Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Social Web, Real Work: Feedback

I was very pleased to read the many thoughtful and balanced comments on my last blog post regarding the Social Web and Who is doing the real work.

To everyone who commented, thank you. I have not received so much feedback since, well, since I don't when, quite frankly.

Personally, I like the Social Web. I use a number of online tools and resources, including but not limited to Blogger, Twitter, Flickr, and I have a Facebook account, but sadly have not had much time to update it or really use it in a meaningful way.

I opened a Second Life account (created a simple Avatar) to see what the fuss was all about, and I opened several other accounts to services whose names have either vanished from my brain or vanished from the Web landscape altogether.

Truth is, the Social Web is valuable: I have learned from and shared knowledge with many out there, many of whom will never know just how much their blogging, flickring, or twittering has helped me.

However, working in an archives for many years and having faced the usual troubles of archives around the globe (i.e. limited resources, limited staff, low priority), attempting to adopt the Social Web as even a part of Real Work becomes a very, very difficult task.

By Real Work, take, for example, processing archivists. Their bread and butter--their Real Work, in other words--does not and will not entail dealing with the Social Web. Sure, on a personal level, they may check this account or that account. But their daily output (in meters/linear feet), their accessioning of boxes and files, their management of backlog, that is their Real Work, that is the stuff that for better or for worse keeps the department afloat. No records processed, no archives. And then nevermind opening up a shop on Second Life for reference services or for showcasing digitized material. Before material gets digitized it needs to be accessioned. And when there are deadlines to be met, reports to be written and submitted, a manager or supervisor does not want to hear about the Social Web.

The Social Web is awesome, as I explained beforehand. Make no mistake about it. I use it when I have the time, and then mainly for personal and professional development. But I feel it is important to speak for those whose work, the behind the scenes work, never gets noticed...and never benefits from the Social Web.

I read a blog post by David Lee King in which he said he had actually done library work on Facebook. He sounded a little surprised that he had done actual work using Facebook.

For those whose positions--or their bosses--allow for the use of the Social Web to conduct business, I tip my hat to you. Consider yourselves fortunate to be working in such an environment. There are some places where the Social Web is not a priority, for it cannot solve immediate and pressing needs.

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about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.