January 29, 2009

Thank You, Karen

My first job out of library school was as a ref­er­ence librar­ian at the Calumet City Pub­lic Library in Chicago’s south sub­urbs. I was a total noob, and I look back now and laugh at how green I was. But I was lucky enough to have a great men­tor and boss who taught me a num­ber of things — cus­tomer ser­vice, patience, and how ref­er­ence worked in the real world. In fact, she’s pretty much respon­si­ble for my cus­tomer ser­vice ethic.

And that fate­ful day in what I think must have been 1993, when I dis­cov­ered the Library had a Com­puServe account that no one ever used, she said, “Sure, go ahead and play with it — see what you can find.” Yes, that fate­ful day, I found a recipe for Irish soda bread online for a patron, and I’ve been hooked ever since. She encour­aged me as I expanded my knowl­edge into email, gopher, archie, tel­net, and then the web, and she indulged my crazy ideas about how we could use all of these tools in our work.

Truly, I wouldn’t have accom­plished every­thing I have in my career if Karen Bala hadn’t been the best first boss a baby librar­ian could have. So thank you, Karen — you made a big dif­fer­ence in my life, and I wish I’d had another oppor­tu­nity to tell you that.

11:18 pm Comments (3)

January 24, 2009

Introducing Summon

Every­thing has been lead­ing to this”

Intro­duc­ing “Sum­mon” to do the things Joan Lip­pin­cott talked about

with your col­lec­tions today being pre­dom­i­nantly dig­i­tal (look at your sta­tis­tics), it’s more dif­fi­cult than ever to con­nect stu­dents to your resources

PQ looked very closely at how stu­dents are try­ing to dis­cover infor­ma­tion and con­tent
did “extreme ethno­graphic research” where the kids were search­ing, includ­ing into their dorm rooms
did in-person obser­va­tional research in the dorm, in the cof­fee shop, etc.
recorded ses­sions in-person with users and saw their rates of suc­cess
sur­veyed more than 10,000 users
did online focus groups

the good news about these kids is that they believe we offer the most cred­i­ble, supe­rior source (by a wide mar­gin)
also believe we have the most effi­cient search engine for them, although their behav­ior doesn’t sup­port this
and they say that, too — that they go to Google first
they’re real­is­tic about how they actual go about find­ing information

the library is increas­ingly dis­in­ter­me­di­ated from the search for infor­ma­tion, which is caus­ing the belief that the library is not the cen­ter of campus

– no clear and com­pelling start­ing place (library’s pages say a lot about the library — lit­er­ally says a lot — but dif­fi­cult for end-users to find appro­pri­ate start­ing point for research)
– dif­fi­culty iden­ti­fy­ing appro­pri­ate resources (they can’t find a spe­cific resource even when they know what they’re look­ing for; we have more dig­i­tal resources than ever & it’s dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish between them)
– gen­eral lack of aware­ness of resources (the OPAC, built on the print model, has only a small por­tion of the library’s resources; they get dis­cour­aged try­ing to find things & their unwill­ing­ness to go through long lists of resources is increasing)

under­ly­ing tech­ni­cal issues pre­vent easy searches
com­pare that to “sim­ple, easy, fast” of Google and web searching

if only there was a Google-like search for libraries
wel­come to Summon

a com­pelling place for your end users to start their research to dis­cover the wealth of your resources avail­able to them
enables quick dis­cov­ery of all of your library’s dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal resources (repos­i­to­ries, data­bases, OPAC, books, ejour­nal arti­cles, etc.)
does it in a Google-like sin­gle search, very fast, very coör­di­nated, takes them into the dis­cov­ery phase very, very quickly

what is a uni­fied dis­cov­ery ser­vice?
NOT fed­er­ated search — doesn’t use con­nec­tors or trans­la­tors
it pre-harvests mas­sive amounts of data to bring them together in a sin­gle search through a sin­gle search box
pre-built, pre-coördinated

urge libraries to bring to Sum­mon every­thing Joan described in her talk
because they know what your library sub­scribes to, they can make sure your end user doesn’t get into dead ends
end users only see the things they actu­ally have access to (unlike Google Scholar)
it’s an open sys­tem with APIs — put the search box wher­ever you want
not a nextgen cat­a­log, although you could use the API in one

