Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

Webstock used to be my no-miss conference until this week. It’s like a combined rock festival and party for geeks – the learning and fun are intense and amazing. If Webstock was a keyword it would be “awesome”.

Nethui was not a rock festival, and less of a party in terms of headiness. Yes, there were superstars like Lessig. Yes the were miraculous acts of collaboration like the special on-off licence for that audience in that room granted by the BBC for a one-off showing of their documentary The Virtual Revolution. You might have watched it, but you can’t say you’re one of the few people in the country who have done so legally. Both of those wonderful things were not what the three days were about – quite the opposite.

The three days were about New Zealanders coming together to look at the challenges of the future and start the conversation around the question, “What do we do now?” It is easy to be brave in an environment in which one’s heroes are on the stage. At Nethui, we were required to be the heroes, in all our everyday ordinariness, speaking in that drab accent we wince at when we hear it from our neighbours and carrying all of the feelings of cultural unworth we New Zealanders seem to cherish.

There are plenty of good summations of the event available – I recommend Russell Brown‘s usual solid effort as a good starter for ten. You can even be a virtual attendee of large parts by viewing the videos collected here.

But if you weren’t there, and you had a question, answer or idea nobody else in the room did – then it wasn’t just you that missed out, it was all of us.

Don’t worry, libraries were well represented. In the last combined session on access, someone at one of the mics said the following:

“It’s not like you can go down to your local library for a lesson on how to use the internet.”

“Yes you can,” came a voice from the far side of the auditorium. I’m not sure who – but I have a suspicion it might have been a new friend from Dargaville. *waves* Whoever it was, they have my applause. *applauds*

When you’re “at the mic” you can often can only keep one thought in your head. “No, but you can’t just go your local library and…”

And then what you really should have been there for happened.

We, all of us from libraries, sitting wherever we were gave him the SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

Zippy Shut Up. by stev.ie
Zippy Shut Up., a photo by stev.ie on Flickr.

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Let’s start with a definition from a “Tomorrow People” fan:

Fandom (from the noun fan and the affix -dom, as in kingdom, freedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest.1

Soon after local government reform in New Zealand created my current employer, two blogs were created with the aim of spending a year touring and reporting on each branch within the system. As one of the staff members running a legacy online profile I was privy to some of the discussions, and suffice to say we were collectively excited but not entirely sure how, if at all, to respond.

Perceptions are what its all about, particularly in the online world. Don’t acknowledge people this enthusiastic, and one risks the appearance of being aloof. What about the other path. Can one become overly involved?

I think so. Let’s get a definition from another source. The now defunct webcomic Genrezvous Point had a set of characters who were the “seven plagues of cinema”. Plague five was fandom:

arguably the most repulsive of the plagues, a swarm of leeches that attempts to latch on and seize control of their target, refusing to accept any deviation from their will and loudly decrying any attempt at disputing their collective ‘wisdom’ and influence on their target.2

As a member of a number of fandoms, I can affirm that the above holds at least a grain of truth. I’ve regularly watched fellow mulitplayer gamers rail vituperously at the creators of a game world inside that world. Any amount and kind of protest, other than simply finding other pursuits, can be deemed appropriate by a dissatisfied fan simply because they will feel that they are pursuing a significant cause.

There’s also seems to be a relationship between this phenomenon and media interest. A number of stories have been published in our city’s paper of record about our service. The stories themselves are almost meaningless to those of us who have been in the profession for a significant time:

If they’re not about anything new (and therefore are not news in the truest sense), what holds these stories together? I believe they’re talking to the fandom in the sense that  they are aimed at a growing common interest in the organisation, and in that they suggest a canonical set of beliefs around what kinds of places libraries should be.

If all our organisations and services have fans, what does that imply? I’m going for an “I don’t know” on this one. We should definitely welcome the opportunity to hear what people think about us when they’ve got the comfort that relative anonymity can bring, but we’ve got to be mindful that our fandom and our users are two blended but distinct groups. To live by the word of the former is to risk doing disservice to the latter.



