Finding Yourself on Google… when you’re a Kid

A couple days ago, one of my children showed the rest of the family a funny Facebook meme/game being passed around. Here are the rules:

  1. Open Google
  2. Search your first name
  3. Take the first picture that comes up
  4. Upload it to Facebook
  5. That’s you in 10 years

The rest of us thought it’d be funny to try, so we did. And yes, my family tends to gather around the computer to watch a funny Youtube video, look at a silly website, etc. Anyway, here are the results my family got while playing this game:

  • My son found a normal-looking, slightly-pudgy, balding middle-aged man (I think he said “aww, man!” when that photo came up).
  • My wife found a young woman.
  • My oldest daughter found a female wrestler (she found that sorta odd).
  • Me? I got the naked statue of David, King of Israel (and a bit of ribbing from the family)
  • My youngest daughter, age 12? She found … herself. From one of my Flickr pics (I put her name in the photo description). She found that a little weird, and a little pleasing at the same time – she won the game!

A couple of observations:

  • Kids games these days … how funny that you can make a game out of a google search, huh?
  • Anyone catch what’s involved in playing this game? A Google image search (Image search wasn’t even mentioned, just assumed), downloading an image, then uploading it to Facebook, then posting all of that as a Facebook status update. There’s a good 2-3 skillsets there that some of us have actually taught in a formal setting in the last 15 years, reduced to the ease and throw-away-ness of a goofy game. Wow.
  • Copyright, anyone? Yes, it’s harmless fun. But still, it does involve randomly lifting and reposting photos of strangers into Facebook … without their permission. And it’s easy to do, too.
  • Privacy, anyone? My daughter found herself. In the results of that same search, you can also find a photo of my oldest daughter and a photo of a ballet production both my daughters danced in. Weird, huh?

I’m fine with finding photos of my kids online, and wasn’t too surprised at those results. I know how it works. But how about other people who put private moments online for, say, a grandparent to see? Or someone posting photos and information, and not really thinking of the connectivity that the web provides? That can REALLY freak some people out, and might feel a bit like “Google knows who you are.”

What to do? Teach your customers (and staff) the implications of posting online, whether that’s a blog, a photo-sharing site like Flickr, or even an all-in-one social network like Facebook.

If it’s online, people can find it. Period. Teach people how to set their privacy setting in social networks, and also teach them that once something’s online, it’s most likely available to EVERYONE IN THE WORLD.

And then, teach them how to deal with that. Fun, huh?

Update – check out Posting Photos of Your Kids on Facebook: The Realities by the ReadWriteWeb.

Topeka, KS doesn’t like Social Media

screenshot of City of Topeka website
Topeka uses social media, right?

Wouldn’t it be weird if Google, KS blocked Google from their own computers?

Unfortunately, that just happened.

OK – it’s really Topeka, KS (Topeka renamed the city for that Google Fiber project). And they didn’t really block Google – they blocked Youtube (which Google owns).

But still – there’s some irony there, is there not?

Go read this newspaper article, City tightens control of employee Internet use. Then come back here, and let’s discuss.

Here’s what I find odd about the city’s recent decision to block staff access to social media sites:

Oddity #1:
“City spokesman David Bevens said the city prohibits employees from using their work computers to access YouTube, as well as the Facebook and Twitter social media sites, but some employees have nevertheless accessed YouTube on those computers … “

That’s got nothing to do with social media, and everything to do with employee performance. That’s sorta like saying “obesity has become a health issue at our organization, so we blocked employee lunches.” In other words, the city is dealing with the symptom, rather than with the real problem – in this case, employee performance. Blocking Youtube won’t fix that problem, I’m afraid.

Oddity #2:
“Stanley [interim city manager] said he was disappointed to learn the problem was directly related to the perceived need by some employees to access popular social media websites, such as YouTube and Facebook.”

It’s more than a “perceived need” – the city actually has official Youtube, Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook accounts. So yeah – “some staff” definitely DO need access to those sites, to do actual work.

And since those social media sites are essentially official city channels, I’d go so far as to say all city employees need access to them. At work. Otherwise, the city is blocking official city communications … from city employees. Nicely done, Google, KS!

Oddity #3:
IT manager Mark Biswell is quoted as saying this: “While these websites have value in terms of information transfer and marketing, they also pose an organizational risk in terms of lost productivity and through the potential introduction of viruses and worms … “

First off, let’s deal with that perceived “lost productivity” thing. Recent studies actually show that employees have increased productivity if they have access to social media. Want more productive employees? Give em access to Facebook and Youtube.

Second, that virus and worms thing. Social media sites like Facebook and Youtube don’t become popular if they’re sending out tons of viruses – instead, they get sued (thanks for that thought, @billludwig!). I sincerely hope that most IT managers know that “viruses and worms” generally don’t come from social media sites like Youtube or Facebook. They come from spoofed sites, rogue links in forwarded emails … and from uneducated staff. A better way to approach computer security would be to 1. unblock Facebook and Youtube, and 2. Train staff on appropriate use of web technology, and how to NOT click on those weird links or ads.

Oddity #4:
One last thing. The IT manager is also quoted as saying this: “Biswell said that to balance risks with the informational value of using such sites, the city was taking a proactive approach by cataloguing and safely providing employees access to YouTube videos that have business value related to training and education … The approach is the same one used by educational institutions, he said.”

That’s because the people at “educational institutions” are, for the most part, kids. Don’t treat your adult employees like kids. ‘Nuff said.

