Header Image

Header Image

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Things 10, 11 and 12

Marching on with the 23 Things catch-up!

Thing 10 - Facebook
I joined Facebook back in 2007. I can't remember why, probably because everyone else was doing it and it was the new in thing! I use it fairly frequently to communicate with friends and family, and my  friendship group is small in comparison to many but is comprised of the usual suspects (old classmates, former colleagues, friends both near and far). I post photos, usually of holidays/trips or things that catch my eye, and like many others, share links to things I find of interest (articles, quizzes/tests etc). I've been known to share (or vent) my thoughts on everything from politics to tv shows.

My privacy settings are pretty high so that those not connected to me as a 'Friend' see very little, although Facebook does seem to implement changes to what can be seen publicly, requiring some dedicated time to endless clicking and tailoring of audiences. My personal profile (work details etc) is fairly oblique as I don't use my Facebook account in a professional context.

I use Facebook in a work context as well, we have a College presence on Facebook and find that many students will make connections via Facebook before they even arrive in Oxford. The College's MCR has an active group on Facebook where plans are made for social gatherings, information sharing etc, and we also have an Accommodation group so that students can find housemates for private housing, advertise rooms to let etc. Currently our Twitter feed automatically updates to Facebook but there may be a move to change that as the College's Communications Officer strategises across various platforms and concretises a specific purpose for each.

Thing 11 - LinkedIn

Ah LinkedIn. A quick check in my account settings confirms that I joined LinkedIn in May 2005. I think, though I can't recall, that a friend sent me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn and so like a sheep (or maybe I had time to kill) I created an account. Whilst I've added/updated some details I'm not making full use of the functionality and every time I log in I'm helpfully reminded that my profile isn't quite complete. I view LinkedIn as an online CV and as I hate writing my CV......

There's an overview of my employment to-date with job titles but a description of roles I've held is either minimal or non-existent. I always find it hard to summarise a job into a pithy paragraph or two and can't quite get to grips with the personal statement/Blind Date style introduction that is so commonly used today. I'm sure if I did put more effort in then updating a paper CV when applying for a new role might not be so difficult, but then I always try to tailor my CV to the role I'm applying for, giving more emphasis to the skills and qualities that I think are pertinent to that role.

The other thing about LinkedIn that makes me scratch my head is the section on skills and experience, where you can claim a skill or area of expertise, and have it endorsed by your connections. In fact, you can have your 'work' endorsed by connections in the form of recommendations. I don't have any recommendations at present, nor have I made any. Perhaps this feature is better suited to certain types of industry/sectors than the one in which I work? Ones in which there is a tangible end product?

Of the 27 connections I've made on LinkedIn:

  • I am also connected to 17 of them on Facebook
  • 14 are former colleagues from previous roles
  • 2 are connections from a group in common (that for the college I work for)
  • 2 are random (not people with whom I've worked or even met)
I am a member of the College group on LinkedIn and my other group is the Alumni group for my undergraduate institution. I've joined, though not yet participated in discussions for a group on Higher Education Administrators.


As Academia.edu is geared towards academic activities I haven't signed up. I do not conduct any research, nor do I write any papers/articles. I can see how using it might be of value to those undertaking research, whether as part of a programme of study or for personal interest, as you could follow others in the same or related fields and stay on top of publications et but it holds no value for me.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Thing 9 - Storify

We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

I had a quick look at Storify but with no real idea on what social story to pull together and a fleeting unease about using content from other people I've benched use of it for the time being. I can see how it would be useful - pulling together content on the same theme/subject from a variety of platforms (Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Instagram) and having it in one place for consumption. If you were running or participating in a conference or event that encouraged the use of hashtags then you could find content to pull together and curate as a summary of the event. That would have the advantage of enabling information to be shared with those who do not use all or any of the social media platforms from which content can be pulled.

I think it's also a useful tool to enable people to catch-up on things they've missed or could not participate in (live Q&As on Twitter like the National Theatre's #askaplaywright).

I'll certainly be thinking about how I could use Storify in the future, whether for work or personal interest.

