Could Google+ Ruin Your Online Personal Brand?

So I got a google+ invite (just bragging)! While I was exploring this new social media and talking to friends and happily putting them all in all of their specifically labeled circles, I started thinking about the amount of metadata that we are creating for each other and about each other. I started thinking about twitter lists, facebook groups, and other classifications in the multitude of social media platforms that we, our company, or our brand, is being put into against our will and without our control.

I understand that people have had these concerns with FB already because they are already doing some of it in a way. But I think that Google is slightly different because people “like” a company on FB or “friend” me and its pretty much exclusive to FB, whereas people “Google” me to find all of my online persona or a company’s online presence. These groups and pages in FB don’t have an effect on people’s search results for me within FB. But, my friends’ classification of me could have a strong impact on what search terms are used to find me or have a strong impact on my public online identity.

Here is another difference, I think. FB uses my groups and likes data to send me more specific and better targeted ads and recommendations. I’m the only one who is really affected by this data because I see the ads and recommendations when I’m online. I see the results of people’s classifications of me. And, for the most part, I’m the only one who does. However, Google can more effectively use this “circle” data to influence the search results for me. Results that anyone can see, that influence how people find me, and that the public can associate with my online brand identity.

This is because these lists and groups generate a massive amount of metadata about our online persona. I originally thought about Google+’s collection of this data specifically because they are in the search, metadata, and ad business. My first thought was how my friends’ classification of me in circles would affect search results for my public online identity (PC Sweeney) that I spent a lot of time constructing. Would it be completely upended because people started putting me in the “douchebag” circle? Would it be possible that whenever someone searched for “assholes” I would rise to the top of the search results because that’s how people had classified me? Or, would I simply continue to be put in the “librarian” circle? Or even… dare I say it? That searches for “awesome” would bring me to the top of Google searches?

But, ok… Let’s just say that I’m put in the asshole circle, twitter list, and facebook list (because that’s more fun). How will that affect my job search or my career advancement? People potentially could see my online brand through search results, and people’s classification of me that I am branded as an asshole. My boss, or future boss could learn about this and it could ruin my career.

While, I think this would be mostly funny, I wonder about larger companies that have been branded by these lists such as BP, PG&E or Walmart. How can they control it? I don’t think they can either. They could try to avoid social media all together to try to limit their classifications. But then what about FB Places or Yelp that automatically generated a social media space for that company? Avoiding social media would be wrong too.

So what is the solution? In the future, starting now, it is going to be more and more important to not be an asshole and more important to just be awesome.

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Seth Called Us Out On Our Bullshit And Folks Got Mad

Ok, yeah, I was going to just ignore this whole thing, but then a couple of other blog posts from librarians kinda got to me (Librarians I love and respect BTW). So, I’m going to throw my two cents at this whole debate since just about every other person in the library world has. And, I’m going to say this – Seth is Exactly Right!

The thing is that librarians are debating about how Seth perceives the library. Some librarians are making this statement;

“the article reinforces Godin’s belief in the stereotype of librarian as clerk, declaring that films are “a mere sideline that most librarians resented anyway”, exhorting us to stop “defending library as warehouse”, and arguing that”what we don’t need are mere clerks who guard dead paper” – absolutely right Mr. Godin, but then this ceased to define a librarian many, many moons ago.”

Or this one;

“Godin then addresses access to information:

‘Wikipedia and the huge databanks of information have basically eliminated the library as the best resource for anyone doing amateur research (grade school, middle school, even undergrad). Is there any doubt that online resources will get better and cheaper as the years go by? Kids don’t schlep to the library to use an out of date encyclopedia to do a report on FDR.’

He’s right, they don’t schlep to the library to use an out-of-date encyclopedia. They schlep to the library to use a current, up-to-date online one, and databases to write that report on FDR. Online encyclopedias and databases that the library pays for.”

The problem is that the real root of this article, and the aspects these good folks are arguing against, are problems of perception. Of course, we all know that the library isn’t just a “warehouse of books” and we know some folks use our databases, and we all know that kids shouldn’t use Wikipedia. But unfortunately Seth’s statements are exactly what a HUGE percentage of the population believes. This is our fault. This is the brand that generations of librarians have been reinforcing for years. In fact, some of my favorite library marketing has been about the book brand of libraries. Seth is merely calling us out for not doing our jobs to ensure that we are adequately re-branding libraries.

