Category Archives: Micro-Content: Twitter & More

Librarian, Library and Catalog Tweets Revealed!


I’m always on the lookout for innovative uses of social tools in libraries. This weekend I got an email from John Wohlers, Library Technology Assistant, Waubonsee Community College, detailing his experiences using Twitter at his library.  John writes:
I thought you might like to know yesterday at the request of one of our librarians, I added a link to his twitter account on our library’s staff information page.  Nothing big there of course… But then I decided that just the link was a big boring… So, I took a look at the API for twitter, and using it I then embedded the librarians twitter feed into the page.   

A funny thing happened when I embedded the feed, other staff members felt left out, and a bunch (including myself) went and signed up for their own twitter accounts. Encouraged by their enthusiasm, I began to think a bit more.  I then went out and created a twitter feed for the library itself. Now that we had a feed, I needed to tweet. 
With staff often to busy to handle things themselves, and me having a basic understanding of the API, it occurred to me that I could actually make the library itself tweet on its own.   An hour or so later, I had created a custom report for our SIRSI Unicorn system that automatically tweets once an hour if a book on our new book shelf gets checked out.  (I figured check in would be pretty hit or miss as we are an academic library and most things stay out until the end of the semester anyway…)
Once that was working, I brain stormed some more, and decided to link twitter to our wordpress blog, a simple process.  From there I tied it into our room scheduling program, so that now a tweet is automatically posted when a Library instruction is coming up.  After that, I decided it needed something a bit more, and now every night at closing the library will automatically tweet about how much paper was used in our electronic research area.  (I modified it a bit so it will now mention how many miles of paper were consumed too…)  I hope that in the weeks to come I will be able to add on some more automated tweets.  
This is ingenious – especially the automated part that sends message to the library’s Twitter account! What else could be automated? Links to new blog posts for all the library blogs? Notifications for new posts to Flickr? What would you add?

John continues:
During the wait for all the updates to download, I added another twitter feature.  There is now a “Tweet This!” feature on each record in our online catalog.  Click the link, and it presents you with a login box for twitter, fill in your username and password, and click “tweet” and the current item you are viewing is automatically tweeted complete with short url to link to the catalog record. I can personally see this working well for a reading list, or even a quick and dirty method for making a list of items for a bibliography.
The catalog can be linked to at: and our main website is at:
Thanks for writing John! Keep us informed when you update or add new innovations!
Take a look at the sidebar below for Marley & Me for the “Tweeet This” link.

Living in the Conversation

Jetlagged here but back from an incredible time in London for Internet Librarian International. While the fun in Monterey continues, I’m in Illinois prepping for the next few things and excited about this post from Hey Jude:

After using Twitter for IDEA2008 and ILI2008, these thoughts for conference microblogging, etc are spot on:

How do you feel about the undirected use of laptops during conference presentations?

It is essential to have the freedom to search links, explore ideas and interact with concepts being presented at a conference. I choose my options as to when to listen and stare at a conference presenter, or when to listen and connect with my laptop to check out idea, share ideas with others, or discuss issues being raise. If I am bored I certainly don’t want to be captured with no escape as well..I would rather check my email than waste the time sitting in a presentation that doesn’t demand my attention.

How do you feel about the undirected use of mobile phones for texting/microblogging during conference presentations?

When it comes to professional learning this is absolutely essential for being engaged with the content, expressing opinions and reflections about the presentations, and just plain having fun through interaction. Remove the ‘industrial model’ from conference presentations, and allow them to be interactive and collaborative. Use the tool, don’t abuse the tool.

Oh, and this is GOLDEN:

Wifi should be accessible and free. Collaboration and distribution of information and ideas should be considered the norm.

From Canada to London: How Twitter Opens (Conference) DoorsThehigh

Next Gen Libraries Audience

Yesterday in a two part session at ILI2008, I joined Thomas Brevik, Michael Casey for a panel discussion on “Next Generation Libraries.” It wasn’t just us talking – many people in the room joined in creating a lively debate/discussion about libraries, vendors, technology, attitude, and LIS edu.

Take a look at David Kemper’s post:

From Canada to London: How Twitter Opens (Conference) Doors 

As Twitter matures and empowers people, users of the micro-blogger service are finding more ingenious ways to communicate. Twittering or sending tweets (updates) about conferences or live events, such as the Presidential debates, are gaining in popularity.

Earlier this morning, I was following the tweets emerging fromInternet Librarian International 2008, held this year in London, England. In particular, I was following librarian and blogger Michael Stephens and his tweets, while one of his colleagues, Michael Casey, was speaking on a panel.

At one point, Stephens highlighted a panel member’s point (not Casey, but someone named Thomas), who said: “Some people are Librarian by attitude…LIS edu is not necessary for all.”

I found the statement very intriguing for numerous reasons, which I will not delve into today. But I am certain long-time readers will have an idea. (Is being a librarian or archivist really only an attitude, or is it a combination of theory and training?)


I replied to Stephens’ tweet with the following: “What if you are LIS grad but do not possess a librarian attitude? What should one do?”

