VALA 2008 Conference – Day 3 – Concurrent Session 14 – Social Networking

Kim Tairi – Swinburne University of Technology, Rob McCormack – Peodair Leihy and Peter Ring – Victoria University
“Fairy tales and Elggs: social networking with student rovers in learning commons”

Rovers were used in the Learning commons – student peer mentors who worked in pairs.  Created RoverSpace – an online community for Rovers to share knowledge and problems, initially used Elgg (open source social networking space), now use Google Groups and Mediawiki.

Student rovers need to be peers (complementary service to librarians), seed a culture of learning (exemplars of good learning practice, paid work as a positive (good addition to or complement of their coursework), where the community meets (some rovers see working for the library as an honour).
Having rovers who reflect the university’s student population, in terms of background, courses etc.

RoverSpace – contains shift reports, statistics, administrative communication, reflective tasks, organic information sharing space.

Duties: – basic advice, assistance, operational support to students in the Learning Commons regarding IT and Library queries
– assist students to clarify their learning issues and develop strategiese to tackle them
– refer students to online/library resources, formal student learning advice and other forms of assistance

Rovers handled 4500 queries in the first 2 semesters of 2007  83% dealt with in a few minutes. 7.2% referred to library staff. 70.5% of queries were for printing, photocopying, catalogue, borrowing and returning, finding items on shelf and the swipe card technology.

Happily Ever After?
better publicity and more visibility
more training and better knowledge management
different roles (lead rover and webmaster)
more efficient support (only one in off peak times)
capitalising on online support potential
other platforms – Cosmopolis

Bruce Heterick – JSTOR
“Shift happens: how the network effect, two-sided markets and the wisdom of crowds are impacting libraries and scholarly communication”

Check out the YouTube video “Shift happens” – series of factoids on how the world is changing.

“Technology is everything that is invented after you were born.”  “Technology does not add or subtract something. It changes everything.”
eg. Printing press (Gutenberg -1440) led to the Protestant Reformation and the Renaissance
Linotype machine (Merganthaler – 1886) led to increased newspaper circulation (cheaper production costs)
Integrated circuit (Kilby/Noyce – 1961) led to digital computing
World Wide Web (BernersLee – 1989) led to search engines, e-commerce, information transition
iPod (Apple – 2001) – led to portable media

Library in use is using audio avatars – surfer dude on using Google, southern lady on archives from JSTOR – podcast how to use the resources.  Students downloading and listening to them when they want.

Four exponentials ….. working together
– Moore’s Law – power of computing is doubling every 18 months ( hold true for last 25 years and probably for next 10 to 15)
– Law of Fiber – capacity of the bandwith is doubling every 9 months – allowing us to deliver much more than we could have imagined a few years ago
– Law of Storage – digital storage doubles for the same cost every 12 months (its not a concern anymore because it is so cheap)
– Law of Community (Metcalf’s Law) – the power of the network goes up with the square of the networked people interacting with it
Each law is an exponential change agent, but with all of them working together, feeding off one another, it has caused such great change that it has become unsettling for people.

“If things are under control, you are moving too slow”.

They are facilitating the transition from the Information Age to the Age of Participation:
– actively engaging with what they are receiving – blogs and wikis are descendents of that need
– multilateral, not unilateral – not just working person to person – more apparent but also can be more confusing
– communities, not silos – around the information, how will they be facilitated through the platforms being used
– contribution as well as consumption

They are contributing to an environment with new dynamics:
– The Network effect – service becomes available as more people use it, growth can be extraordinarily fast (often virally) and can occur with little or no centralized control, glider – the power of the network must move down.
– Two-sided markets – WEb 2.0 where people contribute and consumer, economic network having two distinct user groups

Wisdom of crowds – groups are smarter than the smartest individual in the right circumstances
– decisions by crowds work when the crowd is diverse, decentralized & work independently ie. Wikipedia

Libraries will have to engage more at the place where their users are – proactive engagement.
Publishers have to be building self-sustaining communities or be consolidated.
Faculty – have to become more conversant with the technologies, adopt these advances, focus on networks, not institutions.

Law of change – libraries will have to change as the larger system of which we are a part changes, or risk being ejected from it.
Gorbachev Syndrome – leaders swept away by the tide they have created.

Do we move forward to what is inevitable or do we hold on to the continuity that we have, however profoundly it is flawed?