Posts Tagged ‘Ning’

Below is a response I posted to Paul Reynolds on one of the Library Ning sites. It was in response to a discussion we are having about the viability of the Ning, with Ning withdrawing from providing free networks. Paul has said he would be happy to contribute towards making the site a Premium site, but would need to see that it is working and worth it. Current traffic would say it wasn’t.

This has led me to ponder yet again the nature of the New Zealand library profession and social networking.  I confess to feeling a little disillusioned and despondent as to where we as a profession are currently, especially with regards to using sites like this and the Ning.

“I can understand why LIANZA would want to concentrate on the LIANZA website. I haven’t heard anything about misgivings/apathy from head office about Ning.

That being said, I despair at times at the lack of professional discourse that is running through the profession. I am beginning to wonder if the lack of discussion here and on other similar sites is a symptom of a wider malaise within the body.

When I have raised the lack of content here and in other places the response I have received has not been encouraging. One reason given for a lack of uptake in the use of Social Networking sites like this is that the list serve [NZ-Libs] works well for people. Yet even on that, apart from maybe one or two bursts in a year, there is no great discourse on professional issues.

I have said it previously. Inactivity breeds inactivity. And live by the maxim Participate or perish. Our burgeoning community is perishing.  

So do we as Kiwi Librarians have nothing to say? Are we too small as a profession to engage professionally? Are we really a professional body, or just a group of people working in libraries?

 I would love to see this community, heck any community, up and running as a vibrant engaging place where librarians connect. I am just getting disillusioned with whether we here, or LIANZA at the LIANZA website will be able to create it.”

Are we too busy? Or is that a cop out and really we just don’t give a high enough value to professional discourse? Or do we prefer to do our networking face to face? And does that mean that those like myself who don’t have such an opportunity, by dint of being in very small centres, will miss out?

I really, really want to know.  Do we as a profession value professional discourse? Are we big enough to maintain a regular discourse? Are we a profession that deals with information and technology, or are we simply a bunch of people who shelve and issue books?

You can answer me here. Or answer me there.   Please. Don’t make me beg 🙂


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Two media reports recently highlighted one of my concerns about Social Media. Namely the long term viability of “free” Social Media sites. Especially ones that allow you to upload and maintain your own content that could be seen as a form of off site preservation.

Firstly this story about Bebo hit cyber space last week.

Party’s over for social site Bebo

Bye Bye Bebo.

Social-networking site Bebo, which has about 630,000 members in New Zealand, is set to be sold or shut down.

Parent company AOL has announced it will not provide new funding to Bebo to compete with rivals, and may sell or shut down the site.

“Bebo, unfortunately, is a business that has been declining and, as a result, would require significant investment in order to compete in the competitive social-networking space,” a company statement said.

The site has lost members to Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

Kaila Colbin, of Christchurch social media consultant Missing Link, compared Bebo to a party that people wanted to leave.

“You go to a party, everyone’s having a good time, but suddenly the momentum changes and someone says, `Let’s go to the pub’,” Colbin said. “And people start flowing out. And when people flow out, there is no way to recover that energy.

“The more you try, the more desperate you look and the more people want to leave.”

Colbin said Facebook was the most popular social-networking site in New Zealand.

Now this one about the social networking site Ning came across my desk.

Ning Fails at Free Social Networking

Ning, a brainchild of Netscape bazillionaire Marc Andreessen that was designed to let anyone make a social network about anything for free, won’t do it anymore. Each of the service’s 2.3 million networks’ users will disappear unless its creator either pays Ning or migrate the network to another platform.

So much for “free” as the future of business — as far as Ning goes, anyway. The company accepted hundreds of millions of dollars from investors, and they apparently want more of a return than Ning is able to provide as a free service.

“Our premium Ning networks like Friends or Enemies, Linkin Park, Shred or Die, Pickens Plan, and tens of thousands of others … drive 75 percent of our monthly U.S. traffic, and those network creators need and will pay for many more services and features from us,” wrote Ning CEO Jason Rosenthal in an e-mail to his 40-percent-reduced employees this week:: “We are going to change our strategy to devote 100 percent of our resources to building the winning product to capture this big opportunity. We will phase out our free service. Existing free networks will have the opportunity to either convert to paying for premium services, or transition off of Ning”

What will this mean to Social Networking? Where can the networks go? We will watch this space with interest.

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I have a confession to make. I have been, and am still something of, a Social media Sceptic. I know a little bit ironic considering the media I am writing in. 😉

As a librarian, I am currently using several social media sites with mixed results, which has failed to convert me from scepticism.

I have a Linkedin profile, where I can keep track of people I worked with, and professional acquaintances. I have a large number of connections, and through this I have spotted one colleagues job change. Yet most of my connections seem to only have one or two other connections. I would have thought with the close and tech savvy nature of our profession I would have been part of a vast network of connections, but few colleagues seem to be using this network. 

I have a Ning profile, where I am on two groups Re-imagining libraries and NZLibraries2.0. Both these networks are similar in their interest and similar in their usage, in fact there is very little traffic on both networks. Again I wonder why as Kiwi information professionals who often engage in community spaces, we don’t seem to be adopting these technologies when the rest of the world is? 😕

I also a Twitter profile which is an official library profile for my organisation Tararua District Libraries. This has been quite successful for me in engaging with other librarians around the country, and with others who are interested in issues that interest me. This is not quite what I had envisioned though, as I was hoping it would be a tool to connect with the digital community based in the Tararua region.  

I have two blogging profiles on WordPress one for this blog, and the other for the blog I run for the Library.  I have been steadily building readership for the library blog, but again I wonder how much is local? There is a real difficulty in finding that out and I have not yet had a success in fostering community engagement. 😀

Personally I don’t use social media. I don’t Facebook or Bebo, I don’t Tweet at home.  I read blogs, but don’t comment except occasionally as “Anonymous”.   My better half and I have recently started to find forums that interest us but are yet to really engage.

CaptureRecently though I had a Social Media success. Through Twitter I have made contact with Tee Morris [http://twitter.com/TeeMonster] and Philippa Balantine [http://twitter.com/PhilippaJane]. Tee is in New Zealand giving a number of seminars on Social Media and I am booked in to attend two in Wellington next week. I have only had contact with them through Twitter. Tee and Pip offered to come to Dannevirke and give a session on podcasting, specifically Podiobooks. For this free session they drove from Wellington to Dannevirke and back on the same day. It was a wonderful example of social media networking. If you miss one of the talks presented by Tee, he was on Radio New Zealand with Chris Laidlaw last Sunday 7th June, which is available on podcast. 💡

Was this a Road to Damascus moment for me? Has the cynicism being cast from me in a blinding light? Well no. While the organisation was a great success, and an example of Social Networking at it’s finest, the turnout still leaves me with doubts. Despite lots of advertising on the blog, and twitter, despite posters and flyers around the library and newspaper advertising, we had for me a disappointing turnout. At our intimate talk we had five listeners, myself, two other librarians, someone from the council and someone who had travelled all the way from Wellington.

So all this has left me with these questions. Why, when as information profession, do we seem to be so slow at taking up Social Media? Is it just us Kiwi librarians? Even though I see myself as part of a growing movement in this area, and my networking at a national level is developing nicely, why can’t I seem to connect at a local level? Is this Social Media only really working in the big cities? Are there not enough digitally active people in the region to connect to? Or are they just virtually somewhere else?   

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