For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
April 16, 2009 - Tim Miller tweets!
[The library employs a host of wonderful people, and it's fun to see what they're up to. This week, library employee Tim Miller talks about about living in Twitter Town. - Jamie LaRue]
I've only been a citizen of what some people call "Twitter Town" for about a week now, and I love it already. My web browser always has a Twitter tab up. On The Net, this electronic tossed salad of people,places, institutions, and bots goes by the domain name twitter.com. If you haven't joined this quickly growing community of "Tweeters"already, sign up now.
Twitter is just an upgrade of several older ideas. Chat rooms have existed since the early nineties. A lot of you probably remember the days when you'd come home, crank over your dial-up modem, and hop on AOL for a little strange talk with the other Americans, who weren't playing Nintendo or watching "The Simpsons." Later on, instant and text messaging became the major mediums for communicating with peers.
Chat rooms still exist. They allow people to express and take in new opinions, while meeting other personas. Unfortunately, the open chat format also gives criminals and perverts an easy way to manipulate unaware Net-goers. On the other hand, text and instant messaging allows users to customize who gets a message.
I've never text messaged a random cell phone number. I tend to stay in my social box, where networking and friendship opportunities are limited to the people I talk to every day. That's no good. As a Douglas County Libraries employee, I believe that meeting new people and gaining fresh perspectives is part of lifelong learning and literacy. Sending messages to people I know doesn’t allow me to dothose things online.
Then again, chat rooms have become too random and dangerous for me. Inever know when some electronic snake-in-the-grass or a software porno solicitor is going to bug me out of any want to be online. This goes for social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook too.
Some people are pretty ambitious when it comes to finding new "friends"on the networking sites. I'm not. Once I've "friended" someone, we might exchange messages once or twice, but then it's over. That person is just another picture on my list of un-friends. If I add the disadvantages above to the fact that it takes a lot of time to answer the "Hey, how ya' doin'?” messages from everyone I've ever known, and the guilt from not staying in touch with them, I have a ginormous lack of motivation to visit MySpace or Facebook.
Twitter has combined the best, and left out the worst, of the chat,text, instant message, and social network concepts. The site works like a single, global chat room, with customizable features that allow users, or "Tweeple," to customize who they follow and what they read.Those annoying solicitors and criminals have taken up residence in thismedium too, but all I have to do is block them. Plus, Twitter involves no pressure.
Each "tweet" I leave for followers can only be 140 characters long.That limitation applies to individual messages too. Unlike MySpace orFacebook, I don't have to keep in touch with people I barely remember,or read way-too-detailed accounts of what everyone else is doing on thesite. With Twitter, I can read and write what I want, without feelingguilty, while also meeting new people. Tweets can contain links toother pages, so Twitter works like a news aggregator too. I can evenget tweets on my cell phone.
People have been talking about Twitter for a while now, but I nevertried it until Douglas County Libraries (DCL) started tweeting tonotify its patrons of news and upcoming events. Since then, I've beenaddicted.
You can find and follow DCL on Twitter, under the name "DCLcolorado."If you'd like to read my rants, you can look me up as "tr1str4m" on Twitter, or visit my blog at timotheus.synthasite.com. As always,DouglasCountyLibraries.org is your online access point for lifelong learning and literacy in our communities.