In this sense I think Godin hit it just right. Seth is pointing out what a library is in the minds of the average public non-user. Maybe that’s what’s ruffling some feathers? Remember that this guy isn’t a librarian at all. He is library user and an advocate for libraries. He is exactly the kind of person who should be telling us what a library is. He is Joe Public and he has very Joe Public perceptions of the library.

What we need to do is listen to him, listen to what he says a library is, then talk to the public and see what they perceive the library to be. I bet you’ll get a lot of the same answers. I know that I get these answers when I talk to non-library users. When I talk to people who haven’t been to a library for a couple of years, I usually get the response “it’s a shame people don’t need libraries anymore, all the ebooks and Wikipedia have taken its place. I used to love the library when I was kid.”

So, to all the librarians who are arguing with Seth (who probably won’t read your blog anyway), I’m going to tell you to do something more productive and market your libraries better. Spend some kind of money on library marketing. I mean real marketing that sends the message about what libraries are in the 21st century. Because a lot of us are what Seth says a library should be. We’re already doing a lot of the things he says we should be doing. We just haven’t told anyone yet, and that’s our fault. Thanks for pointing that out Seth, kuddos to you good sir.

If you want to win some money by doing this marketing and telling folks what a modern library is…

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National Library Unconference Day (Will be EPIC!)com

So I’m not sure how many people know about this, but I hope that every librarian does. I’m talking about national library unconference day on May 22, 2012. This is your chance in you state, or region, or county, or library system, or just library, to hold your own unconference. What’s an unconference you ask? Well… I’ll let Allen McGinley and JP Porcaro explain it for me.

Personally, I love unconferences for a whole lot of reasons and there is talk of putting one together in my area (the San Francisco Bay Area) on the same day so I’m pretty stoked because some of the best experiences that I have had in librarianship have been at unconferences. For example, I met some amazing people, I gave my first professional “presentation,” I got the courage to talk to directors and high level administrators as equals, I learned about the programs and services being offered at other libraries, and I learned what kinds of ideas other professionals had about the state of librarianship and its future in the United States.

So this is our chance to have an excuse to #makeithappen in our locations. JP and Allen are basically calling for unconferences to happen all over the country on the same day. This will be a day of learning, sharing, and growing for anyone and everyone participating.

For even more information on the Unconference you can visit the 8bitlibrary website. If you’re a librarian and you’re not reading the 8bitlibrary blog, what are you doing on the internet?

Free Seminars for Librarians: Its time to learn something!!

So… I wrote a super snarky blog post yesterday that basically came down to complaining about librarians or library workers who claim they can’t do something because they don’t know how (we work in a library, everything you need to know is on the shelf, in our databases, or you should know how to find it). However, I decided not to post it on the advice of quite a few librarians. So instead, I’ll post this blog about an organization that presents a solution. I don’t like complaining but I do like solutions after all.

I’m going to put out a plug for an organization called InfoPeople who I have had many great experiences with but whose Twitter account I just found. From their website InfoPeople describes themselves as:

“A statewide LSTA project that functions as the training arm of the California State Library. Some other state libraries provide training via in-house staff. California has opted to essentially outsource training in order to leverage the maximum return on investment of training dollars. The Infopeople model provides a breadth of training topics and a depth of training expertise greater than any single library or library agency, no matter how large, could provide.”

While I do like this organization quite a bit, you might have noticed a tweet once or twice where I expressed my frustration with some of the trainings that they offered. This was more in regard to the fact that they saw a need for those trainings and not because the organization did something wrong. (Ex. A $75 training for Googledocs? Librarians should already know how to use this)

Anyway, I have been to some of their trainings and I enjoyed them and learned quite a bit. More recently I had a couple of experiences with some of the folks behind the organization and I have to say that they are all good people trying to do good work for libraries.

While they do charge for their trainings, they do provide quite a few webcasts and online seminars that are archived that you and your staff can see for free. Even though this is a California based organization, it seems that anyone can access the free webinars! What a great service to libraries! If you haven’t checked out their webinars you really should. One of my favorites being George and Joan: Thinking out Loud.