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OK OK so I know that there are fears being raised about stalking using google’s new goggles service but…


… ain’t it the coolest thing ever?

I admit I have raised myself on a steady diet of science fiction, but I seriously like the idea of the kind of context that I hunger for and already use the net to provide coming to me this easily. Sure I enjoy using my creativity to massage search terms when looking for an unknown, but why should I when I can just scan?

Picture this: LIANZA 2020. A familiar face comes across the floor towards you… but no name arises. A subtle gesture, unobservable to the outsider, and a list of likely suggestions for the person in front of you scroll up on your glasses.

Privacy shmivacy. I’ve got a bad memory for names in my 30s and this is going to help in a decade’s time.

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Social networking

I’ve been reading a very interesting book entitled “Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom; how online social networking will transform your life, work and world” by Matthew Fraser and Soumitra Dutta.

The book is divided into three parts – identity, status and power. With regard to identity the authors outline the tension between our personal and institutional selves. At work we tend to put on a façade, repressing our social selves. On online social networks we tend to let it all hang out.  There is a distinction between our real-world and virtual world identities. This tension can lead to dilemmas in social networking sites. Many bloggers have faced this dilemma in deciding how much of their personal selves and personal life is revealed. Too much can cause upset to others blogged about and yet the blogger wants to express personal thoughts and feelings. On social networking sites like Facebook, friends are made up of work colleagues and close friends. How much of the self do we want to reveal? Wanting privacy while at the same time putting information in the public sphere remains a tricky issue.Whatever you put online stays there, so when a prospective employer “googles” you they might find stuff you’d rather they didn’t see.

With regard to status, the authors talk about the virtual world as a level playing field where anyone can become famous (or infamous). Reputations can be made or broken as word spreads fast on online social networks. Customers have to be able to trust brands and companies, and will complain vociferously if that trust is broken through phoney-looking blogs, for example. There’s much more about status including closed versus open networks.

With regards to power – social media is disruptive to the power of institutions which is why those institutions, and especially corporations, are resistant to it. Amateurs can get more visibility and power than professionals. There is a powershift towards consumers who can, themselves, become producers. I particularly found the chapter on the toppling of the Big Four music cartel interesting and how they’ve had to adapt to survive the music industry.

Social networking sites are revitalising democracy. The horizontal networks of Web 2.0 e-ruptions (as the authors call them) present opportunities but also difficult challenges as they are at odds with powerful vertical hierarchies.

This book is difficult to summarise (and I haven’t done a good job of it) as so many aspects of social networking are covered. It’s a fascinating read which I highly recommend.

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I recently read a blog entry about libraries’ use of social networking sites and the mention of Facebook.  I then realised that I had only recently become a “fan” of one library’s Facebook page.  This made me want to search out more to see what was out there and to see how libraries were using Facebook.  The library I’m a fan of is our very own Michael’s Tararua District Library’s page.  Michael has the library’s blog posts displaying there so it’s an active page.  A search of library on Facebook brought up the very active Dunedin Public Libraries Facebook page.  The only other New Zealand library in the search results page was a public library whose page I couldn’t access without first becoming a friend.

Firstly I thought that this wasn’t great advertising for the library concerned.  The idea, surely, is to be available and accessible to potential customers online.  Having to apply for “friendship” seemed counterproductive.

The second thing I thought was that the search facility is not user friendly.  When searching for people you can limit your search to your own country, but this did not seem possible with “fan pages”.  I wasn’t inclined to search through piles of results to find local libraries.  Even searching “library zealand” didn’t come up with anything particularly useful.

Once the local libraries are found though they appear to have useful information. The Facebook page seems a good way of communicating with customers, informing of events, happenings and book reviews, etc.

For those of you who work in libraries with a Facebook page, how do you publicise the fact that you have one, considering that searching within Facebook isn’t the greatest?  Do you have many followers?  Do you receive feedback?

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