Author Archive

Sherman’s Guides to Social Search–History & Players


One of my favorite bloggers/conference presenters is Chris Sherman, Executive Editor of SearchEngineWatch‘s SearchDay newsletter. He constantly comes up with useful, practical tips for search engine users and marketers, and in his SearchDay articles, yesterday and today, he presents background information on social search, why we should be interested, and who the major players are in social search arena. Below is a short post from Chris at the Search Engine Watch Blog (an interesting blog for those interested in search engine news), which summarizes and provides links to Chris Sherman’s very recent articles. I found them to be very readable and yet very descriptive of this hot topic:

“In yesterday’s SearchDay article, What’s the Big Deal With Social Search?, I looked at some of the pros and cons of adding human influences to algorithmic search results. In today’s SearchDay article, Who’s Who in Social Search, I map out the various approaches to social search and offer links to some of the key players in human-mediated search.”

I am very interested in the social search arena on the Web and already know a lot about it, but I like how he easily explains and gives examples of social search concepts and tools. If you find it a bit difficult to explain social search to colleagues and friends, I would recommend reading these articles and sharing them with those who are not quite sure what “social search” is really all about. Thanks, again, Chris!

August 16, 2006 at 9:21 am 1 comment

Free, Quality, Full-Text Articles, Books, & More–You Know That’s What You Want!

OK, as you may have noticed, Library Gardeners, I have been in a serious blogging mood today, and I just can’t wait to share about this:

I have been demonstrating how to locate books in libraries via the “Find in a Library” WorldCatLibraries links within Yahoo! and Google for some time now, but only a small percentage of the items available via WorldCat were available in the two search engines. I signed up for their email update a week ago, and WorldCat has just announced today that their new worldcat.org beta site is now available–I am thrilled, since WorldCat seems to be one of the largest library networks out there:

“This site—and a downloadable WorldCat search box you can easily add to your Web site—opens the complete WorldCat database to the public, not just the smaller data subsets utilized by Open WorldCat partner sites such as Google, Yahoo! Search and others. WorldCat.org builds on the success of OCLC’s Open WorldCat Program that has elevated the visibility of library materials on the open Web since the summer of 2003.” (box on left courtesy of WorldCat.org)

What I really liked about this site, besides being able to find many more items in libraries, is that you can search for any item in any library near you, now using keyword searches (i.e., you can enter a title, subject or person). You can also now refine your search (box on left of screen) by author, content, format, language, and year. I am sure that there will be some kinks in it right away, as it is a very new beta site, but I am happy with the direction it is going in now. I look forward to reviews about it after it gets “used a lot” but for now, I like it (and everyone can give them feedback using the link in the top right-hand corner of the results pages).

By the way, if you do like “finding tools” and sites like this, you might also like to browse my “The Changing Face of the Scholarly Web: Finding Free, Quality, Full-Text Articles, Books, and More!,” published this July/August 2006 in MultiMedia & Internet@Schools magazine. The article is freely available on the Web via their magazine’s main site (which I visit often for its very relevant K-12 library info) and in many of the EBSCO databases now. I do hope you enjoy it and find it useful! And since I was limited to less than 3000 words for the article, here is another site of mine, “WOW!–Full Text AND Free?!!: An Internet Hotlist on Finding Free Full Text Articles and Books” (I used this site to write the article) that lists these and other quality, full-text finding tools, especially with some more of my favorite Open Access (OA) sites. Feel free, please, to share and comment!

August 8, 2006 at 5:26 pm 3 comments

Google & MySpace Marriage, & New Social Software Book by Michael Stephens

All over the news sites last night, including Yahoo! News, was the fact that Google and MySpace have signed a $900 million deal “which marries the Internet’s leading search engine with the top social-networking site,” so look for the familiar Google search boxes on the site later this year.

