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Collaboration, Social Software, and My Strange Obsession With My Virtual Life

I didn’t even get to turn on my computer until 3:00 today. Thank goodness I have pretty much permanent access to a laptop at work because I’ve been living off that today. (Heaven forbid I go for more than a few minutes without a softly glowing screen in front of me.) But in among reference desk shifts and meetings, I was asked to take stock of the collaborative technologies I use.

Here’s the backstory. Back in August people from the library and IT met to discuss collaboration: what we’d done together, what we’re planning to do, and how to enhance collaboration. You may remember that meeting from this post. Out of that meeting grew a new group on campus called the Info Services Forum. This group coordinates periodic (about twice-monthly) sessions at which staff (or interested faculty) can either present or discuss a topic of general interest. Anyone on campus is invited, and there’s free lunch to the first 40 or 50 who show up.

So far we’ve had a session on the planned reorganization of the campus web site (complete with discussions of usability and organization, as well as breakout focus groups on specific organizational ideas). Then there was a session on the new campus copyright policy at which Dan Donnelly from the University of Minnesota’s Copyright Information and Education group gave a really wonderful talk copyright for educational campuses.

Now we’ve had the first of two sessions dealing with collaborative tools, and for the second session they want to put up a slide listing what people here are using already. Here’s my list.

  • (for my own professional work, collaborating/sharing with my co-workers and other librarians, and building a curricular link library for students)
  • Google Docs & Spreadsheets
  • AIM/Google Talk/MSN Messenger/Meebo
  • Blogs (several, some for workplace collaboration, others to communicate with the outside world — a couple are Carleton-supported and a couple aren’t)
  • Shared Google Calendar
  • Moodle
  • Backpack (for shared To Do lists)
  • Bloglines (to share what I’ve found with others (most of my feeds are public), or to learn what others have found, as well as to keep up with my professional and personal blog/journal feeds. I can also keep up with things like updates to wikis or public google docs using RSS.)
  • Flickr
  • LibraryThing (share books, reviews, etc.)
  • I’ve also experimented with Wet Paint (a wiki) as a place to build a curricular resource wiki, though I haven’t had time to work on it for a while.

So, there you have it. Except for the wiki, these are things that I use at least weekly, and often multiple times per day. But just because the first thing I do in the morning is turn my computer on and the last thing I do at night is turn the computer off doesn’t mean anything. I could quit any time…

Published inSocial Web


  1. Joshua M. Neff Joshua M. Neff

    You turn your computer off at night?!? Gee, I leave mine on, in case I wake up in the middle of the night (not an unusual occurance) and need–er, I mean want to check my email and usual round of social sites. But I’m not addicted, no way, nein, nix…

  2. Iris Iris

    Well, I cheated a little there. I don’t usually actually turn the computer off… per se. I have a laptop that puts itself to sleep when I close the lid. So in the morning I open the lid and it wakes itself up (I’ve removed the option to log in again when it’s waking up because that just takes WAY too long). At night I close the lid.

    I don’t usually wake up at night, so that’s not my issue. But I’m never quite sure that I’m actually done checking stuff for the night. And I sure don’t want to wait for the computer to go through a cold start in the morning.

    But no, we’re not addicted. I’m with you there. I know some OTHER people who are addicted, but we aren’t like them…

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