A. Evaluative Statement
INF506 has five learning objectives: 1. Demonstrate an understanding of social networking technologies; 2. Demonstrate an understanding of concepts, theory and practice of Library 2.0 and participatory library service; 3. Critically examine the features and functionality of various social networking tools to meet the information needs of users; 4. Evaluate social networking technologies and software to support informational and collaborative needs of workgroups, communities and organisations; and 5. Demonstrate an understanding of the social, cultural, educational, ethical, and technical management issues that exist in a socially networked world, and how information policy is developed and implemented to support such issues. Over the course of the subject, I have achieved these objectives through my experiences with Second Life and Pinterest and by exploring Library 2.0.
I achieve objectives 1 and 3 by exploring Second Life, a new-to-me social networking technology, and applying my understanding of it by identifying ways it could be employed in an educational or library setting. The unique features and functionality of Second Life, such as the ability to interact virtually with rare sea creatures or to explore underwater ruins, suggested to me possible applications for meeting the information needs of students of marine science or marine archaeology (Gering, 2016, Entry 5: Second Life, para. 7). Additional applications in this vein are identified in Ellis, M., Anderson, P.J., & Kibbe, S. (2014) and include visiting the Vatican and viewing Michelangelo’s artwork in the Sistine Chapel; shopping in a Marrakesh marketplace; riding a subway in Chicago; or hanging out in a vampire night club (pp. 490-492).
The identification of these applications also fulfills objective 4 and the educational component of objective 5 by virtue of the ability of such applications to support informational and collaborative needs in the education community. Second Life supports the informational needs of teachers by providing an immersive teaching tool that offers students virtual experiences of things they cannot experience in real life. Librarians can support this activity by collaborating with teachers to locate or create locations in Second Life that will help students better understand the subject material and achieve their learning objectives. The SLURL (Second Life URL) functionality supports this collaboration by providing an easy way to share locations between teachers and librarians, and ultimately with the students. Curation of SLURLs and suitable locations are both considerations that satisfy the technical management element of objective 5.
I achieve objective 1 through my experience of returning to a social networking technology that I had abandoned and attempting to bring it back into the fold. My use and exploration of Pinterest led to a better understanding of the types of images that are popular on this platform as well as better understanding of Pinterest’s weaknesses. As a result, I will be able to use this platform (which is part of the social media strategy of many organizations I work with) more effectively.
I also achieve objective 3 by critically analyzing the mechanisms that influence which of my pins are repinned, liked, or saved by other Pinterest users. The features and functionality that I took into consideration included the repinning functionality and how it is mediated by the follower functionality; when this did not provide a satisfactory explanation, I conjectured that the algorithms that influence what is displayed and where are the most likely element responsible. However, because there is nothing in the Pinterest documentation that explicitly addresses the mechanisms behind the placement and ranking of pins in feeds, pages, etc., my examination of the features and functionality of Pinterest led to the conclusion that while it may be acceptable for personal use, Pinterest may not be a reliable platform for the information needs of an organization. (Gering, 2016, Off Topic: If You Pin It, They Will Come)
In my post Entry 6: Building (Academic) Library 2.0, I achieve objective 2 by exploring how I might implement the concepts and theories underlying Library 2.0 into my own practice at the UNC Hospitals Lending Library (Gering 2016). Concepts that I identify as being particularly relevant in this setting include creating partnerships; radical trust (faith in users); looking outside the library world for inspiration; questioning everything; recognizing that good ideas can come from anyone and anywhere; and understanding that Library 2.0 isn’t just technology (UC Berkeley Library Systems 2007). I also achieve objective 5 by identifying Library 2.0 concepts that could be incorporated into an information policy that would support social and cultural issues in a socially networked world. For example, in the case of the UNCH Lending Library, the principle of questioning everything could identify elements in our programs that address ethical issues related to the HIPAA law regulating privacy of personal health information as well as social or cultural issues such as race, politics, etc. in a way that could be spread in a socially networked world to negative effect (Gering, 2016, Entry 6: Building (Academic) Library 2.0, para. 4).
B. Reflective Statement
During my study in this subject, I have developed myself as a social networker both in terms of skill with social networking technologies themselves and in terms of understanding how best to utilize them. My skill with social networking technologies has expanded in two ways: by exploring new social networking technologies and by reconsidering social networking technologies that I had previously used and abandoned.
New social networking technologies that I learned and incorporated into my practice during the course of this subject include Second Life and wiki technology, specifically Wikispaces. These are both social networking technologies that formerly seemed very foreign and intimidating to me, with the effect that I never even attempted to learn to use them. However, this subject has given me the opportunity to engage with these technologies in a supportive environment, and my social networking has benefited as a result: because these technologies offer functionality that has no analogue in other social networking platforms, my social networking toolkit is better equipped to handle tasks that I would otherwise be unable to perform to a high level of quality.
One social networking technology that I learned for this subject with which I did not find similar success was Diigo, a social bookmarking tool. I installed the browser extension and tried using it for a few weeks, but the interface did not work well with the cross-device, online/offline hybrid way I consume information. I did, however, have success with revisiting my account for the visual bookmarking tool Pinterest (discussed in section A). The intriguing implementation of Pinterest described in Dudenhoffer (2013), along with the fact that many of the libraries and organizations I work with utilize Pinterest in their social networking strategies, renewed my interest in the platform and ignited a desire to understand it better and employ it more fully in my social media practice. In particular, the use of the platform to highlight new acquisitions is an application that I feel would work well at the UNCH Lending Library in conjunction with our existing programming, and I intend to raise the possibility with my superiors.
In terms of understanding how best to utilize social networking technologies, I have developed as a social networker by gaining a better understanding of concepts such as Library 2.0 as well as learning how to incorporate them into practice, for instance by developing a social networking strategy. In my experience, understanding the concepts that underlie the functionality of social networking technologies and their applications is critical for using them effectively. Practical exercises, such as thinking about how one could implement the principles of Library 2.0 in one’s own library, have helped me achieve this understanding of not just the concepts themselves, but also how I can make them work for me. Achieving a better understanding of concepts relevant to social networking has aided my development as a social networker just as much as becoming more familiar with new social networking technologies, because as a result of understanding the theory and principles, I am able to identify the right social networking technology for the job and understand how to use it to its maximum potential.
The implications for my development as an information professional are numerous, and include knowledge of both new tool and new methods. Most important, however, is a new appreciation for the constantly changing landscape of social media and how I must invest myself in learning and relearning technology in order to perform my best and maintain relevance in my field. As the saying goes, “Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.”
Dudenhoffer, C. Vizualising information with Pinterest, In Harmon, C., & Messina, M. (Eds.). (2013). Using social media in libraries: Best practices. Rowman & Littlefield. Rowman & Littlefield. http://csuau.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=1126493
Ellis, M., anderson, P.J., & Kibbe, S. (2014). Second Life: Simplifying and enhancing the processes of teaching and learning. In V. Wang (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Education and Technology in a Changing Society, p. 483-503, Hershey, PA. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch036
Gering, E. E. (2016, March 29). Entry 5: Second life [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/olj4emily/2016/03/29/second-life/
Gering, E. E. (2016, April 3). Entry 6: Building (academic) library 2.0 [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/olj4emily/2016/04/03/library-2-0/
Gering, E. E. (2016, May 9). Off Topic: If you pin it, they will come [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/olj4emily/2016/05/09/if-you-pin-it/
UC Berkeley Library Systems. [UC Berkeley Events]. (2007, November 2). Building academic library 2.0. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_uOKFhoznI