Tag Archives: PLN

Blogging in June

The past few years I have participated in an activity known as ‘Blog every day in June’. It’s a collection of (mostly) librarian types taking on the challenge to blog every day for a month. In 2013 I’m taking a year off this project, although I’m going to keenly follow the list of participants on Flexnib’s blog. My aim this year is to read and make meaningful comments – sprinkling my reading liberally across as wide a range of blogs as I can manage.

Good luck everyone! If you’re a first time #blogjune participant, hang in there. It doesn’t really matter if you miss a day or two here or there, it’s just a great excuse to challenge yourself to write something every day.

Conference support from afar

On Monday this week, I had the opportunity to be involved in a presentation to NLS6 in Brisbane. While staying in Sydney.

Using twitter, @alysondalby and I sat in a room in Sydney providing links and information while our colleague @katecbyrne did the standing-up-in-front-of-a-crowd-thing in Brisbane to present on the benefits of international librarianship and launch the International Librarians Network pilot project. How did we know where she was up to? A muted telephone call (that was declared up front) and lasted through the presentation so that we could hear what Kate was saying and follow along on our own copy of the powerpoint presentation. Keep it simple!

I have captured the whole thing on Storify – both our tweets from a room in Sydney and the participation of the audience in Brisbane. There’s even a few hellos from the international librarians who kindly agreed to take part in our presentation via video.

It was a great example of the collaboration and participation from afar that social media – and twitter in particular- makes possible at conferences. We felt part of it here in Sydney even though we were unable to make the trip to Brisbane and I hope our participation helped to spread the message about the pilot far and wide as our tweeting was designed to include links and shout-outs to our international connections.

The pilot is about to close but there will be another round later in the year that will also incorporate any feedback we get from the pilot.

Creating international connections

globe in hands by noticelj via flickr CC

After a trip to IFLA last year, a colleague at MPOW dreamed up a project to facilitate online peer-mentoring relationships between librarians from around the world and as sometimes happens with this particular colleague, got a few others (including me) involved.

The International Librarians Network invites librarians to participate in a 6 month facilitated program where the co-ordinators will match you up with someone you don’t know, based on a few details you give about your professional interests. Relationships are then supported over the 6 month period with discussion topics and suggestions about ways to communicate and professionally connect.

For the first 6 months in 2013 the program will run as a pilot and there is still time to join up – go and sign up today! The program is keen to attract librarians from as many different parts of the world as possible to give it a true international flavour and ensure a widespread sharing of ideas.

Much more information about the program can be obtained from looking at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on the program website.

I’m pleased and proud to be associated with this project and just sorry I can’t be at NLS6 in person next week to help launch the pilot.

The copyright and licencing minefield

Copyright? What copyright? from edans via flickr CC

I currently have a research project for work related to copyright and licencing for digital repositories. Essentially, what do we need to know at MPOW to make sure we keep up with industry best practice and best meet the needs of those depositing to our repositories?

I’ve been working on this on and off since mid November and all I can really tell you dear reader, is that I now know for sure that I don’t want to be a lawyer when I grow up.

I was at a UTS seminar a couple of years ago, not long into my career as a professional librarian, when I first heard Derek Whitehead from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne state that in his opinion, we need more lawyers working in libraries. At that point, I didn’t really understand what he meant, digital rights management was very new to me, but now! Particularly since I’ve started working in library repositories I’ve become very aware of the tricky-ness (a completely made up word meaning, more or less, complexity) of the issues of licencing in particular.

Creative Commons is the go-to answer, but part of my brief is to see what else is out there – are we just automatically using CC or is it in fact the best product for the wide and varied range of ‘stuff’ deposited to our repositories? It’s not helped by the fact that a lot of the literature on this comes out of the US – where the copyright laws are quite different to here. UK and European literature is also prolific and somewhat helpful, but it is the Australian and New Zealand stuff that is gold.

As always, my PLN has been invaluable in pointing me towards practitioners and I have a mountain of reading still to go. I’ll go get on with it shall I? Oh and if you have a useful resource for me, let me know?

The BlogJune community

One of the challenges of participating in #blogjune (apart from the obvious one of having to come up with something to say every single day) is getting around to other people’s blogs and reading and commenting on the posts.

I am a firm believer that since this is a blog challenge, if I agree or disagree, or am moved or inspired by a post then I will comment about that on the post, rather than as a reply to the tweet that may have alerted me to the post in the first place.  To this end, I love to make use of @katejf’s wonderful list of June bloggers that she has collected into a Netvibes page here.  By accessing the blog posts from this page I bypass the twitter notification completely – as well as picking up on posts that may not have been publicised in another way.

Using the Netvibes page also exposes me to blogs I don’t normally follow. An RSS feed means it’s easy to keep reading the same ones and one of the things I love about the #blogjune challenge is discovering new people!  I try to read & comment on at least one a day from someone I don’t know as part of the challenge to myself.

