Friday, March 28, 2008

#20: Facebook & MySpace

I created Facebook and Myspace accounts.

In facebook, it was easy to join groups. I joined several: ALA, Libraries Using Facebook, Librarians and Facebook, and 23 Things on a Stick Group. It looked like there were only 2 members in the 23 Things Group though - me and the administrator, so I'm not sure what was going on there.

I 'friended' some people and wrote on their walls and I became a fan of Hennepin County Library. I got a couple of friend requests, but I think one was somebody trying to sell poetry books and the other also looked 'spam-ish'. I didn't accept, since I'm not sure how much junk it might generate to my work email account. I'm not clear on the distinction between 'friend' and 'fan'. I think it might be that a friend means 'I like you and I want you to like me back', where a fan means 'I like you and I don't expect anything in return', but I'm not sure. I'll have to look at that closer.

I added the Hennepin County Library catalog search widget to my page, which looks very cool. It would be even better to be able to add one from my own library system. I also added a Flickr widget and posted the pictures I had taken for the Hot Reads program.

I made a Myspace page too, but I didn't like the feel of that very much. Besides the obnoxious ads, I'm not really sure why. Facebook felt more grown-up and maybe more professional. I thought the 'Grade Your Professor' option was thought provoking. What if we all started grading all the services we receive? Grade your librarian? Grade your pediatrician? Your church, your grocery store, your dining experience? But I guess we do already grade a lot of services: travel on expedia, products on amazon, restaurants on other sites. And then, there's the whole question of whose grading or review I'm reading - paid people, disgruntled people, people providing an honest review...

I can see that social networks are important to kids (my own kids and library patrons), and maybe they'll continue to be important to that generation as they age. But I think for most people of my generation, the desire to seek out new friends based on common connections isn't very strong. Between work, family, existing friends, and other commitments, there just isn't much of a need or enough time to spend on this. If I had some extra time, I'd really prefer to spend it with friends that I don't get to see very often, or extended family. But it was good to get a better understanding of why this is so important to some of our patrons.

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