Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Each service allows users to send out, in 140 characters or less, a status update or a tweet (if you are using Twitter) or a plurk (if you are using Plurk) to make an announcement, ask a question, promote an event or new blog post, or update friends, and so on.
The Twitter phenomenon in particular and micro-blogging in general are weaving their way more neatly and ingeniously into the pattern that is the Social Web.
In the year or so since I started using Twitter, I am discovering ways to maximize your micro-blogging.
The first bit of advice is as simple as pie. If micro-blogging intrigues you, or you want to learn more about this form of communication, you should participate. Get involved. If you have heard too many stories about Twitter's stability issues (i.e. Fail Whale) and want other options? Not a problem. While Twitter remains a personal favourite (and hugely popular in spite of its on-going problems), I would encourage the new user to try out other micro-blogging services such as Plurk and identi.ca.
2. Choose Your Friends Wisely
The power of micro-blogging, like all aspects of the Social Web, is community. The more participation, the more community grows and the more the service becomes truly rewarding. It is about connecting with colleagues in the same profession or even different professions. It is about connecting with someone whose status updates are thoughtful, insightful, or perhaps funny. It is about connecting with those who share your views or who hold alternative or even opposing views. Essentially, the key is to follow or befriend other users.
But I suggest you choose your friends wisely. How does that differentiate things? In order to choose wisely, I suggest you seek out friends. Be proactive.
We could randomly add friends and follow them. Nothing wrong with that per se. However, after having used Twitter for almost a year, I am noticing the signal vs. noise ratio increase, mostly in favor of more noise (unrelated, useless information) over signal (relevant, useful information). I will discuss how to handle signal vs. noise in point 4.
To build a better list of friends to follow I use Twitter Search (formerly called Summize until Twitter purchased the company) to find potential new users. Twitter Search searches tweets as they are sent. This is truly live search.
For example, I am looking for other archivists using Twitter. Enter 'archivist' (or any other archives-related search term) and click search. If one or more user stands out, I will follow them. Chances are good that they in turn will follow me. A connection is made.
I also suggest looking at the date when the person last updated. If the person you intend on following last updated 6 or 10 months ago, I would not recommend following them. It is wiser to follow those who have a current update status.
3. Speak Up (or don't censor yourself so much)
People send tweets about any and everything. I will leave it up to your good judgement to decide what and what not to tweet about. But whatever you say or ask, don't censor yourself so much. Sometimes the most spontaneous tweet receives a tremendous response, while the most carefully crafted tweet receives nothing. So be spontaneous with your status updates.
One caveat, though: Make sure your tweets are valuable to your followers. Think for a second, but not much longer than that before posting.
The issue of signal vs. noise, that is, coping with more noise (unrelated, useless information) and attemtping to find the signal (relevant, useful information) not only occurs on the Web, but in the micro-blogging space.
To combat this I follow a simple maintenance plan on Twitter. First, I remove people if their tweets are deviating from what had prompted me to follow them in the first place. I do this maybe once every two weeks. It is nothing personal. My aim is to keep the Twitter timeline as useful as possible. Second, I add more people based on the process I outlined in point 2. Finally, I make sure I am tweeting something of value to others. Am I sending tweets that could prompt someone else to follow me? Am I engaging other Twitter users by replying to their tweets? Am I partaking in conversations?
5. What about You?
You may have different experiences or different ways to maximize micro-blogging. Do share them.
[P.S. I'm on Twitter. Follow me and join the conversation!]
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
While USGS seismologists provided the world with technical data, for Web users, the first mention of an earthquake was made known by Southern California Twitter users living in and around the Los Angeles area who sent tweets detailing the rattling and rumbling, fears and concerns and reassurances that all were shaken, scared but safe, and countless other tweets from people around the world sending their thoughts and prayers.
A Twitter user named Zadi, who I follow, was the first person on my list to mention the earthquake.
