Teens Know Web 2.0: iHCPL for Teens is a self-paced discovery learning program designed to help teens make the most of free Web 2.0 technologies, such as photo editing sites, productivity tools, online videos, social networking and sites for sharing music.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Sound Off: Making a Podcast

A brief overview

What is a podcast and why would I want to make one? A podcast is a syndicated audio broadcast that can be played on any MP3 player (the word comes from combining "iPod" + "broadcast"). When you subscribe to the RSS feed for a podcast, you receive automatic downloads of new content as it is made available online. Podcasts are available on a wide range of topics, just like blogs in audio format. Use Yahoo! Podcasts or Podcast Alley to find podcasts of interest to you. To hear what other teens are doing with podcasts, check out the Teen Podcasters Network or listen to the teen podcasts from Seattle Public Library.

Making your own podcast

Like most any other tools, online podcast tools range from the relatively simple to the more advanced, which often require downloading software. So that this exercise is accessible to everyone, whether or not you have a microphone for your computer, we are going to use a service that allows you to record your podcast through the telephone. Gabcast offers up to one hour of recording for each episode (up to 200 MB of space) with a free account. To get started:

  1. Create a new account. Enter your personal e-mail address and password and add your avatar, if you choose. You do not need to enter a web site address. You will receive a confirmation e-mail after registering. Just follow the link and begin.

  2. When you get to your account page, click on "create a channel," then click on "My Channels" to get the number assigned to your channel.

  3. Call the 800 number listed for the US at the right hand side of the page. You will be asked for you channel number and your password number.

  4. Record your podcast! You will have the option to listen to your recording or to publish. When you are ready, select publish.

  5. Return to your online account and select play to listen to your podcast. You can also edit the title and add tags for the episode.

For those of you who would like to explore other podcasting options, take a look at using the Odeo Studio for podcasts or use the podcasting tutorial at Feed for All.

Discovery Exercises

  1. Follow the steps above to create a Gabcast podcast on any topic of your choice.

  2. Send us a comment about your podcast.

The Sounds of the Web

You can find a wide variety of sounds on the web, from music to sound effects, podcasts to audiobooks. This post is going to concentrate on music. Most of you have probably been downloading songs from sites like iTunes or Rhapsody for some time, so we're not going to talk too much about the mechanics of downloading. Instead, let's take a look at what is available through the world of online sound.

Pay to Play

There are numerous sites where you can pay a monthly fee or a fee per song and legally download your favorite songs. Some of the most popular sites are Napster, iTunes, Yahoo!, and Rhapsody. Amazon has a wide variety of MP3 options and allows purchase of individual songs. These sites safely offer the widest variety of popular music -- for a price.

Free and Legal

What can be more free and legal than the public library? HCPL does offer some music (and audiobooks) through our downloadable media site, but it is limited by what is available for libraries to purchase. Sites like music.download.com offer free streaming and MP3 downloads, but they are also limited by legal restrictions. Some musicians, like the band Radiohead, are challenging the music industry by offering their music for download at very little cost.

Your Own Radio Station

You can listen to your favorite radio station through their web site (The Buzz, KRBE, Rice Radio and many more) or create a radio station of your own. Sites like Pandora or Songza build playlists for your by asking you about your favorite music.

Social Networking Through Music

MySpace started as a site to help connect bands with listeners and fans with other fans, but the site grew so huge that socializing is now the main draw. Quite a few newer sites are still centered around the music aspect. Mog is a site created specifically to link people together based on the music they like. The "Mog-o-Matic" is a downloadable application for Windows or Mac that tracks what you're listening to on the computer and adds it to your Mog page. imeem and Project Playlist are other sites that are based around sharing music with friends. Qloud (and many other sites) allows you to add a "my music" section to your Facebook or Friendster account.

Music Clouds

Have you ever made a Wordle? Just google your favorite song lyrics, copy them, go to Wordle, click create and paste the lyrics into the box. You can choose the colors and background that you like and it makes a word cloud for you. Can you guess the song used in the music cloud below?

