Current awareness is one of those crossover things. Rather than having its own category, it almost deserves no category because it is a vital component of others. So many other things serve the needs of current awareness. Because of this, I will boldly re-label this category “The Hunting and Gathering and Collecting and Curating Things” (HGCCT-used in both the singular and plural) and examine the sites and services accordingly. But first, let’s look at how libraries do and can use these things.
As discussed in prior posts, libraries need to (and many successfully are) reach out to their patrons and provide them, via modern digital means, with the traditional education (and entertainment), resource, and information sources as well as keep them informed of library happenings and manage their brand identity. They can do this in both general and specific ways. I won’t go into detail unless there is something unique to mention.
- Twitter – Now that I have told you that none of these things works to be called a tool for current awareness, allow me to retract that statement and claim that Twitter is a indeed a tool for current awareness. Twitterers send their tweets on all matters big and small, creating a massive flood of trivial minutiae. This is many folk think it’s too much to deal with. Like a flock of birds in a tree, en masse twittering becomes a cacophonous mess of jumbled tweets. This is where Twitter’s ability to integrate with other sites and services comes in handy. I may ignore most incoming tweets, on the lookout for some re-tweetable tidbit that might prove interesting to the readers of my Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Delicious, or Storify. Within itself I can use Twitter to “discover” content sent be Twitter users whom I do not follow (subscribe to), and thus track things of interest. These are called “twitter chats” You can enhance the interaction by specifically mentioning users using their nom de tweet (@scottbokash). As previously mentioned, hashtags were the creation of Twitter’s users, not of Twitter’s creators. The folks at Twitter and any other sensible site or service have learned to play nice and work with hashtags.
- Facebook- I’ll include Facebook here because it seems to be the most popular go-to site for a good many people. There is even a large contingent of folk whose entire internet experience is based on Facebook; it provides current awareness, game play, social and professional networking, multimedia entertainment, political propaganda, hogwash, poppycock, reality television, drama, and humor. Facebook is their homepage and quite often their only road on their digital journeys. If perchance they venture to another site, then it is because Facebook led them there. Like any good library, Facebook serves the gamut from inane to serious. IT may not always extend up into the scholarly, but it has potential. Because of this mass appeal, most other sited and services have learned to play nice with Facebook. On Facebook, I can post my tweets, show my YouTube video, post my latest blog entry, share a picture that takes you to my Pinterest board, Storify my latest rant, and provide a link to my RSS feed.
- Storify- Holy cow this is awesome! Storify is a social media curation tool that lets you easily search for items and drop them into an embeddable multimedia story. It’s a little like a pathfinder, but the ability to compile and arrange is fantastic. It is superior to Pinterest in its ability to add headings and comments. It can be compared to a research paper for the ADHD addled millennial mind. I can make an assertion, support it with embedded outside sources (no need for a works cited page), make my analysis, and draw my conclusion before Tweeting or posting my story to my Facebook or blog. Libraries can use Storify to create hiply digital pathfinders.
- Delicious is a bulletin board site where users can save collections of links. They are arranged quite neatly but rather blandly. Delicious makes great use of metadata with its tags. Each posting shows chunky user-defined tags. Readers can sort the board’s postings by tags to read only those postings they want. In cases of boards with scads of postings and the entire kingdom of Delicious, readers can search for specific tags and then continue to narrow their findings by adding more tags from sidebar of tags to their queries. This side bar is created by listing all of the other tags used for the postings with the initial tag. I found a useful post on the Information Tyrannosaur blog titled “Six Things Libraries Should Tweet” by searching Delicious for the tag “library,” then adding “socialnetworking” and “marketing.”
- Pinterest is the other popular bulletin board site where users can save collections of links. Aesthetically, the major difference between Delicious and Pinterest is where Delicious is a relatively bland collection, Pinterest is a beautifully busy visually-based site. Functionally, Pinterest does not have the same power to manipulate metadata as does Delicious. Socially, Pinterest wins because of the ability for users to easily “repin” posts and comment on those posts that prompt a reaction. With Pinterest and Delicious, I recommend libraries do both and post the same content. They seem to serve the same need and not to have too much crossover—pretty much like Coke and Pepsi.