How many things? Only 23.

Well, isn’t 23Things fabulous? I needed to make my first ever screencast, and that very week the thing to learn was … screencaptures! Prior to this I had seen a couple of screencasts in the making, and also taken part in a RSC Wales lunchtime bytes webinar on making them, but hadn’t made one myself.

Both Thing18 and the webinar focus on Jing, but Thing18 also mentioned a few others including Screencast-o-matic. The downside of Jing (and some others?) is that it requires downloading and installing, which is not possible where I work. Screencast-o-matic is not only free but also allows you to make your screencast directly, with no installation required (although you can install a version if you wish).

So, the exciting thing is that I made a trial screencast of only 30 seconds, and then I made a full feature length (15mins!) screencast! And I’ll tell you for why. Links are at the bottom of this post – either read the whole thing or skip to the bottom!

The request

I was contacted a few weeks ago by colleagues who run a knowledge information management course for my organisation. The forthcoming module was on communication and they were covering social media and asked if I would be able to give a 15 minute presentation on this, in Cardiff. Now, here’s the thing. I live in Aberystwyth which is 4.5 hours from Cardiff by train – so I would be spending 9 hours on a train (well, 4 trains), for a 15 minute talk! I suggested that this wouldn’t be the most effective use of my time or very sensible and so offered them a screencast instead (at which point I’d never done one before but I sounded confident in the email…!) They agreed and told me the two learning outcomes they wanted me to cover in the 15 minutes.

So then I set to learning how to make one.

Trials & tribulations

The path to making a screencast doesn’t always run smoothly. Screencast-o-Matic requires Java plugins, which aren’t installed on the work desktop so I had to use our non-networked laptop with WiFi. The WiFi kept dropping so I would be in the middle of recording my screencast flicking from website to website and then would have to re-enter the WiFi password every so often. I prefer using Firefox and set up all my websites I was going to visit (Twitter, my blog etc), as tabs in Firefox, only to find that Java plugins had been disabled for that browser on that laptop and I couldn’t find out how to enable them – I looked everywhere! So then I had to open up IE (groan) (but luckily we had two browsers on the laptop), and open up all the tabs again. Oh, I’d also had to send myself an email to my ‘home’ email with my powerpoint slides which I was using as a base for the talk, because we can’t use USB pens in work to transfer files (and I haven’t investigated online storage – I know, that was Thing 13 which I haven’t completed yet).

Anyway, the actual process of making the screencast was fantastically easy and very exciting. I recorded one version just using the inbuilt microphone of the laptop, but my line manager got very excited about it all and the next day brought in a headphone set with microphone and I recorded a second version of my talk. The quality of that version was much better so I would recommend using an external headphone/mic set if you’ve got one.

Having taken part in a webinar on screencasts I knew it was all in the planning. So I had a rough narrative and had already set up my powerpoint slides as a guide. I’m not someone who likes to read a script word for word so each version I made was slightly different in narrative, and in some places you can tell I’ve wandered slightly off track, but it’s not bad!

I haven’t experimented with all the functionality of Screencast-0-matic such as captions and notes, but maybe will do that when I do another one.

Saving the files was relatively easy. I initially saved the talk as an .avi file onto the laptop. However, as I wanted to have an online version I then had to upload my final version into Vimeo as you can’t upload a video into Screencast-o-Matic if you saved it locally and finished the session (closed everything down) and didn’t upload into Screencast-o-matic at that point. I think you can both save it locally and upload it within one session, but not if you have left their website or turned your computer off. I think you also need to create a free account if you want to upload to their site.

From what I recall doesn’t have a search facility so you can’t try and find your screencast, you have to use the url link they email you.

I know my presentation screencast is long, but that was the length of the slot they wanted me to do. Luckily 15 mins is also the maximum length of screencast you can do with so it was ideal.

Top tips

1. Have either a rough outline of your talk, or a full narrative if you prefer that.
2. Use an external mic/headphone set to record your voice, but don’t have the mic too near to your mouth.
3. Try to keep your screencast to under 5 mins – we have short attention spans theses days, and it also makes it quicker to upload!
4. Check you have all the technical requirements on the computer of choice before starting.
5. Best not to do it when on WiFi unless the connection is very stable and doesn’t keep dropping.

The evidence

Ok, as a reward for reading right to the end (you didn’t skip bits did you?), here’s the 30 second one which I uploaded directly into Screencast-o-matic. And here’s the 15 minute talk on social media and organisations which I uploaded into Vimeo. Feedback welcome.

