Saturday, 9 July 2011

#cpd23, Thing 4: current awareness

I was introduced to Twitter, to RSS feeds and to Google Reader last year during Cam23.  I'm a regular and committed user of them all.

Re-reading last year's posts, I see that I was particularly perceptive early on about the benefits of Twitter:

...if you have a wide circle of followers and followees, Twitter seems to good for spreading information and ideas quickly.  And it seems that, unlike with RSS feeds, it's information that you might not know you want to go looking for... 

The use of hashtags seems to make it possible to create a community of people interested in the same thing, and to widen knowledge about that thing and get a buzz going around it...
I wasn't, however, completely sold then, I wasn't sure if I'd stick at it.  That was a feeling that persisted for quite a while - I wondered if I'd go back to it after weeks away for holidays, Christmas, etc.  But I do go back.  It's important to remember that you can't keep up with everything, and just to let it waft by when you're too busy to pay attention.  But it's an invaluable way to meet people, share ideas, get answers and make things happen.  I'm feeling chuffed with myself this month for having introduced to each other some of the people who've gone on to organise #uklibchat.

'Yesterday News' by Zarko Drincic on Flickr
'Yesterday News' by Zarko Drincic on Flickr
RSS is great for bringing the news to you - I use it for comics I follow, knitting blogs I follow, podcasts I like, institutional news, and a whole slew of library/librarians blogs.  The key, for me, is to remember that you don't have to read it all.  Some of the stuff I subscribe to is stuff I always look at when it comes in.  The rest, and this is by far and away the majority I either glance at and deicide to read later (or not), or is just there in case I want to fill some time with reading.  But mostly, I don't read a lot of it. Some of it I hear about via Twitter, some of it I just 'mark as read'.  There's no shame in not keeping up with everything - but RSS gives you a fighting chance if you're really keen to try!

A Google Reader feature I've recently started using is the 'shared items' feature. You can follow other people and see what they've chosen to share, and people who follow you can see what you share.  You can leave notes and comments on shared items, too.  It's a nice way to pick up on things outside feeds you follow.  To follow someone, the easiest way that I've found is to search for their Google profile (here's me - you can use the search box from the top of that page - and here are the things I've shared) and look for links to their shared items.  Otherwise use the shared items option in reader and search for people there.

Now, as for Pushnote, the word on Twitter and other blogs is that it's not great. And so I'm just not looking at it. Sorry.

As for other things useful to current awareness, I wonder sometimes if I ought to use Delicious as a stuff-discovery tool.  But you'd have to have very specific tags in mind for that to be very useful - event/theme hashtags, maybe?  It's not something I've really explored.


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