Posts Tagged ‘blog’
July 21st, 2011 • 6 comments library
Tags: administration, angry, annette de faveri, australia, beth davies, blog, bureaucracy, communications, community, community-led libraries, courses, danah boyd, disciplinary hearing, i got in trouble because of my blog, koha, libr559m, libr579b, module 2, offline, online, opac, participation, school, social media, twitter
Information professionals should be using social media if they care about the rest of the world. I mean, I’m a fan of cataloguing in a cave, but engaging with your community is important. Even if you’re the most locally focused librarian ever in a community where none of your users give a shit about Twitter it’s important to be using it to pull in information and to show off the knowledge being created in your community.
One thing we learned in our Community-Led libraries course with Beth Davies and Annette de Faveri was the importance of not coming into a space with an agenda. Not showing up and saying “Here are some awesome things the library can do for you!” but hanging out and asking what is happening with them, letting the community lead the library. That takes a long time. I think participating online requires a bit more push than that, because if you’re just hanging out as a library, not talking on Twitter, you’re invisible (in a way you aren’t when you’re sitting in a halfway house with a box of donuts).
I also think the idea of a limit to our participation in social media is stupid. I mean, sure, posting pictures of patrons on Facebook without their permission is a bit sketchy. But stopping information professionals from being part of the world just because of who their employers are is bullshit.
A story from work: A library in Northern Australia was making use of some of Koha’s features to integrate a blog onto the front page of the OPAC. The library staff were creating this information to participate in the wider world and were really proud of it. And then their Communications Department found out and shut it down. Not because of something bad that happened but because of stupid bureaucratic power disputes that said librarians aren’t authorized to create publications. That story makes me incredibly angry. To have participation curtailed by the communications department who wanted more control over messaging is kind of terrible.
Part of my visceral reaction to that story has to do with my personal history working at a public library that had a regressive attitude towards people talking about things online. I was disciplined for blogging about work on my personal time. The disciplinary hearing involved the director of our library telling me I was not fit to be a librarian and shouldn’t go to library school because of my disrespectful attitude. This experience led to my disclaimer/explanation page you can see linked to on my library blog’s of Opinions & Assholes page, and you can read some of my other ruminations about privacy and the like when that former library actually created a social media policy because of me. That link includes a response to a danah boyd article.
July 14th, 2011 • 2 comments library, tech
Tags: affordances, australia, blog, catalogue, community, ils, information, institution, koha, libr559m, module 1, objects, organizations, people, personality, powerhouse museum, school, social media, sydney, twitter
One of the biggest uses for blogging or tweeting is to show that there is a person there as part of the institution to interact with. When a user is faced with solely a catalogue they’re dealing with a collection of items, be they journal articles databases exhibits or books (which I hear do still exist). When you include some sort of dynamic content that’s been made by a person, you’re reminding the user that there are people behind these services.
Example: The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney (Australia – it’s where I’m on my co-op so you’re going to get antipodean examples) is using Koha as their ILS. Integrating their library blog onto the main page of the OPAC makes the catalogue a destination for users. And then when the librarian is blogging about something in their collection (and they’ve got some cool stuff) and deep-links to it, that’s giving the user examples of how people can interact with the catalogue.
Having a personality that reminds people The Library isn’t some building but a collection of librarians is important, and not only when budgets are being threatened. Users are more likely to engage with you if they know there’s someone to engage with.
July 13th, 2011 • 1 comment library, tech
Tags: affordances, assessment, australia, best practices, blog, content, evaluation, event, focus, libr559m, libraryhack, mashup, module 1, music, national library, new zealand, nsw, organizations, social media, state library, stepped approach, territory library, twitter
I’m a big fan of how the National, State and Territory libraries of Australia and New Zealand ran Libraryhack2011. This is a consortium of governmental libraries promoting the use of (a small selection of) their collections in mashups. They’ve got a blog explaining things, a pretty vibrant Twitter feed (that isn’t solely reposting the blog’s content), and dude, they’re doing the mashup thing. How much more social media can you get? (One of my favourite entries in the contest was this sound recording made from a photograph.)
Interestingly, maybe instructively, this is an event, not something ongoing, and it isn’t very prominent on the NSW State Library website, which I think is a bit odd. Maybe this isn’t a best-practice after all.
But it does work well for that idea of “stepped” approaches for organizations. Focusing a social media outbreak on something that’s happening with the organization would give a good focus, to quickly move beyond the “What would we tweet about?” questions.
Event-type experiments can also be sold as short-term projects especially to more traditional (read: hidebound) organizations, who’re scared of what people might say about them online. If you’re having an event you want people to talk about it so it’s a good demand generator for social media engagement. Starting up accounts related to some big event would be a way to get the kinks worked out, to see what works for your users and your staff.
