Monthly Archives: March 2007

My Friend Tom

MySpaceI received a question from Jennifer, a youth services librarian, who used some of the tips she learned yesterday to start her own MySpace page for her department. She was surprised to find that she already had a “friend,” the minute she set up her account. I realized that others might be curious about this so I decided to explain a little bit about how the friend portion of MySpace works.

The mysterious and apparently eager man who popped up on Jennifer’s page is Tom Anderson, one of the founders of MySpace. He shows up automatically as everyone’s first friend and is there to provide guidance through this crazy MySpace world. tom.jpgHe’s completely harmless, however getting rid of him is very easy (and I promise he won’t be offended!). On your MySpace home page, you will see your “friend space” displayed on the bottom right. On a new account you will probably only have one person, Tom. The box will list the number of total friends you have and directly to the right of that number shows an “edit friends” option. This will take you to a page where you can check any friends that you want to remove. Then scroll down and click “delete selected friends.” They will ask you to confirm that you really want to do this and then poof! they’re gone.

One thing to note is that Tom is an anomaly, after this, you will have to confirm all future friend requests. Nobody can join your friends list without your approval. Also, only your friends are allowed to comment on your profile, blog, or pictures. This protects you from receiving comment spam or unwanted messages from strangers.

Something else to be aware of is that many groups, bands, organizations, etc. use MySpace for marketing, so you may receive requests from strangers to be your friends. Don’t let this frighten you. MySpace offers the option to block requests from bands and comedians. Sometimes, unsavory characters will request your “friendship.” This includes girls with “webcams” and people offering “business opportunities” (like stuffing envelopes). You can usually quickly determine who these people are by checking out their profile and reading their “about me.” If they mention anything like “I just got a cool new webcam!” Then you know just to click delete. MySpace also allows you to quickly report these people with one click of the “abuse” button at the bottom of the screen. Also note that these requests will die down after the first week or so.

Now what if you would like to initiate a friend request? Every profile has a “contact box.” This is usually located just below the main picture on the left side of the profile. This offers options like “add me” or “message me.” Click on add to add the person, group, or band as a friend. Click on message to send a MySpace e-mail. Another button to be aware of is the “block” option, which allows you to block that person. This can be helpful in the rare instance that you find yourself receiving abusive messages from another MySpace member.


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Filed under MySpace, Resources, Social Networking

Second Circ: Questions Asked. Questions Answered.

Hello everyone! Below are the questions from this morning’s seminar. I’ve posted answers to all of them–even some that we touched upon during the class.

If there are any additional questions, please post them in the comments section of this post. I also encourage you to join the discussion on these topics. Share personal experiences, links, etc. The beauty of Web 2.0 is that we can all learn from each other.

Thanks for your input!

1. What are some examples of successful library blogs? “Successful,” being defined as read regularly and frequently commented upon.
Some of you suggested the following examples:

I’ll also suggest that you take a look at my blogroll or check out these:

What I Learned Today
Librarian in Black
Librarian at the Kitchen Table
Library Law
Goblin in the Library

Remember that “heavily commented” upon does not necessarily equal successful on it’s own. There are several different factors. They are important, however, and so I’m working on a post about comments–some tricks for encouraging them, how to handle spam, how to best respond, etc. If you have any specific questions about this topic, please send them in and I’ll discuss it in my article.

*NOTE: If you have or start a blog, send me the link and I’ll add you to my list! Link exchange not necessary, but always appreciated 😉

2. Is it possible to “back-up” a blog? All posts, including comments?
Yes, all the popular blogging software programs offer back-up options. This is especially helpful if you decide to transfer a blog from one software program to another (for example, Blogger to WordPress). Each program is different, so it’s best if you consult with your blogging client’s help section. I do know that on WordPress it is a one-click process that can be accessed by going into your “Manage” tab and then clicking on “Export.” This will create an .XML file that can then be uploaded to another blog program or just saved offline.

Another option for those of you who are Mac users, is to check out a software program called DevonThink, which allows you to archive, review, edit, search through, and organize hundreds of webpages right on your desktop. The program is a great research tool that can be used for multiple applications, but is especially suited for archiving blogs.

