How many things? Only 23.

Well now, I’m almost done here, just two more things to go. Here’s one I should have done a few weeks ago, but was a little bit busy at the time.

Thing 17 is all about presenting, looking in particular at Prezi, but also Slideshare for tried (tired?) and tested Powerpoint slides.

Let’s start with the positives, cos I’m feeling relatively happy. I’ve been using Slideshare for a wee while (a year or so?) and it’s been useful to have somewhere in the public domain where I can place public talks I’ve given to groups of people, or talks at conferences etc. I also found out that it can be used to host documents as well, which I did for my sample business case for requesting a social media presence. I like being able to see how many people have viewed or downloaded my presentations in Slideshare.

One of the few downsides is that in order for someone to print or download a presentation in Slideshare they need to have an account. My line manager has cottoned on to the fact that I have an account and now sends me emails asking me to download and email him this or that presentation or print this or that one for him. Not a problem for me, but a bit of a barrier for the general user, especially if I’m off on my hols for two weeks! Another slight downside is mainly a problem within where I work as I can’t upload into Slideshare, so I have to email myself the .ppt to home and upload it from there, which is not really a problem as I also have to email it home if I want to put it on a memory stick to take to the conference/workshop anyway…

If you take a look at any of my presentations you’ll see they’re all a bit dull, and a bit samey. They break most of the presentation/powerpoint ‘rules’. And most are on the same sort of topic (CyMAL, libraries in Wales). I’m not sure if we have a Very Fixed rule in work on .ppt but we do have a template we’re meant to use. I try to liven it up with videos and images where possible, and I hope my presentation style is such that people aren’t bored in my talks. (Although seeing students texting or checking their smartphones during a lecture is very disconcerting. Am I (a) that boring, or (b) are they that important that they have to check for messages every 5 minutes? Wouldn’t have happened in my student days, I can tell you, not least because we used pen and paper to communicate … )

I’ve been wanting to liven my talks up for a while and have seen Prezi in action during the last couple of years, so Thing 17 was a great opportunity to finally make myself give it a whirl. But oh dear me what a disappointment! Although to be fair, it’s not really all Prezi’s fault. For some unknown and inexplicable reason, Prezi LOOKS like it’s working on my computer in work, but is infact, not working at all. It merilly let me do hours of work on my presentation but failed to point out that it wasn’t actually saving it! So, I go home at the weekend, all excited about showing my partner my new Prezi, and we log-in, and there’s nothing there! Oh the disappointment. And frustration. later, after repeating the work, it happens again so I ring the IT people in work but as it’s a 3rd party application they can’t (won’t) support it (ie won’t investigate what the problem is). I look at online forums (fora), and others seem to have the same problem – it cannot save. The suggestion of copy & paste into another tab just does not work. Prezi offers no explanation of why it’s not saving some prezis. We noticed at home that the version I was viewing in work was different from the one we accessed at home. Why? Is this a browser thing?

Anyway, I tried, I failed, but I had a bit of fun in the process. I think Prezi will be useful to get away from a boring linear talk and to present ideas more graphically. However, unless I’m allowed to do them all at home, and if I can ensure that I don’t give myself motion sickness in the making (playground roundabouts, lifts in buildings and being swung around in a ceilidh all give me sea sickness), then I will return to Prezi.

I looked at a couple of the resume (CVs) in Slideshare, and they looked fun. Nice idea.

Oh, as an aside – the name. I was chatting to a fellow librarian at a conference and I mentioned that I liked so-and-so’s Prezi – they thought I was just being uber-cool in calling the presentation a “prezi”. And at home my partner said ‘Shall we look at the prezis now?’ and I immediately thought we’d got presents for each other. What a disappointment. (Especially as my Prezi wasn’t there – see above.)

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