“Ask me about pins”*

Does anyone else think of Apprentice Postman Stanley* when they hear “Pinterest“?

Pinterest is visually appealing and as Sequeria (2011) pointed out it taps the fundamental human desires to collect and flaunt the collection. However, I wondered how likely is it that Pinterest would serve library goals of collaboration or engagement with users, and how one might evaluate its effectiveness for those goals.


My idea of “collaboration” is as Freed (2012, ¶ 6) defines succinctly: “Two or more people working together towards shared goals”. Cooperating and sharing the same space are not the same as collaboration.

Luckily a fellow student was also curious and had friends willing to contribute to shared boards.  We quickly discovered major limitations to be worked around for collaborative use.

  • No direct method to ask to join a board.
  • No direct communication with contributors other than through pin comments.
  • No way to remove or suspend an irrelevant pin – Even if the ‘shared goal’ is clearly defined in the board description, when pinning content only the board labels are displayed in a pinners’ list, so it is easy for irrelevant content to be posted accidentally or through misunderstanding.

Effective Library Pinning

Of the many library boards I explored, I noticed very few showing evidence (as measurable in number of likes, repins or comments) of engagement with or appeal to their community. Those that do, I am gathering on a board “Effective Library Pinning“.

For the many others (with some interesting ones pinned at Library Pinning), perhaps sharing book covers and event photos achieves the purported value of Pinterest for driving traffic (Bullas, 2012) ** — if so, I hope some begin writing about it (or maybe join my board).

Seed a game

Simply setting a fun topic can engage users but do need workarounds to kick off. For example:

New York Public Library (NYPL)(n.d) identified pets as a popular Pinterest topic and rallies users around a theme of their signature lions. NYPL picks up relevant pins if they’re tagged #NYPLLittleLion.


In Kansas City Public Library’s contest *** , members created their own “Perfect Library” board, emailing in the URL (Harper, 2012).  Following this example, Pinterest might be used among other tools to brainstorm with the community prior to a redevelopment.

I wonder if workarounds increase the barriers and reduce the number of participants?

This has been a response to the first optional OLJ Task (Module 2); evaluating my use of Pinterest as a social bookmarking tool, critically evaluating the effectiveness of different features and/or functions; and briefly stating different ways an information organisation may be able to use Pinterest to support information services, learning and/or collaboration of users and/or employees. The switch from Delicious to Pinterest approved by Lyn Hay in the Facebook group on July 25, 2012.

* Until you’ve read Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, nevermind. –^–

**Thanks Dale. –^–

*** Thanks librarygal. –^–


Bullas, J. (2012, February 8). Pinterest drives more traffic than LinkedIn and GooglePlus. jeffbullas.com. Retrieved from http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/02/08/pinterest-drives-more-traffic-than-linkedin-and-google-plus/
Harper, J. (2012, April 9). Pin your perfect library Pinterest contest. Kansas City Public Library Blog. Retrieved from http://www.kclibrary.org/blog/kc-unbound/pin-your-perfect-library-pinterest-contest
New York Public Library. (n.d.). Little Lions. Pinterest. Retrieved September 27, 2012, from http://pinterest.com/nypl/little-lions/?timeline=1
Sequeira, N. (2011, December 11). [Answer to:] What’s special about Pinterest? Why do some people find the site maddeningly addictive? Quora. Retrieved July 25, 2012, from http://www.quora.com/permalink/Ojxauw7Hm



Plan to learn …?

Throughout the months of July & August I identified some pre-INF2/506 social media starting points and began guessing potential personal learning goals. From a complete definition of starting points mapped against the subject-declared learning objectives I hoped to plan a personal learning journey.

Japanese Historical Map at David Rumsey Island
moonflowerdragon via Compfight

Unfortunately it seemed that the landmarks and horizons provided were more designed for students who had no prior knowledge.

So, the process devolved into notetaking: hoping to sift from old knowledge a thread or two that I might knit into new knowledge during the subject. As ever I searched backwards and forwards through the databases of two universities, G.Scholar, Google, the blogosphere for new well-founded ideas.

Guessing, imagining, sifting and searching was so time-consuming, I eventually stopped to concentrate on the second assignment.

After that  – it became even fuzzier: roughly weighing each OLJ task option’s potential to extend my understanding.  Meh. Okaay… what about ones that I would most enjoy documenting?  That lifted two.

In desperation: filter through drafts containing diversions and asides (often stuff that rules of conversation would deem unsuitable when the learning journal is online), then through notes vented in offline spaces.

How do you de-grump?  When venting through free-writing is not enough I knit, makes cups of tea, whine to brainstorm with friends and family or (guiltily) read light fiction.

Knitting progress
Knitting progress by moonflowerdragon, on Flickr

Unfortunately I see some of my grumbles slipped through to a post or two.

Where to now?  Perhaps a dozenth look at the final assignment will expose a gap.

Meanwhile: How did you plan for your learning?

