Resist the colour of Twitter?

Within the business and education sectors, some people prefer to maintain a ‘professional’ social  network for work-related communication and collaboration, while maintaining a ‘personal’ social network to communicate and share with family and friends. Others prefer to merge or integrate their professional and personal lives as a single ‘connected’ network.

Yet in my experience, rather a lot more hardly make use of the affordances of technologies, and prefer to remain back in the 20th century.  While I understand this when the choice is actively made based on knowledge of social media, I have run out of excuses to justify this position for educators at any time. In a technology-driven society, things change at a faster rate than ever before in history. We need to be connected.

Do we really need connected educators? Tom Whitby provides a ‘neat’ rationale for being connected:

Who educators connect with is a very critical consideration. Acquiring numbers of educators who share concerns and interests is essential. Once an educator connects with other educators, they begin to collect them as sources in a Professional Learning Network of educators, a PLN. A connected educator may then access any or all of these sources for the purpose of communication, collaboration, or creation. This connectedness is not bound by bricks and mortar. It is not bound by city limits or state lines. It is not limited by countries borders. The only nagging inconvenience is dealing with time zones on a global level.

Yes, there have been any number of examples in the last several years about the influence of social media, but this next story caught my eye today.

A Quiet [Twitter] Protest

In Istanbul, known as the city of seven hills, dozens of public stairways crisscross centuries-old neighborhoods, giving pedestrians a way to avoid heavy car traffic on the streets.

Those walkways generally attract little notice, but that changed last week, when a retired forestry engineer decided to paint the Findikli stairs in the central district of Beyoglu in all the colors of the rainbow — an act of guerrilla beautification that unintentionally triggered a fresh ripple of anti-government protests.

The retiree behind the caper, Huseyin Cetinel, 64, told the local news media that his original motivation for applying a fresh coat of paint to the stairs was not activism, but the desire “to make people smile.” Mr. Cetinel said he spent nearly $800 on paint and devoted four days to sprucing up the stairs, with help from his son-in-law.

“Don’t you think Findikli Stairs are just amazing? Thanks to those who did it,” one Twitter user wrote last week.

What happened next in the story was interesting.

What transformed the painted stairs into a political issue was the surprise that Findikli residents woke up to last Friday: the stairs had been hastily, and somewhat unconvincingly, repainted in their original color, a dark cement gray.

Activists began organizing on Twitter almost immediately, using the hashtag #DirenMerdiven, or ResistStairs — a reference to the hashtag used for protests in June against government plans to build a shopping mall in place of the city’s Gezi Park, #DirenGeziPark, or ResistGeziPark.

The rest is as you would expect – thanks to social action.  Read more at New York Times.

“But I’m already active on Twitter” I hear you protest?

Well I have something else to share with you that I know others have enjoyed.  Check out this  presentation to find out the number one mistakes that everyone makes on Twitter.

Image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Lenore Edman

Wikipedia – the great book of knowledge

Detail from the puzzle globe Wikipedia logo.

We used to need libraries to make the sum of human knowledge available to all. Today we have Wikipedia, where the sum of human knowledge can be shaped by all of us. But can we trust it?

Wikipedia  features 30 million articles, in 287 languages. And it’s written and edited — for free — by 77,000 contributors around the world. What did we do before Wikipedia? How has wikipedia influenced knowledge flow and global connectedness?  How does technology change the nature of information, the truth, facts and the power of community?  Power of the collective  interactive space where everyone on the planet can collaborate. At this CBC radio podcast Philip Coulter  suggests that the collective mind is perhaps the best mind we have.

Coulter dubs the term ‘vector knowledge’ which summarizes perfectly how wikipedia knowledge networks connect directly and indirectly to create the mesh of human information and knowledge in this digital repository.

Download The Great Book of Knowledge, Part 1
[mp3 file: runs 00:53:58]

In the podcast The Great Book of Knowledge, Part 1 you will hear a fascinating discussion about Wikipedia from a number of operational, social, innovative, and connected society perspectives.The entire podcast is very worthwhile listening to in order to be able to really appreciate the [R]evolution in access to human knowledge, and the way we build and share information to further knowledge endeavours.

Tips for Using Wikipedia Effectively

Use Wikipedia to get a general overview, and follow the references it provides as far as they can take you.

Look at the Discussion tab to see if the article you’re reading is part of a WikiProject, meaning that a group of people who care about the subject area are working in concert on its content. They may not be experts on the subject, but signing onto a WikiProject implies a writer has more than a casual interest in it.

