Evaluative Report

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This post, as my last one for INF206, is in two parts: Firstly I will provide an evaluative statement using three of my blog posts which will be followed by a reflective statement on my development as a social networker…

a) Evaluative Statement

  • My post on “Second Life” describes my experience in the virtual world that is Second Life! I posted that when I first entered Second Life, I was scared and not particularly positive about the ability of Second life to meet the needs of libraries. As stated in my post, experiencing Second Life as I did changed my perspective and I can see a lot of value for such a “tool” within libraries (or any realm providing information/learning experiences). This post shows how, through engagement with a technology, we can better evaluate its effectiveness to meet our objectives. This is particularly important as librarians in the web connected era in which we find ourselves.  Virtual Worlds can open the doors to the library as never before, but they can be filled with dangers that libraries need to try to mitigate. Part of the way libraries can do this is to ensure that the link to their ‘region’ is always up-to-date. This may not always be possible, but due to the size of virtual worlds it is important. Alternatively, the library could put themselves in a PG virtual world like jokaydiaGRID. As Kevin Kelly(2009) said: “We have to use things in order to find out about them … we actually have to engage with technology. The only way we can determine if something is good for us or bad for us is through use.”
  • The post about the Arizona State University Library YouTube Channel discusses how one library is interacting with Web 2.0. It also discusses this interaction with reference to the ‘4C’s’ of Social Media and shows how difficult it is to fully achieve all four ‘C’s’. The key here is the collaborative nature of social media. Not only is Web 2.0 about having a web presence, it’s about two-way communication and collaboration. This post confirms this: Arizona State University has a positive web presence, but does not fully utilise the possibilities of social media by enabling the co-creation of content. Here is the key for Librarian 2.0: Collaboration. With the introduction of Web 2.0, the one-way conversation was relegated to the background as irrelevant. It is not what users want. As I have said a number of times on this blog; we, as information professionals, need to be where our users are remembering what Wallace and Bathur noted: “[p]ublic libraries are no longer solely store houses of information. They play an important educational, cultural and social role within the community” (Wallace and Bathur, 2007, p.18-19). Finally, as Meredith Farkas (2007) said in Building Academic Library 2.0: we are part of an evolution, not a revolution! The Arizona State University Library has made a start and certainly provides an excellent example of how libraries can engage with the community using Web 2.0 tools.
  • The final post I will look at is the one titled 5 Social Media Policy Resources. I am a fan of policies because of the direction they can offer and this post provides a number of useful resources for writing social media policy. As I do not yet work in a library, or the information profession, I found this blog task somewhat difficult, but certainly very useful and as the task asked for only five resources, it made me really consider the usefulness of the resources selected. The ones that I have found and posted reflect my current situation – someone who is looking to work in libraries and appreciates the value of social media, but who also understands the negative potential of using the technologies. Focusing on policy assists in minimising some of those concerns whilst encouraging the use of them. All of the resources I have selected have something different to offer a policy writer in regards to content, intent and legal requirements of a social media policy. The world of Web 2.0 blurs the barriers between professional and personal: for example, before social media, people would have conversations that were limited in their reach so if someone wanted to complain about their boss or their customers they could do so in relative safety but in the world of social media, that apparently ‘private’ conversation just became global – even if we think that we have only communicated with ‘friends’. Written social media policies assist employees and library users to navigate the murkiness of social media to minimise the potential negatives and maximise the absolute positives.

b) Reflective Statement

This subject has been one of the more enlightening subjects thus far in my journey with CSU. I have been a little slow adopting some social networking technologies and a poor user of other social networking technologies. I have been a member of LinkedIn for 2.5 years and have never really connected with it. I was on Facebook for 3 years before I really started using it for connecting with people and I joined Twitter in 2011 and only really began using it during this subject! I now have a HootSuite account to manage my Twitter and Facebook interactions (and monitor my blog and LinkedIn account) and I have a Feedly account to aggregate my RSS feeds (I did investigate Flipbook but I found it a little difficult to use).

RSS has been a major eye opener for me in this subject. As I noted in my two-part RSS post (Part 1, Part 2) I didn’t see what the difference was between Twitter and RSS. Now I know, there is no going back! I am slowly building my RSS ‘library’ of feeds related to libraries, archives, politics and other ‘fun’ stuff! I now don’t like it if I can’t subscribe to an RSS feed!

I stated above that I currently use both HootSuite and Feedly. I know that HootSuite can manage RSS feeds, but there are two reasons I have chosen a separate RSS reader:

  1. Feedly can be downloaded to my iPad and mobile phone as an app making access easier and
  2. The Feedly interface is quite nice and makes reading the feeds much more comfortable.

