So I haven’t blogged since June. It’s now October. I’ve been studiously ignoring this blog. I just found a wonderful comment that I missed from said studious ignorance (thank you Ellen). I am so immersed in MSU Libraries and our emerging technology efforts, Facebook, Twitter, and Virtual Reference. Honestly, I’m tired of it. Maybe even burnt out. We aren’t going to be able to do the MS Library 2.0 Summit this year because of the current economic climate–even though there has been passionate interest in doing it again. Maybe it’s because I didn’t make a more compelling argument?
Lately all I seem to be interested in is poetry and art. Fourth Fridays. The cre8tive warehouse. Launching a new graphic novels bookclub in Starkville. Housekeeping. I’ve even started writing poetry again when I get exhausted from writing academic papers on Virtual Reference.
I just found myself sitting at my desk, trying to figure out how I could push the information I’m gathering about these topics. I thought about Facebook, but I needed an RSS feed. I thought about Twitter, but I needed more than 140 characters. Then I remembered this long neglected blog. Could I really do it? Aren’t I supposed to be a professional/librarian online? Am I allowed to have a personal-ish blog? More struggling with Online Identity. Is it better to have a dead blog if I can’t think of anything to say anymore about 2.0 and Libraries? Should I just kill it altogether and make this site a CV?
But then I remembered that my goal is to experiment always. My job is to find new ways of using technology–sometimes they have applications for libraries and sometimes they don’t. I was reminded about Carol Greider, who had been conducting “irrelevent” basic science research–quietly studying an enzyme with no application in mind. An enzyme which eventually became critical in understanding cancer and aging.
So maybe everything I do doesn’t have to have an application. Maybe it’s okay to just do something to do it and let the cards fall.
Great session today at the webinar. The archive of the session is now up in all of its Wimba glory. Feel free to go and check it out.
I really liked the discussion that came out of it, especially the response to questions about assessment of Web 2.0 tech in Academic Libraries. We’ve been thinking about doing an MS Library 2.0 Summit themed on Assessment for the Fall. Interested? What do you want to have numbers for? What is tricky to assess for you? Or do you already have a great 2.0 assessment program going? Maybe you could be one of our speakers! The normal structure of the conference is to have a keynote and then nine or so “Steal this Idea” speakers. These are just regular folks who’ve found something that works for them that they want to share. It’s been a huge success in the past, and we are trying to make it even more value-added and targeted this time around.
Tomorrow June 30, 2009, I am conducting a webinar with Baylor E-Learning Librarian Ellen Hampton Filgo on how we have worked to bring 2.0 into our academic libraries–pitfalls and pratfalls included. Webjunction is hosting it, and we just finished our rehearsal. It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. Here’s the description:
When the goal is to be “where they are, when they need us,” what does that require at a university library in 2009? As students, staff and faculty move their lives online, university libraries must choose whether to move with them or get left behind. But where is the value in a university library when Google is the new ready reference desk and the libraries’ resources are increasingly digitized? How does a library remain relevant in a socially networked academic world? From their perspective as, respectively, virtual reference and e-learning librarians, Amanda Clay Powers (Mississippi State Univ. Libraries) and Ellen Hampton Filgo (Baylor Univ. Libraries) will discuss how libraries can readjust and move their most important resources online—their people. By using social networks and other web-based technologies, libraries can become a value-added member of their community— both online and in person. By using these new tools, librarians can once again hover by their reference stacks with an offer to help that’s just a click away.
Sound appealing? It’s free! Just register!
You can also find out more about it on the Facebook event page posted by Webjunction.
We will be taking questions, etc. and if you do come, let me know what you think. They event will be archived too, so you can go back and look at it if you miss it. You can even get a group together to review it and use their Wimba chat feature with each other…pretty cool.
I had a great conversation with my colleague David Nolen this week about reading and writing being the same thing, essentially. Or how could they be. He’d been wrestling with the idea since he heard it from the Nobel-prize winning French writer J.M.G. Le Clezio who spoke at MSU recently.
