Friday, 29 July 2011

Social Networking Continued

Wow, so I've missed a few weeks, but I have a pretty good excuse: I'm on vacation in Upstate New York. Here's a photo of me at Fillmore Glen State Park to prove it. Despite my absence from London, I am continuing with the 23 Things even while I'm away from work, and, thanks to my jet lag, I'm waking up much earlier than everybody else and have found the time to do it.

LinkedIn: I have not had much experience with it before. Now that I've joined and made a couple of connections with my colleagues, I can definitely see why it's so useful. For example, for me, an internet lurker looking forward in my career, LinkedIn allows me to see what others have done to get where they are. Obviously, its design is based around networking, and it creates a great space for communication in a professional online environment that isn't directly connected to an organization.

In terms Web 2.0 applications relation to academic libraries in particular, I think that LinkedIn's appeal is limited to library staff, and not so much to library users. That's not so much a criticism as an observation. LinkedIn's utility is narrow and well defined: it creates a social space for individuals to interact as professionals.

If you want a place for the library to market itself to its users, especially when many of those users are undergraduates, Facebook is a pretty ideal platform. The profile page can tell users basic information (e.g. address, phone number, opening hours etc.), while posting allows the library to inform its followers of news. Also, it creates a really nice space for the library to share relevant links with its followers and to keep up-to-date with other libraries. Many other libraries 'like' other libraries and related organizations, and that gives the libraries' users a window into other resources they may not have known about. One problem with this function is that a library could potentially 'like' lots of other organizations, and all of these profiles are lumped into one place with no labels that might help users browse them. However, most of the library Facebook profiles that I've looked at have limited their likes.

It would be very exciting indeed if City Library created a Facebook profile. I wonder what its profile pic would be...

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Social Networking (Twitter)

I first joined Twitter back in 2008 when it was still considered somewhat novel, and since then my track record for tweeting is only slightly better than it is for blogs: 7 tweets, and they are dull indeed.

I still don't have much to say for myself. When something occurs to me that I think might be worthy of sharing, I have the most difficult time deciding whether it's actually interesting or incredibly innocuous. Inspired by this kind of lapse in judgement, a friend of mine has written a deeply funny play called Phillipa and Will are Now in a Relationship (He's taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and if you're going up this year, I highly recommend you see it). I am more cautious when it comes to publishing my own material, but I still have uses for Twitter, and those are as a lurker, reading the posts of other organizations.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Library Uses for Flickr

I spend a larger part of time at City and at Cass telling people to stop doing things, than I'd like to admit (especially during the 24-hour opening). I tell them to stop talking on their mobile phones, stop talking in the silent study zones, stop eating those cans of tuna (really), and to please finish their hot drinks outside the library...please. At Cass they came up with some pretty clever signs with pictures of coffee dripping over a piece of paper to convey the idea that eating and drinking around books might harm them, and the library would like to discourage this behavior.

So, I wonder, what are some more images that would communicate a similar thing? Hello Flickr!

Browsing for images, the first image that I came upon meeting my criteria comes from a user who happens to be a librarian in Lincolnshire. *Sigh* Is there anybody on Flickr who isn't a librarian?Photo Credit: Caro Wallis (Flickr)
Used under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Photo credit: Brett L. (Flickr)
Used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo credit: Busbeytheelder (Flickr)
Used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo Credit: Max Wheeler (Flickr)
Used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo Credit: Paul Sheehan (Flickr)
Used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Obviously, the cleverest photos aren't going to regulate behavior. When students really want to eat and drink in the library they are going to figure out ways to do so. Ultimately, I think it comes down to social regulation. If library users feel pressured by their surroundings to behave a certain way, they will. You don't see many people trying to sneak coffee into the reading rooms at the British Library do you?

Monday, 27 June 2011

Creative Commons

We have entered a new media age. It is no longer financially viable for most media not to exist on the Internet. New musicians would not be heard, newspapers would not be read, photography would not be viewed if they did share their work online. As a result abundance of this media online and the widespread use of the Internet, new kinds of expression have emerged and become increasingly pervasive.

In one very famous example of an oversight of creative control, cartoonist, Simon Tofield, created a cartoon that became viral via YouTube called Simon's Cat. Some people started using the cartoon on their web pages without attributing the work to him, and some even claimed his work as their own. It wasn't until Tofield began using a content ID to tag his work that he was able to be recognized for his work. (You can hear a short interview with Tofield about how he has used Creative Commons to share his cartoons on this Tech Crunch Blog by Paul Carr here).

Thank goodness for Creative Commons stepping in and attempting to legally organize some of this widespread creative activity that might otherwise be completely chaotic. The six different types of copy right licenses that Creative Commons offers seem to be comprehensive, and they make it easy for potential users of creative content to know what is okay to use and what is not. This is especially great for LIS because copyright is absolutely vital for librarians to pay attention to, not just in the distribution of materials but also in their communication with the wider community on behalf of the library.

Here's a cartoon I did about the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Attribution Right:

Look at that! I've posted an image! This should segue well into my next post on Thing 9: Using Flickr.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Google Reader

Let me first say that I love RSS feeds. I think they're so useful, and not just because they help me stay more up-to-date than my friends on current events. I use them in the form of podcast subscriptions; I use them for updates on my favorite blogs; and I use them to find cheap airfare. They're great.