I also really enjoy using Twitter and now I understand the #hashtag concept I can search for topics that interest me and, as a result, publish more meaningful tweets. I also now understand that I don’t have to follow someone to reply to a tweet, or to send them a tweet so I can get involved in a conversation but not necessarily with the ‘person’.

I have also experienced the value of virtual worlds through the visits to Second Life. Again, I was very wary and quite sceptical of the value of virtual worlds to libraries and now I have told the story of my experiences to some educators I know who are now looking at how they can incorporate the use of virtual worlds in their work. I have learnt a lot through the Second Life visits and I keep thinking about how it can be used and look forward to being able to more fully explore this aspect of Web 2.0 when I have completed my degree and begin working in the library profession. I would like to say again, as I did in my post about Second Life, that without good direction, Second Life is a very scary place and one thing I have learnt is the value of Second Life tours, hand holding during the learning phase and ensuring that people have a ‘safe’ place to go to when on Second Life.

The work we did on policy was really good – as I stated in my posts, I am currently employed outside of the information profession and while some of the tasks were a little difficult to fully grasp, the ones around policy are really pertinent. I now feel comfortable looking at social media policies and considering which parts could possibly fit with a future employer. I would also be comfortable engaging in a discussion about the value of a given policy.

Utecht (2008) discussed immersion, evaluation, know it all, perspective and balance in regards to developing a Personal Learning Network and I am currently between immersion and evaluation. I struggle with the idea of balance at the moment as I have other responsibilities on top of my study, but I have printed out Nielsen’s (2008) five ways to build your PLN. I intend to keep this with me as I further engage with social networking technologies.

I now see myself, not as someone who is necessarily competent with social networking technologies, but certainly as someone who is more willing to investigate them and evaluate their value for me personally and professionally. I have gained a lot of confidence in my ability to explore and use new technologies and my scepticism of these technologies is diminished. Certainly, as a result of my study in this subject, I feel I am well placed to help novice social media users explore their world using these technologies and am willing to infect them with my enthusiasm for social media, that I caught from INF206!

REFERENCES

Kelly, K. (2009, December 1). Penny Thoughts on the Technium. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeTEcwmfuu4

Librarians Association of the University of California, Berkeley Division (Producer). (2007, November 19). Building academic library 2.0 [Video]. Retrieved from       http://www.youtube.com/watch?=q_uOKFhoznI

Nielsen, L. (2008, October 12). 5 Things You Can Do to Begin Developing Your Personal Learning Network [Web log post]. Retrieved January 31, from http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com.au/2008/04/5-things-you-can-do-to-begin-developing.html

Utecht, J. (2008, April 3). Stages of PLN adoption [Web log post]. Retrieved January 27, from http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption

Wallace, M., and Bathur, L., (2007). Report to Finance, Ethics & Strategic Planning Committee. Retrieved from http://www1.waverley.nsw.gov.au/council/meetings/2007Minutes/0709/documents/LibraryFunding.pdf).

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Part 2: How RSS can enhance a library or information service’s ability to meet the information needs of its users.

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The first requirement of this post is to provide two examples of ‘RSS in action’. To this end I have found the State Library of New South Wales and the University of Cambridge Library. Both of these organisations appear to have a comprehensive sets of RSS feeds to which one can subscribe.

As RSS is intended to inform subscribers when information has changed, libraries and information services can utilise RSS in many ways to meet the information needs of their users. One of the more obvious ways that RSS can be used is in supplying information about new acquisitions. The State Library of New South Wales does this very well providing a generic link for the collection as a whole but then providing more links to enable the user the ability to select a more specific part of the collection:

State Library of New South Wales RSS Feeds Pagehttp://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/rss/index.html

State Library of New South Wales RSS Feeds Page
http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/rss/index.html

As you can see, the user can drill down to item format or language, or they can select from specific catalogues.  This means that the user can reduce the amount of information that they receive within their RSS reader/aggregator. Ensuring only the information they are interested in is shown to them.

RSS can also be used by libraries to notify users of due dates, outstanding fees, the status of a reservation or interlibrary loan request, even upcoming events. The University of Cambridge Library offers many of these but also links for job vacancies and information about downtime:

University of Cambridge Library RSS Feedshttp://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/toolbox/rss.html

University of Cambridge Library RSS Feeds
http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/toolbox/rss.html

RSS also enhances the user experience of the library service by providing the information to the user before they ‘request’ the information. This is where the question of ‘push’ or ‘pull’ comes in (De Sarker, 2012, 5): Is RSS push or pull? In many ways it is both: by changing the information on the web page, the RSS service is ‘pushing’ information out (to the feed reader or aggregator), but in subscribing to a specific RSS feed and reading the same, the user is ‘pulling’ information in.

