Thing 12: Putting the social into social media

I’ve written about my love for social networking in Thing 6: Online Networks. My absolute favourite social network is twitter and I can’t say enough good things about how incredibly useful it is for finding information and asking people to point me in the right direction, sounding people out about things, asking for and giving advice in an informal mentory kind of way and as a way of developing genuine friendships with great people. Without twitter, Voices for the Library wouldn’t exist, and without Voices for the Library, I wouldn’t have just spent the weekend in Oxford with a handful of folk who are now some of my Absolute Favourite People Ever, most of whom I’ve only ever met once or twice, but thanks to social networking, get to call colleagues and friends. Finally, after hours of twittering, emails and phone chats, I got to meet Johanna!

Adrienne, me and Johanna down t'pub

Other than the advantages outlined in the post for Thing 12, I’d say the main ones for me are the deliberate serendipity, as it were, of people mentioning things that are Very Relevant to My Interests, that I never knew I was interested in or didn’t realise there was an event/article about, and the professional acquaintances and friends I’ve made. Bethan wrote a piece for Information Today about the rise of the New Professional and covers the benefits of social media brilliantly (not just for new professionals, I must add):

The rise of social media has definitely been a factor in the New Professionals Revolution. While they’ve been acknowledged as a distinct group for quite some time (Facet published the New Professional’s Handbook in 1999, and will be publishing a New Professional’s Toolkit in 2012.

It’s only recently that New Professionals have become so visibly active in the profession.  Social media has enabled this in a number of ways:

  • Breaks down geographic boundaries. The simple fact of being a New Professional probably means that there aren’t many other New Professionals in your organisation, or your local area. Social media makes it much easier to find and connect with other New Professionals.
  • Breaks down hierarchical boundaries. CILIP’s past-president, vice-president, and CEO are all active on Twitter, where they chat to, encourage, support, and debate with info pros from across all areas and stages of the profession. New Professionals are welcomed, and their opinions heeded. They are counted influential enough to be named Library Journal Movers and Shakers. Social media has enabled professional mobility, and free and easy discourse between professionals at different levels.
  • Provides platforms for sharing and debate. New Professionals do seem to have quite a lot to say for themselves, and social media provides them with places to say it. They can share ideas and listen to those of others. They can be anonymous, if they like, or self-promote to the rooftops. They can speak, or just listen. They can find out about what it’s really like to work in other sectors, other countries, at other levels. It allows them access to hundreds of years of accumulated vicarious knowledge.
As for disadvantages, I know some people are worried about a possible clique. I don’t agree with them, but I’ve already written about that! I can’t think of any other disadvantages. We’re not going to forget how to converse in person (as long as there are plenty of IRL meetups in pubs :) ) and we’re not going to lock ourselves away infront of computers, spurning the physical realm. I have to say that I’ve not yet found that CPD23 has helped me make contact with people I wasn’t already in contact with or otherwise wouldn’t come across. I haven’t seen that much CPD23 activity on my twitter feed and I keep forgetting to check the hashtag, but there’s still time and I think that’ll change in a couple of weeks when I’m in charge of a Thing myself (eek!)
In response to the last two questions, if you couldn’t guess my answers – yes, I already used social media, I won’t be giving it up, and yep, it absolutely does help foster a sense of community!

Voices for the Library in Oxford

Thing 6: Online Networks

I have a funny relationship with online networks. I’m willing to give pretty much anything a go once (except, you know, the B word*). The thing is, really, I’m pretty vanilla. Try as I might, I just can’t get the variety to excite me. The quantity, well, anyone who’s seen my twitter feed knows just how much I love online networking. I just can’t get into the other kinds of online network. Is there something wrong with me?

LinkedIn

Oh, LinkedIn, you are a funny thing. What are you. Why are you? Are you only really there for people of a certain age with certain jobs or certain aspirations? Whatever you are, I don’t think you’re quite for me yet. I think the reason LinkedIn and I haven’t made friends is that I’m not particularly comfortable filling in the information required to have a properly ‘complete’ profile. I can happily and openly tell the world what jobs I’ve had, what I’ve done, maybe at a push what skills I’ve learned – but a summary about me and my specialities, recommendation from other people, and uploading my CV? LinkedIn my darling, I’m just not ready for that kind of openness in our relationship. I’m not an incomplete individual, please don’t tell me that by being unwilling to invest so much I’m failing you. If you can’t accept me as I am, or let me develop at my own pace, I just don’t think we have a future together.

Facebook

Facebook, Facebook. You’re so abusive, but I keep coming back to you. I don’t know how to walk away, even though I know it’d be for my own good. I can’t get what I truly need from you, and you’re no good for me. First you got me hooked on WordChallenge and now I’m so clouded in the fugg of Farmville that I can’t see any good in you whatsoever. You’re a lying, cheating, deceitful beast, changing my security settings in secret. You make me ill, exposing me to viruses you’ve picked up from a disreputable character who’s probably someone who bullied me at school but I felt too rude to snub. You make it hard for me to hide anything. Your latest act of cruelty was to render the chat function virtually unusable. Why must you treat me so, Facebook?

You have your strengths, don’t get me wrong. The Voices for the Library page is a useful network, and the closed group just for campaigners makes it a safe place to talk about shared concerns in private, but I’d rather leave dealing with you to other team members, because I resent you so much. I dislike you almost as much as I dislike Murdoch. There, I said it. I think of you in the same way. I’m not sorry. When Google+ is ready for me I’ll leave you and I won’t look back.

