Friday Fun: Facebook and Twitter IRL

What we do online is normal to us, when we are online.  Take our online activities, sayings, and behavior and move that to every day non-online life and all of a sudden showing your marital status to people and following them becomes very weird very fast.

So if you want a good laugh this Friday check out ENO’s viral YouTube video intended to promote Nico Muhly’s opera Two Boys.  The viral video makes fun of how what we do on Facebook and Twitter and is quite funny.  (It also has nothing to do with the very dark opera it is trying to promote.)

If you can’t access YouTube you might try and watch it at the Two Boys Opera website just click on “Can I Be Your Friend” and enjoy.  The other link the trailer for the opera which looks interesting, but it is very dark and not what I would classify as Friday Fun. 

If you enjoy ENO’s viral video then you will also like this oldie but goodie video, Facebook in Reality.

Sustainability Librarians Group

I don’t use my LinkedIn account as much as I probably should.  I am sure I am missing out on something, but quite frankly it doesn’t draw and engage me like Facebook or Twitter.  Who knows maybe a year from now I will be saying “Oh Facebook and Twitter those are soooo 2011.  The new whatcha-madoodle plugin or enhancements have made LinkedIn my new must use tool.”  But one of the things I like about LinkedIn are its discussion within groups.  I get nice little emails informing me of a new post to the discussion.  I can’t explain really why I like the discussion groups in LinkedIn and how I find them different than Facebook conversations. I just do.

I am signed up to multiple groups in LinkedIn most for personal interest like U.S. Masters Swimming and St. Louis Cardinals Fans.  I am a member of the Medical Library Association group, but ironically most of the groups I belong to on the “professional” social networking site are personal.  Some of the groups are a little more chatty than others but I guess one of the reasons I like the discussion part of it more than Facebook is that the chatter tends to remain on topic and even the chattiest of my groups isn’t nearly as busy as Facebook (at least in my groups). 

The Medical Library Association group is not chatty at all.  In fact I think it is more of a gathering of medical librarians instead of a group discussing things (that is much the same on their Facebook page).  Perhaps that is because we medical librarians still do most of our chatting on Medlib-l. 

As new topics and trends come to light, groups often emerge from them.  The latest one to emerge that might be of interest to librarians is the Career Sustainability group.  It appears their are two Career Sustainability group, this one is for librarians and was created by Deb Hunt. 

About the group:

I see my colleagues struggling with layoffs and job insecurity. Yet there are vast opportunities for information professionals and I want to see us benefit from those opportunities.

We must add flexibility, insight, and recognition of opportunity to our essential core skills! We need to move outside our comfort zone and reflect on our accomplishments so we can communicate them to current, future and prospective employers or clients. Else, how will they know what we can do and what we bring to the table?

It is a new group but it already has a lively discussion regarding tips people can share on keeping your career sustainable.  While I haven’t chimed in yet, I enjoy reading the responses.  I hope the group continues to grow and discuss things.  If you are on LinkedIn or are thinking of joining it, ou might want to consider joining the Career Sust

Friday Fun: CIA’s Most Successful Project: Facebook

This just in on the Onion News Network, “Facebook Program Drastically Cuts Agency’s Costs.”  You all know Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, but did you know he was really a CIA agent, code named The Overlord?

“After years of secretly monitoring the public, we were astounded so many people would willing publicize where they live, their religious and political views, alphabetized list of all their friends, personal email addresses, phone numbers, hundreds of photos of themselves, and even status updates of what they were doing moment to moment. It is truly a dream come true for the CIA.”

This is one of my favorite Onion reports.  Watch it and get a good laugh, especially about what they say about Farmville and FourSquare.  Personally I think Angry Birds was more effective at pacifying Americans during the recession, but who is to argue with the CIA statistics.

Must Know Twitter Tips for MLA

Eric Rumsey recently RT’d on Twitter “11 Must Know Tips and Tricks for Twitter.”  I have been on Twitter for a while and I learned a lot of things from this article.  Some of the things on the article are more organizations interested in the impact of their tweets and metrics of those who follow or unfollow (good if you are running a library account).  There were a few other tips that are good for individual Twitterers like:

  • Advance Search on TweetDeck (right up librarian searchy mentalities)
  • Tweetcaster for Android users
  • Share Flickr photos on Twitter using Fick to Twitt
  • Find trending topics
  • Find deals/coupons on Twitter
  • Browse your Twitter friends

This list, plus the fact that MLA is only a week away, gave me the idea to come up with a few “must know” Twitter tips for MLA people.