One key drawback to the very idea of reader is that they can contribute to information overload and should be used somewhat cautiously. If you're the type of person who is always slogging through websites looking for new things on a particular subject, then Google Reader is designed for you. It saves you the time of wading your way through huge amounts of useless information. However, if you're not particularly interested in a topic but sign up for the RSS feed about it, then your inbox can get pretty crowded pretty quickly with unread messages.

I made this mistake the first time I signed up for Google Reader. I was feeling a little overly ambitious about the sources I was interested in and signed up for all of the political news coming from the New York Times, arts and politics from the Huffington Post, and a small Seattle-based newspaper called The Stranger (I know, really American, but to my defense, I was living in America at the time). Within days I was knee-deep in articles that I just could not be bothered to read. I felt really overwhelmed by something that was designed to simplify my life.
I think the really important way to treat RSS feeds--and a treatment I failed to do the first time--is to define the perimeters well. Luckily, librarians are pretty good at that. Maybe in the future there would be some way for the libraries to create feeds for students and other library users about things coming up that are relevant to them, like in the form of upcoming career events, information literacy sessions, or general news about the library. Perhaps the feed could be attached to web page that students visit frequently, like the homepage or Upgrade. The practical implications of this, however--the cost and licensing--could be daunting and make such an endeavor unrealistic.

Here is a picture of my newly updated Google Reader. I haven't added much, but I'm not in a big hurry to fill it up with subscriptions I'll never look at. I'd rather take my time with this one, and only add something when I know that I really like the website.

Monday, 20 June 2011


A few weeks ago somebody was demonstrating the power of iGoogle to me, and set up the account based on their interests, so today as I begin to create my own iGoogle account I'm not exactly starting from scratch. What I'll do instead in delete the gadgets they added and update it based on my own interests. Sky Sports? Not interested. BBC Weather? You get to stay.

As I clean up my iGoogle page, I am struck by 2 things. The first thing that I notice is how incredibly personalized it is. I've linked iGoogle to my personal gmail account, and I get a similar screen to my gmail home screen with a list of my fellow gmail contacts for chatting. I can also see when I've got a new email, and I can even read and send emails right from the iGoogle screen.

The second (slightly more annoying) thing I notice is how easy it is for my iGoogle page to become cluttered. They've made a good effort in the structure of the appearance with
different-sized boxes, but everything still gets bunched together onto one screen. I wonder if it's possible to filter gadgets by category.

Okay, so I've added eight gadgets and changed my display to a Ziggy comic. Here is what it looks like:

I really like the Ziggy display, how almost every time I reload the page I get a new comic. I also like the the news feeds and how when you click on the + you get a little blurb or each story. The particular gadgets of mine that do this are Unshelved, a comic strip about people working in a library, NPR, and LIS News.

It seems that iGoogle's purpose is to give a very brief overview of many different websites that you might frequent. It might work well as a homepage, and might have very practical uses in a smart phone (i.e. instead of having many different apps that you routinely check on your iphone, why not bring it into one app that puts everything you might be interested in into one central location, in an app), wait, I think Google's already thought of that.

P.S. I wonder if Apple has claimed intellectual property rights over putting 'i' in front of words (iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc.).

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Back in the game

When I learned that City would be doing the 23 Things and that a blog would be the first Thing, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to learn more about what my colleagues whom I do not get to see that often were thinking about. I felt that I could glean from them some useful nuggets of knowledge about Web 2.0 in relation to libraries, and it would give me to share some of my own experiences.

And so, after a week of procratination, I fired up the old Blogger account and began what my dashboard tells me is my 6th blog. Honestly, it has been an age, at least in Internet terms, since I've even thought about blogging. The last time that I even looked at my Blogger dashboard was in January of 2010 when I used it to complete coursework for a module on IT skills toward my MSc.

You may scoff at how trivial an Internet Age sounds, but consider this: in the time that I have last checked Blogger
  • Haiti suffered massive, irrevocable damage in the form of a 7.0-magnitude earthquake
  • The American Gulf Coast was severely damaged in the BP Oil Spill
  • European air traffic was ground to a halt due to the massive ash cloud created by an Icelandic volcano
  • The Greek economy collapsed and consequently was bailed out by the IMF and the EU
  • The world started debating how much information could be safely disclosed when the website wikileaks became well-known after it released internal videos related to US operations in Afghanistan
  • US senator Gabrielle Giffords survived a gunshot wound to the head in a shooting in Tuscon, Arizona
  • Japan suffered a devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
Doesn't it seem like a lot of that happened a long time ago? Not once since the earthquake in Haiti to the recently release of government's plans to change the NHS, did I check my Blogger account. I am, at best, a sporadic and inconsistent blogger. One might even use the words 'fickle' or 'fair-weathered' to describe my blogging habits. I do not deny this fact: I am lazy when it comes to blogs.

However, dear reader, I am going to commit to posting at least two more times. Yes, not one, but two more times. Of the five other blogs I have ever started, that tops the charts at number 2 for most posts.

Consider yourself warned.