Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘web2.0

An interesting post by Meredith Farkas, of Information Wants to be Free, on “Ebooks and Libraries.” The post serves as a very good summary of current concerns and issues about ebooks and their platforms and their use in libraries. This was a post that I shared on MPOW’s internal reference blog as well; we’ll see if it sparks any discussion. I would be specially interested to see what anyone else at works says, specially some folks who do see patron-driven acquisitions as the next panacea. Farkas does a pretty good job, taking the view of someone who is well-informed but not an “expert” on ebooks (personally, I think she is being way too humble given the woman is pretty much a fountain of knowledge), which makes the post very accessible. She touches on many concerns that I have as well, but that I don’t always dare speak out loud at MPOW. Anyhow, worth a look.


And an additional item: Just as I finished posting this, I find Emily Lloyd’s Shelf Check toon on ebooks and how they work. Too funny and appropriate not to share with this.

Now that it seems Yahoo! is going to sell Delicious, and things are calming down a bit, we are getting some thoughtful reactions. Here are a couple of posts I have come across that provide some calm and lessons.

I don’t know if I can add much else other than the need to back up things in more than one place. Some good food for thought there. If you need an alternative, Phil Bradley has compiled an excellent list of “28 delicious alternatives.”

This is sort of a webliography or list of items I have recently seen on the topics of online social media, library marketing, outreach, and related concepts. This is mostly for personal reference. Some of the posts are from Librarian Blogsville, but a few others come from other places outside librarianship.

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I wrote a draft previously on this topic here, but as Zuckerberg (Facebook's head honcho) keeps baiting and switching his users, I find there is more to say and consider. This is mostly a small list of items I have been reading recently on the topic that I found interesting and/or relevant. I know this is something that, as a librarian, I need to be concerned about and that I should write about more if for not other reason than to clarify my thoughts and help educated my students. As before, I am not sure what direction to take for more substantial writing. There are a couple of angles or perspectives I want to explore that may be too big for one blog post, but I don't necessarily feel like doing a series. In the meantime, here is the list:

I have a few more clips saved, and I may add some of them here, but this certainly provides a good start.

And the updates start:

  • (Update note: Same day): T. Scott reminds us of the old adage that you don't put something online you do not want to see in the front page of the NYT.  Certainly some good, rational thinking here, but I still think along with a few others that FB is pulling a bait and switch. And while for many people, the option to disconnect is there, I would look back at boyd's piece on FB as utility, meaning it may not be as easy to leave. This is specially so for libraries and other institutions who have made their presences in FB and other social services. Yes, we can have the discussion of "well, maybe they should have not done that," but that train left the station long ago, helped along by a lot of librarians advocating libraries do just that. Still, T. Scott's post is a must-read for the discussion. 
  • (Update note: Same day): And the Krafty Librarian replies to T.Scott above. It may be early to predict, but it is looking like my professional brethren are going with the "it's convenient, so you have to give up your privacy" line of reasoning coupled with the "it's your responsibility in the end." Some of which is true, but then makes it easy to let the big corporate honchos who are abusing our sense of privacy and security off the hook.

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This is the start of what might or not be a more developed essay for my professional blog. Just some thoughts:

I am getting a little sick and tired of the silly and cutesy videos and promotions that the more perky brethren in my profession seem to equate with being a good librarian and being a good promoter of the library. Now, it is not that I do not want to promote the library and its services. I work as an Outreach Librarian after all, which means it is my job to promote the library to the academic campus as well as the rest of the community at large. I make use of online resources and tools when I can, but I don't think I should have to stoop myself to the low level of using silliness to make my point. To be honest, I just don't see any other professionals such as doctors and lawyers doing similar things. Ok, I will grant you, there are some injury law attorneys that get fairly close, but they still remain professional. I just think every time one of those perky librarians who think Web 2.0 can do no wrong come up with one of these ideas they do more to embarrass the rest of us who actually work in the trenches than whatever good they think they are doing. I already have enough of a hard time getting support from some parts of my administration without having to worry one of them will see something like that "digital native" kid video (see link below) and think that is the kind of work I do. I am a professional. I am an academic librarian, and I would like to be taken seriously when it comes to my work. This has been in my mind for a while now, but I am not sure what to say, or rather how to say it. Unfortunately, some of my professional brethren do not take well to disagreement. Saying what I am saying is the kind of thing that will get me the label of "he just doesn't get it," or "he just lacks a sense of humor" (really, have you seen my personal blog, my Facebook page? I think my sense of humor is fine, thank you), or "well, he is a bad librarian who does not really care about his patrons" (yes, I have heard that one too, which irks the living daylights out of me). At the end of the day, I want to do my job. I want to do it well and to the best of my abilities. Is that really so difficult?