LISNPN

Lovely LISNPN, you’re such a sweetheart, well-meaning and innocent. You were kind to me when I was a student, before I discovered the harsh realities of LIS life. But you were a bit clunky, and I kept forgetting my password, and most of the people I interacted with were sitting at the other side of the same computer cluster anyway. To be honest, I felt like I was giving more than I was receiving. It wasn’t going to work. But now…now I look at you and my, haven’t you grown up? You’ve matured into something sexy, and vibrant, and confident. You seem to have so much more to offer. Just look at the content now! I’m sorry I didn’t have the time to invest in you. I’m so glad others did. You’ll make people very happy. Who knows, maybe even me occasionally now that I’ve seen your more mature self…

Twitter

Twitter, really you’re the only one for me. You are genuinely magical. Since you came into my life, no other online network has satisfied me. Even though you’re clearly stunted with your capacity for only 140 characters at a time, I just can’t get enough of you. You’re quick, you provide instant gratification…I know it’s weak but I’ll be honest – you do make me feel confident when someone retweets something I’ve said in approval. You make me feel like I’m not alone. No matter the time of day, you’re there – there’s always someone, somewhere in the world, tweeting away. You’re so flexible – I can organise you however I like, with lists so you can give me what I want whatever mood I’m in, whatever information I need. It’s easy to get involved in strange and unusual things in a safe way – all I need to do is tweet at someone I’ve never tweeted at before and see where it takes me. And God, you’re big. You’re funny and sweary and brave and a force for social good. When I grow up I want to be like you, Twitter.

* Bebo

Thing 4: Current awareness – Twitter, RSS and Pushnote

Please excuse my tardiness, for various reasons I’m a bit behind (neighbours moving out and taking their internet with them, Umbrella, day-job, really dreading Thing 4 and so putting it off like there are a million tomorrows…). No more procrastination – on to Thing The Fourth!

Twitter

According to twuration and howlonghaveyoubeentweeting, I’ve been tweeting since 27th January 2009, making my account 899 days old, or 2 years, 5 months, 2 weeks, 1 day, 10 hours, 46 minutes, 13 seconds old at this precise moment. Blimey.

Two and a half years ago I was a graduate trainee and had just started getting involved in things library-related, so I think I’ve always used twitter for that purpose, although much more so over the last year, through Voices for the Library advocacy and Save Doncaster Libraries campaigning. I mainly use it for:

  • Keeping up with library news – current awareness
  • Retweeting interesting things (and using it as a platform through which to share interesting library-related quotes, articles & photos via tumblr – not all the stuff on my tumblr is library-stuff and I tend to untick the ‘send to twitter’ option if it’s not)
  • Promoting and publicising what I do – news, events, blog posts etc.
  • Talking to people about libraries, campaigning, getting ideas and feedback, asking for information and help etc.
  • Livetweeting at events so that people who aren’t there can find out what’s being said (for example, I was rapidly tweeting away at Umbrella using the #ub11 hashtag)
  • Keeping up with world news (and comments about it from comedians, journalists and musicians)
  • Talking about general rubbish with friends
  • Telling people what I had for tea

Although the last two might not be particularly useful per se, I think it is a good thing to be a ‘real person’ online, so I don’t really try to avoid this. I think it’s safe to say I’m a pretty prolific tweeter…some of it’s quality, some of it is really not, but I seem to be able to maintain a gradually growing number of followers so I get the impression I’m mostly useful and vaguely interesting to follow! I’ve started warning people about when I’m going to be constantly tweeting at conferences to give them a chance to unfollow me and refollow me afterwards if they want to, but there’s also the option to filter out certain words or hashtags, which saves having to remember to refollow someone afterwards.

I follow quite a high number of accounts (almost 800) and although they’re not all regular posters, I find it useful to have certain lists. (I think librarians must be the most ideal twitter users – they love their lists. I’m on 129!) I do need to filter out my ‘librarians’ list into individuals and organisations I think, although I enjoy the way they blend together sometimes.

On my laptop I use tweetdeck, which is a friendlier browser than your standard internet browser for using twitter, and displays lists and searches nicely so you can ignore certain ones when you don’t need them. It has its problems and little buggy bits, but nothing to make me want to switch to anything else so far. Unfortunately I don’t have a fancy enough phone to be able to use it on there, and I’ve not been brave enough to ask tech support to allow me to install it on my work PC (probably all for the best, my productivity would no doubt take a nose-dive…) but it works well when I’m at home or at events and stuff.

RSS

I started trying to use Google Reader about a year ago and failed miserably. I put too much on there, kept forgetting to check it, looking at blog posts through other routes and generally getting in a bit of a mess with it. I figured that if something was important enough, I’d come across it on twitter or someone would tell me about it. My relaxed attitude seems to be working ok so far but I’d like to get a bit more organised so that I can be a bit more efficient in preparation for my PhD starting next year. I’ve therefore completely wiped my RSS feed and will be starting again! Any recommendations for must-reads would be more than welcome, please.

Pushnote

I’m afraid I just don’t have the time or energy to play with a new toy, so I’m going to deliberately give this little bit a miss. Bad Lauren.