INF506: Course Reflection

The role that social media played in influencing the outcome of the Brexit referendum and US election has shaped the society that we live in. I came in to this course wanting to understand how and why social media has such a large influence on society. By understanding the theory behind how this influence has occurred, I hoped that I would be able to use social media theory and practical examples to be better placed to think critically about how the social media I am involved in is shaping the way I think and act. Also, as a teacher, I was hoping to learn social media skills that would result in new and exciting ways to engage with my students. In this post I will discuss how my views on social networking have changed during INF506, the tools I used during the course and how the assessment project helped build my understanding of social networking.

Visualization of brexit on social mediaA beautiful visulisation of the hashtag based social media discussion around Brexit.
Source @slavacm

How have my views on social networking changed?

During this course I have developed an understanding of the risks that social media can pose for organisations and individuals. Everyone needs to manage their social media presence to ensure they are conveying the picture they want employers, family and friends to see; however, people with a high-profile have an added burden and scrutiny on their social media presence and require past and future posts to stand the test of scrutiny over time (Lam, 2016). In our current society, it is impossible to know who will be thrust in to spotlight and therefore have their social media profile scrutinised. There is no shortage of politicians who have been forced to resign because their social media posts have proved to be an embarrassment and liability to their political party (Cho & Jimerson, 2017). Through learning about the risk of social media I was able to reflect on what my social media footprint said about me and this prompted me to review my previous social media posts and remove posts that may not have reflected the image I wanted to portray.

Through writing my learning journal, I have gained a greater understanding of how social media can help to spread inaccurate or false information. During my working life, the people who generate fake news will create ever more sophisticated products like the ‘deep fake’ videos, challenging us to not only critically evaluate what we read but what we see and hear. By thinking critically we may be able to ensure we can discount unauthentic information; however, for many people, this fake information will be consumed as if it is fact and permanently shape their view of the world, even when people find out that information they used to make a decision is not true, it is likely that they still will not review their decision. This understanding of how incorrect information, spread via social media, can impact the public discourse has lead me to contemplate whether future generations will have the same reactions to fake news or whether people will adapt and be able to deal with the cognitive dissonance created by multiple sources of conflicting ‘facts’.

This course has not just been about the downsides of social media and it has exposed me to several positive social media initiatives. The collaboration within the course Facebook group has demonstrated the opportunities social media provides in building a cooperative and supportive community. These positive communities are not limited to ‘invite only’ groups as is evidenced by the social online communities that provide crowd sourced mapping of disasters, helping to improve recovery efforts. The prospect of greater equality of access that Library 2.0 provides, demonstrated to me that social technologies can have a positive impact in my own surroundings not just a positive impact on areas of the world dealing with disaster.

Which tools and platforms have I engaged with during INF506 and what was their relevance to me as an information professional?

During INF506 I have engaged with several tools and platforms. The course Facebook group has been a valuable source of information and interaction with fellow students. The functionality of the Facebook group allowed me to quickly view upcoming events, announcements as well as group discussions. This was the first time I had used Facebook groups and its utility as well as the number of people who have a Facebook accounts means that it will be one of my top choices for future groups I create.

facebook usage analysis - jan 2018-sw5tad
Facebook user statistics as of January 2018

Screenshot of the options within the INF506 Facebook group

During the course I have used Twitter; however, the amount of participation from fellow students and myself has been low. I have followed the course hashtag #INF506 and this has been helpful in receiving article recommendations from the course convenor. Twitter would have been a much more useful resource if I had actively participated in it. The benefit of Twitter over Facebook is its open nature. As anybody could potentially respond to your questions and posts, this makes the platform feel less personal and more suited to the education/work context; whereas, because Facebook is linked to my personal life, I felt less confident in asking questions of strangers. As an information professional this was an interesting lesson as it helped me to reflect on how the choice of platform is important for the type of community, content or answers you are looking to generate (Gow, 2017).

This subject has prompted me to investigate a range of social platforms that I had not previously engaged with. I found that Reddit was a good source of discussion and news about education and Australian teacher experiences. After a bit of acclimatisation, I believe the way content and conversations were displayed easier to follow than Twitter hashtags. It seemed to be a more informal level of discussion than Twitter and more group focused, producing an interesting array of content and conversation, whilst Twitter can be more about individuals broadcasting their own content. My discovery of the value of Reddit has taught me that it is well worth trying a variety of social media platforms to understand if they can add to my personal learning network by providing a different perspective and variety of information.

