Twitter the night away

Everybody always asks me what the point of twitter is, and I rarely have the ability to support its existence. So, I decided to look into it a little more…

For those unaware, twitter is a service/application commonly used for micro-blogging. How does this differ from blog-blogging? Well, like the name suggests, it’s shorter. Rather than long-winded entries (like this one), twitter users give short messages (limited to 140 characters) about what they are doing, thinking, observing, or anything else they’d like to share. These are called “tweets”.

Tell the world what you're doing!

Tell the world what you are doing!

So far, so good? Okay. Tweets can be sent to twitter from your cell phone, PDA, or non-mobile computing device in a variety of different ways. Each “tweeter” (n. one who tweets) can “follow” other tweeters, building a complex network of tweeters tweeting on twitter. Other tweeters may be your friends, politicians, celebrities, random folk, or a group of some sort (hint, hint). Tweets can be directed to an individual or the entire twitterdom. If one so wishes to follow you, they can view your tweets from http://twitter.com, or they can receive your updates as a text message on their cell phone (an opt-in service, so it’s only there if you want it to be).

A list of tweets from my fellow tweeters

A list of tweets from my fellow tweeters

So what can twitter offer to the library world?
Lots of libraries, universities, and corporations are already using twitter to market their services. UIUC’s Undergraduate Library operates under the name “askundergrad“, providing information about campus and library events, services, and resources. In fact, Towson University has a twitter profile and so does The Towerlight. Your tweets can also be connected to your website as I’ve done with my tweets. Twitter is just one more way to broadcast the library’s message to the world.

But…

I think there’s more that it can be used for:

  • reference services – tweeters could ask and librarians could tweet back
  • helpful library status tweets like, “The 3rd floor is packed; try the first floor if you are looking for a computer”
  • promote new materials in your liaison area; then tweet them with your faculty and students
  • promote your new blog posts on twitter using an intermediary service like twitterfeed
  • quickly post messages detailing your whereabouts on your website (use with caution – sometimes being invisible is a good thing)
  • create a twitter account for a class you’re working with, and have them contribute comments about their research experiences
  • use that same account during your library instruction session to get feedback on how things are going (assessment, anyone?)
  • the next time you’re at a conference, see if there’s a twitter account for the conference, and share your experience with other attendees
  • do some x-treme tweeting like Jeff Scott at City of Casa Grande Public Library

Twitter is a pretty simple application; the real power is when you connect it with other tools, applications, and services. Also, take a look at EduCause’s “7 Things You Should Know About Twitter“.

Maybe it’s time for Albert S. Cook to start tweeting…

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Google Docs

Have you ever tried to work on a Word document on a computer that doesn’t have Microsoft Office? Or maybe you’ve had to email yourself a document in order to open it on another computer? Online applications such as Google Docs allow you to create, edit, and save word processing documents, spreadsheets and presentations on the web rather than on your computer. Not only does this make it possible to create Microsoft Office type documents without purchasing any software, but it also makes it easier to share and edit a document between people.

In the library setting Google Docs can be used many ways. The ability to share a document or presentation gives students a way to work on group projects without messy emails. Library staff can easily co-author papers or simply share a spreadsheet between departments. This can be especially useful when working with people at other institutions who do not share a common server. Need a place to hold all of your committee documents that is accessible by all members? Google Docs can serve as that online repository. Although document sharing is a nice feature of Google Docs, it is not required; Google Docs can simply be a way to access documents on different computers or on computers that do not have Microsoft Office. Google Docs even lets you upload documents currently saved on your computer as a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file.

Google Docs

Professional networking with SlideShare

Drat, you missed the Internet Librarian 2008 conference! Don’t fret. You didn’t get the tote bag, but you can still learn from the conference presenters. Their presentations have been posted to SlideShare.net. As have the slide presentations of millions of scholars and professionals worldwide.

SlideShare is free and easy to use. The site allows you to post and view PowerPoint, OpenOffice, and PDF presentations. You can also add audio to your presentations, by syncing the slides with an mp3 URL, thus producing SlideCasts that can be easily added to blogs and websites with a SlideShare widget.

Slides can be made publicly available to an international audience or made private for a select group of viewers. Like the organizers of the Internet Librarian 2008 conference, you can archive presentations from events you have organized or group other people’s presentations based on your own criteria.

SlideShare encourages professional networking. You can join groups that interest you or establish contacts with people who post interesting content. Like other social networking sites, SlideShare allows members to post public comments or send private messages to other members’ profiles.

With millions of members worldwide, there is always something new to explore on SlideShare. Checkout the “Slideshow of the Day” (today’s is about How people really use the iPhone) and other featured presentations. The site is full of opportunities for learning and sharing. Try it.

iBreadCrumbs, do you?

Bookmarks are out, breadcrumbs are in. Doted as the web’s version of DVR, iBreadCrumbs is a browser plugin/toolbar for Firefox that keeps track of the websites you visit as you browse. But don’t worry, it’s not Big Brother; you control when it records and when it does not through the convenient browser toolbar.

ibreadcrumbstoolbar

The iBreadCrumbs Toolbar

iBreadCrumbs automatically saves the sites you visit during an iBreadCrumbs session. While you search, you can add annotations for a particular site and give extra-cool sites the “thumbs-up”. When you finish your session, click the “Stop” button. Now, you can name the group of sites you have just recorded, add a description, and categorize it; or, add it to an existing group. The real power of iBreadCrumbs is the ability to share what you find in numerous ways. BreadCrumbs can be shared with members of an iBreadCrumbs group, exported as an Excel file, sent via email, or translated into HTML for easy web page creation.

So why would you want to use iBreadCrumbs? Let’s see:

  • create web research guides for a class
  • create an iBreadCrumbs group for your liaison areas to share resources
  • create an iBreadCrumbs group for your department or committee and share resources with your colleagues
  • track websites to turn into an online research guide or a handout
  • email a list of helpful links to an inquiring patron
  • keep track of all those websites you forget to bookmark

Add “quickly and easily” to the beginning of these and you get the idea. Another potential use is given on the Information Literacy Technologies blog: “have students install and then track, annotate/reflect and share the path they took to finding resources on a topic”.

The creators of iBreadCrumbs estimate that it only takes 30 seconds to sign up. Here’s how:

  1. Go to www.ibreadcrumbs.com
  2. Click “Sign up”
  3. Choose your login name, password, etc., and click”submit”
  4. Click “Download the Toolbar”

Then just click the “Start” button on the toolbar and never get lost in your internet searching again!

Check out these other resources that I gathered about iBreadCrumbs, using iBreadCrumbs:

YouTube – iBreadCrumbs.com Introduction Video Checkout this video to learn more about how iBreadCrumbs works.
iBreadCrumbs A sample BreadCrumb from GMU
Wired Campus: iBreadCrumbs: a Social Network for Research Sharing -… The Chronicle of Higher Education’s article about iBreadCrumbs.
iBreadcrumbs « Information Literacy Technologies A great idea for using iBreadCrumbs for information literacy instruction.
iBreadCrumbs: “The First way to Save and Share Online Research” « CMJN… A nice blog entry about the features of and uses for iBreadCrumbs.
Open Access Journals in Mathematics A BreadCrumb I created and then exported as HTML in order to create a web page listing open access journals in mathematics.

powered by iBreadcrumbs