Social Software at CIL

So, Meredith Farkas started off her talk by telling the audience that I bite!! Yep, that’s right – I’m a biter :) I’m just kidding, Meredith (and me later today) was in the worst room for presenting. There are 2 pillars in the middle of the room that make it nearly impossible to see the screen. If you’re short and can see the screen you can’t see the bottom half unless you’re in the front row – I’m not a fan of this set-up so far.

But, back to Meredith. She presented on “Social Software: Building Collaboration, Communication & Community Online” – yep that’s the title of her book (which I’m ready to get signed!).

So what are the characteristics of Social Software according to Meredith?

  • Easy content creation and sharing
  • Online collaboration
  • Conversations have changed! They’re distributed (blogs) and they’re in real time (IM)
  • Capitalizing on the Wisdom of Crowds. Del.icio.us is a great example of this – we can see what others have found interesting. Wikis – conference wikis in particular are a great way to collect knowledge from many sources
  • Transparency! If you’re a terrible professor (as Lee showed us) then everyone will know. On the flip side, you can make a human connection this way.
  • Personalization – it’s everywhere and RSS helps you facilitate it
  • Portability – everyone is using at least one portable device these days – once again RSS lets them take content with them

What can Social Software do for libraries?

Number one – it will help us disseminate information. We can use blogs for library news, research tips, new books, new librarian articles, things in the area news – so many options! Wikis can be used as subject guides. Dowling College Library is doing amazing things with podcasts. Next, we can get feedback from our patrons – like I wrote earlier, no one wants to bother with the comment box at your circ desk – but they’ll comment online. It also makes the patrons feel like a part of the library – like they’re making a difference.

It allows us to capitalize on the collective intelligence of colleagues and patrons! There is so much we can learn from the people who come into our libraries – why not give them a chance to contribute? Also, why not use a reference wiki and share with those around you – what are you afraid of??

What strategies can we use to implement these changes?

First – avoid technolust! Don’t make changes just cause they’re cool – do your homework – very similar to what David was saying. Think about whether patrons will use it – and I’d like to add that even if you think they won’t and it’s free and easy to set up – DO IT!! Why not give it a whirl, maybe you don’t know everything about your users.

Next, involve staff at all levels of planning – they also want to be involved. Help them play with the technologies and see what they’re about.

A great presentation overall – you can see the entire thing online – I love it when speakers get their info up nice and early!

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Library 2.0: Setting up the New Stuff

Next I heard David Lee King talk about Library 2.0 “Setting up the New Stuff”. While I obviously have a feel for some of the basic technologies that David went over, I’m still glad that I attended this event so that I can share what I learned with you all.

David broke the talk into 3 parts. Part 1 – He answered some questions.

Why?

Just cause we can isn’t a good enough reason (but it is a good reason in my opinion to play and experiment – if it’s free and easy – why not?). We need to think about how these tools will meet the changing customer needs (Like Lee said in the keynote – web users want to participate on our library websites – they want our sites to act like the rest of the web), how it will help us stay culturally relevant and how we’ll keep our digital spaces up to date.

What?

There are lots of options out there to choose from – once again think before jumping. Use your library’s mission to help you pick tools that will help you meet those goals. Think about what you want the end result to be – do you want a place to share library news and have users comment? Then a blog might be your answer. David asked how many people had a comment box in their library – and only 2 hands were raised – but he made a good point, don’t you think users would be more likely to leave a comment via a web form than that box sitting at the circ desk??

Who?

Specifically – who does the work? Both staff and patrons can do the work. Staff members should be chosen because of an interest in the topic – not because of the department they work in. Patrons can help by commenting, adding to wiki pages, and creating groups with a vested interest in the library and the library site.

How?

Always remember to include administrators and managers – you’re going to need them (you never know when you might need to request to equipment). Consider how much staff time you’re going to need – not just to start using the new tool – but to keep it going. Last and most importantly, ask yourselves – do we have willing participants, and if not, can we make them?

When?

To quote David “Like, yesterday”. A lot of these tools have simple install files or sign up pages, it takes nearly no time at all – remember the Web 2.0 video (The Machine in Using Us)? Well, towards the end of that they create a blog in less than 10 seconds. That said, it does depend on whether you want to start big or small – if you want to use the predefined settings and templates or create your own.

So – that doesn’t sound too scary does it?? Next David moved on to Part 2: Content, Container and Customer.

David asked us who had taken a writing for the web class – and not many people raised their hands – which is okay because it’s not just about writing anymore – it’s about video, voice, and so much more. You have to remember to keep a conversational tone when creating content for the web – this is a hard thing for some librarians because they were taught to be professional and proper at all times – well, that just ain’t so anymore :) Once you get the hang of it it really does make it more fun to create for the web. He also showed us a few library blogs started in 2005 that haven’t been posted on in as much time – you have to create often – if you can’t don’t try. If you think it looks unprofessional to write in a conversational tone, just imagine what it looks like to have a page that says “The newest news from our library” that was last updated in January of 2005.

Like I’m about to do with this summary – David says we don’t have to write for just one place – we can re-use content all over. I post these summaries to at least 3 (sometimes 4) blogs. David uses blip.tv to upload his videos because they have a service that lets him send his content to a bunch of other places as well. How does this apply to your library? At Internet Librarian last year I attended a session on RSS & JavaScript. The gist was that you don’t need to know how to code to get an RSS feed to print on your web page – you can use a blog and copy a bit of JavaScript and you’re set. This is one of those ways where you care publishing in 2 places. You can write to the blog, but others can read the content on your library website, pathfinder, or links page.

