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A break from social media ~ reflection

After I took a week off from social media, one of the first posts I came across on Facebook contained this video. The post was followed with a series of comments about the use of phones and our loss of connection with being ‘in the moment’. Prior to my break from social media, I would have agreed that the phone is the issue but after my self-imposed break, I discovered that without the lure of social media, I rarely reached for the phone. Instead, the phone lay dormant on the table attached to the charger for hours. My break from social media, indicated it was the lure of social connection and interaction that kept that phone close at hand.

I have come across a few articles recently, debating the negatives and positives of social media. One article highlight’s narcissism, and self PR campaigns, in the individual use of social media as a misconstrued need to display a sense of constant awesomeness. On the other hand, this debate in the New York Times points to the virtues of access to an audience, self publishing and instant interaction as presenting opportunities for individual growth.

Interestingly, being without social media is not all positive, just as being constantly connected is not all positive. A friend (from my social media world) joined me in my mission to abstain from social media for a week and we shared insights about the experience via SMS. He shared this article ‘I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet’. What is interesting in this article is how the writer chronicles his personal experience of taking a year off the internet concluding that the positive/negative divide is not straight forward.

I decided to switch off social media for a week, beginning just two days before New Years Eve 2013. Celebratory times often attract increased posting, so it was going to be a challenge. The decision was spontaneous and partly based around my perception that my contributions were tired and felt somewhat laboured in the month of December. You see, I had been online since the end of 2011 diving into many social media apps including; Instagram, Facebook, Momentage, Backspaces, Twitter, Vine, Picyou, Eyeem, taada, Streamzoo, Wattpad, lightt, Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger, Pheed, Scoop.it…

and the list goes on…..

The majority of these apps were a process of trialling for evaluation purposes, so my presence was short lived. However, my presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Vine have been constant. I’m not certain how much time I spent online with my phone, but it was definitely daily and on all four platforms. I would check each app every morning and participate in conversations, contribute content, check events, click on posted links and read/view content shared, read collated stories from Zite, share to targeted and appropriate social networks and so on and so forth… I’m pretty sure that was just two hours in the morning. I haven’t calculated time throughout the day nor the relax time after the evening meal when the kids are in bed… To say the least, four hours of online engagement may be an underestimate….. if I was being honest… (jaw dropping to the floor in realisation!)

I was feeling socially exhausted and needed to retreat, to think and refresh. The need to question the value of my contributions, the purpose, my connections and interactions seemed quite strong both online and in real life. Even with interactions IRL (in real life) I often feel the need to retreat and gather strength so that I can be social again. I suppose the virtual world had reached that point too.

Without social media, it became apparent quickly how few my connections are. SMS, email and phone are definitely much less active and interactions come from fewer people. The world felt somewhat silent. On a positive note, I relaxed more and just took time out. I even finished a novel in one night (it was a short novel). My time with my kids was less interrupted and seemed more positive. More than anything, my kids loved how unhurried I appeared. As a qualifier, this was the holiday time so relaxation was on the menu regardless. I actually started to feel relaxed and recharged too.

I found my thought processes seemed less hurried and distracted. I could think about what ‘it’ is about social media that is positive and consider the benefits of social networks online. I certainly missed my interactions and conversations with people that I connected with online and was looking forward to the time I could interact again. I discovered finding articles of interest, with no-one to share, made the conversation and knowledge construction seem far less interesting and rewarding without the social media platforms.

Without social media, the web is very static. Just reading articles and not contributing to conversation and adding to knowledge is something I tire from quickly. I suppose, knowledge is constructive and involves conversation. Social media has enabled this. With the networks that are formed, based around communities of interest, we are able to obtain various insights and access to information that is pertinent to specific interest areas. This helps to build on our thoughts, triggering connections with ideas we have come across and prompting further sharing and knowledge construction. In my social media networks, my communities of interest have developed around street art, writing, information access, arts, filmmaking and activism. With these areas I’ve connected with groups and conversations specific to these areas. Not all the people I connect with are connected with each other. Instead communities exist as various circles of interest that sometimes intersect but mostly remain distinct. Ultimately, this is what I view as a positive aspect of social media alongside the possibility of extending online relationships to real life relationships and vice versa.

So in 2014, one of my key resolutions is to increase my collaborative creative efforts with people from my social media world with a focus on improving both online and ‘in real life’ interactions. It is this aspect of social media, over the past couple of years, that has provided the most rewarding experiences. Clearly, this is the ultimate positive enablement of virtual communities.

Another resolution is to take breaks from social media. After a week’s break, I came back feeling refreshed, filled with ideas and wanting to contribute again. I’ve identified social interaction in the virtual world as no different to social interaction IRL, in terms of the need for retreat to replenish… in my case anyway. Just as I need a break to recharge IRL I also need this in the virtual world. Otherwise, I start feeling exhausted and unable to contribute.

