In My World…

I need to just rant more.    Obviously, I am not keeping up with my blogging very well, although my Twitter account is doing ok.   Anyway, maybe the occasional asinine opinion piece will help me get back into the blogosphere somehow.   Because I miss it.  Truly, I do!

I’ve been noticing quite a few things about the world that really just rile me hard.    So here is a list of thing that would happen if I owned the world:

If I owned the world:

  • Kids under 12 would not be allowed to wear clothes they are not allowed to get dirty.   Their ‘good’ clothes would be as affordable as second hand clothes.
  • ‘Prorogue‘ would be delicious dipped in sour cream and sriracha.
  • Most conferences would be un-
  • Jane Siberry would come to Halifax more often.
  • People would see debate for what it is, and get a life accordingly.
  • Anonymity would be used to benefit humankind, rather than mere internet cowardice.
  • Internet and Tech knowledge would be seen as ‘regular business’ rather than ‘something for techies to do.’
  • Curiosity would trump complaining (yes, yes, I know that I am undermining everything I’m saying here).
  • People would realize that I am actually a technophobe with a sense of responsibility.

That’s it for now.  I don’t want to complain too much on this blog.   Hopefully I’ll get around to putting out something useful and wise.  Until then – what rules would you make if you owned the world?

A Little Teamwork Helps Reach Some Big Goals

2009_1210hockey0008

Originally uploaded by maritimes online.

I am passionate about librarianship and social media, but when it comes down to the wire, I really truly madly deeply love playing sports with kids. And make no mistake, this crowd looks like they are just a bunch of kids with hockey gear on, but I can guarantee a few things:

– You cannot score on the big goalie in the center.
– You cannot keep the young man dead centre from scoring top corner on any goalie.
– The little girl in the front will have the ball away from you, passed on and in your net before you even know what happened.
– You cannot thank the two guys on the left enough. They are from Old Navy and they gave us new equipment and Jerseys so we can keep playing hard.
– You need to drop lots of money into Salvation Army kettles this year, because they are what keeps this program running.

This crowd is seriously tough, folks. Given a little teamwork from the community, they will make big things happen. Consider doing the same thing in yours!

A Kick in the H1N1 (hiney) – or How Social Media Can Help You When the Message Changes

The communications on the H1N1 (aka Hiney) vaccine in Canada has been a mess.    At first the message was ‘everyone should get the vaccine.’   Then it turned into ‘wait we don’t have enough vaccines for everyone, so it’s only young children and people with chronic illnesses.’   Doctors offices are getting calls all over the place.   H1N1 is over-publicized.   H1N1 is a real threat. And, there is actual evidence that Canada may be doing a better job than other countries at getting the vaccines out.

Some will argue that the problem is poor communication planning.   These problems  are no different from any communication problems.   Key messages change all the time.   Being prepared to change direction is all part of the PR game.   But I bet the people responsible here planned the heck out of this program.   I bet they had a communications plan that could make even the best firms blush at their prowess.   What they did not expect – and should have – is that the public expects faster, more personal and transparent responses to important public messages.   The public expects social media.

Here’s how an advanced social media plan would have benefitted the H1N1 campaign, even after all the messages changed.

Social Media is Fast

Twitter, Facebook, a blog, YouTube and other things like it bring out a message very quickly and easily.    That means the H1N1 message could have gotten out sooner, and offered an open and honest dialogue with the public about the risks, benefits and requirements for citizens to get the vaccine.   All of this could have happened *before* the big marketing push went out and got people all excited, and it could have switched gears as soon as people knew there were going to be problems with the supply.

Social Media Won’t Play “GOTCHA!”

People online like to bitch and complain.   They are skeptical and even jerky sometimes.   But one thing they tend not to do (because they will get their backsides whipped for it) is try and trap someone into a cheap gaffe just to sell newspapers.    If they do, political folks can call them on it easily and quickly.   In Canada, Health Care is political – there’s no end to how social media could have improved the message.

Social Media Builds Trust

The public will always be more receptive to changes in the message if they trust the source that’s saying it.    A clear, traceable road to the process of building, preparing, and distributing the vaccine would have been both inexpensive and indispensible to the messsage later on.

Let Networks Work For You

Having respected Health Professionals onside as the message was getting out would have been equally indispensable, and social media could have done a great deal to help establish those networks.   Networks can clear up questions before you have to, and maybe clarify things that you haven’t really been clear on (hey, nobody’s perfect) in a fair, constructive manner.

Social Media is Timely

Locally, both Capital Health and the IWK have made fair attempts at keeping their public informed about the wait times and availability of vaccines on Twitter.   It’s a modest effort, but an appreciated one, taking advantage of the timely nature of social media to keep the public informed.

