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.
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.
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.