 

 

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Internet Rising

Currently I am studying The Information Society and our first task is focussed on defining the key elements of what an information society is. So what is the information age, network society, the digital age, knowldedge society or any other terms that we often use interchangeably to define this period?

I came across the following documentary that is a digital mashup courtesy of amipress. I highly recommend viewing this… It is a pretty good start in considering many of the concepts before us.

 

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The Future is Now ~ Are you ready for a Library 2.0?


Shattuck_C28620, Spider webs, near Bungendore, NSW

Spiderwebs near Bungendore, NSW cc licensed and shared by SouthernAnts


The concept of ‘Web’ takes prominence today in how we view information and links to information. This is an important visualisation to ponder as it is this particular visual that holds the key to our future and present as an information society. The metaphor of the web and its importance in conceptualising and realisation of networked information societies continues. A web as a visual, not only represents network links and strength but acts as a metaphor for a basic Web 2.0 principle of harnessing collective intelligence thereby strengthening the overall web. O’Reilly (2005) points out that as the web works via hyperlinking, the addition of new content and new sites by more users provides the basis for the strengthening of the web. This is because as other users link to content via discovery the links bind and strengthen and hence the overall structure is strengthened. Not unlike how synapses in a brain strengthen with repeated associations (O’Reilly, 2005).

In imagining a future, I want to start in the past of future imagining. The following clip is an example.
http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x35r4m
The Future is Now (1955) by donaldtheduckie

This clip is part of a long line of what can be termed ‘futurists’, Coyle (2006).  Another work of significance that I have recently discovered is Bush(1945), ‘As we may think’. In this work the conception  of the ‘memex’ and the vision of a hyperlinked and networked future is inspired by the workings of the mind in its ability of moving by association through information; not unlike O’Reilly (2005) linking of the Web to concepts of association strengthening the synapses in the brain.  Tim Berners-Lee the inventor of the World Wide Web and html (Hypertext Markup Language) is a further extension and development of this initial ‘futurist’ vision by Bush (1945). Here is the clip where Berners-Lee discusses the history and his vision of the Web.

In the context of Web 2.0 as something more than technological tools, examining what Library 2.0 is becomes pertinent. Anderson (2007) contends that libraries have been too focused on the user and the use of technological tools as being what Library 2.0 is. Hence missing some key philosophical principles of Web 2.0. In the myriad of information out there about Library 2.0 and as an extension Librarian 2.0, I would have to agree that the definition is not clear enough and there does appear to be a disproportionate focus on technological tools. Library 2.0 is not just about the technological tools it is much more and the philosophical principals and design principals of Web 2.0 as outlined by O’Reilly (2005) are worth exploring in detail and translating to a library 2.0. Casey (2006) travels part way to the principles outlined by O’Reilly(2005) and it is the principle of the ‘long tail, even if it is user focused, that captures concepts of diverse representations as embodied in community cultural development practices. This is of prime importance when considering the principle of harnessing collective intelligence.

The following slideshare provides a good understanding and explanation of Web 2.0 as applicable to Library 2.0.

Last week and for quite some time I have been discussing my dream of what a library means now and in the future. How would I create my ideal library service? What will it include and what can it contribute?

By drawing on Web 2.0 as a philosophy, rather than a set of web technology tools, I want to translate this philosophical vision as a possible take on Library 2.0. This is not an all encompassing Library 2.0 but something that can contribute quite significantly. It is further grounded in principles of community cultural development. Within this structure the Library 2.0 acts as the nexus, platform or service that brings everything together. It connects community, specialists and resources and contributes to the shaping of the now and future of a unique community repository of information. This happens alongside many of the traditional functions of a library service. However, this Library 2.0 is now participating in the creation, storage and dissemination of information similar to the concept of a Commons Based Peer Production as outlined by Krowne (2003). Furthermore, the Library 2.0 is a node in a wider network of Library 2.0 services participating in similar community building of unique information repositories. This then feeds into a larger central repository of National Archives Australia and beyond.

I take as a given that we are living with various technological tools that we are connected to and utilise to make connections, source information and for various other purposes in life. I also accept it is a given that technological tools will be part of our work, life and play. Therefore, as a part of the larger society and world, the Library 2.0 will also be connected and utilising the various technological tools at our disposal. However, it is not the tools that define this philosophy of Library 2.0. Rather, it is how we work and integrate them in our life that is the important aspect. It is this aspect that remains the focus of my Library 2.0 in understanding what benefit they contribute to this vision.