As you can tell I’m very excited by this and am planning what I can do for my next screencast!

Update – the training session has just taken place and the organiser has emailed to say “feedback was very positive” and “the screencast worked very well as a media channel and think it inspired the trainer to use it for future events”.  Yay!

Glossing over the lateness of this post, I’ll dive straight into the Thing. Thing 12  was all about reviewing how social your social media use is.

I’m going to be very honest about myself here – I don’t appear to be that social in social media. I’m wondering if it’s because most of my social media usage is in work and I have quite firm views on work and home lives being separate.

I have no problem putting my views in my blogs, or in comments, or joining in discussions, whether they’re my work or my personal views – I don’t lurk, but I’m just not really that good at mixing, networking, making new friends, etc. in an online environment.

Having said that, I have got ‘Twitter friends’ who are people I vaguely know only through Twitter.

I thought I’d create a list of my socia networking / media profiles (or those I can remember) and see what I use them for:

  • Slideshare – library job
  • Scoopit – library job
  • Twitter – library job
  • blog – library job; yoga teaching; library training; (3 blogs)
  • RSS feeds – 2 accounts:  library job and home (both still private)
  • Delicious – has mix of library & personal (all still private)
  • LinkedIn- personal
  • – yoga teaching (handouts)
  • Photobox – personal, restricted to invite only
  • Goodreads – (forgot about this – then saw someone has clicked on the link from this blog) – just personal, but, I’ve only 2 friends on there…

I’m not on Facebook.

Hmm. LinkedIn is quite the odd one out – I’m on there, sort of connecting with people, but not in a very active way. Other accounts are more ‘passive’ eg upload and leave (slideshare, Other accounts I could open up and be more social (eg parts of my netvibes and delicious accounts), but I’ve been saying that for 2 years.

I’m quite happy with the status quo though – I don’t want to spend 24/7 on social networks (and I don’t have a mobile device for that anyway) – I’m happy being social (just in case this is coming across as ‘don’t even THINK about talking to me’), but in small amounts, in certain settings.

I want to be there, available for library staff (or yoga students with my other hat) so like using social media for that, but like to keep it slightly at arms’ length. Everything in moderation.

{June 7, 2012}   Online networks (Thing 6)

Ok, I’m going to start with two confessions:

  1. I’m on LinkedIn but I’m not really sure why, and I know I’m not using it to my advantage.
  2. I’m not on Facebook. Well, ok, I have a deactivated Facebook account. For various reasons, (to save this from turning into a rant I’ll write the short version), I decided to deactivate it several years ago. However, various friends now seem to use Facebook as their only form of communication and I have to resort to peering over my partner’s shoulders to sneak a look at some of their updates, to mutterings of ‘Get your own account’. I feel that there may come a time when I cave in and go back on Facebook. You can tell I’m approaching this with a positive attitude can’t you?

So on to the task in hand: online networks.

I joined this a year ago, or it may have been two years ago. At the time I didn’t have a clear reason why I joined, and I still don’t now. I haven’t really actively gone looking for people I know, and I rarely make connection requests.

I can see its advantages in making connections, having a good professional image as a freelance worker, keeping up with contacts etc, but as I’m neither currently looking for a different job nor am I a freelance worker, it feels less relevant to me. I don’t learn new things on there or pick up links to stuff like I do with my professional use of Twitter.

But to get into the spirit of things and see if I could improve my use of it, I followed the links in the 23Things blog post on this. I’d already joined the 23Things Group in LinkedIn but unfortunately the discussions page seems to be dominated (totally overrun) by one person posting irrelevant American job adverts (WordPress doesn’t like my screenshot of this.) Isn’t there a separate page for jobs? These can hardly be classed as ‘discussions’. Perhaps I just caught it on a bad day.

I also looked at some of the other people recommended in the blog post, but I didn’t feel their profiles were particularly ‘stand-out’, suggesting that I’m doing ok with my profile itself. Although some of them have a staggering number of connections. And are members of an immense number of groups. And have recommendations.

I think one problem with my profile is that it’s not 100% library work as I put my yoga work in the profile as well, so it’s part library, part yoga. I also set it up at home and it’s not tied to my current job. If I change jobs, the account comes with me. That may not be the same for some of the other social media channels I use. And it’s also linked to my blogs, and I can’t remember if it’s linked to my Twitter account. So my updates alternate from library blog posts to yoga ones and back again… . Is this confusing for anyone?

