Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thing 4: Why Twitter isn't my idea of fun

I realise that Twitter is useful. I know there are some times when Twitter is the best place to go for infomation. I recognise that some people really enjoy Twitter. But, personally, I just don't find Twitter fun, and for that reason I don't think I'm ever going to be a major Twitter user.
I signed up in 2008, when I was giving a seminar about Web 2.0 at an ARLIS conference, and so, ahem, I needed to try out all the things I was going to talk about. I'm @sheilayoshikawa (using my Second Life name, because that seemed like a good idea at the time).

A while ago I came MinXuan Lee's Slideshare on How Twitter Changed my Life where she lists 5 stages of Twitter acceptance: Denial; Presence (actually getting an account); Dumping (using Twitter to tweet blogposts and point to press releases); Conversing ("I don't always post useful stuff but I do use Twitter to have authentic 1x1 conversations"); and Microblogging ("I'm using Twitter publish useful things that people read and converse 1x1 authentically"). I'm not sure how I'd distinguish an authentic one-to-one conversation from any old one-to-one conversation, but otherwise this seems helpful.

I'd found a number of useful twitterstreams for the ARLIS seminar, so I knew at once that Twitter wasn't useless, but I remained at the state of "Presence" for year or more, with just a few tweets saying things like "here's another tweet from me I'm not sure why I'm bothering". A few people started following me, which I found slightly baffling, and I started following other people.

Then I realised that it would be useful to alert people to my Information Literacy Weblog blog posts via Twitter. I used an app (Twitterfeed, I think) to automate a feed from my blogto Twitter, adding the hashtag #infolit to each one as well. This brought me into the "dumping" stage. However, I would argue that this is more meaningful than the word "dumping" imples, as people who are interested in information literacy and who like Twitter find this a good way to follow my posts. It means I make more effort to make it very clear what a blog post is about in the title and first few words and if I'm conference blogging I put the hashtag in the title or first few words so I don't have to do an additional tweet.

In terms of tweeting, I do some conference tweeting (although I mostly concentrate on liveblogging), and my other tweets are still very "now and then" - the odd extra tweet about information literacy and occasionally a more personal tweet. One thing is that I think if people are following me they must be doing it because of a professional interest in information literacy, so they probably don't want too much personal stuff.

However, the bigger reason is that I just don't really enjoy tweeting that much. I don't think this is because I don't "understand" twitter, or because I haven't found the right people to follow. I can see that some people are getting a lot out of Twitter; sharing ideas, sharing events, bantering, making friends etc. When I dip into Twitter (I don't monitor it all the time) I spot useful links and some useful news. I recently put a Twitter feed from #infolit onto my blog, and (since my infolit blog is my home page) that has been the most useful thing, and I follow up tweets from there quite a lot.
I've also found Twitter uniquely useful. For example, I'm a Flickr addict, and when I started to get a weird error message, searching Twitter meant I found out at once that everyone was getting this and it wasn't that Flickr had banned me. I liked getting the key soundbites from the LILAC conference via Twitter.

However, if I followed twitter all the time, I think I'd be a wreck. I get depressed about all this information that I ought to know about already and don't. I find my competitive streak rising to the surface as I start to try and compose tweets that are going to get retweeted. Although I have some people that are already friends on Twitter, there are also loads of friends who aren't, and somehow seeing tweets from some of my friends makes me feel totally inadequate in keeping up with friends generally. This is not fun, and with all the social media I do use a lot, there is an element of enjoyment. One thing is that I really like a visual aspect, which is why Flickr appeals.

Perhaps if I changed my devices of choice, and my habits, or had a personality transplant and went for some therapy, I might start to find Twitter fun. But I think it's more likely I will continue to use Twitter on a more pragmatic kind of basis. Meanwhile, I appreciate all the tweeting done by people that enjoy it more than I do. I wonder whether any other people feel the same about Twitter?

Pictures are of an unidentified bird (Tallinn, 2011),  ducklings (Blackheath, 2012) and a fine gantry of malt whisky (Aberdeen, 2011)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thing 4: Storify

I'm not keeping up with my cpd23 work at the moment, as I've too much to do at work, and also had to pay an unexpected visit to my mum, who wasn't feeling too good (she's 90). However, I spotted something I haven't tried out yet as part of Thing 4, so I spent a little recreational time this morning trying it out and working out whether I might use it.
This is Storify which makes it easy to pull together postings from various social media and add some headings and text. I was a bit disappointed that you couldn't edit the layout more, but now looking at other people's stories (some just one tweet long!) I realise I was thinking too much about "information" and not enough about "story". Still, here's my first attempt, on Information Overload. I've embedded it in slideshow format as that seemed a bit more manageable, this is the actual link:

I mostly thought about how I might use this in teaching. Even though my story is too much of a "resource" I think it it still could be a valid way to pull together some opinions and information, as a bundle of material to stimulate discussion in a class. I like the visual element.
I think it would be even better as something to use with students, getting them to tell their own stories with Storify about (for example) information overload. We have a first year class where sometimes we get students to find Flickr images to do with "research" as a way of getting into conversation, and using Storify might be an even better way to get people to reflect on what a particular concept meant to them. You could also pick a controversial event and pull together a story which illustrated the different ways in which people dealt with it, and the information literacy implications. The only issue (as with all these tools) is that you are telling students to sign up to something, i.e. give up some of their personal data to a 3rd party, which always gives ethical pause, but this application doesn't seem too intrusive.
I had some minor gripes, apart from the restrictive layout e.g. it seemed like you couldn't check what the links on a Twitter post were without actually leaping out to Twitter (which I wanted todo before I added a tweet).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Professional development in SL

One of the most regular professional events I attend is the Virtual Worlds Educators Roundtable (VWER) that takes place every Thursday at 7.30pm UK time in the virtual world Second Life (SL). It lasts an hour, and usually looks like this, with us sitting round and discussing education in text chat. It's a magic table,: as soon as a new person sits down it generates an extra chair, and you can expand the table a click.

Most of the people are from the USA (e.g. California, Montana), including Grizzla from Gwinnett College, whose students interacted with my students in SL last semester. A couple of other people are from the UK too. I'm the one with teal blue hair and a maxi dress. This week's topic was "What will YOU do in Virtual Worlds this summer (or winter)?" and people talked about some of their plans and projects, then the conversation deviated into whether people actually HAD a summer break and what encouraged or prevented people from getting things done. We also got into talking about students and what we experience of how they really react to using new technology, with useful books and websites mentioned along the way. Since some of us are regular attenders or know each other from other SL activities there was also some moaning about our workloads etc, some feeble joking and a lot of typing errors (nowadays I never seem to spell "the" correctly first time round).

As I said at the start, this is one of the most regular "development" type events I attend, which is why I'm mentioning it on the blog, as I thought I'd try and note things I'd call "development". Although we are in SL, people talk about other issues to do with teaching, as well. People are pretty honest about their experiences, and although some of the conversations seem to come round again and again, it's also one of the reassuring parts of the VWER meetings; you feel you can relax, and if you do a little bit of wandering off the point it isn't dreadful. It's interesting to meet with people dealing with education systems in different countries, and learn where their experience is the same and where it's different (a lot of the time it's pretty similar).

SL seems to have got rather unfashionable (despite the fact that virtual worlds keep popping up in Horizon reports) but it really has been somewhere where I've been able to discuss and reflect on my teaching, in particular.Also, I do like the quirky visual side of things e.g. seeing what Grizzla will be this week (this time a yellow crash test dummy).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hello to CPD23

I'm going to be following the 23 Things for Professional development course over the next weeks. I decided I needed to set up a new blog for this, as I like to keep my main (information literacy) blog very focused on information literacy, and none of my other blogs quite fit this kind of thing either.
This is just an introductory & hello posting, and I will think about my blogging in my next post (probably done at the weekend). I teach in the iSchool at the University of Sheffield; currently I coordinate the MA Librarianship and the MA Information Literacy programmes, and this semester I've been teaching mainly in the "Information Literacy Research", "Educational Informatics" and "Inquiry in Information Management" modules. Also I'm catertaker-coordinator for the "Library services for children and young people" module this year, as my colleague Briony is on maternity leave. As next week is the last teaching week there is a lot to do around assignments as well at the moment.

Before Sheffield, I taught at Strathclyde University, and before that I had various posts at the British Library in London: the last one was Head of the Business Information Service. I started out at the BL marketing their online service, BLAISE (which was actually the first online service in the UK; that was a long time ago...). Before THAT I worked for a year as an assistant librarian at the Health and Safety Executive, and going right back I was a library assistant at Sussex University Library in the days when library cards had punch holes in them and the card readers went kerplunk when you put in the cards.

As well as the postings about the weekly Thing I am planning to have some general posts about my professional development, but I will have to see how it goes. 

The first picture is of a present from a Chinese student  (the Monkey King), on my office shelves, the second is me in 1986 (argh, so young). In some ways it was easier to identify what my development needs would be, back then, and I'm hoping to reflect on what development means to me at this stage of my career.