Bethanar's CPD23 things
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About: A new blog for me to get the hang of tumblr - and participate in the fantastic 23 Things for Professional Development! I'm a librarian, based in Manchester. Interested in all aspects of library/information work. I also read (a lot), drink (too much) wine, and (occasionally) bake. I'm addicted to Twitter and pecorino. Here's the RSS feed for this blog.
Thing 12 - social media

I love social media. It’s no secret - I evangelise constantly about using social media for professional development.  But I don’t really have anything original to say today - go read Phil Bradley, instead.

What I would like to talk about is one of the original social media tools. An astounding invention, that allowed you to communicate across vast distances, and chat, in real time, to your friends.

Yes, it’s the telephone.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/antcaz/2178147322/

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/antcaz/2178147322/

Brought to my attention today by this article on Stephen’s Lighthouse, which says that:

81% of smartphone users make calls every day compared with 53% of regular users.

81%?? Really? I mean, really??? One of the reasons I have a smartphone is so that I don’t have to make calls - I can use my other social media tools, instead.  Rather than ring, I’ll text you, email you, @ you, DM you, Google you for directions & opening times. Actually picking up a phone and talking to someone is my very last resort.

I don’t like talking to people without visual clues. If I have to do so, I’d much rather interact through text, where you can take time to frame your thoughts, weigh your words, and add suitable emoticons.  Maybe it’s being an introvert, but speaking to people on the phone just downright makes me nervous.

Especially when they ring me. There’s nothing that puts you on the spot more than an unexpected phone call. One minute you’re sitting happily in your un-hoovered living room, next thing you know a relative’s on the phone, asking if they can visit.  ’No!’ you want to shriek, ‘I haven’t hoovered for weeks!’. But you can’t. It’s think on your feet, fly by the seat of your pants time. And that seemingly-innocuous ‘how are you?’ at the start of every phone call? Treat it with suspicion…

October 7th.—Extraordinary behaviour of dear Rose, with whom I am engaged—and have been for days past—to go and have supper tonight. Just as I am trying to decide whether bus to Portland Street or tube to Oxford Circus will be preferable, I am called up on telephone by Rose’s married niece, who lives in Hertfordshire, and is young and modern, to say that speaker for her Women’s Institute to-night has failed, and that Rose, on being appealed to, has at once suggested my name and expressed complete willingness to dispense with my society for the evening. Utter impossibility of pleading previous engagement is obvious; I contemplate for an instant saying that I have influenza, but remember in time that niece, very intelligently, started the conversation by asking how I was, and that I replied Splendid, thanks—and there is nothing for it but to agree.

From ‘The Provincial Lady Goes Further’ by E M Delafield

Yet I know that other people love it. They would much rather pick up the phone and speak to someone than spend 20 minutes composing an email and 4 hours waiting for a reply. It suits the way they live, it suits the way they work.  J constantly berates for me for this, when I’m fretting over an unanswered text. ‘Just ring them! Then you’ll know! Without all this faffing!’, while I sink quietly into a corner of the sofa and resign myself to not knowing whether we’re going for drinks until it’s too late to go for drinks.

I probably don’t come across too well on the phone. I’m always startled when the phone rings, and pick it up with trepidation. I don’t have a relaxed phone manner. At the first possible opportunity, I’ll usually say ‘oh, can you email me…?’. In short, I probably give the impression that I don’t want to talk to you, which is sort of true - but it’s not the ‘you’, it’s the ‘talk’.

So how am I going to turn this rant about my phone habits into a post that’s actually vaguely related to the topic in hand? Well, we were asked to consider if there were any drawbacks to social media, and whether we think it really helps to foster a sense of community.  

Here, then, is one of the drawbacks: for every social media platform, there will be someone who hates it.  Someone who feels excluded from the community because they really don’t like the technology they’re using to communicate. It’s not that they don’t want to interact, it’s just that they’re naturally disinclined to interact in this specific way. Which also means that if/when they do try to join in, they might not come across very well - they might seem rude, or abrupt, or just not very interesting.  

But that’s probably not what they’re like, really. That’s them as intermediated by a piece of technology they’re unfamiliar and uncomfortable with. It’s like someone talking through a microphone for the first time - in fact, with social media it’s more like a megaphone.  More people can hear them, but no-one will actually know what their voice sounds like.

