Secondary learnings?

Continuing my series of starting points. It is taking a long time for me to guess, for each of the different tools presented by this subject, which features and functions students are expected to explore–before I can discover what would be new to me to explore and gain new understanding as a result of the subject.

Exploring user-constructed virtual worlds like Second Life is like exploring a foreign country.  I cannot imagine how anyone new, who was not drawn to this environment out of personal interest, could form–within a few weeks–more than a surface or second-hand evaluation. Perhaps I am slow. During my wanderings and wonderings in the last three years, exploring and studying spaces and social interactions by virtue of their out-world* relevance (libraries) or potential to enhance my social or intellectual life, I have yet to reach a satisfactorily complete conclusion.

* I tend to prefer “out world” to “real world” because I have found that experience within a virtual world is still real. –^-

Still, first I will sum up my pre-INF2506 position, then guess how I might learn something more during the subject…

Rumsey Maps Tower Inside
Inside Rumsey Maps Tower, byme via Compfight

Me and Second Life pre-INF2506

Second Life is a fascinating environment for user digital creation and artistry. It is like any other populated environment in its potential for personal activity and development (for those who are able to get there). Both common (shopping, travel) and niche community environments and activities are sometimes enhanced by features which one could label information architecture (wayfinding) or service (access to niche experts, niche related information resources). As such SL was ripe and is probably still fermenting well as an environment for research of interest to information professionals. However all the best examples relate to in-world activity, and are not visibly products of professional information service. Of those I saw which were designed to serve out-world communities, most did not seem to attract ongoing participation from members of their out-world communities. LIS education environments seem to offer more novelty value than essential learning.

In all of my concerted exploration prior to this subject I have discovered no context in which my potential out-world clients would either be best served by entering a virtual world or already exist within one and have informational needs (within my remit) best met within the virtual world.  With one unprovable exception: the potential for one or more members of my out-world community to be more able to interact via SL avatars than in person. For example:

  • One visitor to Community Virtual Library told me that his/her** personal (out-world) lifestyle made them a subject of derision in their small out-world community and so s/he could never approach a librarian in the out-world for information the way he could librarians or niche community builders in SL.
  • While I was visiting a different place and still wearing my “Librarian” hover label another visitor asked me for out-world information. She** wanted an editor for an out-world document (I found her three providing such service in SL). I do not know why she was looking in SL. It may have been that she did not want the subject of the document known to her out-world connections, or English-language services are too expensive or difficult to get in her out-world community (perhaps through time of night, lack of transport, the service being too busy).

However, as they do not approach their out-world library/service it is impossible to count how many there might be in our out-world community.  Ideally a large enough corps of librarians banded together might serve such people well.  However international collaborative reference service using Questionpoint was explored a few years ago and as yet found unsustainable, so I doubt that a large enough corps can be found to serve the even smaller niche community of SL avatars.

** While most people I meet through SL are gender-consistent in avatar presentation, many do play with different gender avatars – most without any out-world gender identity issues. Some very do have the latter, and the twists of conversation with this avatar might have skirted such issues. I tend to use the avatar’s gender for pronouns unless I am aware of the preferred/natural gender identification of the person behind the avatar. –^-

This is the area of Community Virtual Library on Info Island where I volunteer as a reference librarian.

What to learn during INF2506?

I will offer to show others around, but that will only use the community skills I have already. The more detailed study of information architectures and experience creation I had begun looks like taking up a lot more time than this subject has.