Somehow this led to “does Twitter make you stupid” which David posed theoretically, and I, of course, rejected outright.
Twitter makes me smarter and super full of information and super-duper totally connected to everyone and everything all the time (gulp). –me
But, fighting knee-jerk reactions is my specialty, thanks to my father, and drilling down to the essential bits of the “changed-brains” theory that seems to be floating around, there does seem to be this new way of gathering information out there. Whether or not it’s changing brains, we continued to debate.
Thinking about Twitter, I imagine mainlining data. The myths (how could something so new already have myths?) that Twitter is about lunch or contemplating belly buttons is so beyond my experience it’s hard to know where to begin. I am acting as my professional/personal self online. I gather, evaluate and disseminate information (much like olde librarians of yester year). I put myself in my community to be of service to the community. I am still trying to be where my “patrons” are, when they need me. I have internalized my profession and I am actualizing it in this new world.
That being said, I have decided not to check Twitter until I have already accomplished things AT work. NOT to begin reading tweets from my bed via my iPhone as soon as I wake up, as has been my wont. It turns out that if I start mainlining too early, I get into that cloud of data and it’s hard to get back out to think about larger projects. I need that morning time to start thinking about projects at work. To get motivated. So is this an addiction? Or is it just hard to switch between two types of thinking? I don’t know. More to come.
A month ago my best friend and roommate Kris started a blog and got onto Twitter. He is a procrastinating playwright, among other things (poet, cabaret artist, award-winning actor and director, teacher…), who is currently running away from a very fine play he has started called 10 Mile. He is a storyteller and general pontificator in the grandest Deep South tradition. Discovering a medium where it is permissable to not-edit and not-judge and not-worry about writing has been a watershed experience for him. He is committed to his blog with an energy and enthusiasm I have rarely seen, set free of the torment and conflict that accompanies other kinds of writing. And now he is linking to this blog on his site. Currently the link is titled “best librarian in the entire world (wide web),” and he is posting excerpts from my blog.
One of the things I struggle with is creating with and managing online identity, and subsequently privacy. I consider my online life to be largely a professional life, but as I said at CiL2009 on the Managing Identity on Social Networks panel, I believe it is not possible to truly separate the professional and personal. Generally my approach has been to use privacy settings and judicious boundaries to control my identity online. Perhaps it goes without saying that Kris has a vastly different idea of judicious.
So once again, I’m back at the drawing board. As his editor, I would never want to stifle his creativity. There isn’t really anything wrong at all with his blog or his right to mention me or our life in it. It’s just not what I expected. At the same time that Kris has come into his own online, my family has gained momentum on Facebook. I now have 18 people on my mother’s side alone on Facebook. That’s right. Eighteen people. It was one thing when my brother or sister-in-law made the occasional comment on my Facebook page. It’s an entirely different thing to have my mother, cousins, aunts and uncles omnipresent.
So I’m calling it a developmental challenge…and I’m testing out my theory that creating and managing identity online is a series of developmental challenges that are necessary for growth. I’m just not exactly certain what that involves.
One of the things I’ve learned is that there is a challenge to the real-life relationship that goes along with these online developments. I’ve had conversations with my mother about what I want people to see about me on my Facebook page. I helped calm her anxiety about the difference between her news feed and her Wall when unexpected things appeared. I even deleted a Wall comment from my aunt that I thought revealed too much information about my grandmother. Now we are all on a private family Facebook Group, where we can share pictures and stories without the world watching.
And Kris. The respect we have for each other in person extends to the online world. And why wouldn’t it? Protecting and nurturing his creativity is a mission I have taken on with joy and great relish. And he is inordinately proud of my work and would never ever want to embarrass me. So every day, just like with the rest of his work, he reads his blogs aloud to me when I get home. He looks for my reaction as his editor and his friend. But if he’s used my name or a story about me, he’s looking for something more. Really we are all working together to find our balance.