Social Software in Libraries, a presentation

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

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.

SEMLS workshop on Wednesday

I’m digging into social software for libraries again as I prepare for a workshop I’ll be giving on Wednesday at the Southeastern Massachusetts Library System. Usually when I do this I try to find good examples of social technology being used by librarians in whatever region I am speaking in. In Dubai this was a terrific challenge, in the SEMLS location it will be harder just to pick one or two examples. Look at their website and how nice it looks and how fresh the content is! In Googling around to find a good link for my talk, I also found their wiki, the tag for their learning 2.0 project and their tech watch and news blogs.

The other little piece I’m adding is some statistical perspective. Fred Stutzman — whose blog is always a great source of data about social sites, particularly Facebook and the privacy/identity issues involved with them — found that by digging around in a Pew report about peple’s use of the Internet during the presidential campaign, he could glean information about people’s use of social networking generally.

22% of Americans use SNS. Broken down by age range, 67% of those age 18-29, 21% of those 30-39, and 6% of those 40+ use SNS. Based on 1430 respondents, margin of error should be about +/- 3%. This is a nice statistic for those who have been relying on self-reports and press accounts.