For Thing 4, we are supposed to explore 3 tools for keeping up with current news and information in the profession: Twitter, RSS feeds, and Pushnote. Of these three tools, I was already using Twitter and RSS (via Google Reader), so the only thing that was new to me was Pushnote.
I started using Twitter for a class in my MLIS program called Information Technology Tools and Applications. Up until that point, I had not been at all active in social media. My only prior experience was Facebook, which I had just joined the previous semester. I am so glad that my instructor had us all sign up for Twitter as part of the class, because it has been a really valuable tool for me not just for keeping up with news and information but for networking with librarians all over the country (and internationally!) as well. I started off with a private account, only following and being followed by my classmates and instructor. However, at the end of that semester I had the opportunity to attend the ALA Annual Meeting and decided to follow the conference hashtag and try tweeting the conference. Since I wanted to be able to participate fully in twitter conversations at the conference, I opened my twitter feed and decided to dive in to public social media participation. It wasn’t a complete success – I was trying to tweet from a first-gen kindle since I didn’t have a smartphone, and the browser was rudimentary, at best – but some of my tweets got featured in Library Journal’s top tweets from the conference, and I started getting followers. Since that time, I have met a lot of great library people via twitter and have learned a lot from the things that they post. I have started participating in #libchat, a twitter chat held every Wednesday evening for discussion on all sorts of library-related topics, which has been another great experience. Unfortunately I have not been able to be as active on twitter lately as I used to be, but I still find it to be a very useful tool.
I also started using Google Reader to follow blogs via RSS during the class mentioned above. I hesitated using an RSS feed reader for a long time, because I liked going to the actual page to read content on most of the blogs I read. However, once I started using Google Reader I quickly saw the utility of it. I can follow many more sites this way than I could if I had to remember to individually visit them all every day. Also, different blogs have different posting schedules and frequency, so accessing them all in one place saves a lot of time. I don’t check my reader as often as I should, mostly because I signed up for it using my yahoo email address (even though I have a Google account), so I need to sign out of my Google account in order to access my reader. I do plan to move everything to my Google account, but there doesn’t appear to be an easy way to do this besides adding all the feeds individually. Despite this issue, I still find it to be a great way to keep up with information on library-related blogs and other websites. Some of my favorite sites to follow on Google reader are LISNews (Library and Information Science News), ALA TechSource (tech-related news from ALA), The Kept-up Academic Librarian (higher ed news for librarians), No Shelf Required (ebooks), and The Scholarly Kitchen (scholarly publishing). What are your favorites? Despite the fact that I have trouble keeping up with my Google Reader, I am always looking for great sites to follow.
The last tool we were supposed to explore for Thing 4 was Pushnote. I have not used Pushnote before, so I was curious about what it was all about. I did sign up for a user account; however, I decided not to download and install the browser plug-in. When I was about to do this, I got a warning that the plug-in needed to access all my information on the sites I visit and my browsing history. I went back to Pushnote’s site and was not able to locate a terms of service document or any kind of privacy statement. The only thing I found was a short statement in the FAQ that they do not track you. I know it’s silly to be paranoid when I am using all sorts of other tools with privacy issues (various Google services and Facebook, in particular). It’s the lack of any kind of statement that bothers me, and I’m a little leery of using this service. Based on other people’s posts, it does not seem I’m missing much. I already use Diigo for bookmarking sites, which has social features and seems to be all I need at this point. If anyone else has found Pushnote to be indispensable, please let me know!