Thing 8 - RSS Feeds

There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want - Bill Watterson

Oh how quickly you can fall behind! I've been in a bit of a funk of late, both tired and bored of practically everything. I've had a much needed break from work (why can't it be a little longer?!) which involved a short, Internet unenabled stay in Dorset. That does mean that I've fallen further behind with my participation in 23 Things and, if I'm honest, I did consider abandoning it completely. However, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger* so whilst I'm about a fortnight behind, I'm ploughing on.

When it comes to technology I am my own worst enemy. I spend 7 hours a day in front of a computer, then come home and while away 2 or 3 more on an iPad. I need to enforce a technology ban or curfew and read more books (current bedtime reading is A Question of Identity by Susan Hill). I've always seen the orange RSS button on websites but never used it. Of the 5 options for feed readers listed in the 23 Things post, I opted for Feedly (free, easy to use, can sign in with a Google account). I set up 3 categories to organise feeds I subscribed to: News (which currently only hosts The Guardian), Gossip (Celebitchy) and Fun Stuff (which hosts a mix of beauty and food blogs).

I like having these feeds all in one place and organised by subject/interest. I can log in, read the posts that are new or else mark everything as read, and go about my business. I'm hopeful that using Feedly as a one-stop shop will stop me pinging around the Internet, and enable me to limit and focus my time spent online.

*just ask Kelly Clarkson, she knows.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Make a little birdhouse in your soul - Thing 7: Twitter

I'm trying desperately not to fall too far behind with the 23 Things schedule though it's been a busy few weeks, and often the last thing I want to do after a day in front of a computer is spend the evening in front of one!

Thing 7 of 23 Things asks you to look at Twitter. I have a few friends who use Twitter, both in a personal and professional capacity. Amusingly, a friend who frequently uses it can be quite bad at keeping in touch via conventional methods (email, text etc). In the past, text messages have gone unanswered for days with only an "Are you still alive?" text eliciting a response. I do occasionally look at people's Twitter feeds (usually those of 'celebrities' or people I find amusing/interesting) but until now, had only used Twitter via a work account.

I mentioned previously that my work claimed a space on various networks/platforms after comments from prospective students that we were a "Google fail", a search for information returning little or nothing about us, or else generating results for the multinational company that shares our name. Our Twitter account started in August 2011 and since then has tweeted quite prolifically and amassed over 1,000 followers. It may be, though I haven't checked in any great detail, the most active of the college accounts. That's thanks in no small part to the persistence of one of my colleagues who spearheaded it's use and had until recently, been the main user of the account whilst we awaited a Communications Officer. It was she who tweeted and retweeted the serious stuff, my input was largely confined to disseminating messages to the student body and posting messages about what was for lunch (in my defence though such tweets had their fans!).

Our account draws attention to our events and seminars, the output of our research centres, and retweets pertinent notices from other accounts in the University community. A number of our Fellows are also prolific tweeters sharing details of their research activity, programmes they direct, papers they've written etc. 

I don't think you can be an occasional Twitterer can you? I think you could also Tweet too much? A balance surely needs to be struck between tweeting too little and too often. Tweet too little and people will surely unfollow, tweet too much and people are put off. I created a personal Twitter account as part of this exercise and, as advised by the schedule, found other users to follow. I added @guardian (the account for The Guardian newspaper) but found their output overwhelming so I quickly unfollowed (I've added them to my Feedly account though, more on that to come). 

I remember a conversation I had with my mum regarding a mandate that her organisation's communications office had issued to members who use Twitter, advising them to limit their use of it to once or twice per week - how we laughed! If you are tweeting in an official capacity for an organisation/employer then you need to do so in a tone consistent with said organisation/employer, of course, many people may identify their place of work but with the caveat that "all views are my own". There have been times that I've thought of a tweet for the work account and then discounted it, if you think it's a bad idea then it probably is but it's surprising how many people don't have that filter.

