Community and Aggregation

While I was waiting for the coffee to kick in this morning (it still hasn’t), I decided to start playing around with TweetWheel, a website that shows how your Twitter friends are connected with each other. (Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I. LOVE. GRAPHS. ) This is what my TweetWheel looks like (click to enlarge):

I was really surprised by the interconnectedness of my Twitter contacts. For comparison purposes, here’s the latest look at my Facebook Friend Wheel (again, click to enlarge):

I guess that’s why, although Facebook has more bells and whistles (e.g. photos, shared posted items, notes/blog posts), Twitter feels more like a community and it’s easier to “meet people” that you otherwise wouldn’t. It’s started to make me long for the days when I spent hours at Television Without Pity and had an Internet posse.

Of course, there is a way to combine community and bells and whistles…that would be my favorite Web 2.0 service du jour Friend Feed. (You can follow me here.) The nice thing about FriendFeed, besides that fact that it’s actually operational most of the time *cough* FailWhale *cough*, is that it’s a one stop shop for people to catch your activity on various Web 2.0 sites (Forty-three at last count) and a conversation can start based on these feed activities. Be warned, though – because of this FriendFeed can be a major time suck.

How can libraries (as institutions) use this? I see no harm in creating an institutional profile. (And create one for yourself while you’re at it because I guarantee you’ll either learn something new or at least see something amusing.) It’d be a way of pushing all of your libraries services (such as a flickr account or del.icio.us bookmarks) in one place and may act as a discovery tool for these services for patrons. Who knows? Maybe a conversation or two may spark up which could lend itself to some Information Literacy training.) However, I think a better option for libraries who want to aggregate their Web 2.0 services would be to use the not yet released Sweetcron. It will require a little more technical know-how to use, since it’s self-hosted and open-source (thus allowing for customization), but the payoff of being able control it (read: institutionally brand it), remove your library from the FriendFeed noise (which can be overwhelming) and not being at the mercy of a 3rd party host (*cough* FAIL WHALE *cough*) may be worth it.

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Suggestions for AALL 2009

I’ve been thinking of some things I’d like to see at AALL 2009. This isn’t to crack on AALL 2008, which I thought went surprisingly smoothly, especially since the Conference hotel and the Convention Center were a 20 minute train ride apart. I’ll probably re-edit this list several times as ideas come to me. Feel free to add your own as well.

1) Free wi-fi for attendees. I mean, come ON. It is the 21st century. Internet access is not a luxury for attendees anymore. Many of us need to keep an eye on things back on the ranch while we’re conferencing and the lines at the Internet cafe in the exhibit hall get ridiculously long. Yes, it’s expensive, but has anyone asked any of the vendors if they’d be willing to pay for or at least partially subsidize it?

2) Poster sessions. (Example: ALA) These would provide more librarians an opportunity to share info (I think there’s only 63 total presentation slots available at AALL), allow for a wider variety of topics (I’ve only been to 3 annual meetings, but every year I hear some people complain that their SIS isn’t well represented topic wise) provide an outlet for people who aren’t yet comfortable with the idea of speaking in front of a crowd, an opportunity to share info that really probably shouldn’t be stretched into even a 30 minute presentation, and most importantly, could have a later idea submission date. I understand the reasoning, but it’s almost ridiculous to try to figure out what’s going to be a relevant topic 11 months in advance, especially if you’re talking about technological issues. Could one even debate the merits of Social Thing and FriendFeed 11 months ago? I know I didn’t know they existed.

3) An official conference wiki so that attendees can get to know each other ahead of time, look for roommates, etc. (Example: Computers in Libraries)

4) Take advantage of the time before the opening event and schedule some stuff then OR go longer in the day on the 3rd day. It just seems that there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it.

5) Conference hotel and convention center? Should be right next to each other.

ETA:

6) Is a conference newspaper really necessary?  Does anyone read it?  It seems like ti’s just ads and it’s a big old waste of paper.

AALL 2008 wrap up

I am back from AALL 2008.  It was a good conference, Portland is a way cooler city than I was expecting, and I think spent more time socializing and having fun than I ever have at a conference.  So yay.  I think I ended up meeting about 10 people who knew me from the Internet.  And I didn’t run away and hide from them!

In spite of my earlier Conferencing the Web 2.0 Way post, my only real attempt to do so was to update my twitter via my cell phone.  When I set that up, I assumed that I’d get reply tweets sent to me, but that was not the case.  I think I’m going to have to bring a lap top next year and hope that there’s available wifi because I really want to try live blogging/twittering more. (Or whatever is the new Web 2.0 technology du jour at that time.)   At any rate, the twitter stream is enough for me to jog my memory about what I did and programs I attended.

Here’s some things to check out:

  • Everyone’s twitter posts from AALL 2008
    I’m not going to lie..I also did a summize search for “sglassmeyer”, my twitter handle.  My favorite was from mak506 who said, “ Just had a surprise sighting of @sglassmeyer…”  I don’t know…the surprise sighting part makes me sound like a rare bird or something, which I totally dig.  I also discovered at this conference that mak506 has the unique ability to live blog and knit at the same time.
  • The official flickr group for AALL 2008 (You can also search for “aall2008” in tags)
  • A blog round up

I’m still exhausted, so that’s currently as in depth as I’m going to be able to get on AALL 2008 right now.  Also, due to a scholarship I got, I need to write a newsletter article about something related to AALL and I want to save my “A material” for that.  Just kidding. No I’m not.