The earthquake story was delivered by the people on the ground even before local news station reporters and editors had time to organize and file a report. Social networking news website Mashable went as far as to claim that, in spite of a flood of raw unedited tweets, it still scooped CNN and local news networks.
Is this the end of the old news? Has the old news been usurped by the new news? Of course not. But this story and this event do reveal the power of Twitter (and other micro-blogging websites) to break news and highlight the human element more clearly, intimately and directly than before.
In the interim, follow me on Twitter and FriendFeed; the first is the popular (but long-suffering) micro-blogging service, which I use for status updates, the other lifestreaming aggregator, which I use to post items I find online and share among the growing community of FriendFeed users. There are also lively discussions on FriendFeed.
As more people participate in FriendFeed, the more diverse and interesting the topics and comments get. So, by all means, join in!
Friday, July 25, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
But this is essentially what Web 2.0 is all about: exploration, experimentation, discovery.
Information Management / Information Technology
At the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in Washington, DC, I coordinated the evaluation and selection of a new archives management system together with the staff of the IMF Archives.
- Responsibilities: Needs analysis, system requirements, documentation, presentation, vendor meetings, software demos; evaluation and selection process; procurement; staff training; initial implementation plans;
- Organization: I worked with the Head Archivist, IT Advisor, Reference Archivists, and a team of 15 processing archivist;
- Actions: Performed needs analysis, edited systems requirements documentation; scheduled vendor meetings, software demos; scheduled staff training, and coordinated with technologists on the implementation of system
- Results: IMF Archives purchased a new archives management system to optimize staff processing activities and to provide better researcher access to collections
Also at the IMF, I was responsible for the design and implementation of a new digitization workflow for a $1 million digitization project to digitize and make available on the Web historical IMF member country files. My responsibilities involved revising scanning standards, quality control methods, and the material selection, preparation and transportation of documents to an off-site facility.
Meanwhile, at McGill University, I conducted research on behalf of the University Archives on electronic records management and digital preservation (the digitalpermanence project), producing a final report and presenting findings at an international archives conference (ICA-SUV 2005)
Web Design and Content Development
St. John Fisher Parish, Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada
Montreal General Hospital Medical Library
Montreal General Hospital Nurses’ Library
McGill University Archives, “The Journal of William E. Logan, 1845-1846”
McGill University History Portal
McGill University Archives “The History and Tradition Installation, 1823-2003”
McGill University Archives department website
GARM local archivist organization
The DIGITAL Archive blog: Between 2004-2006, chronicled project progress; 2007 to present, a personal blog that reports on digital technology, with a focus on the Web, new media, digitization, digital preservation, and news (and views) related to information professionals in libraries and archives. http://digitalpermanence.blogspot.com/
Arch.i.vi.us blog: From February 2006 to present, aggregates news by and about archivists with a focus on digitization and digital preservation http://archivius.blogspot.com/
Archives*Open blog: A blog about archives, access, community and the Web focusing on how archivists and other professionals in the field are using technology in innovative ways to provide the public with better access to archival materials.
“The Web needs Information Professionals: Are Information Professionals Ready?” AALL Spectrum 6
"Managing and Preserving Electronic Records at McGill University: The digitalpermanence initiative.” ICA/SUV. East Lansing, Michigan, September 6-9, 2005. Available online at http://archives.msu.edu/icasuv/presentations.htm
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
It is located at 1321 Ste-Catherine Ouest, near by to upscale Ogilvy's.
There are some blocks on Ste-Catherine street, the primary shopping street in downtown Montreal, that are in need of serious transformation and revitalization (I hesitate to use the word gentrification), and I hope the Apple Store will do just that to the neighborhood.
