell the stories.
this story tells about the issues with getting the information before it is too late…and gets a little carried away with the sadness of not getting around to asking or helping family members record the stories. I side with the first man’s father, who said ” I do not tell stories, I make conversation”. But his son never just sat down with the man and asked him questions to get the “story” er, conversation started? he left him alone with a tape recorder and expected him to talk to it? Weird.

But I say, instead of being sad about not having your father digitally collect the stories, begin with yourself…chances are you remember the stories told by your parents (probably better than they do) I know I have a million “Stu stories” as my family call them (my father passed in 1997, but we tell his stories all the time). Instead of being heartbroken that you ran out of time seize the day and make a digital story of your own- Happy and positive instead of sad and weepy.

I might be rambling now, but I see this digital storytelling as so much more than quasi personal therapy, it can be informative about the world, not just as one person sees it. Travel logs of trips you have taken, people you have met, events that not everyone could attend, moments in a child’s life that can be handed to them on graduation. Bedtime stories for when you (as a parent) are away on a business trip. Most of us know that we almost never read the actual words in the book to young children, my grandfather used to make up his own story to go along with the pictures to the “Pokey Little Puppy” to this day I have no idea what the actual story is, but I like mine better 😉 Our own photo collections with a narrative to go along so others know what the pictures are of and about.

Here’s to the future!


What struck me as a feature of Web 2.0 that might be overlooked and would be especially useful in a library setting is the idea of beta-testing with the entire community, not just those few users brave enough to sign up to be “testers”. Having more feedback in this case is a very good thing, and the more varied the users the more helpful the input about what works and what doesn’t and why.

Dr. Faires spoke about G-mail and how for month and month there was a little box at the top of the screen letting everyone know that the version they were using was and only recently has that been removed.
O’Riley talks about the “perpetual beta testing” that has sort of gotten a bad rap. Some feel that it is simply a way to never finish a software project and to be able to release before ready. He counters this by saying giving users equal treatment as co-developers
in a reflection of open source development practices (even if the software in question is unlikely to be released under an open source license.) The open source dictum, “release early and release often” in fact has morphed into an even more radical position, “the perpetual beta,” in which the product is developed in the open, with new features slipstreamed in on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. It’s no accident that services such as Gmail, Google Maps, Flickr,, and the like may be expected to bear a “Beta” logo for years at a time.
Real time monitoring of user behavior to see just which new features are used, and how they are used, thus becomes another required core competency. A web developer at a major online service remarked: “We put up two or three new features on some part of the site every day, and if users don’t adopt them, we take them down. If they like them, we roll them out to the entire site.”

An article from fumsi discusses beta testing with librarians from the British Library and SLA. The conclusion is to “just do it” . Let the bets –test begin and do not be afraid that it is not perfect, embrace the help from users and be willing to change if needed.
Beta testing also works as advertising This company targeted bloggers and other Web2.0 users offering them free coffee in exchange for mentions on other Web 2.0 places and reviews of their products. Word of mouth via Web 2.0….how cool!!

I happen to be one of those folks who loves new software and also likes to help. I have tested many a new program or website, and video game in my time. When I worked for Gateway computers I was on several lists to help us test our computers. I attended Microsoft workshops where we saw new products and were given free trial copies; all we had to do was use the stuff and report errors or bugs. I thought it was a great trade in order to have the newest product. I think with the power of Web 2.0 tools the community of testers will be stronger and the variety of bugs and issues will be able to be addressed sooner and more completely. And because the testers are not all of the “geek” variety new insight will be gained by the programmers as to what “normal” people see. What might be obvious to the person or people who wrote the code, may be above the head of the typical user of the product.
This is a great thing for a library OPAC, let the users test and make them a part of making the system better for them. I think if you tell them that they are an integral part of making the whole thing better for everyone they will appreciate it all the more.

Flickr Photos