Tag Archives: twitter

Hierarchies of presence

Through the archway - the fabulous Shine Dome at ANU

Last week I attended the inaugural conference of the Australasian Association of the Digital Humanities, held at the Academy of Science’s Shine Dome at ANU in Canberra. I was there because of the interest at MPOW in our library supporting academic research and e-research in particular is becoming increasingly important to our role as Outreach librarians as we start to have conversations with academics about data management and access.

In an attempt to make some sense of the sometimes highly technical papers I went to over the three days, I will be blogging about a few recurring themes and also a number of individual papers, such as the one I’m talking about here.

On Day 3 I attended a paper by Dr Alice Gorman of Flinders University called ‘The personal is political: communicating archaeology and heritage through online platforms‘.  Dr Gorman is also known as @DrSpaceJunk and blogs about space archaeology at Space Age Archaeology.

There was a really good twitter back channel running throughout the conference, so while I was tweeting madly (my personal form of notetaking), I was also able to follow the comments of others – this was particularly helpful during some of the more technical sessions that were hard to follow. This from some of the twitter stream during the space archaeology presentation:
Now hearing from @drspacejunk about misperception of what archaeology and getting people interested in what it really is #DHA2012 (from @ellenforsyth)
Space archeology – who knew?! #dha2012 (from @LizzieM79)
@drspacejunk has divided audience – is space archeologist, crosses archaeology & space scientists, talking about bridging links #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)
Really interesting discussion from @drspacejunk about the importance of identity to help explain her field of interest #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)
Alice talked about the different roles her different public identities can take to help her reach a wider audience. As she said, @DrSpaceJunk can say and do things that Dr Alice Gorman can’t. Using what Alice called ‘heirarchies of presence’ her audience can be filtered up and down depending on their entry point to her work and their level of interest.

Hierarchies of presence: SM both passive & active backed up byacademia.edu & inst presence, supporting cred & authenticity #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)

I spoke with Alice after her presentation and a concrete example she gave me was an invitation she received (seemingly out of the blue) to speak to a group involved with something fairly obscure to do with plastic. It turned out, the event organisers found her because of a blog post she had written on cable ties. Because her various profiles and identities are linked back to her serious researcher profile, she was contacted as someone who had a valuable and serious contribution to make.

I have a strong personal interest in the area of social media and professional networks so this session was particularly appealing to me. I think it provided a useful take home message to start some discussions at MPOW about how we talk about some of this to our academics, particularly early career researchers (ECR’s) who do not have long and established publishing profiles and need to use a variety of ways to promote themselves and their work.

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.



Mapping my PLN

image created using Popplet for iPad

Alisa Howlett, blogging at Flight Path recently wrote a post based on Jeff Utecht’s 5 stages of PLN adoption.  I would echo much of what Alisa has written, so pop over and read it rather than have me repeat it all here.

Essentially, the 5 stages are identified as immersion, evaluation, know it all, perspective and balance.

It’s hard to identify at which stage I find myself – I have been through intense periods of involvement with my PLN and am certainly no longer at immersion. However, neither am I entirely happy with my current involvement with my PLN so I wouldn’t call it balanced.

Possibly ‘perspective’ is where I am at.  I know I can’t possibly see or take in everything my PLN puts out on twitter and I have stopped trying to follow all of it. Sometimes I find myself feeling left out when there appears to be an interesting conversation going on – and it’s apparent I’ve missed the good bits – but mostly I acknowledge that I can’t possibly see, understand, comment on and participate in every conversation. Or even most of them.

Meredith Farkas wrote a great post over at Information wants to be free about the problems associated with keeping up with the news flow on twitter and her preference for blogging as a medium for keeping all the big ideas in one place.  Adopting this philosophy, I still follow a lot of blogs – an RSS feed (I use Google reader) collects them for me and they sit and wait until I’m ready to read them, rather than rush by me in a busy twitter stream.

Between my RSS reader and my diigo bookmarks, I feel like I’ve got some measure of control over the information flow – and hopefully some balance (or at the very least, perspective).

(The image of my PLN and it’s connectivity is from a great little iPad app called Popplet, I found out about that via a blog post from Kathryn Greenhill over at Librarians matter).

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.
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.

The value of social networking

Taking off - Canberra 2009

I have blogged about the value of my personal learning network before and my use of social media to build this network, but I rarely think about what I consider social networking to be.

