I used the word "game changer" in my last post, and there were two others in my recent history. One was the discovery of blogs and RSS feeds in 2003, which, when I learned about them at a conference, then I made a connection and saw the potential, and started a blog. Also downloaded a feed reader and loaded so many feeds into it that finally it wouldn't load. Yet a world had opened up and there were new discoveries to make each day.
Slowly, I started making connections with other bloggers. A woman at my university, whose work I admired, got in touch with me and let me know there was a blog group meeting on Thursday nights. However, I didn't meet her until I attended a blogging conference that fall. Then I joined the group. It was fun to sit and learn about new aspects of blogging that seemed exciting, but which I never put into play: podcasts, OPML, to name some. My friend and I met at library conferences and participated on several panels together, talking about how we used blogs for information management and why a librarian or library should start a blog. She always encouraged me and is a remarkable, insightful, hard-working individual, not just tech and job-savvy, but well-read, active, into knitting, clog-dancing and having fun.
Those blog groups were fun, we'd talk technology and then go out to dinner and talk more technology. It was a forum where many people learned about getting started with blogging and the range of things that could be done with blogs, sharing news, building communities (like one a woman made for her town and what was going on there,) politics, international issues, science and science librarianship in my case. After I stopped attending regularly several years ago, the group had evolved into something that discussed all sorts of technologies, calling itself a blog and technology group. I don't know what the current status is.
So I continued to read my feeds through Bloglines, which worked most of the time, and then a couple of years ago gave Twitter a look. When I first heard of it, I didn't understand its use. Microblogging? Short snippets of nothing? Then, when I realized it was another content sharing and distribution device, another game changer. I tweeted whatever was interesting, built a following, made connections with people with similar interests (even met some at a conference that I learned about through Twitter,) and perhaps became overwhelmed as I had with blogs and RSS feeds. Today I'm looking for an elusive balance and some sort of strategy. I believe that libraries can use social media to good effect, but I have nothing to quantify it, only examples that I have seen here and there. I don't know the best way to reach patrons who are not using these tools, is it just librarians speaking to one another, or is it as Aaron Tay puts it, a way not to think like a librarian, a way to expand my perspective? I don't know what's next or if these tools will soon seem antiquated like blinking 1990s websites with frames.