Posts Tagged ‘social software’

I came across an interesting article at ReadWriteWeb today: 25% of American Adults Use Location-Based Services. I found it particularly interesting because earlier today I deleted my last three location-based gaming apps.

 

Now the article about ReadWriteWeb was talking about location-based services in general, but it made me think about my own experiences with location-based gaming. At the 2010 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, I heard a lot of people talking about location-based services and their possibilities for libraries. In particular, they talked about three location-based games: Foursquare, Gowalla, and MyTown. I downloaded the apps and tried them all while I was at ALA. I’ve played with all of them off and on over the past year and a half. I deleted them today. Earlier this year I also downloaded, played, and deleted another location-based game called Shadow Cities.

 

In thinking back over why I deleted these games, there were a variety of reasons. The Shadow Cities gameplay just didn’t appeal to me. For the other three, there just wasn’t any compelling incentive. Gathering mayorships, unlocking badges, and collecting rent are fine for the first week. After that, what’s left? Not much – for me anyway.

 

The incentive issue actually splits into several issues. First, although I know several people with smartphones , this type of gaming just doesn’t appeal to them. Since I couldn’t compete with my friends, that ruled out any possible “social” incentive for these games. Then there is the lack of mayoral awards in my area. They just aren’t there. When I’m in other cities, I occasionally see special incentives for checking in or being the mayor of a location. Where I live though, Foursquare just isn’t that big with businesses, so there are no incentives for checking in or becoming mayor. MyTown had its own problems. Basically you reach a level cap where you can’t buy any more properties, you can’t upgrade your properties any more, and the game is essentially over. Oh sure, you can keep buying and selling your business and collecting rent if you want to, but once you’re a gazillionaire, it doesn’t really matter any more does it? Interestingly, I see that Booyah just released MyTown 2. I think I’ll give that one a pass. I used Gowalla the least, but it was actually the most interesting of the three. Still, it failed to keep my interest.

 

There was one particularly noticeable disincentive to using these apps. All of them depend on using location services on my phone, and using location services burns battery life. I was surprised at how much a few check-ins would eat away at the battery when I traveled, but it did, and sometimes battery life is too precious a commodity to spend with a service that you don’t enjoy that much anyway.

 

Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, these location-based apps actually took away from the enjoyment of the places I visited. I found myself frequently checking in on all three apps. I wasn’t compulsively checking in, but the very act of checking in meant that I was spending a little more time on my phone and little less on enjoying my location.

 

So . . . I’m finished with location-based gaming for now. It was an interesting experiment. I’ll still use other location-based apps, but I’ve retired the games. I might still feel a little twinge each time I lose a mayorship, but I don’t think that will be enough to pul e out of retirement.

Enough Already!

Posted: December 11, 2009 in news, social software
Tags: ,

Social media tools are enjoying a heady run with seemingly more popping up on the scene every day. Every company/organization/celebrity under the sun is trying to get is to follow their data streams. There reaches a point though, when we sometimes need to say, “Enough is enough!”

Case in point: Recently I saw a Twitter post about a new automated storage facility being unveiled by the British Library. I followed the link to the story in the Yorkshire Evening Post, and I was pretty shocked by what I saw when I tried to read the article.

Newspapers are ad-supported. I get that. We all get that. Lots of websites are ad-supported as well. We all get it. In fact, most of us are probably pretty adept at just zooming in on the story and ignoring all of the surrounding garbage stuff. It’s a little annoying when they insert ads in the body of the story and we have to dodge around them, but again, we’re kind of used to it. However, when they start disguising their little plugs as section headers within the story, it has gone too far.

As I read through through the story, the first two plugs were links to content elsewhere on the website. However, the next two were links to the paper’s Twitter and Facebook presence. I really didn’t need those masquerading as section headers within the story, especially when there is a handy-dandy social media box right below the story.