And my personal favorite tidbit of news from Jenny Levine: Michael Stephens’ July/August 2006 ALA LTR “Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software” is available for purchase. Jenny says his book “covers blogs, RSS, instant messaging, wikis, Flickr, and getting staff buy-in to implement Library 2.0 tools in your library,” which both Jenny and Michael spoke in length about this recently at their presentation in Princeton, NJ–a fantastic presentation and group turnout. Anyway, I ordered mine a few days ago and it should be here tomorrow–I can’t wait to read it and share the advice with my colleagues, so thanks a lot, Jenny and Michael!

August 8, 2006 at 2:55 pm

"The Internet is becoming a cesspool of plagiarism"

OK, maybe we’ve heard this before and it isn’t “news” to us, but I found what was mentioned after this first quoted line from the August 1st USA Today article, “Authorship gets lost on Web” by Del Jones to be very interesting and certainly pertinent to all of us bloggers and other Internet authors. A few of my favorite quotes/info bits from the article are the following:

They’re like cockroaches,” McKee says. “Ideas are our assets, and it’s frustrating when people take them from you without shame,” which referred to bloggers who used McKee’s specific material in their posts without giving him any credit.

“Pew Research two weeks ago said it found that of the 12 million adults who blog, 44% say they have taken songs, text or images and “remixed” them into their own artistic creation.”

As a contributing chapter author for Vibiana Bowman’s 2004 book, I must say that we went to great lengths to ensure that we were giving credit where credit was due in our writings before we published them. It can take some time and effort, but it is worth it.

That being said, I must say that not everyone seems to care about this, and I agree with McKee–it is annoying when we come across our intellectual content found in someone else’s post, online article, PowerPoint slides, or Website–with no attribution given at all. I truly believe that Jones is correct when he states: “In some quarters, plagiarism remains a serious offense. But where it involves the Internet, an acceptance of plagiarism is taking hold, and when confronted, offenders often shrug it off as hardly newsworthy.”

At the end of this short, enlightening article, Jones quotes Berkowitz concerning properly attributing someone’s original content on the Internet: “It’s like the Wild West out there.”

Maybe the Internet, in general, and blogs, specifically, are fast becoming “cesspool[s] of plagiarism,” or maybe not, but you have to admit that you have seen plagiarism on the Web. Let’s not help online plagiarism continue to grow within our own Websites–let’s do our part and remind each other to quote and cite/link to each others’ intellectual property and not let “authorship get lost on the Web.” Yes, even within our own blog postings.

Anyway, thank you, Del Jones, for the stories, quotes, and reminder to honor others. And I hope I gave you and others enough credit–no, really, seriously, I do. To everyone else, read his article.

August 2, 2006 at 11:25 am 4 comments

DOPA Provides Too Little Guidance on Chat & Social Networking

Following up on Janie’s “DOPA Update” post and many others’ on the Web since the speedy approval of DOPA in the House, I want to emphasize again that final approval of DOPA could significantly affect an incredible amount of sites on the Web that allow author and personal profiles and lists, and this includes Amazon.com and many, many blogs. This is because the current version of the bill is too broad and does not define off-limit sites or provide definitions of “chat” or “social networking,” virtually (no pun intended) impacting far too many non-risky, safe sites for children, at least as it is written now. To get you up-to-date on this, again, read the summary article mentioned in Janie’s July 28 post, “Chat rooms could face expulsion,” from CNET News that mentions that this bill will affect at least two-thirds of all libraries. I am all for protecting our youth, as you can read from my July 15 “Social Networking and Online Safety” post, and as everyone is reading now, DOPA does expand on the Children’s Internet Protection Act, which requires libraries to filter sexually explicit material. But, unfortunately, at this time, DOPA leaves much to be desired and provides not much in guidance to the FCC, as you can see from the previously mentioned CNET summary article:

Defining off-limits sites
DOPA does not define “chat rooms” or “social networking sites” and leaves that up to the Federal Communications Commission. It does offer the FCC some guidance on defining social networking sites (though not chat rooms):
“In determining the definition of a social networking Web site, the Commission shall take into consideration the extent to which a Web site–
(i) is offered by a commercial entity;
(ii) permits registered users to create an online profile that includes detailed personal information;
(iii) permits registered users to create an online journal and share such a journal with other users;
(iv) elicits highly personalized information from users; and
(v) enables communication among users.”

