Closing the chapter

Closed journal

It has been a doubt-ridden challenge to use a social medium as an assessment-driven learning journal. Blogging my learning in past years I developed conversational habits: casual language, asking and answering questions, and commenting at other blogs. It was a struggle to maintain these yet also follow academic style while completing tasks that were not designed for conversation. Harder again were tasks suggesting conceptual depth to be written with shallow volume.

This post is the final requirement for my “OLJ for INF206”. First it will evaluate how I met learning objectives of the subject with particular reference to three OLJ task posts; then it will reflect on INF206 and critique my development as a social networker and information professional.

Social networking technologies (SNT)

In “Ask me about pins” my critical examination of the functionality of Pinterest focussed on evaluating its usefulness for two of the alleged benefits of social networking technologies: collaboration and engagement with users.  Linking to the boards I created and which a fellow student helped populate with contributors; I identified that Pinterest has limited value for collaboration. Its lack of direct interpersonal communication features (ie other than commenting upon a pin) means that except through external communications one cannot volunteer to a board, nor moderate contributions.

Through another board I had been exploring evaluation strategies, identifying that the number of repins, likes and comments was an overt way to see whether an organisation’s pinning has engaged with its community. Whether library pinning can be shown to be effective at sending significant traffic to library websites or catalogues awaits evidence that libraries are yet to provide.  I reported two examples of libraries who had engaged with pinners from their communities by providing a topic.

Beyond the topic, my Pinterest post demonstrates an understanding of social networking technologies which I tried to apply in all my posts: networking through “link love” (Crosby, 2010, p. 72). When mentioning the fellow student with whom I experimented at collaborative pinning, I linked to her own post. I believe that selective use of HTML links to connect with other people is the foundation of online social networks. It is not enough to rely on social network sites’ built in linking features.

Participatory library – concepts, theory and practice

350 words to critique ASU LibraryChannels against “4Cs” (content creation, conversation, community and collaboration) can only barely touch these four of the plethora of themes bandied about with “Library 2.0”. Aside from brevity, it was difficult to critique against conceptual standards that ASU Libraries did not overtly state to be their objectives.  None of their channels declared any two-way intentions: In Youtube and Twitter they stated only an intention to broadcast news and information and made no overall purpose statements at all in Facebook. Sometimes one-way communication is more suitable to purpose than two-way. For example: when parties are not in equivalent positions with respect to knowledge or goals.

While Mathews (2009) stated that it is the social part of social software that is most crucial; and in many respects I agree, the realm of “social” interaction is more diverse than conversation.  Speech itself is a social medium, yet sometimes conversation is neither the best means nor appropriate goal of speech. Therefore perhaps it is no great failure to effectively present one-way communication even where intereactive features are available.

In my dissenting view, many concepts theories and practices were misappropriated under the 2.0 hype. For just one example, I believe that the cycle of communication to discover, provide, evaluate, and improve against customer needs (Casey & Savastinuk, 2006) is actually a pre-existing fundamental standard of librarianship.

Issue – SNissue

My 5 key points on social media policy tried to convey my understanding that:

  • Policies form at the intersection of institutional objectives, legal regulations, social mores and individual freedoms.
  • Specific behavioural guidance is best given through guidelines and training that differentiate between legal and contractual obligations.
  • And, some areas of activity (such as use of third-party tools in education) raise issues that have not yet had all wrinkles ironed out in either policy or guideline.

Again 350 words (nor yet three times that if I try to twist the aforementioned posts into this learning objective) will barely touch a sliver of the social, cultural, educational, ethical or technical management issues that exist and evolve in computer mediated social networking. However this post did refer to a selection of other policies relevant to such issues that ought to be reviewed to make clear their application in the context of social media behaviours.

INF206 and becoming a SNIP

INF206 introduced me to fellow students and provided opportunities to discuss issues at the intersection of social network sites and information practice.  I am grateful to the students who explored new tools with me; and those who, through comments within the Facebook group, between our blogs and in one-to-one discussions through Skype, Google + Hangout, Second Life and email, engaged with me in deeper, critical discussion. I look forward to seeing ongoing stimulation from them through our social network sites, and hope my own sharing will be useful to them.

