Posts tagged ‘social media’

A Teaser

I’ve been working on a big post for the last week or so, and it’s nearly done (and will probably be the longest thing I’ve ever posted), so stay tuned! But I thought I’d give you a quick recommendation in the meantime.

I’m nearly done with Clay Shirky’s latest book, Cognitive Surplus (excellent so far – full review to follow when I’m done). I definitely recommend that you read it, and if you’d like a little taste, here’s Clay talking about some of the concepts from the book in his latest TEDTalk.

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June 30, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Public and Private

I’m reading Clay Shirky’s new book Cognitive Surplus. Terrible title – makes it sound like a boring textbook – but the book is fantastic. I’ll write about it in more detail when I’m finished, but I came across a blog post that dovetails nicely with some of Shirky’s points as well as recent events, so I thought I’d mention it now.

Author Jeff Jarvis writes a blog called BuzzMachine. He writes about news and media and new media, but he’s also written about his battle with cancer. In this post he writes about the value of sharing information:

Yes, I believe we have a right and need to protect our privacy – to control our information and identities – but I also want the conversation and our decisions to include consideration of the value of sharing and linking. I also want to protect what’s public as a public good; that includes our internet. We have plenty of privacy advocates. I want to be a publicness advocate.

Libraries have always been great advocates of privacy, and I think that’s important. But in the wake of all the recent Facebook privacy controversy, I think this is a really valid point to make. Do I think that Facebook (or any other site) ought to make clear what’s public and what’s private, and not change those settings for people without their knowledge or permission? Absolutely! But people also have the ability to trade a measure of privacy for greater connection online, and the potential benefits of sharing are tremendous.

One of Shirky’s big points is that there is a great deal of social value, and often even civic value, in what people share online, and to denigrate social media tools as time-wasters or navel-gazing is to miss the point. Jarvis is opinionated and outspoken and has been blasted for oversharing the details of his health problems, but he is quick to point out the support, encouragement and valuable information he wouldn’t have received any other way than through responses to what he puts out in public. As a general rule, I think free-flowing information is good, and that it’s the responsibility of each person to determine for themselves what they do or don’t want to read, watch or experience.

As librarians, what’s our role? A lot of these decisions and transactions happen outside of our purview and without our input, but we can be vocal within our spheres of influence, advocating for more transparency in privacy controls and for keeping information free and accessible. And we can certainly help educate our customers so that they are well-informed when it comes time to make those decisions for themselves.

June 21, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Power to the People? Google introduces SideWiki

Yowza! I just came across the announcement for Google’s SideWiki, which appears as a browser sidebar and makes it possible for users to comment on any website. For those organizations that have been reluctant to engage with their customers via social media or are determined to control the conversation, guess what? Here’s another clear indicator that that ship has sailed. Customers can now enter comments at your site, whether you give them the means to do it or not. Hoo boy! (Although Sidewiki doesn’t appear to work for our City/Library website right now – I will have to investigate further).

What are the implications? Well, as Jeremiah Owyang points out:

  • Customers trust each other more than you –now they can assert their voices “on” your webpage. Every webpage on your corporate website, intranet, and extranet are now social. Anyone who accesses these features can now rely on their friends or those who contribute to get additional information. Competitors can link to their competing product, consumers can rate or discuss the positive and negative experiences with your company or product.
  • Yet, don’t expect everyone to participate –or contribute valuable content. While social technology adoption is on the rise, not everyone writes, rates, and contributes content in every location, likely those who have experienced the product, influential, or competitors will be involved. Secondly, content created in this sidebar may be generally useless. To be successful, Google will need it to look more like Wikipedia than YouTube comments
  • More reason than ever to engage with customers in every way you can. You can’t control the conversation, but you can participate.

    As a sidenote, I was interested to see that Google is releasing this first for Firefox and IE, rather than Chrome. Are they shooting for widespread adoption right off the bat? Or is it because they’re working to integrate it more fully with the Chrome browser (it’s part of Google Toolbar for Firefox and IE)?  I will be very interested to see how this develops. [via Web Strategy]

    September 25, 2009 at 9:15 am

    A new style of leadership?

    I came across a good interview with Clay Shirky, where he talks about how social media is creating a demand for new kinds of leadership. I’m not sure it’s the style of leadership that’s new; I think what’s new is the demand. Either way, there’s a shift happening. A couple of good quotes:

    There’s a temptation among most managers to view social media tools and crowdsourcing as simply a sort of novel set of instruments, kind of like, “Oh, here are some new tools for us to get our job done.” But this isn’t just about laying our hands on some new tools. These crowds are people. …

    It really does involve a degree of openness on the part of existing organizations that we haven’t seen before. In fact, if you’re a manager of a traditional organization looking for control, you will have trouble in this Web 2.0 environment. …

    The other question about the new type of leadership is how to get a group of people to all agree that a shared vision is something they’ll pursue even if they don’t agree with every particular.

    Go read the whole thing – it’s not too long. [via PopTech]

    September 1, 2009 at 10:15 pm 2 comments

    Why we test

    I came across this great quote that pretty much sums up the case for usability testing, in an article that isn’t actually about usability, per se:

    ‘All character is action’ goes the old Hollywood cliché — that is, we learn far more about people by how they behave than we do from what they tell us about themselves. – Mark Earls [via Conversation Agent]

    The article itself is a pretty interesting analysis of the divergent reactions to Michael Jackson’s death and the role of social media in the response – worth a read.

    July 6, 2009 at 6:00 pm


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