Monday, July 21, 2008
- location-based micro-blogging: Blogging on the scene
- location-based social networking: Presence awareness by friends
- location-based information: Contextual information based on immediate surroundings
For the longest time, I have been a Map Geek. I love maps. Road maps, old maps, new maps, Google Maps, Live Maps, and even treasure maps (don't see too many of those nowadays, though). I guess I love maps because they provide their users with so much valuable information in a very clear and precise manner. A basic highway map, for example, which one buys in a pharmacy or orders online through a department of transportation office, are extremely valuable to the weekend traveller hitting the highways.
Navigation solution providers, such as Garmin and TomTom, whose street navigation products use global positioning satellites and digital maps to provide drivers with accurate driving directions and even in some models current traffic conditions, are very popular. Case in point: I recently took a taxi from the airport back to my home. Rather than providing the taxi driver with details on where to exit the highway or where to turn right or left, he simply punched in the destination address (or the closest match) and listened to a smooth female computer voice advise him on driving directions.
As usual, upon seeing this, my brain started thinking.
While these navigational devices target automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and boats, I want to focus on personal navigational systems in a social web context.
With the launch of the Apple iPhone 3G and its Assisted GPS technology, which connects the iPhone 3G to the closest orbiting global positioning satellite, I believe Apple will make GPS, mobile maps, and geographic information systems mainstream and consumer-friendly.
The Apple iPhone 3G (and other advanced phones to come) will be the device on which the following applications will take life.
In the location-based micro-blogging space (a term I made up that has yet to solidify until the A-list bloggers coin a better one), there is Brightkite, "a Denver startup, [that] gives users tools to post about what's going on at a location, meet up with friends, and even, if you want, meet new people in the same place," according to a news article on ars technica. So far, Brightkite is invite-only, so I can add no hands-on knowledge other than to say I like the concept of on the spot location blogging and connecting with friends in the immediate area, but I still would like absolute control over the dissemination of my location to others. For more information, read Brightkite's blog.
In the location-based social networking space, there is a piece of software called Loopt for mobile phones. I never heard of this before until Michael Stephens, the author behind the Tame the Web blog, twittered and eventually posted a screenshot of Loopt in action. Using his iPhone's location (longitude/latitude), the iPhone calulated how far away his friends were from him. Pretty neat. For more information, read Loopt's blog.
In the location-based information space, there is the little-known but impressive-sounding Fire Eagle by Yahoo. According to Yahoo, "Fire Eagle is the secure and stylish way to share your location with sites and services online while giving you unprecedented control over your data and privacy. We're here to make the whole web respond to your location and help you to discover more about the world around you." If Yahoo can deliver on this promise, this location-based web service would be a very interesting development. Like Brightkite, Fire Eagle is invite-only. There is more information available on the web, however. A blog called Pointbeing.net has an interesting post on Fire Eagle.
In the not so distant future, when all the above have matured, I envision the following scenario. I am walking downtown, in a big city, and I want to know information about my surroundings based on my immediate location. Using my cell phone (could be an iPhone or another advanced phone), I open a location-based application (software or web-based) that shows me a dynamic map. On this map, I see my avatar blinking at the exact street location where I find myself. I activate the map's shopping layer and, based upon my preferences, the map blooms with store locations dotting my surrounding area. The information would be tailored to my needs. I then activate the map's food layer and, based once again on my preferences, the closest restaurants appear on the map. I then I activate the map's friends layer, and lo and behold, I see that there are two people I know at a coffee shop two blocks away. Maybe we could meetup and have supper at a Thai restaurant. It's only a phone call away. And this would only be the tip of the iceberg.
It is clear we live in an increasingly mobile world. Laptops are outselling desktops; cell phones are becoming more advanced; communication among people on the move is proliferating. The next frontier is to deliver actionable information to people based on none other than those three magic words: location, location, location.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Girly_Love: The micro-blogging site? Yeah, sure. Use it a lot.
Web_Guy: Yeah, well, the site's been down so frequently--and I mean, so frequently that the folks over at Twitter post a picture of a whale being lifted by the little Twitter birds to notify users that there are problems. So that's been happening so often, that we now say Fail Whale to represent anything technical that fails.
