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.


December 31, 2008

Hello and Happy New Year!

As 2008 comes to a close (where on earth did it go?), I want to take a moment to reflect on this past year.

When I think about everything I was lucky enough to do this this year, what stands out the most are the people I met during my travels, both online and offline. The best thing about social network sites is the social part, and this year my network expanded to include new friends and rediscovered old ones. In fact, that’s definitely been one of my highlights for the year – reconnecting with folks from my pre-online life, which to me is an indicator that online networks are definitely going mainstream. I’m seeing so many more non-techie friends there, and I really appreciate being able to connect with them in this way. I still don’t have a lot of time to spend on Twitter or FriendFeed, but I’ve gone back to Facebook more and more because that’s where I’m finding a lot of these folks. Plus, it runs at a speed that works well for me right now (something I’m going to write more about it in an upcoming post).

This was especially true this year when I had so many projects going on at work. I haven’t written about my job at ALA here very much, mainly because I’ve been too busy to blog much at all. However, this was such a productive and progressive year at my job that I want to highlight a few of the things we accomplished. While this is by no means an exhaustive list (and it’s certainly not reflective of the work done across the organization as a whole), these are just a few of the things that were personally gratifying for me in 2008, because I played a role in helping them happen. In chronological order:

  • Gaming in libraries
    The year started out big for us when we learned about the $1 million grant from the Verizon Foundation. It’s allowed us to move this topic forward very quickly, and soon we’ll start posting the tangible outcomes. Watch for more to come from this grant in 2009, which will help build on our general successes around gaming so far. In 2008, we launched the Games and Gaming Member Initiative Group, ran a big game at our Annual Conference, started a new Games in Libraries podcast, held a second successful Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium, and coordinated the first annual National Gaming Day @ your library. All in all, a very good year for gaming in libraries.
  • In April, Library Technology Reports published Gaming and Libraries: Broadening the Intersections, my second issue dedicated to the topic.
  • AL Focus launched an incredibly popular series of videos for National Library Week. Full credit for these brilliant pieces goes to Dan Kraus.
  • In August, we launched the READ mini-poster generator that does just what it sounds like it does. We’ve gotten a great response to this, and you can see some of the results in the READ Flickr pool.
  • In October, American Libraries magazine celebrated Open Access Day by opening its archives and making the current issue available to everyone for free. In 2009, watch for HTML versions of current issues (not just PDFs) and expanded content. Congratulations to Leonard Kniffel and his crew for taking such a big step!
  • At the same time, the AL folks decided to open up their weekly email newsletter AL Direct and let anyone subscribe. I don’t have anything at all to do with the production of it, so I don’t think it’s self-promoting to say that I think this is one of the most valuable current awareness tools in the profession. Full credit for the content and delivery goes to George Eberhart, and my involvement has been mainly to advocate that *everyone* should be able to benefit from his hard work. Now that can include you, even if you’re not an ALA member.
  • Finally, ALA Connect just completed alpha testing, and now we’re preparing to start beta testing next week. This is one of my really huge projects at work, so it’s quite a relief to finally be at this point. It’s been a long and…educational road to get this far, but we’re getting very close. So far, the feedback has been pretty good, and I’m looking forward to launching it soon. This is one of the things I’ll be talking about more here in the future but for now, I’ll just say that I couldn’t end the year on a better note.

This was also an amazing year of travel for me, including special trips to the Netherlands (and the wonderful DOK), southeast Asia, and London. I know how lucky I am to be invited to speak in these places, and I’m thankful for the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had along the way. It’s easy to get tunnel vision about location, region, type of library, or the profession in general, and my travels reminded me of the bigger picture and dedication we all share.

I also traveled a lot domestically this year, and while I know times aren’t easy, I hope we never lose the face-to-face connections that are so valuable to our professional and personal development. Long live the conference, unconference, regional meeting, or whatever type of event brings us together. I hope that we as a profession can find the right combination of online and offline to feed our professional connections and growth.

Before this turns into one long verse of Kumbaya, though, there were hiccups in the year, and there are some things I hope to change in 2009. I’ve gotten much better about not spending too many hours just working or working only on the computer, but those changes came at the expense of reading my RSS aggregator and blogging here. I’m again examining how I spend my time to try and figure out a way to do more of both of those things. While I won’t go back to working more or give up the time I’ve gained for family and friends, I do hope to redistribute some of that time to get back to blogging more.

So hopefully you’ll see more action here in the coming year. In the meantime, I hope 2008 was a good year for you, and that 2009 is even better!


5:37 pm Comments (3)

« Previous Page