3. How long does Blogger archive content?
Blogger will archive your content for as long as you keep an account with them. Powered by Google (the same folks who offer nearly-unlimited free e-mail storage through gmail), Blogger has an incredible capacity to archive all your posts. The frequency with which they are archived and displayed is entirely up to you. Typically, it goes on a monthly basis and then switches to yearly once you hit your first “blogaversary.”

4. Do any studies exist showing that blogging improves library services and community connections, or it all anecdotal?
This is a great question on an important topic. The nascent nature of Web 2.0 technology and its application means that the availabilty of substantive research on the subject is still very limited, particularly when applied directly to libraries. That said, there is quite a bit of research on the ROI (Return on Investment) of blogging within a corporate setting. In late January, Forrester released a report on the ROI of Blogging that said that blogging does actually lead to measurable benefits in the areas of name recognition, search engine rankings, word-of-mouth, customer input, and community building.

While specifically geared toward a corporate arena, these findings do provide an interesting platform for looking at the benefits within the non-profit and library worlds. A colleague of mine also referred me to this Australasian Journal of Educational Technology article(PDF), which takes a look at blogging within the higher education field and concludes that “blogging has the potential to be a transformational technology for teaching and learning.”

5. How do you take advantage of these Word of Mouth sources in a way that points the user to your resources instead of encouraging the user to stay with MySpace or YouTube?

6. What is the name of the comic book creator software?
There are a couple options, but for PC users I recommend Comic Book Creator by Planetwide Media. The program is just $30 dollars and offers lots of very cool features, including Drag & Drop text, comic book templates, and PDF conversion.

Mac users already have an incredible program installed on their computers (it comes with OSX) called Comic Life. I play around with this one all the time–it takes about 5 minutes to learn and is incredibly addictive. The end product is very professional.

7. Are the Wiki article user counts up to date?
The genius of Wikipedia is that it can be edited by anyone at any time. Built upon a system of honor and accountability, entries are constantly being checked, monitored, and edited. Best Practices for Wikipedia editing denote that sources should always be noted. If you take a look at the user counts on the list of social networking sites, you’ll see that each number has footnote attached. Those footnotes state the source and the “as of” date. Most were updated as recently January, many even more recently. Wikis are particularly suited for the reporting of Web 2.0 numbers as they can be updated just as quickly as they change. I encourage you to check this out, and if you see a place that could use a little updating, try your hand at editing it.

8. Should you create or monitor your library’s reference on Wikipedia, MySpace, etc.? Should you control your “presence?” Yes. Absolutely. As I mentioned in the presentation, Web 2.0 is You. You have a responsibility to create, monitor, and foster your presence within this arena. There was an article in the New York Times not long ago where the journalist wrote about how someone listed him in a Wikipedia entry as one of John F. Kennedy’s assasins. He wrote an entire article about the inaccuaracy of Wikipedia and the dangers of a site that “anyone” can edit. This caused quite a bit of noise around this topic for a few days, and on one hand he raised some very real concerns. The problem is that he completely ignored one of the basic tenets of Wikis, that being that if you spot an error, it’s your responsibility to fix it. That’s why this works. So yes, as a responsible participant in Web 2.0, it is your job as a library, organization, or individual to monitor and correct your entry or presence on the Web.

The same principle holds true for MySpace and blogs. There will always be a few pranksters, a few bad apples, who take the freedom of Web 2.0 and use it for purposes other than good. This is why we have comment spam, splogs, “flamers” (people who leave negative comments just to get a reaction), etc. The only way to combat this, however, is to be proactive and strong. Don’t let a few spammers scare you into turning off your comments–turn on spam filters and use your “delete” button. If you find problematic people on MySpace either ignore them or report them. MySpace is very good about getting rid of abusive profiles, usually within 24 hours. Blogger also offers a “report this blog” option in case you come across something that is unsavory or illegal.