So you have some social media accounts, and you’re proud of them. Well and good. Just don’t shove them in our faces, please. I can find them in the little box . . . if I need them.

yorkshire_evening_post

David Lee King

Cindi Trainor

Michael Porter

Meredith Farkas

Roy Tennant, Moderator

 

Description of the analogy of the elephant – People grab onto different parts and form an opinion based

 

Q – What does library 2.0 mean to you?

 

Cindi – It’s not just a set of tools and technologies. It’s a philosophy. It’s about creating services and spaces for users that invite them.

 

Michael – What libraries do to fulfill their roles as community anchors has to change. There are new tools tht make us more vibrant and more relevant than ever before.

 

Meredith – Creation of services as an iterative process. You’re constantly fixing and assessing. It’s about putting our money where our mouth is and being really user focused.

 

David – Wikipedia as a tool – It’s a new way to present information and to let everyone contribute their knowledge. It’s a new philosophy about how to do things.

 

Michael – I’m more interested in what works. I don’t care about Twitter or Gmail or Facebook. Focus on why the tools do or do not meet our needs.

Cindi – It’s useful to think of Library 2.0 as a derivative of Web 2.0. Distinguish new types of companies from dotcom bubble companies. It enables software as a platform. There are applications on the web (not just on the desktop).

 

Meredith – Technologies that allow us to build communities and communicate with one another. People form relationships with others who are only electronic blips.

 

David – Making tech tools easy for non-tech audience to use. 2.0 technologies are made to connect people. If it is succeeding, the technology is out of the way.

 

Michael – 2.0 technologies can be distracting. It’s hard to know what to use as brands change (so pay attention to functionality). It’s very difficult to track the success (or lack thereof) of your institution’s use of these tools. It’s all anecdotal.

 

David – It’s sad that we’re still trying to figure these tools out because some of them are 15 years old. Disagree with Michael on tracking success. You can find blog stats. If users are commenting, then they are reading and engaged. Facebook gives some basic statistics and demographics.

 

Cindi – Just because someone had a page open for 10 minutes, how do you know they were actually reading it and not talking with friends?

 

Meredith – It’s scary that so little assessment is being done. We’re spending time on these services. Why not assess them?

 

Michael – If you use the reporting tools from these various sites, they don’t always sync up on the same timeline. When the way you report is numbers-numbers-numbers, that doesn’t account for social connections and interactions and how people’s lives are impacted.

 

Cindi – Tools like WordPress, Blogger, PBWiki, and Flickr gives libraries the power to reach out to audiences in new ways.

 

David – In a normal library, how do you capture this anecdotal evidence? It’s recorded in these social tools.

 

Q – What are some of the barriers you see to libraries adopting and using these new tools?

 

Meredith – We’re entrusting our knowledge and hard work to third party sites that may or may not be there in the future. Twitter is a good example of a highly popular service that is constantly losing money. People aren’t planning for web 2.0 tools the same way they’re planning for others with regard to backups, etc.

 

Cindi – Any time you want to do something new or create a new service, don’t be afraid of failing. Take a risk management approach. What are the terms of service?

 

David – What are the barriers? Technology. The bigger barriers are our own. If you want to really "get" a technology, you have to immerse yourself in it.

 

Michael – Years ago, there was a debate in public libraries about whether to circulate fiction. In the 1970s the companies that produced VHS and Betamax tapes went to court to prevent libraries from circulating them. Do we circulate digital movies in our libraries? Very few. Go to Netflix. THEY circulate digital movies. These companies are usurping our content distribution. If we don’t figure out a better way to circulate digital content, we’re in deep trouble. Setting up a blog or a Flickr stream are first steps in doing something about it.

 

Meredith – Time is a barrier. People say that they don’t have time to learn or do a new thing. People are asked to do new things, but no responsibilities are being taken away from their jobs. This has to change at the organizational level. People have to be given the time and resources to do this.

 

Michael – Use the tools to get more effort out of what you’re doing.

 

Meredith – We spend a lot of time outside of work learning to do these things. If our administrators don’t give us time and resources to do these things, then they don’t value them.