Web as a platform transforms to Library as a platform in my vision. The Library becomes the microcosm of the larger workings of interconnected information. The library is the platform upon which the links are made and expanded upon as more and more users connect to services and contribute to services. The Web as a platform is a service providing links and strengthening associations and as an extension the Library 2.0 is this very same thing. It is a service providing the associations relevant to the specific communities it serves. Every library 2.0 will have its individual contributions based on the community that it serves and connects. No communities are alike they are all different and have their own contributions to make.  This is the key. At the same time, all libraries are connected in the overall Web platform and share their unique contributions thereby contributing a diversity of voice, ideas and experience as drawn from the contributions of unique individual communities. This is community building and connectedness. This enables diverse representation in a way that we have not seen before.

As a public and civic space the library is the perfect platform for community to connect and contribute to the growth of the community, continuing conversations and sharing information.

The following conceptions of a Library 2.0 are the basic tenets that provide strength to the Library as the hub or node of the community that branches out to link to more nodes:

  • Library as a community service
  • Library as a civic space
  • Library as community builder
  • Library as a community repository
  • Library as contributing to community history preservation and building.
  • Library as conduit connecting the skills, resources, people and sharing with community and the world
  • Library as a node on the web acting as the web itself within its community in the platform it creates.
  • Library as community hub

To illustrate this Library 2.0 I will provide an example of how I see it working in the wider Web 2.0 world.

Coming from a community arts background, it is the lack of documentation and archiving of projects that inspires me in the Library 2.0 being a platform to enable this. A few years back where I worked on many grass roots arts projects with various and diverse communities, I was struck at how few of these projects are documented effectively. As a result, a youth theatre project ends with the performance and not much else beyond that. Nothing is stored as an archive for others to access and enjoy or possibly learn from. If there is an attempt at documentation, it may consist of copies of the script and possibly a video recording existing either in archive boxes at the youth theatre or tucked away in someone’s home. Projects from the 1980’s may exist on a VHS tape or a beta tape and the possibility of viewing is fast diminishing. Theatre is only one example, there are oral history community projects, film projects, writing projects, music projects, photographs and the list continues. These projects occur throughout Australia and the world. They are about connecting communities, artists, audiences and sharing information. They are about providing access and voice as well as representation and yet there aren’t any definite practices in place to connect the outcomes and disseminate with wider communities and audiences.

In my Library 2.0 the library becomes a place where such projects can occur. Linking communities with writers for community writing projects by providing the space and resources for this to occur. Beyond this my Library 2.0 takes this unique data created by the projects of the community and feeds it into our repository to be shared now and into the future. As an example, an oral story project with new arrivals (as the community) can be created with a community arts workers facilitating the project. The Library 2.0 provides the space for the communities to connect and carry out the project. Utilising the tools in the library the stories can be recorded, edited and stored for access and sharing. Thereby, a unique community repository of information that is shared and owned by the community that created it. Audacity is a free program and very simple to use that can enable this. The Librarian does not have to even know how to use this software program. Instead, it is possible to connect with artsworkers who have the skills and as a result the library facilitates the connections and provides access to the resources to enable the process.

Looking at the dibrary~National Library of Korea provided the inspiration for this direction as a Library 2.0. I was particularly drawn to the multimedia production capabilities present at dibrary. The blogpost Make Music at the Library. published by Tame the Web  on August 8th, is another example of how a library as a platform or service can enable this process in a Library 2.0. If the skills in production are present in the library service then the library can share this with the wider community also. The scope of imagining a Library 2.0 is boundless…

Clearly, many library services are already on this path. The State Library of Victoria has the Wheeler Centre next door linking the library with resources of writing. City Library has an art gallery space providing access to artists to share their work as well as a piano for use by the public. However, it is taking the next step and moving into creation of community repositories that my Library 2.0 will really come into being. It is creating the spaces and means to store, share and disseminate this unique community data and information that I can see being the move in the Web 2.0 wider world. No Shelf Required published the following blogpost on August 8th, titled enhanced ebook and portal books-Publisher/library partnerships delving into the concept of the library as the platform in the creation of and contribution to an archival repository via collaborative links.

Library 2.0 as a node in the wider Web 2.0 world helps to build communities and provides access to diverse groups to share their stories and build upon the wealth of the world.

The ideas are here and the Future is Now!

Anderson, P. (2007) ‘All that Glisters Is Not Gold’-Web 2.0 and the Librarian, Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 39(4), 195-198

Bush, V. (1945) ‘As We May Think’, Atlantic Magazine, retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/3881/

Casey, M.E. & Savastinuk, L.C (2006), Library 2.0: Services for the next generation Library, Library Journal retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6365200.html 

Krowne, A. (2003), Building a Digital Library the Commons-based peer production way, D-Lib Magazine, retrieved from http://www.dlib.org/dlib/october03/krowne/10krowne.html

O’Reilly, T. (2005) What is Web 2.0, retrieved from http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

 

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Do you like Opera?