I’ll believe it when I see it” (when pigs fly)

more than 40 pub­lish­ers are pro­vid­ing meta­data today
more than 50,000 jour­nals are already rep­re­sented
300+ mil­lion items indexed so far (as of today)
update ser­vice weekly with new pub­lish­ers
Gale and Pro­Quest are lead­ing the way with SerialsSolutions

also have the sup­port of Springer, SAGE, Cross­Ref, Tay­lor & Fran­cis, High­Wire (help­ing with har­vest­ing), Nature Pub­lish­ing Group, Oxford Uni­ver­sity Press, Houghton Mif­flin, Acad­emy of Sci­ences, soci­ety pub­lish­ers, open access con­tent, Econ­List, Soci­o­log­i­cal Abstracts, GPO, Med­line, ERIC, Agri­cola, and more

through their use of the A&I resrouces, can still lead users to con­tent even if they don’t have a part­ner­ship with them
85% of EBSCO Aca­d­e­mic Search­Premier is avail­able via Sum­mon
64% of JSTOR
87% of Ovid

Sum­mon is in beta at Dart­mouth and Okla­homa State (since November)


did two quick searches
the open­ing screen is just a search box and noth­ing else
let a branded search box be your dig­i­tal pres­ence
– keep it clean and focused

can fil­ter by full text online items only
can fil­ter by peer-reviewed or schol­arly resources

will be a sub­scrip­tion ser­vice that is fully hosted

stop by their booth (#1904) to see it in action
sign up on their web­site for news about the service

Q — how is this related to AquaBrowser?
A — AB is a nextgen cat­a­log so you can bring Sum­mon con­tent into it through the Sum­mon API

Q — don’t you have 2 fed­er­ated search tools that you were com­bin­ing, and what has hap­pened to them?
A — we do, and we are, but dif­fer­ent libraries have dif­fer­ent needs; still need to offer a good fed­er­ated search prod­uct for those libraries that want one; but they believe the com­pelling start­ing point is Summon

Q — we’re talk­ing about tons and tons of data, how do you show cur­rent sta­tus?
A — pre-harvest with meta­data but click through in real-time

Q — is there a poten­tial to aggre­gate all of the col­lec­tions among libraries?
A — we’ll have to wait and see; right now, the focus is to pro­vide this Google-like, com­pelling presence

Q — for those things that aren’t in Sum­mon, is there a way to lead them to fur­ther resources?
A — yes, the screens are all very cus­tomiz­able; want to keep the open­ing screen clean, though

Q — one of the advan­tages of pre-harvesting is find­ing rela­tion­ships between things — will you be doing that instead of just pro­vid­ing facts?
A — yes, but right now it’s still just in beta; will take time

Q — ??
A — have already brought into Sum­mon the con­tents of one partner’s OPAC (didn’t say which one), so they know these pro­to­cols work

Q — is the pric­ing going to be in the “dream come true” range, too?
A — pric­ing has not yet been deter­mined, but they are aware of the issues around cost

9:51 am Comments (7)

ProQuest “Libraries and the Net Gen” — Introducing Summon

Joan Lip­pin­cott started out by speak­ing about net gens — “If we were cre­at­ing aca­d­e­mic libraries today, what would they look like?”

Oxford, San Jose State Uni­ver­sity?
would they only have print col­lec­tions, spe­cial collections?

or would we cre­ate learn­ing com­mons?
would they look like Google Book Search or iTunes Uni­ver­sity where the librar­ian mostly deals with licens­ing, totally online?

can we cre­ate libraries with con­tent, tools, and ser­vices for today’s students?

looked up “what’s in my bag” pool on Flickr to see what today’s stu­dents carry (not books)

net gens — born between 1982–1991 who grew up with com­put­ers and other media at home and in school from ear­li­est ages
Joan has two Net­Gen daugh­ters, although their friends are bet­ter infor­mants
also calls them mil­len­ni­als, dig­i­tal natives, gen y, next gen, Dot­Nets
when asked what comes next, she uses the term “screenagers” :-p
– the gen­er­a­tion that will have had com­put­ers and mobile devices since birth

char­ac­ter­is­tics of Net­Gens (a pop­u­la­tion, not a gen­er­a­tion)
using “Born Dig­i­tal” def­i­n­i­tion, a highly edu­cated sub­group has the fol­low­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics
– always con­nected, multi-tasking
– ori­ented to work­ing in groups (doesn’t mean they love “group­work,” but they like hang­ing out with their friends and social­iz­ing while work­ing; you used to go to the library, do your work, & go back to the dorm to social­ize. now they social­ize at the library with friends who are there and who aren’t there)
– expe­ri­en­tial learn­ers (like the shift to hands-on learn­ing from lec­ture)
– visual (ori­ented towards visual cues, although they do still read; when they’re doing a his­tory paper, they may embed a map or cre­ate a video — they don’t just use text)
– pro­duc­ers as well as con­sumers (they cre­ate some­thing of their own)

