ALA2008: Privacy: Is it time for a revolution?

Comments for 10 minutes, then a series of questions – first from the moderator, then from the bloggers, then attendees.

@privacyala – taking twitter questions

Dan Roth, Wired senior writer

Little incentive for companies to care about privacy.

Yahoo toolbar – ask Google what they’re doing with the data they collect? No one knows what they’re doing with it

We should find out what those companies are doing with all that data was his general gist

Cory Doctorow

We can influence policy and licenses

architecture is politics – when we build social networks, we in effect build policies – and those affect people and future society

People who use social networks choose to divulge this info

There’s a difference between private, personal and secret – ex – we all do stuff that’s private but not a secret (go to the bathroom)

RFID – not a way to create policies and capacities for individuals to choose what gets shared via RFID and what’s not.

Beth Givens, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

aside – both Dan and Beth are commenting about privacy – while being photographed and videotaped (and most likely those are going on the web). Ironic?

Beth is talking about credit reports, medical records, etc – how those are online, how you can sue if this info is misused, etc.

Access, consent, accuracy, enforcement, usage limitation, etc…

“You should opt out” – how do you opt out? Her website has some ideas

Moderator questions:

Dan said “as we move away from a society with one mass culture…” – I don’t think we really ever had that! Colonial times – puritans, politics, farmers, city folk, etc… go through other times in US history and you’ll see the same. Just sayin…

Twitter Best Practices So Far

I’ve just spent some time subscribing to a bunch of Twitter social media and community manager types (via My goal in doing this is to learn more about digital community management, and how that relates to the library version of digital communities.

But while doing that, I started noticing some similarities in twitter account pages, and thought I’d share those with you.

Twitter Best Practices:

1. Have a bio. When people see an interesting tweet, they might click through and want to read a bit about you – the first place they’ll look is your Twitter bio. Most bios provide a brief outline of who you are. For example, mine currently says I write about, talk about, and work in libraries!” (yes, that’s a very boring bio – I should change it).I write about, talk about, and work around libraries, social media, and digital communities. Also check out my videoblog:” (just changed it :-)

Even better – include an invitation in your bio. Here are two examples:

  • I’m a 35 year -old marketing professional who is learning about new media. Help me learn Twitter please! Follow me and I’ll follow you!
  • New followers: please @ me to start or join a conversation.

2. Extra links in your bio. You can add links to pertinent sites and services in your bio. If the URL is long, make sure to shorten it with one of those tinyURL services. Otherwise, the link text will run into the background of the page… and make you look like you look bad.

3. Spell check your bio text. Misspellings look bad. Nuf said.

4. Use a good headshot for your picture/icon: Best practices for the little pic that accompanies your tweets – a headshot of you, smiling. Or maybe you being silly. If possible, show your personality.

Don’t frown – if you don’t look friendly (or you look scary), others might think twice about friending you. And on the web, thinking twice means you’ve lost them.

5. Add a background image. Any image. Silly. Professional. Ugly. The point here is that using the default Twitter background on your account makes you look like a newbie. And that’s bad, especially when it’s so easy to add an image.

Brownie points for using the image like these two tweeters. See what they’ve done? They smartly positioned an image version of a link list that appears in the far left portion of their twitter page. Nice way to share links and promote themselves!

6. Say “Hi” to new followers. When someone follows you, reply back. That’s nice! Here’s one example: “you might be the first librarian I’ve met.  HI!”

Even better – one person direct messaged me with this message: “Welcome New Follower!! How goes it?  Have you tweeted anything that I should know about that I may have missed?” Wow – he’s asking you to introduce yourself in a very direct and helpful (to him) way. Nice.

7. Silly observations:

  • Social media and community manager types tend to play guitar in a band and mention it in their profiles…
  • they all subscribe to Chris Brogan’s twitter account.

