Tag Archives: internet

Where is the outcry?

15 May

How is it that librarians have been silent about this?  Is it because there’s a lot of technology involved?  Or because we don’t think it’s a copyright issue that pertains to us?

I found it by happenstance, and let me tell you, my mind immediately went in 10 different directions thinking about implications for ILS, LMS, outreach, and life in general as open source is everywhere.  Imagine a day without your Android phone, or without Google to call on for search.  If it’s still there, it would likely run much slower because the code has become cumbersome as programmers avoid using names for functions and have no common libraries with which to work.

Let me give you a run-down from a friend of mine who programs for a living:

Here’s sort of the gist of it, Oracle wants to own the API header, something that is publicly made available for people to be able to use their stuff.
If I have a function named add() and it returns the results of 2+2 they want to be able to own the name of the function (add()) even if the code that does it differs greatly, like instead of 2+2, its 1+1+1+1.
APIs are made public for a reason, and that’s so people can use those libraries to work with it.
Google took the names and expected results of the functions for java, and then rewrote everything underneath to be optimized for their platform, but left the names and expected results the same so people can work with it just as they have in the past.

Maybe the issue has been over-complicated in the press, but that seems a decent layperson’s explanation.  So I challenge you to think about the implications of copyrighting an API, and wonder why librarians were silent about this issue.

Quick hit list of tools for social media

1 May

To conclude my social media series, and to get the ball rolling, I’ve got a list of social media tools that might make it easier on the 10-things-at-once librarian.

  • HootSuite, a web-based dashboard for multiple networks
  • TweetDeck, same thing as HootSuite, only it’s for a desktop (web is forthcoming)
  • Google Analytics, to help track visitors
  • Klout, to measure your impact
  • Twitterfall, a tweet keyword tracking tool
  • G++, an extension that allows you to update Facebook, Twitter and Google+ at once

Social media for the anti-social

24 Apr

If you’re like me, social media is a gigantic challenge.  If you’re not, come back later; this post isn’t for you.

I don’t think the technology is a challenge, or the concept is a challenge.  But the practice of social media?  That’s difficult for me.  Probably because at heart, I am what I think of as “selectively social”…others might say anti-social, but there are distinctions.  I, like most, have a core group of friends and family that I keep updated on most of my life.  Everyone else gets much-diluted information, if they get any at all.  It’s not because I like those people less, it’s because I have a mutual trust relationship with the core people and they’ve become the ones I’m excited to share things with.  I also don’t believe that everything I have to say are pearls of wisdom that should be shared with all and sundry – rather, the opposite: I don’t think very much of what anyone has to say is wonderful.  Seth Godin’s blog is a great example.  If you think those words come even close to a significant percentage of what he thinks/says in a day, you don’t do math well.

So, when I joined the social media team at work, it was a huge adjustment.  I wanted to create meaningful content, but now I have a schedule.  I must be routinely meaningful.  It’s frustrating when you go about your day, and you can’t think of anything you want to share your thoughts on.  I get burned out easily by having to check Facebook, and blog, and tweet, and then take care of my personal social media that I use to keep in touch with people I’ve got deeper and more connection.  Tools, that I’ll discuss later, help, but the problem is really me.  I don’t view my activities as share-worthy, and that’s what social media is all about.

How do you deal with social media?  Is it easy for you, or do you have to sit and construct outlines for topics that you can then pull from?  Do you get burned out by it, or does it invigorate you?  I want to know!

The trouble with social media

17 Apr

By now everyone should be familiar with Google+, and how amazingly not-popular it is, compared to the juggernauts its other products are (except for other attempts at social media).  Google+ illustrates the core problem inherent in social media: people don’t use it, so it becomes less popular, and people use it less.

If you move to a social media platform, you had best make certain that your target audience is already on that platform.  They won’t move for you.  People are only willing to adjust their social media in small ways, to accommodate a new interaction.  The only time you see people moving en masse is when a service becomes unusable, either because the audience’s friends aren’t there or because the service has upset its constituents to the point that they combine clout and move as part of a concerted, punitive effort.

The other problem, at least for some, is distilling the information overload.  That’s a personal problem, easily addressable, if not addressed.  Having so much data coming at you and trying to discern some meaningful information from it can be a challenge to many, but with practice it does get easier.

How can a library avoid this problem?  I think the best answer to many library questions is simple: know your patrons.  Know where they hang out and focus your efforts there.  If you love and adore Twitter, but all your patrons use Facebook, not even multiple status updates about your new Twitter will move those patrons to Twitter.  Find the confluence and work in the happy equilibrium.  What are your thoughts about the trouble with social media, and how do you address those??

Transparency: the self, online

7 Feb

There’s always debate around one issue when it comes to virtual interaction: how much personal information should we share?  How much is wise, and how much do we have to disclose in order to participate in the activities we want?

I think that when we choose to place our thoughts and opinions in the public arena, digital or otherwise, we run a gambit between protecting our identities so we don’t suffer repercussions professionally (anyone else miss tenure?) and divulging enough of ourselves to connect with our audiences.  There’s a practical side to this, but also a philosophical one.  A lot of the time there’s discussion that pretends it’s the philosophical side, but is really practical; things like right to privacy, data mining, and protecting minors can seem philosophical but at the heart, they deal with real situations and real people.

