Since the theme of the conference relates to 2.0, maybe this is a good time for an intro. I’m a neophyte to all this, but sometimes when you know too much it is hard to start at the beginning so while I am still just learning about all this maybe it is a good time to describe to others.
Mary Striegel of the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) had a nice chat with me yesterday (May 20) about so-called social media or 2.0 technologies. So I thought it might make a nice platform for an intro to this kind of stuff for folks like me who are barely familiar with this stuff. 18 months ago, the NCPTT’s executive director mandated that staff needed to become familiar with social media. So Mary jumped right in…as best as I can tell, here’s some of what is out there.
FACEBOOK (a proprietary name) this is kind of like your own little personal little home page that only people who also have one can see, and you have to give individuals permission to see it. There are limited things you can put there, like photos, and there is a private section for messages only you can read, and then a more public area called a “wall” where everyone else can see your comments and conversations. There is a section for photos, which are often people’s families or images of them partying. Anyone who has permission to view your page is called a “friend” although in reality this does not correlate to the same definition in the real world. Accidently “friending” everyone in your email contact list and accidentally posting a snide comment on someone’s wall instead of sending them a private message are two common errors often made by middle-aged beginners. Lot of other applications and games are available, but not everyone uses them. Once you set up a free account, you ought to go in and determine the level of privacy you want, since the default is to let everyone see your whole life. This is generally a social thing more than a professional thing, but inevitably colleagues frequently end up being your “friends” also. I’ve been Facebooking for less than a year. The first few weeks it was kind of like crack cocaine and I could not put it down, but now it has levelled off to about an hour per week. In general, only individuals can make a page and groups, causes and pets must use different aspects of Facebook instead. Best part of FB: childhood friend Jennifer Smith found me…and how would I have ever found her with a name like that?
MYSPACE Another proprietary name, very similar to Facebook, I guess, but more aimed towards presenting your personality to the world. When you go to someone’s MySpace page, they can have music play when you open the page. Generally, it seems teenagers use this while college kids were the bigger focus of Facebook.
NING (again a proprietary name) I have not tried this, but Mary tells me this is very much like Facebook, but more professional.
LINKEDIN is kind of like an online telephone directory, which can include your resume and other professional info. Mary uses it like her phone book away from home. It does other things apparently like emails and groups and so on but according to Mary the real value is the contacts list you build up. To find someone, that person also has to have a LinkedIn account. Their account also tells you who THEY are connected to, which is quite illuminating.
WEBLOG aka BLOG is at its most basic an online diary. Many are hosted by sites that have templates you can just fill in and use for free. Blogger and WordPress are two such services. I went this route and like it a lot. Posts are ordered with the most-recent first unless you change it on purpose. You can divide things up into categories and do other things to make it a bit more like a webpage. Best part: each posting can have comments from whoever reads it. But you can edit them if you need to. Of course, there are more complex ways to blog and services that can be paid for with more features, too.
TWITTER is a proprietary name for the most common kind of “microblogging.” It is like blogging in that it has diary-like posts, but it is micro in that you are limited to 140 characters. That has something to do with the limitations of text messaging on cell phones. I have myself only had a cell phone for a year because it took me a long time to feel that the pros outweighed the cons of having one. I am in the same process with Twitter right now. A lot of the comments seem really inane and silly, without much content. But there have been a few things building up in the “pros” column for me. Right this minute, Twitter would be a great way to locate Richard McCoy at the conference in order to dish about the latest talks. Mary uses it a lot when she is away from the office but needs to communicate day-today stuff with her colleagues. Some folks like Nancie Ravenel use it to track treatments for an interested audience. When you enter one of these short messages, it is called a “tweet.” You get to decide whose “tweets” you want to subscribe to and they come to you as a feed. On Mary’s iPhone, something called Twinkle connects her to Twitter. NCPTT can use it to have something of a casual public persona and announce things like workshops. Here is a quote I liked from an online discussion about Museum 3.0 where Angelina Russo says,
“Until Twitter, I found conferences a little confronting – all those people I should know yet not comfortable with introducing myself. Now I can almost make out the Museum 3.0 members at conferences and I try to introduce myself to them. Also, I can follow conversations on Twitter so I have something to connect with them about from the onset….”
What is Museum 3.0? I don’t know yet…but I joined up and when I did they asked not only for my email address and website, but ALSO for my Twitter, blog, wiki, Flickr and YouTube addresses!!
WIKI is kind of a way for lots of people to contribute to a single place and build upon the all-of-us-are-smarter-than-any-of us kind of thing. Wikipedia is the best example. But they can also be made so only limited folks can contribute, or even limit the people who can see it. I’m not sure the parameters of wikis, but AIC is going heavily in that direction with specialty groups who have catalogs.
FLICKR is a place to post photographs on the internet. The NCPTT put images there that are in the public domain, so anyone can go get them and use them in a talk, for example. It is also a good way to share large numbers of images with others electronically without having to email a bulky attachment. Kind of like an FTP dropsite, if you have ever used one of those. I dump it somewhere on the web where you can then go get it.
GOOGLE DOCS is a similar thing to Flickr that Mary uses except it is for documents instead of photographs. You can password protect it, and its a great way to be able to access your documents from the road. Me, I am still in love with those little flashdrives aka thumb-drives that look like a pack of gum and plug into the side of your computer like a teeny tiny hard drive. Those have replaced Zip disks which kind of replaced floppy disks…which I can still remember were actually floppy when I was a kid. Hee hee!
YOUTUBE is like Flickr and Google Docs but for videos. Gosh, am I ridiculously oversimplifying?
SLIDESHARE I had never heard of before Mary but she says it is this great thing on the web where you can park your powerpoint presentation. It can either be public or invite-only.
GO TO MEETING I had never heard of this before Mary, either. This allows you to remotely present your powerpoint from computer to computer with a web connection. First 30 days are free, so Mary will soon try this out, and then it is $49 per month. In order to make it a webinar or have Q&A, you need a microphone and a camera. Hmmm, I wonder if my computer’s camera and microphone are adequate? I bet they are, I bet that is the whole point.
SKYPE I have Lauren Horelick to thank for this, we did all our interviewing for an upcoming internship together via Skype and I really liked it. It is essentially a free phone call over the internet, and if your computer has the little camera thingy on it Skype works like Captain Kirk talking to the Klingons on the large screen. A face-to-face phone call on your computer screen! Oh, and I am certainly not suggesting Lauren is a Klingon.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course and for those of you who are more technologically sophisticated than I, it is laughable, but you have to start somewhere, right? How about you stop laughing and write some comments buster!!! What are you using?