Now to start writing program proposals for next year.  I have two ideas thus far.

Of Facebookiverseries, Private/Public Personas and AALL

On July 9, 2007 I signed up for Facebook. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my career….where I’ve been, where I’m going, what I need to do to get there, that sort of thing. I think that’s a function of it being AALL Annual Meeting time, and, as a result, law library draft season. Seriously, I can’t turn around without seeing a job ad and I actively try to avoid them.

When I noted the anniversary yesterday, it occurred to me that signing up for Facebook pretty much changed the entire trajectory of my career.  Prior to this, I had a only casual interest in Web 2.0 technologies. I mean, I was a blogging fiend and had been experimenting with the medium in one way or another for going on five years. I also had dabbled with MySpace and wrote a little newsletter article about it. But I didn’t think of technology as being a major part of my job or in anyway “my thing.” Legal History and Information Literacy! Those were my things!

(Actually, I guess in a way I still haven’t quite accepted my status as “techie”. The CS-SIS started a Facebook Fan page which I have yet to “fan up” because, and I quote, “I’m not a computer person.” This statement was met by a puzzled look which I slowly growing accustomed to getting from co-workers.)

So, anyway, I joined Facebook. Why? Because an old friend from high school was on it and he suggested I give it a try. I wasn’t even thinking about using it for work or how it might personally benefit me and/or alter my career. But it has. Greatly.

Here’s a couple of examples:

One of the first things I noticed was that several other University of Kentucky librarians were members of the site. Not only have I made a more personal connection with several of them – which is sort of important since I am UK Libraries faculty and it is other UK Librarians that make promotion/tenure decisions about me – but I’ve also gained professional knowledge from them and gotten some interesting work opportunities.

An example within this example? Well, one day I logged into Facebook to see that my colleague Stacey Greenwell had a status message about being excited about advertising pages. By this she meant the Facebook Fan Pages. I decided to create one for my library that day, which ended up being the first law library fan page. As a result of this, I ended up being quoted in a AALL Spectrum article on Facebook and law libraries. That’s pretty exciting stuff for a new librarian and my institution, considering some of the other places and people mentioned were Harvard, Duke and Jim Milles. (And yes, I’ll admit to being petty and counting the number of quotes used from each of people mentioned in the article. ) Also, as result of the Facebook connections, the other UK librarians got to see that I sort of knew my stuff Web 2.0 wise, and was asked to help coordinate Blue 2.0, a system-wide Web 2.0 learning program.

I’ve also had the opportunity to “meet” other law librarians. It’s funny…once you make a connection with one, others seem to find you and on different networks. For me, to use a public health analogy, Jim Milles was Patient Zero. He friended me on Facebook one snowy Saturday morning, and after that the invites started rolling in. And then I basically stalked him across several other Web 2.0 services, and have gotten even more contacts with law librarians. Most of it has been superficial, almost a virtual exchange of business cards, but I’ve also had some really great learning opportunities and an invite to the University of Buffalo alumni gathering at AALL, so it ain’t all bad.

Social networking sites and Web 2.0 technologies just have a way of snowballing. It’s hard to just maintain a presence on one (although it seems that lately the big quest is to find an appropriate aggregator for all the info out there.) Somewhere along the way I ended up with profiles and/or using just about everything out there. And now people contact me out of the blue and ask me for advice and opinions on how to incorporate Web 2.0 stuff into their jobs. Weird. And now when I see job postings for “emerging technologies librarian”, I think to myself, “Self, you could probably do that job.” Double weird. Especially for someone who still can’t really work her cell phone.

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One of the recurring questions that people have about social networking and Web 2.0 is “how much of myself should I put out there?” Personally, I just go for transparency. It’s less stressful for me to not worry that someone somewhere will find something I wrote under a nom-de-keyboard. I think there’s two general rules of thumb: (1) Do what makes you feel comfortable, because otherwise you won’t use the service. (2) Don’t put anything out there that’ll you’ll regret. And if you’re working in an academic environment, there’s a third rule which is “treat all of your students the same.”

Even though I strive for transparency, there’s still some problems for me being so out and open on the web. Namely, the person that I appear to be in my blog/twitter and Facebook, will not be the person that you meet at AALL. I mean, it’s me….it’s not a false persona or anything. I’m just much more comfortable expressing myself in writing than in person or in front of an audience. One on one or small group interactions terrify me. I mean, I’ve been known to hide from people in the bathroom rather than deal with saying “good morning” to them. So even though I’m not presenting or even attending that many mandatory committee meetings, I’ve been doing the *stressbarf* thing about AALL because this is the first year that there’s a chance people will come up to me and expect me to act like a civilized human being. So if you meet me, and I act weird, it’s not you, it’s me.