A Sound of Your Own

How would you like to have a sound that reflects your personality to use in your blog, on your cell phone or your social networking profile? Just go to Soundbadge, sign up and answer a few questions and immediately receive your signature sound.


Use lyrics from your favorite song to create a word cloud in Wordle or sign up at Soundbadge and have a sound tailor made for you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Three P's of Video Production

By now, you have decided what type of video you would like to produce. In this module, we will explore the three P's of video and film production:
Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production.

Pre-Production: Lights, Camera....
In this stage, you will get everything ready to begin filming. Here is a checklist of all the things you need to think about before you start your first day of shooting (in no particular order):
1. Location! Location! Location! Where are you going to shoot this film masterpiece? The first rule of location scouting is make sure there are no surprises in store for you when you start filming. If you are using your own home, then you don't have to worry about anything other than getting your parent's permission. If you are using your friend's house, make sure your get their parent's permission. Some people may not feel comfortable having their house featured in a video. As far as public places go, you must get permission to film on public or private property. In public places such as the library, there may be certain rules you have to follow in order to film there such as not filming patrons without their consent. Always get permission to film anywhere. In some places, you may even have to apply for a permit to film there. One of the best sources of information on this issue and many more is the Texas Film Commission.
2. Releases. Everyone who is appearing on camera should sign a legal release form. Since most of your cast members will be under the age of consent (18), there parents must sign for them. Sample copies of an actor's release form can be found in several film books including The Complete Film Production Handbook by Eve Light Honthaner.
3. Script. Even silent movies need scripts. The script tells the story of your film and builds the foundation for your production. For more information on screenwriting, check out these books at your library.
4. Storyboards. Once you have the story down in words, you need to figure out how to tell the story in visuals. That's where the storyboard comes in to play. Storyboards can be as simple as stick figures or as complicated and artistic as the ones in the video below:

5. Costumes, Props, Sets, and Makeup. Make a list of the items you will need for your movie. If you need any special makeup, check local theatrical supply and costume shops. Hit the local thrift stores for costums and props. After you have gathered everything together, make a checklist of everything and organize it by character. You don't want to have to scramble for something the day of shooting. Also pack a bag of emergency supplies to bring with you to the set such as sewing thread, sewing needles, bandages, duct tape, masking tape, etc.
6. Scheduling. Most films are not shot in sequence. Unless you plan on using one location, you will have to break up your shooting schedule into scenes by location. For example, shoot everything that takes place in the living room and then move on the all the scenes shot outside by the pool. Also make a realistic estimate about how long it will take you to shoot a scene. One formula you can use is one minute of screentime is equal to one hour of shooting. Sometimes it will take more especially if you are working with special effects, animals or small children. Filming outside can take more time due to noises such as airplanes, cars or your neighbor's activity (you never know when someone might decide to mow their lawn).
7. Rehearsal. Give your actors a chance to read the script and ask you questions. They might have some valuable input that will save you time in the long run.
8. Lights! Lighting can make or break a video. Entire courses are taught in lighting for stage and film but here is a quick tutorial.
9. Camera! Make sure you have plenty of videotape, film, DVDs, or media cards. Also charge your batteries the night before shooting. If you have a backup battery, pack it and bring it with you.

Now you are ready to film! Your checklists have been checked off, your actor's have memorized their lines, and you have all your storyboards ready. Here are some things you can do to keep everything running smoothly:
1. Have a contingency plan. If you are filming outdoors and it starts raining, what are you going to do?
2. Watch your playback. If you think something might be wrong with the scene (i.e. bad lighting, garbled audio, etc.), watch the video playback before you move on to the next scene. Better yet, do more than one take of the each scene if time allows. That will give you a few choices when it comes to editing.
3. Continuity. Don't make these mistakes:

Use a digital camera or an instant camera to keep track of wardrobe, prop placement and set dressings.

