Tag Archives: facebook

Information silos: or where choosing twitter has let me down

News waves by kevin dooley via flickr CC

I’m going to be bold (and controversial?) and say that I think I am generally less informed as a result of my involvement with twitter.

Don’t get me wrong. I love twitter. I love the connection to a professional community of like minded others and the speed and ease of communicating with those folks. I love the constant, never ending flow of information past my door – and the fact that I can dip in and out of that flow to pick out the things that catch my eye. I would find it both difficult and isolating to be without twitter and my personal learning network.

However, as I’ve mentioned before – I miss browsing and now I’ve found that I’m missing out on a range of information because of the way I have chosen to have that information fed to me. I rely increasingly on twitter for that data flow – but of course the people I follow on twitter are folk with similar interests to mine. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t be following them. On Facebook, I not only limit myself to family and friends (and the occasional page about one of my personal interests) but now the Facebook news feed changes limits that even further by deciding for me which updates I will see.

What all of this means is that increasingly I am less and less likely to come across information, material or news from outside my silo. Yes, I follow some news and journalists on twitter – but I don’t have twitter open on my desktop all the time and in the vast flood of information it’s easy to miss stuff. I can’t physically spend the time scrolling back through the hours and hours of tweets I missed – it’s just not practical. Examples of things I missed? I didn’t know there’d been a nursing home fire in Quakers Hill this week. I didn’t know about the ‘formals scam’ that meant hundreds of Sydney school kids lost money on booking formals and after parties. I didn’t know there are bushfires happening in WA. Did I need to know these things? Probably not, but I don’t like feeling uninformed about issues that are out there being talked about. Would these things have come across my twitter feed? Undoubtably, but as I said, I’m not connected to twitter 24/7.

The way around this of course, is to add yet more ways of getting information. For example, I could go back to reading the paper (either online or in print, I don’t have a preference), or listening to radio news (I love radio as a medium and it’s my biggest regret about using public transport to work, that I miss out on radio news and current affairs time). At least by browsing the paper, or listening to the whole news broadcast things come across my radar that are otherwise outside my ‘bubble’ and I am forced to at least be aware of the political, social and economic environment that continues to exist around me in spite of my seeming best efforts to pretend that it’s not. My twitter feed is the equivalent of only listening to the news stories that already resonate with or interest me.

Time wise this additional information scan would probably be at the expense of time on twitter. However, if I give up time on twitter I am also giving up the community building and social interaction that comes with the medium – and I don’t really want to give that up.

In addition, there’s the silo-ing that’s being done to me by others – mostly companies that collect my data, my browsing history or my favourite search terms and use that information to package up yet more links, suggestions or results in a similar area. Have a look at this post about personal data life-logging, or this one about giving up Google if you want to explore that further. This is an extension of my self-imposed silos but more importantly and perhaps more dangerous in the longer term, it means increasingly I am given/fed/exposed to information and news feeds that I am comfortable with, from people and organisations I generally agree with or am aligned with. There’s not much in my news feed that is confronting, challenging or makes me sit up and think – it’s a ‘yes men’ situation waiting to happen. Not recommended in business and I would argue similarly dangerous personally.

For heavens sake, twitter even once suggested that I follow @newgradlib because we are similar. Of course we’re similar. It’s me.

 

 

Library 2.0 – really?

Trust is the Key to Web 2.0 by kid.mercury via flickr CC

Over the past year I have heard about the Arizona State University library’s (ASU) creative use of YouTube for their library minute initiative, but hadn’t had a look until today.  For the uninitiated, the library has put together about 30 short videos (they are literally a minute) on a range of topics – for instance, today I watched:

