Yesterday I was down in Lakeville Massachusetts talking about social software in libraries. It was a longish timeslot and I split it up into a small talk about software, some examples of what New England libraries have been doing and less time than I would have wanted, discussing the difference between tools and brands in the social software world.
What I mean is, a wiki is a tool. Mediawiki is a brand or type of wiki. Wikipedia is an example of a Mediawiki wiki. I decided that part of really getting the idea of social software or technology generally is that many people confuse tools and brands and examples and I think people will feel more in charge of technology if they know how to explain it. From working with novice users, I know they use turns of phrases like “My Yahoo s broken” and don’t even realize that they’re not really speaking sensically to someone who understands the terms. On the other hand, I can understand how the idea of “a browser” can be pretty transparent and ethereal to someone who only knows that you click the blue E and you get the Internet. I had an Internet before web browsing, many people haven’t.
In any case, I met a lot of neat librarians, had less time than I wanted to — a perpetual problem for me and one that I work on constantly — and made some useful handouts and slides that you should feel free to adapt to your needs. They are here
- Social Software in Libraries is the main page
- Social Software in Libraries: Creative Applications & Privacy Awareness are the slides
- Anatomy of a “social”- ite a list of the social sites I actually use along with the Tools vs. Brands handout (fixed link!)
I only have screenshots for the examples page but they are linked from the main page. I live in fear that I’ll set up a lot of excellent links and then I’ll have no Internet access to show them off so I try to prepare a zillion different ways. I think this can sometimes lead to a less-than-awesome experience because part of what’s great about social software is the sheer aliveness of it “Oh look, my friend is doing that right now” “Hey I can add this tag and see who else has used it right now” but hopefully I gave people enough to chew on and an enthusiasm to seek out more.