Computers in Libraries 2007: Meredith Farkas

[the wireless bailed, which sucks. There’s another CIL network, but it’s not responding. Boo.]

[also, I stopped to chat and make lunch plans with Elizabeth Mantel, and missed the opportunity to grab a power outlet. Batteries… draining… I really want a mac, with the lovely 6 hour battery.]

Social software
Meredith Farkas

Social software involves/allows:

  • Easy content creation and sharing – the web democratized information, and social software democratized participation.
  • Online collaboration – the ease of content creation allows easy collaboration and group work.
  • Distributed conversations – no group membership required, no single conversation stream. Instead, networks.
  • Real-time communication online – IM is taking over!
  • Capitalizes on the wisdom of crowds – social bookmarking, foksonomies, tagging, group wikis, and other filtering mechanisms.
  • Transparency – “These days, if your product is terrible, people will know about it.” Additionally, organizations can make a more human and immediate connection with users, consumers, and the public. Internal passion becomes obvious and understood.
  • Personalization – we used to buy a whole newspaper, and read the bits that mattered to us. RSS means we’re creating our own personal news stream. Podcasts allow us to create our own radio station.
  • Portability – Blackberrys, iPods, and cell phones. They’re everywhere, and people use them to stay connected to their personal information streams – conversational, informational, and entertainment. If they’re so ubiquitous, shouldn’t we be there, too?

[and then lots of good examples and talk about how to use 2.0 tech in libraries, about bringing ourselves to our users, about collaborating with colleagues and users, and about creating a human face for our organization by capitalizing on 2.0 technologies. Much of it was not new to me, so I wasn’t captivated to write it all down. Meredith’s very nice presentation, and excellent examples, however, are here.]

Strategies for implementation:

  • Avoid technolust. Think about your needs before you decide on a tool. Be selective.
  • Ask: Will it improve services, and will our patrons use it? Who are YOUR users, and what do they need that might be different from what they need at the place that piloted the idea.
  • Involve your staff from all levels. [Meredith used a picture of cats staring out a window. I wish I could laugh, appropriately, because, YES, with the herding cats]
  • Include tech staff in planning. Don’t go to IT when you need them to do something, go to them when you start discussing possibilities.
  • Play! Kick the tires, build some ugly sandcastles, and learn what’s what.
  • Trust your patrons and learn from them. Don’t be afraid of your users. Be willing to let them do the wonderful things they can do, and just handle the exceptions where they do bad things.
  • Consider maintenance and sustainability. Easy implementation does not automatically equal easy upkeep.
  • Do you need policies to govern the use of social software?
  • When marketing, focus on the functionality. Users don’t care that you have a new blog. They do care that you have a new online readers’ advisory service. Tell them what it will give them, not what you’ve done.

[I talked to Meredith after her presentation, because I wanted to congratulate her.  I was at her presentation last year — the wiki Cybertour — and she was so very very nervous (for no good reason; she was great).  And now?  Now she’s not the least bit nervous.  Which is cool to see, and just, well, a nice thing.]

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