I just want to thank those who took the time to read and comment on this blog. I had a lot of fun writing it! Unfortunately, I will have to suspend it for the time being as I am just too busy and my interests have taken me elsewhere.
Never say never! The blog may return at some point in the future.
As many of you know, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic. Two archives of note have produced videos highlighting items in their holdings.
The US National Archives offers a great short video of records relating to the Titanic, some offered as evidence after the sinking. The National Archives does it again as another fantastic example of archives in Social Media! But this video also proves how important archives are to our society. Here's looking at you James Cameron! Support your local, provincial/state, and national archives!
The Nova Scotia Archives is another resource for Titanic related materials. It is another archives on YouTube with a fantastic channel.
More and more archives are sharing their holdings and experience on YouTube and I will share more great examples in future posts.
Well, I just had to resurrect my blog in order to talk about this, as it's just so exciting in the "heritage" world! Historypin
is a fantastic new(ish) website/app that archives, museums, and pretty much anyone can use to upload historic photographs, video, or audio of almost anywhere in the world! Through the site, one can "pin" digital photographs to their relevant location so that we can see what that location looked like in the past and compare it with the present. Perhaps the best feature of this site is the ability to synch photographs with Google Street View. In doing so, we can fade between the historic street view and the present street view, offering an unprecedented understanding of the way places change through time. The site even offers a smart phone app to take with you on the go!
I am lucky enough to participate in Historypin
's project through my current place of work and am already seeing and imagining the many ways this product can be used to teach about, and engage with, history. Archives, such as the one I currently work for, can use Historypin
as an outreach tool to connect to new users. Not only can archives post content, but users can contribute stories and history that compliment the images/video/audio. This is a unique method of interacting with our users and allowing them to contribute to an historic sense of place.
This blog was created to fulfill requirements for a graduate level course and the topics discussed reflect the content of the course. Currently I am deciding whether to continue with this blog. I apologise for not blogging for the time being while I make this decision. Thank you!
My immediate reaction to immersive or virtual worlds, such as second life, is one of distrust. The example of the Smithsonian Latino Center LVM Eco Explorers
was especially disturbing to me as it focused on learning about ecology, anthropology, and other natural sciences completely in a simulated world. The narrator even states, “take a journey from snow packed mountains, through the rainforest, down the river ...” But none of these environments is real
. How can you teach people about these natural wonders, without actually showing them the real thing? Granted, this was only a short promotional video, but it bothered me nonetheless. Personally, I once volunteered for a great organization called Earthwatch
. This organization funds scientific expeditions and uses volunteers (or people essentially on “working vacations”) for the labour force. That is a great way to learn about our natural environment, not interacting with a simulated environment (and I must say a poor copy at that). However, I do see some merit if real film was included in the simulated environments, showing what the real examples — of say, a volcano — looked like. Especially if the real thing is inaccessible.
Another personal story, I once dated someone who was really into World of Warcraft. It really bothered me how much time that person spent in the simulated world, rather than the real world, with real people. That person was immersed in the world to almost an obsessive point. After that relationship predictably failed, I vowed never again to date anyone who played World of Warcraft. I don’t blame people for getting addicted, back in the 90’s I played the Myst and Riven (other very immersive games) games for hours on end. I just see the damage it does to real life relationships.
How does this relate to LAMs using these immersive environments? I see why they would get involved, to reach more people and “go where the people are.” Environments such as Open Cobalt
involve 3D media, video and other interactive media that is conducive to more work-based tasks. These do have more potential in my mind. However, personally I think another tool would work better.
I recently played a video game called Heavy Rain
. In the game (which is somewhat futuristic), the detective of the story uses a tool called ARI
(Added Reality Interface) which consists of a glove and glasses. With these tools, he can enter an interactive, simulated world to go over his case and evidence collected. Something like that, I believe, would be much more effective than computer or console-based simulated environments. Of course, we are nowhere near that kind of technology. However, with the popularity of mobile devices and the seemingly growing popularity of immersive environments, the ARI of Heavy Rain seems like a logical and useful combination of the two. I found a video that speaks of developing a somewhat similar technology
(advance to 6:50 if you don’t want to watch the entire thing). This technology uses the concept of “Augmented Reality
”, rather than loosing ourselves in a false world. I can see libraries and archives linking their catalogues and resources using augmented reality devices so patrons can search interactively from anywhere, not just connected to a computer. Of course, this has the same dangers as immersive environments, users can become addicted to the better, more pleasant, reality. Perhaps, with the way things are going, this may be a necessary challenge we will have to overcome. Ultimately, I think immersive environments or virtual worlds are good for a bit of escapism from reality, which we all like to do in some form or another, but Augmented Reality, in my opinion, has more potential for work, school, and task-based activities, and libraries and archives can truly benefit from it.