Post-Production: Putting It Together
All you have to do now is edit, dub, and upload your video. Use the programs mentioned in the first post to edit your film. During this process, you can also add titles, subtitles, special effects and music. Check with the video sharing site of your choice before you get ready to upload your video to double check the formats they accept. Most sites accept .avi, .mov, .wmv, and .mpg files. If you are unsure, check with the site's help center.

Discovery Exercises
Create your own film and post it to a video sharing site. Let us know about it!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

YouTube: Lights, Camera, Action!

If Vlogging is not your style or you feel more comfortable behind the camera, then you need to start making your own movies for YouTube. Before we discuss cameras, scripts and actors, let's talk about:

The Fine Print (aka I Fought the Law and the Law Won)
In the first YouTube post, I pointed out that you need a clear copyright if you want to use music in your videos but there are some other legalities that you should think about that are just as important.
1. Use of copyrighted video material. Creating movie or anime music videos (AMVs) is a great way to test your video editing prowess. Unfortunately, posting these videos infringes on the copyright of the creator of the source material. In most cases, YouTube will either give you a warning and pull the video. Worst case scenario: YouTube suspends your account and the original copyright holder sues you. It may sound extreme, but it has happened to several famous YouTube users.
2. Prank videos. Just because they made Johnny Knoxville and company famous doesn't mean that they will make you famous. Do you really want to end up in the emergency room or the back of a squad car over a YouTube video?
3. Hidden camera videos. Unless you have a person's written consent, you should not videotape them. It's legally and ethically wrong. In the case of minors, you must get consent from a parent or guardian.

Get Equipped!
All you need to get started is a video camera, camera phone, still camera with video capability, or webcam. If you don't have any of these at home, you can start your shopping by checking out electronic review sites such as Cnet or even a retailer like Amazon. Read customer reviews in addition to the professional reviews on the site. Also think about the kind of videos that you want to shoot. If you just want to goof around with your friends, a digital camera with video capability might be your best buy. If you want to make professional quality films, then you need to look for a video camera. Decide on the make and model that you want to buy before you go shopping.

You will also need video editing software. Luckily, both Windows and Mac come loaded with some great software. Windows Movie Maker and Mac's iMovie are perfect for beginners. Once you have taken off the training wheels, you might consider one of the Final Cut packages for Mac or Adobe's Premiere for Windows or Mac. There are some online options like JumpCut and Eyespot but most online video editors are pretty weak when compared to their software counterparts.

Get Educated!

Your library has some great books on filmmaking including one expressly for teens! Check out Digital Filmaking for Teens by Peter Shaner and Gerald Everett Jones. You an also find some great DIY (Do It Yourself) videos on YouTube itself. Indy Mogul and Zero Budget have some excellent tips and tricks to turn your ideas into reality.

Get Ready!
You are armed with your camera, your editing software, and your knowledge of video production. In the final post, you will learn how to put it all together, shoot your first video, edit it, and put it on YouTube.

Discovery Exercises
1. If you can, shoot some video and play around with your video editor.
2. Watch some YouTube DIY videos.
3. Think about what kind of video you would like to produce. Do you want to make a music video? Movie? Do you have a special skill that you would like to share with the world in a DIY video?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Online Video: The Next Generation of Entertainment

Are you dying to learn Dice Stacking? Ever seen a Library Musical performed in a real library in front of unsuspecting patrons? Do you think you are tough enough to join Chess Club? If you haven't discovered YouTube yet, log on and take a look at the next generation of entertainment and media. YouTube is certainly the most popular video site, but there are others you might want to check out including: Hulu for watching TV shows and movies, blip.tv for user created shows, or the Internet Archive which has thousands of mostly open-access videos.

Founded in 2005, YouTube combines video sharing with social networking. Three years later, YouTube's influence is so wide that questions from YouTube vloggers were featured in the presidential debates. It has also turned a college student like Tay Zonday from an oddity to internet celebrity Dr. Pepper spokesperson. Back in 1968, Andy Warhol stated, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." Thanks to YouTube, the future is here.

