Category Archives: 23 Things City

Forwards. Not Backwards. Maybe A Little Sideways…

And lo, the new academic year is upon us. Whoo.

Last week saw the newbies arrive, all bright-eyed and questioningly tailed, excited to attend their Library inductions. Our Subject Librarians have worked hard to exceed their needs, and to invigorate their minds with regards the Library and all the informatic possibilities available to them through using it. This week, it’s the staff on the counter taking the strain, as continuing students return and the clamour for that last textbook reaches fever pitch. And let’s not forget the ‘One Man & His Dog’ scenario of trying to herd all the little lost sheep through the Library gates (security barriers, total nightmare, stupid plastic clips…).

And yet, with all the hustle & bustle of September, with all the drama of technical fail, and with all the chaos that the new term brings, there is only one burning issue at the top of the daily agenda.

Forget swipe cards, borrowing rights, the food & drink ‘policy’ or even Dresscodegate.

The only topic of conversation in town is:

The Strictly Come Dancing 2011 Sweepstake!!!!!!

Yes folks, TV fever is sweeping the office like never before!

Despite a few hard-liners vehemently opposed to anything remotely fun or frivolous (you know who you is) there’s been an overwhelming groundswell of interest and fervent debate. (BTW research suggests that 92% of people are 75% more happy if they participate in 35% more random office sweepstakes 22% of the time).

With just days to go, there are only 6 spaces left available.

This is undoubtedly going to provide the water cooler moments of the Autumn/Winter- and it will all be covered here, lively and exclusively. Watch this space!

(PS: A big thank you to all my colleagues for their extremely generous awards & prizes- 23 Things was a great experience, I recommend it to anyone, and I suggest everyone continues with their blogs ’cause they were all marvellous!)

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They Thing It’s All Over…

Alas, we’ve reached our final Things!

But this isn’t the end. Instead, let’s think of it as a beginning. A new chapter. Like Katie & Peter: The Next Chapter- only with more quality, depth and overall point.

Less ITV2, more BBC2. Or BBC4, which I always wish I watched more often.

Anyway, for my reflection/look back over this 23 Things Journey- which has been like an emotional rollercoaster, during which I’ve learned so much about myself… (yes folks, X Factor’s back!) I decided to sit down with a pad & pen, and note down the stuff which immediately came to mind. So, here, in no particular order, are my 23 Things about 23 Things:

  1. Such Fun! Yes, I wont try to style it out; I’ve had fun doing 23 Things. It added a new dimension to my working week, which over the quieter Summer proved important in maintaining daily motivation levels.
  2. Collaborating isn’t always bad: 23 Things has provided a refreshing opportunity to work and engage with colleagues across the sites.
  3. Back to Blog: I like blogging. I like writing. 23 Things met my needs.
  4. A Brave New World: 23 Things is a fantastic way of discovering the myriad of online packages and technologies available to us, in an atmosphere which encourages supportive, shared learning.
  5. Knowing Me, Knowing You- Aha! Perhaps my favourite Thing has been getting to know more about the people I work with. Not in a stalkery way, but in a way which has helped to build a sense of community amongst the team; and, on a personal level, has definitely improved my professional workplace confidence.
  6. Evernote: I knew about Evernote, but I’ve now seen it up close; and me likey. Thank you to Twinset & Purls (prolific blogger extraordinaire) for giving it a thorough test drive too. Not that I’m saying you’re the Jeremy Clarkson of the team… more like the Library Stig.
  7. LinkedIn: I believe my thoughts on LinkedIn are well known, but I found the debate around its usefullness (or not) a highlight. I enjoy hatin’…
  8. 23 Things is good for your health: Seriously. It’s cured (well, certainly alleviated the symptoms of) my extreme Socionephobia*.
  9. Twitter: This process has reinforced my love for Twitter, and transformed the workplace dynamic. #ilovetwitter
  10. The Lives of Others: Following on from [no.5], 23 Things has introduced many personal interests and topics into the day-to-day discourse: a love of knitting, Kindles, cult TV, technology, food, ovine economics, togas… etc. Turns out, we’re all a little eccentric in so many ways… #librariansarecooltoo
  11. Setting a Prezident: Bad pun: yes. New avenue for presentations: possibly. Strange travel-sick feeling whilst seated in a non-vehicular context: definitely.
  12. Picture Perfect: How hysterical was PhotoFunia?!
  13. Groove is in the Shark: Music isn’t really my Thing, but I liked using Grooveshark.
  14. Copyright: Let’s be honest, Copyright is very important and can be very dull. It was good to be able to explore this topic in a proactive manner.
  15. Google Reader: I’m still using it! And I’ve found it aided my enjoyment of catching up with everyone else’s blogs. I’ve crossed over to the dark side…
  16. Survey Monkey: I wont lie, this was my most anticipated new Thing. It was one of the reasons I signed up for the course. It’s not big, it’s not especially clever, but it was fantastically entertaining. Oh, and professionally viable in a modern Higher Educational context… (cough)…
  17. JamGate: Talk about water-cooler-moment! Never has a throwaway comment on toast toppings proven so explosive! Forget HackGate, LibyaGate and CherylGate- this was the talking point of the year. Amazing.
  18. Reflective Practice: I must admit, I’ve never been big on this concept. I hate reflecting on things as I have a tendency to procrastinate, ruminate and over think to the point of a nervous breakdown. However, I can see some of the benefits, and it’s something I will not shy away from in the future.
  19. Tagging: Tagging as a concept has largely passed me by. Not anymore. I intend to revisit this.
  20. Librarians Exposed: I was fairly naive to the nature of information professional careers outside of the traditional library context- the social networking, staying on top of online resources etc. Instructive to say the least.
  21. Time: Management, making use of, the possibilities of: a significant learning resource in itself.
  22. Tales of the unexpected: There were many hilarious and random moments over the last dozen weeks: a personal highlight was the Head of Information Literacy apologising for having voted for Robson & Jerome. The expression of anguish was remarkable…
  23. ? I’ve left his one blank, as who knows what’s in store..?

