or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Fun Tools for Books and Games

   June 21st, 2007 Brian Herzog

Here's two neat (and totally unrelated) tools I learned about this week:

Visual Programming with "Scratch"
Example of Scratch blocksFirst is something I read about in this month's Discover Magazine. Scratch, in development at MIT, is a visual programming language for kids to make fun web games. But instead coding by typing text (like function checkGoButton(){if (checked){return false;}}), you kind of arrange functional blocks, like those pictures to the right. I thought this was an easy way to introduce people to the theory of logical programming, without the hurdle of having to learn language-specific syntax.

Design Shelves to Fit Your Books
iBookshelf screenshotThe second came from the Maine Libraries listserv. It is called iBookshelf, and is described as "an application for cataloging your book collection and designing bookshelves based for it..." Basically, you catalog your books in this software, including width and height dimensions (which should already be in MARC records), and then this software tells you how best to shelve your books in order to maximize space.

As usual, I haven't gotten a chance to play with either of these yet. I can think of uses for both, but the Scratch programming looks like it could be a lot of fun. Especially since I just finished reading PopCo, a book pretty much about toys, games, kids, programming and theory. Hurray for coincidence.

discover, discover magazine, ibookshelf, libraries, library, mit, programming, scratch, sourceforge

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MashupCamp 2007

   January 2nd, 2007 Brian Herzog

Mashup Camp logoA coworker just made me aware of MashupCamp 2007, being held at MIT on Jan 17-18. I've been to a few unconferences before, and enjoy the format, so I might attend for that reason alone.

I am interested in mashups, but am probably not as hard-core as the other attendees will be. I'm sure there are ways to make our library catalog more useful by combining it with tools like Baker & Taylor, Amazon, Delicious Library, LibraryThing, Library Elf, and more, if I just had the time to sit and think and experiment. We'll see.

Another nice feature of MashupCamp 2007 is Mashup University, which is "specifically geared towards hands-on training whereby new and experienced mashup developers can get classroom style instruction on how to build mashups." Now that's for me.

boston, libraries, library, m.i.t., mashup, mashup camp, mashupcamp, mashups, mit, unconference, unconferences

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