Now this is all stuff that looks appealing to me as a person. I have no idea how the organizations involved are evaluating the success of the libraryhack project. Would that be based on pageviews or submissions or what? It seems that you can find out how many people love the hell out of hacking library stuff, but that metric might not translate to some mythical general user.
July 11th, 2011 • 4 comments library, tech
Tags: affordances, blog, boingboing, bruce sterling, conversation, cory doctorow, design, foursquare, google, individual, jokes, libr559m, location, module 1, school, shaping things, social media, spime, storytelling, twitter, writing
An excellent book about the design of technology and how things work is Bruce Sterling’s Shaping Things. It’s one of my favourite nonfiction books and it’s all about what our tools allow us to do and make us do. The idea is that technology has moved through different stages through history, affording us different roles.
Sterling traces the history of tools from artifacts (farmers’ tools) to machines (customers’ devices) to products (customers’ purchases) to gizmos (end-users’ platforms) and to the future, which is defined by what Sterling calls Spimes.
A Spime is a location-aware, environment-aware, self-logging, self-documenting, uniquely identified object that flings off data about itself and its environment in great quantities. A universe of Spimes is an informational universe, and it is the use of this information that informs the most exciting part of Sterling’s argument.
The book came out in 2005, but as Foursquare and all the other locative services continue to gain traction, that spimey future looks a lot closer.
In regards to the specific affordances of blogging I find it funny that as Twitter gets taken up, blogging is where people are going to express their lengthy thoughts. Blogging as the means of talking out serious issues instead of just tossing off a couple of one-liners with a good hashtag isn’t something I expected when I began. But blogging is a platform for putting different subject matter into. Twitter is awesome for jokes and conversation. Way better than a blog where you have to go through the monumental effort of publishing your text. It takes multiples of seconds to log in and pick New Post and all that. So terribly slow. (And seriously, as qwerty keyboards on phones are replaced with touchscreens the annoyance of typing out anything more than 140 characters at a time does make Twitter more attractive.)
And then there’s this interesting post on how Twitter beats Google+, which twists the idea of expressing complete thoughts from a single brain further. The thesis there is that G+ isn’t a new enough medium, because storytelling there feels too much like blogging, and isn’t as collaborative as the exquisite corpseishness that is Twitter.
But maybe I’m just a stick in the mud with wanting things to come from one mind and human’s fingers (ignoring the publishing machine behind everything. I like the myth of the heroic individual that’s enabled by the culture of blogging. What about you?
January 19th, 2011 • 1 comment library
Tags: ambition, blog, cataloguing, center for cartoon studies, digital tattoo, focus, interview, michelle, practicum, project management, school, schulz library, slais, social media, telecommute, ubc, vermont, zines
There is disappointing news and great news in my world.
Disappointing: Last week I had an interview for a student coordinator position with the Digital Tattoo project at UBC. I was pretty excited about the opportunity. It’s a project that deals with teaching students about managing their online identities and why it’s important. Another project I’m working on recently posted a decent explanation of the concept. The interview went fine but as you can guess from me filing this under “disappointing news” I didn’t get the job. There will be more jobs and it’s not like I’m hurting for social media experience on my resume. It would be nice to get some actual project management experience though. That felt like my biggest weakness in the interview. Selah.
The really cool thing is that I’m going to be doing my practicum at the Center for Cartoon Studies‘ Schulz Library in April. The CCS is a tiny grad school in a tiny town with a tiny library and it’s dedicated to comics. It’s kind of amazing. I talked to the librarian the other day and she’s excited to have me out there for a couple of weeks. They’re doing cataloguing projects now but might be moving on to other things by the time I get there. I’ve been told I won’t be bored and I can’t imagine I would be.
One of the things I’ve read about library school is that you have to make it work for you and take advantage of the opportunities you have that you won’t once you graduate. Just calling up the Schulz Library to see if I could come hang out for two weeks might not fly if I was just a person who liked libraries. (Even if it might on their end, I personally wouldn’t be able to just do that.) But now that Michelle at the SLAIS office (who is awesome) did that initial contact I get to do something supercool. I mean, really, I would love to be a comics and zines librarian. There aren’t many jobs like that, but when they show up, because of this experience I’ll actually have some proof that “This dude likes comics and knows some stuff about them.” So yeah.
I’m also trying to pull comics into all my projects this term, to try and build a bit of a focus into my program here. It feels weird thinking about this stuff and crafting this whole school thing into a means to becoming the kind of librarian I want to be. Anyone who knows me knows that thinking ambitiously hasn’t been a big part of my life. But being a techie/blogging/comics & zines librarian is the kind of niche I’d like to occupy if I’m going to do this. If I could telecommute/live somewhere awesome while doing it, that’d be even better.