Week 4 – Social networks

Brace yourself, fellow Thingers, for a positive SPATE of posts. I have been feeling very guilty about not blogging for a while, so this afternoon is designated catch-up time.

So, social networks, eh? I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with these. I signed up to Facebook on New Year’s Day 2007, thereby guaranteeing that my annual resolution to be more productive at work would fail. I think what I love about Facebook (and how terrible it is to admit to this) is the nosiness factor. It’s so interesting to see how half-forgotten people from dim and distant school days are getting on. And it’s easy to take this further than you should. One friend of mine instigated a self-imposed Facebook ban when she found herself spending an evening bitching about the wedding photos of complete strangers. (We’ve all done it.) So that’s where the hate comes in, I suppose – it turns you into an easily-distracted internet addict who is happy to judge people on the basis of one badly-posed photograph or a predilection for excessive use of ‘LOL’.

So I’ve always been a bit dubious about the usefulness of social media for work purposes. I don’t mind strangers judging me on the internet (well, not much), but I don’t want my work colleagues getting in on the action. I do use Twitter at conferences and find it a great way to connect with other delegates. I’ll definitely be using Lanyrd in this way too, now that I’ve found it. But I don’t think I’ll be upping my usage in between conferences.

One thing I must say about Twitter is that the compelling users – the ones you really care about following – have a nice mix of professional and personal comments. I love it when people point you at a resource but also give you their thoughts on it – admittedly, not the easiest thing to do in 140 words. One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot on this course is the idea of curating your online presence, and making sure that you are interesting without being indiscreet. I suspect that this is the real trick for social networks – you need to have enough of a personality that people will feel connected to you, but still be sufficiently professional that they will respect your knowledge and skills. It’s a tricky balance.



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Week 3: Tag-tastic!

So here we are again… a little delayed due to illness, but better late than never!

This week was rather daunting for me. Most of the research work I do is policy-focused, and one thing I’ve learned about policy makers is that they don’t really care very much about references. So things like Mendeley and cite-u-like are always going to be rather marginal in my work. The groups could be useful, although the most populous ones on Mendeley for both public policy and information science had a grand total of one member each.

Diigo, on the other hand, is brilliant. Whereas I used to haphazardly bookmark to my browser or email links to myself, I can now use my handy little Diigo toolbar app to mark down all those interesting recipes, beautiful knitting patterns – oh, and useful articles on data taxonomies – so that I can get at them from anywhere. Or at least I could if the British Library computer systems would allow me to download the Diigo toolbar app. Sigh. One step at a time.

Finally, LibraryThing. Again, I can’t see much use for this in a research context as it is incredibly rare for me to use books. However, I love that the arduous sign-up process (which, as other Thingers have noted, gets a bit tiresome by the 57th time) is enlivened by asking you to type in a book title or author name rather than a random string of letters. I also think that the site is great in its areas of strength, which is clearly fiction. I looked up A S Byatt’s The Children’s Book – the last book I finished – and it recommended that I try The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver next. Now, funnily enough, I read that book recently as well, and was strongly reminded of it while enjoying A S Byatt. This either shows the power of folksonomies , or that I have a highly unoriginal mind. Or possibly both.

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Week 2: Blogs and RSS fun

I’ve made it to my second post! Proud.

I registered my blog with Technorati last time round (although I never got round to posting about it) and I must say, I wasn’t wild about the site. It turns out that, in this respect, I’m like quite a lot of 2010’s Thingers, who also found it a bit unwieldy. A search for knitting brought up, as the seventh option, a post entitled ‘Can You Spot the Gay Porn Star in the New Real World: Las Vegas?’. Now, I’d be the first to admit that I enjoy a bit of trash telly while lovingly crafting a pair of lumpy socks, but even I wouldn’t go as far as The Real World. The relationship between my favourite hobby and sub-Big Brother reality TV remains a mystery to me (I couldn’t bring myself to read the post in question).

Google Reader, however, I can’t praise highly enough. I’ve been a fan for several years now, and it’s revolutionised the way I manage my online reading. However, I’ve got to the stage where I’ve got so many feeds that I’m getting almost an hour of new content every day, which is a bit of a challenge. I can’t bring myself to skip over anything, just in case it’s brilliant. I’ve got a feeling that it’s a skill I’ll need to learn…

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Here we go…again

Well. Talk about the triumph of hope over experience. Despite only managing a grand total of ONE thing in the last round of this course, I am having another stab.

Perhaps it’s naive, but I’m pretty optimistic. I was on an extended trip to America towards the end of last year, and I think that (combined with the Christmas break) conspired against me.

I also think I set myself too high a standard in terms of my blog posts, and maybe that needs to change. It’s probably better to say something inelegantly than to say nothing at all. Also, the less time spent agonising over adjectives and the more spent playing with the ‘things’, the better.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to embarking on this adventure with other 25 Thingers, and hope to learn at least one thing that I’ll be able to use as a regular part of my work. Fingers crossed!

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Here we go…

Hello everybody!

My name’s Ellen Collins and I work for the Research Information Network (RIN). Along with the University of Huddersfield, we’re running 25 Research Things.

The RIN has had a longstanding interest in how researchers use web 2.0 to share information. Some of this has rubbed off on me – since joining the organisation I’ve started using Twitter, and I even write the occasional blog.

However, I’m still very much in the paddling end of the web 2.0 swimming pool. So, in the interest of becoming more of a practice-what-you-preach kind of a gal, I’ve decided to join in with all the Huddersfield researchers taking part in this programme. Previously, this project has only ever been run for librarians, and I’m excited to see what’s different when we involve researchers.

I’m looking forward to experimenting with some of the newer tools and techniques, the ones I haven’t yet tried. I know that not everything will necessarily work for me but, since this project itself originated and was mostly written using web 2.0 tools, I’m aware that they can have powerful and unexpected uses.

So, bring on the next 9 weeks!


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