SXSWi2008, Day 2: Social Network Coups: The Users are Revolting!

Panelists: Jessamyn West, Gina Trapani, Jessica Dzwigalski, Annalee Newitz

[aside] – I came to hear/see Jessamyn, who completely rocks! But the panel was good, too.


three kinds of user revolts:

  • anarchist-style pranks
  • grassroots protests
  • op-ed/open letter from high-profile users

Discussed some Digg revolts:

  • paying people to Digg your page
  • the HD code thing

Dzwigalski (Jessica Linden):

  • Griefers – tax revolt in July 2003
  • CopyBot protest, Nov 2006
  • Resident-Created IP rights campaign, 2008
  • “if you’re taking our avatar, your’e taking our identity”

Jessamyn West (Metafilter):

  • Outline
  • how they handled a sexism brouhaha at metafilter

Trapani (Lifehacker):

  • talked about an ad that their users didn’t like
  • It was an ad featuring naked bottoms… they didn’t like “mooning their audience” – interesting way to look at it
  • Readers said the ad contradicted the nature of the site (ie., it’s supposed to be safe for work)
  • interesting questions – when do you listen to your users?
  • 2-3 dozen emails about a single issue – that got them to notice it and change

1000 True Fans – Can We Have 1000 True Patrons?

I just read 1000 True Fans from Kevin Kelly’s blog – great article! I suggest you go read it. And then come back! Because… I’m wondering… can that model work in a library/non-profit/website setting?

Here’s the gist of the idea presented in the article: for artists or creatives to make a living, they don’t really need a blockbuster hit and billions of sales – instead, they need 1000 true fans. Here’s how Kevin describes a True Fan: “A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.”

And if those fans end up spending around $100 or so per year (buying your stuff), then you will earn a good living. Pretty cool idea – it’s basically the long tail working itself out from the artist’s viewpoint.

When I read the article, I couldn’t help but think – how does this work in a library setting? What if we had 1000 True Fans? What would that look like? Especially with the impending release of my library’s digital branch (March 31!) – what would 1000 true fans of our digital branch look like? 1000 people engaged in our blogs, leaving substantive comments, maybe joining an online book club, watching our YouTube videos… those 1000 true fans would keep us extremely busy!

And yet, that’s be just a small sampling of our user base, wouldn’t it? Sorta like… say… the group of people that visit our physical branch regularly! Our “regulars.” Our regulars really make up a minority of our total library visiting population – but we focus alot of time on those people – because they’re the ones using our services.

Sure, I want to reach much further than just 1000 people… but having 1000 True Fans of my library’s Digital Branch? That would keep us extremely busy.


Has Elvis Left the Building?

Gee whiz. Every now and then, someone decides to share that some new-fangled “library 2.0″ project didn’t work out … and others start claiming “After John Blyberg and others come out and say that library 2.0 didn’t work and neither did tagging, etc., the flood gates open.” Huh?

It might be good to remember two things:

  1. If one 2.0 project doesn’t work as expected, that doesn’t mean that “library 2.0 didn’t work” as a whole.
  2. Social 2.0 projects require “Elvis” to leave the building.

Here’s what I mean. For #1 above, realize this – not every blog, wiki, IM reference service, Second Life project, or podcast that your library creates will be a blazing success. Some will be dismal failures. And that’s great! Why? Because you learned something, and you can take that knowledge and move on to the next project.

John Blyberg might be correct when he says “SOPAC was by-and-large a success, but its use of user-contributed tags is a failure.” Why does he think it was a failure? Because it’s not used by that library’s community. He’s not saying tagging in catalogs is bad in general (at least, I don’t think he’s saying that). He’s saying that a particular library’s 2.0-ish experiment wasn’t successful (though I’m sure they learned something about building stuff – that’s always a good thing). Make sure to read the comments to that post – he goes on to say that larger-scale tagging that can be added to catalogs (i.e., LibraryThing for Libraries) is much more useful than the SOPAC’s localized version.

How about #2? Who’s this Elvis guy? Elvis is the librarian – has he left the building? Or is he still sitting behind the oak reference desk, waiting for patrons to visit? You cannot participate if you haven’t “left the building.” What does it take for librarians to be successful in the digital space? Well… we have to go there. Not just randomly peek in once in awhile, but actually be present and active in that space.

Here’s a lame example – lots of people read my blog. It’s taken four years for that to happen (well, and me not spewing forth stupidity too often – that also helps) – four years of me thinking, writing, reading, and participating on other librarian blogs. That was active participation rather than passive flirting on the 2.0 block.

When you start hanging out in a new social circle, what’s it take to be respected there? You have to actually DO some things, like hang out with them, share yourself with them, build them up, be authentic, etc – you have to spend a significant amount of time just “being” in that social circle in order to be accepted by the new group. Social networking tools are the same – because we’re NOT DEALING WITH TECHNOLOGY. We’re dealing with people.

