Awareness of Social Media was a frequent topic of both in-person lectures and online discussions during the Fall 2012 session of LIS 750. Most talk related to social media centered around two concepts: Social Searching and Competitive Intelligence.
Social Searching is the concept of using tools freely available online in order to examine the online presence of a individual or organization. Some of these tools include Bing’s social search tool, SocialMention, and Kurrently.
Competitive Intelligence is a related topic that centers around the ethical collection of publicly available data for a given entity. For example: How has (whatever company) been so successful with their Twitter campaign?
Moving forward, I’ll be interested to learn more about not just examining and evaluating data from social media, but also participating in the development of social media environments for specific situations. An example question to be answered: What’s the best way to use social media in a public library- not to promote library services, but to encourage learning and engagement among teenage patrons?
The answer to this hypothetical question is almost certainly not simply to shoehorn more teen-oriented content into the library’s general Twitter feed. It seems unlikely that teens would look to that outlet for content specific to them. Social media-based educational environments like Edmodo could be considered, working as a collaboration between community education professionals and library staff.
Another consideration to include in attempting to answer the posed hypothetical: should mobility be a consideration in whatever platform is utilized? Teens, perhaps more than any other segment, have certainly embraced the mobile web. Will the social media platform introduced be easily accessible for mobile devices?
This example problem (and the questions that arise stemming from it) is the type of examination I’m most interested in pursuing in the future, now that Information Storage and Retrieval (LIS 750) has provided a solid foundation.
In order to conduct a proper evaluation of a website, there are five factors that must be considered. They are:
Accuracy- The legitamacy of the information presented is obviously important. Examples of highly accurate websites might be government sites or international bodies such as the United Nations. A personal website or blog, on the other hand, may include information that is factually incorrect.
Authority- The authority of a website is a question of authorship: who or what body is providing the given content? Content submitted by a peer-reviewed author holds more weight than the content provided by someone speaking outside their field of expertise. The content of a respected web journal such as First Monday carries more weight than that of a given Wikipedia article, where there is little limitation on authorship.
Currency- Currency, as the name implies, is a matter of how current the content of a site is. This factor is important to more than just news sites: constant developments in the fields such as science, technology, law, and health means that content needs to be added and/or altered in order to maintain correctness. Blogs and online trade journals are a pair of examples of frequently updated sites.
Objectivity- Much like authority, this factor again evaluates the provider of the content of a site. What motivations do they have for providing the content? Similarly, what motivations might they have for NOT providing other information on the topic? As an example, the website of a political party or movement may only provide content from one viewpoint on a given topic.
Coverage- When examining coverage, it is necessary to determine how the content of a website is being presented. Is the content primarily composed of images? Are external links provided to support assertions (or to provide opposing viewpoints)? Are facts cited properly, allowing the viewer to follow a chain of evidence? Online journals typically exemplify websites with strong coverage, whereas Pinterest and other social media sites frequently occupy the other extreme.
The first component that received considerable attention in LIS 750 was scholarly literature research tools. During this, the class focus turned to an evaulation of three of the more popular search tools available: Google Scholar, Academic Search by Microsoft, and the Web of Knowledge by Thomson Reuters. While all three varied some in function and user interface, all three provided an excellent means to search for scholarly literature in a variety of ways.
As future librarians and information professionals, the ability to locate scholarly literature and then evaluate the entry/author/publication is important, both to support our own work and to assist patrons and colleagues. Not only did this component of the class give an introduction to scholarly searching, but it also provided an environment for the evaluation of user interfaces. Never will all desired answers be found within a single setting; the ability to evaluate and get the most from a variety of user interfaces will be extremely important.
There has been a strong push towards ‘Web 2.0‘ and taking full advantage of social media as part of a digital presence in libraries. Many library websites, particularly those that serve the public, feature embedded twitter feeds and the ubiquitous ‘Like Us on Facebook‘ buttons. The end results of the incorporation of social media on a library website vary, but can involve more direct community interaction and a new method for disseminating news and information.
What’s often overlooked during this push, however, is the data that libraries can glean from the use of social media. What types of content shared are the community most interested in? How does the conversation continue once a library presses the ‘submit’ button on a tweet?
In LIS 750, the discussion on social media wasn’t solely an introduction to the various methods of conversation, but also on tools that are essential for libraries to utilize in order to evaluate social media efforts.