Experimenting with a variety of social media platforms did take time and therefore the number of platforms I could engage with was limited. I trialled a number of social media aggregators including Hootsuite, Buffer and Sendible. The aggregators enabled me to track social accounts, hashtags and streams in one place. The downside was that to get full functionality, I needed a paid account. As these aggregators provide time savings, investing in a subscription is something that I am considering.

How did the social media project contribute to my understanding of working in a social environment?

As part of a project for INF506, I attempted to create a work-based social group that could discuss tips and tricks for improving training outcomes. The project was valuable in helping me to understand the practicalities of creating a social group. The main lesson I learned from the project was that I need to create a strategy for content and a plan for how that content will engage users. Prior to the project, I imagined that you would post whatever content you thought was appropriate and whatever came to mind on a certain day. I now understand that the successful social media accounts are planning their content, tone and target audience in advance. Another important lesson from the project was the time it takes to create a social community and start to build an identity for the group. Just because you have an idea for a network that does not mean that people will participate in that network, particularly if the topic you choose for a social community was not being discussed elsewhere – either in person or on another online platform (Hearn & Mendizabal, 2011). My choice of topic for the project probably tested the limits of what was of interest to a group of people. I found that people were more interested in consuming content about creating better training resource than they were in discussing ways to improve content. The community I created found a sense of purpose when the topic of conversation evolved in to discussions around personal experiences in conducting training. People contributed by providing sympathy and advice, helping group members to understand that they were not alone in their experiences. I was able to provide content that helped to contribute and foster this new-found community purpose and occasionally bring the topic of conversation back to the original project goal.

Conclusion

Social media has a growing impact on our lives, both for the better and the worse.  As an information professional, to ensure the impact is as positive as possible, I need to be aware of my footprint and think critically about the information I see on social media. To keep improving my skills and knowledge, I need to engage with a variety of social media platforms to expose myself to different types of conversations and social structures. My social media project taught me that creating and maintaining user-engagement in social media is hard. You need to plan for how you are going to engage people and the content you are going to use to achieve that. Even with this plan in place it is likely that the fluid nature of social media means you will have to adapt your plan to meet the needs of your audience. Reflecting on my journey through INF506, I have been able to achieve an understanding of how social media shapes our society and ways to use it to engage learners. The rapidly evolving nature of social media means that I will need to continue my engagement with it to ensure that my understanding keeps pace with the changing environment.

References

Cho, V., & Jimerson, J. B. (2017). Managing digital identity on Twitter: The case of school administrators. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 45(5), 884–900. https://doi.org/10.1177/1741143216659295

Gow, E. (2017, November). Reaching Out Without a Budget: Expanding Your Library’s Online Presence Using Online Tools. Computers in Libraries, 37(9), 18-. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A513010381/EAIM?u=csu_au&sid=EAIM&xid=c7c84568

Hearn, S., & Mendizabal, E. (2011). Not everything that connects is a network. ODI Background Note.

Lam, H. (2016). Social media dilemmas in the employment context. Employee Relations; Bradford, 38(3), 420–437. http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.1108/ER-04-2015-0072

 

INF506: OLJ Task 16 – Key Points on Policy

Task: Identify 5 key points which you would use to advise a Social Media Policy Working Group regarding the development of a policy for your organisation with regard to employees use of Web 2.0 tools and spaces for work and personal use while using your organisations’ computers/network and time.

  1. Be proactive in creating policies

If you don’t have policies in place, it is important to engage with staff and understand how they are using social media and create policies that encorporate the best practices you find. Organisations are better placed if they adopt social media policies and controls in a proactive manner using a formalised risk management process. (Demek, Raschke, Janvrin, & Dilla, 2018)

 

  1. Policies don’t work on their own

Social media policies need to be combined with staff training to ensure that there is an understanding of the policy and the tools the staff will be using. The more rigorous your policy, the more training staff will require to understand they can implement it.(Demek et al., 2018)

 

  1. You have to be explicit with you policies – down to the platform specific level

Different plafroms have different norms and expectations. AMSA’s social media terms of use does a good job of specifying that although on Twitter ther may be an expectation that you follw someone who follows you, AMSA will not. If you commit to a platform then you have to consider the specific information that this will necessitate you will including in your policy.

