The “thing 6” task is to blog about your experiences with online (or social) networks and communities.
I’ll start with LinkedIn, which being honest, I don’t use very often, as I find the site rather dull. I am a member of 15 groups, but I’ve not actively commented on any discussions. This is possibly because when I initially investigated groups (a few years ago admittedly!), the discussions seemed to be mostly started and sustained by consultants touting for business or egomaniacs! However, today I took another look and it seems like things have changed for the better, so I could be persuaded to contribute or instigate discussions on a relevant LinkedIn group, if I was seeking objective advice. However, whether it would be my first port of call, I’m not sure. I have used the LinkedIn events feature to create invites for two events that I helped to organise last year. However, my experience has been that most people don’t seem to use this feature on the site, so I wasn’t convinced that it was the best means of advertising events to other professionals. I have given and received recommendations, I’ve also been contacted about job offers – so I can see the value of LinkedIn and I do plan to login and get more benefit from using the site.
To date I’ve been an active Facebook user, mostly for personal use, but also for professional reasons, such as keeping in touch with fellow CILIP Career Development Group (CDG) members. I have found the Facebook events feature to be useful for advertising CDG events and wearing a non-library hat; for music events that I’ve arranged and promoted. I find Facebook much more informal and friendly; I like being able to view people’s photo galleries, especially to keep in touch with people I know, who live far away from me. Seeing people’s wedding, children, house decoration, cookery, gardening etc. photos does feel rather voyeuristic, but it also helps form a sense of connectedness; i.e. you can be present in their lives virtually and interact via leaving “likes” and comments.
I have found Facebook to be useful, but it seems like LinkedIn has greatly improved, since my initial investigations, so I’m going to try to get more benefit from it. However, I do find LinkedIn rather “sterile” and with reference to the Reid Hoffman quote: “Facebook is the backyard BBQ; LinkedIn is the office” – I completely agree, but I prefer being at the BBQ! (and that is not just because there is food there!!!) 😀
Regarding new networks like Google+, I think the jury is still out. I have joined the site and have started to play with its features, but I’m still uncertain of what effect it will have on my professional networking. However, I have been following Phil Bradley’s posts about Google+ and found the graph about new user rates on this post to offer much food for thought.
Hmm reflective practise, I have a guilty confession to make, I’m rather fond of self-improvement books. My favourite author of this genre is Richard Templar, but I quite like several others also published by Pearson. Furthermore I’ve been positively influenced by advice from the Fly Lady and Susan Jeffers. I appreciate that some of this can come across in a patronising/cheesy manner, but in general I’ve found great help from these books.
Reflecting on the 5 weeks that I’ve been taking part in CPD23; I’ve certainly felt more engaged and motivated. I’ve blogged each week, read other people’s’ blogs, left a few comments and I’ve used twitter much more than I had done prior to starting the programme. I’ve discovered the benefits of using Google Reader to follow RSS feeds and I’ve thought about how Pushnote may or may not be useful to me. So all in all I’m feeling glad that I joined the CPD23 party and I’m keen to stick it out until the end.
However, I’ve been also been reflecting on my life more broadly and deeply. Several years ago I felt that I was not well-balanced; I had moved from Scotland to Yorkshire and it took me a while to settle into a new location and a new job. I also had a long drive to work (56 miles each way!) and for 2 years I worked on a demanding project, that I allowed to become all-consuming. In short, I spent too many hours either on the motorway, or in the office and this had a negative effect on my home life, personal relationships and ability to form new friendships. After feeling pretty miserable for some time, I realised that the only person who could change things was myself. I also had the epiphany that increased number of hours in the office did not naturally equate to higher productivity. That looking after myself; getting enough sleep, eating well, being hydrated, relaxing and seeing friends were all very important and that having a better work-life balance would help me be more focussed at work and less stressed!
A few years ago, I read a great book “How to be Brilliant” by Michael Heppell. Michael advocates a technique called the Wheel of Life, which is a simple, but effective way of quickly assessing several facets of your life and spotting where there may be issues that need addressing, it also highlights imbalances. There are some really useful resources to accompany the book on Michael’s website; including a blank wheel of life that you can print out and use. This book really helped me regain a healthier sense of perspective and I’m going to start filling in wheel of life sheets once more.
In the last 12 months I’ve gone through several major life changes, one long-term relationship ended and a new relationship has blossomed – so much so that I’m getting married in less than 3 weeks time! I’ve radically changed jobs (level transfer within the same organisation), relocated from Yorkshire to London and I’m about to move house this autumn (still in London). I’ve wanted and instigated these changes; the new relationship and job have enthused me. However, I acknowledge that these are all stressful events and that I will need some grounding time soon, to catch my breath, take stock and do more life planning.
I like to think that I welcome change, but the pace of technology does overwhelm me at times. For my professional life I’m concerned that I need to develop ways of keeping informed and up-to-date, but without these taking over in a bad way (I remember reading this story and being horrified!) I wish to embed “technology watch”, “horizon scanning” and “online networking” into my routines, so they harmoniously fit in with my lifestyle.
The availability of smart phones is fantastic and I’m learning to be connected, while I’m out and about. I’m enjoying living in London again, after an absence of 10 years. Yes, it is busy, noisy, dirty and expensive, but it is vibrant and has huge amounts of culture on offer. I’m relishing and revelling in all the amazing talks, exhibitions, films, plays and not forgetting the concerts that I can attend and check in via foursquare 😉
I appreciate that this post is rather long, waffly and not purely focussed on professional reflective practise. However, as with the branding exercise in CPD23 thing 3, I’m increasingly finding it hard to separate the professional and the personal aspects of my life, as I’ve experienced how closely the 2 are connected and affect each other.
I’m constantly learning more about myself, what types of work I enjoy (and what I don’t!) . I’m also very aware that I have a tendency to say “yes” to too many requests and then end up in impossible situations. So with this review in mind, I plan to operate with a little more self-preservation and self-awareness. To be selective and give opportunities more consideration before diving straight in …
I’ve signed up to Pushnote and downloaded the browser add-on for Firefox. One of the challenges I’ve faced is finding other Pushnote contacts to follow and interact with. Reading the FAQ it says that “soon you’ll also be able to find your Facebook and Twitter friends who use Pushnote.” However, at the moment you can only find people by searching Google contacts or via typing in email addresses. Currently only one of my Google contacts is a Pushnote user and they aren’t a Library Professional following CPD23.
From initial explorations I’m unsure how Pushnote will enhance my online experience. I think it will need to build up a critical mass of users for it to do what it is meant to do.
RSS has been something that I’ve been vaguely aware of, but not paid any special attention to! However, in the spirit of CPD23 I’m investigating how it could be useful to CPD and my life in general. I understood that it offered a means of feeding information from many different sources into one feed, but I had always been too busy or distracted with other things to work out how to set up an RSS reader, which is ironic really, as having a “one-stop-shop” should help me save time!
For this part of thing 4 I’ve started using Google Reader and I’ve subscribed to the single feed of CPD23 blogs created by Shannon Robalino. So far, so good. The proof of the pudding will be whether I frequently remember to go to Google Reader and read the feed. Along with blogging and tweeting, I’m going to see if I can develop using an RSS reader as a new habit. I’m wary of subscribing to too many content sources to start with, as I may feel completely overwhelmed, so I plan to be cautious at first.