Well, I’ve gone done it. I’m on twitter @doubleG2718. My initial reaction was very similar to my reaction to betting at a racetrack for the first time: Oh! Now I get how this is addictive!

Twitter very helpfully provided me with a list of people to follow who I know very well in real life as well as various celebrities. Sure! I’ll follow all the people! Why not? Oh, hey. I guess I should probably track down those librarians I talked about in my blogging reflection. Ok, cool, got them. Check it! There’s that guy who wrote that really great book about mobile technology in libraries. I’ll follow him too! The class hashtag! Sweet! Now I can track down all the people in class, too. Not that much happening on the hashtag yet, but at least one former SIer is excited to see the hashtag start back up again…

And suddenly, there goes my entire evening.

It seems to me that Twitter occupies a space between blogging and Facebook. It can be very professional, like a blog. There are lots of opportunities for talking with people you’d never get the chance to talk with otherwise about professional stuff. You can follow conferences that you aren’t able to attend. You can get into tangential conversations about librarian geekery. But at the same time, my twitter feed has quickly become cluttered up with people complaining about their life, like on Facebook. Lots of posts about cats, wine, and insomnia. Lots of semi-personal conversations that should probably take place in another forum. I don’t especially like that links aren’t previewed on Twitter like they are on Facebook. I understand that’s the limitations of the medium, but it does send my paranioascope whistling.

I haven’t yet seen an instance of really deep thinking or interactions on my feed. I suppose it could happen. I’m a newbie after all. I guess I’m not pro- or anti-Twitter at the moment. I’m just letting it unfold organically.

Ok, reflections from last class. I’ve been thinking a lot about embedded librarianship and distance learning lately. We came up with some great suggestions in class about how librarians could become more embedded. I think that distance learning offers librarians the opportunity to become integral to the learning experience. I’m thinking about librarians being allowed into virtual classrooms and about librarians following student blogs. This way librarians can extend the amount of time that they spend really understanding the individual students and their needs. They can address these needs in various ways (screencasts, blog comments with resource suggestions, etc.). In many ways, having virtual learning spaces may help to solve some of the problems librarians have always faced in really getting to know and understand student needs because librarians can be constant observers in the process.

At the same time, this idealized view still suffers from a few problems that won’t ever go away. Not all faculty want you around, maybe especially if you’re going to be lurking constantly. You are not an instructor in their class, so why should you be given access to their classroom? Many librarians see themselves as instructors, and putting them right in the middle of a classroom could lead to turf battles that will not be beneficial to anyone, especially students. Exactly whose job is it to tell a student that their research topic isn’t great? The teacher’s or the librarian’s?

I really like the idea of a “buddy librarian” in a virtual learning space, especially if the librarian has some access to student work as well. One of the biggest problems I can see of distance learning is connecting students to resources. Having a personal librarian could go a long way towards helping students get what they need (even if the personal librarian is calling up the student’s local public library to set up a meeting with a librarian there) while helping them feel connected to their learning institution.


5 thoughts on “Twittering

  1. linguomancer says:

    I like the way you put it–a space between blogging and Facebook. I think that’s a pretty accurate description of the way Twitter functions.

    I also think the medium is fairly limited when it comes to really insightful content. 140 characters is fairly short, after all, and while you could post multiple tweets in a row to make a longer point, how many people are really going to do that, rather than just moving the thoughts into a more appropriate forum? It definitely does have its limits.

    • Miss Masura says:

      I also really resonated with your comment about Twitter being the middle ground between Facebook and blogging. It’s a grey area that combines both professionalism and private life; succinctness with depth; update with reflection.

  2. Naomi says:

    I agree that the balance between personal and professional isn’t clearly defined on Twitter- to uncomfortable results. A lot of the librarians who were really professional in the blogosphere were very unprofessional on Twitter, and yet posted under the same name and linked the accounts together. I found this strange.

    • Tyson says:

      Twitter seems like the best example I’ve seen yet of the uncomfortable relationship between the personal and the public with regard to social media. I think it’s something that really needs to be thought about if you’re going to use it, especially professionally.

  3. Tyson says:

    Part of the problem with librarians being “embedded” in virtual classrooms is that “virtual classrooms” aren’t very well-defined. Online courses are structured in lots of different ways and use lots of different communication methods and norms and expectations, with much greater variability than in traditional classrooms. They rarely take advantage of all the options that course management tools like Blackboard and Sakai enable. Integrating a librarian into an environment that is so different in so many different settings is going to be really tough.

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