Social Software

Social Software: A Survey of Web 2.0, Michael Stephens' third session in the Library 2.0 Extravaganza, is available at the OPAL Library and Information Science Archives. Make sure you use Internet Explorer. It is 59 minutes of viewing/listening pleasure.

I won't try to summarize Michael's presentation except to say that it further reinforces the community building and productivity enhancing aspects of the Web 2.0 applications that are springing up with increasing frequency.

Let's look at a few examples:

  • Bloglines — I use Bloglines to manage the RSS blog feeds that I read. The advantage of Bloglines is that it is a web application so I don't have to try to keep my aggregator on my home computer synchronized with my office computer. Productivity. I can also share my RSS feeds with others. If someone asks, "Mack, what blogs do you find helpful to read?" I can point them to my Bloglines account. I could also export my Blogline entries as an OPML file which another user could import into their Bloglines account. Community and sharing.
  • del.icio.us — del.icio.us is a web service that allows you to bookmark a web site. Have you ever arrived at a website and thought "I need to remember this." On your office computer you can bookmark it in which case you have to remember where you put it and you're out of luck if you are at a different computer when you want to revisit the site. If you are away from your computer you scramble for a piece of paper, write the URL, then leave it your pocket when you wash your clothing. del.icio.us gives you a central place, available from any Internet accessible computer, to store bookmarks. Plus, you can tag the links to provide organization and make them findable later and add notes for additional information about the site and why you bookmarked it. Productivity. del.icio.us also introduces the possibility of serendipity. I can see how many other people used the same tag to describe the website AND I can also see what they bookmarked in their accounts thus opening the possibility of locating related sites. If you want to see the sites that I have tagged web2.0, I can point you to my del.icio.us account filtered by the tag. You will see the links to which I have given this tag as well as other tags that I related to web2.0. I see considerable professional and educational possibilities. Community and sharing.
  • LibraryThing — is a web service that, at its most basic, lets you catalog your personal library. You categorize your books with tags. It is a nifty tool for keeping track of your books, when you got them, when you read them, what you thought about them. You could use it as an on-line journal of your reading habits. LibraryThing as a company is very interested in finding ways to hook their service to the library catalog. Productivity. Similar to del.icio.us, you can see other books that were given the same tag. You can see the libraries of other LibraryThing users. You could see if anyone has written a review of a book. If you want to see an example, take a look at my LibraryThing account. It isn't up-to-date and I haven't been good with reviews but I think you'll see the possibilities. Community and sharing.

There are many other examples of social software: Flickr (for pictures); MySpace and FaceBook (lots of press about MySpace lately); calendars; personal organizers. All of these tools can be used by you as an individual as well as in your professional life. Our students are using these tools and we should explore ways that they might help us connect with them.

Someone commented on an interesting side-effect of the widespread adoption of social software: it might be lowering the expectation of privacy among its users. People, particular millennials, are putting their lives on the web for all to see. There can be consequences. That picture of you doing a keg stand might not go over that well if a potential employer finds it while searching applicants in FaceBook.

At this point, you might want to take a moment and think about account names. I subscribed to the three services above at different times. I have three different account names; malundy, Mack42, and Mack46. In retrospect I wish I had standardized on one account name with variations used only if the standard name was used by someone else. You can decide if you want to use a variation of your own name or come up with an alias that describes you — acelibrarian for example.

The phenomenon of social software is one I find very interesting and I will return to it in later posts.

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2 Comments on “Social Software”

  1. Wayne Graham Says:

    You talk about Flickr and didn’t even mention the Swem Flickr Group… http://www.flickr.com/groups/swem/

  2. Mack Lundy Says:

    Well, technically, I only “mentioned” Flickr and , er um, was planning to go into more detail in another post so I was holding back until later. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂


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