If I were to use Second Life as an activity for my OLJ, to:

  1. Evaluate my own “use of Second Life as a 3D virtual world throughout this session”: I would need a context: goals, requirements, expectations against which to make that evaluation. The subject has not provided any. Nor can I whip up a valid target community for whom I could extend my abilities in SL;
  2. Critically evaluate the “effectiveness of different features/functions and learning experiences encountered” — I would not only need to find standards/best practices against which to evaluate but find new features/functions I have not already evaluated for my own interest prior to the subject. I guess I could observe the learning experiences planned for later in the session, possibly evaluating them against training standards and/or my earlier in-world learning experiences. This could prepare me for an unlikely scenario that I might want to bring a group into Second Life. That doesn’t strike me as particularly new, fun or relevant.
  3. State “the different ways an information organisation may be able to utilise Second Life to support information services, learning and/or collaboration of users and/or employees”–I would either be retracing old information about projects I have seen bud and die without blooming OR would have to re-research a topic I have been researching for years: risking time, in a potentially vain search for something new compared to my last researches of six months ago which had not revealed anything new from the six, twelve or eighteen months prior.

Purposeful pondering

Gripe

An article recommended as a good introduction was titled as a ‘survival guide’ to social networking (other students will thus know to which I refer) for information professionals. However to me it seemed more like a jumble of ‘can’s and ‘could’s – with a heavy focus on personal advancement.   It seemed to be just another hyped up promo piece: s-o-c-i-a-l n-e-t-w-o-r-k-i-n-g RAH RAH RAH!

“Even the Dark Side needs motivation” (2010) by Kenny Louie. via Flickr-CC:BY/2.0

Oh it listed a few rather obvious cautions too.  Could anyone responsible for forging relationships on behalf of an organisation fail to already appreciate the delicacies required to balance connections? If a library is considering Facebook as a community enhancement – how can this be done with personality?  (Must re-find those more useful articles exploring how, if personal profiles in public networks are to be used for workplace roles).

Beneath

Finding nothing particularly constructive in the above article, I turned back to my learning hopes.  What I did not record there was my preferred focus on whether (and if so how) social media if used by a library might serve the library’s community (other than by serving the careers of individual librarians).  Returning to the aforementioned article, its tired (albeit true) blather about relationships set me to pondering about that library-community (not individual advancement) context.

Circling Doubt

What library (not personal career) purpose or function would a social networking tool serve?  Networking–right?  Who networks on behalf of the library?  Who goes outside the library to pursue, establish and maintain relationships (other than for finding/checking new hires) in order to serve the library’s goals?  If that was not a job’s responsibility before, why is it now?  If it was before, in what way does Facebook or LinkedIn facilitate that function–does it really?

But perhaps when an organisation looks at Facebook, it is not really seeing relationships (even if it harks about them), but merely another, albeit more public, location to be harnessed/marketed carefully–putting a best face forward–?  If a library’s presence on Facebook is “the library” rather than personal, how seriously can we take the notion that interactions on the library’s page are “relationships”?

From the other direction: Why do people use Facebook or any other social webtool?  Does the library have a valid role to play in those reasons–if not, is there a reason for the library to be there?

So many questions & questionable answers?

I am sure I am not the first to ask such questions because they all have vague familiarity.  At the same time a back-of-the-brain buzzing suggests that once-upon-a-time (last week?) I felt certain and positive about creative ideas for libraries in social networks–but its late and I’m still dizzy.

179/365 And The World Keeps Spinning Round by martinak15 (2012) via Flickr CC:BY/2.0

… and therefore planning

So, considering our assignment to propose a trial project, I must find a rationale somewhere and “because those others are doing it” just doesn’t cut it.  What I will be seeking:

  • Examples of significant effect: eg engagement (or other objective consistent with core library values) achieved and how
    — how do I find them?
  • Discussions of rationales – and not get too caught up in questioning ROI – such an intangible beast.
  • Could dig up the social intranet material – meh – yes, yes I have doubts about “collaborat-ability” of small or deeply stratified workforces – hm, no I see this as more relevant for corporate & special libraries.
  • OR: there is material on drawing in social network data to customer relationship software – again: wouldn’t that be for corporate & special libraries?
  • Those last two strands of thought raise a new question: is there a risk of inequitable service if social media helps us serve those who use it better than those who don’t?  So did phone and email.  Why do such questions keep distracting me?

