#uklibchat: Innovative use of Technology in Libraries

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#uklibchat: Innovative use of Technology in Libraries

uklibchahat is a regular Twitter discussion focussed on libraries. The uklibchat team decide on a theme for each discussion beforehand, give people the opportunity to add items to the agenda and then facilitate the discussion between anyone who wants to join in. The next one focuses on the innovative use of technology in libraries and will be held on 4th December (6:30-8:30pm). As a lead into this I was asked to share some examples around this theme, and this is the blog post I wrote for uklibchat.

Don’t forget to get involved in the discussion on Twitter if you can.

Is Twitter Really Social Bookmarking?

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Is Twitter Really Social Bookmarking?

EBiz MBA recently published a table of the top ranking social bookmarking sites. Right at the top is Twitter, which surprised me, because I don’t think of it as a social bookmarking tool at all. Twitter might be a good place to share links with others, but if you post a link and then 6 months later think, “Hmm! What was that really useful link I posted on Twitter about sharing data between online services?” you’re probably not going to find it. It might also be good for finding recent links that have been posted to the social network, but it doesn’t store them in a way that makes it easy to retrieve them again at a later date. ie months or even years. To me, the key function of social bookmarking is to be able to store and retrieve links wherever (anywhere I can access the internet) and whenever (years down the line). The ability to share those links and find other related links within the social bookmarking service is also useful, but only on top of the bookmarking functions.

Twitter Archives And IFTTT

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Twitter, Google Drive and IFTTT made my day about a week ago. I found out that a new Google Drive channel had been added to IFTTT that enabled me to archive tweets via a spreadsheet – I was specifically looking for something that replaced the service Twapperkeeper used to provide. This was a perfect and straight forward solution for me. Fantastic! Then a few days later I found out that all the Twitter triggers in IFTTT (those that enable the archiving to work) have to be removed to comply with Twitter’s terms of service. This is a Twitter decision, not an IFTTT decision. This includes any method of archiving, not just via Google Drive spreadsheets. It’s pretty disappointing that Twitter have taken this stance, as it seems as if they’re happy with people providing content for their network, but aren’t keen to freely et the content go anywhere else once it’s been passed onto them. And before anyone tells me to stop complaining about a free service – I understand that Twitter is a free service. I appreciate that and I also appreciate that Twitter is a service that’s very useful to me, but at the same time if users hadn’t provided the content they do provide, then Twitter would not be as successful as it is. In fact, without free content from the users it would have flopped, in the same way that other microblogging services flopped. It’s ironic that part of its success – its open attitude in the early days that allowed data to be pulled out of the service easily, as well as sent to it – is being gradually closed down. Now it seems as if the traffic is all one way. Wouldn’t it be good if Twitter provided the service that suited its users and content creators and not just itself. In fact, I’d even be happy to pay for that service.

No More Access To Your Twapper Keeper Archives

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Yesterday I found out via a friend on Twitter that Hootsuite had acquired Twapper keeper in September.

If you don’t know, Twapper keeper is a service that allows you to archive tweets. I use this service quite a bit and paid for the upgrade, so that I could archive more than the free account would allow me to. It’s a great service and I’m pleased that Hootsuite has realised how useful it is too – it’s just a shame that the first time I’d heard that it had been bought was yesterday – there’s been no announcement on the Twapper keeper blog about this. The site does now include a message though…

“Dec 8th, 2011: Transition update

Twapper Keeper’s archiving is now available in HootSuite! As a result, we will be shutting down Twapper Keeper. Existing archives will be kept running until Jan 6, 2012, after which you will not be able to access your archives anymore.

Thanks for using TwapperKeeper – we look forward to seeing you at HootSuite.”

“Oh good! It’s available in Hootsuite,” I thought, but I also saw the “you will not be able to access your archives anymore.” bit too.

Panic stations! What will happen to my archives? Will they be deleted? Maybe they’ll be available in Hootsuite?

In an attempt to find out, I left a comment on the Hootsuite blog yesterday.

