Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dear GoogleReader: It's not you, it's me

When Google announced that they'd be phasing out iGoogle (for which they gave 16 months notice), I moved several of the feeds I had on my iGoogle homepage over to GoogleReader.

In hindsight, this does not seem like the smartest move ever.

I know this isn't the type of thing I usually write about here (though I'm not sure I could actually define what I "usually" write about), but GoogleReader has been incredibly important to how I gathered information for so long--and the information I found there was very influential for me as I started my career as a school librarian.

I am probably not what you would call a "power user" of GoogleReader, but I loved my GoogleReader. However, the past tense of "love" in the preceding sentence is not preemptive. For the past several months I find myself more and more often going into GoogleReader and Marking All As Read on a lot of my feeds (and on the same feeds over and over again, but I can't bring myself to delete them because I am that kind of crazy). Or marking posts as "Keep Unread", telling myself I'll go back later when I have more time. And, as I'm sure you've already guessed, I very rarely do.

It's not because I no longer find the information there useful or meaningful. Oftentimes by the time I get to the posts in my Reader, I've already seen and read it on Twitter or Facebook or through Diigo groups or through my paper, or through a variety of other sources. And here's the thing I love about all those other sources--I often find things I never would have discovered if I was just relying on my GoogleReader. The sense of discovery and serendipity I felt when I first started gathering feeds for my GoogleReader (including blogs that helped me discover new feeds) is a constant with these other sources. My GoogleReader--in large part due to my own neglect--has grown stagnant.

The timing of the GoogleReader shutdown is also significant for me. As some of you know, I'll be leaving my current position at the end of the school year, and enrolling in a graduate program in Independent School Leadership in the fall. The types of information and resources I'm going to be looking at and for are going to be changing (though there is definitely overlap)--it seems appropriate that the tools I use to gather that information will be changing as well. I move out of my on-campus apartment on June 30th; GoogleReader closes on July 1st. This is, obviously, simply a coincidence. But I'm going to attach significance to it anyway.

I don't know what I'll move to, and I'm still deciding what exactly I'm looking for as I pick a new service. I'm not ready to jump feet first into something new, and I certainly don't want to simply transfer a bunch of unread feeds to a new service. And I'll keep using GoogleReader until the end of the school year--there are still feeds there that I rely on for ideas and information. But rather than bemoaning the loss of my once-beloved GoogleReader, I've decided to take this as an opportunity to reflect on what kinds of information I'm looking for, and to create a system for myself that incorporates the sense of serendipity I love about the other tools I use to gather ideas.

Monday, March 11, 2013

CASL/CLC Conference Presentation: 14 Things to Tame

Here are my slides from Saturday's CASL/CLC Mini-Conference. Thanks to all who came and made it such a great day!

Be sure to check out the 14 Things to Tame blog as well for more information.

Friday, March 8, 2013


I spent last Sunday afternoon at MoMA. They had an exhibit called "Inventing Abstraction" which chronicled the development of abstract art. Outside the galleries they had a huge diagram (it covered the entire wall) detailing the connections between different artists.

You can see an interactive version of the connections on MoMA website.
The names in red are the artists who had more connections. And you'll notice (particularly if you look at the diagram on the website) that the names in red are well-known names--artists who are particularly prolific, or influential, or have stood the test of time.

As I looked at this diagram (and I spent a long time looking at it, and even longer thinking about it), I wondered--does being connected make you more creative, or does being creative lead you to form more connections? The answer is, I think, both.

I know the opportunity to connect with people online and in person has fueled my work in many ways--I gather ideas and inspiration when other people share their passions with me. And I also know that when I have an idea or project I'm excited about, I'm more likely to reach out to people to share those ideas--whether it's sharing the idea with a colleague over lunch, or using this blog or Twitter or any of my other networks in order to share with a wider audience.

The interconnectedness of creativity and connections has implications not only for our own work as educators, but also for our students. Are we providing opportunities for students to connect with each other and with a wider audience in order to be inspired? Do we create avenues for them to share their ideas and what they're learning? These connections--and the creativity they inspire--are, I believe, inextricably connected.