 

  1. Listening and Monitoring

By listening and monitoring social media you will quickly identify challenges and opportunities. If you leave it unchecked then there is the chance that the narrative incorrect or false information can quickly spread. If you do engage, then there is the opportunity to help provide essential information and to build an understanding of if and when your social media policy needs to be updated. (Brennan, 2017)

 

  1. Updating

Social media quickly evolves and therefore you need to regularly review your policies to ensure that they still meet the goals and requirements of the organisation. (Nathan, MacGougan, & Shaffer, 2014) There should be a schedule to review policies and monitoring in place to understand if a review needs to occur outside of the schedule.

 

References

Brennan, R. (2017, November 7). How to create a social media policy — NCVO Knowhow [How to]. Retrieved 18 January 2019, from https://knowhow.ncvo.org.uk/how-to/how-to-create-a-social-media-policy

Demek, K. C., Raschke, R. L., Janvrin, D. J., & Dilla, W. N. (2018). Do organizations use a formalized risk management process to address social media risk? International Journal of Accounting Information Systems, 28, 31–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.accinf.2017.12.004

Nathan, L. P., MacGougan, A., & Shaffer, E. (2014). If Not Us, Who? Social Media Policy and the iSchool Classroom. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science; North York, 55(2), 112–132. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1539530272/abstract/3B03040B2FE748E3PQ/1

INF506: OLJ Task 17 – Thoughts for the Future

Schaefer (2018) discusses 10 ideas that will drive social media marketing in the future:

  1. Artificial intelligence
  2. Smart speakers
  3. Virtual spaces
  4. The move from public to private conversations
  5. Conversation marketing
  6. The talent gap – not having enough skilled people to utilise the available technology
  7. Government regulation
  8. Personal branding becoming the company brand
  9. Influence marketing
  10. The difficulty of getting your message heard

Interestingly to me, only the first three points are really new areas for marketing. Although the fourth point of conversations moving away from public forums to private messaging is technology related and refers to the emergence of private messaging apps, it is only a couple of decades ago when private ‘messaging’ (either by phone, email or mail) was the norm for conversations. The other items raised by Schaefer do have some nuances to do with the technological age we live in but are not dissimilar to the marketing world of the twentieth century.

The idea that new tools evolve the way that we interact but that the fundamentals are based on ideas that have been around for a long time is diametrically opposed to some of the hyperbolic discussion of the impact of technology:

The video’s reference to “a perfect storm for change” and the “most transformational time” may be correct, but there have been very few times in human history when the same claim could not have been made. The disruption to established monopolys have similarly occurred in the past.

So what does the technological change mean for information professionals? There is a need to adapt to the technologies and use the opportunities these provide to interact with people and information in new ways. Chat bots are going to democratise access to things such as legal advice. However, there will be a need for information professionals to be critical of claims that technology is completely changing the way things work and to stop becoming overly committed to any particular platform or technology. There are plenty of warning signs that the most “disruptive” of technologies are just exploiting legal loopholes that government will eventually close – it is claimed that Uber, Deliveroo and others in the gig economy are simply practicing ‘sham contracting‘. As platforms emerge with exciting new features and opportunities, it will be important that information professionals do not overly commit to the platform as it is likely that the platform will adjust its business model over time to make more revenue often at the expense of those providing content on the platform. The power that these platforms can wield once they have great power is seen in the booking sites exploitation of the hotel industry.

Technological change yields a lot of potential opportunities and pitfalls for information professionals, diversification and critical thinking are two ways that we can ensure that we get more benefits than down-sides.

INF506: OLJ Task 15 – Authentic Information

Two points to consider when finding authentic information within a socially networked world are:

1. Just because people know the source of the information is wrong it does not mean they will change their mind

De keersmaecker & Roets (2017) argue that even when people find out that a piece of information they based an assessment off was fake, that doesn’t mean that a person will re-evaluate their position. This is an important point as often when reading news and opinion you assume that everyone is working off the same (or similar) views of ‘the facts’. While I have understood for a long time the difference between news and propaganda, when the news can be tainted not just by bias but by complete lies that have since been disproved it makes the search for ‘authentic’ information much harder particularly when looking for analysis of facts.

2. What is driving social media to display ‘authentic information’ to you?

In the last few years, Facebook has been shown to:

As Jewell (2017) discusses, a company with this type of record needs to be treated with considerable caution and when the company’s founder discusses the vision of creating a social institution that can facilitate interaction between politicians and the public. When the company’s “main consideration is commercial” no matter what claims they make about ensuring the well-being of their users, it is impossible to trust that information you discover on the platform is not intended to manipulate your views or being displayed ahead of more relevant content due to commercial considerations. Facebook is not alone in holding this form of power and to be fair, this type of power has been held by media companies for centuries. The user however does need to ensure that any ‘authentic’ information is validated by a number of reputable other sites before being shared or used to inform your decision making process.

