Monthly Archives: March 2013

QR Code for Class Blog

ClassBlog

We are learning about QR codes this week and the value they have for communications and access to information. This QR code above was embedded here by saving the QR code image and including in the blog – it will take you back to our main Class Blog site. Test it out!

The QR code below is the same one but embedded in the blog by grabbing the HTML code that the QR generator gives you so you can embed in a site / blog.

QRCode

Christy

Birds Tweet, but I don’t understand what they’re saying

The Twitter phenomena is clearly one that is not about to disappear overnight, but despite the fact that it has become an active part of social media I just do not get it. It’s true, sometimes all you need or want is a short announcement or a pithy statement, but most of the time, being severely limited by the number of characters doesn’t seem to shut people up, instead, it causes them to come up with all kinds of ridiculous shorthand. And to be honest, just talk to me in plain English. I’ll be happy to give you a couple of extra seconds or minutes so that you can use real words in grammatically correct sentences. (Reading that back to myself makes me feel like an old lady, but if wanting things to be clear means that I’m “old”, I’ll deal.)

A number of people have mentioned that many libraries seem to use Twitter more or less for announcements, which is clearly helpful, but not maximizing its potential. However, in an environment that is supposed to celebrate language and literacy, how should Twitter be used in a way that respects that? I was discussing it with a friend, who pointed out that I use instant messaging and text messaging, but I pointed out that neither of those mediums have quite the same requirements for abbreviation, etc., and that they are both more private. However, despite my quick rebuttal, his point caused me to continue to think about Twitter and why it holds so little interest for me.

1. I do not have a smart phone and when I have worked at desk and computer based jobs, I have never had the time to spend on following people or organizations on Twitter while at my computer. Therefore, I think that I’m potentially slipping through cracks left by my lack of smart phone – this really does seem to be a medium designed for people who have 24/7 access and presumably interest.  (And I specifically purchase phones by entering the store and asking for a “dumb phone”.) Given that a library is designed to meet the needs of a broader population, their social media presence should reflect the fact that not all users or potential users have easy and constant internet access. As such, it would seem to make sense that they maximize the effectiveness of their online presence and that they make it easily digestible without unlimited time and access. It is true that Twitter tweets are short, but if you have to follow 15 of them to get the same information that can be gleaned from a short paragraph on a well written website, the brevity works against them. Therefore, how can Twitter be used to effectively supplement, other forms of online presence without creating a situation in which non-Twitter users are missing things to which they should also have access.

2. While I have absolute respect for brevity, I have a greater respect for clarity and I find that I’m often completely flummoxed by the abbreviations that have been created within the world of social media. I generally consider myself to be a relatively smart and intuitive person, but I will find myself staring at letter combinations with absolutely no clue as to what I’m supposed to be getting from them. While it has been many years since I learned to read and I no longer experience the anxiety of being unable to decipher something, there is a similar level of blank incomprehension accompanied by the feeling that I should be able to figure it out. Maybe one of the services that libraries can provide is a social media dictionary that will help users to both access the library’s social media resources and to more effectively interact with other social media sources.

3. I will often use a text message to send a brief note that is either saying “hi”, passing on a piece of information, or asking a question. I rarely need to worry about going over my character limit and while I generally appreciate an answer that says at the very least, “I got your message”, I do not generally use text messages as a way to have ongoing conversations. (It happens on occasion, but they tend to be completely ridiculous – hysterically funny, totally random, and often rather disjointed.) I also use instant messaging, but in that medium, I can carry out extended conversations if I so choose and they remain relatively private. I can send short statements or longer prose, either of which gets shared efficiently and in the context of Google chat, is saved unless I specify otherwise. I don’t’ know where to go with this one in terms of how libraries can address this. There are a number of libraries that are effectively using instant messaging via their websites and I know that there are even some libraries that are using text messaging, however, I think that they are both mediums that have some overlap with Twitter, but are not primarily designed for the same purposes.

While I still do not get Twitter, I am working on trying to understand what all of the tweeting is about and to understand some of the appeal. Thus far, I’m still feeling pretty uninterested, but I am willing to keep an open mind about it. However, as we continue to progress through this course, I get the distinct feeling that there are other, more efficient and lucrative social media options. Maybe I’ll start to hear bird songs amongst the “twittering” at some point, but for right now, it generally seems more like noise than music.

Not Another Social Network….

Until about three weeks ago I had resisted any urge I may have had to create a Google + profile.  I use gmail and google drive all the time so I have been aware of Google + for years but I don’t know many people who use it and I already use Facebook and Twitter so much that I didn’t really want to get sucked into another social network.  As I was working on a project for another class, however, a classmate mentioned that we could use a “hangout” on Google + to collaborate on our assignment but I was the only one in our group who didn’t have a profile.  I created a profile immediately and have been exploring it for the past several weeks.  

 

Immediately I was turned off by how Google wanted me to invite all my contacts into my circles.  I wasn’t sure which contacts actually had accounts with Google + and which Google just wanted me to get to sign up.  The last thing I want to do is unknowingly send someone a message asking them to join another social network.  I added a few people and created some circles but I think my biggest reason for not liking Google + much is that I haven’t found connections who use the site much, to get interesting content in my feed.  I do like how it is organized and how you can easily filter the feeds you see, depending on the circles you have created.  

As far as for libraries, from what I have seen, I do not think Google + would be an advantageous social network to join.  I did some research by looking at the profiles of several libraries on the site and from what I found, there did not seem to be a lot of activity on these profiles.  I think it is difficult for most libraries to find the time and staff to post a lot of information to all the social network sites that exist and when they do, they probably focus on the big two – Facebook and Twitter.  If anyone has any ideas or evidence to show why Google + would be a good social networking choice for libraries, please share.  From my experience, I don’t see the advantages of using this site for professional use.

