Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

1. Identify dynamics of participation in online communities
2. Identify methods of moderating online communities
3. Determine best practices for building online community
4. Identify the challenges involved in building an online community.
5. Identify technologies that can be used for building online communities
6. Know what to consider before choosing a specific technology for your community

Right off the bat, I love Webjunction. It fits my interests and needs from the library. It is an easy to manage online community. The discussions are well categorized and useful. I'm promoting a wiki at my library for library assistants and I'd rather have one that looked like this. I've been looking at the amount of time needed to make an online community and it's way beyond my time load but gosh, if we could do it, this would be the one.
As for the wishes, if I could do something this big, I'd first ask myself the excellent questions from the Online Community Builder's Checklist about how and why I want an online community and how it should be managed. I'd use something like Drupal to design the program. It seemed to have an easy to use platform - I suppose I should say relatively easy to use platform considering I have no idea how to put it together.
I don't think of myself as an especially patient person, so I'm not sure I'd have the patience to grow a community, which is why I'd start a community within my 300 or so library staff - sort of a captive audience. I think it might still be difficult to start, so I'd have a few friends help to seed the discussions, giving people a chance to see what interactions look like. While anonymity may cause issues in other communities I don't think that it would be a problem in such a closed group. I would encourage moderators as I think they could be of real service in keeping questions clear and focused. I'd also work on encouraging people new to the practice to give them a feeling of closeness. There are introverts and extroverts in online communities and given that I'm an introvert I can appreciate the need to lurk for a while before jumping into conversations. I'm probably over enthusiastic in my belief that the community would grow itself because of all of the exciting information they could share. It could be that we would share all that there was to share and once done, we wouldn't have anything else to say. Or it could be that we would keep sharing because learning and sharing library lore is exciting and fun to do.
This mind you is only a wish list. I'm still overwhelmed at the amount of work it would take to put it together. But imagine the possibilities!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I'm not Eleanor Roosevelt. I'm not Franklin either. I've been reading a book about them and the social ills they worked towards fixing. I'm not depressed because I'm not them, I'm just depressed because they had the political power, underscored by family money and status to make things happen in the United States. I don't have political power, family money or status to make stuff happen. Granted other presidents with backgrounds closer to mine did things but the New Deal was unique in the kinds of changes it made. All of which leads me to this weeks topic the wisdom of crowds, or the collective intelligence of crowds, both of which make up a whole new body of intelligence.
The body of writing presented this week was about the two and the influence on information systems. Both styles had their detractors and admirers but both had a conclusion that seemed to democratize information systems. In using these systems we change our way of accessing information, not exactly dumping taxonomies, but adding to them folksonomies. We take a basic system of information and open it up to the public, inviting them, through one method or the other to take a shot at some area of classification - dreaming up new ideas to fit into a structured system, adding new words to classify art. The ethos of classification remains inherent in the structure but we're no longer working exactly from the top down.
Within the wisdom of crowds, there is still very much a hierachical system. Some small group stores all of the information individuals send in and calibrates it in order to come up with new information. People don't get to talk to each other because they might influence each other. With the collective intelligence of crowds, people do talk to each other, at least in a controlled way. I like to think of it as a graduate group writing a paper. Ideas are introduced and commented on and built on.
Which brings me to Franklin and Eleanor. Now this will be a stretch but I really liked the book. In terms of a taxonomy, they were it. They knew what the country needed from the raw data and they created and sold the programs downwards. Now democratically there may have been more crowd wisdom in terms of the collection of data- people did send their representatives to Washington and their representatives did represent their needs. And in terms of the collected intelligence of crowds, there was discussion of the information and it was changed accordingly although not necessarily in reasoned response. Of course about here is where I need to end the political comparison I'm wandering in deeper and deeper muck about what I don't know. But the ideas of democratizing classification has all sorts of fascinating nooks and crannies to it. Does classifiying information i.e. tagging according to popular wisdom create a loss of possibly unique information? I was concerned when reading of the professor's grad students tagging works for studies. Would students be encouraged to pursue esoteric writing for their writings when they could go for the simple easy, well recommended works? Why change controlled vocabularies when they have worked so well? is doing some interesting things with combining controlled vocabularies and folksonomies, is it a good idea to follow them?
I want to follow these questions later in another blog but in the meantime, I really want to finish this book.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Exercise 5

