self serve support, what I learned about using numbers in facebook’s hashtags

I support Open Library. We don’t offer a lot of support but we do offer some. If you don’t understand a thing, a person will help you with it.

Nowadays most “free” products only offer self-serve help pages or forums if you have a question. I had one today. I made a post on Instagram. Instagram posts automagically to Facebook. I used two hashtags #meta and #1977. The first one auto-linked on fb and the second one did not. I checked the help files and it seems to say that you can use numbers in hashtags. So what was going on? My hypothesis was that numbers were somehow reserved in the internal mechanisms of the thing. So I did a few experiments.

1. Does it even work? The #meta hashtag (which fb auto-linked) generated this URL: https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/meta. You can link it and go read some stuff. If you make a new URL with 1977 you get a decently ugly error page.

something went wrong facebook errorигры винкс

2. You can search for either of these tags in the search box and find posts using the string of characters #meta or #1977. Huh.

3. Maybe dates are a special sort of number that’s eliminated? I tried a few more hashtag options: love1 and 1love work. OneEightSeven works but 187 does not. In fact, I could find no combination of only numbers that wouldn’t produce that ugly error message. And, though it took me a while to find a combination of letters that resulted in no hits, I did still get a response when I did that, not a failure.

we found no results

Conclusion: facebook’s help files are missing the useful piece of information that you actually can’t have a hashtag that is all numbers. This is part 47 of why we will still need librarians or their equivalent in the age of Google. I hope this is helpful for someone. The end.

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Advocacy topics: stats + stories + good design + good tools

I’m wrapping up my Tools for Library Advocacy class this week. I’ll probably be writing down some of what I’ve learned trying to teach a CMS-evading online class–what worked and what doesn’t–but I had a small outline to share. The class was short, really short. Six weeks with two holidays (Memorial Day and King Kamehameha Day) and then grades are due over the July 4th weekend. Tough timing so I wanted to really compress things. I thought about advocacy and what are the essential parts of a good advocacy campaign, whether it’s putting out lawn signs or getting a new program at the library. I summarized it as stats + stories + good design + good tools. Added to this are, of course, good communication and partnerships which I wove in there as well as determining the appropriateness of a social media approach. The web address for my class won’t be up forever but this link should work for a while. You can see what we wrote and read and did on the syllabus.

Two specific items that I am pulling out for my own continued advocacy on digital divide topics are these (one from class, one not from class).

1. This comment on MetaFilter about what it’s like for a truly digitally divided user to try to apply for a job on a library computer. We know variants of this because we see it ever day, but I think it’s an exceptionally well-communicated single piece that should be shared and read widely.

2. This document from Bruce Clark, Queens University’s Digital Inclusion Project Manager about helping someone sign up for AT&T’s Access Plan, the low cost internet access that is available to people who need it, courtesy of the FCC. You’ll note that the process takes over a week and will help the user save $40 a month on her internet access, money she can spend on better food and more bus rides (her words).

Even though we know the numbers about digitally divided folks, and we see the promotions trying to get people signed up for service, it’s ultimately people like Bruce who make the last mile happen. Following up and following through so that people who have multiple challenges can get some assistance helping solve a problem.

Each of my students created an advocacy plan and we spent a week each working on stats and stories and design and tools. It was incredibly gratifying to see them putting work into things they cared about (some library-oriented, some less so) and effectively communicating a need for change. I hope I’m able to teach this class, or some variant of it, again.

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TILT – today in librarian tabs v. 3

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 21.19.39

Before I forget, I’ve actually started a Tiny Letter, also called TILT though it’s a bit more essay-ish than these posts. Subscribe if you like this sort of thing in your inbox. Infrequent messages, well-designed and lovingly delivered.

Been thinking about the workplace a little this week. Here’s my top five.

  1. This isn’t about libraries but it’s a thing many librarians should read. Why it’s better for a workplace to avoid a toxic employee over hiring a superstar. The Harvard Business Review lays it out. We in libraries all know it, but this is science to support our many feels.
  2. I really wish the DPLA would mix up their front page a little but I did learn about their new Source Sets from our local Vermont contact when I was at VLA. Curated primary source documents with teaching guides and links to more information. Here’s one on the food stamp program in the US.
  3. Stanford University Libraries puts out a useful annual Copyright Reminder document for faculty and staff. Their new one is out and outlines key copyright issues for 2016.
  4. Being dedicated to accessibility should also include knowing how to find useful things for our patrons that our libraries may not have. With this in mind, it’s worth making you aware of PornHub’s launch of described audio of their most popular videos. You can find it by searching for the “narrated” tag. An earlier web project called PornfortheBlind.org is still online as well.
  5. Very exited to see the results of the IMLS funding to help the Indigenous Digital Archive get up and running. You can follow their Twitter account to stay abreast of developments.

I pay no more than top legal price food stamp image.

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praxis and passports – Two very different talks in one long day

Now that I’ve stopped being webinar-resistant (I thank lots of meditation and more free time), I’ve been enjoying getting to give a lot of different types of presentations. Thanks to the oddness of scheduling, I did two very different talks on Wednesday. The first one was for NCompass Live who does great continuing ed stuff, all of it available online for free. I talked about the Passport to Vermont Libraries program (program website) in depth for about an hour and took questions. Small crowd, maybe 14 people. No live-tweeting. Fun. They put their recordings up on YouTube and you can watch mine here.

shot of the inside cover of 2015's passport

The second talk was for the SJSU-sponsored Library 2.016 Worldwide Virtual Conference. Michael Stephens was putting this one together and I was one of five people on a joint keynote thing, so I had about eight minutes. To me eight minutes means “One big idea” and so I decided to take a critlib angle and talk about how the library just IS a classroom and what it means to learn in a less-structured environment. There were maybe 400 people logged into a somewhat hectic Blackboard environment. You can listen to the recorded talks here, but I extracted mine into an eight minute (somewhat clunky-sounding) video if you just want to check that one out. As always, my notes and slides are available on my website. This was a particularly good looking set of slides if I do say so myself. This image is the catchphrase that seemed to scoot around the Twitters.

the library is the classroom where we learn to be human

As always, it was really fun to get to interact with listeners (in both situations) and get to see what other people are jazzed about and talking about.

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TILT: today in librarian tabs v. 2

image of book shelves from Chicago Public Library

I liked this so much I figured I’d do it again. Some of these are links emailed to me that I never did get around to writing a full post about.

  1. Every wanted something like Rotten Tomatoes that aggregated a bunch of reviews, only for books? The somewhat uninspiredly named Book Marks does that thing.
  2. We give people advice on how to find things, this meticulously detailed comparison between Apple Maps and Google maps can help us give people advice on how to find things.
  3. The Center for an Urban Future writes policy papers. This recent one about NYC libraries and their technology instruction is a very good read. NYC libraries provided tech training to more than 150,000 New Yorkers in 2015, up 81% from three years earlier.
  4. A story from the blogs: Sofya Onikienko and her rescuing of her books during the Patriotic War. Fascinating story at the Russian Landmarks blog. (thank you John)
  5. Wild Colorado is a library-created (and Kickstarter funded) app that helps people interact with and identify nature and is available to Coloradans statewide. (thanks Joseph)
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