 

David – Some people are better at managing their time than others. Reference librarians do 20 hours n the reference desk and 20 off. What are they doing with the unscheduled time?

 

Q – What libraries are good examples of using 2.0 technologies and principles?

 

Michael – Lester Public Library in Wisconsin.

 

Q – What is the one thing you want to say to the audience?

 

David – Administrators and managers – let your staff go with it. The worst thing that can happen is that you have a filed project and learn something from it. That’s a positive outcome.

 

Meredith – These technologies are not a magic wand. We shouldn’t use a tool just because someone else is. Think about what is appropriate to your audience.

 

Michael – If you focus on your role and mission in your community, you’ll be fine.

 

Cindi – It’s a matter of having someone in your library who understands the role of these tools in the community.

 

Q – How can library 2.0 tools be supported in brick and mortar libraries?

 

David – We had a tweetup with free food sponsored by a local tv station. The library will be hosting a conference on 2.0 tools for the community.

 

Q – What are ways to help people who are intimidated by computers, let alone 2.0 technologies?

 

David – If you have staff who are still intimidated by computers, why did you hire them, and why do you still have them? Why have you not fired those people if they are not fulfilling their roles?

 

Michael – I’m a big advocate of partnering people. Pair someone with greater technology skills with someone with lesser skills.

 

Meredith – Technology petting zoos. I like the idea of having a place where people can play with technology in a non-threatening environment. Host a training session where people can just play around.

 

Cindi – Subject guide boot camp. People will spend all day together working on subject guides  and reinforcing their skills.

 

Q – It sounds like a lot of library 2.0 is marketing. Would you say that that sums it up or is there something that goes against that?

David – That’s only part of the picture. Marketing is part of it because it’s a broadcast medium. It’s also a collaboration platform for connecting and sharing. It’s more about using pooled knowledge to come up with a better idea.

 

Cindi – It’s also a tool that lets users give feedback to us. It’s not just a wooden suggestion box in the corner.

 

Q – If you’re going to have a technology petting zoo, what tools would you show them?

 

Meredith – It depends on your population, what they need, and what will be appropriate to them.

 

Michael – Kindle, iPhone, Palm Pre, Flip camera, Livescribe Pulse

 

________________

 

David – Set your priorities and focus on them. Don’t focus on what will take the most or least amount of time.

 

Michael – If you’re going to do something like a blog, you have to have the plan, commitment, and follow-through to keep it updated.

 

Q – What some of the privacy pitfalls that we need to be aware of and let our patrons know about?

 

Michael – Every company doing these social tools is a for-profit enterprise. We care about privacy, but these companies don’t. I think there should be a non-profit connected to libraries that develops tools like this.

 

David – The bigger privacy concern is just a lack of understanding about what these tools do, where they go, and who follows them. People THINK they’re being anonymous. Some people don’t quite understand the tools well enough to know who can read them.

 

Q – There are people with legitimate arguments and complaints that Facebook and Twitter are a waste of time. These users may be feeling left behind in face of 2.0 initiatives.

 

David – The largest growing segment of Facebook users is the over-50 group.

 

Michael – We don’t have any trouble doing what we’ve always done.

 

David – My job is digital branch manager. My patrons ARE these users of digital tools.

 

Additional Reading

 

The Great Debate – Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled Its Promise? – at Librarian by Day

 

Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled Its Promise? at LITA Blog

 

Starter Questions for Ultimate Debate 2009 by David Lee King

Google Wave – Jason Griffey

Google describes Wave as e-mail if you invented it now.

Check out more info at http://www.yourbigwig.com/node/154.

Wave seamlessly knows if people are online or offline. The service is synchronous if everyone is online, asynchronous if they are offline.
If someone is added to the wave, the new person can see everything that has happened in the wave, and – if allowed – they can edit everything that has happened. It allows real-time and asynchronous editing of multiple pieces of information by multiple people.

Google is planning to open-source this product. It will be downloadable an installable to local servers.

