online presence

Libraries & Stealth Advocising!

I'm afraid this post has a bit of a 'here's what I did, how cool is that' feel to it, but it's sort of unavoidable if I'm to share what I learned...

Stealth Advocising: creating material for library advocacy, but packaging it in something of intrinsic awesomeness so that non-librarians will be interested in it anyway - thereby extending its reach and escaping the echo chamber. Stealth advocising is the Trojan Horse of library advocacy.

The Background

Recently I've been thinking about the 'libraries and the echo chamber' problem a lot. (What a surprise!) Coincidentally, I also read that Lorcan Dempsey thinks the 'found flickr' style of slide-deck (which is what I normally do - I know it as 'zen-style slide-decks': full-slide images, one point per slide, the image being a visual metaphor of some kind for that point) is dead or dying. Then I saw NoteandPoint, a site devoted entirely to showcasing lovely presentations. The slide decks on there were sooo far ahead of what I normally do, it really made me think.

The Concept

All of this came together with me thinking a: I need to experiment with a different style of slides, to keep ahead of, or at least up with, the game, b: I've been meaning to contextualise my 'essential advice for new professionals blog post' into a slide deck for ages because it would be easier to digest and disseminate that way and c: wouldn't it be cool to make a deck so attractive it gets onto NoteandPoint because of its aesthetics, and then surreptitiously rights public misconceptions about librarianship at the same time! It's stealth advo-cising! Subliminal advocising, even! Because people will be viewing the presentation as a sort of cool object of PowerPoint beauty, without realising they're actually absorbing library advocacy! W00t!

This idea could apply to a lot of things. Make something which is cool enough of itself for people to want to share it, and it just happens to be about libraries too. What would result, if it worked, would be huge reach beyond your normal sphere, and people beyond the echo chamber learning about libraries. A good example of this in the past was when LibraryMan and David Lee King's Library 101 video got onto BoingBoing - that took more resources to create than most of us could realistically aspire to, but ANYONE can make a slide-deck.

The execution

Last week I created my slides, entitled If you want to work in libraries, here are ten things you need to know. I prioritised form just as much as function - this meant compromise, such as not saying as much as I wanted to in some slides, and dividing one slide up into 2 different ones because I only had 9 main slides. I wanted 10 because 'here's 10 things you need to know' is snappier than 9 - titles are really important. I made it short and easily digestible. I found a nice texture from Flickr (CC, of course), cropped it and re-coloured it to work as the background. And I used icons from the newly discovered icon-finder site (thanks Phil!)  to be graphics in roughly the same place each slide. The end result was a deck built for echo escapism - it is pretty, and although there are compromises on content they are necessary to help it achieve wider dissemination - less stuff, but seen by many more people, = #win. It's concise, honest, makes important points I'm always making, and will hopefully put off as many people as it entices into librarianship. No point in people entering this profession labouring under misapprehensions.

The deck

Here it is:

What happened next

All I can say is, this went waaay better than I expected! I wrote a blog post yesterday asking people, how do I get this slide-deck beyond the echo chamber? Almost exactly 24hrs later, thanks to a mixture of the suggestions people gave me on Twitter and on the blog, and just trying stuff at random, here's some of what has happened:

Screen-grab of three Prospects Tweets

Pic of a tweet

Pic of a tweet

Pic of Slideshare

Pic of an email

Pic of Slideshare

Pic of slideshare

The combined reach of those Twitter feeds alone is over 6000 followers, NONE of whom follow me and so were inaccessible to me otherwise. And all I did was just ASK them to tweet it - that's all there was to it! Why have I never done this before? The Prospects Twitter person in particular was really helpful and engaging, and got my feedback on other stuff they were doing online at Prospects, and tweeted links to my Essential Careers Advice post and my Prezi on libraries and technology.

The Slideshare featuring thing is amazing, because every time anyone goes to the homepage they can see an attractive presentation, check it out, and are fed pro-library propaganda through a straw while they do so... As they said in the email screen-grabbed above, they receive thousands of uploads each day - the only way they even know my presentation existed in order to put it as a Feature on the homepage was because it got into the Hot on Twitter section as one of the most tweeted about Slideshare decks in the world for that morning so,thank you to everyone who tweeted and re-tweeted the links! The pictures above show just the #echolib busting stuff - it was also picked up on by loads of library people too and I'm really grateful.

Another thing worth noting is that, at the moment, if I type 'I want to work in libraries' into Google, the first four entries I get are this presentation. (Same with typing in 'if you want to work in libraries'.) I know Google personalises results but even so, that's pretty good - I'd rather people got my opinions on the truth of working in libraries than some out-of-date stuff that perpetuates the misconceptions, stereotypes and so on.

The numbers

At the time of writing, just 24rs since being uploaded to Slideshare, the presentation has been viewed 2611 times, linked to via 345 times, embedded in 18 people's sites and blogs, tweeted 69 times, downloaded 13 times, shared on Facebook 48 times, liked on Facebook 66 times,  favourited 10 times on SlideShare and even received 7 votes for Slideshare's World's Best Presentation Contest 2010!


To put that in context, the next most viewed presentation I've ever submitted to Slideshare has less than 1000 views, and that's EVER - let alone in 24hrs. So stealth advocising undoubtedly increased my reach exponentially, and hopefully it enlightened many of those new viewers as to what libraries are all about.

Your turn?

