CPD23 Thing 8: Google Calendar

Erin’s Thing 8 blogpost

We use Google calendar at work so this was a pretty quick Thing for me! Cloud computing has really opened up the way we work as a department.

We’ve always compiled events diaries but the software previously was clunky and the major benefit, as Erin said, is that Google calendars can be accessed from any computer/smartphone as long as you have an internet connection. We share our diaries with various departments across the organisation.

We use a calendar to help compile the From the Archive series too. It’s an ‘on this day’ type column that runs on the leader page of the Guardian every day. We use the Google calendar, which is only shared within the department, to track who is researching which date (we send them a week in advance) and to post any ideas we have for upcoming dates. It’s really made the process much easier.

To do

Reading the Thing post and responses from other participants (Bethan’s post was particularly useful) has highlighted a few ways I could develop my use of Google calendars. I’m going to start a calendar for my Chartership portfolio, so I can track events easily; and I’m going to look into Twistory.

CPD23 Thing 6: Online networks

Helen’s post on Thing 6

I think I’m quite up on social networking – I’ve been using the web to communicate since uni – but I haven’t applied much of it to my working life before now and as my department raises its online profile I feel a bit like I’m playing catch-up.

Because I work for a company that has a big online presence (hello Guardian website) the need for online networking as a department is limited. I can see the benefits to a public library of having a Facebook page for example, but not a private one like ours, and if we  need to connect online we have a blog and a Twitter account.

I’m working on raising my professional profile and involvement though, and that’s where social networking will hopefully come into its own for me.

As for Google +, I’ve not had a proper look around it and maybe if enough people defect it will become the standard, but I’m a bit unsure of a social platform that is trying to be all things to all people. Will anyone bother to adopt it fully or will they keep using it alongside all the other networks? I’m not sure I’ve got space in my life for yet another site.

Twitter

My main online network in terms of work is Twitter. I use my personal account to follow other librarians, engage in discussions (not always about cake) and find out about new articles.

We also have a work account which we use to spread the word about blog posts and the From the Archive series, but it tends to be a one-way conversation so our use of it isn’t particularly social! That’s something I can work on.

LinkedIn

I’m a member of LinkedIn but I don’t think I get the most out of it. As with the sites we looked at in Thing 4, my approach has been a bit haphazard and I need to develop my network further – I’ve not followed through all the second degree links, and I’m sure there are good professional contacts waiting to be made.

I’m a member of a couple of groups but again I haven’t explored it fully. The most useful one so far has been LIKE (London Information and Knowledge Exchange), who organise talks and networking events for info pros. I went to my first LIKE event last week (see Thing 6) and will definitely be going back.

The profiles in Helen’s post were really useful and I’ll be ‘sexing up’ my profile as soon as I get a moment! I’ll join a few other groups too.

Facebook

There aren’t many online spaces I can keep purely personal, so I use Facebook as a social space for friends only. Not that I post anything I wouldn’t want professional contacts to see! As a corporate library I don’t think it would benefit my department to be on there either. I definitely agree with the “Facebook is the backyard BBQ” mantra.

LISNPN

I’d heard about LISNPN but I’d assumed it was for newly qualified professionals, not old hands like me, so it’s exciting that I can join too! I’m wary of joining too many networks – I already find it hard to keep track of everything I do online – but I’ll definitely be checking them out.

To do list:

  • Improve my LinkedIn profile
  • Connect to everyone I’ve met professionally on LinkedIn
  • Join a few LinkedIn groups
  • Join LISNPN

CPD23 Thing 5: Reflections on reflecting

River in Bellingham

I originally set this blog up for reflective writing towards my Chartership portfolio, but I let it slide quite quickly. I tend to get so bogged down in day to day tasks and library events, and writing about them, that I don’t get round to reflecting, or applying any lessons I could learn.

I found reflective theory a tad confusing when I first looked into it! There are so many methods, some more philosophical than others, that I wasn’t sure I’d really grasped it. I have a tendency to waffle, too, which isn’t always useful!

So it was reassuring to read this week’s Thing! Beneath the theorising it really comes down to assessing what you’ve done, working out how you can learn from it and then acting on it. I like the Borton example on the CPD23 post, which keeps it simple – What? So what? Now what?

I was also reassured that I don’t need to reflect on absolutely everything I do. I think I’ve failed in the past because I’ve not been selective enough, so from now on I’m going to pick and choose the events that could really influence how I work.