And look, we are already a quarter of the way there folks!

Abstractedly writing

I’m distracted. I’m co-writing an abstract for a conference. It’s the first one I’ve done so it’s a learning experience. I’m one of those people who usually has trouble getting up to the word limit in an essay because I’d rather say it in one sentence  than 3. This is not necessarily an attribute of course!

To some extent, I’m inspired by last year’s ALIA Sydney event on writing a conference paper, but I’m also encouraged to do this at MPOW and am finally leaping in. I must say it’s nicer to be sharing it with someone who’s done this before (rule 1: get a mentor!).

So, with that and a few more things going on professionally this week, my blogging mojo is a little thin. And to be fair, I am also drafting a guest post for ALIA Sydney’s #blogjune effort.

Thinking time

Unshelved 31 January 2012

I love this. I’m lucky enough to be ‘allowed’ to have thinking time at MPOW – it’s part of our job and often leads to new and interesting things. It’s not necessarily sitting-still-thinking, it might be an informal discussion over coffee with a colleague gathering ideas, or reading a blog post, or talking about twitter, or bouncing an idea for a research project.

All of this ‘thinking’ time means I am better prepared when I talk with academics, I know more about library services and options and I’m a more informed library professional. This is good.

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.

 

 

Reflection and evaluation

reflections by flickPrince via flickr CC

This post is my final entry for the Social Media subject for my Masters and is designed to both evaluate and reflect on my learning throughout the semester.

As library and information professionals there is no doubt that web 2.0 technologies and social media tools are useful professional development tools and allow us to find new ways of presenting information and communicating and engaging with our customers, including our internal customers. However, as with the introduction of any new library service, there is a danger in providing that service without identification and analysis of user needs first and a strategic planning approach is essential (Choy 2010).

The three study exercises that have most informed my thinking on this are represented in the posts Mapping my PLN, Our online identity  and Information policy. The first two bring together many benefits of social media, particularly in the sense of collaboration and engagement between professionals. The third post looks briefly at how good policy can ensure the tools are used in a way that benefits both organisation and individuals.

Collaboration and engagement are key elements of web 2.0 technologies. In the library and information profession we can use these tools to connect with other professionals as well as with our customers. We know from Li and Bernoff’s Groundswell (2011) that in social media it is important to engage and have a conversation, not just use the tools as a marketing platform for our own causes. This holds true for PLN development, regardless of the tools used. A ‘water cooler’ conversation in the physical office relies on at least two people, talking, listening and commenting, otherwise it is just broadcasting, not conversation.

Social media blurs the line between personal and professional and our online identities are often a blend between the two. Hutton (2008) points out that by participating in online communities we are putting our identities out there for all to see. In this situation it is difficult to keep our place of work from becoming connected with that online identity so careful management of that is required. The Victorian Department of Justice released a video to staff outlining the key points of its social media policy, including that they recognise staff are probably active users of social media and would like them to specify that any views in their personal online space are their own and not those of the department. This aspect of the policy protects both staff and employer from any unforseen consequences of reasonable online behaviour.

Information policy can also clear the way for staff within an organisation to use collaborative and innovative web 2.0 tools to work with each other and experiment with new ideas –in other words, to work in a Library 2.0 space. Support from management is essential if staff are to be allowed to try new things and take advantage of the benefits social media brings in the professional context. For example, an enterprise network such as yammer would provide an informal way for staff to communicate ideas, links, interesting readings and other things of professional interest to other staff, without further cluttering up the email inboxes of colleagues. However, setting up such a network requires support from management and parent organisations – again highlighting the need for good information policy that anticipates and allows for new services.

Personal reflections

To be honest, I started this subject unsure what there was to learn about the use of social media, given the already wide extent of my involvement. I am a heavy user of social media in both my private and professional life.

One of the reasons I participate in so much social media is because I feel that as an information professional I have a responsibility to experience and understand some of the information seeking tools that are being used. This is partly as a way of evaluating their usefulness to both my employer and me and partly as a way of attempting a connection or engagement with my client group (in this case university students).

However, as I started to do more reading about the subject and approach it from a learning perspective I found myself being more rigorous in my evaluation of various web 2.0 tools – to the extent where I even began to question the automatic adoption of them in academic libraries.  This shift from automatically assuming all social media is good and useful to critical evaluation of its application in my particular work environment has been significant.

A particularly significant moment for me during this semester came when I realised that my post questioning the automatic assumption that social media must be good for our customers was being referred to from a link inside a course management system at Monash University. This link started driving traffic to my blog a week or 2 after I wrote the post about ASU library minute videos – it is coming from a Library Science subject called Professional Practice. The implications of this for me are that I need to continue to think carefully about the views and opinions I publish online – they are highly visible and clearly linked to my online identity.