Again, I want to say that I am all for protecting our youth being a parent, university professor, and academic librarian myself. But as I have mentioned many times before, I will continually talk about the brighter, creative aspects and rewards of participating in and using social networking sites and many other types of Websites in all of my seminars and face-to-face and online workshops and courses. The current DOPA bill is not the answer, and it will not stop youth and college students from engaging in these attractive online environments. I still think that education is the key. I mentioned near the end of my previous blog article) on this topic several sites that offered practical help. Another I want to mention is the “The Virtual Mystery Tour: A Close Look at Teens, Sex, and the Internet” workshop and its blog. It does not sugar-coat the safety aspect or potential for danger for young Internet users. It does, however, help to assure concerned adults, especially parents, that if their kids have “common sense and they trust them in other ways, they’re probably going to be able to talk intelligently with parents about what they should and shouldn’t do online.”

Parents and other adults seem to be afraid of these social networking sites and tools because many know nothing about them. We as parents and educators need to understand that teenagers (and adults) feel much freer to express themselves online and our youth don’t necessarily understand the potential consequences of “over-sharing.” I think that we need to become more involved and aware of what our teens are doing online, asking them information and making sure that they don’t over-share personal info., letting them know that predators are visiting sites they communicate within, looking for victims.

DOPA is well-intentioned, but it seems flawed as it is now written, and I think that it will negatively affect too many Websites. Making sure that our youth understand the risks & how to avoid mistakes in communicating online, while letting them know that you also understand the positive benefits they reap from the social networking sites, will go a long, long way in building trust and understanding, and help ensure continued education.

July 30, 2006 at 4:12 pm

Social Networking and Online Safety–A Lot to Talk About


It’s been a very busy week, with new freshmen student orientations, library instructions, and all-day interviews for our new librarian position, but as I begin to relax and hit the blogs for some interesting reading, I notice a quick blurb on the July 14th Search Engine Forums Spotlight mentioning that MySpace has become (or least it was on Tuesday this week) the “No. 1 U.S. Web site last week, displacing Yahoo Inc.’s top-rated e-mail gateway and Google Inc.’s search site, Internet tracking firm Hitwise said on Tuesday.” This, of course, is not a huge surprise to me, as I have been following up on social networking sites a lot lately and will be presenting on them and personal information search engines at the Internet Librarian/Internet@Schools West Conference in Monterey later in October.

Whenever I do bring up MySpace, Facebook, and other social websites with my librarian, professor, and teacher colleagues, the conversations tend to lean toward online safety, lately. In case you have not read about the crackdown on social networking sites, especially regarding MySpace, you might be interested in browsing the MySpace may face legislative crackdown article by Declan McCullagh at CNET News.com from July 11th. It discusses how politicians this week have attacked MySpace and other social networking sites for their inability to protect minors, and that legislators need to become involved.

“MySpace and other social-networking sites like LiveJournal.com and Facebook have come under increasing pressure from members of Congress hoping to appeal to voters before the November elections. The school and library filtering bill–called the Deleting Online Predators Act, or DOPA–is a centerpiece of a poll-driven Republican effort called the ‘Suburban Agenda’.”

I continually talk about the brighter, creative aspects and rewards of participating in and using social networking sites in my seminars and courses, and you have heard many others mentioning these as well, I am sure. In fact, I just read a column yesterday from the informative and entertaining Stephen Abram about this topic entitled, “What Can MySpace Teach us in School Libraries” that just came out in the July/August issue of http://www.mmischools.com/magazine (note: I subscribe to their free site for multimedia tools and resources for K-12+, and you can, too, or wait for the issue to become available fulltext in EBSCO’s Academic Search Premier or WilsonWeb’s Wilson Omnifile any day now). Abram asks quite a few questions about these special sites and believes, and I agree, that we can learn a lot from them–including what they are doing right “with respect to institutionalizing social networks” and in “their efforts to create ‘safe’ spaces.”