So, how can I reflect on CPD23 so far? Applying the Borton model and Emma’s evaluation process to Thing 3 – personal branding:

  • What?

- CPD23 module on branding

  • So what?

What did you learn? – personal brand can be a powerful professional tool if done properly; it’s important to have the same identity across different online platforms; the tone you take online can depend on the role you do and the field you work in (working in media, I can get away with a ‘profersonal’ approach); I need to unify my online brand – I have a split personality!

What worked well? – the Google check showed that my brand is strong; a profersonal approach is suited to my role

What, if anything, went wrong? – this blog didn’t rank highly on Google – my professional brand is linked closely to my job; my photo and name differ across platforms; my blog doesn’t reflect the professional me at all

What would you change? – redesign my blog to reflect its purpose; make my photo consistent across professional platforms (Twitter, blog); think about my brand before I tweet/blog – think about professional audience

What (potential) impact could this have in your workplace? – not really directly applicable to work – my employers control my external profile, branding – but could help to establish a professional profile outside of work; get more involved/recognised in professional sphere

  • Now what?

- select a photograph to use on Twitter and blog that a) looks like me and b) is professional

- redesign this blog to better represent its purpose – a) relevant header photo and b) nicer layout and background, that can be extended to other platforms as and when (don’t have business cards yet!)

- think about the potential audience before I tweet/blog – I’ve a tendency to post off the cuff, but I need to a) make sure the tone is suitably professional and b) be more selective about what I tweet

  • Reflecting on actions

Have I been successful in improving the weaknesses I identified? Yes – I’ve found a photo I’m happy with, and I’m treating Twitter a lot more professionally (in conjunction with Thing 4, which nudged me to organise my online presence). I’ve started to redesign this blog too, with a new theme, colour scheme and header. It’s a work in progress though, I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

Another mammoth CPD23 blogpost! And by writing about reflective practice, I’ve reflected on my reflective practice, and so the circle begins again…

Martin Belam on the editorial pitfalls when digital and print collide

Martin Belam has flagged up one of the dangers of online reporting over on curreybetdotnet.

Yesterday’s Times website headline for the Sean Hoare story, Hacking whistleblower found dead, was unfortunately prepended with the ‘Live’ tag, leading, as Martin says, to the formula “Live: Someone is dead”.

the perfect example of something that wouldn’t be allowed to happen in print, but which hits a magic Venn diagram intersection of technology, editorial and information architecture allowing it to happen digitally.

Martin suggests adding more options for prepends – ‘Breaking’ or ‘Latest’ for example, which would remove the unintentional pun in the headline for such a tragic story.

It’s clear that more consideration needs to be given to traditional page layout when information architects, who are often far removed from the reporting process, are working in the media sphere.

Umbrella conference: Beyond Web 2.0 session

Nick Stopworth (@nickstopforth), Developing libraries online

Notes:

New technologies have a ‘hype cycle’ – a typical life cycle from inflated expectations, through disillusionment to an eventual plateau (as seen with Twitter at the mo). You don’t want to jump onto the bandwagon of a tool just to find it loses popularity. The trick is to roll with the flow then jump to the next platform before people lose interest.

Some interesting developments in technology that can benefit libraries – Internet of Things, context-aware computing, location-based data, tablets, open source data, QR codes (nice tattoo!). They’re not all for everyone – beware of “social network overload”, privacy issues – but libraries “need to position themselves with the big players”, see what you can do.

Reflections:

I agree that libraries should consider carefully before they adopt a new technology – do they have the time and manpower to dedicate to it? Will it really benefit their users? You don’t have to be on Twitter just because it seems like everyone else is! At work we have a blog and a Twitter account but we aren’t involved in Facebook at all because that wouldn’t be particularly useful to us.

I’m a bit wary of the idea that you can platform-hop though, keeping up with the latest trends in technology or sites. Nick raised some really interesting new developments but there are risks involved in adopting something that doesn’t take off, or of giving yourself too much work to do – having to update information on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+… We found that when we first took to blogging as a department years ago, and it’s only now that we have a well-designed blog with a clear remit that it works for us.

Alan Brine, Beyond Pathfinder – currency of staff IT skills

At De Montford they undertook a staff audit of IT skills to spot gaps in knowledge, where they need to learn new skills.

