Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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Social media, social networking – learning from libraries, the new OCLC report

October 24th, 2007 by Seb Chan

The OCLC has released an enormous (~300 page) new report titled Sharing, privacy and trust in our networked world. It is essential reading.

Drawing data from 6 countries – USA, Canada, UK, Japan, France and Germany – the report gives detailed data on how people in the countries use the net, what they look at, what online services they use, how long they spend online. They then delve deep into the motivations, interactions and choices these users make on social networking services and social media sites; as well as attitudes to privacy and security. This audience research is then compared with internal library attitudes and beliefs about users and their needs, as well as data about how libraries and librarians use these same services. It is fascinating, and illuminating – and strongly challenges the assumption that libraries should copy social media services on their own sites, and instead recommends that libraries open up for users to make use of content in their own ways on other services. Participation on library sites will be low.

Our view, after living with the data, struggling with the findings, listening to experts and creating our own social spaces, is quite different. Becoming engaged in the social Web is not about learning new services or mastering new technologies. To create a checklist of social tools for librarians to learn or to generate a “top ten” list of services to implement on the current library Web site would be shortsighted. Such lists exist. Resist the urge to use them.

The social Web is not being built by augmenting traditional Web sites with new tools. And a social library will not be created by implementing a list of social software features on our current sites. The social Web is being created by opening the doors to the production of the Web, dismantling the current structures and inviting users in to create their content and establish new rules.

Open the library doors, invite mass participation by users and relax the rules of privacy. It will be messy. The rules of the new social Web are messy. The rules of the new social library will be equally messy. But mass participation and a little chaos often create the mostexciting venues for collaboration, creativity, community building—and transformation. It is right on mission.

Participation in social networking services hosted on a library site (see A-12)

Tags: 1 Comment

  • Seb
    Thanks for this post. I’m impressed that you read a 300 page document and agree with your position. In the next week I’ll post something on NLA which responds to it but in the meantime it is excellent material to pass onto our industry partners for further conversation!