Social Media Efforts Receive Feedback

If you are getting it wrong, your network will let you know.   Also, in the spirit of “there are no dumb questions – maybe someone else had that question but was afraid to ask,” the social media folks could have responded to some of those more nitpicky details without bulking up those press releases.

Social Media is Not the Same as Hype

Don’t believe what the media tells you.   Twitter did not ‘light up’ with all kinds of hype about H1N1.   The hype came from media outlets trying to sell news.   And when people told them that H1N1 was overhyped, they turned that into a news story too.   Social Media does not really get all excited about controversy.    People have opinions and sometimes it can be hard to filter through them all, but it doesn’t thrive on the kind of ‘fight or flight’ energy that traditional media does.

Social Media Thinks Long-Term

After flu-season is over, a good social media infrastructure could have been shifted into something more broad reaching.   For example, a communications effort to prevent all infectious disease.

Social Media Appreciates a Good Laugh

Social media give the messenger an opportunity to laugh at him or herself without losing credibility in ways that the traditional media does not.     People respond to joy.    They change their behaviors because of joy – even moreso than they do with fear.  Why not bring more joy into people’s lives?

In short, institutions with millions or billions of dollars in budgets cannot afford to let themselves down by ignoring social media in their communication plans.   At most, what I have proposed here would have cost $100,000 in staff time and expertise.   I am sure the H1N1 campaign had plenty more of that at their disposal and a big mess on their hands to show for it.

Creative Commons Touque / Toque / Hat

I love knitting.   I love the Creative Commons.   I hope wearing this hat will get people asking me about what Creative Commons is.

Do you want to learn more about Creative Commons too?   Ok.  Try:

Also, I should make a note that the Creative Commons logo is not a creative commons licensed item.   I did ask permission to use it and got a ‘no – but do you really think we would want to put the resources into suing someone who is going to knit a creative commons hat with no intention to make a profit from it?’ response.   In short, if you want to make your own creative commons hat, you should do it in such a way that will not make the CC organization want to put resources into suing you.   They are an open organization, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out how to keep that from happening!

Four Gaming Sites to Destroy Your Social Life

I love online flash games.    The last time I owned a gaming console was back in the early 80s with Atari.   Seriously (though I would occasionally rent Supernintendo in the late 80s).

Finally, I am going to share the sites I know and love:

Kongregate

Maybe not always appropriate for small children (the chat has some potty-mouthing by 13 year olds, and some of the games are a tad violent), Kongregate is a standard site where budding and professional flash gamers strut their stuff.   As a bonus, the site offers “achievements” that you can perform (eg. get a certain score, pass a certain level or defeat a certain boss) to earn points that increase your “level” which in turn gives you additional street cred.

Games I like:  Music Catch ,  Gemcraft Level 0, Morningstar

Miniclip Games

Definitely more kid-friendly than kongregate, although I find some of the games a little bit too “advertisey” – meaning that they appear to have a specific commercial interest in mind.   There also seems to be a trend toward sprite-style games with neo-16 bit graphics.   Still, it is a standard and a good number of my favorite games are here.

Games I like:  Raft Wars, Bloxorz, Extreme Pamploma

Popcap

Popcap is unique in that they offer downloadable versions of their games – trial versions for free and then full versions for sale.   You can also just play their games online.    In general the focus seems to be around puzzle-style games, but they are very well designed and fun for just about everyone.

Games I like:  Bookworm

Newgrounds

This site is definitely not for small children without parental supervision, but it has definitely been one of my favorites for a long time.   Tom Fulp started the site with some rather riske flash animations and games (the site was very popular for a game that was a parody of the Columbine shootings), and grew up into a portal for Flash Games and movies showcasing the amazing creativity of internet users.     Make no mistake, many of the entries to the Flash portal still keep the spirit of Tom’s old site (parody, violence etc), but there are also ratings to help make sure you know when the offensive material is going to appear.

Games I like:  Portal Defenders (Ages 17+), Little Wheel (all ages), Exmortis 2 (Horror Game 17+)

What gaming sites do you like?

Twitter as Platform – 5 Essential Peripherals for Librarians

I love Twitter.    It has taken over my passion for blogging (sorry people).    Our library has used it to promote Podcamps, Reading, The June 8th 9th Nova Scotia Election, and that’s just a start.   I also notice a wide range of people trying Twitter once or twice only to reject it because they do not understand it, it doesn’t work for their needs or they just do not want their persona “out there” into the public.

