23 Things for Research – Thing 8: RSS Feeds

Although I am familiar with RSS feeds, they’re not a social media tool I engaged with to the extent I did with others. I used to have a Google Reader account, set up when  I first did 23 Things, which I used quite regularly. I mostly subscribed to blogs of professional interest and a few personal interests too (OED Word of the Day, anyone?). I found Google Reader easy to use and easy on the eye. I stopped checking for updates once Google Reader disappeared, however. I’m not really sure why. I set up and transferred everything across to a Feedly account but I guess that the unfamiliarity dissuaded me from having the motivation to keep up-to-date.

I did find checking the RSS feeds a little tiresome. Checking that every day along with Twitter was getting time consuming and the blogs rarely had anything of interest. Having just logged into my Feedly account for the first time in ages, I have 69 new posts to look at. A lot of them look like Met Office warnings, actually, so I can click ‘mark as read’ on those.

I made a rather rash decision about half an hour ago not to give my Feedly account a spring clean but here I am, half an hour later having deleted lots of blogs that are either no longer active or no longer of interest to me. I have added a number of wonderful blogs that are current and will, hopefully, inspire me to check more often. Why did I change my mind? Since starting 23 Things for Research, I use all of the social media tools mentioned so far. It seemed silly to dismiss RSS Feeds because I hadn’t really taken to Feedly since Google Reader disappeared. And having just started CILIP Chartership, other librarians’ blogs seem like a valuable resource for me to use.

23 Things for Research – Thing 7: Twitter

I have been using Twitter for at least three years now. I started using it as a result of the 23 Things programme I completed four years ago. My use has ebbed and flowed. To start off with, I failed to recognise its value as a networking tool with other librarians and saw it as hard work. It frustrated me that there was so much to keep on top of. Every thirty seconds a new post would appear and I struggled to read everything. Now I know that it is key to browse and not spend hours reading every post.

My use of Twitter definitely went downhill when I worked for six months in archives, spending my days working underground. There was no internet connection and by the time I got home, far too much had happened for me to contemplate catching up.

My use of Twitter changed when I got a smart phone for the first time. When I went to Library Camp in Bristol, I was able to tweet about the interesting things that happened in the sessions I attended and I could see what other people were picking up on too, both from the same session and different sessions I hadn’t attended. If you’re trying to keep an eye on particular tweets on a particular subject area, it can be hard to pick then out from all of the other people who are tweeting at the same time. This is why the hashtag function exists to collate similar tweets together.

  • Hashtags:

Hastags are a word or phrase that use a hashtag (‘#’) at the beginning. For example, if you, and others, add the hashtag #chocolateconference13 to the end of your tweets, then all of these tweets can be collated when someone searches for the hastag. I don’t use hashtags that often, unless participating in a conference or course. I find that they seem to be used by some as a way of expressing further depths of emotion. For example, someone might write the tweet:

Went to the shops to find the dress I want to buy is out of stock & no longer being made #dressshoppingwoes

Rather than use the hashtag to bring together tweets on the same subject area, it has been used to show frustration in a jokey manner. It’s highly unlikely that this is a common hashtag and that someone will search by it. This doesn’t bother me, in fact, some of them are quite funny, but when used properly, hashtags can be very useful to find people’s opinions on a subject. People might be using a hashtag to discuss election results or even what’s happening in an episode of Sherlock.

  • Lists and Tweetdeck:

Rather than have one long stream of tweets to read, you can split them up into categories, or lists. You might have people in a ‘library’ list, other people in a ‘family and friends’ list, and another list for ‘celebrities’. This way, you can choose to narrow down what you are interested in updating yourself with.

I actually use Tweetdeck to organise my Twitter account. Tweetdeck allows your lists to be represented as columns:

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This way all of your lists are visible at the same time and you cam work your way across the same page. On Twitter, you have to look at your lists individually. On Tweetdeck, the name you gave the list appears at the top of the column. Every user that you assigned to that list will have their tweets appear in that column. I find Tweetdeck more user friendly than Twitter. it looks and operates cleanly and is simple to use.

I also have two accounts connected to my Tweetdeck account. My own personal profile and my workplace’s profile. This means that I only need to log into one site to access both profiles and can tweet from both profiles in the same place. Tweetdeck also allows you to schedule tweets down to the minute, so you don’t have to make sure you are somewhere with internet connection at a particular time with your finger hovering over the ‘tweet’ button.

 

  • Conclusion

Even now, with my experience of Twitter and using Tweetdeck, I fall behind with reading tweets. If I am particularly busy then I won’t have time to look at Tweetdeck at all or consider tweeting something myself. I also find that tweeting on behalf of my workplace adds to the load and that I tend to prioritise the promotion of the library’s profile over my own. Not that I think this is a bad thing but it is necessary to decide which is more important to maintain.