Social media is wonderful, and uniting, and community-building, and I really, honestly do love it.  But it’s not a panacea. It’s not a universal connector. Twitter’s pins do not fit in everyone’s holes. So think before you unfollow. Is this a person who you just feel no need to listen to? Or is it someone who might blossom in another setting, free from the 140 character limit?

For every Hangout that closes, let’s open a Huddle.

Thing 11 - mentoring

I’m rather behind with my cpd23-ing, but carrying on regardless. I’m sure my mentors would approve.

The only really properly formal mentoring relationship I’ve had was with the marvellous Gil, for chartership.  I always looked forward to our meetings - even when I hadn’t done what I was supposed to - and we’re still in touch, constantly promising each other that we’ll make it out for that drink soon.  (If you’re there, Gil, how’s your diary for September?)

I’ve also had SLA mentors, though the relationship there was more short-term, and less formal & structured than for chartership. Sylvia helped me to understand the Insurance & Employee Benefits Division, which was totally alien to me! Barbara introduced me to SLA as a whole - and then worked with me to transfer Early Career responsibilities to me.  My co-chairs have been mentors, too - Lyndsay has helped me get a grip on SLA Europe Early Careers, as well as board membership as a whole, and in the LMD marketing section I’m trotting along in Barbie’s wake, happily scribbling notes.

As a graduate trainee, my line manager Rachel and first placement manager Helen were always people I could go to for advice and ideas, and they helped me find my grip as a librarian. At Mimas, Lisa took me under her wing, and bravely taught me a job she’d only been doing for a few weeks - alongside her own, to fill a gap during the recruitment process.

My current mentoring relationship is the unofficial one I have with lovely Jaf, as we gently prod each other towards revalidation. This is much more of a two-way relationship - rather than one person leaning on/learning from the other, this is more like sitting back-to-back, where we both support each other. Or a tug of war. Take your pick ;)

I’ve gained a lot from my mentoring relationships. They’re like having a professional safety-valve: you can pour out all your anxieties, hopes and fears; you can try out your latest wacky ideas; you can express your disillusionments, and celebrate your successes.

I hope I’ll have mentors through the rest of my professional life. These might be formal mentors, or they might be people I admire in the profession who are just to nice to tell me to shut up and go away ;)

I hope I’ll be a mentor, too.  I’m doing CILIP mentor training in September, and hope to be able to take on my first mentee in the spring. Scary? Oh yes! but exciting, too - I’m really looking forward to building that relationship, and I hope I can help, encourage and inspire them, as my mentors have me.

Thing 10 - Graduate traineeships, Masters Degrees, Chartership, Accreditation

Or, How I Got Where I Am Today.

I’m going to cheat a bit on this one. Ok, I’m going to cheat a lot. When I can’t think of anything else to blog about, I default to blog posts about me. Call it reflection, self-analysis, or narcissism; I call it ‘an easy #cpd23 post’.

So, for your reading delectation, here are links to previous blog posts of mine on this week’s theme. Nothing much has changed.

My library roots/routes

Reflections on my graduate traineeship

What Chartership means to me

Oddly enough, I haven’t blogged about my Masters course anywhere. And you know what? I’m not going to. Not right now, anyway. I don’t think I can write about it without getting into the whole debate about ‘do we really need Masters degrees?’ and ‘what’s the value of an MLIS?’  - which has been going on for years and, as far as I can tell, is no further forward. Now, I’m not dissing the debate - debate is healthy! - and I appreciate that we really need to think about the future of the profession. But I’m not sure I have the time/energy to get into it right now.

Oh, ok then. Maybe just a little bit:

I don’t care if you have a library qualification. I really, really don’t. What I care about is passion and commitment. And that commitment includes getting the necessary training (where it is actually necessary, and not just hoop-jumping) to do your job and serve your users and profession to the best of your ability. That training might come in the form of a library degree. It might come in the form of a series of courses. It might be you sitting up at evenings and weekends teaching yourself html and css from W3C schools. I don’t care. 

What I care about is that you care. If you conduct yourself as a professional (which includes developing the required skills), then you’re professional enough for me.  If you don’t? I don’t want you in my profession.

I’m not saying we should abolish library courses, but that they should remain one of many routes into the profession - not a favoured route, not one that makes ‘real’ librarians. One out of many, not first among equals.  The profession is defined by what we do, not the letters after our names.