5 key points on social media policy

I have long felt that rather than (or at least before) developing a new “social media” (SM) policy, one should review existing policies (in communications, media relations, human relations, privacy, copyright, confidentiality and use of IT/internet) and if necessary improve them to include their relevance to use of new communication platforms.  Such policies (and codes of conduct, (Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), 2011)) would address legal, ethical and contractual obligations.  Everything else is procedures, guidelines and training.  I glad that I am not alone in that view: Society for New Communications Research (SNCR)(2007); Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford Motor Company, as cited by Lauby (2009); Anderson (2009); Fleet (2009) stressed it is important to update existing policies.

University of Ballarat (UB) seem to share that view. They have followed the first 2 of 5 points of advice I would give to address client use of SM:

  1. Review and if necessary update existing policies to ensure their relevance to behaviour when using SM.  Some of these could be improved by referring to SM guidelines.
  2. Create guidelines to help clients see how such policies govern their conduct in social sites. For example, student discipline regulation which describes acts of misconduct; policies to prevent bullying or harassment, and most particularly use of university web access.However the scope of SM guidelines at UB (2012) only includes people in defined formal relationships with the university. It is perhaps too long and its tone too waffly because its “general principles” jump around between ideals for presenting university brand and legally obliged conduct.  It does not cover the questions Arendt (2009) raised about requiring students to use third-party social platforms for coursework – control over their own personal information and content.Therefore I would also advise:
  3. Define the nature of authority over the behaviour of visitors to sites under university control – and how that relates to moderating comments and “blocking” features.
  4. Tighten the guidelines; distinguish between legal obligations and brand-promoting guidelines;
  5. Answer whether (and if so how) it is acceptable to require students to share personal information with third-party platforms to complete coursework.


This has been a response to the sixteenth OLJ Task (Module 5.3): a summary of 5 key points I would give as advice to a social media policy working party when developing policy for my organisation about option (a) clients or customers’ use of social media while using our computers/network access or our social networking sites.


Anderson, J. (2009, April 8). Social media policies & museums. Indianapolis Museum of Art Blog. Retrieved from http://www.imamuseum.org/blog/2009/04/08/social-media-policies-museums/
Arendt, A. M. (2009). Social media tools and the policies associated with them. Presented at the Best Practices in Policy Management Conference, Utah Valley University. Retrieved from http://works.bepress.com/anne_arendt/7/
Chartered Institute of Public Relations. (2011, May). CIPR social media (#ciprsm) best practice guide. Retrieved from http://www.cipr.co.uk/content/social-media-guidance
Fleet, D. (2009, October 18). Social Media Policies Ebook. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/davefleet/social-media-policies-ebook
Lauby, S. (2009, April 27). Should your company have a social media policy? Mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2009/04/27/social-media-policy/
Society for New Communications Research. (2007). Best practices for developing a social media policy. Retrieved September 18, 2012, from http://socialmedia.biz/social-media-policies/best-practices-for-developing-a-social-media-policy/
University of Ballarat. (2012). Social Media Guidelines. Retrieved September 25, 2012, from http://policy.ballarat.edu.au/university/general/socialmedia/ch01.php

Identity management is the same online as off

Important issues around identity seem to me to be the same whether you are online or off.  Novel environments (such as digital ones) can be so distracting that people miss or forget universal facts. Each set of facts presents opportunities (+) and risks (-) within which ‘can’ and ‘should’ are flexible when aiming to portray ourselves (or our organisation) to the world:

Privacy is an illusion

As is anonymity: Everything we do can be traced back to us (by people with the relevant techniques and enough motivation). We cannot control what people do with information they have or create about us.

(+)  The more we interact in the world, the more connections we have, and the more information we share the more easily we might be found to receive individually relevant attention (although targeted ads might be more common than job offers).

(-)  Any information we (or others) share could be used against us (including through misrepresentation):

  • Individuals might watch us more closely: to “make fun” (aka bullying); to make money (even through ‘journalism’); or to harm us (Pearson, 2009)

People form ideas about us from what they see of us

(+) We can try to influence others’ perceptions of us through our choices (of dress, public photos, public statements, number or type of friends, even by following or circumventing social or system ‘rules’).

(+) Friends or experts can help make us look good (or bad) (whether helping us choose clothes, set up profile page (Mallan, 2009) or business card, or being in our company).

(-) We cannot control what people think about what they see (or even what they don’t see).

We are judged upon the company we keep (or don’t)

( +/-)  The company we keep (its type, volume and conduct) might reflect either positively or negatively on us. Having too few might be as bad as having even one of the ‘wrong’ sort?

We cannot control what other people do

(+) The endless difference of others can be a constant source of stimulation.

(+/-) We can delete (Raynes-Goldie, 2010) or require retractions / apologies / corrections. Sometimes that just “feeds the trolls”: just as TV journalists make a scene out of their target’s refusal to comment.


This has been a response to the fourteenth OLJ Task (Module 5.2): a summary of important issues around online identity in relation to individuals and organisations: what is important in presenting and managing identities online, what we can and should share or keep private, based upon three of six given readings.


Mallan, K. & Giardina, N. (2009). Wikidentities: Young people collaborating on virtual identities in social network sites, First Monday, 14(6), 1 June. Available
Pearson, J. (2009). Life as a dog: Personal identity and the internet. Meanjin, 68(2), 67-77.
Raynes-Goldie, K. (2010). Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: Understanding privacy in the age of Facebook, First Monday, 15(1), 4 January. Available http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2775/2432