I also have a slight problem with people I don’t know making connection requests. I don’t know them, have never met them, sometimes I’ve never even communicated with them in any way (email, Twitter etc). I feel put in an awkward position of either ignoring their request or falsely agreeing and then looking like I know this person. I amended my profile to say I generally wouldn’t accept requests from people I hadn’t had some form of contact with. Am I out of touch with how things are done?

Having also read some of the suggested links about making the most of LinkedIn including this infographic and article from 2009 (when there were nearly 50 million users on LinkedIn – now there’s over 100 million members) I realise there is more I could do with LinkedIn.

I could include my publications list, which means updating my CV on my computer to start with. I could also take more part in discussions – I have contributed to one or two so far. I could also more actively look for, and connect to, other people I know on LinkedIn. However, when I look at the suggested names that come up I think ‘Yes, I know them’, but I can’t see why I would connect to them. I just haven’t grasped it yet. Maybe I’m not very good at socialising.

Which leads nicely into Facebook!

I’ve just spent a merry 15 minutes on the Orkney Library and Archive page – I can see the benefits to a library service of being on Facebook, and in fact in my work I try to help library staff get access to social media channels.

My stumbling block is being on Facebook for myself in a personal capacity. When I was on Facebook originally I locked down my security settings as much as I could, but I gather the privacy settings are often changed, without you knowing. And at the risk of sounding like a fuddy-duddy, I do find the new timeline display very confusing… .

I don’t have a problem being visible and communicating in a professional network, but am not sure that my personal life needs to exist in an online medium. Yes, I like looking at other people’s pictures in Facebook, and sometimes I know I miss out on pieces of information about friends because I’m not on Facebook, but currently those two things are not enough to convince me to re-join.

A friend I know has a personal Facebook account and her yoga class (as a group?) – maybe the latter is the way to go for me, as a starter? This is one Thing I’m going to have to ponder for longer. I need to make sure I join for the right reasons, and have a clear strategy if I do go on there (in a professional yoga capacity).
Other networks
Well, after all that I’m a bit worn out! But onto the remaining online networks. I knew about LISNPN, although I wasn’t sure if I was a member. So I joined. Although to be honest, I wasn’t impressed that it forced me to include a birthday in order to register. So I made one up. And then I couldn’t go any further with the site as the confirmation email went to work and I’m writing this at home. Oh well! Something to look forward to later. I follow LISNPN on Twitter already.

I’m not strictly speaking a librarian, and I don’t do any teaching, so the Librarian as Teacher Network isn’t really relevant for me; the CILIP Communities website was down when I looked, and I’ve not got a Google account so can’t look at Google+.

In terms of other networks I find useful, the best one in Wales for librarians remains the LIS-WALES JISCmail list.

Update: 22/6/12 – Read this interesting blog post about why be on LinkedIn and its benefits. The summary paragraph is pretty accurate I think.

Current awareness. All about keeping current. How we ‘do’ current awareness in the library world has changed over time, naturally, possibly because librarians are often quite early adopters of new technology. About 15+ years ago current awareness would probably have meant subscribing to email lists and reading library journals and magazines, and looking at various (web 1.0) websites.

In the last few years though, current awareness means we can be aware of current issues at a much quicker pace: journals come out only every so often, yet a tweet can be sent in seconds and a blog written in minutes. As ever, there’s good and bad about the changes – today probably most people feel overloaded by all the stuff they should be keeping up with. But it’s not so much information overload, as filter failure said Clay Shirky. Or, not utilising settings and tricks on Twitter, RSS feeds etc. (Or even, not using librarians to select and sort information for us…!)

So, Thing 4 (hang on, I’m getting there!) is all about current awareness and specifically Twitter, RSS feeds and Storify.

Among some people I’m an old hand at Twitter, having been on there for 2 years in a professional capacity. Compared to other people though, that means I’m just a wee bairn! I certainly don’t have followers in the 1000s. I joined Twitter after seeing it in action in various conferences and hearing different speakers extolling its virtues.

But my relationship with Twitter varies. Sometimes I check it very often and think it’s great, other times I barely check it once a day. I have found and passed on to colleagues many a useful snippet, link to blogs or articles or reports etc, or found out about things that we may have missed otherwise. Yes, there is a lot of ‘just missed the bus’ or ‘urg, just spilt my tea’ whitter and waffle on there, so you either decide to stop following those people who don’t generally tweet stuff that you find useful, or you just skim through and ignore it.