In these iHCPL posts, we will explore YouTube and learn how to create videos to dazzle your friends, family, and, hopefully, the whole internet.

You Can Be a Star: Vlogging

One of the most popular features of YouTube is Vlogging or Video Blogging. If you have a webcam or a camera that can capture videos, you can create a Vlog. Vlogs are a great way to express your ideas, document your life, or send a message out to the world.

So, who vlogs? YA authors Cecil Castellucci and Meg Cabot vlog. Kenzie the Wheaten Terrier vlogs. Even Ninjas vlog. One of the most infamous vloggers on YouTube wasn't actually a vlogger at all. In June 2006, vlogs from lonelygirl15 (aka Bree) began appearing on the site. She seemed like a typical teen but as the vlogs progressed, people began to worry about her strange, restrictive home life. Finally, it was revealed that lonelygirl15 was actually an actress from New Zealand and the whole thing was a "virtual" series. In spite of that revelation, Lonelygirl15 is still running on YouTube and will wrap up it's storyline this August.

If you want to start your own vlog, here are some helpful hints:

Also, make sure that any music you use in your vlog is either covered by the Creative Commons license or is from the Warner Music Group. You don't want your vlog pulled for copyright violations.

Discovery Exercises:

1. If you aren't already signed up for YouTube, sign up today!

2. Explore all the videos that YouTube offers.

3. Create a vlog or, if you are camera shy, blog about your favorites.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Online Calendars

Using an online calendar can help the busiest person stay on track. You can keep your school assignments as well as your social commitments straight. Never again will you forget when your History paper is due or who you have a date with next Saturday. By using an online calendar you can access it anywhere, anytime and anyplace, provided you have access to a computer and the Internet!

We will look at three different free online calendars:

1. Google Calendar - Take the tour here.

2. Yahoo Calendar – With Yahoo calendar you can access dates and meetings and you can share your calendar with friends you choose. There are also automatic reminders to help keep you on track.

3. 30 Boxes - You can publish or display this calendar on your blog if you have one. You can set your calendar so that only those that you invite can view it under advanced settings. It is easy to add events.

Discovery exercise:

1. Create an account using one of the calendars mentioned above.
2. Change the settings.
3. Add events for this month.
4. Leave a comment naming your favorite online calendar.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Most of us can use a little help to get or keep ourselves organized. Now there are many web-based applications available to do just that. These powerful applications provide users with the ability to create and share documents over the internet without the need of installed desktop applications.

One large benefit to web-based applications is that they eliminate the need to worry about different software versions or file types as you e-mail documents or move from PC to PC. Another bonus is that they easily accommodate collaboration by allowing multiple users to edit the same file (with versioning) and provide users the ability to easily save and convert documents as multiple file types (including HTML and pdf). And, you can even use many of these tools, such as Zoho Writer and Google Docs to author and publish posts to your blog. It's this type of integration with other web 2.0 tools that also makes web-based apps so appealing.

Online Productivity #1: Zoho

There are online programs such as Zoho and Google Docs that will allow you to write papers, create spread sheets and more . For this exercise we will learn about Zoho.

Zoho offers online access to word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and database programs. With Zoho you can enter information online and save it online. There is no need to carry around a disk or flash drive; wherever you have access to the internet, you have access to your work!

Discovery Exercises:

Register for a free account with Zoho.
Create a document in Zoho Writer listing all the fun things you plan to do over the summer.
Create a document in Zoho Sheet creating a budget on how you will spend money this summer.
Take a look around Zoho Show and Zoho Notebook.
Leave a comment to this post listing your favorite Zoho tool.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Photo Editing

So you’ve got a Flickr or other online photo-sharing account. But, before you upload certain pics, you’d love to be able to tweak them a bit. And for that – photo editing – you’ve got plenty of places to choose from.