Social networking is the process of using social media tools to build a network of friends, colleagues, professionals, or business contacts, depending on the context of the social network.

Social media tools allow us to engage in conversation with others in a timely and active manner. They allow the one-to-many engagement that delivers quick results for informal learning and discovery.  This one-to-many enables multiple answers to a question or idea and delivers a range of perspectives.

Professionally, I use twitter as my main social networking tool – I have a good network of LIS folk that I engage with on a daily basis. Often this engagement is not on professional topics, but incorporates ‘water cooler’  conversations that encourage deepening of ties and connections over time.

Where else can you find me in the social network? I have an online presence:

I’ve recently started studying again and my subject this semester is Social networking for information professionals.  What do I hope to get from that? A deeper understanding of the structure and theoretical ‘why’ of social networking. I know how to do it, I know what I get from it but hope to formalise that in some way.

Crowdsourcing a post

Crowd at the Royal Adelaide Show from State Library of South Australia via flickr CC

Once upon a time there was a librarian participating in #blogjune who had run out of ideas by the 21st day. A quick lunchtime mention of this on twitter resulted in no less than 6 responses, all different. The librarian is happy now because this will take her through to the 28th day without having to think too hard.

Thank you, PLN

Personal learning: network or environment?

social media, social networking... by daniel_iverson via flickr CC

Last week, @acrystelle tweeted the following question:

PLN & PLE – Same thing? Or different? What do you believe to be definitions for these terms? Any opinions or thoughts?

I had to ask what exactly a PLE is, but now that I have an answer (it’s a personal learning environment, as opposed to a PLN which is a personal learning network) I thought I’d respond to the question here, as I have a bit more than 140 characters to say.

My initial reaction was that of course they are different – one’s a network and one’s an environment.  Then I started worrying that I had oversimplified it, which led me on to giving the question considerably more thought.  After tying myself up in knots about this several times over the weekend I can say I think I ended up overanalysing it and that my initial response was, in fact, what I wanted to say.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me explain.

The term PLN is fairly new to me, I didn’t come across it until I started to be active on twitter and joined in the conversation between many like-minded LIS professionals.  On reflection though, I realise I have been developing and engaging in PLN’s my entire life. They just weren’t called that.  They were called mothers groups, or running partners or fellow committee members, or book clubbers. Each of these networks has contributed to my knowledge and has enabled me to share my experiences and knowledge as well.  Each of these networks is part of my PLE – a subset if you like.

So, how do I define them? My PLN’s are issue specific (although with considerable crossover between some) and comprised of individuals whereas my PLE is broader than that.  My PLE encompasses both private and professional connections and importantly, it includes place.  The classic example of course is that the local library is part of my PLE but not my PLN.  When faced with a question, a difficulty or a need to share some news, I consider which part of my PLE is the most appropriate vehicle and select one or more PLN’s based on that assessment.

A long answer to a simple question.

A new year – a new mojo?

We visited Bellingen to escape the rain on our holiday - but it rained there too...

Towards the end of 2010 I lost my librarian mojo – I could really sympathise with this post from A work in progress about being dazed & confused.  I’m in a not-so-different situation to Fiona, OK, I have a job in libraryland but it’s a first job and I need to start thinking about the next step in my career sometime in 2011.  That’s both exciting and daunting and the daunting part overtook me by the end of the year.

I am not a 24/7 librarian so my recent 3 weeks off work have really been 3 weeks away from the whole library thing – very little interaction on twitter from me and I haven’t read a single blog post that could be remotely called professional (OK, I’ve read some by librarians but they weren’t really library related). Partly this is because I went camping for a week – to a location with flaky 3G connection at best but mostly it’s because I really needed to take a break from all the PD and the information bombardment my day usually contains.  I barely even picked up a newspaper during this 3 weeks.

As a result, I feel quite refreshed, in spite of wondering if I’ve missed out on anything really fantastic.  I probably have, but I’ve learned that life goes on regardless!  As I’ve blogged about before, I value my PLN and in particular my twitter network but it’s still pretty much a work thing for me, rather than a life thing.  I have some strict boundaries around the work/life balance thing – having seen first hand what happens when you don’t – so it suits me to keep things as they are for the moment.

I’ve come back to work to the realisation that I have 2 PD events coming up for me in the next 3 weeks – as well as the prospect of a #tweetup around the ALIA Information Online conference that is being held in Sydney in early February.  This has cheered me up no end (because let’s face it, who actually enjoys coming back to work after 3 weeks leave?).