Two attitudes I’ve tried to adopt when it comes to Twitter may be useful for other Twitter people (Twits?) – they should help with the feeling of  ‘OMG how do I keep up with all this?’. One is to treat it like a conversation in a room. If you go into a room and there’s huddles of people chatting to each other, you don’t go up to each one and ask them what they just said just now, and what did they say 5 minutes ago, and what did they say 30 minutes ago? You select one group, or one person, you chat to them, then you move on (if you’re good at networking. Or, you just stand in the corner sipping your drink and think ‘I hate networking’!). Twitter is the same. Look at it for 5 minutes, see who’s saying what, check any lists you’re subscribed to, then move on. What happened on there 30mins ago or 3 hours ago MAY have been relevant, but you are unlikely to have the time to find out. If it’s important it’ll probably reach you in another way.

The second tip (from Phil Bradley) applies to social media/networking in general. Do not feel you have to be on every channel all the time. We don’t contact all our friends all the time. We may ‘phone one friend one weekend, we may write a letter (a dying art form, but my parents and I exchange letters every week) to another friend twice a year, we may visit someone once a year. But we don’t try to keep in touch with all of them all at once, using all channels of communication. So, we don’t need to be on all the social media channels all the time. Dip in as and when, and use different ones to communicate with diferrent people.

In re-looking at Twitter this week I’ve decided to unfollow a few people, updated my private list of ‘daily ones to check’ (useful if pressed for time), and also looked up some of the lists recommended in the 23 Things blog post.

And coincidentally, I picked this up on Twitter from @lisajeskins the other day: all the handy Twitter abbreviations you might need, and then some!

RSS Feeds
I’ve been using these for quite a while – years. Possibly since 2007-08? But, there is definitely room for improvement as I know I’m not maximising on its potential. I started using RSS feeds with Netvibes and am happy with that. I initially set up one for personal use, then a work one (but it turns out I never shared it – it was/is still in beta…), and also one for my yoga persona. This public yoga netvibes page was my cheap and easy way to have a ‘website’ without needing to faff with uploading webpages to a server etc etc. But since April 2011 I moved over to a blog instead for my yoga life.

But, interestingly, whilst at home I look at my feeds on Netvibes almost every night, at work, I barely look at them all week, or month. This happened after I signed up to Twitter for my library work. Several of the people I was following were the same ones as blogs I was following, and then time is pressurised etc etc, I ended up only looking at Twitter. So I can’t really say which library blogs I find most useful or visit the most even though I’ve got stacks of them in my Netvibes page. I used to keep a list of Welsh library blogs, but I haven’t updated that for a while. In general my RSS feeds have got really unwieldy, lack organisation, and I’m certainly not making the most of the technology. Also unfortunately in work the server/connection seems really slow so it takes forever to load the Netvibes page and then it’s is a bit cronky.

I really want to get back to reading blogs for my current awareness so I need to sort out my Netvibes pages – here’s a link to my public one, if you want to see the state it’s in! I think I want to: create a public ‘home page’ on Netvibes which will pull together my blogs, Twitter, slideshare accounts etc, and I also want to have feeds for the blogs I follow, maybe divided up into different categories. There’s also probably quite a few blogs I haven’t added, so it’s going to take a bit of time to refresh all this.

Now, Thing 4 instructions recommended using Google Reader. But here’s the thing – I don’t like Google (I know, probably irrational) and don’t want to sign up to a Google account. I’m happy with Netvibes so I’m not going to bother which Google Reader for now. Call me stubborn, but I don’t care!

Ok, here’s another confession. I don’t really get Storify. I thought it would be like a story (start, middle and end) but the ones I’ve seen so far seem to mainly be a collection of tweets from conferences. Maybe I’m being too literal about this? Maybe I’ve not seen the right ones to convince me yet? I clicked on ‘create a story’ anyway, and my work browser is not supported by them, so I can’t do it anyway! Ha!

Other current awareness tools I use
I subscribe to various JISCMail lists (28, it turns out!) – I find them useful to keep an eye on different library sectors or aspects of library world. As my job is an all-over library adviser I do need to know about most aspects of librarianship. Although Phil Bradley has commented in several recent presentations at conferences that he no longer finds them useful, I utilise the daily digest function so that I only get 1 email per list per day (and some lists have messages only once every few weeks, so I often only get about 5-8 JISCMail emails a day). In Wales the LIS-WALES is the best way to reach a large number of librarians. I was also taught a trick of seeing who / how many people subscribe to each list – I can no longer remember how to do this though! Oh, and on Netvibes you can put feeds to JISCMail lists on your page so you check them from there, and you don’t even have to be subscribed to a particular list to have its feed on your page.