I think you’ll find that the vast majority of users are here for good reasons. I’ve been blogging since 2002, and have yet to deal with any abusive or unsavory commenters. I don’t moderate my comments, but I do keep my word verification on to block the spam robots. Naturally, as your audience and exposure grows, so does your risk, but then again, so does your influence.


Filed under Blogging, Events, marketing, Word of Mouth

Everything you ever wanted to know about Wikis

Are you interested in starting a wiki for your library or organization? Here is a brief overview of what a Wiki is and how to get started.

A wiki is a Web-based application that allows several users to edit and contribute content of any nature or variety. IT can be a very useful tool for your libary or organization because it’s a quick and easy way of storing and updating institutional knowledge. It’s a great way for staff, volunteers, and even patrons to share information or tutorials that could otherwise get lost through employee turn-over.

Interested? Here’s how you get started:

1. First decide what features will work best for your library’s wiki. There are multiple software packages out there (most completely free!) and each offers different features. The easiest way to decide what you’d like on your Wiki is to check out others and get a feel for what could work for your library.

2. Research the various available software packages (see links below) and check them out in action. The most famous Wiki, Wikipedia, uses an open source program called Mediawiki. Other options are ModWiki and WikiWiki.

3. Decide how you will host your wiki. Does your library already have it’s own server? Are you paying for hosting? Remember that to run effectively, Wiki software generally requires a host that supports PHP and MySQL technology. You can verify this easily with your hosting provider. Or would you prefer to start out with a hosted plan (much in the way Blogger works for blogs). There are several free options that would allow you to do this (again, see links below).

5. Establish a goal and guidelines for your wiki. Clearly present this information so that those who are editing and workign on the Wiki will a) know where it is and b) understand the process for adding/editing your Wiki. This is also the time to choose and post a license for your information. Check out Creative Commons for this.

6. Promote it! Send out an e-mail to your library and staff mailing list. Post a link on your homepage and keep it bookmarked on all your library computers. Discuss it at meetings and encourage staff to add and participate. Expect that people will be slow to catch on, but with a little patience, your Wiki can grow into something spectacular!

7. Don’t be afraid to experiment. This is your first try–you’re bound to make a few mistakes. Embrace that and think of this as a great learning opportunity.

A Few Helpful Links:

Wikia–a free hosted wiki program owned by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. A great first stop!

Wikipedia–the famous wiki encyclopedia. Type in “Wiki” in the search bar and find a helpful list of wikis out there

Wiki Farms–a great list of reviews of Wiki Farms (places where you can “grow” your own wiki).


Filed under Resources, Wikis

Second Circ: The Webinar!

A Free Online Seminar

Wednesday, March 21, 2007
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM EST

You’ve seen the headlines. You’ve read the articles. Web 2.0 is everywhere. This second generation of Internet applications (such as blogs, wikis, and social networking) is fascinating, exciting, and accessible, but knowing where and how to start using them in your library can be daunting. This webinar will introduce you to the world of online tools available–tools that make it easier than ever to share information, promote your programs, and mobilize support. We’ll start with the basics, and through visuals and real-time demos, you’ll learn the skills to bring your library marketing into the next generation.

All are welcome and no prior experience is required!*

Register for this free online seminar today!

To register, please e-mail aramos (at) lff (dot) org with your full name, library or organization, phone number and address. Once your registration is accepted, you will receive a confirmation message including the link to the online classroom, your participant access ID, and the dial-in phone number.

About the Instructor:
Alejandra J. Ramos is the Communications Associate at Libraries for the Future, where she specializes in Web 2.0 and New Media marketing techniques, as well as web content management, editing, and graphic design. Her work and expertise focus on web communication strategies and applications, including blogs, social networks, and viral marketing. Ms. Ramos has been blogging since 2002, and her writing has garnered attention from various print and online media, including The Washington Post.

*Please note that to participate you must have access to a computer with a high-speed Internet connection. A working microphone and speakers are also advised. Alternatively, those without a microphone or speakers can participate via a real-time conference call.

For more information about Libraries for the Future, please visit our website.

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Filed under Blogging, Events, marketing, Resources, Word of Mouth