Comment on Hootsuite blog post “HootSuite Announces 3 Million in Financing, Strategic Acquisition and Executive Team Appointments”

As a frequent user of Twapperkeeper can you tell me:
1) How will this integration happen?
2) Will it be available for the free Hootsuite accounts?
3) What will happen to the archives I have created on the Twapperkeeper site? I don’t want to lose any of them. If I do lose them it would have been a total waste of time me setting them up, especially as I paid to do so.

The response pointed me to their feedback site asking for suggestions about integrating Twapper keeper with Hootsuite, so I left these 2 suggestions – one regarding access to existing Twapper keeper archives and another suggesting ideas for development on the service, as I really feel Hootsuite could do something with Twapper keeper’s original idea.
Maintain access to existing archives that have been created on Twapperkeeper.

Twapperkeeper is often used to archive tweets for conferences and events – the tweets are used to document the event/conference and are accessed not only around that time, but also at later dates.

Due to changes in Twitter’s terms of service, users have not been able to download these archives for some time and therefore the only way these archives can can be accessed and manipulated is via the Twapperkeeper sites RSS & HTML archive links.

Can Hootsuite provide access to these existing archives in some form, so that they can be read and shared with other non Hootsuite users?

Ideas for Twapper keeper integration.

1) Allow Twapper keeper archives to be made public or private.

2) Allow the sharing of Twapper keeper archives to a broad range of external services. eg Twitter; Facebook; G+; Delicious; Tumblr…

3) Provide each archive with an RSS/XML output feed containing details of individual tweets eg status text, twitter name, status id, date stamp, etc.

4) Update archives regularly ie once an hour – or allow users to define how often the archive should be updated.

5) Allow archives to be created from any search functionality that Twitter currently provides, including lists.

6) Make Twapper keeper archive functionality available for free Hootsuite accounts as well as paid.

7) Allow filtering of tweets in archive using similar criteria as existing filters in Twapper keeper’s “Search” function.

8) Expand archiving function to other services available in Hootsuite eg Facebook, Linkedin, Tumblr, WordPress, etc.

9) Re. 8 – allow archives from different services to be combined into a single archive if desired.

10) Provide capability to mark and share favourite tweets (or posts if option 8 exists) in an archive.

11) Add tags (hashtags?) to archive upon creation and allow them to be subsequently amended.

12) Add description of archive and allow it to be subesequently amended

13) Ability to cross reference archives, for example (a) if you click on a person whose tweet has been archived, display all of the other archives they are linked to ie anywhere their tweets have been archived – this might be useful to highlight expertise or interests of individual users. (b) If any of the tweets appears in any other archive too.

14) Allow capability to bundle together archives in themes.

That made me feel better…

but I’ve just seen this tweet – sent today from the Twapper keeper account.

TwapperKeeper fans: archiving services are now migrated to HootSuite.com and available to #HootSuite Pro customers c/@hootsuite_help

So the archives are available to those who will pay $5.99 a month! What about the money I and other people have paid to Twapper keeper to set up our original archives? If we can’t access these archives any more there was no point in them being set up in the first place.
My problem isn’t so much that I can’t archive anything any more, because there are alternatives (eg The Archivist), but those services don’t give me a live RSS output (which is my main method of accessing and reusing tweets from Twapper keeper) and those services won’t provide existing Twapper keeper users with a back-catalogue of our archives in a nice clean format.
Some clever techy person with better programming skills than me will no doubt be able to pull out and save their full archives in an elegant way, but I think I’m going to have to resort to doing a bit of Gary clunky tinkering to get mine and then see if I can reformat them at a later date.
In the long-term I will find a way around this, and I do appreciate the service Twapper keeper has provided me over the past couple of years – irrespective of whether I’ll be able to access my existing archives in future, or not, it has been extremely useful – and John (who created Twapper keeper) has been extremely helpful whenever I’ve had any questions or needed help.
However, it would have been nice to have known that this was happening sooner – and I don’t mean the two tweets that happened in September. Couldn’t it have been announced on the Twapper keeper blog at the same time? Hootsuite announced it on theirs… but if you’re not a Hootsuite user how would you have known?

#SaveLibraries Trending Update

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Tony Hurst sent me this image of friendship relationships between Twitter users who had used the #savelibraries hashtag. The size of the text indicates the number of tweets a user sent (the bigger the font, the more they sent). You can also see links between usernames. The centre of the image indicates that quite a lot of users are connected, but around the edge of the image you can see that many others aren’t. It just goes to show you that the message can be spread far and wide and that it’s not just an isolated community of Twitter users who are concerned about libraries.

