This week is all about social networks, and our task for the week was to sign-up for and use a new social networking site. I’ll start there and then discuss social networking in general and privacy concerns.
New Network: It was hard for me to consider what new social network that I wanted to join. I already am a member of a number of sites, covering different aspects of my life:
- Professional: LinkedIn, Twitter
- General: Facebook, Tumblr, Delicious, Pinboard
- Reading: LibraryThing, Shelfari, GoodReads
- Knitting: Ravelry
So, I had to think about what other site might be useful for me. To start, I went to the Wikipedia list of Social Networking Websites. Four of the sites appeared at a glance that they might be worthwhile; Wattpad, Wakoopa, Diaspora and Pintrest.
Wattpad: Apparently this is a site for readers and writers- I believe that writers post material and have readers comment? As pretty as the site is, I’m not sure that another reading site is the way to go.
Wakoopa: This site has you sign up, and tracks your “app” data and the recommends other apps that you might like. I thought that it might be neat to try it out, but I didn’t chose the site because I feel that enough other entities are tracking my computer usage…
Diaspora: This is a general social networking site, but you host your profile yourself, to ensure privacy and ownership. I heard about this site a couple of years ago when they were first getting started, and I was interested in seeing how they are doing now, but as interested as I am in hosting my own profile, I don’t know many of people who are.
Pinterest: I have been hearing a lot about this site, but have ignored it since I already belong to an image laden site (albeit using a psydeounym). Pinterest is a site where you find interesting things on the internet and “pin” images to pages (boards) for future reference.
This seemed pretty easy to get into to, so I requested an invite and this morning I received one. Creating a profile, was easy, since the site links to either your twitter or facebook account. As well, the site gets you to input areas that you are interested in (nature, DIY, pets…) and then has you follow other users automatically. I spent some time creating boards, pinning and repinning items.
I can see why people are enjoying this new site, it is a very visual social bookmarking site where you indicate what you think looks pretty/interesting, and people can agree with that by liking the image or repinning it to their own boards. As well, the site is beautifully designed and very easy to use. Users can follow other users, or just specific boards, and RSS feeds are available as well. (My profile)
As I was setting everything up, Jamie posted this article to the class site. The article discusses the copyright issues that come along with publicly pinning images from outside sites. Now, looking at my pins- they all have a link to the original site, which is basically a just a bookmark- which I don’t think is anti-copyright… and thinking back to the copyright lectures in 9001, I do feel like this is fair use. But, I could be wrong- I’ll be paying attention to see what happens.
Libraries and Online Communities: Libraries should want to participate in online communities, and many are doing so. But how do they do so effectively?
There are several questions to consider. Are our patrons using this network? Is there a place on this network for institutions? If both answers are yes, then you should think about creating a presence.
Then ask- will having a presence on this network enhance the experience of our patrons? For example, Twitter would be a “yes”, since you can advertise events, engage patrons through contests and more, but Pinterest would be a “no” since you only have images and no data about reviews, events, ect- since by nature they are just image-bookmarks. See Sacramento Public Library’s Pins.
Also ask, can we devote staff time to this network? You cannot just create a profile on a network, you also need to be able to maintain it by posting new content and communicating with users.
The opportunities can be great, as mentioned in the Agosto & Abbas (2009) “Teens and Social Networking” article from Public Libraries, you can broaden the reach of your programming, help users learn about online safety, and give information to your user base where they are, rather than where you are. But you need to be able to maintain the relationship- having your account sit idle for long periods of time will cause your users to lose interest (and trust) in your account.
Overall, I think the key is to have a person (or several people) who are familiar with social networking and are interested in participating, run your sites and have a robust staff policy to ensure that the accounts are active and friendly. And have mechanisms to evaluate effectiveness- if it isn’t working, walk away and try something different, you also don’t want to waste staff time if no one is interacting with or following your profile.