The practical side has benefits on both sides of the question: managing multiple identities, versus never having to remember who you’re being in X capacity.  Obviously, if you know what you have to say is inflammatory, a pseudonym is the best route: Annoyed Librarian, over at Library Journal is a fantastic example.  The philosophical side we mostly don’t think about unless it’s in terms too abstract or directly related to you.

But for myself, I tend to lean more toward disclosure, with a healthy dose of caution, since even though we should be able to express our opinions as ourselves and not be judged by our employers, that is not always the case.  I think it’s pretty difficult to be 100% on either side until you reach a certain level of notoriety (good or bad – Neil Gaiman and Snooki would be examples of good and bad, respectively), when you can be your complete self and know that reprisal won’t be forthcoming.  Mostly, I think that the more you share of yourself, the more engaged your audience becomes, and that’s a consideration we should all make when we enter the digital world.

Book burning, deaccessioning, and all the hatred

17 Oct

The background to this post is found over at Annoyed Librarian, and Cracked’s article on why we’re in a book-burning period of history.  You don’t need to read it, but I recommend that you do.

I read the latter article late last week, and AL’s this morning.  I like Annoyed’s writing and don’t take it too seriously, so I found myself nodding in agreement as I went through her very kind rebuttal.  I found myself shaking my head at the comments on Cracked’s article.  Cracked is a site I enjoy in my off-time, its wit bringing a dose of hard-bitten ire or misanthropy to my day.  It’s a shame the readers are such fools.

I don’t say that lightly.  But their comments are, by and large, clearly from the perspective of someone who’s never had to work in a library or deal with excess stock.  Books are treasures, and I am a person who will hold out against e-readers for the foreseeable future (or until I need large print books).  But saving every book because it’s a book, because it’s old, or because it might be worth something, is idiotic.  The library is in fact a type of business, albeit a non-profit and publicly funded one.  Well, technically public libraries are government organizations, but they run more like businesses…so if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I’ll call it a duck regardless of nomenclature.  The readers of Cracked don’t seem to grasp that as they complain about noise level, or lost books, or weeding, they also demand more hotspots for their phones, free Wi-Fi, subscriptions, and an ever-evolving presence on the internet so they don’t have to come to the library itself.  You cannot demand both left and right simultaneously.

Perhaps it’s our profession at fault: have we done ourselves a disservice by encouraging a certain view historically, that minimized the fact libraries are susceptible to politics and government?  Was it a defense, where we endeavored to convince others we were independently valuable and that we were not at the mercy of government, so if need be the public would be outraged at meddling by politicians?  I don’t know, but I suspect the answer is at least partly “yes.”  When you create an ideal and then don’t live up to it (as no organization can), there’s outcry and indignation.

I understand what the readers at Cracked, and many library patrons around the world, feel when they discover items have been weeded.  But the point remains that librarians, archivists, and curators of collections, need to make decisions based on the needs of the whole, with input from the whole, and with a degree of professional knowledge developed by training in subject matter.  That’s what makes librarians, archivists, and curators, uniquely qualified to decide which books to deaccession, and our love of knowledge transcends a single volume.  We take the biggest picture possible: if it’s preserved out there in a format of some kind, and the current format isn’t inherently valuable (think Gutenberg Bible format), then we have done our duty to information and we must make way for new ideas and exchange.

So I toss the question to you all: what do you think of weeding?  What do you think patrons think of it, and what would be the best practice?

“Who are you?”

26 Sep

Image taken from http://itthing.com

That is a question that carries a lot of weight, digitally speaking.  A lot of us Gen Yers remember our parents telling us to never, ever, give out our personal information over the Internet, and personal information meant any information at all.  We were groomed in a culture of fear, where we internalized the message of danger equating with online transparency in identity.

This is bad.  Our parents and guardians had their reasons for warning us away from divulging our identities: fear of predators, pedophiles and thieves, and fear of what we might say or do that would stay with us forever.  Honestly, they were pretty smart about that last one – I can’t think of many 12 year olds (actually, I think of none at all) who I trust to keep their reputations clean…and all bets are off once they hit high school.

But for us, as professionals and adults?  Being so nervy, jealously guarding our information down to the last byte, doesn’t help us.  I think it hurts us when we’re so opaque to the Web and its denizens.  Did you know there are services and articles online about becoming “digitally dead”?  Just in case you want to make sure all your information dies with you.  Or before you do.  I did some poking around, and aside from widgets and tools, I’m sure there’s a service that does all those steps in the second link rolled into one price.

We need to be ourselves online, use a consistent name (if not our real, legal name), and allow some information to leak out.  I work in a career college library.  I live in North Carolina.  I’m married.  Things like that could, potentially harm me, but the possibility of reaching people on a more authentic level is worth the risk.  When you’re using the Internet professionally, it behooves you to have it all credited back to you.  To me, that means a LinkedIn profile, professional Facebook, Twitter, etc., all linked together so that your audience can hear you how they prefer.

The only drawback is that you have to think about the content you generate, considering that you wouldn’t want someone knowing your personal life if all they’re interested in is your expertise in libraries.  That’s no different from dressing appropriately, to my mind; you’re representing an aspect of yourself, but it’s still you.  That’s the most important thing.