Thing 8 of 23 Things on a Stick was once again a smorgasbord of offerings of online tools. It had me examining 3 different slideshow producers – Thumbstacks, Zoho Show, and Slideshare. Once again, our dial-up service caused problems with these Web 2.0 services and I had to use my internet access at home in order to allow the sites to fully load. In thinking about adopting Web 2.0 applications, this is something we have to continually keep in mind. While we’re working toward getting a faster internet connection, how many of our members and friends will be able to use these services? There is still a digital divide and we can’t assume differently.
All of the slideshow producers named above seemed to be online substitutions for creating what Microsoft calls PowerPoint presentations. Open Office, the set of free, open-source office tools that mimics Microsoft Office, also has a slideshow producer called Impress. The touted benefit of the online versions is that your slideshow can be accessed anywhere from any computer by simply logging on, rather than carrying around a CD or a flash drive to do the same thing. Of the three, Thumbstacks appeared to be the easiest to learn. It also had the cutest name. The other two appeared to have more bells and whistles. I’ve only created a few PowerPoint and Impress presentations in my life, so I’m not particularly wedded to any slideshow producer at the moment. If I needed one and didn’t have access to PowerPoint or Impress, I certainly would be willing to give one of these three a whirl.
Thing 8 had yet another photo-sharing / slideshow application to try, this one called PictureTrail. This application allows you to gussy-up your slideshow with different effects (aka “Bling”). I had some trouble navigating this site. There didn’t appear to be any way to try the application without signing in. Before I’d try PictureTrail for a slideshow, I’d go with one of the other applications I’ve already discussed.
In addition to slideshow apps, Thing 8 mentioned an online database creator called Lazybase (another great name). Lazybase allows users to create their own unchanging databases that sit online, or users can create a database that others can add to and edit. Here at MCHS, we create quite a few databases, mostly indexes to resources we have in-house. While I probably wouldn’t use Lazybase for this purpose, I could easily see using it in order to find resources about Morrison County “out there” that we are unaware of – books with references to Morrison County history or families, for example. The idea would be to have our members and friends contribute this info to a Lazybase database.
The next thing listed on Thing 8 was eFolio Minnesota, an application that allows Minnesotans to post their resumes online. While I don’t personally have a use for this, I can see how convenient it would be for job hunters.
The real theme of most of the items in Thing 8 (and much of 23 Things, in fact) is the migration of digital data from “things” (i.e. CDs, computer hard drives, photo albums, slides, documents, books, etc.) to an online world. It’s a freeing up of our physical spaces of physical stuff, while still allowing us access to that stuff from anywhere in the world – as long as we have a computer or digital device to retrieve it. Because we work in a museum, which by its definition is a place that collects “stuff,” I’m not sure I like the evaporation of the physical. Are we destined to turn everything into zeros and ones and is it something we want to do with all of our information?