Blogging Alone – Social Isolation and New Technology from Pew

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about any of the Pew Reports coming out. I’d like to mention that when I was finishing the copy edits on my book, they replaced every instance of “Pew says…” with “The Center says…” so, sorry about that. I vacillate about feeling like Pew tells it like it is, offering research instead of punditry about internet topics. Their researched conclusions so closely match many of my (knee-jerk) own, I wonder if they’re not more internet boosters than I can see with my own biases and blinders. The upshot of this survey: increased internet use is not making Americans more isolated.

In any case, their new report Pew Internet Social Isolation and New Technology is my second lengthy read for today. Be sure to read the interesting side note The GSS Controversy in which they consider that using the verb “discuss” to refer to people communicating with others may have eliminated non-talking options form people’s minds [i.e. texting and emailing].

Some have worried that internet use limits people’s participation in their local communities, but we find that most internet activities have little or a positive relationship to local activity. For instance, internet users are as likely as anyone else to visit with their neighbors in person. Cell phone users, those who use the internet frequently at work, and bloggers are more likely to belong to a local voluntary association, such as a youth group or a charitable organization.

Utica notes and slides

I gave a really fun talk in Utica, New York at the MidYork Library System lately. It was an overview of social tools [mainly how libraries are using Twitter and Facebook] with the added “how to make a widget” aspect that I think helps people envision real live things they could do with it. I used feed2js to make a new sidebar on for New York Times Best Sellers, all right in front of them. Without doing anything more complicated than copying and pasting. I’m happy that all the “bla bla RSS” talking we’ve been doing is now meeting web tools like My Yahoo and Google reader [and other standalone products] so that people can really quickly and easily set up revolving content on their otherwise static websites.

You can see my notes and slides here. Success with Social Networking. Thanks very much to the nice people at Mid-York for setting up such a fun day.

Be social with your national library

I just became a fan of the Library of Congress on Facebook. They seem to be using facebook in a prety normal way, highlighting events, adding a few photos. If you want to find other ways to be social with LoC, check out this post on Resource Shelf. I’ve always felt their YouTube channel was pretty nice.

Talk: Social Software & Intellectual Freedom

I gave a talk at MLA on Social Software and Intellectual Freedom. It’s hard to sum up the topic in 75 minutes. I did about an hour of talking and opened the floor up to questions which seemed to go well. If my talk had a thesis it was “Make sure your privacy policy expands to include social networking; don’t chastise people for what you know about them online; don’t be frightened.” but I think it was a little rambly. It did, howerver, come with a huge list of links which is what more and more of my talks lately have. I talk about 30 things and then give a lot of well-curated “and here’s where to go for more” sources. In case anyone is curious, the sldies and links are here

Thanks to MLA for having me down to Springfield. It was a nifty conference in a nice new building.

library vendors using twitter

Just in case you want to read or interact with library vendors in a different way, Bill Drew has created a list of library vendors who use Twitter. Granted this doesn’t mean they’re necessarily accessible in that way, but for people already on Twitter it’s good to know. This is part of the larger spreadsheet that Bill is creating about library vendors who use social software.

Also, someone asked me to mention why someone who wasn’t using Twitter might want to. It’s certainly gotten the attention of some of the major media, but what’s in it for an individual librarian or library? When I talk about Twitter, I stress a few things

– It’s a box you can type into that puts data on the web in a standard form. This means you can repurpose the content, pull it into a sidebar on your website and/or publish or read your feed or someone else’s in a format you choose (I use a client called NatsuLion that rolls up the side of my screen. Many people at CiL were using TweetDeck)
– Being able to have a friends list means you can keep up with what other people you choose to read about are up to. I work at home alone most days and I like the collegial feel of knowing what other librarians are up to. When I travel, I just stop reading it unless I’m at someplace where many people are using it.
– At CiL it was helpful to know where people were at, you can “broadcast” to a friends list “hey, this session is full” or “We’re at this session and it’s great!” which can give you realtime updates about an event as it’s happening. I enjoyed reading people talking about my talk while it was happening (after my talk, before my co-panelist), in little chunks not the constant stream that comes from something like a Meebo chatroom.
– It’s really replacing blogs as the place to read breaking type news that happens in places where Twitter-enabled people are. This is a big caveat though. People have always said “news happens where the reporters are” When there were wildfires in San Diego, Twitter was very useful for people. When there’s a natural disaster here in Orange County Vermont, not so much.

Twitter, more than other social software, seems to me to be a case in which evaluation of your community is a good first step. Have people in your universe who use it, especially other media or established folks? Might be neat to either use their feed, start your own or just use the search feature for keeping current on what’s going on in your area. I don’t think it’s a situation where people will be asking the library “Are you on Twitter? Why Not?” at least not in the near future.

update: just checking my feeds and I note that Brian has an example of how twitter solved a problem for his library and Jenny offers some organizational advice.