 

Goodbye 23 Things 2011. Good Times.

 

*Socionephobia: An intense fear and dislike of social networking.

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Informatic Engineering

[Warning: this post is far too lengthy and boring. I thought about segmenting it into separate posts and decided not to, on the grounds that, well, that would be long. Just skim through and note the salient points. Or just look at the pictures. Either way, if you’re reading this, you’re probably extremely bored anyway, in which case, this post is doing you a favour by filling time- approx. 30 seconds of listless scrolling…]

Why don’t we just scrap Search Engines and ask a Librarian instead?

This question was surmised by my learned colleague Oli, during a discussion on the merits (or lack thereof) of the most popular search engines currently available online. Of course, the workload would be unbearable, and stress levels would elevate to such an extent that the average life-span of a Librarian would decrease exponentially. I imagine waiting times for information retrieval would also surpass that of trying to book an appointment with your local GP.

But it is an interesting point to consider- the role of Librarians in a Googley World.

Effectively, Library workers are human search engines. Visitors to the Library pose us questions; we interpret their inquiry, sometimes offering alternatives to aid their search; we then instantly compute all of the avenues and possibilities available, based on our personal database of knowledge and experience; then we present an array of results and strategies, which the inquirer can choose to utilise, pursue or ignore.

However, despite the odd alter-egoes here & there (not to mention a penchant for dressing up) Librarians aren’t superheroes. They don’t have special powers. They need help too. Like everyone else, Librarians use search engines. And, like everyone else, I suspect most of them use Google.

Google has become common parlance for searching the internet. “Why don’t you Google it?” “I’ve just Googled…” etc. But is Google’s dominance of the search engine market justified? Are there any realistic alternatives?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, there are alternatives. But am I realistically going to use them? No, probably not. Like most people, I’m lazy.

Certainly, there are specialised search engines which undoubtedly suit the needs of niche groups better. But for general day-to-day internet searches (at least until the backlash comes) Google will remain the default choice. Which sadly reflects on the information society we live in. Can you imagine suggesting to a student that they go and browse the Encyclopaedia Britannica to answer their question? People want things instantly, and for most queries, search engines meet this need. And once you’ve discovered Google, why are you going to experiment with other sites? Information professionals undoubtedly find the science of information (and subsequent comparisons between search engines) fascinating/interesting/mildly diverting; but I suspect very few ordinary internet users are actually bothered by such matters.

Thankfully for the disinterested, when it comes to needing assistance with more detailed information searches, Librarians are at hand to step-in and offer valued wisdom. Libraries are houses of guidance for knowledge seekers. Worship us! (Or, at the very least, keep us open and staffed by professionals).

Anyway, muddled ranting over, now on to the week’s Things.

