Connect Four

(1) At first I was uncomfortable with the idea of being poked. Then, when it finally happened, I didn’t really understand what had happened. Suffice to say, I thought I was continually being poked, and so kept returning the favour. Then I realised that the message telling me that I’d been poked would remain until I deleted it.

Facebook faux pas.

Unfortunate as this was, the fact I am on Facebook at all is a social networking breakthrough for me. I swore against it:

No. Never. Ghastly idea.

Ultimately, a combination of peer pressure and tutor pressure (apparently “all journalists are on it and you should be too!”) led me to joining the phenomenon, albeit about ten years too late. No sooner had I joined, then I found everyone was experiencing Facebook fatigue and/or committing Facebook suicide (was it something I said?). To be honest, I don’t use it properly- it was six months before I added a picture, and longer before I relaxed some of my privacy settings. I also feel it’s a stalker’s paradise.

Having looked at a few of the Library FB examples, I can’t say they’re thrilling me. As a personal platform, I can see the benefits of FB, particularly the ability to plan events and interact with large groups of people. But I’m less keen on the idea of integrating FB with my workplace/study environments.

(2) As for LinkedIn, I’m undecided as to its effectiveness. On the one hand, I can see the obvious benefits in terms of establishing professional contacts, particularly within the creative and business industries. On the other hand, once I’d registered, filled in some details and started looking for contacts to add, I stopped and thought to myself:

What’s the point?

My existing work colleagues know who I am and where my desk is; and in my role, it’s unlikely that I’m going to be headhunted by some multi-national conglomerate offering me a six figure salary, New York penthouse apartment and private jet. Perhaps when I have more confidence in my own professional/career portfolio I’ll use it, but right now I’m just not ready for LinkedIn. I also find it extremely tedious to navigate, what with its boxes, labels, and stuff everywhere; it’s all rather clunky for my liking, and I take a particular dislike to its bar-chart-of-failure, informing me that I’ve only completed 60% of the registration process. Not as far as I’m concerned. Go away!

(3) And then there was Twitter.

I hated Twitter. It was right up there for me, riding high in the pantheon of irrational hatred, with Facebook, Mariah Carey and Derby.

“All journalists are on Twitter, and you should be too!” was the order; I thought all journalists were far too busy hacking people’s phones than to be sending status updates and tweets all day, but what do I know..?

Anyway, reluctantly I signed up and… I LOVE IT!

Twitter suits me entirely, because it’s pithy, vacuous and deeply self-serving. I know, there are lots of wonderful ways in which Twitter can enhance communications, build social networks and serve a valuable democratic purpose; and the Jan Moir/Stephen Gately scandal brilliantly illustrated the way in which comment on Twitter can influence the news agenda. But I love Twitter for the throwaway triviality- being able to bitch, chat, exchange and interact, and then dispose of the content instantaneously. I think the Library of Congress are bonkers for archiving Tweets (nobody needs to track my commentary on the Eurovision Song Contest, nor my rants at TFL) as Twitter is such an ‘in the moment’ medium. Twitter is the ultimate Web 2.0 product for the low attention-span generation, and as soon as I get myself a smartphone, I’m going to be all over it.

(4) How does this fit in with our work in the library?

Obviously, engaging with our service users is paramount in order to develop effective strategies to support the learning process. But I also think that there should be some degree of separation between student/institution and employee/employer. That’s why I’m:

  • Unsure as to whether publicizing my Twitter profile here is a sensible idea, and:
  • Question whether it’s always wise to utilise every social networking tool in the book in an attempt to connect with students/stakeholders.

I think there is a delicate balance to be struck between engaging with people, and chasing after them. It’s like when politicians tell you about the contents of their iPod, or your parents start describing things as ‘mingin’ or ‘wicked’.

Not cool. Very embarrassing.     


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3 thoughts on “Connect Four

  1. RMG says:

    Another great post! This is really interesting, and actually I agree with you on Facebook. It’s not for me, or at least not for me at present, but I do think Libraries need to be aware of it as a means for connecting with our users.

    I do use LinkedIn, and it has put me back in touch with previous work & committee colleagues and I have placed a recommendation on it for a former committee colleague. I just ignore the bits I don’t like (I don’t have a 100% profile anyway) and use those I do. The Groups feature can be useful to keep up with discussions, but again this does mean another place to check. It’s useful to connect with people you may have met at conferences and events, although some people are way competitive about gaining huge numbers of connections.

    But this is partly what 23 things is about – trying out stuff and seeing if you liek it for work/home. So you’ve found twitter, and yes, out of the three Things this week one has really worked for you, so that’s great. Not sure if you’re following al the 23 things people, but don’t forget to use the #23thingscity if you’re tweeting about the programme!

    Rowena 23 things team

  2. Helen says:

    I agree with you on LinkedIn. I can see it’s useful for professional connections but most of my contacts on there I’m in touch with on Facebook and/or Twitter where I’m much more likely to communicate with them. However if there was a chance of being headhunted and taken to New York etc then maybe I’d be more keen!

    Unlike you I love Facebook but that might be because it fits in well with my life. I have friends and family all over the world and our bonds have been strengthened by the fact that Facebook breaks down the distance – my godson in Canada thanked me on Facebook chat for his birthday present. In the past he’d have been made to write a letter and wouldn’t have been so connected with me. My sister however doesn’t particularly like it (apart from the keeping in touch with our family in Australia bit), she committed Facebook suicide a couple of years ago but came back a few months later partly for work reasons. She is much more private than me and unlike me terrible at keeping in touch with people (which you would think Facebook would help with). So I guess different social platforms suit different people!

    I’m unsure about the FB library pages too but if we’re not there is that also a problem?

    I also love Twitter – I think it’s probably more flexible than the others for professional/private connections.

    Helen 23 things team

    • I see what you mean about ‘being there’- you don’t want it to look like you’re a step behind. Then again, if you don’t have a FB page, and then suddenly add one, does that look like you’re struggling to catch up, rather than looking to leap forwards? Tricky. I supppose it’s about how original/cutting edge/forward thinking you feel the need to be. I’m not sure how much students would expect the Library, in it’s current incarnation, to actually engage with a lot of this stuff, other than as a means of conveying crucial information and interesting news; and I think our Twitter feed is really good, and agree with E-literate thhat there is yet more potential for using Twitter. I suppose in the future we would be able to be more interactive and provide instant outcomes/support? Speaking from neglible years of experience, I reckon it’s about having a clear strategy, and being careful not to over complicate it. But then, as I’m sure is evidenced by my ramblings, what do I know?

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