In my efforts to be more connected with the professional community at large in library world I’ve been a member of Twitter and FriendFeed for about a year. I liked it at first reading other people’s thoughts and ideas, sharing my own, and seeing what news and links others posted that I might not have seen otherwise (or may have ignored until a critical mass all post the same story).
Lately, I’d not been feeling the vibe:
- Too often I was reading a lot about the mundane daily life of people I don’t even really know.
- Some of the people I follow can “tweet” an awful lot in a short amount of time. I’m sure they’re wonderful people, but I don’t have time/patience to read all that.
- Since I’ve been working in records management since last summer, even the library-related content wasn’t too relevant to me.
- I admit that I’m egotistical enough that I’m miffed that people rarely respond to anything I post. Even my comments on FriendFeed seem to be thread killers.
One day last week I came close to deleting my Twitter and FriendFeed accounts. But then I decided, it’s probably not them. It’s me.
So instead, I:
- Un-followed some of the folks who I was finding were posting the mundane/overly-frequent content. Again, wonderful people I’m sure, but I think if this is going to work for me I have to reconcile to the fact that a “follow” is not a binding contract.
- Put my real name into my handle to make it more professional. It was easier on Twitter where I’m now LiamTSullivan, but on FriendFeed I have hybrid real name/nick name liamothemts.
- Since I’d not found many people in the RIM field on Twitter on my own, I asked for good people to follow on, where else, Twitter. Since I’m also now an assistant to the archivist at my library I also asked for good archivists to follow on Twitter. I got an excellent response with some good suggestions from some unexpected sources. There’s even a blog post for 25 People All Archivists Must Follow on Twitter sent to me by my wife’s cousin.
- I’m making a concerted effort to be more participatory myself, posting work-related stuff, and responding to others. And I think it’s working.
And thus the story of my social media midlife crisis and how it’s been satisfactorily resolved. Now if I can just get through all the people complaining about the redesign of Facebook.
PS – Feel free to follow me on Twitter and FriendFeed and tell me I’m being a pompous windbag if you so feel inclined.
Here’s how I’m using my social networking tools these days.
When I first registered for del.icio.us I imported all the bookmarks from my browser and then didn’t use it for a year. I didn’t really need all those bookmarks so I cleaned things up by deleting them all. I also cleaned up and consolidated misspelled tags. I went back to all the links I’ve posted over the past 6 months and added the name of the source (newspaper, website or blog name) as a tag in hopes I can look back and see which sources I can recommend as reliable, or at least interesting. I may go back and retroactively add in all the articles from the many link-of-the-day posts in this blog.
In the process of entering (almost) every book I’ve ever read. I don’t actually own many books but I’ve kept lists of what I read for the past 18 years. I also hope to use it to rank my favorite books of all time. I may also try cataloging my son’s collection of children’s books just for kicks.
Some strangers asked to follow me right off the bat, so I followed them back which was fun for a day or so. Then I was overwhelmed by the minutiae of their daily lives. I’m eagerly seeking to use this as a professional development tool by following librarians who tweet about ideas and activities in their jobs and libraries. So from now on I plan only to follow librarians as well as non-librarian folks I already know.
I’m also using Facebook to play lots of games of Scrabulous, WordTwist, and Scramble which I guess proves that Facebook is a valuable social networking tool for wasting time with your friends.
So, I finally gave in and registered for Twitter even though I really do not understand the practical purpose of the tool. I mean I understand what it’s for – telling people what you’re up to at every minute of the day – I just don’t know what it does for a shy guy like me and especially what it does professionally. Yet, I read library blog after library blog hailing Twitter as a great social networking tool. So I caved and decided to give it a try. Don’t want to be classified as a troglodyte who’s afraid of change after all.
Long-time readers will recall that I went through the same process with Facebook last year. Even though I found some things that Facebook is good for (Susan compares it to collecting one’s friends like Hummels), and find it fun to play games with my friends, professionally I’ve done zilch. Seemingly the moment I was convinced to sign up with Facebook was when Facebook-backlash began. Now people frustrated with Facebook offer plaudits for Twitter instead. So maybe I can be ahead of the curve, or at least on the curve this time. So far I’ve found that Twitter is a good forum for writing Haiku and publishing Overheard-type comments. If you want to follow me you can find me at http://twitter.com/Othemts.
Here’s a typical article Why Twitter Matters from iLibrarian.