Here are some of the items I have recently seen out there that have made me ponder these things:

I worry that expressing questions about this, let alone being skeptical, is probably going to bite me sooner or later. I can hear it now, "ooh, he does not like the little girl. He must be some sourpuss reactionary" or worse. Personally, Abbey is like one of those kids hanging out with Fred Phelp's cult where the parents make them hold a sign, and the poor kid has no idea what they are promoting. If they would have gotten a teenager to illustrate a digital native, then they might have gotten a little more credibility in my eyes. In the end, this fuss is not going to go away any time soon. In practical terms for me, I will just do what I do: keep up, do my work, and serve my patrons. I can let someone else be cute. What saddens me is that expressing an opinion could easily get me alienated in some circles. It's not why I became a librarian given that, as a librarian and educator, I am a fierce advocate of freedom of expression.

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Since Mark Zuckerberg made his infamous remark that privacy is "no longer a social norm," I have wanted to smack him. Seriously, what I have wanted to do is write some kind of post to educate my students on privacy issues online and to warn them that maybe they should not be listening to a guy whose only interest is really his pocketbook. In time, I would like to turn this draft into a longer post, but for now, I am parking some links I think may be useful later. Personally, I am very concerned about my privacy. In the interest of disclosure, I do use Facebook, both personally and for work (I maintain my library's FB page), and I do use all the privacy options available to me there, in spite of Mr. Zuckerberg's persistent tricky changes to get us to loosen up on our privacy options.

I am not sure where I am going with this draft yet, though I know that in addition to discussing some of these things for my students, I would probably add links to things like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) that provide good information on online privacy. By the way, realized that International Privacy Day is next week on January 28th. I knew there was a reason I had ordered those materials on privacy from ALA recently. I have my work cut out for me.

Update Note (1/28/10): Here is the post on Privacy Day I wrote for the the library's blog. I did incorporate some of the ideas I was considering in this draft. Looking down the road, I would like to see if we can plan our own set of events for Privacy Day in my campus. This would be for next year. Also, May has Privacy Week (another event). I already have some materials for that, and I doing some planning at the moment for a possible program. Writing the post for Privacy Day now for the library blog served as a way to test the waters, so to speak. I am looking forward to seeing if the posts gets any responses or comments.


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The service, which describes itself as a content hub and identity management platform, just has a very long way to go before it becomes a good content hub and identity management platform. I got an account back when their beta was closed, and after a few months of toying with it, it just could not meet my needs. Here are some of the problems I found:

  • A limited number of services available. It has a a very small list of services you can bring in: Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and rss feeds (which can allow you to bring in your blog, for instance), Delicious, and one or two other things. Given the many services out there, they need to expand this list.
  • The service "does not play well" with Facebook. From the beginning, the folks claimed that you could connect your Facebook status to their service. This never worked, and as of today, when I finally made the decision to hit the delete button, it was not working. I saw some notes on their forums that Facebook apparently was giving them difficulties with importing photos into the service. Now, I don't use Facebook for photos much. I use Facebook for photos for the FB library's page, but not for personal use. So, this was not a big issue, but the status and feed integration was definitely a desired feature, and I saw no indication it would get fixed any time soon.
  • Feeds. I pulled in the feeds from my blogs and my delicious account. I noticed that updating the feed over on from the blog was not very expeditious. I made a post this morning earlier, and had not picked it up yet. There was no option to refresh the feed when logged in, and no note or indication in their help about how long it could take for a feed to update. A content hub does not work very well if it does not update in a timely matter.
  • Their help forums. While there is an e-mail for questions and support, most of the help is routed to their forums. For the forums, which are powered by some third party, you have to register (again). This was very off putting for me. I already registered for your service, and you are going to make me jump another hurdle so I can send you feedback, feedback which you claim to welcome? No, thanks.

Overall, it was a good experiment. I got some ideas of things I would like to accomplish in terms of social networking and 2.0. The idea of putting all (or a lot of) my content online in one place is very appealing. That you can control and create personas (public, private, so on) and have your visitors see just what you indicate sounds very good. But at this point in time, the service was simply too limited, and to be honest, it does not do anything that I cannot do on Facebook or even here on Vox. So, not seeing any real point, I finally made the decision to delete the account. Maybe if the service improves substantially, I would be willing to give it another try. For now, it did not work for me, and on the basis of my experience I would not recommend it.

I am still interested in something that can centralize my social network profiles, so I will continue searching. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to let me know.

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April 2020


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