RSS has an advantage over email subscriptions in that the user will only receive the information they have asked for as the subscription is to a specific URL. As noted by Lan and Sie (2010) when one subscribes to a web resource via email there is a good chance that they will also receive spam or advertising (Lan & Sie, 2010, 725) but due to the nature of RSS such spamming cannot happen.

REFERENCES

De Sarker, T., (2012). Analyzing RSS applications on library web sites. Library Hi Tech News. 29(5), pp.4-21.

Lan, Y. and Sie, Y., (2010). Using RSS to support mobile learning based on media richness theory. Computers & Education. Vol. 55, pp.723-32.

State Library of New South Wales. (2012). RSS feeds. Retrieved from http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/rss/index.html.

University of Cambridge. (2012). RSS feeds. Retrieved from http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/toolbox/rss.html.

Part 1: How RSS can enhance a library or information service’s ability to meet the information needs of its users?

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Well, this was an interesting topic for me. I have never really understood the importance of RSS, or the need. I have always found it difficult to get my head around … So when we were given a task to post an entry on “…how RSS can enhance a library or information service’s ability to meet the
information needs of its users” I struggled.

I struggled to see the difference between RSS and Twitter.

I struggled to see why one would use RSS when it seems just so difficult to use.

So I started Googling. Then I struggled to find recent articles on this topic (the difference between RSS and Twitter). finally I found some that helped me to begin to see the difference between RSS and Twitter. These articles were written in 2011 and were some of the more recent ones I could find. As usual with the ‘web’, one article lead to another, which led to another, etc. I started with an article by Giorgio Sironi on “Why Twitter is not an RSS replacement“, which led to a blog entry by Kroc Carmen titled “RSS Is Dying Being Ignored, and You Should Be Very Worried“, which led to Dave Winer, apparently the man who invented blogs and RSS (according to a Gizmodo article anyway). It was on Winer’s blog that I had my first ah-ha moment.

In a blog post on December 18, 2012 (Why is Twitter letting us export?), Winer made the following comment: “To publishers who act as if Twitter, Facebook, etc are part of the open Internet, maybe now you’re getting the idea that this is not true. These are corporations who think and act just like you do.” Ah-ha! It seems that RSS is not really ‘owned’ by anyone, only feed readers are. OK, so in that regard, RSS has the potential to be around for a lot longer than a ‘format’ that is corporately owned (also not, if uptake is too small). Then I read an article from Stephanie Quilao (How to explain RSS the Oprah way) which described RSS in a really simple way which also helped me understand a little more of the value of RSS over Twitter. The diagram below is from Quilao’s blog post.

I started to feel like I was beginning to understand the reason that RSS should be used by organisations, bloggers, etc.

I then reread the Sironi article and I really think I’m getting somewhere:

  • RSS is open – no-one ‘owns’ it.
  • Twitter is closed – Twitter owns it, and seeks to profit from its use .
  • RSS readers provide greater opportunity for recall of information and categorising of same.
  • Twitter ‘tweets’ can be quickly ‘hidden’ by newer posts meaning that information of interest may be lost to the user.
  • RSS feeds can be read ‘later’.
  • Twitter ‘tweets’ need to be read ‘now’.

So now I have a bit more of an understanding as to why both RSS and Twitter can be, and more likely should be used together – not one over the other.

Please see Part 2 for my answer to the actual question I was meant to answer …

REFERENCES

Camen, K., (2011, January 3). RSS Is Dying Being Ignored, and You Should Be Very Worried. Retrieved from http://camendesign.com/blog/rss_is_dying.

Quilao, S., (2006, September 21). How to explain RSS the Oprah way. Retrieved from http://cravingideas.blogs.com/backinskinnyjeans/2006/09/how_to_explain_.html

Sironi, G., (2011, January 11). Why Twitter is not an RSS replacement. Retrieved from http://css.dzone.com/articles/why-twitter-not-rss.

Tartakoff, J., (2010, March 29). The (short) history of Twitter’s plans to make money. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2010/mar/29/twitter-making-money.

Winer, D., (2012, July 16). Why Dave Winer Invented the Blog. Gizmodo. Retrieved from http://gizmodo.com/5926282/why-dave-winer-invented-the-blog.

Winer, D., (2012, December 18). Why is Twitter letting us export? Retrieved from http://threads2.scripting.com/2012/december/whyIsTwitterLettingUsExport.

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