Google Voice

16 11 2009

While I’m still not sold on Google Wave, it was worth it to have it because I was able to trade it for an invite for Google Voice.  I haven’t even fully explored it yet but, so far, I am adoring Google Voice.

Basically, Google Voice is a product that is still invitation only from Google.  You can get a new “Google” phone number or use Google Voice with your existing phone number.  I chose to use my existing number rather than add a new phone number to my life.

The benefits of Google Voice, as explained by Google, are:

  • Google voicemail: voicemail like email
  • Voicemail transcription: read what your voicemail says
  • Custom greetings: vary voicemail greetings by caller
  • International calling: low cost calls to the world
  • Notifications: read voicemail messages via email or SMS
  • Share voicemails: forward, embed, or download voicemails

Additionally, the benefits that I’ve enjoyed are that you can:

  • Listen to your voicemail online
  • Pause your voicemail as you listen online
  • Receive the transcripts of your voicemail by email or text message

The transcripts can be a little iffy.  It depends on the background noise in the message and how clearly the person is speaking.  When I’ve had trouble with the transcript, I’ve listened to the playback online and it’s been just fine.  The one annoying part of Google Voice is that I don’t know when I have a new voicemail if I’m away from my computer. Since it goes to a different voicemail number, I only get a notification if I’ve missed a call, rather than if I have a new voicemail.

I am very excited to have voicemail access through Google Voice while I’m out of the country.  I’m leaving for London and Paris tomorrow and would normally not check my voicemail because of the expense (I don’t have an iPhone, which is a post for another time).  I do, however, have an iPod Touch which has wi-fi access.  During my trip, I’ll now have access to listen to my voicemails through Google Voice whenever I have wi-fi access.  Google Voice also supports multiple phone lines so we’re going to set up Google Voice to transcribe my husband’s voicemail also.

While there are merits to unplugging and being incommunicado, I prefer to have access to voicemail and then choose whether or not I want to access it.

I’ll post about library uses for Google Voice when I get back . . .


Google Wave?

4 11 2009

A few weeks ago, I received an invite to Google Wave, which by Google’s description is what email would be if it were invented today.  I’ve waved with a few folks, watched the two minute video about it, and yet, I’m still not sold.  I’m still not sure exactly what I would use it for.  Google even provides suggestions for how to use Wave, like organizing events and group projects, but it requires everyone involved to have both a Google account and a Wave account.   There’s even been hub bub in higher ed about Wave as a replacement for Content Management Systems (CMS).

I would love to find a use for it in my life, work or otherwise.  At the library, the collaboration tool that we use most frequently is a wiki (I’ve linked to the Wikipedia definition of wiki here which is so meta – love it).  We collaborate behind the scenes but the look we present to the user is (hopefully) seamless.  We don’t want our users to see whose hands were on what.  In my mind, everything should look the same and present the same to the user, but we can see who did what behind the scenes.

The thing that I do love about Google Wave, and about Google in general, is how it forces others to keep up and innovate.  PBWorks, formerly PBWiki, recently announced that they were going to have real time collaboration in their wiki.  As Google CEO Eric Schmidt says Google is “a disrupter,” (RT @NiemanLab)  I’ve used PBWorks before with ease and might have to add Google Wave to my instructional technologies list, which is on the PBWorks platform.

As more people get invitations to Google Wave, I hope to find a purpose for it.  In fact, the other night I traded a Wave invite for something I did really want – a Google Voice invite (which I will blog about soon).  I’ve been trying to publicize my blog more, and in the spirit of that trade, I would like to offer an invitation for Google Wave to anyone who:

  1. links to this blog
  2. facebooks this blog
  3. tweets this blog

If you do any/all of these things, leave me a comment on the blog to let me know. I have 13 invitations left.  If more people link, fb or tweet than I have invites for, I will raffle them instead.  Also, if you have an interesting idea for using Google Wave, especially in libraries, leave a comment on that also because I would love any suggestions or innovative ideas that people have for this service.

Twitter Lists

1 11 2009

After a crazy week, I’m finally getting around to exploring twitter lists.  For those unfamiliar, twitter lists are a way to organize those you follow or who follow you into lists that others can find (if they are public, there is a private option).  For more information on twitter lists, check out the post on

This lists feature creates a more democratic and personal social networking experience.  Until now, the best ways to find out who to follow was to 1. use their suggested user list and/or 2. check out who your friends were following.

The first option means that you would want to follow and be up to date on the postings of companies or celebrities.  The suggested users list is an eclectic group that ranges from Whole Foods to Britney Spears to David Allen.  You might even care about following a few of these folks, but it probably won’t keep you checking twitter or tweeting actively.

The second option assumes that you have friends that are active on twitter.  Most of the discussions about twitter indicates that most users post once and never return (check out slate for their article on “orphaned tweets“).   If your friends are not active posters, then you’re not likely to stick with twitter and will also be a one post wonder.

Why should twitters suggested users be prized above yours or mine?  In fact, the chief exec of twitter has suggested that they shouldn’t be.  These new lists are the way of the future at twitter and the suggested user list will be killed or evolved.  The new twitter lists feature provide better possibilities for finding twitter users to follow.  It provides a practical purpose for using twitter.  Finding out who my fellow library tweeters are following and being able to cull the librarians from their friends provides twitter with a networking angle.  If these users provide public posts and lists, I can extend my degrees of separation and find more librarians and create a larger network of librarians on twitter.

I’m also posting this as a slightly delayed response to the challenge posed  by the Internet Librarian, Sarah Houghton-Jan, to create a twitter list and let your community know that it’s there.  I’ve created my librarian list – if you’re a librarian reading this and you’re not on it, DM me or reply @quirkster to get on it.  While you’re at it, create your own librarian list and add me to it so that YOUR librarian followers can find me.

(Note: I’m not so much invested in the medium of twitter as I am in the fact that it has the potential to create a findable network of tech savvy early adopter librarians)