even if you have 50% adult learn­ers at your cam­pus, many of these char­ac­ter­is­tics still apply
(kids today call them “cam­eras,” not “dig­i­tal cam­eras”)
any­one work­ing in dig­i­tal human­i­ties is work­ing in groups
adults are active learn­ers — they want hands-on
think of any pro­fes­sion — they are all pro­duc­ing web­sites, word doc­u­ments, or pro­duc­ing some form of dig­i­tal information

so our tools need to be ori­ented towards these char­ac­ter­is­tics because they’ll need the skills using them going forward

char­ac­ter­is­tics of “deeper learn­ing” (edu­cause)
– social
– active
– con­tex­tual
– engag­ing
– student-owned

libraries are per­fectly posi­tioned to take advan­tage of this
it’s the projects they do out­side of class that gives them the skills in class
– gives them con­text, they own their prod­uct, and engages them

it’s not just hype and it has rel­e­vance to learn­ing
have to think about how we do this in our own institutions

are all stu­dents really tech-savvy?
stu­dents are con­nected
98.5% of respon­dents own a com­puter, 82.2% own a lap­top (doesn’t mean they are new com­put­ers or that they bring them to class)
spend 19.6 hours a week doing work online (Joan thinks that’s low)
almost all are using social networks

har­vard med­ical school sur­vey of stu­dents in 2007 found 52% own a PDA
app with most use is ref­er­ence!
have to think about the next gen­er­a­tion of pro­fes­sion­als and how we serve them

they love the inter­net and would give up TV & radio before inter­net (because they’re doing those things on the web)
col­lege kids increas­ingly live in the online and offline worlds at the same time
has impor­tant impli­ca­tions for how we struc­ture services

JISC study found that learn­ers who are effec­tive in online envi­ron­ment also cre­ate con­tent, seek peer sup­port using infor­mal net­works & social tools — an under­ground world of net­work­ing that is invis­i­ble to institutions

they may know how to build a web­site, but “we’re more inter­ested in the art and flow of argu­ment“
have to teach them how to use these tools in their dis­ci­plines, not their per­sonal lives
we want stu­dents to con­nect bet­ter to library col­lec­tions and services

Henry Jenk­ins’ “selected core skills“
– col­lec­tive intel­li­gence
– judg­ment — the abil­ity to eval­u­ate the reli­a­bil­ity and cred­i­bil­ity of dif­fer­ent infor­ma­tion resources
– net­work­ing — the abil­ity to search for, syn­the­size infor­ma­tion
– sim­u­la­tion — abil­ity to inter­pret & *con­stuct& dynamic mod­els of real world processes
– appro­pri­a­tion
– mult­task­ing — a pos­i­tive thing when can shift focus to salient details

MIT Photo Diary study

there will be an increas­ing empha­sis on data for visu­al­iza­tion (how do we rep­re­sent this in our find­ing aids)
con­tent opti­mized for mobile devices

Cor­nell has put images from their dig­i­tal col­lec­tions on their com­put­ers as screen­savers so that when stu­dents ask where the images came from, the librar­i­ans can tell them

Seat­tle PL visu­al­iza­tion of books being checked out

need to think about embed­ded con­tent and trans­form­ing text data into more visual formats

- adopt and adapt
– assess
– hir­ing new types of staff
– train exist­ing staff
– let go of things you don’t need to do

these stu­dents are our future and it’s our role to recre­ate aca­d­e­mic libraries

9:16 am Comments (1)

January 15, 2009

Pre-meditated Lust

Dear Palm,

Please con­sider this my Pre-order for the Palm Pre, the first phone designed specif­i­cally for the inter­net from the bot­tom up.

Under the hood is a speedy new micro­proces­sor from Texas Instru­ments that runs videos quickly and smoothly, with less of the herky-jerkiness that mobile devices are known for. The phone has 8 giga­bytes of stor­age, which is decent but not great; it can run Adobe Flash, and can cut, copy and paste, which iPhone can’t; it sup­ports mul­ti­me­dia mes­sag­ing ser­vice (MMS) so you can send text mes­sages with pho­tos attached, which iPhone can’t do; it has a 3 megapixel cam­era and a flash, which iPhone lacks. There’s a but­ton that lets you buy music from Amazon’s down­load store. Then there’s the mul­ti­task­ing. Want to talk on the speak­er­phone while brows­ing the Web and enter­ing stuff in your cal­en­dar? No prob­lem. Palm expects peo­ple will keep 15 to 20 appli­ca­tions open at the same time.