Here are some of their more recent offerings;

Re-energizing Your Preschool Storytime: New Ideas for Busy Children’s Staff

Top Tech Trends for the Non-Technical

Michael Cart Talks about Patrick Ness and Chaos Walking

George & Joan, Thinking Out Loud about Competition and Disruptive Technologies

Writing a Library Behavior Code – an Update

The New Medline Plus: An In-Depth Look

Michael Cart talks about the life and career of Sid Fleischman

Cool New Legal Sources Online

George and Joan, Thinking Out Loud about the Space Between

Infopeople webinar at noon PDT today:

So if these don’t help you learn something new, check out their website because they have a whole lot more to offer. Don’t forget you can also check your library’s shelves, or its databases, or a podcast, or youtube, or google, or even wikipedia. Once again, I will restate what spurred this post in the first place and simply say – If you work in a library, not knowing something is no excuse.

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How Steampunk can Save Librarianship: Libraries Redefined (Part 2)

Steampunk Guitar
As I am continuing to explore the experiences that are changing how I view librarianship, I came across the steampunk movement. What is a steampunk you ask? Well, steampunk is a genre of speculative futurist fiction where the world is powered by steam and the design of the future is modeled after the Victorian craftsmanship of the 1800’s. Yet, in this steam powered world, all of the conveniences of a modern world exist. Things like digital watches, computers, airplanes and spaceships. Each of these things, while being futurist in nature, in melded with the design and power of the past. Each of these things still benefits society in the same way that they are designed to and as we envision them. It’s just that they’re powered by a different energy source and look Victorian in nature.

steampunk laptop
So, it seems to me that in the same way that steam punk is creating the future with the power and design of the past, libraries are trying to provide the future of information with the power and design of our informational past. We’re providing modern technology such as computers and Internet access within the framework of an organization that is designed for the information access of the past. We are trying to power and design libraries with books and physical collections (steam) while providing the same benefits to society with the future digital forms of information such as mobile technology.

Because this parallel only occurred to me yesterday, I haven’t had much time to think about it. I put the thought out to twitter and received a positive response. In fact, Rudibrarian provided me with this definition of a steampunk movement within libraries – “Hi-tech futuristic gears keeping the old style functions of learning and research moving forward!” While I think this was a fairly accurate definition, I did take some liberties and changed it as follows to more closely fit what I am getting at-

Steampunk librarianship- Old style gears keeping the futuristic high tech functions of learning and research moving forward!

I hope she isn’t too mad at me for changing her words, but I couldn’t have come up with my definition without her. So thank you!

Steampunk Catalog
So why am I inclined to say that this concept can save librarianship? Because, perhaps, we can start to think about libraries in terms of steampunk ideologies to help us understand how we can live in a world where the technologies and designs of past can power the organizations ability to provide the services of the future. We no longer need to argue about whether or not books power libraries, or if its computers and technology that power libraries, and we can agree that there can be a successful melding of the two and that this melding can create something entirely new and exciting while still providing the same kinds of benefits to society.

I would like to point out that I think a lot of our libraries are already working to achieve a successful melding of old vs new and I would love to see more libraries finding ways to more successfully meld the two. As I wrote this blog post I realized that I had actually visited, took pictures of, and wrote a blog post about a very successful steampunk library. This happened while I was at CLA in Pasadena last year and the title of the blog (while not being familiar with steampunk) was “Tour of a Library Cyborg.”

Internet Librarian 2009, My Motorcycle, Vlogging, and Blogging for PLA!!!

Internet Librarian is a conference I have been wanting to go to for a couple of years now but I’ve always been committed to other conferences throughout the year that took up large amounts of my conference going budget. This year though, I have a new job as a branch manager that pays well enough and offers some financial assistance to attend various conferences thus allowing me to attend the ones I typically go to AND Internet Librarian! Needless to say, I’m pretty much a librarian geek and conferences really get me all excited. So what am I doing to prepare?

Well, one of the first things I’m doing is twitter stalking other folks that are going to the conference. Hopefully, they’ll stalk me back and we can get a kind of secondary cyber conference going. So every couple of hours or so I’ve been checking in to twitter to follow other folks who are going. I’m hoping that I can find out about some of the other sessions even though I didn’t attend those and maybe go to some tweetups around Monterey and geek out with other librarians. So if you’re a twittering librarian feel free to let me know you’re attending so I know to follow you!

