Seriously Social: Focus on Facebook (new presentation)

I recently gave this presentation at ALA11 and at the Virtual ALA11 conference, along with Kolene Allen who focused on Twitter. Both sessions went well … and someone has been asking me to post my slides! So here they are:

In my part of the presentation, I talked about what libraries can do with Facebook Pages, and why they might want to use Facebook Pages to reach out to customers.

If you’re interested, this fall (November 2) I’ll be doing a 90-minute version of this, through the great ALA Techsource webinars – stay tuned for that later on this year!

What’s Up with the Mean People?

The day after I got back home from ALA11, a weird thing happened with a friend of mine, and I thought it would be a good thing to share, think about, etc.

Many of you know Joe Murphy – Yale librarian, frequent speaker at library-related events, and all-around nice guy.

Last Wednesday, he had someone create a fake Twitter account named @JoeMChangeAgent (already deleted – we’ll get to that in a sec), use his picture for the account, friended a lot of people (myself included), and pretty much pretended to be Joe on Twitter for about a day.

Weird, huh? I asked Joe a few questions about the incident via email. Here’s what Joe had to say about it.

DLK: How do you use Twitter?
JM: I use a public/professional account (@libraryfuture) for current awareness, to share resources, and engage with professional communities. I also have a private twitter account for which I control the privacy at the audience level. I use my private account to share and communicate with my trusted contacts.

DLK: So what happened?
JM: One of our fellow librarians created a fake Twitter and FriendFeed account impersonating me. They used this false account in an attempt to deceive us all by pretending to be me and by engaging our colleagues under false pretenses as a way to personally attack me and to disrupt our professional community.

DLK: How did it stop? Did you report it, and did you hear back from Twitter?
JM: Twitter quickly suspended the account because it was a breach of its policy rules. Twitter also permanently barred the account’s creators after completing their own investigation. I also received wide and strong support in the form of fellow Twitter users who promptly blocked and reported the account as spam and for abuse.

DLK: Has that type of thing happened to you before? How did it make you feel?
JM: I wish I could say this was an isolated incident. Unfortunately, I have received a lot of negative attention in my few years as a librarian. But I’ve learned the value of ignoring the negativity, not taking it personally, and not giving them any time or energy from my day. This is not to say I am impervious to personal attacks, but not letting it get to me is an important skill that I continue to develop. I don’t let their hate infect my life, and I definitely don’t let it slow me down professionally.

It is a poor reflection upon our profession that lashing out at colleagues is all too normal, and it is not just me that ends up as the target. Every once in a while you will see people (quite often the same people and groups) attack our colleagues online with bitterness, name calling, deception, and personal attacks.

DLK: What’s up with the haters, anyway? Why pick on you?
JM: This is the key question. Haters in general exist because they feel a lack in themselves, a deficiency that they try to replace by extending their negativity to others. They will strike out at anything in easy view beyond themselves. I often end up as the recipient for their hate because I am out there in the spotlight through giving talks, writing, and making contributions. I am also an obvious target for them because I have my happiness and my health, success at a young age, and I have a sense of positivity. Nothing in particular happened to kick off this most recent instance; it was an example of people lashing out just for the sake of lashing out. These people are deeply troubled and I hope they receive the support they need to heal themselves. I try to stay sensitive towards them because ultimately, they are the only ones who have to live with themselves.

Luckily, I have a lot of experience and support dealing with these attacks. I know how to not take them personally, and I leave their hatred behind by separating it from my own life. Unfortunately some haters go even further to attack our personal lives by harassing friends and family and spreading lies. It is unbelievable how some people behave. But working together with friends in staying wise and careful successfully blocks these attempts as well. If I let it get me down every time a hater lashed out I would become depressed, this of course is their goal. So I shrug it off, move on and keep having fun.

DLK: Anything I’m missing? Anything you want to add?
JM: The thing to remember is that haters are acting out of insecurity. They strike out at any obvious lightning rod because they are unhappy about themselves. So do not take them seriously, don’t let them steal your energy, and definitely don’t take it personally. The negativity is about them, not you. Keep being yourself, and don’t let the haters cause you stress. They may fling venom but only you can control how you feel about yourself.

Haters also feel a sense of entitlement to their hate, and blocking, ignoring, and deflecting their attempts can often send them into a total fluster. So not feeding them and their negativity is often the best response. They say the best revenge is living well. I would also add that a good approach is not giving them what they want; denying them a moment in the spotlight that they think their negativity will win them.

I have seen such personal attacks deeply affect individuals, and it is our responsibility as a professional community to not support hateful attacks, to hold people responsible for their behavior, and to make sure we are all treated with respect.

Me again – so why bring this up?

It was one incident that happened, and was taken care of quickly by Twitter. Right? Well … it’s not really all that isolated in the library speaker world. Here’s an article Stephen Abram wrote awhile back on the same issue.

Something to remember: disagreements are great. Heated discussions and full-out arguments? Also fine. Not personally being everyone’s best bud? Also fine – you can’t like everyone, right? Calling people out for a bad idea – great, please do so (but then back it up, too).

