Social Networking

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  • Good afternoon. This is Saskia Mehlhorn, visiting foreign and international law librarian at the University of Houston Law Library. This webcast is part of the American Association of Law Libraries Web 2.0 Challenge 2009 presented by the Computer Services Special Interest Section. I am co-instructor of this weeks featured technologies with Sarah Glassmeyer. Today I’m going to talk about social networking sites, and show the features of a few of them.
  • This slide shows the logos of a variety of social networking sites, some of which you may recognize. We will look at a few of the most popular social networking services. We’ll start with a visit Facebook, followed by LinkedIn, and finish at the Law Libraries and Librarians network at Ning.
  • But first, let’s take a look at a few things all services have in common: * Each service features personal profile pages for each member that its users can customize. * They all help make visible connections between their members, and help them form new connections based on shared interests. * Each service has a built-in way to message other members, public or private depending on the nature of the message. * Most of them have some RSS feeds available, so you can keep up on Network activity using your news reader. * All of the sites have features like groups, forums, picture sharing, and events.
  • There are differences as well, some are rather dull and others are very artistic. Some are geared towards professionals, while others are better for personal connections, and some work for both purposes. In the end some are just more fun than others (in part because of third-party applications and add-ons that are offered by some), and will keep you coming back, while other services sit in the background until you need them.
  • Our first in-depth stop is Facebook. Facebook was started by Harvard undergrads from their dorm, branching out to other colleges and universities, and opening to the general public in late 2006. To sign up for Facebook, you start with this simple form on their site. Don’t worry about inputting your birthday—you will have the option later to hide the year! After you confirm you account, you can begin customizing your profile. The data you choose to input may depend somewhat on whether you plan to use Facebook to connect with friends or with colleagues or students
  • After you finish your profile, it is important in every social networking site to check that you’re comfortable with the privacy settings. Many sites leave your information open by default. I suggest restricting most everything to friends only. You can also customize what sort of actions are reported in your mini-feed, or list of activity you’ve done within the network. You may want to uncheck the “show times in my mini-feed” box. Not everyone needs to know that you spent three hours updating your profile!
  • This is what my main page of Facebook looks like logged in. There’s a section for my status update, a bar that opens intro, photos, etc. and some messages from family and friends. To find someone you know on Facebook, you can search for them by name, or just by occupation. For example, a search on law librarian pulls up 63 names. Click on the groups tab, and you will see that there are also some groups devoted to law librarians and libraries.
  • This is the page for the law librarians group. There are some discussion board topics, a list of members, and some related groups to explore.
  • Several law libraries have created Facebook pages. This slide shows some of them. Patrons of the law libraries can become “fans” of their libraries’ page.
  • Our next network on the social networking tour is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional social networking site geared to connecting with colleagues rather than friends. Its profiles are essentially resumes. To join LinkedIn, you start with a short form like Facebook, then confirm your account and start building your profile with career and education history. There are a few other fields that you can customize your account with, and you can include a picture, but there are no add-ons.
  • Since LinkedIn also contains personal information, you will want to look at all the privacy settings to make sure your profile is protected.
  • This slide is LinkedIn’s main page. Like Facebook, it contains a newsfeed of your contacts activities. You can subscribe to this RSS feed, which is useful for glimpsing who your contacts are connecting with.
  • LinkedIn provides a nice directory of your connections, essentially an online rolodex. You can also check out the connections of your contacts for referrals, seeking expertise, or job-hunting purposes. It also calculates how many people are within a few degrees away through your network.
  • There is little truly social content on LinkedIn once you are connected, though there are some opportunities to interact in the Answers part of the site. This Answers page shows some legal questions that have been posted.
  • Although there are groups on LinkedIn, they are basically just member directories with no additional social features. There is a listing of the groups, but no way to search for them, so I’ve found it easier to find them by looking at the groups my contacts are in. LinkedIn is most useful if you want a way to connect online in a purely professional manner. Our last stop is Ning. Ning is a service that enables you to create a social network for any topic or interest.
  • Over a year ago, Jim Milles of the University at Buffalo created the Law Libraries and Librarians group on Ning, and this network has proven very popular.
  • As with the other services, each member has a profile page to customize, and you should go into My Settings to check the privacy settings. Other features Ning has in common with the other services is a feed of the Latest Activity that you can subscribe to, groups for special interests, and the ability to see who is connected to whom. Currently there are over 600 law librarians in this group. Ning can be used in a variety of ways and its networks can be public or private. One law library uses a private Ning site for its Intranet. Association chapters like ALLUNY and SFALL have also started private Ning networks to communicate and share information among their memberships.
  • Before we finish, I’d like to give you some tips for social networking. The first is always be aware of the need to customize privacy settings so that you’re comfortable with them. You may want to check on them periodically. Sometimes they can be hard to find, but look for the RSS feeds. They’ll help you keep up with the network and stay involved with it. When customizing your profiles, take a look at what friends and colleagues have done. It’s okay to connect with people you haven’t met live, but if you’re not sure they know you, include a message in the connection request letting them know why you want to connect. If you’re creating a Facebook or MySpace page for your library, steal ideas from other libraries. Adapt them or be inspired by them to do something new. We all learn from each other this way. Finally, explore the applications and services that you can add to your social networking profile or page.
  • What’s next for your in social networking? Here are a few ideas…. Networking with friends, colleagues, family members Building relationships. Though they seem frivolous, some of the games on Facebook are a great catalyst for getting to know colleagues on a personal level outside of conferences. Explore whether and how your patrons are using the services. Social networking sites contain a lot of information and we are the information experts. How can we help our users navigate these new portals? You might consider creating a page or presence for your library. Check to see whether your chapter or SIS has a social networking presence and join it. If there isn’t one, maybe you can create it. Follow whatever new ideas come to you as you explore this week. You never know what you’ll come up. This has been Saskia Mehlhorn for the AALL CS-SIS Web 2.0 Challenge. Thank you for listening.

Transcript

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  • 3. Common features
    • Personal profile page
    • Picture sharing
    • Events and forums
    • Groups
    • Third-party applications
    • Add-ons for customization of profile
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  • 18. Keep in mind
    • To check and use the privacy setting
    • To look for and utilize RSS feeds
    • When creating a presence for your library it’s ok to copy what other libraries have done 
    • To explore and make usage of the applications offered
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