Unless you’re a professional photographer, you don’t need a chunk of change to make use of the latest and greatest Photoshop software to create cool effects or adjust an image. Like photo-sharing sites, there are more than the world wide web’s share of photo editing tools to choose from. And the best part is that most of them are free.

Just a simple Google search for the term “photo editing” will retrieve literally millions of hits (click here if you want to see), with the most popular spots, as always, near the very top of the list. And though each of the sites may have more or less features than another, most should cover the basic image-adjustment options.

Need to trim your shot a bit? Try cropping. Do you love attractive, bright colors? Try saturating. Do you prefer less color and instead take pleasure in the simplicity of shadows and shades? Desaturate the colors and convert your pic to black and white. Do you want to do less work AND enjoy a vivid, well-balanced image? Try auto-adjusting. Do you want to get really ridiculous with your shot? Mess around with distortion effects.

Little touches like these are often that special magic touch which makes the difference between an average snapshot easily forgotten and an eye-catching image worthy of hanging on the wall.

As already mentioned, there are plenty of sites to choose from. Lately, one of the bigger names in photo-editing has gotten into the game of free with Photoshop Express, which offers up to 2 gigabytes worth of uploadable photo space. With FotoFlexor, another popular site, you can enjoy image tweaking with cool functions that’ll trim a person out of a background, recolor hair, and even animate. Another popular site, Picnik, will work with your photos wherever they are on the web, whether Myspace, Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket, or Picasa. Best of all with them all – no moola necessary.

Discovery Exercise:
Create an account with one of the photo-editing sites mentioned above. After uploading a picture or two, tweak with some of the basic functions like cropping or color-adjusting. Try most of the other effects.

Once you’ve tweaked at least one of your pictures enough, upload your favorite result to your favorite photo-sharing site with the account you created in the previous module.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Photos: Sharing

Flickr CC: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Originally uploaded by prakope
You might already have a Myspace, Facebook, or Friendster profile, and you may have even posted photos on your profile albums to share with friends. Social networking sites like these offer practically an unlimited amount of space to upload your photos and sort them into albums. If, however, you enjoy taking pictures more than the average person, you might find photo-sharing sites have much more to offer.

There are plenty of photo sharing sites to choose from on the Internet, but Flickr, Picasa, and Photobucket are just a few of the bigger names in the business. And while they offer the uploading and sorting options that you’re familiar with, they take it further for the digital neat-freaks among us with the option to arrange pics into detailed albums, sets and collections.

In case you aren’t already familiar, the basic business of “photo sharing” is done through something known as “tagging,” in which you attach as many keywords as you want to describe a photo. Though Facebook and Myspace have a similar feature in which you “tag” photos with friends’ names, photo sharing sites allow you to tag not only with names but with just about any other words or phrases that might have anything at all to do with your photo. This way, you can see all of the pictures other members have taken of “motorcycles,” “cheese sandwiches,” or “squids,” and others can see yours as well. Click here to see more examples of tagging on Flickr.

Flickr CC: grilled cheese sandwiches
Originally uploaded by nettsu

So what else do photo sharing sites have to offer? Is tagging the only benefit? Besides tagging, sites like the ones already mentioned also allow you to upload video, create slide shows, or setup links to your blog or other personal profiles, just to name a few. You may also enjoy learning that others have created different fun and interesting uses for these sites known as “mashups.”

Discovery Exercise

  1. Create a free account on one of the photo-sharing sites mentioned above.
  2. Upload some of your favorite photos. Create as many unique tags for each photo as you want. Try organizing them into sets and collections.
  3. After you’ve uploaded and tagged some photos, click on the tags with your own photo to see what others have posted with the same tags.
  4. Take a look at some of the Flickr mashups to try out other fun options.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Social Networking: Fun & Games

So, you've written the great American novel, recorded a platinum album, sold your first painting to MOMA for a few million, and cataloged your entire book collection. How about some pure fun and games with a side order of sillyness?

