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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’
This is something of a ‘hobby’ rather than a work-related library blog post.
I recently started using Foursquare, the “location-based social networking website“, and it’s got me thinking (again) about genning up on geolocation and how to handle geodata in practical, mashup-y ways. (My brother works with geographical information systems and geodata professionally; I’m a bit of a cartophile at heart; I’m interested in library geolocation and space/time services – I’d like to bring all of these things together and really learn how to handle web mapping data properly.)
So: I’ve begun to mess around with location data that I’m producing myself, through various sites on which I have a profile, and which is available in KML or some other standard geodata format.
3. Tweets geotagged using Twitter’s (often somewhat unreliable/easily-distracted) location service. This was the most complicated: taking my RSS feed of recent tweets at http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/pstainthorp.rss and feeding it through this Yahoo! Pipe results in this KML file.
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4. Find which other [social] websites might be offer up geotagged feeds of my activity.
5. Mashup! I’m reading up on the Google Maps APIs, which are the standard tool for manipulating KML in a web browser. (It’s not possible to display multiple KML files in the standard maps.google.co.uk display, though you can do so easily in Google Earth.)
I’m on the way back from the first national Library Camp UK in Birmingham (a bit tired after a 4am start. Yep. 4am on a Saturday).
Here are 10 reasons why Library Camp made for a great unconference. In no particular order:
- The people. There were around 200 folk there (at the weekend, remember!), from all sorts of library sectors; plus a really healthy sprinking of non-library folk – from graphic designers to poets. While the echo chamber wasn’t entirely destroyed, it at least cracked in a few places. The passion for libraries was tangible from the start. And it’s probably no coincidence that quite a few Voices for the Library people were in attendance.
- The unconferencing. There was no sop to traditional conference programmes, speakers, or presentations. Not a PowerPoint show in sight. All the workshop topics were ‘pitched’ by attendees on the day, scribbled onto post-it notes, and assembled into an impromptu programme on a whiteboard. Folk were free to attend whatever sessions they wanted to get stuck into. For my own part, I took the opportunity to leave my ‘day job’ subjects—open data, repositories, e-resources, etc.—to one side, and took part in some refreshingly non-technological library discussions.
- The venue. Etc Venues’ Maple House is <10 mins’ walk from Birmingham New Street station. They let people stick things up on the walls. I think nuff said.
- The topic. Mashed Library is about libraries and technology. Cycling for Libraries is about libraries and… er, cycling. Library Camp is about libraries, full stop. Whatever your pet library topic, it was up for discussion.
- The tweeting. I think this was the first event I’ve attended where very nearly everyone used Twitter. This was brilliant in building a sense of community in the run up to Library Camp, and on the day the hashtag #libcampuk11 pretty much owned the interwebs.
- The democracy. My favourite quote from the day: “leave your perceived status at the door”. I love that “perceived”! No-one was allowed to wear an ‘official’ / institutional badge of library rank. And the internal divisions within library & information work got a good kicking throughout the course of the day. Bravo.
- The organisation. Putting a whole new national event together in a few short months is impressive to say the least. Respect is due to @BhamLibrarian, @libraryjmac, @coralmusgrave, @siwhitehouse, @timmy666, @shedsue, and the sponsors. They’d like to hand the baton on to a totally new group of organisers for Library Camp 2012, so that things are kept fresh and Library Camp is reinvented every year. Will anyone pick it up?
- The city. Alright, Birmingham is a bit of a pain to get to from the depths of rural Lincolnshire (hence my 4am start). But choosing a location in the Midlands did mean that most corners of the UK were represented.
- The cake. It was just… beautiful. A stunning variety and a frankly intimidating amount of cakey goodness: nearly all of it home baked with love by Library Camp attendees. And it wasn’t just for show – keeping everyone’s blood sugar levels high meant that people stayed engaged and enthusiastic until the very end of a long day.
- Did I mention the people? For a bunch of (according to the stereotype) meek library types*, people weren’t shy about getting stuck in. Without that shared enthusiasm: no unconference.
*Yeah, right. I know. ROFL.
“Is it unreasonably harsh to say that people who refuse to advocate shouldn’t be in a profession that needs advocating for?”
I say yes, that would be unreasonably harsh on those people.
Not because advocacy for libraries isn’t A Good Thing – because clearly it is.