8. Finally, don’t do this: I saw one twitter account (that I didn’t follow) with these characteristics:

  • Bio said the person is a “key executive in digital media”
  • No picture/icon was included
  • No background image was used
  • He’s not following anyone
  • He has 7 followers
  • He’s only written 5 updates

Notice the irony here? This person’s bio and his actual Twitter activity don’t match up. He doesn’t sound like a key executive in “digital media” He needs to take 5 minutes to add a pic, add a background, follow a few usual suspects in his field, and add a couple more tweets. This will make his account look “normal” – and he’ll look more knowledgeable to boot.

Update: after writing a whiz-bang twitter article, I completely fogot to add a link to my own twitter account (! Duh…


Engaging in Many Ways

Last post from my reading of Mobilizing Generation 2.0: A Practical Guide to Using Web 2.0 Technologies to Recruit, Organize, and Engage Youth, by Ben Rigby (you should go read it yourself – it’s a good book!). Rigby talks about George Miller, a Democratic congressman from California, on page 106. Miller used video-based conversation starters and other social networking tools in a fun way:

“In a two-minute YouTube video, [Miller] launched a campaign called “Ask George.” In this handheld video, Miller sat casually in his office chair and asked supporters to engage with him in a dialogue about the Iraq war. He invited participation via numerous avenues:

  • Shoot a video of your question and upload it to YouTube, SplashCat,, or Google video. Tag the video with the phrase “askgeorge.”
  • Post a question on your blog and tag it “askgeorge.”
  • Join the “Ask George” group on Facebook and post your question there.
  • E-mail a question to [email protected] with the subject “Ask George.” “

Nice use of tagging, multimedia, and other emerging services and tools. So – my question to you: Would this work in other settings? Would this work in libraries? What questions could you ask? I can definitely see it working in a YA/Teen setting. How about in grown-up settings?

Here’s an idea – have the library director talk (for a minute or less) about his/her favorite book. Then do what Miller did – ask for tagged responses, and see what happens…

Complainers and Blog Comments

Two more posts from my reading of Mobilizing Generation 2.0: A Practical Guide to Using Wb 2.0 Technologies to Recruit, Organize, and Engage Youth, by Ben Rigby. On pages 51-52, Beth Kanter (make sure to check out her blog) wrote Overcoming the Barriers to Blogging – a between-the-chapters essay, answering some common objections to blogging. One is this: “What if a blog reader complains about our organization so that everyone can read it? What if their complaint is not based on facts or the truth?”

Beth’s answer: “Truth be told, people are going to complain, and complaints aren’t always based on the facts. But isn’t it better that you hear from your constituents so that you can (1) address their perceptions directly and (2) use their comments as an opportunity for free market research?”

My library’s digital branch allows commenting without up-front moderation. We think of it almost like a controlled room – we can listen to all the discussions, and we can correct them when needed. People WILL complain and get facts wrong. If you provide an easy-to-use discussion space on your organization’s blog, you have an opportunity to hold conversations with your customers – and you can correct them and explain what’s REALLY going on when needed. Much better to supply a controlled place to air complaints than to let them be aired elsewhere (like the local newspaper’s editorial section) where you DON’T have any say in the matter, or even in your response.

I’d also go a couple steps further than that, and subscribe to some ego feeds for your organization. I have set up Google Alerts, Technorati searches, and Summize searches for variations on my library’s name. They come to my Google Reader inbox, and I can scan through them and respond or pass the info along when needed. It takes next-to-no time to do, and it’s a way to digitally “meet” your customers in their favorite hangouts.

Real conversations. Real useful. And we can easily respond. This is a no-brainer!

Come Say Hi at ALA 2008

I’m gearing up for ALA 2008 in Anaheim CA next week! Wow, that’s coming up fast. I’ll be there the whole time, and giving three presentations. Here’s when I’m speaking:

  • Friday, June 27 – OCLC Symposium: The Mashed-Up Library. I’m talking about mashing up websites, etc.
  • Saturday, June 28 – LITA BIGWIG Social Software Showcase. The presentation is done (you can go listen now), but the discussion at the Showcase will be a blast – come join in the fun at my table or the others!
  • Sunday, June 29 – Library 2.0 and Children’s Services

So feel free to come listen and say hi after – or just stop me in the hall and say hi! Either/both is cool.