Evaluative Statement using 3 experiences documented in my OLJ
Selecting appropriate technology to meet learning objectives or to solve organisational problems is a challenging task. There are a vast number of Web 2.0 technologies available today that require substantial learning curves. Being part of a scholarly group with a learned and supportive facilitator has assisted me in my usage and evaluation of social networking tools. Tools such as Blogs/RSS, social bookmarking, Flickr and Second Life have all been invaluable to my social networking journey.
I started writing blogs as a means of documenting my learning experiences for my Masters degree. Undertaking INF506 has given me further valuable insight on their many uses, especially within the library profession. For example, although most of my postings are study related by nature, they are nevertheless the “seedlings” to possible articles that would further assist my professional development (Sauers, 2006, p. 57). It is a way of sharing my thoughts, ideas and work activities and attracting feedback from like-minded individuals. Blogs could also be used as a mechanism to entice clients back to the library website. An accompaniment tool to the blog is Real Simple Syndication or commonly known as RSS. It is mainly used to track online news, blog posts and trends on a particular subject matter. On my blog post about RSS, I mentioned that MerchantCircle has bought Bloglines and that the future of the service is undermined. It is now back in operation with an added blog platform capability. User-authored content can now be amalgamated with the newsreader site. I still like the tool because I see its potential to stay current and push content to a targeted audience on one single page (Farkas, 2007, p. 74). I am guilty however of not utilising it to my advantage. It is a matter of providing appropriate content to the right audience at the right time. Without this background knowledge, I am merely thrusting gibberish to an invisible market.
Delicious is another tool that I like. But news has it that it was closing its service so I panicked, bailed out and joined its competitor, Diigo. What I find fascinating about social bookmarking tools are their ability to organise links for easy retrieval and share these resources with others using a new trend called tagging. I wasn’t keen on tagging at first but the more I apply it to web resources, the more I realise its flexibility and adaptability in an ever-changing Web. In comparison to Delicious, Diigo is cleaner, more user friendly and more intuitive. For example, Diigo lets me create lists to store like-bookmarks together. It has features like sticky notes and commentary highlighter tools for drawing attention to important text in the web page. It is a great tool for individuals working collaboratively on a project. However, individual users in a group setting may find others have different ways of describing the same resource. One way to combat this ambiguity is to use clustering (Farkas, 2007, p. 138). Lack of long-term availability with popular social bookmarking sites is another issue that needs to be addressed. Therefore, prior to committing to a particular service, it is important to ensure that the tool meets the needs of the user population to avoid future migration difficulties. For example, CiteULike is a service for scholarly references, which may assist university libraries to bookmark academic papers.
I admire libraries that use social media. They are in the best position to meet their clients. Although Facebook is ranked ninth as an online learning tool, it seems to be the winning platform for enticing library patrons. Twitter and YouTube rank first and second consecutively in the list but are only utilised by larger libraries. It is interesting to note that the State Library of Victoria’s Flickr public images are only of its building’s exterior and interior views. Images of the library’s events or its many patrons are absent in the photostream. This may be due to the Victoria Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities stating protection of privacy and reputation under the freedom of expression. It is not however illegal to photograph people without their consent in Australia unless they are at work, under protection laws or if the images are of sexual and voyeuristic in nature (Nemeth, 2011).
Furthermore, I am surprised that the libraries I looked at paid no attention to virtual worlds to market their services. A recent study has shown that the number of virtual worlds has risen and will continue to do so until 2012 (KZero, n.d.a, p. 3). I have only recently been lured by Second Life, which I find fascinating, rewarding yet frustrating at times, due to the amount of bandwidth required to run the program. Nevertheless, well-funded libraries and organizations will combat this problem, as virtual worlds will evidently provide learning tools to individuals, and especially to technology-embracing youths (Kzero, n.d.b).
A reflective statement on my development as a social networker as a result of studying INF506
Implication for my development as an information professional
Prior to studying INF506, my idea of social networking was handing out business cards at conferences, workshops and dinner parties. It was not until I familiarised myself with the subject module that I became aware of my ignorance and naivety (Tumon, 2010). A social networker is an individual who uses the online environment to connect with like-minded people, share information and create and maintain relationships for personal, business and educational purposes. As a result of undertaking INF506, I have progressed from a social software virgin to a virtual sophisticated butterfly with a touch of infatuation.
I have a mild form of Facebook addiction – I admit it. Although I am not one of the many who writes willy nilly on everything that happens to their lives or uses their mobile phones or devices to check their friends’ status. I am nevertheless hooked. By logging into Facebook when I’m at work, at the library or in between preparing dinner constitutes a person substituting real-life experience for a virtual existence (Courtney, 2007, p. 81). Furthermore, Soutphommasane suggests that my Facebook friends are mere acquaintances, superficial and passive members of my narcissist audience (Soutphommasane, 2010). True or not, I value my friendship with these ‘acquaintances’ in that my feelings were hurt when one of my friends deleted my comment on her wall. The comment was not degrading or insulting – just a contradiction to what she was planning. I have learnt that to be a good friend online I need to support and alleviate my friends’ effort in gaining their self-worth.
