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.

Setting up a Google Plus Page for your Library is Easy

g+A day or so ago, Google Plus finally opened up organizational Google Plus “Pages” to everyone. These are similar in concept to Facebook Pages: a Google Plus Page is for brands, organizations, and businesses, and a Google Plus Profile is for individuals.

I just set up my library’s Google Plus Page, and it was really easy to do. Here’s what I did:

  1. First, you need a personal Google Plus Profile. Just like Facebook, Google wants you to be a real person (here’s a link to mine if you’re curious).
  2. Go here –https://plus.google.com/u/0/pages/create – to set up the Page
  3. Choose a category for your library. I chose “Company, Institution or Organization” for ours.
  4. Fill in your Institution’s name and URL. I chose to put in our full name (Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library) rather than the shortened “topekelibrary” that we often use for social media sites, because our full name shows up on the account.
  5. Select a Category – really, a subcategory of the “Company, Institution or Organization” thing you picked up in #3 above. This gives you a lot of suggestions … none of which are Libraries. I ended up choosing Institution (though Government Agency, Education, or Other would have worked ok too).
  6. Click Create.
  7. Then, you’re given the option to Share your new Google Plus Page with all your Google Plus friends (I did that, but you don’t have to).

After that, I fleshed out our account info a little bit by doing these things:

  • Added a photo for the G+ icon (our library’s logo for now)
  • Asked our Marketing dept for some pictures to add on the Photos tab
  • Created some Circles – I kept the Following circle for random follows, then created these additional Circles: Customers (for library patrons), Staff (for library staff), and Librarians (for librarians who don’t work at my library but want to follow)
  • Added links to our Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Flickr accounts
  • Finally, I sent out our first status update message – “Just setting up Topeka Library’s dandy new Google Plus Page for organizations. Let’s explore it together!”

That’s pretty much it. What will we do with it? For starters, I’ll probably post a couple things a week there, to see if other people in our service area are interested in using Google Plus to connect with the library. After that (I’ll give it 6 months or so) we’ll see.

A couple other examples of Google Plus Library Pages:

updateJoe Murphy has a great post on Google Plus Pages for Libraries. Check it out!

Cool! Now the question is … what will your library DO with a Google Plus Page, now that they are available?

image by Bruce Clay

Changing Face of Privacy

I’m leading a webinar on Facebook tomorrow, and because of that, I’ve been thinking a lot about changes I’m seeing in online privacy.

So, as librarians, we historically have been defenders of our patrons’ right to privacy. It’s in our Code of Ethics: “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.”

On the opposite end of that are some pretty hip social media companies, like Google Plus and Facebook. Those two companies seem to have an unstated goal of making our world open and transparent … or at least, as open and transparent as we want to be.

Facebook does this by setting default privacy settings to Public. Google Plus does this (at least for now) by requiring us to use our real names on accounts.

Interestingly enough, some of our library tools are pushing for openness in different ways, too. Here are two examples of that:

  • Many of us are familiar with the Overdrive/Amazon deal. Amazon knows what your patrons have checked out, because they send them an offer to buy the ebook 3 days before it’s due. Amazon is, in essence, using what us librarians consider private info that we would never share, to sell ebooks to our patrons. It’s actually a handy thing to do… but flies in the face of our privacy ethics.
  • My library is in the process of moving to Polaris for our ILS/Library catalog. One really cool feature we’ll be getting is public lists. As a patron, I will be able to keep a list of books that I’ve read … and make that public, embed it on my blog, etc, via an RSS feed. It’s an opt-in feature, but still… very public, and very different from what us libraries have traditionally done.

This brings up quite a few questions in my mind:

  • Are libraries ready for opt-in/opt-out transparency?
  • Are we ready to check TOS agreements to catch and discuss things like that with vendors?
  • Some of us are bound by local or state laws on privacy. Are we ready to have discussions about those laws?
  • At the ALA level … are we ready to start discussing potential changes to our code of ethics and other privacy-driven discussions at a national level?
  • Are you ready to protect your own level of privacy
  • Are you ready to learn privacy settings in each online tool, and teach these to your customers?
So – what do you think? And how is your library addressing privacy issues online? I want to know!

Internet Librarian 2011, Day 1: Google Analytics

SuHui Ho – digital services librarian, UC, San Diego

She gave a solid general overview of Google Analytics

Why web metrics?
– Hit count is misleading

Help decisions on:

Content life cycle management priority
– Which pages should I update first?

Information architecture

Top tasks
– Which pages on homepage

She is saying you can find your most popular content, then make sure that stuff is on your main page. I would change that slightly to say make sure those pages are easily findable – the main page isn’t as important as it used to be

********************

Jeff Wisniewski

Google analytics: goals and funnels

Goal – the page a visitor reaches once they have completed a desired action
Funnel – the (optimized) steps along the way to the goal

You can track where, along the way, people fall out of your funnel – then figure out how to fix that

Jeff gave an example from his library’s website then walked us through the process of setting up a goal and funnel in google analytics

Give your goal a good, intuitive name – this shows up in reports later

Google Plus – Should you and your Library be there?

Google Plus is all the rage this week – invites have started spreading around (here’s a link to my Google Plus account – feel free to friend me!).

Some tech leaders have been making big claims about Google Plus, saying things like it will replace blogging, they’re moving from Facebook to Google Plus, it will take over Facebook or Twitter, etc.

Ok … Google Plus is only a week or so old. WAY too early to predict the demise of anything – especially of something like Facebook, with its 600 gazillion followers. Also remember that this is a third try for Google – Waves and Buzz both sorta fizzled out. let’s give it a good 6 months to a year to see if it survives.

On to the more important questions – should YOU be using Google Plus? Should your Library/organization?

You – this one’s easy. If you get an invite (or have an account already), by all means sign up and play around with it. Friend people, do some posting, try a video chat. Get familiar with the tool. Then either use it or not … that part really depends on you. But since it has some early potential in becoming another useful social media tool … why not at least play with it a bit?

Your library/organization – this one’s a bit more tricky. Or not – Google Plus isn’t supporting organizational accounts right now, according to this article from Search Engine Land. This article from ReelSEO goes one further, saying Google Plus will shut down an organizational account (though there are a couple out there [DLK – oops. Google found those, and they’re now 404-nothing found pages. You might check this out for some news orgs, from Moonflowerdragon in my comments] anyway).

So for the time being anyway, Google Plus is an individual-only network. That’s great, because it gives you time to play with the new tool, and gives Google time to see if it’s a winner (translation = profitable) for them.

Once that happens, and Google OKs organizational accounts – should you be there? The answer is … it depends. Are your users there? If so, then yes. Recent national stats claim that 51% of people age 12 and up are on Facebook – that’s 51% of your community, so it definitely makes sense for most libraries and organizations to have a Facebook presence.

But for other social networks, it really depends on your organization’s goals, and on where your customers tend to gather. If they start gathering in Google Plus, then yes – you should figure it out and be there for them.

If not? Maybe not so much. Time will tell!

And a question – are you playing with Google Plus? If so – what do you like/dislike about the service? Let me know in the comments!