Posts filed under ‘Social Web and Social Networks’

A Serendipitous Stumble: Social Computing Magazine

I was just surfing around looking for information on several topics for a variety of reasons when I came across Social Computing Magazine and had to share my serendipitous find.

Actually, I did not find the site directly but rather the article Wikis, Collective Intelligence and Libraries written by Laura B. Cohen. The article challenges academic librarians to create more subject-based wikis and to collaborate with students in order to take advantage of the collective intelligence of students and to keep their sites current. I think that public libraries should also be trying to harness the collective intelligence of their community via the use of wikis and this article gave me some great food for thought for a future post on this topic.

It is hard to tell how long the “magazine” has been around — I would say no more than two months given the dates of the articles in their online archives and the fact that some of the topics have yet to be written about. The articles and topics on the site look promising, but when I went to the message boards it seems as if they are just getting going with them.

While I was exploring, I read the article on The Blogger’s Code of Conduct and bookmarked it separately for future reference and use in blogging classes … oh, and though it took some doing, I finally discovered the crucial information I was wanting to know — who is the person/people behind this venture. I finally found it at the bottom of the article Is ‘Social Computing” a Breakthrough — or an Oxymoron?

Jeremy Geelan is Founder, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of Social Computing Magazine. He blogs at The New Web Blog and is Executive Director of The Social Computing Foundation.

It will be interesting to keep tabs on this in the months to come.

Edited to add:

Jeremy Geelan emailed me today to thank me for the positive review (and it is a positive review, I found the content useful and the overall site design easy to navigate). My one complaint about not easily finding the information about who was behind the site was a lot more visible than I originally thought — I will blame it on the fact that I was posting late on a Sunday night after spending the day in the garden and chasing after my toddler ;-)

In any event, here is some text from the email Jeremy sent that will help clear up the issue:


… As to prime movers, there is one other link on the SCM main page that would have helped you, at the bottom left: http://www.socialcomputingmagazine.com/editboard.cfm . We probably need to move that up above the fold, but we wanted content to come first, and personalities onl a distant second.

Between them, these guys are some of the most forward-thinking, savvy minds involved anywhere in and on the Web today. I am just the (lucky) conductor… they each play their instruments far better than I ever shall!

Thanks for the good thoughts,…and don’t forget, either, that SCM is a participatory site, so the more folks become involved the merrier: http://www.socialcomputingmagazine.com/submitnews.cfm

I for one plan to become involved and encourage others in the biblioblogosphere to do the same and give a librarian voice to this new venture.

Thanks for emailing me Jeremy!

April 29, 2007 at 11:20 pm 2 comments

Pseudo-DOPA Suggestions (Age Verification) Provide False Sense of Security

Age verification for social networking sites provides teens and parents with a false sense of security. I believe that age verification just cannot be the best solution to the child safety issue. Adam Thierer, Progress & Freedom (PFF) Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Digital Media Freedom basically states this as well, warning us that

“creating [age] verification schemes that are too cumbersome for the user and the site owner [could result in] having popular networking sites pushed offshore, out of reach of US laws. An overly broad definition could [also] have a chilling affect on free speech. Moreover, collection and verification of the personal information of minors raises serious concerns of privacy and data protection.”

All of this is discussed in detail within the “Social Networking & Age Verification: Many Hard Questions; No Easy Solutions” report published yesterday from the The Progress & Freedom Foundation, where Thierer discusses some privacy and constitutional issues related to age verification proposals for social networking sites. He (along with many of us within the library and education arenas) logically explains that

“A combination of efforts, including greater online safety education, should be implemented to protect children from child predators and objectionable content.”

I found Thierer’s paper last night (read it again before work this morning) to be a rational, up-to-date, educational explanation of some of the political and personal implications of social networking and child safety issues and concerns—something I hear about often and am constantly asked about while I present on Web 2.0 and social networking topics at workshops and conferences—even while working the reference desk at Rider University! I just had to blog about it at lunch today.

What a lot of people don’t seem to fully understand is that many, many websites require user interaction in some way, shape, or form, and the legislation proposed today, as written, would, if passed, pretty much outlaw all blogs and other forms of online communication, making them pretty much worthless. I understand the privacy and safety concerns being batted around, especially as a parent and educator myself, and I believe that there are no easy answers or solutions at this time, especially regarding this aspect of our digital revolution.