Have Books Will Tweet

Los Angeles Public Library

Los Angeles Public Library

As a Los Angeles resident, I often use the LA Public Library. As a library student, I often study the LA Public Library for class assignments. One of the things I have discovered lately is that LAPL does not have a donation policy. This immediately disappointed me, not only because every library ought to have a donation policy, but because I have valuable books that I would like to give.

Seeing the advantages that Twitter offers in terms of direct communication, I decided to test its effectiveness in contacting the enormous LAPL about book donations. Before doing so, however, I decided to use the library’s Ask A Librarian service in order to be absolutely certain that no donation policy exists. I simply asked: “Does the LAPL have a policy regarding book donations? If so, how can I read it?”

A member of staff lamely replied:

LAPL does not have a written policy. Some LAPL branches have used book sales to raise money for library services. Please contact your local branch for further information about making a donation. http://www.lapl.org/branches/

Thank you for using the Los Angeles Public Library.

I then took to Twitter and fired off the following: @LApubliclibrary Why don’t you have a donation policy? I have lots of books to donate, but how do I know what will happen to them?

The following day I tweeted: @LApubliclibrary The County of LA Public Library has a Collection Policy that mentions donations: colapublib.org/aboutus/collec… Why don’t you?

Five days later, still no response. I tweeted: @LApubliclibrary what do I have to do to get a response?

The next day I got one: @musophilus Thnx for your interest. Please contact your local branch re: their donation process. lapl.org/branches Have a great day.

Another non-answer. I responded: @LApubliclibrary My local branch doesn’t have a donation policy. Does the Central Library have one?

That same day I received the following response: @musophilus Hi, call 213-228-7000. Thnx for thinking of us!

Okay, I thought, they’re finally offering to speak to me now. On calling the number, I realized that I had been given the main phone number for the Central Library. I tweeted: @LApubliclibrary Who should I ask for?

Less than an hour later, they responded: @musophilus Ask for central library services dept, and someone there will assist you. 213-228-7000

So, I finally spoke to someone. They asked me what kind of books I wished to donate and then transferred me to the relevant department. I talked to a very gracious librarian who has arranged for me to deliver the books through my local branch.

While I haven’t succeeded yet in urging the LAPL to write and implement a donation policy, at least I finally established contact. I look forward to seeing what else I can do with Twitter in the future.

-Barnaby Hughes

#Facebook

Once upon a time, hashtags–the term used to describe “#” in its use for digital metadata organization–were exclusive to Twitter.  Slowly but surely, they’ve begun to creep their way into other forms of social media.  I first noticed the #invasion when my Facebook friends would cross-post from Twitter, and these ridiculous run-on statements preceded by the number sign began to show up on my news feed.  To me, it made no sense.  On Facebook, these tags mean nothing.

But as I branched out into other forms of social media, I finally discovered their value.  These ridiculous looking phrases are actually quite efficient and effective ways of post-coordinate indexing, which quickly organize unlimited amounts of data into relevant categories.  So my pictures on Instagram tagged #halloweeniscoming are sorted with other pictures sporting the same label; the curious Instagrammer can now find these and other posts through searching this hashtag.  So now that I’ve encountered #hashtags in their natural environment, I can appreciated them for their important role in data organization.

With Pinterest, Flickr, and Instagram following Twitter (that I know of) in the #revolution, one has to ask: is Facebook next? According to The Wall Street Journal and Small Business Trends, they just might.  And I for one am in full support of this change.  It’s just another step in fully integrating the digital experience, and allows users with like interests to make vital connections easier than ever before.  Take yesterday’s movement for marriage equality that dominated many a Facebook news feed.  While visually, many people shared their support by changing profile pictures and cover photos to a red equal sign, hashtags could have connected them on a more concrete level, linking all posts from across the world and bringing them into one united group. 

 

#ilikehashtagsbutthatsjustme

Facebook + Twitter + Blogs + Google+ = Too much!

overwhelmed
I recently created a profile for my library in Google+ and my headache is yet to go away.

I’m trying to separate myself as much as possible from my institutional presence. It is not that I don’t want to make myself accessible and make the presence personable but I want the page to look official. I don’t want to create a personal page; I want to create an institutional page. But to create a personal page, you must have an e-mail account. And to have google e-mail account,  you must be a real person!

So, I create an e-mail account to be used only for the library Google+ page and I associate the same secondary e-mail to this new account. Guess what? The password on my other existing e-mail account changes!

Long story short. The first hurdle was painful. I think I have my two accounts sorted out and set up just fine, with different passwords. Now, the even harder part comes. Writing posts, engaging my community.

I’ve been exploring Google+ as well as surfing library webpages, especially keeping an eye on the libraries in my area, the university and public libraries which I’m likely to refer students to, for their adoption of Google+. The adoption of Google+ is non-existent. Facebook and Twitter seem to be the dominant social media venues of choice. In Google+ itself, someone set up a page to track use of Google+ in libraries, Libraries on Google+The page has not had activity in almost a year, April 2012! At that time, there were 150 libraries in its circles. Even the person keeping that page up seems to have gotten overwhelmed!

I like my sanity. I enjoy having coherent posts for my community. At this point, it is preferable, at least for me, to tackle venues which are more popular, and simple to use. I find Google+ to be more cumbersome, with a higher learning curve. Facebook and Twitter are simple. We, at my library, struggle with engaging users on those two fronts, as well as our blogs. I would much rather spend my time and energy strengthening our presence in those social media venues where we already have a presence.  I like this advice. I’m not trying to win a race. I’m not trying to conquer all media. There are too many out there to compete! With Google+ in particular, I don’t mind sitting back and waiting it out.