For my Search Engine Comparison, I entered Walthamstow into each of the big four’s boxes of truth, and then assessed the outcome:

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To be fair, each search engine brought back much of the same results- the key differences being in aesthetics and quirks. All of them highlighted key information sources about the town and local area, and a couple found this amazing news story about Brian Harvey.

For all you stats fans (geeks) out there, Google unsurprisingly won in terms of nominal retrievals:

  1. Google: 4.8m
  2. Yahoo: 611,000
  3. Bing: 595,000
  4. Ask Jeeves: n/a*

Google: Winner on stats, and winner on appearance for me- clear, tidy and refreshingly lacking in advertisements. Though, when you think about it, what does Google seriously expect me to do with 4.8 million results? There are good options to further your search, and the image gallery was substantial. However, as expressed before, I have a real problem with Google’s interface and interaction with keyboard controls. I hate the predictor as I type; it’s annoying and symptomatic of a world where nobody is required to think for themselves. I don’t like the way using the arrow keys renders you stuck in the list of results rather than scrolling the page. And I do get frustrated with the way Google identifies results based on popularity.

I’m also unhappy with the way Google is stalking me. It seems that exploiting my personal information isn’t enough to satisfy their own nefarious needs; now they seem determined to track my location and to let me know that they’re doing so. 6 weeks ago Big Brother Google told me I was in Camden. Today, it told me I’m in Tottenham. Am I the only person freaked out by this?

Yahoo: I’ve decided not to comment on Yahoo as a matter of principle, after noticing on the bottom of the results page that Yahoo is powered by Bing.

Bing: What a stupid name. Visually awful, with far too much blue text. Lots of advertising, including one titled: Walthamstow Cheap. That might well be the case, by I’m not happy with those connotations being so immediate. Good image selection.

Ask Jeeves: No thank you, I’d rather not. Two things attracted my attention with Ask. The first was “Might Jeeves suggest the Hackney Gazette”- erm, no, thank you. That would be in Hackney; clue’s in the search term, moron. Secondly, the link offering me search results from Excite, which proved a complete waste of time and clicking.

[*Jeeves wouldn’t tell me how many search results he generated. Whatever.]

In other Things:

  • I found a really good explanation of how search engines work on the Berkley guide (I admit it, I didn’t really understand the finer points of this issue).
  • Having perused the Search Engine List, I urge you to click on this to see Goo. Amazing.
  • I immediately assumed that Wolfram Alpha was evil, based solely on an irrational desire to add “& Hart” to the name. (Ok, so it wasn’t Buffy, but it was a good show and I enjoyed it, even though I never saw the final season, don’t tell me what happened!) I actually really like WA, particularly as I adore useless trivia. I rather self-indulgently searched for the 5th August 1983, and found that I was born on a Friday during a Waning Crescent Moon. Says it all really.
  • Have I missed the point of Dogpile & the Meta Search Engines? Okay, so it tells me some results were found exclusively on specific search engines. But so what? If I was carrying out research, I wouldn’t only use the list of results garnered from 1 search as the entire basis for my work. That would be dumb. Or maybe I’m being dumb? I suppose if Zuula and other Meta Engines are searching across a variety of search engines, some of which focus on material unobtainable by Google (such as social network sites) then I could potentially carry out my research all in one place in 1 go = easier for me? I think my brain is struggling to cope with all this information about finding information.
  • Google A Day was fun, but I became extremely frustrated with the answer input recognition; basically, unless you word your answer EXACTLY as needed, it tells you you’re wrong.
  • Lastly, here is my Search Story:
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Things Aint What They Used To Be…

 

Ok, I’ve shamelessly opened with a tenuously pun-related music video, completely stealing from Library Apocalypse’s project ethos. It’s an homage Library Apocalypse, really…

Anyway, here comes the science bit:

Books are dead. Front-line staff are unnecessary. Everything’s prefixed by an ‘E’. The traditional Library, as we know it, is dying:

slowly, painfully, lingeringly.

Ok, I don’t believe this for a second. But despite my traditionalist approach to such matters, I freely acknowledge that the world of information provision has changed, and continues to do so:

quickly, substantially, dramatically.

Supporting one’s education, and learning independently, are now vastly different concepts to what they once were; it’s central to our role, as academic library staff, to reflect this through the services we make available.

In the higher education sector, information literacy is about understanding: what information is, and how to go about using it.