So, how else can we apply the stealth-advocising principle and help libraries escape the echo chamber? Suggestions in a comment please, or better still, make it happen and post a link to it here! :)

- thewikiman

Using Netvibes to collate your online presence

If you have multiple spaces online, Netvibes could draw them together for you. If you are involved in multiple projects, particularly those which involve content from other people and from the library community, then Netvibes really comes into its own! This is essentially a post about discovering a really useful too, which I'd heard of but never previously understood. Some context: I couldn't attend Internet Librarian International this year, but luckily a lot of people on Twitter did. I think it was Bethan Ruddock whose tweet I saw, drawing attention to the fact that Phil Bradley now points people towards his Netvibes page as his 'home page'.

I've looked at Netvibes before, particularly around the time CILIP set up the 'cilip future' dashboard, but never found a good use for it - all it seemed to do for me was display the results of a bunch of key-word searches. But then I saw Phil's public page and it all made sense... I still don't use the private page (iGoogle does sort of the same role for me) but I've now set up a public Netvibes page - check it out at - and I'm really pleased with the possibilities it opens up. On the one hand, I'm loathe to add YET ANOTHER online place for people to go to, as my e-dentity (has that been used before? If not I'm gonna trademark it :) ) is fragmented enough as it is. But what I've found Netvibes does for me is aggregate all these online presences into one place, and also allows me to draw together the various projects I'm involved with. I've been meaning to update my website for ages, and I will still do so - but in the meantime, it's massively quicker to drag and drop some content into Netvibes than to bash away at DreamWeaver for hours to edit I figure I'll still give my blog URL out as my 'primary' address, but will give out the Netvibes one if people are particularly interested in an aspect of what I'm doing (whether that's Library Routes, LISNPN, the Echo Chamber thing, or anything else).

A picture of my Netvibes Public page

So, my Netvibes page currently has four tabs - the 'General' homepage contains a little bit of free text and a picture, and then links to a few things such as Mainly though it contains embedded content drawn in from all over the place (all which will of course be updated in real time as it changes elsewhere) - my Twitter feed, my blog feed, my Youtube videos, my flickr pics, a precis of my LinkedIn profile, It also contains a presentation from Slideshare,  and the papers and presentations page embedded from This gives people an enormous amount of stuff from which to build a picture of me and my professional activities.

The way in which Netvibes has really convinced me, however, is with the other tabs. The Echo Chamber tab, for example, gives a far better summary of the whole thing than is available anywhere else online. There's some free text explaining the concept, there's the Prezi presentation that Laura Woods and I created and are adding to as we go along, there's a blog search and a twitter search on the subject, and there's my one-page article from Library & Information Update which explains the whole thing. This is the first time I'll have had a URL to point someone towards which pulls everything together. I know that my own website could (and probably should) do this, but there are two reasons why Netvibes works better - firstly it would take time and expertise I don't have to embed all that stuff on my own site, and secondly I feel that this netvibes platform is better for bringing in content created by other people (which is to say blogs, tweets etc) than my own website, which somehow wouldn't be appropriate.

I've created a LISNPN tab and a Library Routes tab which work in much the same way, and will soon be adding one for my actual day-job too. Take a look and see if you think Netvibes could do a similar job for you.

If you agree it might be useful and are anxious to get started, here, as ever, as some top tips I discovered through trial and error which I'd have like to have known from the start:

  • Enable your Public profile right away. You don't have to tell anyone it's there until you're ready - but I spent ages mucking about with my page before realising it was only the private one. I thought I could 'make it public' but you have to create a separate public one, so I had to start again...
  • Use the Settings Menu to choose a theme. It's in the top right hand corner - choose something you like early on and then arrange the content to suit it
  • Tabs = good. The 'general' default tab is great for giving a summary of all your online stuff, but if you have particular projects or areas you're involved with, give them their own tab. That way if someone asks you about something specific, you have a URL to point them to directly (rather than just saying 'it's own my website' which can come out like, 'go look for it yourself'.)
  • You can edit the tab layout easily. Each tab has an 'edit' button - click this and you're given options as to how the content will be arranged. Number of columns, whether stuff goes all the way across the page or only part of the way, etc etc. It's easy to pick a layout that suits whatever you have on that particular tab - so don't be trying to crowbar a massively wide website into a half-screen column when you don't have to.
  • Before you embed a website, see if there's already a widget for that site on Netvibes. Here's the Essential Widgets menu (which you get to by clicking 'Add Content' in the top left corner):

    A picture of the Widgets dashboard on Netvibes

    So Twitter, LinkedIn etc - it's all there for you, just drag the widget where you want it to go, put in the relevant URL and it does the rest for you. Some sites, such as Slideshare, aren't represented in the widgets - for those,  you can use Link Module (not sure if you can see it on the pic above - it's top row, just to the right of centre, next to Web Page) - this creates a little thumbnail of the site, which looks nice. (You can see an example for my own homepage, in the middle at the bottom of the picture.)

  • Use the Webnote widget to introduce the page. You don't need any knowledge of HTML or programming to throw your page together. If you use the Webnote module (top left in the Essential Widgets screen-grab above) you can just type into it normally - I use it at the top of some of my tabs to just give a brief outline of what that tab is about.
  • Use the search widgets. On page 2 of the Essential Widgets there are various 'search' widgets - search the web, search images, search videos, search blogs, search Twitter etc. These are great for pulling in content from other people, to give wider context about a given topic. You can say what you think about something, and you can show what other people think about it too.
  • For the blog search function, use IceRocket. I've never heard of IceRocket before, but when you use the Blog Search widget, you get by default several tabs, referring to different ways of searching blogs for the same topic. I found that the IceRocket tab produced by far the most relevant and pertinent results, more so than Google Blogsearch. I've mostly got rid of the other tabs and just kept IceRocket, or in a couple of cases IceRocket and Google Blogsearch.
  • And that's it! Have fun.

- thewikiman

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