Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Staying connected

This week, thing 4 is all about current awareness via tools such as Twitter, RSS feeds and Pushnote.

I signed up to Twitter two years ago, and tweeted a grand total of 5 times in the first six months. No one I knew used it, so I followed my interests - bands, events, venues, comedians, and general arts media. I glanced at it occasionally to see what was going on, a bit like the glossy supplement in the weekend papers, but I couldn't see where I fitted in. I later realised that Twitter doesn't make sense until you have followers.

My first use of Twitter at a library conference changed everything - and I would recommend it to anyone. It might take a while to get the hang of typing and listening simultaneously, but it is worth it.

Why you should tweet at conferences:

  • Tweeting allows those who can't attend to receive a point-by-point feed during the presentations from those in attendance. I now follow all conferences that interest me from my desk, six or seven so far this year, whereas in the past I would have to be content with picking just one to attend, if I'm lucky. With budget restrictions tightening throughout the sector, this is a very welcome development. 
  • You know those indecipherable notes you take and almost immediately lose? The ideas, impetus and enthusiasm you had when surrounded by a forum of like-minded individuals which inevitably passes on returning to the daily grind? No more of that - you have an online record, not just of your own tweets made in the moment, but those of others. For anyone who has to draw up a conference report on returning to work, to justify the funds spent, or for chartership/registration purposes, this is invaluable.
  • Develop an instant network of professionals working in your area - follow all those tweeting and they will usually follow you back. Now the conference can continue long after the event itself, and you will have made some valuable contacts.

After the conference I found myself with actual followers. Then it happened - the first time I was mentioned. I was hooked from then on - I was talking, people were listening, and talking back - a genuine multi-way network was taking shape. My followers were retweeting my content, and their followers began following me. I wanted to add to my numbers, and went follow crazy for a few days. When I realised I couldn't keep up with the feed, I dropped all the celebrity/media stuff, and retained solely library/information people who regularly conference tweet and are otherwise helpful and informed. I still purge occasionally, so if you've made the cut, feel proud! If you're new to using Twitter to keep up with library news here are some of the top people I follow, in no particular order:


RSS feeds - I must admit to being entirely ignorant of these until setting up this blog a couple of weeks ago. I'm using Google Reader, and have added a few blogs to it. It seems straightforward enough, but I'm not sure I'll remember to check it all that often - I think I'd prefer some sort of email digest which is forcibly pushed at me at intervals.

Pushnote - Hmmm. I don't get it. No one I know seems to be using it. Browsing some other CPD23 blogs, I don't think I'm alone in this. Though I felt the same about Twitter, so I will wait to be proved wrong : )

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's an esteemed list I've snuck into there. Thanks for the mention!