Check your Settings!!

The most common questions I get from people are: “Why aren’t my tweets showing up in the hashtag stream?” “Why didn’t you see my tweet?”  The reason is most likely because you checked the privacy box, which makes your tweets only viewable to people who follow you.  The privacy box is a great way to keep your tweets private, but if you keep it checked you aren’t going to be able to effectively participate in the #mlanet11 discussions because we won’t be able to see your tweets!

Consider a third party Twitter application

Twitter page itself can be a little limited, in fact most of the things that we all know and associate with Twitter like #hashtags and @’s (replying to somebody like @krafty), were created and adopted by users, not Twitter.  I feel Twitter has been slow to exploit these helpful symbols and functions and their “new and improved” site still does a poor job of dealing with them.  TweetDeck and HootSuite do a MUCH better job.  TweetDeck and HootSuite at first blush look intimidating with its multiple column format.  But once you get used to it, it is extremely useful and easy to follow.  You can set a column just to be following tweets with the #mlanet11 hashtag.  TweetDeck is an app that is installed on a computer or your smartphone.  Hootsuite is hosted on the web, making installation on the computer unnecessary.  Hootsuite does have an iPhone app as well.  I primarily use TweetDeck but I also have a Hootsuite account so I can check tweets (without going to the crummy Twitter site) on computers other than my own. 

Take a look here to see some of my columns on TweetDeck and how I can monitor All Friends, Mentions (people who @ or RT me), and #mlanet11.

Know and use the hashtags

Your tweets won’t get picked up and seen as easily (thus limiting your conversation) if you forget to use the hashtags.  The hastag for the conference is #mlanet11.  Others you might be interested in are: #mlattt (MLA Tech Trends program) and #medlibs (tweets of interest to medical librarians). 

*If anybody has any other hashtags that are used a lot in the medical library world or for this conference, please list them in the comments. 

It may get a little tiring to constantly remember to use the hashtag, this is where a third party Twitter app may come in handy.  I know in TweetDeck if you click on the # symbol just below the text box, you can select and use a recent hashtag for your tweet instead of typing it out each time.  This is also possible on TweetDeck’s iPhone app.   Now you have to have used the hashtag a few times for it to get in the list but once you do, it is there and it is a lot easier to tap or click on it rather than typing it out each time.

Observe and experiment EARLY

If you haven’t signed up with Twitter but plan to tweet at the conference, or at least lurk on Twitter and view the conference tweets, then start early.  It isn’t hard to tweet, but you will find you get more comfortable participating by watching and responding to people before the conference starts.  Use this week to find your twitter legs.  It takes some practice getting used to sending messages in under 140 characters (including the hashtag).  If you use this time to practice reading and sending out some tweets you will feel a little more comfortable about participating during the conference.  Don’t worry if you make mistakes, many librarians on the Twittersphere are more than willing to help you out and get you in the tweeting scheme of things in no time. 

I can’t tell you how you will use Twitter.  Only through observation and experimentation will you begin to understand how it can fit in your life.  It is an evolutionary communication process (see the picture below).  I don’t mean to say that Twitter is the next step up on the communicating evolutionary train.  I mean to communicate effectively within Twitter, it is a process that you evolve within.  For example you will find it hard to state things in less than 140 characters (everybody does at first) and you might send multiple tweets to get your point across.  Eventually you will learn and your tweets will evolve to where you are able to communicate a lot of things in 140 characters.

What stage are you in?

Have Fun!

This is probably the most important tip.  Use the conference as a perfect opportunity to try out a new tool in a fun way.  Remember for those of you who took the MLA Twitter Tutorial, you get a free drink ticket for the TweetUp. That is what I call fun.

Tweeting at MLA

The MLA’11 folks have big plans for Twitter this year.  At Annual Conference Twitter will be used to help create discussion, to connect with colleagues, and to facilitate in-person meetings. MLA’s “Rethink Conversations” process will offer display monitors that are strategically placed around the convention center so that attendees can watch and respond to live conversations.  The committee is even hosting three specific ReThink Conversations Sunday-Tuesday 10:00-10:30am (following the Presidential Address, Doe Lecture, and MLA ’12 Invitation). 

Tweets can be made using a mobile device, laptop, or a computer in the Internet Café.   In order to get to know your fellow Twitteres (since Twitter usernames do not always reveal the identity of tweet authors) there will be a “Tweetup” event on Tuesday, May 17th, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  At a Tweetup, you can meet other MLA Twitteres in person.