I mentioned the inviting participation series of posts a while back – what a great time to bring them back to the forefront. There are 2 ways of inviting participation. One is passive and that is to write compelling content and allow comments. There is also an active way (that sounds like a great idea). On David’s library’s blog (Papercuts) they write a weekly post they ask a question (What’s your favorite book? Who’s your favorite author? etc) and that makes people feel like their participation is appreciated. This goes for both staff and patrons!

Next the container. Like I said before, do you want your page to use the default template or a fancy-schmancy one? This doesn’t just go for you blog either – MySpace and other social networking sites offer you different design options. My recommendation is to play first and design later – make sure it’s going to stick before you spend too much time on it.

Last (but not least in my book) the customers. One of the ways that social networking is “social” is that most of these tools have a friends or contacts list. These don’t have to be your “real” friends, they can be your customers/patrons – by adding them as your friends they can easily subscribe to your content on Flickr, MySpace, etc etc. Allow your patrons to comment – this can’t be stressed too much!! Our customers can also be creators, let them participate and let them contribute – it’s what they want.

The last part was a list of the specifics for those I’ll point you to Michael Sauers’ summary (he was sitting next to me) – he did a great job of listing all of the specifics you’ll have to think about – since it looks like I’ve rambled on enough already!!

[update] See David’s Slides [/update]

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CIL2007: Keynote #1

I got to hear Lee Rainie give the keynote at CIL last year – I have to say I’m glad that he gave a different talk this year – I was a bit worried that it wasn’t going to be a new keynote.

Lee talked about Web 2.0 and what it means to libraries. He asked us bloggers to remember to note for everyone else that librarians are the people he loves the most! :)

After giving us the general web 2.0 definition that we’ve all see 100 times he showed us the Ask a Ninja Explains Podcasting YouTube video that he felt showed the grand meaning of Web 2.0. Unfortunately the sound wasn’t that great for us – so I have no idea what the ninja said – I’ll just have to watch it again later.

Lee says there are 6 hallmarks of Web 2.0 that matter to libraries. I guess 6 is the lucky Web 2.0 number because a lot of other speakers/writers have also come up with six.

Lee’s six are:

  1. The Internet has become the computer
    • The number of people who use computers and the number that use the Internet has become nearly indistinguishable
    • 70% of adults & 93% of teens use the Internet
    • Broadband and wireless access is growing
  2. Tens of millions of Americans, especially the young, are creating and sharing content online
    • Young people in particular want to share their comments (and they want comments in return)
    • Blogs are an example of this – and blogs are not just what the media says, they contain important information on real life issues
  3. Even more internet users are accessing content created by others
    • Reading blogs
    • Wikipedia
  4. Many are sharing what they know and feel online
    • Ratemyprofessor.com – people are rating and ranking people and products
    • People are tagging content.
  5. Tens of thousands are contributing their know how and processing power
  6. Online Americans are customizing their content
    • My Yahoo!, My Google
    • RSS Feeds

I look at this list and 2 items strike me – #4 & 5 – the fact is that our users want to help us create content and yet as librarians we block them out – we treat our content as sacred – and it is – but I think there is a time when we have to let go of some control and see what happens. I’ll go over this more in some of my later summaries because it was a re-occuring theme for me today. Lee shares my sentiments and says that users want to be able to do all of these things on our sites too!!

Less continued on to share with us five issues that libraries and all online participants must struggle to address.

  1. Navigation – we’re moving from linear to nonlinear (breadcrumbs to tag clouds)
  2. Context – we need to learn to see connections in the dis-aggregated information
  3. Focus – we need to practice reflection and deep thinking, right now we practice constant partial attention – we’re always connected. This prevents us from being able to spend time contemplating (note from me – blogging does this for me – even though I am plugged in)
  4. Skepticism – we need to learn to evaluate info (well not really we, but we need to teach others
  5. Ethical behavior – understaning the rules of cyberspace.

Lee ended with the Web 2.0 video that I wrote about earlier. It was great sitting in a room of people who hadn’t seen it and listening to their reactions – at the same time it’s a bit shocking to me to see that so many people hadn’t seen the video. I think that as bloggers we just assume that the majority of people know what we know – simply because we read about it on the biblioblogosphere – when in reality we are a pretty small population among librarians. I found this in later talks throughout the day – speakers would say “I’m sure you’ve heard of …” and a lot of faces went blank.

[update] See the slides [/update]

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Summaries to come

I know you’re looking for my summaries – they’re coming. Right now I’m just writing to say that I’m having a very hard time resisting the urge to join up with all of the other twitterers – everyone around me has it open!!! I may give in to peer pressure soon – bad bad girl.

Keep an eye out – I’ll add some summaries tonight.

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Computers in Libraries 2007

WOW! It’s right around the corner. Are you going? Have you posted your info on the CIL Wiki? Make sure you do, it’s a great way to meet new people. If you’re curious you can see my info & schedule here.

This will be my first year presenting at CIL. My presentation will be on Tuesday the 17th at 11:30am. I’m going to be talking about how we (at Jenkins) use blogs & wikis for project management. I think these tools have helped us enormously with both communication in house and keeping things organized and in one place.

Hear me speak at Computers in Libraries 2007

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