Archive for September 19th, 2007

What Facebook is Good For

Prompted by invites from friends and discussions of it’s usefulness in the library blogosphere I joined Facebook at the beginning of August (See previously: On Facebook Now). Due to my age, ignorance, or perhaps even my anti-social tendencies, I wasn’t sure of what exactly I use Facebook for, but I plowed ahead anyway.

Recently, Susan asked me “Have you figured out what Facebook is good for yet?” At the time I didn’t have a good answer. Visions of connecting with librarians around the world and thus using social networking to become the best librarian I can possibly be have not yet materialized. According to some Facebook is a waste of time that costs businesses millions, while others believe that Facebook may help change the world for the better. Pondering the question, I’ve come up with three things I’ve discovered that Facebook is good for.

  1. Connecting with old friends, colleagues and even a couple of strangers. I gave up on letter writing for the most part a few years ago because no one ever writes me back. Even email, which I find pretty easy, seems to be too time consuming for others. So it’s nice to have a place to check in with my buddies that I don’t see every day to just josh around and keep in touch. Otherwise I’d be stuck just seeing them at weddings and baby showers.
  2. Scrabulous. This is one of the many fun applications you can add to your Facebook profile. Most of them are fun once, but playing Scrabble with friends and strangers is addictive. On the most recent Uncontrolled Vocabulary podcast, Greg Schwartz admitted that Scrabulous is the only reason he still checks in on Facebook. That kind of makes me feel better about not networking with librarians in Peru and Botswana to save the world.
  3. Posted Items. This is my absolute favorite feature of Facebook. One of the things I like best about blogging is being able to refer back to interesting articles and blog posts I read, but not every interesting article is worth blogging about so I ended up with a surplus of draft posts in WordPress. I also would save articles from my feeds in Bloglines but that would get too cluttered. With Posted Items I can save articles, blog posts, web pages, photo albums, whatever and share them (albeit with the limited audience of my friends) automatically. There’s even a button you can add to the browser.

Here’s a selection of my favorite Posted Items on Facebook since early August:

  • August 1, 2007. New York Times. In Praise of Tap Water
    • The one thing about bottled water these days is that it is easier to come by since (clean, functional) drinking fountains seem to be less common.  Plus I’m always misplacing bottles so I have to buy bottled water and then refill it.  But honestly I’ve never bought into the bottled water being healthier concept.
  • August 2, 2007. Boston Globe. Sawed off and ugly, by Donovan Slack.
    • Seeing half a telephone pole hanging off another pole has mystified me for some time.  Now I know why.
  • August 15, 2007. WireTap Magazine. Future Civil Rights: Next Move is Ours, by Biko Baker.
    • I don’t like all of this article, but I like this: “We don’t need to believe in the leadership of one superhero; we need to believe in ourselves. No one else is going to step up and lead us but us. We are all Malcolm. We are all Martin. And until we really begin believing that, we will never be able to conquer the insurmountable odds that are up against us. I believe we can and we will. We are all makers of history; it’s time for us to start acting like it.”
  • August 30, 2007. Shaenon LiveJournal blog. The Trouble With Tribbles as Adapted by Edward Gorey.
    • Two of my favorite popular culture artifacts joined together.  And it’s hillarious.
  • September 8, 2007. Gift of Green. Top Ten Things About Massachusetts That Get a “Huh?” in Virginia.
    • This is interesting since I came to Massachusetts from Virginia albeit preceded by Connecticut.  Because of my New England childhood I’m well aware of regular coffee, radiators, the Blizzard of 78, and the adjectival use of wicked.  I never thought of raspberry lime rickeys or fluffernutters as particularly Massachusetts (the latter seems gooey and gross enough to be loved in the South).  I thought bubbler was used in the midwest and I first heard of jimmies in  Pennsylvania.  So really the three-deckers is the only thing in this list that was new to me when I came to MA.
  • September 18, 2007. Scientific American. 5 Essential Things To Do In Space, by George Musser.
    • I love space exploration.  It’s good to have a plant for its future.
  • September 18, 2007. Britannica Blog. Land, Ho! The Northwest Passage is Open For Business, by Gregory McNamee.
    • This is essentially a satirical article about global warming, but as a history major I love the concept that the Northwest Passage is now here, 400 years late.  There’s a Talk Like a Pirate Day reference as well.


Januarius

januarius.jpg

A quick post about a saint about whom Saint of the Day says “Nothing is known of Januarius’s life.”  A greater mystery is a reliquary of Januarius’s blood in the Naples’ cathedral which is dry most of the time but is said to miraculously liquefy on his feast day each year.  Januarius himself was the Bishop of Benevento martyred by beheading in 305.

My interest in the saint is due to the San Gennaro Festival held in Little Italy in New York when I was a child.  The patron saint of Naples is celebrated with a ten-day street fair which includes a parade of the saint’s statue through the straights.  Attending this festival was a highlight of my childhood, mainly because it was so enormous.  It always felt like a great accomplishment if we could make it the whole way along Mulberry Street past the rides, games, and vendors from Houston to Canal Street.

A nice treat was zeppole, fried dough with confectionery sugar, although you couldn’t eat too many or you would through up.  You couldn’t take them home either, because if you let them sit overnight they would miraculously harden into rock-like pastries.  We called these lead zeppoles.

Anyhow, I’m not sure if there’s a lesson here, but it is fascinating that the life of a 4th century martyr can lead to such a joyous celebration held each year in a city half a world away.

Arrr!!!!

Avast me hearties, it be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. All ye lubbers head over to the official web page and learn how to talk like a pirate. Shiver me timbers, ye’ll even learn pirate pick up lines!

Today is a good day for ye bilge rats to:

It be a great day to be a pirate, maties.

Arrrrrrrr!!!!

My pirate name is:

Mad Sam Flint

Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. Like the rock flint, you’re hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you’re easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
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