Well I suspected this would happen. I would blog about Things as soon as they were launched and then feel pretty happy that I had kept on top of things. Then life would get in the way and I would get horrendously behind! I am two weeks behind now thanks to being busy and going on a long weekend break without any tech or internet.
So, without further ado, I shall start the epic catch-up!
Thing 5 involved creating your own Doodle poll and organising a super-important meeting with fellow 23 Thing-ers. I’ve come across Doodle before as it is frequently used by staff at the UL for fixing up small and large meetings. It is often invaluable as people can just click the times that they are available (or not as the case may be) and the organiser of said meeting does not have to waste a considerable amount of time chasing people up. Instead, all the information they need is in a handy colour-coded table.
While I have answered many a Doodle poll, I haven’t had to set one up myself so I was intrigued to see how it all worked. I was under the impression that I had to have an account to set up a Doodle poll, but thankfully the website allows for you to set up a one-off event without needing to go through the faff of having to enter a username that someone else already has or thinking up of a secure password and eventually settling upon “passw0rd”.
So once I had decided on some times, I completed my poll and waited for the site to email me the all important link so that I could email my poll to all the people I wanted to attend my “meeting”. Now this is where it gets slightly embarrassing and in my defence, I was pretty tired when I did this. I got the link, emailed it out and then realised that I had set up meetings for 1 a.m. In my slightly distracted state, I had forgotten about the elusive 24 hour clock and Doodle had helpfully converted all of my times into morning ones. Thankfully my recipients realised my mistake!
So while I found Doodle very quick and easy to set up, I would advise any new users to…well…pay attention to your times, unlike me! As I said, I have had the opportunity already to be a part of a Doodle poll so I quite enjoyed being able to start one up from scratch and I feel that these sorts of simple polls are incredibly useful and stress-saving devices that people should use more often in the work place, or even in a social context. I’m sure many of you know how frustrating it is when you are trying to organise a gathering of people and not everyone confirms if they’re turning up or not! This could be applied to many different situations when you need to organise a group of people and fast!
On to Thing 6!
For Thing 6, we had to set up a Google Calendar, add some events, add it to our already existing iGoogle page and if we felt like it, share it with others.
As I said a few posts back, I’ve always been a bit reluctant to engage that much with Google tech but I must say, I have found some of their iGoogle gadgets to be pretty useful and the calendar is no exception. Setting it up was pretty easy, just set you location and time zone and away you go! Adding an event/meeting was really easy too and I especially like the fact that when you used the drop-down menus to select a start and finish time, Google helpfully told you how many minutes/hours that meeting would equate to. Not only does this allow for you to have a good idea of how much time you would be giving up to this one thing but also if you had got the times slightly off you could soon realise that a 20 minute meeting should not be listed on your calendar as a 2 hour meeting (for example)!
I like how my added meeting blocks out quite nicely on the calendar overview, so there is no chance of you missing it. I’ve seen computer-based calendars before that have blocked out a time-slot in a usefully vague pastel colour which is easily missed and thereby meaning you weren’t there for the essential development meeting with that important boss person!
I do really like the sharing option for the calendar. At the UL we have a nifty Intranet system (not sure what other libraries use) and most departments have their own on-line diaries. Most are available for all to look at so you can check if the person you need to see is in or if that HoD is in a meeting all day and it wouldn’t be prudent to go banging on their office door! But checking Intranet diaries is not always practical because they often only mention which members of the department are on annual leave and rarely go into any more detail than that! The Google Calendar sharing option means that if you need to meet with someone but neither of you can pin down a good time, rather than sending countless emails saying “I’m free here”…”I’m not!”…”How about this day?”…”I don’t think I can do that day!” etc. etc. you can just share you calendars and get the other person to compare your time schedule with their own, thereby ensuring a quick resolution to getting a mutually convenient meeting.
Adding the calendar to my iGoogle page was as easy as adding any other gadget that we were shown about in Week 1. Now I can see my calendar, the news, the weather and whatever else I have added all in one convenient place! Well done Google! You are converting me to your nefarious Internet cause!
On an afterthought, as I mentioned earlier, Doodle is very handy for getting people together at a convenient time, but then…so is Google Calendar. I suppose Doodle would be useful for event/meeting organising that you wouldn’t necessarily wish to involve your entire social/work calendar and would be suitable for meetings with people from outside your immediate workplace. Google Calendar is probably more appropriate to a more intimate meeting set-up with people you already know, and of course would easily replace the paper-based diary that most offices work with.
I am aware that throughout this post I have been focusing on the use of this sort of Web 2.0 stuff as being exclusively for meetings but, as the Cam23 blog mentions, this sort of tech can be applied to informing library users about events and suchlike. Having used the UL’s Google Calendar as a “reader” and as a member of staff, I can certainly appreciate the benefit of having such a thing easily accessible to all. To use an example, when students asked me when our termly Orientation Tours or Research Skills events were, I just directed them to our website. Seeing as the calendar is smack-bang on the front page, you can hardly miss it! Brilliant stuff!