Friday, July 1, 2011

Being Social on the Web

A long, long time ago [and by that, I mean the early 90's and before] if you wanted to connect with someone states or countries away from you, you had to invest a great deal of time and energy in writing letters, calling on the phone, and connecting with people at conferences. Connecting with others in your field wasn't impossible, it just required active effort.

Now, you can connect with others far more easily then ever before by connecting with people using social networking sites and social networking tools.

Social networking site can be used to help build and maintain communities that I, as a user, can use to connect with others working in the field of information literacy. Using Facebook, LinkedIn, and similar social networking sites like the fairly new site Google+, I can connect with people I went to school with, my colleagues, and others in the field. This allows me to talk with them about projects we are working on, interesting news and research items that pop up, and any number of other things that can help me be better at teaching information literacy.

Beyond social networking sites, there are also social networking tools and aspects that now litter the web that also allow people to connect with one another. Using sites like Twitter, by commenting on blogs, participating in wikis, and such, people can also connect with one another to discuss ways of teaching, new technologies, and such.

These social networking sites and tools also allow people teaching information literacy to connect with students and library customers who have questions or need some help. By participating on Facebook, for instance, a library can more easily connect with customers who might have questions about using a database or citing sources.

However, it is important to keep in mind that social networks all rely on people making connections with one another that they then maintain. These services only allow me to maintain connections with people using the web; I still have to make the effort to reach out and talk to these people.

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