As a devoted Mac user, I just accepted the Safari web browser that is standard and happily browsed the internet with this.

Safari

Safari cc licensed and shared by aditza 121

There was much I loved about the user interface, including the graphic interface where sites can be bookmarked in topsites and you can click on them to be taken to the website. I loved the visual history you can flick through. However, I was stuck in Mac-land with my rosy Mac glasses and didn’t venture beyond this space. I even secretly enjoyed the Mac vs PC ads and couldn’t help but share 15 of them in the clip that follows.

I relished the Mac comeback since the introduction of the  iMac G3 so many years ago (1998). I loved calling them the jellymacs at the time because of the translucent look and the many bright colours you can choose from…

iMac G3

iMac G3 cc licensed and shared by Tiziano Gaviglia

Here is the video clip when the iMac was first introduced by Steve Jobs

Yes! I definitely recall the excitement back then and have never looked back.

Back to browsers. As I said I didn’t question the use of Safari. That is until this year…

Once I started my studies this year, I realised Safari had limitations so I downloaded and installed Firefox. I was pleasantly surprised that it appeared faster and more stable. I appreciate the tabs across the top and find navigation easy with add-ons enhancing Firefox. For instance Zotero is a great enhancement and time saver with citations and reference lists. Again I was sold.

Firefox 3

Fifefox 3 cc licensed and shared by Hooverdust

But then I found out about Google Chrome…. so the urge for experimentation began yet again. This time the visual appeal was instant. I was excited about the address bar doubling up as a search bar. More time saving features to love (although, this is possible with Firefox I have since discovered). As another member in our household has an iPad, chrome as a browser seemed to imitate the iPad app features and initially this seemed exciting. Although, I do concede now that maybe it is a bit too gimicky for me….

Logo Google Chrome

Logo Google Chrome cc licensed and shared by Dekuwa

Google Chrome has proven a very effective web browser for my parents who have a limited background in computer use. Setting it up for them with their favourite sites bookmarked has enabled them to participate very easily. I definitely see this as an advantage for them.

After my initial experimentation with Google Chrome, I started wanting to add more search engines as I wanted choice and found Google chrome restrictive in this way. Maybe the link to Google as a corporate entity contributes to this restriction due to the desire to dominate the market. I went back to Firefox add-ons and tested the ability to add extra search engines and realised it was a great deal easier than chrome. Hence my choice in searching is enhanced… back to Firefox I went!

That is until I started hearing Opera. Opera here, a little bit of ‘Cosi fan Tutti’, ‘Madama Butterfly’ and maybe a little ‘Bliss’ by Brett Dean… but wait there is another browser…

Where the magic happens... ;-)

Where the magic happens...;-) cc licensed and shared by andyket

Voila Opera is installed.

I couldn’t help but spend some some time this weekend playing around with the Opera web browser and setting it up. This is definitely the browser for me providing the greatest flexibility in browsing not to mention speed (we all love our information to arrive as quick as possible after all). I am still experimenting with the various Opera add-ons  and the extensions including the various widgets I have already installed. Already, I found many features I love. As a browser web accessibility has been paid the best attention to, of all the browsers I have experimented with and this is part of the reason I love it so much. I also love the Opera Portal and how easy it is to place my RSS feeds in one spot where I can visit with a click from my Speed dial which is similar to topsites from Safari but better. I really need to have a good look at the browser tips to really get a feel for the capabilities when time permits.

It is worth having a test of the different browsers and finding what works for you. It can be a very individual preference after all.

Following is a video about Opera Software the history. The final video is the browser showdown. Who wins?

Even though, I am meant to be focused on my next assignment, writing three critical reviews, there is nothing like a little diversion to clear the mind. Now to put on some Opera and back to my study…

 

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More on Filter bubbles

The Semantic Web or Web 3.0 is something I have been concerned about for a while as is apparent from my post Digital native and Web 3.0~or what I saw at the post office today. Coming across this clip from Eli Pariser just brought back the focus again. For more on Eli Pariser and filter bubbles or web personalisation you can read the transcript of an ABC radio interview called Filter bubbles, the global internet and Wikipedia’s diversity. You can download the audio of the interview at the same link.

The Washington Post published Eli Pariser and the threat of the filter bubbles by Melissa Bell on 16/5/2011.

If you want to delve further then The Filter Bubble is worth exploring, the blog post Duck! Google’s Cutts responds to search filter bubbles by Search Engine Roundtable adds to the perspective and Julian Baldwin’s Filter Bubble’s, the Web as we never intended it to become (Startup opportunity) is worth a read.

 

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