I appreciate this is a loosely undefined definition; I don’t think I’m qualified to provide a better one. Unfortunately, many students seem unaware of just how important information literacy (and general library-related) skills are in a wider context. The Library is not merely a means to an end. The thought processes, learning/research skills, and ability to learn independently are both highly transferable and key to achievement. I am not sure this message- that using the Library is part of a degree/study programme- is always adequately emphasised.

When championing the work of the Library, we tend to focus a great deal on e-resources, and how these can facilitate remote user interactions; rightly so, because this self-service mechanism has increased educational opportunities tremendously. But, advocating information literacy is much more than merely offering up technology and content filled platforms. Being able to successfully adapt to suit specific learning styles, skill requirements, and time/economic/access constraints, can only be achieved through the efforts of people.

Unless the day of the super android has arrived (and last time I checked, it hadn’t) it remains the case that people are the defining factor when it comes to teaching and learning support.

It is essential for Libraries to be able to engage with Web 2.0 technologies in order to meet the expectations of the modern learner. To do this, it is up to Library Staff to stay ahead of, or at least in touch with, the game hand.

I believe that Web 2.0 Things, like those we looked at this week, could have an important role to play in the context of forming an institutional identity.

The University sector is becoming increasingly competitive, with pressure being placed on recruitment numbers, budgets and statistical outcomes. In libraries, we constantly benchmark ourselves against rivals in terms of staffing hours, resources and study space allocations. However, all universities face the same problems. All universities want to invest in e-journals, e-books and e-support.

The thing to bear in mind is, for students looking to plan their academic pathway, the criteria for decision-making is often tightly focused: reputation, history, job prospects, facilities, social life. I know from my experience of working on Open Days, when it comes to the Library, most students (and parents) want to see a traditional Library, but expect to hear about a Modern Library.

One of the ways in which we, as an institution, can attempt to differentiate ourselves from the competition, is to work at marrying these concepts more effectively. Utilising Web 2.0 tools innovatively could really transform perceptions of the services we provide; particularly as using mechanisms such as YouTube and Audioboo, would intrinsically involve real people connecting with real people.

Students and academics know they can be self-reliant. But they can only be self-reliant because of staff making it possible. Perhaps one way in which we can create a service USP is to find a way of personalising the experience of independent learning? Many of these exciting Web 2.0 Things we are examining not only provide an opportunity to showcase our creativity and ingenuity; but also represent a fantastic way for visitors and service users to explore the personality of the institution they are planning on investing their time and money in.

……….

Ok, the fun stuff.

YouTube: Video overload. Firstly, I had a look at the videos on the 23 Things blog. I wasn’t overly wrapped in the University of Sydney one (sorry); though I understood the point it was making, it felt a little laboured to me- by the time they got to the overhead shot of the pamphlets and croissants (a neat device) my interest had waned and I’d switched off.

Latrobe? God, what an awful video. It irritated me soooooooooo much, I lasted for about 30 seconds, and then I was like “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”

Liverpool’s Reading List Fever was less feverish for me, though I liked the concept.

Despite being overly long, I sort of enjoyed the Dr Who themed video (the Doctor made me chuckle) but, to be honest, I’m a Star Trek man…

 

I’ve selected a few YouTube finds to share with everyone, for different reasons:

This made me smile, and shows how crucial Libraries are to community life:

Although this next one is interminably long and dull, I really like the clarity of message/purpose being conveyed:

I’ve included this one on the basis that it feature Sesame Street:

This made me chuckle, even though it shouldn’t:

Lastly, I commend the organisation here (I’m sure we could pull off something similar, maybe to GaGa..?!):

I also urge you to Google ‘Library Ghostbusters’…

This is the only podcast I’ve ever bothered to download (stupid working on Fridays).

I found the Conclusions from this article fairly revealing…

I’m desperate to use Audioboo, but my lack of smartphone (and not having connected microphone to laptop at home) precludes me (stupid organisation fail).

Finally, music aint really my thing, but I had a lot of fun with Grooveshark: I’ve put together a playlist which, if you’re really bored (or are desperate to explore the horrors of my iPod and then judge me) you can check out.

It’s fairly reflective of my mental state recently. Having said that, I’m suddenly reminded of conversations at the start of the 23 Things project about revealing yourself/oneself/the self online (see Twinset & Purls for extensive, spot on, coverage of the topic…) Don’t read anything into that last bit. There’s nothing to see here people. No conclusions to be drawn. They’re just songs I like. Oh God, stop digging Chris.