I've been working on this assignment while checking on Delicious and tracking information on Elizabeth Taylor who died today. I didn't think much about it, I often will check on something as a way to relax while I'm working, but I realized that I was checking her out on Delicious and I'd never conceptualized a search on Delicious before. I've been uncomfortable with the product for reasons unknown to me since we started class. I've been doing whatever assignments I needed to do but just hadn't been able to get the feel of the software. Even assignment five seemed unwieldy, going back and forth between the instructions and the program. And then as I said I realized I was doing a dedicated search in my spare moments on Elizabeth Taylor on the same software.
I had a lot of difficulty looking for things with Delicious for sometime and as a result, didn't want to use it. But the experience of looking for Elizabeth Taylor made me realize that it was more motivation than lack of knowledge keeping me from utilizing Delicious software. While I had been tagging articles through the semester, I had no real sense of how to make the function mine. Once I started working in the software, chasing curious bits of information, I was able to start making connections to the controls.
Just some notes from what I learned:
Of the three items I chose for assignment five, the one most often picked was the social bookmarking definition from wikipedia. I'm a bit embarrassed to mention it as my choice but it is a good all around description of social bookmarking and 1406 taggers agreed with me. What was interesting was that other than wikipedia, the tags used weren't the tags I used. They make sense in the context but I wouldn't have thought to choose them from the article.Social bookmarking had 512 tags. Bookmarking had 402 tags and social had 349 tags. I would normally add the three together because of the similarity in tags but I wasn't sure of the taxonomy issues there. Granted this is folksonomy but did social cover social bookmarking? Would socialbookmarking cover marking?
For the last segment of tags,I liked the animated piece that someone from the class choose on You Tube and chose it for my own, "The surprising truth about what motivates us", an animated video that speaks to motivation in learning and making new technologies in the workplace. I got excited about finding more items like that in a search, but the tags led me nowhere. I think this would be a good example of learning to use several programs together as You Tube generally tags videos.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I've noticed something about social software - it's marketed in one of two ways - very cool, crisp colors or wonderful playful child like drawings. I don't know if they are appealing to the child in us or to our creative side. No matter, they're still interesting.
In a curious twist to the question this week "Describe the impact you think organizational culture has on knowledge-sharing." I wonder the opposite, what influence does knowledge sharing have on organization culture?
Organizational culture can allow blogs, tags, integrated social platforms, shared video to abound. Organizations sharing knowledge, supporting staff training and creativity, and allowing presence beyond the office, help to create tech savvy employees according to Mackay in "Invest in Collaborative Tools, Get More than Double Return, Study Says." So organizational culture needs to be a nurturing environment for social media.
Social media is itself a communication environment. It creates connection,it is communication with other people, and communication thrives in an open structured environment. So in this environment, skills with social media would grow, right? My thought is that there is a chance of getting overwhelmed with all the good stuff. This class is a good example. I love social media. Truly love it. I've had fun this week trying out new toys. Fully half of them will remain on my browser, free license expired but I know I'll keep a bunch of them. I'll keep Skype to see friends far away. I'm trying to develop a wiki project at work for the organization. I've fallen in love with Google Wave. And I'm still working on Meebo. However I figured out that I'm learning something like thirteen new applications a week, which works out to nearly two a day. My learning curve is a sharp line upwards, not so much in learning new works, but in applying them to my daily bread, my library work. (And for that matter, some of my schoolwork.) I wouldn't stop it for the world, like I said it's a lot of fun, but if learning the tools come at a quick rate in an already fast environment, it might make it difficult to integrate. Then we have staff overload, ideas spinning out of control or abandoned, and poor staff morale. So the trick is to decide how and when to introduce all of these new toys, finding the right venue for them, and giving a lot of extra time to play.
Take the wiki for an example. Suarez, author of the article "When wikis won't work, ten questions to ask before full adoption" enumerates the five first questions that must be addressed before even attempting a wiki:
1.Is a wiki the best technology for what I am seeking to accomplish?
2. Is my community cohesive and focused enough to be able to work together?
3. Am I asking my community to create a universal truth based on tangible facts?
4. Is my community going to be able to agree on these facts?
5. Is my community both knowledgeable and interested about the subject of the wiki?

The next five questions deal with the structure of the organization and how they might be impacted by the wiki:
1. Does my team / community have got the necessary resources to support and facilitate the participation on the wiki?
2. Is the team / community capable of maintaining the wiki with a robust enough infrastructure?
3. Do team / community members trust each other good enough to be able to update content on top of each other's content without risking the quality of the knowledge shared?
4. Will the team / community provide the necessary education and training materials on how to effectively make use of the wiki for that specific purpose?
5. And, finally, the killer question: can the team / community perform that task at hand with the same quality and participation using other tools than a wiki? If so, why don't you would use whichever of those tools? (Suarez, 2007)

Social media in it's ever evolving state is here to stay and what will be fun is seeing how organizational culture and social media intertwine in their symbiotic way. Will it cause organizations to loosen tightly organized structure or the opposite, create a loose dissonant mess of functioning culture?

Mackie, S. (2009). "Invest in Collaborative Tools, Get More than Double Return, Study Says."

Suarez, L. (2007). “When Wikis Won't Work: 10 questions to ask before full adoption.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Well, I like it.

Why? It has a clear purpose: to transmit interesting information to help with research. It's informal in manner but brings in solid information and good links. It is appealing and easy to interact with. All that being said, it's no longer updated. So possibly it doesn't win for longevity. But for spirit, it is WIKI ish!