I feel proud :-)

cue game winning moments

… over the mountain …

Tonight, despite the lingering dizziness from Saturday’s pain medication…

… through the woods …

CSS? Div this? ID that? sweep it all aside, I go back and wrestle with html.

… face to the sun …

I worked out how to line up the social media icons in the text widget in my sidebar, without messing (yet) with Child Themes.
(Social media icons are courtesy of the Responsive Theme where they normally, and still do, appear in the footer)

At least, I thought it was an achievement (turning a vertical ul into a horizontal one); but maybe I could simply have placed them there side by side, considering I was handcoding anyway? And yes that means that if/when I add others as they become available I will need to hand-alter the widget 🙂

In any case, I achieved what I wanted 🙂

Not only that, but I’ve (hopefully, all going well,) puzzled my way through the details of the WP to Twitter plugin so that I can autopost this blog to my secondary Twitter account. This involved setting up a Twitter developer account and finding my bit.ly API. I’d have gone for su.pr because it has one less character but already had a bit.ly account of which I had not yet made full use.

cue game winning moments
As proud as when I achieved status of “Supreme Chief of all Hospitals” in the game Theme Hospital.

I could tie this in to the whole INF2506 learning thing, by associating it with the discussions hither and yon about tying social media accounts together or the value of coding skills … but honestly, I learned that before this subject too. And right now feels too glorious to go chasing up references.

http://beyondthequote.com/helen-keller-quotes.html

Motivational Helen Keller Quotes via kwout

Oh my literary friends …

Please, shower me
with better quotations
to express the
pride and joy
a being feels after
plowing through
problems
to exhult in
deserved glory
of tiny achievements.

Limbering up with LinkedIn

Monkey Swing by Thomas Tamayo at Flickr

Thanks to Dale Smith (2012) I received Tim Tyrell-Smith’s (2012) guide against being lazy on LinkedIn.

On pondering Tim’s advice, I wonder whether there are some people (like me perhaps) for whom such sites are not the best place to promote oneself. For example: suppose one is aiming for a career change – where they have worked in the past could be a distraction; Or suppose one has been out of the workforce raising children for many years? Or working at positions below one’s ability during those child-free years because they are the only ones with child-friendly hours?

If I were to convert Tim’s warning signs into a to-do list, re-ordering for the limited position LinkedIn has in my humble ambitions:

  1. Keep profile updated:
    Thankfully, LinkedIn sends out notices fairly regularly, so when someone else updated their profile recently I let it prompt me into updating mine.
  2. Come up with an appealing headline
    Particularly difficult for humble people – could you point to some good ones?
    (Update August 8: Michael Keleman recommends precise (unpuffy) clarity)
  3. Improve summary without just copying resume
  4. Find a few more connections.
    Eek, I’m not keen on quantifying my connections, so I’ll not let Tim’s “at least 100” factor in at all. (Except cousins: I still take childish pleasure in having lots of cousins (>50)).
  5. Complete profile
    If I did, I would run out of things to update it with?
  6. Keep personalising connection requests
    – yes, of course, would anyone send a generic request except to someone they know very, very well?
  7. Keep seeking constructive groups
    Two of the ones I joined are more often spammed than constructive
  8. Find new ways to contribute constructively to groups
  9. Provide true, specific recommendations for others
    It is the only kind I would, but for whom would my recommendation be desirable?
  10. Recommendations? Does anyone take them seriously?
    Even Tim admits they don’t carry a lot of weight. Maybe he just wanted to round out his “10” signs? How useful are they if you’re not sure what kind of work you’re seeking? Might they be counter-productive the more generic they are, or if they are more relevant to past than future ambitions?

What would you advise?