Crap.

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Questions That Need Asking: The Results

From the title, you might be forgiven for expecting this follow-up post to be hosted by my cheaper and slightly prettier co-host: but no! I’ve still got it baby, yeah. Or at least, enough of it. Whatever it is. (And I should point out that for personal reasons, this portion of the blog has been pre-recorded; transparency at all times…)

Anyway, enough of this embarrassing song & tap-dance of a preamble- let’s get on with the show!

The results.

Firstly, I need to state that this is in no way scientific, or conclusive, in terms of establishing the opinions and personal preferences of Library staff. Secondly, in terms of the number of participants in the survey, to call this a ‘snapshot’ of Library thinking would be overselling it. Thank you, though, to all 3 of you who responded.

So, here we go.

The tension mounts.

Nails are chewed.

Edges of seats are occupied.

What will the recriminations be? Let the debating commence!

Finally, I couldn’t end this results post without giving in to public demand. Remember- you voted for it. It’s your own fault:

(All I’m saying is- the hair and the keyboard player…)

And They All Lived Happily After Evernote…

Once upon a time, in a library far, far away, there worked a sad Information Assistant named Christopher.

Christopher was sad because on Saturday, having sat in the sunshine sipping coffee and eating cake till 5, he returned home to discover that he was horribly sunburnt! This made poor unsuspecting Christopher sad.

Furious at his own stupidity, and aghast at looking like a cross between ‘White Van Man’ and Peter Schmeichel, Christopher didn’t know what to do?!

“My nose hurts, and my face hurts, and my arms hurt!” cried Christopher.

“Who’s been a silly little Information Assistant?” retorted Christopher’s patronising & distinctly unhelpful parent, wallowing in her son’s solar demise.

“What am I going to do?” asked Christopher.

A caring and sympathetic response proved too much for the evil old woman*, so Christopher decided to turn to his trusty, reliable friend- the Internet.

Firstly, Christopher logged-on to SlideShare, and found some helpful (and scary) presentations on the dangers of sunburn and possible remedies; including a fascinating slideshow concerning Ultimate Frisbee:

Christopher also came across a presentation entitled: 101 Ways To Cook Lost Children by the Candy Cottage Witch. Knowing that his friends, Hansel and Gretel, have had a problem recently with their parents ‘accidentally abandoning them in the woods’, Christopher decided to share this presentation with them via Twitter.

Secondly, Christopher came across this neat page on Wikipedia: Sunburn. Reading about the dangers of sunburn frightened Christopher so much, that he decided to spend time registering with UK Library Blogs in order to take his mind off things. Christopher also came across WikiPiggy, a specialised Wiki detailing construction techniques for building houses to withstand Wolf attacks.

Thirdly, Christopher decided that it might be helpful to bookmark the websites containing information about sunburn. So, he wondered if Delicious could be a helpful option, and who else might be using it already. Christopher discovered that Birkbeck Library had a small list of bookmarks, but none on sunburn. Then he discovered that one of his former lecturers had a medium-sized bookmark collection online, but with nothing about sunburn. Finally, Christopher searched for the term Sunburn on the Delicious website, generating a large amount of results, and found some information about treatment which was just right.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, thought Christopher, if I could store all of this information in one handy notebook, which I could access anytime, anywhere.

“Well,” said Granny, “my grand-daughter uses Evernote.”

“What’s Evernote?” asked Christopher.

“Evernote’s amazing,” said Granny. “It allows her to store loads of stuff, like websites, text and images in one place. She can access this information from home and on the go, using her Smartphone.”

“Wow,” said Christopher, “do you think she’d mind showing me how it works?”

“Not at all,” replied Granny. “In fact, she’s on her way through the woods to visit me now- said something about bringing me a basket of food.”

Ding-dong.

“That must be her now,” said Granny. “Early too, which makes a change.”

Christopher was curious as to why Granny’s grand-daughter had so many whiskers, really sharp teeth, and seemed desperate to get him out of the house as quickly as possible. Still, one mustn’t judge, he thought.

That night, Christopher slept peacefully; safe in the knowledge that, thanks to the wonders of Web 2.0, he need never worry about sunburn ever again.

The End.

(*Approval to use the term “Evil old woman” was agreed prior to publication.)