References

De keersmaecker, J., & Roets, A. (2017). ‘Fake news’: Incorrect, but hard to correct. The role of cognitive ability on the impact of false information on social impressions. Intelligence, 65, 107–110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2017.10.005
Jewell, J. (2017, February 22). If Facebook ruled the world: Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of a digital future. Retrieved 27 December 2018, from http://theconversation.com/if-facebook-ruled-the-world-mark-zuckerbergs-vision-of-a-digital-future-73459

INF506: OLJ Task 8 – Mobile Exploration

Compare and contrast their functionality of sites and the ways that they provide access to social tools. For each site list features that you consider provide a good mobile experience, and suggest any improvements that could be made.

ABC News

ABC News does not utilise responsive design, instead it uses a mobile and desktop versions of the site (Rawlins, 2016). On the mobile version of the site, ABC News promotes the social media and app options available to users including Snapchat, instagram, Twitter and Apple News. On the desktop version of the site, there is only reference to Facebook Messenger, so the site is tailoring its message to reflect the type of devices the user is on and not promoting things unnecessarily i.e. you cannot access Snapchat on a desktop and so why would you advertise it there?

In the individual news articles, the sharing options are similar although in the mobile version they include an option to share on WhatsApp, a mobile app. The sharing icons don’t include text on the mobile version probably to mirror the experience of mobile apps that just include large icons.

Desktop Version

 

Mobile Version

In general, the ABC News site replicates the experience of the desktop site on its mobile site, with some variation based on user expectations and platform opportunities.

CSU Interact2

The CSU Interact2 site does not provide a lot of social options. The site is responsive which provides a very familiar interface between mobile and desktop. Videos are scaled down to fit within the page and the way that mobile phones work, when you click on the video it gives you the option to open it in the YouTube app.

The site could benefit from an option to Tweet or share certain passages so that you can start a conversation with fellow students or send questions directly to the course convener. It would good to see what other students have highlighted or shared so that you can tell which passages are of interest to others and potentially allow you to connect with others that are interested in similar ideas.

 

References

Rawlins, B. (2016). Responsive Web Design. In Mobile technologies in libraries: a LITA guide. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

INF506: OLJ Task 6 – Embracing a Library 2.0 ethos

The three key points I took from Laura Cole’s talk on the ‘The Reimagined Library’ were:

Considering information accessibility

Focusing on the needs of all users was a very powerful message in Laura’s talk. She used the example of someone who was blind and someone who was in prison to discuss how a library may transform in order to be able to serve the full community, not just those fortunate enough to be able to visit a physical library and have the capacity to read. In an organisation this type of accessibility would involve ensuring your content met Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and that you surveyed the organisation employees to find out if they were able to access content.

Different presence

The library is no longer the destination, the patron is the destination

Digital transformation means that there is a shift in the consumption of content. People no longer have to come to a library to view content and therefore, libraries and librarians need to rethink where they can add value. My work in the public service has similarly issues with more communications moving to the online space with colleagues. Holding online events like “Ask my team anything” and having an active social media presence are an important way of staying present in people’s minds and therefore staying part of conversations and being able to guide people in the right direction.

The Baroque Library of the Admont Abbey I wonder what libraries in the mansions of the future will look like?
hl_1001 via Compfight

Curation will require adapted skills

During my under-graduate degree, I would only go in to a library to study or if a lecturer mandated the use of a certain book. Now depending on how you look at this, it either means that librarians were not doing a good job of engaging me or they were doing such a good job that I didn’t have to go in to the library to find what I needed. Ensuring that as much content is available online and that content is appropriately cataloged is a vital skill for current and future librarians. Understanding concepts like the semantic web and what html tags to use so that a document can be correctly ingested by plugins such as Zotero and EndNote were things that made the library so valuable to me, even though I didn’t realise it at the time.

 

INF506: OLJ Task 5 – Social News Site Review – Reddit

Reddit is an interesting social media sites compared to the more linear approaches of Instagram and Snapchat. However, when compared to Facebook and Twitter who tailor your feed to show you the “top” content, Reddit’s approach makes a lot more sense. The way that Reddit allows users to up/down vote content is reflected in the content scores and any comment on a topic is similarly voted up or down depending on the whim of other users. Reddit’s clear display of this scoring system makes it more transparent than other social media algorithms.