Well, let’s talk about online safety. If you have heard about the safety aspects surrounding MySpace and other related sites, and especially if you have read anything in the traditional news lately about this, you know that one serious suggestion or answer to the problem is to block access in the schools via filtering systems. Believe me, this will not work, as many savvy students will find ways around this even at school, not to mention at home. I don’t recommend that you rely on these if you do choose or must use them. I am not saying to do nothing, however, as I do believe in Internet safety education, especially since our youth (and university students) are extremely attracted to these online environments, inside and outside of school (Abram in his article states that one estimate of MySpace alone suggests that it could “account for 40% of Web traffic by the end of 2006″).

So, if you are like me and are looking for some additional help in that “safety and education” area, especially because you are a school library media specialist, librarian, or parent who does not want to wait for politicians, legislators, the library & education community, and the general public to finally agree on solutions that might actually work, I would suggest reading Nancy Willard’s second “Social Networking” article, also in the July/August MultiMedia & Internet@Schools magazine, for her update on the concerns and issues surrounding safe and responsible Internet use (Nancy is actually the Director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use and also has a detailed, free “Briefing for Educators” article available online at her cyberbully.org site as well.

You will notice, too, that MySpace itself is doing a lot more to help with safety issues, especially with all of the publicity it is getting. McCullagh’s CNET News.com article mentioned earlier states that…

“For its part, MySpace–now owned by Rupert Murdock’s News Corp.–has taken steps this year to assuage concerns among parents and politicians. It has assigned some 100 employees, about one-third of its workforce, to deal with security and customer care, and hired Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam, a former Justice Department prosecutor, as chief security officer.”

I think that is a step in the right direction for them, and MySpace does have a Safety Tips link at the bottom of their main page that has recently added more material for youth and parents, including links to several suggested useful online safety resource and education sites. I think you will find the following to be useful:

Netsmartz.org
WiredSafety.org
GetNetWise.org
SafeTeens.com

Anyway, this blog is getting long, and I did not even get to talk about ALA’s stand on DOPA (they and many others believe that it needs serious refining), but I think I have given you a lot to read and talk about concerning social networking and online safety, right? Besides, it’s my wife’s birthday and I need to go celebrate it with her at the New Jersey Shore this weekend; in fact, we are leaving right now if you want to join us, Library Gardeners and visitors–yeah, I know, giving too much personal info on the Web can be dangerous, but I do live life in the fast lane. I am an infomaniac/librarian after all! ;)

July 15, 2006 at 7:56 am 1 comment

Facebook and Updating the Stereotypical Librarian Image

I hope everyone enjoyed our hosting of the Carnival of Infosciences and the post a few days ago–special thanks to Janie Hermann for running the show on this for Library Garden. Submitting to the Carnival was fun, although I probably should have limited myself to just one or two of the best posts, but there was so much good “stuff” out there to talk about.

One topic I just loved reading about deals with networking with our students online. I promised in an earlier post that I would come back to this, and today is specifically about Facebook (the summer session is starting at Rider University and some of the students are already communicating with me, even only in quick questions or just in “pokes.”) One of my colleagues at Rider, our fairly new business librarian Diane Campbell, was talking to me about connecting better with our freshmen and graduate business students. We were brainstorming on bringing the library to them, promoting our resources and services. So, I mentioned Facebook, which seems to be pretty hot at Rider. OK, if you don’t know what I am talking about, you must read Brian Mathews’ “Do You Facebook?” article from the just-picked-it-up-from-my-mailbox May 2006 issue of C&RL News (page 306-7). I really appreciated Brian’s take on using Facebook at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Here are some highlights from the beginning of the article for those interested in proactively promoting the library and/or your subject specialty area:

During my time on the reference desk, I discovered many gaps in students’ familiarity with the library. Could the popularity of Facebook be used as a marketing tool? I started by searching within the Georgia Institute of Technology directory on Facebook for the keyword “library” and discovered Sleeping in the Library, a community group whose members share their favorite locations to take a nap. Next I searched globally and found that a handful of other libraries had created profiles.