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Monkey Doodle Handy

What do you people want, blood?

Perhaps a slight overreaction, but, honestly, 23 Things Makers: what came over you?

I started reading Thing 13, then I scrolled a bit, read some more, scroll, read, scroll, read, scroll, read, scroll OMG! Will it never end! I mean, War and Peace anyone?!

This hysterical preamble is my way of building the case for the defense. My defense. For not doing all the tasks.

[Gasp]

I know. (Bows head in shame)

I’ve not been well. (Shakes head)

I tried, I really did! (Pleads with hands)

I just couldn’t handle the pressure. I beg of you, have mercy!

[Exit, pursued by angry Librarian]

I also became wrapped up in Prezis, and got slightly carried away with concocting silly questions, resulting in a substantial time-deficit; but that’s beside the point…

Anyway, here’s my Prezi.

Prezi is an excellent presentation tool. I’d never used it before [insert your own jokes about my Prezi here]; in fact, I didn’t know it existed until I came to City. It’s pitched as a user-friendly and more exciting alternative to PowerPoint, and in many ways this is a fair comparison. From what I’ve seen so far, Prezi feels like the dress-down Friday version of PowerPoint: more creative, accessible and fun to use, but no less credible in terms of its content provision. Additionally, the functionality and interactivity of Prezi make it ideally suited for collaborative work.

However, I wouldn’t write off PowerPoint just yet.

I’d be less keen as a presentationee (?), particularly in a classroom setting- where the emphasis is on absorbing complex topics- to be on the receiving end of a full-on Prezi, with it’s potentially disorientating effects and open-ended layout options. There’s something to be said for a simple, clear slideshow, backing up an engaging tutor. There are also a few technical drawbacks with Prezi, but from what I’ve been reading, these are being continually ironed out and the technology updated; so hopefully Prezi will become even more dynamic in the future.

As dedicated readers of this blog (and those of you kind/foolish enough to follow me on Twitter may be aware), I registered with Survey Monkey and went and did one. A big thank you to everyone who tackled the Questions That Need Asking, and for the positive feedback. Obviously, I’ve shown a complete disregard for the methodology of survey construction; but it’s my survey, and I’ll make it trashy if I want to.

I’ve had a lot of fun with Survey Monkey. After all the hoopla of Prezi, and the wowness of Web 2.0 in general, it was hysterically refreshing to be using a programme with Windows ’95 stylings. I suddenly became nostalgic for Microsoft Works, dial-up and Joanna Lumley; though not for my inkjet printer, which promised 3 pages per minute, but actually took 3 minutes per page.

Fist-gnawingly slow.

Survey Monkey might be a little clunky and lacking in finesse, but it does its job and sometimes that’s what’s important. The survey is open until Friday, and the official results will be revealed asap!

I’ve had some recent experience with Doodle, though in a slightly different context. This year, my university department decided to employ Doodle as the mechanism for selecting module options for the forthcoming academic year. From what I can gather, I don’t think this has proved a resounding success, possibly more as a result of poor planning and administration, rather than the merits of Doodle itself.

And I think this is a key point: It’s all very well having Web 2.0 tools at our disposal, but it’s the co-ordination and implementation which has as much to do with a project’s success or failure, as opposed to just the technology. Personally, I think a downloadable pdf or simple online form would have sufficed, but what do I know?

Doodle has a great name, an appealing concept, and is definitely worth further investigation from now on.

I have registered with Remember The Milk, and have invited a poor unsuspecting colleague to join me.

I don’t like the fact that I couldn’t just send my task to someone without forcing them to register- after all, I could have just emailed them anyway- what exactly is the USP here? Clearly I’m missing something. Maybe I should have used Doodle to schedule a chat about RTM? But how would I have remembered to use Doodle in the first place? I can’t even remember what I went upstairs for. If only there was a tool to help me organise my life, and overcome these increasing memory lapses?

What was the last Cool Thing? Oh, yeah, Google Docs.

Erm, right. Google Docs is a search engine designed to help you locate your nearest certified medical practitioner. It’s great. Amazing in fact. Everyone should use it.

Cool.

# Apologies for the lack of embedded content. I tried to embed my Prezi, but 2 hours of trying to grasp gigya codes (disappointingly, nothing to do with Quagmire) and such nonsense defeated me. It’s Sunday, I’ve already missed the Grand Prix (go Hamilton!) and don’t intend missing lunch.

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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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