New to Twitter? Not a problem. A special Twitter Tutorial has been created to help get you started. Attendees (Twitter newbies or old pros) who complete the MLA-sponsored Twitter tutorialby April 29th will receive a free drink ticket at the Tweetup. Even if you are not new to Twitter, complete the tutorial and get a free drink!

You must complete the tutorial by the end of April 29th.

The tutorial is pretty straight forward.  But if you have questions you can email the MLA Twitter Tutorial folks (listed in orange square on the first page of the tutorial). You can also follow me at krafty and direct message me if you have questions. 

DON’T FORGET!  If you want to participate in MLA’s twitter conversations:

  • Make sure you uncheck the “protect my tweets” box or else your tweets will not be seen by others tweeting at MLA.
  • Use the #mlanet11 hashtag so everbody can follow the tweets better


I find Twitter’s site clunky for tweeting a lot.  If you think it is too you might try TweetDeck on your laptop or smartphone to help manage the conversations.  TweetDeck is a third party application that you can install on your laptop or smartphone.  I like it a lot.  If you know you will be bouncing around on computers (using the Internet Cafe) to tweet, you might consider using Hootsuite.  It is a web based application that doesn’t need to be installed and structured similarly to TweetDeck.

Scientists Don’t Use Social Media

According the article “Scientists & Social Media” in Lab Manager Magazine, a survey 200 lab managers revealed that most of these scientists didn’t use social media for work.  Yet they are some of the exact types of people who should. 

“Laboratories are at the forefront of research and analysis. But when it comes to communication, they are followers rather than leaders and can be very slow to adopt innovations.”

The article states the three most popular reasons for not using social networking resources are:

  1. Blurred boundaries between private and business life
  2. Loss of productivity
  3. Fear that confidential information will be leaked

It seems as if the scientists are thinking more that the tool (social networking sites) are the problem not the behavior of the person using the tool.  A person can blur their personal boundaries, waste time, and leak key secrets all without using a social networking resource because people use phones, email, and talk all the time. Lab Manager Magazine further explains this idea by saying, “Let us remember that these issues have little or nothing to do with the resources; they have to do with the people who use them. The opinions expressed by an individual can reflect badly on the organization but this risk is not confined to Twitter or Facebook; it applies equally to e-mail correspondence, phone calls, conversations at social events, and so forth. To paraphrase, it is not the gun that kills, but the person who pulls the trigger. We must step into the social media world and embrace the opportunities, but we must also manage the risks.”

For example, the famous or infamous social networking site WikiLeaks known for exposing various government secrets gets its information from submissions, not from people logging on and using the wiki. So that confidential information while displayed on the social sharing site of a wiki was most likely submitted by email. 

With all the misgivings some scientists have over social media, it is  inevitable that they will use it (or whatever it evolves into) in the future.  If you have some doubters in your institutions, check out the article’s list of reasons for using social media in the lab.

As I have said many times when I speak on the subject of social media, the phone was once a new technology not everybody had one and they didn’t understand why you needed to have one.  It was an expensive luxury.  I wonder how those people would think about society’s need for cell phones.  Email was once a new technology and doctors and scientists struggled over communicating appropriately through it.  It is so ingrained in our society that our phones now get email.  To quote the Borg, “Resistance if futile.”  Society and communication methods evolve, and it looks like this is just another way it is evolving.

Writing for the Social Network

A long time ago, in a galazy far, far away I graduated with a degree in English from Saint Louis University. My senior year I took a class on the history of the English language.  This class still stands out in my mind, for two reasons. The first reason was my floppy disk crashed and I lost the electronic version of my thesis for the class.  Thankfully, I printed an unedited version out prior to the disk going belly up.  It was several versions older but it saved me loads of time and stress than recreating the entire thing.  The second reason I remember the class so well was actual course content.  I can remember being completely interested in the evolution of the English language from Old, Middle, Modern English and how exploration, immigration, and population shifts have created completely different English languages. 

Yet just like the evolution of the English language, writing is evolving too.  David Lee King writes in his post, “Librarians were trained to Write the Wrong Way,” that he learned to write academic papers and other “highly useful stuff…like how to graph out a sentence to discover proper sentence structure.”  I learned the same things.  When I am with my friends and family, my diction, accent, word choice, etc. is different than when I am at work or speaking professionally.  Whether it is on paper as Scott describes, a computer, or a cell phone,  the medium by which we communicate dictates our writing style. 

