Monthly Archives: August 2008

Filming students

I started out a bit intimidated by the idea of accosting random students and asking them to appear in a video forthe web, but it turned out to be straightforward and I got a really positive response.

Mostly I set up in the library foyers – I had my laptop and microphone on a booktrolley so could record then and there. I generally ignored students on their way out (likely rushing to a lecture) in favour of those coming in. I didn’t have any tangibe bribes, but did want to ‘offer’ something, so generally started with “Hi, have you seen the video on the library homepage?” Then I could show them where to find it and, while they were watching a bit of it, explain what was going on and ask them if they’d help out.

To my surprise, about 1 in 3 agreed. This varied by branch: at one branch it was more like 1 in 10. At some branches, the librarians introduced me to likely candidates. But even approaching people at random, I could typically record half a dozen volunteers in not much more than half an hour.

What did they say? Responses fell fairly evenly among the old triumvirate:

Place: a warm place (it’s currently winter in NZ), a quiet place. (Best new motto we’ll never use: The Library: There’s no-one around.) A place to study, essentially, though one or two mentioned hanging out with friends.

People: they see librarians as friendly and helpful – one made a point of saying that (contrary to expectations, one infers) the librarians aren’t intimidating or scary.


  • computers and internet
  • books and journals
  • everything needed for studying
  • easy to find and use

A couple of days after the second video went up, a colleague asked for a transcript so she’d know what people were saying. This reminded me I’d been interested in the possibilities dotSub provides. I got permission to put the videos up there as well. It was dead simple to transfer the videos across from YouTube, and the interface is incredibly user-friendly, so (as I already had the transcripts from when I’d been editing the videos) it took me less than two hours to create the subtitles for both videos – that’s less than 20 minutes per minute.

Library Week video

I finished editing the second of our Library Week videos late on Friday (I needed it in a couple of different formats and had forgotten how long it takes to save out of iMovie project format – and then of course I discovered a couple of things that needed a last-minute edit) but still in time for IT to get them up on our homepage for the start of Library Week.

Then I went home and blobbed for the weekend. The video only took about 20 hours of actual work, but cramming that into 2 weeks (along with organising a “Blue Skies” forum and doing desk shifts and everything else going on) was… hectic towards the end. But doable. And a heck of a lot of fun.

I’ll blog more on the experience later, but in the meantime here’s the finished thing:

FriendFeed – reading format verdict

Reading FriendFeed as an RSS feed via GoogleReader:

+ I don’t have to log in
+ One less thing to remember / tab in Firefox to keep open
+ I know what items I’ve read and what I haven’t – no losing my place when items with new comments shift around

– I get items significantly later. And for some reason the feed is currently frozen on August 2nd.
– If I want to comment I have to log in anyway – then start trying to catch up when I’m not sure of my place given that items with new comments have shifted around
– I don’t get notifications for new comments
– Something else I can’t remember. As a Dirk Gently character said, my brain is like one of those things with holes in it.

I think I’m going to be sticking mostly with the web interface from now on

Pre-Library Week video

I’ve been working on a two-pronged Sekrit Project for my library’s Library Week celebrations: part 1 has just been unveiled on the library home page — “Library Video”, in the News section.

Part 2 is to do essentially the same thing over again except with students instead of library staff. Current plan is to start filming tomorrow and have the completed video ready to go when Library Week begins on the 18th August.

[Technical details: filmed with webcam and external microphone on an iBook, recorded and edited entirely in iMovie (except opening and closing images which I made in some image program I now forget). Filming was about 7 hours (includes travelling between various branches on campus) and editing of photos and footage about 14 hours.]