the future is now

As I was cruising through my blog RSS feeds this afternoon, my attention was caught by the post title, “Sexy Librarians of the Future Will Help You Upload Your Videos to YouTube”  from  ReadWriteWeb.  Here’s a cut/paste of the post that discusses an interview with Microsoft’s Jon Udell (and the post links to the audio of the interview):

Udell posits that the librarian of the future will help a growing number of citizen media producers to classify their online media and get it connected to other related content in ways that will increase its discoverability. That is hot…

Imagine a future when you go to the library with a 5 minute video you’ve just made about last night’s Presidential debates and that librarian says to you:

You should upload it to YouTube and tag it with these four tags – two broad and two more specific to existing communities of interest on YouTube and the topic of your video. Then you should embed that video in a blog post along with some text introducing it and linking to some of your favorite posts by other people who have also written today about the Presidential debates. Make sure to send trackbacks to those posts!Now, I think this is a particularly good video on the topic, so if you’re interested I will vote for it on StumbleUpon (as a sexy librarian I have a very powerful account there) and give it a good summary explanation. Any of those are steps you can take that will make your work all the easier for people to discover.

Would that be great, or what?

I would not classify myself as “sexy”, however, if a patron came to my library with a video they created and wanted to post it on the Internet, I would be ready to tell them the above.   The real problem is letting patrons know that we can help them do this.

…and then there’s Yoko

It’s sometimes hard to convince people that when I’m “goofing around on Facebook” I’m actually working.  Sure, there’s fun elements to it like “Superpoke!” and “Scrabulous”, but I am also doing a little anthropological participant observation.   The only way we’ll be able to figure out how to use Facebook effectively is to see how “regular users” use it.   I also find it an invaluable way to network with my librarian friends – both across campus and across the country.

Example?  Recently my friend Bill posted a link to his library’s new Goodreads Profile on his personal Facebook profile.  From there, I was able to see that his library also maintains a blog and a Flickr account.   Bill has also put up a nifty little Google Maps widget on his subject webpage.   All nice uses of Web 2.0 in an actual working library that I didn’t have to travel 500 miles to a conference to find out about.   As an added bonus, if I have any follow up questions, I can always just IM Bill and grill him for details.

On a somewhat related note, my sister asked me last weekend if I minded mixing my personal life with my professional on my Facebook.   I told her no because (a) it’s not like I’m posting pictures of myself doing kegstands, (b) I don’t really have a separation between my professional and personal self – as a public services librarian, I find that I can’t connect with people and find out what their information needs are if I’m wasting energy trying to maintain a facade.  Also, if it makes students more comfortable approaching me once they find out that I like cartoons and certain musical acts, well, then that’s great.  And (c) I realized that the great majority of my Facebook (and real life) friends are librarians.   Except for Yoko Ono.

One of my favorite applications on Facebook is the “Friend Wheel.”  It takes all of your friends and shows the links between them.  I just find it fascinating.  Here’s mine (with names blacked out to protect privacy):

fbfriendwheel.jpg

I have six main groups of FB friends.

  1. The people I know from my currently employer.  That would be the big patch of green on the lower left hand side of the wheel.
  2. The people I know from my old job.  That’s the blue patch on the top left hand side.
  3. The people I went to library school, as seen in the yellow/orange in the bottom right hand corner of the circle.
  4. Law librarians that I’ve met at conferences.  They are the purple/blue at the top of the wheel.
  5. Students that have taken the initiative to friend me.  I’ve made the decision to not turn down friend requests, but I also wouldn’t initiate contact either.
  6. Famous people that I friended on a lark, like Yoko Ono and Seth MacFarlane.  The students and famous people are on the right hand side of the wheel.

It’s neat enough to see how your friends from the same group are connected, but I’m just amazed at how some people are connected that I didn’t realize.    It wouldn’t be as interesting if I friended everyone in the AALL group.  This are why I try to limit my FB friends to people I’m really connected with in real life – except for Yoko.  I will never unfriend her.

How to Block Beacon and Other External Websites on Facebook

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg posted an apology for the Beacon service on the Facebook blog yesterday.   As part of this, he announced that Facebook users have option of blocking all external websites from sending information to their profile.  Here’s how you do it.

This is my Facebook profile.  On the top right hand corner, there’s a link to “privacy.”  Click on that.

Privacy One

This will take you to a list of the various options for privacy on Facebook.  Click on the last one, “External Websites”

Privacy Two

From there you will want to click the box that says “Don’t allow any websites to send stories to my profile.”   On this page, you can also see if any have tried.

Privacy Three

So now you can go forth and surf the web in relative peace of mind.  Or at least secure in the knowledge that your co-workers and friends won’t know what you’re doing on the Internet.

Documenting My Boring Life

I’ve decided to give microblogging service Twitter a try today.  I suppose I could be using my Facebook Status box for the same purpose but I prefer to use that as more of a creative challenge.   I’m going to try and keep Twitter strictly to the facts and not take a turn for the existential.

My profile is here.

Meebo Firefox Sidebar

IM reference is slightly more complicated to set up than one might initially think.   Unlike e-mail addresses hosted by different companies, Instant Messaging accounts can only “talk” to other accounts on that same system.  So, for example, I can e-mail my friends with Gmail accounts with my Yahoo e-mail account, but if I want to chat, I have to use a google chat account.   To extrapolate further, if a library wanted to set up a virtual referece service utilizing Instant Messaging, they would have to set up (and have running) accounts with all the major chat services.

There is a way to get around that.  There are chat aggregators that allow someone to chat across Instant Messaging platforms.  A popular service is Meebo, and in my library we have been trying to utilize it.  I’m for the most part happy with Meebo.  It has the added benefit of providing widgets that can be implanted on websites so that a person can chat with you even if they do not have any Instant Messaging accounts or prefer to remain anonymous.

There has always been one problem with Meebo, though.  To use it, you have to keep a window open to Meebo.  Also, it is easy to miss a chat notification because there is no obvious visual clue that you have a new Instant Message.  However, that is now changed.  There is a new Firefox add-on that will notify you visually when you get an Instant Message through Meebo.  I can’t wait to try it out!

Facebook Beacon Update

I neglected to post this on Saturday,  but Facebook has changed the way the Beacon advertising service works so that it’s no longer so invasive of one’s privacy.  The New York Times has the story here.

Technorati

I signed up for Technorati today and claimed my blog.   As a result, I now have a little widget on the bottom left hand side of my blog that allows people “favorite” my blog, which will presumably allow me to rise in the technorati rankings.   Whatever that means.  All I know is that currently my authority ranking is 1, my rank 4,446,976 and no one has favorited it.   That ain’t too good.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Web 2.0, it’s that you better have a pretty thick skin because it seems to go out of its way to enforce the fact that you’re just not popular enough.