Saturday, December 8, 2012

Understanding Social Media and Other Forms of Communication

Using Twitter to express displeasure. Anonymously.
Using an app to send pictures that enables your data to disappear in a matter of seconds.

Reality or fantasy?

A Little Knowledge Can Save You A Lot of Trouble

I bring up this topic this week because of a couple of recent incidents that have crossed my path. Looking over the should of a young person, I learned about the app "snap chat" that says you can control how long your recipient sees your information.The person who showed me this app said that it's great because your information just "disappears" in a matter of time.

We all should know that information doesn't just disappear. I decided to do a little research. I found that though this tool can be a fun one to send something such as a happy birthday wish (as its use was framed for me by the person who showed it to me,) I learned that it is most popular for sexting. Thinking that a person can send a risque photo of oneself that just "disappears," snap chat has gained popularity for this purpose. As an informational professional, this concerns me greatly. Information does not just go away on its own.

In another incident, someone expressed extreme displeasure with another person by tweeting it. Rude language, tone, and message does not disappear after you post it. I am concerned about the future of those I teach who engage in such behaviors. Posting under "anonymous" usually does not leave you unknown, especially when your twitter handle with your name is visible right under the page that declares you as "anonymous," as was the post that is the subject of this paragraph. Be aware of the information that you put out there for all to see. This should not be a new idea to most of us.

The Right Tool for the Job

An overall understanding of what happens to information is valuable for everyone. For those of us who use information to gain clients, customers and patrons, using diverse tools with a knowledge of each tool is critical to achieving goals.

I have found that people tend to have a go to tool for communication and many of them use it for ALL communication. Yet, using the right tool for the right job is important. It is important to effectively get our message across and it could be important to your reputation.

One of the most important jobs in 2012 for educators and information specialists is effective use of such tools. Whether you are using Facebook to promote your ideas and your museum as a community resource, or you are teaching students the ins and outs of information use, you need to be aware of what you are using and why. Set an example for good digital citizenship and use the right tools for the right job.

For example, do not tweet your concerns about patron behavior to get visitors to conform to useful rules. Consider saving it for a blog post that puts a positive spin on the issue.  The longer format allows you to better explain yourself and inform. Rather than tweeting something such as, "Remember! There is no food allowed in the Archives!" Write on your blog about the need to preserve papers and the important role visitors play in saving our collective history by employing a few preservation techniques such as not eating near materials.

Understanding digital information and its potential can make or break your reputation as an individual or institution. Learn as much as you can about your options and try to post in the appropriate place with thoughtfulness and good intentions.

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