(So much for a quick and easy post, eh?)

Thing 9 - Evernote

O Evernote, I really do want to like you. You sound so useful! And you have elephants! But since joining Evernote in 2009, I have created exactly 14 notes. And most of those were in the last couple of days.

I’ve tried to integrate Evernote into my workflow. I really have. But it doesn’t fill any gaps for me.  If I want web-accessible docs, I’ll use Google Docs. I don’t take enough photos on my phone to really need to tag them, and I can always share them by email or twitter, or stick them in my DropBox.  I can edit Google Docs and Office docs (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) on my phone. I don’t need another synched text editing program.

I use Nirvana for my to-do lists. No app for my phone, true, but I have a simple reminder program that I can use for that, and I can access the web version of Nirvana.  To save the content of a webpage to read on the go, I use SendToReader to send it to my Kindle. 

I really, really wanted to love the ability to search text within photos. But I can’t. it just isn’t working reliably enough for me - at first I thought it wasn’t working at all, until I realised I’d been searching for words it obviously hadn’t found. 

So, I’ve dutifully given Evernote another go. And I have to admit, I do like the web clipper - I can actually see myself using this! The saved pages display well on my phone, and I can share them from there, too - useful for things with lots of colour or images that won’t display as well on the Kindle, or stuff I think I’m likely to want to tweet.

So Evernote for productivity? Not for me right now (though I will concede that I might not have put enough effort into really giving it a proper whack). But it might find it’s way into my article/web-page reading life.

Thing 8 - Google calendar

Google calendar! I’ve been using it for years. This should be easy, then…

Except I know I’ve not been using it as effectively as possible.  I use my Outlook calendar for work, and always have to check both calendars before I can commit to something (or I end up at a conference when I was supposed to be seeing Nine Inch Nails/Jane’s Addiction. I was gutted.) Surely there must be some way to easily integrate the two!

Of course, there is: Google calendar sync. Now installed - took 2 mins, and will hopefully prevent any work/life clashes in the future! Now, of course, I have loads of duplicate events - guess the next step (if I can be bothered!) is to de-duplicate. I may leave it - there’s never any harm in reminding me about something twice…

I’ve never really been comfortable with shared calendars, either. My first experience was setting up a shared Google calendar for the John Rylands Medicine & Health Sciences team, back when I was a graduate trainee. It didn’t really take off - I was the only one on the team with a Google account, and it was too awkward for everyone else to set one up, and remember to login, just to use a(nother) calendar. When I left, they were still using Outlook, and writing things on the whiteboard. In fact, my current team - despite having a shared calendar in Sharepoint - also uses the ‘write it on the board’ strategy, on the grounds that it’s much easier to turn your head and look at the wall than to open up IE, login, navigate to the calendar…

I also set up a shared Google calendar for the 2009 ECCAs, so we could see which sessions we were all planning to attend. Again, this didn’t really take off - I’m pretty sure I messed the time zones up, so some people were posting in the correct Washington time zone, while all my stuff appeared to be taking place at about 2am! I’ve never been much good with time zones.

Likewise the shared Google calendars for the SLA Europe board. They were fraught with access and permissions issues, and really much harder (well, more tedious) to set up than I could have imagined! At least one of them is still active (Laura uses it to schedule blog posts), but the others seem to have gone the way of all my other shared Google calendars…  

The other thing I use Google Calendar for is Twistory. This backs up my tweets, and pops them into my calendar in appropriately time-stamped places. 

As you can see, if I have a flurry of tweets, it can get quite crowded! But showing just the Twistory calendar, or having it on single-day view makes it easier to see.

The best thing? It’s searchable! You can quickly and easily search your tweets, and see exactly what you said to who, when.

The worst thing? (and the thing I didn’t fully realise until I came to write this up!) Only your last month’s tweets are available in the free version - the full archive  and the export option require pro. The pretty-good thing? Pro is only $1 a month. I think I’ll give it a go.

Thing 7 - face-to-face networks and professional organisations

Ok, here’s a minor confession to start off with - I’m getting pretty far behind, and went to the CPD23 blog to check the title of this Thing. At which point I thought ‘huh, that looks famili… oh. right. that was me.’

So I’m sure I could count that as having done this Thing already (right?), but I’d like to talk a bit more about one of the professional organisations I’m involved with, and what it’s done for me.