IT skills matrix

  • review feedback
  • collate IT queries and enquiry desk queries -> matrix
  • intranet staff survey (did it twice – it’s important to update and build on the first attempt)
  • study results
  • prioritise, target the important ones
  • team manager looks at the list, addresses problems, feeds into appraisal, solve problems
  • gaps – bespoke areas (Other…), quite specific
  • Basic matrix – SKILL   /   I CAN   /   NEED REMINDING   /   I CAN’T

Solutions

  • review group
  • training sessions
  • staff who can show each other ad hoc
  • wikis – how to…
  • printed guides

Wiki – the67things – keeps growing to meet the changing needs of users. The wiki provides information as needed in nuggets, rather than as a deluge as with large training sessions.

Reflections

I definitely want to adopt the wiki idea – we have all sorts of how to… documents at work on individual tasks, but no central store. There are definite gaps – everyone knows how to do different tasks, but we’re not always good at sharing that knowledge.

Umbrella conference: Ian Rowlands, The Google Generation

Intentionally or not, Ian Rowlands built on Nigel Ford’s talk that preceded him, reinforcing the point that researchers and practitioners need to work more closely together.

The original CIBER research that Rowlands and colleagues launched at UCL consisted purely of deep log analysis (DLA), studying comprehensive data showing how people use the web. But although the research was rigorous and reliable (reflecting what the participants did, not what they remembered selectively), it gave no context – researchers could determine what web users did but not why.

Now, CIBER is combining the ‘science’ of research with the ‘art’ of practice by surveying web users to find out about their behaviour, and what the DLA tells them. The hope is that by combining log analysis data on users’ search sessions with questionnaires on how users see their web behaviour, researchers can begin to make value judgments on how we use the web, and help to reshape info systems.

Ian Rowlands was my tutor at City when I did my Masters (not that he’d remember me!), before the team moved to UCL, so some of the content was familiar. It’ll be interesting to see the results of the behaviour survey and whether information providers need to change the way systems are navigated in the wake of Google.

I think as practitioners we sometimes like to think we know best, but what makes sense to a trained researcher isn’t always clear to everyone! I’ve definitely been guilty of that in the past. Meeting user needs is surely key for info pros, even if their approach seems counter-intuitive to us. And if there really is a gap in research knowledge now Google is dominant we are surely best placed to train users.

Notes on the presentation:

DLA tells us how we search the web:

  • horizontal web seeking – tend to skim across info, don’t go deep – stickiness is an issue
  • navigating – users spend more time looking around a site than they do looking at the content
  • power browsing – rapid clicking, impatient, very short dwell times

Rowlands says there is a “sense of ‘moral panic’ – that young people are not as disciplined as we were, that we’re losing the sense of the library as a place of quiet contemplation.” Nicholas Carr posed the question, “Is Google making us stupid?” – is it changing the way we think? Rowlands says there is some evidence to suggest that “our brains are changing with our emersion in the digital space”.

If the evidence shows there is a Google Generation – defined as those born after 1993 who have grown up with Google – who experience digital libraries differently to previous generations, then libraries need to adopt different learning strategies now that they are reaching university.

  • don’t read the manual first – learn by having a go
  • not good at deep research, evaluating info once they’ve found it
  • not good at using other technology (misperception that they’re totally tech-savvy)

However, a British Library study showed that there is no significant difference between the generations, and that we have all changed in the wake of Google-type web searching:

  • the apparent facility of technology is not true, and is very basic
  • research characterised by speed and lack of evaulation
  • prefer simple solutions, routes eg Google, Yahoo
  • don’t find library-sponsored resources intuitive
  • don’t understand their information needs

Web behaviour surveys

CIBER paired with BBC Lab UK to conduct a web behaviour test, which is still ongoing. Stanford are also looking at the psychology side.The survey looks at two questions:

  1. Testing Google ‘first-click’ behaviour – habit of selecting first result, not delving deeper, lazy searching – trying to see how influential rank is vs the info content – are they making an informed choice, evaluating the info? Is there a perceived authority in the info provider if it’s a trusted brand? Or are they just trusting the algorithm of Google? Users are provided with results to health questions in a random order, stripped of the links and references; and then with the reference given, to see if behaviour changes.
  2. Are there demographic and age factors linked to searching – terms used, time spent on task, confidence in results? Do generations negotiate the web differently? Do we all “walk individually or in groups through digital space”? And if methods are different depending on your demographic, “could we shape an info system to reflect this”?

Results are expected next year.

CPD23 Thing 4 follow-up

Before I get started on Thing 5 (late!) I need to follow through on the challenges I set in Thing 4 – current awareness. I didn’t do too badly but I’m still trying to balance how much information I need to read to keep up to date with actually, you know, having a life!

