social networking sites


We’re kind of trapped (in a good way) in a social networking track here at bar camp day 2. I combined sessions with Sam Wallin — he wanted to discuss general social networks and how they relate to libraries. I wanted to talk about Facebook (and other apps) and what adoption of it (and related, heavily architected tools) means to info professionals.

SamWallin at InfoCamp Social Networking Session

Like Kathleen noted, lots of questions and few answers. I proposed that Facebook might become the killer app and that people will then use Facebook as kind of homebase or main tool (in some cases taking the place of other tools — email, IM, etc — at least in some contexts.), In such a situation, how does the “generic” or architected nature of the site impact the work that info pros can do to expidite the flow of information.

Again, not a lot of answers but a lot of disagreement with me. Many people felt that they don’t see facebook as the killer app — for that to happen there needs to be some way to separate personal and work lives (and separate the networks you belong to in those cases). And if you do separate those parts of your life, then the would shut down the ubiquitous nature of Facebook.

To some degree I can relate to that idea. I agree that you don’t want to do work networking on a site where you post photos of your drunken new years eve episode. I’m not sure if the answer is more social networks. Maybe it’s more thoughtful use of a main network where you limit what you share to make it appropriate for a broader group of users and then belong to special networks (or have a specialized blog or web page or usenetgroup or whatever) for your “fringe” activities.

I liked Justin’s philosophy — he doles out little “tidbits” of information on Facebook. People can learn a little bit more about him based on the groups he belongs to and how he interacts with those however they don’t get a lot of detail from his profile alone.

For what it’s worth, I’m willing to say I might be wrong on one count (at least). Facebook might not kill Linkedin (one of the many inflammatory things I said today). In fact, Linkedin may get stronger because it fills one of those fringe area needs I discuss above. For example you may say you are an interaction designer on your facebook profile, but may not want to throw in your resume or client list up there. Instead, you can let your Linked-in profile fill that need.

I’m not sure what all this means for me…I’ve got some more thinking to do. How about you?

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I just returned from the Special Libraries Association (SLA) conference in Denver. The SLA is an (inter-) national association for librarians working in less-traditional settings (think corporate, news, competitive intelligence, etc). I’ll blog more about in the next couple days, but for now …
The conference included some highlights, such as an Al Gore as keynote discussing our current inability to use information wisely in decision making, Michael Tiemann from redhat making some interesting points about a copyright and patent system gone awry, and some great information about microformats and how they’ll enable information sharing and searching for social networks.

With the good you sometimes have to take the bad. In the same session as the microformats (“Mining Social Neworking Sites: Rich Resources Lie in Wait for Those Who Dig”), I was disappointed to hear Regina Avila, assistant library director tell of the Denver Post library’s “innovative” mining of social network sites. They use these sites to dig up information on minors to help reporters who are researching news stories. The actually mining doesn’t bother me– I’m a former reporter myself and know you gotta get sources — it’s the idea that they are doing this and obviously haven’t considered the ramifications (and potential chilling effect) this practice could have at a time when lawmakers, educators, and parents are trying to limit access to these sites. This is one you’ll hear more about from me later.

By the way, we’re sorry for the posting lag. It’s graduation week (actually graduation day!) for Kathleen and I. The past couple weeks have flown by with little to show on the blog. I’m sure we’ll make up for that soon.