But personal attacks (I’ve had some of those)? Not cool. Impersonating someone else? Way not cool (and possibly illegal, depending on what you did). Sending anonymous death threats to someone because you don’t like their ideas (yes, I know at least two library speaker types that have received those)? Really way not cool.

Play safe out there!

Ebook Vendors at #ALA11

I took some time to visit the vendor booths at ALA11 (the annual conference of the American Library Association – over 20,000 librarians descended on New Orleans this year!), and made sure to visit most of the ebook vendors out there – and let me tell you, they are a growing bunch! Here are my observations on the companies and the products I saw.

3M:

3M Cloud3M? Why is a company that makes sticky notes and self-check machines getting into the ebook business? Weird, right? It might be weird, but they also have an interesting-looking product. What are they doing?

  • First off, they are making their own 3M-branded ebook reader. It’s pretty basic, but it works – e-ink and all.
  • They also have a variety of apps for mobile devices and computers.
  • 3M is calling their new service the Cloud Library System because ebooks are stored in two places – on the device and on cloud storage systems. This is handy – you can start reading at your PC, then get on the bus and continue reading via your iPhone, for example – you just have to log into your account, which remembers what page you’re on across hardware devices.
  • What’s it not work on? The Kindle (though they’re in talks with Amazon to change this). It does work on Nooks and iPads, though.
  • 3M also has some pretty cool touch interface kiosks for ebook discovery.
  • Interestingly enough, they’re using one of my blog posts in their presentations! Cool.
  • Find out more…

Blio:

Baker & Taylor is a pretty familiar company to librarians – they’re a book distributor, and many libraries work with them. They have partnered with Blio, a new ebook service. Here’s what I know:

  • Blio is a creation of Ray Kurzweil (yes, THAT Ray Kurzweil) and the National Federation of the Blind, of all things. Baker & Taylor partnered with them to provide content.
  • Blio will read out loud to you (I assume by a computer-generated voice) and lets you take notes, highlight text, etc.
  • Blio’s big selling point is that they are full-color and provide the same graphically-rich experience you’d have reading a print book with pictures. But when I played with their iPad app at their booth,  guess what? The two children’s books I looked at were text-only. Picture Curious George as a text-only book. Not nearly as much fun. I tried to ask their booth people about it, but they were all  busy with other people at the time, so I moved on.
  • I also tried to attend their quick sit-down presentation at the booth – but the exhibit hall was noisy, and the Baker & Taylor people didn’t turn up the speaker’s microphone. I had trouble hearing them, and eventually left the presentation to poke around on my own. Other attendees had the same problem, so I know it wasn’t just me. Guys – it’s a volume knob. Turn it up next time please!
  • Here’s an article on Blio and here’s their website.

Freading:

Freading is the weirdly-named ebook product from Library Ideas, LLC (Freegal is another product of theirs).

  • OK. Can I just say this – they REALLY need to get their web act together. Right now, Library Ideas, LLC has a one-page website that stretches horizontally – sorta odd, if you ask me. They only useful info? An email address. No links, nothing. They could at least install WordPress and put some information out about who they are and what they do – it’s not that hard. Just sayin. [update – Just spoke with Jim Peterson at Library Ideas, and he told me they plan to have a new, marketing-oriented website up in 2-3 weeks. Much needed, so good for them]
  • Freading is an interesting product that’s very different from other models, just like Freegal. They offer patron-driven purchasing of ebooks – a patron picks a book, then the library is charged (the library can set a fee cap).
  • Freading uses a “token” metaphor for patron checkout. The patron gets five tokens a week to “spend” on ebooks. Popular books might “cost” more than one token, and less popular books might be just one token each. That’s all the patron gets to use for that week. I’m not convinced patrons will pick up on the “token” model very fast – we don’t really use tokens for anything else, so not sure how that model will connect with patrons … [update – the library determines the number of tokens their patrons get for the week]
  • Books are checked out for two weeks, then can be renewed once. Who decided two weeks? Not sure.
  • They’re in talks with larger publishers, but right now have some smaller publishers on board.
  • Glad to see a newer company trying to be innovative in a market that’s growing fast!

Overdrive WIN:

Overdrive has overhauled their interface, and their service … and named it Overdrive WIN. Here are some of the changes they’ve made:

  • They have streamlined the Overdrive product – I didn’t’ really play with it, but it’s supposed to be MUCH easier to use
  • They’re offering support for Kindles starting later this year
  • You’ll have immediate access to the first 10% of many ebooks – even if someone else has it checked out. That’s cool.
  • They’ll have patron-driven acquisitions, and a Want it Now feature that goes to online booksellers like Amazon. Just add a library Amazon Affiliates account, and you’ll make a little money every time a patron buys a book for themselves using that link.
  • There are some ebooks with simultaneous access, so no waiting in a virtual line for these titles.
  • Overdrive is also working to get ebook titles and links into library catalogs, so there aren’t two different places patrons have to go for content, which is a much-needed feature.

I didn’t get to eBrary or Recorded Books. There were probably a few other ebook vendors I missed, too!

So – four very different models of library-friendly ebooks out there. Any one model better than another? I don’t really think so. It really depends on the most-needed features your patrons have been requesting, and which of the different pricing models work best for your institution. And remember – the ebook market is growing like gangbusters – next year, it will look very different from what we have now.