If it is part of a WikiProject, see if it has been rated. Articles in WikiProjects go through a type of peer review. This is not the same type of peer review your professor talks about regarding scholarly research, but even such a limited review does at least imply that someone from the WikiProject has looked at the article at some point and assigned a quality rating to it. In any case, to be fairly sure that a Wikipedia article expresses what laypeople might need to know to consider themselves reasonably informed, look for a rating of B/A or above.

You may find it helpful to consult any or all of the following for additional help in understanding Wikipedia, finding and evaluating sources:

Have you got a pirate in your school?

Something that rather belatedly crossed my professional radar has been the ‘antics’ of the Dread Pirate Roberts. I first caught up with this topic sitting in a hotel lounge in Singapore, reading the Forbes Asia September issue. Here was a fantastic challenge to the ongoing discussions of what happens online, including challenges to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and the whole matter of appropriate global citizenship. The truth is, we must be aware that online environments can be manipulated as well as manipulative – and in that sector, drug trafficking,  porn and the sex trade exemplifies everything that is destructive to society despite the so-called ‘democratic’ right of people to engage in their own peculiar passions and vices.

So it was increasingly sophisticated anonymity tools in online environments that created a bustling online narcotics market – and in this realm Dread Pirate Roberts was king of the waters, running the booming anonymous narcotics bazaar known as the Silk Road . What’s interesting to me is not only the ethical issues of drug use and marketing etc, but ALSO the communication mechanisms that are deployed online.

The Forbes reporting on the Dread Prirate said:

An entrepreneur as professionally careful as the Dread Pirate Roberts doesn’t trust instant messaging services. Forget phones or Skype. At one point during our eight-month preinterview courtship, I offer to meet him at an undisclosed location outside the United States. “Meeting in person is out of the question,” he says. “I don’t meet in person even with my closest advisors.” When I ask for his name and nationality, he’s so spooked that he refuses to answer any other questions and we lose contact for a month.

All my communications with Roberts are routed exclusively through the messaging system and forums of the website he owns and manages, the Silk Road. Accessing the site requires running the anonymity software Tor, which encrypts Web traffic and triple-bounces it among thousands of computers around the world. Like a long, blindfolded ride in the back of some guerrilla leader’s van, Tor is designed to prevent me–and anyone else–from tracking the location of Silk Road’s servers or the Dread Pirate Roberts himself. “The highest levels of government are hunting me,” says Roberts. “I can’t take any chances.”

How many of your students are aware of these unofficial and anonymous back-channels?  I know I am not. Seems that neither were any of the Dread Pirate’s family.

A media report today tells us that it’s the End of the Silk Road. On Wednesday, the FBI announced that they arrested 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht, the Silk Road’s accused administrator, in the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library.The FBI hasn’t yet revealed how it managed to track down Ulbricht in spite of his seemingly careful use of encryption and anonymity tools to protect his identity and those of his customers and vendors who visited Silk Road as often as 60,000 times per day.

My question is – which kid is going to be the next dirty ‘entrepreneur’?  Which library or cafe  is going to be that kid’s base for disruptive activities deployed via online environments?

Digital citizenship programs in schools?  What a challenge!

Constant personalisation yesterday, today and tomorrow.

No matter where we look these days, the idea of personalized information streams continue to be supported by new tools, or new ways of working with existing tools – and all linked to our mobile devices in some way.  For example, where-ever I am,  I’m constantly adding items to my public Facebook feed, which ( I have to admit) has remained a constant as any number of other tools have come and gone. I need my tools to interrelate – all the time – easily, and quickly!

What interests me is the amazing uptake of ScoopIT. I was an early adopter myself, but have now taken a different view of the value of the tool – driven by Pinterest. Yes, I’m losing interest in ScoopIT – and here’s why.

I’m not interested in using the ‘built-in’ curation tool that Scoopit offers – it’s just not good enough at sourcing the professional feeds I want.

I’m not interested in having to use a browser-add on – as I just may not be at my computer to Scoop!

In case you haven’t noticed, a Facebook page looks pretty much the same as a ScoopIT page – so guess what – now I am favouring Facebook to do what ScoopIT has been doing!  e.g. Digital Citizenship in Schools vs Digital Citizenship in Schools.

BUT the ScoopIT ecosystem gets so much more traction!  Despite that, I am (like others) now getting really bored with ScoopIT links in Twitter, or Facebook.  When I click on a recommended link I prefer to go directly to the sources.  So there is the dilemma – to Scoop or to FaceBook?  I wonder what you think?