Palm’s engi­neers have done some really slick things with appli­ca­tions them­selves, espe­cially con­tacts and cal­en­dars. You can pull together mul­ti­ple cal­en­dars and view them all at once—say, your work cal­en­dar, your home cal­en­dar, even cal­en­dars from other peo­ple, like your spouse’s Google cal­en­dar (your spouse needs to give you the log-on info). The con­tact man­ager pulls con­tact infor­ma­tion from mul­ti­ple sources—Yahoo con­tacts, Google con­tacts, Face­book con­tacts. A list­ing in your address book can con­tain every way of reach­ing that person—via work mail, Gmail, or Face­book mail, for example—and lets you send a mes­sage to a friend using any one of these. Also, the appli­ca­tions talk to one another. When the cal­en­dar appli­ca­tion prompts you for a reminder about a meet­ing, it also pulls up a list of the peo­ple who will be attend­ing, with their con­tact info. So if you’re run­ning late, you can let every­one know.” [Newsweek]

Here’s more on the way the var­i­ous appli­ca­tions are inte­grated to cre­ate a bet­ter user expe­ri­ence, hope­fully one that is seam­less and blur-ry, the way my online/offline is.

my next phone - the Palm PreThanks to Syn­ergy, all your con­ver­sa­tions with the same per­son are grouped together in one chat-style view. (Even if it started in IM, for exam­ple, and you want to reply with text.) You can also see who’s online right from con­tacts, and start a new con­ver­sa­tion with just one touch.” [Palm Pre site]

Throw in a remov­able bat­tery, WiFi, GPS, wire­less charg­ing, and the abil­ity to use the phone with one hand, and I’m SO there.

I’m also look­ing for­ward to using DCPL’s sec­ond phone app for search­ing its cat­a­log. Com­ing soon to a Pre near you me, right, Aaron? After all, it is just a fla­vor of Linux, and “all apps are just CSS, HTML and JavaScript. ALL OF THEM..” :)

January 14, 2009

We’re Not All Ready for the Cloud Yet

Michael Stephens has a great post describ­ing his Ten Trends & Tech­nolo­gies for 2009, and nor­mally I wouldn’t even point to it because it’s get­ting a lot of link love else­where. If by some mir­a­cle you haven’t seen it yet, go read the whole thing, but I want to expand on one par­tic­u­lar piece, cloud com­put­ing, because librar­i­ans need to also dis­cuss the flip side of the ben­e­fits that Michael describes. As he notes, Michael isn’t the first librar­ian to talk about cloud com­put­ing, but I haven’t seen as much dis­cus­sion of the poten­tial con­se­quences of it, espe­cially dur­ing the tran­si­tion we’re in right now where we can’t totally trust the cloud.

Here’s the part of Michael’s post that jumped out at me.

As reg­u­lar folks store more data and rely more and more on the cloud, librar­i­ans would be well-served to spend some time pon­der­ing what this means for ser­vices and access. As movies and music become down­loads from the great juke­box in the sky, what hap­pens to the AV depart­ment? As doc­u­ments and data find their way to the ether, how can we pro­vide a means to use them? Some impli­ca­tions from the “Cloud” post:

* Under­stand con­verged devices are every­where.
* Allow unfet­tered access to the cloud.
* Under­stand that the cloud may also be a valu­able infor­ma­tion resource.
* Uti­lize the cloud to save time and money.

That last one is impor­tant to me. Why can’t we use Google Docs with our users for pro­duc­tiv­ity instead of pay­ing for bloated soft­ware suites? Why can’t we show our users how to save to the cloud so they can access their stuff from anywhere?”

I agree with Michael’s points, but I think we have a crit­i­cal role in help­ing users with those third and fourth impli­ca­tions. One of the keys to cloud com­put­ing right now is syn­chro­niza­tion. Very few peo­ple I know com­pletely trust their data to the cloud, and they have back­ups at home or they syn­chro­nize across mul­ti­ple devices so that if one ser­vice fails, they haven’t lost everything.

The prob­lem with this approach at this stage is that early adopters know how to do this, but that’s a pretty small per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion. So while we can def­i­nitely work with patrons using Google Docs, I think the more impor­tant role for libraries right now is to teach users about these types of ser­vices, in no small part so that we can help them under­stand the poten­tial con­se­quences. Because if you teach a patron to use an online doc­u­ments site and she puts her resume there and some­thing goes wrong with it, that’s a very real data loss for that person.