Game On
Gaia Online--Gaia (pronounced "guy-uh") is a hybrid of Second Life and Pogo with a dash of LiveJournal and anime. It started as a hangout for anime and manga fans but you will find Gaians have a wide range of interests. The discussion boards range from America's Next Top Model to X-Men. Like Second Life, you have to work to earn virtual gold to buy clothes and items for your avatar. You can play games, sell items in the marketplace or shake the trees in towns for gold (yes, in Gaia, money does grow on trees!). You can watch movies or tv shows in the Gaia cinema and then create a YouTube playlist for everyone else to watch. Gaia also features Quests sponsored by movie and anime companies where you can earn special items.

Habbo--Similar to Gaia Online but less traveled.

This Space is Going to the Dogs [and Cats]

humorous pictures
more cat pictures

The past two weeks, you have learned about the myriad of social networking opportunties available to you but what about your dog or cat? Don't they deserve their own site? Never fear! You can create their own social network at Dogster or Catster. Even though the concept seems silly, it's a great way to connect with other pet owners and learn more about your best friend.

Are you on Facebook? Try Catbook or Dogbook instead.


You were promised silliness in the introduction and here it is. No, someone hasn't hacked our links. If you clicked on any links and found yourself viewing a copy of Rick Astley's video "Never Gonna Give You Up", then you've been RickRolled (not a RickRoll, I promise)! RickRolling reached critical mass this April Fool's Day when YouTube turned all their top videos into RickRolls. If you clicked on a link about chess, you got Rick Astley. If you wanted to watch a video of Tila Tequila in her bikini, you got Rick Astley. If you clicked on a link to win an iPhone, you got a big dose O'Rick. It quickly spread to all the social networking sites and that day, you could barely go a few hours without being RickRolled.

Discovery Exercises

1. Explore Gaia Online or Habbo. Play some mini-games (Pinball is my favorite) and explore the towns.

2. If you have a pet, get them online!

3. RickRoll someone.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Social Networking: Get Creative!

Now that you have written, read, and reviewed the great American novel, it's time for some new creative endeavors. In this next module, the hills will be alive with the sound of music, art, and knitting!

Raise Your Voice
The Sims on Stage (or the social networking site formerly known as Singshot)--Once upon a time, there was a little karaoke site called Singshot. It was so popular that it attracted the attention of EA Games (owner of The Sims) who bought it and turned it into The Sims on Stage. It's still the same fun and friendly site but with some major extras. In addition to karaoke, you can record a poem, comedy routine, or story. You can also create movie mashups. Most of the people are kind and supportive so you don't need to worry if you can't sing like Mariah Carey.

GarageBand--If you have an unsigned band or just love discovering undiscovered bands, check out this site. You can create playlists of your favorite artists, rate their songs, and even download your favorites. This is a fabulous place for alternative music that you won't find on Top 40 radio. If you have a band, you can upload songs, promote your gigs, and start a fanlisting.

imeem.com--Your place for playlists. Create music, video, and photo playlists. Share them with other members and discover new artists through their search feature.

Drawn Together
deviantART--One of the largest online art communities. You can post your own artwork, start a list of your favorite artists, and discuss art with people around the world. You can even sell prints of your original artwork.

Rate My Drawings--If you can draw with your mouse or own a graphics tablet, don't miss this site. In fact, try it out here. Once you are registered, you can enjoy Draw Chat, add pictures to the gallery, and more.

K1 C2
If you know what that means, you need to join Ravelry! (For those who don't know, it stands for Knit 1, Crochet 2.) Ravelry is MySpace for Knitters and Crocheters. You can track your progress on a project, post photos, ask for advice, or find yarn and patterns. They even have groups especially for teens. Right now, they are still in Beta so if you join, it can take about two weeks for you to be approved. It's definitely worth the wait.