We still must learn to write formal academic type of papers and articles with proper structure and citations.  But we also must learn how to write for other areas, such as the online world.  We used to call it writing for the web.  But now days there are different styles of writing for the web that are considered the gold standard for that medium.  What works on a web site, will not always work on a blog, Facebook, and Twitter. 

David calls it writing like he speaks.  He says conversational, social writing is the type of writing we want on the web, especially on blogs and social media spaces. Yet if you have been trained to write formally as David has, you may find it difficult to adjust your writing style based on the medium.  Even he says, “I work hard at writing like I speak.” 

I create websites (not as much as I used to) and writing for a regular website (not a blog or any socially type of site) has evolved with main pages having one or two word listings or clusters of words and pictures as the norm.  On internal pages where more information is shared sentences are short and to the point within one or two equally short paragaphs.   The wording, sentance structure, and lay out are different than what you would see in a blog.

In a blog, most people are coming to read and possibly share or discuss your thoughts.  Therefore the writing is longer than a traditional website and the style is almost as if you can hear the writer having a conversation with you.  The style is different but it is still professional. The Unofficial Apple Weblog, is a professional site  where writers converse (often passionately) with readers through the blog and comments.  Some of the posts are more straight forward while others use the speaking style

Facebook is the king of conversational writing. There is a word limit on posts.  So conversational writing on Facebook is not as long as a blog post, but it well exceeds the 140 character limit of Twitter.  Again even the most professional of sites adjust their writing styles for Facebook.  The Cleveland Clinic’s Facebook posts are written in a far different style than the pages on their website, press releases, and certainly articles authored by their physicians.  The Cleveland Clinic uses their Facebook page to reach out and engage the community in health and medicine and their Facebook writing style reflects that.

Where Facebook is the king of conversational writing, Twitter is the king of the one liners.  Writing for Twitter is vastly different than anything else (with the possible exception of texting).  Anybody who doesn’t think it is hard to squeeze interesting and valuable information into 140 characters or less, has not tweeted for long. It is hard and takes a lot of practice.  Not only is the character limit a requirement, there are definite social norms by which you converse.  Not adhering to these norms can cause your tweet to go on unnoticed (best case scenario) or get you in a whole lot of trouble. 

Good writing, either formal papers or online posts, takes practice.  Being observant, continually reading and writing,  helps develop and sharpen your skills, especially in the online world.  Writing is a living breathing communication method and it changes with time and technology.  I am sure in 1440 people discussed quality and style as the printing press changed the way things were written.

MLA 2011: Early Registration Deadline, Hilton Rooms, and Following Online

Don’t forget the deadline to take advantage of the Early Registration discount for the annual meeting ends after April 13th.  On April 14th the price goes up considerably, so take advantage of the opportunity and register now. 

If you have already registered and you are planning on attending you better get a room fast.  The Hilton is comepletely out of rooms, leaving the Hyatt as your hotel option

If you are going there a lot of online resources to help connect you with others:

Now if you are bit like me and look this list and think, wow those are a lot of places to find out about MLA. I don’t have time to look at every site.  Never Fear, use a feed reader (that is why I included the feeds for these sites) to group all of these things together.  That way you go to one place to see updates from all of these sites. 

I use Netvibes to gather feeds, take a look at my screenshot.  On the left hand side I created a tab for Annual Meeting Info, underneath are all of the feeds I subscribe to for the meeting.  In the main frame, all of the feeds are displayed for me to read.  Take a look at the icons underneath More than 2 days ago, you will notice they are different.  That shows you where the feed is coming from.  As you can see there are multiple icons meaning that my multiple feeds are all in the main frame available to read.  Easy peasy.

If I want to share my feeds I simply hover my mouse over thet title and a curved arrow, clock, and double arrow are displayed. (On the screenshot look at the Nicollet Mall article, listed third below More than 2 days ago.)  The curved arrow allows you to share that “article” via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.

So not only are you able to read about what is going on but you can participate and continue the discussion by commenting on events.

Hurry up register, get your hotel room, and set up your feeds.  If you can’t make to Minneapolis this year we will miss you.  I highly recommend you registering for the e-conference (only $100 if you register before May 16th) and follow events via the feeds.

Personal Tweets on a Professional Account, Can It Be Done and Still Be Professional?

I read an interesting article this morning, “Strictly business? Personal tweets make profs more “credible” the author, Jacqui Cheng, referred to a study in the March issue of Learning, Media and Technology that “students perceive instructors who make social tweets as more credible than instructors who remain strictly business.”

It seems that the students like to know that their professors are human, and have a life besides their profession. In some way that sharing of personal information increased their perceived credibility to students more so than those who completely did scholarly tweets.

