One last thing…

23. Summarise your thoughts on the 23 Things @ Oxford programme
 

I started the 23 Things programme back in February, and  I am quite pleased with how it has gone. The web tools I have experienced as part of the programme are: 

  • iGoogle

    Word cloud from wordle.net

  • Blogging
  • RSS feeds & readers
  • FlickR & Picnik
  • Delicious
  • Podcasting & Youtube
  • Facebook & LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Wikis
  • Google Documents & ThinkFree Office
  • Widgets

I think the most useful of these, and the ones I am likely to keep using in the future, are blogging, Twitter, Google Docs, and perhaps the iGoogle page.

I think a blog is a great way to keep track of what you’ve been up to, and to be reflective about it too. Blogging about these Things has helped me get the confidence to start blogging properly; if I feel I don’t have anything interesting to say, I can fall back on doing the next Thing on the list! (Perhaps I’ll start doing 23cpd just to carry this safety net on!)

The same can be said of Twitter, really. I used it before, but not nearly to the extent I do now. As for Google Docs, I can see it being very handy indeed for group work during my MA.

It has been interesting to compare my thoughts and views of the web tools with the other trainees, and to read back over the past participant’s blogs too. I think at the start I was expecting to know everything straight away about the tools, but I actually learned a lot of new useful information about them. I’m glad I took part, as even if I don’t use all of them that often, at least I have a ground knowledge of them, and will recognise when they might just be the perfect thing to use.

Thing 21 & 22: Widgets

Widgets are very similar to what we used to personalise iGoogle. I already had a few added to my blog, but for this Thing I have experimented with others.

Thing 21: FlickR

I added this widget, and it was really easy to do. I just had to drag a box into my list of existing widgets, and add my FlickR photo stream URL. However, it looked pretty bad – I’ve only got test photos from when I set up the account, so I didn’t keep it.

Thing 22. Delicious bookmarks on your iGoogle page

I haven’t used my iGoogle page in ages, so I didn’t really do this one. Instead I added my Twitter messages to my blog, and a picture of myself.

The widgets make a blog look more personal, especially with things like photos and Twitter streams. I think that’s important if you want people to keep reading your blog. It’s also a good way to link it to other parts of your online presence, such as Twitter, so people realise it’s you.

Thing 19 & 20: Office 2.0

Office 2.0 refers to internet-based Document applications. These are internet-based, so can be accessed on any computer online; they are part of the ‘cloud’

Thing 19: Create a Google Document

I have heard a few people refer to Google Docs, and it seems like a brilliant idea for group work or ongoing drafts. I tried out a couple of the document types, and they were very easy to use.

I signed in with my Google account, which appears to be a very useful thing to have. I think every ‘Thing’, except maybe Youtube, has been accessable through this account. It’s a shame I signed up with my Oxford email address, so I’ll be updating my account before it expires so I can keep all my accounts.

Some of the people I know who use Google Docs are Library School students, and they find it useful when they are contributing to group work. Not only are these documents available to you online, it is possible to share them with others, and they can also contribute. It does make a lot more sense than emailing work back and forth, and you know it is always the most up to date version.

I have used sites online before to store documents, but never to store and create/update. I think I will definately be using this tool when I start my studies.

Thing 20: ThinkFree Office

ThinkFree Office  looked a lot more like Microsoft Office, but took a bit longer to set up. Only slightly though, which involved installing it through Java. The site was a bit more swish than Google Docs, but they essentially do the same thing.
 
The look of this site would probably appeal more to some people if they are more familiar with Office, but personally I preferred Google Docs, for simplicity as I imagine I would be using it for drafts or taking notes in seminars at university.

Thing 17 & 18: Wikis

Wikis are websites that can be easily edited by a large number of people, and can be as restrictive or open as the creator chooses.

 

17. Explore and contribute to a wiki

I wasn’t very familiar with wikis before this ‘thing’, apart from the font of “knowledge” that is Wikipedia. I had a look at the socialoxfordlibs wiki, but there didn’t seem to be a huge amount on it, but to be fair I didn’t add anything to it either. I guess that points to both a benefit and a flaw of wikis; you get out of it what you put into it.

