Archive for the ‘community’ Category.

Meredith is more thoughtful than I

I find this both amusing and telling. Yesterday’s post about shrinking speaking engagements and conferences attracted zero comments here — but a number of comments on Facebook. So, I wrote in my Facebook status line yesterday:

fascinated as always by the fact that blog posts get a bunch of comments on facebook, none on the blog itself. It’s funny how conversations move over the years.

… which, in itself, got more comments on Facebook than any post here (yes, I know they’re dwindling :) ) has received in probably a year.

Then I went in my feedreader and ran across Meredith Farkas’ “W(h)ither blogging and the library blogosphere?” about microblogging and how it’s transforming the biblioblogosphere. (Sorry, I still like the word!) Meredith’s post? Up to 38 comments and counting. Is this because Meredith is an “A-list” blogger and has a bajillion readers? Or is it because she’s one of the few people still writing these long, thoughtful blog posts that she misses, and people want to be part of that conversation?

My other (totally nonlibrary) blog gathers many more comments than does The Liminal Librarian. Is this because I post more often there, or because of the topic, or because the people who are into that type of blog tend read it directly rather than on Facebook/FriendFeed?

Yes, I have more questions than answers. But am just wondering how people choose where to continue conversations online, and would love to… have a conversation about it! :)

Random thoughts on the attenuation of conversation

I’ve been playing happily with FriendFeed for over a month now, and quite enjoy it — the ongoing stream of conversation and links there, combined with the pokery of Facebook, give me the feeling of coming home to the multiuser chat boards of the early 1990s. I also enjoy the serendipity; I keep a FriendFeed window open that I dip into from time to time during the day, and always see at least one or two links/comments worth further exploration (or simple amusement!).

One thing that nags at me, though, is the way in which using multiple sites fragments conversation. Someone might comment on my Facebook status on FriendFeed, for instance, but my Facebook friends won’t see that comment or be able to join in the conversation. Someone might comment on a blog post on Facebook, but readers over here will miss that discussion entirely. (Let alone, I haven’t even made it to twitter yet — and probably won’t, since I can’t afford another time suck!)

Over at Walt at Random, Steve Lawson comments on the usefulness of FriendFeed, saying in part:

You will see that some blog posts that got very few comment have actually sparked a discussion on FF. Also helpful for blogs like Caveat Lector that don’t have comments enabled.

I pull blog posts into both FriendFeed and Facebook, and notice that posts (and Flickr photos, for that matter) that garner no comments at “home” may get comments elsewhere. This is neat, but again leaves no record here and doesn’t inspire blog readers to join in the conversation.

Ironically enough, I recently saw a link to the following on FriendFeed (there’s that serendipity again…)

Dear Blog,

I feel like I have neglected you to hang out on Facebook and even sneak off with Twitter.  I am so busy these days communicating about what I am doing, thinking, eating, watching etc that I really have little time for a deeper relationship like ours.  Oh, blog.  You were my first love (if you forget my youthful romance with bulletin boards, chat, and texting).  Well, in any case you were my only serious commitment but that was before I met Facebook. You see, on Facebook people actually communicate back to me but almost no one ever posts on you my dear blog.

I’ve been trying to get back to my own Dear Blog, but admit that the ease of a 2-second status update on Facebook is generally a more seductive pull — and that friends (or “friends”) over there are likely to comment, where here it’s a more hit or miss proposition.

Where these thoughts are leading, I’m not yet sure. But, feel free to subscribe to me on FriendFeed, and I’ll likely return the favor — and comment here, there, and everywhere! :)

Brief references to the whole OMG publishing as we know it is ending theme

I blog, I blog again, then more articles cross my radar — while book publishing may be having its troubles, people aren’t running out of things to say any time soon. So, briefly noted, some recent publishing- and book buying-related squibs:

  • One thought on helping the industry recover would be: stop buying fake memoirs, people.
  • The Motley Fool thinks the publishing business will survive.
  • Used-book-buyer types might enjoy “Bargain Hunting for Books, and feeling sheepish about it” over at the NYT.