Interesting.  While I consider this a professional blog, I do let my personality seep through often.  Whether it is a story about the realization that  being a librarian is in my DNA when I organized my attic, or quick little references to the 80’s or other pop culture items, I find that these stories or analogies best convey my point or thought to readers.  If it just happens to provide a brief window into my mind, so be it. 

I would say for most people it is ok to mix a little personal stuff in with your professional Twitter, blog or Facebook account.  A funny picture of a cat or an appropriate story, isn’t going to hurt anyone.  But what if I were tweeting, blogging, or managing the Facebook page of my library or another professional site where it is clear that it is an institution not a individual’s account? Credibility is extremembly important for an institution, especially medical. Is it possible to inject some personable or social bit of information on to an organization’s professional site?  What is the “personality” of the library/organization and how do you show it and remain professional?  The organization’s “personality” is made up of more than just the person blogging, tweeting, etc. so this can be even trickier.

Is there a difference between personal social media and organizational/institutional social media regarding credibility?  Can an organization, business, or institution have a social media presence that is professional yet have “social” type tweets or posts?  I think it is very tricky to do well, and that is why you often have some spectacular failures when businesses try to reach out and get personal with their customers.   The fear of an epic #fail probably causes many business to be strictly professional, with little “personality.” Yet, when there is a company that puts some personality into their social presence like, Old Spice, they are highly profiled (there is case study on Old Spice’s success).  Now does that mean that Old Spice is considered more credible than similar brand companies that play it straight?  Kind of hard to compare a men’s shower gel and shaving cream company to the same notion of credibility regarding science and medical institutions.  But what is the harm in showing something like the image of the Bookmas Tree in your library or the nurse at Mass General (article) who made the Cal Stat Rap (YouTube video)?

If you have a personal professional presence, you can certainly infuse a little social personality into it and remain professional, as long as you don’t over share with things that have your readers mimicking  the Hear No Evil, See No Evil monkeys while chanting “TMI!”  If you are responsible for an institutional or organization site, it might be more difficult to interject some personality, but it can be done.

What Will 2011 Bring to Medicine or Medical Libraries?

I decided to take a little bit longer break from blogging and online life than originally intended.  The holidays set me back a little bit and I had to catch up work and at home.  But I am back and will be posting regularly until the beginning of February sometime.  Why then?  For those of you that don’t know, I am expecting my 3rd child and (cross my fingers) I will be on maternity leave then.  

As the new year has started and I have experience or will be experiencing some new things in 2011, I thought it would be interesting to come up with a guess list of what 2011 will bring for medicine or medical libraries.  This is meant to be a brainstorming list and I will start it off but feel free to comment and your thoughts.

Shrinkage – More and more libraries will experience a loss of space or re-purposing of this space.  This not new but I think we will see an acceleration in this area.  Even my own library will be facing it this year, something I don’t think I would have ever expected when the built the “new” library about 12 years ago.  Shrinking footprints is never an easy thing to think about right away but in reality it may not be as horrible as you might think.  The first instinct is to react in fear but good results can come out of it.  It all depends on the approach(es) you and your institution approach the situation. 

Smartphone volatility – The smartphone market is booming and Verizon’s poorly held iPhone secret will just add to the ever expanding phone and network choices for consumers.  With the expanding use of smartphones comes the increase in medical apps.  More doctors will be carrying smartphones and will want to use their favorite medical apps at the bedside (or at least in the office).  Unfortunately many hospital IT departments have been slow to adopt smartphones for clinical use or to allow them on their wifi.  Personally the Great Lakes were formed faster.  IT’s glacial pace combined with medical professionals desire to use the phones will make for some interesting institutional culture clashes.

Facebook and Twitter appetite – These two sites will continue on their gobbling up of other social application sites.  Perhaps not directly but indirectly.  RSS feeds and Delicious were huge a few years ago, now Bloglines and Delicious have gone the way of the dodo or were sold to other companies and are clinging to life.  The main reason for these sites demise, people don’t use them like they once did.  They collect, organize, and share stories through Facebook and Twitter.  Power users will always miss them but the vast majority of internet users have moved on.  I know they have been saying the blog is dead and I have agreed the traditional blog is dead.  However I see Facebook taking over more of the non traditional blogging and I also see it replacing the common website.  More and more hospitals are seeing increased traffic via Facebook, they are now measuring it along with the traffic they get from Google and they are paying attention.  Traffic from Facebook to institutions is growing a lot.

So what are your thoughts?  What do you see happening in 2011?