We all need to see if we have sleeping communities where we work!

Reading further into this “Reaching out” section, Brian mentions that he wanted to be “proactive” but to appear as himself, “rather than a faceless organization.” I totally agree with him on this point. I understand the desire to create a Facebook library community to “push” out information to our students, and I will probably do that, but for now, interacting with our students in this natural environment as a professor-librarian seems to work well.

Anyway, Brian briefly talks about his “plan,” the “payoff” of immediate responses after setting up his account and delivering some messages and photos, and the future of his use of Facebook to reach out to their students at Georgia Institute of Technology.

By using online social networks, librarians can increase campus visibility and update the stereotypical image, but, most importantly, we can let students know what the library is really all about.

Nice job on that, Brian!

May 25, 2006 at 4:21 pm 2 comments

Interesting New Library Marketing Blog–for the Garden State and Beyond!

I am always on the lookout for new, interesting articles and blogs that might be of interest to librarians in NJ, particularly, and of course, to all of us in the library field, in general. Well, the new blog by Nancy Dowd of the New Jersey State Library is one of them! As the Outreach and Marketing Specialist there, she has recently introduced a new blog called “The M Word”, which in the spirit of the NJ State Library’s “ongoing commitment to help NJ libraries better tell their story to the public, policy makers, and the press,” has provided another avenue for us to easily connect to interesting materials, articles, and ideas related to the marketing of libraries. So, if you are thinking about how you can better market your library’s services and resources, in addition to reading our “Library Garden” posts, such as Peter Bromberg’s current “Tips” blogs, I would recommend taking a look at “The M Word” when you get a moment–she is especially interested in librarians sharing “ideas, thoughts, and support to marketing problems.” The URL for her blog is http://themwordblog.blogspot.com/ . I especially liked her blogs about GE’s use of MySpace (I am so into social networking sites now and promise to post more on these soon!) recently because of its great “word of mouth advertising platform.” Companies, and now libraries, are beginning to use different media to communicate with everyone, beyond the print and regular media outlets, and think that we, as librarians, can jump onto that bandwagon, too, as Nancy suggests, to get the word out about our libraries. Nice job, Nancy!

May 10, 2006 at 9:06 am 7 comments

MySpace and Social Networking Sites

Thank you, Karen and Janie, for your posts earlier this week which mentioned MySpace,IM, and other social networking sites as primary means of communication among high school and college students and other patrons of our libraries, especially teens and young adults. I totally agree that if we want to better connect with many of them, we need to at least be familiar with these “tools” for communication and sharing. If you are not familiar with and have little interest in MySpace, Facebook, and other social networking sites, you might reconsider:

These interactive networks of photos, blogs, user profiles, groups, and internal email systems have been interconnecting people for a few years now and their use and popularity have been explosive! Believe it or not, these social networks have become some of the highest traffic sites on the Web in 2006. Millions of people, especially high school and college students, have joined them because of the ease of interactivity between the site’s users. Consider these stats from Alexa Internet:

In February 2006, MySpace was ranked as the world’s 7th most popular English language website and the most popular English language social networking website with higher traffic and over 56 million users–now, as of April 2006, it is ranked 5th in the world. Facebook, another very popular social network was listed as the world’s 66th most popular English language website, but in April, it has risen to number 28.

As a librarian and professor, I joined Facebook last year when I found out that the students in my public speaking class were communicating with each other via that tool, instead of our university’s email system. It was amazing how much more open and willing the students were to sharing information about each other and their individual and group projects in our class, via Facebook. They were thrilled that I was willing to join Facebook, and they loved that I used it to find out and celebrate their birthdays, for instance, as they came up during the semester.

Anyway, I for one, am quite interested in seeing how Karen, her library, and other libraries incorporate and use MySpace and other social networks to better connect with their patrons and students.

April 11, 2006 at 4:08 am 3 comments

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