I have actually contributed to a wiki before, though it was so easy I had completely forgotten I had done so! I added my own ‘library day in the life’ entry to this wiki (the blog post for which you can find here).

It involved signing up for an account with that particular site, but the actual editing of the page was really simple, and didn’t involve technical html code or anything. However, I was just adding my name and a link to a site, so perhaps more skill would be needed for creating more fancy pages.

An interesting experiment in using wikis is the omnictionary, which aims to create a mixture of reality, the fictional world of John Green’s novels, and the insider knowledge of the his online fan community.


18. Discover Wikipedia

I’ve used Wikipedia countless times. It’s a really useful tool to quickly look up a piece of information; though I’ve not been tempted to use it for proper research (my university really pushed the anti-plagiarism!). When researching topics at university, however, Wikipedia was extremely useful as I could get a basic understanding of a concept or an argument, written in layman’s terms.

I hadn’t explored the Discussion tabs on Wikipedia pages before, so it was quite interesting to read through some of the comments (and arguments!). I decided to explore a page I would know a lot about, so I chose the University of Exeter. I particularly enjoyed the contentious issue of the Christian Union in the discussion. It is interesting to see how the final edit has been reached to deal with an issue which many of us students felt angry about, in an unbiased way. On the history tab, I liked the option to compare selected revisions, so see what people have changed.

Wikipedia trivia: if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at “Philosophy”. I actually tried this a few times; it blew my mind.

Thing 15 & 16: Twitter

I am currently stuck at home with an injured toe, I thought I’d get cracking on the next ‘Thing’.

15. Sign up for Twitter and find people to follow
16. Start engaging with your network using @replies and retweets

I already use Twitter (you can find me @Kangarooth), though I have only really started using it a lot since I began the trainee year.

The basic idea of Twitter is simple; you post updates of 140 characters or less. The updates, or ‘tweets’, of those you ‘follow’ show up in your Timeline. To reply or mention someone in your message, you add @ before their username. This message will then show up on their profile, which is a timeline of only their updates. You can also ‘retweet’ a message, which will show up on your profile too, and the timeline of your followers. To tag something, add a hash tag before the word, e.g. #23things.

As you can see on my profile below, there are my own boring tweets about my aforementioned injured toe, as well as a message I retweeted from @CILIPinfo. You can also see a selection of my followers and who I am following.

Rather nonsensical, the ‘Similar to you’ selection includes three people I am already following.

 

 

When I first joined, I thought it was for self-obsessed celebrities to post inane details of their lives. And though that is true to some extent, it’s actually an excellent tool for, though I hate the term, ‘networking’. I use Twitter these days to chat to other librarians, library school students, and graduate trainees. It’s been a huge help during my library school applications, as I’m able to ask questions to people who are actually there doing it. For example, I found out some great ‘insider information’ which helped me pick my halls of residence for next year at Sheffield.

Though I’m not denying that a lot of my own ‘tweets’ are inane and mostly about food.

An interesting feature of Twitter that I’m not familiar with are ‘Lists’. I think this is a way to group together similar Twitter users into categories. For example, Twitter tells me I have been recently listed in ‘Friends’, ‘Library School’, and ‘lis’. I had a look at one of these, and it turns out you can follow a list. I think this is essentially a mass follow, rather than selecting profiles individually, which is pretty cool. Though it stays separate from your Twitter feed, which I guess is good if you have a lot of people on there, so you can organise it and keep some categories separate.

I think a big problem with Twitter, for me, are seeing spoilers! As a lot of people will ‘live-tweet’ TV shows or events, it’s hard to avoid spoilers, especially when a spoilerific hash tag is ‘trending’. However, this is also a great way to get news before it hits the established press.

More libraries seem to be using Twitter now, but I’m not sure how effective it is. It is a great way to get information out quickly to your users, but it’s hard to say everything in 140 characters. That being said, if your readers are using a platform like Twitter, it’s important to reach them where they already are. It’s more likely to reach them then, rather than hoping they’ll visit the library website for information. Clare, the trainee at the History Faculty Library, has some lovely graphs in her informative post about the HFL’s Twitter profile.

There is also a great presentation by Ned Potter on 7 Reasons People Give For Not Using Twitter And Why They Can All Be Rebuffed With The Phrase: It’s a Conversation.

