Friday, April 28, 2006

Social networking (when opportunity knocks)

Since January, I have found myself giving presentations on social networking tools and even talking about them a bit in some workshops. This all grew out of the blogging workshops I did during the fall and winter. Social networking seems unrelated to digitization, yet these are tools that can be integrated into digital libraries or used to promote a brick-and-mortar library. They are tools that allow us to do electronically -- make connections and build community -- which we have historically done in person. You may be familiar with some of these tools, for example:
  • Instant messenger (IM)
  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Web sites for sharing creative works (e.g., YouTube and Flickr)
  • Sites for finding/managing information (e.g., Technorati and
  • Sites and tools that allow for online collaboration
These tools all provide opportunities for us to reach out and connect to our users -- our communities -- in different ways. They also allow us to connect in ways that are independent of time and space.

If you are not using these tools, then you need to begin experimenting with them and find ways of implementing those that will serve you well. You might even think creatively like PictureAustralia has in including photos from Flickr in its collection. Consider fielding questions from users using instant messenger or creating a blog to keep users (or team members) informed of your project's progress. Consider a wiki for keeping information on how your project was implemented, standards used, etc.

Social networking tools are knocking at your door, wanting to be part of what you are doing. It's time to answer the door and use them.

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