This week, our class investigated aggregation tools. Aggregation is definitely an important concept in web 2.0. I know I certainly felt very overwhelmed when I first delved into this world by all the information and all the locations from which to retrieve this information. Nonetheless, I see aggregation as nothing new, librarians have been real-life aggregators for patrons for centuries, and aggregation in the digital realm is still evolving.
Many tools were discussed in our course content this week. I enjoyed using many of the tools presented, such as Symbaloo
. However, I wanted to see if there was an application specifically designed for Mac users, and therefore would be easily usable on a Macbook, iPod touch or iPad. What I discovered was Mixtab
. Mixtab is a free and rather simple aggregator, mostly working with RSS feeds. Although it is not necessarily a very powerful application aggregating more than just RSS, I do like it for its design. Below is a screen shot of my Mixtab today. Like many Apple based applications, it is clean and very simple to use. I also like the way it presents information. As I said, this is not a particularly powerful tool, but for someone such as myself who lives on a Mac and wants clean apps and a basic introduction to aggregators, I think Mixtab is a good option. I can see myself possibly recommending it to social media “newbies” in a library setting.
My Mixtab today
A good amateur demo of Mixtab:
That being said, librarians definitely should investigate aggregators further. I am actually quite surprised and a little appalled that (as far as I am aware) they were never mentioned in my other library school courses. We did discuss tagging and folksonomies, but we did not discuss how librarians can use and teach aggregating applications to users. I think the Collaboratory Howard Rheingold created
is a great example of what libraries could be doing. Should we think about creating an open source aggregation site for patrons to use? Aren’t we the ideal people to be doing this? It is definitely something to think about as the world of web 2.0 grows ever larger and mutates again into something even greater.
So what about archivists? Archivists have largely been seen as the “gate keepers” to information. We do not synthesize information for users, we present what information our repository contains in the most logical way possible, in order for them to answer a (most often historical) question. How do aggregation applications relate to our profession? Certainly they can be used as professional tools. For example, I created an Archives tab on my Mixtab application (see image above). This aggregates the latest professional information from various sites for me to read at my leisure. But can we use these tools to benefit our users? Perhaps we can find a way to use aggregators to capture digital records from websites that contribute to our holdings. For example, if I were working at a municipal archives, we could use an aggregating tool, potentially linked to our EDRMS
(Electronic Document & Records Management System) to capture the blogs, tweets, wikis, etc. of the local government and preserve them for our users. Certainly there will be many creative ways to make use of this technology in archives. We just have to be willing to do the research and take a risk.
This week in LIBR 559M
we discussed creation using social media. Among some of the creations mentioned were video tutorials, but specifically those posted to YouTube. There are many libraries that have posted excellent video tutorials to YouTube
, creating a better understanding of what libraries are, what they offer, and how to use them. After watching many of them I found myself asking, “Why aren’t more archives tapping into this?”
There is so much confusion and misunderstanding surrounding archives. Most people do not even know what they are. Often, I am mistaken for an archaeologist. “So... you dig up bones, yes?” But I digress. Because of these misconceptions, wouldn’t creating such a video only serve to help foster greater understanding and appreciation of archives? YouTube tutorials, paired with some interesting or entertaining digitized films, could serve to bring archives to the forefront of people’s minds, rather than hiding in the shadows.
This is the direction archives are moving in: open minds, open doors, open access. We should no longer be the gatekeepers to information, rather, we should emulate our librarian brethren and open the doors to everyone. One way we can do this is to have a YouTube presence that features video tutorials.
The majority of archives you will find on YouTube tend to just publish digitized films (e.g. US National Archives
, CBC Archives
& CNE Archives
). While this is certainly a very good thing, they could push the medium much farther. YouTube would be better used if tutorials were coupled with digitized films so that users can not only value the holdings but recognize what archives and archivists do on a daily basis. Beyond that, they can realize what archives can do for them
. I did manage to find one archives on YouTube doing this very thing: The Freer Sackler Archives
. This is a prime example of a great use of YouTube and I believe all archives should follow their lead.