I also became jaded with ScoopIT  me when it insisted on a monthly package upgrade to be able to stream my content to multiple Scoops. Even ScoopIT education wants a monthly payment.  After some emails to try and explain that schools and educational institutions do prefer an annual fee for payment, nothing was put on offer. #FAIL

The other interesting change is the lack of ScoopIT buttons on mainstream pages.  You can Tweet, FB, G+, LinkedIn or Pin -  but you can’t Scoop!  #FAIL

So while I ramble on, the real reason for writing this post is to reflect on  just how much content organisation and curation keeps shifting. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow are fluid places of relentless change.

Thinking about tomorrow?

Check out the new eBook feature enabled in Wikipedia.

We’re happy to announce that a new EPUB export feature has been enabled on English Wikipedia. You can use it to collate your personal collection of Wikipedia articles and generate free ebooks. These can be read on a broad range of devices, like mobile phones, tablets and e-ink based e-book readers.

This is a whole new ball-game for educators. Consider the option of getting students  (Secondary or graduate) to write content for Wikipedia, and publish it as their assessment if it is worthwhile? Consider the teacher or lecturer producing content that is related to a particular discipline and distributing it via this eBook feature – puts a whole new twist on open source publishing! Consider putting your learning materials into Wikipedia and weaving it together to package a knowledge element or topic of investigation?  I think this is a real ‘watch this space’ moment once again.

There’s an explanation and explanatory video at Animals in Space. Basic – but you get the idea. Is this the start of a new shift in information delivery spearheaded by Wikipedia?  I hope so, in the sense that we need to have information from many sources and repositories, but in the first instance we may simply have to plug into Wikipedia with our content. For example, I am toying with the idea of some new ways to assess ‘collection development’ for an Master’s level subject. Prompted by the media release from Wikipedia about the eBook feature, I scanned relevant resources and came up sharply against the lack of good material. Given that Wikipedia is highly searched information source on generalist information  I began to see writing material for Wikipedia as being far more authentic and worthwhile than writing an essay. Still written, but suddenly, with the option for an audience, multimedia content and hyperlinks the learning experience takes on a new focus.  More thinking on this, but I’m tipping that I won’t be the only teacher who begins to see new uses for Wikipedia.

Another tool that caught my eye today was Media2Go. Badged as a new reading experience, it’s just another way of ‘packaging’ what you want.  I’m never that keen on such tools, and (as I mentioned) I’m ‘over’ browser buttons (having lost count of ones used and ditched as media changed)! While I understand that business or corporate users of such tools may have a focussed area of reading, in education we do need to keep open and flexible.

But still worth a try, as its concept has some exciting possibilities. As they explain, the key aims are:

1. Cut out the noise
Bookmarks, saved articles, feeds –we’ve got all those on our browsers too, but how often do you really go back and read all the content you’ve saved? Right at the point of reading, you should be able to see topics that pique your interest and pull content on those topics instantly and without having to sift through tons of articles.

2. YOUR world. YOUR opinion.
We strongly think that we CAN NOT, CAN NOT become a society of homogenized opinions. It’s YOUR world and YOU should have a say in where you get your content from.

Maybe this IS tomorrow? Learn more at the video.

New visions, past interactions – listserv to social media

The School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University is a national leader in the design and delivery of a comprehensive suite of courses in library and information studies. We face many challenges, and amongst these the latest one has been to respond to new media environments by expanding the scope of our services to the vitally important information professionals we know as Teacher Librarians.

Time for social networking to hit the scene!

Teacher Librarians represent an important sector in library and information education. Alongside it’s degree program for Teacher Librarians, CSU has also been supporting the Australian Teacher Librarian Network  (OZTL_NET) listserv as a professional service  to the school library sector.  Now we also recognize the growing importance of utilizing web-based and mobile-device-enabled tools for communication, interaction and information dissemination through text, images, or sound. So it really was time to re-work and expand the potential of OZTL_NET.

OZTL_NET was originally created as a discussion list for information professionals working in Australian schools by the teacher librarianship academic staff. Since then it has grown to a community of more than 3,000 teacher librarians and information professionals.