Discovery Exercises
Be bold! Record a song on The Sims on Stage, try your hand at drawing, or create a funky new playlist. Do something outside of your comfort zone and let us know how it feels. Post your results in your blog or comment here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Social Networking: Beyond MySpace: The Next Generation of Social Networking

funny pictures
more cat pictures

In the beginning, there was MySpace. And it was good. Its success brought forth the wonders of Facebook and Beebo. And they were good. Then one day while checking his friend's list, a teen, very much like yourself, realized that even his grandparents were on MySpace. The day that you realize that even Neil Diamond has a MySpace page is the day that you might consider migrating to a new space that you can call your own. In the next few modules, you will learn about new, teen-friendly spaces where you can explore your creativity, write the story of your life or just plain have fun.

New to social networking? Check out the video below by Common Craft that explains how it works.

Remember to read about Online Safety before using social networking sites.

Write Now

Do you want to write the story of your life? Do you think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows needs a sequel? Are you writing the great American novel? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to check out the following blog and writing social networking sites:

LiveJournal--The mother of all blogging, social networking sites. The thing that makes LiveJournal different from other blog sites like Blogger is the addition of social networking. Instead of reading blogs with an RSS feed, you friend the journal that you want to read and read it via your Friends List. If you have RSS feeds that you like to read, you can also add them to your Friends List and read them on LiveJournal. Quite a few YA authors have LiveJournal accounts including Libba Bray, Cecil Castellucci, and Laurie Halse Anderson. There are also book discussion groups, writer boards, icon contests and more.

If you don't find what you are looking for at LiveJournal or if you already have an account, check out these other blogging sites:

Insane Journal--Just like LiveJournal, only smaller and crazier.

Vox--Smaller but artsier version of LiveJournal.

Storymash--Are you stuck on the opening paragraph of your novel? Get some help from other writers on the collaborative creative writing website. You can get feedback on your writing or create stories with other writers. Also try WeBook.

Well Read

Are you looking for something new to read? Can't wait to discuss your favorite book with someone? Need a way to keep track of all the books you have read? Try Shelfari or Library Thing. Both have active discussion groups, the ability to catalog your books, and other great features.

Already on Facebook? Try Visual Bookshelf or add your Shelfari bookshelf to your profile.

Of course, you might also want to check out HCPL's own online Teen Book Club where you can chat with local teens and HCPL librarians about the books, music, videogames and more!

Discovery Exercise

Check out some the the websites mentioned about and sign up for one that interests you. Create your own experience by writing a short story, book review, or storymash. Let us know about your creative endeavor by commenting to this blog post!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Online Safety

Instant messaging, blogging and using social networks are quick and easy ways to share ideas and keep in contact with friends. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind while you do so.
  • Age Requirement
    • Only use sites where you meet the age requirements
  • Protect your personal information
    • Don't use your real name in your email address or screen name.
    • Think before you give your email to a company/organization or enter it to participate in a contest. You could end up with a lot of spam.
    • Don’t post your address, phone number and social security number on the Web or give them to anyone.
    • When setting up an account, remember to set the preferences. Only allow people listed as a Friend or a Buddy to chat with you, email you or see your profile.
  • Watch what you post
    • Don’t post photos or information that you wouldn’t want your parents or your teacher to see.
    • Use an avatar for your profile instead of a photo. Photos can be altered by other people and posted in other places on the Web.
  • Friends & buddy lists
    • Make sure your “Friends” or “Buddies” are people you actually know and can identify. People are less likely to give you trouble if they know you can identify them.
  • Take action when trouble starts
    • If anyone threatens you online or makes you feel uncomfortable, block them and file a complaint on the site or talk to an adult.
Discovery Resources

Can't see the above video, watch it on YouTube.
Watch the HCPL Legend Busters: Internet Safety Video above and select one of the following links to videos about online safety.

Discovery Exercise
  • Play ID the Creep to see if you can spot the unsafe online contacts.
  • Find out about some of the stories from Real Life teens.