Just as twitter is my career-defining professional-interaction space, SLA is my professional-involvement-kickstart organisation.

I first joined SLA in 2009, when I won an SLA Europe Early Career Conference Award (ECCA).  Before this, I’d never heard of SLA. I returned from conference in Washington a complete SLA convert. Thousands of information professionals in one place! And all of them so nice - dedicated, professional, deep-thinkers who were always up for a bit of fun, and very happy to go out of their way to help you.

Back from Washington, and I was delighted and terrified (in approximately equal measure) to be asked to join the board as Co-Chair of the Early Career Committee.  This has been an astoundingly valuable post - talk about stepping out of your comfort zone! Scared though I may have been about the judging, it’s been extremely useful experience, and will help me in the future with applying for things, be they awards or jobs. And yes, I promise I will blog at some point, to share the things I’ve learned!

Then a year later came the invitation to be SLA Europe Awards Chair, responsible for the Information Professional Award. Again, imagine me quaking in my fancy-librarian shoes - this isn’t just judging my early-career peers, this is judging established, successful, respected mid-career info pros! The people who are likely to be reading my job applications! How on earth do I do this?

The answer, of course, is to remember that we’re all information professionals. These people are a bit further along the career-continuum that I am, but can still be measured in the same terms. Are they inspiring? Are they innovative? Are they passionate?  Are they generous and hard-working? And when they are all of these things and more, then come the discussions with colleagues.

The colleagues really are one of the best things about being involved with SLA. Whatever I’ve had to do, I’ve never felt like I’ve been alone or abandoned - and if I didn’t know what to, they’ve helped and advised me.

This has been particularly true of my two Co-Chairs - Lyndsay Rees-Jones for the SLA E Early Career Commitee, and Barbie Keiser for the Leadership & Management Division Marketing Section.

Oh yes, I’m on the LMD Board. (I like just tossing that out casually, as if it’s, like, a total given, you know? When really I still can’t quite believe I’m a member of the division, never mind the board, and my contribution to board meetings so far has mainly consisted of ‘unmuting long enough to say ‘aye”.)

If joining the SLA Europe board was a step outside my comfort zone, then joining the LMD board was like being dropped into the Antarctic in a tuxedo and being told to ‘go join the penguins’.

LMD is full of the great and the good of SLA. It’s littered with past-presidents and board members and award winners and fellows and goodness-gracious-me downright library-world-celebrities. But LMD are keen to say that the division isn’t just for those who are already leaders- it’s for those who want to be leaders in the future. And you know what? If you want to be a leader, you probably already are one, if you realise it or not. Even if it’s only that you’re the one who gets all your library school classmates down the pub - that’s showing leadership qualities (and is generally an excellent grounding for a career as either a librarian or shambrarian).

And while I’ve (mainly) got over (some of) my library fan-girl-ness [1], there’s no denying that being put on the spot to a) introduce an SLA conference panel for the first time and b) that panel consisting of Rebecca Jones, Jane Dysart and Stephen Abram  - well, it’s a bit daunting. The best I can say is that I remembered to thank the sponsor…

And now we’re starting to put together next year’s session. SLA plan their conferences a long way in advance - session proposals for next year’s conference had to be in by 1st August.  Again, an absolute eye-opener - not only thinking about time, format, and focus of session, but about speakers and sponsors and tie-ins too. I’ve been definitely more passive than active - a lot of what I’ve done so far has consisted of agreeing with Barbie. But I’m learning, and each thing I watch Barbie do is one thing I’ll be slightly more comfortable with doing in the future.

Gosh, what a long post! And I haven’t even covered a lot of the ways SLA has affected my career - like the great contacts I’ve made, at all levels and in all fields, and the confidence I’ve gained from interacting with them; how attending 3 SLA conferences has all-but eliminated my crippling fear of face-to-face networking situations; how I’ve met some of my best library friends through SLA; or how winning the Rising Star award led to being asked to write my book.

For me, involvement with SLA has been a turbo-career boost, like concentrated essence of experience. ‘Add 2 drops of SLA to your career, and marvel at the speed at which you learn! And it’s low in calories, too!’ [2]  There’s so much I simply would never have done - or not until much later in my career. It’s helped me to think in global, all-encompassing terms about the information profession, and interactions with members are constantly exciting and stimulating. In just two years of membership they’ve given me so much, that it’s going to take a career of involvement to give enough back.

