Blogs, social networks, and librarians

I originally started this blog because, well, I knew lots of other librarians blogged and it seemed like a good idea, particularly during my job search. It wasa reason, although hardly a compelling one.

I remember when blogs first started to become popular, but weren’t yet mainstream, that people often mocked bloggers as self-absorbed. Now it’s almost odd *not* to have a blog–especially if you’re a librarian.

Still, I admire people who are able to “let it all hang out” online, and I also worry about them (and, by extension, me). On the odd occasion I’ve seen references to librarians being called out at their workplace for their blog postings. Many librarians integrate their personal and professional lives online, with links to Flickr or instagram pictures, tumblr, etc. linked from their professional blogs. Some even have a flavors.me page that lists all their social networks in one place–Google Plus, FriendFeed, Quora, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal, Scoop.it, etc. etc. Five or six networks I can understand. But a dozen or more?

I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those librarians who punctuates my convictions with curse words online–not that there’s anything wrong with that. If other people feel and act differently, that’s great and more power to them. It’s just not my style.

Considerations like the above have kept me from updating this blog as often as I’d like. So too have the following:
1). The intimidation factor. There are lots of great librarian blogs out there that really dig into important issues. It’s hard not to feel inadequate.
2). The “what if” factor (related to the above). What if I post something and it is misinterpreted and there’s fall out?
3). Do I even need to blog? There are many thousands of librarians out there doing quality work who don’t feel the need to blog. Why should I bother?
4). This blog post on librarians and deprofessionalization that I read recently. The take-away is that the librarians need to read less blog posts and more professional journal articles.

So, these are all questions swirling around my brain in the moments that I blog or (more often) think about blogging or (even more often) think about the fact that I’m not blogging.

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Cool tools: Scoop.it

scoop.it logo

What is it? 

 Scoop.it is a beta (currently invite only) website that lets you become “the curator of your favorite topic!”

What does it do?
You create a topic.  Scoop.it  searches  the web (including social media) for related news articles, blog posts, tweets, YouTube videos, etc. which you can then build–or curate–into an online collection of sources.

How/why should I use it?
Example #1:
Library instruction
1A: Evaluation
After showing students how to evaluate websites, you can walk them through how to set up a Scoop.it on their paper topic, *and* set up RSS feeds for journal and/or database articles for same.  Then they compare results  for reliability, authority, purpose, currency, and accuracy.

1b. Search types
Compare the effectiveness of Boolean and/or phrase searches with both tools (Scoop.it vs. the journal/database RSS feeds).  Which is more effective, and why? Which might be better for an academic research paper, and which might be better for gauging popular opinion or learning about pop culture?

Example #2: Self-promotion as a topic expert
Perhaps you are a job-seeker, or the owner of a small business, or part of a non-profit.  You’d like to demonstrate your expertise on a particular subject, such as Twitter for educators, and make sure that it’s branded. Create an account with a look and feel consistent with the rest of your online presence, and then create your topic.  Tweet links to the articles you’ve curated or post them on Facebook or Linked In.

Example #3:  Learn  by following others’ topics
Click on Explore to see what  other people are “scooping.” Create the Scoop.it version of RSS feeds by following topics of interest.

Screenshot of Scoop.it topics I follow
I’m following 32 topics on Scoop.it

Example #4:  Track what online friends are reading
There are other tools for this, namely Twitter and Delicious–but neither include a similar visual component.

I have 5 scoop.its right now: Academic Library Instruction, Google Plus for Info Pros, Time & Productivity, Social Media for InfoPros, and Mobile Apps.

Similar to:
A visual version of Delicious.

Pros:
Free; visually appealing; easy to use.

Cons:
Designed to work with resources on the open web, which means you need to evaluate sources for reliability.

How to get an invite:
Click on invite button on Scoop.it’s webpage, or you can do what I did—ask people on social networks if they had any to spare. :0)

Leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter.

Social Media Overload, or how my Twitter spilled onto my Google + and contaminated my Facebook

“Your peanut butter Google Plus is in my chocolate Facebook!!!”

If you’re old enough to remember who shot J.R. 1,  you may remember the Reese’s commercial  referenced above.  (TLDR/W: a boy and a girl “meet cute” by accidentally mixing up their chocolate and peanut butter).

I missed the initial Google + hoopla ’cause my back was out.  The “invite only” reminded me a little of Google Wave, not to mention 7th grade gym class (eep). I didn’t want to be left out, even though I wasn’t 100% sure what the “cool kids” were doing.

I use social media to keep up with library and information-related developments.  I’m already having issues with cross-pollination between Twitter and my RSS feeds.  Now Google + is adding a whole new layer of “AAAAGH!” to that.   Maybe if I didn’t have a tendency to add RSS  feeds and librarians like crazy, that wouldn’t be an issue.

I have 2 Facebook accounts (one for work, one for family). I mainly use these  to stay current with Facebook since it is so popular with college students.

I have a Twitter account where I follow 599 people and organizations, about 80% of whom are librarians or other information professionals.  I follow over 100 RSS feeds, about 70% of them library and/or tech-related.  I occasionally visit FriendFeed.  There’s lots of overlap here.  I may just use Google + for library-related stuff, if I continue to use it at all.

If you’re not on Google+ yet but you’re curious, here’s a good blog post about it from Agnostic, Maybe.

1 Spoiler alert: It was Kristen.

Addendum (added July 9):
I should mention that I’ve got 850+ Twitter favorites to plow through. The most I’ve had is 1300…the least was 300. I can’t even load them all onto a single page.
Also, after I wrote this entry, I found a post on “How Google + ends social networking fatigue.”