Twitter In Action

So, you’ve probably seen this video this week, but if not….The Twouble with Twitters:

Ha ha.  Ha.

Okay, here’s the thing…I’m really trying hard to not be defensive about my Twitter habit.  But I’m not going to lie..the first time I was shown that video, my feelings were sort of hurt.  While there are people on Twitter who post the most random thoughts and events of their life for purely narcissistic reasons, not everyone is like that.  There are lots of great uses for Twitter!  Here’s two examples from this week.

  1. I was telling a co-worker about the Bender Baby dinner at AALL 2009.  (By the way, did you notice my new blog badges? Nice work, AALL!) I couldn’t remember how I became one, but it occurred to me that I have a big network of more experience law librarians on Twitter to ask.  So I did.   Within my minutes, I had my answer.
  2. Sometimes it helps to “think outloud” on Twitter, as blogger Cleolinda shows with her recent adventures with UPS.  Many companies monitor Twitter now for customer service purposes….you could do the same.

Use Twitter, don’t use Twitter…I don’t care.  Just don’t make fun of it until you actually understand it.

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Web 2.0 is like the Mafia…

…just when you think you’re done with it, it pulls you back in.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve recently switched up job duties and am now in charge of my library’s Interlibrary Loan department.  (And by “in charge” and “department”, I mean I do everything.)  So I thought I wouldn’t have time anymore to reallly think about Web 2.0 things.   Turns out, that’s not quite the case.

I was minding my own business this afternoon, submitting ILL requests via OCLC, and I noticed that there is now an option for electronic delivery of materials via Yahoo IM, Skype or Windows Live Messenger.  Check it out.

(Sorry for the external link, but I can’t get an image to upload to WordPress today to save my life.  The electronic delivery stuff is in the middle of the screen shot.)

For reasons beyond my understanding, my branch library is unable to get Ariel or any of the other ILL software operational, so perhaps this could be a way around that.  My patron-privacy-o-meter goes up when I think about transmitting materials via non-library vendors, so I’ll have to check into that and see how it all works before I fire it up.

On a related note, there has got to be a way for me to stream line the notification process when an ILL is recieved.  Or submitted, for that matter.  When this first law journal source and cite rush calms down, I hope to work on creating an electronic form so that I can keep my records better organized (ILL is causing me to go through a hellish amount of paper…my carbon footprint is growing at an exponential rate!) and do “push button” notifications.

Now for something completely different….

If you’ve followed the news this week, you’ll have seen that my neck of the country got slammed by a terrible ice storm.  I’m okay – surprisingly didn’t lose power or cable – so I can concentrate on the neat things about the storm.  Namely, this is my first natural disaster since I got all Web 2.0.   I spent Tuesday night on my laptop chatting with friends and watching the storm’s progress through Lexington via Twitter.  I have to admit, it was pretty scary, because I could hear the branches crack and transformers pop and it many ways it felt like a horror movie and that I was being stalked by a monster.

On the bright side, it was also nice to get the occassional reassuring message and helpful advice from those that had gone through something like this before.   And it was nice to know that if something had gone wrong, I could have always updated my Twitter via my cell phone (assuming, I guess, the cell towers were okay) and my friends and family would know I was alright.  Or that they should send help.   And, of course, sometimes the best news of all came through Twitter.

Government on Twitter

If you’re looking for government entities, think tanks or other media related to all levels of government on Twitter, Bearing Point has compiled a nice list of them here.

Tweetstats

I haven’t blogged about Twitter lately. It’s still my favorite Web 2.0 application that no one is really using. I thought for a brief second there during the end of the presidential campaign when CNN and C-SPAN were using it that it might have made the leap to “commoner” (i.e. non-techie and non-librarian) use. But I guess not.

And do you know why I still like it? For the conversation. It’s all but weaned me off of IM, although I have been trying to get back onto that this weekend. Today I discovered (through my twitter list, naturally) a new analytic site for one’s tweets called Tweetstats. My tweet cloud appears below:

tweetstats1

See all the @ symbols? That’s me talking to someone.

Tweetstats isn’t actually all that exciting of a site…no different really than Wordle or any of the other word cloud sites out there. I just like it because I finally have proof of Twitter’s conversations.

Twitter and Customer Service

I’ve heard stories about companies using Twitter for customer service. However, I’ve never tried to use actively solicit company help or received any via Twitter. Until today.

I’m currently in the middle of creating a presentation on library services for one of our law journals. For last minute presentations like this that have a lot of links and information that the students will need later, I like to use wikis. I’ve been using PBwiki but today they ticked me off in two ways. (1) They advertised a promotion earlier that would give librarians and educators a free premium PBwiki account, but as I found out today, you have to spam people to get it. (2) When I tried to login to my account to create tomorrow’s presentation, it wouldn’t let me login.

So I switched to wikispaces. AND, because I like to send pointless little messages, I tweeted the whole experience. Well, I came back from lunch today and checked my replies. Lo and behold, I saw this:

It’s a cheery little greeting from wikispaces! And also a kinda creepy one!  I’m not twitter friends with this person (who is apparently the founder of wikispaces), so I guess he found my posts by running searches.  The article I linked to above mentions several companies that have full time staff searching Twitter for complaints about their services.

I’m not sure of how widespread the use of Twitter is by law students, but perhaps I’ll do a search every now and then to see if my library pops up.

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.