(c) Psychemedia/Flickr : Friendship connections between #savelibraries hashtaggers

Voices For The Library Data Mashup Challenge

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In August last year I set up a few Twitter archives using the Twapperkeeper service.  The archives were based around the theme of ‘Love libraries’ , ‘Save Libraries’ and stored any tweets that used combinations of these words in them. At the time I was getting disheartened about all the flack public libraries were getting and I was just looking for something positive.

I had great intentions to do some kind of creative mashup with all these tweets, but never got around to it. Since starting these archives I got heavily involved in the ‘Voices For The Library’ campaign, which is a national campaign defending the value of public libraries in the UK, and that has been my focus. The reason I set up the tweet archives was the same reason I got involved in VFTL.

Yesterday something fantastic happened – Twitter user @MarDixon started the ball rolling to get #savelibraries trending. Up until yesterday the #savelibraries archive contained just under 500 tweets and today it contains 4890 (Edit: 9,193 as of 24/01/2011). When I set up the archives I was hoping something like this would happen, but didn’t know if it would. Yesterday showed the clear support for public libraries, during a time when UK councils want to needlessly close so many of them – over 370 at the last count!

So, thanks to @MarDixon we now have an archive of ‘Save Libraries’ tweets overflowing with library positivity waiting to be used creatively in a data mashup and…

I want to issue this challenge to the data mashup community.

Come up with a creative data mashup that makes use of these tweet archives for the ‘MarDixon Voices For The Library Data Mashup Challenge’.

The end result can be anything you like, as long as you use the following archive.

This archive is available as an RSS feed, HTML, or Excel file.

So, are you up for spreading the word about library goodness into the big wide world in the form of a data mashup? Come on, I know there are people out there up for the challenge. Use your mashup talents to create something around a cause that is so high profile right now. Prize is a £60 Amazon voucher.

Any contributions can be added as a link to this post.

Thanks & good luck.

The closing date for entries is 1st March 2011. Announcement of winner will be made on 8th March 2011 at the next Mashed Libraries event.

We Love Libraries

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It’s getting a bit disheartening at the moment reading all the negative comments and articles about libraries and library staff. People questioning why they exist; the old stupid clichés about librarians just stamping books all day and saying “Shush!”. Since April this year I’ve been keeping a list of articles and blog posts on the internet that either question the validity of libraries or support them. Whether the article is a positive or negative one they often generate so much feedback and comment that you get a wide range of mixed opinions on them too. I do get involved in the defence of libraries/library workers when I come across these articles, but I’m also ready to leave it to other people who can put the arguments across much more clearly than I can.

I feel I should be doing more myself, but I’m not sure what to do. I’m not a very outgoing/public speaking/think-on-my-feet sort of person, so I don’t feel I can offer much there.

I suppose an easy thing to do is to get positive and I thought it would be a good idea to put something together to show how many people who don’t work in libraries actually love libraries. Just to show everyone that people are positive about libraries and that we aren’t fighting a losing battle.

(image mySAPL, Flickr)

As a five minute thing some time ago I put together a very simple We Love Public Libraries webpage and I’d like to build on it in some way. It doesn’t do very much – just social mentions of people saying they love libraries, but I like the simple idea of just having people saying that they love libraries.

Today, to start with, I set up a few Twapperkeeper archives that will search for common phrases like ‘love libraries’, ‘love the library’, ‘:) libraries’, etc in people’s tweets. I’m not certain how accurate they will be in pulling out the information I want, as I’m not sure if the archiving search works in the same way as the Twitter search functions. I’ll have to wait and see – I can always filter the archives anyway. So long as I capture as many tweets as possible in the first place, that’s what counts.

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going to go with this idea and the tweets collected, but just having a positive thing like that archived means that there’ll be a long list of people saying that libraries are for them even without being prompted. To start with I could just build on my original idea. I also think that visualisations/infographics can be effective, so maybe there’s an opportunity to do something in that direction? It would also be great if it could be the basis of something practical.

So, any thoughts/ideas would be welcome.