Thing 14: LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social networking site, but for connecting with other people in a professional context.
 
 
Explore http://learn.linkedin.com/ and sign up for LinkedIn
 
Signing up to LinkedIn follows a similar process to most social networking sites – Name, email, password etc, so that was pretty straightforward.
 
You can add various bits of information to your profile, including your current and past employment and education, as well as links to your website/blog and Twitter profile. Essentially the idea is an interactive CV hosted online.
 
An interesting box on the profile is the Contact Settings, where you can let other users know what you want from the site:  career opportunities, job inquiries, reference requests, getting back in touch, etc.
 
I have added a few details to my profile, and here’s how it looks so far:
 
 
It’s kind of ugly with ads down the right hand side, and especially since I don’t have any contacts!
 
I don’t particularly like LinkedIn, but I can’t quite pin down why. I think I’m uncomfortable with my details being on the site, when I won’t be using it to find a job or network.
 
 
Facebook and LinkedIn
 
It’s strange that I should feel uncomfortable with this site, since it’s designed to be professional, whereas I’m happy to announce on Facebook everything from my current mood to what I happen to be tucking into for dinner. That being said, I am careful what I choose to post to Facebook, and I also keep my privacy settings quite high.
 
A person could easily have accounts on both sites, which are intended for very different reasons. Many people have separate Twitter accounts for this very reason – a personal and a professional account. It’s important to keep social and work life separate, especially on the internet where you have no idea who might be viewing your profile.
 
Today, most job vacancies are posted on the internet, and I guess it makes sense to host a CV there too. However, it being for professional eyes, it is vital to keep it up to date. Not using LinkedIn before, I doubt I would do that. It’s an interesting concept, but I don’t think I’ll be using it in future, and will probably delete my profile shortly after the 23 Things are over.

Thing 13: how libraries can use Facebook to connect with their users

Libraries on Facebook 

This subject is quite relevant to me at the moment, as Lauren and I set up the SSL’s Facebook page last year.


It’s been going since October 2010, and as I write the page has 95 fans. It was quite an accomplishment when the number of ‘real’ fans overtook the fans that were SSL staff!

Since Lauren and I were already on Facebook, we were both pretty familiar with setting up a ‘page’. Since it’s been going a little while now, I have a clearer idea of the pros and cons of a Facebook page for a library, and why a library might decide on this tool over (or along with) other web technologies to connect with their readers.

Pros

  • When an admin posts on the library page, that post appears in their followers’ news feed.  In this way, the information goes TO the person, rather than them seeking out the information, for example by going to the website. You are engaging with the reader on a level they are already familiar with and using very frequently.
  • Facebook is especially useful for academic libraries, since, in my experience, it is mostly students who use Facebook.
  • Posting on a page, you are given the option to post a status, photo, link or video, which gives a multi-media platform on which to engage with users. Some of the things I have posted about on the SSL page include links to e-resources, posters of upcoming events, or just quick general information, e.g. changes to opening hours.

 
Cons

  • One thing we have experienced since setting up the SSL page, and have gotten frustrated with, is the way Facebook often changes its layout. It can be hard to keep up to date with the site if you don’t have someone who uses it regularly working on it. We found this when we had just completed the staff manual entry, when Facebook announced pages were to become more like personal profiles.
  • A worry is that library Facebook pages may be intrusive. I use Facebook myself, but for keeping in touch with friends and for frittering away time when I’m meant to be doing other important things. No one wants to be reminded to do work when they’re intentionally avoiding that looming essay, nor do they want to remember that shocking fine when they are at home relaxing. It’s a fine line between engaging users in their own environment, and intruding in their personal domain.
  • What to post?! Never mind intruding if you haven’t a thing to post! We often struggle to come up with exciting posts, and to keep them upbeat. It’s all too easy to start posting about negative things, which will just make people ‘unlike’ your page.

There are of course many more of both categories, but those sprang to mind from my own experience.

Some libraries probably do make the most of Facebook to engage with their users, but it is difficult to say whether it is best placed to do so. I have enjoyed setting up the SSL page, and do think it is a good idea to have one in the ether, simply as another way to find our information on a platform that is highly used by our readers.