I'm following a couple of friends, a couple of feeds for magazines I read, cultural/art organisations that I like and some people in the public eye who I admire and find interesting or funny. I don't know if I'll continue to use Twitter personally once 23 Things is over but I'm going to see how things unfold over the coming weeks. If you have any suggestions on who to follow on Twitter, let me here them.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Seek and ye shall find - Thing 6

Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are - José Ortega y Gasset

Thing 6 in the 23 Things schedule asks you to "consider your personal brand" and suggests as a starting point, Googling yourself to find content associated with your name. A Google search brings up: an Australian illustrator/street artist/blogger who encourages doodling as a means of self-expression and collaboration; an American soprano; an Australian swimmer (with a differently spelt surname); my LinkedIn profile amongst a list of other users who share my name; and my profile on my work's website. MIT's Personas project threw up network error, try reloading ;( which is less a comment on how the Internet sees me and just a standard error message (other participants have also had access issues).

Over at socialmention the only exact match to my name links to a Youtube video of someone (not me) miming and dancing along to (I've Had) The Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing in celebration of a friend's birthday. I may, back in the distant past have attempted the Dirty Dancing lift at the lido with a school friend (frankly who hasn't?) but that was long before the days of digital cameras and smartphones.

My Facebook and LinkedIn accounts are both in my name. My Facebook account doesn't appear in the Google search results, I suspect because my privacy settings are pretty high and the majority of my content is open only to friends, and friends I know well rather than a friend of a friend of a friend who I once met in the pub. LinkedIn is 'professional' but I've mentioned previously that I've not yet fully engaged with it, a task for Week 4 of this project. I always find it difficult to decide how to set out my CV and do anything to avoid the format which requires a personal profile at the top of the page, as I've largely 'soft' skills.

I use Instagram under a different name, which I started using as a creative outlet for photo a day challenges like the one listed here but some months are better than others!

My digital footprint, the one I can find not being a tech-geek/IT specialist/GCHQ employee is very small and I'm happy with that. If I had a message or an idea that I needed to 'get out there' I could
certainly make myself more visible, but at present, I have nothing to say.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Catching up

In terms of catching up, Thing 4 (registering the blog with the 23 Things team) was done pretty swiftly after signing up to the programme, weighing up Blogger vs Wordpress vs Tumblr and choosing a title.
Thing 5 (exploring other blogs and getting to know other participants) is something I'm doing on a weekly basis as more blogs get added to the site, and the programme unfolds.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Thing 3 - Social Media and me

A Friend to All is a Friend to None  - Aristotle

At work I use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Flickr. There was a need for us to raise our profile so we claimed and carved out a space on all of those networks, though Facebook and Twitter are used most frequently.

In a personal capacity I mainly use Facebook to stay in touch with friends, both those in the UK that I see anyway, and those who have moved further afield. I'm not interested in sending fruit to people's orchards or engaging in other games on Facebook. I did once engage in a few games of a Scrabble-esque application but that application was a dirty little cheater that did not know how to spell correctly so was quickly binned!

I have a LinkedIn profile but as I consider myself to have a job rather than a career it seems a little pointless to me. It'll be interesting to explore LinkedIn further as part of 23 Things to see if I'm missing something.

I don't use Twitter personally though I do look at the Twitter feeds of friends and others. I can see how it might be useful for an organisation or an individual to disseminate their mission/work etc but it does seem a bit 'playground' at times, particularly when people express divergent views in 140 characters. I am amazed at how uncensored some people can be on Twitter, and then amused at how stunned they are when their words are seized upon by others and investigated (Lord McAlpine case, online abuse of Caroline Criado-Perez for example).

I'm looking forward to exploring all of the 'things' in the series and finding out how I might use them (or not) professionally (Google Docs and Dropbox) and personally (once you Tweet you can't stop?) and I've signed up to some of the lunchtime Engage sessions to expand my knowledge of how such things are used elsewhere in the University.

Who knows where it may lead......

Monday, 7 October 2013

Stepping into the Unknown....

This year I'm embarking on Oxford's 23 Things for Research. You can find more information at http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/23things/all-about-23-things/

I'm not a researcher, and I have some experience with the tools the project will cover but I'm interested to learn more about how I can apply them to my role.

I hope I can keep up with the programme during the mania of Michaelmas Term......