Experience with social networking sites (SNS) may help develop three main information professional (IP) capacities: to liaise within SNS; to advise clients regarding SNS as information media; and to use (ie organise, search, or publish within) SNS as information media.  However in each of these, the skills of a social networking information professional (SNIP) are the same as if they were offline, with technological twists.

Liaison

In liaison one must make connections that suit the goal; and nurture those connections into constructive relationships. During this subject I practiced SNS versions of collegial relationship activities: from initiating and accepting connections in follows and friendships; through stimulating and taking up discussions to cross-channel collaborative experiments; and even some Second Life tutoring.

As a new experiment, I found out how to build an RSS feed from a Twitter search string. With such techniques I have been following Mathews’ (2006), Burkhardt’s (2010), and Schrier’s (2011) advice to listen to my local community for potential patrons and opportunities to engage in conversation. In a professional capacity I think it still common conversational strategies that I apply in institutionally relevant contexts.

As an introvert (ie, not shyness, but rather a preference for fewer, deeper connections) I find that my offline and online social behaviours are similar.  I make very few status updates, and enjoy making and receiving comments that dig deeper into interesting topics. I listen long (usually) and make heavy use of silence, drafts, my delete and backspace keys; but find the most versatile tool usually turns out to be questioning, occasionally lubricated with compassion.

Information service

Through the class Facebook group, an article Dale shared prompted me to explore my perspective on advising clients about social sources. Bringing that out here:

Where I see our job as information practitioners is: not to try to characterise any medium as more, or less, suspicious than another medium; but to understand how much credibility or authority or authenticity is important in any particular context–and teach how to check for and convey to the appropriate degree. In some situations it will also be important to identify and produce expressions of objective truth – and if we work in areas where a certain value of truth is important, then we need to know how to check for that.

I probably have this attitude because I do not trust any source at all. Somewhere along the way every single type of source has proven unreliable, so I find it safest to question. Not least, academic and peer-reviewed work. Thoroughness is rare, and apparently for many people rarely necessary – until it is.

Using SNS as information media

Having learned my habits of using informal language and genuine, image-filled content from advocates such as King (n.d), I am not surprised that these are qualities Landis’ (2010, p. 79) labels best practice. I was less certain that my less casual sense of humour would qualify, so it was particularly rewarding to have amused Dale, fellow student, (Smith, 2012). Similarly, I take Tim Tyrell-Smith’s (2012) thoughtful appreciation of my own take on his advice as validation of my conversational practices.

Mathews (2009) advice to “be yourself” recommends that on the job, librarians communicate as individuals rather than as “faceless, institutional” entities. I had recently added my real face to the nom-de-pixel through which I had already successfully blended personal and professional activity in SNS, but this journal provided excuses to begin writing under my real name, so I feel more prepared to do so in a professional role.

Closed journal
Closing the book on another day, by Dubber, via Flickr

References

Burkhardt, A. (2010, February 12). Ambient awareness in Twitter for reference. Information Tyrannosaur. Retrieved August 13, 2012, from http://andyburkhardt.com/2010/02/12/ambient-awareness-in-twitter-for-reference/
Casey, M., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2006). Library 2.0 : Service for the next-generation library. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6365200.html
Crosby, C. (2010). Effective blogging for libraries. London, UK: Facet.
King, D. L. (n.d.). David Lee King – Social web, emerging trends, and libraries. Retrieved October 7, 2012, from http://www.davidleeking.com/
Landis, C. (2010). A social networking primer for librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.
Mathews, B. S. (2006). Intuitive revelations: The ubiquitous reference model. Georgia Institute of Technology. Retrieved from http://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/handle/1853/8446/IntuitiveRevelations.pdf?sequence=3
Mathews, B. (2009). Finding your voice: The most important part of social software is being social. Journal of Web Librarianship, 3(4), 365–368.
Schrier, R. A. (2011). Digital librarianship & social media: the digital library as conversation facilitator. D-Lib Magazine, 17(7/8).
Smith, D. (2012, August 8). [comment to:] Purposeful pondering. Retrieved from http://www.micameerbach.com/2012/07/31/purposeful-pondering/#comment-13
Tyrell-Smith, T. (2012, August 6). [Comment to] Limbering up with LinkedIn. Retrieved from http://www.micameerbach.com/2012/07/29/limbering-up-with-linkedin/#comment-12