[1]Ok, I admit it, my favourite conference moments from this year were Mary Ellen Bates giving me a refusal that was so gracious it was as good as an acceptance (and touching my hand!!), and Stephen Abram remembering my name. There’s a lot of fan-girl still to go…

[2]This is probably a lie. Most interactions I’ve had with SLA people have involved delicious food. Cake really is a powerful force for cohesion in the information professional community.

dots-loops:

This week’s cpd23 Thing is about tools for organising yourself. Rather than droning on about what apps I use or what nice stationery I have, I thought it might be useful to talk about a method for organising yourself instead.
Getting Things Done, better known as GTD, is a “work-life management system” created by productivity consultant David Allen.
In a nutshell, GTD is a clever way of dealing with your to-do list, helping you to be more productive and Get Things Done. I’m not a strict follower of the system but over the years I’ve managed to successfully embed the key tenets of GTD into my daily life and workflow with good results. I would sincerely recommend you try it out.
What you’re supposed to do:
Capture all the stuff buzzing around in your head: work tasks, social commitments, errands, shopping lists, projects, ideas, chores. The aim is to jot down all your to-dos so that you can declutter your brain – the focus is on the planning and doing, not the remembering.
Sort your to-do list into actionable next steps. Check out that cute flowchart I drew!
Sort your to-do list into categories. This is where it gets interesting. If you need to keep long-term track of projects, be that work stuff or planning for a holiday, you should sort all of your tasks into project folders so you can easily see what you’ve done and what still needs doing project-by-project.
However, what you can also do is sort those tasks by context: office, home, shops, email, phone, whatever. This way, the next time you’re sat at your desk or in the mood for some phone calls you’ll know what needs doing.
If it takes less than two minutes, do it. I love this. It’s so small but such a powerful way to deal with all those little niggling chores – why bother wasting brain power worrying and thinking about something that could be done immediately? A definite tip for the procrastinators!
That’s the gist of GTD but you’ll find lots more detailed advice and tips at 43 Folders, which is where I first encountered it.
The great thing about GTD is that it’s a method and not a tool so you can happily do it all on scraps on paper, on special index cards, on an iPhone app, on your computer, on Outlook, whatever suits you best. Check out Mashable’s feature on 100+ GTD resources.
Phew! Now I can cross another Thing off my to-do list!

dots-loops:

This week’s cpd23 Thing is about tools for organising yourself. Rather than droning on about what apps I use or what nice stationery I have, I thought it might be useful to talk about a method for organising yourself instead.

Getting Things Done, better known as GTD, is a “work-life management system” created by productivity consultant David Allen.

In a nutshell, GTD is a clever way of dealing with your to-do list, helping you to be more productive and Get Things Done. I’m not a strict follower of the system but over the years I’ve managed to successfully embed the key tenets of GTD into my daily life and workflow with good results. I would sincerely recommend you try it out.

What you’re supposed to do:

Capture all the stuff buzzing around in your head: work tasks, social commitments, errands, shopping lists, projects, ideas, chores. The aim is to jot down all your to-dos so that you can declutter your brain – the focus is on the planning and doing, not the remembering.

Sort your to-do list into actionable next steps. Check out that cute flowchart I drew!

Sort your to-do list into categories. This is where it gets interesting. If you need to keep long-term track of projects, be that work stuff or planning for a holiday, you should sort all of your tasks into project folders so you can easily see what you’ve done and what still needs doing project-by-project.

However, what you can also do is sort those tasks by context: office, home, shops, email, phone, whatever. This way, the next time you’re sat at your desk or in the mood for some phone calls you’ll know what needs doing.

If it takes less than two minutes, do it. I love this. It’s so small but such a powerful way to deal with all those little niggling chores – why bother wasting brain power worrying and thinking about something that could be done immediately? A definite tip for the procrastinators!

That’s the gist of GTD but you’ll find lots more detailed advice and tips at 43 Folders, which is where I first encountered it.

The great thing about GTD is that it’s a method and not a tool so you can happily do it all on scraps on paper, on special index cards, on an iPhone app, on your computer, on Outlook, whatever suits you best. Check out Mashable’s feature on 100+ GTD resources.