FYI- The hashtag for Internet Librarian is #il2009 and I only recently figured out that it WASN’T #ili2009. That hashtag was for the international version of this conference in London.

A Sweet conference commuter!
A Sweet conference commuter!
Because I live in San Jose and I’ve worked in Monterey while living in San Jose, I’m fairly familiar with the commute between the two cities. Also… I’m cheap. So instead of paying the money for a hotel room for the conference I’m going to be commuting. This commute will be fun though because I’m going to be driving my motorcycle and the drive along highway 1 is spectacular and the weather in Monterey is always perfect. So in preparation I’ve gotten a tune up on my bike, new tires, oiled my chain, etc… (it probably would have been cheaper to just get a hotel and drive my car) and now I’m all ready to make some beautifully scenic morning and night drives along the California coast.

Flip Camera
Flip Camera
I’m also going to buy a digital video camera of some kind. I’m thinking of getting a Flip because of the great reviews and the price. Hopefully, I’m finally going to be able to add some new video to my youtube channel, Facebook, and this blog site. If there is a wireless connection at the conference site I might be able to upload multiple videos throughout the day. So if you’re one of the people like me who’s tired of all this reading, hopefully, you’ll be able to just watch the video instead.

Lastly, of course, I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to attend. Unfortunately, it looks like I am going to have to miss Saturday’s Library Camp and Sunday’s Gaming and Gadget Petting Zoo (Boo!) but so far I am going to be following these tracks.

Track B: “Social Media, Leveraging Web 2.0”
B101: iGoogling With the Library: Customized Omnipresent Homepages
B102: Creating Connections & Social Reference in Libraries
B103: Micro Interactions, Conversations, & Customers: Sweet Tweet Strategies
Julie Strange
B104: 2.0 Too: Web Services for Underfunded Libraries
B105: Evaluating, Recommending, & Justifying 2.0 Tools
Marydee Ojala
B106: Sneaking the Social Web Into Your Library & Going Beyond 23 Things

Breakfast at the Marriot for “Meeting the End-User’s Expectations”
Track C: Mobile Trends & Practices
C201/C202: Dreaming, Designing, & Using Mobile Library Platforms
Matt Benzing
R. Toby Greenwalt
C203: Putting Your Library on a Mobile Phone
C204: Mobile Marketing
C205: When Students Go Mobile
Kristine Ferry

Track C: Cultivating Innovation & Change
C301: Every Library Should Have a Sandbox to Play In
C302: Persuasion, Influence & Innovative Ideas
Nicole Hennig
C303: Pecha Kucha: Innovative Practices
Nicole Hennig
Steven Harris
Steven Harris
Amy Affelt
C304: Retooling Technical Services for the Digital Environment
Doris Small Helfer
Brad Eden

Overall I think I think I’m going to have a great time! There are so many other tracks that would be fantastic to see but I think I just need to stick to what I have and go with it. If you’re a dork (like me) and are interested I will be blogging for PLA on their site, twittering, and I will be posting videos here from my youtube channel. If anyone has any other suggestions for good times at Internet Librarian, I’m always game to change my plans, meet some good folks, and have a good time! And, of course… Don’t forget to check out Compagno’s for the biggest and best sandwiches of ALL TIME!!

Amazing video! Range and Scope of Change in Technology. #library

Whenever I see one of these videos I always wonder how I can possibly keep up without taking on learning technology as a full time job.  I also wonder how libraries or other organizations are supposed to keep up without having a full time position dedicated to learning and implementing new technologies.  This is not to say that every technology needs to be used or even that every technology should be used.  But this video confirms my belief that organizations need to be quicker to respond to changes in technology, and a full-time staff person would be a great way to ensure that this happens.

Info about the video

“This is another official update to the original “Shift Happens” video. This completely new Fall 2009 version includes facts and stats focusing on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology, and was developed in partnership with The Economist. For more information, or to join the conversation, please visit and

Content by XPLANE, The Economist, Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Laura Bestler. Design and development by XPLANE, You can follow us on Twitter at”