Netiquette: Blog comments

Coming from a family oft referred to by others as the Flanders, blog comments were fraught with peril for me.  If posting them myself, I used to feel responsible for posting only positive, affirming words that couldn’t possibly be seen as negative – to ensure the blogger’s feelings would not be hurt, their self-esteem remain unmarred by thoughtless callousness on my part.  Similarly, checking for comments to my blog[s] was always anxiety-inspiring; what if I had accidentally made an error, been rude?  What if someone drew this to the attention of me and anyone else who might ever come across their posting – what if, in short, my shortcomings were exposed to the world?  [Dedicated to preserving information, I wouldn’t delete a post or its attached comments.]  I clearly remember the comment that reduced me to tears and drove me into a self-imposed exile from the internet for three days.

Well, I’ve grown up a bit since then.  Experience interacting with other bloggers online has helped me to see this as less of a public space for potential ridicule than a meeting area for ongoing discussion and learning.  As a result, my blog posting deadlines no longer cause anxiety.  I welcome comments that don’t echo congratulations.  They’re opportunities or me to see things from a different perspective or to investigate new areas.

So, advice to Librarians seeking feedback from users in blogs and social networking sites:  provide expectations.  Explain what the comments are for, not just how rapidly they’ll be responded to.  Clearly state that all people’s contributions are valued – because they are, and a reminder can’t hurt –  and keep  guidelines  clear, brief,  and inclusive.  [For an explanation of what I men by inclusive, try tossing out any inclinations to think less of a post written in popular netspeak shortcuts, with capitalization, grammar, and semantic errors.  These are not relevant to content value and may be an affectation by a user seeking to mask their identity that a conspicuous linguistic style may reveal.]

Comment on a blog today!


Facebook vs ConnectU

I’ve been following the ConnectU versus Facebook lawsuit. The Inside Facebook blog has been helpful. Here’s an earlier article on the case.

When will the judgement come down? While waiting, here are some other links on the subject.

I just posted this comment on a colleague’s site: “The London Public Library has done a great job with their site – it’s current and definitely teen-focussed in look and content focus. I have to say, though, I’m still unsettled by what I see as an adult incursion into private teen space. Remember the days before advertisements appeared in the actual turf on the football field? Ah, sweet simplicity. It’s just wrong to be enjoying a pastime and have comercials – however informative – directed at you. That’s how I view MySpace and Facebook profiles such as these.”

football.jpgI know this point of view will make me highly unpopular with some folks. To clarify, I do not want to convince institutions to abandon their profiles. I’m very willing to be proven wrong by evidence that teens and youth find value in libraries appearing in these social networking sites.

Social Software for Librarians

I want to take a moment to just be selfish. I can justify it, too. Too many times during the workweek I find I’ve forgotten to schedule any time for me to spend on my own learning. Building the collection, working with vendors, coaching staff – check. But learning best practices from other Library professionals I usually let slide, and I have to remind myself that it’s not just OK to take a bit of time on the boss’ dime to keep up with these things – it’s a part of my job. It doesn’t all have to be done on my own time. (I hope that’s an unnecessary reminder to whoever may be reading this.)With that in mind, I’m evaluating social software according to how it serves my professional needs to learn. I’ll focus directly on the users next post.

The essential Web 2.0 tools I’ve started using in the last few months are: social bookmarking via, RSS feeds via Google Reader, and social networking arena Facebook. Of these, Facebook has been the most intricate, but even “intricate” is an exaggeration. All have been easy to adapt to, and if you can download programs without needing the approval of an I.T. worker [check your institution’s policies – you wouldn’t believe the hoops I had to jump through to get Firefox approved] then you can rapidly be gathering and sharing information far more rapidly than ever before.

Blogs are making my list conditionally. Although I’m growing to love feeding this little datababy, I think they are a more isolated technology than those listed above. Readership of a blog is dependent upon a site visitor or RSS feed; social networking software like Facebook allows the sharing of postings from a single site. Yes, the archival function of the blog is key and the blog is a very useful means of communicating out and receiving feedback. That’s why they made the list conditionally.

…and SecondLife? I’m still learning how to use it. I’ve receieved gifts of a pair of wings and a groovy set of dance moves, have attended a tutorial on making clothing, and have fallen down a lot. Anyone who can help me learn to land from flying gracefully? I’m certain I will grow very fond of it and enjoy several hours of networked learning with information managers here – but I’m off to a slow start.

MySpace, MyDeathSpace

Web 2.0 technologies enable more people to have access to creating their own online content. This results not only in blogs, wikis, websites, and social networking sites, but creative spin-offs, too. A mixture of tongue-in-cheek parodies and smart marketing exist, like the following: SecondLife is parodied by Geta(First)Life.  Bloggers with a dark sense of humour sign up for DeadJournal, not LiveJournal. Voyeurs whose itches aren’t scratched by YouTube may seek satisfaction at PornoTube.

The one that intrigues me most is MyDeathSpace. Explained in detail by Ray Pietras, this site posts details on the passing of people with MySpace accounts. The veracity of the obituaries can be tested against “publicly available information”, their front page states, as well as providing the following guidance: “We have given you the opportunity to pay your respects and tributes to the recently deceased members via our comment system. Please be respectful.”

There’s so much I want to say about this but need some time to reflect. Thoughts on online versus F2F [face to face] writing for openness and facilitating grieving; callous, disdainful comments from pseudonym-cloaked users, and the fallout of those comments. Thoughts on whether this can reduce the youth death rate due to preventable accidents and suicides, even while turning reading obituaries into entertainment…

ALA Techsource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium

Check out The Shifted Librarian blog today. It’s focus is the ALA Techsource and Association of College Research Libraries (ACRL) on the Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium that just wrapped up in Chicago. There is a wiki of information shared at the symposium, a very valuable resource for perusing.

A note on folksonomy or ethnoclassification management: the event wiki recommends the use of GLLS2007 as the tag of choice. I’d love to see our academics here sharing out faculty-specific tags…just give me more time…perhaps getting approval from the web developers to put it on the website will help drive the initiative.

Mark the symposium on your calendars for next year.

“Kill the elderly”: a Facebook group I’ll avoid

Some investigating around Facebook by Dave has turned up some very ageist attitudes amongst those who use the social networking environment. Check out the conversation here on Freydblog.

It’s awful to read but hurts me more than it shocks; teens, struggling with understanding and establishing their own identity, are prone to putting down others: a battle for peer acceptance repeated over and over again. There are other psychological drivers at work that are beyond my understanding. Suffice it to say, I take this as bolstering my claim that most users of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace will not welcome the presence of libraries in their “friends list”.