This email-based service, run as a listserv using Mailman,  though quite old in the style of service it represents, is still very much a current tool and sometimes a lifesaver for many.  This service needed to stay for now – albeit at a new URL, and with some improved functionality.  My most  favourite bit of improvement is the fact that I can now look at a digest (a way of receiving all the emails in one bundle) on my ipad or iphone! Another neat new feature is how it handles the inevitable images that automatic signature files insert in a message – they can now get through!  This will save hours in bounced messages, and emails to remind people that a listerv is lean and mean in function :-)

But the obvious thing to do was to evolve the potential of this very stable listserv in a number of social media ways. While I am not sure which of these will be the favourites, the idea looks something like this:

  • share a link on the listserv and store it for easy retrieval any time in the Diigo group!
  • share your library images in Flickr, because we need to collect the ideas from around Australia
  • Like us on Facebook – and include us in your News Feed. Share things you find, and get into the conversation.
  • Perhaps 140 characters on Twitter will be just the thing for you – just another way to stay in touch and build the teacher librarian community.

To make all this possible, and still provide access to the vital information for the OZTL_NET Listserv, we now have a fantastic new web portal at http://oztlnet.com/. The next step is for the many members of the listerv to jump on in and begin to realise the power of the social media tools at their disposal for increasing our information flow between us all at a national level. Don’t just share with people in your suburb, state, or sector. Share with us all!

It’s early days yet – as the new services were only launched recently.  Do join one or other of the services, and connect, communicate and collaborate with each other across Australia. Social media can provide new avenues for thought leadership and innovation. providing a proactive and positive contribution to the strategic futures of school libraries.

Special thanks to Jo Kay, who always manages to work magic with web based products and services,  and who managed to help so many people through the migration from the old to the new (oh yes, it does help to read instructions!). OZTL_NET was lucky to have you!

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by fensterbme

Social media [at your library] starts with you

Thank you to Karen Bonanno for the opportunity to speak with teacher librarians about social media, social networking and school libraries,  as part of the School Library Management Professional Learning Webinar Series.

If you are interested in quality professional development delivered online and would like to receive email notices for future webinars and other professional learning events I recommend that you  sign up now.

The great unwashed ~ and information


In using the phrase ‘the great unwashed’  I’m not referring to the young Steve Jobs, infrequent bathing discussed in the New York Times, or even the rather disparaging term coined by the Victorian novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton ~ who ultimately led to that phrase “it was a dark and stormy night’ being immortalized by none other than Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy. (You should check out more about comic book legends and the back story to that doggy author)

But for me ‘the great unwashed’ and the proverbial ‘dark and stormy night’ may well be referring to the rubbish tip that is the internet. Wander in there too long, and you will indeed have a dirty mind and body :-)

Seriously though, this is exactly why teachers need to take such a considered approach as to how to integrate technology tools and digital resources into their learning and teaching environments. It’s also why such initiatives as Wikipedia  have served to teach us how to share and participate in the curation of information. Wikipedia has come of age just when we need it to.

That makes perfect sense. Through user-generated efforts, Wikipedia is comprehensive, current, and far and away the most trustworthy Web resource of its kind. It is not the bottom layer of authority, nor the top, but in fact the highest layer without formal vetting. In this unique role, it therefore serves as an ideal bridge between the validated and unvalidated Web.

Teachers have also been using tools like Diigo and Evernote to show students how to ‘annotate’ the web and share information. While this works well on the smaller scale, it does not match the venture that Wikipedia represents.

Shared on Twitter, Hypothes.is may well be the next phase in making sense of the great unwashed information environment that is the internet. Of course, like any venture it might fail – but I think Hypothes.is is one to watch for now. Imagine…

If wherever we encountered new information, sentence by sentence, frame by frame, we could easily know the best thinking on it.

If we had confidence that this represented the combined wisdom of the most informed people–not as anointed by editors, but as weighed over time by our peers, objectively, statistically and transparently.

If this created a powerful incentive for people to ensure that their works met a higher standard, and made it perceptibly harder to spread information that didn’t meet that standard.

Peanuts image: source Gary Ware
Texture image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by SnaPsi Сталкер

Survey on cybersafety and library users

Libraries play an important role in providing internet access and advice to children, their parents, and other library users. To help library staff in this role, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has developed a range of resources about how to manage risks so that  library users have safe and positive experiences online.

The Cybersmart Guide for Library Staff provides information and resources about safe, responsible and enjoyable internet use in Australian libraries, including public libraries and school libraries. For library staff, the ACMA’s cybersafety program includes web-based and printed materials on internet safety. All materials for library staff are available online at
cybersmart.gov.au. The ACMA worked closely with the Australian Library and Information Association and Australian libraries to ensure that all materials are both accurate and appropriate.