So why write this?
Thankfully, I don’t work at a city library, so I haven’t had to deal with this. But some of you librarians have dealt with this, head on. Library Directors – don’t let this happen to you! At least be informed, so you can intelligently argue your points to city administrators, city IT managers, or a city attorney. I’d love to hear from some libraries who successfully argued their points, and were able to keep or get library access to social media sites.

In other news, on Friday I tweeted a question to the City via their official Twitter channel, asking them how they were going to respond to my question, since they are now blocked from using Twitter.

Still no Twitter reply. I wonder why?

Delicious and other Services – Have a Backup Plan?

So last week, some of you probably heard that the Delicious.com service was possibly being – their term – “sunset.” Then they announced that it wasn’t, and that they hope to find another home for the service outside of Yahoo.

My library doesn’t use Delicious for our website – but some libraries rely pretty heavily on the service for things like a linkroll. I know of more than one library who replaced in-house reference web link databases with the Delicious service. I’m guessing a couple of us were scrambling around, looking for alternatives (Diigo is one good one that I’m familiar with), and figuring out how to export their links out of Delicious.

Here’s what I’m interested in – how much do we depend on these third party services for essential parts of our website? Delicious is one example … what if Yahoo decided to do the same thing to Flickr, or if Google decided to do that to Youtube or even their Google Accounts (many organizations have switched their email/storage/messaging systems to Google from hosting them in-house)?

There are definitely alternatives to most of these services, and I’m not sure that dumping content into one primary service and one “just in case” backup service is worthy of our time (though I personally do that with my Flickr photos). And honestly, I’m not sure that people who read my blog would have that much trouble finding alternatives (I know my library wouldn’t, anyway).

But what about understaffed, or smaller libraries that don’t have dedicated web dudes? For example, Topeka could easily build a links database – we have those skills in-house. But many libraries and organizations don’t have those skillsets, which is one reason why they chose a 3rd party tool in the first place – free/cheap and easy. And 3rd party tools are great – I certainly don’t want to store and host all the videos Topeka creates on an in-house server.

I think one way to tackle this is to simply be vigilant:

  • stay up-to-date on web tools by trying them out, reading about them, etc
  • pick the best tool at the time – look for features and stability – ok, and awesomeness :-)
  • switch services when the next, better tool comes around – instead of waiting until one service closes its doors

That’s one way to deal with it – are there others?

pic by Ronn Ashore

Making Connections – the Institutional Version

Last post, I covered things I think about when making personal friend connections in a bunch of social networks I use. I also said “for MPOW, it’s slightly different – I might cover that in another post.” Here’s that other post.

As an institution, who should you friend? Why? This is pretty subjective of course, but here are some general guidelines to get you started:

Friend patrons/customers/members. Friend people living in your service area, or who are likely to use your services. Find them using tools like Twitter’s Find People search or any number of third party search services. Your goal is to share your stuff, your events, and yourselves with other people and organizations who can actually use and benefit your content in  a social network.

If someone friends you, check them out. Look at their posts, look at their bio, and where they’re from. If they live close by, friend them. Then start sharing.

Friend other local organizations. Again, the goal is to share your stuff with other organizations that can potentially partner with you, or otherwise send people your way.

Friend others who are interested in your stuff. Have a local history collection that focuses on a certain individual or era? Friend others who are interested in the same things. This should hold true especially on social networks that focus on multimedia, like Flickr and YouTube.

Other Considerations

Facebook Groups
– these can have a narrower focus, so you might be friending fewer people in a group, especially if it’s more of a niche group. For example, if you have a Facebook Group focused on teens, you’ll want to friend actual teens, rather than just anyone of any age.

YouTube – do your local news media outlets have YouTube accounts? Make sure to friend them, and favorite some of their videos.

Finally, be friend-neutral. Don’t agree with what the person says, or don’t like their content? Remind yourself that this isn’t your personal social network you’re developing, but your organization’s network. And most likeley, you take all shapes and sizes of friend connections.

Further reading: my set of posts on attracting friends, starting with Don’t Friend Me.

What am I missing? Any other groups it might be good to friend? Not to friend?

photo from sausyn

CIL2009: flickr commons for libraries and museums

Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Brooklyn Museum, Smithsonian … were approached by flickr to add collections into the flickr commons.

Michelle Springer, LOC

Have to have no known copyright restrictions

22 libraries, archives, and universities have joined so far…

flickr mentions new sites on their blog, which has a LOT of reach

Shelley Bernstein, Brooklyn Museum:

They started adding stuff into flickr … they were flooded with comments

Posted an unidentified photo in paris – archives people would update the description… because of their workload and tiny staff, they couldn’t do this very speedily – they almost left the commons!

Once the community formed around the commons, this changed. One flickr user puts notes around all the buildings on each photo, marking them with names

It’s a great way to work with the community

Community is helping their workload:
– they had some coding feed problems
– she wrote to their community group
– the community scripted a solution for them – nice.

Michelle up again:

They have “history detectives” who figure out names of people and places … and support this with citations and links to the info on the web.

Personal experience adds info – giving examples of community naming things in the photos

Interesting discussion of image titles – they used the original titles, one popular pic is titled “negro boy” – they’ve had their community discussing how the title was part of the times, preserving the language they used when the photo was taken, etc

Lots of then and now photos

Joshua Greenberg, NYPL:

Can’t be a project of the “Digital Group” – needs to be the librarians with expertise

When they posted pics, they hadn’t resolved the issues of who answers the questions from the comments …

His team had been figuring out how to do this technically …

Martin Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Institution Libraries:

Showing their quirky photos – old photos of “white men with mustaches,” micro photos of tiny fish, etc – they had an internal discussion of whether or not people would be interested in these photos. And they were

what did they learn from a social project like this?

Easy – gather a small group of like-minded people, launch the project