I should also mention one other archives that is using video tutorials on their website. Although the videos are not hosted on YouTube, the BBC archive
has produced very professional video introductions and tutorials that are worth taking a look at.
This week I thought I would talk about my experiences with collaborative social media tools, how I’ve used them and how I would like to use them. I’ve come across some good ones, and some bad ones thus far, and I’ll share my thoughts on both.
I was really introduced to collaborative social media tools when I began my MAS/MLIS degree at SLAIS. Previous to that, my undergraduate degree really did not encourage group work and when it did, we did things the traditional way—meeting face to face.
The first tool I used in grad school was Google Docs
. I liked the way many people could collaborate on one document at one time. However, what I found limiting about it was the fact that as a group, we could not share other media besides the document we were directly working on. However, I do enjoy how multiple users can work on a document simultaneously. Currently at my workplace we use Google Docs quite a bit for collaborative work. For example, we use it to write planning documents and policy and procedure documents and it works quite well for us.
The next tool I have used, and frankly my favourite thus far, is PBWorks
. PBWorks, for those who don’t know it, works essentially like a wiki. However, it is not presented in the same fashion as traditional wikis, such as Wikipedia
. You do not have to code on PBWorks (Hallelujah!). PBWorks makes use of multiple pages effectively creating collaborative workspaces. It also emails you when a group member has edited a page. Users can upload files and documents to the shared workspace. I’ve used this feature a lot when collaborating on a research-based assignment in order to share resources I’ve discovered with the group. One of its downfalls is author tracking. However, I’ve gotten around this by designating each group member with a certain coloured font.
For this module, I’ve had a look at some of the other tools mentioned. First I looked at GiantHydra
. I do see the potential in this tool. However, I did not like how narrow it is in scope. It is primarily aimed at advertising and marketing firms and you have to go through the developer to set up an account or project. I think this tool would be amazing if the developers opened it up to general collaborative work, and didn’t just aim it at the business world.
The other tool I investigated was Mixed Ink
. This also seems like quite a neat tool. I really like the author tracking feature that PbWorks is lacking at this time.
In this module, the question was raised: “Haven't librarians always collaborated—and why would we need to do so online using social media? Why not just use e-mail?” Well my answer would be this: Because email just doesn’t cut it. It does a bad job of author tracking, version tracking, working on the same document at once, and sharing everything in one place. Email just does not have the features that social media has to offer, making it social to be begin with. Email is like using an Allen Key instead of a power screwdriver. Sure it works, but it’s faster and more efficient with the right tool.
Another question asked in this module was, “In your opinion, how much of a role does social media have in collaborating with our users?” To me, it has a huge potential role, especially in the archival or special library field. For example, I discovered a local history wiki created by the Norwegian Institute of Local History
(NILH) in cooperation with the Norwegian version of Wikipedia. Here the institute used the wiki to collaborate with historians in order to build a complete picture of the area’s history. In essence:
Contributors may present all sorts of source material linked to specific geographic places: articles, photographs, videos, sound and newspaper cuttings and
bibliographies, i.e. the type of material which the local librarian has spent time
acquiring, organizing and presenting. In order to profile the local collection and
attract a wider audience, the wiki could be an important depository (Sveum, 2010,
I see this kind of collaborative effort working very well, for example, at my place of work. We often have local historians and genealogists in the archives researching. The society that runs the archives has also produced its own local history book. Wouldn’t it be great if the archives spearheaded a project, such as this, with the community we serve?
When people collaborate, they can accomplish great things. Social media just enables us to work even better, faster, and more creatively than ever before. Information professionals, in my opinion, could only benefit from such efforts.
Sveum, Tor. (2010). Local studies collections, librarians and the Norwegian local history wiki. New Library World, 111(5/6), 236-246.
Very recently I had an identity theft scare. Well, some legitimate identity theft (my credit card was compromised) and some healthy paranoia. This reminded me of a few news stories I had heard recently about social media identity theft. And it got me thinking, “What would I do if I was in charge of social media at my organization and our online presence was compromised in this way?” I researched a little further and found many articles on the topic (see a selection below). There is even an eHow article about it!
This is all linked, of course, to a general notion that social media does not respect privacy. Indeed, it puts your information out to the world for one very distinct purpose—to connect with others. So by taking this leap into the cyber world, are information organizations such as libraries and archives opening themselves up to these threats and potential negative press?