However, age verification is not the answer, not to mention, as Thierer states, it would be extremely difficult to control and/or manage. A combination of educational programs and parental involvement is still the most effective way to keep our kids safe online. I think our legislators and law enforcement personnel do have legitimate concerns and are mostly looking out for our best interests. Still, I agree with Thierer’s statement that

“Policymakers and law enforcement should also focus their efforts on the prosecution of online predators under existing laws and ensure adequate punishment for the crimes.”

Let’s not go to the extreme while proposing and/or mandating legislation (like DOPA or some of the other pseudo-DOPA suggestions) which can and will effectively terminate our First Amendment rights, all for the sake of ineffectively protecting our online safety. Keep informed, and read this report and other current papers on the issue of online safety, and let’s work together, rationally, on this.
Come on, you know you are eating lunch while sitting in your office at your computer anyway! Your input and other suggested readings are certainly welcome.

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March 22, 2007 at 10:57 am 7 comments

Putting my head back into the OPAC

A couple of months ago I questioned whether the quality of our library OPACs figures greatly into the overall satisfaction of our customers. Something I read in the New York Times this weekend: made me reflect on that post and wonder whether I was asking the right question. This is the what got me a’ponderin':

Almost every Web film purveyor is planning to solve this bane of the modern culture consumer “too much choice” with some form of social networking. Recommendations, user reviews, friend lists and member pages are designed to help viewers determine which films they should watch.

When I read that, I found myself making these mental substitutions:


Almost every Web film purveyor library is planning to solve this bane of the modern culture consumer “too much choice” with some form of social networking. Recommendations, user reviews, friend lists and member pages are designed to help viewers library users determine which films they should watch books, cds and film they might enjoy next.

Now I’m wondering if the question I should be asking is, “how much value could we add to our customers’ experience, how much more engaging could libraries be, if our OPACS were integrated with social software and offered reviews, friend lists, member pages and (not incidentally) filters and recommendations?”

March 19, 2007 at 10:05 am 10 comments

Comments from Campus

Two weeks ago Edward W. Felten was the first speaker in a new series called Comments from Campus — a collaboration between Princeton Public Library and Princeton University that endeavors to bring the campus to the community (or the gown to the town, if you will). We designed it as a lunch time brown bag lecture with the simple concept of inviting faculty to speak about a topic of their choosing and/or discuss their latest research in an informal setting. The topic is not settled beforehand as the idea is to give a platform for current research interests.

Unrolling a new program at a public library is nerve-wracking (as I have discovered since I took over as Program Coordinator here at PPL last fall). You are never sure if you will find the audience you are hoping to attract and doing this as a lunch lecture instead of an evening series was a bit of a risk. Our first talk was by all measures a great success and we had better than expected attendance — in large part to the speaker’s repuation, knowledge and also because of his choice of topic.

Professor Felten delivered an entertaining and fascinating talk entitled “Real Policy for Virtual Worlds” where he examined a variety of interesting scenarios in which real world government or law may need to intervene in virtual worlds. Most of the 46 people in attendance had never even heard of Second Life or Norrath or any other virtual world before. You could see the look of amazement on several faces as they learned about the depth and breadth of virtual worlds. They were especially amazed to learn about Adam Reuters and Anshe Chung and how the Linden dollar can be traded like real currency. The talk was the perfect mix of technology and policy. I myself learned a lot, which was an added bonus because even though I have an avatar on Second Life I rarely spend time there. I have uploaded several photos from the talk on the PPL Flickr account if you would like to get a flavor of the talk — and a few of the other events that have been keeping me from blogging as often as I should.

On a side note, you might want to consider adding Felten’s always fascinating Freedom to Tinker to your blogroll — I have long been an avid reader and he always gives me food for thought.

March 6, 2007 at 9:30 pm 1 comment

Not Enough Friends? Buy Some!

Not feeling “popular enough” on your MySpace page? Afraid that others have way more friends!? Scared the friends you do have aren’t good looking enough!? Concerned prospective employers and/or mates will search for you online and find you just don’t cut it!?

Don’t worry – now you can buy some VIRTUAL friends!!!