Phew! Now I can cross another Thing off my to-do list!

(Source: )

Thing 6 - online networks

Bit late, but I’ll get there in the end!  Professional involvement for me is very much about online networks - and, now I think about it, I find it very interesting that Twitter was part of Thing 4 (current awareness), rather than Thing 6. Not wrong, as Twitter has many roles to play, but interesting :)

I’m going to try and be focussed, and actually discuss the things in the… erm… Thing, so I shall just say that if you’re interested in what online networks and social media have meant to me and my career (and why on earth wouldn’t you be?) see this post on my other blog.

LinkedIn: I’ve been on LinkedIn for quite a while - much longer than I thought! Apparently I joined in April 2008, just a month after I joined Twitter. It doesn’t feel like it. Twitter is a pretty integral part of my life. LinkedIn is just something I’m on.  I’m sure there should be something more I’m doing with it, I just can’t quite work out what…

My main use for LinkedIn at the moment is following up on conference meetings etc. At one stage, I’d have brought all my business cards home, and sat down to email all the people I’d met. Now I add them on LinkedIn instead, which actually works very well. So yeah, I’d probably keep LinkedIn up just for that.

But I never do any real, in-depth networking on there. I don’t think I’ve ever posted in any of the discussion forums. That’s not to say that there aren’t some great discussions going on there - it’s just that it’s not a place I ever really think to look.  I’ll generally only find discussion threads if someone has drawn my attention to them from elsewhere. Yes, I will (probably) only read your LinkedIn discussion if someone tweets it. Sorry.

And it’s not like I shouldn’t know about the discussions, with all the bloomin emails they send! *grumble grumble* I’ve set all my group preferences to ‘weekly digest’ but my inbox still seems to be full of them… Maybe I’m just in too many groups?

If I was seriously looking to change jobs, then I’d start paying more attention to my LinkedIn. Until then, it’s just another access point.

Facebook:  You know what? I don’t really use Facebook any more, either. There was a time, back in 2007, where it was the coolest thing ever! Then the delight of being able to see photos of slightly-older-ex-schoolmates faded, and I started to use it less and less. In total defiance of Facebook’s terms and conditions, I made myself a separate ‘professional’ account, to try to encourage me to use it professionally.  I haven’t.  And I really don’t think I’m going to! I can see google + (where I am currently lurking) fulfilling the ‘bit more than twitter, bit less than a blog post’ niche in my online networks. In fact, I’ve been thinking about taking the plunge, and leaving Facebook altogether. What’s stopping me?

Mary Ellen Bates.  Not in person, obviously. She’s not actually standing behind me while my mouse hovers over ‘deactivate’ shouting ‘Don’t do it! It’s internet suicide!’.  But every time I think about quitting, I remember one of the things she said in a presentation at SLA2010:

For millions of people, Facebook is the internet. If you’re not on it, you don’t exist.

And it makes me stop, every time. Now, I’m starting to re-assess this, and I think it’s probably much more important as a company or brand than as an individual. I’m also not sure if I’ve got the ‘millions’ bit right (it seems like an awful lot!), but - as events like this show - there are an awful lot of people for whom the web really does seem to begin at Facebook.  Do I dare to join the ranks of those for whom it stops there?

Gosh, this has turned into a bit of a monster! last two (I don’t use LAT), in double-quick time:

LISNPN: I am inordinately proud of the fact that I was, after founder Ned Potter, the 2nd member of the LIS New Professionals Network. Not too shabby, huh? I do love LISNPN, though I find that I don’t get as much time to read and contribute to the forums as I’d like. I promote it constantly, as I think it’s a fantastic resource, and a brilliant community to be part of.

Drawbacks? Well, the name. Despite plenty of declarations that ‘everyone’s welcome!’, people can be off-put by the ‘new professional’ tag. I’m not sure what can be done about it, but I do see a movement towards just calling it ‘LISNPN’, without actually expanding the acronym. Perhaps this is the way to go?

CILIP communities: I had to double-check that I had a login! Not somewhere I would ever really think to visit, unless (like LinkeIn forums) prompted by a comment or tweet. My main recollection is that it posts under your full name - I remember being mildly flabbergasted at how many names Phil Bradley had…

Looking now, I see there’s quite a lot of activity! And I’m sure I should use it more - but right now, I have no pressing reason to. Anyone have one?

