Culture Shift

A couple of months ago, in what one of my correspondants referred to as “an obnoxiously large quote”, I answered a AALL Spectrum Member to Member question about blogs by talking about Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, etc.   Since then I’ve noticed another trend shifting from Blogs to these other services.  Namely, the Meme.

In case you don’t feel like reading through that link, basically, there are all sorts of memes.  The blog meme, which I am most familiar with from my personal blogging days, usually involves answering a set of questions or something similar and then “tagging” other people to answer them.   (A quick check shows that I’ve actually done some in this blog here and here.)   But it can also just be using an “inside joke”, that millions of people on the Internet are in on.

I know this because I am aware of all Internet traditions.  *cough*

First it started with everyone on Twitter changing their userpic to one generated by the FaceYourManga site.  Then there was one where you had to grab the nearest book to you, go to a certain page and change your Facebook status message to the 4th sentence.   And now, most recently, I’ve seen on both Facebook and FriendFeed a meme where you list 25 interesting facts about yourself.

(And apologies to people that tagged me…I’ve been busy and I am also scared to try that particular meme just in case it turns out that there actually aren’t 25 interesting things about myself.)

This doesn’t change the value of these services for information dissemination.  There are still plusses and minuses for people in the library community attempting to use them for this purpose.   And it’s not another death knell for blogs… I am pretty sure that blogging is here to stay, although it may change through time.  I just think it’s interesting that there’s another shift from blogs to these newer services.

I also think that this is further proof that due to the community aspects of Web 2.0, newbies should approach it much like you do when traveling to a foreign country for the first time.  (And I do so hope, Gentle Reader, that you are not an Ugly American when you travel.)   Learn the language.  See what the cultural traditions are.   Just like you wouldn’t want to set up a Steak House in India, you should check to see what your user base needs and wants out of a technological product and then deliver that.

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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.

Mashable Invites

One of my new favorite Web 2.0 blogs is Mashable.  (It’s not a new blog, just new to me.)  It’s pretty business news-y, but it’s good for hearing about stuff before it becomes buzz-worthy.

I just discovered today that they maintain a beta test invite swapping service called Mashable Invites.   I’ve registered for it, but at the present moment I have no beta testing invites to share.   I still haven’t heard back from Jaiku so maybe I can get an invite this way.

Jaiku

I can’t remember which one of the dozens of personal blogs of random strangers that I read (um, I’m apparently a bit of a voyeur) said it, but they said something along the lines of “Not having a Facebook is like not having a MySpace was three years ago!” At the time I had neither a MySpace nor a Facebook (or perhaps I had just signed up for MySpace), so I was a little concerned that not only was I behind the times, I was waaaaay behind the times.

But, it is a fact of life here on the technological edge that new websites and applications come into being and older ones lose their cache. (paging Friendster….) In other words, I’m trying very hard to not put all of my eggs in the Facebook basket. Also, I really want to get in on something on the ground floor and be the first person I know to be using something! Is that pathetic? Maybe. I don’t care.

I came across a possible successor to Facebook and MySpace today. It’s Jaiku. I’m not entirely sure how it works because I’m waitlisted to get an invite to beta test. But when and if I am deemed worthy to enter this Internet Studio 54, I will report back.

ETA: Just saw this article on Google’s Maka-Maka….given that Google recently purchased Jaiku, I wonder if Jaiku will be adapted into  Maka-Maka.  As an aside, don’t you miss the days when companies had respectable names like “Industrial Business Machines” and “National Cash Register?”