An upbeat side to being a social networker is my ability to connect to as many people and organizations as I can handle. In order to increase my channels to social discovery, I need to spend time learning, assessing and immersing myself in a variety of social networking environments and tools. Twitter is a good example of a tool that could potentially improve people’s lives personally, professionally and economically. By participating in Twitterville (as a follower or by being followed), I could instantly access expert opinion on a variety of subjects and topics. For example, as a follower of 936 ABC Hobart on Twitter I was able to inform my Facebook network that the Tasmanian Fire Service will be doing aerial fire shows above one of the suburbs in Hobart.
As an Information Professional, I am in the business of finding out what my clients want in terms of accessing the right information at the right time, so that they are able to participate and contribute successfully in their own community, both locally and globally. According to a recent survey, Internet users are moving from being passive viewers to content creators and online community developers (De Rosa et al, 2007). This is due to Web 2.0 technologies. These tools enable users to create their own websites, share photos and videos, chat in real time, voice opinions through blogs and wikis and enter virtual worlds. Undertaking INF506 has led me to discover Web 2.0’s extension to the library scene, which has been coined by Michael Casey as Library 2.0. Fellow librarian blogger Sarah Houghton summed up the concept as the main force that would make libraries regain their importance to people’s lives by meeting them wherever they are.
Indeed a great concept, especially applied to an underutilised resource centre. I am currently managing a library within a small non-profit organisation where the project officers use the Internet rather than the library’s physical collection for research. The implementation of one or two Web 2.0 tools would not only make the library more significant but would also attract more users. For example, the social bookmarking tool Diigo could be deployed as a starting point, as many Internet users already know the concept of bookmarking websites. However, it is more than a tool for remembering and collecting links of specifically targeted subjects. It can be used to share resources among members of a particular community. Communities built upon the Web 2.0 revolution help acquire more clients to the library by collaborating, sharing and creating online content (Shuen, 2008, p. 34).
My challenge is to implement a deployment strategy within the organisation so that the technology chosen meets the needs and acceptance of users and staff. By being involved in the planning and implementation, staff become key stakeholders at an early stage. This ensures that staff invest time and effort in making the new technology work, with training as a crucial component in creating enthusiasm amongst staff (Farkas, 2007, pp. 251-254). As Farkas concludes in this podcast, Library 2.0’s success lies in the library’s ability to provide the technological needs of its user population (Wallis, 2009).
Courtney, N. (2007). Library 2.0 and beyond: Innovative technologies and tomorrow’s user. Westport, conn.: Libraries Unlimited.
De Rosa, C., Cantrell, J., Havens, A., Hawk, J. & Jenkins, L. (2007). Section 3: Privacy, Security and Trust. In Sharing privacy and trust in our networked world: A report to the OCLC membership. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC. [ebook] Available http://www.oclc.org/reports/pdfs/sharing_part3.pdf
Farkas, M.G. (2007). Social software in libraries: Building collaboration, communication, and community online. Medford, N.J.: Information Today, Inc.
Kzero. (n.d.a). Virtual worlds: 2010 and beyond [INF506 Resources]. Retrieved 30 January 2011, from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/access/content/group/INF506_201090_W_D/KZero%20Virtual%20World%20Reports/KZERO_virtual%20worlds%202010%20trends%20v1.3.pdf
Kzero. (n.d.b). Kids, tweens and teens in virtual worlds [INF506 Resources]. Retrieved 30 January 2011, from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/access/content/group/INF506_201090_W_D/KZero%20Virtual%20World%20Reports/KZERO_kt_t%20v9.3.pdf
Nemeth, A. (2011). NSW Photography rights and legal issues summary. Retrieved from http://www.4020.net/words/rightssummary/nswphotorights.pdf
Sauers, M.P. (2006). Blogging and RSS: A librarian’s guide. Medford, N.J.: Information Today.
Shuen, A. (2008). Web 2.0: A strategy guide. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly.
Soutphommasane, T. (2010, November 13). True friends lost in the social whirlwind. The Australian. Retrieved from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/true-friends-lost-in-the-social-whirlwind/story-e6frg6zo-1225952526863
Tumon, K. (2010, November 17). A journey of a thousand steps. Message posted at: http://www.thearmchairlibrarian.blogspot.com. Retrieved from http://thearmchairlibrarian.blogspot.com/2010/11/journey-of-thousand-steps.html
Wallis, R. (Host). (2009, December 9). Social software in libraries. Library 2.0 Gang. Retrieved from http://librarygang.talis.com/2009/12/15/library-2-0-gang-1209-social-software-in-libraries/