And, on a semi-related note and taking an interesting approach, the post “Academic Evolution: The Book” over at Academic Evolution notes:

This blog is intended to become Academic Evolution, the book. My model is Chris Anderson, whose Long Tail blog helped bring about his seminal book of the same name. Similarly, I am beta testing my ideas, developing them in keeping with the principle of transparency and with the goal of inviting public review and collaboration. I’m smart enough to know others are often much smarter, and I firmly believe that publishing one’s thinking process improves it.

If I’m remembering right, The Long Tail grew out of the Wired article, with the blog collecting data along the way and post-publication, but I like the acknowledgement here of the inherently collaborative process involved in creating a book, and look forward to seeing how the project develops.

And watch the copyright lawsuits fly…

Have you all seen yet?

Mygazines is your free place to browse, share, archive and customize unlimited magazine articles uploaded by you, the Mygazines community.

If you prefer print to video, you can now upload scans of your magazines here, rather than uploading stuff you’ve grabbed off the DVR to YouTube. They also incorporate some social networking features, and if you create a free account you have the ability to create your own “mygazines” of favorite articles, in addition to browsing articles and reading entire issues.

(It’s heinous slow at the moment; they have an “experiencing technical issues” note on the homepage. But fascinating, nonetheless.)

New forums @

I launched online forums @ today, and would love to see you all there! Here’s my official shiny press release on the subject.


For further information, contact Rachel Singer Gordon,

January 2, 2008 Launches Online Community

New discussion forums now open, the largest free library career portal on the Internet, is pleased to announce the launch of its new online community for librarians. Devoted entirely to career development and job hunting, these forums provide a space for librarians, LIS students, library workers, and information professionals to discuss professional development issues:

“I’m excited to be able to offer this space for collaboration and discussion,” says Rachel Singer Gordon, webmaster, “As librarians, we know that we work and learn best in community — I look forward to watching the forums grow.” Current forum moderators include:

  • Michael Stephens, LIS schools
  • Jess Bruckner, Jumpstart your career
  • Meredith Farkas, Professional development and participation
  • Susanne Markgren, Talking tenure
  • Kim Dority, Professional writing
  • Sophie Brookover, Work/life balance

 In recent related developments, Info Career Trends,’s professional development newsletter, has moved to the Wordpress platform to better serve its subscribers. Its long-time career Q&A columnists, Tiffany Allen and Susanne Markgren, have moved to their own blog, and author/entrepreneur Kim Dority joins in with her new monthly column on “Rethinking Information Careers.”

Info Career Trends continues to fill an underserved niche, devoted entirely to career and professional development issues for librarians and information professionals. The newsletter and column content are accessible at: Rachel Singer Gordon shares: “I’m so pleased to bring Kim on board, and to watch the Library Career People column evolve in its new blog format. I look forward to hearing others’ opinions across the online community.”, launched in 1996, provides free library-related job listings to both employers and job seekers, as well as related services from resume postings to career development blogs.


Online community:

Info Career Trends newsletter:

Contact: Rachel Singer Gordon,

Facebook cracks me up

Putting the social in software

I have been a somewhat late convert to most forms of social software, but today I have a warm and fuzzy feeling because of those of you who have commented about Sam’s arrival here, on my Flickr, or on my Facebook Wall. Thanks, guys!

Absolutely Scrabulous

The Scrabulous application over on Facebook may make me a reluctant convert yet. Come play with me! :)


My non-librarian lists are abuzz with the OTC release of alli. If you haven’t heard of this, it’s a new FDA-approved lower-strength dose of Xenical, a prescription weight-loss drug that prevents the absorption of some of the fat in your diet. I think we could take a marketing lesson from these people — check out what they list under “treatment effects:”

alliâ„¢ works by preventing the absorption of some of the fat you eat. The fat passes out of your body, so you may have bowel changes, known as treatment effects. You may get:

  • gas with oily spotting
  • loose stools
  • more frequent stools that may be hard to control

What to expect

The excess fat that passes out of your body is not harmful. In fact, you may recognize it as something that looks like the oil on top of a pizza. Eating a low-fat diet lowers the chance of these bowel changes. Limit fat intake in your meals to an average of 15 grams.