The point was not necessarily to receive a response or to even debate the statement (I mean, these are pro-bloggers, after all, they are busy people in the middle of a conference, so I wasn’t expecting a response).

To my surprise, however, Stephens and Casey both replied to my tweet and panel members started to discuss the question I had asked, revealing once again the power of Web 2.0 in general and Twitter in particular.


How cool is that?

While the statement regarding librarian attitude and education and the question I had asked still require more thought (and perhaps a dedicated blog post), I was pleasantly surprised to see that Twitter leveled the field, whereby someone in Canada could influence the direction of a conference in London.

Take a look at some of the tweets:

Mostly me and replies:

#ILI2008 Tweets:

Owen Stephens did extensive conference tweeting as well under a special Twitter name:

I also got to meet Adam from Hungary because of his tweets:

Wow – when did Twitter become one of my favorite conference tools? I need to share this with LIS768!

Excuse me, Prof. – Can I Twitter that?

I take notes, share those notes, and build a community with my peers – just by using twitter -it’s really quite simple.

This is how I feel about Twitter in the classroom.  But the 9/18/08 article over at Techdirt, and the comments in particular, paints some different hues (see: “Should you live blog/twitter a class?“).

Last weekend I was engulfed in one of three weekend intensive sessions in Michael’s “Library 2.0 & Social Networking Technologies” class.  As he went through his well-honed version of “The Hyperlinked Library”, I thought, “man, it would be cool to capture some of this and my reflections.”  At this point some might be saying, “yes, Kyle, you should be taking notes.”  But I took it one step further.

I hopped on Twitter, signed up for a quick account, and started tweeting(?) my heart out with every thought and quick reflection.  I also linked my tweets straight into my class WordPress MU blog.  Soon enough, a classmate had seen my twitter and we became reflective friends.

But at lunch time I timidly asked Michael, “yea, would you be mad if I Twittered class?”  Those of you who know Michael would know that angry would not be his response to this.  He was more intrigued and interested and happy than anything else.

If you’ve read the Techdirt article you know that this is the complete opposite reaction than that of the NYU journalism professor.  But I will admit, I’m just as guilty as most students who zone off in class and dive into the ether that is Facebook – and I’ve done it in Michael’s class, too (*sorry :/*).  But I turned my lust for technology and social networking into a productive method by writing my reflections in Twitter.  On top of that, I got to know some of my classmates before even saying a “hello” to them.

As Brian Rowe, a commenter in the article, wrote:

Sharing what you learn or don’t learn is an important part of being global citizen and helping free culture

I couldn’t agree more.  But some couldn’t agree less, as in this comment by Vince:

I can’t defend this. I believe this material should not be posted outside of the classroom…this material is not owned by the student.

He continues to say:

Universities usually have some sort of internal CMS such as Blackboard or WebCT that allows them to share classroom material and most professors actively use these systems. Theres [sic] no excuse.

I agree with Vince, students shouldn’t and legally can’t copy their professors’ academic work for public access unless that is their wish.  Michael posts “The Hyperlinked Library” here at TTW, but I still wouldn’t post any other of his materials without permission.

What I’m doing is taking brief reflective notes – similar to how I would do it in a notebook – and providing my classmates with an opportunity to respond to my reflections.

I’m curious:  Any grad students (or any student readers for that matter) who blog or use Twitter in class?

~Kyle Jones~
TTW Contributor

Customer Service on Twitter

Frustrated, she logged on to Twitter from her BlackBerry and typed “Damn Internet down in my house. Arrrrrgh. Can’t fix until Thursday. Shoot me.”

Twitter kicked in. Wallace didn’t know that Comcast had a digital detecting unit searching the Internet diligently looking for unhappy customers who needed help. Frank Eliason heads that unit for Comcast and saw her rant. “She clearly needed help. As soon as I saw her post I started tracking her down.”

Eliason went to great lengths to find Wallace. He located her Web site, found who owned her domain name, tracked down her business partner, who then called Wallace and said Comcast was looking for her.

Wallace was astounded. “I didn’t know there was a Frank Eliason. I called him, and he explained to me what he does. He surfs the Internet looking for people complaining just like me, finds out what the problem is, and he does his best to fix it and fix it fast.” Wallace was up and running again by 5 p.m. that day.

Wow. Just Wow. Another example that suggests we should be monitoring all sorts of tools for mentions of our libraries or calls for information assistance.


Via Warren’s SLJ Learning 2.0 blog:

One twitter tool I have found facinating is monitter. The page has three columns where you can enter search words you want to monitor on twitter – your library name (or your name!) perhaps. Then as it finds tweets containing those words, the column will fill up and add those tweets as results.

I went immediately, added some location data and some keywords:

Of course, I see my tweets, but also some interesting things: folks discussing the Hesburgh library, our local CBS affiliate, and some discussion about my hometown Mishawaka, Indiana. Check this one out.

Here’s the GIANT size image at Flickr.

Mad Men on Twitter

Via Linda Braun, I followed the links and found out that many of the characters on one of my favorite TV shows are on Twitter! 