Girly_Love: Fail Whale. Poor thing. Poor Twitter.
Web_Guy: Yeah, I know, it's rough being Web 2.0. Users are in control. What they want is what they get, 24 hours a day, 7 days week, even if the site's infrastructure cannot handle the load. It's gotta be running or else. :P
Girly_Love: You'd think they would have anticipated these things. :D
Web_Guy: Yeah, you'd think. But, man, nobody thought Twitter would fly. Seriously.
Girly_Love: Oh my God. I see what's wrong. They forgot to add beta to Twitter. Look, see? No beta. ;-)
Web_Guy: You're right. [LOL]
Girly_Love: Hey, check it out. I got an iPhone 3G. Isn't he so cute? I call him iPhoney Maloney.
Web_Guy: Sweet. Too expensive for me, though. What did you say you called it...?
Girly_Love: iPhoney Maloney. I used to call him iBrick because that's what it was after I bought it and could not download the updates to the firmware. It basically became a brick. An iBrick.
Web_Guy: Rough. What happened?
Girly_Love: You know, the iTunes servers crashed and burned. They couldn't handle the demand of thousands and thousands of users.
Web_Guy: Epic Fail.
Girly_Love: Totally Epic Fail. So horrible. Sigh. But I so love my iPhone. He's so touchy. [grin]
Web_Guy: Oh puh-lease. Listen, I gotta roll. Gonna try and download Firefox 3. Rave reviews, but on download day, the...
Girly_Love: ...the servers crashed and burned. Yep, I heard. Good luck.
Web_Guy: Thanks. No more Fail Whales or Epic Fails--
Blogger Error 7x4365 - Unable to Post Blog. Try Again Later.
Friday, July 11, 2008
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Canada's public film producer and distributor, recently launched beta.NFB.ca, a website created to showcase the Film Board's wealth of films, documentaries, animated shorts, trailers, news clips, and other productions found in its 70 year old vaults.
According to the beta.NFB.ca website, whose "mission is to make these films accessible to all Canadians," there are so far 300 full-length films and clips digitized and ready to view on the website. Furthermore, beta.NFB.ca intends on adding more films every week. The website explains that this "project was facilitated by Canadian Culture Online, which has been helping us [NFB] to digitize our film collection since 2001."
Although the website is currently in proverbial Web 2.0 beta, the website nonetheless has some very promising and impressive Web 2.0 features. Besides offering high-quality streaming video, in addition to a robust hardware and software set-up (details here), the website has these notable user-centric features:
- Browse documentaries and animated films or search them by keyword search;
- Film selection is accompanied by a related films column (similar to YouTube) and a descriptive note by a Film Board curator, if available;
- Favorite films can be given a thumbs up (recommended) and shared with the social Web via such popular tools as delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, or FaceBook, or be embedded in one's website or blog, or shared by email;
- Viewing history panel is available resembling a roll of film (some work could be done on this);
- Three RSS feeds;
- News blog updating site additons and changes.
The beta.NFB.ca website looks and feels very good. The black background color invokes a movie theater, highlighting the films. The website's main navigation is clean and simple with four primary categories. As the user drills down, more navigation choices emerge but thankfully remain simple on all levels. A reasonably rugged search engine is available, though I found browsing for films more successful and rewarding. Speaking of browsing, the labels attributed to the four categories are intuitive, though I would recommend replacing "Explore All Films" with "Browse All Films."
Overall, this is a very slick web production, one that Canadians should be proud of - and the rest of the world can thoroughly enjoy.
You think you know Canada, eh? Well spend a few minutes (or hours) here and you'll learn something new. Guaranteed.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
About two years ago, I started arch.i.vi.us, a Web 2.0 experiment to aggregate news, blogs, and more recently Twitter tweets that discuss digitization and digital preservation from an archivist perspective.
