I don’t remember the last time that I went an entire month without writing something here. It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that my blogging here at Pattern Recognition has suffered as a results of many things. Some of those reasons are simple;: I’ve got other platforms that I’m using now, including other social networks (Twitter, Google+, Friendfeed, Tumblr) and other blogs (ALA Techsource and American Libraries’ Perpetual Beta). I use some of these because they are easy, some because I like the conversations/community, and some because they pay me.
What I don’t like is that my writing, thoughts, interests…the comprehensive set of my online self, really…are distributed and scattered. I was ok with it for a long time, and I’m becoming very much not ok with it anymore. In the past, I’ve dabbled with pulling things from those other networks back here, but that doesn’t actually bring any of the reasons I use them here….it just brings the content. Which isn’t always what it’s about.
When I started writing here at PatRec back in 2003, none of those other networks even existed. It’s possible that if I were to start writing online these days, I wouldn’t even think of hosting my own blog, and one of the possibilities is that it’s time to let PatRec die a natural death. It may be that a distributed presence is the future of personhood on the ‘net….except I don’t think that’s true. I believe strongly, more than ever, that it’s important to own and control your own words, both in presentation and in regards to copyright/legal control. So I’m confronted with this tension: I like the tools that I don’t own, but I want to own the stuff I make with those tools.
I’ve been thinking a LOT about this. And I’m going to start experimenting with some ways to change things, starting with a post that I’m working on now about iCloud and Lion and the future of the filesystem. I would love to start a conversation about this, and see how others are dealing with this tension. Because I think I’m going to start reeling things in, reducing my contributions to other channels, and try to re-center my online presence.
No sooner do I mentioned the thinking I’ve been doing about Proactive Reference, and Google throws all my thinking into a tailspin. Just a few days ago, Google announced a brand new product, called Google Wave. So what is Google Wave? It’s not easy to grok at first glance, but a the elevator pitch might be: Communication for the 21st Century. It takes the most popular communication formats (email, IM, Txt) and mashes them together with the new, real-time web (Twitter, Friendfeed, etc) and you get something that is greater than both parts.
There’s a TON to say about this, and at first blush I’m going to bet that it’s the biggest revolution in communication online since the invention of email. It’s both a platform and protocol, and will push existing thought-leaders like Twitter to open up in ways they might not be ready for.
Here’s a video of the launch preview…I’m trying hard not to gush about the possibilities. Look for much, much more on this from me over the next few weeks.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about something I’m calling “proactive reference.” The way I’m thinking about it, proactive reference is the monitoring of the real-time web (Twitter, Friendfeed, Seesmic, etc) by librarians who answer questions relating to their area or specialty, whether subject or geographically based. Public librarians who answer questions by searching for mentions of their city, county, or library, and Academic libraries who monitor for mentions of their university are two examples, but are many more possibilities.
I’m doing a bit of it now, just to see how effective it is at marketing the library’s services and such. Is anyone else out there actively monitoring these communication channels right now? My instinct is that this is going to be a HUGE market in a very short time, and that libraries should dive in fast and get used to it.
Not sure how many people know about this gmail hack, but it’s come in handy for me recently, so I thought I’d throw it out. Suppose you have an account on a service like Twitter, but now need to sign up for a different username, or just want one account for business and one for personal use. Twitter (and other services) won’t let you use an email that is already in their system to sign up for a new account.
Here’s where the gmail hack comes in. Gmail has one feature and one bug that allows you go get around having to have a secondary email address. The first is that Gmail allows you to create an infinite number of + aliases for your gmail account, in the format:
You can use any text at all after the plus sign, and gmail will ignore it completely for the purposes of delivering the email to you, but WILL let you filter and search on it. So I could set up a second twitter account called fakegriffey, and give it the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, and Twitter will let me, since that isnt in their database. Gmail will happily deliver it to my griffey@gmail account, and all is well.
The other hack is that Gmail completely ignores periods in any account name for delivering email. griffey is the same as gri.ffey is the same as griff.ey is the same as g.r.i.f.f.e.y. By giving Twitter some variation, you can get around their email limit and still keep your email organized.
Hope this is useful to anyone who didn’t know about it!