(I’ve just realised that this is where Annie and Biddy’s blogs are! Ok, so I do use communities - I just hadn’t quite made that connection…) 

Thing 5 - reflective practice

So, I’m a *tiny* bit late with my Thing 5 post. Obviously I’ve been far too busy doing reflective practice to blog about it (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it).

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about reflective practice recently. I’m hoping to revalidate once I’m eligible, and, as the lovely Jaffne is revalidating too, we set up a wiki for us to collect evidence and do some unofficial mentoring for each other.

As Jaf is so lovely (she really is, you know!), she suggested that we open the wiki up to help others who are thinking about revalidating - or who would just like to see how we’re using a wiki to support our CPD. So, we stripped out anything personal or embarrassing, and here it is! It’s open to everyone, and we really hope people will find it useful.

You may notice a bit of an imbalance - Jaf’s pages are beautifully organised and, well, full… Mine’s all a bit more of a mess, and I haven’t done too well at the whole ‘giving feedback and encouraging’ thing. But I’m super glad we’ve done it - it makes  me feel a bit more in control, and as if I’m actually learning something from all the stuff I’m doing, rather than just running around in a panic.  Jaf is great at setting me tasks and things to think about, too, and she’ll make someone an excellent Real Mental one day :)  I try to make up for lapses by gifts of chocolate!  But I think our two styles work quite well together (for me, anyway!), and show how you can take different approaches to doing, recording, and reflecting on your CPD.

Thing 4 - Pushnote

Ok, so Thing 4 is also about Twitter and RSS feeds, both of which I’ve used for years. I’m not saying I use them especially well, or that I couldn’t stand to do a bit of an overhaul, but for now I want to concentrate on the tool I’ve never used before: Pushnote.

There are any number of things I don’t like about Pushnote - in it’s current incarnation, anyway.  It’s in beta, and hopefully there are some changes coming. I’m not going to bore you/put you off with a list ofthings I don’t like about the functionality - instead, let’s talk use cases.

Pushnote calls itself ‘a 5-star rating system for the web’, and invites you to ‘See what’s hot right now and share favourites with friends’.  I’m unsure where the focus is supposed to lie - the rating, the sharing, or the discovery?  For me, rating/commenting is really where the value lies.  I don’t ever see myself using Pushnote as a social tool - I have other tools that work for that. A combination of Twitter and Delicious covers of my social sharing and discovery needs.

But I can see uses for Pushnote.  Well, one use really, but it could be a biggie! 

It could be extremely useful to be able to see what certain people say about certain webpages.

Say I’m checking out search engines. How great would it be to be able to click the little Pushnote button in my browser and see what Phil Bradley's got to say about it?  Or say I'm looking for law resources, and come across a website that looks interesting. What do my law librarian contacts think of it? Let's click and have a look.  And if they haven't already commented on it, when I ask them for advice, their response could then be added to the page, to help the next person who needs it.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  With the comments and the rating system and an army of information professionals, we could classify the whole web! mwahahahahaha etc.  Problem is, it won’t work with Pushnote as it is now - or not easily, at any rate.  

One of my biggest gripes with Pushnote at the moment, and one I see as a serious barrier to any future use, is the lack of a profile. At the moment, you simply can’t get any information about the person who’s commented.  Current Pushnote profiles consist of a name, and an optional picture. That’s it.  I did manage to find a way in the browser pop-up to see what comments a person has left, but it’s clunky and not ideal.

If I’m to use Pushnote as a basis for evaluating the web, I need to know something about the people doing the evaluating.  It doesn’t need to be much - even just allowing a web link to someone’s homepage would give me enough info to start deciding how much of an expert that person is, what bias they might have. At the moment, the only value I can get from Pushnote depends entirely on my other social networks - I know this person through Twitter, and know that they know their stuff about… etc etc.  

Except that Pushnote doesn’t even make that very easy!  The lack of a profile means that you can’t tell where else you might know someone from. Most CPD23 people on Pushnote seem to be using their real name as their username (tip: you can change this in ‘my account’), and that might well not be the name I know them as!  

Gosh, this does appear to have turned into a bit of a griping session.  Long story short: I think Pushnote does have some potential value; I don’t think it’s current functionality allows us to recognise that value.  But I’ll be watching the development of the beta with interest…

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