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Minnesota, United States

Monday, June 28, 2010

ChaCha: Mobile Answer Service

Looking for a quick answer to a question while you're on the go and don't have immediate Internet access? If you have a mobile phone, you might be interested in ChaCha. ChaCha is useable through most mobile phone devices and providers. To ask a question, you can either send a text message to 242242 or call 1-800-2ChaCha. Responses are quick, usually within a few minutes and often in less than 30 seconds in the form of a text message. ChaCha is free of charge (but you will be sent ads to your phone). Sounds great, but how well does it work in actual practice?

To find out, I submitted two questions to ChaCha. The first question was "What was the warmest temperature ever recorded in Minnesota?" The second question was "How many miles of Lake Superior shoreline are in the state of Minnesota?" Unfortunately, the answer to the first question was completely off the mark. Instead of telling me the warmest temperature ever recorded in Minnesota, it just gave me today's weather forecast including the high temperature for the day. The answer to the second question gave me the total miles of shoreline for the whole Lake Superior when I asked for just the miles of shoreline in Minnesota. ChaCha also told me that Lake Superior could contain the whole volume of all of the other Great Lakes plus two lake Eries combined. Interesting fact but not relevant to the answer I was seeking. Supposedly, when a question is submitted, there is a human being that answers the question. ChaCha employs over 50,000. The harder questions are answered by real librarians. However, after getting the responses I did, I had to wonder if either the questions were just being answered by a computer or the ChaCha employees were not properly trained. Until a better system is in place for answering questions, I won't be using this service.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Top 10 Literary Works

Listverse has a list of the 10 Most Difficult Literary works. Rather interesting list, I think. How many of these have you read?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Free Webinars

Looking for a free professional development opportunity? Check out webinarlistings.com for a listing of webinars, the majority which are free. There are numerous webinars of potential interest for librarians including those related to social media, computers, and job searching.