The New York Times today reports, Fake Your Space is a “business founded by Brant Walker, which offered users of MySpace.com and similar sites a way to enhance their page with photographs and comments from hired “friends” — mainly attractive models — for 99 cents a month each.”

Wow.

I’ve felt like a loser in real life, but not on the Internet. Yet. Maybe I should!?

On the other hand, if you have too many friends, or unwanted friends (!?), Mr. Walker also provides a service called BreakYourSpace.com to get rid of unwanted friends!

According to the article, all of this is perfectly legal. MySpace and Facebook have had no comment.

Is this unethical? Immoral? Is it any different from pre-arranging a cell-phone-call-bail-out when you are going on a blind date or other potentially bad social engagement? Is it any different from a totally “fake” online self? Is this “stealth technology”?

I wouldn’t worry about it too much, and anyway, if you use this service you’ll be so popular you won’t have TIME to think about issues like these!

February 26, 2007 at 5:33 pm 4 comments

User 2.0: Innovative Library Sites (Part 1 – Academic Libraries)

You may recognize this illustration from the work published in Diffusion of Innovations (1995) by the late Everett Rogers. A few weeks ago I posted a query on the dig_ref listserv asking this savvy group of librarians interested in virtual reference services to nominate the library sites that are the most “innovative” in terms of integrating Web 2.0 / social software applications. I have also incorporated sites discussed in programs I attended at ALA Mid-Winter in Seattle (January 2007), suggested by colleagues, or noted in listservs or journal articles.

Today I am posting the preliminary list of Innovative Academic Libraries from these sources. Eash listing also has a very brief note about social software applications featured by the library’s website. I would like to thank David M. Dragos, Ph.D. student at Rutgers SCILS and Lynn Silipigni Connaway of OCLC for their help in compiling this list.

Again, this list is preliminary and not meant to be exhaustive, but rather to start a discussion. They are in alphabetical order.

I would like to invite you to leave a comment if your academic library is an innovator or if you know of others!

My next post (within the next day or so) will be Part 2 – Innovative Public Libraries.

Innovative Academic Library Websites

February 20, 2007 at 9:18 pm 12 comments

Topics in Librarianship: Social Software Literacy Course and ‘Top 25 Web 2.0 Search Engines’

Following up on our (Janie Herman and Robert Lackie) “The Latest and the Coolest–Technology Librarians Can Use” presentation and discussions at the Rutgers University MLIS Colloquium last night, I spoke with Assistant Professor Steve Garwood there about his upcoming course, “Topics in Librarianship: Social Software Literacy,” starting this summer.

We are always trying to highlight what Web 2.0 enthusiasts and experts are doing to help teach librarians and other information professionals how they can take advantage of this “software and information/communication medium,” and Steve’s course certainly fits the bill!

Steve has graciously allowed us to link to his draft version of the syllabus, giving us an idea of what will be covered and leading us to some interesting reading resources and the required equipment/software.

I thought this information and resources might spur on those of us who are might be thinking of offering a similar course or a series of workshops on “how technology is used in society to communicate information, ideas, practices, thoughts, and opinions and how this creates new communities and learning environments,” so I was glad that he was willing to share. Here are his objectives thus far:
* Identify and use popular social technologies for information collection, management, dissemination and collaboration.
* Discuss the historical and theoretical understanding of technologies of collaboration. * Demonstrate knowledge of the impact of technology on information services and instruction for diverse audiences.
* Explain what Web 2.0/Library 2.0 is – how it is different from the “regular” WWW, and why that shift is important to libraries & librarians;
* Generate ideas for the use of social software & programs at libraries and information agencies to improve services and to help staff work more effectively.

Sound interesting? Take a look at his entire draft syllabus here.

Also, one of his library school students emailed him very recently about the Web 2.0 topic that Steve and I think Library Garden readers will appreciate, too: The Online Education Databases’ “Top 25 Web 2.0 Search Engines,” published two days ago on their site. I really liked several of the mashup and Rich Internet Application Search Interfaces (RIAs) examples and descriptions, but visual search, social software, and audio/visual search examples are also provided.

Don’t you just love how librarians and library school students are willing to share?! Enjoy!

February 8, 2007 at 11:15 am

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