Blake Bowyer identified 3 common themes of companies targeted for this kind of fraud:
- They had tittle to no social media presence before the crisis (and a slapdash management effort in reaction will often do more harm than good).
- The responsibility for responding is put in the hands of an ill-trained and ill-prepared member of the organization (interns won’t work and the 70 year-old CEO probably won’t either).
- Late, flaccid, and/or overly-aggressive response (it’s a fine line, but threatening to delete comments or, conversely, dismissing the importance of the mob will only fan the flames).
Retrieved from: http://insight.eyetraffic.com/the-social-media-imposter-and-grace-under-twitter-fire/
These are important factors to consider. Especially the thought that they had little to no social media presence before these incidents. So it may, in fact, be advisable for organizations to get control of their name and overall online presence before some more nefarious person does. Robert Siciliano also says, “Start doing things online to boost your online reputation. Blogging is best. You want Google to bring your given name to the top of search in its best light, so when anyone is searching for you they see good things. This is a combination of online reputation management and search engine optimization for your brand...” (Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/how_5034161_prevent-social-media-identity-theft.html
Although this is definitely a negative aspect to social media and the growing 2.0 culture, perhaps we should only look at it as a push for organizations to get on board and join in on the conversation before someone else does it for you.
Some other interesting sites:http://www.virtualsocialmedia.com/kinds-of-social-media-identity-theft/http://robertsiciliano.com/blog/2011/05/19/teacher-bit-by-social-media-identity-theft-on-twitter/http://insight.eyetraffic.com/the-social-media-imposter-and-grace-under-twitter-fire/
I was very intimidated at first by blogging for this course. I am apprehensive about putting my thoughts out to the world to be picked apart. Although, as Andrew Sullivan said, “... blogging requires [...] a willingness to fall off the trapeze rather than fail to make the leap.” So, I decided to start with a topic that interests me in order to take that leap.
As you may have noticed for my discussion board topic, I decided to take on Geni
- a genealogy tool. On that thread, I decided to delve deeper into the world of social media and genealogical research and how libraries and archives can take advantage of these tools to aid and guide researchers. You may think this is a rather specialized topic, however many public libraries feature a genealogy section, such as Vancouver Public Library
, and many archives help genealogists conduct their research with primary sources on an almost daily basis. It is a topic that interests me and lends itself very well to a social media platform.
Having an online social medium for conducting and sharing family history research is practically essential to today’s genealogical researcher. Of course, there already exists (and have existed for many years now) plenty of websites dedicated to the research end of things, such as Ancestry.com
, Family Search, Find My Past
, and many more. However, the key to successful and efficient family history research truly lies in connecting
with other researchers. Here is where social media can play a major role. I suspect it all started with the simple forum medium, such as Roots Web
, where researchers can post questions to other researchers who may have already completed the work. Other sites then took on chatting and blogging, such as Genes Reunited
. However, I found myself wondering, is there a social media tool that was created specifically for genealogists that goes beyond blogging? One I have found that is not a website that simply makes use of other existing social media tools (twitter, blogging, forums, etc.) is Geni
The affordances of these sites is varied. However some I have found are:
- Discover other researchers following the same ancestral line
- Speak to and connect with other researchers
- Locate and communicate with living relatives
- Share research, family trees, or pedigree charts with others
- Share family media: photographs, videos and documents
- Ask experts or other experienced researchers genealogical questions
- Share family history triumphs and discoveries
I can certainly see a role for genealogy librarians and reference archivists in joining these sites or other more general sites, such as Twitter or Facebook, in order to assist genealogical researchers. I have found, so far in my nascent career, that many archives are not adopting social media at quite as fast a rate as libraries. This is most unfortunate and is a trend (or lack thereof) I would like to try to change. I did some research online and came across a useful genealogy blog called Social Media and Genealogy
. The author made a list of the top ten social media sites for family historians
. I was surprised to find that the majority she listed were common, non-genealogy specific sites. However, she did include Family Search’s wiki
, which I find to be a most unique and impressive tool. I was also interested to discover, also through this blog, that June 9th of this year was Ask Archivists day. Included was twitter hashtag called #AskArchivists
. You can check out some examples of questions asked by genealogists here
. I think this is a fantastic opportunity for archivists (and librarians) to engage with the genealogy and family history researcher, as well as the general patron.
I hope we will see more of these tools used by information professionals in the future.