Having access to a range of useful and current cybersafety resources is vital in ensuring users have safe and positive experiences online. To assist in this ongoing work, a survey has been jointly created by ALIA and the ACMA to gather information.

This feedback will help shape and inform the future development of cybersafety resources for library staff and library users.

This survey for Australian library users will remain open until COB 12 December 2011.

Your involvement is strongly encouraged and your responses very much appreciated.

Go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Cybersmart2011 to complete the survey and
have your say in the development of resources that will benefit all library users.

Don’t like the new Google Reader?



To be honest, I’ve always hated Google Reader, so the current round of complaints since the update have had no impact on my RSS reading habits.  One quick look tells me that the interface is more palatable, having adopted the new Google look common to it’s other product upgrades. However, my RSS reads also tell me that many are unhappy, and that one of the key issues is the social interface.

Google Reader’s  redesign  removes social features to other websites. The Google Reader team has prepared for the release to be unpopular with some users in the userbase saying in a preemptive post “we recognize, however, that some of you may feel like the product is no longer for you” adding that they extended the amount of exportable data.  “Starting today we’ll be turning off friending, following, shared items and comments in favor of similar Google+ functionality” and iterated “we hope you’ll like the new Reader (and Google+) as much as we do, but we understand that some of you may not. Retiring Reader’s sharing features wasn’t a decision that we made lightly, but in the end, it helps us focus on fewer areas, and build an even better experience across all of Google”.

Google Reader is certainly changing. In truth I am not at all ‘qualified’ to comment on the current iteration of Reader. Why?

I’m been a long time fan and user of Feedly. If you’ve been around in any of my presentations, you’ll know that I like Feedly so much that I recommend it all the time.


cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery

If you currently manage all your feeds in Google Reader, Feedly is a nice way to transition to a different style of feed reader. Feedly syncs with your Google Reader account, but uses a more magazine-style interface. The minimalist interface thankfully doesn’t put as much emphasis on whitespace as the new Google Reader, either. The service offers support for a plethora of social media services, but doesn’t include any built-in substitute for Google Reader’s social features.

Just in time for the launch of the new Google Reader, Feedly also just launched version 7 of its web service

As an added bonus, there are also  various mobile and tablet apps for Feedly which work nicely now. However, when it comes to my iPhone I also have a friendly relationship with FeedlerPro!

Top image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by stylianosm

Doing social media ~ experience the space



Since some time in July  I have been wrangling with the multiple dimensions of social media as they impact on the spaces of information professionals. I chose that word deliberately, because doing social media so it matters is at the heart of the what it means to be a socially networked information professional. It’s only by becoming active in social media spaces that you can really hope to be able to determine the best  social networking strategies for your library services.

You cannot read and write about social networking in order to learn social media strategy without engaging in the full dimensions of it. It is only through engagement that practice turns theory into understanding.

I always felt that had to be the case, but my recent teaching in INF206 Social Networking for Information Professionals has brought that message home to me loud and clear.

I have had the outstanding opportunity to engage with a group of information professionals scattered across Australia who are working in as diverse a range of libraries as you could ask. The services their institutions provide are, in some cases, second to none, and I was delighted to see that during the course of our study program some of the students were able to step up to join committees  formulating and/or delivering social networked services.

Tweeting for Trove, Australia’s national online resource of books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives ?

How good is that!

What is unquestionably the case for anyone wishing to delve into the spaces of social media is that engagement is participation! How else can you determine what, how, when, or why you might adopt a particular tool or strategy for your organisation?

There is no single “right” social media service that will fit every library. Comparing social media sites is part of the research, as is determining what kind of social media your library is interested in. Given that social media sites come and go, side-by-side comparison charts will not give you all the answers. Interaction and conversation with others active in social media will be an essential part of your litmus test while you keep your library’s objectives in mind.

My main message is that a participatory culture is unavoidably participatory!  I have discoved that students in a program about social networking,  who do not actively embrace experimenting and exploring, inevitably have gaps and weaknesses in applying social networking to the provision of library services. But by jumping in and giving it a go, fluency begins to emerge, and the transformation is quite exilerating!  Library 2.0 is vibrant, viral, communicates, promotes, and engages with it’s ‘people’.

It’s like learning a new language and going on a trip to a new country – you can get by with a tourist translation or develop fluency that allows you to become immersed and enjoy every aspect of the new cultural experience.

I know which option I prefer!

Top Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photoshared by Έλενα Λαγαρία
Bottom Image: cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery