(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.