Evaluative Report: Part B

Reflective Statement

A reflective statement on your development as a social networker as a result of studying INF506, and the implications for your development as an information professional.

As a result of studying INF506 I have explored and engaged with many social networking tools. Within my first OLJ post ‘social networking: definition, history and expectations’ I posted my definition of social networking as:

‘The creation, publishing and sharing of information with others via a digital medium, leading to interaction, collaboration and the formation of online communities based on shared interests or any other common factor, adding to the overall social life of each social networker’.

I feel that this definition accurately reflects my experience of social networking over the session. In that initial post I also stated that I was quite skeptical of social networking, following a negative experience with Facebook. I stated my goals as being to learn about the value of social networking for information professionals and for education, and to learn more about Web 2.0 technologies. I’m pleased to say that these goals have been fully achieved.

I have also learnt, however, that evaluation of online material is more important than ever. As stated in my blog post ‘finding authentic information’ the amount of information available online today makes the correct selection of resources extremely difficult, but increasingly important. Wittenberg (2007) captures this concept perfectly by stating that ‘the vast amount of information now available can be either a benefit or an obstacle to effective research and learning, depending on how successfully users evaluate the quality of this information and its relevance to their own work’. Whilst studying INF506 I have learnt to be a discerning consumer of user generated content, paying attention to the relevant and ignoring the irrelevant. I have also learnt that many social networking sites have settings that help the user achieve this by filtering viewable content.

My exploration of social networking tools over the session has exposed me to blogs, wikis, podcasting, tagging, QR codes, mashups, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, virtual worlds, Twitter, Google+, delicious and RSS, with the effect of broadening my concept of where information resources come from. As an information professional this has great implications, opening up sources of information that I may have previously ignored. This will  impact on my daily work, my professional development and the formation of professional networks with which I can share information about relevant topics. It has provided me with many new ways to stay informed and up to date.

At times I realize I could have contributed more to some of the social media forums, such as Facebook. After reading Bernoff (2010) I think I am more of a spectator/collector rather than a creator or conversationalist. However, whilst I will attempt to correct this I think my personality may always lean towards the former. I also feel that I could have tried harder to use second life, but a frustrating start and time constraints prevented this.

I feel I have come to fully understand the importance of social media for libraries, which is something that I’d failed to grasp previously. Blog posts by Brown (2010) and Burkhardt (2009) particularly helped with this concept.

Now that the session for INF506 is nearly over I will continue to explore and expand my use of social networking. I think in my personal life I will never be a prolific social media user, but in my professional life l I might be. I’m particularly excited about continuing to develop a personal learning network as demonstrated by Smith (2008). I may even experiment with second life now that I have more time to enjoy the process.

However, I have also discovered that it can be overwhelming and counter-productive to attempt to use too many technologies at once. Brown (2009) suggests that ‘most people find that any more than four sites are too many on which to be active’, whilst Bidenac (2012) states that ‘you cannot be all things to all people’. I have found this to be a great truth and so will concentrate on regularly using four social media tools, most probably Facebook, delicious, Twitter and RSS. I think in this way I will gain the most from these tools and enjoy the content that they offer. Farkas (2008) has also taught me the importance of evaluating social networking tools against the needs of individuals, organizations and communities, and this advice that will stay with me throughout my career as an information professional.

In conclusion, INF506 has been an enjoyable, rewarding, and at times challenging, subject that has resulted in this reluctant user of social media becoming a confident user who is willing to experiment and learn from social networking tools and enjoy all the benefits that they offer.

 

Bernoff, J (2010, January 19) Social Technographics: Conversationalists get onto the ladder [Web log post].Retrieved from: http://forrester.typepad.com/groundswell/2010/01/conversationalists-get-onto-the-ladder.html

Bidanec, A (2012, September 11) How to design an effective social media strategy for your business [Web log post]. Retrieved from: http://www.examiner.com/article/how-to-design-an-effective-social-media-strategy-for-your-business

Brown, A. L (2009, July 30) Developing an Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy [Web log post]. Retrieved from: http://www.examiner.com/article/developing-an-effective-social-media-marketing-strategy

Brown, A. L (2010, January 22) A-Z of Social Networking for Libraries. [Web log post]. Retrieved from: http://socialnetworkinglibrarian.com/2010/01/22/a-to-z-of-social-networking-for-libraries/

Burkhardt, A (2009, August 25) Four Reasons Libraries Should be on Social Media [Web log post]. Retrieved from: http://andyburkhardt.com/2009/08/25/four-reasons-libraries-should-be-on-social-media/

Farkas, M. G. (2008, January 24) The essence of Library 2.0? [Web log post]. Retrieved from: http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2008/01/24/the-essence-of-library-20/

Guymer, D (2012, July 12) Social Networking: Definition, history and expectations [Web log post]. Retrieved from: http://jaspersknowledge.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/social-networking-definition-history-and-expectations/

Guymer, D (2012, October 1) Finding Authentic Information [Web log post]. Retrieved from: http://jaspersknowledge.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/finding-authentic-information/

Smith, B (2008, October 22) Creating an Online Personal Network. Retrieved from: http://www.slideshare.net/bethanyvsmith/creating-an-online-personal-learning-network-presentation?from=ss_embed

Wittenberg, K (2007) Credibility of content and the future of research, learning, and publishing in the digital environment. The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 10(1). Retrieved from: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=jep;cc=jep;rgn=main;view=text;idno=3336451.0010.101

 

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