At the Ref Desk (3/17/18): Kinda slow today. Wonder where everyone went ... [more...]
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Social Networking

FaceBook Scandal Points to Strengths & Weaknesses of Social Networking Tools

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 12/23/08 (2:52pm)

facebook_logo.jpg A fascinating scandal on Facebook, uncovered by blogger Brad J. Ward, points to both the strengths and weaknesses of Social Networking tools.


Facebook 'Loses' My Email Notification Preferences

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 12/1/08 (9:46am)

File under, 'Weird Email of the Day':

Facebook LogoPlease reset your email notification settings.

Unfortunately, the settings that control which email notifications get sent to you were lost. We're sorry for the inconvenience.

To reset your email notification settings, go to...

The Facebook Team

How do you 'lose' settings like this?


New York Times Does 'Live Blogging'

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 2/19/08 (11:54pm)

You know we've come a long way when the 'Grey Lady' herself starts doing 'live-blogging'.


The First Thing to Learn is to Forget the Technology

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 1/17/08 (4:10pm)

We all have our moments of epiphany. John Blyberg had his recently regarding Library 2.0. In a post called, "Library 2.0 Debased" he pulls no punches:

It's very evident in the profusity of L2-centric workshops and conferences that there is a significant snake-oil market in the bibliosphere. We’re blindly casting about for a panacea and it’s making us look like fools.

He goes on to warn against "arbitrarily introducing technology that isn’t properly integrated into our overarching information framework". Our choice of technologies needs to make sense, he argues, ultimately to our end-users.

This of course is completely true. As a survival tactic, if for no better reason, you'd think we'd all be trying to work out our core competencies long before shopping around for technologies.

Unfortunately a lot of what passes for "L2.0" seems to go in the opposite direction.

All too often it's how to build our libraries around blogs, wikis and social networks -- rather than the other way around. Add to this a level of individual affirmation and self-discovery more appropriate on occasion to a revival meeting than a PD, and you have a picture not of innovation but of its caricature.

Worse, there seems to be a certain element of one-up's-manship in play, at least among the more ambitious, with whoever adopting the largest number of 2.0 technologies in the least amount of time being perceived as most "cutting edge".

This isn't going to work. You might as well have a chicken with its head cut off picking technologies. At least the results would be harder to predict.

[h/t Blake]

One of the librarians on the Usability4lib List was concerned about the amount of investment -- particularly in time -- that embarking on a social networking strategy might require for her library.

Here's what I wrote in reply:

Well, for starters I wouldn't do it simply for the hell of it -- i.e. simply to say you're doing it.

On the other hand, I don't see why it should require an inordinate amount of time, especially if you approach it in small steps.

You say your library is going to do user surveys, and also that your ultimate product will be a CMS-based website.

You could survey the users as to what they use (IM? Facebook, etc.). You could then follow this up by examining a few individuals and their use of these services.

(Personal note: IM's been around for years but it was only when I started looking at how the student workers were using it that I finally got religion.)

On the CMS side, you could use the properties of a CMS system to churn out RSS feeds (such as news, events, classes, etc.). These could be added auto-magically to your Facebook or MySpace Page -- thus lessening potential overhead while still maintaining currency (it's the Web 2.0 way!)

A great first step is just making sure everyone's comfortable with IM'ing and that they all have screen-names. You might also want to get your own Facebook account to test out the waters.

One way or another, this isn't an 'all or nothing' proposition.

Do You 'Twitter'? (And If Not, Why Not?)

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 3/13/07 (7:58pm)

Twitter LogoIt doesn't get any more ephemeral than this: you pop a sentence about what you're doing at the moment in a box and then go back to whatever you were doing.

Who'd bother, you ask? Even more, who'd bother to read it all?


Chicago Mapped Out in Flickr Tags

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 1/21/07 (1:30am)

This is neat: Chicago mapped out in Flickr tags courtesy of the ZoneTag Project (Yahoo! Research).

Zoom in and move around and you'll see different tags show up. Click on the link, 'View on World Explorer', for a larger map and a photo browser. (h/t O'Reilly Radar)


Follow Your Users (Because They Sure as Hell Aren't Going to Follow You)

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 1/13/07 (8:43pm)

Jon Alper, the Director of Technology at WGBH Interactive was asked at a conference by a j-school teacher (of all things) how to coax students away from and towards the school's own blog instead.

Alper's answer, as reported by Carleen Hawn from PaidContent, was essentially that posting on was bad because it abetted free content to the detriment of traditional (legitimate) content like newspapers and broadcast media.

It's hard to know where to start with such an approach. As Hawn herself points out, "...Isn't the idea of New New Media to leverage as many entities as possible?"

At a more basic level, the students are no dupes. They're simply following the crowd -- the market, the popular choice. is where they perceive their postings will have the widest and most significant audience.

And who's to argue with them? Instead of trying to rope them back in, the teacher should be working on how to get out there himself -- how to use their tools to his instructional advantage.

This stuff isn't rocket science.


Social Networking Awards from

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 12/24/06 (4:28pm)

Having trouble keeping track of all those new social networking services? Well, has put together a handy guide as part of their "2006 Social Networking Awards".

The list reads like a Who's Who of social networking services with everyone from MySpace and YouTube to Flickr and Digg having made the grade. There are also popular picks ("people's choice") and best bets for the coming year.