I have looked at Second Life as part of this subject but did not find it useful – I never seemed to be ‘in there’ at the same time as anyone else and found that it wasn’t intuitive to use and the viewer was resource intensive on my computer. Because I never met anyone else in Second Life, I can’t comment on its usefulness as a meeting place, but with so many other web based social media spaces available I can’t see that it offers any significant value given the difficulty in using it. There are, apparently, many benefits to using Second Life in the education/higher education sector but I was not able to engage with any of these benefits in the time I spent reviewing the space.

Similarly I did not really use delicious as part of this exercise. I looked at the collection of links tagged for our study group and added a few links to it but as I already have an extensive personal library set up within diigo I did not find it to be of much use (except as a way of looking at things highlighted by others in the study group).  However, it was a good introduction to using a bookmarking service collaboratively, as I use diigo as a personal tool rather than a way of sharing information.

And so we have come to the end of the semester. Drawing together some of the things that have interested me most in this subject has been an interesting exercise. I think my focus has been on the community development and engagement that web 2.0 and social media technologies allow – I think that Library 2.0 comes from this engagement rather than from a deliberate attempt to ‘2.0 the library’.

I also potentially now have a work related research project to explore further as a result of completing this subject.

As an information professional in an academic library, engagement with individuals is a large part of my role. My job is to build relationships and networks and leverage those to provide support and assistance to the research and teaching community at my university. Social media helps me do that – by helping me build and develop my networks and professional knowledge through engagement with others and their thoughts and opinions.

Building networks extends beyond my actual job – development and maintenance of my personal learning network (PLN) is a vital part of my ongoing professional development. Utecht’s 5 stages of PLN adoption is a useful measuring stick for understanding the process of PLN engagement but the true measure is whether it is a valuable personal resource or not.

References

Choy, F.C. 2010, From library stacks to library-in-a-pocket: will users be around? Library Management Vol. 32, No. 1 / 2 pp.62-72

Hutton, G. 2008, Privacy & online social networks: a proposed approach for academic librarians in university libraries, Dalhousie Journal of Interdisciplinary Management, Vol. 4 http://ocs.library.dal.ca/ojs/index.php/djim/article/view/2008vol4Hutton/67
Li, C. & Bernoff, J. 2011, Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Harvard Business Review Press

Our online identity

identity crisis by woodleywonderworks via flickr CC

In June, I blogged about the issues of online privacy and security and I’m revisiting that a bit in the context of online identities.

The places you can find me online are outlined in a post here but the issue of online identity is a bit more complex than just a list of social media sites.

Because our online identities are public (often more public than we realise, in spite of privacy controls (Pearson 2009, Raynes-Goldie 2010)) it is important to manage the message that goes out to other people. Pearson says many people use a form of censorship in thinking about what to put out under their online identity – for example, don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother/kids/boss to read.

This is a practical form of privacy control and allows for the ever-present possibility that someone other than your target audience is reading your profile, status updates, e-portfolio or blog posts.

Harris (2010) looks at this from the other end – what can those of us in perceived positions of power or authority do to protect ourselves and our online identities so that they are not construed as being used inappropriately? The example Harris uses is teachers but this is relevant for those working in library and information services as well. From an institutional point of view, good policies around social media and communication can be an important part of safeguarding online identity, of both the institution and the individual staff involved.

In the professional world of libraries and information science, maintaining an online identity is increasingly important for individuals working in the space. Much of my professional informal learning and information exchange is via social media and it enables me to stay connected with others working in a similar field.

Managing the standard of that personal brand may be tricky because social media allows the personal and the professional brands to merge online – for example, my Facebook presence is largely for family and friends but some of those people are also professional colleagues.

Merely by putting our personal brand ‘out there’ in cyber space means we are, to some degree, forfeiting the right to privacy as it has been traditionally understood (Pearson 2010). We need to be aware that working and posting and commenting in the public social media space is akin to putting up a poster on a telegraph pole with our personal details and photograph attached (Hutton 2008). As I said in my June post – I’m ok with that, but the integrity of my personal brand is dependent on that being in the back of my mind every time I press send or publish.

References:

Harris, C. (2010). Friend me?: School policy may address friending students online, School Library Journal, 1 April. Available http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6724235.html

Hutton, G. 2008, Privacy & online social networks: a proposed approach for academic librarians in university libraries, Dalhousie Journal of Interdisciplinary Management, Vol. 4 http://ocs.library.dal.ca/ojs/index.php/djim/article/view/2008vol4Hutton/67
Pearson, J. (2009). Life as a dog: Personal identity and the internet. Meanjin, 68(2), 67-77.
Raynes-Goldie, K. (2010). Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: Understanding privacy in the age of Facebook, First Monday, 15(1), 4 January. Availablehttp://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2775/2432