File this under PR and Marketing 2.0:


Update: Twitter has responded back to me on the issue. Apparently it wasn’t a spam issue, but rather a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice that Twitter’s support team responded to, co-founder Biz Stone tells me.

I guess AMC didn’t like others playing the roll of its Mad Men characters besides the actors who play them on TV. Expect some backlash against the network.

Update 2: Blogger Ben Kessler has a full list of the Mad Men characters on Twitter. It looks likejoan_holloway was also suspended, but several others were not caught.

Update 3: In an apparent act of defiance, a new account for Peggy_Olson has been created with an underscore in her name and a profile that reads “Also known as @PeggyOlson.” One of hertweets reads:

I worked hard. I did my job. But the boys at Twitter are just as churlish as the boys at Sterling Cooper. Such a pity that they’re so petty.

Update 4: The suspended Mad Men accounts have been restored. Apparently, Deep Focus, AMC’s web marketing group persuaded the cable channel that free promotion is a good thing, according to Silicon Alley Insider. A tough sell, I know.

This is a good illustration of the growing pains big media is moving through as social media becomes stronger. Does AMC want to be known as the channel that crushed fan-created content?

Twitter in the Classroom

Twitter breaks down barriers in the Classroom:

As an experiment, Parry made Twitter a class assignment and got his students to engage in microblogging as homework. He observed how Twitter became the link that connected conversations inside and out of class. “Because the students had the shared classroom experience, when something came up outside of class that reminded them of material from class time, it often got twittered,” he notes. “This served as a reinforcement/connection between the material and the ‘real world.'” He also discovered that it changed classroom dynamics in a positive way, encouraging more respectful and productive interaction between students by turning the class into a community.

I’m finishing up syllabi for the fall and I’m thinking this might be a good thing to try with my two sections of LIS768. Remember this article from the Chronicle?

Jason B. Jones, an associate professor of English at Central Connecticut State University, uses his iPhone to post a message to Twitter after every class session as “a way to jot down a little reflection about the class — how it went, things that were frustrating or worked really well — so that I can remember them later.” Students who see the messages often give him a reality check, though. “If I thought something didn’t go well, I’ve had people say, Actually we understood that fine, we were distracted by something else or we were just tired,” he says.

Blackboard plans to add a Twitter-like messaging tool to its course-management system, which is used at hundreds of colleges around the country. The company recently announced plans to acquire NTI Group, a company that sells text-message notification systems to colleges for use in emergencies. NTI’s systems don’t have all the features of Twitter, but they could be used in similar ways.

“We’re going to incorporate that technology at the classroom level,” says Michael L. Chasen, president of Blackboard. For instance, he says, “Professors could send a message to their entire class to let them know that class has been canceled this week.”

And this is useful as well:

Another idea, provided by Doug Belshaw on his teaching blog, is to use Twitter for quick questions from students about assignments, readings, and the like. The problem is that you could receive these tweets 24/7. To eliminate that possibility Belshaw suggests the following: “Unlike a direct message which can only be seen by the recipient, placing @user name directs the ‘tweet’ (Twitter update) at the intended recipient whilst allowing everyone to also see it. This facilitates virtual ‘classroom discussion.’ Anytime someone responds to you using the @ symbol, it is logged in the ‘replies’ section of your personal Twitter page” (). Belshaw extended this notion, noting that students are not limited to just the class to answer questions. He writes, “As with the personal learning network (PLN) facilitated by Twitter in the edublogosphere (usually through the TwitterFox plugin for Firefox), students can also ask questions of those they only know online” ().

Several faculty have shared their experiences with Twitter in their blogs. Karen Miller Russell () used it in her communications class, taking her lead from Kaye Sweetser’s social media class (). Both are instructors at the University of Georgia. As Russell explains, she set up a Twitter account, locked it so that only her students could follow, and then invited students to register. She asked that each student do five posts to the account over a 48-hour period. The posts could be about anything. As Russell reported, the class, far exceeding expectations to merely experiment with a new medium, actually generated a list of how Twitter could be used in advertising, public relations, and marketing: “Participate in conversations, build relationships — not the ‘hard sell’; get feedback on ideas, programs; data mining (learn about interests, trends, issues, etc.), including polling the audience; announce sales or promotions; make appointments; provide event updates and live coverage of events; and build a trusting community” ().

I would love to hear some experiences from educators who have used Twitter in their teaching.

Benefits of E-Learning

Nice post by Heather about using Twitter to tap into the knowledge of her group.

One of our assignments was to Google the benefits of eLearning and share our findings with the class. Of course, I have to be different and I was curious to see what members of my PLN thought benefits of eLearning were in relation to their experiences. So, I used Twitter to pole my network and asked:

“I’m taking an online course & we’re to gather 3 benefits of eLearning. We’re to use Google, but I figure asking you guys is more practical. Benefits from your own classroom experiences or participation in global projects are what I’m really looking for…any words of wisdom?” These are the responses I received. I was hoping for more, but these were great.