Reddit allows users to expand their reading interests and find articles of interest by allowing you to subscribe to ‘sub-Reddits’ that relate to the user’s topics of interest. Within those sub-Reddits users normally post links to articles or other content with a reason for the post. This can allow a user to quickly explore lots of content. Depending on the number of contributors of content then there is a great opportunity for you to discover new articles. The downside that there is often a lack of moderation within sub-reddits and it takes a little time to understand how the platform works and what is/is not worth looking at.

Compared to Feedly, a site that I use to keep up with my personal learning network (see my write up here) which is often a self-curated list of articles to read from certain key trusted sources, Reddit puts the user out of their comfort zone potentially exposing the user to a lot of junk content but similarly taking the user out of their filter bubble and engaging with a more raw version of the web that could prompt a user to come up with new ideas. However, this rawness means that it should only be one source of articles and reading as there is only so much free time in the day to wade through mixed content and sometimes you just need to find and read information from trusted sources.

INF506: OLJ Task 4 – Reviewing @nlagovau

The library tweets about events and exhibitions at the National Library. The account is used to reveal “behind the scenes” details that otherwise wouldn’t be available to the public. In one tweet a curator of the Cook exhibition gives a explanation of where a number of the exhibits have come from and why they are important.

They use #OnThisDay to tweet about important events in Australian history that are of relevance to the library such as commemorating the passing of Norman Lindsay.

The account generally retweets posts where someone is discussing a positive experience at the library, or a photo of the library or library event. There is a lovely retweet of someone who was really happy yo get her library card, this approach makes reading the libraries twitter feed uplifting.

There are retweets of historical information from likeminded accounts such as “Sydney Then and Now” showing the construction of the Harbour Bridge.

It appears that the goal of the Twitter account is to engage the public by creating lots of operational content on a regular basis. This is reflected in the library having over 41 thousand followers. A more strategic or politically motivated account would have a lot fewer followers and would not make reference to politically charged decisions such as celebrating a year since the referendum on same-sex marriage.

 

INF506 OLJ Task 3: Reflections on the Impact of Change

This blog post discusses six ways that social media is changing the world. The task for this OLJ entry is to reflect on two of these and how they have impacted on an organisation I am familiar with.

Social media is helping us tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges, from human rights violations to climate change

Social media can be toxic at times but it seems that its best side comes out in helping with disaster recovery. Tracking who is safe, where relief aid is needed, who is available to help people is changing the normal top-down process of disaster relief to a more distributed/networked model. This type of response can often occur more quickly than state-based approaches and in some ways is more resilient as the coordination of the response is not reliant on one group. However if the infrastructure for communications were to go down, there would be difficulties. However, it has been demonstrated that even in war-torn areas, that it is not impossible for social media to be able to make a positive difference. For example The Digital Humanitarian Network was able to send warnings to l to civilians and aid workers in affected areas in Syria of impending air raids.

Across industries, social media is going from a “nice to have” to an essential component of any business strategy

I am not much of a Tweeter but I was surprised by the number of responses I got from companies when I mentioned their product. It was clear that OneNote and Evernote need to help shape the narrative about their brands. I imagine that it would be a powerful influence on people if their issues were proactively resolved and people would therefore be more likely to recommend that product. For those products that don’t have a presence then they would find it harder to be proactive in resolving an issue or even identifying that there was a widespread issue in the first place.

INF506 OLJ Task 2: What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 (dynamic or user-generated content) is almost all I have ever known of the internet and therefore my first thought when the question of “What is web 2.0?” is posed, is why is that important?

To me, defining what web 2.0 is has helped me to consider what it is to different groups of people. The 2018 We are Social: Digital Report highlighted to me that across the world the adoption of social media and other web 2.0 technologies is not consistent and although Facebook is fairly ubiquitous, different age groups and social groups use different social media in different ways.

So my definition of web 2.0 is:

Web technology that allows the user to add and interact with content on the internet.

Defining what 2.0 is, will probably only get harder as the discussions of web 3.0 start to shape the dialogue over the future of the web, eclipsing talk of web 2.0. The “distributed web” that 3.0 discusses and the tools that it produces will also start to blur the lines of what is 2.0 and what is 3.0. To some extent this is already occurring with the popularity of messaging apps. The clean definition of social media versus peer-to-peer messaging is becoming increasingly blurred and with the importance placed on privacy and end-to-end encryption will result in more and more content being held on private networks and inaccessible via the internet (as we know it today).