Now for wikis that still exist, we can go to: Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki. It has instructions for use, a description of wikis in general and a concise description of best practices in libraries. You have a clear outline and outcome expected, you're invited to join in, and consensus rather than dissention is encouraged. There is an enormous list of areas to post in and they are all well defined and they support success in library endeavors. By wiki standards according to Maishi Nachani in "Planning and sustaining wiki based collaboration based projects", it is a true success. Granted Nachani was talking about internal wikis, but the Best Practices Wiki is a sort of a self sustaining wiki in that it makes all library folk a part of the community.It asks and answers the questions posed by Nachani:
What is the need for the project?
What will the wiki address?
Will everyone be able to use the wiki?
Who are the members?
Will they require training?
What's the budget?
With each entry, a decision can be made to develop the subject.
Granted it is a bit of a geeky information wiki. And granted it looks at times like a group of tags a la delicious. But the job of this wiki is to continue to produce best practices information and that it does brilliantly.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I just did an informal survey with five participants using a single question, “What do you think of when I say library?” None of the participants knew each other, they were of different ages and backgrounds and they were from three different states. Although they all knew me and that I worked at a library, their answers were consistent in nature. “Old ladies with glasses, people going shhhh, book, more books, studying.”
The library I chose, Sacramento Public Library has been battling these images for some time. The library is well known in the county, with 28 branches and new branches opening or being revamped frequently. It has been a part of Sacramento for 154 years, even gathering funds for a new building in 1911. In addition I chose the Sacramento library because it is in my hometown, I’m familiar with it and have been influenced by its many iterations.
The problems facing the library in terms of public relations are that the library is not well known to people other than patrons. There are several reasons for this that I will address through the blog. The starting problem, oddly enough is that the buildings for the library, often beautifully designed are placed to blend in the local ambiance. There are signs of course but even they blend into the surroundings. The library has a wonderful logo, designed about a year ago which they also use on their website. Eye catching and interesting, the logo is kept on cards, on the bookmobile and book trucks so that they are a visible presence. However that kind of good public relations would be helpful in identifying the individual libraries as well.
The library has been developing a brand online with a presence on Facebook, twitter, and a blog although the blog was discontinued last year. However unless you knew what you’re looking for you won’t find it. I used several tools looking for the Sacramento library. Social mention and blogsearch took me to where a search for Sacramento public library shows Sacramento public libraries bookmarks. Sever articles were there about the libraries service and they were easy to use and interesting. I went to Twitter as well and looked for Sacramento public library and variations on the theme. I mention that because with saclibr I was frequently sent to a San Antoine library of the same name. Blogpulse offered me a couple of tidbits on the library, although I generally got more information on the county than the public library. I also did a you tube search for Sacramento public library which gave me the greatest success in hits. I was able to find more about the library and their presence in other social media and some entertaining videos as well. The shaky egg song was a particular favorite.

The library has been making inroads in social media. They did have a blog, see although they have since closed it and moved to twitter and Facebook. The blog was entertaining although a bit dreary in color and the format wasn’t enticing. The blog was in Spanish and English which. The content however was good. Several authors wrote the site and led into different books or collections. My favorite was a mild mannered rant against the practice of spending huge amounts of money on funerals. It was entertaining, listing all sorts of things to do instead of funerals and included a video from Michael Jackson’s funeral, complete with Jenifer Hudson singing. It was a great lead in to books about funerals. There were only fourteen followers for the site although almost five hundred posts. I was sorry to see it discontinued, as it was readable and interesting although it was probably wise of the library to go to twitter and Facebook. I think I’d make a suggestion here that the blog be related to twitter and Facebook in order to gain a more rounded option.
The twitter account was active with 357 followers and over a thousand tweets. It looked like the library was responding to questions immediately. Must add here that the library addresses mostly the Central library population and there are 27 other branches, some with social media accounts. However the Central library is the most populated. It has become what twitter is, a question and answer service. The library also has a Facebook presence!/saclibra which is another source of information. The site doesn’t look particularly well used and could have gained by having the relationship to the blog. There was a connection to Flicker though, which provided photos of Sacramento’s past.
The library has a number of items to offer its members. There is fregal, a service that downloads music for free. There are also free downloadable eBooks and audio books and videos. In a smart marketing move, many of the libraries have invited Barnes and Noble to go on site to demonstrate downloading free eBooks to their popular nooks. The library also has a very attractive phone app which connects users to the library and individual accounts, you tube videos, links to Facebook and twitter, book and media searching, a library locater, lists of new items and library events and a very cool text a librarian feature. In the mail library there is what is known as a premiere entertainment spot in Sacramento, The Tuskopolas Galleria. The galleria was recently chosen as the top pick for wedding venues locally. The library also has the Sacramento Room, which is a deposit for historical documents and ephemera of Sacramento. It is connected to The Sacramento State library and shares an online presence for historical photos but I have yet to see a link from the library other than on it’s website.
So essentially what would I do as an informal social media consultant? I’d encourage the library to go in the direction it is going with social media. They have a presence on Facebook, Flicker, and Twitter. I’d return the blog and keep a connection there as the blog draws in a slightly different audience. I would keep contact with newspapers and magazine, as the library has in order to publish articles about library events. I would also find a way to make the library physically well known too.