On not social media

I’m going to be honest, here. At the very core of me, I don’t like to “be out there” in any sense, and I’m totally aware that that’s a major factor in my aversion to posting to any type of social media platform. It’s weird to me!

But getting beyond that, I know that providing access to content on multiple platforms is a great way to share content. I mean, Jian Ghomeshi says so… and I get that! I really do! I know that there are some things that just speak clearer through a particular navigation platform or a certain layout or a given media format. Information can take a new life in different places. Twitter can to be, among other things: an open and informal forum between people in distant places, a self-directed news feed or a modern ticker tape, a diary, a chat forum for friends and families, a campaign platform, and so much more. That’s why it’s so powerful.

But beyond my own discomfort at creating and sharing content on a regular basis, I’ve got a couple of reasons why I don’t really want to support multiple media platforms on my blog just yet.

A lot of the talk around social media envisions a new and radically open experience of human communication, one in which pretty much anything goes. In reality, though, there are interminable lists on proper social media etiquette. Take twitter, for example. Lists like this one and this one and this one: all lists on the dos and the don’ts of the social media universe that provide insight into navigating the unspoken protocols that organize networks of people. This isn’t new – newbies have been fumbling around forums making digital faux-pas for as long as TCP/IP has been a thing.  Like any skill, communication on different platforms takes time and effort to learn properly. But at the same time, this stuff is anxiety inducing – strategize! Use more hashtags! Use less hashtags! Don’t just tweet 9-5, connect constantly! SHEA BENNETT WANTS YOU TO KNOW YOUR KLOUT SCORE ISN’T HIGH ENOUGH. I mean, I guess it’s great for new users that there are modern day equivalents of etiquette guides available. Each platform is different, and I feel that there’s an initiation phase to rolling out on a new one. Keeping up with best practice takes a lot of time and effort, and figuring it out alone would be very difficult. But my point is this: if we’re not free to communicate how we want – and if it’s professional, I think we do have to fit ourselves into some kind of etiquette box – isn’t this another way in which we’re constantly connected to the workplace? Well, yes and no. I mean, there are a lot of great librarian rants out there. But I do think that there are limits to what librarians feel they can write about when their identity is associated with the content (as of course it must be on a professional blog). And I think that there is a requirement to put oneself into the professional mindset to write this type of content.

There’s also a tension between social media as the self-publishing, freewheeling voice of the people kind of platform, and social media as a type of ‘Keynesian Beauty Contest’. For anyone who hasn’t heard of it before, the latter comes from the economist John Maynard Keynes, who described a beauty contest where the spectators would win a prize for picking the face voted by everyone else to be the most beautiful. (I always thought this was counterintuitive because it’s not at all like beauty contests as we think of them, but for some reason the idea sticks with me.)  Keynes points out that if you want to win, you shouldn’t pick the most beautiful face, but the one that you think that everyone else thinks is the most beautiful – not always the same thing. Keynes’ metaphor was directed toward stock market speculators, not twitter-account-holders, but my comparison is intentional. We know that there’s real value out there in identifying what’s popular and catering to that middle ground, because that’s the stuff brings the people, and the people bring the advertising dollars. So if you can get there first, there’s money in it – or at least a kind of crowdsourced validation, as you watch your likes and karma and page hits tick upward.

This line of thinking is a bit hyperbolic. I don’t think that this is some kind of first or only rule of social media content. There are some amazing blogs out there that are pathbreaking and candid. Nor will I pretend that by avoiding social media I’m making a purely principled stand (see top). But it is relevant, and it’s something that bothers me, and I need to evaluate it for a while before I’m comfortable letting it go. From the professional perspective, I don’t know that I’d be able to update content frequently enough, or stay relevant on each platform sufficiently, that a second account on twitter, or tumblr, or instagram is justified. And while I don’t agree with the idea of constant connectivity, I do agree that there’s something unsettling about an abandoned or poorly maintained account.

In the end, my thoughts around this are messy. I’m not sure whether it’s newbie anxiety or professional concerns. Likely it’s both, and when I deal with both of those, I’ll dive into the social media scene. But I just don’t think I’m ready yet…so instead, enjoy this link to a brand new fake Epcot Center twitter account! TELL YOUR FRIENDS YOU SAW IT HERE FIRST.


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Site: Swatch You Doing?

This is one of the best swatch comparison program I’ve seen. Check it out

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November 27, 2013 · 5:40 pm

Also, check out this great test document I’ve uploaded!



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November 14, 2013 · 3:44 am

Stay Sharp…on Open Access

Screen shot 2013-11-13 at 5.57.07 PM

Don’t publish here…

I’ve recently been taking a closer look at the publishing models for Open Access (OA) scholarship. The Open Access movement advocates for free access and increased usage rights, up the maximum allowable within the legal context of the material in question.

OA has the potential to subvert traditional for-profit publishing models, transferring power away from publishers and toward users and the public in general. The developments in OA have the potential to make it one of the most exciting fields in scholarly information practice, but there’s a gap between the vision and the implementation of Open Access, however, and researchers are still trying to identify ways to bridge that gap.

For example, one of the popular models of OA publishing – the so-called ‘Gold’ model – often asks authors to pay in order to publish their work. It’s been noted that this model creates a conflict of interest for the publisher, and can encourage the proliferation of academically unsound or predatory practices in the publishing field. Fuelled by the intense pressure on academics to publish, publishers with unsavoury reputations are popping up all over the place.

Jeffrey Beall is a tenured Academic Librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver who has published extensively on the subject of “predatory publishing”. Since 2012, he has maintained a blog, scholarlyOA.com, containing critical analysis of the variety of open access journals. In particular, the blog is dedicated to identifying what he calls ‘predatory’ practices in the OA publishing world. According to his website, he’s been actively involved in researching this subject since 2009.  The archives of scholarlyOA.com are available back to January 2012. The central feature of the blog is Beall’s List, a directory of online publishers and journals that exhibit behaviours that call into question their academic integrity. Publishers are listed for inclusion in accordance with Beall’s Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers (2nd edition), which can be found here.

I’d heard about fraudulent academic publishing practices before, but hadn’t made the connection with author-pays OA publishing. This is, apparently, big business. According to a study by Wuhan University, as quoted by The Economist, the underground market in fraudulent scholarly research was worth $150 million dollars in 2009 and had grown five-fold in the two years prior to that date. Though the criminals running these sites have mounted a campaign of rumour and misinformation against critics (see the comments section), far more integral to the maintenance of their business model is the continued demand for fraudulent material that boosts the metrics that measure the breadth of publishing.

Librarians must play a role as gatekeepers, using training that allows them to sort the excellent from the good, and the good from the rest. Collection development is a core competency of our discipline, and it makes sense to think of developing open access subject guides as similar to acquiring certain resources. Although the monetary cost isn’t there, we still need to   Bad news travels fast, and there’s no doubt that these publications are bad news. If it’s only the bad news that makes it to the faculty, it may well discourage contributions that might help increase the profile of a legitimate OA publisher. It’s incumbent on supporters of OA to know how to tell the difference between the good and the bad.

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A utopian gamechanger that breaks the shackles of nine-to-five drudgery, or a time-sucking Ponzi scheme based on getting better at getting better at technology? You decide! A thought provoking and very readable critical book review by Evgeny Morozov. (Spoiler: Evgeny Morozov is already decided.)



The larger point is, no tech jargon that has wrapped around it a veneer of ‘this will make your life better’ should go unquestioned.

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