I find it trickier now I work part time – I’m great at keeping a hand in at the start of the week, but after Wednesday I’m restricted to checking blogs, Twitter etc after hours, and I don’t want to spend every evening plugged in! By the time Monday rolls back round I’ve missed the boat on at least one interesting discussion. I’m starting to think I need a smartphone, but then my husband and kids would probably lose me altogether.

I’ve not checked out Pushnote yet (it’ll have to be Monday at work), but I have reorganised my Twitter account by creating separate lists for librarian-related people, journalism and other random bods. Hopefully it means I’ll be able to filter my stream depending which mode I’m in. I’ve also weeded out most of the celebs, so now it’s mainly professional (not entirely though, where’s the fun in that?).

I’ve set up Google Reader as well, so now I get RSS feeds of all the blogs I read regularly. Not that I’m up to date with the reading part but it’s a start, right?

I’ve not worked out whether to use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite yet either. Let’s hope Monday is quiet…

CPD23: Thing 2 – investigating other blogs

As I may have mentioned elsewhere, I’m usually good at writing up notes and lists, but when it comes to reflective writing and learning my good intentions often fall by the wayside. Hence it’s only week two of CDP23 and I’m already playing catch-up!

But catch up I will. I found the participants list a little daunting, so the first bloggers I picked to read were participants I already knew or had followed for a while – step forward nataliafay and @woodsiegirl at Organising Chaos – and ones who had commented on my own blog – Annie at The Hobbit Hole, oliverpig, Variegated Stacks and Ahava Cohen at Love in the library.

I followed through some of the comments too, quite a neat way of discovering other bloggers with similar points of view (or opposing, if the comments are negative!). And I clicked through to blogs that these bloggers had written about (is there another word for blog, btw? My spell check is going crazy!).

So now I’ve added London Library Girl, Theatregrad, Sarah Said Library, The Neon Librarian and Odd Librarian Out to my CPD23 network as well. I like this way of discovering blogs by recommendation, rather than picking someone from a list arbitrarily. You weed out some of the less interesting posts, and I’ve joined some really interesting conversations.

So that’s eleven blogs down, only 603 to go!

CPD23: Under starter’s orders

The CPD23 – 23 Things for Professional Development - training course starts today! Thing Number 1 - blogs and blogging.

So why am I taking part in the CPD23 course? I’ve been writing this blog for a year or so now, but for most of that time I’ve been on maternity leave so I’ve not kept it particularly up-to-date! I need something to keep me motivated as I return to work, to keep me focused on my development rather than just being swamped by my daily tasks and ‘how do I do that again?’ moments.

Our industry is changing rapidly, and my role has changed dramatically over the past few years. Working in the media, we have always been fairly tech savvy, but developments like cloud computing, Twitter and Wikileaks have really altered how I do my job. Our department has an increasingly visible online presence, and I want to make sure we’re up to date with online resources, and that we’re getting the most out of them.

The size of my department has shrunk in recent years, and my network of fellow information professionals has shrunk with it. I’m hoping CPD23 will introduce me to a new network of info pros who are as excited as I am to be moving libraries into the digital world. Hello everyone!

I’m also starting out on my Chartership path, so CPD23 seems a great thing to add to my portfolio!

Career development: CPD23 anyone?


I’ve just signed up to the CPD23 project, a new initiative aimed at training information professionals in all aspects of social media. I’m going back to work in a few weeks (gulp), so it’ll be good to have a career development project on the go to keep me motivated while I try to remind myself how to do my job!

As well as learning some new skills, I hope it’ll help me on my chartership journey, and get me in touch with like-minded librarians and info pros. There are only a few researchers left in my company and it’s getting lonely! It starts on 20th June so there’s plenty of time to join.

From the official blog:

Free CPD coming up!
23 Things for Professional Development is a free online programme open to information professionals at all stages of their career, in all types of role, and anywhere across the world.

Inspired by the 23 Things programmes for social media, this new programme will consist of a mixture of social media “Things” and “Things” to do with professional development. The programme starts on 20 June and will run until early October 2011.

Each week the CPD23 blog will be updated with details of the next thing to be explored. Catch up weeks and reflection weeks are built into the programme, so it’s not a problem if you’re going to be away for a week or two!

Please do spread the word to any friends, colleagues, or groups that might be interested: please pass on this message and link to http://cpd23.blogspot.com. If you’re on Twitter follow @cpd23 and tweet with the hashtag #cpd23.