If you want people to comment on your library’s blog post, to friend your MySpace page, or to watch your YouTube videos… you have to actually tell your community they exist. here are some examples:

“No one subscribes to our RSS feeds!” Well – have you told them what RSS is and what they can do with it?

“No one watches our YouTube videos on bibliographic instruction!” Well… have you embedded the video on your website (I’ve seen some libraries that don’t do this)? Have you introduced them to your videos at all? Are your videos extremely boring?

Have you left your library building to visit community groups to introduce them to your new offerings? Have you asked your community how they want to participate?

The title to this post is “Has Elvis Left the Building?” Has he?

New Song and Video: Social Digital Global Shift

I recorded a new song and video for y’all! This song is all about social networking and how people are using the emerging social web to connect with each other, to communicate… and in my case, to sing songs to my blog readers.

When writing the song, I was thinking about facebook, twitter, MySpace, and all the social connections that are happening 24/7 – I find it extremely fascinating.

Social Digital Global Shift
by David Lee King

I haven’t seen her since high school
never thought I’d see her again
but yesterday I got a facebook request
she asked to be my friend

so I took a little time to catch up
browsed through her photobucket and blog
I watched some funny videos of her kids
and then I wrote this song

’cause it’s a social digital revolution
social digital relationship
social digital communication
it’s a social digital global shift

I have friends around the world
they’re growing globally
some of them live in Saskatchewan
while others live in D.C.



Twitter Explained for Librarians, or 10 ways to use Twitter

good bookFirst – what is twitter?
Think of Twitter like a personal IM account that can be shared with everyone. Once you have a Twitter account set up, you can send short IM, SMS, or web-based messages to Twitter. Others who are marked as your friends or followers receive those messages. And there’s a public timeline that displays everything everyone is texting (there’s also an option to keep messages private, and to send messages only to individuals, which triggers an email).

It’s growing rapidly in popularity right now among the uber tech geeks of the world because… well, just because. It’s a geek fad, if you will. And SXSWi (an emerging tech/web 2.0 conference) is going on right now, and everyone there is apparently having fun with Twitter.

Second, for the library part
Apparently, some in the library blogosphere are questioning why they should pay attention to twitter, and are wondering how it can be useful to libraries.

good bookHere’s what I’d say to that. Simply stated, if you’re asking why you should pay attention, you probably don’t need to. It’s not an interest of yours, and that’s cool. I didn’t have a facebook account for a long time for the same reasons – I simply couldn’t think of a good reason to get one, so I didn’t (I have one now). I have a linkdin account, but don’t do much with it (ie., I probably didn’t need one).

And that’s ok. With emerging trends, you really should play with the stuff you’re interested in, and let others mess with things that don’t interest you. But then – and this is important – SHARE. So with Twitter, I’ll watch twitter and tell you if I find something useful for libraries. You go watch something else, and report back, too – that’s how the blogosphere works! Make sense?

And third, what in the world might twitter be useful for? Here are my 10 Ways to Use Twitter:

  1. staying in touch with geek friends and colleagues
  2. Using private messages – then it’s really about staying in touch with true friends and family (that is, if your friends and family sms and IM frequently)
  3. keeping up-to-date with emerging tools (remember – Flickr started out as a silly web photography game, not the amazing social tool it’s turned into)
  4. News updates – CNN and BBC both have twitter feeds (ooh – a library use!)
  5. loosely following a well-wifi’d geek/techie conference
  6. Following the thought processes of emerging tech trend thinkers. Ex – Robert Scoble has a twitter account and over 1000 friends. He’s been asking his friends questions – and getting 1000 replies. Think of how blog posts and comments and trackbacks work – but on steroids. Instead of waiting a day or so for other thoughts, with twitter you get them within the hour, tops. Setup correctly, that could prove to be an amazing “collective brain current awareness” database that you could tap at any time.
  7. when interviewing someone for a job, check to see if they twitter – then check their twitter feed just like you’d google them and check their blog (if they had one)
  8. Check out a potential colleague’s twitter feed to see if you’d personally like them or not
  9. twitter as a personal note bucket – send yourself random thoughts that you don’t want to lose. They’re stored in your account’s history!
  10. Current awareness search tool. For this to work, Twitter would need a search engine (which I don’t think it has) or something like Google would need to be used. SO a bit of a dream here… BUT stay with me here for a sec. With Flickr, you can troll the popular tags feature and see what’s going on in the world. I’m assuming that with Twitter, if something BIG happens, people using Twitter would be texting about it. That could be an amazing resource to get the “feel of the streets” during a major event (cool, another library use).

good bookSo there you go. Right now, I think Twitter is simply fun – and sorta funny, too (I found out that Steve Lawson just made pancakes!). But I also think it’s an interesting emerging social tool to watch – if nothing else, it’s helping me stay current with emerging social trends.