So we need to teach peo­ple a few dif­fer­ent things, besides just how to use these tools.

  1. There are mul­ti­ple options
    I worry when I see librar­i­ans pro­mot­ing only Google Docs. I know Michael was using it as just one exam­ple, but I’ve seen oth­ers sing its praises with no men­tion that any­thing else even exists. Sure it’s easy to use and it works really well, but would you feel com­fort­able pro­mot­ing only Microsoft Office Live Docs to your patrons? Most librar­i­ans I know would be uncom­fort­able about doing that, because they see Microsoft as being a monop­oly inter­ested only its bot­tom line, but Google isn’t fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent. They’re actu­ally sell­ing ads with their ser­vices, and their ulti­mate moti­va­tion is rev­enue — never for­get that.
  2. How to syn­chro­nize or backup those files
    Although this will change over the next few years, a very small per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion has a smart­phone, and even fewer actu­ally use it to syn­chro­nize con­tent to the cloud. A lot of peo­ple know about and use flash dri­ves now that prices on them have dropped and stor­age size has gone up, but I’ve met enough folks who think putting some­thing on the inter­net means it’s per­ma­nent that I strongly believe we need to help teach our users this isn’t true. So if we teach how to use cloud tools, we need to teach that there can also be consequences.

    Last year I had a dis­cus­sion with Eli Neiburger dur­ing which he made the inter­est­ing point that kids today expe­ri­ence their first data loss at a much younger age than we ever did. That really made me stop and think for a minute about just how much we aren’t teach­ing our chil­dren about tech­nol­ogy, and this is an area where we can help both kids and adults, if we rec­og­nize this and incor­po­rate it into our media flu­ency role.

  3. How to think about pri­vacy in this con­text
    What does it mean to put your resume on Google Docs? I’m not sure we’ve really thought through that ques­tion. If you use Gmail (so Google is serv­ing up ads based on your mes­sages), the Google search engine (so the big G knows what you’re search­ing and is show­ing you ads based on that), your cal­en­dar is in gCal, and you use gTalk (just to name a few Google ser­vices), that means Google has assem­bled a pretty good pic­ture of you. How com­fort­able would you be if all of that data resided with Microsoft? Yahoo? The gov­ern­ment? Your ISP? Your employer? A com­pany like Fox that’s owned by Rupert Murdoch?

    This is impor­tant stuff, because these com­pa­nies change their poli­cies at the drop of a hat, and users have no say. For exam­ple, if you’re an iTunes cus­tomer who paid to upgrade your DRM-restricted music to “unre­stricted” MP3s last week, this week we found out that those “unre­stricted” and “open” files from Apple con­tain per­sonal infor­ma­tion about you. You can now be eas­ily iden­ti­fied by that file, so if it lives in the cloud and some­thing hap­pens to it (like some­one steals a copy and puts it on the open web), are you liable for that copy­right vio­la­tion? Granted, the chances of that hap­pen­ing are pretty slim, but how many users are even think­ing about this? What does it mean to have personally-identifiable infor­ma­tion embed­ded in data files and liv­ing in the cloud? We tend to think this stuff is just secure out there and that these kinds of things won’t hap­pen to us, but it’s only hind­sight that is 20/20. What if other com­pa­nies started embed­ding per­sonal infor­ma­tion about you in files — what would your recourse be? And when it’s a free ser­vice, you don’t have a con­tract or ser­vice agree­ment to fall back on when prob­lems arise.

    I don’t con­sider myself a con­spir­acy the­o­rist or even par­tic­u­larly para­noid, but this is one rea­son I don’t use Gmail very much. If you’re read­ing this, you likely already know all of this is an issue, and you have the capac­ity to make that deci­sion for your­self. But a large per­cent­age of your users prob­a­bly don’t.

Teach­ing crit­i­cal skills about the cloud will become just as essen­tial as teach­ing how to eval­u­ate a web­site, even more so as prod­ucts con­tinue the march to becom­ing ser­vices. The ease and con­ve­nience of access­ing this stuff via any com­puter, includ­ing a cell­phone, is push­ing peo­ple to do things they would never do in the “phys­i­cal” world. Imag­ine trust­ing some­one you don’t know knock­ing on your door and say­ing they’ll take good care of your pri­vate data and access to your com­puter. “Trust me.” Seriously?