I would like to experiment with Just this week my line manager and I were discussing ways our organisation could utitlise social media (it’s only me doing it at present – I’m just SO advanced…). I reminded him not to start with the tool (see my blog post on that) but to start off with what we want to communicate, to whom, why etc. I mentioned I was going to be looking at and we got quite excited about that idea! I like the look of it much better than Storify. [Update – since writing this I’ve just had a play with and think it’s going to work! I might produce a ‘magazine’ on it next week.]

Time to consider your personal brand and your online presence. I’m not sure that I would view myself as a ‘brand’. I think a more helpful word would be ‘persona’. Thing 3 encourages us to reflect on our online presence including considering our name, photograph, professional vs personal identity and our visual identity/brand. An easy way to do this is by an Internet search. I have done this several times before (for I am slightly vain!) and because I’ve always been interested to see what’s ‘out there’ about me.

I searched for Alyson Tyler using a variety of search engines. First I used Everyclick (which is powered by Yahoo! and donates money to your chosen charity every time you search), but I didn’t appear on the first page of results – my Twitter account appears half way down the second page. Using DuckDuckGo my Twitter account comes 6th, and one of my slideshare presentations comes in at the bottom of the first page. Dogoogle is much better – I come first! It lists my Twitter account, slideshare, library blog, LinkedIn account. As you may have guessed from that search engine’s name it’s based on Google, but also supports dog charities. Using Ixquick (“the world’s most private search engine”), I came a long way down the first page, and only my LinkedIn profile was picked up. Finally I used Google. Although it listed various online presences of mine first in the results (same ones as Dogoogle), it still couldn’t resist asking ‘Did you mean alison tyler?’ No, I didn’t! I spelt my name correctly thank you. On all the search engines later pages brought up various presentations I’ve done, articles written, references to my on other websites, and a few things from a former brief career in publishing.

I  had to do this searching at home because I knew the results would be NSFW (Not Safe For Work). Do you want to know who does come up first or amongst my results? A woman called Alison Tyler (note different spelling) who is described as “a trollop with a laptop”, a prolific writer of ‘adult’ fiction, and other words that might set your filters on red alert! Some search engines automatically return images alongside the text of each result – this is useful in some cases, but not if you’re searching for me and are sat in an open plan office.

I also experimented with different search terms. Alyson CyMAL mainly brought up my library blog, whereas Alyson Aberystwyth brought up my yoga persona. This is interesting because I do have a double life (not in the erotic industry I assure you!). I am a qualified yoga teacher and teach yoga in Aberystwyth. If people are searching for my yoga classes, I need them to be able to find information about them easily.

So, presenting myself online I have to overcome most search engines’ desire to change my name and compete with a high profile ‘adult’ Alison, and I have to have both a library brand and a yoga brand.

I think both of my personas are generally quite well branded as ‘me’. In terms of my library brand, my Twitter accountlibrary blog, and slideshare are all professionally presented and I tend to use the name ‘libalyson’. During the recent CILIP Wales conference two people said hello to me having worked out who I was from my Twitter profile picture.

My yoga blog, my account (for uploading yoga handouts) and entry on different yoga directories eg Yoga Hub, are also quite consistent and professional.

The one site where my two professional brands overlap is LinkedIn. Like the Green Stone Librarian I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing on there and I have not activiely used it to make connections with people I already know. I’m hoping future Things will help me figure out why I’m on there and what I can do to increase my use of it or its usefulness to me.

I mainly have professional personas online, as opposed to personal ones as I’m not on Facebook currently. The one online area where I do have a more personal presence is Goodreads which I’ve recently joined. I have a hidden delicious account for my Internet bookmarks, although I plan to create a public version of that one day, and I have both a personal and a work Netvibes accounts, although the latter is also still hidden.

Finally, THIS blog is quite different. It’s slightly less ‘serious’ and I chose a WordPress theme that reflected some things about me (I’m female, green and would like to be a bit funky).

On reflecting on this week’s activity, I have looked at my picture on my library blog and slideshare and am going to change those [update – done the blog one]. I also experimented with the gravatar in WordPress and got it to work, finally, with a picture of me. I don’t believe every picture of me has to be the same one -it’s nice to have a bit of variety – but I need to change a couple of older ones or ones where you can’t see my face very clearly.

All in all, I’m not ashamed, embarrassed or afraid of my online ‘brand/s’. Phew!

et cetera