Tuesday, June 13, 2006

SLA Conference, day 2

Another exciting day.

I missed the bus into town, so I had to drive in. Upon arrival, I saw the same bus number that I had dismissed at the Park n Ride... dopey me. I hate to be wasteful, paying extra for parking, but it allowed me to be in the right place at the right time to run into Prof. Stankus (always a delight; I had hoped he would make it and we'd cross paths). There will be lunch tomorrow.

On to the courses:

How to use RSS to know more and do less, presented by Jenny Levine - This course was so popular, we had to move to a larger room, and there still weren't enough seats. The popularity was well-deserved; this was a very well structured and presented course, with lots of vital content. The basic message: Web 2.o is the future, and if we want to be relavent as professionals, we need to get on board. RSS is being built into every part of the new Windows OS, and even small-town newpapers have feeds. You can collect the newest news from any sites you wish with an aggregator, and then explore them at your leisure, in one place. You can also get software to put feeds into your own website (which I will be doing), keeping your content fresh with no human intervention necessary. How do you make a feed yourself? Easiest way is to get a blog. Blogs are automatically set up to work as RSS, and can be used for more than just diaries. If your feed is often read, there are even ways to get revenue for it.
I plan to implement feeds for Slashdot, Boing Boing, CNN.com, ResourceShelf and now Shifted Librarian into my News page; I will also use Feedster, the equivalent of Google for RSS, to feed me searches on subjects like DRM and the RIAA, copyright, Google Book Search, FRBR or anything else I'm interested in. I also plan to add a second blog for keeping track of updates to my site, and having it fed to my page, as well.
Jenny Levine's notes can be found at http://www.mls.lib.il.us/ and on the SLA Conference blog.

SLA Tech Zone: Ready...Site...GO! - Wire Framing a Web Site, presented by Thomas Dopko - Another course will Tom, this time about using Photoshop, ImageReady and Dreamweaver to create a prototype website for approval by some kind of committee. Once again, we started with theory, and then moved into practical, hands-on work. The basics of what we covered: use good Information Architecture to make your site logical and easy to navigate. Have no more than 3 clicks between the user and the material (if its really weird stuff that people won't want often, perhaps more is okay, but people are lazy this millenium). When you create your prototype, put in only a few links, enough to get across the navigation concept to your audience. Since you've only 'wire framed' it, you haven't invested too much time, and can change it quickly when they shoot you down.
You can create an image of your webpage in Photoshop. Draw it, as a graphic designer would, using layers for each different element. Once you have all you need, slice the image into smaller bits, so its easier to load. Try to keep the slices as close to even as you can. That way, when you click 'Save for the web', the HTML document you get has easier table code to deal with (you don't want to loose the speed added by slicing to the lag of longer HTML loading). You can then use the map tag in Dreamweaver to make Image Maps that fit your images, making a much more interesting and unique page. A word of caution: using images for everything is great, but Google indexes by text, so make sure you include your 'alt' attribute.
I will likely go back into Photoshop and create a version 4.0 of my site in the near future, using this wireframing/slicing/image mapping strategy. This might roll out at the same time as the Flash content, or it might be staggered; I don't know yet. I have to download some trial versions first, and find free time to make the changes (oh, yeah, and do all the graphic design!).

Tomorrow, we have the Science of Chocolate, and then lunch and drinks with Prof. Stankus. From there, on to DC, then to the Outer Banks for some vacation!

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