Is it too early for New Year Resolutions? Worried about technology taking over your life? Then start the year with CILIP MmIT as we consider Mindful Technology for our January 2019 half day of talks incorporating our 2018 AGM. Four speakers will consider how to manage technology rather than let it manage you, including discussion of mindful technology and how to beat digital distractions.
We welcome a guest post from Claire Sewell, Research Support Skills Coordinator in the the Office of Scholarly Communication at Cambridge University Library.
Reading tweets from a conference or other event is a great way to keep up with what is happening in your area, especially as the number of events you can attend in person is likely to be limited. If you are lucky enough to attend something then using Twitter to share your insights is a great way to both take notes and raise your individual profile within the community. However, Twitter is very fast moving and it can be easy to lose content that you would like to keep or refer back to.
Setting up a tweet archive is one way to keep track of tweets – either just your own or those across the whole event hashtag. The much-missed Storify used to do this but with its demise, we have had to find new methods. One solution is to use IFTTT (If This Then That), an online platform which lets users connect different websites to automate a number of tasks – known as applets. I’ve used this to connect Twitter and Google Sheets to create both personal and public tweet archives for different events.
The instructions below will guide you through setting up a tweet archive using Google Sheets but you can use any of the apps available on IFTTT to create something suited to your preferred workflow. IFTTT is an intuitive website that guides you through any complicated parts quickly and easily.
Connect your Twitter and Google Drive accounts to IFTTT. You will only need to do this the first time you connect any third party site to use it in multiple applets.
Select My applets – New applet.
The following message will appear:
Select this and then select Twitter.
Select the appropriate option depending on whether you want to set up an archive of all tweets from an event (New tweet from search) or just the ones you send (New tweet by you with hashtag).
Specify the hashtag that you want to collect when prompted and then select Create trigger. The following message will appear:
Select that and then Google Sheets (or whichever tool you are using).
Select Add row to spreadsheet. At this point you will be prompted to specify a spreadsheet – either an existing one in your library or a new one created for this applet. You can also alter the format that the tweet is collected in at this stage (IFTT will guide you through this process).
Select create action and you are ready to go. The applet will run automatically once it has been created although you can run it manually if desired.
When creating the archive with Google Sheets you can either share it or keep it private depending on what you intend to use it for. It’s worth pointing out that this system is not fool proof – it may miss some tweets, particularly if the hashtag is fast moving and IFTTT will only work with certain sites. However it is a good alternative to trawling through pages of tweets searching for the one you meant to save. I would recommend experimenting with the different tools available on IFTTT to create an archive which works for your purposes – you never know what you might discover!
I’m looking forward to attending #ILI2018 next month (if you are a member of MmIT you can claim a 25% discount – see our blog post for details of how to claim it). We will be staffing an MmIT stand with giveaways and a competition.
I’m giving a lightning talk at ILI on using social media to promote and amplify events and thought it might be helpful to talk about the tech that helps me do so. The two devices I use are an iPad and mobile phone. I find a tablet much lighter and easier than a laptop when balanced on my knees but I do know other people who prefer having the full keyboard on a laptop for rapid tweeting or blogging.
A spare power supply is essential if you wish to keep tweeting after lunch! You can’t guarantee having access to a power point at a conference, but it is probably worth taking your charger plug and lead along just in case. Delegates who bring and share access to a multi-USB adaptor and/or an extension lead are true digital citizens!
Entry-level power banks (left) are low cost and often feature as a “high value” giveaway from library suppliers and publishers. They should help you top-up your phone charge to last out the day.
The more powerful high-capacity power banks (centre) can carry enough charge to keep your laptop or tablet topped up throughout the conference or a transantlantic flight.
My most recent purchase has been a battery phone case (right), which gives me four times the battery life (YMMV), and the some newer versions even offer wireless charging.
My final tip is to charge all your devices and chargers the night before the event starts, and top up the charge whenever possible. I’ve found an article that advises that shallow discharges and recharges are better than full ones, which mentions the new-to-me Battery University as an authority!
[Note: my “tech” was purchased personally, apart from the entry-level power bank which was a publisher giveaway. Obviously other brands of tablets, power banks and phone cases are available….]
Two significant reports on technology trends in higher education have been published recently:
The 2018 NMC Horizon Report has been published by EDUCAUSE. The Report identifies and describes the higher education trends, challenges, and developments in educational technology which are likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry. The 2018 expert panel identified six important developments in technology for higher education (and the likely timescales to adoption): analytics technologies; makerspaces; adaptive learning technologies; artificial intelligence; mixed reality and robotics.
In addition, in June the ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee published their biennial review of the trends and issues affecting academic libraries in higher education:2018 top trends in academic libraries. These are: the publisher and vendor landscape; fake news and information literacy; project management approaches in libraries; textbook affordability and OER; learning analytics, data collection, and ethical concerns; research datasets acquisition, text mining, and data science; collection management; acquisition model developments; open access collection development policies and funding schemes; and legacy print collections.
There is the line that you can never have too much of good thing and these days there are so many good things that librarians and information professionals can employ in their working environment. The great thing is that since we emerged from the world of Web 1.0 to 2.0 that a lot of these newer tools are free and actually quite useful. The flipside is that a lot aren’t that good or just can’t be applied in a library setting, regardless of how hard you try and knock a square peg into a round hole, it won’t go (unless the square peg is smaller of course).
Libraries are no different from any kind of organisation, they have to use formally licensed software for the day to day running of their service. Even though this does not always mean the leanest or most dynamic of packages serving your library, but it does mean you will get a good level of service support and that is essential. The smaller, more niche tools have a part to play in this technology ecosystem – just like the microbes and bugs on Planet Earth – if we remove them the whole system would collapse. The larger technology companies often need the smaller companies to keep the environment from becoming stale and predictable. They also can eat them up from time to time, just like our bugs and other real world creatures. Take for example how – at the time independent company – Mendeley changed reference management dramatically for the better. The smaller technology companies are less likely to get bogged down by bloated platforms run by large companies who focus first on foremost in delivering a stable product for their users. Like I say, the stability of large platforms is essential, the flexibility and dynamic nature of smaller technologies is often where the real action is at.
The last ten years has seen a tremendous growth in new technologies that can be applied in a library setting. The financial cost of these tools, such as Canva, Twitter, Adobe Spark and Eventbrite can be free. Yet with freedom can come a cost as problems can start to float to the surface, although not all of these problems are that worrisome. The old adage ‘If you are not paying for the product – you are the product’ certainly rings true with how some technologies will give you a free ride if you give them your data in return. There are also issues around what do you do when you become hooked into a useful platform, but want more from the premium add ons and the person holding the purse strings says no. How do you know whether the tool you are using will be here tomorrow – remember PageFlakes, Storify, Readability, Google Reader and Silk anyone?
Another question for the typical library or information professional is which tools are best and how can they be applied and which will work on their system – take for example a librarian in an NHS setting. The final and most crucial issue is around the investment of time used to master new tools and that can be problematic depending on the learning curve, but if you know how to use Microsoft Word you’ll probably master most lightweight tools in very little time. The sheer number of tools that can be used in the library sector is overwhelming, regardless of whether you are a public, NHS, business or academic librarian. One tool may solve a host of problems for one librarian but be as useful as a chocolate teapot for another. It is all about application and one of the greatest things to see in technology uptake in the library is how one person can use a tool and then another take that same tool and apply it in a totally unexpected way just as successfully. This is the wonderful thing about these technologies, whether it is Menitmeter for polling, Pocket for curating or Piktochart for posters, you you use it may be totally different from how someone else does.