One important way to understand Twitter is that it is just a way to leverage a computer and/or the Internet for social interaction.   That’s right – Twitter is the “tool” and the World Wide Web or your computer is the actual service being offered.   Maybe an analogy will help?   A pot is for cooking, right?   Do you absolutely need a pot to cook?   No – you can cook in a variety of ways – microwave, open flame, barbeque etc etc etc.   The pot merely structures the cooking experience in such as way so that you can use a stove, a ladel, an open fire or whatnot for cooking in a certain (ultimately pleasing) fashion.   The point is that a pot is a tool, and it can work with a wide range of other tools to enhance the cooking experience even further.   The World Wide Web, then is the kitchen where 1) the cooking happens and 2) the wide range of tools are handy to make different kinds of cooking happen.

Twitter then, is only one utensil in a kitchen full of great cooking tools.   You ought to combine these tools to improve the way you diseminate and retrieve information.   Here are five things I like to combine with Twitter to help me do what I need to do effectively.

Bit.ly

Tweetdeck

  • Tweetdeck is a way to get all of your tweets to your desktop, organized according to your preferences.   Twitter searches can be called, groups of people can be queried, you can even filter out groups of people.   As someone with over 1500 followers, many of whom I follow back, Tweetdeck is a total lifesaver.

Friendfeed

  • If you use Twitter, you might as well use friendfeed as well.   Friendfeed will pull in your Twitter statuses and let people comment, like, or otherwise continue the discussion about them.   The only caveat here is that if you only feed your twitter statuses to friendfeed, you are likely to get ignored after a while.

Twitter Search

  • Twitter Search is an amazing tool, and deserves to be mentioned outside of the normal Twitter site.    When I use the advanced search feature, I can get a look at what people are saying about libraries within a 50 mile radius of my locale.    That is powerful data and a great way to learn more about your organization as well as have a speaking point for engaging customers about what services work for them or don’t.

Twitter Sheep

There are countless tools that can leverage Twitter to make the World Wide Web a constantly cooler place to be.   What are your favorite uses for Twitter peripherals?

Podcamps in Libraries

podcamp_large2I have always guessed that unconferences and public libraries are a natural fit.   Now, after Podcamp Halifax, I am absolutely convinced.   If you are a director of a public library, I suggest you drop everything, do a twitter search for “podcamp”, catch the feed in your aggregator and pay attention to who, when and where a podcamp might be happening in your area.   You want to be a part of the experience.   Actually, depending on your community’s needs, you may have a moral and ethical obligation to be part of the experience.

Thanks Dan Robichaud!

When all was said and done, we had over 250 people who said they wanted to come, over 160 who actually did come and we had a top Twitter tag for part of the day and the tally is still running.  Feedback so far has been extremely positive, and people are telling us they want to do it again.   I was in the community news prior to the event, we had some great sponsors who helped us out financially or with their promotion machine, and Andrew Baron of Rocketboom gave one of the most inspiring, interesting and audience-aware talks I’ve seen in a while.   (Take-away:   Be 1) First 2) Best or 3) Most Unique .   If you are two of those, success is likely in the bag.)

The library worked out very well as a podcamp space.   Adding in the Alderney Landing Theatre as a venue was also an excellent idea.   Podcamp started at 9, we held the keynote at 1:30 so we could avoid the Sunday crowd rush at 2pm.   Then back to the library for some cake and coffee and on to the theatre again for a talk by Eden Spodek and Connie Crosby to cap off the day.

But why podcamps  in libraries?   Here are my top-ten reasons:

10.  Unconferences are community-driven events.

9.   People are curious about technology and don’t know where they can learn more.  Our community needed this podcamp!   Libraries should be responding to community need.

8.   Bloggers want to talk about what they love and often don’t have the crowd around them to do so.   cf. the picture of “I am Not Alone!”

7.  Podcamps are events where people share ideas.

6.  They are much, much, much easier than organizing even a particularly small conference.

5.  160 people in attendance for a full day event – a good lot of them said they could not remember the last time they were in a library.

4.  It shows libraries can be innovative in how they use their space.

3.  Libraries and librarians get to learn too.  In fact, staff might learn more about community development from a podcamp than they would from a library conference.

2.  Partnerships – we partnered with organizations that know stuff we do not.   That made for a successful podcamp, but it also made what I do more effective as well.

1.  Fun fun fun fun fun.   Our community walked away smiling from this event.

Of course, an unconference can be done on any subject — it doesn’t have to be social media.   Also, there are many many many more reasons why a library could participate in a unconference in general.   What kind of unconference do you think your community needs?

Also, here are a list of content as I continue to find cool things.

Podcamp Halifax: The Blog

 

Yes, it is true.   Podcamp Halifax has its own blog!   Now you can get the information you need from the podcamping source, instead of from a measly old librarian blog.

 

The Podcamp Halifax Website
The Podcamp Halifax Website

 

One conversation we’d like to start having is what do you want your podcamp sessions to look like?   This is a good time to start throwing out the ideas!