Friday, August 25, 2006

Jump then look (Social networking tools)

This summer, I have run into several circumstances were people jumped into doing an activity, then realized that they needed to do some planning. Of course, they didn't want to stop what they were doing, so the belated planning was hampered even further by the need to continue with the status quo. Messy.

This fall, I will be doing presentations and workshops on social networking tools. It is very easy to begin using blogs, wikis, file sharing services, etc. Easy to jump in without doing any thinking or planning. One of my goals in these sessions will be to get people to "look before they leap." The look does not have to be a prolonged look, but it needs to be long enough so that people understand what they are getting into.

For example, with blogs, I think the first unwritten rule should be that you must read or look at many blogs before starting your own, especially if you are starting a professional/business blog. By looking at and reading others, you will understand better what blogs are, how they function, what your software/feature options are, and begin to understand better the effort a blog takes. In one blogging workshop, I asked participants how many blogs they read and found that most read very few. The person who read the most read eight blogs. None of them had heard of blog/RSS readers. (Thankfully, they were taking my workshop that walked them through this and much more.)

In October, I'm doing a full-day workshop on social networking tools with hands-on ("Social Networking: Tools for Connecting Staff and Patrons"). I'm excited about being able to not only explain, but to then get people involved in how they can use some of the tools AND how those tools can interconnect. It will give them a good look before they jump...or perhaps for some, give them a chance to pause and see what they could be doing different. Either way, it will give them a chance to plan and that will be a good thing.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a note to the SLA-IT Blogging Section blog about cool tools people had implemented on their sites. The post received several comments with information about what people have done. Feel free to read and add your comments.

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