When social media goes wrong?

Photo is to calm me down. It's the Lady Diana Spencer Memorial Fountain, Kensington Gardens

Today I had an awkward and potentially very difficult situation arise at work that I’m at a loss to explain – although I suspect social media might be at the root of the problem.

The HR manager at MPOW had an email from an individual today saying that this individual understood through professional networks that I had accepted a position with another organisation and that my job was therefore about to be advertised.  The person asked to be advised when MPOW was likely to be advertising as they were very interested in my position.

Now, I have seen this email and I have this person’s name as a result of that but I draw a blank with who it actually is.  It isn’t anyone I know and a google search of the name brings up nothing even vaguely library related.

It’s fairly common knowledge among my small section of the twitter-verse that I have been for a job interview but specific details of where and when have been limited to a few DM’s with a few select (and trusted) people.  Similarly, it’s not a secret where I work, but I don’t go out of my way to advertise the name of MPOW and this email was addressed to the HR Manager, not our info@ account.  Whoever this person is has taken the time to not only find out/work out where I work but has looked up our HR Manager’s email address on our company website.

I haven’t been offered a job anywhere else and in fact the organisation I went for the interview with is hoping to have cleared their internal bureaucracy in time to have something to offer the successful applicant at the end of this week.  I would be a brave newgradlib indeed if I had already resigned on the strength of an interview I admittedly felt pretty comfortable with.

As I said, I’m at a complete loss to explain this.  It’s weird and to be honest, slightly creepy. The most likely explanation is someone telling someone telling someone and the message getting lost in the middle. This is my first experience of social media going wrong and I’m not liking it.

Either that or one of my friends has a warped sense of humour……

Linked into LinkedIn


Chain by Ella's Dad via flickr Creative Commons

Way back during #blogeverydayinjune, there was a post from Virtually a Librarian wondering about the point of LinkedIn as a networking tool, particularly when twitter works so well for professional networking.  At the time, I was very new to twitter and hadn’t realised it’s full potential to me as a networking tool, or the extent of the personal learning network I would build up via twitter, so was inclined to jump straight in and comment about the various merits and worths of LinkedIn as I saw them at the time.

There were lots of comments to this post, so many that I decided to draft my own post rather than add to the comments.  It has, however, taken me some 5 months to move from draft to publish with this one!  In that 5 months I have thrown myself wholeheartedly into twitter and was, for a time, inclined to agree with Kate’s assessment. The delay in publishing has worked out well as it turns out, as I have now learned to use LinkedIn in a way that works for me – not so much for my current professional networking but with an eye on the future and the broader workplace context.

Using the principle that, generally, burning bridges is bad, I use LinkedIn to stay in touch with all sorts of people I have met at a professional and otherwise work related level that a) don’t use twitter b) probably don’t want to listen to me rabbit on about LIS on twitter anyway and c) aren’t ‘friends’ of the sort that I would connect with via Facebook.  There’s definitely a gap for me between twitter and facebook and LinkedIn seems to fill that adequately.

Working in higher education for example, I have met a lot of interesting and talented sessional teachers working in business, accounting and management.  I’d like to keep in touch with some of these contacts after either they or I move on from MPOW but the stuff either side would tweet about on a daily basis is not really of immediate use to either of us.  LinkedIn gives us a less invasive (annoying?) way to stay connected.  I’m less concerned with collecting ‘friends’ as I am with ensuring I have valuable and valid professional contacts (even if they are for that ‘just in case’ time in the future).  Not all of these contacts are working in my chosen field (as opposed to my twitter network which is almost entirely libraryland folk).

Des Walsh left a comment on Kate’s original blog post that highlighted some of this and also pointed out that no profile on LinkedIn is probably better than an out of date profile.  If a prospective or potential employer or business partner does check your LinkedIn profile, you want that to be current or relevant.

With this in mind, I do keep my LinkedIn profile up to date.

I also like the ‘leaving recommendations’ function of LinkedIn.  A colleague recently facilitated a workshop I was involved in and navigated the group through a difficult series of decisions with what I considered to be consumate skill.  I immediately went to write a recommendation on said colleague’s LinkedIn profile – only to find that there wasn’t one!  Apparently this person used to have one, but decided that as it was never up to date it was more useful to take it down.  In reverse, if someone has left a positive recommendation about me then that surely can’t hurt my prospects with any future employer?