Image credit: Tamayo, T. (2008). Monkey swing. CC:BY-NC/2.0 from http://www.flickr.com/photos/malweth/2914866040/

References

Keleman, M. (2010, January). LinkedIn Taglines. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from http://recruitinganimal.typepad.com/ch/2010/01/linkedin-taglines.html
Smith, D. (2012, July 28). RT @WayneMansfield: 10 Signs You Are Being Lazy On LinkedIn […] #inf2506. @das013. microblog. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/das013/status/229111276884865024
Tyrell-Smith, T. (2012, July 26). 10 Signs you are being lazy on LinkedIn. Retrieved from http://fixbuildanddrive.com/10-signs-you-are-being-lazy-on-linkedin

Tweak up

As part of my series of starting points before I can work out what to learn with this subject.

Ten types of tweets

Lisa Barone offers 9 types of tweets – exactly what I was seeking and against which I plan to evaluate my own tweeting practices. However, Lisa introduces it as list for people new to using social media.  That being the case, I’d assume they’ve not yet attracted a large following, so her suggestions might be more practical in almost reverse order – and one she didn’t mention:

*. Complain (politely) about a product problem

Creators (particularly of social media tools) and their competitors are monitoring these days, and they’ll be eager to present a solution; or others might have found workarounds.

1. Slice of life  (Just to warm up perhaps?) (Good to combine with Buddy Media’s advice (below) to tweet images)

2. Conversation: “People are talking all around you.”

  1. Search twitter streams for topics and content that interests you
  2. follow any whose content seems largely to fit your interest
  3. if only one or tweets are interesting – see if you can stretch one or two to conversation

3. Solve other people’s problems: “Find a question you feel confident to answer, and then hop into the conversation.”

4. Retweeting information:

If you’re on twitter for community connection, then finding people whose content is interesting to you will serve two purposes – it provides you with a model; and give you material to retweet.  Retweet also serves two purposes: shares interesting things with people who follow you; and tells the original tweeter what you’re interested in.

5. Community highlighting: It’s not about you!

(Lisa refers to tweeting about someone who: left a really insightful comment on your blog post (link to the comment permalink); or who just released an e-book you want to share; or who was just invited to speak at an industry conference.)

6. Link to your blogposts if you’re blogging.

7. Opinions/Disagreement:

I agree with telling people what inspires you, but Lisa’s first recommendation about sharing the things you hate?  My mother’s caution about not saying anything if nothing nice can be said echoes in my ears.  Plus, why promote something with which you disagree?  On the other hand, a provocative title linking to a blogpost (perhaps of your own) that contains sturdy critique – that’s constructive.

8. Information sharing:

“Tweet links to interesting articles you read, industry research, studies, or anything else you think your audience would enjoy.”

9. Questions:

By this time you may have a larger following, and if they can’t answer they might retweet for you.

“Moushkateer” by James Blann on Flickr. (2009) CC:BY-NC-ND/2.0

Five tweeting strategies

Lee (2012) derived 5 strategies from Buddy Media’s analysis and/or their newsrelease.

  1. Keep Tweets Short
  2. Use one or two hashtags
  3. Use Images in your Tweets
  4. Add a call to action
  5. Spell out the word “Retweet”

Lee’s post is the first time I have seen ClickToTweet in action.  Ever wanted to tweet a point hidden within a post, found the button’s auto-title not quite to your point, and struggled to synthesise something tweet-worthy?  This could help your reader’s overcome that hurdle. I would recommend that Lee make use of anchor title to explain the feature, or preview the autotext.

For my learning plan:

  • I will want to consider how some of these translate to institutional twitter accounts (eg ‘slice of life’ & ‘disagreement’).
  • Because I have done almost all of the above except yet called to action or spelled out the word “Retweet”
    Just discovered (via google) Snap Bird for searching my own tweets. And what do you know, once upon a time one of my RT contained the word “Retweet” as a call to action 🙂
Try snapbird yourself
snapbird found the time I retweeted QF1’s game showing a friend how far a tweet would reach. Not that I usually participate in chain events.