Friday, July 22, 2011

The University-feel when studying online

Online study lacks the community-feeling one might experience in tutorials or group study sessions. Efforts to replicate that through discussion forums and group assignments are unlikely to completely succeed until technologies get a whole lot smoother for more people. Even when they do (get smoother) the asynchronous advantage of online study can still lack the belonging feeling of synchronous interaction.

So, today while I learned from something Sheila Webber was sharing, I clicked over to a view of Sheffield University's Information Commons. The images sent me on a tangent of wondering whether a background image of a University space or group scene would enhance feelings of belonging and participation when in a forum screen?

Perhaps a warmer image from Wake Forest University:

Or to emphasise the study feel too perhaps a lecture theatre?

Hm, I'd like to lay a forum screen over such images to give an idea of what I'm thinking, but it would take too much time to desensitise personal details when I should be studying. If someone else gets what I mean and has the time to sketch something up, could you link it in comments?

In some software (Interact?) there is a separate issue of dissociation presented by separation of study discussion forum from the LMS unit module, but that is enough complaining for now.

Monday, July 18, 2011

When Google+ is open for organisations...

Are libraries geared to leap in?

So many lessons have been learned through experimentation with MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc - are we ready to roll out our circles when the big one is opened for organisations?

David Lee King asked two questions in one: "Google Plus - Should you and your Library be there?" Separate feedback was received at his blog and his pluspost.

Whether "you" should be there is a personal and professional decision - a separate question.  Although, if your job at all involves for the library: marketing, community outreach, public relations, then I'm guessing it would make sense to be exploring Google+ right along with all of the other top social  media.  Even if your job is technology or reference services.

As to the Library: Well, the circle is not yet open. But when it is, will your library be ready? I must get back to study, so I'm going to jot down a few guesses about things I'd have to consider if it were my job; and then wait to see the advice roll in on the next question. David, *how* should your library be there (when Google+ lets it in)? Actually, I think the answers are in DLK's blog posts of the last few years, but I'll be interested to see whether any of the suggestions he has made over the years would be varied for Google+).
  • People - the library will need people who've been playing and working with social media for a while, and preferably have been playing with Google+ personally (to be able to implement the features productively and the relationships positively). 
  • Culture - Now, guessing from the word on the blogs, those people will need a library culture that supports experimentation with social media. This includes things like: 
    • mistake tolerance - being able to respond (not react) constructively and humanly when mistakes happen; 
    • playtime
    • transparency - being willing for procedures and disputes to be aired publicly.
  • Audience - DLK identified one of the mistakes libraries made in the early days, of "friending" other libraries and librarians rather than their target audience; and then he gave solutions - examples of the "friends" that the library needs. (He referred then to Facebook, but I'll bet the same applies to Google+)
  • Conversation - now this one is a big challenge.  There is a theme amongst many opinions (links later perhaps) that the important thing in social media is connections, and conversations, which takes time (although time might be inversely proportional to skill/talent) and therefore money.  The assumed promise is that open conversation increases familiarity, trust, positive feelings and attention, which is hoped to translate into word-of-mouth marketing.
    • There is sometimes a disdain for "Push" uses of social media technology. I can see the latter applying in Google+.  Will libraries post everything publicly and risk losing listeners for whom most of the push is not relevant, or selectively disseminate through circles and risk missing others who might like to hear but wouldn't.
  • Hangouts - focus groups? library-sponsored clubs? community outreach meetings? reference? I haven't tried a hangout yet.
  • Appearance - Sean Percival has shared an idea of how google+ business profiles *might* look, and features businesses might find useful. 
Amazing serendipity (and decision to catch up on Twitter before studying (thanks flexnib, sallyheroes)):
Schrier, R. A. (2011). Digital librarianship @ social media: the digital library as conversation facilitator. D-Lib Magazine, 17(7/8). doi:10.1045/july2011-schrier

Under five principles (listening, participation, transparency, policy, and strategy), Schrier gives "concrete strategies for successfully integrating social media into a digital library's overall strategic plan", including Google Alerts, social media searching, interaction advice.

The rest of my thoughts have faded away, could you add your thoughts? 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to cite a Google Plus post or comment in APA style - a guess

Mind this is a guess, I'm sure APA will come out with guidance if it becomes a big issue, as they've touched on Twitter and Facebook already, and this follows the same principles.

At the time of writing it will have to work differently for a google+ post than a comment to a g+ post because only the time of a post provides a permalink.

For a google+ post:
Author, I. (year, Month, day). [Constructed title, perhaps "Google+ post about..." or the first few words of the post...]. Retrieved day month year from >permalink from timecode<

Meerbach, M. (2011, July 13). [Google+ post: "Uses for empty circles. 1. Bookmarks. / {kwout in google+ test}..."]. Retrieved 13 July 2011 from

Challenges to citing a comment to a google+ post are: the comment doesn't have a permalink (yet?); that neither have titles; no globally reliable way to easily locate one comment if it is amongst potentially hundreds/thousands. I'm guessing that the "time" google shows me for any post or comment will be different to the time it shows someone in a different timezone.

Still, perhaps this would work:

Baltzell, J. (2011, July 12). [Comment: "You're a member of every circle you create..."]. To [Google+ post by Jenniffer Baltzell: "Using the bejeebers out of my "Read Later" circle"]. Retrieved 13 July 2011 from
Which is the closest I can get to this particular comment:
And that is a title composed completely by the kwout tool - I wonder where they got the "Reader Later" bit?

  • This would only work with public posts
    • As posts can be deleted, if continued access to the material you cite is important, it might be worth taking a screenshot and archiving the image.
  • Dates will be relative to the viewer, but as the variance will only be within a day it is still more useful than not giving a day at all.
  • If those permalinks get really long, perhaps your readers would appreciate a shortened link

In-text citation issues:
  • location: 
    • not necessary in short posts? 
    • use para or ¶ in longer posts
  • Use the name as given.
    • Quite early on disputes have arisen about the use of pseudonyms with Google+ with at least one account (that to me appears to have been for a valid online identity) suspended. While I hope that the policy is changed, not all such accounts have been removed, and the author would be however they identify themselves.


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