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Nicolibrarian explores the secret life of information

Posts Tagged ‘social media

Will mandated public data increase organizational efficiency?

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I was struck by the following quote from the latest Pew Internet study:

“Governments, businesses and NGOs will gradually become more efficient and responsive, thanks in large part to the accountability and transparency mandated by public accessibility of the data they generate. But, bureaucracies being inherently conservative, this change will happen slowly – much more slowly than the opening‐up of data. The result will be that in 2020, companies’ customers will know far more about the companies than the companies do themselves. And citizens will know far more about governments than the government officials. This will lead to political and market tensions that will play out over many years.” – Dylan Tweney, senior editor, Wired magazine

I like the romantic notion that the availability of data (and I mean that in the broadest sense, not merely in the charts-of-numbers sense) increases or can increase both efficiency and responsiveness. I’m particularly smitten with this idea as it applies to governments. And yet I am skeptical  of this assumption when I see it, not only in the above quote but bandied about anywhere. Just because we have data does not mean that it allows us to understand that data and how that data is generated (understanding processes being key to understanding the data itself, but also key to understanding organizational metrics such as efficiency). Similarly, understanding the data may not always correlate to the ability to affect changes in efficiency nor responsiveness of any given institution. As way of a simple explanation, I think of the stats gathered by the police in the excellent TV show The Wire – everyone knows how to “juke” their stats.

Don’t get me wrong – the opening up of all kinds of data is wonderful to see, as is the ability of watchdogs (be they nonprofit, academic, or individual) to analyze that data. But I suspect that opening up and releasing data is a very small step in the march toward organizational and institutional change. This is just a brief rant off the top of my head – what do you think? Have examples either for or against my argument?


Written by nicolibrarian

April 4, 2010 at 3:09 am

Librarian Stereotypes

If there’s something librarians love, it’s knowing what the world thinks about us, keeping tabs on the stereotypes, and getting our nether-garments in a bunch about aforementioned opinions and images. I like to think of it as the library profession’s equivalent of ego searching, this fixation on perception. And I’ll admit I’m game for it – every month when I get my copy of American Libraries, I flip right to the How the World Sees Us section. After all, it is a fine line between navel-gazing and brand management, right?

So I was pleased to see this tweet, via a RT, yesterday:

@wawoodworth: Poll: Worst librarian stereotype. Go. (answer then RT question, please)

And I couldn’t help but be interested in what the replies were, and I can’t help but post them here. I ended up setting up a Twapper Keeper for these tweets, and have pasted the bulk of them below (with apologies and thanks to all users, the public nature of Twitter, and @wawoodworth for starting the thread):

HeidiSteiner: That we’re all shushers. Shush I do not.
ksattler: Shhh!
Joe_Librarian: 63 year old who’s never had sex or an email account
jaimebc: That all we care about is books (not tech literate)
jhardenbrook:  All we do all day long is check out books
agrundmann: That all we do is sit around and read books all day
uamslibrary: That there aren’t any young librarians or librarians of color
nicolibrarian: Old white woman who doesn’t like you or noise or computers.
carolbatt: Shhh! Be Quiet! (but some still do!)
jpetroroy: That we just read all day long.
lbgilbert: SHUSH!
thebrainlair: That we are always shushing children.
orireed: Brary Buns!!!!
bookmeme:  Specs and tweed skirt with horizontal teeth…
librarianbryan: That linux-induced white boy doesn’t know his urban fiction!
miss_print: librarian as crazy cat lady
subclassz: Female librarians r secretly sluts while male librarians r monks.
subclassz: Also librarians don’t have social skills b/c u can’t be social AND smart/organized
civillibrarian: Female?
TheLiB: All we do is read all day (thx for that Laura Bush).
bmljenny: Sexy librarian. Not bad, I just can’t live up to it.
lauramac95: Catalogers as nitpicky anal-retentive fussbudgets
mascher: Socially inept.
ultimatelibrarn: memorized the dewey decimal system
schmeeeb: Kleenex up the cardigan sleeve
LCPLWeb: You don’t LOOK like a librarian.
tmvogel: 1) Cats 2) All we do is read/surrounded by books
vonburkhardt: Umm…that they all wear prescription shoes?
LibrariNerd: That we’re quaking in fear because print is dead.
msjoanthomas: We wear comfortable shoes
kimberwimber: Cat lovers. I def prefer dogs!
janholmquist: People thinking their questions are stupid because ‘You know so much’
thepinakes: That all young librarians are hip and tattooed.
WWUBusLib: That we’re all prim old ladies who do nothing but shhh
jonbloy: Librarians go around shushing people.
RedheadFangirl: That I’m a “naughty librarian” & wear garters.
RedheadFangirl: Or that I’m a crocheting cat lady (true, but love rock, horror)
marissajeanine: That all librarians are old!!!

I’ll also indulge in confirming a stereotype by admitting I couldn’t help but want to classify and graph these tweets (yes, let the heckling begin – but I will have you know that Dorothy of Cat and Girl also enjoys recreational data visualization, so I am not the only one):

Perception, bar-graph-style

Perception, bar-graph-style *Dowdiness including all things physical appearance, including cardigans and tweed. +Ineptitude including fussbudgetiness

Tweets, Charlotte's-Web-Style (i.e. "Hey, librarians! You're a shushing, dowdy bunch of oldsters!" *Dowdiness including all things physical appearance, including cardigans and tweed. +Ineptitude including fussbudgetiness

At least it is a fun slide! *Dowdiness including all things physical appearance, including cardigans and tweed. +Ineptitude including fussbudgetiness

And for those of you who *still* haven’t had your RDA of nerd, here’s my spreadsheet for coding the tweets. Really, people. Get a life.

Written by nicolibrarian

March 18, 2010 at 6:33 am

On staying on top of social media + personal branding basics

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I’m by no means a pro on what it means to manage your personal brand online. Yet I can’t help but think how important it is to be cognizant and actively attempting to keep up with how the online world sees you. I was chatting with a fellow-librarian friend about blogging, and she mentioned that she had:

  • A blogger account
  • A tumblr blog
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • A wedding blog from her recent wedding
  • A joint blog with her husband
  • An old website
  • Two livejournal accounts
  • A deviantart account (which I had never heard of)
  • A goodreads account

And that she had others she’d deleted on LinkedIn, LibraryThing, MySpace, etc.

I think this is pretty common for people who’ve been dabbling with the web and trying to find appropriate and manageable ways to be interacting, publishing, sharing, and creating online. And I won’t deny that my blood quickens with anxiety when I think of my own list of social media outposts.

To slay the dragon, I find myself turning time and time again to Chris Brogan’s (free!) e-Book on Personal Branding.   The ten-cent tour, as filtered through my brain:

  • You may not think of yourself as a brand. You may not like thinking of yourself as such. But there may come a time that you will – and after all, if you don’t manage the information that’s online about you, nobody will. Take some time to think about how you want your reputation to exist online.
  • Be authentic. Branding <> being something you’re not.
  • What are you inputs and outputs? Take some time to notice them (like the list my friend made above) and consider if this is what you want. Take action accordingly.
  • Learn how to listen, communication, share, and build community online. These things are not the same (and yet not entirely different) than they are in real life. And Chris will help you in all these areas.
  • Don’t fear failure, and don’t miss out on what you can learn from failing in public.
  • Managing your reputation online is work – it can be good, fun, easy work, but it requires effort. Chris will help show you ways to make it as painless and fruitful as possible.

Really, that’s just the tip of the ice berg. Did I mention it is FREE, a mere 15 pages long, and amazing? Go read it now.

Written by nicolibrarian

January 28, 2010 at 11:09 am