A wave is an embeddable client. You can get to it from anywhere. For example, you could have a reference wave with all reference librarians a member, and students can be part of it as well. Multiple libraries can participate in shared wave reference.

You can write plug-ins for it. Google demoed a robot plug-in that can parse text and automatically respond. This can happen with no human intervention. For example, a student needs resources for a Sociology 101 paper. The robot could parse "sociology 101" and recommend the sociology subject guide, the top sociology databases, etc.

A robot could parse the name of a book, search the library catalog, and automatically return results to patrons.

Semantic Web – Julia Bauder

The underlying concept is to make the web machine readable. The idea is to eventually make the web work like Wolfram Alpha: you ask a question and the answer gives you an answer.

With this concept, the answer just pops up. This raises the obvious question of information validity.
To make the semantic web work, everything (including people) has a universal identifier. Privacy concerns.

Q – What are companies doing to facilitate this?
A – Not much yet. There are semantic web browsers out there, but you have to know a subject’s universal identifier. You can’t do natural language searches.

 

Facebook Pages – David Lee King

Using Facebook to push programming – Facebook Events
Meetings are listed selectively because this facility hosts thousands of meetings. They’ve tried some discussions through Facebook, but that hasn’t gotten particularly good response. Status updates have been the most successful tool.

The Facebook statistics have revealed some information about their users, and they have used that to market to their high use constituencies.
Content is updated by David, two web people, and the marketing person (but mainly the marketing person).

Q – Do you have photos and videos?
Y – We’re using boxes for YouTube and Flicker.

Q – How are academic libraries increasing use of their page?
A – We’re posting fun things such as news stories about the anniversary of the Sony Walkman. We’re trying not to be too librarian-y.

Upcoming instruction sessions can be advertised. Some libraries are are friending their student workers, and that leads to some additional friends.
One of the big issues is deciding what your Facebook identity is.

Facebook can also be used to give status updates and construction and renovation projects.

 

Cloud Computing – Matt Hamilton, Cindi Trainor

Computing power moves from your local device to the server on the web.
Cloud computing is like Play-Doh. Break off a little or large piece depending on what you need. When you’re finished, it goes back into the big lump for everyone else to use.
There are software and tools aimed specifically at libraries: Liblime, SFX, ILLiad are all available as hosted services. You don’t have to have staff who can manage server hardware and OS.
Other tools – Google Docs, DropBox
Distinction between having servers in the cloud vs. having services in the cloud.
Amazon idea – companies spend a lot of their resources on supporting the infrastructure. What might happen if you could shift the infrastructure support and focus more local resources on development and innovation?
What about the security of your data? When you put your information on someone else’s server, you’re subject to their privacy policies, their backup procedures, their disaster recovery plans, etc.

 

Government Information Mashups – Rebecca Blakely

Think about extracting raw data and combining it with services to make something new.
www.data.gov

Individuals and non-profits are using this information. Check out www.ilive.at

www.recovery.org – Non-profit site used the http://www.recovery.gov data to create something better.

EPA – Toxic Release Inventory

www.opencongress.org – Pulls data from other government sources.

Managing Staff Furloughs – Melissa Shepherd

Used Drupal to manage furlough information. Many user-developed modules already available.

 

Mobile Websites and Applications – Cody Hanson

Beta site is in development for the UMN community.
Site is developed primarily for the iPhone because it has the most forgiving browser.
Mobile site is php-based.

Site is using Metalib to provide mobile-optimized search results/interface for specific databases.

Q – What level of expertise is required?
A – The lead developer has a lot of PHP experience as well as experience with the ILS.

Q – Did you have a lot of demand from the users? Is that what drove the development?
A – No, we just thought it would be cool.

Q – How much development time has been invested?
A – We’ve just had one developer who sent 2-3 days.

Q – What kind of usability testing will you be using?
A – We do a fair amount of usability testing, but our usability lab is setup for desktop testing. Still trying to figure out how we’ll do this in a mobile environment.