ASU LibraryChannels and 4Cs – brief critique

What can be said of Arizona State University (ASU) Libraries’ use of Youtube, Facebook and Twitter in terms of collaboration, conversation, community, content creation?

Content Creation

The ‘Library Minute’ videos share information with fast fun. They meet Farkas’ (2012) adjectives: vibrant, engaging, real personality (the librarian is named, smiles constantly and most of her jokes are funny). Importantly, the videos are accurately captioned; and their descriptions are concise but thorough and hyperlink relevantly.

Anali Perry in the “Holy Grail” scene of ASU LibraryChannel’s video of “The Library Minute: Academic Articles

Designed to give information to a small audience, it is perhaps no surprise they do not generate conversation or viral viewing.

Conversation

Consistent with recommended practice (eg: Schrier, 2011), ASU Libraries monitor and respond to (at least some*) local Twitter mentions of the library. Help 2-3 hours later (perhaps from the roundabout search/feed) might be a little slow for the print-woed and lost, but might bring students back if they’d given up.

They do jovial, light responses, but miss opportunities to move into conversation. For example:

Rather than “we’ll visit”, to a scholar’s tweet about their work in the collection a librarian could:

  • Retrieve, optimise findability, and link to its record (and start a chat about permalinks scholars can use to promote their own work?);
  • Tweet a currently relevant synopsis;
  • Or pursue conversation–ask whether the writer continued exploring the same field etc?  Maybe segue into digitisation parameters in their repository?

Facebook facilitates faster (3 minutes) response:

Sample ASU Libraries response on Facebook.

Good answer (maps) provided in a friendly tone. But it was a closed response–could encouraging that game idea have led to spontaneous co-creation?

Community

Comparing to enrolment numbers**, Nicole showed that students have not yet flocked to ASU Libraries’ Twitter stream. However Facebook’s public display of likes and “talking about” are for the past seven days (Menousek, 2011) rather than over all time and so do not indicate a page’s community size. If their Youtube videos are embedded in orientation materials, the number of views and subscribers Youtube reports may not reflect the videos’ total audience.

Collaboration

None seen nor appears to have been sought, would the streams be more popular if they did involve students?

*I did not check for actual mentions. –^–

**Conveniently teaching me how to find enrolment figures for US universities (Thanks Nicole).–^–

This has been a response to the fourth optional OLJ Task (Module 3): A critical evaluation of ASU Libraries’ use of Youtube (viewing five of ASU’s collection of The Library Minute videos ) and two other “web 2.0” platforms (used as part of the ASU Library Channel suite at http://lib.asu.edu/librarychannel/) “to achieve the 4Cs of social media” (in no more than 350 words).

For brevity, questions about whether the 4Cs are constructive for library goals had to be left out.

References

Farkas, M. (2012, July 23). Behavior vs. belief and changing culture. Information Wants To Be Free. Retrieved from http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2012/07/23/behavior-vs-belief-and-changing-culture/
Menousek, B. (2011, October 20). What does it mean when Facebook says ‘n number of people are talking about this’? Quora. Retrieved from http://www.quora.com/permalink/px9aFgmKR
Schrier, R. (2011). Digital librarianship & social media: The digital library as conversation facilitator. D-Lib Magazine, 17(7/8). Retrieved from http://dlib.org/dlib/july11/schrier/07schrier.html