I take advan­tage of some of these ser­vices, too, so I’m just as guilty, but I’ve become far less trust­ing of syn­chro­niz­ing whole fold­ers to the cloud, and I’m more care­ful about what lives there. I’ll prob­a­bly start password-protecting more files, too. It’s not a per­fect solu­tion, but I’m start­ing to think more about this stuff and won­der how I can install my own syn­chro­niza­tion ser­vice, rather than rely­ing on a third party. I’m in the minor­ity, though, and it’s time we rec­og­nize as a pro­fes­sion that when we iden­tify these types of trends, it’s not just for our own ben­e­fit. We should see this for what it is — an expan­sion of our tra­di­tional role to teach peo­ple how to use infor­ma­tion well, and we should lead, not just with good mod­els, but with help under­stand­ing and deal­ing with the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of all of this.

9:07 am Comments (8)

January 13, 2009

Help for 2 Twitter Acounts through 1 Cell Phone?

Lazy­web request: Does any­one have any ideas for how to run two Twit­ter accounts through one cell phone using just text mes­sages? I know I can do it through email or on the web on the phone, but I really want the instant, push noti­fi­ca­tion that SMS pro­vides. Help me, Lazyweb!

6:39 am Comments (2)

January 7, 2009

Choosing Your Social Media Drug

Last week I noted that of all of the social media sites, I’m prob­a­bly most engaged with Face­book right now. Twit­ter tends to frag­ment my atten­tion too much, so I started restrict­ing my time on it to about an hour a day. The con­ver­sa­tion there is too dis­jointed for me, and it’s impos­si­ble to find and refer back to all the pieces of a con­ver­sa­tion even just a few days later. The best I’ve been able to man­age is to use Tweet­Deck to cre­ate groups to check in on peri­od­i­cally, as opposed to try­ing to keep up with every­one all the time. I still don’t let myself sit on Twit­ter for too long because as Ed Viel­metti says, “If you keep refresh­ing it will never, ever stop..” In fact, my rule of thumb on any social site is that I never hit the “older” button.

Then Friend­Feed came along, which helped unify con­ver­sa­tions and brought pic­tures, audio, and video into the mix. The breadth of ser­vices it aggre­gates is pretty impres­sive, so when a crit­i­cal mass of friends hit there, I switched my hour a day to check in there.

Let me pref­ace this next state­ment by say­ing that I love the serendip­ity of Friend­Feed, and it def­i­nitely restores fun to aggre­ga­tion. That said, it moves way too fast for me. As a result, I’ve come to the con­clu­sion that Friend­Feed is Twit­ter on speed, while Face­book is Twit­ter on Ritalin, and for where I’m at right now, Face­book is my pri­mary drug of choice. I need some­thing to help me con­trol the fire­hose so that I can more eas­ily focus on spe­cific pieces, and the fact that I can sep­a­rate the links and posts from the sta­tus updates on FB does exactly that. I have the sta­tus of about three dozen folks texted to my phone, which means I see what I con­sider to be the most impor­tant func­tion of the site for me front and center.

I had been friend­ing peo­ple there for a while, watched what libraries were doing, and gone through the “play with var­i­ous appli­ca­tions” stage of Face­book love, but then I found myself using it less and less. I fell back in love with it, though, when they added the abil­ity to com­ment on a friend’s sta­tus, because that’s the piece I was hav­ing trou­ble track­ing and par­tic­i­pat­ing in amongst all of the con­ver­sa­tions tak­ing place on Twit­ter. Even bet­ter was a change in the way SMS responses are han­dled so that replies from my phone now appear as com­ments on sta­tuses, not inbox mes­sages attached to pre­vi­ous emails. That means there’s con­ver­sa­tion around updates, and it’s at a man­age­able pace.

I still check Friend­Feed a cou­ple of times a day, but I’m swamped with enough stuff right now that I use my social net­works first and fore­most for friend updates, and Face­book turns out to be per­fect for that, espe­cially for my non-library friends. I can lit­er­ally see oth­ers get­ting a lot out of Twit­ter and Friend­Feed because they mon­i­tor those sites a lot more closely, and more power to them. There are a lot of con­ver­sa­tions right now about the ROI of blog­ging ver­sus Twit­ter ver­sus Friend­Feed, but it’s impor­tant to exam­ine what you want to get from these tools in order to eval­u­ate which one(s) are best for you at any given time, remem­ber­ing that it’s all cycli­cal and is likely to change just when you get com­fort­able with your rou­tine. Of course, that can be a good thing.

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