In recent months, I have tweaked the settings on my news and blog feeds and added Twitter tweets using a service called Summize. The results have been astonishing!
- News about digitization and digital preservation from around the world
- Blog postings from fresh voices in the blogosphere
- Twitter tweets from archivists twittering away
Whenever I visit the page, there is something new that catches my interest.
I dislike plugging my other blog in this way, but I believe, now more than ever, the arch.i.vi.us blog is worth a look.
On the heels of this survey question, Kate is launching another: "Does your job title have the word “archivist” in it?” Be sure to take a few minutes to respond.
Speaking of job titles and jobs, I conducted a survey back in May asking people in the fields of libraries and archives what was their employment status. The results revealed that 66% of respondents had a permanent position with a benefits package.
Now, taking Kate's survey on SAA attendance, which I will categorize in my mind as professional development, and my own survey on employment status, something clear emerges. At least it does for me.
Unemployed and underemployed archivists or other records related professionals should demand more from their future or current employer. First, if having a permanent position is important, then unemployed archivists should seek out permanent positions. I know, there are bills to pay now, but short-term contracts without benefits simply short-change us professionals in the end. As I often remind myself, "Short-term gain, long-term loss."
Second, if professional development and attending conferences are important, then archivists should request and make it clear to employers that professional work is a two-way street. A professional cannot give and give and receive nothing in return. There must be opportunities to learn.
These requests are not pie-in-the-sky unattainable. Hardly. Look at the survey results again (here and here); as small a sample as they were, relatively speaking, they still revealed evidence that permanence and professional development are elements that unemployed and underemployed archivists can no longer set aside.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Monday, July 07, 2008
One caveat: I was able to follow the minute by minute reactions and observations as long as Twitter remained stable.
Sadly, Twitter was acting a little flaky, as in sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. I would not go as far and say Twitter suffered a massive outage, like other times, but the service was and remains unstable.
I'm calling Twitter's recent woes growing pains. The Twitter infrastructure is new and clearly cannot handle a 24/7 onslaught of messages from thousands and thousands of users across the globe every minute of the day.
In the aftermath of these recent reliability issues, there is a small but growing movement among the micro-blogging community to switch to new, more reliable services that offer the same and perhaps even more features and functionality. [Read the TechCrunch article.]
One such exodus is to FriendFeed, a social media aggregator that allows users to post messages and comments, befriend other users and grow social networks, and link to photos and videos. Furthermore, FriendFeed aggregates (or shares) content from popular online services such as Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, and from your personal blog. In total, FriendFeed can aggregate content from 41 services. If one has an account with any one of these services, one can add content to his or her FriendFeed feed.
Not too shabby!
But is it worth leaving Twitter?
When the hype surrounding FriendFeed started with a few high-profile bloggers, I decided to create a FriendFeed account.
What I immediately liked about FriendFeed was its ability to aggregate content from my other social media/networking sites, such as my Flickr photo stream, The DIGITAL Archive and ar.ch.i.vi.us blog feeds, Digg, as well as my Twitter tweets, and present them on a clean dynamic page to be shared with everyone, including friends.
Another feature I like is the ability to comment on people's postings. In my opinion, it's a lot more cleaner and streamlined than Twitter. Finally, I can create virtual rooms in which other users can join and discuss and share items of relevance to the room.
So, that said, should we delete our Twitter accounts and move to greener pastures? No, I believe we should not delete anything just yet. Twitter is still tops in my book because it introduced an innovative communication tool. The brain trust that concocted this must have more plans in mind, but putting out infrastructure fires is placing a huge strain on creativity. Twitter must become more stable and reliable--and introduce new features--lest it end up in that great heap called "great ideas, poor execution."
In an ironic twist, the exodus to other micro-blogging services such as FriendFeed may help alleviate the pressure on Twitter, as Jill-Hurst Wahl commented in a recent tweet, and allow the company to resolve its problems and re-energize its creative juices.
about the author
- David Kemper
- 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.