  • You may feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom. Until you have a sense of any treatment effects, it’s probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work
  • You may not usually get gassy, but it’s a possibility when you take alli. The bathroom is really the best place to go when that happens

Leaving aside the fact that delving too deeply into these effects might put you off eating to the point where you don’t need drugs, people are excited about taking this stuff. What can we learn from this, aside from the importance of wearing dark pants?

1) The power of positive spin. Alli suggests users might appreciate these “treatment effects” because they act like a “security guard,” making you think twice before eating something you shouldn’t — kind of the Antabuse approach to diet.

2) If people want what you have to offer badly enough, they’ll put up with a heck of a lot to get it. Alli’s work is mostly done in advance, given our cultural obsession with weight. How do we get to the point where our services are seen as being this essential?

3) The power of community. When users buy alli, they’re not just buying pills, they’re buying into a customized weight loss plan, an online community where dieters receive personalized feedback and support, and the idea that they are “partnering” with alli in their weight loss efforts. Even the name — pronounced “ally” — implies partnership.

4) People are willing to pay for what they value. A 60-pill alli starter pack costs about $49.99, and you’re supposed to take about 3 a day. Its manufacturer expects to sell about $1.5 billion worth this year.

5) There are companion books out — if you work in a public library, you might anticipate demand, or might anticipate a little run on weight-loss and nutrition books in general. Make a display!

6) People love a quick fix. Again, where here can we show that we add value and quickly meet people’s needs?

7) People, apparently, appreciate candor. The manufacturer is pretty upfront about alli’s effects, positive spin or no, and puts the information right out there. How about that for embracing transparency?

Some of these may be more of a stretch than others — but there really are marketing lessons to be learned here. Check out alli’s slick little web site; look at the language and images they use; think about the implications.

Boundaries and Bubbles

I didn’t write about the horrifying Kathy Sierra situation a while back; the most I could add was a “me too” to that outraged chorus. This did, though, get me thinking about these concepts of “community” and “social” we’ve been tossing around, and about the blurring of boundaries between our online and offline lives.

We’re still so startled when a situation like this intrudes into our online lives, no matter how much time we spend telling our patrons to watch what they post on MySpace and how much time we spend telling our colleagues that what they say online will follow them forever. I know intellectually that random strangers can easily find my posts here in Google and run across discussion list posts from ten years ago. This keeps me from crossing certain lines, but I still write as if I’m talking to a community of friends and colleagues — and, for the most part, I am, even though I face the occasional angry e-mail or confrontation at a conference. I similarly believe that, for the most part, my neighbors are decent people — even though one has loud parties, and another lets his large and somewhat scary dogs run free, and another tends to back into our mailbox, and this one is feuding with that one, and… I still believe that, for the most part, public libraries are wonderful institutions, even though patrons at mfpow have thrown things at me, cursed me out, vandalized restrooms, and punched a former colleague in the face.

Online communities get messy because people don’t cease being themselves when they get online — and any antisocial tendencies are exacerbated when you don’t have to see your victim face-to-face. The same openness necessary to building that sense of community also leaves us open to those who want to tear these communities down, just as the openness that makes public libraries such special and vibrant institutions also makes them places where you don’t necessarily want to let your children wander around unattended.

When we talk about online community and the “social” in software, we need to do so with the same awareness. Just as we need to be aware of the temptation of technolust when thinking about exciting new technologies, we need to be aware of the temptation of connectionlust when thinking about the communities we and our patrons build online. We need to balance our enthusiasm for new possibilities with an awareness of our responsibilities and mission, and an awareness that, when you’re dealing with people, life gets messy.