This weeks Thing is about exploring online tools that can be used to keep up with all the exciting things happening in the library universe. While I’ve been using Twitter and RSS feeds for some time, I really don’t think I’m getting the most out of them and I had heard of Storify but not yet had a play around with it.
I signed up to Twitter in August 2010, the motivating factor being that it was a form of social media that wasn’t blocked at my then-job at a contact centre. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and it was no use to me whatsoever – all of my friends were on Facebook and I wasn’t in a job that I wanted to pursue as a career.
It wasn’t until I start my graduate traineeship that I started to realise the potential that Twitter held for me. Over the last few months I’ve been trying (with mixed success) to use it for networking and sharing ideas. But there are a couple of issues that I’ve still yet to get over:
- Twitter is all a bit scary. In between the RTs, MTs, DMs, etc. it’s hard to know what you’re looking at and who said it. With hashtags and links all over the shop, some tweets can be plain bewildering.
- Most people I follow on Twitter, I don’t actually know in real life, so it is intimidating to address them directly. My problem is that I tweet as if I’m talking to myself – I find it hard to get involved in conversations and shy away from “interrupting” other people’s Twitter dicussions.
- Everything moves so fast on Twitter. A couple of hours ago seems like ancient history on the Twitter timeline. The immediacy of it is great if you want a question answered quickly but it can often leave me feeling like I’ve missed an opportunity. Take the other night, I scrolled right down on my timeline and saw lots of fun tweets for #replaceonewordwithlibrarian. Scroll back up and it appeared I had missed the party. Although I’m sure noone would have been too offended if I joined in a little late, I felt too shy to.
Don’t get me wrong, Twitter is a fantastic tool and all of the worries I have about it are actually its strengths: it’s brief, fast and effective. I need to get over my own false perceptions and issues and get stuck in, start conversations and get involved. I’m so scared of breaking some kind of ‘twitiquette’ that I operate in an isolated little bubble and I’m not getting the most out of the medium.
Even though it’s aimed at using Twitter for libaries not librarians, I found this slide-deck by LibMarketing really useful in highlighting common mistakes. Also, Phil Bradley has a list of resources on Twitter for librarians , some of which are a bit dated, but I’ve found incredibly helpful to jump in and out of.
I’ve dabbled in RSS in the past, I had a nice feed going for news a year or so ago, but again it’s something that I’m not using to it’s full potential. First stop in my efforts to get a handle on RSS feeds is to Google Reader and I’m already signed in with my Google account so I just click the orange ‘Subscribe’ button and start searching for blogs that I read regularly. Once I’m up and running, I can add the feed to my Firefox bookmarks toolbar and just click on it to have all the latest posts from sites I’m subscribed to.
Since I’m using WordPress for this blog I’ve been following others that way and using the WordPress reader. RSS seems like a more universal way of bringing the things I’m interested in together. I’ll certainly be using this much more in future.
This is something I’ve heard mentioned and seen briefly but not actually played around with myself. As a little test, I signed up and created this here Storify about the #replaceonewordwithlibrarian game on Twitter I mentioned earlier. Obviously because I was searching for something that only happened on Twitter, this isn’t a particularly good example of how to get the most out of this tool as you can bring in stories from a wide range of sources. I did find an article on the Huffington Post website and a Facebook link related to the story though (check out the amazing photos on the Greene County Public Libraries Facebook page, what a great idea!).
One thing that I have learnt from this little experiment is that you can only search 150 of the most recent related tweets. Since I was making it this morning, I missed out on a lot of Tweets from when the game was in full swing. Other than that, Storify was really easy to use. Hopefully I’ll have something meaningful to make a Storify about in the future.