Get your knowledge out of your inbox and on the web

In only a week, my answer is now #6 on Google
In only a week, my answer is now #6 on Google

In his book, Trust Agents, Chris Brogan describes how people can become experts by sharing their answers on the web with more people.  I believe librarians should be doing this as often as they can in order to showcase their expertise, and it’s something I try to do whenever practical.

Brogan describes the process as follows (pp. 25-26):

  1. Receive a question requiring your expertise via email.
  2. Respond with an email but put answer in a blog post as well.
  3. The answer is out of your email and on the web for others to learn.
  4. Repeat this process many times.
  5. Your answers are now in Google.
  6. Now you’re an expert on the web.

A week ago I received an email from a student looking for market share and brand share information of the energy and sports drink market.  I recognized that this would likely be a question others were interested in, so rather than simply replying via email, I put the answer on my Business Blog and sent him the link.  He replied back a few hours later with his appreciation (which rarely happens, btw).

In a week’s time, my answer to the one patron has been viewed 103 times and currently sits as the #6 Google search result for “energy drink market share” and #7 result for “sports drink market share.” While all of the resources listed in my answer are from subscription databases (it’s impossible to get a good data on this topic without them) I do suggest that non-OHIO patrons check with their local libraries.  Hopefully my post will send other libraries some business while also demonstrating librarian expertise and the value of libraries.

Social media and the Tour de France

It’s no secret that Lance Armstrong is riding the Tour de France this year. He’s been all over the media and the web. He’s got a huge following on Twitter, and he is getting tons of comments on his TDF training videos and training blog. So what’s the big deal about using video and twitter and other social tools? Well, if you’ve ever heard anything about the Tour de France, or pro cycling in general, you probably know that the support is not without controversy. Every year, riders are disqualified for blood doping or using banned substances. The race officials have started really cracking down in recent years, yet there are riders (or teams) who choose to cheat. I’ve been a follower of Lance on Twitter for quite some time, and I believe that he is using it, and other social tools, to be more transparent about his training, his life, his Livestrong organization, and his life in general. Below are a couple of really cool videos from his website which show the human side of Lance. In both cases, we have a world famous athlete talking with everyday folks while riding his bike. It’s often hard to think of athletes or celebrities as real, approachable people, but I think the videos below show the Lance is a person on a bike, not a machine.

I’ve written recently about the importance of putting pictures of staff on librarywebsites. I really think that social tools like online video can help to personalize the library website and make it more approachable. Video and pictures from staff members can make the library more welcoming by breaking down the barriers and fears that users may have of the organization. By showing the people behind the institution, libraries can make their sites, buildings, and services more accessible.

Take a look at the videos below.

A video of Lance riding a TDF training route with an 8 year old boy


liamlivestrong.MP4 — powered by http://www.livestrong.com

A video of Lance talking with a lady from Ohio on the TDF route


ohioguest.mp4 — powered by http://www.livestrong.com

My content is all over the place

So I’m struggling with something.  I have this blog, and I have just started another blog for my biking interests.  So I have content here and at WordPress.com.  The pictures that I have for this blog are generally uploaded to this blog directly, although I’ve started using my free flickr account to host my pictures. I also have a blip.tv account for videos that you see here, on my bike blog, on my Business Blog, on the Biz Wiki, and in other places.  I also have separate Flickr and Blip.tv accounts for family pics and videos. I also have a Vimeo account, a YouTube account, Picasa, and more. The cool thing about the web today is that it enables you to get your content all over the place.  The bad thing is that you have to remember where you put everything (and also remember the usernames and passwords).  These days I’m lucky to remember to take out the trash on Wednesdays.

Ideally it would be nice to have all my content in one place, but that’s kind of hard.  Frankly, services like blip.tv and Flickr make it so easy to post content.  Options for hosting this on your own server with applications like Gallery are available, but it takes a lot of work to make sure things are working right.  I had an install of Gallery for quite some time, but it was too sluggish on my  host to be of much use.  I ditched Gallery and moved my family pics to Flickr.  I also use to upload family videos directly to my host, but those videos take up a lot of room, and my space on the server is limited.  I have several blogs, including this one, hosted on the same server.  My new bike blog is currently located at WordPress.com, though I don’t know how long I will leave it there (there are pros and cons of wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org).  I suppose the nice thing about having the content separated from the engine (i.e., pics and video separate from the blog) is that it allows you to more easily take your content (pics and text) wherever you wish.  If in the future I want to move the Redneck in Spandex from WordPress.com to my own domain or host, it should be as simple as exporting the blog content.  Since the images and videos from the blog are linked to Flickr and Blip, then everything should display okay after the migration without any broken images (in theory).

Now the librarian and geek in me struggles with the issue of how long my content will be available.  If Blip.tv folds tomorrow, that would mean that I would have broken video files and links on about 6 different blogs and websites.  A demise of Flickr would have very similar consequences.  And since I have two accounts for both services (only one Pro Flickr account), then I could have broken image links all over the place.  The thought of that is unsettling, although I guess it would make sure I have plenty of work to do.

Does anyone else struggle with this?  Is this even something to worry about?  Will my content always be threatened by the possibility of extinction?  If not, do I need to be concerned about where my content will live next?