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Posts tagged: Facebook

Grants, Awards & Motivation for Poets

Poets & Writers Magazine has come up with a database of writing contests that have been vetted and somehow proved legitimate. Even if you don’t win anything, isn’t it nice to have the motivation of a deadline?

Another motivator is Robert Brewer, who is the editor of Writer’s Market and Poet’s Market, as well as the online editor of He does prompts for poets every Wednesday from his blog, Poetic Asides. Today’s prompt is “about finding something that doesn’t belong where it is.” You can also join his page on Facebook to follow the prompts and get great poetry news. He has recently started a meme on Twitter with the hashtag #poettues for conversations about poetry (I think they were meant to be exclusively on Tuesdays, but who knows what will happen). You can follow the conversation on Twitter, even if you don’t have an account.

Poetry, art, graphic novels, housekeeping and basic science

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.

Evolving Online

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.

The evolution of privacy

Granted, this is not on the topic that I intend to be on, but it’s something that has been preoccupying me this year. I’ve been working on a talk about Managing Identity in Social Networks. A big part of managing identity is managing privacy. From the NYTimes article yesterday, “You’re Leaving a Digital Trail. But What About Privacy?”:

For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew. In some sense we’re becoming a global village. Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly. –Thomas W. Malone, the director of the M.I.T. Center for Collective Intelligence

First, I find this idea of the “tribe” fascinating and very tangible. Growing up in a Southern Gothic family, the idea of the tribe is everpresent. Moving to Boston for fifteen years stretched the bounds of the tribe. But then, of course, I’ve moved back to a small Southern town a half-hour from much of my family, working ten+ hours a week on a fairly public reference desk in the University that makes up more than half of the town’s population.

And now I find myself creating tribes of my own. Twitter is probably the simplest online example. A constant, comforting stream of information about people I find interesting. Today I found myself worrying about a tweep who cut his eye over the weekend but still was trying to do his live podcast tonight. And considering what kind of tea a colleague brought to work that made her so happy. Or following the disappointment of another tweep who had worked all weekend on pathfinders and a workshop, only to find they didn’t match expectations. I learned about Oscar Wilde Day and enjoyed the Wildean quotes that came across my Twitter feed. I even had a tiny stab of disappointment as someone whose tweets I enjoy decided to stop following mine today (via the tribe-management tool from And as much as I enjoy the tribe I’ve made (along with the news streams I’ve created), I also like feeling responsible for my own contribution.

Facebook is a broader, more complex example. A meta-tribe. (Oh how I love anything meta.) It contains my work tribe, my tribe of library colleagues from across the country, a tribe of friends from the community theater, even a tribe of folks from media and PR around Mississippi who are interested in Social Media. For me, Facebook is a whole world of tribes, and all of them becoming more tightly woven, and occasionally crossing borders. And then my original tribe, the Southern Gothic Family Tribe, is on Facebook in Full Force. In the last two months, I’ve found out via Facebook about three engagements, a birth, and a family reunion–and these are first cousins, aunts and uncles, not long lost relatives. My 3-yr-old nephew’s abominable-snowman-dance graced my Facebook Wall during Christmas.

To match this tribal power, Facebook has developed complex privacy tools. So complex that I’ve had a hard time figuring out what they actually do. And I’ve been teaching classes about how to use them. The first step is to identify your tribes (FB calls them “friend lists”). Then you use these lists to allow each group to have varying levels of access to your information. Without these controls, it is as though you are suddenly born into a world complete with all the normal complex social connections and relationships, and everyone is in one big auditorium. Now try to manage your identity.

So…that’s what I’ve been thinking about.

Facebook and more on Creating Identity in Social Networks

I’m having a hard time figuring out what this blog is for now. Or what the MS Library 2.0 Summit blog is for, or what I should put on Facebook, and how is my Twitter status different that my Facebook status (and it really is), and when or why I should log on to my Myspace account. This all comes up for me because my dear friend Thomas just shared this link with me, and I wanted to share it. But I wasn’t sure where to put it…hence my identity crisis. (Also, it is perfectly acceptable to give gifts, imho…and in Pattye’s).

10 Commandments of Facebook

The fact that I didn’t know where or with whom to share the above brings me back to my latest preoccupation…creating identity. Specifically how we create our identities in social networks. I suppose I’m having a bit of an identity crisis with this blog. So I’ve decided to examine what I’m doing and why I’m doing it there. Sort of an online navel-gazing activity. Where am I on the web and why. Who am I in these spaces? How are they different? So far, this is what I’ve come up with:

1) Personal MySpace: locked down, no identifying features, no new friends, some occasional confessional type poetry, sigh.

2) Work MySpace: pretty obscure, Library not supporting it, low priority, also getting slightly harrassed by strange person from a town 30 miles away

3) Facebook: work, family, friends, try to keep it decent and not weird, friends find it weird that I list in my interests Plant & Soil Science–but that’s my liaison dept at work (and my family does have a farm…). I have had to un-tag myself in pictures that were unbecoming, and I’ve become obsessed with all the privacy controls. Closest thing to really living my life online.

4) Twitter: true love? I follow people from Starkville randomly–I hunt them down using an RSS Feed from Twitter Search which looks for posts that include the word “Starkville” or “Mississippi State” (which people use frequently instead of MSU). I listen a lot, and I’m not really sure what to post. I only have a handful of “real” friends on Twitter. Mostly it’s an experiment for work…but I’m obsessed. Especially after Hurricane Gustav. This is the one I read even from my Blackberry…I feel like I have to keep up with what everyone is doing somehow. Like a never-ending TV sitcomitragedy.

5) FriendFeed: Mostly I stalk Steve Rubel. I read his entire Life Stream every day. But I actually read it in GoogleReader. I’ve also created FF “Rooms” for Agriculture feeds (not feed, lol) to add to the LibGuides we are developing. I’m sure I will find more to do with it, but I don’t really interact with it. I do have my life stream posted to this blog and on my Facebook page…so it’s aggregating my stuff for me.

6) GoogleReader: Holds my blogs, RSS feed goes into FriendFeed so I “broadcast” (if anyone was listening) what I think about the blogs I’m reading.

7) Delicious: Could not live without it. Could not switch to Chrome because I cannot live without it. The RSS also goes into my FriendFeed, as well as the items tagged “MSU” onto the MSU Libraries Fan Page. I rarely keep a tagged item private, and it’s a good record of what I do during the day.

8) Personal Flickr: Like Personal MySpace, totally hidden (I think). Largely because it consists of a repository of thousands of pictures of me and my best friends doing stupid things. Also some pictures of family unwrapping presents. And at least 500 pictures my 8 year old godson took of his shoes and the stairs and various food items when I went on a book tour with him and his mom. I have organized them as far as I had energy to do so, but I only have eight contacts. I rarely put anything up right now…no energy.

9) Work Flickr: Pictures of work stuff, my office, the campus, library-related trips or events, screen captures of my work blog, screen captures of my Facebook and Myspace privacy tutorials.

10) Work Blog: Slightly unstable (we’re working on it) Library 2.0 blog.

11) This Blog: Started out as a blog for my trip to India in August 2005, then about my move from Boston to Mississippi and small town life, then the community theater, then library 2.0-ish stuff, now…I’m not at all sure. Apparently things like this. Maybe.

I do almost nothing (except Twitter) from home.

That’s sort of it. Nothing else is particularly sticky right now.


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