And not because library workers shouldn’t be making advocacy a priority – no problem with that. It’s purely because I’m viscerally opposed to the idea that if I, as an individual working in a library, have an opinion on a topic (advocacy, the rules of cataloguing, censorship, the correct colour of packet for salt ‘n’ vinegar crisps, whatever) which is in opposition to the prevailing view taken by the bulk of people doing the same job as me, then that should mean I oughtn’t be allowed to call myself a librarian.
Or, if my strengths or talents in information management happen not to include an aptitude for selling my library’s services to potential users/holders of purse strings, that shouldn’t mean I’m less of a librarian.
Alright, it goes deeper than that – I’m not generally comfortable with the stance on being a ’professional’ librarian taken by some people and organisations. Sometimes—just sometimes—it can come across as a bit exclusivist and self-serving. The quote I hate most is the occasionally-spotted “…silly library users think that just anyone who works in a library is a librarian!!!“. Horrible horrible horrible. I don’t believe the division between professional and para-professional (is that the right term?) in libraries is a particularly significant one; the rest of the world clearly doesn’t give a hoot; I think perhaps it’s time that little internal division was knocked down for good.
So; if there’s an accepted definition of what it means to be a “professional librarian”, then exactly what should happen to me if I disagree with it or if I’m put into a position where I’m acting against it? If I’m working in a library capacity for my employer (who has defined my contract of employment and who allows me to pay my bills), and I’m doing things as an employee that don’t jibe with those accepted definitions of librarianship, do I deserve banishment? (N.B. this is a hypothetical employer, y’understand, and not the University of Lincoln – which, as I’ve mentioned recently, is a groovy place to work.) Should my professional identity be subject to the opinion of a (non-elected, non-accountable) body of fellow professionals?
And finally, on advocacy itself (it’s A Good Thing, remember?): at the back of my mind there’s a little niggling fear that while we’re spending an awful lot of time worrying about library advocacy, marketing, promotion, etc.; other sections of the Information-O-Sphere™ are quietly getting on with the business of meeting users’ needs in more meaningful ways (oh yeah, and making money in the process). That is, while we’re standing still and shouting about it, our com|petit|ors are concentrating on getting their services right. I know that’s a gross oversimplification, but thereyago.
On three occasions in the past few months, I’ve written tweets which have publicly referred to (three separate) library suppliers by name. Each time, I’ve referred to them using their ‘official’ @______ Twitter handles.
And on each occasion, they’ve replied—not publicly on Twitter—but privately, via email or private DM. They’ve also invariably referred to my tweets as “feedback” or a “complaint” (I don’t think my comments were those things… though the tone may have been negative).
This has got my back up a little bit. If you’re not comfortable with public comments: why are you on Twitter in the first place? And why not reply, publicly, in the same forum that the original comment was made?
Am I being naïve?
In December 2010, I found 26 Twitter accounts associated with the University of Lincoln. Here are a few more that have sprung up since then:
Closing the University of Lincoln for the day has led to a little flurry (ha!) of interesting blogging.
When people are able to spend a few hours away from the shop floor (and I was right to stay away, by the looks of things) they have time to think: something that can be in regrettably short supply.
[I apologise to the students who have been missing lectures and library time. I'm not suggesting we should shut the campuses down more often, just to let people wander through snowy scenes, stroking their beards academically... but you've gotta make the most of these opportunities when they arise. I hope you've had a good snow day yourselves!]
In fact; lack of time, full stop, is by far the biggest problem I face at work. It begins with a kernel of my own lack of organisational ability, and is exacerbated by:
- The number of emails I receive a day: some 300~400/day ‘gross’; translating to 50~60/day that actually require my attention in some way.
- Procrastination, and an environment that invites it: at the University, there’s always something more interesting going on than the thing I should be getting on with.
- The number and the breadth of projects in which I’m involved. E-resources is a broad and varied field; Lincoln’s going through a whole load of interesting changes, and I find it difficult to say “no”.
I could, as others have done, abandon distractions such as Twitter entirely, but I’m still having far too many valuable conversations to pull the plug completely.
My latest simple trick to keep the work flowing: a massive, imposing ‘To Do‘ list, Blu-Tack®-ed to the wall near my desk, and updated every couple of days. Actually it’s two lists: one page of individual tasks, ordered by priority; and a second page of wider project ‘threads’ – all the work I mustn’t forget about, even if it’s just bubbling away in the background. If someone asks me to do something now, it gets added to the überlist (priority negotiable, and dependent on who’s asking…) or it doesn’t get done at all. It’s crude, but it’s helping.
Q. How do you keep on top of things?