  • Using the Academic Search Premier database
  • Fun & games in the library
  • Meet your subject librarian
  • Top 5 resources for online students
  • Information about open access & why it is important to the library
All of these topics are presented by the same librarian and are a mash-up of live footage of the presenter, video footage, cartoons, photographs, animation and music.  They are very impressive – short and snappy, designed to be easy to watch and get a message across within the limited time a university student may be prepared to give to hearing about library services.  The current thinking in marketing academic library services is to meet the students where they are – and they are looking at YouTube (and Facebook, Foursquare & Twitter).
Now that I’m thinking about these issues from a learning perspective, I found this experience somewhat frustrating and raising more questions than it really answered. On the one hand, the ASU library minute videos and the other ‘library 2.0’ ways they have of communicating with their users and community certainly tick boxes.   Their facebook page in particular creates community, links back to the library website and/or blog and out to the YouTube channel and is a conversation, as library staff respond to comments left by (presumably?) students. In Groundswell, the authors stress throughout the entire book the importance of social media being a conversation.  The book is aimed at a commercial market, but there is much to learn in there for libraries.
On the other hand, while each of the five videos I looked at today have healthy statistics in terms of number of views (all over 1000, some over 3000 views) I can’t help wondering how many of those views might be other librarians from around the world checking out what ASU is doing in this area.  I’m sure the university itself has access to analytics that enable it to know where the ‘hits’ on the YouTube channel are coming from, but as an outsider, it’s hard to tell.
A quick and dirty search on both Google and in some scholarly databases failed to turn up much actual evidence that any of this library 2.0 marketing works. I found many blog posts that question the value of library 2.0, or its implementation, or whether the term itself is accurate. Most tellingly, over on Agnostic, maybe, Andy asked back in February 2010:
How much is Library 2.0 really driven by the user experience? I imagine the library-patron relationship less like a ‘horse and cart’ and more like a planet-moon relationship. (If information was the sun, patrons are the Earth and libraries are the Moon. We are roughly in sync with our patrons, sometimes ahead or behind, and sometimes in the way.) … [sometimes there is] little or no user feedback indicating such a tool or service was desired in the first place
In the case of the ASU videos, the university’s own evaluation of the library minute concept, presented as a poster at Educause 2010 reveals a large number of ‘other library’ users and the fact that 32% of undergraduate students at the university were aware of the videos. This would appear to confirm that the videos are meeting the needs of libraries and librarians but still leaves me wondering about the users. Do they even want to know this stuff?
I have blogged here before about the tendency of librarians (and I suspect, any given group of professionals) to talk amongst ourselves about our services, programs and ideas. Admittedly my ‘literature search’ was rough but I would really like to see some research into whether providing (great quality) videos, links and feedback on facebook has an impact on our users and their perception or use of the library services.
References
Ganster, L., & Schumacher, B. (2009). Expanding Beyond our Library Walls: Building an Active Online Community through Facebook. Journal of Web Librarianship, 3(2), 111-128. doi:10.1080/19322900902820929
Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell : winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Harvard Business Press. Boston.

Privacy and security online

Security by CarbonNYC via flickr CC

This post is inspired by Vesna’s contribution to the ALIA Sydney blog today and by one I read over at danah boyd’s apophenia blog a few weeks ago.  As often happens to me, I went to comment on Vesna’s post and realised I had so much to say it was probably easier to write my own post!

Vesna questions our online security and how to manage it with all the different accounts, passwords and logins we have to manage both professionally and privately in the digital world we live in.  danah boyd’s post looks at the way teenagers view privacy online – slightly different focus but as I have both (ageing) parents and teenagers using online tools and asking me questions about security and privacy I thought it might be a good idea to post something combining my thoughts on both.  By the way, if you have teens, or work with teens, or even just know some teens, I highly recommend danah’s post on the way teenagers themselves view their online privacy – she brings us the opinions and thoughts of the teens themselves and it’s really interesting reading.

In response to danah’s post I wrote

I really enjoyed reading this ‘work in progress’. I have 3 teenage kids and your research has confirmed my gut feeling about their perspective on this issue of ‘privacy’. With particular reference to Facebook, I’ve tried to frame it for them more in terms of asking themselves what they would want people outside their friendship groups to have access to (eg prospective employers)and how to make it more difficult for the casual observer to see their ’stuff’. I’m also in the privileged position that all 3 of my teens are happy to be FB friends with me and I love the window into their lives that I can get without being obtrusive or invasive.

I think there’s a danger that we adults look at this with adult eyes rather than finding out just what the kids are thinking and doing and your research format lets us hear from the kids themselves. I particularly loved Alicia’s insight into the fact that we are imposing our ‘old values’ onto new technology, whereas they just don’t see it like that.

I don’t have particular concerns about my online privacy, I choose to participate in social media with my eyes wide open, but my online security is probably (definitely?) another matter. I know I make poor security choices, I use a handful of passwords across a multitude of sign ons, logins and accounts both at work and at home. I do use an iPhone app that has most of this information locked away behind a unique, very unusual password – but the reality is that most of my passwords are so easy, or repeated so often that I don’t often need to refer to the iPhone app, I can just remember them off the top of my head.

This is not good. Perhaps I need a touch of the paranoia or fear that Vesna describes as coming from some of the older people she teaches social media – I think I’ve become so blase about the persistent presence of my online identity that I forget it needs to be guarded.  It’s probably time to upgrade my passwords.