Thursday, 31 July 2008

Request for Advice

One of the things Roxanne Missingham gave me when she handed over the ALIA presidency in May this year was the ALIA Facebook Group. Go to and then to the group ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association). We have 272 members and nine photographs. This is about 5% of our membership (assuming they are all members) – a start, but a long way to go.

I was hugely impressed to hear of the success of Michael Geist’s Facebook group, Fair Copyright for Canada, which has grown to 88,000 members in a short time. The group has been so successful that members have actually met in, well, groups of people, physically. The Facebook group now has chapters. Have a look.

I asked Kathryn Greenhill, Murdoch University’s - and Australia's - online guru, and she suggested that photographs might work. So how about it? One of the features of the more lively Facebook groups I belong to is the proliferation of photographs, which bring people together.

In fact the liveliest group I belong to is the Swinburne Chapter of the Golden Key Society. This is a student society, and its members are mostly undergraduate students (my role is Advisor, liaison with the University). It is quite clear that they use Facebook in quite a different way to the way, er, librarians do. They use it daily as a primary means of communication.

But bear in mind how librarians use Facebook, and please send me your suggestions as to how we can make the ALIA Facebook group lively and relevant.

Why not start by putting a nice photograph of a horse in a library onto the site on Friday? Its their birthday (horses, not libraries), and you'll have great fun taking the picture, too.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Oxymoron of the day

OK, this is not a word of the day. However, those familiar with my collecting directions know that I collect oxymorons, and this is a borderline oxymoron. It is the definition of "digital heritage collections" developed by the Collections Council of Australia (sorry, Margaret) for its Australian Framework and Action Plan For Digital Heritage Collections.

The definition is "Collections of digital materials that, individually or collectively, represent significant (often unique) resources of human knowledge and expression." The bolded words are oxymoronic, to my mind. How can something digital be unique? I am advised that it can be rare (if no-one ever looks at it) but the terms digital and unique just sit at odds.

I have had questions about the nation's digital heritage collections ever since the Australian library world refused to match the term "born digital" (meaning created originally in digital format) with my own coinage, "born again digital" (meaning created originally in analog format, and digitised). The reality is that the idea of unique digital works or materials (in the sense of only one of them) misses the point, semantically and practically. There is no limit to the number of copies we can all have. Leaving aside copyright, of course.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Word of the day

Today's word is unfriended, and thank you to Jenny for this one. Unless I have remembered it wrongly. The term refers to your removal as someone's Facebook or Myspace friend. I guess in Linked In the synonym would be unconnected or unconnectioned.

The word is pretty well attested, and the Wiktionary even adds comparative and superlative - more unfriended and most unfriended. The Urban Dictionary, always useful, gives exactly the definition one would expect, and this example "
Wow, all I did was post a slightly suggestive picture in his profile and next thing I know I'm unfriended."

And as you would expect, friended, from the verb to friend, meaning to add someone as a Facebook friend. This is also now fully entrenched as a word, according to the Urban Dictionary - the best guide to the language of modern life in the west.